The U.S. Department of Justice has released a proposed remedy addressing Apple’s e-book price fixing, for which the company was found guilty last month. Under the proposal, Apple would be required to terminate “existing agreements with the five publishers with which it conspired” and to “refrain for five years from entering new e-book distribution contracts which would restrain Apple from competing on price.” The company would be prohibited from “again serving as a conduit of information among the conspiring publishers or from retaliating against publishers for refusing to sell e-books on agency terms.” Apple would also be prohibited from entering into agreements with any content providers that are “likely to increase the prices at which Apple’s competitor retailers may sell that content.” Additionally, for two years, Apple would be required to allow other retailers — such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble — to provide links from their own e-book apps to their e-bookstores, allowing for easy comparison between their own prices and Apple’s prices.
The DOJ is also “asking the court to appoint an external monitor to ensure that Apple’s internal antitrust compliance policies are sufficient to catch anticompetitive activities before they result in harm to consumers.” Apple would pay the salary and expenses of the court-appointed monitor. It must be noted that the DOJ’s proposal must be approved in court. A hearing on the remedies is scheduled to be held on August 9.
Color Zen must be downloaded from within the Apple Store app to get it for free. Reportedly, Apple will be providing a new app, iBook, or piece of iTunes content for free each week, apparently as an enticement to increase interest in Apple’s retail operations. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple-owned Filemaker has announced that it will stop offering its Bento app for iPad ($10) and iPhone ($5) after Sept. 30. The company will also discontinue support for the personal database app after July 30, 2014.
Square Enix’s new Bloodmasque ($7) is a vampire hunting game that mixes Infinity Blade-style fighting with the RPG elements Square fans have come to expect. Bloodmasque allows a team of vampire hunters to fight together in multiplayer action, with one player taking control of a customizable on-screen hero, assisted by others. Players are given a fair amount of virtual controller freedom while exploring towns, and the game is heavy on story elements, as well. One of the more notable features lets users swap in a photo of their own face to create their character — or a photo of anyone else. Up to three photos can be added to express different emotions for the user’s virtual hunter. The graphics are top-notch, and as such, Square Enix notes the game may consume battery life “relatively quickly.”
Hipmunk has updated Hipmunk Flights & Hotels (free) to version 3.1.0. The app has added Tonight Only hotel deals, which allows travelers to find a hotel room for up to 60 percent off. Also, Fare Alerts allow users to be notified instantly whenever airfare changes. The interface for the iPad side of the app has also been improved.
Amazon has just released version 3.9 of its free Kindle app. The app now allows for a free sample search — using the existing Library Search, customers can now search books and download free samples from within the app. Also notable in the new update is the ability to use previously purchased dictionaries or translation references to look up word definitions in other books. Accessibility gestures for blind and visually impaired customers have also been added for quick reference, and the new Instant Cover Loader displays book covers quickly.
Prince of Persia: The Shadow and the Flame ($3) from Ubisoft brings a new chapter to the classic Prince of Persia series, which has continued its evolution following film adaptations. The new iOS Prince of Persia features a 14-level single player side-scrolling adventure, including fully polygonal, detailed artwork for the levels, and a brand new combat system with combos and new weapons. Prince of Persia’s gameplay allows users to choose between a virtual joystick or gesture-based touch controls, with all of the classic jumping, running, ducking, climbing, and attacking options fans would expect.
Rovio’s been keeping its furious fowl busy as another Angry Birds game gets new levels — this time it’s Angry Birds Rio (free). Version 1.7 of the game includes 15 more beach levels to the Golden Beachball episode. Collecting all the golden cherries will unlock bonus levels, and other surprises have been added to the game, as well.
Bank of America updated its free Bank of America — Mobile Banking app to version 4.3. Most notably, Bank of America members can now make credit card payments using checking accounts from other banks — users just have to set up an external account. It’s also now possible for members to receive and send money using email addresses and mobile phone numbers.
