Each time there’s a new version of Can Knockdown, we stand up and take notice. On the surface, the universal iOS release Can Knockdown 3 ($2) is the type of super-simple game that once dominated the App Store—flick to toss balls at cans, knocking them over. Yet developer Infinite Dreams keeps raising the bar with each iteration, this time improving the realtime 3-D graphics to virtually photorealistic levels on Retina iPads, and adding puzzles to the 100 included levels. While the music is only alright, the sound effects, controls, and graphics otherwise work really nicely together, and the levels continue to evolve in challenge as you continue playing. Currently on sale for only $1, this should be a no-brainer download if you’re looking for something fun to occupy your spare time.
eBay has updated its free iOS apps for both the iPhone and iPad, bumping them to versions 3.0.0 and 2.3.0, respectively. The iPhone app has been redesigned, including larger photos for users of iOS 6 and beyond. Most notably, the app allows users of some US states to scan in their drivers licenses for fast and easy eBay registration. Last minute bidding has also been improved, and the new eBay Shopping Cart lets users check out multiple items at once. The updated iPad app makes a number of changes as well, including improved photos and easier browsing.
A newly published Apple patent application reveals a system whereby one iOS device could control the flashes on other devices to better light a scene for photos. The method would allow an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch to use the flashes on multiple other iPhones, for instance, by initiating a master-slave connection. A signal can be sent from the primary device to the secondary devices to adjust timing, intensity, duration, or flash angle.
As described in the filing, instructions sent from the primary device could be displayed as text on the secondary device’s screen. The devices could also be paired using Bluetooth to trigger the flash at the right time. [via Apple Insider]
Google made a number of iOS-related announcements today at its I/O Developers Conference, including several that have potentially far-reaching consequences for its iPhone and iPad applications. First, the company released its Hangouts app for iOS, a free messaging app that lets users share photos and make video calls across computers, phones, and tablets. Additionally, Google also demonstrated a redesigned version of Google Maps, which will feature enhanced navigation, a five-star rating system, a 3D view, cards, and more prominent Zagat reviews, among many updates. The latest update will come to iOS devices in the summer, and will also bring to the web version a considerably cleaner interface.
Additionally, Google announced a revamped version of Google+, which will look more like the Google+ iPad app and add considerable new features such as automatic photo synchronization and sorting; an enhanced Google Now voice search for desktop computers that hints more Siri-like functionality will come to its iOS Google app; and Google Play Music All Access, an unlimited streaming music service. All Access will compete with Pandora, Spotify and other subscription services, as it beats Apple’s rumored iRadio service to market, offering users access to millions of tracks from various recording labels. Users who sign up for a 30-day trial by June 30 will pay $8 a month. After that, users can sign up for $10 a month.
Although the Federal Communications Commission has asked the Federal Aviation Administration to allow more in-flight device use, a new report suggests that pilot reports and scientific studies suspect that passenger electronics are interfering with aviation equipment. More than a decade of reports show “dozens” of cases where electronics were suspected of interference. One anecdote in the report tells of an iPhone being switched off, which coincided with the solution of a compass problem. While the airline industry is noted to be divided in changing the current guidelines for in-flight device use, the FAA will hear recommendations from its own advisory committee on the subject, likely in July. [via Bloomberg]
A class action lawsuit has been filed against Apple for iPhone 4s with defective power buttons. Filed by a Florida woman, the suit claims Apple knew about a flex cable defect controlling the power button but kept quiet about the problem to sell more phones. Apple discussion forums regarding the power button are cited as evidence. The lawsuit claims that the part often fails after the phone’s one-year warranty expires. [via GigaOM]
ABC has relaunched its ABC Player app as Watch ABC, which now streams live programming in limited markets. Currently, live streaming of ABC programming is only available in the New York City and Philadelphia areas.
The app is currently available in an “open access” preview, but starting July 1, the app will request verification of an eligible TV provider to access live streaming video. Watch ABC will expand to other markets in the coming months, including Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, Raleigh-Durham, Fresno, Boston, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and Milwaukee.
1Password ($18), AgileBits’ password manager and secure wallet app, has been updated to version 4.2. The update includes a number of improvements to 1Browser, the app’s built-in web browser, including use of a strong password generator. It’s now possible to share items through Messages or email. Search has also been improved, with the ability to expand results across all fields. Results also show the primary URL of the term, as well.
