A recent Apple hiring spree focused on the company’s rumored smart watch suggests that the device won’t be ready for launch until late 2014, according to the Financial Times. Apple is reportedly “aggressively” hiring for the project at this time. Though Apple has recently filed for the “iWatch” trademark in multiple countries, the release date for such a product still remains a mystery. Reports earlier this year suggested that the company was facing significant battery life issues as a result of a decision to use the iOS operating system for the watch, rather than sticking with the lower-power operating system built for the sixth-generation iPod nano.
Meanwhile, another report has surfaced suggesting that the Retina iPad mini will be delayed until 2014. This new report from Digitimes claims Apple is attempting to design a Retina display iPad mini with “an almost bezel-free look,” likely to be released next year. A “slightly updated” version of the current iPad mini may ship in the second half of this year.
Update: DigiTimes is now contradicting its own recent report, saying there will be no delay for the Retina iPad mini, which should launch in October. Once seemingly on the upswing, the publication’s track record of accuracy has returned to “highly questionable,” casting doubt on the veracity of anything it publishes regarding future Apple products.
Rovio today announced that Angry Birds Star Wars II will be released on Sept. 19, notably paired with a line of “Telepods” toys that will interact with the game. According to Rovio, “Placing these figures onto your phone or tablet camera will scan your character of choice directly into the game, allowing you to select new characters on the fly.” The figures will be sold in stores for the September launch. More than 30 playable characters will be available in the game, which will focus on the Star Wars prequels.
It’ll also be possible to “Join the Pork Side” in the game this time around, rather than playing with the heroic rebels. Rovio made a point of noting the company “will not comment on rumors or speculation that Jar Jar Binks will be in the game.” [via Rovio]
Time Inc., publisher of Time Magazine and 20 other magazines, will offer free iOS Newsstand previews for all of its publications by year’s end. The magazines will let users read a few articles from a magazine, while teasing the rest of the content — the Entertainment Weekly iPad app is currently offering the feature in its latest issue. Time Inc. hopes to increase its number of digital-only subscribers with the move. Notably, the publisher didn’t reach an agreement with Apple on magazine sales until June of last year. [via AllThingsD]
Apple’s new Retina-equipped iPad mini may not ship until next year, according to a Taiwanese report. A shortage of Retina displays may cause Apple to push back the device’s shipping date. The report also seems to indicate there may be a non-Retina version of the next-generation iPad mini, though any differences in release dates or features between the rumored devices are unknown. A June report also claimed the release of the second-generation iPad mini would be pushed back a few months, but indicated it would likely be available by the holiday season. [via Economic Daily News (translated link)]
As the fourth game in Eidos’s well-respected Deus Ex series, Square Enix’s new universal release Deus Ex: The Fall ($7) is a remarkably rich first-person shooter—an original title that looks and plays far better than one would expect from a purely mobile release. Continuing the franchise’s dystopian cyberpunk storyline, The Fall includes all of the dual virtual stick exploration and upgradeable weaponry you’d expect from a typical FPS, plus hacking, strategic elements, and dialogue-based “choices” that affect the progress of the story. Players will be impressed by the sheer quantity of spoken dialog and explanatory cutscenes in the 800+MB title, as well as the large, respectably detailed environments and fluidly animated characters—all best viewed on Retina devices. iOS gamers looking for a simpler interface will appreciate touchscreen-ready tweaks, such as the option to tap-acquire targets and/or double-tap the ground to move without the virtual stick. Though the dark, heavily orange-tinted art doesn’t have the jaw-dropping beauty of Gameloft’s best FPS releases, Deus Ex makes up for optical omissions with greater originality and depth.
Enjoyed by many web users, IFTTT (free) has come to iOS in app form. By using the statement “if this then that,” IFTTT allows users to automate a number of services and wireless devices when triggered by other actions. For instance, a user might instruct IFTTT that when a photo is taken, IFTTT should automatically save the photo to Dropbox. There are many possibilities using a number of services, including Facebook, Gmail, and Twitter, as well as devices such as Philips’ Hue, Belkin’s WeMo, and Jawbone’s UP.