Electronic Arts, one of the world’s largest game companies, disclosed that it made more money through Apple’s App Store than any through other retail outlet in the most recent quarter. Freemium games such as The Simpsons: Tapped Out, Real Racing 3, and The Sims FreePlay pushed mobile revenues for EA, surpassing the money made through both retail distributors and its own Origin download service. EA COO Peter Moore said Apple becoming EA’s biggest retail partner is “a first.” The company was also reportedly the most downloaded publisher on the App Store in the quarter. [via VentureBeat]
Rovio’s Bad Piggies ($1) — both the standard and iPad HD versions — have been updated to version 1.4. Bad Piggies now features 30 new Rise & Swine levels for players. Also included in the update are new power-ups including super glue, magnets, and turbo charges, plus the new grappling hook item, and the Super Mechanic, which lets players get three stars on any level. The Super Mechanic can be earned or purchased.
Cobra iRadar (free) from Cobra Electronics Corporation has updated to version 3.2. The iRadar app has always aided users of the Cobra iRadar detectors, but now, the app offers shared radar detection data and Live Police locations as an in-app purchase for those who don’t own the detector. Also added in the latest update were music controls, background alerts, and a countdown that shows the distance between alerts.
Apple has sent out invitations to some users for early access to its iWork for iCloud beta. Before now, only developers had access to the beta.
iWork for iCloud offers users the chance to access Pages, Numbers, and Keynote from the cloud, including creation, viewing, and editing capabilities for productivity documents. Anyone with an iCloud account can use it, and those invited to the beta can sign up at iCloud.com.
Sega’s After Burner Climax ($3) has updated to version 1.1. The update adds a new plane to the game, the X-47B, an ummanned stealth plane from Northrop Grumman. After Burner Climax has also added in-game cinematics to enhance the gameplay experience, restoring arcade sequences that were missing from the original iOS release.
Google updated its free Chrome web browser to version 28.0.1500.12. Chrome now features interoperability with other Google iOS apps, with an option to open links for YouTube, Maps, G+ and Drive within each separate app. Enhancements to voice search, and text-to-speech for “all variations” of English, Spanish, German, Italian, French, Japanese, and Korean are also included. The app now goes to fullscreen on iPad, as well. Data usage savings have been improved, as have page load times.
Google has released version 2.0 of its popular free Google Maps app for iOS today. The update most notably includes an all-new interface for iPad users, which has been absent from the app since its release late last year. Navigation has been enhanced to include live traffic updates and incident reports. Indoor maps are also included — walking directions are now available for malls, airports, and other selected spots.
The app also introduces the Explore feature, which lets users browse restaurants, stores, hotels, and more by category, spotlighting ones in your immediate area first. Zagat content and user place ratings and reviews have been added, and Google Offers now brings deals to users in this major update. As the app is now truly universal, each of the new features is available across all compatible iOS devices.
Diverging from Mundomono/Kid Bunch’s past fairy tale titles, Bean Bag Kids Apollo 11 ($3) tells the story of the three American astronauts who traveled to the moon, culminating in the first ever moon landing. Using button-memorizing and tapping sequences, kids aged six and up can control takeoff of the spaceship, separation into parts, landing on the moon, and a return to space. The graphics engine has radically improved over the developer’s past titles, now featuring impressive 3-D models and special effects that look like they could have come out of Super Mario Galaxy. The audio and storytelling is reasonable as well, albeit with some small details that could stand to be fixed. There’s a bit less actual Bean Bag character content than before, but the cool spaceship sequences and now interstellar scale of the artwork make up for that. Really young kids will find the button memorization sequences too challenging. Note that this app is currently available elsewhere and should be coming to the US App Store soon.
Care Bears: Create & Share! (Free*) from Budge Studios lets kids create postcards with Care Bear art, greetings, and stamps, then e-mail or save them. The art portion of the app lets you pick from a wide variety of actual Care Bear colors and belly badges, as well as letting you create your own badges. Adult Care Bears and the new child character Wonderheart Bear are included. Greetings can either be typed or drawn, and kids can choose from different backgrounds, frames, and stamp designs before sending off their creations. You can even substitute a photograph of your face for the Care Bear’s face, if you’d like. While the app is free, most of the Care Bears’ bodies are locked behind a $4 in-app purchase that unlocks everything and removes ads — individual Bears can be purchased separately at a higher total cost. Unfortunately, the Good Luck Bear art remains locked even after the purchase, requiring you to promote the app on a social media service to unlock that feature, which may disappoint young kids.
