ABC Aquarium ($3) by Peapod Labs is yet another release in the company’s ABC family of universal iOS education apps. Each app has brought a new theme, complete with an alphabet’s worth of new photographs, videos, and simple rub-on-the-picture activities, plus small user interface improvements. Aquarium leverages all of the prior titles’ UI tricks to provide a relatively seamless look at dozens of different fish and animals you’d find at aquariums, ranging from sea lions to koi, lobsters to zebrafish. The photos in this edition are particularly compelling, thanks to high-res details and great colors, though as with prior editions, some issues slip through — two images of Emperor Angelfish are nearly identical, for instance, and some of the swiping activities feel a bit underdeveloped and stale. Once again, each letter of the alphabet includes multiple photos for one or more creatures, plus in-frame YouTube videos that teach kids more than just the letters and words for each animal. Parents looking for bilingual instruction can also switch on an optional translation feature that flips each word between English and Spanish.
Disney’s Disney Junior Appisodes app (free) is a new hub to hold interactive versions of full-length TV episodes. Recommended for ages 4 and up, Disney Junior Appisodes let children touch, tap, swipe, tilt, shake, and talk through Disney Junior episodes while completing activities. The app comes with the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Road Rally Appisode—a standalone download we previously found incredibly impressive—and additional Appisodes are available for purchase within the app.
Apple is reportedly planning an “increased presence of third-party social networks” in iOS 7, and more specifically, a deeper integration of photo and video sharing services Flickr and Vimeo. According to a 9to5Mac report, users will be able to sign into Flickr or Vimeo using iOS 7’s Settings application. Users could log into and use Flickr and Vimeo as simply as they currently use Facebook or Twitter for iOS. However, the report notes a “very real possibility that any feature in testing could be removed” before iOS 7 is announced.
While a recent report detailed Apple and Yahoo’s discussion of a deeper partnership, it’s unknown if the Yahoo-owned Flickr was part of those talks. The proposed addition of Vimeo to iOS could conceivably further distance Apple from Google’s YouTube app; sources didn’t comment on Vimeo completely replacing YouTube.
- May 21, 2013
In front of the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Apple CEO Tim Cook reiterated the company’s claim that Apple uses no gimmicks to avoid paying U.S. taxes. “We pay all the taxes we owe. Every single dollar,” Cook said. Under the country’s current tax system, Cook argued that it would be expensive to bring money earned from international sales back to the U.S. As in the pre-released testimony, Cook said that Apple recommends “dramatic” tax code reform. Regarding Apple’s use of Irish subsidiaries, Apple Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer said those subsidiaries employ nearly 4,000 people. He noted that profits of Apple Operations International and Apple Sales International are already taxed by foreign governments, and U.S. taxes are unaffected by those profits.
Earlier in the hearing, U.S. Senators Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) brought up many of the points they made in their statements, while placing additional emphasis on Apple’s techniques in using subsidiaries such as Apple Operations International and Apple Sales International to avoid taxes. For instance, in the case of Apple Operations International: the U.S. system taxes based on where a company is incorporated, while Ireland — where AOI is incorporated — taxes based on the people managing the company. Since AOI is incorporated in Ireland but managed in the U.S., it appears to avoid any tax burden in either country — though Apple noted that AOI pays taxes on interest. Levin estimated Apple avoided paying $9 Billion in U.S. income taxes in 2012 alone. McCain pointed to a “flawed system,” while Levin said closing unjustified tax loopholes could provide hundreds of billions of dollars, “whether or not we reform the overall tax code.” By contrast, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) praised Apple and said the company should be apologized to for having to attend the hearing, and the company should be congratulated for creating jobs.
Google’s new music subscription service Google Play Music All Access doesn’t yet have its own iOS app, but an existing app may add support for the service in the near future. An update for gMusic, a $2 Google music player app, has been submitted to the App Store to support Google Play Music All Access. If accepted, the update will let users access Google’s new service through the gMusic iOS app. [via Wired]
- May 21, 2013
The U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations claims Apple has avoided paying billions of dollars in U.S. income taxes by using offshore entities. “Apple wasn’t satisfied with shifting its profits to a low-tax offshore tax haven,” subcommittee chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said in a statement. “Apple sought the Holy Grail of tax avoidance. It has created offshore entities holding tens of billions of dollars, while claiming to be tax resident nowhere.” The subcommittee also released a 40-page memorandum with findings and recommendations.
Apple CEO Tim Cook is scheduled to appear at a hearing on Apple’s tax practices this morning — the company released its testimony yesterday. In the testimony, Apple points out that it is “likely the largest corporate income tax payer in the US.” Subcommittee ranking member John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in a statement that “Apple claims to be the largest U.S. corporate taxpayer, but by sheer size and scale, it is also among America’s largest tax avoiders.” The subcommittee does not appear to believe that Apple acted illegally, however, the company took advantage of legal loopholes to dramatically lower its tax burden.
