Apple has updated its standalone Podcasts app for iOS adding support for iOS 6 and synchronization of podcasts subscriptions between devices via iCloud. Users can now also choose to automatically download new episodes only when on Wi-Fi and play episodes in both forward and reverse chronological order. A new pull-to-refresh gesture has also been added to check for new episodes on iOS 6 devices. Podcasts 1.1 is a universal app requiring iOS 5.1 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Parrot has released an update to its FreeFlight app for the AR.Drone iOS-controlled Quadricopter introducing AR.Drone Academy, a new online component allowing users to track flight information, watch and share their videos and more. Users can create an online pilot profile from within the app and can then take advantage of a collection of new tracking, mapping and sharing features, including the ability to track flight data such as altitude, speed and duration of flights. Tracking data can be reviewed as graphics or text alongside playback of recorded in-flight video.
AR.Drone Academy also allows users to view their flights geolocated on a map from which they can browse flight locations, watch recorded videos and view pictures and flight data. A Hotspots feature also helps users find ideal places to fly as reported by other AR.Drone users along with tips on both ideal conditions and dangerous spots. Users can upload videos and pictures to the service for online access, backup and sharing via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Picasa. A social component within the AR.Drone Academy also allows users to mingle with other AR.Drone pilots to view their shared content and compare stats. FreeFlight is a universal app requiring iOS 5.0 or later and an AR.Drone and is available from the App Store as a free download. More information on the AR.Drone Academy can be found on Parrot’s web site at http://ardrone2.parrot.com/ar-drone-academy.
Amazon has released its new Amazon Instant Video app for the iPad. The app, which requires iOS 4.3 or later, allows users to watch movies and TV shows from Amazon’s streaming library. Amazon Prime members can watch titles from Prime Instant Video for no additional cost, while all users can watch over 120,000 videos available from the Amazon Instant Video store. Purchased and Rented videos can be downloaded to the device for offline video, and users can also add videos to their Watchlists and resume watching videos they have already started thanks to Amazon Whispersync. Amazon’s Instant Video app for the iPad is available now as a free download from the App Store.
Apple has released a minor update to its Podcasts app focused on performance, stability and usability improvements. Originally released last month, the new standalone Podcasts app is designed to replace the Podcast playback functionality previously incorporated into the iOS Music app with additionl features such as the ability to search for and subscribe to new podcasts and download or stream podcast episodes over a 3G or Wi-Fi connection.
In addition to listing “significant improvements to performance and stability,” the Podcasts 1.0.1 update adds several small user interface tweaks, including displaying the number of unplayed episodes for each Podcast in the user’s library, displaying the Podcast titles in Top Stations in place of missing artwork, remembering the last-used playback speed when switching between episodes, and fixing problems with the Subscribe button and Top Stations artwork. Podcasts 1.0.1 is a universal app requiring iOS 5.1 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
IMDb has updated its iOS app adding new social features such as check-ins and message boards along with several other improvements to available information and discovery. IMDb 2.7 now allows users to “check-in” to Movies and TV shows and share what they are watching via Facebook and Twitter and access a variety of online message boards for topics ranging from general discussions to specific topics such as people, movies and shows.
The new version also increases the amount of IMDb data accessible within the app, including filming locations and soundtracks and adds a “More Like This” feature to help users discover new similar movies and TV shows while browsing through the app. New navigation buttons have also been added when viewing TV show episodes to allow users to quickly browse through episodes sequentially without having to navigate back and forth from the season listing. Additional enhancements include improvements to Watchlist support and a full History list along with various bug fixes and performance improvements. IMDb Movies & TV is a universal app requiring iOS 4.2 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Apple has released a new universal app dedicated to subscribing to, viewing and managing Podcasts on iOS devices. Dubbed simply Podcasts, the new app allows users to browse through hundreds of thousands of audio and video podcasts available in the iTunes Podcasts catalog, stream or download individual episodes for offline listening or subscribe to an entire podcast series. A Top Stations feature also provides a unique user interface with a quick view of the most popular podcasts, organized by topics such as arts, business, comedy, news and sports. A radio-like “Now Playing” screen with simple playback controls allow the user to easily skip forward and back and the app integrates with iTunes to access podcasts synced from an iTunes library in the traditional manner. The application also supports syncing episode bookmarks via iCloud for seamless playback between devices along with a built-in sleep timer and the ability to share favourite podcasts episodes via Twitter, Messages and Mail. Podcasts is a universal app requiring iOS 5.1 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download. Syncing episodes requires iTunes 10.6.3 or later and streaming is supported over both Wi-Fi and cellular data connections.
Parrot has released a major update for the FreeFlight remote control app for its AR.Drone Quadricopter (iLounge Rating: B+) adding a revamped user interface along with support for capturing photos and video. FreeFlight 2.0 now allows users to record high definition video from the AR.Drone 2.0 on-board camera via the Wi-Fi connection; recorded videos can then be uploaded to YouTube from directly within the app. Users can also capture photos from the AR.Drone and share them on Picasa. The updated version also provides a new “absolute control” piloting mode and support for performing acrobatic flip manoeuvres with the AR.Drone 2.0 ‘copter. Users can also now register with a new online community, the AR.Drone Academy, from within the app to share flight data, photos and videos and discover other users flying in their neighbourhood. FreeFlight 2.0 requires iOS 4.3 or later and an AR.Drone or AR.Drone 2.0 and is available from the App Store as a free download.