Apple is asking the International Trade Commission for a stay on an upcoming August 5 ban of older iPhone and iPad models. The ITC ruled in June that Apple violated a Samsung patent, and issued an import ban on GSM versions of the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, and cellular first- and second-generation iPads. Apple is arguing that the ban will harm both the company and its carrier partners, even though the company previously stated the decision had “no impact on the availability of Apple products in the United States.” Though carrier names were redacted from Apple’s filing, AT&T and T-Mobile are likely the affected companies. Apple is waiting for the Federal Circuit to decide on an appeal. [via GigaOM]
The latest iOS 7 beta makes two significant changes to non-Retina iPads’ handling of apps with iPhone/iPod-specific interfaces. Previously, non-Retina iPads displayed iPhone/iPod apps at a classic 480x320 resolution, upscaling them with a “2X” button to a larger, chunky-looking 960x640 window. On a non-Retina iPad 2 or iPad mini running iOS 7, the apps are now displayed at the larger size by default, but use the higher-resolution text and graphics seen on the Retina iPhone 4/4S and fourth-generation iPod touch, while removing the ability to shrink to “1X” size. Retina iPads, however, still give users the choice of toggling between 1x and 2x mode. [via MacRumors]
Expedia has updated its Expedia Hotels & Flights (free) app to version 3.2. Previously capable of helping users compare hotel and flight prices, the app now features local experts that can help users book reservations and find activities in Orlando, Las Vegas, and Hawaii, as well as synchronized FlightTrack integration for FlightTrack app users. Notably, the app is universal with a unique workaround for its still-in-progress iPad flight-booking interface: when switching from hotel search to flight search, the iPad app animates a transition to using an iPhone, right on the iPad screen. The updated app also offers more low-cost flights, and more countries, as users in India, Malaysia, Sinagpore, and Thailand can now book flights.
Microsoft’s digital notebook Microsoft OneNote has updated its free app for iPad and iPhone to version 2.0. The app improves formatting and consistency across devices, and allows users to create or edit tables. Notes will now sync automatically to SkyDrive Pro and SharePoint. It’s also easier to view and find notes, with updated navigation and full page view. Ink annotations and rich text formatting are also now available.
A change in iOS 7 beta 3 may allude to Apple making its iWork and iLife apps free in iOS 7. The recommended free Apple apps screen in the third beta now includes Apple’s iWork suite, as well as iPhoto and iMovie, though not GarageBand. This could be changed before final release, and may be an App Store glitch, but it appears to have been a deliberate addition to the list of free Apple downloads. Apple may want to make it easier for users to access its iWork suite, especially with the introduction of iWork for iCloud, and might also see the iPhoto and iMovie tools as worthy of giving away with iOS—similar to their bundling with OS X for the Mac. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple has released the third beta of iOS 7 to registered developers. The company released the second beta two weeks ago, and the first beta of iOS 7 two weeks before that. The third beta is now available through Software Update in iOS settings, and “contains bug fixes and improvements,” according to sparse notes. Additional details on newly added features will become available over the next several days.
Update: iOS 7 beta 3 has also been posted to Apple’s developer portal.
A new “Only on the App Store” promotion has made a number of top iOS apps and games free from iTunes. Infinity Blade II, Where’s My Water?, Badland, Tiny Wings for iPhone and iPad, Superbrothers: Sword and Sorcery EP, Day One, Over, Barefoot World Atlas, Traktor DJ for iPhone and iPad and more are all currently free — Traktor DJ notably normally sells for $20.
The apps have likely gone free to mark the upcoming fifth anniversary of the App Store. It’s unclear how long the apps will be available for free, or if other apps will be made free at some point. [via The Verge]
Update: Apple has noted the apps are free for a limited time as part of “5 Years of the App Store.” A timeline of App Store milestones can be viewed within the App Store. The promotion also includes How To Cook Everything for free, in addition to the apps listed above.
Rovio’s original Angry Birds ($1) now features a brand new episode, Red’s Mighty Feathers, in which the Red Bird gains new powers from the Mighty Eagle. Instead of seeking to defeat the pigs, Red Bird is defending his eggs in this episode, making for a shift in gameplay. The new levels in version 3.2 also incorporate gameplay from Rovio’s Bad Piggies game, as the pigs advance in contraptions to steal eggs. Red’s Mighty Feathers features 15 new levels.
Playdead’s acclaimed sidescroller Limbo ($5) finally makes its way to iOS. Having debuted for XBox Live Arcade in 2010, the game features a young boy making his way through a dark forest. A quiet, atmospheric game in black and white, Limbo gives users no indication on how to control its character or what to do next. It can leave gamers a bit lost at first when sending the boy into another gruesome death, but the trial-and-error nature of the game almost begs users to walk into certain death to figure out a better way to navigate its puzzles. The controls are intuitive, even when using a touchscreen. If you dig its creepy vibe, Limbo is certainly worth buying as a welcome twist to the sidescroller genre.
