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2014 iPad iPhone iPod Buyers' Guide from iLounge.com

News

iLounge Game Spotlight: Hitman GO

The Hitman game series has proven popular enough to spawn a number of sequels, as well as a feature film. And with the release of Hitman GO ($5), it’s clear Square Enix thinks the franchise still has legs, as Agent 47 makes a big move from stealth action/adventure to stealth strategy.

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It’s important for gamers to think of Hitman GO as a spinoff, rather than a proper continuation of the franchise. Perhaps Agent 47 will become the next Mario, popping into go-karts, onto tennis courts, and so forth. Or not. Hitman GO is a puzzler made to look like a board game, as Agent 47 is merely a piece to be moved strategically from space to space. The game’s most “violent” moments involve knocking over other pieces. This is way more fun than it initially sounds.

Alleged next-gen iPad Air front panel leaked

  • April 18, 2014
  • iPad

Alleged leaked pictures of the next-generation iPad Air show a new integrated display. The photos, posted by Dutch site One More Thing, show the LCD layer integrated into the glass display, and the site says it appears the device may be even thinner than the current iPad Air.

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If the overall dimensions stay the same, an integrated display could give Apple a bit more room for internal components, including a larger battery. It’s rumored that the new iPad will come with Touch ID and an A8 processor. [via MacRumors]

Apps: Baby Bundle, Breeze, Helpouts + iOOTP Baseball 2014

The recently released free Baby Bundle app from Nicab Inc claims to be “the first all-in-one parenting app developed by a pediatric expert.” The app offers a free daily activity monitor for sleeping, feeding, diaper changing, and pumping, a parenting guide, and an interactive forum for parents to offer questions and comments. In-app purchases include a photo journal, vaccination and check-up organizer, health reference feature, growth tracker, and a simple iOS-to-iOS device baby monitor. Data can be synchronized on up to four iOS devices.

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Breeze (free) is a fitness tracking app from FitnessKeeper, best known for the RunKeeper app. The new app only works on the iPhone 5s, using the phone’s M7 motion coprocessor to automatically track steps throughout the day. As soon as Breeze is downloaded, it asks the user if it can access motion data — it then gives users the last seven days of data, the very first time the app is used. A few quick jaunts around the house with the 5s in pocket showed us Breeze was capable of tracking steps with solid accuracy as it ran in the background. Users can choose to get status updates on their progress throughout the day, and Breeze claims to not be a battery hog. For many users who want to get an idea of their daily activity levels without committing to a fitness tracking accessory, Breeze is a great option.

Apple selling refurbished iPad mini with Retina display

  • April 17, 2014
  • iPad

Apple is now selling refurbished iPad mini with Retina display models for the first time in its online store. The 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB capacity Wi-Fi models are being sold in both silver and space gray. Prices for the refurbished models are $339, $419, and $509, respectively. No refurbished Wi-Fi + Cellular options are currently available. [via 9to5Mac]

Yahoo aims to become default iOS Safari search engine

Yahoo is attempting to make its search engine the default option on Apple’s iPhone and iPad Safari browsers, Re/Code reports. Though it is a major goal for Yahoo, it “has not happened as yet officially and no deal is imminent.” Currently, Google is the default search on iOS, though users can change that to Yahoo through setting adjustments.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer reportedly has the attention of some Apple executives, including SVP of design Jony Ive. One source said “it will take more than pretty pictures” to get Apple to switch from Google as the default browser, as Apple aims for providing a top-notch user experience. It’s notable that Apple already uses Yahoo to power its iOS weather and stocks apps.

Apple working with Shazam on iOS song discovery feature

Apple is partnering with Shazam on a song discovery feature that will appear in a future iOS update, Bloomberg reports. The new feature will not require a separate download, and it will also incorporate Siri so that an iPhone user has the option of doing a voice search for what song is playing. It’s likely the app will then be able to link users to iTunes to purchase the song — as the report notes, Apple has been considering several options on how to tweak iTunes, with a number of rumors and reports already floating about. Though it’s pointed out that Apple will preview iOS 8 at its Worldwide Developer Conference next month, it’s unclear if the new feature will be a part of the next major iteration of iOS, or if it will come in a separate update.

iWatch poll ends, first accessory poll begins

Our latest poll, Which potential iWatch feature are you most interested in?, has now closed. With new rumours continuing to circulate about Apple’s coming iWatch, including reports that the device may have a more health or fitness based focus, we were curious to know what our readers would most like to see in the new device.

