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2014 iPad iPhone iPod Buyers' Guide from iLounge.com

News

Apps: Press Here, Procreate 1.8, Reeder 3.2 + Samurai Shodown II

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.

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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.

Apps: Contra: Evolution, Foodspotting 4.0, Google Earth 7.1.1 + Jetpack Joyride 1.5

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.

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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.

iOS 7 lets devs detect blinking, smiling in photos

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]

Apps: Amazon Instant Video 1.4.3, iTunes U 1.3.1 + Rdio 2.2.1

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.

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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 releases iOS 7 beta 2 (Update: iPad release)

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.

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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.

Apps: Instagram 4.0, Lytro, Modern Combat 4 1.1 + XCOM: Enemy Unknown

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.

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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.

Report: Apple testing iOS 7 LinkedIn integration

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]

Apps: Gangstar Vegas, Man of Steel, Photo Cube WiFi 3.59 + Play-Doh Create ABCs

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.

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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 site reveals iOS 7 for iPad, alternate icons

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.

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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 app arrives for iPhone, iPod

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.

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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.

Apps: Angry Birds Star Wars 1.3, Myspace 3.0.1, QR Reader 3.5 + Word Lens 2.1.1

Rovio’s Angry Birds Star Wars ($1) has upgraded to version 1.3.0, and with it comes Lando Bird, a bird based on Billy Dee Williams’ famously suave Lando Calrissian. The game picks up at the point where Lando Bird is joining the Rebel Alliance, for those trying to keep their Star Wars and Star Wars Angry Birds timelines in order. Rovio has added 20 new Cloud City levels, new power-ups, new bonus levels, and a new boss fight — players can now take on Lard Vader. The same updates have been added to the iPad-only Angry Birds Star Wars HD ($3).

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Myspace has completely revamped its free Myspace app to match the changes on its site. The new app now has a GIF creator and Social Radio, which allows users to create personal radio stations, like Pandora. It’s easier to connect with people through People Browse, and a number of other social sharing features have been added. There’s a heavier emphasis on music — will it be enough to get people talking about Myspace again?

iOS 7 increases Bluetooth LE integration

Apple’s iOS 7 is adding improved integration for Bluetooth 4 LE (low-energy) accessories. iOS devices will work with more Bluetooth 4 accessories, and include new features for time, notifications, stereo sound, keyboards and more. An ability to sense location beacons will make location awareness much more precise. It will also be possible to set up and configure Wi-Fi accessories from iOS. Bluetooth will also be linked to the Apple Notification Center Service and Preservation and Restoration service. The ANCS allows for push notifications to Bluetooth Smart accessories. The Preservation and Restoration Service can figure out why an app was terminated, or to continue running an app, whereas in iOS 6, an app would stop talking to a Bluetooth device in such situations. [via 9to5Mac]

iOS 7: Redeem iTunes gift cards with camera

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iOS 7 users will be able to redeem iTunes gift cards using the device’s camera, thanks to an addition to the upcoming operating system’s App Store. iTunes for the Mac added the same feature last year, and it makes even more sense to bring the option to iOS devices. Additionally, the ability to read barcodes is built into iOS 7, opening up greater possibilities from third-party developers going forward. [via 9to5Mac]

Report: Many iOS 7 icons designed by Apple marketing

Many of the new icons in Apple’s recently revealed iOS 7 were “primarily designed by members of Apple’s marketing and communications department,” according to a report. Apple Senior VP of Industrial Design Jony Ive reportedly used the print and web marketing design team to “set the look and color palette of the stock app icons.” The app design teams then designed the icons using those set palettes as a guide. Sources also said there are “inconsistencies in icon design,” and it’s been noted that iOS 7’s first beta is “mid stride” and a “work in progress,” fueling speculation that there could be a fair number of changes to the new OS by the time it’s ready for full release in the Fall. [via The Next Web]

iOS 7 now warns on non-certified Lightning accessories

iOS 7 detects when non-certified Lightning accessories are connected to iOS devices, and offers an onscreen warning: “This cable or accessory is not certified and may not work reliably with this (iPod/iPhone/iPad).” The message appeared when connecting a non-certified accessory.

