A “sweeping software overhaul” of iOS leaves Apple at risk of delaying the operating system’s release, according to a new report. While Apple expects to release iOS 7 “on time as soon as September,” “engineers are racing to finish” the software in time for a preview at next month’s WWDC, and internal development milestones are being shortened due to the rush. As noted in a previous report, Apple’s Jony Ive is apparently making massive changes to iOS, moving toward a flat interface and away from skeuomorphism. “More dramatic changes” are also expected for email and calendar features in the new iOS. Ive is reportedly taking great care to review new designs, as Apple looks to avoid a repeat of iOS 6’s Maps fiasco, which cost former iOS software chief Scott Forstall his job. [via Bloomberg]
Zynga has released the sequel to its once insanely popular game Draw Something in two incarnations: Draw Something 2 ($3) and Draw Something 2 Free. Both games feature dozens of new tools, patterns, stamps, and colors for drawing. Also featured are new words, new play modes, and a feed that shares drawings with all of your friends. The premium version also includes a free Sparkle Pen, no ads between turns, a free star and coin bonus, and thousands of extra new words.
Already beloved for its interactive iOS storybooks, Nosy Crow has hit another home run with the release of Little Red Riding Hood by Nosy Crow ($5), a lightly modernized take on the classic fable. As would be expected from this story, Little Red Riding Hood embarks on a walk through the forest to carry a basket of food to her ailing grandmother, but Nosy Crow adds several branching paths to the forest, enabling kids to choose additional items that will help Red defeat the big, bad wolf at her grandmother’s home—plus multiple endings. Beyond the fun of collecting these items in various mini games, the developer has populated the app with zoomable high-definition artwork, plenty of voice narration, and intuitively interactive elements that really bring the story’s scenes to life. This is certainly Nosy Crow’s best storybook yet, which says a lot given that it has previously released some of the very best iOS kids apps we’ve tested. Fans of the story should grab this one without thinking twice; it’s that impressive.
Apple’s original iPhone, released in 2007, will soon enter “obsolete” status in Apple Retail Stores, according to an internal document. The switch will occur on June 11. Obsolete status means the original iPhone will no longer be supported at bricks and mortar Apple locations, though AppleCare and Authorized Service Providers will treat the device as “vintage” and continue to provide service for it. [via 9to5Mac]
Following a recent report about iOS 7’s interface, 9to5Mac has more information on Apple’s plans for the new operating system, reporting that “Apple plans to move aggressively into the in-car integration space later this year.” Multiple sources noted Apple is “working with car makers to deeply embed iOS’s Maps and Siri services into cars.” The company is reportedly working with car makers on center consoles that could attach iOS devices — at that point, an optimized version of Apple’s Maps could then appear on the car’s display, with Siri used to control Maps and other features. It’s noted that the new functionality could still be a long way from public release, and the feature may require newer iOS devices.
Apple has quietly crept further into the automotive world recently. Volkswagen introduced the iBeetle, a special edition Beetle with iPhone integration — though the integration is not nearly as deep as the proposals reported with iOS 7. Touted as an iOS 6 feature, Apple’s Siri Eyes Free feature was first integrated by GM, followed by Honda and Acura, with BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, and Chrysler also announced as partners. Apple and Ferrari have apparently discussed a deeper partnership, and Ferrari’s FF model integrates Siri voice commands, using iPad minis for rear seat entertainment. Also, Apple recently filed two patents related to communication between iOS devices and vehicles.
An recently published Apple patent demonstrates that Apple has continued to contemplate the use of a physical controller accessory with iOS devices. However, the patent filing appears to be mainly concerned about how users with disabilities can interact with touchscreen devices.
A controller could offer advantages to users who aren’t “physically present” at the touchscreen, users who “are unable to provide touch input,” and those with disabilities who could nonetheless use a physical accessory to control the touchscreen. Apple’s image of a controller accessory resembles a joystick, though gaming doesn’t appear to be the focus of the patent; the basic patent concepts could be applied for other purposes. [via Apple Insider]
Sources claim the look of Apple’s upcoming iOS 7 will be simpler than past incarnations, according to a new report from 9to5Mac. “Multiple people who have either seen or have been briefed on the upcoming iOS 7” claim the new operating system will be attractive to new users, but “potentially unsettling” for long-time iOS users. The interface is “very, very flat,” one source says, while another says it loses “all signs of gloss, shine, and skeumorphism” (sp). Immediately after the departure of former Senior Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall, speculation has been that Senior Vice President of Industrial Design Jony Ive’s work on the new OS would move away from skeuomorphism, which Forstall and former Apple CEO Steve Jobs both favored.
