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2014 iPad iPhone iPod Buyers' Guide from iLounge.com

News

Apple granted patent for camera lens mount

A new Apple patent for bayonet attachment mechanisms may signal the company’s interest in using an attachable camera lens system in its iOS devices. The patent describes a system that would use a bayonet mount integrated into the camera of an electronic device — lenses could be swapped in and out of the mount.

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Patently Apple notes how quickly the patent was approved — the patent application was only published weeks ago — speculating that Apple may be looking to use the feature in the near future. An alleged leaked picture of the iPhone 6 shows the device with a protruding camera lens, but it’s unclear if any sort of mount system is included. Images in the patent document depict the fifth-generation iPod touch. [via Apple Insider]

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.

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 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.

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.

Report: iOS 7.1 due within week, before SXSW

According to a brief post by Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, Apple will release the final version of iOS 7.1 “any day now,” ahead of next week’s iTunes Festival at South By Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas. Alluding to an unnamed source at Apple, Gruber notes that “a little birdie” told him that the iTunes Festival live streaming application requires iOS 7.1, so the long-awaited bug-fixing iOS update would logically need to become available before the Festival begins. An Apple TV channel will also be added to stream iTunes Festival content.

Update: Apple has released version 5.0 of the free iTunes Festival app, before the company’s release of iOS 7.1.

Apps: Bejeweled 1.7.1, Frozen: Storybook Deluxe, Learnist + Toca Pet Doctor

PopCap’s Bejeweled (free) has gone through more iterations and updates over the years than any other iOS game we can recall, and some have made fairly substantial improvements to the core match-three game. The latest update 1.7.1 adds Poker Mode, a surprisingly addictive game mode that challenges you to make five-card poker hands by sequencing same-colored match-threes. For instance, three separate matches of three yellow gems will give you three yellow gem cards, which when paired with two matches of three orange gems will create a full house. To keep playing, you need to both vary your hands — repeatedly getting just one pair of matching cards isn’t enough — and avoid the skull head on a flipped coin, which appears more often if you repeat hands and can instantly end your game. It’s a great update to the classic title, but arrives with a major bummer: an unexpected timer that limits your daily games unless you pay a $3 fee to unlock the full title.

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Just released as a video download last week, Disney’s hit movie Frozen briefly arrived with a free iBooks download of the Frozen Read-Along Storybook — a page-flipping story accompanied by full narration and the voices of Frozen’s key actors. But there is another Frozen storybook option for kids: despite the similar name and theme, the Frozen: Storybook Deluxe ($7) app doesn’t overlap anywhere near as much as we’d expected with the iBook story. While some of the art is similar, the story is told differently, with rich interactive animations and video clips from the movie. Storybook Deluxe also uniquely lets a child rotate the iPhone or iPad 180 degrees to hear the Frozen story from the separate perspectives of sisters Anna and Elsa. A reverse puzzle mode challenges kids to remove correctly-shaped ice puzzle fragments from a photo, while Snow Globe and Ice Crafting modes let kids draw pictures with snow and ice tools. Young Frozen fans should consider it a must-see.

Microsoft plans to extend Xbox Live to iOS games

Microsoft is working on extending Xbox Live functionality to iOS games, The Verge reports. A recent job posting for a “New Devices and Gaming” software development engineer states that the company will “create a modern framework that is open source, light-weight, extensible and scalable across various platforms including Windows Store, Windows Phone, iOS and Android.” According to the report, Microsoft wants to bring Xbox Live to every platform, allowing developers to incorporate Xbox Live into all games.

iLounge Game Spotlight: God of Light

God of Light ($2) is a new game from Playmous that features music from British electronica group UNKLE. A physics puzzle game, God of Light challenges players to guide a beam of light from a starting point to an end point using mirrors, while picking up crystals along the way. A few in-app purchases are offered, but they’re not pushed aggressively.

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The game’s mascot, Shiny, is a cute little ball that unleashes the ray of light players need to get through the levels. Using a finger to guide the beam, players must then direct the beam to its goal using mirrors. Some mirrors can rotate, others can be moved. There are also doors to unlock in some levels, and more elements such as prisms and bending light, are introduced as the game progresses. Playmous did a great job with the learning curve, as the puzzles gradually get more challenging and multi-faceted while never feeling unfair. The controls are sensitive, but intuitive.

Apps: Another Case Solved, Instapaper 5.1.5, Slack 1.33 + Yahoo News Digest 1.1

Chillingo’s Another Case Solved is a new game similar to the company’s popular Puzzle Craft. There is a detective story built into Another Case Solved, but it doesn’t have any effect on the actual gameplay, which involves matching icons by swiping to create lines in any direction. Progressing through the game allows players to upgrade their skills, and other simple puzzles are revealed. Players also have the option of changing their detective’s look and upgrading their office. Though Another Case Solved is free, options to make in-app purchases abound.

