Apple has offered a refund to the family of Danny Kitchen, a British boy who spent £1,700 (about $2,550) of his parents’ money on in-app purchases in an iPad game within 15 minutes. The family believed the boy was downloading “a free game,” and entered a password for the download, which was followed by a collection of huge in-app purchases. Apple recently settled a class action lawsuit regarding freemium apps aimed at children, offering refunds for claims that minors made in-app purchases without parental knowledge or permission. [via BBC]
Amazon has debuted version 2.0 of Amazon Cloud Player (free), featuring an updated design with iPad and iPad mini support. The new interface includes a setting that allows users to manage the size of their offline cache of stored music, a buffer that lets Cloud Player function as an alternative to Apple’s Music app, getting around in-app purchasing by offering Safari-based track buying options.
Robocat’s Haze ($1) is a new weather app with a clean, simple interface and nice animations. Features include motion tilt/slide navigation and a gyroscope-driven wind compass. In addition to providing the standard high and low temperatures in celsius or fahrenheit, windchill, windspeed, wind direction, sunshine hours, UV info, cloud coverage, sunrise and sunset times are included, among other data. Multiple themes allow users to personalize the app.
Amazon is warning users not to update the iOS Kindle app, as the most recent release of the software appears to be deleting entire book libraries and saved settings from iOS devices, according to customer reviews. Amazon notes that version 3.6.1 of the app has a known issue: “If you are an existing Kindle for iOS user, we recommend you do not install this update at this time.”
Update: Amazon has released a new version of the iOS Kindle app, 3.6.2, which features a “fix for registration issue” and “various bug fixes and security fixes.”
Major League Baseball announced at a fan event that 13 teams will accept Passbook tickets at their ballparks this season, up from four stadiums last year. It’s confirmed that the Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, Oakland A’s, and Pittsburgh Pirates will start accepting Passbook tickets for the first time in the 2013 MLB season. Additionally, the Kansas City Royals, New York Mets, and San Francisco Giants will accept Passbook again this season, as they did last September. Three more teams will also allow Passbook ticketing, but have yet to make an official announcement. One of those teams may be the Boston Red Sox, a team that allowed Passbook ticketing last year, but was not mentioned in the new report. [via GigaOM]
Elokence’s popular Akinator the Genie app ($2) has just been optimized for the iPhone 5. For those unfamiliar with the title, Akinator is a genie who guesses what real or fictional character you’re thinking of through yes-or-no questions and a surprisingly robust database. Results can be shared on Facebook, and the 12+ rated app also has a child filter so kids can play safely. People you know can also be added to the game through customization, and the database continues to grow through user-submitted results. If you want to sample the content for free, the Akinator website will give you a good idea of what to expect.
Though it has supported the iPad for quite some time, The Atlantic Magazine: Digital Edition (free) is now also formatted for the iPhone after a recent update, which includes adjustable font size and navigation elements that can be hidden on article pages. Also included in the app’s update is the magazine’s Sexes section, which “explores how the changing balance of power between men and women is transforming society.” Subscribers get free digital magazine access, of course, but the price for a single issue has gone up for non-subscribers: it’s now $7 for a single digital issue, instead of $5.
Ken Segall, former ad agency creative director for NeXT and Apple, argues that Samsung’s recent advertising blitz has been effective against Apple. Segall writes that Samsung has spent “a fortune to run its ads,” and that “Samsung’s message has proven to be tremendously potent” — ads that allude to negative perceptions with Apple have been “scoring points.” Apple has lost momentum and needs to recalibrate, according to Segall, who compares the situation to Barack Obama after his first debate with Mitt Romney. “(Apple) deeply believes in its ideas; it just need to express them more forcefully,” he writes.
Jean-Louis Gassée, one-time head of Apple’s Products Division before the return of Steve Jobs, writes that a side effect of the iPad’s success is that it “ignores the needs of people who want to perform ‘complicated’ tasks on their iPads.” Gassée suggests that the iPad could have two user interfaces and two modes: an “easy mode” — such as the current setup that hides the iOS file system from users — and a “pro mode” for more demanding users who wish to use the iPad in more in-depth ways. He points to the proliferation of keyboards for the device and the iPad’s penetration among Fortune 500 companies as signs that more people wish to use the iPad for heavier work and creation, not just consumption, though he also notes that balancing the needs of multiple audiences will prove tricky.
Apple has become somewhat easier to deal with under Tim Cook, according to France Telecom-Orange CEO Stéphane Richard. Richard said that “Apple has (become) more flexible, paying more attention to everyone else, probably a little less arrogant than they used to be,” All Things D reports. “I think they are probably a little more under pressure, and it is quite nice,” he said.
