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Google Currents adds Instant Sync, international support

Google has updated Google Currents with several new features, also expanding its availability internationally with the latest release. Originally released in the U.S. only in December, Google Currents is a news content aggregation and reading app for iOS devices designed to provide magazine-style access to content from a wide range of publishers in format optimized for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. In addition to choose preselected content from major publications such as CNet, AllThingsD, Forbes, PBS and the Huffington Post, users can also add their own RSS, video and photo feeds.

Google Currents 1.1 is now available internationally in all countries where the App Store is available, translated into 44 different languages, with localized international content available for France, the U.K., Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan and Australia. The update also adds a new Instant Sync feature to provide push-based content updates while on-line without having to manually press a sync button and expands options for reading offline with local image caching. Integration with Google Translate allows complete editions to be translated into the user’s preferred languages and users can now share content with select Google+ circles and customize their other preferred sharing services for quick access. Google Currents is available from the App Store as a free download.

Infinity Blade II: ClashMob update released

Epic Games and Chair Entertainment have released Infinity Blade II: ClashMob the first major content update to the acclaimed iOS game. Available as a free update for Infinity Blade II, ClashMob introduces the ability to compete in cooperative challenge events online with friends; players can create a new mob and recruit friends via Facebook and Game Center or join an existing one to work with hundreds of other players to cooperatively take down enemies with vast amounts of health, gaining special perks, achievements and rewards exclusive to ClashMob. Multiplayer game play in ClashMob is uniquely asynchronous, meaning that players can fire up the game on their own schedule to participate in their own segment of the quest at any time.

Version 1.1 also adds a new Gem Forge allowing players to combine gems to create their own more powerful versions along with a dozen new weapons and other items to collect and master; a number of balance tweaks, optimizations and bug fixes have also been taken care of in this update. Infinity Blade II requires an iPhone 3GS/4/4S, third- or fourth-generation iPod touch or iPad and is available from the App Store for $5. A Facebook account is required for the new ClashMob online play features.

New iPad 2 units also using smaller A5 chip

Following the discovery that the third-generation Apple TV actually uses a new, 32nm dual-core revision of the A5 processor—with one of its cores disabled or otherwise non-functional—it has been revealed that new iPad 2 units are being built using the same processor. AnandTech reports that multiple references to the S5L8942 system-on-a-chip—the technical name for the revised A5—can be found in the iOS 5.1 restore image for “iPad2,4”, which refers to the new, $399 iPad 2. According to the report, performance is identical between the new A5 and the prior version found in older iPad 2 units; it remains unclear whether the new units are seeing any battery life benefit from the smaller chips.

New video shows Foxconn iPad assembly line

American Public Media’s Marketplace has been allowed to shoot a short news clip showing the process of iPads being assembled at Foxconn’s Longhua facility in Shenzhen, China. Seen in the 2:35 clip are workers arriving at work, receiving their daily assignments, attaching motherboards and other components, and using a machine to press in the battery. According to the video, workers usually rotate their positions every few days, and see their $14/day starting salary doubled after a couple years. The video also highlights Foxconn’s facilities—relatively nice, compared to other factories—and also demonstrates how small a role automated machines play in the assembly of the iPad. The video is available for viewing in embedded form below.

NHL GameCenter updated for Stanley Cup Playoffs

The National Hockey League has updated the NHL GameCenter app for iOS adding new features to provide users with expanded coverage of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The latest update features complete round-by-round coverage of the playoffs via enhanced series views as well as with expanded highlights of Stanley Cup Playoff games. Users can view free NHL Playoff videos with commentary, highlights and top moments as well as view free Cisco NHL Live video content and listen to free live game radio during the Playoffs. New Playoff game alerts are also now available for each series matchup and the update also adds general performance enhancements. NHL GameCenter 2011-2012 is available from the App Store as a free download; an NHL GameCenter subscription is required to access premium content beyond the free Playoff features.

Springpad 3.0 adds notebook collaboration and exploration

Spring Partners has released a major update to its Springpad online notebook service and companion iOS app introducing a complete redesign with new sharing, collaboration and discovery features. Springpad allows users to create online smart notebooks that are automatically synchronized between the web and their iOS devices; items entered into a Springpad notebook are automatically enhanced with relevant information such as price comparisons and availability alerts for products, links to reservations for restaurants, reviews for movies and more.

