Apple announced TD-LTE models of the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display are available in China, starting today. Although there were already existing iPad Air and iPad mini Wi-Fi + Cellular models, these are the first new iPad models sold in China to support higher speeds. Prices for the TD-LTE iPad Air range from 4,488 RMB ($723) for 16GB, to 6,588 RMB ($1062) for 128 GB. TD-LTE iPad mini with Retina display prices range from 3,788 ($610) to 5,888 RMB ($949). It appears these new iPads represent the two new iPad models spotted in iOS 7.1, and will only be available on a regional basis.
Microsoft’s Office for iPad apps went on sale Thursday, and it’s been revealed that a cut of the Office 365 subscriptions sold within the apps are going to Apple. Apple confirmed that Microsoft is paying the customary 30 percent cut to Apple for in-app sales of the subscriptions, Re/code reports. Apple previously rejected a Microsoft SkyDrive update which offered storage subscriptions due to Microsoft’s disagreement on the 30 percent cut. Microsoft has now apparently acquiesced to Apple’s demands.
Microsoft also announced that it is offering free Office 365 subscriptions to the first 50 people who bring their iPad into Microsoft retail stores, starting today. The free subscriptions will last for one year. As noted in the fine print, customers must participate in Microsoft’s “Put My iPad to Work” social campaign to be eligible — whatever that is.
As expected, Microsoft officially announced Office for iPad today at an event featuring new CEO Satya Nadella. Office for iPad will go live at 2 p.m. EST today with Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint in the App Store. For free, users can download the apps to read and present documents. With an Office 365 subscription, users will get to create and edit documents.
Apple is apparently testing a new feature in the App Store that offers users related term suggestions when doing a search. A number of reports have noted the new feature, though it appears it was first spotted by developer Olga Osadcha. Osadcha found the feature while using iOS 7.1.
It’s noted that not everyone is seeing the new feature as of yet — iLounge’s editors have yet to see the function pop up when using our devices. It’s possible that Apple is rolling out the feature gradually.
Apple has released iTunes 11.1.6 beta to its employees, 9to5Mac reports. The beta restores the ability to sync contacts and calendar information to an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch from a Mac running OS X 10.9.3, which is also in beta. Apple had previously removed the ability to sync that information from a Mac to an iOS device. It’s unknown what else might be included in the beta.
Confirming reports yesterday, Apple officially expanded the iPhone lineup this morning by adding an 8GB version of the plastic-bodied iPhone 5c, and changed the iPad family by discontinuing the aging iPad 2 in favor of the fourth-generation iPad, also known as the “iPad with Retina display.” It appears that neither the iPhone 5c nor the fourth-generation iPad has changed considerably from previously-available versions: apart from its lower storage capacity, the iPhone 5c is available with the same colors and features as prior models, and the iPad has the same colors, model numbers and features as the version discontinued last year.
As of press time, the 8GB iPhone 5c has only been added to European Apple Stores, where it sells for £429 or €549, with some variation between countries; it has not replaced the still lower-priced iPhone 4S. The iPad with Retina display is available in the United States, selling solely in a 16GB capacity for $399 (Wi-Fi) or $529 (LTE), the same prices as the iPad 2 was previously selling for.
Update: According to Philip Elmer-Dewitt, Apple has confirmed that the iPhone 5c 8GB model is only being sold in the U.K., France, Germany, Australia and China. This is the first time since the little-known 4GB fourth-generation iPod nano that Apple has sold a lower-capacity version of a device solely outside the United States.
Update 2: A representative of Apple told Re/code that the “mid-tier iPhone segment is growing year-over-year and the 8GB model provides a more affordable option for markets where LTE is becoming more established.” This characterization of the iPhone 5c contrasts with the German carrier O2’s internal e-mail released yesterday, which described the new 8GB model as Apple’s “entry-level smartphone.”
Apple will bring back the fourth-generation iPad on Tuesday, 9to5Mac reports. According to a source, Apple stores have been receiving shipments of the previously discontinued iPad. Both Wi-Fi and LTE black and white 16GB models have arrived in stores. It’s likely that Apple will make the 16GB fourth-gen iPad the low-end $399 iPad model, and discontinue the second-generation iPad, so all current iPads would be Lightning devices.