ABC Family has launched a universal iOS app providing full, on-demand access to ABC Family television content on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Developed by the same team responsible for the ABC Player app, the new ABC Family app is designed to provide viewers with convenient and timely on-the-go access to the network’s popular content with free, ad-supported episodes form a variety of original series including Jane By Design, Make It or Break It, Switched at Birth, and The Secret Life of the American Teenager.
New episodes will typically be available via the app the day after airing on the television network—at the same time as they are posted online at ABCFamily.com. Links are also provided within the app to allow users to purchase and download their favourite episodes directly from the iTunes Store. The universal ABC Family app also provides some additional unique features such as the ability save playback positions within an episode across multiple iOS devices; the app is also the first from the Disney/ABC Television Group to support closed captioning. ABC Family requires iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the U.S. App Store as a free download. Video streaming is available only to users physically located in the United States and its territories.
Melcher Media, creators of the bestselling interactive book app Al Gore: Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis, have released a new iPad app for Monty Python fans, Monty Python: The Holy Book of Days. Released in conjunction with the Blu-ray debut of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the interactive app provides a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of the troupe’s second feature film. Melcher Media worked with John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin to provide an immersive experience for Python enthusiasts as the group takes fans along on their foolhardy quest to make an epic film in just 28 days.
Monty Python: The Holy Book of Days includes an exclusive collection of previously unreleased outtakes, rehearsals, raw audio recordings, songs, sound effects, scripts, dozens of stills and more, while also adding new illustrations, animations and the story of the filming told in the Pythons’ own words. Packed with Python history, the app includes content such as Michael Palin’s day-by-day diary of the filming, Terry Gilliam’s storyboards, the original continuity sheets covering every shot and 360-degree views of actual props and costumes from the movie.
In addition the app can also function as a rich second screen companion when used in conjunction with the new Blu-ray version of the film. Using a supported Blu-ray player synced via Wi-Fi the iPad can be used as a remote control to jump to the specific scenes in the movie that users are browsing through and reading about in the app. For a limited time, Sony is also offering a $5 mail-in rebate when consumers purchase both the Blu-ray and iPad app. Monty Python: The Holy Book of Days requires iOS 4.3 or later and is available from the App Store for $5.
Disney Publishing has released two new storybook iOS apps featuring stories and original scenes based on Walt Disney Animation Studios’ feature films The Lion King and Tangled. The two new full-length interactive storybook apps, The Lion King: Timon’s Tale and Tangled: Storybook Deluxe integrate specially rendered film animation allowing children and Disney fans alike to re-live the classic tales on their iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.
Based on the 1994 film, The Lion King: Timon’s Tale ($5) tells the story of Simba’s adventures on his way to becoming king from the perspective of his meerkat sidekick Timon. The app includes customized interactivity, rich character development and the Academy Award winning score from the movie. Tangled: Storybook Deluxe ($7) draws from the more recent 2010 film recounting the magical adventures of Rapunzel as she journeys across the kingdom with thief Flynn Rider. The storybook app includes vibrant illustrations, word-for-word narration original character voices and interactive games, puzzles and other activities. Both apps are universal and require iOS 4.0 or later.
Vimeo has added native iPad support to the iOS app for its popular online video sharing service. The Vimeo app allows users to not only view and upload videos from their iOS device but also provides integrated video capture and advanced editing features including the ability to add transitions, titles and effects, layer background music and sound recordings and adjust volume levels. Vimeo 2.0 is now a universal app introducing a native iPad user interface. The new version also adds integration with the Vimeo Music Store and the ability to shoot video, create projects and browse featured channels without signing up for or logging into a Vimeo account. Users can also now view their subscriptions, likes, and watch later album and share, add comments and view licenses, credits and likes on other people’s videos. Vimeo 2.0 requires iOS 4.3 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Leading up to the Oscars, Umami has added two major new social features to its TV companion app for iPad users: FreezeFrame and Dishboard. Umami is a “second-screen” iPad app designed to allow TV viewers to easily see relevant background information while watching their favourite shows. The app can automatically recognize what a user is watching from major television networks by listening to the TV and display relevant information including rich show info including cast bios along with one-click access to official show pages, fan sites and Twitter, Facebook and Wikipedia pages. Version 1.2 adds a new FreezeFrame feature that allows users to instantly share and comment on an image of what they’re seeing on their TV screen via Twitter or Facebook, allowing users to share their favourite moments, actors, recipes, products and more in real-time while they watch. The update also adds Dishboard, a new social TV dashboard that allows users to visualize conversations occurring around their favourite TV show as it unfolds, collecting the most popular links and tweets that are trending around a show and allowing users to share what they’re interacting with while they watch. Umami for iPad is available from the App Store as a free download.
Netflix has released a major update to the iOS app for its video streaming service bringing its redesigned tablet user interface to the iPad. Originally announced last month and initially released for Android tablets, the new interface is designed to improve access to the Netflix catalog by displaying more titles on a given screen with a more attractive presentation. Multitouch gestures are also now supported allowing users to swipe through rows of titles with larger artwork, providing an experience similar to the iTunes Store. The update also brings Netflix availability to Latin America for both the iPhone and iPad versions and addresses several stability issues. Netflix 2.0 is available from the App Store as a free download.