- November 10, 2014
ProCam 2, a $2 still and video camera app by developer Samer Azzam, has added “4K Ultra HD video recording” via a $5 in-app purchase. Following a technique debuted in September by i4software in the $1,000 app Vizzywig 4K, ProCam 2 uses a hack to splice high-resolution still images together with an audio recording to simulate 4K video recording. ProCam 2’s videos save at 3840x2160 resolution, resulting in large file sizes—over 400MB per minute—with a promised 30 frame per second recording rate for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. A lower frame rate of “up to 25 fps” is promised for the iPhone 5s.
Unfortunately, ProCam 2’s actual performance on an iPhone 6 Plus typically reached only 15 to 25FPS during our testing, with a noticeably laggy shutter during recording. Videos are saved within the app in a 4K Videos folder, in a standard .MOV format that can play with obvious jitters directly on the device. The app is currently at version 4.0.1, addressing an iOS 7-related crash bug, but continues to suffer from many memory-related crashes when using the 4K recording mode. Vizzywig 4K has been reduced in price to $50, and now supports iOS 8.1, though notably with user complaints as to video quality.
- November 10, 2014
Four and a half years after Theodore Gray released the breakthrough iPad science application The Elements: A Visual Exploration, developer Touch Press has published Molecules by Theodore Gray ($14), billed as an “extraordinary sequel.” While The Elements was neatly organized using a fully animated version of the Periodic Table, Molecules is closer to a 14-chapter book in design, yet preserves the incredible rotating and interactive 3-D objects that were such a phenomenon during the original iPad’s introduction. It also continues Gray’s tradition of breezily walking readers through complex science using clear language and engaging examples, including more of the subtle, erudite humor that made The Elements so charming.
A virtual table of contents lets readers learn about the molecules and compounds inside foods, liquids, and everyday objects, selecting from animated images such as a honeycomb, a rock formation, a moving fountain, or a glass filled with dry ice. Most of the pages contain multiple paragraphs of explanatory text alongside objects that can be spun around by 360 degrees, playing back a series of photographs taken from every angle. Additionally, a university-developed molecular simulation engine enables accurate representations of molecules to be manipulated in full 3-D, sometimes with temperature and time sliders to increase the pace of their energetic movements. Now built for Retina displays, the app doesn’t let iPad users zoom in on objects, but does include separate portrait and landscape iPad modes, as well as iPhone support. Released last week as version 1.0, it’s currently at version 1.1. Additional pictures can be seen below.
- November 10, 2014
Black Friday deals reported by 9to5Mac show that Target will be offering some unprecedented pricing on new Apple products later this month. This year’s holiday deals include an iPhone 6 for $179.99 with a $30 gift card included, 16GB iPad Air 2 Wi-Fi for $499 with a $140 Target Gift Card, a 16GB iPad mini Wi-Fi model for $249 with an $80 Target Gift Card, and a buy one get 30% off iTunes gift card discount. Some items are even available to order now online with free in-store pickup on Black Friday.
- November 10, 2014
Security research firm FireEye has identified a vulnerability that can allow iOS apps to be replaced by malware versions. Dubbed the “Masque Attack,” the vulnerability uses an existing app’s App Store ID, signed with an enterprise provisioning certificate, to replace the good app with a rogue version. The report explains that although iOS requires that all third-party applications be signed by a valid provisioning certificate, it does not require that the certificate used to sign an app update be the same as the certificate used to sign the original app.
Masque Attack uses a vulnerability similar to the WireLurker exploit revealed last week, leveraging the enterprise distribution system that Apple has provided for companies to distribute in-house apps to their users, however this particular vulnerability goes beyond requiring a USB connection, potentially allowing devices to be infected wirelessly by prompting users to install bogus application updates over-the-air. This could be done by presenting prompts in Safari to encourage users to install an update to an app they may already be using. The prompt need not even match the app actually being delivered, and once the user accepts, the app will be downloaded and replace the legitimate version on the user’s device. The FireEye report cites examples such as replacing a mobile banking app as a phishing attack to collect login and password information. FireEye notes that the vulnerability still exists in the iOS 8.1.1 beta, and has been identified as far back as iOS 7.1.1.
