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2014 iPad iPhone iPod Buyers' Guide from iLounge.com

News

New apps aim to fix iOS 7 wallpaper issues

Several recent applications have been released to remedy issues users have discovered with iOS 7’s moving wallpapers — namely, unintuitive changes in the ways iOS 7 resizes and positions photographs when used as wallpapers. Michael Belanger’s Fix My Wallpaper ($1) lets users zoom in and out on wallpaper photos, customize colors, and more. Wallpaper Fix ($1) from Bernhard Obereder promises quick resizing and positioning; this app locked up repeatedly during brief testing on an iPad Air. Another wallpaper resizing app is Brijit Sheelia’s Wallax ($1). All of the apps enable you to get a better sense of how an image will appear on the iOS device’s Lock and/or Home Screens, but one may have specific features that appeal to you.

Apple quietly releases 74% iOS 7 adoption estimate

Apple has released iOS 7 adoption statistic on its developer website, unusually nestling the information within an App Store Distribution section of the site. The company claims that “74% of devices are using iOS 7,” though it’s interesting how Apple reached that number. It says that the 74% was “as measured by the App Store during a 7‑day period ending December 1, 2013,” which would rule out iOS users who didn’t visit the App Store in that given week, a different and less absolute metric than has been offered by the company in the past. By contrast, Apple suggests that 22 percent of devices are using iOS 6, with 4 percent of devices still using an older edition of iOS.

Apps: Assassin’s Creed Pirates, Doctor Who: Legacy, Double Dragon Trilogy + Foursquare 7.0

Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Pirates ($5) is an Assassin’s Creed game in name only, with only the most modest link to the console games. Instead of tracking down human targets from a first-person perspective, Pirates puts players behind the wheel of a pirate ship. It’s a turn-based naval battle game with very modest need for quick interactions, and players can upgrade their weapons, crew, and ships as the game progresses. You might enjoy it as long as you can distance your expectations from the Assassin’s Creed name; the graphics are extremely impressive, apart from the odd juxtaposition of cutout-like 2-D art atop fully 3-D worlds and ships.

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Doctor Who: Legacy from Tiny Rebel Games (free) has arrived, likely much to the delight of the multitudes of Whovians. A turn-based puzzle/strategy game, Doctor Who: Legacy lets players revisit old episodes from the TV series. Episodes from seasons six and seven are available at launch, with more episodes and characters to be added daily.

Bluetooth 4.1 announced as free update for 4.0 devices

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group has announced the newest version of the Bluetooth specification, Bluetooth 4.1. Bluetooth 4.1 promises new features that will allow the spec to “work seamlessly” with LTE. Better connections will allow manufacturers to control the reconnection time interval — devices can reconnect automatically when in proximity to each other, and disconnect when apart, allowing for improved battery life and a better user experience. Bulk data transfer will allow for a more efficient transfer of data gathered away from one’s home computer — the example given by the Bluetooth SIG notes an efficient transfer of exercise data. A Bluetooth device can also now act as both a peripheral and a hub at the same time, allowing for greater interaction between devices. Most interestingly, Bluetooth 4.1 is an over-the-air update that won’t require the purchase of new devices — the Bluetooth SIG recommends that manufacturers “immediately” implement Bluetooth 4.1 in their devices.

Startup uses iBeacon to allow Newsstand publication access

Exact Editions, a British digital publishing startup, is using Apple’s iBeacon technology to allow readers to access its titles for free in certain locations. A report suggests the tech could be used within a coffee shop or waiting room, as the publisher could sell multi-magazine subscriptions to businesses and locations. Macy’s also disclosed that it will be using iBeacon to trigger offers in different parts of its stores as part of a pilot program, and a number of Major League Baseball teams have expressed interest in using the technology within their stadiums. [via TechCrunch]

Apps: Jetpack Joyride 1.6, The Lonely Beast 123, LoryStripes + Shazam 7.2

Jetpack Joyride (free), the popular endless runner from Halfbrick Studios has updated to version 1.6 with a number of new features. Strong Arm Machine or S.A.M. mode turns the protagonist, Barry Steakfries, into a giant robot. Using S.A.M. five days in a row will unlock exclusive outfits — 16 new costumes in all. For a limited time, players can buy The Sleigh of Awesome, which is powered by rocket-powered robotic reindeer, as a $5 in-app purchase.

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James Kelleher’s Lonely Beast is back in The Lonely Beast 123 ($2), a counting app for kids. The big beast spends his days counting everything in his house, from 1 to 12. Mildly interactive scenes await children, who can listen to a voiceover by The Lonely Beast author Chris Judge. The app promises no in-app purchases, no third-party advertising, and no social media, making it a safe experience for youngsters; light tapping on screens activates voices and small animations.

