Several recent applications have been released to remedy issues users have discovered with iOS 7’s moving wallpapers — namely, unintuitive changes in the ways iOS 7 resizes and positions photographs when used as wallpapers. Michael Belanger’s Fix My Wallpaper ($1) lets users zoom in and out on wallpaper photos, customize colors, and more. Wallpaper Fix ($1) from Bernhard Obereder promises quick resizing and positioning; this app locked up repeatedly during brief testing on an iPad Air. Another wallpaper resizing app is Brijit Sheelia’s Wallax ($1). All of the apps enable you to get a better sense of how an image will appear on the iOS device’s Lock and/or Home Screens, but one may have specific features that appeal to you.
Apple has released iOS 7 adoption statistic on its developer website, unusually nestling the information within an App Store Distribution section of the site. The company claims that “74% of devices are using iOS 7,” though it’s interesting how Apple reached that number. It says that the 74% was “as measured by the App Store during a 7‑day period ending December 1, 2013,” which would rule out iOS users who didn’t visit the App Store in that given week, a different and less absolute metric than has been offered by the company in the past. By contrast, Apple suggests that 22 percent of devices are using iOS 6, with 4 percent of devices still using an older edition of iOS.
Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Pirates ($5) is an Assassin’s Creed game in name only, with only the most modest link to the console games. Instead of tracking down human targets from a first-person perspective, Pirates puts players behind the wheel of a pirate ship. It’s a turn-based naval battle game with very modest need for quick interactions, and players can upgrade their weapons, crew, and ships as the game progresses. You might enjoy it as long as you can distance your expectations from the Assassin’s Creed name; the graphics are extremely impressive, apart from the odd juxtaposition of cutout-like 2-D art atop fully 3-D worlds and ships.
Doctor Who: Legacy from Tiny Rebel Games (free) has arrived, likely much to the delight of the multitudes of Whovians. A turn-based puzzle/strategy game, Doctor Who: Legacy lets players revisit old episodes from the TV series. Episodes from seasons six and seven are available at launch, with more episodes and characters to be added daily.
The Bluetooth Special Interest Group has announced the newest version of the Bluetooth specification, Bluetooth 4.1. Bluetooth 4.1 promises new features that will allow the spec to “work seamlessly” with LTE. Better connections will allow manufacturers to control the reconnection time interval — devices can reconnect automatically when in proximity to each other, and disconnect when apart, allowing for improved battery life and a better user experience. Bulk data transfer will allow for a more efficient transfer of data gathered away from one’s home computer — the example given by the Bluetooth SIG notes an efficient transfer of exercise data. A Bluetooth device can also now act as both a peripheral and a hub at the same time, allowing for greater interaction between devices. Most interestingly, Bluetooth 4.1 is an over-the-air update that won’t require the purchase of new devices — the Bluetooth SIG recommends that manufacturers “immediately” implement Bluetooth 4.1 in their devices.
Exact Editions, a British digital publishing startup, is using Apple’s iBeacon technology to allow readers to access its titles for free in certain locations. A report suggests the tech could be used within a coffee shop or waiting room, as the publisher could sell multi-magazine subscriptions to businesses and locations. Macy’s also disclosed that it will be using iBeacon to trigger offers in different parts of its stores as part of a pilot program, and a number of Major League Baseball teams have expressed interest in using the technology within their stadiums. [via TechCrunch]
- December 4, 2013
Apple is testing five 12.9-inch iPad prototypes designed by Foxconn, and the company could end up releasing two versions of the device, according to a report from China. The report suggests “2K” and “4K” screens are being tested, and it’s possible that the former could be released in April as the “iPad Pro”, with an advanced 4K “iPad Pro” coming in October.
While it’s possible that Apple could release both non-Retina and Retina iPad Pro models at different price levels and times, the likelihood of such a move is questionable at best. Current-generation iPad Air screens offer 3-Megapixel but “2K” resolutions, while MacBook Pro Retina screens offer 4-Megapixel resolutions—half the resolution of 4K (8-Megapixel) displays. Apple could easily release an upgraded 4-Megapixel iPad Pro with additional pixels, offering Retina-quality resolution while still falling short of the “4K” television standard. [via PadNews]
Jetpack Joyride (free), the popular endless runner from Halfbrick Studios has updated to version 1.6 with a number of new features. Strong Arm Machine or S.A.M. mode turns the protagonist, Barry Steakfries, into a giant robot. Using S.A.M. five days in a row will unlock exclusive outfits — 16 new costumes in all. For a limited time, players can buy The Sleigh of Awesome, which is powered by rocket-powered robotic reindeer, as a $5 in-app purchase.
