Patrick Kane’s Winter Games ($3), a new Olympic hockey game from Distinctive Games, hit the App Store in time for the 2014 Winter Olympics. The game is named for USA Hockey and Chicago Blackhawks player Patrick Kane. With his name headlining a video game, Kane joins a very select group of hockey players, which includes the likes of Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky.
iOS sports games are often at a disadvantage from the start. Sure, they’re inexpensive, but the experience can’t compete with console sports simulation games, which benefit from precise controls, deeper strategies, and official league licensing, among a host of other features. Patrick Kane’s Winter Games tries to bridge the gap between arcade and simulation sports gaming, with mixed results.
PolyFauna is a new app from Radiohead — yes, the band Radiohead. The free app has an expectedly vague description. Basically, you hear clips from “Bloom” off the group’s 2011 album The King of Limbs while guiding yourself through a strange, open landscape. Touching the screen creates different textures as you swoop around. Following the red dot will take you to new areas. It’s a very Radiohead kind of app.
DotEmu has brought R-Type II ($2) to the App Store. The classic side-scrolling shooter from 1989 has proven hard to come by over the years, with various versions not quite the same as the original arcade game. R-Type II comes with the original features — six levels with bosses, and the same weapons and upgrades. But players can upgrade to improved graphics, choose between three difficulty levels, change the screen ratio, and more. The game supports iOS 7 controllers, as well.
- February 12, 2014
Apple’s iPhone 6 will launch in September in two sizes — 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches — the South China Morning Post reports. The cited sources are “industry insiders” who have reportedly seen the iPhone 6 prototypes. As some have speculated, the screens will allegedly be made entirely out of sapphire crystal. The new screens will be flat — not curved — and also will supposedly offer a pixel density of 441 pixels per inch, a jump from the current 326 ppi display, although it’s unclear which of the screen sizes would have that dot pitch. A prior report noted two new iPhones would feature displays larger than 4.5 inches and 5 inches.
The questionable and increasingly strange saga of the mediocre game Flappy Bird has gotten plenty of attention lately, but the App Store has long had a one-touch flapping game that’s actually great — Frogmind’s Badland ($4). Badland now has iOS 7 game controller support in version 1.90. The update also adds a co-op multiplayer level to the game. Badland is $2 for a limited time.
Documentarian Ken Burns has released his own iPad-only app, Ken Burns. The app takes clips from Burns’ filmography and places them in a slick interactive timeline that offers a view of American history. It’s free to download the app, which comes with access to the innovation-themed playlist. The other playlists — featuring more than three hours of video and other exclusive content — can be unlocked in the full version for $10. Other themes include art, hard times, politics, race, and war. iOS 7 is required for the Ken Burns app.
Sony is negotiating with Apple to double its supply of camera components in the iPhone, according to Nikkei Asian Review. Noting that Sony supplies Apple with most sensors for the rear-facing iSight cameras on current iPhones, the report speculates Apple will likely switch to Sony sensors for the front-facing cameras, as well. The components could be found in a new iPhone “as early as next year,” which means any iPhones introduced this year would likely not include the additional Sony components. Considering the supplier switch, it’s possible front-facing iPhone cameras will get a spec boost with the Sony sensors. Nikkei also notes Sony has started to provide batteries for the iPad Air.
- February 11, 2014
An upcoming iPhone could feature a display with no bezel, according to The Korea Herald. A source said Apple is testing a prototype iPhone with a bezel-less screen that incorporates a fingerprint scanner, though there are still issues with mass-manufacturing the scanning component. The report notes the next iPhone is rumored to have a bigger display, as has been reported, though bezel-less screens might be overly “vulnerable to external impact” when mishandled. It’s been speculated Apple could use sapphire in its next phone’s display to reduce scratching, while other materials and design elements might provide the necessary shatter protection for the screen.
A few weeks ago, we reviewed Chillingo’s In Fear I Trust, noting it was a step in a more mature direction for the company. Chillingo continues down that road with this week’s 17+ rated Bloodstroke ($3), a John Woo game. Yes, that’s Hong Kong film director John Woo, who last entered the world of gaming in 2007 with the third-person shooter Strangehold. Prepare for doves.