It was reported earlier today that Apple will introduce an 8GB version of the iPhone 5c, likely at the same time as the reintroduction of the fourth-generation iPad tomorrow. Apple could discontinue the iPhone 4s and introduce the new 5c as the low-end iPhone model — all current iPhones would then be Lightning devices, as well.
Microsoft will unveil Office for iPad at a March 27 event, The Verge reports. The iPhone and iPod versions of Office were released last June. Apparently, the iPad version will be similar, requiring an Office 365 subscription for editing. Document creation and editing will reportedly be supported in full for Word, Excel, and Powerpoint apps.
Apple is thinking about removing the Game Center app from iOS 8, while leaving the Game Center functionality intact within games, 9to5Mac reports. Recent alleged leaked screenshots from iOS 8 do feature the Game Center icon. Apple may also simplify alerts within Notification Center and add the ability to automatically delete Messages threads. Inter-app communication may be improved in iOS 8, and Apple also plans on tweaking controls in its Voice Memos app. Some versions of iOS 8 in testing include WiFi-enabled CarPlay, though it’s unclear if this functionality will be delayed until a future release.
Some users are reporting battery issues following installation of iOS 7.1. Multiple threads have popped up on Apple’s support communities regarding decreased battery life while using the newly released operating system. An iLounge editor noted a 35 percent battery decrease with light usage of a device within an hour’s time. It’s notable that not all users are reporting issues, including iLounge editors. Some users have noted a clean installation — erasing and restoring the device to factory settings — is solving the issues. A battery test from Ars Technica found “small gains and small losses” within the margin of error when moving from iOS 7.0 to iOS 7.1 for most devices. Past battery issues with new iOS releases typically involve background tasks, and the cause is often initially unknown.
A few alleged iOS 8 screenshots including icons for Healthbook, Preview, and TextEdit have been posted on a Weibo account. The shots are legitimate, according to 9to5Mac. Healthbook’s icon is very similar to the Passbook icon, and Preview and TextEdit’s icons match the Mac versions.
Earlier today, it was reported that Apple was working on iOS versions of Preview and TextEdit. Also, a lightbulb icon for an apparent app named Tips is included in the screenshots — it’s unknown at this point what Tips is, or what it does, but it may be some kind of iOS 8 user guide. A settings screenshot was also spotted on Weibo, noting version 8.0.
Apple is working to develop versions of its TextEdit and Preview Mac applications for iOS, 9to5Mac reports. The iOS versions of the apps would reportedly only be used to view TextEdit and Preview files stored in iCloud; users would have to edit documents using Pages. It’s “currently uncertain, but still possible” that the new versions of the apps will end up in iOS 8. The new applications come from the restructuring of Apple’s iOS and OS X development teams, sources said, as engineers now work together on both operating systems. Apple is also researching new iCloud storage tools to simplify the development of server-integrated App Store applications for iOS as the company pushes to make iCloud a larger part of the iOS file system in the future.
Apple’s Maps application will boast improved data and public transit directions in its iOS 8 incarnation, 9to5Mac reports. It is expected that public transportation options will be “deeply integrated” into iOS 8 Maps, with train, subway, and bus data, and will first be introduced for major cities, with other locations added over time. Enhanced data will also introduce new points of interest and new map labels, while improving reliability. Apple’s 2013 acquisitions of HopStop, Embark, and BroadMap have likely aided the addition of the new data.
The report also claims that Apple is working on augmented reality for future versions of iOS, to appear in “the coming years.” This feature would use the iPhone’s compass to see nearby points of interest onscreen.
Apple’s new release of iOS 7.1 arrived with support for two new iPad models: iPad 4,3 and iPad 4,6, as noted by 9to5Mac. It’s unclear what these models represent at this point. The report speculates that the iPad models may be “minor hardware revisions,” or possibly optimized models for overseas networks; they appear to be continuations of the iPad Air and Retina iPad mini families.