Rovio today announced that Angry Birds Star Wars II will be released on Sept. 19, notably paired with a line of “Telepods” toys that will interact with the game. According to Rovio, “Placing these figures onto your phone or tablet camera will scan your character of choice directly into the game, allowing you to select new characters on the fly.” The figures will be sold in stores for the September launch. More than 30 playable characters will be available in the game, which will focus on the Star Wars prequels.
It’ll also be possible to “Join the Pork Side” in the game this time around, rather than playing with the heroic rebels. Rovio made a point of noting the company “will not comment on rumors or speculation that Jar Jar Binks will be in the game.” [via Rovio]
As the fourth game in Eidos’s well-respected Deus Ex series, Square Enix’s new universal release Deus Ex: The Fall ($7) is a remarkably rich first-person shooter—an original title that looks and plays far better than one would expect from a purely mobile release. Continuing the franchise’s dystopian cyberpunk storyline, The Fall includes all of the dual virtual stick exploration and upgradeable weaponry you’d expect from a typical FPS, plus hacking, strategic elements, and dialogue-based “choices” that affect the progress of the story. Players will be impressed by the sheer quantity of spoken dialog and explanatory cutscenes in the 800+MB title, as well as the large, respectably detailed environments and fluidly animated characters—all best viewed on Retina devices. iOS gamers looking for a simpler interface will appreciate touchscreen-ready tweaks, such as the option to tap-acquire targets and/or double-tap the ground to move without the virtual stick. Though the dark, heavily orange-tinted art doesn’t have the jaw-dropping beauty of Gameloft’s best FPS releases, Deus Ex makes up for optical omissions with greater originality and depth.
Enjoyed by many web users, IFTTT (free) has come to iOS in app form. By using the statement “if this then that,” IFTTT allows users to automate a number of services and wireless devices when triggered by other actions. For instance, a user might instruct IFTTT that when a photo is taken, IFTTT should automatically save the photo to Dropbox. There are many possibilities using a number of services, including Facebook, Gmail, and Twitter, as well as devices such as Philips’ Hue, Belkin’s WeMo, and Jawbone’s UP.
Expedia has updated its Expedia Hotels & Flights (free) app to version 3.2. Previously capable of helping users compare hotel and flight prices, the app now features local experts that can help users book reservations and find activities in Orlando, Las Vegas, and Hawaii, as well as synchronized FlightTrack integration for FlightTrack app users. Notably, the app is universal with a unique workaround for its still-in-progress iPad flight-booking interface: when switching from hotel search to flight search, the iPad app animates a transition to using an iPhone, right on the iPad screen. The updated app also offers more low-cost flights, and more countries, as users in India, Malaysia, Sinagpore, and Thailand can now book flights.
Microsoft’s digital notebook Microsoft OneNote has updated its free app for iPad and iPhone to version 2.0. The app improves formatting and consistency across devices, and allows users to create or edit tables. Notes will now sync automatically to SkyDrive Pro and SharePoint. It’s also easier to view and find notes, with updated navigation and full page view. Ink annotations and rich text formatting are also now available.
A change in iOS 7 beta 3 may allude to Apple making its iWork and iLife apps free in iOS 7. The recommended free Apple apps screen in the third beta now includes Apple’s iWork suite, as well as iPhoto and iMovie, though not GarageBand. This could be changed before final release, and may be an App Store glitch, but it appears to have been a deliberate addition to the list of free Apple downloads. Apple may want to make it easier for users to access its iWork suite, especially with the introduction of iWork for iCloud, and might also see the iPhoto and iMovie tools as worthy of giving away with iOS—similar to their bundling with OS X for the Mac. [via 9to5Mac]
A new “Only on the App Store” promotion has made a number of top iOS apps and games free from iTunes. Infinity Blade II, Where’s My Water?, Badland, Tiny Wings for iPhone and iPad, Superbrothers: Sword and Sorcery EP, Day One, Over, Barefoot World Atlas, Traktor DJ for iPhone and iPad and more are all currently free — Traktor DJ notably normally sells for $20.