Amazon Mobile has released Amazon Cloud Drive Photos (free), an app for storing photos in Amazon’s cloud. The app automatically saves photos taken while the app is running. Amazon offers 5GB of free storage to save about 2,000 photos. Users can buy up to 1TB of additional storage.
In a quiet server-side update, Apple has given Siri the ability to respond to requests with quotes, notably to suggest that the user is being too long-winded. When asking the assistant a question — presumably one that Apple’s servers find too long or difficult to parse — Siri responds with William Strunk and Thomas Jefferson quotes alluding to brevity. Notably, the thirty-word Strunk quote itself takes several seconds for Siri to read aloud, and in one case was delivered in the middle of dictation.
The Strunk and Jefferson quotes appear to have been added to Siri over the last week and a half, and represent a new direction for Apple’s virtual assistant. Rather than just recognizing or failing to recognize a user’s natural speech, Siri now appears to be using quotations to change the user’s speaking patterns.
- May 13, 2013
T-Mobile’s carrier update to enable LTE has been “hacked” to increase “the amount of bandwidth allowing for better throughput of data and data connection” on the iPhone 5. Although Apple released an update that was supposed to improve speeds for users of unlocked iPhone 5s running on T-Mobile’s network, some users reported negative signal and speed changes following its installation. The increased speed update works on both versions of the iPhone 5, and no jailbreak is required to download the enhanced update. Instructions on how to install the update can be found within the initial report at TmoNews.
Apple informed staff at a recent town hall session that major changes would be coming to the AppleCare and AppleCare+ programs this fall, according to a report. Many of the changes will apparently focus on in-house repairs — instead of exchanging an iPhone, iPod, or iPad for a new device, Apple will repair the same device and return it to the customer. Apple Stores will reportedly have the ability to replace displays by June, and to repair cameras, sleep/wake buttons and logic boards by July. Advanced diagnostic tools to remotely assess hardware issues will also be available. It’s unclear whether this new system will lengthen initial turnaround times for customers, who were previously able to walk into Apple Stores and swap devices quickly, though repaired units might not require time-consuming content restoration.
AppleCare may introduce a new tier for consumers, instead of specific products, and offer in-store training for customers. There’s also a possibility that AppleCare will be reconfigured as a subscription model. Additionally, free support for the iPhone may jump from 90 days to one year without buying AppleCare. Apple Vice President Tara Burch announced the changes, which would come to the U.S., then the rest of the world, reportedly under the “One Apple” brand — though it’s unclear if “One Apple” is an internal or marketing term. [via Apple Insider]
Apple has created a waiting list to decrypt iPhones seized by police, due to high demand. A new report notes a case in which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) had to wait for Apple to assist in unlocking the device of a man accused of distributing crack cocaine. According to the search warrant affidavit of an ATF agent, numerous law enforcement agencies do not have “the forensic capability” of unlocking an iPhone. Reportedly, the agent was told there would be at least a seven-week delay to unlock the phone, but the process apparently took at least four months. [via CNET]
Peapod Labs’ just-released Bugsy’s Math Quest ($3) stars the company’s long-time mascot, Bugsy the hamster, who walks through 2-D side-scrolling levels, facing animals and monsters every few seconds. To get past most opponents, you need to tap once or twice on the bottom-of-screen keypad to enter digits that solve a multiplication or division problem. Each level ends with a boss encounter akin to a quiz, where you need to rapidly solve a handful of problems in a row to defeat the boss and move on. The game’s flat graphics and audio are pretty good, improving on what we’ve previously seen from Peapod’s Bugsy titles, but even the easy difficulty level will prove challenging for the young (4-5-year-old) children the app claims to be appropriate for. This is due in equal parts to the fast pacing, the lack of instructional content, and choice of multiplication and division rather than addition and subtraction; Math Quest is really appropriate for older kids who already know basic multiplication and division tables from school. They’ll find this to be a great reinforcer — better than flash cards — but a mode that teaches rather than just drilling on correct answers would be a nice addition.
Netflix’s newly-updated version 4.1 Netflix (free) app now makes it easier for binge watchers with the new post-play feature. When watching a TV show, the Netflix app will now automatically queue up the next episode and play it without the user having to do anything. For movies, post-play lists the three best related movie recommendations while the credits of the current movie start to roll.
