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Google Earth adds 3D imagery, Tour Guide

Google has released a major update to its Google Earth iOS app adding support for 3D cityscapes along with a new Tour Guide feature. Google Earth 7.0 now allows users to access a 3D flyover view of select cities; 3D imagery currently is currently available for Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, Geneva and Rome with new cities said to be added in the coming weeks. A new Tour Guide feature in the latest version also allows users to virtually explore new places with tours of major cities, historic landmarks and natural wonders. Google Earth 7.0 is a universal app requiring iOS 4.3 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download. The new 3D imagery feature requires an iPhone 4S, iPad 2 or third-generation iPad.

Angry Birds Space adds new levels, characters

Rovio has released another free content update to Angry Birds Space, the latest instalment in its popular game franchise. The new update expands upon the food planet Utopia series introduced in May, adding two new characters and 20 additional levels. The Orange Bird gets a superhero makeover in this edition and a brand new space egg character is introduced. The update also includes 10 new bonus levels that can be unlocked by achieving three stars on the prior levels and a gigantic new boss fight to test players’ skills. Angry Birds Space is available in separate iPhone/iPod touch and iPad versions: Angry Birds ($1) and Angry Birds HD ($3).

Apple updates iWork iOS apps for Mountain Lion

Apple has released updates to Pages, Numbers and Keynote for compatibility with the new iCloud Documents features in Mountain Lion and the corresponding Mac OS X updates released yesterday. The three apps, now at version 1.6.1, simply now list that they work with iCloud to make documents, spreadsheets and presentations automatically available between iOS devices and the corresponding Mac OS X applications, with changes made on one device now being “instantly available” on the other. The three iWork apps for iOS were originally updated to add iCloud support last fall with the initial debut of iCloud in iOS 5, allowing users to share documents, spreadsheets and presentations between multiple iOS devices. However, iCloud support did not come to iWork for the Mac until yesterday’s release of OS X Mountain Lion; these latest iOS updates appear to be primarily focused on ensuring compatibility with iCloud on the Mac. Pages, Numbers and Keynote 1.6.1 are universal apps and require iOS 5.1 or later. Each is sold separately from the App Store for $10.


Apple updates Podcasts app

Apple has released a minor update to its Podcasts app focused on performance, stability and usability improvements. Originally released last month, the new standalone Podcasts app is designed to replace the Podcast playback functionality previously incorporated into the iOS Music app with additionl features such as the ability to search for and subscribe to new podcasts and download or stream podcast episodes over a 3G or Wi-Fi connection.

In addition to listing “significant improvements to performance and stability,” the Podcasts 1.0.1 update adds several small user interface tweaks, including displaying the number of unplayed episodes for each Podcast in the user’s library, displaying the Podcast titles in Top Stations in place of missing artwork, remembering the last-used playback speed when switching between episodes, and fixing problems with the Subscribe button and Top Stations artwork. Podcasts 1.0.1 is a universal app requiring iOS 5.1 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.

iTunes U app adds Notes, Sharing, Improved Search

Apple has released an update to its universal iTunes U app adding new note-taking and sharing features and improvements to searching within the app. iTunes U 1.2 now allowed users to take notes directly in the app while watching or listening to a lecture. An improved search feature now allows users to search for text within posts, assignments, notes and other course materials from any of their subscribed courses, and users can now also share their favourite courses with friends via Twitter, Mail or Messages. iTunes U 1.2 is a universal app requiring iOS 5.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.

Notes from Apple’s Q3 2012 Conference Call

During Apple’s third quarter 2012 financial results conference call, Apple CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer made a number of comments related to Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and iPod businesses.

Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO, opened the conference call by calling attention to the company’s record June quarter, which he said was fueled primarily by strong iPhone and iPad sales.

He said that iPod sales, though down year-over-year, were ahead of internal projections, and as with the past few quarters, the iPod touch accounted for over half of iPod sales. U.S. share of the MP3 player market remained at over 70 percent. He added that iPhone is now available from over 250 carriers in over 100 countries, and said that the company estimates that the number of Fortune 500 iPhones has doubled over the last year.

Regarding iPad, Oppenheimer said the company was “thrilled” with sales. The company saw very strong year-over-year growth globally, and the iPad is now available in 97 countries. Just under one million iPads were sold into the education market during the quarter, and Oppenheimer said sales of iPad 2 in K-12 market were particularly strong. Notably, the iTunes U app has been downloaded over 14 million times, and over 700 new courses have been added.

Overall, over 410 million iOS devices have now been sold. The App Store now offers 650,000 apps, 225,000 of which are tailored to the iPad. Apple has now issued over $5.5 billion in payments to developers, and now boasts 150 million iCloud users.

