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2014 iPad iPhone iPod Buyers' Guide from iLounge.com

News

Apple announces USB Power Adapter Takeback Program

Apple has announced a new USB Power Adapter Takeback Program following two reported user-shocking incidents in China that were blamed on third-party adapters, one of which allegedly caused a woman’s death, and another allegedly placing a man in a coma. The new program lets customers drop off third-party adapters with which they may have concerns at Apple retail stores or Apple authorized service providers. Apple will then dispose of the adapters in an “environmentally friendly way.”

Those who turn in at least one USB power adapter and bring along their iOS device for serial number validation will be able to purchase an official Apple USB power adapter for just $10, or the approximate equivalent in local currency. Customers will be able to purchase one $10 adapter for each iPhone, iPad, and iPod they own. The takeback program starts Aug. 16 and the special pricing for power adapters will run until Oct. 18.

iPhone, iPod liquid sensor settlement details emailed

Customers who may be eligible to participate in the liquid sensor settlement class action involving certain iPhones and iPods are now receiving legal notices via email. A customer may be eligible if Apple denied warranty coverage because the company said a device had been damaged by liquid. The $53 million settlement fund will be split up amongst participating iPhone owners whose warranty claims were denied on or before Dec. 31, 2009, and iPod touch owners whose claims were denied on or before June 30, 2010. Oct. 21 is the deadline for filing a claim; affected users may receive between $105 and $300 per device, depending on the model and capacity. More details can be found on the settlement website.

Apps: Bento, Bloodmasque, Hipmunk 3.1, Peek-a-Zoo + Temple Run 2 1.4

Apple-owned Filemaker has announced that it will stop offering its Bento app for iPad ($10) and iPhone ($5) after Sept. 30. The company will also discontinue support for the personal database app after July 30, 2014.

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Square Enix’s new Bloodmasque ($7) is a vampire hunting game that mixes Infinity Blade-style fighting with the RPG elements Square fans have come to expect. Bloodmasque allows a team of vampire hunters to fight together in multiplayer action, with one player taking control of a customizable on-screen hero, assisted by others. Players are given a fair amount of virtual controller freedom while exploring towns, and the game is heavy on story elements, as well. One of the more notable features lets users swap in a photo of their own face to create their character — or a photo of anyone else. Up to three photos can be added to express different emotions for the user’s virtual hunter. The graphics are top-notch, and as such, Square Enix notes the game may consume battery life “relatively quickly.”

Hipmunk has updated Hipmunk Flights & Hotels (free) to version 3.1.0. The app has added Tonight Only hotel deals, which allows travelers to find a hotel room for up to 60 percent off. Also, Fare Alerts allow users to be notified instantly whenever airfare changes. The interface for the iPad side of the app has also been improved.

iOS 7 beta 4 fixes charger hack

A recently revealed charger hack for iOS devices has been fixed in iOS 7 beta 4, Reuters reports. The known hack involves using a malicious charger to invisibly install malware on an iOS device in less than a minute, and was officially unveiled at the Black Hat hacking conference on Wednesday. Apple confirmed the latest iOS 7 beta has fixed the issue. The hack will still work on devices running iOS 6.

Apps: Kindle 3.9, Prince of Persia, Riptide GP2 + Yahoo! Fantasy Football 5.0

Amazon has just released version 3.9 of its free Kindle app. The app now allows for a free sample search — using the existing Library Search, customers can now search books and download free samples from within the app. Also notable in the new update is the ability to use previously purchased dictionaries or translation references to look up word definitions in other books. Accessibility gestures for blind and visually impaired customers have also been added for quick reference, and the new Instant Cover Loader displays book covers quickly.

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Prince of Persia: The Shadow and the Flame ($3) from Ubisoft brings a new chapter to the classic Prince of Persia series, which has continued its evolution following film adaptations. The new iOS Prince of Persia features a 14-level single player side-scrolling adventure, including fully polygonal, detailed artwork for the levels, and a brand new combat system with combos and new weapons. Prince of Persia’s gameplay allows users to choose between a virtual joystick or gesture-based touch controls, with all of the classic jumping, running, ducking, climbing, and attacking options fans would expect.

Apps: Angry Birds Rio 1.7, Bank of America 4.3, djay 2 + OpenTable 5.1

Rovio’s been keeping its furious fowl busy as another Angry Birds game gets new levels — this time it’s Angry Birds Rio (free). Version 1.7 of the game includes 15 more beach levels to the Golden Beachball episode. Collecting all the golden cherries will unlock bonus levels, and other surprises have been added to the game, as well.