An iPad casing manufacturer is facing sanctions from Chinese authorities for discharging waste that has turned a river “milky white.” A local water worker told the Financial Times that such waste incidents often occur weekly from a Riteng factory, which according to a waste water treatment employee has killed fish and made the river unusable for watering vegetables. Riteng is a subsidiary of Casetek, which said that the discharge was “just Chinese new year annual cleaning.” Casetek claimed the discharge had nothing to do with production — rather, it was due to a staff error during cleaning. Apple declined comment, but confirmed that Riteng does produce iPad back panels. [via Apple Insider]
Qualcomm has announced the RF360 Front End Solution, a family of chips designed to give next-generation devices global 4G LTE compatibility. The chips will support all seven cellular modes — LTE-FDD, LTE-TDD, WCDMA, EV-DO, CDMA 1x, TD-SCDMA and GSM/EDGE. All 40 cellular radio bands currently in use will be supported, as well as 2G, 3G, 4G LTE, and LTE Advanced, allowing companies such as Apple to make devices that will access all LTE bands, rather than just the small subsets offered in current iPhone and iPad models. The RF360 Front End Solution will be available in the second half of 2013.
Acquired some time ago by Amazon, long-time audiobook vendor Audible has released version 2.0 of free its iOS app, now optimized for iPad. The clean, redesigned interface features improved navigation and the ability to sign in with an Amazon account. Finished audiobooks can now be hidden from view, and up to three hours of audio can be downloaded over 3G and 4G networks while on the go.
Cordy 2 (free to try, $5 full game) is the side-scrolling followup to SilverTree Media’s acclaimed iOS action game Cordy. Owing some debt to Sonic the Hedgehog, the fast-moving Cordy makes his way through levels while picking up new abilities along the way, such as a double jump and Bionic Commando-style skyhook. Four levels can be played for free, and all 48 levels become available via a $5 in-app purchase. Multiple “packs” are also available for varying prices, which allow players to customize Cordy with different costumes and colors. If you’re into iOS side-scrollers, Cordy 2 is a fun time with the same style of 2.5-D graphics found in the original title.
Back shells for the new iPad mini have allegedly been leaked on the Chinese WeiPhone forums (translated link). Due to the unclear sourcing for these images, it is difficult to determine if the shells are legitimate Apple parts, but they appear to depict a device with the same size and general shape as the first-generation iPad, thickened only slightly at the edges. Sources have indicated the new iPad mini will have a Retina screen, which in the third-generation iPad demanded additional battery capacity, lighting, and processor power relative to the prior model, necessitating a slightly thicker rear shell.
Additional shots of the alleged iPad mini backs are featured below.
Apple has released iOS 6.1.3 beta 2 to developers for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This is notably the second version of the one-time “6.1.1” beta, containing the same Japanese-focused enhancements to the Maps application; Apple changed the name after releasing 6.1.1 and 6.1.2 patches to fix bugs with iOS 6.1. The beta is available through Apple’s developer portal. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple faces a class action lawsuit in Brazil regarding the introduction of the fourth-generation iPad, according to Brazilian newspaper Jornal do Comércio (translated link). Two separate allegations are made in the lawsuit: first, that Apple’s deviation from its yearly product cycle update is “planned obsolescence,” affecting customers who just purchased a third-generation iPad, which had only been available in Brazil for five months before the fourth-generation model was released. The second allegation maintains that Apple didn’t effectively communicate the discontinuation of the third-generation iPad in Brazil, such that some consumers unknowingly bought “what was already an obsolete version.” Brazilian newspaper O Hoje (translated link) notes the suit seeks replacement iPads for Brazilians who bought third-generation iPads, as well as penalties for “improper commercial practices, misleading advertising and product offering,” such as a 50 percent reimbursement of the amount each customer paid for the third-generation iPad, and/or a 30 percent fine for each unit sold in the country. [via MacRumors]
During its partial introduction of the PlayStation 4 video game console on Wednesday, Sony announced a new app that will let an iOS device become a “second screen” for PlayStation 4 games. The upcoming PlayStation App will allow iPhone and iPad users to download PS4 games to play at home, remotely watch other gamers play, and see additional information on the screen when playing a PS4 game. As an example, Sony said an adventure game could use the app to let players see maps on their iOS devices. According to Sony, the PlayStation 4 will be available “this holiday season,” though pricing, region-specific release dates, and the final form factor of the console have not yet been made public.
Apple has released iOS 6.1.2, an update that fixes “an Exchange calendar bug that could result in increased network activity and reduced battery life.” Though not specifically mentioned, it’s likely the update will also resolve the lock screen security flaw found in iOS 6.1. iOS 6.1.2 can be downloaded from iTunes or via the Settings > Software Update menu on an iOS device.