The apps have likely gone free to mark the upcoming fifth anniversary of the App Store. It’s unclear how long the apps will be available for free, or if other apps will be made free at some point. [via The Verge]
Update: Apple has noted the apps are free for a limited time as part of “5 Years of the App Store.” A timeline of App Store milestones can be viewed within the App Store. The promotion also includes How To Cook Everything for free, in addition to the apps listed above.
Rovio’s original Angry Birds ($1) now features a brand new episode, Red’s Mighty Feathers, in which the Red Bird gains new powers from the Mighty Eagle. Instead of seeking to defeat the pigs, Red Bird is defending his eggs in this episode, making for a shift in gameplay. The new levels in version 3.2 also incorporate gameplay from Rovio’s Bad Piggies game, as the pigs advance in contraptions to steal eggs. Red’s Mighty Feathers features 15 new levels.
Playdead’s acclaimed sidescroller Limbo ($5) finally makes its way to iOS. Having debuted for XBox Live Arcade in 2010, the game features a young boy making his way through a dark forest. A quiet, atmospheric game in black and white, Limbo gives users no indication on how to control its character or what to do next. It can leave gamers a bit lost at first when sending the boy into another gruesome death, but the trial-and-error nature of the game almost begs users to walk into certain death to figure out a better way to navigate its puzzles. The controls are intuitive, even when using a touchscreen. If you dig its creepy vibe, Limbo is certainly worth buying as a welcome twist to the sidescroller genre.
Based on the acclaimed kids’ book by Herve Tullet, Press Here: The App from Chronicle Books is available for iPad ($2) and iPhone ($1) — the latter as a “small version.” The app features 15 simple games and activities, focused on the three colored dots featured in the considerably more expensive books. Though the app version appears to be simplistic in design, Press Here uses its basic dots to spark imagination and problem solving, testing memory, artistic abilities, and much more.
Procreate ($5), an iPad app from Savage Interactive that lets users illustrate and create, has updated to version 1.8. So many new things have been added — a freehand selection tool, a new copy-and-pastesystem, painting and brush improvements, transform improvements, and a new interface for creating a canvas, amongst other tweaks. A number of other experiences have been improved, including interface animations and redesigned menus. The app also now supports Adonit’s Jot Touch 4.
A new report from app analytics company Distimo claims that an app must make an average of $47,000 per day to crack the App Store’s top ten in top grossing apps. The report also notes a top ten paid app generally averages about 4,000 downloads per day, while a top ten free app averages about 72,000 downloads per day. An app that reaches the top 50 in the top grossing charts earns an average of $12,000 each day for iPhone apps, and $10,200 for iPad apps.
On a related note, Apple is introducing new pricing tiers in some of the international App Stores, a new report notes. A new 99-cent Euro price has been introduced for European countries, while a number of other countries have seen changes, as well. [via Apple Insider, 9to5Mac]
Contra: Evolution finally makes its official App Store debut. The Konami game brought to iOS by PunchBox Studios is out for the iPhone ($1) and iPad ($3) — the latter as Contra: EvolutionHD. The gameplay looks like classic Contra, and the graphics are sharp. Notably, a number of in-app purchases are available within the game.
Foodspotting has updated its free app to version 4.0, with the most notable addition being the Food Camera. The Food Camera gives users a bevy of new options when photographing food, including the built-in ability to take and compare multiple photos of one dish. New gestures allow users to adjust and lock focus, while adjusting the exposure independently. It’s also now possible to select multiple photos for comparison, in addition to being able to zoom on photos to select the sharpest shot of a dish.