The new Springpad also introduces the ability for users to share individual notebooks between friends, family and colleagues for team collaboration on a project, activity or to simply put together a group-sourced collection of information. Additionally, users can now explore Springpad to discover and follow public notebooks created by other Springpad community members on a variety of topics. Notebooks have been redesigned and simplified with enhanced customizability and the ability to personalize designs with a collection of themes and accents. Users can also now sort, filter and organize notebooks with category and tag information and getting information into Springpad is also now much faster with a new Smart Bar for quickly adding new information and new bookmarklet and browser extensions on the desktop side. Springpad 3.0 is a universal app and is available from the App Store as a free download.

Third-gen iPad users report 3G connectivity issues

A number of third-generation iPad users are reporting 3G connectivity issues with the new LTE-capable model. Citing a growing Apple support thread, AppleInsider reports that the majority of reports have come from international users attempting to connect to 3G networks, rather than U.S. users attempting to hop on LTE networks. Users say they have tried a number of remedies, including resetting settings and replacing the SIM card, only to find that the only way to solve the problem is to cycle the power on the device between three and five times a day. While some have suggested the issue lies with iOS 5.1 or with the Qualcomm cellular chipset, the exact cause of the issue has yet to be revealed.

Apple investigating third-gen iPad Wi-Fi issues

Apple is actively investigating reports of Wi-Fi issues with the third-generation iPad. Citing an internal AppleCare document, 9to5Mac reports that Apple has told its contact centers and retail store to “capture” new Wi-Fi only iPads if they “exhibit any issue related to Wi-Fi”, including intermittent connectivity, slow Wi-Fi speeds, or unseen Wi-Fi networks. According to the report, an Apple support thread discussing the issue has amassed 700 replies from affected users; Apple is reportedly replacing all “captured” units.

Apple receives certification to sell Brazilian-made iPad 2

Apple has received certification to sell Brazilian-assembled iPad 2 units in that country, according to a MacRumors report. According to the report, Apple will begin selling Brazilian-made 16GB iPad 2 units alongside third-generation models once it launches. Apple has yet to receive certification for either Chinese- or Brazilian-assembled third-generation units, but the company is planning to launch the device in Brazil with at least some domestic production. The report notes that as with the iPhone, Chinese-assembled versions of the iPad made for sale in Brazil carry the BZ/A suffix, while their Brazilian-assembled counterparts carry the suffix BR/A.

Apple testing 7.85-inch iPad, release uncertain

On the latest episode of The Talk Show hosted by Daring Fireball’s John Gruber and Dan Benjamin, Gruber made several comments related to Apple’s long-rumored 7-inch iPad. When asked whether Apple will release a 7-inch iPad—at roughly the 1:17:50 mark—Gruber said he didn’t know, but did say that he knows “they have one in the lab… a 7.85-inch iPad that runs at 1024 x 768, and it’s just like the 9.7-inch iPad shrunk down a little bit”. He continues, “apps wouldn’t need to be recompiled or redesigned to work optimally on it, it’s just that the iPad is smaller”.

Gruber suggested that a good way to approximate the interface is to take a screenshot on a 9.7-inch iPad in portrait mode, and then view that screenshot in landscape mode, and went on to say that the height of such a device would be very close to the width of the current model. “It’s usable,” he said, adding that “there are a couple of areas where I think the text is a little too small, but it’s not ridiculously small”. Finally, he said that he’d heard these details from numerous people, but had not heard that it was anything they are definitely going to ship, and said he felt the device was more of a “maybe”. This information matches what iLounge had previously heard from its own sources dating back to 2010.

Survey: One-third of US high schoolers own an iPhone

Over one-third of U.S. high school students now own an iPhone, according to the latest Piper Jaffray semi-annual survey of U.S. teenagers. As reprinted by MacRumors, the survey found that 34 percent of surveyed students now own an iPhone, representing an all-time high and double the percentage seen just one year ago. In addition, 40 percent of those surveyed indicated that they plan to purchase an iPhone within the next six months. As for tablets, 34 percent of students said they own a tablet, and 70 percent of those said they have an iPad. 53 percent of iPad-owning students also own an iPhone, and 19 percent of students said they plan to purchase a tablet within the next six months, with 80 percent of that group planning to purchase an iPad. The survey was conducted among 5,600 U.S. high school students.

