Apple has released iOS 7.0.3, which adds iCloud Keychain and a Password Generator for Safari. The update features a number of bug fixes and tweaks, including an iMessage fix, the resolving of an accelerometer calibration issue, and a lock screen update that delays the display of “slide to unlock” when using Touch ID. The update is available over the air through the Software Update screen in the iOS Settings app or via the iTunes software update process.
ABC for Little Space Explorer ($2) from Common Extract is a new alphabet and science learning app for young children: A is for astronaut, B is for black hole, C is for crater, and so forth. Conceptually, the app is a bit odd — alphabet lessons are typically for kids aged 2-5, and the science content here is more for kids 6 and up—but parents who want their kids to learn about space might find it to be worth a peek. As tested, we didn’t always find the app’s interactive activities to be intuitive; in some cases, you’ll see 3-D cosmic maps or satellites that can be zoomed in on, while in others, the screen will flip to telescope and other views that don’t completely make sense. Even the alphabet selection screen is spread over two pages, which may confuse some kids. Our feeling is that Common Extract will benefit from polishing the app up a bunch, but the raw materials here are compelling.
Google’s standalone Hangouts has updated to version 1.3.0 with a major new feature — users can now make and receive telephone calls to land lines from an iOS device. The free app also now lets users send and receive animated GIFs, and it’s now possible to see which friends are using Hangouts, and who’s currently available.
StoryToys is back with another interactive pop-up book — Haunted House ($2), just in time for Halloween. Though the theme may seem scary, most kids won’t be frightened looking through this book with eight pop-up scenes. Haunted House includes full voice narration in English, French, German, and Spanish. A number of games are included within the pages, letting kids have the opportunity to seat at ghosts and mix a witch’s brew.
Microsoft’s brand new Microsoft Remote Desktop (free) app lets users connect to a remote PC to access Windows from anywhere. Users can access remote resources through the Remote Desktop Gateway. Microsoft promises a secure connection to data and applications, simple management of connections, and high quality video and sound streaming. An easy connection to external monitors and projectors helps those business types who need to make presentations.
Just released by Psyonix, ARC Squadron: Redux is a reboot of last year’s free Star Fox-style shooter, which puts you in control of a spaceship that flies through 60 levels of gun- and missile-firing action. Unreal Engine graphics optimized for Retina displays are an immediate attention-grabber, but the game has 20 different environments, and nine boss battles. Players can upgrade the ship and weapons as they shoot their way through the galaxy with tap and swipe controls. The music and voice samples are extremely impressive.
Batman: Arkham Origins (free) is a new one-on-one Batman fighting game from Warner Bros. Basically a sequel to Batman: Arkham City Lockdown, Arkham Origins offers new opponents, backgrounds and costumes. The game features swipe-and-tap gameplay, high-resolution graphics, and places an emphasis on increasing Batman’s abilities as you proceed through the game—not surprisingly, many in-app purchases are available to offset the initially free download, which uses a “stamina” bar to limit your play sessions. It’s also possible to connect the game to the console version of Batman: Arkham Origins for exclusive content.
- October 16, 2013
Reported sensor issues with Apple’s iPhone 5s are being caused by a new and allegedly undercalibrated accelerometer in the device, according to a new blog post. Eagle Jones, CEO of developer RealityCap, writes, “Quite definitely, the answer is that these issues exist due to hardware design.” Jones points out that a recent Chipworks teardown identifies the 5s accelerometer as a Bosch Sensortech BMA220 — Apple previously used parts from another manufacturer, ST. The Bosch accelerometer has a different bias spec than the previous ST part, and the wider bias range makes it more likely that the sensor won’t be level. Jones writes that app developers can incorporate a calibration process within their apps to get a correct reading, or Apple could update iOS to include a proper calibration profile for the new sensor. So far, Apple has been silent on the issue.
Apple is reducing orders of its iPhone 5c for the fourth quarter, according to the Wall Street Journal. The article echoes recent analyst reports, and questions the lack of demand and pricing strategy for the 5c. Assemblers Pegatron and Hon Hai/Foxconn were both told orders would be cut — sources say Pegatron was told a 20 percent cut would be forthcoming, while Hon Hai was told orders would be slashed by a third. Another supplier was reportedly notified of a 50 percent cut in part orders for the device. Meanwhile, executives at Hon Hai said Apple has increased iPhone 5s orders for the fourth quarter, lending further credence to a recent survey that found the iPhone 5s was outselling the 5c by more than two to one.
