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Apps of the Week: ShipAntics, Modern Combat 5, This American Life 3.0 + more

New Apps

Matter ($2) — Photo app maker Pixite is back with Matter, a new app that allows users to add 3D effects to photos. Those effects come in the form of various 3D objects — users have the ability to change the traits of the objects, as well. A video feature allows users to create short animated loops of the object within the photo. To us, the objects look a bit “prog-rock album cover,” but to some that’s likely part of the appeal.

ShipAntics: The Legend of The Kiki Beast ($2) — The prolific StoryToys continues to move in a new direction with ShipAntics: The Legend of the Kiki Beast. Unlike many of the developer’s storybook apps, this is a full-fledged adventure title for young gamers. Though the gameplay is mostly in simple point-and-click style, there are plenty of puzzles and cartoon cutscenes. This app is chapter one of a three-part series, with chapter two coming as a “low cost” in-app purchase in the future.

Report: Apple could launch own mobile wallet this fall

Apple executives have had recent conversations about launching an iPhone-based mobile wallet as soon as this fall, according to The Information. The company has reportedly told partners its mobile payment system would contain “secured element” hardware within the phones that would store sensitive financial information. The Secure Enclave coprocessor in Apple’s A7 chip would likely fit the bill — as noted by Apple, it relies on a random number generator and encrypted memory to safely store information. It’s also noted that Visa is in discussions with Apple about a possible partnership to bypass third-party payment processors to lower costs.

Mobile payments from Apple have been rumored for years. But with Apple reportedly interviewing candidates for a mobile payment service, and CEO Tim Cook recently characterizing mobile payments as “an area of interest” while freely discussing the possibilities of such a service, perhaps we’ll see an iPhone wallet in the near future. [via MacRumors]

Report: Apple ‘tentatively’ plans mid-September iPhone event

Apple is “tentatively” planning an event for mid-September to announce the iPhone 6, 9to5Mac reports. Though not a surprise — numerous reports have all pegged September for the iPhone 6 reveal — the new report claims the second and third weeks of September are the most likely weeks for the event, though plans are still yet to be finalized. If the event was held on a Tuesday, as is commonplace, it would be held on September 9 or 16, with a likely product release on September 19 or 26. However, it’s unclear if both new iPhones will be announced or launched at the same time. According to the report, the 4.7” iPhone 6 will be showcased, but no decision has been made regarding inclusion of the 5.5” iPhone 6. Final details on iOS 8 will also be unveiled at the event.

Apple faces class action suit in California for labor violations

A lawsuit filed by Apple employees in December 2011 has been given class action status, as the company is being sued for labor violations in California, TechCrunch reports. Those alleged violations include not providing employees with timely meal and rest breaks, or timely paychecks. According to the plaintiffs, the case affects approximately 20,000 Apple employees. No financial demands have been made as of yet. Notably, this case is not to be confused with a somewhat similar suit involving Apple retail employees allegedly losing wages due to lengthy bag searches.

Apple, AT&T now sending $40 checks to some iPad 3G owners

Apple and AT&T have started sending out $40 checks to U.S. customers who bought or ordered a first-generation iPad with 3G capabilities before June 7, 2010. A ruling was made in September in a class action lawsuit stemming from AT&T’s elimination of an advertised unlimited data plan about a month after it was introduced. The checks have started to arrive in customers’ mailboxes, as per 9to5Mac. AT&T is also offering a $20/month discount on its 5GB monthly data plan for consumers who didn’t sign up for any other AT&T data plan.

Apple denies iOS “back door” access in new report

After denying a report earlier in the week that iOS is prone to “back door” access, Apple has put forth a new document outlining three diagnostic capabilities, and how they’re used. “Each of these diagnostic capabilities requires the user to have unlocked their device and agreed to trust another computer,” the report states. “Any data transmitted between the iOS device and trusted computer is encrypted with keys not shared with Apple. For users who have enabled iTunes Wi-Fi Sync on a trusted computer, these services may also be accessed wirelessly by that computer.”

This comes after Apple issued a denial to the Financial Times, stating it “has never worked with any government agency to create a backdoor in any of our products or services.”

