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2014 iPad iPhone iPod Buyers' Guide from iLounge.com

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Report: Nintendo to release free smartphone mini games (Update: No)

Nintendo plans on releasing free mini games on smartphones by year’s end, according to a new report from Japanese newspaper Nikkei. It’s unclear whether the games will be stand-alone titles, or merely demos for existing or upcoming Nintendo games available on the company’s own hardware; the company is apparently hoping to leverage smartphones and tablets to entice people to buy its handheld and home consoles. Other information about Nintendo games may be made available through smartphones, as well. Further details on the plan will reportedly be announced this week. [via Kotaku]

Update: Nintendo has told Engadget the company has no plans to release mini-games on smartphones.

Video shows pre-release iOS in the Car in action

Developer Steven Troughton-Smith, who last week showed pictures of a pre-release version of Apple’s upcoming iOS in the Car, has uploaded a video to YouTube of the system in action. The video shows an iOS in the Car in-dash display running next to an iPhone using iOS 7.0.3. Troughton-Smith notes on YouTube that this is “all available in the public, shipping version of iOS 7.”

He also notes iOS in the Car supports multiple resolutions, touchscreens, hardware buttons, wheels, and touchpads. It does not support multitasking, as the car display shows the same app as the iPhone. Voice recognition is used as input, as there is no keyboard UI. Most notably, Troughton-Smith points out the UI is “clearly subject to change;” screenshots released recently showed a markedly different interface with a vertical, driver-side control panel. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple Q1 2014: 51M iPhones, 26M iPads, record $57.6B revenue

Apple reported its first quarter 2014 financial results today, selling 51 million iPhones and 26 million iPads, both all-time quarterly records. The company reported a record $57.6 billion quarterly revenue, as well as quarterly net profit of $13.1 billion, or $14.50 per diluted share. Apple sold 6 million iPods, a 52 percent decrease in units from Q1 2013. iPhone unit sales were up 7 percent, and iPad unit sales were up 14 percent from Q1 2013.

Gross margin was 37.9 percent, compared to 38.6 percent in Q1 2013. Apple noted that international sales accounted for 63 percent of revenue in Q1 2014. For Q2 2014, Apple is providing guidance of revenue between $42 billion and $44 billion, and gross margin between 37 percent and 38 percent. Apple’s earnings call will begin at 5 p.m. EST, and can be heard live on the company’s investor website.

“We are really happy with our record iPhone and iPad sales, the strong performance of our Mac products and the continued growth of iTunes, Software and Services,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said. “We love having the most satisfied, loyal and engaged customers, and are continuing to invest heavily in our future to make their experiences with our products and services even better.”

“We generated $22.7 billion in cash flow from operations and returned an additional $7.7 billion in cash to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases during the December quarter, bringing cumulative payments under our capital return program to over $43 billion,” Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said.

Reports: NSA using popular apps to collect data

The National Security Agency and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters have been working together to collect user information through “leaky” mobile apps, according to secret documents released by Edward Snowden. Google Maps, Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, and Twitter are all used as examples of apps said to scoop up personal information in a recent New York Times report. Information obtained from these apps may include address books, buddy lists, phone logs, and geographic data. The report notes that the “scale and specifics of the data haul are not clear.”

Though Angry Birds is used as example of a newer app the agencies could use to acquire information, it is not made “explicit whether the spies have put that into practice.” The NSA and the British Agency are reportedly mining information that has been acquired by ad firms, with data depending on which ad service compiles the user data profiles. In addition to the Times report, The Guardian and ProPublica have their own reports on the documents.

Apple: 80 percent iOS 7 adoption rate

Apple now claims on its developer website that 80 percent of devices are using iOS 7, a statistic measured through the “App Store during a 7-day period ending January 26, 2014.” In early December, Apple released numbers in the same quiet manner, noting that 74 percent of devices were using iOS 7 in a seven-day period ending Dec. 1. Apple now claims 17 percent of devices are using iOS 6, with 3 percent using an older version of iOS. Intended for developers, the metric obviously doesn’t capture devices that aren’t actively using the App Store, so it’s unclear how generalizable the numbers are to the entire iOS-using population.

iLounge Game Spotlight: In Fear I Trust

We’re debuting the iLounge Game Spotlight to give you an extended look at one particularly interesting game per week, helping you to decide whether or not a title is worth your time and money. Enjoy!

In Fear I Trust ($3) is not a game you might expect from Chillingo, the publisher of Catapult King and the original Cut the Rope. It’s a first-person puzzle game described as a psychological thriller, and it comes with a 17+ rating. Like some other similar games, In Fear I Trust recommends gamers play with headphones for the best, most immersive experience. The game is compatible with iPad and iPhone, but not iPod touch.