In a new blog post, digital magazine app developer Marko Karppinen recommends that publishers avoid Newsstand, the periodical section of the App Store and iOS. Karppinen writes that there are many misconceptions about Newsstand apps, which are really just apps published in the Newsstand section. He argues that Newsstand publications are too hidden within the app, especially in iOS 7. The redesigned app icon is described as something “so horrible that it’s hard to avoid thinking it was done maliciously: if someone was tasked with hiding away a set of unwanted apps, they would be likely to come back with a design that was something very much like the iOS 7 Newsstand.” As Karppinen also points out, automatic content downloads aren’t exclusive to Newsstand, and apps published outside Newsstand can always be moved into Newsstand later — but not vice versa.
- October 15, 2013
Chevrolet announced that six of its 2014 vehicles will use Siri Eyes Free integration. The hands-free feature that relies on Siri voice commands will be found in the Camaro, Cruze, Equinox, Malibu, SS, and Volt. It can be used through the company’s MyLink infotainment system. Chevrolet was an early supporter of Siri Eyes Free, as its Spark and Sonic 2013 models were the first to offer the feature.
- October 14, 2013
Prepaid carrier Cricket Wireless announced it will carry the iPhone 5c and 5s starting Oct. 25. Prospective customers can register for additional information now. A number of regional carriers began carrying the devices on Oct. 1, as the iPhone 5c and 5s continue to be added to the lineups of smaller carriers.
- October 14, 2013
Apple’s iPhone 5s is currently more than doubling the sales of iPhone 5c, according to a survey conducted by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP). Based on the survey, the iPhone 5s made up 64 percent of iPhone sales following its launch in September. The iPhone 5c accounted for 27 percent of sales, with the 4s filling in the gap with 9 percent of the sales. CIRP notes the iPhone 5 grabbed slightly more of the iPhone market than the 5s during its release last year — 68 percent — though it was the only new iPhone release at the time. [via AllThingsD]
- October 11, 2013
AT&T announced it will only be offering Mobile Share plans to new customers starting Oct. 25. The carrier will be eliminating its older per-device plans. Existing AT&T customers will have the option to stick with their current plans. AT&T’s Mobile Share offers data plans ranging from 300MB to 50GB per month.
A number of reports have popped up relating to a “blue screen of death” error when multitasking on the iPhone 5s. The topic has been discussed in Apple user forums, as the issue seems to stem from using iWork on the 5s. Forbes has a video of the malfunction in its report.
We tested the 5s using iWork and got the same results. In one test, the phone wasn’t truly rebooted — Touch ID could still be used to log in after the glitch occurs. On another occasion, the 5s did undergo a full reboot. It’s possible that Apple will solve the issue when updating iWork for iOS 7, or a fix could come via a software update. Some users have reported that disabling Pages, Numbers, and Keynote from Settings, iCloud, Documents & Data seems to resolve the problem.
Flickr (free) from Yahoo! updated to version 2.30.1503, enabling auto upload in iOS 7. Users can now automatically save their photos in Flickr’s 1TB-per-user storage space in full resolution. The app also now features auto straighten, letting users automatically straighten photos using the Flickr editor. Google sign-in issues have been fixed in the update, as well.
Foursquare (free) has made more major changes to its iOS app. Version 6.4 adds a “nearby” button to see what friends are around. Each friend’s most recent check-in is also shown, and more information can be accessed through their profiles. The app is also rolling out real-time recommendations to more iPhone users each day — checking in at a restaurant can show you a top menu item or daily special, for instance.
- October 10, 2013
T-Mobile has announced it will begin offering global data roaming coverage at no extra charge, starting Oct. 20 for new customers, and Oct. 31 for existing customers. The unlimited data coverage will be available in more than 100 countries, with free texting and 20 cents-per-minute calls. According to T-Mobile’s website, data is available at “up to 2G speeds.” Customers must have a qualifying Simple Choice Plan to receive the coverage.
Apple is preparing to launch its iPhone Reuse and Recycle trade-in program in the United Kingdom, according to a report that notes the program will debut “in the coming months.” The report suggests that Apple may also debut the program in other European countries after the UK launch. The recycling program launched in late August in the U.S., ahead of the iPhone 5c/5s launches. [via 9to5Mac]
Update: The trade-in program has launched in the UK, 9to5Mac reports.