During the Q&A session, both executives made several comments of interest.

Oppenheimer said that weekly iPhone sales continue to be impacted by rumors and speculation related to new products, a subject that would come up later, when Tim Cook replied to a pointed question about iPhone transitions. Cook said that he’s happy that people want the next thing, and added that he’s not going to put any energy into trying to get people to stop speculating about what the company may be doing next.

Discussing iPhone pricing in emerging markets, Cook said that the company has been very focused on China, seeing it as an enormous opportunity. He said that he firmly believed that people in emerging markets want great products, so Apple is going to stick to its “knitting,” and continue to make the best products it can.

Cook also discussed the iPad pricing umbrella, competing tablets, and the decision to offer the iPad 2 for $399 alongside the third-generation iPad. He said that iPad 2 did very well during the quarter. In terms of competition, he said Apple has seen tons of tablets come onto the market this year, and doesn’t think any of them have gained serious traction. He said the company is going to keep innovating in the space, and feels really confident about its momentum. Later, when discussing the iPad 2’s price point, he said that the company believed it would help drive elasticity, and it certainly helped in the K-12 market. He added that it’s been a big help to Apple, and he’s glad the company did it.

Discussing the Apple TV, Cook said that Apple sold 1.3 million in the third quarter, up over 170 percent year-over-year, bringing sales for the year to over 4 million. He said that’s still at a level that Apple would call a hobby, but it continue to invest in it, and there are a lot of people at Apple who are believers in Apple TV.

Finally, when asked if Passbook be a stepping stone to a digital wallet, he said that it’s a key feature, and that employees of Apple all found themselves receiving all these tickets and passes. He said it does a great job of pulling all those together in one place. He again called it an important feature, but said that he wouldn’t want to speculate on where it might lead.

Apple Q3 2012: 26m iPhones, 17m iPads, 6.8m iPods

Reporting its third quarter 2012 financial results today, Apple said it sold 26 million iPhones in the quarter, an 28 percent increase year-over-year, but down somewhat from 35.1 million units in the prior quarter. Apple sold 17 million iPads during the quarter, up 84 percent from the year-ago quarter and also up from 11.8 million units in the second quarter of 2012. Finally, the company said it sold 6.8 million iPods during the quarter — a 10 percent decrease compared to the same quarter last year. Unit sales of iPhones, iPads, and iPods bring the cumulative totals for the three device categories to 244.1 million, 84.08 million, and 351.08 million, respectively.

Apple posted revenue of $35.02 billion and net quarterly profit of $8.8 billion, or $9.32 per diluted share, compared with revenue of $28.57 billion and net quarterly profit of $7.31 billion, or $7.79 per diluted share in Q3 2011. Revenue from Other Music Related Products and Services, which includes revenue from the iTunes Store, App Store, and iBookstore in addition to sales of iPod services and Apple-branded and third-party iPod accessories, was 2.06 billion for the quarter, up 31 percent year-over-year but down four percent from the prior quarter. Apple’s Board of Directors also declared a cash dividend of $2.65 per share of the Company’s common stock. The dividend is payable on August 16, 2012, to stockholders of record as of the close of business on August 13, 2012.

“We’re thrilled with record sales of 17 million iPads in the June quarter,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We’ve also just updated the entire MacBook line, will release Mountain Lion tomorrow and will be launching iOS 6 this Fall. We are also really looking forward to the amazing new products we’ve got in the pipeline.”

“We’re continuing to invest in the growth of our business and are pleased to be declaring a dividend of $2.65 per share today,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO. “Looking ahead to the fourth fiscal quarter, we expect revenue of about $34 billion and diluted earnings per share of about $7.65.”

Gameloft releases The Dark Knight Rises

Gameloft has released The Dark Knight Rises, a new exclusive gaming experience inspired by the concluding instalment in the Batman movie trilogy. The new game challenges players to take on the role of Bruce Wayne as Batman to protect Gotham City through a collection of missions dealing with hostage situations, bomb squads, jailbreaks and car chases. To succeed, players must learn to take advantage of the variety of tools in Batman’s arsenal and master different fighting moves to take on a variety of villains. Players can also climb into vehicles such as the Bat-Pod and The Bat to drive and fly through Gotham City on special missions, exploring the city and its different districts across a huge map. The Dark Knight Rises includes an immersive storyline with likenesses of key characters from the movie such as Catwoman, Lucius Fox and Commissioner Gordon along with detailed high-resolution graphics and soundtrack. The Dark Knight Rises requires an iPhone 3GS/4/4S, third- or fourth-generation iPod touch or iPad running iOS 4.0 or later and is available from the App Store for $7.

Update: Our full review of The Dark Knight Rises is available here.