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There will be no story spoilers here, which fits right in with the game, as you wake up in a facility with no knowledge of what happened before. As the app description explains — and as you’ll probably sense — you became a test subject in this strange gruesome place, but how? And why? You pick up clues to piece together the story.

Apple updates iWork iOS apps to version 2.1

Apple has issued updates for the iOS editions of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. All three — updated to version 2.1 — gain the ability to share password-protected documents via iCloud link, in line with the recent iWork for iCloud update. The suite sees improved compatibility with Microsoft Office 2013 documents, and bug fixes and stability improvements. Additionally, each app has its own individual upgrades.

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For example, Pages now allows character counts with or without spaces, and improved support for bidirectional text, while Numbers users can view and edit spreadsheets in landscape orientation. Keynote has absorbed the features of Keynote Remote, which has been removed from the App Store, and can now control presentations on other devices. There are also new transitions among the other changes.

Apps: Baldur’s Gate II, In Fear I Trust, Podcasts 2.0.1 + Sidecar Ride 3.0

Beamdog’s Baldur’s Gate II ($15) Enhanced Edition has arrived on iPad. This edition of the classic fantasy RPG includes the original Shadows of Amn campaign, in addition to a number of expansions, including the Throne of Bhaal expansion. The game is only available for iPad and requires 2.5 GB of free space.

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In Fear I Trust ($3) is a new 17+ rated nightmarish puzzle game from Chillingo. It’s available for iPhone and iPad, but not compatible with iPod touch. Look for more information tomorrow in our new Game of the Week feature.

WSJ: Larger iPhones coming, iPhone 5c to be cut?

The Wall Street Journal is reporting Apple will release two new iPhones with larger screens this year. The two new handsets will feature displays larger than 4.5” and 5”, respectively. “The smaller of the two models is further along in development, and is being prepared for mass production,” the Journal reports. “The larger-screen version is still in preliminary development.” The phones will not feature curved displays.

An initial reading of the story also appeared to suggest the iPhone 5c would be scrapped, but the language may only suggest that the new iPhones will feature metal casings, instead of the 5c-style plastic casings. Both new iPhones are expected to be released in the second half of this year. Apple declined to comment.

Apple vows to fix iOS 7 crashes

Apple said a future iOS 7 update will resolve the bug that causes devices to crash and reboot. “We have a fix in an upcoming software update for a bug that can occasionally cause a home screen crash,” Apple spokesperson Trudy Muller said to Mashable. It’s expected the fix will arrive with the official release of iOS 7.1, which is currently in its fourth beta. A separate update for this specific issue could even come before iOS 7.1 is released.

Apps: Beats Music, Box 3.0, Epicurious 4.0 + Zoo Animals

Beats Music has released its anticipated streaming music service in the App Store. Though the app download itself is free, Beats Music is a subscription service that costs $10 a month after a one-week free trial. There is no ad-supported free version of the service. Beats Music offers more than 20 million songs that lets users stream or save to a device to listen while offline. It’s very similar to other streaming services; other than a few minor features, the Beats name and mood-based station creation are the biggest distinguishing factors.

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Box (free) has updated its app to version 3.0.0. The redesigned cloud content management app now offers 50GB of free lifetime storage to iOS users. This update includes a new preview experience, faster document rendering and photo loading, and a real-time search for files. Box is also in the process of becoming integrated into other apps, including a revised version of iTeleport Connect that was just released.

Developer shows pre-release iOS in the Car UI

Developer Steven Troughton-Smith appears to have activated Apple’s iOS in the Car ahead of its launch, showing pictures of the interface on his Twitter feed. According to a report, iOS in the Car functionality has been nestled within iOS 7 all along, but this is the first reported activation of the system. Notably, there are major differences between Troughton-Smith’s pictures and those seen on Apple’s website, suggesting either that the UI has been redrawn since it was first shown by Apple, or that the version Troughton-Smith found is outdated.

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A safety warning, app screen, and custom version of Maps can be seen among the pictures, which suggest that most user-accessible touch elements have been moved to the left side of the screen, closer to the driver’s side of a car. An on-screen Home Button now appears in the bottom left corner of the screen, with another button—possibly a voice prompt/Siri speaking trigger—at the top left of the screen. It’s still too early to know what iOS in the Car will look like upon release, but the screenshots suggest some of the possibilities that Apple is considering. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple releases iOS 7.1 beta 4 to developers

Apple has released iOS 7.1 beta 4 to developers. The new beta includes bug fixes and improvements, less than two weeks after the third beta was released. We’ll update this article with any notable changes as they’re discovered.