Boston University has filed a lawsuit alleging Apple has infringed upon a patent held by computer engineering professor Theodore D. Moustakas. The 1997 patent for highly insulating mono crystalline gallium nitride thin films is alleged to be infringed upon in the iPhone 5, iPad, and MacBook Air. BU has reportedly filed identical claims against other companies, including Amazon and Samsung. The university plans to show in court that “at least one other company pays a licensing fee” for use of the allegedly infringed component. [via Boston Herald]
Based on the acclaimed kids’ book by Herve Tullet, Press Here: The App from Chronicle Books is available for iPad ($2) and iPhone ($1) — the latter as a “small version.” The app features 15 simple games and activities, focused on the three colored dots featured in the considerably more expensive books. Though the app version appears to be simplistic in design, Press Here uses its basic dots to spark imagination and problem solving, testing memory, artistic abilities, and much more.
Procreate ($5), an iPad app from Savage Interactive that lets users illustrate and create, has updated to version 1.8. So many new things have been added — a freehand selection tool, a new copy-and-pastesystem, painting and brush improvements, transform improvements, and a new interface for creating a canvas, amongst other tweaks. A number of other experiences have been improved, including interface animations and redesigned menus. The app also now supports Adonit’s Jot Touch 4.
Apple is likely to launch its annual Back to School promotion this week — and possibly tomorrow — according to a report. Eligible students will receive an iTunes/App Store gift card with the purchase of a Mac, iPad, and now, an iPhone. While $100 gift cards come with a Mac purchase, an iOS device purchase will net students a $50 gift card. Last year’s promotion ran from June into September — there’s a possibility this year’s promotion could run later due to its late starting date. [via 9to5Mac]
Update: Apple’s Back to School promotion started today, July 2, and it runs through Sept. 6.
Contra: Evolution finally makes its official App Store debut. The Konami game brought to iOS by PunchBox Studios is out for the iPhone ($1) and iPad ($3) — the latter as Contra: EvolutionHD. The gameplay looks like classic Contra, and the graphics are sharp. Notably, a number of in-app purchases are available within the game.
Foodspotting has updated its free app to version 4.0, with the most notable addition being the Food Camera. The Food Camera gives users a bevy of new options when photographing food, including the built-in ability to take and compare multiple photos of one dish. New gestures allow users to adjust and lock focus, while adjusting the exposure independently. It’s also now possible to select multiple photos for comparison, in addition to being able to zoom on photos to select the sharpest shot of a dish.
New image detectors that recognize facial expressions — such as blinking or smiling — have been added to iOS 7 beta 2, according to a report. Facial recognition has been around since iOS 5, but the new APIs could allow developers to add new features based on particular expressions, such as taking a photo when no one in the frame is blinking. Although at this point the feature only appears in the underlying iOS APIs, it’s possible that Apple could include new features in its own Camera app for the official release of iOS 7, as new Camera features are usually instituted with each new OS. [via 9to5Mac]
Amazon Mobile’s Amazon Instant Video (free) has updated to version 1.4.3, which makes finding videos faster and easier using a dropdown menu on the home screen or a navigation bar on the browse screens. More personalized carousels have also been added to the home screen. However, the app still notably lacks AirPlay support.
Apple has updated iTunes U (free) to version 1.3.1. Users can now check for course updates by using pull-to-refresh animation. The updated app also resolves issues regarding updating content and quitting unexpectedly. Support for Arabic, French, German, Greek, Italian, Russian, and Spanish languages have also been improved.
Rdio (free) has updated to version 2.2.1, and the app now offers Song Stations — users can create a station based on any song. It’s possible to see four upcoming tracks and skipping is unlimited. The new AutoPlay feature lets users hear more songs similar to the song they just heard. In related news, Rdio also announced the ability to add up to five members to a family plan.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company has reached a three-year agreement to develop the next generation of Apple processors, according to a report. Using 20nm, 16nm, and 10nm process technologies, TSMC will manufacture A8 and A9 chips for Apple. Production of the A8 chips will start next month, with the processors expected to first appear in a 2014 iPhone release, sources said. The A9 and A9X chips will enter production in the third-quarter of 2014, with the processors expected to be used in later iPhones and iPads. [via DigiTimes]
Burbn’s popular photo-sharing app Instagram (free) has added video in version 4.0. The addition will provoke comparisons to Vine, but the two are much different: Instagram video lets users take video clips as long as 15 seconds, and 13 video filters are also available. Videos notably do not loop, as they do in Vine. Cinema, an image stabilization feature, is available for those using the app on an iPhone 4S or 5.
Lytro, maker of the Lytro Light Field Camera, has released a Lytro (free) app for iOS. The company has awakened the camera’s hitherto-unknown Wi-Fi capabilities in order to interact with the app, letting users share photos to Facebook and Twitter. Lytro’s app also lets users save photos as animated GIFs that can be emailed or sent via text. The Lytro Light Field Camera lets users refocus pictures after they’re taken, and allows interactive “living pictures” to be refocused endlessly—a neat technology that our editors felt wasn’t ready for prime time after testing the camera.