Marco Arment has released an update to Instapaper adding Background Update Locations, a new feature that allows users to configure the app to automatically download new articles when a user arrives at or leaves specific locations. Using a technique pioneered by News.me, the new feature leverages the Region Monitoring API introduced in iOS 5 which allows third-party applications to perform tasks when users enter or leave a location. With Instapaper 4.2.2 users can add up to 10 locations and Instapaper will update automatically whenever the users arrive at or leave any of those locations. Arment notes in his blog that these locations are used only within the app itself and not shared or sent to Instapaper’s servers or any other web service. He also indicates that the use of the geofencing feature by Instapaper does not appear to have any impact on battery life on either the iPhone or iPad. Instapaper 4.2.2 is available from the App Store for $5. Background Update Locations requires an iPhone 4/4S, iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G or third-generation iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular.
iOS 6, the upcoming version of Apple’s operating system for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, will offer rewritten versions of the stock applications and Facebook integration, according to a pair of new reports. Citing a source with deep connections to Apple, iDownloadBlog claims that iOS 6 will offer stock applications that feature improved capabilities and some “major surprises”, but will look nearly identical to iOS 5 when looking at the lock or Home screens. “Basically, you wont know it is iOS 6 until you launch apps”, said the source. Separately, TechCrunch reports that iOS 6 will offer Facebook integration. The report claims that the sharing options and interface will likely be very similar to the Twitter integration found in iOS 5, and that the move should allow for more seamless handling of Facebook authentication within applications. Apple is expected to introduce iOS 6 during its keynote address at WWDC on June 11.
Photos claiming to show bits and pieces of Apple’s revamped Maps application for iOS 6 have been posted online. Citing a trusted source who supplied both information and photos, BGR reports that the app will feature a refreshed interface and a new navigation bar. The bar in the new Maps is said to be silver, instead of blue—potentially indicating a system-wide switch away from the blue-tinted navigation bars that have dominated Apple’s built-in apps since the iPhone launched in 2007—and the app is said to sport a floating locate me button in the bottom left corner. The report goes on to state that users will be able to access the new 3D mode by peeling back the lower right hand corner—similar to the current version of Maps—and that once enabled, you can toggle 3D on/off using a dedicated button that sits to the right of the location button. Judging by the photos, it appears Apple’s new mapping offering will look at least somewhat similar to the maps seen in iPhoto for iOS, which was the first Apple-built iOS app to rely on in-house mapping technology.
Sony Entertainment Network has released an official iOS app for its Music Unlimited streaming music service. Music Unlimited is a subscription-based cloud music service with a global catalog of over 15 million licensed songs available on such devices as the sony PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, BRAVIA TVs and Android smartphones and tablets. Use of the service requires payment of a monthly subscription fee. A Basic subscription ($4/month) allows users to sync and match their own personal music libraries with the Music Unlimited service and access and stream that music from any supported device along with a basic set of streaming radio channels; a Premium subscription ($10/month) provides users with access to the entire Music Unlimited collection for on-demand streaming with the ability to create playlists, add items to their personal listening libraries and listen to premium content channels.
The new iPhone and iPod touch app provides subscribers with access to their Music Unlimited subscriptions from their iOS devices streamed over either a Wi-Fi or cellular network connection. Premium subscribers can also add songs to their personal libraries for faster access, add to and edit playlists and browse Premium Channels and top songs in favourite genres. The Music Unlimited app requires iOS 4.3 or later and a subscription to the Music Unlimited service and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Epic Games and Chair Entertainment have released Infinity Blade II: Vault of Tears, the latest major content update for the critically acclaimed iOS game. Available as a free update, Vault of Tears adds a large collection of new single player content as well new social features for the game’s ClashMob multiplayer update released last month.
In Vault of Tears players delve further into Siris’ mysterious past with new areas available to explore and a plethora of new enemies to encounter. A new Treasure Map feature allows players to discover hidden items and rewards as well as searching out a hidden ally. New enemies include the Mass Golem, Dark Fiend, Bog Giant, Acolyte and more along with a collection of over 50 new items to collect and master. Several new achievements have also been added along with unique gems to forge and a few other hidden surprises.
ClashMob players can also now earn extra turns and invite non-Infinity Blade players on their social networks to do in-game damage by liking the player’s battle calls on Facebook or re-tweeting them on Twitter. Players can also earn bonus plays by liking and commenting on the official Facebook post and retweeting the official tweet for the active ClashMob challenge. Infinity Blade II is currently available from the App Store for $3 for a limited time.