Report: Apple to fix 5c displays in-store next week

Apple is reportedly planning to repair or replace broken iPhone 5c displays in its stores next week, likely starting Monday. Broken displays not covered under warranty are expected to cost $149 to repair. Apple’s in-store repair initiative was first reported last November. At this point, the planned iPhone 5s display repairs are not ready for a full rollout in all stores. [via 9to5Mac]

Cook promises ‘great things’ at China Mobile launch

Apple CEO Tim Cook told customers the company is working on “great things” during China Mobile’s launch of the iPhone today. Cook, who autographed iPhones at China Mobile’s headquarters store in Beijing, was asked about bigger screens and flexible displays, according to Bloomberg. “We never talk about future things,” he said. “We have great things we are working on but we want to keep them secret. That way you will be so much happier when you see it.” A previous report noted Foxconn has already shipped more than 1 million iPhone 5s units to China Mobile. The carrier also started selling the iPhone 5c today.

Apps: Google Play Movies & TV, Shadow Blade, Waterlogue + Yahoo News Digest

Google Play Movies & TV (free) is now available for the first time on iOS. Google’s app lets users watch movies and TV shows that were purchased or rented from Google Play. At the moment, streaming video only works over a Wi-Fi connection. TV shows are currently available in the U.S., U.K., and Japan.

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Shadow Blade ($2) from Crescent Moon Games is a Strider/Shinobi-style ninja action game — in fact, it bears more than a passing resemblance to the upcoming official Strider title from Capcom. Featuring touch controls and a wide variety of weapons, Shadow Blade emphasizes the ninja aspect of the game, rewarding players for “playing sneakily.” Main character Kuro has to avoid traps and sneak around enemies in addition to fighting them head-on. Shadow Blade features 40 levels.

Cook: China Mobile deal is ‘watershed moment’

Apple CEO Tim Cook played up the importance of the company’s recent China Mobile deal in a recent press briefing in Beijing, the Wall Street Journal reports. China Mobile will start selling the iPhone 5s and 5c on Friday. “As of this weekend we will be selling iPhones in more than 3,000 additional locations,” Cook said. ” It’s a monumental day and a watershed moment.” China Mobile Chairman Xi Guohua said the carrier has received several million preorders for the iPhone — a recent WSJ report noted Foxconn has shipped more than 1 million iPhone 5s units to China Mobile already. Cook said, “...Today is a beginning and I think there are lots more things our companies can do together in the future.”

In a separate report from the same briefing, the WSJ revealed Cook’s comments at greater length. Cook said using the iPhone with China Mobile’s TD-LTE network makes it “a new product, this is a world phone. Now you can take your iPhone in China use it on TD-LTE and if you travel to the United States you can now use it on FDD-LTE. This is a big deal, it’s huge, and so I couldn’t be happier with how we’re doing.” Cook also said the key meetings for closing the deal took place in fall 2012 and Jan. 2013, “and then it was a matter of preparing the organizations and executing and working the details.”

VirnetX adds products to FaceTime infringement suit

VirnetX, the patent holding company which successfully sued Apple for infringing its VPN patents in FaceTime in 2012, has added more Apple devices to its pending patent infringement lawsuit. As announced by VirnetX, the holding company is now adding the iPad Air, iPad mini with Retina display, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, and “latest Mac computers” to the litigation against Apple. The company is also including the “iPod Touch with Retina Display,” which could refer to the fourth- and fifth-generation iPod touch; however, the current lawsuit has already included the fifth-generation iPod touch. VirnetX maintains that Apple infringes upon its VPN patents, including workarounds Apple redesigned for iOS 7.

Apple initially changed the way its VPN On Demand connected in iOS after the loss of the first lawsuit. However, the company decided to reverse course weeks later, and change its VPN On Demand connection back to how it always worked. The reversal caused speculation that Apple and VirnetX appeared to reach an agreement of some kind — that obviously now appears to be false. Apple was ordered to pay $368.2 million for the loss of the first lawsuit, and lost an appeal.

Apple patents automatic motion-adjusting UI

A patent granted to Apple today describes a user interface in which onscreen graphics are automatically adjusted when the device is in motion. The patent background suggests that it’s harder to interact with a graphical user interface while the user is in motion; the patent would enable the device to adjust the GUI based on measurements of that motion. For instance, touchscreen buttons in the UI could be made larger while the device is moving, making the buttons easier to use.

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As another example, graphic features could be moved around for ease of use. The patent also describes implementations in which the device “learns” how a user’s device moves and can make adjustments accordingly. Apple originally filed for the patent in Nov. 2007. [via Apple Insider]

Apple hiring iPod/iPhone engineers for Arizona plant

Apple has started hiring for its new Mesa, Arizona manufacturing facility and one of the job listings is for an iPod/iPhone Manufacturing Design Engineer. Under key qualifications, Apple notes that it is seeking “world class engineers that will provide end to end manufacturing and process solutions for key design features.” A previous report noted Apple would be producing sapphire glass in the new plant, though other details were limited; it now appears the facility could involve more than just sapphire manufacturing. [via 9to5Mac]

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