Interestingly, thirty-two percent of readers responded that they have no interest in the iWatch at all. Twenty-two percent of readers were interested in fitness tracking applications, while nineteen percent wanted to see phone/messaging integration, and sixteen percent thought that monitoring vital signs would be of interest. The remaining responses were split somewhat evenly between media playback controls, induction charging, and a sapphire display.

Hyundai bringing CarPlay to 2015 Sonata

Hyundai announced it is bringing Apple CarPlay functionality to its 2015 Sonata, making the Sonata one of the first vehicles to feature CarPlay. The functionality “will be available on 2015 Sonatas equipped with navigation later in the 2015 model year.”

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While the 2015 Sonata will be released early this summer, the wording of the release makes it seem as if CarPlay functionality won’t be available immediately in the first batch of vehicles. CarPlay will eventually be available in 2015 Sonatas equipped with Hyundai’s eight-inch touchscreen navigation systems.

Apple agrees to anti-theft smartphone measures

Apple and a number of other smartphone makers have agreed to a voluntary commitment to include anti-theft technology on phones starting next year, Re/Code reports. Other smartphone makers, including Google, HTC, Motorola, Microsoft, Nokia, and Samsung have all agreed to make such a commitment, and the five largest U.S. cellular carriers are also on board. All those involved have agreed devices sold after July 2015 must have the ability to have data wiped remotely and be rendered inoperable at a user’s request. Recovered devices could then later be restored. Apple is ahead of the game, as Activation Lock in iOS 7 already lets users prevent reactivation of a stolen or lost device.

8GB iPhone 5c launches in more European countries

Apple has made the 8GB iPhone 5c available in a number of European countries today. The low-capacity iPhone is now on sale in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and Sweden. In each country, the 8GB 5c is roughly $50 cheaper than the 16GB 5c. The 8GB 5c is still unavailable in the U.S. [via 9to5Mac]

Update: The 8GB iPhone 5c is also now available in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland. [via MacRumors]

iPhone 6 metal mockups spotted at electronics show

A few metal mockups of the alleged iPhone 6 — said to be used to make cases for the upcoming device — were spotted at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair, Macotakara reports. The pictured mockups do seem to somewhat resemble what’s been indicated for the expected upcoming 4.7” iPhone 6.

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However, it’s notable that the FaceTime camera position on the mockup appears to be lower and closer to the screen than on the alleged front panel leak from earlier today, casting doubts upon recent pictures. The report notes there wasn’t “much confidence” about the mockup unit.

Alpine Electronics announces aftermarket CarPlay products

Alpine Electronics officially announced today it will offer aftermarket products compatible with Apple CarPlay. A Monday report noted Alpine would sell such a system, and today Alpine confirmed the existence of upcoming products. The Alpine system will be an in-dash touch screen that incorporates CarPlay using a Lightning connector.

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Alpine said the CarPlay-compatible products will be available in the U.S. and Europe “later in 2014.” Models and pricing won’t be announced until the time of launch. The news comes on the same day Pioneer announced it will be incorporating CarPlay into some of its own existing in-dash systems.

Apps: A&E/History 2.0, Ally 3.0, Amazon Cloud Drive Photos 3.0 + Pandora 5.3

A&E Television Networks Mobile has updated two of its free apps — A&E and History — to version 2.0, bringing live streaming TV to both apps. Of course, as you may have suspected, both apps require signing in with a TV provider. A quick glance at the list shows that many major TV providers are supported.

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Ally Financial has released a major update to its Ally Mobile Banking (free) app. The app looks much cleaner and is easier to navigate after being redesigned for iOS 7 in version 3.0.0. A new graph shows a user’s total balance in all Ally accounts, and another new features shows all consolidated activity. Ally is also now offering more details on check holds within the app. Mobile check deposit also has a cleaner look when using the iOS device camera. A number of other UI tweaks make for a much better banking experience.

