G5 Entertainment has released Virtual City Playground HD, a sequel to the company’s popular city-building game introduced last fall. Virtual City Playground is an expanded version of the previous game adding 87 new quests, over 90 new buildings and landmarks and Facebook and Game Center integration. Players can build their own open-ended city in a see sandbox mode with no predefined goals or take on any of the optional scenarios for more challenges.
Virtual City HD also incorporates a new freemium model with In-App Purchases that can be used to buy in-game currency, city credits and invest points to progress more quickly in the game and access additional content. Game Center integration allows users to post high scores and achievements and users can also share their achievements on Facebook to earn invest points. G5 Entertainment also plans to release additional regular free updates to offer more content, game mechanics and improved social integration. Virtual City Playground HD is available from the App Store as a free download.
Comex, founder of the browser-based jailbreak tool JailbreakMe and major figure in the jailbreak community, has announced that he will soon be starting an internship with Apple. “It’s been really, really fun, but it’s also been a while and I’ve been getting bored,” he wrote in a Twitter update. “So, the week after next I will be starting an internship with Apple.” It’s unclear what type of position the coder might hold with Apple, but given his background, it seems likely that his expertise may be used to discover and plug vulnerabilities in iOS and in mobile Safari in particular. [via 9to5Mac]
Samsung has filed its opposition to Apple’s motion for a preliminary injunction in the United States, and in doing so has cited a sci-fi classic as evidence that the iPad’s design existed well before Apple’s patent covering it. Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents reports that in its briefing, Samsung cited a pair of devices shown during Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey as valid prior art for a certain iPad-related design patent. “In a clip from that film lasting about one minute, two astronauts are eating and at the same time using personal tablet computers,” the briefing reads. “As with the design claimed by the D’889 Patent, the tablet disclosed in the clip has an overall rectangular shape with a dominant display screen, narrow borders, a predominately flat front surface, a flat back surface (which is evident because the tablets are lying flat on the table’s surface), and a thin form factor.” While the actors are seen interacting with the tablets as they would static video screens, the scene does not show the devices running an OS, applications of any sort, or otherwise performing other tasks one would associate with an iPad. The clip is available for viewing below. [via MDN]
Taiwan-based Radiant Opto-Electronics is set to become the major supplier of backlight units for the iPad 3, according to a new report. Citing anonymous industry sources, DigiTimes reports that LG Display will be the largest supplier of LCD panels for the next-generation iPad, while Samsung and Sharp will also be counted on as LCD suppliers. The report claims that Samsung relies on Radiant for all its backlights for iPad 3 panels, while Radiant’s backlights account for over half the backlights needed by LG, and will also be used in some of Sharp’s panels, although Sharp also sources some of its panels from a Japan-based supplier. A report from late last week indicated that the iPad 3 will launch in early 2012 and will sport a high-resolution 2048 x 1536 display.
Apple has dropped its pricing on refurbished first-generation iPad units, offering them for as low as $299. As of the time of this writing, 16GB Wi-Fi only refurbished units are priced at $299—although currently out of stock—while 32GB units sell for $399 and 64GB models are priced at $499, with the latter pair listed as in stock and shipping within 24 hours. Wi-Fi + 3G models are also available and sell for a $100 premium over their Wi-Fi only counterparts.
Support for Japan’s earthquake warning system has been discovered in the latest beta release of iOS 5. 9 to 5 Mac reports that iOS 5 users in Japan can turn on an early earthquake notifications via a slider at the bottom of the iOS Notification Center settings pane. According to a Time magazine profile of the system from earlier this year, it provides warning messages to users from seconds to one to two minutes before the most damaging waves strike, giving them a chance to seek cover. As noted in the report, the new feature will likely replace third-party apps offering similar functionality.
Evernote has released a major update to its universal note management app for iOS devices adding support for creating and editing rich text notes, accessing shared notebooks and more. Evernote 4.1 now allows users with iOS 4.2 or later to add rich text styles, lists and links to notes as well as editing existing Evernote items containing simple styles; prior versions of Evernote could display rich-text content from Evernote, however users were limited to appending plain-text information to existing formatted notes. Additional new features include the ability to access notebooks shared by other users, view images in notes as a slideshow and search within individual notes.
The iPad version of the universal app also now sports a new look look and feel with the ability to pinch and zoom in the note list and select multiple notes for simplified sharing and deletion. The iPhone and iPod touch version also includes redesigned screens for creating and editing notes. Additionally, users with an Evernote Premium subscription can now also specify a password to lock the Evernote application on the device. Evernote is a universal app and is available from the App Store as a free download. An Evernote Premium subscription is required for some features and additional storage and can be purchased within the app for $5/month or $45/year.
