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.
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]
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.
A newly published Apple patent application reveals a system whereby one iOS device could control the flashes on other devices to better light a scene for photos. The method would allow an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch to use the flashes on multiple other iPhones, for instance, by initiating a master-slave connection. A signal can be sent from the primary device to the secondary devices to adjust timing, intensity, duration, or flash angle.
As described in the filing, instructions sent from the primary device could be displayed as text on the secondary device’s screen. The devices could also be paired using Bluetooth to trigger the flash at the right time. [via Apple Insider]
Google made a number of iOS-related announcements today at its I/O Developers Conference, including several that have potentially far-reaching consequences for its iPhone and iPad applications. First, the company released its Hangouts app for iOS, a free messaging app that lets users share photos and make video calls across computers, phones, and tablets. Additionally, Google also demonstrated a redesigned version of Google Maps, which will feature enhanced navigation, a five-star rating system, a 3D view, cards, and more prominent Zagat reviews, among many updates. The latest update will come to iOS devices in the summer, and will also bring to the web version a considerably cleaner interface.
Additionally, Google announced a revamped version of Google+, which will look more like the Google+ iPad app and add considerable new features such as automatic photo synchronization and sorting; an enhanced Google Now voice search for desktop computers that hints more Siri-like functionality will come to its iOS Google app; and Google Play Music All Access, an unlimited streaming music service. All Access will compete with Pandora, Spotify and other subscription services, as it beats Apple’s rumored iRadio service to market, offering users access to millions of tracks from various recording labels. Users who sign up for a 30-day trial by June 30 will pay $8 a month. After that, users can sign up for $10 a month.
Although the Federal Communications Commission has asked the Federal Aviation Administration to allow more in-flight device use, a new report suggests that pilot reports and scientific studies suspect that passenger electronics are interfering with aviation equipment. More than a decade of reports show “dozens” of cases where electronics were suspected of interference. One anecdote in the report tells of an iPhone being switched off, which coincided with the solution of a compass problem. While the airline industry is noted to be divided in changing the current guidelines for in-flight device use, the FAA will hear recommendations from its own advisory committee on the subject, likely in July. [via Bloomberg]
ABC has relaunched its ABC Player app as Watch ABC, which now streams live programming in limited markets. Currently, live streaming of ABC programming is only available in the New York City and Philadelphia areas.
The app is currently available in an “open access” preview, but starting July 1, the app will request verification of an eligible TV provider to access live streaming video. Watch ABC will expand to other markets in the coming months, including Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, Raleigh-Durham, Fresno, Boston, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and Milwaukee.
1Password ($18), AgileBits’ password manager and secure wallet app, has been updated to version 4.2. The update includes a number of improvements to 1Browser, the app’s built-in web browser, including use of a strong password generator. It’s now possible to share items through Messages or email. Search has also been improved, with the ability to expand results across all fields. Results also show the primary URL of the term, as well.
Amazon Mobile has released Amazon Cloud Drive Photos (free), an app for storing photos in Amazon’s cloud. The app automatically saves photos taken while the app is running. Amazon offers 5GB of free storage to save about 2,000 photos. Users can buy up to 1TB of additional storage.
In a quiet server-side update, Apple has given Siri the ability to respond to requests with quotes, notably to suggest that the user is being too long-winded. When asking the assistant a question — presumably one that Apple’s servers find too long or difficult to parse — Siri responds with William Strunk and Thomas Jefferson quotes alluding to brevity. Notably, the thirty-word Strunk quote itself takes several seconds for Siri to read aloud, and in one case was delivered in the middle of dictation.
The Strunk and Jefferson quotes appear to have been added to Siri over the last week and a half, and represent a new direction for Apple’s virtual assistant. Rather than just recognizing or failing to recognize a user’s natural speech, Siri now appears to be using quotations to change the user’s speaking patterns.
Apple informed staff at a recent town hall session that major changes would be coming to the AppleCare and AppleCare+ programs this fall, according to a report. Many of the changes will apparently focus on in-house repairs — instead of exchanging an iPhone, iPod, or iPad for a new device, Apple will repair the same device and return it to the customer. Apple Stores will reportedly have the ability to replace displays by June, and to repair cameras, sleep/wake buttons and logic boards by July. Advanced diagnostic tools to remotely assess hardware issues will also be available. It’s unclear whether this new system will lengthen initial turnaround times for customers, who were previously able to walk into Apple Stores and swap devices quickly, though repaired units might not require time-consuming content restoration.