Pioneer officially announces aftermarket CarPlay access

Pioneer officially announced today it will be releasing an aftermarket system for Apple CarPlay, as was previously reported. The company will make CarPlay accessible through a firmware update to its existing NEX in-dash multimedia receivers, which range in price from $700 to $1,400.

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Pioneer says CarPlay compatibility will be available “in early summer 2014.” To access CarPlay, users must plug a Lightning-to-USB cable into the multimedia receiver, connecting their iPhone 5 or later running iOS 7.1.

iWatch: LG to supply flexible displays, September release?

LG Display will be the sole supplier of flexible displays for Apple’s upcoming iWatch, according to South Korea’s Digital Times. It’s reported that Apple plans on bringing the device to the market in September. As previously reported, the Digital Times article claims Apple will release the iWatch in two different sizes — separate models with a 1.3” and 1.5” display, respectively. A previous Korean report claimed LG Chem would supply stepped lithium-ion batteries to Apple for the iWatch.

Alleged iPhone 6 front panel, batteries leaked

A picture of the alleged iPhone 6 front panel was posted on Weibo. The alleged white front panel is shown next to an iPhone 5s. Indeed, it looks like a larger iPhone screen, and would belong to the rumored 4.7” model iPhone.

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Additionally, a shot of alleged iPhone 6 batteries has also been leaked. The picture shows five batteries in a tray, but doesn’t offer further context. [via iPhon.fr, nowhereelse.fr]

Windows Phone 8.1 supports Passbook passes

According to a post on WPCentral.com, Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 8.1 software allows Apple Passbook passes to be used natively. When a user chooses to download a Passbook pass, it will be downloaded to the Microsoft Wallet application, and can be used as if it were on an iPhone or iPod touch. It’s unclear what specific Passbook features are supported, or if Apple will put a stop to the process.

Alpine to release aftermarket CarPlay system

Alpine Electronics will sell a standalone console featuring Apple’s CarPlay system this fall, Nikkei Asian Review reports. It will be the first aftermarket CarPlay product. The system will be available first in the U.S. and Europe and will “likely cost around $500 to $700.” It’s noted that the screen will “likely” be seven inches, and connect to an iPhone 5 or later with a wire. Previously, it’s been reported that other manufacturers — Pioneer and Mercedes — have been working on their own aftermarket CarPlay solutions, but Alpine’s system is the first with a reported release date and price.

iLounge Game Spotlight: R.B.I. Baseball 14

The words “R.B.I. Baseball” instantly conjure up memories for gamers of a certain age and ilk. First released in Japan in 1986, R.B.I. Baseball has continued to attract a cult following over time, much like the Tecmo Bowl series. Now, the franchise has been updated and relaunched with R.B.I. Baseball 14 ($5) by MLB.com.

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Staying true to its roots, R.B.I. Baseball 14 is focused on quick, arcade-style baseball gameplay. Gamers searching for advanced management strategies and deep gameplay should look elsewhere. R.B.I. Baseball is a throwback to old baseball games — controls are very simple. While pitching, users can control the speed and direction of their pitches, and that’s it. You won’t find four separate buttons for separate pitches here. You want to throw a changeup? Hold up on the onscreen joystick. Fastball? Hold down. It’s old school. The graphics aren’t flashy, but they do the trick, and the animations are smooth enough. A nine-inning game of R.B.I. takes about a half hour to play, and games can also be set for three or six innings.

Report: Apple bans UK music service from iAd

Bloom.fm, a U.K.-based streaming music service, has reportedly been blocked from using iAd by Apple. A spokesman for Bloom told CNET Apple must view the much smaller service as a threat. “We were surprised at Apple’s decision to ban us from their iAd network as their iTunes Radio service isn’t even available in the U.K.,” the spokesman said. “Bloom.fm gives you 22 million tracks for £1 a month — the price of a single download on iTunes — so I can see why they’d want to protect their business.” Although Bloom spent £2,000 per month on iAd, the company was informed it could no longer advertise on the platform. Apple said Bloom.fm is “a competitive service to iTunes Radio and it is against Apple policy,” according to a Bloom tweet. iTunes Radio still has yet to launch in the U.K., though a report said the service would launch in early 2014.

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