Online music service Rdio has introduced a new Family Subscription Plan allowing users to purchase multiple Rdio Unlimited accounts for family members under a single subscription and at a discounted price. Rdio Unlimited accounts are designed for individual personal use and do not allow streaming of music from more than one device simultaneously; under the family plan each member gets their own separate Rdio Unlimited account with control over their own music collection, social network and other Rdio features.
Once subscribed to the Family Plan, the master user can invite users via e-mail to either create new accounts or link their existing accounts to the plan. Invitations are accepted either via the Rdio website or using the Rdio iOS app and users under the same Family Plan are automatically setup to follow each other on Rdio by default. Family Plans start at $18/month for two accounts with each additional account priced at $5/month extra. Recently updated with iPad support, the Rdio iOS app is available from the App Store as a free download.
Pocket Gamer reports that iOS game developer Gameloft has officially confirmed that it plans to “release everything as Universal” going forward. Until recently, the popular game development studio had traditionally been releasing separate iPhone and iPod touch versions of most of its games, followed later by separate “HD” versions for the iPad that had to be purchased separately. In addition to requiring users with both iPhone/iPod touch and iPad devices to potentially purchase two versions, the HD versions often came out weeks or months after the initial iPhone release.
Over the past few weeks, new releases such as BackStab and 9mm diverged from this practice, but it was unclear whether this was exclusive to these titles or indicative of a change in policy on the company’s part. Gameloft’s Digital Marketing PR Manager, Gregory Wintgens has now confirmed that this is in fact a reflection of the company’s future plans as a result of consumer feedback. [via Touch Arcade]
Apple has released the sixth beta version of its upcoming iOS 5 operating system for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Listed as build 9A5302b and available exclusively to paid iOS developers, the release does not appear to include any major changes from prior versions, and is once again accompanied by matching beta versions of the iOS 5 SDK, iTunes 10.5, and Apple TV Software. iOS 5 beta 6 is now available to paid iOS developers from the iOS Dev Center.
Apple is preparing to launch an iPad with a high resolution display in early 2012, according to a new report. Citing people familiar with the situation, the Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is currently working with component suppliers and its assembler in Asia for trial production of the next-generation tablet, and has already ordered key components such as display panels and chips. The report claims that the next-generation iPad is expected to boast a 2048 x 1536 display, which has already shipped in small quantities for sampling. Such a display would likely qualify as a “Retina Display” in Apple’s eyes. “Suppliers will ramp up production and try to improve the yield rate for the new iPad in the fourth quarter before its official launch in early 2012,” said a person at one component supplier, which has already received orders for parts for roughly 1.5 million next-generation iPads in the fourth quarter.
HP today announced that will discontinue operations for its webOS devices, effectively removing iPhone and iPad competitors such as the Pre line of phones and touchPad tablet computer from the market. “HP reported that it plans to announce that it will discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones,” reads a statement from the company. “HP will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward.”
Notably, the same press release states that the company is exploring alternatives for its Personal Systems Group (PSG), where former Apple executive Jon Rubinstein now serves as senior vice president of product innovation. Options for the group, which is responsible for business and consumer PCs, mobile computing devices and workstations, include a full or partial separation from HP “through a spin-off or other transaction,” suggesting that HP will exit the hardware businesses for computers, phones, and tablets in the near future. Should the webOS software team be joined with the PSG, it could create an organization similar to Apple, leaving products such as enterprise services and software under the HP banner. However, the announcement may signal a substantial liquidation of HP’s patents or hardware businesses, which would be a stunning blow to a previously strong rival to Apple’s various businesses.
Apple has plans to invest in a Sharp Corp factory in order to secure a supply of LCD screens for iPhones and iPads, according to a new report. Citing sources familiar with the matter, Reuters reports that the move has spurred speculation that Apple may move to diversify its range of suppliers in light of its ongoing legal dispute with Samsung. “If the situation escalates into a state of war, this could mean a huge shift in orders,” said one of the sources. The report notes that Sharp has already secured a contract with Apple to supply “power-efficient” screens for the sixth-generation iPhone, due in 2012. According to the report, Japanese media have said Apple’s investment may be as large as $1.3 billion; Sharp officials could not be reached for comment.
Google has released Google Catalogs for the iPad, a new free app that allows iPad users to browse through their favourite catalogs in an interactive, rich-media format. The application features digital versions of catalogs from diverse categories such as fashion and apparel, jewelry, kids, home decor and gifts, with content from top brands including Bloomingdale’s, Crate and Barrel, Macy’s, Nieman Marcus, Urban Outfitters and many more. Users can zoom in on photos to see close-up views of products, tap on tags for more information and view photo albums and videos as well as finding products in nearby stores or online. The app also provides the ability to search for products across multiple catalogs, build a collage of favourite catalog pages and products, and share individual products or user-created collages with friends; users can also mark catalogs as favourites to be notified when new issues arrive. Google Catalogs is available from the U.S. App Store as a free download.