It is key to mention that this exploit relies heavily on social engineering to encourage the user to install an untrusted app, and that iOS itself provides cues that should raise suspicion, such as asking the user to randomly install an app while they may be engaged in an otherwise unrelated activity such as browsing the web, and requiring that the user explicitly respond to an “Untrusted Developer” notification when installing the app. The FireEye report notes that users can mitigate their risk simply by not installing “apps from third-party sources other than Apple’s official App Store or the user’s own organization” and not clicking on random pop-ups on web pages to install third-party apps, regardless of the title or description shown for the app. [via CNBC]
Apple has released a new web-based tool to allow users to deregister phone numbers from iMessage. Designed to address a long-standing problem that users have experienced when switching away from the iPhone to other devices, the site provides instructions on how to deregister a phone number from Apple’s iMessage servers so that text messages sent from other iPhone users will be sent as SMS messages instead of via Apple’s iMessage network. The problem exists because the iPhone automatically registers a user’s cellular phone number with Apple’s iMessage servers when the user first sets up their device or inserts a new SIM card in their iPhone. Messages from other iOS devices sent to that phone number will travel via the iMessage servers instead of the cellular carrier’s SMS network — if users later switch their SIM card to a non-iPhone device, their number does not get deregistered automatically, so messages to that phone number will continue to travel over the iMessage network.
Apple acknowledged the issue back in May, shortly before a lawsuit was filed by a former iPhone user who was losing text messages as a result of the problem. Apple promised a fix was coming shortly thereafter, but other than advising users to disable iMessage before removing their SIM card—a suggestion that is often unreasonable as many users will have already switched to another device before discovering the problem even exists—the company has not provided a solution until now. The new web portal provides the same advice to deactivate iMessage manually for users who still have their iPhones, but failing that, users can now enter their phone number directly on the web page, and after confirming their number via an SMS confirmation code, their number will be deregistered from Apple’s iMessage servers.
- November 7, 2014
- Apps + Games,
Julius Jr.‘s Playhouse ($3) — StoryToys brings the popular Paul Frank character to life in this new kids’ app. The game provides four fun activities, including Tea Party, Garage Band, Friends Quiz, and Get Puzzling, that allow kids to decorate cakes, play along with songs, identify characters and put together colourful puzzles. The app features eight jigsaw puzzles, over 100 quiz questions, three Julius Jr. songs, professional narration, and more, all in an intuitive and child-friendly package.
Nighty Night Circus ($4) — The sequel to Fox and Sheep’s popular “Nighty Night!”, Nighty Night Circus brings a new magical setting with a bedtime atmosphere full of colourful animations. Children are presented with a circus setting with eight animals that they can put to bed with various actions. Each animal performs various tricks before going to sleep, and the app features designs and animations by Oscar-nominated artist Heidi Wittlinger. The cute animals, calming lullaby music and narration make this a great app for a daily go-to-sleep ritual for young children.
- November 7, 2014
Key court documents related to GT Advanced Technologies’ bankruptcy filing earlier this fall have recently been unsealed, providing some interesting insights into negotiations between Apple and GT. While both companies had previously fought to keep court documents sealed, citing confidentiality agreements, a judge ruled earlier this week that the documents did not contain trade secrets of other confidential information.
The newly disclosed documents also include an unedited affidavit from GT Advanced’s Chief Operating Officer, Daniel Squiller, who places much of the blame for GT’s failure on Apple, in light of agreements that the company had already previously referred to as oppressive and burdensome. Squiller describes Apple as using a “bait-and-switch” strategy, initially appealing to GT with the promise of a lucrative deal that would have involved Apple purchasing sapphire furnaces and allowing GT to operate them, but later demanding a “fundamentally different deal” that was “onerous and massively one-sided.” The new deal required GT to purchase and operate the furnaces, and shifted all economic risk to GT Advanced Technologies, putting Apple in the role of a lender with no other obligations to purchase any equipment or materials produced by GT.