A new part claimed to be the front panel of a fifth-generation iPod touch has surfaced online, suggesting that the device will sport a substantially larger screen. MacRumors reports that the part, which appears to be for a white iPod touch, sports a 4.1-inch opening for the display. As Apple would be unlikely to increase the size of the iPod touch’s screen without doing the same for the iPhone—the two devices have traditionally shared the same screen size—the part, if genuine, represents the first physical evidence to support the release of an iPhone with a larger screen. While the report points out that the 4.1-inch opening is slightly out of line with prior reports of 4- or 3.95-inch screens for the next iPhone, it seems likely that some portion of the interior will be taken up by black space between the edges of the opening and the screen itself—as is the case with current iPhone and iPod touch models—and is therefore sized appropriately for a 4-inch screen. Also mentioned in the report are purported home button, front camera, and rear camera parts for the next iPhone; these parts are said to be in the “verification” stage.
Ravensburger Digital has launched Scotland Yard, bringing the popular board game to the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. In Scotland Yard, players take on the role of one of five Scotland Yard detectives or the elusive Mister X. Detective players must work together to travel throughout London using a limited number of taxi, bus and underground tickets in an attempt to locate and capture Mister X, who must in turn attempt to evade capture by the detectives, leaving only occasional appearances and his discarded transit tickets as clues to his whereabouts.
The iOS adaptation remains largely faithful to the original classic board game, adding a few new twists such as a new night-themed London setting along with HD graphics for the iPhone and iPad Retina Display. The game is designed for 3-6 players who can participate via pass-and-play on a single device or using local Bluetooth/Wi-Fi or online Game Center multiplayer across multiple devices; a single player mode is also supported with other pieces being played by the AI. Voice and text chat is also supported in multiplayer games allowing players to easily coordinate their moves and strategy, and an integrated tutorial provides new players with easy instructions for getting started in the game. Scotland Yard is a universal app and is available from the App Store for $5.
Mentions and appearances of Apple products on TV were up in 2011, according to a new report. Citing numbers from researcher Nielsen, Apple products were discussed or shown 891 times on TV in 2011, up from 613 in 2009. In addition, the company’s iDevices (iPhones, iPads, and iPods) appeared in more than 40 percent of weekly box office-topping films—nearly twice as often as the next most common brands, according to Brandchannel. Unlike most companies, Apple refuses to pay for product placement in movies or TV shows, although it has been known to hand out freebies. “Apple won’t pay to have their products featured, but they are more than willing to hand out an endless amount of computers, iPads, and iPhones,” said Curb Your Enthusiasm producer Gavin Polone. “It’s kind of a graft situation.”
Apple may launch both developer-accessible Siri APIs and Siri for iPad with the release of iOS 6, according to a new report. Citing an anonymous source, TechCrunch reports that the software, codenamed “Sundance”, will indeed feature a new, Apple-based replacement for Google Maps in the Maps application, and while the 3D mapping feature is said to be neat, it is also unlikely to be used very often. The report goes on to state that there have been “whispers” backing up the idea that Apple might announce a set of developer-accessible APIs for Siri, which would also make its debut on the iPad in iOS 6. Regarding the latter, the report claims that the difficulty with Siri on the iPad has been in designing a UI for the larger screen, rather than any technical challenge.
Finally, the report claims that new iCloud functionality and deep ties to OS X Mountain Lion will also be key parts of the software, which it claims may arrive at the same time as a completely revamped version of iTunes, and potentially even a “full-on Spotify competitor.” Apple is expected to unveil iOS 6 at its Worldwide Developers Conference next month.
Apple will drop Google Maps as the backend to its built-in Maps application for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, according to a new report. Citing trusted sources, 9to5Mac reports that Apple will make the move in iOS 6, and will replace Google’s mapping solution with an in-house mapping service built upon technology from acquisitions Placebase, C3 Technologies, and Poly9. The report claims that the application design is “fairly similar” to the current Maps app, but is described as a much cleaner, faster, and more reliable experience. The new app will also feature a new 3D mode built upon technology from C3 Technolgies, and, according to the report, and the change will be signified with a redrawn icon. The report claims that iOS 6 is likely to appear at Apple’s WWDC conference in June.
Gameloft has released the third instalment in its popular sci-fi FPS series, Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance. N.O.V.A. 3 puts players back in the role of Kal Wardin, four months after the climactic events of the prior game; Wardin, who has been keeping a low profile in the aftermath of the assassination of President Folsom, suddenly receives a desperate message from Yelena to travel to Earth where he must again rise to save mankind.
This latest title expands upon the epic storyline of the series with the return of humanity to Earth after years of exile, taking the player across the galaxy through ten immersive levels. Players are given multiple weapons and power ups to master including driving vehicles and piloting mechs and can also engage in multiplayer games with up to 11 other players. Six different game modes and six maps are available for multiplayer games, and multiple allies can now share a vehicle on the battlefield. N.O.V.A. 3 also takes advantage of the latest iPhone and iPad hardware to deliver high-resolution, console-quality graphics with features such as real-time dynamic lighting and shadows, ragdoll physics and more. N.O.V.A. 3 is a universal app requiring an iPhone 3GS/4/4S, third- or fourth-generation iPod touch or iPad with iOS 4.0 or later and is available from the App Store for $7.