Apple posts shipping deadlines for Dec. 24 delivery

Apple has posted holiday shipping deadlines on its online store to inform customers of when orders must be placed to receive products by Dec. 24. The site shows when iPads, iPhones, iPods, Apple TVs, Macs, and other select accessories must be ordered to ensure delivery by Christmas Eve, for both standard and next day shipping. Notably, customers only have a few days left to receive an iPad mini with Retina display by Christmas Eve, with Dec. 5 being the deadline. The iPad Air can be ordered up until Dec. 9, and the iPhone 5s must be ordered by Dec. 12 for pre-Christmas delivery. Apple’s online store is offering free shipping on all products through Dec. 22.

Apps: City Letters, The Elements in Action, Endless Reader + Flighttrack 5

City Letters is a free app from Frugoton designed to teach the alphabet to young children. Kids learn how to identify letter shapes and sounds through tracing, as the app introduces reading and writing concepts through words connected to city life. A $2 in-app purchase gets users the whole game after testing the demo.

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Touch Press has released The Elements in Action ($4), a new app expanding the award-winning The Elements: A Visual Exploration. The Elements in Action features 79 video explorations of properties of the elements, offering a demonstration for almost every element. Though the new Elements works as a standalone app, it can also be used as a companion to the original — when both apps are installed, the two link together.

GTA: San Andreas coming to iOS in December

Rockstar Games announced Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas will be coming to iOS in December. Brand new touch controls and three different driving control schemes have been added to the mobile version of the classic game. GTA: San Andreas will also feature full iOS 7 controller support for Made for iOS controllers. No price information has been released at this time.

Apps: Animal Band, ESPN SportsCenter, Logitech Harmony Control + TouchGrind Skate 2

Animal Band — Nursery Rhymes ($1) is a new music app for young children from Storytoys. Kids can interact with eight animal characters to get them to join into a song, with each animal acting as a separate instrument. The four initial songs are classic nursery rhymes, including Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and The Itsy Bitsy Spider. It’s a simple concept, and a section with a third background for extra songs is shown as “coming soon,” but younger kids might find it entertaining.

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ESPN’s ScoreCenter has just become ESPN SportsCenter (free) in an update to version 4.0.0. The popular sports scores app has a whole new clean look. It’s also easier to navigate through the app and access the scores of your favorite teams. A news section is still intact, as well as a new “now” section, which is really just a curated ESPN-centric Twitter feed. Though there are other sports scores apps out there, this is probably still your best bet, especially if you’re into more obscure sports and leagues.

Clumsy Ninja released in App Store

Clumsy Ninja, which was featured in last year’s Apple media event for the fifth-generation iPod touch and iPhone 5, has finally made its way to the App Store as a free download. One of two high-profile game demos from Apple last year — the other being Infinity Blade Dungeons, which was shown at the third-generation iPad event in March 2012 and later canceled — Clumsy Ninja’s release was delayed for more than a year without explanation.

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The freemium game lets users interact with a kid ninja, letting you teach him a variety of tasks. He improves, learning new tricks and moves through his training. Impressive kinematic animation and cartoony graphics add to the fun factor of the universal release.

Apps: Epoch 2, Find My Friends 3.0, GT Racing 2, Southwest Airlines + Word Girl

An anticipated sequel, Epoch 2 ($3) from Uppercut Games offers more Terminator apocalypse-inspired robot battles. The third-person shooter will likely appeal mostly to fans of the first Epoch, but it may not expand the audience much more than that. New weapons and features have been added, most notably including moving backgrounds and varied types of simultaneous attackers to fight against, all within an Unreal Engine 3-generated environment. But the gameplay remains relatively shallow and repetitive.

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Apple has finally updated its free Find My Friends app for iOS 7 with version 3.0. The new design is more iOS 7-esque, of course, losing the skeuomorphic leather stitching, and switching to a lighter, orange-accented design. Friends are now seen on the map in tiny picture circles, as opposed to just dots, and the prior version’s font excesses are gone.

iOS users note missing, disappearing Camera photos

A number of iOS users have noted that some of the photos they’ve taken with iOS 7’s Camera application have disappeared without a trace, an issue that we’ve confirmed firsthand. Posts in Apple’s number of Apple discussion forums show how some users are experiencing the issue, while struggling to explain why it’s happening. Based on what we’ve seen, the problem appears to be sporadic, affecting only a small number of photos shot over a period of time; the photos are taken as indicated by a snap of the device’s shutter, but then do not appear in the Photos application’s Camera Roll. An Apple community specialist suggested closing all apps and restarting the device to fix the problem, a solution that has not worked for us, with backing up and restoring the device as a next possible option.

Apple releases iOS 7.1 beta to developers

Apple has released iOS 7.1 beta to developers. The download is available within Apple’s developer portal. Initial indications are that the software addresses bugs in the original iOS 7 release, however, additional features may have been quietly added.