Apple has released iOS 7.1 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. The long-awaited bug-fixing update brings improved Touch ID recognition for iPhone 5s, and many new features to the company’s mobile operating system, along with smaller UI tweaks. Some of the new features include the option to display events in month view in Calendar, new “natural-sounding” male and female Siri voices for Australian English, U.K. English, Japanese, and Mandarin Chinese, and support for CarPlay, Apple’s in-car solution formally announced last week. iTunes Radio tweaks have also been added. Apple has added a iOS 7.1 web page to highlight the key features.
Visual changes include new button shapes in the Phone app, more evident shift and caps lock images, and a redesigned power down slider. Other tweaks include a new camera setting to automatically enable HDR for iPhone 5s, and automatic clearing of FaceTime notifications when a call is answered on another device. iOS 7.1 can be installed over the air or by connecting to iTunes on a Mac or PC.
Doggins ($4) from Brain & Brain is billed as a quiet adventure. Starring a dreaming dog, the iPad-only adventure game has been nominated for a SXSW Gamer’s Voice Award for best indie game, along with a number of other titles, including recently reviewed Tengami — a game which shares some similarities with Doggins.
Doggins centers around a dreaming terrier of the same name who finds himself facing off with a villainous squirrel on the moon. The devious squirrel sports a monocle, and his name is Fitzwilliam. It’s tough for some games to stand out, especially during a crowded week of new releases, but Doggins certainly does its best to stand out from the crowd. Essentially a point-and-click adventure, it’s nice that Doggins features a quiet dog and squirrel, as you lose the often tiresome exposition of similar games.
Apple will bring full-screen video iAds to iPhone and iPad apps this year, Advertising Age reports. The new video iAds will play automatically. According to the report, these ads could occur during moments of transition, “like after completing a game’s level or finishing an article.” Pricing for the ads is unknown, and Apple did not respond to a request for comment.
According to a brief post by Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, Apple will release the final version of iOS 7.1 “any day now,” ahead of next week’s iTunes Festival at South By Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas. Alluding to an unnamed source at Apple, Gruber notes that “a little birdie” told him that the iTunes Festival live streaming application requires iOS 7.1, so the long-awaited bug-fixing iOS update would logically need to become available before the Festival begins. An Apple TV channel will also be added to stream iTunes Festival content.
Update: Apple has released version 5.0 of the free iTunes Festival app, before the company’s release of iOS 7.1.
PopCap’s Bejeweled (free) has gone through more iterations and updates over the years than any other iOS game we can recall, and some have made fairly substantial improvements to the core match-three game. The latest update 1.7.1 adds Poker Mode, a surprisingly addictive game mode that challenges you to make five-card poker hands by sequencing same-colored match-threes. For instance, three separate matches of three yellow gems will give you three yellow gem cards, which when paired with two matches of three orange gems will create a full house. To keep playing, you need to both vary your hands — repeatedly getting just one pair of matching cards isn’t enough — and avoid the skull head on a flipped coin, which appears more often if you repeat hands and can instantly end your game. It’s a great update to the classic title, but arrives with a major bummer: an unexpected timer that limits your daily games unless you pay a $3 fee to unlock the full title.
Just released as a video download last week, Disney’s hit movie Frozen briefly arrived with a free iBooks download of the Frozen Read-Along Storybook — a page-flipping story accompanied by full narration and the voices of Frozen’s key actors. But there is another Frozen storybook option for kids: despite the similar name and theme, the Frozen: Storybook Deluxe ($7) app doesn’t overlap anywhere near as much as we’d expected with the iBook story. While some of the art is similar, the story is told differently, with rich interactive animations and video clips from the movie. Storybook Deluxe also uniquely lets a child rotate the iPhone or iPad 180 degrees to hear the Frozen story from the separate perspectives of sisters Anna and Elsa. A reverse puzzle mode challenges kids to remove correctly-shaped ice puzzle fragments from a photo, while Snow Globe and Ice Crafting modes let kids draw pictures with snow and ice tools. Young Frozen fans should consider it a must-see.
Microsoft is working on extending Xbox Live functionality to iOS games, The Verge reports. A recent job posting for a “New Devices and Gaming” software development engineer states that the company will “create a modern framework that is open source, light-weight, extensible and scalable across various platforms including Windows Store, Windows Phone, iOS and Android.” According to the report, Microsoft wants to bring Xbox Live to every platform, allowing developers to incorporate Xbox Live into all games.