A new update to the Google Search app for iOS features Google Now, Google’s personal assistant. Google Now offers weather and traffic conditions at the start of the day, as well as updates on favorite sports teams and breaking news. Google Now uses more than 25 different “cards,” including cards for boarding passes, restaurant reservations, flight information, and more.
Google’s Eric Schmidt alluded to Google Now awaiting Apple approval in March. Apple responded, saying Google Now wasn’t submitted to its App Store; as it turns out, it was instead debuted within an existing app. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple has backtracked on a prior decision to change the way VPN On Demand connects in iOS. An updated support article notes that “Apple no longer plans to change the behavior of the VPN On Demand feature of iOS 6.1 for devices that have already been shipped. The ‘Always’ option will continue to work as it currently does on these devices.” Previously, Apple announced VPN On Demand configured to “always” would behave as “establish if needed.”
The initial change was made due to a patent suit loss to VirnetX; there’s speculation that because of Apple’s reversal on the VPN issue, the two companies have reached some kind of agreement. Notably, because Apple only mentions devices that have “already been shipped,” the changes still might be made to as-yet-unshipped items. [via MacRumors]
Though a minor update for some users, Apple’s Apple Store app (free) has been updated to version 2.6 — the app now lets users receive notifications noting when they’re eligible for upgrade pricing on a new iPhone.
Sega’s unpredictable history of iOS releases continued this week with the release of House of the Dead: Overkill - The Lost Reels ($5), a visually unimpressive yet semi-engaging zombie shooting game with grindhouse-inspired interface and audio elements. Like virtually all of the prior House of the Dead games, you’re in an on-rails first-person perspective shooting at zombie attackers — here called “mutants,” and with a drag-based on screen reticule rather than just pointing and tapping, increasing the challenge level. Two of the game’s three worlds are unlocked for the $5 asking price, while a third world requires a $2 purchase, and as is sadly now the norm, additional weapons are sold as in-app purchases if you don’t want to spend the time earning them. Overkill’s language is unusually raw, so kids shouldn’t download it; more importantly, due to Sega’s use of relatively low polygon counts for device compatibility, the in-game graphics are merely competent rather than scary. Fans of the series will find this title to be far less stylish and energetic than the best House of the Dead titles, but it’s something to play at a relatively affordable price.
A new Cut the Rope game has hit the App Store from ZeptoLab UK Limited. Cut the Rope: Time Travel ($1) features two monsters to feed in each level as the physics-based puzzler returns in different new settings, including the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, a pirate ship, ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, and the Stone Age.
FedEx’s free FedEx Mobile app now features FedEx Delivery Manager in version 4.2. Signing up for the manager lets users schedule a delivery or change a delivery to another address. It’s also now possible to sign for a package using the app. FedEx Mobile also lets users provide delivery instructions, schedule a vacation hold, or opt to hold a package at a FedEx location for pickup. FedEx Mobile’s Delivery Manager is available for U.S. residential delivery destinations.
Apple has added a “download later” option for large media purchases in the iTunes store. Users who purchase a TV season, Season Pass, movie bundle, music box set, or an individual movie or TV episode now have the ability to download the media at a later time from iTunes in the Cloud. This new option could benefit users who want to buy such media, but don’t have the time or data connection to download a large file at the moment of purchase. The “later” option is available for users using iTunes 11, or iOS 6 or later, and in countries that support iTunes in the Cloud for the selected media.
One year ago, Read It Later became Pocket (free), the popular app from Idea Shower which saves content for offline reading. Now updated to version 4.5, the app introduces new sharing features, including Send to Friend, which lets you quickly share content with friends and family. An inbox will show content that’s been shared with you, along with any comments and highlighted quotes. The redesigned Share Menu provides shortcuts for sharing, and optional push notifications let users know when new content has arrived in their Pocket inbox.
Time Warner Cable’s free app, TWC TV (version 3.2.0), now lets Time Warner subscribers watch live TV channels while away from home. The update also lets viewers watch select On Demand programming from anywhere. Filtering and sorting shows and categories has also been improved.
Facebook, Inc. has updated its Facebook app (free) to version 6.0. The new update adds chat heads to both the iPhone and iPad versions of the app — a “floating” head now enables users to quickly continue a chat with a friend while browsing other feeds. iPhone Facebook app users can send Emoji-style stickers within messages, and new feeds such as Music, Photos, and Games have been added. For the iPad app, the News Feed has been redesigned and streamlined. Chat heads and stickers should be available for all users “over the next few weeks.”