Osmos adds Multiplayer Support

Hemisphere Games has introduced multiplayer support to its hit game Osmos in a major free update released earlier today. In Osmos (iLounge Rating: A) players control a ball known as a Mote by tapping to navigate it through a pool of fluid, absorbing nearby smaller motes to grow in size while avoiding larger objects and other obstacles; challenges across numerous levels include growing larger than other objects in the pool or absorbing specific target objects. The game also provides a unique physics engine and numerous small gameplay-enhancing touches such as gravity attractors, time warping controls and AI opponents to add strategy and unique gameplay throughout each level.

Osmos 2.0 takes the game into a new dimension by allowing players to challenge their friends to a mote-eat-mote absorption fest of skill and strategy in any of six distinct arenas via either local Wi-Fi/Bluetooth) or online Game Center play. The update also adds a new unique level type for multiplayer, Antimatter Impasse. iPad vs iPhone play is also supported for local multiplayer games, while Game Center requires all users to be on the same device. Additional enhancements in the new update include support for Retina Display graphics in the iPad version, Twitter integration for sending out achievements and challenges to friends and followers, and numerous audio/visual enhancements. Osmos 2.0 is available in separate, device-specific versions: Osmos ($3) for the iPhone and iPod touch and Osmos for iPad ($5). Both require iOS 4.1 or later.

Apple granted comprehensive touchscreen UI patent

Apple has been granted a patent that covers a wide swath of the iOS user interface. Patently Apple reports that the patent covers the basic user interface for many of iOS’ built-in apps, including Mail, Photos, Camera, Videos, Music, Calendar, Safari, Notes, and Maps. Also covered by the patent are iOS’ scroll bar, as well as the virtual keyboard. As noted in the report, Apple lists the following inventors on the patent: Scott Forstall, Henri Lamiraux, Andrew Platzer, Michael Matas and Imran Chaudhri. The patent was originally filed in the first quarter of 2007; Apple refiled the application in March of this year.

Sprint: no charge for FaceTime over cellular

In the wake of AT&T’s refusal to clarify whether or not it will charge its customers an added fee on top of their data plans in order to use iOS 6’s FaceTime over cellular feature, competing carrier Sprint has made its stance known. “We are committed to our unlimited data and that means not charging for data consumption based on the application,” a Sprint spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal. While AT&T claims it is “working closely with Apple” on the developer preview for iOS 6, Verizon representatives have declined to comment on the matter. As noted in the report, the wording of the FaceTime over cellular message is very similar to the alert that appeared in past developer betas foreshadowing AT&T’s decision to charge an extra fee for the Personal Hotspot feature.

Apple ordered to post Samsung ‘did not copy’ notices

A U.K. judge has ordered Apple to publish notices on both its website and in British newspapers alerting consumers to a ruling in which Samsung was cleared of all alleged patent infringement. Bloomberg reports that according to Judge Colin Birss, the notice should outline the July 9 decision that Samsung’s Galaxy tablets don’t infringe Apple’s patented designs, and should be posted on the website for six months, as well as appear in several newspapers and magazines to correct the impression that Samsung had copied the iPad. The ruling will result in Apple running “an advertisement for Samsung, Richard Hacon, a lawyer representing Apple told the court, adding, “no company likes to refer to a rival on its website.” In his ruling, Birss said Samsung’s tablets were unlikely to be confused with Apple’s iPad because they are “not as cool”.

Early iPad prototype photos surface

A number of photos showing a very early prototype of the iPad have surfaced online. Citing a December 2011 deposition of Apple Senior VP of Industrial Design Jonathan Ive, Network World reports that Ive recalls seeing what is referred to as the “035 mockup” sometime between 2002 and 2004, when the company was “first exploring tablet designs that ultimately became the iPad.” The mockup itself is easily identifiable as an early version of the iPad, despite the fact that it lacks Home, sleep/wake, and volume buttons. The device is far thicker than the original iPad—more closely resembling white iBook enclosures of the day—but does feature a Dock Connector mounted at the bottom, as well as a headphone jack which is mounted on the side. To see the complete collection of photos, follow the above link. [via 9to5Mac]

AT&T announces new Mobile Share plans

AT&T has announced its new Mobile Share plans with Unlimited Talk & Text. Designed for customers with multiple devices, the plans offer a set amount of data along with unlimited talk and text; customers are also charged for every device that’s added to the plan. Plans start at $40 for 1GB of monthly data and go up to $200 for 20GB, while the cost of adding each smartphone to the plan goes down as the data amounts rise—each smartphone costs $45 on the 1GB plan, but only $30 when you choose one of the three most expensive plans. In addition, customers can add basic phones to their plans for $30 a month, laptops, netbooks, and LaptopConnect cards for $20 a month, and, most importantly for iPad users, tablets and gaming devices for just $10 a month; additional data will be charged at a rate of $15 per GB. AT&T’s new Mobile Share plans will be available in late August.