- November 7, 2014
Following reports earlier this week of a new malware threat capable of infecting iOS devices, Apple has responded by blocking apps that are infected with the malicious code, Macworld UK reports. On Wednesday, Security firm Palo Alto Networks revealed a threat in which hackers were transferring malware to iOS devices through infected OS X desktop applications downloaded from a Chinese app marketplace. The attack could notably affect devices that had not been jailbroken by transferring malicious code to the devices over a direct USB connection, signed with an enterprise provisioning certificate—the technique normally used for developers building apps to be distributed privately for internal corporate use, as opposed to via Apple’s App Store. Approximately 467 Mac desktop applications on the Chinese app store Maiyadi were found to be infected with WireLurker. While Apple didn’t specify exactly what it had done to stop the attack, a representative stated that the company is “aware of malicious software available from a download site aimed at users in China,” and that it has “blocked the identified apps to prevent them from launching.” Apple also reminded users of its usual advice to download software only from trusted sources.
- November 7, 2014
A new report from BusinessKorea suggests that Apple may be planning to change the type of NAND flash chips it uses for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, following reports of various users problems with higher-capacity models. Citing industry sources, the report states that Apple has decided to discontinue use of triple-level-cell (TLC) NAND as it believes the NAND controller IC contained in the chips to be the cause of recent problems with the 128GB iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models. Although TLC flash memory is the more cost-efficient option, it is also slower than single-level-cell (SLC) and multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash, and Apple is allegedly looking to switch to MLC NAND flash in the 64GB iPhone 6 and the 128GB iPhone 6 Plus at some point in the future, although it reportedly plans in the meantime to address problems with TLC NAND versions in a coming iOS 8.1.1 update. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are the first two iPhone models to use TLC NAND flash; previous-generation models used MLC NAND flash chips. [via MacRumors]
- November 6, 2014
- Apple TV,
Apple has quietly added a new CBS News channel to the Apple TV, providing free access to the CBSN streaming news channel launched earlier today by the television network for U.S. Apple TV users. The channel also allows viewers to access on-demand content from CBS Evening News, CBS This Morning, 60 Minutes, 48 Hours, Sunday Morning, and Face the Nation. [via 9to5Mac]
iLounge has released its Best of the Year Awards for 2014, highlighting the past year’s top accessories, apps, games, and more. Our editors have picked the best of the best in more than 25 categories, narrowing down a list of thousands of potential products. In the past, iLounge has released a Buyers Guide containing our annual awards — the list has been expanded and is now available here on the site, with no download needed. Click here to discover all the winners and notable runners-up!
Microsoft announced the expansion of its Office suite for iOS, adding iPhone and iPod touch support to its Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps. Users can now view, create, and edit documents for free within all three universal apps — a free Microsoft account is all that’s needed. Documents can also be opened, edited, and saved from Dropbox in the updated apps.
- November 5, 2014
- iPhone Accessories,
Jawbone has announced two new fitness trackers, UP3 ($180) and UP Move ($50). UP3 is being billed as “the world’s most advanced tracker.” The wristband tracker boasts advanced sleep tracking and uses a bioimpedance sensor to automatically measure resting heart rate. Other sensors on the tracker include an accelerometer, a skin temperature sensor, and an ambient temperature sensor. UP3 is water-resistant up to 10 meters (about 33 feet), and Jawbone claims the tracker can go a full week without a recharge.
UP Move is a less advanced tracker — it’s comparable to Misfit’s Flash. It counts steps and tracks sleep, and can be clipped to an article of clothing. UP Move can also be worn as a watch by adding a separately purchased strap for $15. Both UP3 and Up Move will be available this year.
