News | iLounge

2014 iPad iPhone iPod Buyers' Guide from iLounge.com

News

Apps: Amtrak 1.6, Flipboard 2.0.5, Plants vs Zombies 2 1.1 + Yelp 7.0

Amtrak has updated its free app to version 1.6. The app now features redesigned station details with more features, including more hours and improved map integration. Recently selected stations are now included in the station list for easy access. It’s also easier to switch arrival and departure stations on search pages.

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The free Flipboard app is now at version 2.0.5, and with the update comes… GIFs, which are now supported on Flipboard for both iPad and iPhone. The day’s top stories have also been divided into sections for News, Tech, Business, and Sports.

Apple updates Guidelines for Children’s Apps

Apple has released an update to its App Store Review Guidelines with a focus on clarifying policies regarding applications for children. Several of the new rules appear designed to address the recent expansion of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), limiting developers from asking for personal information from children under the age of 13 and specifically requiring that apps that collect or “have the capability to share” personal information from a minor must “comply with applicable children’s privacy statutes.”

A new section 24, “Kids Apps” has also been added to provide specific guidelines for apps that are “primarily intended” for users under the age of 13. The section indicates that such apps must include a privacy policy, must include age-appropriate advertising and may not include behavioural advertising of any kind, and must require the user to get parental permission or use a “parental gate” before linking out of the app of engage in any online transactions. Apps in the new “Kids” category must also be specifically made for one of three age groups: 5 and under, 6 to 8, or 9 to 11. [via Mac Rumors]

Apps: CBS Sports 6.0, KeyMe, Moose Math + Skype 4.1

CBS Sports (free) from CBS Interactive now features full iPad support. Version 6.0 of the redesigned app features live video, including SEC football games, NCAA basketball games, PGA Tour events, and various CBS Sports shows. When it comes to live scores, CBS Sports doesn’t offer scoring in as many leagues as ESPN’s ScoreCenter, but it’s still extensive and won’t affect most users of the app. Considering how quick and reliable scoring is on CBS Sports’ website, the CBS Sports app will likely be a good alternative to other popular offerings.

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KeyMe’s free KeyMe: Digital Keychain is an interesting new app that allows users to take a picture of their house keys for storage in the cloud. The app offers instructions on making the keys from scratch, so that if users get locked out, they could conceivably go to a local hardware store or locksmith to get a new key. KeyMe also lets users order copies of keys directly from the app for $10 each. The keys are then mailed to the user, in a number of different designs. It’s also possible to share digital copies of keys with family and friends.

Apps: Instagram 4.1, Interactive Alphabet 3.0, Mikey Hooks + Twitter 5.9

Burbn’s Instagram (free) app is now at version 4.1. Two major features are included in this update: users can now import any videos from their camera roll, instead of having to use Instagram itself to record the video. Also, Instagram now automatically straightens photos when taken with the Instagram camera.

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Pi’ikea Street’s Interactive Alphabet ABCs, ($3) a long-time iLounge editors’ favorite for kids, has just reached version 3.01—a milestone that adds letter tracing and an add-your-own-image mode. The letter trading feature is really well-conceived, using illuminating lights to track the path of a child’s finger, and providing both helpful clues and rewards to encourage progress. Separately, the photo feature lets parents add their own photos, words, and sounds to the app’s Explore mode, presenting each photo as an alternate page for a given alphabet letter — a cool way to add “D is for Daddy” or “M is for Mommy,” just to name a couple of examples. Pi’ikea Street has effectively added another app worth of content to the title, yet it has cut Interactive Alphabet’s footprint in half. It was already a must-download app for young kids; this update further cements its excellent reputation.

Publishers object to agency ban in proposed Apple remedy

The five major U.S. publishers that settled with the U.S. government prior to trial are objecting to the U.S. Department of Justice’s proposed remedy for Apple’s e-book price fixing, The Wall Street Journal reports. In a court filing, publishers said eliminating the “agency model” for five years as proposed would harm the publishers instead of Apple, since publishers were given the ability to set the retail prices for e-books under the model. The publishers — Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, Macmillan, Hachette, and HarperCollins — all settled with the government before a price fixing trial, while Apple went to court and was subsequently found guilty of fixing e-book prices. Apple has spoken out against the DOJ’s proposal, calling it a “draconian and punitive intrusion.”