One source compared iOS 7 to the Windows Phone UI. Reportedly, there is no new learning curve for the new operating system, as the “core apps and system fundamentals” operate similarly to the current iOS. Interface changes allegedly include a new icon set for native apps, newly designed tool bars, and tab bars. Apple has also apparently been researching ways to add more quick glance panels, such as Notification Center, into the new software. One idea included swipes from the left and right of the display. Sources note iOS 7 is codenamed “Innsbruck,” likely after the Austrian city.
A new update to the Google Search app for iOS features Google Now, Google’s personal assistant. Google Now offers weather and traffic conditions at the start of the day, as well as updates on favorite sports teams and breaking news. Google Now uses more than 25 different “cards,” including cards for boarding passes, restaurant reservations, flight information, and more.
Google’s Eric Schmidt alluded to Google Now awaiting Apple approval in March. Apple responded, saying Google Now wasn’t submitted to its App Store; as it turns out, it was instead debuted within an existing app. [via 9to5Mac]
A peculiar iMessage bug is making certain words disappear from the end of messages. The phrases “I could be the next Obama” and “The best prize is a surprise,” when followed by a trailing space, are sent with the last word deleted; both sender and receiver see a blank space instead. It appears the bug is only affecting iPhones, according to an Apple forum discussion; other phrases also seem to trigger the bug. Apple has not commented on the bug yet. [via The Verge]
Apple has backtracked on a prior decision to change the way VPN On Demand connects in iOS. An updated support article notes that “Apple no longer plans to change the behavior of the VPN On Demand feature of iOS 6.1 for devices that have already been shipped. The ‘Always’ option will continue to work as it currently does on these devices.” Previously, Apple announced VPN On Demand configured to “always” would behave as “establish if needed.”
The initial change was made due to a patent suit loss to VirnetX; there’s speculation that because of Apple’s reversal on the VPN issue, the two companies have reached some kind of agreement. Notably, because Apple only mentions devices that have “already been shipped,” the changes still might be made to as-yet-unshipped items. [via MacRumors]
Though a minor update for some users, Apple’s Apple Store app (free) has been updated to version 2.6 — the app now lets users receive notifications noting when they’re eligible for upgrade pricing on a new iPhone.
Sega’s unpredictable history of iOS releases continued this week with the release of House of the Dead: Overkill - The Lost Reels ($5), a visually unimpressive yet semi-engaging zombie shooting game with grindhouse-inspired interface and audio elements. Like virtually all of the prior House of the Dead games, you’re in an on-rails first-person perspective shooting at zombie attackers — here called “mutants,” and with a drag-based on screen reticule rather than just pointing and tapping, increasing the challenge level. Two of the game’s three worlds are unlocked for the $5 asking price, while a third world requires a $2 purchase, and as is sadly now the norm, additional weapons are sold as in-app purchases if you don’t want to spend the time earning them. Overkill’s language is unusually raw, so kids shouldn’t download it; more importantly, due to Sega’s use of relatively low polygon counts for device compatibility, the in-game graphics are merely competent rather than scary. Fans of the series will find this title to be far less stylish and energetic than the best House of the Dead titles, but it’s something to play at a relatively affordable price.
- April 25, 2013
Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has ordered T-Mobile to change “deceptive advertising” that promised no contracts for customers, notably coinciding with the carrier’s long-awaited announcement of iPhone availability. The Attorney General’s Office said the company “failed to disclose that customers who purchase a phone using the 24-month payment must carry a wireless service agreement with T-Mobile for the entire 24 months — or pay the full balance owed on phone if they cancel earlier.” Customers who cancel the service “face an unanticipated balloon payment” for the phone, which the office notes is often higher than termination fees for other carriers.
T-Mobile has agreed to stop misrepresenting the lack of restrictions, and will disclose that customers who terminate service before a device is paid off will have to pay the full balance upon cancellation. All consumers who purchased T-Mobile service or equipment between March 26 and April 25 can obtain a full refund for the purchased device and cancel service plans without paying the remaining balance owed on devices. Although T-Mobile is obligated to contact customers about their rights, consumers can call T-Mobile at 1-877-746-0909 for more information — or dial 611 from a T-Mobile phone. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple recently filed two patents that feature portable devices communicating with vehicles through Bluetooth. The first patent, titled “Method for locating a vehicle,” would let iOS device users locating their vehicle using wireless connections. More specifically, this system would let a device like an iPhone communicate with a system set up within a parking garage to find a car. Considering the lack of signal in many parking garages, this system would conceivably be a solution for finding one’s car in such a situation — however, it would require a system investment from the parking garage.