AppleCare may introduce a new tier for consumers, instead of specific products, and offer in-store training for customers. There’s also a possibility that AppleCare will be reconfigured as a subscription model. Additionally, free support for the iPhone may jump from 90 days to one year without buying AppleCare. Apple Vice President Tara Burch announced the changes, which would come to the U.S., then the rest of the world, reportedly under the “One Apple” brand — though it’s unclear if “One Apple” is an internal or marketing term. [via Apple Insider]
Peapod Labs’ just-released Bugsy’s Math Quest ($3) stars the company’s long-time mascot, Bugsy the hamster, who walks through 2-D side-scrolling levels, facing animals and monsters every few seconds. To get past most opponents, you need to tap once or twice on the bottom-of-screen keypad to enter digits that solve a multiplication or division problem. Each level ends with a boss encounter akin to a quiz, where you need to rapidly solve a handful of problems in a row to defeat the boss and move on. The game’s flat graphics and audio are pretty good, improving on what we’ve previously seen from Peapod’s Bugsy titles, but even the easy difficulty level will prove challenging for the young (4-5-year-old) children the app claims to be appropriate for. This is due in equal parts to the fast pacing, the lack of instructional content, and choice of multiplication and division rather than addition and subtraction; Math Quest is really appropriate for older kids who already know basic multiplication and division tables from school. They’ll find this to be a great reinforcer — better than flash cards — but a mode that teaches rather than just drilling on correct answers would be a nice addition.
Netflix’s newly-updated version 4.1 Netflix (free) app now makes it easier for binge watchers with the new post-play feature. When watching a TV show, the Netflix app will now automatically queue up the next episode and play it without the user having to do anything. For movies, post-play lists the three best related movie recommendations while the credits of the current movie start to roll.
Multiple reports have noted a surge in mobile traffic from devices using iOS 7 recently, as Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference is now about a month away. Notably, there’s been a reported rise in usage from iOS 7 iPhones and iPads in the Cupertino and San Francisco areas. Increased testing suggests Apple will have a public preview of iOS 7 available for developers at the conference, as many already expect. [via MacRumors, TechCrunch]
New for iPad from Warner Music Group is The Doors, ($5) a new app that “brings The Doors’ story to life.” An interactive career retrospective of the Jim Morrison-fronted rock band, The Doors app features insider stories about the group, a timeline of The Doors’ history, song samples, lyrics, and more. A graphic novel about the band’s famous “Miami Incident” is included, as are 44 video commentaries and 6 full-length music videos.
PDFpen for iPad ($10) by SmileOnMyMac lets users make edits and corrections to a PDF file on the screen. It can use iCloud, Dropbox, Evernote, and Google Docs as storage. The iPad app notably added support for Adonit’s new Jot Touch 4 pressure-sensitive stylus in version 1.5.2, making it one of the first apps to support the Bluetooth 4 peripheral. Since that recent update, version 1.5.3 has resolved issues with Dropbox and other various crash issues.
With users of Google Now for iOS — found within the Google Search app — complaining about excessive battery drain, a recently published post on Lifehacker suggested turning off location reporting in settings for a fix. However, Google responded to the Lifehacker report, claiming that reports about excessive loss of battery life are “incorrect.” The company claims Google Now uses cell towers and wifi hot spots “for much lower battery impact.” Google claims Google Now for iOS was tested extensively for months without any significant battery impact.
Originally a Facebook-only game, Rovio’s Angry Birds Friends is now available on iOS for free. The game still revolves around Facebook though — you have to sign into Facebook to compete in the tournaments and challenge friends for trophies. New levels are added to tournaments every week, and the iOS game syncs automatically with the Facebook game. However, keep in mind the only single-player experience focuses on practicing with power-ups. It’s free, but Angry Birds Friends is still only worth downloading if you’ve got friends willing to play along. Otherwise, you’d be better off sticking with one of Rovio’s many other flying fowl titles.
Haunted Hollow (free) from 2K Games was developed by Firaxis, the same studio that made Sid Meier’s Civilization and XCOM: Enemy Unknown. The new strategy game for iOS lets players build and rule over a mansion while creating an army of monster minions. Players can send monsters such as vampires, zombies, mummies, witches, and reapers into town to capture townhouses and do battle. Multiplayer mode lets Haunted Hollow players face off against friends.
