Atari has released Asteroids Gunner, a new universal iOS game inspired by the classic 1980’s arcade game. Asteroids Gunner is a dual-stick action shooter that challenges players to blast their way through deadly asteroid fields and alien ships earning fortune and fame, collecting treasures and upgrading their ship and skills. The game provides three different galaxies to explore and conquer with 150 waves of asteroids and alien ships to obliterate. Players can choose from one of three unique ships: the Miner, the Bomber or the Dart that can be further customized and upgraded over the course of the game by earning Crystals and purchasing Space Bucks to unlock new galaxies and powerful upgrades. An extensive achievement system allows players to earn rank promotions and gain upgrades along with Game Center and OpenFeint integration for tracking high scores and achievements. Asteroids Gunner is a universal app and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Apple has started to seed non-developer end-users with a pre-release version of iOS 5.0.1 for testing. According to 9to5Mac, the new software is being offered to a small number of customers who have complained about battery life issues in iOS 5. The invitation email apparently warns that their devices cannot be downgraded to iOS 5.0, but that they will be allowed to upgrade to the final version of iOS 5.0.1 once it’s released. The report goes on to state that Apple Stores have been given a memo regarding battery life issues, which instructs them not to replace any phones that don’t exhibit hardware issues during regular testing, and to inform customers that Apple is aware of battery life issues in iOS 5 and will release a software update to address those in “a few weeks.”
Programmer Conrad Kramer has discovered a hidden Panorama mode inside the Camera app of iOS 5. According to Kramer’s Twitter account, activating the feature is as easy as changing the key for “EnableFirebreak” from “NO” to “YES” inside the com.apple.mobileslideshow.plist file. Speaking with Gizmodo, Kramer said that the feature only works on the iPhone 4 and later devices, as it is dependent on an internal gyroscope. This file is only available for editing to those who have chosen to jailbreak their devices; however, it does serve as proof that the feature exists, and suggests that Apple may plan on activating it in a future update to iOS 5.
National Geographic has released 7 Billion, a new interactive application that allows users to explore the challenges of human population growth in a world of limited resources. The application includes educational and informative content such as video presentations on the demographic trends that have resulted in the current population size, interactive maps exploring population and resource issues in various places around the world and in-depth articles and photography on a variety of global population and economy issues from places such as Brazil, Bangladesh and the Albertine Rift. The application also includes educational presentations and essays exploring strategies for dealing with population growth and resource management and National Geographic plans to continue adding new content to the app, with a new section coming in December discussing how cities are a solution for lifting people from poverty and preserving the environment. 7 Billion is available from the App Store as a free download for a limited time.
Apple will likely need a new backlight solution should it adopt a high-resolution 2048 x 1536 display in a next-generation iPad, according to a new report. Citing sources at Taiwan-based back-light unit makers, DigiTimes reports that the single LED light bar found in the iPad 2 will need to be modified to maintain or strengthen the brightness of the existing display in a higher-resolution panel. The report claims that two alternative solutions have been developed—a single light bar with two LED chips inside or a design that utilizes dual bars—with the latter described as being the one Apple is more likely to adopt, as the back-light unit makers have reportedly solved issues related to heat dissipation and battery consumption for the dual bar design.
Apple has seeded iOS 5.0.1 beta 2 to its registered iOS developers, the second beta release of the point update this week. According to the release notes for the first beta version, iOS 5.0.1 “fixes bugs affecting battery life, adds multitasking gestures for original iPad, resolves bugs with Documents in the Cloud, improves voice recognition for Australian users using dictation,” and “contains security improvements,” and also “introduces a new way for developers to specify files that should remain on device, even in low storage situations.” iOS 5.0.1 beta 2 is listed as build 9A404, and is available now as a download from the iOS Dev Center.