One of the findings in the subcommittee’s memorandum involves Apple’s tax rate in Ireland, which is said to be less than 2 percent. The subcommittee maintains Apple’s cost sharing agreement with offshore affiliates in Ireland is “primarily a conduit for shifting billions of dollars in income from the United States to a low tax jurisdiction,” as $74 billion in sales income was shifted to Ireland from 2009 to 2012. Ireland said it’s not to blame for Apple’s low payments, claiming its system is transparent, and other jurisdictions’ tax systems are at fault, according to Reuters.
AT&T has made a statement suggesting the carrier will allow all mobile video chat apps over cellular on its network by the end of the year. In a statement made to The Verge, AT&T said that pre-loaded Apple, Samsung and BlackBerry’s video chat apps will be enabled by mid-June “over cellular for our unlimited plan customers who have LTE devices from those three manufacturers.” Additionally, “Throughout the second half of this year, we plan to enable pre-loaded video chat apps over cellular for all our customers, regardless of data plan or device; that work is expected to be complete by year end.” The company notes that any mobile video chat app downloaded from the Internet can already be used. AT&T said due to the higher usage of pre-loaded apps, the carrier took a “deliberate” approach on enabling the apps on its network.
- May 20, 2013
Apple has released a document containing CEO Tim Cook’s testimony ahead of his scheduled appearance tomorrow before US Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Responding to questions about the company keeping more than $100 billion overseas, Apple used the testimony to state that it does not use tax gimmicks, and “has substantial foreign cash because it sells the majority of its products outside the US.” The company also points out that it is “likely the largest corporate income tax payer in the US” and notes that it has “created or supported approximately 600,000 jobs in the US.”
As anticipated by comments from Cook last year, Apple proposes that the current US corporate tax system must be reformed — “to reflect both the digital age and the globalization of commerce.” The company believes comprehensive reform should “be revenue neutral; eliminate all corporate tax expenditures; lower corporate income tax rates; and implement a reasonable tax on foreign earnings that allows free movement of capital back to the US.” It does not make more specific proposals in the testimony, but suggests that the simplification of the tax system is in line with its long-held belief system that simplicity is superior to complexity.
- May 20, 2013
Apple has introduced incentives to make the iPhone more affordable for customers in India. Indian students who trade in an old smartphone will get 7,777 rupees ($144) toward a new iPhone. Non-students will earn the equivalent of $130 toward an iPhone purchase. Additionally, customers who use an American Express credit card to purchase an iPhone will receive ten percent cash back — a maximum refund of $111 to customers who purchase an iPhone 4, 4S or 5 before June 10. [via ZDNet]
- May 20, 2013
Apple is testing a 1.5” OLED display for use in its smart watch, according to a report in Taiwan’s Economic Times. Reportedly, the company was looking at a 1.8” display, but decided for some reason that it was too big. For comparison, the sixth-generation iPod nano contained a wearable 1.5” touchscreen. Another report from the same publication notes that Foxconn has received a small-scale order for the smart watch for about 1,000 units, suggesting that Apple will be testing the device within the company. [via Macotakara]
- May 20, 2013
A new report sheds light on the latest issue alleged to be delaying negotiations for Apple’s streaming radio service: Apple and Sony Music have yet to agree on how much Apple should pay for songs which people only listen to partially before skipping. The report notes that Pandora pays full royalties for each skipped song, as per the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, even if the song “only plays for a few seconds.” Another recent report indicated Apple’s streaming music service could miss debuting at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference next month based on negotiation delays. Neither Sony Music nor BMG Rights Management — two of the largest music publishers — have apparently agreed to terms with Apple as of yet. [via CNET]
- May 17, 2013
- Site News
The latest edition of iLounge Weekly, our weekly newsletter covering all things iLounge, will be arriving in subscribers’ inboxes early next week. iLounge Weekly is a summary of the week’s best news, reviews, and feature articles we’ve published, and it also features giveaways and accessory discount offers from various companies. There’s still plenty of time to sign up and receive this week’s edition — just use the simple form below to submit your email address, if you haven’t done so already.
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Also don’t forget about our May giveaway, in which iLounge and Kensington are giving away ten KeyCover iPad keyboard cases. Simply fill out and submit the form on the giveaway page to enter; the giveaway will end on May 31, 2013 at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Good luck!
BlackBerry’s recently announced iOS app for its BBM messaging service is expected to launch this summer, but it apparently won’t be coming to iPad right away. According to a report, Vivek Bhardwaj, head of software portfolio at BlackBerry, said BBM will be coming to “iOS phones running iOS 6 and higher.” Bhardwaj said smartphone is the company’s “real focus” for BBM. “When you start looking at tablets, computers and other screens, the usage model changes and behaviour changes. For us right now the absolute focus is getting BBM onto smartphones,” he said. [via Trusted Reviews]
- May 17, 2013
Apple’s continuing negotiations with record labels could prevent the company from debuting its streaming music service by its Worldwide Developers Conference next month, according to a new report. Sony still hasn’t agreed to royalty terms with Apple, and BMG Rights Management, the fourth-largest music publisher, is also said to be holding out. But Universal Music Group, among other industry heavyweights, would like to see iRadio launch “as soon as possible.”
