The US Patent and Trademark Office has withdrawn its recent refusal to Apple’s trademark application for the term “iPad mini.”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.
The US Patent and Trademark Office has denied Apple’s request to trademark the term “iPad mini,” according to a report. In a letter to Apple, the USPTO describes the term as “merely descriptive of a feature or characteristic of the goods,” therefore, the trademark registration was refused. The examiner’s description is a bit curious, as iPad is already an Apple trademark, but that term is also referred to as “descriptive” in the letter. There’s still a possibility Apple could be approved for the “iPad mini” trademark after further review, though the burden is now on Apple to counter the Office’s interpretations. Notably, Apple successfully trademarked many variations on the iPod name, including iPod shuffle, classic, and touch, but does not appear to have trademarked iPod mini. [via Forbes]
Flipboard Inc. has updated its free Flipboard app to version 2.0. The web article aggregator now lets users collect and save content into “magazines” that are public by default, but can be made private. A new bookmarklet makes it easier to add items to magazines from your browser, and sharing to Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks is now easier. Personalized recommendations are now available, and search — now in a more prominent position — has been improved.
Repulze ($3), the futuristic racer from Pixelbite, has now been updated with additional features that bring it closer to Sony’s classic Wipeout series. Version 1.0.4, aka “Phase Three,” adds weapons and AI opponents to the game. New challenges, hovercrafts and tracks have also been added. At this point, the weapons are still pretty basic, and the stages don’t have quite the right balance of weapon-racing action, as Repulze continues to feel like a beta version of a finished game. But the graphics and speed continue to improve with every release, and if subsequent updates evolve the weapon systems further, Pixelbite might just have an excellent game on its hands.
Parents of young children have a love-hate affair with the Canadian kids’ cartoon Caillou, featuring a relatable four-year-old boy and his two-year-old sister Rosie. While Caillou cartoons nicely touch upon common childhood themes, including role-playing, exploration, and parent-child interactions, the title character whines and pouts frequently enough to teach impressionable kids bad behaviors. Fingerprint’s new Step-by-Story - Caillou’s Window ($1) thankfully does away with the whining, but isn’t going to win the series any new fans, either. It lets kids choose very short pre-built or built-it-yourself stories featuring Caillou characters, stringing together five or so concepts to form a complete (if not particularly compelling) “story” like this one: (1) Outside, it was fall, (2) when Daddy saw (3) Caillou skiing and (4) Sarah (5) on a shooting star. Each of these clauses adds a simple, lightly animated foreground object to a flat background image while Caillou’s theme song plays and a narrator slowly enunciates the clauses. That’s it — though the art is high-resolution, it’s flat, and there’s no additional interactivity. Kids who try the app may be interested at first, only to discover that little they do while watching the “story” has any impact on the screen. We’d suggest passing on this one.
Google has introduced a number of new features to its Google Plus (free) social networking app. A new profile design is the first notable change users may see, along with a new notifications tray. Version 4.3.0 also includes new photo editing tools, such as filters, rotating and cropping. Users can also control the volume of posts from individual circles or communities and filter search results. There are also more community options — you can tell your friends about a community and reshare posts, along with displaying counts for unread messages and new moderation features in communities.
- March 26, 2013
Logitech has announced its Keyboard Folio ($100) and Keyboard Folio mini ($90) for the iPad and iPad mini, respectively. Both folio-style keyboard cases offer magnets for secure closure and use of the iPad’s sleep/wake function. The full-sized Keyboard Folio offers a Bluetooth keyboard with full-sized keys and iPad shortcuts — the Keyboard Folio mini looks to have a more condensed Bluetooth keyboard.
Both keyboards claim up to three months of typing on a full charge, based on two hours of use each day. A USB cable charger can recharge the keyboard while it’s in use. The Keyboard Folio is currently offered in black, yellow, blue or pink, while the Keyboard Folio mini can be pre-ordered in dark or light blue. The Keyboard Folio will be available in April, while the Keyboard Folio mini should hit the market in May.
iLounge’s 2013 iPad + iPad mini Buyers’ Guide is now available for download! The newest edition of our guide features everything you need to know about the iPad and iPad mini, including an extensive overview of the devices, top apps and games, and of course, our look at the best accessories available for the new iPads.
Additionally, the guide includes a photo gallery of our Best of Show Awards from the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show, and covers new iTunes and Apple TV updates, as well. As always, the iPad + iPad mini Buyers’ Guide is a free download. It is available in a single-page or twin-page “spread” format. Download your copy today!
Apple has updated its Podcasts app to version 1.2, adding custom stations which update automatically with new episodes from your favorite podcasts, and playlists synced from iTunes, among other features. Stations are also stored in iCloud and kept updated on all devices.
The interface has seen a few changes, as well — notably, the “reels” optionally shown while playing an audio podcast are now gone, with some previously obscured functionality merged into the main audio playback screen. Buttons have been moved around within the My Podcasts library screen, and “Top Stations” are now referred to as “Top Charts,” amongst other tweaks. Our editors have noted new crash bugs, however, so you might want to hold off on downloading the update for now.
In an unusual move of supporting third-party APIs, Apple has released an update to GarageBand for iOS adding the ability to receive audio from other iOS apps via Audiobus. Designed to facilitate mixing audio across multiple apps on a single iOS device, Audiobus is a third-party app that other iOS music apps can interface with to send and receive audio with other compatible apps. The addition of Audiobus support in GarageBand now allows users to record and sequence sounds from a wide variety of other Audiobus supported apps, such as Amplitube, Music Studio, AmpKit, BeatMaker, and dozens more.