James Kelleher’s Lonely Beast is back in The Lonely Beast 123 ($2), a counting app for kids. The big beast spends his days counting everything in his house, from 1 to 12. Mildly interactive scenes await children, who can listen to a voiceover by The Lonely Beast author Chris Judge. The app promises no in-app purchases, no third-party advertising, and no social media, making it a safe experience for youngsters; light tapping on screens activates voices and small animations.
Apple has posted holiday shipping deadlines on its online store to inform customers of when orders must be placed to receive products by Dec. 24. The site shows when iPads, iPhones, iPods, Apple TVs, Macs, and other select accessories must be ordered to ensure delivery by Christmas Eve, for both standard and next day shipping. Notably, customers only have a few days left to receive an iPad mini with Retina display by Christmas Eve, with Dec. 5 being the deadline. The iPad Air can be ordered up until Dec. 9, and the iPhone 5s must be ordered by Dec. 12 for pre-Christmas delivery. Apple’s online store is offering free shipping on all products through Dec. 22.
Mickey Mouse fans have two new downloads to consider this holiday season. Based on the recent PC/PlayStation/Xbox re-release, Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse ($10) is Disney’s completely redrawn version of Sega’s 2-D game released for the Genesis/Mega Drive during its heyday in 1990—a point at which the game was considered to be gorgeous but relatively simplistic. Not only is the game now fully rendered in realtime 3-D graphics, but the gameplay has been substantially overhauled to include simple 3-D movement and action sequences between the mostly side-scrolling 2.5-D sections.
Full voice narration has been added, as have some level themes that go way beyond the Sega original. That said, the gameplay is still deliberately quite simple—walk, jump on things, and toss objects—with exploration of hidden sections in levels as the major incentive for continuing to play. It’s a very good game for kids, though expensive, and many adults will enjoy it as well.
- November 27, 2013
A number of retailers will be featuring deals on Apple’s iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display on Black Friday, and MacRumors has rounded up a number of the best discounts. Target seems to be the best bet for both the Air and the Retina mini, notably offering a $100 Target gift card with the purchase of an already discounted $479 16GB iPad Air. Target is actually offering a $100 gift card with the purchase of any full-sized iPad, and a $75 gift card with the purchase of any iPad mini. Though the retailer has been very light on iPad supplies since its trade-in deal several weeks ago, it will reportedly have “small quantities” of the Retina iPad mini in stock. Best Buy ($450) and Staples ($449) are each offering $50 off the 16GB iPad Air, and it’s noted that Best Buy’s sale starts at 6 p.m. Thursday.
In a second report, 9to5Mac reports that Apple will most likely be offering gift cards rather than Black Friday discounts on its products—a switch from prior Black Friday promotions it has done in the past. Apple commonly has offered small discounts on a variety of readily-available first- and third-party products for one day after Thanksgiving, but this year appears to be prepared to offer cards of around $100 with the purchase of some Macs, and $50 for some iPads, with $25 to $50 cards for certain accessories. The cards will apparently need to be used separately from the Black Friday device purchases.
City Letters is a free app from Frugoton designed to teach the alphabet to young children. Kids learn how to identify letter shapes and sounds through tracing, as the app introduces reading and writing concepts through words connected to city life. A $2 in-app purchase gets users the whole game after testing the demo.
Touch Press has released The Elements in Action ($4), a new app expanding the award-winning The Elements: A Visual Exploration. The Elements in Action features 79 video explorations of properties of the elements, offering a demonstration for almost every element. Though the new Elements works as a standalone app, it can also be used as a companion to the original — when both apps are installed, the two link together.
Rockstar Games announced Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas will be coming to iOS in December. Brand new touch controls and three different driving control schemes have been added to the mobile version of the classic game. GTA: San Andreas will also feature full iOS 7 controller support for Made for iOS controllers. No price information has been released at this time.
- November 26, 2013
iLounge has updated our iPad mini with Retina display review to include the Wi-Fi + Cellular model of Apple’s device. The Retina mini achieved roughly an hour better cellular battery life than the original model, running for 9 hours and 46 minutes. Cellular speeds were identical to the Air and iPhone 5-series phones.