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Bank of America updated its free Bank of America — Mobile Banking app to version 4.3. Most notably, Bank of America members can now make credit card payments using checking accounts from other banks — users just have to set up an external account. It’s also now possible for members to receive and send money using email addresses and mobile phone numbers.

Apple Q3 2013: 31.2M iPhones, 14.6M iPads, 4.6M iPods

Apple has reported its financial results for its fiscal 2013 third quarter. The company sold 31.2 million iPhones, a June quarter record, up from 26 million iPhones in last year’s third quarter, and 37.4 million iPhones last quarter. Apple sold 14.6 million iPads in the third quarter, down from 17 million in Q3 2012, and 19.5 million last quarter. As with Q2 2013’s press release, Apple did not include iPod sales numbers in the release, but it sold 4.6 million iPods in the quarter, compared to 5.6 million iPods last quarter, and 6.8 million iPods in Q3 2012.

Apple posted quarterly revenue of $35.3 billion and net quarterly profit of $6.9 billion — $7.47 per diluted share. This compares with revenue of $35.02 billion and net quarterly profit of $8.8 billion in Q3 2012, or $9.32 per diluted share. Gross margin was 36.9 percent compared to 42.8 percent in Q3 2012. International sales made up 57 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

“We are especially proud of our record June quarter iPhone sales of over 31 million and the strong growth in revenue from iTunes, Software and Services,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “We are really excited about the upcoming releases of iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks, and we are laser-focused and working hard on some amazing new products that we will introduce in the fall and across 2014.”

“We generated $7.8 billion in cash flow from operations during the quarter and are pleased to have returned $18.8 billion in cash to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases,” said Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer.

For Q4 2013, Apple is expecting revenue between $34 billion and $37 billion, gross margin between 36 percent and 37 percent, and operating expenses between $3.9 billion and $3.95 billion.

Apps: Bad Piggies 1.4, Cobra iRadar 3.2, Drinkspiration 2.06 + Pac-Man Dash!

Rovio’s Bad Piggies ($1) — both the standard and iPad HD versions — have been updated to version 1.4. Bad Piggies now features 30 new Rise & Swine levels for players. Also included in the update are new power-ups including super glue, magnets, and turbo charges, plus the new grappling hook item, and the Super Mechanic, which lets players get three stars on any level. The Super Mechanic can be earned or purchased.

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Cobra iRadar (free) from Cobra Electronics Corporation has updated to version 3.2. The iRadar app has always aided users of the Cobra iRadar detectors, but now, the app offers shared radar detection data and Live Police locations as an in-app purchase for those who don’t own the detector. Also added in the latest update were music controls, background alerts, and a countdown that shows the distance between alerts.

Apps: After Burner Climax 1.1, Chrome 28, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Paint & Play, Priceline 10.0

Sega’s After Burner Climax ($3) has updated to version 1.1. The update adds a new plane to the game, the X-47B, an ummanned stealth plane from Northrop Grumman. After Burner Climax has also added in-game cinematics to enhance the gameplay experience, restoring arcade sequences that were missing from the original iOS release.

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Google updated its free Chrome web browser to version 28.0.1500.12. Chrome now features interoperability with other Google iOS apps, with an option to open links for YouTube, Maps, G+ and Drive within each separate app. Enhancements to voice search, and text-to-speech for “all variations” of English, Spanish, German, Italian, French, Japanese, and Korean are also included. The app now goes to fullscreen on iPad, as well. Data usage savings have been improved, as have page load times.

Google Maps 2.0 includes new iPad design

Google has released version 2.0 of its popular free Google Maps app for iOS today. The update most notably includes an all-new interface for iPad users, which has been absent from the app since its release late last year. Navigation has been enhanced to include live traffic updates and incident reports. Indoor maps are also included — walking directions are now available for malls, airports, and other selected spots.

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The app also introduces the Explore feature, which lets users browse restaurants, stores, hotels, and more by category, spotlighting ones in your immediate area first. Zagat content and user place ratings and reviews have been added, and Google Offers now brings deals to users in this major update. As the app is now truly universal, each of the new features is available across all compatible iOS devices.