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All prior iOS 7 device models can run 7.1, however, the release is not yet intended for general consumption.

Apps: A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, KOF ‘97, Nest 4.0 + Oceanhorn

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving ($6) from Loud Crow Interactive features everyone’s favorite sad sack, Charlie Brown, and the rest of the Peanuts crew for this interactive book. Dialogue, music, and sound effects all come straight from the 1973 animated special, and the iOS interface has been substantially improved from prior Charlie Brown holiday apps. Three reading modes are available, and word highlighting and touch-to-speak technology are also included in the app.

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SNK Playmore has brought its classic fighting game The King of Fighters ‘97 ($4) to iOS. The fourth game in the classic KOF series, the ‘97 edition features 35 characters and new teams — hidden characters Orochi Iori and Orochi Leona are included from the get-go. Both the extra and advanced fighting modes are available, as in the original game. Both a four-button and six-button control scheme are available, and it’s possible to move the controls around the screen, and change the joystick/button sizes as well. Due to a bug in the control-moving system, it’s harder to set the buttons up properly on an iPad, but hopefully SNK Playmore will fix the issue.

Google Play Music released for iOS

Google has released its Google Play Music app for iOS. The free app provides access to a standard music streaming service and All Access service, which costs $10/month. Google’s standard service lets users add up to 20,000 of their own songs, and listen to the music from all iOS devices and Google’s web player.

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All Access lets users listen to unlimited songs, and includes an ad-free radio service. Radio stations are customizable, and there are no skip limits on listening. The app was originally expected to launch much earlier this year.

Apps: Modernist Cuisine at Home, PlayStation App, Strangebeard + Tilt to Live 2

Modernist Cuisine at Home is indeed an $80 app, but if you’re a cook, you’ll understand why it’s actually a bargain. An interactive digital version of the $140, James Beard Award-nominated cookbook Modernist Cuisine at Home, the app from Inkling includes 260 more recipes and 359 more photos than the print cookbook; it’s also been reformatted to read more easily on screens much smaller than the gigantic original volume. The app also features 37 cooking technique videos, including how to execute the water displacement method or how to use a blowtorch on steaks, as well as interactive versions of Modernist Cuisine’s famous photographs, and calculators to let you scale recipes up or down for your needs. A free demo chapter is available through Inkling’s own app; the book can be downloaded in full through Inkling and added to the app’s library, or kept as a standalone version.

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Sony’s free PlayStation App has made its way to the App Store just before tomorrow’s release of the PlayStation 4. The PlayStation App lets users interact with friends, receive notifications, game alerts, and invitations. An iOS device can also be used as an onscreen keyboard. Among other features, the app also lets users buy games from the PlayStation Store to push to the PS4.

Apple releases iOS 7.0.4

Apple has released iOS 7.0.4. The update is listed as including unspecified bug fixes and improvements.

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Notably, an issue that caused FaceTime calls to fail has been fixed within the update. The update is available now over the air.

Update: iOS 6.1.5 was also released for the fourth-generation iPod touch. The update fixes the FaceTime bug on the device.

Apps: IFTTT 1.2, iTeleport 6.1.8, Ramp Champ + Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies

IFTTT — also known as If This Then That — has upgraded its free IFTTT app to version 1.2. The updated app now has actions for iOS Photos and Reminders, meaning IFTTT can now automatically add photos to iPhone albums, and create new to-do items in Reminders. Swipe gestures have been added for iOS 7, as well as improved background syncing.

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iTeleport ($25) updates its popular universal remote desktop app, giving it an all new layout for iOS 7. Hardware keyboard support has also been added, while version 6.1.8 fixes additional layout issues. The iPad-only app ($20) was updated, as well.

Apps: Anomaly 2, Cobra iRadar 4.0, Google Search 3.1 + Penultimate 5.0.1

Chillingo’s Anomaly 2 ($5) has arrived on iOS after debuting on the Mac earlier this year. The graphically intense tower defense game has an online multiplayer mode which lets gamers play as the alien towers or attacking humans, as well as a standard offline single-player mode with “one million tactical combinations,” according to Chillingo. We’re pretty blown away by the fine detail on the Retina displays of iPads, and although the gameplay is very similar to Anomaly’s, developer 11 Bit Studios has added the ability of units to transform into different configurations for specific situations such as long- or short-range attacks, plus some other tweaks. It’s a very cool sequel to the prior Anomaly titles.

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Cobra iRadar (free) from Cobra Electronics Corporation has a revamped map and a number of new features. A follow-me mode makes it easier to see alert locations on the road ahead. Simple navigation options and live traffic info have been added, as well as map controls and a macro map view. Some of the app’s features are only accessible when using a Cobra iRadar Detector.

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