In a recent meeting with Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes, Apple CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer made several surprising statements about the Amazon Fire. Business Insider, citing Reitzes, claims that while the executives noted that the Fire’s $199 pricing appears to be disruptive and seems to be the iPad’s most important rising challenge, the product could also be the catalyst for further fragmentation in the tablet market, as it represents another platform—while compatible with Android, the apps work with Amazon products. Reitzes claims that the executives welcome further fragmentation in the Android ecosystem, as it could drive consumers—and likely developers—to Apple’s more stabile platform. Amazon will begin shipping the Amazon Fire on November 15.
Apple has released iOS 5.0.1 to its registered iOS developers. According to the release notes, the new beta—listed as build 9A402—“fixes bugs affecting battery life, adds multitasking gestures for original iPad, resolves bugs with Documents in the Cloud, improves voice recognition for Australian users using dictation,” and “contains security improvements.” Notably, the update also “introduces a new way for developers to specify files that should remain on device, even in low storage situations,” seemingly addressing an issue recently brought to light by Instapaper developer Marco Arment. An Apple spokesperson confirmed that some iOS 5 users were experiencing battery life issues early today, telling The Loop, “A small number of customers have reported lower than expected battery life on iOS 5 devices[.] We have found a few bugs that are affecting battery life and we will release a software update to address those in a few weeks.” iOS 5.0.1 beta for the iPad, iPad 2, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, and third- and fourth-generation iPod touch is available now as a download from the iOS Dev Center.
Google has released an official Gmail application for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad providing a native Gmail experience on the iOS platform. Google has had an HTML 5 mobile web app for some time that provided an iOS enhanced experience via the Safari browser, however it suffered from the same limitations as other web applications in its inability to provide notifications and limited offline access. The new official Gmail application is designed to be fast and efficient and provides full native access to Gmail including notifications for new messages, support for threaded conversations, archiving, labelling, starring, deleting and reporting spam. The app also includes support for Gmail Priority Inbox, auto-completion of names from Google or iOS Contacts and Gmail search. Users can also send photos as attachments from directly within the app. The iPad version also provides a standard split-screen view and the application takes advantage of touch gestures such as pull down refresh and viewing labels by swiping right. Gmail is a universal app requiring iOS 4.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Update: Google has removed the app from the App Store, indicating in its blog that “it contained a bug which broke notifications and caused users to see an error message when first opening the app.” The post goes onto indicate that the company is working to release an updated version soon which fixes the bug and that users who have already installed the app can continue to use it.
Apple’s LCD manufacturing partners, including LG Display and Samsung, are facing a steep challenge in trying to build enough high-resolution displays in time to be included in the iPad 3, according to a new report. Citing a source who is in contact with Asian suppliers, Cnet reports that Apple is seeking to include a 2048x1536 resolution display in the iPad 3, quadrupling the number of pixels seen in prior iPad models. “They have production plans for 2,048 x 1,536 displays. Starting in November. But those are only plans at this point,” said the source. “It’s not a question of making just one. That, of course, can be done. The challenge is making lots of them. This is a quantum leap in pixel density. This hasn’t been done before.”
The report also claims that the manufacturers are offering 1,600 x 1,200 screens as an interim option should the higher-res panels prove too difficult to build, although it remains to be seen if Apple would consider such an option given the difficulties such a product would pose to developers. Surprisingly, the report doesn’t mention Sharp, a company with which Apple reportedly had plans to invest $1 billion in a factory to build LCD panels for iPhones and iPads.
Apple has been awarded a patent for its iOS devices’ “slide to unlock” feature. BBC News reports that U.S. patent number 7657549 states, “A device with a touch-sensitive display may be unlocked via gestures performed on the touch-sensitive display. The device is unlocked if contact with the display corresponds to a predefined gesture for unlocking the device.” As noted in the report, the broad language of the patent would appear to cover not only Apple’s unlocking method, but those used by rival platforms, including Android and Windows Mobile. The patent was originally filed in June 2009, and lists Apple senior vice president of iOS software Scott Forstall as one of the seven inventors.