A “sweeping software overhaul” of iOS leaves Apple at risk of delaying the operating system’s release, according to a new report. While Apple expects to release iOS 7 “on time as soon as September,” “engineers are racing to finish” the software in time for a preview at next month’s WWDC, and internal development milestones are being shortened due to the rush. As noted in a previous report, Apple’s Jony Ive is apparently making massive changes to iOS, moving toward a flat interface and away from skeuomorphism. “More dramatic changes” are also expected for email and calendar features in the new iOS. Ive is reportedly taking great care to review new designs, as Apple looks to avoid a repeat of iOS 6’s Maps fiasco, which cost former iOS software chief Scott Forstall his job. [via Bloomberg]
Zynga has released the sequel to its once insanely popular game Draw Something in two incarnations: Draw Something 2 ($3) and Draw Something 2 Free. Both games feature dozens of new tools, patterns, stamps, and colors for drawing. Also featured are new words, new play modes, and a feed that shares drawings with all of your friends. The premium version also includes a free Sparkle Pen, no ads between turns, a free star and coin bonus, and thousands of extra new words.
Already beloved for its interactive iOS storybooks, Nosy Crow has hit another home run with the release of Little Red Riding Hood by Nosy Crow ($5), a lightly modernized take on the classic fable. As would be expected from this story, Little Red Riding Hood embarks on a walk through the forest to carry a basket of food to her ailing grandmother, but Nosy Crow adds several branching paths to the forest, enabling kids to choose additional items that will help Red defeat the big, bad wolf at her grandmother’s home—plus multiple endings. Beyond the fun of collecting these items in various mini games, the developer has populated the app with zoomable high-definition artwork, plenty of voice narration, and intuitively interactive elements that really bring the story’s scenes to life. This is certainly Nosy Crow’s best storybook yet, which says a lot given that it has previously released some of the very best iOS kids apps we’ve tested. Fans of the story should grab this one without thinking twice; it’s that impressive.
Following a recent report about iOS 7’s interface, 9to5Mac has more information on Apple’s plans for the new operating system, reporting that “Apple plans to move aggressively into the in-car integration space later this year.” Multiple sources noted Apple is “working with car makers to deeply embed iOS’s Maps and Siri services into cars.” The company is reportedly working with car makers on center consoles that could attach iOS devices — at that point, an optimized version of Apple’s Maps could then appear on the car’s display, with Siri used to control Maps and other features. It’s noted that the new functionality could still be a long way from public release, and the feature may require newer iOS devices.
Apple has quietly crept further into the automotive world recently. Volkswagen introduced the iBeetle, a special edition Beetle with iPhone integration — though the integration is not nearly as deep as the proposals reported with iOS 7. Touted as an iOS 6 feature, Apple’s Siri Eyes Free feature was first integrated by GM, followed by Honda and Acura, with BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, and Chrysler also announced as partners. Apple and Ferrari have apparently discussed a deeper partnership, and Ferrari’s FF model integrates Siri voice commands, using iPad minis for rear seat entertainment. Also, Apple recently filed two patents related to communication between iOS devices and vehicles.
An recently published Apple patent demonstrates that Apple has continued to contemplate the use of a physical controller accessory with iOS devices. However, the patent filing appears to be mainly concerned about how users with disabilities can interact with touchscreen devices.
A controller could offer advantages to users who aren’t “physically present” at the touchscreen, users who “are unable to provide touch input,” and those with disabilities who could nonetheless use a physical accessory to control the touchscreen. Apple’s image of a controller accessory resembles a joystick, though gaming doesn’t appear to be the focus of the patent; the basic patent concepts could be applied for other purposes. [via Apple Insider]
Sources claim the look of Apple’s upcoming iOS 7 will be simpler than past incarnations, according to a new report from 9to5Mac. “Multiple people who have either seen or have been briefed on the upcoming iOS 7” claim the new operating system will be attractive to new users, but “potentially unsettling” for long-time iOS users. The interface is “very, very flat,” one source says, while another says it loses “all signs of gloss, shine, and skeumorphism” (sp). Immediately after the departure of former Senior Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall, speculation has been that Senior Vice President of Industrial Design Jony Ive’s work on the new OS would move away from skeuomorphism, which Forstall and former Apple CEO Steve Jobs both favored.
One source compared iOS 7 to the Windows Phone UI. Reportedly, there is no new learning curve for the new operating system, as the “core apps and system fundamentals” operate similarly to the current iOS. Interface changes allegedly include a new icon set for native apps, newly designed tool bars, and tab bars. Apple has also apparently been researching ways to add more quick glance panels, such as Notification Center, into the new software. One idea included swipes from the left and right of the display. Sources note iOS 7 is codenamed “Innsbruck,” likely after the Austrian city.