Taiwan-based HTC has filed a lawsuit against Apple in U.S. District Court in Delaware, claiming patent infringement. According to a Reuters report, the complaint claims that Apple infringes on three HTC patents through the sale of Macintosh computers, iPads, iPods, iPhones, and “other devices,” and seeks an injunction against Apple’s importation and sale of the devices, compensatory damages, triple damages for willful infringement, and other remedies. The legal battle between the two companies dates back to March 2010 when Apple filed a patent infringement suit against HTC; HTC has since filed a complaint against Apple with the U.S. International Trade Commission, while Apple has filed two such complaints against HTC. Last month, the ITC ruled in Apple’s favor in one of the complaints, prompting HTC to say that it was “open to having discussions” with Apple in the hopes of reaching a settlement.
Not A Basement Studio has released Wikly, a new weekly calendar app for the iPad aimed at combining functional ease of use and aesthetics. Sporting a unique interface design, Wikly provides users with a week-focused view of their calendar with multiple colour schemes and multitouch gesture controls. Targeted at delivering a simple and fun experience for the average user, Wikly deliberately omits advanced power user features preferring instead to keep the majority of interaction on a single screen. Gesture-based controls allow users to tap-and-drag to create events, use three-finger swipes to navigate between weeks and drag-and-drop events to reschedule them. Wikly also includes over 20 colour schemes to allow users to customize the appearance of the application and provides an integrated to-do list to keep track of tasks. Wikly requires an iPad running iOS 4.0 or later and is available from the App Store for $1.
Infinite Dreams has released Shoot The Birds (iLounge Rating: A-), a new universal iOS game that challenges players to get revenge on flocks of flying vermin by shooting down waves of birds in mid-flight. In Shoot The Birds, the player takes control of a crossbow-armed scarecrow and must fire arrows at bird targets flying above. Players must take down as many birds as possible within a set time limit with the goal of accumulating the highest score, the time limit varying based on how well the player performs. In-game objectives provide the opportunity to gain additional power-ups and point multipliers to rack up even more points with achievements and high scores tracked and shared via Apple’s Game Center. Shoot The Birds is a universal app requiring iOS 4.0 or later and is available from the App Store for $1.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) has started trial production of Apple’s next-generation A6 processor, according to a new report. Citing industry sources, Taiwan Economic News reports that the production design is on schedule to be “taped out” in the first quarter of next year and publicly unveiled in the second quarter of 2012. The report states that TSMC is using a 28-nanometer process and 3D stacking technologies in the production of the A6, which once again is based on ARM architecture. TSMC was previously capable of handling processor production for Apple, according to the report, but had not pursued a relationship with the company due to limited production lines that were fully booked by existing customers including Nvidia and Qualcomm. If Apple follows its pattern of the last two years, it will debut the A6 in its next-generation iPad next year. [via BGR]
PAN Vision and Tactile Entertainment have released Pigs in Trees, a new iOS game that puts players in charge of a group of tree-dwelling pigs that must defend their home from an invading army of woodpeckers. Described as the antithesis of Angry Birds, players use a real-time line drawing mechanic to navigate their flying pigs around a map shooting down enemy birds and racking up points. The game provides multiple ammo types and power-ups and challenges users with different types of enemies each with their own abilities as they play through three campaigns and 45 levels. Game Center integration provides support for tracking and sharing achievements and high scores. The game is available in separate versions, Pigs in Trees ($1) for the iPhone and iPod touch and Pigs in Trees HD ($2) for the iPad.
Boxee has released an iPad app for accessing, viewing and sharing video content. Boxee for iPad allows users to view videos from popular services such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr as well as streaming content from the user’s own computer; the application connects to the user’s social networks and aggregates all video content in a single view and allows users to easily share their own videos on the same networks. A watch later feature also allows users to create a queue of videos from various sources around the web and a featured videos section provides a curated list of funny, creative and insightful videos.
Using the companion Boxee Media Manager application on a Mac or Windows PC users can also stream content to Boxee on the iPad from their computer using a local Wi-Fi connection in almost any file format supported by the computer without having to worry about converting videos to an iPad-ready format. A “Send to TV” feature also provides integration with the hardware Boxee Box allowing users to send video from their iPad directly to the big screen; the feature is expected to be added in an update to the Boxee software coming this fall. Boxee for iPad requires iOS 4.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.