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Redesigned Apple Store app version 3.0 adds new features

  • September 5, 2014

Apple has updated its Apple Store app to version 3.0 with a number of new features, ahead of the company’s upcoming event. The app has been redesigned for iPhone and iPod touch and now allows users to start shopping on one device and finish on another — you can start on a Mac, for instance, and complete the order on your iOS device. A new Stores section shows users the closest Apple Stores, along with workshops and events at those shops. Additionally, the iPad version of the app now lets users make One to One reservations.

Tim Cook says Apple to add more security alerts

Apple will soon issue more security alerts to users in an effort to boost privacy, CEO Tim Cook told The Wall Street Journal. The company will alert users when an account password change is attempted, when iCloud data is restored to a new device, or when a device logs into an account for the first time. New notifications will start in two weeks, and users will be able to make immediate changes — the account password can be changed, or Apple’s security team can be alerted to the issue.

Cook said Apple could have done more to prevent incidents like the recent celeb photo hack. The company could have better informed users about hackers, and played up the importance of better passwords. “When I step back from this terrible scenario that happened and say what more could we have done, I think about the awareness piece,” Cook said. “I think we have a responsibility to ratchet that up. That’s not really an engineering thing.” Apple also plans on “aggressively” pushing people to use its two-factor authentication in iOS 8.

iLounge Game Spotlight: BioShock

  • September 5, 2014

Seven years ago, 2K Games impressed PC and console gamers with BioShock, an atypically engrossing action game that built upon Valve’s Half-Life and Ion Storm’s Deus Ex — first-person titles that transcended the shooter genre thanks to deep storylines and less gunfire-focused gameplay. BioShock’s hooks were a combination of Art Deco-inspired graphics, a large dose of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, and jitter-inducing audiovisual set pieces. Last week, the full game arrived for iOS devices at a $15 asking price, and although it has some predictable issues, it’s impressive enough to be our Game of the Week.

Without discussing too much of the storyline, BioShock starts as you survive a watery plane crash, swimming your way from flaming wreckage to a lighthouse in the middle of the ocean. Before you’ve even caught your breath — one of hundreds of little details brought to life by strong audio accompaniment — you’re riding an elevator down to Rapture, a city hidden beneath the sea. Littered with Objectivist signs and videos inspired by Rand’s classic book Atlas Shrugged, Rapture is a city filled with people who were genetically modified into zombie-like killers. Your first injection with a syringe of “EVE” gives you electric blue veins and the ability to fire lightning bolts at enemies; other EVE powers and traditional weapons become available as the story continues.

Withings unveils Home video monitor

Withings has announced Home ($220), an HD camera with environmental sensors, designed for video and audio monitoring. The camera offers HD video up to 1080p with zoom, and two digital microphones allow for two-way talk. Users can receive notifications based on events such as movement or crying. Each time an event is detected, Home takes a photo and a video, and stores it for two days. The clips can be downloaded and kept free of charge, and additional cloud recording plans will also be available.

Home also monitors indoor air quality, temperature, and humidity in a house. A Bluetooth Smart ready device, Home is compatible with 2.4GHz b/g/n Wi-Fi networks. Withings offers a free Home Monitor app to use with the Home camera, which is compatible with Apple’s HomeKit and IFTTT. No release date has been announced yet.

Report: Apple negotiated lower card transaction fees for mobile payments

  • September 4, 2014

Apple has successfully negotiated lower card transaction fees for its upcoming mobile payment system, according to Bank Innovation. The Cupertino company has reportedly reached deals with American Express, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Capital One, and Bank of America. Apparently, Apple has convinced the financial institutions to consider the mobile payments as “card present” transactions, and has settled on a reduced “card present” rate, as well. Apple’s Touch ID feature and a secure NFC chip reportedly enable the company to assume some of the fraud risk, and Apple has agreed to accept all cards from the issuers, thus helping to secure those discounted rates. [via 9to5Mac]

NYT: iWatch to have flexible screen, wireless charging; iPhone 6 to get one-handed mode

Another new report has surfaced on the verge of Apple’s introduction of the iWatch and iPhone 6, this one from The New York Times. According to the report, Apple’s iWatch will have a flexible display panel covered by sapphire. The device will also utilize wireless charging. On the new iPhones, the Times reports that a one-handed mode will be available. That mode — which can be switched on or off — will make it easier to use the larger devices with one hand. As noted in a number of other reports, the devices will use NFC for mobile payments. Apple has reportedly teamed up with Visa, American Express, and MasterCard for the system.

Apps of the Week: The Met, Iconic, Infinity Blade 1.4 + more

New Apps

The Met (free) — The country’s largest art museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, has released its own official app — The Met. A great starting point for visiting the museum, the app lets users browse listings of current exhibitions and daily events. Museum admission, membership, and event tickets can all be purchased from the app, as well. Though it’s best for visitors, The Met will likely be of interest to many art fans, as the attractive app lets users learn about highlighted works. Now it just needs a museum map.