- November 5, 2014
- Apple Watch,
A new report from French site iGen.fr (translated link) claims to reveal some additional details about pricing on the various Apple Watch models planned for release. While Apple has only announced that the Apple Watch would start at $349, that’s the price for the entry-level anodized aluminum Sport model, and the report from iGen.fr, citing a reliable source, notes that the Stainless Steel version will likely sell for $500, and the Edition model in yellow or pink gold would be priced between $4,000 and $5,000. Notably, the post goes on to say that other than the strap, no part of the Apple Watch can be opened to replace the battery or other components, and that the device “might as well be closed [as] an iPad.”
The report also cites its source as saying that the Valentine’s Day release date suggested earlier this fall is “still valid” in spite of comments made by Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts earlier this week suggesting a spring launch, and that resellers and distributors are still ramping up for mid-February. Although such a move would be unprecedented, with multiple editions being released, it is conceivably possible that Apple may stagger the launch of the Apple Watch. The more exclusive Edition models would be available in February, followed by a more general release for other models later in the year. It is also notable that only Apple’s U.S. page for the Apple Watch specifies “Early 2015” availability; pages for other countries, including Canada, the U.K., France, and Japan all simply say “Available in 2015.”
Verizon Wireless and AT&T have announced that they are working on enabling Voice over LTE (VoLTE) connections between the Verizon Wireless and AT&T networks. VoLTE provides enhanced calling features and call quality for users of compatible handsets such as the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, but traditionally such enhanced features have been limited to users on each carrier’s own network, effectively dropping down to the more basic standard cellular call connectivity when calling users on another carrier. The proposed interoperability, due sometime in 2015, will allow AT&T and Verizon customers to make VoLTE HD Voice calls between networks, while also laying the foundation for Rich Communications Services (RCS) such as video calls and expanded text messaging features. Both Verizon and AT&T introduced an initial rollout of VoLTE services earlier this year, and customers in select markets with compatible hardware should already be able to take advantage of some of the VoLTE features within each carriers’ own network. T-Mobile has also reportedly already been testing interoperability across carriers, although that company has not announced a specific timeline as to when interoperability would be available. [via Engadget]
- November 3, 2014
Financial news site Benzinga has provided a summary of a new report from Sanjay Sakhrani of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods that provides some insight into Apple’s contractual relationship with card issuers for Apple Pay. The report naturally provides some details on the percentage that Apple takes from transactions, but also highlights Apple’s requirements for card issuers to participate in Apple Pay. Card issuers must apparently “allow at least 95 percent of the cards in their portfolio to participate in Apple Pay,” the report notes, and also adds that Visa and MasterCard are playing a “large operational role” in the new payment system. Apple also receives “15 basis points per credit card transaction” and 0.5 cents per debit transaction; issuers are required to supply Apple with “various data statistics in nearly three dozen categories.” [via 9to5Mac]
- November 3, 2014
Apple has posted a new job listing for an Apple Watch Evangelist, a position expected to help promote third-party app development for the company’s forthcoming wearable device. The job description indicates that Apple is seeking a “motivated iOS app development expert” to work with third-party developers to build new iOS apps “with a primary focus on Apple Watch apps.” This new role will also involve working with Apple’s engineering and marketing teams, plus helping to define technical sessions for Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference and other “developer facing workshops and events.” Last month, Apple announced a November release for its WatchKit SDK to give developers the ability to build apps for the new Apple Watch in advance of the device’s release, and it’s expected that Apple will be encouraging third-party WatchKit app development in advance of the device’s release to ensure that a strong collection of apps are available for the new device on day one. [via 9to5Mac]
- November 3, 2014
A new report from Macotakara has revealed some more information on Apple’s rumored larger iPad. According to Macotakara’s sources, the iPad Pro will be similar in size to Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3, with a 12.2-inch LCD instead of the previously-reported 12.9-inch spec. The front form factor is supposed to be similar to the Surface Pro 3, with thickness somewhere in between the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The design is said to be based on the iPad Air 2, but with a pair of speakers and microphones added on top, suggesting the new tablet will offer enhanced stereo audio. Macotakara suggests that the iSight camera, Lightning Connector, and Touch ID sensor will also apparently all be flush with the surface, rather than recessed or jutting out with diamond-cut metal. The source claims that the iPad Pro is now expected to be released around the third quarter of 2015.
