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News

Apple ‘related’ search spotted in App Store

Apple is apparently testing a new feature in the App Store that offers users related term suggestions when doing a search. A number of reports have noted the new feature, though it appears it was first spotted by developer Olga Osadcha. Osadcha found the feature while using iOS 7.1.

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It’s noted that not everyone is seeing the new feature as of yet — iLounge’s editors have yet to see the function pop up when using our devices. It’s possible that Apple is rolling out the feature gradually.

Golden State first NBA team to use iBeacons

The Golden State Warriors are the first NBA team to roll out iBeacons in their home arena, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports. Oracle Arena in Oakland uses iBeacons to push seat upgrades, as fans with the team’s smartphone app — and cheaper seats — are prompted to upgrade when in the arena. The article notes issues with the plan, including a lack of extra tickets, and an estimate that the majority of users don’t leave Bluetooth LE on regularly, preventing them from receiving the notifications. A January report noted that 20 MLB teams plan on having iBeacons installed in their parks by Opening Day later this month.

China Mobile added 1M new iPhone users in February

China Mobile sold about one million new iPhones in February according to Chief Executive Li Yue. “We added 1.34 million new 4G users in February and most of them are iPhone users. We are happy with the progress as we are still building our 4G network and the coverage is only available in some major cities,” China Mobile Chairman Xi Gouhua told The Wall Street Journal. There were no details on specific sales for the iPhone 5s and 5c. China Mobile launched the iPhone on January 17.

Apple releases iTunes 11.1.6 beta to employees

Apple has released iTunes 11.1.6 beta to its employees, 9to5Mac reports. The beta restores the ability to sync contacts and calendar information to an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch from a Mac running OS X 10.9.3, which is also in beta. Apple had previously removed the ability to sync that information from a Mac to an iOS device. It’s unknown what else might be included in the beta.

Apple adds 8GB iPhone 5c, re-launches 4th-gen iPad, ends iPad 2 (updated x2)

Confirming reports yesterday, Apple officially expanded the iPhone lineup this morning by adding an 8GB version of the plastic-bodied iPhone 5c, and changed the iPad family by discontinuing the aging iPad 2 in favor of the fourth-generation iPad, also known as the “iPad with Retina display.” It appears that neither the iPhone 5c nor the fourth-generation iPad has changed considerably from previously-available versions: apart from its lower storage capacity, the iPhone 5c is available with the same colors and features as prior models, and the iPad has the same colors, model numbers and features as the version discontinued last year.

As of press time, the 8GB iPhone 5c has only been added to European Apple Stores, where it sells for £429 or €549, with some variation between countries; it has not replaced the still lower-priced iPhone 4S. The iPad with Retina display is available in the United States, selling solely in a 16GB capacity for $399 (Wi-Fi) or $529 (LTE), the same prices as the iPad 2 was previously selling for.

Update: According to Philip Elmer-Dewitt, Apple has confirmed that the iPhone 5c 8GB model is only being sold in the U.K., France, Germany, Australia and China. This is the first time since the little-known 4GB fourth-generation iPod nano that Apple has sold a lower-capacity version of a device solely outside the United States.

Update 2: A representative of Apple told Re/code that the “mid-tier iPhone segment is growing year-over-year and the 8GB model provides a more affordable option for markets where LTE is becoming more established.” This characterization of the iPhone 5c contrasts with the German carrier O2’s internal e-mail released yesterday, which described the new 8GB model as Apple’s “entry-level smartphone.”

Apple to bring back iPad 4 on Tuesday?

Apple will bring back the fourth-generation iPad on Tuesday, 9to5Mac reports. According to a source, Apple stores have been receiving shipments of the previously discontinued iPad. Both Wi-Fi and LTE black and white 16GB models have arrived in stores. It’s likely that Apple will make the 16GB fourth-gen iPad the low-end $399 iPad model, and discontinue the second-generation iPad, so all current iPads would be Lightning devices.

It was reported earlier today that Apple will introduce an 8GB version of the iPhone 5c, likely at the same time as the reintroduction of the fourth-generation iPad tomorrow. Apple could discontinue the iPhone 4s and introduce the new 5c as the low-end iPhone model — all current iPhones would then be Lightning devices, as well.

Apple to release 8GB iPhone 5c this week? (Updated)

Apple may introduce an 8GB version of the iPhone 5c this week, according to an alleged internal email from German wireless carrier O2, obtained by German blog stadt-bremerhaven.de. The lower-capacity version of the phone is supposedly shipping to stores today for a Tuesday morning launch.

