New York City has seen decreases in many major crimes during the last 12 years, with the exception of grand larcenies — a category which is increasingly being driven by the theft of Apple products, the Wall Street Journal reports. The New York Police Department attributes a rise in grand larcenies from last year to the trend of stealing electronic devices, and Apple products made up more than 18 percent of all grand larcenies last year. The NYPD tracks Apple device thefts specifically due to their frequency. An Apple spokeswoman said that Apple has “led the industry in helping customers protect their lost or stolen devices” with the 2009 release of the Find My iPhone app, which the NYPD recommends Apple users activate. The police department also has its own program that allows people to register their e-devices.
Apple has released its third beta for iOS 7.1, including bug fixes and improvements. The beta also notably features redesigned swipe to power off graphics, tweaks to the look of the Phone application for iPhones, and a variety of other cosmetic changes. iOS 7.1 beta 2 was released in mid-December.
Announced by Apple in mid-2013 as an application of new Bluetooth low-energy (LE) technology, iBeacon will be used to power what the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) describes as “the first promotional iBeacon-based scavenger hunt,” rewarding a “limited number” of attendees with special prizes for collecting virtual badges scattered throughout the show. Attendees will find instructions on gathering badges within CEA’s official 2014 CES app, which will wirelessly look for iBeacons within 100 feet of an iOS or Bluetooth 4-equipped Android device, tallying each badge discovered during the hunt. The first three people to gather all of the badges will receive a “special prize,” with other prizes for people who complete the hunt during the rest of the show.
According to CEA, the hunt was developed in partnership with iBeacon vendor Radius Networks and Bluetooth SensorTag chip provider Texas Instruments. Having deployed iBeacon with mixed results in its retail stores last December, Apple does not appear to have anything to do with the promotion.
The Consumer Electronics Association’s free 2014 International CES app is devoted to next week’s Consumer Electronics Show. A list of exhibitors is featured, as are floor maps of the gigantic show. Events and keynotes are also listed, in addition to speakers and conference sessions. If you’re going, make sure to stop by the iLounge Pavilion. We’ll see you there!
Sega has released Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed ($5), a new racing game featuring Sonic, Tails, and the rest of the gang. Cars, boats, and planes can all be raced through changing courses full of alternate routes and power-ups. Four-player multiplayer is supported online and locally. The game also supports iOS controllers.
Reacting to a recent report from Der Spiegel, Apple said it has never worked with the NSA to create any sort of backdoor entry for iPhone monitoring. The report claimed the NSA has the ability to access Apple’s iPhones through a secret spyware program named DROPOUTJEEP. According to alleged NSA documents, data could be downloaded or uploaded from an iPhone, while messages, voicemails, the device’s address book, microphone, camera, and location can all be accessed without the user noticing.
In a statement to TechCrunch, Apple said: “Apple has never worked with the NSA to create a backdoor in any of our products, including iPhone. Additionally, we have been unaware of this alleged NSA program targeting our products. We care deeply about our customers’ privacy and security. Our team is continuously working to make our products even more secure, and we make it easy for customers to keep their software up to date with the latest advancements. Whenever we hear about attempts to undermine Apple’s industry-leading security, we thoroughly investigate and take appropriate steps to protect our customers. We will continue to use our resources to stay ahead of malicious hackers and defend our customers from security attacks, regardless of who’s behind them.” The initial report notes the program was still being developed at the beginning of 2008. Though the software implant required physical contact with the device, the document notes remote installation would be “pursued for a future release.”
- December 30, 2013
An apparent prototype for the original iPhone recently sold for $1,499 on eBay. The listing from “applefancollector” shows a device labeled “Ver. 1.1.1,” with signal bands also etched into the back.
The included software seems to match software on similar early devices, and appears to be completely functional. Bidding for the device reached $516.01 before a buyer used the Buy It Now option at $1,499. [via 9to5Mac]
Nokia has pulled its HERE Maps app from Apple’s iOS App Store, citing changes in iOS 7 as the reason. A Nokia spokesperson said in a statement to The Indian Express, “We have made the decision to remove our HERE Maps app from the Apple App Store because recent changes to iOS 7 harm the user experience. iPhone users can continue to use the mobile web version of HERE Maps under m.here.com, offering them core location needs, such as search, routing, orientation, transit information and more, all completely free of charge.” The app was removed from the App Store earlier this month. HERE Maps launched for iOS in November 2012 and received a fair bit of publicity at the time as it was released for iOS prior to Google Maps, amidst ongoing uproar over Apple’s botched release of its new iOS 6 Maps service.