- November 3, 2014
A new report from 9to5Mac reveals that the Apple Watch may be launching later than originally anticipated. In a video message to retail employees, Apple’s Senior VP of Retail and Online Stores Angela Ahrendts stated that “we’re going into the holidays, we’ll go into Chinese New Year, and then we’ve got a new watch launch coming in the spring.” Although Apple only publicly specified “early 2015” as a timeframe for the Apple Watch launch, some sources had earlier suggested that the company was aiming for a Valentine’s Day release. However, with Chinese New Year occurring on February 19th, it appears as though Apple will in the very least miss Valentine’s Day, and Ahrendts’ “coming in the spring” statement suggests that the release is more likely to be even later than that—the end of March at the earliest.
While it’s unclear whether this actually represents a delay from Apple’s original target date, sources have told 9to5Mac that Apple is “still working out kinks” in relation to battery performance, in an effort to boost recharging times. Reports last year had also suggested that Apple originally planned to ship the Watch this fall, but that it was delayed due to engineering problems. For its part, Apple’s official Apple Watch page still says “Coming Early 2015,” although there’s obviously room for debate as to what timeframe “early 2015” actually represents.
- October 31, 2014
- Apps + Games,
SimCity BuildIt (free) — The venerable city-building simulation returns as a freemium game that adds a whole new dimension in the form of managing supply chains and new economic trade interactions. SimCity BuildIt takes a more resource-focused approach to building your city, starting out by constructing residential zones, factories, and stores that are used to produce raw materials and manufactured goods that are needed to construct and upgrade residential buildings that range from trailer parks to sprawling condos. The game is presented in a nice and very detailed 360-degree 3D view that allows users to zoom in and out, tilt up and down, and pan around their city.
Players earn gold by trading resources, upgrading residential zones, collecting taxes and completing challenges, which are used to provide necessary city services including water, power, sewage, waste management, fire, police, health, transit, education, and more. As in the original SimCity, new buildings and challenges are unlocked as players grow their city, leveling up and increasing population, although the game adds a new twist in the form of civic awards that you receive for keeping your population happy, which are required to expand your land area. While a freemium model allows users to speed through the game, the gameplay moves at a reasonable enough pace that only the most impatient will be tempted to do so. For everybody else, SimCity BuildIt actually makes a nice casual game that you can pop into and out of throughout the day to gradually build up your city, and with the number of resource and building options available, progressing slowly through the game is definitely a much better approach to gradually become accustomed to all of the myriad options available.
Run Sackboy! Run! (free) — LittleBigPlanet’s knitted hero, Sackboy, comes to your iOS device in this new endless platformer, featuring a world that fans will find familiar and endearing. Players run Sackboy through an ever-changing handcrafted world and must dash to escape the goo and the grumpy Negativitron. Players and customize Sackboy with exclusive costumes, collect stickers and unlock prizes, power-ups, and upgrades, and challenge and compete with friends.
Star Wars: Galactic Defense (free) — Star Wars excitement returns in this new tower defense game. Players choose their allegiance to the Light or Dark sides of The Force and then deploy an arsenal of specialized towers and Star Wars characters to defend key locations. The game features diverse locations from the Star Wars universe across all eras of the series, with more than 100 different battle scenarios. As players level up, they must tailor their upgrades to match their preferred approach to the game, and a plethora of different unit styles allow for a wide variety of gameplay strategies. A collection of Champions are available for each side: Luke Skywalker, Yoda, and Obi-Wan Kenobi for the Light side, and Darth Vader, Boba Fett, and Darth Sidious on the Dark side of the Force, each with special powers and abilities, and players can call the big guns with things like orbital bombardments if things get really bad. An immersive Star Wars soundtrack adds a great extra dimension to the game that fans of the saga will appreciate.