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Instapaper ($4) has upgraded to version 5.1.5. The update offers integration with Instapaper Daily, a news site that features the most popular Instapaper story of the day. AirPlay integration has also been improved. Subscribers receive Send to Kindle functionality — subscriptions are also now auto-renewable.

Apps: Brian Cox’s Wonders of Life, Disney Movies Everywhere, MLB.com At Bat 7.0 + NCAA Sports 2.0

Brian Cox’s Wonders of Life ($6) from HarperCollins lets users explore nature through 3D creatures and habits, video, and high-res images. More than two hours of video let users view creatures in HD, and more than 1,000 high-res images include commentary. It’s an extremely impressive app — a collection of fascinating nature documentaries can be at one’s fingertips within minutes. The app’s guide is noted English physicist and professor Brian Cox.

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Disney’s new Disney Movies Everywhere (free) app lets users stream their Disney, Pixar, and Marvel movie collection from anywhere. The app connects to the iTunes account to build a collection, and new movies can be purchased through the app. Digital copies of films can also be redeemed within the app. Disney Movies Everywhere also offers a number of other features, including free exclusive content and Disney Movie Rewards points. Currently, Disney is offering a free copy of The Incredibles for connecting the app to an iTunes account.

iLounge Game Spotlight: Tengami

The long-awaited Tengami ($5) has finally reached the App Store. Created by Nyamyam, an independent developer founded by former Rare employees, Tengami is described as “an atmospheric adventure game set inside a Japanese pop-up book.” Rated 4+, the game has no in-app purchases and no advertisements.

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As expected, Tengami is a beautiful game, as it looks like a real hand-crafted pop-up book in motion. Though beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the aesthetics of Tengami are pretty undeniable for an iOS game. Players can fold and slide pages of the intricate book while guiding the character past waterfalls and wolves. The soundtrack from David Wise and sparse sound effects only add to the enjoyable, soothing experience.

Apple releases iOS 7.0.6

Apple has released iOS 7.0.6 for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. The 35.4 MB security update provides a fix for SSL connection verification.

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iOS 7.0.6 is available now over-the-air.

Update: Apple has also released Apple TV Software Update 6.0.2. According to the company’s support page, this update addresses SSL issues as well. Apple TV Software Update 6.0.02 is available now for second- and third- generation Apple TVs via the Software Update feature of the Apple TV’s Settings menu.

Apps: Google Translate 2.1, Second Chance Heroes, Venmo 4.7 + Zen Pinball 1.15

Google’s Google Translate (free) has updated to version 2.1.0 with native iOS 7 support, bringing a new keyboard and status bar. The app also adds handwriting input for more languages — Arabic, Esperanto, Gujarati, Hebrew, Javanese, Maltese, Maori, Marathi, Persian, Punjabi, Telugu, and Zulu. Google Translate currently supports translation of 80 languages.

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Second Chance Heroes (free) from Rocket City Studios is a frantic action game in which you fend off zombies, werewolves, and other enemies while controlling a chainsaw-wielding Abraham Lincoln, Cleopatra, Nikola Tesla, and other historical figures. This kind of trope has been overdone in recent years, but Second Chance Heroes stands on its own, especially with the twist of tag team gameplay for swapping characters mid-game. The game supports both single player and multiplayer, and though there are in-app purchases, they never feel invasive.

GBA4iOS 2.0 Game Boy emulator released

GBA4iOS has released version 2.0 of its Game Boy simulator on its website. The free download lets users play a number of Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy games on their iPhone or iPad, with a built-in browser giving users the option to download more ROMs. GBA4iOS 2.0 can run on any iOS device running iOS 7 or higher, and no jailbreak is required.

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The non-App Store download appears to rely on a certificate issued through Apple’s Enterprise Developer Program and could therefore still potentially be disabled by Apple. Installation is quick and simple, but be sure to read the site’s FAQ, and be aware of any privacy and security risks involved with installing such software. [via MacRumors]

Apps: Dinosaur Train A to Z, Intro to Letters 2.0, Pinball Arcade 3.3 + Yahoo Fantasy Sports 5.4

Dinosaur Train A to Z ($2) from PBS Kids uses characters from the show Dinosaur Train to teach kids about 26 different dinosaurs — one for each letter of the alphabet. Children can feed the dinosaurs, explore x-rays, and learn more than 50 facts. Additional dinosaur packs can also be purchased. The app is narrated by Mr. Conductor, who fans of the show know is a Troodon. That’s right, T is for Troodon in this app, not Tyrannosaurus Rex. Dinosaur Train isn’t afraid of getting a bit obscure.

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Montessorium’s Intro to Letters ($10) has been completely redesigned for iOS 7 in version 2.0. The Montessori-based letter-learning app has also added a new feature, Recording Studio. In Recording Studio, adults can record, save and use their own voiceovers to teach their children the letters. As the app’s description claims, “You learn best from the ones that you love.” The app is currently $5 for a limited time.

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