- May 9, 2013
AT&T has announced the launch of Aio Wireless, a new prepaid cellular brand. Aio Wireless offers a number of devices under no-contract plans, including the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S and iPhone 4. The iPhone 5 is being sold for $650. It is available with the Aio Smart plan, featuring unlimited talk, messaging, and data with high speed access for the first 2GB for $55 a month, or the Aio Pro plan, which offers the same features as the Smart plan, but with high speed access for the first 7GB of data for $70 a month. Aio Wireless is available now in Houston, Orlando, and Tampa — the service will make its way to additional U.S. markets during the next year.
Multiple reports have noted a surge in mobile traffic from devices using iOS 7 recently, as Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference is now about a month away. Notably, there’s been a reported rise in usage from iOS 7 iPhones and iPads in the Cupertino and San Francisco areas. Increased testing suggests Apple will have a public preview of iOS 7 available for developers at the conference, as many already expect. [via MacRumors, TechCrunch]
- May 8, 2013
Mass production on the screen for the new iPhone, likely the iPhone 5S, will reportedly begin in June. The “liquid crystal panel” will be produced by Sharp, LG Electronics, and Japan Display, according to a report from Japan’s Nikkan (translated link). The report notes the display’s specifications are “close” to the iPhone 5, suggesting the new version could be slightly different than the current display, though no further details are given. [via 9to5Mac]
New for iPad from Warner Music Group is The Doors, ($5) a new app that “brings The Doors’ story to life.” An interactive career retrospective of the Jim Morrison-fronted rock band, The Doors app features insider stories about the group, a timeline of The Doors’ history, song samples, lyrics, and more. A graphic novel about the band’s famous “Miami Incident” is included, as are 44 video commentaries and 6 full-length music videos.
PDFpen for iPad ($10) by SmileOnMyMac lets users make edits and corrections to a PDF file on the screen. It can use iCloud, Dropbox, Evernote, and Google Docs as storage. The iPad app notably added support for Adonit’s new Jot Touch 4 pressure-sensitive stylus in version 1.5.2, making it one of the first apps to support the Bluetooth 4 peripheral. Since that recent update, version 1.5.3 has resolved issues with Dropbox and other various crash issues.
U.S. Cellular announced that it will “begin offering Apple products later this year” during a release of its quarterly revenue results. Though no specific products were mentioned in the announcement, the iPhone will likely be offered, as U.S. Cellular notes, “By further strengthening our device portfolio, we’ll give consumers another great reason to switch to U.S. Cellular, and enable our existing customers to choose from an even wider variety of iconic smartphones, and enjoy the outstanding U.S. Cellular customer experiences they deserve.” U.S. Cellular currently boasts 5.8 million customers — the carrier claims its 4G LTE network currently covers 61 percent of its customers, and the network will be expanded to cover 87 percent of its customers by year’s end. [via 9to5Mac]
With users of Google Now for iOS — found within the Google Search app — complaining about excessive battery drain, a recently published post on Lifehacker suggested turning off location reporting in settings for a fix. However, Google responded to the Lifehacker report, claiming that reports about excessive loss of battery life are “incorrect.” The company claims Google Now uses cell towers and wifi hot spots “for much lower battery impact.” Google claims Google Now for iOS was tested extensively for months without any significant battery impact.
Apple has released iOS 6.1.4, an iPhone 5-only update. The software update lists an updated speakerphone audio profile as its only revision.
Originally a Facebook-only game, Rovio’s Angry Birds Friends is now available on iOS for free. The game still revolves around Facebook though — you have to sign into Facebook to compete in the tournaments and challenge friends for trophies. New levels are added to tournaments every week, and the iOS game syncs automatically with the Facebook game. However, keep in mind the only single-player experience focuses on practicing with power-ups. It’s free, but Angry Birds Friends is still only worth downloading if you’ve got friends willing to play along. Otherwise, you’d be better off sticking with one of Rovio’s many other flying fowl titles.
Haunted Hollow (free) from 2K Games was developed by Firaxis, the same studio that made Sid Meier’s Civilization and XCOM: Enemy Unknown. The new strategy game for iOS lets players build and rule over a mansion while creating an army of monster minions. Players can send monsters such as vampires, zombies, mummies, witches, and reapers into town to capture townhouses and do battle. Multiplayer mode lets Haunted Hollow players face off against friends.