SugarSync, Inc. has released version 4.0.0 of its SugarSync app (free). The redesigned Dropbox competitor now offers quicker access to synced content. It’s also easier to share and access content shared by others. The new Cloud Search feature lets users search for files across all computers right from the app, and Open In lets users save documents, photos, or videos from other apps into the SugarSync app. A device filter for viewing all folders is also new, and a folder label feature is coming soon.
Logitech has announced two new home control remotes — the Harmony Ultimate ($350) and Harmony Smart Control ($130) — that can both use an iOS app for control. Harmony Ultimate is a full remote with 2.4” color touchscreen that can control up to 15 devices through swipes and taps. It can also control the Philips Hue lighting system.
Harmony Smart Control works mainly through the Harmony smartphone app, though it also comes with a simple remote. It can consolidate up to eight remote controls into one app. Both remotes are compatible with 225,000 home theater devices, and both include the Harmony Hub, which turns RF signals from the remote into IR and Bluetooth commands for home theater device compatibility. The Harmony Hub also allows users to control devices through cabinets and walls. Harmony Ultimate is expected to launch this month, while Harmony Smart Control should be available in May.
Twitter is planning on launching its new standalone iOS music application this weekend, possibly as early as today, according to reports. A new site, music.twitter.com, asks users for permission to allow an app called Trending Music Web, though at this point authorization of the app only sends users back to the sign in page.
The app will suggest artists and songs based on “personalized signals,” which include the Twitter accounts a user follows. Third-party services, such as iTunes, will allow users to listen to music clips within the app. Users will also be able to watch music videos from Vevo. Twitter recently acknowledged its acquisition of the music startup We Are Hunted, which tracked the most popular songs on social networks. [via AllThingsD]
Update: Twitter’s music app will launch to the public in about a week; for now, only select celebrities and “influencers” have access to the app. [via AllThingsD]
Google Inc.‘s Chrome (free) app has updated to version 26.0.1410.50. Google’s browser for iOS now allows users to access fullscreen browsing for iPhone and iPod touch — the toolbar can be scrolled off the screen to view a full page of content on the devices. Printing has also been updated, as it’s now possible to print web pages using either AirPrint or Google Cloud Print. It’s also now possible to save any page as a PDF to a Google Drive account.
Foursquare Labs, Inc. has released version 6.0 of its popular Foursquare (free) app. The newest update focuses on the “most interesting things nearby.” Sort of Foursquare’s attempt at a best-of, the app can now tell users the top attractions in the area. Search has also been given a more prevalent role within the app, as the Explore field has been moved to the top of the app when it’s opened.
An alleged plan for Microsoft’s next wave of Office updates indicates we may not see an iOS version of Office until fall 2014. An apparent roadmap spotted for Microsoft’s “Gemini Wave” lists Office for iOS in October 2014. Though such roadmaps often change, a source indicated this plan was “likely current as of the start of 2013.” This drastically contradicts prior reports, which pegged an iOS Office release for early this year. The reported late February or early March release date has came and went, with no sign of iOS Office. [via ZDNet]
Apple and Yahoo have been discussing the possibility of Yahoo’s services playing a greater role on iPhone and iPad, according to a new report. The companies are discussing deals that could push more content from Yahoo News and more onto Apple devices — possibly through “an expanded Siri partnership.” Currently, apps which use Yahoo’s finance and weather sites come preloaded on iPhones, and Siri uses some Yahoo data, as well.
Though “no deal is imminent,” according to sources, the benefits can be seen for both sides. Apple could further distance itself from Google services with a Yahoo partnership. Yahoo could provide web results to Apple, though that’s noted as “a long shot” due to Yahoo’s partnership with Microsoft — Microsoft’s Bing powers Yahoo search — and Apple’s deal with Google. Representatives for Apple and Yahoo declined comment. [via The Wall Street Journal]
The fifth-generation iPad bezel has allegedly been leaked, as new photos have been posted at French site Nowhereelse.fr. Photos show someone holding an alleged white iPad bezel, which appears to have the same full-sized iPad screen with a smaller footprint. The photos may be legitimate, but the bezel — though thinner on the sides than the current fourth-generation iPad — still looks thicker than we would expect.
In other news, Japanese blog Macotakara is reporting the iPhone 5S may come in a total of five colors. It’s been reported that the rumored low-cost iPhone will also come in a number of colors. The blog also claims Apple may announce the iPhone 5S in July.
HBO Go (free) from Home Box Office, Inc. has been updated to version 2.1. The app, which lets HBO subscribers stream episodes on mobile devices, now features AirPlay multitasking capability. Now users can stream HBO video to AirPlay while continuing to use other apps on their iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. Additionally, interactive features for the app’s Game of Thrones experience have been enhanced.