Duolingo — recently selected by Apple as its iPhone App of the Year — has updated to version 3.1.1. The intuitive free language learning app now lets users practice all skills and strengthen skills at any time. A new Language Coach feature keeps users dedicated and on track. Also, Duolingo has added Lingots, a new virtual currency that can be traded in for extras. Like everything else in the app, Lingots are free.
Google has updated its Google Search (free) app to version 3.2. The app has been updated for iOS 7 with true full screen browsing. Faster image search has been added for iPad. The app also features better integration of the Google Maps app.
Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission has fined Apple Asia NT$20 million (US$666,220) for restricting the iPhone pricing of local carriers. Apple Asia demanded that three carriers send the company their iPhone pricing plans for review, according to FTC Vice Chairman Sun Lih-chyun. In doing so, Apple Asia violated a section of the Fair Trade Act that states trading partners should “be allowed to decide their resale prices freely” when offering goods for resale. Apple Asia also required local companies to adjust iPhone subsidies and price differences between iPhones, and required approval of the carriers’ promotion plans. If Apple doesn’t stop the practice immediately, another fine could total anywhere from NT$100,000 to NT$50 million. [via Taipei Times]
Apple announced it has entered a multi-year agreement with China Mobile to bring its iPhone to the world’s largest carrier, ending years of anticipation and speculation. China Mobile will carry the iPhone 5s and 5c in its retail stores and through Apple stores in mainland China starting Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. Both phones will be available for preorder starting on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, at China Mobile’s official website. iPhone will support both China Mobile’s 3G and growing 4G service — the carrier claims more than 340 cities will have 4G service by the end of 2014.
Duck Duck Moose’s new Build-A-Truck ($2) allows kids to — you guessed it — build a truck. Children can create a truck, then add paint, decals, wheels, and all sorts of other crazy contraptions to their vehicle. Kids can then race their truck, which is legitimately fun, and the design chosen for the vehicle affects how the truck drives. Collecting stars during the racing game lets kids unlock additional objects to customize the truck.
Cut the Rope 2 ($1) is ZeptoLab’s sequel to the popular Cut the Rope. The new game offers 120 levels, and five new characters, “the Nommies,” each affecting gameplay in their own ways. Other new gameplay tweaks have been added — Om Nom can sometimes even be moved now. He can also be customized with new hats, if you’re into that sort of thing. Fundamentally, the gameplay and graphics are extremely similar to the original titles, but the new levels are neat.
Rovio’s Angry Birds Rio HD is now free in version 1.8.0. The game also has added 26 new levels — 20 standard levels and 6 bonus levels to unlock. Two new characters have also been introduced into the game: Stella, with her bubble blower, and Rocket Bird, who appears in the new bonus levels.
Camera+ ($2) from tap tap tap has updated to version 5, which introduces “The Lab” — a collection of cool new photo editing options. The new features include an adjustable clarity filter, auto-straighten, tint adjustments, soft focus and film grain effects, blurring, sharpening, and more, all designed to make real-world practical photo editing as easy as possible. An iOS 7 wallpaper creation feature is also present. Dozens of icons within the app have been redesigned to match iOS 7, as has the app icon itself.
China Mobile is still negotiating an iPhone deal with Apple, as there will be no announcement of an agreement today, Reuters reports. China Mobile chairman Xi Guohua told reporters there was no announcement to make; some expected a deal to be announced today. Although a number of recent details — an ad on China Mobile’s website which was later removed, a subsidiary briefly taking preorders, a leaked poster — made a deal appear to be inevitable, it does not appear to have been finalized as of yet.
Disney’s Mickey Mouse: Mash-Up ($4) lets children participate in the “making” of a Mickey Mouse cartoon. Kids can draw a handful of objects that can appear in the short cartoon, which is titled “No Service!” You can then watch your creations appear and interact with them, including scenes in which Mickey and Donald Duck swap clothes, and Mickey has to hide behind objects you’ve created. Timeless and deliberately silly, the Mash-Up app is good as-is, but could really benefit from additional shorts for kids to play with.