Star Walk Kids ($3) — Following the recent release of Star Walk 2, Vito Technology has released Star Walk Kids, a new version of the astronomy guide just for kids. You can tell the difference from the get-go, as his version has a simpler, cartoonish style. The children’s app also comes with short animated films and voice narration.

Apple announces live stream for September 9 event

  • September 4, 2014

Apple has announced that it will live stream its September 9 event. The company’s website now has a “live” page featuring a countdown clock to the time of the event. Apple users are also offered a link to add the event to their calendars. It’s expected that Apple will reveal its newest iPhones and debut its iWatch next Tuesday.

WSJ: iWatch, iPhone 6 to both have NFC

Both Apple’s upcoming iWatch and iPhone 6 will include near field communication, The Wall Street Journal reports, adding its voice to the chorus of those expecting Apple to use NFC in upcoming devices. NFC is “central” to Apple’s plans for a mobile payment system, the report notes. The report also claims the iWatch will come in two sizes, both featuring a “curved organic” LED screen. While Apple plans on taking preorders for the device before it goes on sale — it’s still believed the watch will hit the market next year — pricing information is still unknown at this time.

New report alleges continued violations at Apple supplier

  • September 4, 2014
  • Apple,

A new report released by Green America and China Labor Watch titled “Two Years of Broken Promises” accuses Apple of failing to fix violations at supplier Catcher Technology in Suqian, China. Many violations found in a 2013 investigation at the supplier — violations which were shared with Apple — were reportedly seen again in an undercover investigation conducted this August. Employees are said to work excessive overtime and long shifts while standing, and employees working with “potentially toxic” chemicals are without proper protective equipment. The report notes those workers have suffered skin and eye irritation and “are at risk for more serious health problems.”

In total, China Labor Watch counted 22 violations at Catcher in a number of categories, which is more than the organization found at the same supplier in 2013. Despite Apple’s recent announcement that it has banned the use of benzene and n-hexane in iPhone and iPad assembly — the Green America/CLW report says this is “an important step forward for the company” — the company is still drawing criticism for its handling of chemicals. Apple told The New York Times that its May audit of the Suqian plant “found some concrete areas for improvement in Catcher’s operations, and we worked with Catcher to develop a corrective action plan.” The company has immediately sent a team to visit the plant in light of the new allegations.

Orbotix launches Ollie by Sphero

Orbotix has officially launched Ollie ($100), the new app-controlled toy by Sphero. First seen at CES 2014 as Sphero 2B — the two-wheeled robot earned an iLounge Best of Show award — Ollie can travel up to 14 mph and get up to one hour of play on a full three-hour USB charge. Ollie is controlled using an app and connects to an iPhone or iPad via Bluetooth Smart, boasting a range of 30 meters (98 feet). The toy’s polycarbonate body features a built-in LED glow.

Ollie is customizable, with a variety of tires and hubs to be available for purchase — the toy comes with one set of tires and hubs. Shipments of Ollie will begin arriving on September 15, according to the company website. A limited black edition, Darkside Ollie ($150), comes with extra tires and hubs and will hit the market on November 1.

Harman Kardon debuts Infinity One, Esquire Mini, Soho Wireless + JBL Charge 2

Harman Kardon introduced its fall lineup today, including its new premium portable Bluetooth speaker, Infinity One ($300). Infinity One has passive radiators which claim to make the small speaker sound like a much larger system. The water-resistant speaker also includes a 5V 2.1A output for charging. Now available for preorder, Harman Kardon expects Infinity One to ship on November 9.

Additionally, Harman Kardon’s Bluetooth-equipped Esquire Mini ($150) is a smaller, more rectangular version of its Esquire (reviewed here). The new Soho Wireless headphones are a Bluetooth update of its Soho headphones (reviewed here), and JBL Charge 2 is an update of JBL Charge (reviewed here). While JBL Charge 2 is in stock and ready to ship, Esquire Mini is expected to ship on September 18, and Soho Wireless is listed as coming soon.

Ive on the iWatch: Switzerland is in trouble

A new story about wearable tech in The New York Times contains a striking supposed quote from Apple design chief Jony Ive about Apple’s upcoming iWatch. According to an Apple designer, Ive was bragging about how cool the iWatch would be, and said that Switzerland is in trouble — though Ive’s preferred language was stronger than “trouble.” It’s a little morsel of hype for a device expected to make its official debut next week.