TomTom has released an update to its collection of iOS apps adding native iPad support and general interface improvements. TomTom 1.9 now includes an optimized iPad user interface with a full-screen display providing an integrated driving and Advanced Lane Guidance view. As a universal app, existing TomTom users can also transfer any existing subscriptions to premium services for use on the iPad as well as their iPhone and iPod touch. The update also includes the latest map data and provides an improved interface with the ability to return to the driving view with a single tap from anywhere in the app and easier access to guidance options and route types. TomTom is available from the App Store in several versions for different regions with prices ranging from $50 for TomTom U.S.A. and $70 for TomTom U.S. & Canada to $120 for TomTom Europe.
FishLabs has released Galaxy on Fire 2 HD, a high-performance version of its popular space adventure game exclusively for the iPhone 4S and iPad 2. Taking full advantage of the A5 chip, Galaxy on Fire 2 HD provides 3D models rendered with four times as many polygons and textures at a four times higher resolution than the original Galaxy on Fire 2, running smoothly at up to 40 frames per second. New Open GL 2.0 shaders and additional texture sets and specular maps provide extremely detailed surfaces for each of the 30 space ships and space stations in the game with console-quality graphics and enhanced special effects.
As with the standard version of Galaxy on Fire 2, the HD version takes the player on a journey through a vast universe of more than 20 star systems, 100 different space stations and 30 configurable space ships while following the immersive storyline of Keith T. Maxwell, thrust 35 years into the future and halfway across the galaxy by a malfunctioning hyperdrive. Maxwell must quickly adapt to his new environment while being drawn into the middle of an intergalactic struggle between the four major races and helping defend against a new alien threat. Galaxy on Fire 2 HD also provides support for transferring saved games between iOS devices and Galaxy on Fire 2 Full HD for Mac OS X via iCloud, including support for the upcoming Valkyrie HD add-on scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2012. Game transferability between the regular version of Galaxy on Fire 2 and the new HD version will also be coming with the release of Valkyrie HD. Galaxy on Fire 2 HD is a universal app requiring an iPhone 4S or iPad 2 and is available from the App Store for $10.
Apple has added a toggle for turning iTunes Match on and off to the Music section of iOS 5’s Settings app, suggesting an imminent launch for the service. Announced in June at WWDC, iTunes Match is a $24.99/year service that matches tracks in a user’s iTunes library with tracks stored on the company’s iTunes Store servers, uploading any tracks it can’t match, and offering users full access to all their music — up to 25,000 tracks — from any of their devices. The appearance of the toggle — which currently activates an alert stating that “You are not currently subscribed to iTunes Match. Use iTunes on your computer to subscribe” — has some suggesting that the service may launch ahead of Apple’s “end of October” estimate, however, the service does require iTunes 10.5.1, which is currently in developer beta and not available to the public at large. [via Mac Rumors]
Cocoa Box Design has released an update to Penultimate its digital ink notebook application for the iPad adding the ability to rearrange page sections, new pen colours and more. With Penultimate 3.2 users can now move, cut, copy and paste freeform sections of pages by drawing a selection shape around the section they want to select, useful for rearranging notes and stamping designs. The update also adds new pen colours, including a white pen for marking up images with dark backgrounds and allows users to mix-and-match papers within a single notebook. Users can also now move pages between notebooks either individually or in a batch or even merge entire notebooks together. Additional improvements include the ability to change the name of a notebook by tapping in the toolbar and improvements for iOS 5 compatibility. Penultimate 3.2 for iPad is available from the App Store for $2.