The article also notes how Google beat Apple to a steaming music service with the launch of Google Play Music All Access. While Google’s service is more of a standard subscription service similar to existing services, Apple is building a hybrid service — streaming with on-demand features. “Of course [Apple’s] negotiations were going to take longer,” a source said. Apple’s reluctance to pay advances has also reportedly played a role in slowing the pace of negotiations. [via The Verge]
- May 17, 2013
The Fair Labor Association has released a report acknowledging that Foxconn and Apple are making progress on improving work conditions, but the companies are still exceeding working-hour laws. Apple and Foxconn have agreed to comply with Chinese working-hour law by July — under the law, workers may work 40 hours per week and work 36 hours of overtime per month — but the report finds workers at three facilities have worked between 40 and 60 hours every week. The findings were based on observations and interviews at the facilities. Those same three Foxconn facilities have met more than 98 percent of the action items agreed upon by Foxconn and Apple, the FLA reports. The FLA report also notes “Progress has been made with respect to election of worker representatives to unions.” [via The Wall Street Journal]
- May 17, 2013
- Apple TV
CW announced its TV Now app will be coming to Apple TV. Much like the Xbox and mobile TV Now apps, the Apple TV app will offer full episodes of ad-supported CW shows the day after airing.
No cable authentication will be required to watch the shows. TV Now will be the first network television app on Apple TV — it’s reportedly set to launch sometime “in the coming weeks.” [via Deadline, MacRumors]
Moshi has released its USB Cable with Lightning Connector ($20). While it’s not terribly different in price or size from Apple’s official Lightning to USB Cable, this one-meter Lightning cable uses fancy aluminum plug jackets rather than the plastic ones favored by Apple.
Moshi’s USB Cable with Lightning Connector comes in black or white. Teased by the company at CES earlier this year, it is available now.
- May 16, 2013
Apple CEO Tim Cook has spoken out on the company’s tax practices prior to his scheduled testimony at a Senate hearing next Tuesday. Under pressure over Apple keeping more than $100 billion overseas, Cook told Politico that the company has acted legally. “I can tell you unequivocally Apple does not funnel its domestic profits overseas,” said Cook, “We don’t do that. We pay taxes on all the products we sell in the U.S., and we pay every dollar that we owe. And so I’d like to be really clear on that.” Like many companies, Apple allegedly keeps money overseas to avoid paying high U.S. taxes. Cook noted that Apple is one of the largest U.S. taxpayers — the company paid almost $6 billion in taxes in the 2012 fiscal year. Interestingly, it’s expected that Cook will share Apple’s ideas for comprehensive tax reform at Tuesday’s testimony. [via Politico]
- May 16, 2013
- iPhone Accessories
Following an announcement earlier this year, iLuv has released Aud 5 ($150), a Lightning speaker dock for iPhone 5. Aud 5 features both full-range speakers and a passive radiator for bass. An iPhone 5 can be charged while docked in the center of the speaker on a pivoting Lightning connector.
iLuv’s Aud 5 also features a 3.5mm auxiliary input for backward compatibility. It’s available now.
Each time there’s a new version of Can Knockdown, we stand up and take notice. On the surface, the universal iOS release Can Knockdown 3 ($2) is the type of super-simple game that once dominated the App Store—flick to toss balls at cans, knocking them over. Yet developer Infinite Dreams keeps raising the bar with each iteration, this time improving the realtime 3-D graphics to virtually photorealistic levels on Retina iPads, and adding puzzles to the 100 included levels. While the music is only alright, the sound effects, controls, and graphics otherwise work really nicely together, and the levels continue to evolve in challenge as you continue playing. Currently on sale for only $1, this should be a no-brainer download if you’re looking for something fun to occupy your spare time.
eBay has updated its free iOS apps for both the iPhone and iPad, bumping them to versions 3.0.0 and 2.3.0, respectively. The iPhone app has been redesigned, including larger photos for users of iOS 6 and beyond. Most notably, the app allows users of some US states to scan in their drivers licenses for fast and easy eBay registration. Last minute bidding has also been improved, and the new eBay Shopping Cart lets users check out multiple items at once. The updated iPad app makes a number of changes as well, including improved photos and easier browsing.
Apple has released iTunes 11.0.3, adding a new MiniPlayer, improved Songs view, and support for multi-disc albums. A greater emphasis has been put on allowing users to showcase album artwork in the redesigned MiniPlayer and Songs view, and the MiniPlayer now includes a built-in progress bar.
In addition, users with multiple disc albums can now have them appear as a single album. Apple also notes that the update provides performance improvements for working with large iTunes libraries.