Apps: Apollo 11, Care Bears: Create & Share, Logic Remote + OWA

Diverging from Mundomono/Kid Bunch’s past fairy tale titles, Bean Bag Kids Apollo 11 ($3) tells the story of the three American astronauts who traveled to the moon, culminating in the first ever moon landing. Using button-memorizing and tapping sequences, kids aged six and up can control takeoff of the spaceship, separation into parts, landing on the moon, and a return to space. The graphics engine has radically improved over the developer’s past titles, now featuring impressive 3-D models and special effects that look like they could have come out of Super Mario Galaxy. The audio and storytelling is reasonable as well, albeit with some small details that could stand to be fixed. There’s a bit less actual Bean Bag character content than before, but the cool spaceship sequences and now interstellar scale of the artwork make up for that. Really young kids will find the button memorization sequences too challenging. Note that this app is currently available elsewhere and should be coming to the US App Store soon.

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Care Bears: Create & Share! (Free*) from Budge Studios lets kids create postcards with Care Bear art, greetings, and stamps, then e-mail or save them. The art portion of the app lets you pick from a wide variety of actual Care Bear colors and belly badges, as well as letting you create your own badges. Adult Care Bears and the new child character Wonderheart Bear are included. Greetings can either be typed or drawn, and kids can choose from different backgrounds, frames, and stamp designs before sending off their creations. You can even substitute a photograph of your face for the Care Bear’s face, if you’d like. While the app is free, most of the Care Bears’ bodies are locked behind a $4 in-app purchase that unlocks everything and removes ads — individual Bears can be purchased separately at a higher total cost. Unfortunately, the Good Luck Bear art remains locked even after the purchase, requiring you to promote the app on a social media service to unlock that feature, which may disappoint young kids.

Angry Birds Star Wars II launches Sept. 19

Rovio today announced that Angry Birds Star Wars II will be released on Sept. 19, notably paired with a line of “Telepods” toys that will interact with the game. According to Rovio, “Placing these figures onto your phone or tablet camera will scan your character of choice directly into the game, allowing you to select new characters on the fly.” The figures will be sold in stores for the September launch. More than 30 playable characters will be available in the game, which will focus on the Star Wars prequels.

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It’ll also be possible to “Join the Pork Side” in the game this time around, rather than playing with the heroic rebels. Rovio made a point of noting the company “will not comment on rumors or speculation that Jar Jar Binks will be in the game.” [via Rovio]

Time Inc. to offer free Newsstand magazine previews

Time Inc., publisher of Time Magazine and 20 other magazines, will offer free iOS Newsstand previews for all of its publications by year’s end. The magazines will let users read a few articles from a magazine, while teasing the rest of the content — the Entertainment Weekly iPad app is currently offering the feature in its latest issue. Time Inc. hopes to increase its number of digital-only subscribers with the move. Notably, the publisher didn’t reach an agreement with Apple on magazine sales until June of last year. [via AllThingsD]

Apps: Deus Ex: The Fall, If This Then That, Pacific Rim, Plants vs. Zombies 2

As the fourth game in Eidos’s well-respected Deus Ex series, Square Enix’s new universal release Deus Ex: The Fall ($7) is a remarkably rich first-person shooter—an original title that looks and plays far better than one would expect from a purely mobile release. Continuing the franchise’s dystopian cyberpunk storyline, The Fall includes all of the dual virtual stick exploration and upgradeable weaponry you’d expect from a typical FPS, plus hacking, strategic elements, and dialogue-based “choices” that affect the progress of the story. Players will be impressed by the sheer quantity of spoken dialog and explanatory cutscenes in the 800+MB title, as well as the large, respectably detailed environments and fluidly animated characters—all best viewed on Retina devices. iOS gamers looking for a simpler interface will appreciate touchscreen-ready tweaks, such as the option to tap-acquire targets and/or double-tap the ground to move without the virtual stick. Though the dark, heavily orange-tinted art doesn’t have the jaw-dropping beauty of Gameloft’s best FPS releases, Deus Ex makes up for optical omissions with greater originality and depth.

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Enjoyed by many web users, IFTTT (free) has come to iOS in app form. By using the statement “if this then that,” IFTTT allows users to automate a number of services and wireless devices when triggered by other actions. For instance, a user might instruct IFTTT that when a photo is taken, IFTTT should automatically save the photo to Dropbox. There are many possibilities using a number of services, including Facebook, Gmail, and Twitter, as well as devices such as Philips’ Hue, Belkin’s WeMo, and Jawbone’s UP.