Bloodstroke puts players into the shoes of Mai Lee — codename Lotus. A private security agent, Lotus must protect her client, Dr. Koorse, from assassination. Lotus looks pretty tough from the outset, but as you jump into the game, you soon realize — she’s actually invincible. Scores of enemies attack, but Ms. Lee runs around like it’s nothing, completely unaffected by an onslaught of bullets. Dr. Koorse, however, is not quite so indestructible. And therein lies the challenge.
Apple is planning to release iOS 7.1 in March, 9to5Mac reports. It’s noted that no “secret features” will come in iOS 7.1; rather, users should expect what’s been seen in the five 7.1 betas, including UI tweaks, a revamped Calendar app, and speed improvements. iOS 7.1 beta 5 was just released Tuesday. The report speculates Apple could announce iOS 7.1 at a March event that could possibly introduce a new Apple TV.
Apple has reduced its MFi licensing fees, according to a Japanese report. The licensing rate was lowered in January, along with the purchase rate for Lightning connectors. It’s possible the rate reductions will be reflected in cheaper prices for future third-party Lightning accessories. This may also result in seeing Lightning products from additional companies, although it’s worth noting that Apple’s strict development restrictions have not changed and may still hamper that possibility. [via Macotakara]
Files United (free) from Zuhanden GmbH is a file manager app that gives users access to documents, images, music, and videos. The app can access Dropbox, Drive, Box, and SkyDrive. Version 1.1 of the app lets users quickly transfer files from Macs to iOS devices in conjunction with the free Mac app. The updated app also supports FTP and SMB access and transfer.
Square Enix’s classic RPG Final Fantasy VI ($16) has arrived in the App Store. Debuting in 1994 for Super Nintendo, many Final Fantasy fans believe FFVI to be the best game in the series. The iOS version uses iCloud to save and access game data across devices. Square Enix says the graphics have been recreated, and the magicites and events from the 2006 remake of the game are included. Additionally, some parts of the game have been overhauled to allow the use of touch controls.
Apple has reportedly restarted production of the iPhone 4 for just three markets — India, Indonesia, and Brazil. It would be the first time Apple has resumed production of a discontinued iPhone. New iPhone 4 shipments have recently reached retail stores with a reported December 2013 manufacturing date, and trade partners have been told new shipments will have January manufacturing dates. A recent report from the same publication noted Apple would be relaunching the 8GB iPhone 4 in India due to the loss of sales and market share in the region. iPhone 4 is now selling for about 20,000 rupees (about $320), which is notably higher from the price cited in the past report. [via The Economic Times]
Google Maps (free) has been updated to version 2.6.0. Though there’s only one notable change in the app, it’s a big one — the app now notifies users when a faster route is available while in navigation mode. If you’re stuck in traffic, or if traffic awaits ahead, the app should offer you another route if there’s a faster alternative.
OpenTable has updated its free app to version 6.2.0. The new update helps users searching for a table at a specific restaurant. “Find future tables” lets users scan up to two months of table reservations for that restaurant—a big improvement that should help users get into popular places.
Apple has released iOS 7.1 beta 5 to developers, notably including improved Siri voices for certain international countries. The fourth beta was released about two weeks ago. Apple TV Software beta 5 was also released, as well as Xcode 5.1 Developer Preview 5.