The other patent, titled “Accessing a vehicle using portable devices,” would let a device access a vehicle to perform a number of functions wirelessly. This patent could enable an iOS device to function as a smart key, but it could also go deeper, by “limiting a time period during which the vehicle can be accessed,” or even “limiting a speed of the vehicle to an upper limit.” Though apps such as Hyundai Blue Link already exist that can perform some of the functions included in both of these patents, Apple’s filings go deeper and further to open up new widespread possibilities between computing devices and vehicles. [via Apple Insider]
A new Cut the Rope game has hit the App Store from ZeptoLab UK Limited. Cut the Rope: Time Travel ($1) features two monsters to feed in each level as the physics-based puzzler returns in different new settings, including the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, a pirate ship, ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, and the Stone Age.
FedEx’s free FedEx Mobile app now features FedEx Delivery Manager in version 4.2. Signing up for the manager lets users schedule a delivery or change a delivery to another address. It’s also now possible to sign for a package using the app. FedEx Mobile also lets users provide delivery instructions, schedule a vacation hold, or opt to hold a package at a FedEx location for pickup. FedEx Mobile’s Delivery Manager is available for U.S. residential delivery destinations.
- April 23, 2013
U.S. iPhone 4 owners who participated in Apple’s class action settlement for “antennagate” issues are now receiving their $15 checks in the mail. The class action settlement, announced in March 2012, offered iPhone 4 owners a $15 cash payment or free bumper case. At this point, the deadline for filing a claim has long passed. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple has added a “download later” option for large media purchases in the iTunes store. Users who purchase a TV season, Season Pass, movie bundle, music box set, or an individual movie or TV episode now have the ability to download the media at a later time from iTunes in the Cloud. This new option could benefit users who want to buy such media, but don’t have the time or data connection to download a large file at the moment of purchase. The “later” option is available for users using iTunes 11, or iOS 6 or later, and in countries that support iTunes in the Cloud for the selected media.
- April 22, 2013
Supplier sources who expected mass production of the next iPhone to begin in June now believe that date may be pushed back, according to Reuters. The possible delay in producing the iPhone 5S is due to Apple’s search for a coating material that doesn’t interfere with a fingerprint sensor, according to a “supply chain source.” Sources also said small-scale production of the budget iPhone will begin in May, with mass production starting in June.
Apple has returned at least 5 million iPhones to Foxconn due to substandard appearance or dysfunctional problems, according to a new report out of China. An anonymous source said the number of rejected iPhones could be as high as 8 million. It’s estimated the issues could cost Foxconn as much as $1.6 billion to cover the cost of replacement handsets. The report didn’t specify which iPhone model failed Apple’s quality tests. [via China Business (translated link), The Register]
Volkswagen is set to unveil iBeetle — a special edition Beetle with iPhone integration — at next week’s 2013 Shanghai Auto Show. The car itself will feature color schemes and options similar to the iPhone interface. Inside, a dashboard-mounted dock holds the iPhone, and a new app will connect the car to the phone wirelessly or through the dock. Volkswagen’s press release doesn’t specify which iPhone models will be compatible with the dock.
The app will include features such as Spotify streaming, a social network reader, and in-car camera, and it will act as an additional on-board instrument, as well. The iBeetle will be available early next year. [via Autoblog]
One year ago, Read It Later became Pocket (free), the popular app from Idea Shower which saves content for offline reading. Now updated to version 4.5, the app introduces new sharing features, including Send to Friend, which lets you quickly share content with friends and family. An inbox will show content that’s been shared with you, along with any comments and highlighted quotes. The redesigned Share Menu provides shortcuts for sharing, and optional push notifications let users know when new content has arrived in their Pocket inbox.
Time Warner Cable’s free app, TWC TV (version 3.2.0), now lets Time Warner subscribers watch live TV channels while away from home. The update also lets viewers watch select On Demand programming from anywhere. Filtering and sorting shows and categories has also been improved.
- April 18, 2013
The alleged rear shell for Apple’s rumored budget iPhone may have been leaked in a photo posted on Tactus. The photo shows a uniform white case likely made from polycarbonate. From the photo, it appears the screen size could be 4”, like the iPhone 5.
The report with the photo alleges the budget iPhone may have an A5 processor like the iPad mini, a 3.5” screen, and 5MP camera. Also noted is that the device will allegedly come in white, black, blue, red, and yellow. For everything we know about the budget iPhone so far — which we’re calling the iPhone “5C” — be sure to check out our rumor page.