Warner Bros. has brought Injustice: Gods Among Us (free) to iOS before its console launch in a few weeks. The freemium fighting game features your favorite DC characters, from Superman to Batman to The Flash and many others. Users can add collectible cards to their roster to unlock characters, moves, and powers. The fighting is three-on-three tag team action, similar to the more recent Marvel vs. Capcom games. Touchscreen controls enable special moves and combos, though those used to duking it out in console games may find the gameplay a bit awkward. Notably, the game features cross-platform functionality — items can be unlocked in the console version for use in the mobile game, and vice versa.
The US Patent and Trademark Office has withdrawn its recent refusal to Apple’s trademark application for the term “iPad mini.” A suggested disclaimer within the USPTO’s new office action now notes “mini” cannot be claimed as an exclusive Apple term, and can only be used in conjunction with iPad. If, for some reason, Apple refuses to submit the disclaimer in its trademark application, the trademark could still be denied. [via MacRumors]
Apple’s loss to VirnetX for infringing VPN patents has caused the Cupertino company to change the way VPN On Demand connects in iOS. In a support article on Apple’s website, the VirnetX lawsuit is specifically mentioned as the reason VPN On Demand configured to “always” will now behave as if it was configured to “establish if needed.” This issue is unlikely to affect most iOS users directly; Apple notes it will “address this functionality with alternatives in a future software update.”
A newly published patent filing reveals possible Apple plans for a hybrid notebook/tablet computer, according to a report. The invention could involve a keyboard-laden base and removable display — two components that could communicate wirelessly. Also noted as a possibility is the ability to transfer power wirelessly, perhaps through coils or capacitive plates.
In some embodiments of the patent filing, the removable display would incorporate touchscreen technology. Novel in the invention is a set of retracting magnetic connectors that would enable the screen to physically attach to the keyboard when necessary, while disappearing to make the screen a standalone tablet when not in use. It’s unclear whether the fruits of this concept would be a Mac, iPad, or something inbetween, but the images are disclaimed as merely illustrative of a design possibility. [via Patently Apple]
Algoriddim’s djay for iPhone app ($1) — our 2012 pick for iPhone/iPad App of the Year — has updated to version 1.6.4 with an array of new upgrades. Most notably, the app has added Audiobus support, allowing users to stream live audio to any other Audiobus-compatible apps. The app now pauses automatically when headphones are disconnected or the audio is docked. There are a number of other tweaks, including improved handling of iOS audio system errors and caching, and the app fixes earlier issues with audio distortion, audio controls, and crashes.
Well-respected as an alternative to Eye-Fi’s photo-grabbing app for iOS devices, ShutterSnitch ($16) from 2ndNature has added a number of updates since we last checked in on the app. Now on version 2.9.6, ShutterSnitch now offers dramatically wider support for different types of wireless camera accessories, including not only Eye-Fi cards but also Transcend Wi-Fi cards, Toshiba FlashAir cards, PQI cards, and official Canon and Nikon PTP/IP transmitters. The app also includes proper iPhone 5 support, and various usability tweaks.
In a Branch thread stemming from discussion of an iPhone production report, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber wrote that he’s heard that iOS 7 is “running behind,” and engineers have been moved off OS X 10.9 to work on the newest iOS. According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple is expected to ship iOS 7 “around midyear.” An overhaul of the user interface is expected, courtesy of Jonathan Ive’s involvement. Gruber also mentioned that he’d heard nothing regarding a new event, but speculated that Apple could introduce the fifth-generation iPad this month. In the absence of typical pre-announcement signs such as leaks that production is underway, the date for the next iPad’s unveiling has remained ambiguous, with forecasts ranging from April to October of this year.
Creatorverse (free), the inventive, open-ended game app from Linden Research, has become free after updating to version 1.2. The app is optimized for iPad, and includes basic creation tools that allow users to invent complex objects such as basic machines, then set their inventions in motion with a physics engine. Using joints, teleporters, motors, and other forces, users can create whatever inventions they can think up, then watch them go. Advanced creation tools can be added via in-app purchasing.
Square Enix’s classic RPG Final Fantasy V ($16) has made its way to iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Originally released in 1992 for Nintendo’s Japanese Super Famicom system—with a U.S. release for the Super NES notably cancelled—the iOS port uses touch-screen controls and an active-time battle system that are “optimized for fluid combat on mobile devices.” Veteran character designer Kazuko Shibuya has returned to recreate the characters and graphics for the iOS port, which is based upon a later re-release of the game for the Game Boy Advance. The game also features “The Sealed Temple” from the 2006 release, in addition to the optional boss Enuo.