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The email describes the new 5c as Apple’s “entry-level smartphone,” and suggests that other 5c models may see reduced pricing, as well. While all five iPhone 5c colors will allegedly be offered in 8GB capacities, only white and blue versions will allegedly be available immediately in O2 stores, with other colors available to be ordered online. It’s unclear whether this will be the case in other territories or with other retailers, as well; Apple Stores tend to have full color and capacity inventories faster than carrier partners.

It’s notable that Apple has amped up its 5c advertising recently — a large interactive ad appeared on the New York Times website last week. [via Apple Insider]

Update: Engadget posted a reader photo of the 8GB 5c’s packaging, confirming the device’s existence.

Healthbook app may monitor heart rate, hydration, blood sugar, more

Apple’s upcoming Healthbook app may track users’ heart rate, hydration, blood pressure, blood sugar, sleep, and more, according to a new in-depth look from 9to5Mac. The article offers “complete recreations of screenshots” which appear to answer numerous questions as to what Apple is testing in health and fitness tracking. Bloodwork, oxygen saturation, and blood sugar sections of the app will monitor a user’s blood. Apple could also track hydration and respiratory rate using Healthbook, as well as sleep cycles.

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As one might expect, Healthbook will also be used in fitness tracking, to examine weight, activity, and nutrition. An Emergency Card section would store vital health information that can be used be a doctor or emergency technician in times of health crisis. It’s unknown how Healthbook will acquire the data, though the iPhone, iWatch, and third-party apps or devices could all contribute information. Healthbook could be released with iOS 8, but the report notes—likely for cautionary purposes only—that the app “could be pushed back to a future operating system version or cancelled entirely.”

Apple may remove Game Center app in iOS 8

Apple is thinking about removing the Game Center app from iOS 8, while leaving the Game Center functionality intact within games, 9to5Mac reports. Recent alleged leaked screenshots from iOS 8 do feature the Game Center icon. Apple may also simplify alerts within Notification Center and add the ability to automatically delete Messages threads. Inter-app communication may be improved in iOS 8, and Apple also plans on tweaking controls in its Voice Memos app. Some versions of iOS 8 in testing include WiFi-enabled CarPlay, though it’s unclear if this functionality will be delayed until a future release.

Some users reporting battery issues with iOS 7.1

Some users are reporting battery issues following installation of iOS 7.1. Multiple threads have popped up on Apple’s support communities regarding decreased battery life while using the newly released operating system. An iLounge editor noted a 35 percent battery decrease with light usage of a device within an hour’s time. It’s notable that not all users are reporting issues, including iLounge editors. Some users have noted a clean installation — erasing and restoring the device to factory settings — is solving the issues. A battery test from Ars Technica found “small gains and small losses” within the margin of error when moving from iOS 7.0 to iOS 7.1 for most devices. Past battery issues with new iOS releases typically involve background tasks, and the cause is often initially unknown.

Healthbook, Preview, and TextEdit iOS 8 icons leaked

A few alleged iOS 8 screenshots including icons for Healthbook, Preview, and TextEdit have been posted on a Weibo account. The shots are legitimate, according to 9to5Mac. Healthbook’s icon is very similar to the Passbook icon, and Preview and TextEdit’s icons match the Mac versions.

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Earlier today, it was reported that Apple was working on iOS versions of Preview and TextEdit. Also, a lightbulb icon for an apparent app named Tips is included in the screenshots — it’s unknown at this point what Tips is, or what it does, but it may be some kind of iOS 8 user guide. A settings screenshot was also spotted on Weibo, noting version 8.0.

Report: Apple developing versions of TextEdit, Preview for iOS

Apple is working to develop versions of its TextEdit and Preview Mac applications for iOS, 9to5Mac reports. The iOS versions of the apps would reportedly only be used to view TextEdit and Preview files stored in iCloud; users would have to edit documents using Pages. It’s “currently uncertain, but still possible” that the new versions of the apps will end up in iOS 8. The new applications come from the restructuring of Apple’s iOS and OS X development teams, sources said, as engineers now work together on both operating systems. Apple is also researching new iCloud storage tools to simplify the development of server-integrated App Store applications for iOS as the company pushes to make iCloud a larger part of the iOS file system in the future.