Apple announced that the iPhone 5c and 5s will be coming to more than 25 countries on Friday, Oct. 25. On that day, the phones will be released in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, French West Indies, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Reunion Island, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan and Thailand.
The two phones will also be available in more than a dozen countries a week later, on Friday, Nov. 1. That day, the iPhone 5c and 5s will hit Albania, Armenia, Bahrain, Colombia, El Salvador, Guam, Guatemala, India, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and UAE.
Camera+ ($2) from tap tap tap has upgraded to version 4.2. The update fixes and enhances burst mode shooting on the iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s. Additionally, a new effects pack has been added that includes all the filters in Apple’s iOS 7 Camera and Photo apps. The developer’s oddly punchy, not particularly Apple-friendly description of the update on the iTunes preview page is actually worth a read, as well.
Real Boxing ($5) from Vivid Games is now at version 1.4.1, which offers new iPhone 5s support within the Unreal Engine. This comes only a week after version 1.4, which gave players the ability to bet on their fight outcomes and win in-game currency. An enhanced multiplayer mode and global leaderboards were added, as well as Korean, Chinese, and Japanese language support.
A number of revelations behind the original launch of the iPhone in 2007 have been published in The New York Times Magazine. Fred Vogelstein, author of the upcoming “Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution,” profiles a number of Apple employees at the time, including Andy Grignon, senior manager in charge of all radios in the original iPhone. Grignon tells of the tense moments leading up to launch, as the iPhone suffered from numerous bugs prior to the unveiling. During rehearsals, Grignon “had rarely seen Jobs make it all the way through his 90-minute show without a glitch” — including dropped calls, lost Internet connections, freezes, and unprompted shutdowns. A “golden path” was pre-determined to keep the iPhone from crashing through the numerous known issues, but backups on stage were ready in case of a failure.
The report notes that “software in the iPhone’s Wi-Fi radio was so unstable that Grignon and his team had to extend the phones’ antennas by connecting them to wires running offstage so the wireless signal wouldn’t have to travel as far.” AT&T brought in a portable cell tower to boost phone reception, and Apple rigged the on-screen cellular strength indicator to show 5 bars at all times, even if the phone’s radio crashed and restarted. But the biggest problem involved memory, as the iPhone often required a restart when multitasking. Jobs usually had a backup plan, but not this time. “It was Apple TV or the iPhone,” Grignon said. “And if he had gone to Macworld with just Apple TV … the world would have said, ‘What the heck was that?’ “
Jobs initially resisted making a phone, and Apple designed and built three early versions of the iPhone in 2006, putting inordinate pressure on employees in the process. Employees were pulled from other areas at Apple and told that they would work on something amazing, but that it would be the hardest work they had ever done. Other insights in the piece include the challenges of shrinking OS X, developing capacitive multitouch, and some incredible details on the lengths of Jobs’ obsession with secrecy surrounding the launch—including a squashed plan to keep contractors sleeping at the venue the night before the unveiling to avoid leaks. The successful iPhone demo ended with Grignon and the iPhone team drunk from scotch snuck into the keynote event.
A Hong Kong company, E-Ser Electronic Co., claims to have completed Lightning cables compatible with both iOS 7 and allegedly new Lightning authentication chips found inside the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s. The claims haven’t been verified, but are still notable, as non-certified Lightning accessories began to invoke warnings and charging malfunctions after iOS 7 was released.
Susan Bennett, an Atlanta-area voice actress, has revealed herself as the original voice of Siri. Though Apple won’t confirm Bennett as the voice, CNN reports, “Professionals who know her voice, have worked with her and represent her legally say she is Siri. And an audio-forensics expert with 30 years of experience has studied both voices and says he is ‘100%’ certain the two are the same.” Though Siri didn’t debut until Oct. 4, 2011 during the unveiling of the iPhone 4S, Bennett unknowingly recorded voice samples for the virtual assistant in July 2005. Under contract with ScanSoft, Bennett recorded samples for four hours a day that month. Bennett didn’t find out she was Siri’s voice until the iPhone 4S was released. A colleague with the new phone emailed Bennett, asking if she was Siri. Bennett checked Apple’s website to hear the audio. “Oh, I knew,” she said. “It’s obviously me. It’s my voice.”