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Despite the warning, the message can be dismissed, and users can continue to use a non-certified accessory. The current version of iOS 7 is only a first beta version, and the message may be changed or eliminated by the time the software is officially released. [via 9to5mac]

Apps: Airport Utility 1.3, PGA TOUR Caddie, RunKeeper 3.5 + Yelp 6.8

Apple’s AirPort Utility (free) manages Wi-Fi networks and AirPort base stations — AirPort Express, Extreme, and Time Capsule — from an iOS device. The newly released version 1.3 lets users configure and manage the new AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule with 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

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PGA TOUR Caddie (free) by Shotzoon Software is an amazing app for golfers. TOUR Caddie offers GPS access to 500,000 greens across more than 40,000 golf courses worldwide, and a 3-D flyover preview lets golfers visualize each hole. Golfers can track and record each shot, including clubs used and round info, as well as comparing statistics to other golfers with similar handicaps. Additionally, the in-app TOURAcademy purchase ($10 per year) offers tips and drills video from instructors, and TOURCaddie PRO (free 30-day trial, $30 per year) gives golfers real-time distances to hazards and targets on each hole, and on-the-spot club recommendations based on performance.

iOS 7 beta 1 now available to developers

As announced earlier at today’s Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple has released the first beta of iOS 7 to registered iOS developers. Carrying a build number of 11A4372q, the beta is available for all models of the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, and iPhone 4, as well as the fifth-generation iPod touch.

An iOS 7 beta for the iPad is not yet available and was announced as coming later this month. The beta downloads are also accompanied by a beta of Xcode 5 with the iOS 7 SDK, a pre-release Apple TV Software version for the second- and third-generation Apple TV, and a beta version of Find My iPhone for the new security features in iOS 7. The beta is available now to registered iOS developers from Apple’s iOS Dev Center.

Apple posts iOS 7 in action page

Apple has launched an iOS 7 page, showcasing the features of its newly announced mobile operating system. The iOS 7 introduction video is available on the site, in addition to 12 new or updated iOS 7 features, shown in action.

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These features include: Control Center, Notification Center, Multitasking, iTunes Radio, Photos, AirDrop, Camera, Safari, Siri, Mail, Weather, and Messages. Links on the page let readers get a closer look at the new design and features.

WWDC: iTunes Radio announced

Apple announced iTunes Radio, the company’s long-rumored streaming music service. iTunes Radio is a free, ad-supported service, and it’s ad-free for iTunes Match users. The Pandora-esque service lets users choose featured music stations, or create their own stations based on specific artists. iTunes Radio keeps track of played songs within its history. Initially launching in the U.S., iTunes Radio is built into the iOS 7 Music app, and it will also be built into iTunes for Mac, PC, and Apple TV.

WWDC: Apple debuts iOS 7

Apple CEO Tim Cook announced iOS 7, the company’s latest operating system for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Touting amazing new features and a “stunning new user interface,” iOS 7 represents a significant departure from the well-known iOS software design, delivering an entirely new UI structure with refined typography, redesigned icons, and a new color palette. The new UI also involves more transparency, layered effects, and new animation and motion. iOS 7 was described by Cook as “the biggest change to iOS since the iPhone.”

The App Store now updates apps automatically. Notification Center is now accessible from the lock screen. Multiple pages are now possible within folders. Swiping up from the bottom of the screen now activates Control Center, which allows users to adjust brightness, volume, playback controls, Do Not Disturb, and more, while accessing a flashlight option as well. All apps will now allow multitasking, and iOS 7 uses “intelligent scheduling” to refresh app information. A double-click on the home button lets users swipe left and right through all open apps to multitask. An updated weather app, calendar, and messages were shown off in a demonstration.

Safari for iOS 7 has a full-screen interface with swipe navigation for browsing. Tabs for Safari now give a preview of the page, while scrolling up-and-down, and there’s no longer an 8-tab limit. AirDrop for iOS 7 lets users share securely encrypted files with nearby users over peer-to-peer Wi-Fi. Filters have been added to Camera, and a new Photos app makes it easier for users to organize photos with its new Collections feature.

Siri has been updated with a new interface and new voices — female or male. French and German voices are available with other languages to be added “over time.” Siri can now do more commands such as “turn on Bluetooth” or “increase brightness.” Twitter, Wikipedia, and Bing have also been integrated into Siri. iOS in the Car was announced, featuring integration into the display screens of cars.

A new “Activation Lock” feature has also been introduced that will prevent a stolen iPhone from being re-activated—even after a full wipe—without entering the original owner’s iCloud Apple ID and password.

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