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.
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.
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.
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., 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]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Based on the acclaimed kids’ book by Herve Tullet, Press Here: The App from Chronicle Books is available for iPad ($2) and iPhone ($1) — the latter as a “small version.” The app features 15 simple games and activities, focused on the three colored dots featured in the considerably more expensive books. Though the app version appears to be simplistic in design, Press Here uses its basic dots to spark imagination and problem solving, testing memory, artistic abilities, and much more.
Procreate ($5), an iPad app from Savage Interactive that lets users illustrate and create, has updated to version 1.8. So many new things have been added — a freehand selection tool, a new copy-and-pastesystem, painting and brush improvements, transform improvements, and a new interface for creating a canvas, amongst other tweaks. A number of other experiences have been improved, including interface animations and redesigned menus. The app also now supports Adonit’s Jot Touch 4.
Contra: Evolution finally makes its official App Store debut. The Konami game brought to iOS by PunchBox Studios is out for the iPhone ($1) and iPad ($3) — the latter as Contra: EvolutionHD. The gameplay looks like classic Contra, and the graphics are sharp. Notably, a number of in-app purchases are available within the game.
Foodspotting has updated its free app to version 4.0, with the most notable addition being the Food Camera. The Food Camera gives users a bevy of new options when photographing food, including the built-in ability to take and compare multiple photos of one dish. New gestures allow users to adjust and lock focus, while adjusting the exposure independently. It’s also now possible to select multiple photos for comparison, in addition to being able to zoom on photos to select the sharpest shot of a dish.
New image detectors that recognize facial expressions — such as blinking or smiling — have been added to iOS 7 beta 2, according to a report. Facial recognition has been around since iOS 5, but the new APIs could allow developers to add new features based on particular expressions, such as taking a photo when no one in the frame is blinking. Although at this point the feature only appears in the underlying iOS APIs, it’s possible that Apple could include new features in its own Camera app for the official release of iOS 7, as new Camera features are usually instituted with each new OS. [via 9to5Mac]
Amazon Mobile’s Amazon Instant Video (free) has updated to version 1.4.3, which makes finding videos faster and easier using a dropdown menu on the home screen or a navigation bar on the browse screens. More personalized carousels have also been added to the home screen. However, the app still notably lacks AirPlay support.
Apple has updated iTunes U (free) to version 1.3.1. Users can now check for course updates by using pull-to-refresh animation. The updated app also resolves issues regarding updating content and quitting unexpectedly. Support for Arabic, French, German, Greek, Italian, Russian, and Spanish languages have also been improved.
Rdio (free) has updated to version 2.2.1, and the app now offers Song Stations — users can create a station based on any song. It’s possible to see four upcoming tracks and skipping is unlimited. The new AutoPlay feature lets users hear more songs similar to the song they just heard. In related news, Rdio also announced the ability to add up to five members to a family plan.
Apple has released the second beta of iOS 7 to registered developers, just two weeks after the first beta release of the new operating system. The second beta is available through Software Update in iOS settings.
iOS 7 beta 2 is a 237 MB update that contains bug fixes and improvements. The update will also be available through Apple’s developer portal.
Update: iPad versions of iOS 7 are now available in the second beta, which is now available on Apple’s developer portal.
Burbn’s popular photo-sharing app Instagram (free) has added video in version 4.0. The addition will provoke comparisons to Vine, but the two are much different: Instagram video lets users take video clips as long as 15 seconds, and 13 video filters are also available. Videos notably do not loop, as they do in Vine. Cinema, an image stabilization feature, is available for those using the app on an iPhone 4S or 5.
Lytro, maker of the Lytro Light Field Camera, has released a Lytro (free) app for iOS. The company has awakened the camera’s hitherto-unknown Wi-Fi capabilities in order to interact with the app, letting users share photos to Facebook and Twitter. Lytro’s app also lets users save photos as animated GIFs that can be emailed or sent via text. The Lytro Light Field Camera lets users refocus pictures after they’re taken, and allows interactive “living pictures” to be refocused endlessly—a neat technology that our editors felt wasn’t ready for prime time after testing the camera.
Apple is reportedly testing “deep LinkedIn integration” for the release of iOS 7. Similar to prior integration of Facebook and Twitter, a single sign-on system for LinkedIn accounts was found within code in the first beta of iOS 7. Apple could introduce this feature in the final release of iOS 7, but it’s also possible that it could vanish entirely after internal testing. An earlier report regarding Apple’s plans to integrate Flickr and Vimeo into iOS 7 for photo and video sharing turned out to be true. However, the rationale behind deeply integrating LinkedIn isn’t as obvious, unless it’s merely to offer users easy access to yet another social network. [via 9to5Mac]
Gangstar Vegas ($7) is the latest installment in Gameloft’s Gangstar series. Like earlier Gangstar titles, it’s a sandbox-style action and driving game in the Grand Theft Auto mold, letting you walk, fight, steal cars, and fire weapons across multiple missions. This edition notably includes an impressive rendition of Las Vegas, featuring renamed versions of many of the famous Strip hotels, including the pyramid-like Luxor, Treasure Island, and Wynn. Within minutes of starting the game, you get to experience an updated melee fighting engine complete with kickboxing moves, a vehicular gun and rocket launcher battle on the strip, and the use of several different kinds of vehicles. Amazingly detailed human character models have some of the most realistic faces we’ve seen in any iOS title, and like the GTA series, full voice acting and radio-like music selections are included.
Man of Steel ($3) by Warner Bros. was released last week, just before the movie of the same name hit theaters. Developed by Phosphor Games — and unfortunately sold in separate iPad (HD) and iPhone/iPod versions — Man of Steel finds Superman getting into a series of one-on-one fights with opponents from the film, as well as other characters. The graphics engine is pretty impressive, with nice character models, textures, and destructible 3-D backgrounds that Superman can punch enemies through, but the gameplay is somewhat shoddy. Simple swipe and dodge controls make for fights that are like neutered versions of Infinity Blade battles, interrupted every time Superman hurls an opponent backwards through the air. Despite some impressive touches, Man of Steel feels rushed and not entirely satisfying.
Apple has revealed some additional details about iOS 7 on its website. Images of iOS 7 on the iPad and iPad mini were spotted on the bottom of the Apple iOS 7 features page, showing iOS 7 on the second- and fourth-generation iPad, in addition to the iPad mini. A new red icon representing Photo Booth can be seen in these photos.
Additionally, viewing Apple’s iOS7 design page using a mobile device reveals a few alternate icons. The weather icon shows the live temperature, instead of a cloud and sun, and the Passbook, Reminders, Mail, and Photos icons also have been tweaked slightly. It’s unknown whether these alternate icons were from the iOS 7 developmental stage, or if they’ll be seen in future betas. [via iGen.fr, 9to5Mac]
Microsoft Office has finally launched for iOS, through the Office Mobile for Office 365 subscribers app. Notably, the app is only compatible with iPhone 5, 4S, 4, and the fifth-generation iPod touch — there is no iPad version. Though the app is free, an Office 365 subscription is required for use, as is iOS 6.1 or later.
Users of the app can edit Word, Excel, and Powerpoint documents. Other features include offline editing, cloud-connected documents, and the ability to create Word and Excel documents.