FileMaker releases FileMaker Go 12 for iOS

FileMaker has released a major update to its FileMaker 12 database software lineup, including new, free versions of its FileMaker Go iOS companion apps for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The prior version of the FileMaker Go iOS apps previously sold for $20 for the iPhone version and $40 for the iPad version; the new FileMaker Go 12 apps are now available for both devices as free downloads from the App Store.

FileMaker Pro 12 for OS X provides a new set of themes and Starter Solutions combined with powerful design tools geared toward creating databases designed explicitly to work on the iOS platform. The new Starter Solutions include read-to-use screens and touch controls optimized for the iPad and iPhone that make use of iOS specific design elements. New design tools allow users to take an existing theme and customize every detail to create their own, unique design.

The FileMaker Go 12 iOS apps are designed to be used as companions to the desktop and server versions of FileMaker, allowing users to access databases from their mobile device while on the go. Users can connect live to FileMaker Server 12 or FileMaker Pro 12 via a Wi-Fi or cellular network connection to make updates in real-time or copy databases into FileMaker Go via iTunes File Sharing or open them from an e-mail for offline use. Sync is not natively supported but advanced FileMaker developers can create custom solutions for synchronizing and reconciling changes. The new FileMaker Go apps introduce iOS multitasking support and direct media integration for audio and video recording and playback along with enhanced container fields when used for streaming media content from fileMaker Server 12 without any storage limitations. The new version also adds support for several additional export formats including Microsoft Excel, CSV and HTML. FileMaker Go 12 for iPad and FileMaker Go 12 for iPhone require iOS 4.3 or later and are both available from the App Store as free downloads. FileMaker Pro 12 is required to create or modify databases.


LogMeIn adds new iPad support, HD for Mac users

LogMeIn has updated its free LogMeIn and paid Ignition apps for iOS adding support for the new iPad Retina Display along with additional in-app Pro subscription options for users of the free version. Following a recent update to the Mac OS X LogMeIn app, the iOS version now also provides Mac users with access to high-definition video streaming capabilities and sound directly from their iPad, iPhone or iPod touch.

HD support was added to the LogMeIn iOS apps in December, however the feature requires an accompanying update to the computer-side component which was initially only available for Windows users. With the latest Mac update, LogMeIn Pro subscribers can now stream HD-quality video with sound from their remote Mac, allowing users to view movies and TV shows and even play games over a remote desktop connection. For users of the free LogMeIn iOS app, a Pro subscription is required to access the new HD features for each remote computer; in-app subscriptions have been updated in the latest release with three-month and six-month options in addition to the $40/year annual subscription. Users of LogMeIn’s paid Ignition app can access the HD video streaming and other iOS-related Pro features such as My Cloud Bank for multiple remote computers with no additional subscription required. LogMeIn for iOS is available from the App Store as a free download; Ignition is priced at $100 and is a free update for users of prior versions. Both apps are universal with support for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

AR.Drone FreeFlight adds Video Recording

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.

Facebook adds iPad Retina Display support, bug fixes

Facebook has released an update to its official iOS app adding support for the Retina Display on the third-generation iPad as well as several other small new features and bug fixes. Facebook 4.1.1 now allows users to set their status to offline in Facebook chat and adds support for several new languages including Czech, Danish, Greek, Indonesian, Malaysian, Norwegian, Portuguese and Thai. The update also fixes several problems found in prior versions including issues with incorrect profile pictures, missing people in friend lists, incorrect names being displayed in photo sets, and friend-request notifications being incorrectly displayed. Facebook 4.1.1 is a universal app requiring iOS 4.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.

Third-gen iPad tops iPad 2 in consumer satisfaction

The third-generation iPad has received even higher customer satisfaction ratings than its predecessor, according to a ChangeWave survey. 82 percent of new iPad owners said they were very satisfied with the device—compared to 74 percent for the iPad 2—while another 16 percent said they were somewhat satisfied, compared to 23 percent for the iPad 2. In total, 98 percent of third-gen iPad owners were at least somewhat satisfied with their device, compared to 97 percent for the iPad 2. The Retina display was the most popular feature of the new iPad—followed by battery life and LTE capability—while the cost of the device and wireless data service were the most popular dislikes. ChangeWave conducted its survey on March 22-28 among 200 third-generation iPad owners.