Reporting its fourth quarter 2011 financial results today, Apple said it sold 6.62 million iPods during the quarter—a 27 percent decrease compared to the same quarter last year. Apple sold 17.07 million iPhones in the quarter, a 21 percent increase year-over-year, and down slightly from the 20.34 million units sold in the third quarter. Apple also sold 11.12 million iPads during the quarter, up 166 percent from 4.19 million units in the year-ago quarter. The unit sales of iPhones, iPods, and iPads bring the cumulative unit sales for the three device categories to 145.96 million, 321.18 million, and 39.85 million, respectively. The company posted revenue of $28.27 billion and net quarterly profit of $6.62 billion, or $7.05 per diluted share, compared with revenue of $20.34 billion and net quarterly profit of $4.31 billion, or $4.64 per diluted share, in Q4 2010.
“We are thrilled with the very strong finish of an outstanding fiscal 2011, growing annual revenue to $108 billion and growing earnings to $26 billion,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Customer response to iPhone 4S has been fantastic, we have strong momentum going into the holiday season, and we remain really enthusiastic about our product pipeline.”
“We are extremely pleased with our record September quarter revenue and earnings and with cash generation of $5.4 billion during the quarter,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO. “Looking ahead to the first fiscal quarter of 2012, which will span 14 weeks rather than 13, we expect revenue of about $37 billion and we expect diluted earnings per share of about $9.30.”
Griffin has released Crayola Paint & Create for the iPad, a new app for children that provides a collection of more than 40 games and activities including puzzles, mazes, color-by-numbers, connect-the-dots and more. The app allows kids to use their fingers as coloured pencils, pain brushes, crayons or markers, dynamically drawing on the touchscreen and bringing colouring pages to life with motion and song effects. Animated pages allows users to colour in existing scenes or they can start from a blank canvas to generate their own works or art. All artwork can be saved to the gallery, mailed, uploaded to Facebook or printed out via AirPrint. Paint & Create can be used alone or in conduction with the Crayola ColorStudio HD and iMarker accessory. Crayola Paint & Create is available from the App Store for an introductory price of $3.
Apple is offering “special limited time” pricing on refurbished first-generation iPad units. The refurbished iPad page of the company’s online store shows several models in stock, including 64GB Wi-Fi units for $399, 32GB Wi-Fi + 3G units for the same price, and 64GB Wi-Fi + 3G units for $499, a substantial savings off the original $829 price. All of Apple’s refurbished iPads come with a new battery and outer shell, all manuals and accessories, and the same one-year warranty as new models.
Marco Arment has released Instapaper 4.0, a major update to the popular offline reading app for iOS devices. The new version features a number of significant improvements including completely redesigned interfaces with a new grid view on the iPad version and a unified and restyled navigation view on the iPhone/iPod touch versions. Users can now also perform server-side searching of the full content of their entire Instapaper archive and can select multiple articles to archive, delete or move in a single operation. The update also adds support for hardware brightness control in iOS 5, draggable scrollbars for quickly navigating through documents and the inclusion of article authors, published dates and site titles in articles whenever available.
Instapaper 4.0 also expands Friends support allowing users to browse recent links from their Facebook news feed, Twitter timeline and Tumblr dashboard and users can also customize the number of liked and archived items stored on the device, take advantage of integrated Wikipedia lookups from within articles and opt to use the built-in dictionary under iOS 5. A number of other smaller enhancements and bug fixes have also been included. A detailed overview of the new features is available in a post at Macro Arment’s blog. Instapaper 4.0 is a universal app requiring iOS 4.2 or later and is available from the App Store for $5.
A U.S. Judge has ruled that Samsung does infringe on Apple’s patents with its Galaxy line of Android-based tablets, but stopped short of issuing a preliminary injunction against the devices. Reuters reports that U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh said that while Apple must show that Samsung infringed its patents, it must also prove that its patents are valid under the law. Koh said she would deny an injunction based on one of Apple’s “utility” patents, calling her thoughts “tentative” while promising to issue a formal order “promptly,” but did not say whether she would grant an injunction based on three other Apple “design” patents. Apple and Samsung are currently engaged in various suits against one another in Australia, France, Germany, Korea, Japan, the Netherlands, the U.K., and the U.S.