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.
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.
In a new interview, Vanity Fair talks to both Apple Senior Vice President of Industrial Design in Jony Ive and designer Marc Newson before their upcoming Sotheby’s (RED) auction, in which the designers have teamed with Bono to benefit The Global Fund. The two discuss design, and Ive’s work with Apple is discussed, but the biggest revelation comes from Ive’s previous work with Bono. Bono approached Steve Jobs to offer U2 for inclusion in an iPod commercial, and the eventual deal included the U2 special edition black-and-red iPod. The deal seemed like it might fall through at one point, but “Ive was dispatched in person to take the prototype black-red iPod to Bono at his home in Dublin.” Ive and Bono reportedly hammered out all remaining issues in the deal while drinking in a pub. “Jony makes some of his greatest decisions while having a drink,” Bono said.
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.
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 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.
Sega’s The Cave ($5) is an adventure game from Double Fine Productions and Monkey Island creator Ron Gilbert. The Cave was previously released for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii U, just now making its iOS debut. Players explore a sprawling cave using a team. Users pick three explorers out of seven, all with their own personalities, talents, and motivations. The gameplay dynamics are similar to Gilbert’s Maniac Mansion, an absolute classic from 1987.
Goodnight Mo ($3) is a new interactive pop-up book from StoryToys Entertainment. The short book shows a little monster named Mo getting ready for bed. He takes a bath, goes to the bathroom, and brushes his teeth before settling down for the night. It’s designed to help establish a bedtime routine for youngsters, who can have fun interacting with the various elements of the book. The app can read the book aloud to kids, or let them read it for themselves. Narration is available in English, French, German, and Spanish.
Apple is working on a solution for a known iOS 7 glitch that is disrupting iMessage, the Wall Street Journal reports. Some users have found that iMessages appear to go through, only to later discover that the message has not actually been delivered. “We are aware of an issue that affects a fraction of a percent of our iMessage users, and we will have a fix available in an upcoming software update,” Apple said in a statement. A few workarounds have been suggested by users for the time being, including restarting the device, and disabling iMessage, resetting Network Settings, and then turning iMessage back on.
Flixster’s free app with the lengthy title — Movies by Flixster, with Rotten Tomatoes — has upgraded to version 6.6. The update brings HD streaming to select titles. The app also features a brand new design for iOS 7. Flixster notes those who are having issues with streaming movies due to the update should log out and log back in to fix the problem.
Navigon North America ($40) from Garmin has updated to version 2.6.1. As one might expect, it’s been updated to support iOS 7, and there are some bug fixes, but the big change is the app is now compatible with Garmin HUD. Garmin’s HUD — for Head-Up Display — projects navigation information onto a driver’s windshield from the app. HUD is an interesting concept that keeps eyes on the road while using navigation data, but the $150 device is a separate purchase from the already pricey app.
Major League Baseball plans to utilize Apple’s new iBeacon indoor mapping feature in its At the Ballpark app. The app will use the new iOS 7 feature in MLB stadiums. “Essentially, we want to create micro-locations within the stadiums where you can get different experiences,” said MLB iOS developer Marc Abramson. It’s possible the app could load a ticket through Passbook when a spectator approaches a stadium gate, and present a map which can show spectators to their seats.
A number of other possible features were revealed, including discounts and loyalty cards at concession stands, and historical information about the park. The New York Mets are currently testing the Bluetooth LE-powered iBeacon for in-stadium use, but Abramson said, “A lot of teams have expressed interest so far.” [via Mashable]
The Tokyo District Court ordered Apple to pay 330 million yen (about $3.35 million) to Norihiko Saito for infringing on the Japanese inventor’s click wheel controller patent. Saito’s company applied for the patent in 1998, before Apple used a click wheel in its iPod. Saito sought 10 billion yen in damages, but received only a fraction of that amount. The inventor had previously tried three times to reach a settlement with Apple. [via Dow Jones Newswires]
A Federal Aviation Administration advisory committee has voted to recommend letting airline passengers use smartphones, tablets, e-readers, and other electronic devices during takeoffs and landings, the Associated Press reports. The recommendation will be sent to the FAA, which has final say on whether the restrictions will be eased. However, it’s notable that downloading data, using the Internet, and talking on the phone would still be prohibited below 10,000 feet under the recommendations. The FAA began seeking public comments on the issue more than a year ago. While the FCC urged the FAA to expand in-flight device use, another report claimed passenger electronics interfere with equipment.