The latest GarageBand update also adds the ability to disable grid snapping for finder editing control and resolves an issue with connecting third-party audio accessories to the 3.5mm headphone/mic jack. GarageBand 1.4 is available from the App Store for $5.
Just released, Speedbump’s Kingpin Lanes ($2) is an iOS universal bowling game completely rendered in 3-D, and impressively built by one man using the Unreal Engine. In addition to the expected ball-tossing, pin-knocking action, the game offers a fully explorable bowling alley, including a functioning pro shop, and an arcade with four playable mini games. Five fully voiced and animated characters can compete on a variety of lanes. The game also lets users create their own soundtrack using a device’s on-board music.
Now featuring full French and German translations in version 1.2, The Orchestra ($14) from Touch Press is an iPad app that features eight symphonic works performed by London’s Philharmonia Orchestra. As the orchestra plays extended extracts of the works — from the likes of Beethoven, Haydn, Debussy, Stravinsky, and others — the app lets users select from multiple video and audio tracks in real-time. A synchronized score and note-by-note visualization of each piece are also included. Audio and subtitled commentaries are also available on every piece, from the conductor and the players. Each instrument is also profiled, and the musicians explain their roles in the orchestra.
Sharp has said it will not receive the second part of a $120 million investment from Qualcomm before a March 29 deadline, since it failed to complete a plan to start fabricating screens based on Sharp’s IGZO technology, according to a new report. Qualcomm only agreed to pay the remainder of the money if Sharp met certain production preparations and financial conditions. As a consequence of the delay, Apple’s ability to start using the thin, power-efficient IGZO panels in its next-generation devices—a plan that has been reported for some time—now seems less likely, at least for the immediate future. “The financial targets are not the reason for the delay,” Sharp spokeswoman Miyuki Nakayama said. The companies will now try to meet a June 30 deadline for production of the new screens, which might then become available in late 2013 products. [via Reuters]
As the latest Peapod Labs ABC-themed title, ABC Farm ($3) teaches children vocabulary in English or Spanish through sight, sound, and touch. More than 50 farm-related words are taught through photos, interactive scenes, videos, pictures, and sounds. ABC Farm’s major new feature is the addition of a bilingual mode that enables the app to pivot with a single button push from English to Spanish — this feature can be used to teach a single Spanish word after seeing the English version, or the entire Spanish word set, alphabetized, as an alternative to the English word set. Every word and letter is spoken aloud in the currently selected language. While it looks familiar on the surface, ABC Farm boasts impressive new depth, and kids will enjoy it.
Evernote’s Evernote Food (free) has been updated to version 2.1. The update adds OpenTable integration, so users can make restaurant reservations and view restaurant ratings from within the app. It’s also easier to share recipes, both from Evernote to Evernote Food’s My Cookbook section, and via Facebook, Twitter, and email. It’s also possible to browse and search for recipes in Japanese and Chinese. Other improvements involve bug fixes, better image uploading, and improved search results.
- March 18, 2013
Andrew “weev” Auernheimer, who was found guilty for his role in a 2010 security breach that exposed the information of 114,000 AT&T iPad users, has been sentenced to 41 months in prison. He is subject to three years of supervised release following his release from prison. He must also pay $73,162 in restitution to AT&T. Auernheimer was found guilty of one count of identity fraud and one count of conspiracy to access a computer without authorization. The hack exploited what was at the time relatively light security on the AT&T account login page for cellular iPads, and was addressed by a more aggressive sign-in system. [via The Verge]
- March 14, 2013
Apple is now selling refurbished fourth-generation iPads and iPad minis in their online store. Currently, the store has five separate options for the refurbished fourth-generation iPad, ranging from $449 for a Wi-Fi 16GB white iPad to $679 for Wi-Fi + Cellular for Verizon 32GB models. As for iPad mini, Apple is selling a refurbished Wi-Fi + Cellular for Verizon 16GB model in black for $429, and a Wi-Fi 32GB model in white for $389, relatively small discounts. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple’s free Apple Store app has been updated to version 2.5. The app, which lets users research, personalize, and purchase products, as well as make service appointments, now features new shipping options for different items in an order. It’s also easier to see if a product is available for pickup at any selected U.S. location of the Apple Store.
CBS Interactive has released a brand new CBS app (free) which offers full streaming HD episodes of popular CBS shows, including NCIS, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, How I Met Your Mother, Survivor, Elementary, The Young and the Restless, and The Late Show with David Letterman. It’s noted that some shows are available 24 hours after airing, while others are available 8 days after the initial broadcast. The CBS app also includes a personalized show list, live social feeds, photo galleries and cast pages, and the CBS primetime schedule.
Rovio has issued a major update to one of its popular Angry Birds games, Angry Birds Rio. Most notably, version 1.6 of the game features 36 new levels and an all-new episode, the marmoset-filled Market Mayhem. Additionally, players can collect all the hidden fruit to unlock a new bonus level. Angry Birds Rio is currently available for free in the App Store.
Google’s Field Trip (free), available for Android since last year, has arrived for iOS. Field Trip is an interactive location guide that runs in the background, using location services and push notifications to tell users what’s around them. Categories such as architecture, historic places and events, lifestyle, offers and deals, food drinks and fun, movie locations, outdoor art, and obscure places of interest are all featured. Field Trip uses data from the likes of Thrillist, Food Network, Zagat, Run Riot, Sunset, Cool Hunting, WeHeart, Inhabitat, Remodelista, Atlas Obscura, Daily Secret, Songkick, and Flavorpill. If you’re using a headset, or Bluetooth audio, Field Trip will read the information aloud. The app is optimized for iPhone, but not iPad.