The classic 3-D adventure and shooting game Tomb Raider ($1) from Eidos/Square Enix is now available in the App Store. Interestingly, it’s being billed as Tomb Raider I, which suggests that the sequel will be available at some point. The full game from 1996 is included, in addition to two extra “Unfinished Business” chapters included in the 1998 Tomb Raider Gold re-release. Tomb Raider supports iOS game controllers, as well as on-screen input, though the controls remain as dicey as they were decades ago.
Apple has released its “Best of 2013” list on iTunes. The annual best of list highlights Apple’s favorites and best-sellers in apps, music, movies, books, TV shows, and podcasts. In apps, Apple selected Duolingo, the free language learning app, as its iPhone App of the Year.
Apple’s iPad App of the Year was Disney Animated ($10). The iPhone Game of the Year and iPad Game of the Year are Vlambeer’s Ridiculous Fishing — A Tale of Redemption ($3) and Frogmind’s Badland ($4), respectively.
Sprint announced today that it has introduced 70 new 4G LTE markets. The new markets include Birmingham, Green Bay, Orlando, San Diego, St. Louis, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, among others. Sprint now offers 4G LTE in 300 U.S. markets. Verizon currently claims its 4G LTE network is available in more than 500 markets, while AT&T’s 4G LTE network includes 476 markets.
- December 16, 2013
Sprint is “working toward a possible bid” for T-Mobile, the Wall Street Journal reports. It’s noted the deal could be worth more than $20 billion. An approved deal would preserve Sprint’s status as the third largest carrier behind Verizon and AT&T, but up its subscriber count to 53 million postpaid customers. However, former antitrust officials said the government would be “very wary” of such an acquisition. AT&T’s attempt to acquire T-Mobile in 2011 was abandoned after the Department of Justice moved to block the merger; a merger with Sprint would not as radically change the competitive landscape.
Apple has released iOS 7.1 beta 2 to developers. The update is available through Apple’s developer portal, as well as an over-the-air update for iOS 7.1 beta 1 devices. Initial discoveries within the beta include changes to the iPhone/iPod touch version of Calendar, plus some very small tweaks to settings, including the creation of a top-level settings menu for passcode management, the addition of a third color-modified version of a prior piece of background art, and an accessibility option to create underlines or shadowy boxes for text-format buttons.
Apple has also released an update to its Apple TV beta software, and a new Xcode beta as well.
- December 12, 2013
U.S. wireless carriers will soon make it easier for customers to unlock mobile phones for use on various networks, as the carriers have reached an agreement with the Federal Communications Commission, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said. According to sources, the agreement would guarantee that carriers notify customers about their unlocking eligibility. It’s also believed the deal will require carriers to process or deny unlocking requests within two business days. Earlier this year, the Obama administration expressed its support for unlocking phones after a 114,000-signature petition was submitted to the White House. More details will be presented at an FCC meeting later today. [via Reuters]
Update: Additional details have been released in a document from wireless industry trade group CTIA.
Angry Birds Go! (free) takes Rovio’s furious fowl to a new realm — the racetrack. The fully 3-D cart racing game marks the first time the birds have moved beyond the traditional 2-D side-scrolling play environment, raising the prospect that we’ll see the now famous characters in all sorts of games as time goes on, a la Mario. Unfortunately, Angry Birds Go! is a pretty standard racing game with little to set it apart from the masses besides the graphics, which are really quite impressive; the gameplay is surprisingly limited and overly structured to gradually introduce new characters and upgrades at a plodding pace. Additionally, the freemium title is shameless in waving pay-to-play opportunities in your face, filling the tracks with coins rather than power ups and creating unnatural cart upgrade incentives to compel players to spend money.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas ($7) from Rockstar Games is the long-awaited iOS port of the popular PlayStation 2-vintage sandbox game, featuring all of the adult-themed content and impressive audio of the original title. The iOS version of GTA: San Andreas features dynamic lighting enhancements, improved character models, and enriched colors, in addition to the enhanced vehicle models originally introduced in the console game. Support for iOS game controllers is built-in, but the button labeling is a bit awkward during use. There are three different standard control schemes, and dual analog stick controls allow for full camera and movement control. Rockstar Social Club Members get cloud save support, as well. Unfortunately, the game appears unstable at this point, as we’ve experienced a lot of crashes; reset your device if you want to improve your chances of stability.