We awarded the Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad mini an A-, the highest rating yet for a Cellular mini, and a tie with the differently-capable iPad Air. The single biggest surprise with the Cellular model was actually seeing the difference in screens, which had previously been reported by DisplayMate; our first three units had seemingly identical displays without image retention, but the fourth unit did show image retention issues. A photo of the issue is included in the updated review, though under most conditions, users will not notice the issue at all.
Just Mobile has introduced AluBolt ($50), a Lightning dock for iPhone and iPad mini. The aluminum dock comes with a built-in Lightning-to-USB cable.
Just Mobile claims AluBolt will work with devices in cases, however, it’s unclear how many and what kind of cases will be supported. The dock will be available in early December.
- November 22, 2013
Some Apple stores are now reportedly offering Retina iPad minis for sale to walk-in customers, though it doesn’t appear as if customers will have many choices regarding models. For instance, a personal pickup search reveals that space gray Wi-Fi models are available in multiple capacites in numerous stores, but silver Wi-Fi models are a bit more scarce, and Wi-Fi + Cellular versions remain largely unavailable.
Many stores still listing all Retina iPad mini Wi-Fi + Cellular capacities for all carriers as unavailable for pickup. Apple has spread out availability for the devices differently than before — we know Wi-Fi + Cellular models have sprung up in numerous Canadian Apple stores, for instance, while some American stores said as of yesterday morning that they hadn’t ever received Wi-Fi + Cellular models at all. [via 9to5Mac]
Animal Band — Nursery Rhymes ($1) is a new music app for young children from Storytoys. Kids can interact with eight animal characters to get them to join into a song, with each animal acting as a separate instrument. The four initial songs are classic nursery rhymes, including Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and The Itsy Bitsy Spider. It’s a simple concept, and a section with a third background for extra songs is shown as “coming soon,” but younger kids might find it entertaining.
ESPN’s ScoreCenter has just become ESPN SportsCenter (free) in an update to version 4.0.0. The popular sports scores app has a whole new clean look. It’s also easier to navigate through the app and access the scores of your favorite teams. A news section is still intact, as well as a new “now” section, which is really just a curated ESPN-centric Twitter feed. Though there are other sports scores apps out there, this is probably still your best bet, especially if you’re into more obscure sports and leagues.
Clumsy Ninja, which was featured in last year’s Apple media event for the fifth-generation iPod touch and iPhone 5, has finally made its way to the App Store as a free download. One of two high-profile game demos from Apple last year — the other being Infinity Blade Dungeons, which was shown at the third-generation iPad event in March 2012 and later canceled — Clumsy Ninja’s release was delayed for more than a year without explanation.
The freemium game lets users interact with a kid ninja, letting you teach him a variety of tasks. He improves, learning new tricks and moves through his training. Impressive kinematic animation and cartoony graphics add to the fun factor of the universal release.
Apple has released an Apple Store for iPad app today, oddly separate from the iPhone/iPod touch Apple Store application released years ago. The new iPad version of the app puts a greater focus on high-resolution photos showing off the products, serving as a stripped down and reorganized version of the Apple Store web presence.
Item selection screens are able to change quickly to provide topic-specific information on products, helping users to quickly see differences in cellular options for iPads and iPhones, capacity choices for multiple devices, and individual product availability by store location. The Apple Store app for iPad is available now.
An anticipated sequel, Epoch 2 ($3) from Uppercut Games offers more Terminator apocalypse-inspired robot battles. The third-person shooter will likely appeal mostly to fans of the first Epoch, but it may not expand the audience much more than that. New weapons and features have been added, most notably including moving backgrounds and varied types of simultaneous attackers to fight against, all within an Unreal Engine 3-generated environment. But the gameplay remains relatively shallow and repetitive.
Apple has finally updated its free Find My Friends app for iOS 7 with version 3.0. The new design is more iOS 7-esque, of course, losing the skeuomorphic leather stitching, and switching to a lighter, orange-accented design. Friends are now seen on the map in tiny picture circles, as opposed to just dots, and the prior version’s font excesses are gone.
- November 19, 2013
Apple is planning on debuting a 12.9-inch iPad “early next year,” according to The Korea Times. The previously rumored device is said to have improved picture quality — near ultra high-definition quality, which would place it in the range of 4 million pixels versus the current iPad Air and Retina iPad mini’s 3 million pixel displays. “Apple’s local first-tier display supplier” in Korea is already reported to be working on the larger iPad. The company’s claimed interest in additional iPad sizes is an acknowledgement that tablets are replacing PCs in the market, according to a supplier source. Claims as to the release dates of first-generation Apple products should generally be taken with a grain of salt, given the frequency of production-related delays.