Fishlabs has released an update to Sports Car Challenge for iOS adding the Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 to its fleet lineup. A joint project with Volkswagen China, Sports Car Challenge is a 3D racing simulator that allows users to race a collection of high-performance sports cars from Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche and Volkswagen. The game provides realistic driving physics, handling and performance modelling for each sports car along with high-quality graphics for both the exterior and interior details. Players can compete in time trial, slalom and braking game challenges across a number of different race courses and more regular content updates are expected to add additional new cars and tracks in the future. Sports Car Challenge is a universal app and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Apple today released iOS 5.1.1 for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. According to Apple’s release notes, iOS 5.1.1 contains several improvements and bug fixes, including improvements for HDR photos taken using the Lock Screen shortcut, a fix for bugs that could prevent the third-generation iPad from switching between 2G and 3G networks, fixes for bugs that affected AirPlay video playback, improved reliability for syncing Safari bookmarks and Reading List, and a fix for an issue where an “Unable to purchase” alert could be displayed following a successful purchase. iOS 5.1.1 is compatible with the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad, iPad 2, third-generation iPod touch, and fourth-generation iPod touch, and is available now via the update feature in iTunes or as an over-the-air update. To update your iOS device over-the-air, open Settings, tap on General, and tap on Software Update.
Chillingo has released an update to its highly-acclaimed physics puzzler Contre Jour HD (iLounge Rating: A) adding support for the iPad Retina Display along with 20 new levels. Contre Jour HD challenges players to move a small creature through a variety of levels consisting of resculptable platforms, ropes and slingshots to collect glowing lights and reach the exit while avoiding various obstacles and pitfalls. The latest update adds 20 new levels set in a jungle environment along with new movable tentacles and platforms; a bonus ending sequence is also now available for players who manage to collect all 300 lights in the game. In addition, players can now purchase the Contre Jour Soundtrack, produced by David Ari Leon, from directly within the game. Contre Jour HD is a universal app and is available from the App Store for $3.
Halfbrick Studios has released a major new content update to its hit game, Jetpack Joyride, adding a multitude of new gadgets along with new achievements and missions. Jetpack Joyride is a side scrolling action/adventure game that puts players in the role of Barry Steakfries who breaks into a secret laboratory to commandeer experimental jetpacks from a group of evil scientists and must use them to escape from the lab. Version 1.3 adds 15 new gadgets such as Air Barry sneakers for leaping obstacles, Nerd Repellant for avoiding scientists, an Insta-Ball for gaining a few extra meters by bouncing off the floor and many more crazy and cool new items to help push the envelope, earn higher scores and just generally have fun with. Along with the new collection of gear, the update adds four new Game Center achievements to unlock and a new set of missions to challenge players to make best use of the new toys. Jetpack Joyride is available from the App Store as a free download.
During Apple’s second-quarter 2012 financial results conference call, Apple CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer made a number of comments related to Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and iPod businesses.
Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO, opened the conference call by calling attention to the company’s record March quarter, which he said was fueled primarily by strong iPhone and iPad sales. He said that iPod sales, though down year-over-year, were ahead of internal projections, and as with the past few quarters, the iPod touch accounted for over half of iPod sales. Regarding the iTunes Store, Oppenheimer said that the catalog now includes over 28 million songs and 45,000 movies.
iPhone sales more than doubled in the Asia Pacific region, according to Oppenheimer, who added that the January launch of the iPhone 4S in China and the addition of China Telecom as a second carrier were responsible for a lot of growth. Cook later stated that the company saw 3X year-over-year revenue growth in China. Oppenheimer said that the manufacturing ramps for both the iPhone 4S and the third-generation iPad were extremely successful, which enabled the company to fulfill demand in the March quarter, compared to the June quarter last year. As a result, the company is expecting a sequential decline in iPhone sales.
The company was “very pleased” with iPad sales during the quarter—including sales of the third-generation model, which is now available in over 40 countries. iPad sales more than doubled in each segment, and as a result, the company is slightly supply-constrained. Oppenheimer said that the iPad is about to enter the K-12 institution buying season, which the company expects to boost sales, and later added that the company is selling third-generation iPad units as fast as it can make them.
When asked about what the company is learning about lower price points on the iPhone and iPad, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company is thrilled with the results they’ve seen thus far, although obviously it’s only been a few weeks. He added that the lower price of the iPad 2 unlocked some education demand, probably more price-sensitive customers, and in some countries, there was a marked change in demand. The company is not sure yet what the mix of third-gen iPad to iPad 2 will be, but said that on absolute sales of the iPad 2, what the company is seeing is exciting. Cook went on to say that the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 contributed to the 35 million in iPhone sales—the company’s second biggest quarter in terms of iPhone sales.