Apps: Aztec Puzzle, Dropchord, NFL Mobile 8.0 + US Airways

The sequel to the excellent Mayan Puzzle, Mind Crew’s just-released Aztec Puzzle ($2) is all about redirecting flowing elements — water, fire, earth, and air, represented by moving lines passing through directional arrows — from one place to another using a limited amount of moves. The game has 72 total levels, and a “pure mode” to cut out distractions. It may not be as aesthetically impressive as Mayan Puzzle was, but Aztec Puzzle is a fun, challenging game, with some neat special effects and interesting challenges.

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Double Fine Productions’ Dropchord ($3) is a quick-moving game, conceptually inspired by the classic Atari game Missile Command. Dropchord initially challenges you to control a line-shaped beam of light by using two fingers on opposite sides of the screen. Moving one finger up or down moves one of the beam’s sides up or down, while moving both fingers at the same time lets you twist the beam around inside an on-screen circle filled with moving dots that need to be popped with the beam. Other levels include one- and two-finger dot-tapping challenges, breaking up the action. There are tons of psychedelic special effects recalling beloved console games such as Atari’s Tempest 2000 and Sega’s Rez, as well as an impressive electronic soundtrack.

Facebook app causing iPhone battery issues?

A number of iPhones are experiencing battery life issues and some feel hot to the touch, possibly related to the iOS Facebook app. iLounge’s editors have seen both issues firsthand, and a number of tweets seem to verify there could be some sort of intermittent issue. Within the past five days, there have been a number of tweets on the matter, as a Twitter search for “Facebook app battery” shows. A post on blog.hagga.net took a look at the issue in May, and noted that a June update did not fix the problem. Facebook’s iOS app was last updated July 10. It’s hard to know for sure what is exactly causing the battery drain, though Facebook’s VoIP capabilities allow the app to run in the background, with no way of turning it off. The issue could be connected to something unusual happening on Facebook’s server, as well, or messaging notifications.

Apple slams DOJ e-book proposal as ‘draconian’ intrusion

Apple has responded to the U.S. Department of Justice’s proposed restrictions to remedy the company’s e-book price fixing, calling the proposal “a draconian and punitive intrusion into Apple’s business.” The company argues in its opposing brief that the restrictions proposed today could cost both dollars and “lost opportunities for American businesses and consumers.” Apple doesn’t believe any further injunction is warranted — but if an injunction is issued, the company suggests mild limitations and obligations which would be a far cry from what the DOJ suggests. A hearing on the remedies is set for Aug. 9. [via AllThingsD]

DOJ proposes remedy for Apple e-book price fixing

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.

Apple Store app starts offering free content

Previously rumored but not rolled out, Apple has now started to offer free content within its Apple Store iOS app. The Apple Store is now offering Color Zen, normally $1, as a complimentary download.

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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]

Apps: Bento, Bloodmasque, Hipmunk 3.1, Peek-a-Zoo + Temple Run 2 1.4

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.

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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.

Apps: Kindle 3.9, Prince of Persia, Riptide GP2 + Yahoo! Fantasy Football 5.0

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.

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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.

Apps: Angry Birds Rio 1.7, Bank of America 4.3, djay 2 + OpenTable 5.1

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.

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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.

App Store top earner for EA during quarter

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]

Apps: Bad Piggies 1.4, Cobra iRadar 3.2, Drinkspiration 2.06 + Pac-Man Dash!

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.

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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.

iWork for iCloud beta invites sent out to public

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.

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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.

Apps: After Burner Climax 1.1, Chrome 28, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Paint & Play, Priceline 10.0

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.

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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 Maps 2.0 includes new iPad design

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.

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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.

Apps: Apollo 11, Care Bears: Create & Share, Logic Remote + OWA

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.

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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.

Angry Birds Star Wars II launches Sept. 19

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.

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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]

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