Apps: Expedia 3.2, Microsoft OneNote 2.0, Pandora 4.4 + Pixter Scanner OCR 2.0

Expedia has updated its Expedia Hotels & Flights (free) app to version 3.2. Previously capable of helping users compare hotel and flight prices, the app now features local experts that can help users book reservations and find activities in Orlando, Las Vegas, and Hawaii, as well as synchronized FlightTrack integration for FlightTrack app users. Notably, the app is universal with a unique workaround for its still-in-progress iPad flight-booking interface: when switching from hotel search to flight search, the iPad app animates a transition to using an iPhone, right on the iPad screen. The updated app also offers more low-cost flights, and more countries, as users in India, Malaysia, Sinagpore, and Thailand can now book flights.

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Microsoft’s digital notebook Microsoft OneNote has updated its free app for iPad and iPhone to version 2.0. The app improves formatting and consistency across devices, and allows users to create or edit tables. Notes will now sync automatically to SkyDrive Pro and SharePoint. It’s also easier to view and find notes, with updated navigation and full page view. Ink annotations and rich text formatting are also now available.

iWork, iLife apps could go free in iOS 7

A change in iOS 7 beta 3 may allude to Apple making its iWork and iLife apps free in iOS 7. The recommended free Apple apps screen in the third beta now includes Apple’s iWork suite, as well as iPhoto and iMovie, though not GarageBand. This could be changed before final release, and may be an App Store glitch, but it appears to have been a deliberate addition to the list of free Apple downloads. Apple may want to make it easier for users to access its iWork suite, especially with the introduction of iWork for iCloud, and might also see the iPhoto and iMovie tools as worthy of giving away with iOS—similar to their bundling with OS X for the Mac. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple faces suit on default HD video downloads

Apple has been targeted in a class action suit for selling iTunes customers HD video downloads even when the customers had older devices that didn’t support HD. The suit was reportedly filed by a Florida lawyer who claimed Apple deceived him into paying an extra $1 for an HD version of a film. A complaint accuses Apple of making HD the default option for video downloads on the first three versions of the iPhone and iPod touch, even though the devices didn’t support HD playback. The downloaded videos would then play in standard definition. It’s alleged that iTunes could recognize an SD-only device, but would still sell the HD version of the video. Compensation is being sought for those who paid to download HD videos to the older devices. [via GigaOM]

Apple releases iOS 7 beta 3

Apple has released the third beta of iOS 7 to registered developers. The company released the second beta two weeks ago, and the first beta of iOS 7 two weeks before that. The third beta is now available through Software Update in iOS settings, and “contains bug fixes and improvements,” according to sparse notes. Additional details on newly added features will become available over the next several days.

Update: iOS 7 beta 3 has also been posted to Apple’s developer portal.

Top apps go free before App Store anniversary

A new “Only on the App Store” promotion has made a number of top iOS apps and games free from iTunes. Infinity Blade II, Where’s My Water?, Badland, Tiny Wings for iPhone and iPad, Superbrothers: Sword and Sorcery EP, Day One, Over, Barefoot World Atlas, Traktor DJ for iPhone and iPad and more are all currently free — Traktor DJ notably normally sells for $20.

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The apps have likely gone free to mark the upcoming fifth anniversary of the App Store. It’s unclear how long the apps will be available for free, or if other apps will be made free at some point. [via The Verge]

Update: Apple has noted the apps are free for a limited time as part of “5 Years of the App Store.” A timeline of App Store milestones can be viewed within the App Store. The promotion also includes How To Cook Everything for free, in addition to the apps listed above.

Apps: Angry Birds 3.2, Limbo, Vine 1.3 + Yahoo! Weather

Rovio’s original Angry Birds ($1) now features a brand new episode, Red’s Mighty Feathers, in which the Red Bird gains new powers from the Mighty Eagle. Instead of seeking to defeat the pigs, Red Bird is defending his eggs in this episode, making for a shift in gameplay. The new levels in version 3.2 also incorporate gameplay from Rovio’s Bad Piggies game, as the pigs advance in contraptions to steal eggs. Red’s Mighty Feathers features 15 new levels.

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Playdead’s acclaimed sidescroller Limbo ($5) finally makes its way to iOS. Having debuted for XBox Live Arcade in 2010, the game features a young boy making his way through a dark forest. A quiet, atmospheric game in black and white, Limbo gives users no indication on how to control its character or what to do next. It can leave gamers a bit lost at first when sending the boy into another gruesome death, but the trial-and-error nature of the game almost begs users to walk into certain death to figure out a better way to navigate its puzzles. The controls are intuitive, even when using a touchscreen. If you dig its creepy vibe, Limbo is certainly worth buying as a welcome twist to the sidescroller genre.

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