Overall, more than 365 million iOS devices have been sold, and the App Store now offers over 600,000 apps, 200,000 of which are built specifically for the iPad. Oppenheimer added that iCloud now has over 125 million customers signed up.
Finally, when asked about the company’s ongoing legal disputes, Cook said that he has always hated litigation, and just wants companies to invent their own stuff. He added that if Apple could reach agreements where it would be guaranteed that companies would be using their own inventions, and that included a fair settlement on stuff that’s occurred, it would be happy to settle instead of battle. That said, he added that Apple can’t become the developer for the world—that the company needs people to invent their own stuff.
Reporting its second quarter 2012 financial results today, Apple said it sold 35.1 million iPhones in the quarter, an 88 percent increase year-over-year, but down slightly from 37.04 million units in the prior quarter. Apple sold 11.8 million iPads during the quarter, up 151 percent from the year-ago quarter and down from 15.43 million units in the first quarter of 2012. Finally, the company said it sold 7.7 million iPods during the quarter — a 15 percent decrease compared to the same quarter last year. Unit sales of iPhones, iPads, and iPods bring the cumulative totals for the three device categories to 218.1 million, 67.08 million, and 344.28 million, respectively.
Apple posted revenue of $39.19 billion and net quarterly profit of $11.6 billion, or $12.30 per diluted share, compared with revenue of $24.67 billion and net quarterly profit of $5.99 billion, or $6.40 per diluted share in Q2 2011. Revenue from Other Music Related Products and Services, which includes revenue from the iTunes Store, App Store, and iBookstore in addition to sales of iPod services and Apple-branded and third-party iPod accessories, was $2.027 billion for the quarter, up 32 percent year-over-year and down 6 percent over the prior quarter.
“We’re thrilled with sales of over 35 million iPhones and almost 12 million iPads in the March quarter,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “The new iPad is off to a great start, and across the year you’re going to see a lot more of the kind of innovation that only Apple can deliver.”
“Our record March quarter results drove $14 billion in cash flow from operations,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO. “Looking ahead to the third fiscal quarter, we expect revenue of about $34 billion and diluted earnings per share of about $8.68.”
Apple is testing a new system which would automatically backup the device of any customer seeking an iOS device exchange or replacement at an Apple Store Genius Bar, according to a new report. Citing retail sources, 9to5Mac reports that the system is based on a wireless server that would securely and temporarily store a user’s content locally, then automatically wipe the content once the device swap is made. The report indicates that this backup information could come from iCloud or the device itself, and that this solution is preferable to simply relying on an iCloud backup as the process of restoring from an iCloud backup is typically takes too long. The system is said to be in the very early stages of testing, and should it launch, Apple is planning to pilot the system in a few select store by mid-2013, with a full-scale launch coming later that year.
Apple has released Configurator 1.0.1, the latest version of its mass deployment tool for iOS devices. Originally debuted in March, Configurator enables schools, businesses, and other institutions to configure up to 30 iOS devices at a time, update software, create and restore backups of settings and app data, and more. According to the release notes, version 1.0.1 improves overall stability and performance, and address a number of issues, including those related to the import and installation of .ipa files, redemption codes, note and bookmark deletion, WPA2 passwords, and backup name editing. Apple Configurator 1.0.1 is available now as a free download from the Mac App Store. [via MDN]
In anticipation of the upcoming release of Marvel’s The Avengers movie, Disney Publishing Worldwide has released two new storybook apps based on the Marvel Origins series with narration by the legendary Stan Lee. In Avengers Origins: Hulk ($2), readers discover the story of Dr. Bruce Banner’s initial transformation into the Incredible Hulk accompanied by detailed artwork and animations. Interactive touch-screen activities add to the storyline with users able to perform Hulk actions such as testing their strength, breaking through walls and stopping tanks.
Avengers Origins: Assemble ($2) provides readers with an introduction to the pantheon of Marvel Super Heroes such as Iron Man, Captain America and Thor. The app tells the story of war-hero Captain America who is trapped in the frozen North after a particularly dangerous and must be rescued seven decades later to join with the other Avengers to fight for the future of Earth and defend the planet from evil. In addition to action-packed artwork, sound effects and music, the app includes a collection of interactive challenges for readers including matching heroic accessories with the appropriate Super Heroes, using Thor’s powers and the Hulk’s strength to stop the Atlanteans and Namor and melt in the ice to free Captain America from his frozen prison.
The two storybook apps are designed for readers of all ages and include Read to Me, Read by Myself, Auto-Turn and Younger Reader Modes for enjoyment by children as young as 4-10 years of age. Both apps are universal for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch and require iOS 4.0 or later.