Kickstarter has unveiled an official free app for the iPhone and iPod touch, which functions much like a mobile version of the crowd funding site. Most users will use the app to discover new projects, watch videos, and get updates on projects they’ve funded straight from the app. Allowing location services also lets users find new nearby projects automatically. On the flip side, project creators can track their project’s progress, connect with backers, and post updates from anywhere. While we’re generally very hesitant to treat Apple-focused Kickstarter campaigns as real news, based on the frequency of delays, over-promising in campaigns, and other issues, users who are interested in trying their luck with the service may like the app.
Amazon’s free Kindle app has been updated to version 3.6 with several new features. Multicolored highlights allow users to select from four different colors to highlight important passages. After finishing a book, readers can now easily share that fact with friends on Facebook and Twitter, as well as rating the book and writing a review. Other books of interest can then be added to a wish list. Also, the brightness control within the app will now be saved, so when a user’s device goes to sleep, the settings will no longer be changed and needed to be reset.
HBO has announced that the cable network’s apps are now able stream from an iPhone or iPad to Apple TV via Airplay, thanks to updates to the HBO Go app and Cinemax MAX Go app. Kessler confirmed that HBO Go will become directly available through Apple TV in the future, as was reported earlier this month; no date was specified. [via AllThingsD]
Fans of famed glass artist Dale Chihuly now have a free iOS app to enjoy in The Chihuly App, which lets you create your own art with the looks and shapes of his celebrated glass sculptures. After picking one of Chihuly’s styles, you blow into the microphone to create a virtual sculpture that can be moved, molded, and color-changed by touching the screen. When the work is complete, you can view your creation in 3-D, and share it on Facebook. It’s also possible to browse artwork other users have made, and read a timeline of Dale Chihuly’s life and accomplishments. It’s pretty neat stuff for a free download.
A puzzle/sandbox game for iPads, Little Inferno ($5) is an “interactive fireplace” that lets you burn things, advancing through stages by discovering combos when certain items burn together. All you’re really doing from an actual gameplay standpoint is buying items, throwing them in the fireplace, and lighting them ablaze—complete with brief but frustrating delays between the purchase of an item and being able to toss it in the fire. You also get snippets of correspondence from other characters via letters, which create a story with an ending that’s claimed to pack a wallop. You’ll need to decide whether you have enough video pyromania to continue experimenting with the items for hours; in any case, you’ll find Little Inferno to be a unique gaming concept.
During the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook discussed the huge potential for tablet sales, noting that 50 percent more iPads were sold last quarter than PCs. “There has been a sea change here, but I think we’re in the early innings of this game,” Cook said. While noting that competitors don’t disclose their actual sales numbers, he said that around 120 million tablets were sold last year, and cited an estimate that tablet sales would more than triple to 375 million units per year over the next four years.
Apple has made significant expenditures in building the iPad’s ecosystem, said Cook, and laid the groundwork for all of the key elements of future success—investments competitors may not have made. Cook noted that 300,000 apps have already been custom-made for the iPad’s screen, versus “hundreds” for competing devices.
Cook doesn’t “really think about” the cannibalization question as it relates to the iPad mini having any impact on the full-sized iPad. “If we don’t cannibalize, someone else will,” he said, later mentioning, “It seems perfectly reasonable to me to have an iPad and an iPad mini” in the product lineup.
Following last week’s general release of iOS 6.1, Apple has now released iOS 6.1.1 beta to developers. The new version includes a number of improvements to Maps for Japan, including improved pronunciation of roads and identification of toll roads during turn-by-turn navigation, direction optimizations, and new indicators and icons for various features such as interchanges, transit systems and location categories. The beta also adds 3-D buildings for locations such as Tokyo Station, Japan’s Imperial Palace and Tokyo Tower.
It is notably unusual for Apple to release betas to developers for minor iOS versions; for example, both iOS 6.0.1 and 5.1.1 were released directly to the public with no prior betas sent out for developer testing. It is also worth noting that this beta release does not include an iOS SDK update nor any updates for the Apple TV or iTunes.
A new set of files discovered in the iPad music app may signal new functionality in the future, according to a new report. Discovered on a jailbroken iPad running iOS 6.1, button files are labeled with “radio buy” in the file names. It’s unknown as to what these files may actually mean, if anything, but previous reports suggest that Apple plans to launch its own streaming radio service; one report suggested that the feature could have been launched as an iPhone 5 feature prior to royalty negotiations breaking down. It’s notable that these “radio buy” files have not been discovered in jailbroken iPhones running iOS 6.1. [via 9to5Mac]