The University of Wisconsin’s patent licensing arm, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), has sued Apple over its A7 processor. WARF alleges the processor infringes upon a university patent titled “table based data speculation circuit for parallel processing computer.” The research foundation believes Apple incorporated technology from the patent to improve efficiency and performance in its A7 processor, currently found in the iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and iPad mini with Retina display. Apple previously cited the patent in one or more of its own patent applications, WARF notes, yet the company apparently maintains that it won’t accept licensing proposals from patent holding organizations. Wisconsin is at least the second U.S. university in the past year to file a lawsuit against Apple for alleged patent infringement, as Boston University filed an infringement lawsuit last July. [via Patently Apple]
A 14-year-old Maine girl reportedly suffered second-degree burns when her iPhone 5c caught fire in her pants pocket. According to the report, the girl and her friends heard a “pop” from the phone, which then started billowing smoke and caught fire. The girl stopped, dropped, and rolled, then had to remove her pants, and sustained burns on her thigh and back. “The phone fell out of her pocket ... and it was still smoldering,” school principal Jeff Rodman said. Area repair shop owner Andrew Rosenstein noted of the iPhone’s lithium-ion battery, “It’s very rare there can be an issue, but any battery is just a chemical composition that can be flammable in extreme circumstances.” Several battery issues with prior iPhones have been blamed on third-party chargers. [via Morning Sentinel]
Rocket Robo ($1) is a new 2.5D side-scrolling puzzler from Aaron McElligott. In the game, you guide a little jetpack-equipped robot through a number of bright, twisting levels, picking up stars before you reach the finish line. It’s rated 4+.
From the get-go, Rocket Robo is a joy to look at, with bright, colorful levels and a cute little character who bears a passing resemblance to the robots from the 1987 film Batteries Not Included. The handwoven textures in the first world, Material World, bring to mind LittleBigPlanet’s Sackboy and Kirby’s Epic Yarn for the Wii. The next world features more traditional space station levels.
Zynga announced that the company has acquired NaturalMotion, developer of the Clumsy Ninja app, for $527 million in cash and equity. Zynga also announced it would lay off 314 employees, or 15 percent of its workforce. Though Clumsy Ninja was first introduced during the Sept. 2012 media event for the iPhone 5 and fifth-generation iPod touch, its release was delayed until Nov. 2013. The game has proven to be very popular despite the delay — Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said during Apple’s recent earnings call that Clumsy Ninja was downloaded 10 million times during its first week of release.
Thousands of iBeacons will be placed in Major League Baseball ballparks next week, with MLB hoping to have 20 parks outfitted by Opening Day in late March. Boston, Milwaukee, San Diego, San Francisco, and the L.A. Dodgers will be among the teams with iBeacons installed in their stadiums, MacRumors reports. Each park should have about 100 iBeacons installed. It was reported last year that many MLB teams expressed interest in iBeacon, with the New York Mets already testing the technology. iBeacon will work with MLB’s At The Ballpark app. Though functionality will differ in each ballpark, it’s likely the app will use iBeacon to offer ballpark information, concessions coupons, and loyalty programs, among other features.
Facebook has updated its free app to version 6.9.1. The update lets users choose whose posts to see in News Feed, and also puts all uploaded videos into one album. More notable, however, was Facebook’s introduction of Paper. The new iOS app lets users view their Facebook News Feed in addition to other sections featuring outside content, such as sports and food. At first glance, Paper looks like an intriguing, well-designed app. It will be released Feb. 3, and we’ll have more on it next week.
Jack and the Beanstalk ($5) is more than just another new interactive storybook app from Nosy Crow. The developer has really upped the ante — a more cinematic presentation highlights the upgraded high-resolution graphics, and the camera work within the app is very well done. More gaming elements have been added, and Nosy Crow hopes that will get more reluctant readers into the story. For instance, Jack gets to climb the beanstalk while being assisted by the child reader. All of this is bolstered by the same high-quality voice acting and music expected from Nosy Crow.
Documents between Apple and U.S. Foreign Trade Zone officials show the company is planning an “aggressive” push to open its new Arizona sapphire manufacturing plant in February, possibly in time to include sapphire in products to launch later this year. In one of the documents obtained by 9to5Mac, Apple explains that the manufacturing process in the plant “will create a critical new sub-component of Apple products.” Though the ambiguous description could conceivably refer to the use of Touch ID in new devices, it’s also possible that sapphire could play a larger role in existing Apple products; an Apple patent application published today shows a “sapphire window,” with an illustration of an iPhone with a sapphire display. Another possibility is that sapphire could be used in Apple’s rumored iWatch. [via Apple Insider]