Additionally, a new report from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI suggests the iWatch will have 8GB of internal storage and 512MB of RAM. As has been reported by others before, Kuo believes the iWatch will come in two sizes — a rectangular 1.3” and 1.5” screen. There may also be a gold color option for the device, according to Kuo, who has a mixed record on Apple predictions. [via 9to5Mac]

Bowers & Wilkins debuts new P5, C5 Series 2 headphones

Bowers & Wilkins has debuted its new P5 Series 2 ($300) on-ear headphones and C5 Series 2 ($180) earphones. The new P5 headphones are said to combine the former P5’s portable form factor with the power and sonic approach of the company’s P7 headphones (reviewed here). Featuring new drivers, and new internal components, the P5 Series 2 still sport high-end materials such as leather ear cup covers and a metal headband frame.

The Room Three coming to iOS next spring

Fireproof Games has announced that The Room Three will hit the App Store in spring 2015. An early announcement, The Room Three is sure to be a highly anticipated title as the newest game in the popular atmospheric puzzle series. The Room Two was released late last year, and The Room (reviewed here) was first released in 2012. Fireproof says the newest Room game “promises to evolve the mysterious story and take puzzle solving to higher and weirder places than ever before.”

China Mobile already accepting iPhone 6 preorders

The world’s largest cellular carrier, China Mobile, has already started accepting preorders for Apple’s still-unannounced iPhone 6. According to China Daily, the program is currently only available in Beijing, and more than 33,000 preorders have already been made. Customers can choose between a 4.7” or 5.5” screen when ordering, as well as 16, 32, and 64GB capacities. No release date is listed, but a source said the iPhone 6 could be delivered to Chinese customers “as early as mid-month.” Considering the timing of Apple’s event, the most likely release date for the iPhone 6 is September 19.

Apple updates App Store Guidelines, reveals app rejection reasons

Apple has updated its App Store Guidelines ahead of its upcoming release of iOS 8 and iPhone 6. The updated introduction notes that “If your App doesn’t do something useful, unique or provide some form of lasting entertainment, or if your app is plain creepy, it may not be accepted.” Guidelines have been added for Extensions, HomeKit, HealthKit, and TestFlight. The new guidelines should alleviate some users’ fears about the new frameworks — HealthKit apps cannot store information in iCloud or share data with third parties without user consent, among other measures. Additionally, data gathered from HealthKit and HomeKit cannot be used for advertising or data mining purposes.

Along with the updated guidelines, Apple recently added a page to its developer site detailing common app rejections. The page reveals that “more information needed” was the most common reason for apps to be rejected in the seven-day period ending August 28 — the top 10 reasons for rejection within that time period are all included on the page.

Apple: Celeb photo hack ‘very targeted attack’ on accounts

In response to allegations that iCloud played a role in the recent release of many private celebrity photos, Apple has confirmed that “certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the Internet.” Despite the account intrusions, Apple claims that none of its systems, including iCloud and Find my iPhone, were breached. The company also claims it has already investigated the photo theft for more than 40 hours. To protect against such attacks, Apple suggests that users select a strong password and enable two-step verification.

Apple investigating “iCloud” celebrity photo hack

Apple is “actively investigating” a recent celebrity photo hack that may have involved its iCloud service, Re/Code reports. The hack has leaked a large number of private, revealing photos of various celebrities, and iCloud has come under fire. Actress Kirsten Dunst tweeted a sarcastic “Thank you iCloud,” with some choice emoji. “We take user privacy very seriously and are actively investigating this report,” Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris said.

It’s unclear, however, how culpable Apple really is at this point; some reports have suggested that the leak included iPhone images alongside videos and Android images that presumably wouldn’t have come from iCloud servers. As reported by TheNextWeb, it’s possible that a hacker used a brute force password attack — a vulnerability that Apple notably didn’t patch until Monday. While Apple does its own investigation, the FBI is conducting the official investigation of the hack, The Telegraph reports. Apple does offer two-step verification that could have thwarted the hacker, but it’s not a surprise to see many not using the feature. We’ll see what comes of the investigation, but it calls Apple’s account security into question — bad timing, considering the company will reportedly debut its own mobile payment system as soon as next week.

Elgato debuts Eve home sensor product line

Elgato has debuted its new Eve line of home sensor products at the IFA Trade Show in Berlin. The line of sensors — six are shown on Elgato’s website — will gather data on air quality, temperature, humidity, air pressure, and energy and water consumption in a home. Users will be able to access all the data in Elgato’s free upcoming Eve app. The company says it will “announce and make available solutions” based on Apple’s HomeKit once iOS 8 becomes available. Pricing and availability for the Eve line is expected to be announced soon.

Elgato also introduced its Avea ($50) smart LED bulb, which can create dynamic mood lighting and scenes through an iOS app. The bulb, which uses Bluetooth Smart, is designed to be bought individually rather than in packs, and doesn’t require a hub like Philips’ Hue system. Additionally, Elgato’s new Smart Power ($100) is a 6000 mAh, 2.4A battery that can send a notification to an iPhone or iPad when it’s time to recharge.

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