Staples’ U.S. website will sell iPads and iPods starting in October, according to a recent report. “Several versions” of the devices will be sold as soon as Oct. 1. Staples already sells the iPad in its Canadian online store. The report also notes Staples would like to sell the iPad in its retail stores by early next year. Staples started selling Apple accessories online in February. [via 9to5Mac]
2K Drive ($5) from 2K Sports has updated to version 1.6. The new British car pack brings four new cars from Land Rover, Vauxhall, and Jaguar to the game. New events have also been added to 2K Drive, and users who were completely unable to play the game before can now get past the tutorial level and purchase cars. Additionally, vehicle control improvements have been made, including steering sensitivity tweaks, though the default steering is pretty challenging.
Lens Tutorial (free) from Smart Learn Apps isn’t the prettiest-looking app around, but it makes up for its lack of aesthetic appeal through education. The app, now updated for version 1.4, shows how to use a variety of camera lenses, demonstrating visually how their aperture, distance from subject, and width/zoom level change their depth of field. More than 3,400 digital cameras are now included after the most recent update. The app also offers a high-contrast scheme with large fonts for outdoor use.
Apple has released iOS 7.0.2 for all iOS devices — unlike the previous iOS 7.0.1 update, which was only for the iPhone 5c and 5s. The release fixes bugs that could allow someone to bypass the Lock Screen passcode.
Also included in the update is a Greek keyboard option for passcode entry. It’s available for download now through the Software Update screen under Settings.
AppleCare+, Apple’s two-year extended warranty and damage protection plan for certain devices, now allows users to receive iPhone, iPad, or iPod service in any country offering the service. Coverage is limited depending on which countries cover which device models. For example, the CDMA iPhone 5 can’t be replaced in Brazil, where it isn’t available. AppleCare+ for iPad, iPhone, and iPod is now available in 15 different countries. [via TechCrunch]
Algoriddim’s djay 2 ($10) is now ready for iOS 7 in version 2.1. The music mixing app has a new library, and new sample packs from Snoop Dogg and DJ Qbert. DJ Qbert also has his name on new built-in scratch tools within the app. djay 2 has also added support for inter-app audio, and tracks now load faster in iOS 7. On the iPhone 5S version, Harmonic Match has been added to enable automatic key matching of two songs in realtime.
PBS Kids recently released a newer Daniel Tiger app, but Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Play at Home ($2) is still in the App Store. Play at Home lets kids play with five different games, including Doctor, Bedtime, In Daniel’s Bathroom, Feel the Music, and Sticker Book.
Rovio’s Angry Birds Star Wars II ($1) has arrived in the App Store. The anticipated game lets users “join the Pork Side” by letting them fling pigs — like Darth Vader and Darth Maul pigs — into the birds. More than 30 playable characters are featured in the game. Achievements are another big part of Angry Birds Star Wars II, as players can work their way up to becoming a Jedi or Sith Master. The previously announced Telepods can bring characters into the game using physical toys, but that feature is strictly optional.
Evernote has updated to version 7.0. The free app has been completely redesigned for iOS 7 with a new layout. A new audio recorder gives users space to type while listening, and it’s easier and quicker to access some of the app’s most used features. Most notably, notes are always kept up-to-date now, as the app syncs in the background. AirDrop also allows users to share notes with others around them. It’s also possible to add arrows, shapes, and text to images and PDFs with the Markup feature.