AT&T to charge for FaceTime over Cellular?

AT&T may be planning to charge iPhone users extra for FaceTime over Cellular capabilities, according to a new report. Citing a new alert that appears in iOS 6 beta 3 warning users that in order to enable FaceTime over cellular, they must contact AT&T, 9to5Mac reports that it appears AT&T is planning to charge extra for the feature, as they do for Personal Hotspot access. AT&T provided a statement for the report, which reads, “We’re working closely with Apple on the new developer build of iOS6 and we’ll share more information with our customers as it becomes available.” Notably, 9to5Mac was unable to bring up the same error message when enabling the FaceTime over Cellular feature on a Verizon iPad; instead, the feature enabled without issue. Apple announced FaceTime over Cellular last month as one of the new features coming in iOS 6.

Apple seeds iOS 6 beta 3 to developers

Apple has seeded developers with the third beta version of iOS 6. While the update has yet to appear on Apple’s Developer website, it is available as an over-the-air update for those running the prior iOS 6 beta on their devices. The update weighs in at 347MB for the iPhone 4S; according to the brief release notes, the update “contains bug fixes and improvements.”

NYT: Apple to launch 7.85-inch iPad this year

Apple plans to launch a 7.85-inch iPad, according to The New York Times. Citing people with knowledge of the project, the report claims that the device will sell for “significantly less” than the third-generation iPad’s current base price of $399, and will be announced later this year. Such a device has been repeatedly rumored over the past few months; last week, a photo of a purported case mold for the device was spotted online.

NBC Universal releases official Olympics apps

NBC Universal has officially launched two universal iOS apps to allow users in the U.S. to follow coverage of the London 2012 Olympic Summer Games. NBC Olympics (free) will provide users with news, video clips and photos for every sport and information on all Team USA athletes, along with social media integration to follow favourite sports, teams and athletes on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ as well as engage with other fans. The app provides real-time results and schedules, medal counts, and TV and online listings as well as a second screen experience for users following the NBC televised nightly Primetime Show. Push Notifications will provide breaking news, programming reminders, and results for selected team sand athletes.

NBC Olympics Live Extra (free) is a universal app that will provide live viewing of the 2012 London Olympic Summer games for verified cable, satellite and telco customers, complete with alternate camera views and full replays. Users can similarly follow their favourite events and sports and receive Push Notifications to be reminded of event start times. Users can browse by event, watch simulcasts of Olympic programming from NBC television cable channels and access DVR capabilities for most live streams and all full event replays. Users of the NBC Olympics Live Extra app must verify an existing cable, satellite or telco subscription at a tier that includes both CNBC and MSNBC to get access to the full collection of live stream content. Both of the NBC Olympics apps require iOS 5.0 or later, with video features accessible only to users in the U.S. and certain U.S. territories.

IMDb adds Social Features

IMDb has updated its iOS app adding new social features such as check-ins and message boards along with several other improvements to available information and discovery. IMDb 2.7 now allows users to “check-in” to Movies and TV shows and share what they are watching via Facebook and Twitter and access a variety of online message boards for topics ranging from general discussions to specific topics such as people, movies and shows.

The new version also increases the amount of IMDb data accessible within the app, including filming locations and soundtracks and adds a “More Like This” feature to help users discover new similar movies and TV shows while browsing through the app. New navigation buttons have also been added when viewing TV show episodes to allow users to quickly browse through episodes sequentially without having to navigate back and forth from the season listing. Additional enhancements include improvements to Watchlist support and a full History list along with various bug fixes and performance improvements. IMDb Movies & TV is a universal app requiring iOS 4.2 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.

Rovio releases Amazing Alex

Rovio Entertainment has released Amazing Alex a new physics puzzler representing the company’s first departure from its venerable Angry Birds franchise. The new game puts players in the role of a whiz kid with a boundless imagination and a houseful of toys where they are challenged to build creative, chain reaction solutions to accomplish various tasks ranging from battling cardboard robots to cleaning up Alex’s room. Players build elaborate Rube Goldberg devices from a collection of toys that bounce, pop, ricochet, bash and crash into each other; most puzzles can be solved in more than one way and users can share their most creative solutions with their friends and see what their friends have come up with as well.

Amazing Alex includes 100 built-in levels and users can also design their own levels and share them with friends or worldwide using 35 different interactive objects set in four different locations. A gallery of user-contributed levels is expected to add to the replayability and Rovio also promises regular free updates with its own new level packs. Amazing Alex is a universal app requiring iOS 4.2 or later and is available from the App Store for $1.

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