Australian Government certifies iOS device use for classified material

Australian newspaper Herald Sun reports that the Australian Government has given approval for devices running iOS 5 to be used for storing and communicating classified information. The organization responsible for information security within the Australian Department of Defence, the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD), has developed a set of policies and hardening procedures that will permit iOS 5.1 devices to be used to handle classified information at the PROTECTED level—the lowest general security classification used within the Australian Government. Mike Burgess, acting director of the DSD, stated that iOS 5 has successfully passed a stringent and intensive security assessment to ensure that it meets Australian Government information security requirements. The security evaluation, which is believed to be the first of its kind for iOS, covers only those devices owned and managed by Australian government agencies that have had specific DSD hardening procedures implemented and are used in accordance with DSD security advice. Examples of such standards include use of the devices in Apple’s Supervised mode, use of iOS Data Protection and storing information only within Data Protection enabled applications, disallowing the use of third-party applications and using non-secure apps and services, including Siri dictation, only for unclassified information. [via AppleInsider]

FiftyThree releases Paper for iPad

FiftyThree has released Paper, a new sketching and drawing app for the iPad. Focused on a providing a minimalist design, Paper acts as a simple notebook or journal effectively turning the entire iPad screen into a freeform drawing canvas with no additional buttons, controls or other distractions. The app instead relies heavily on a gesture-based control interface: users open and close journals and journal pages with pinch gestures, flip pages by swiping in from the bezel at the sides and access the drawing tools by swiping up from the bottom; users can “Rewind” (undo) by rotating with two fingers in a counter-clockwise direction while other one-finger gestures are used simply to draw on the page with the currently selected tool. The free app includes an eraser and single fountain pen drawing tool with 9 colours; additional tools are available via in-app purchase for $2 each or $8 for the full set of four. Paper is available from the App Store as a free download.

Gmail for iOS adds alternate sender support

Google has made a background update to its Gmail mobile app for iOS devices adding support for sending from alternate addresses. Users of both the native Gmail iOS app and HTML5 web app can now choose to use any of their configured From addresses when sending a new e-mail message or replying to an existing message. As before, Gmail will still select the appropriate sender address automatically when replying to a message, however the new feature now allows users to visually confirm which address will be used when composing a reply. Alternate address support has been added on Google’s end and does not require an update to the native Gmail iOS app; users of the native app should see the option appear over the next few days. The native Gmail app is a universal iOS app and is available from the App Store as a free download.

Taposé offers collaborative, confusing iPad journaling

Following an extended period of App Store submissions and rejections, Zanther has released Taposé, a new iPad productivity app that provides an integrated collection of tools including a collaborative multimedia journal, fully featured web browser, interactive maps, calculator and more. Designed with a focus on collaboration, Taposé is tied into a cloud-based service with a unified virtual workspace, allowing multiple users to share and edit journals in real-time. In addition to text editing and formatting features, the journal also supports rich content such as drawings, media elements, contact cards, web clippings and maps. Users can also share either complete journals or individual pages as static PDF documents via e-mail, Evernote, and Dropbox, or print them via AirPrint. Taposé is available from the App Store for $3. Collaborative sharing requires registration for a Taposé account; 400MB of storage is provided for free with unlimited storage available for a $30/year subscription.

Our initial impressions of Taposé show evidence of a great concept in need of significant user interface improvements. The UI relies on many gesture-based actions that are not immediately apparent to the user, and the included tutorial journal does not provide enough information in this regard. Further,  the decision to mimic a real-world journal design in the app contributes to this confusion, forcing the user to endure a disorienting left/right “sliding pages” interface when working in portrait view. Turning pages requires corner swipes that are confusing at first, and worsened when you change orientations. The app appears to be considerably less confusing and more usable and responsive in landscape orientation. It is also worth noting that the button to log into or register for a Taposé account only appears in the control hub in landscape orientation.

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