Pioneer working on aftermarket CarPlay solutions

Pioneer Electronics is looking into implementing CarPlay compatibility into its “existing and future products,” according to a report. The news was reportedly verified by a Pioneer customer service representative. Pioneer makes many in-car electronic systems, opening up the possibility that vehicle makers who haven’t been announced as Apple partners could still feature CarPlay compatibility at some point, especially if CarPlay could be accessible through connecting with other aftermarket Pioneer accessories. It’s also been previously reported that Mercedes-Benz is working on CarPlay for its older vehicles. [via MacRumors]

Apple drops iPhone return policy to 14 days

Apple will change its iPhone return policy from 30 days to 14 days by Thursday, according to 9to5Mac. The change is already reflected on Apple’s website. The 14-day period will match the return policies of other Apple products. An internal Apple document claims the change is being made to make the return policy universal for all products, and to match 14-day return policies offered by iPhone carriers.

Apple running large iPhone 5c ad on NY Times site

Apple is still committed to pushing iPhone 5c sales, as evidenced by a new large interactive ad now running on the front page of the New York Times website — an uncommon move from Apple. Colored dots run across the page before settling in the ad, which occupies a large section on top of the page. The ad features eight separate animated videos with sound effects or music, including Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers,” Nena’s 1983 hit “99 Luftballons,” and the Pac-Man theme.

Notably, Sprint’s name is included in the ad alongside the Apple iPhone 5c name — however, the ad link takes users to Apple’s iPhone 5c page. In 2011, Sprint agreed to purchase 30.5 million iPhones within four years, no matter if they sold the units or not. According to a report at the time, Sprint’s deal wasn’t expected to be profitable for years, and sales reports to date suggest that it has sold half or fewer of the committed iPhone units.

Report: iOS 8 Maps to gain public transit directions

Apple’s Maps application will boast improved data and public transit directions in its iOS 8 incarnation, 9to5Mac reports. It is expected that public transportation options will be “deeply integrated” into iOS 8 Maps, with train, subway, and bus data, and will first be introduced for major cities, with other locations added over time. Enhanced data will also introduce new points of interest and new map labels, while improving reliability. Apple’s 2013 acquisitions of HopStop, Embark, and BroadMap have likely aided the addition of the new data.

The report also claims that Apple is working on augmented reality for future versions of iOS, to appear in “the coming years.” This feature would use the iPhone’s compass to see nearby points of interest onscreen.

Apple releases iOS 7.1

Apple has released iOS 7.1 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. The long-awaited bug-fixing update brings improved Touch ID recognition for iPhone 5s, and many new features to the company’s mobile operating system, along with smaller UI tweaks. Some of the new features include the option to display events in month view in Calendar, new “natural-sounding” male and female Siri voices for Australian English, U.K. English, Japanese, and Mandarin Chinese, and support for CarPlay, Apple’s in-car solution formally announced last week. iTunes Radio tweaks have also been added. Apple has added a iOS 7.1 web page to highlight the key features.

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Visual changes include new button shapes in the Phone app, more evident shift and caps lock images, and a redesigned power down slider. Other tweaks include a new camera setting to automatically enable HDR for iPhone 5s, and automatic clearing of FaceTime notifications when a call is answered on another device. iOS 7.1 can be installed over the air or by connecting to iTunes on a Mac or PC.

Apple iPhone trade-in program arrives in Canada

Apple’s in-store iPhone Reuse and Recycle program has arrived in Canada. Users can trade in older iPhones for gift cards that can be applied to a new iPhone purchase. As noted on Canadian Apple retail pages, users can earn up to $275 for a trade-in. The Reuse and Recycle program is also available in the U.S., U.K., and France, and a limited version of the program exists in India. [via 9to5Mac]

Report: Mercedes working on aftermarket CarPlay installations

Mercedes-Benz is working on aftermarket installations of Apple’s CarPlay for older vehicles, 9to5Mac reports. The carmaker — one of three that recently introduced the new iPhone in-vehicle feature — wasn’t able to confirm when any aftermarket option would be available. It’s speculated in the report that such installations would come as dealer-installed accessories. Other manufacturers that will utilize CarPlay in their future vehicles may introduce aftermarket installation options as well; so far, there’s been no word on any official aftermarket CarPlay solution from Apple itself.

Report: Apple bringing full-screen video ads to iOS

Apple will bring full-screen video iAds to iPhone and iPad apps this year, Advertising Age reports. The new video iAds will play automatically. According to the report, these ads could occur during moments of transition, “like after completing a game’s level or finishing an article.” Pricing for the ads is unknown, and Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

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