Notes from Apple’s Q3 2014 earnings call

Apple’s conference call after announcing its Q3 2014 financial results kicked off with Apple CEO Tim Cook discussing Yosemite, iOS 8, and Swift. Cook also touched on CarPlay, HealthKit, HomeKit, in addition to the company’s new partnership with IBM.

Getting to the financial results, Cook announced that Apple set a June quarter record, with iPhones also setting a new third quarter record. “iPad sales met our expectations but we realize they didn’t meet many of yours,” Cook said, noting an overall decline in the tablet markets while moving on to citing surveys in which customers expressed satisfaction with iPad.

Cook expressed excitement with Apple’s acquisition of Beats, citing Beats’ subscription service, “access to rare talent,” and a growing lineup of products. As he’s done in the past, Cook briefly referenced upcoming new products and services.

Apple CFO Luca Maestri talked about the iPhone and its impressive results in the quarter. As for the iPad, he announced increased sales in the Middle East, China, and India, while adding that such growth was offset by lower sales in “more mature markets.” iTunes revenue was up to $2.6 billion. Apple expects $37 billion to $40 billion in revenue next quarter, with a gross margin between 37 and 38 percent. Maestri said he expects a busy fall, as Apple is “very excited” about what’s in the pipeline.

When asked about decreased tablet sales, Cook said that “significant innovation” can still come to the iPad, “and we plan on doing that.” Cook believes there’s a “substantial upside” in iPad sales within business, which led him to remark on the recently announced IBM partnership. “I honestly believe the opportunity is huge,” he said.

On sales in China this quarter, Cook said, “We thought it would be strong, but it well went past what we thought.” He noted that unit growth was “off the charts.”

Asked about trade-in programs for iPhone, Cook said trade-ins are “hugely beneficial for our ecosystem,” as those phones often go to “price sensitive” customers. Cook also believes the cannibalization factor is low due to that price sensitivity, while pointing out the high resale value of Apple products. But he also noted, “It’s very different to quantify with certainty.”

Cook said iPhone 5c had the highest growth of the current three iPhone tiers in the quarter.

When asked how Apple is changing, in reference to the Beats acquisition and the IBM partnership, Cook said that although the company is always on the lookout for acquisitions, “we don’t let our money burn a hole in our pocket.” Again, Cook referenced Beats’ subscription service and products, while taking the time to note that Beats has “a very rare set of talent that we think can do great things in Apple.”

Apple Q3 2014: 35.2M iPhones, 13.3M iPads, 2.9M iPods, $37.4B revenue

Apple reported its third quarter 2014 financial results today, selling 35.2 million iPhones, 13.27 million iPads, and 2.9 million iPods. The company posted quarterly revenue of $37.4 billion and quarterly net profit of $7.7 billion, or $1.28 per diluted share. In Q3 2013, Apple had revenue of $35.3 billion and net profit of $6.9 billion, or $1.07 per diluted share. Gross margin was 39.4 percent compared to 36.9 percent a year ago. International sales contributed to 59 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

“Our record June quarter revenue was fueled by strong sales of iPhone and Mac and the continued growth of revenue from the Apple ecosystem, driving our highest EPS growth rate in seven quarters,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said. “We are incredibly excited about the upcoming releases of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, as well as other new products and services that we can’t wait to introduce.”

“We generated $10.3 billion in cash flow from operations and returned over $8 billion in cash to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases during the June quarter,” Apple CFO Luca Maestri said. “We have now taken action on over $74 billion of our $130 billion capital return program with six quarters remaining to its completion.”

Despite the year-over-year increase in iPhone unit sales, the results notably included a year-over-year decline in iPad sales, and a modest 6% sequential increase for iPods. iTunes/Software/Services and Accessories categories both posted healthy 12% gains.

Simpsons World, FXNOW coming to Apple TV?

Simpsons World and FXNOW will be coming to the Apple TV, according to recent reports. TV writer Jason Lynch tweeted that FXNOW, the on-demand video service for FX, FXX, and FXM, would debut on Apple’s set-top box “in the next 12 months.” The recently announced Simpsons World digital channel — which launches in October and will feature all 522 episodes of The Simpsons along with additional content — will also be coming to the set-top box, HitFix reports. HitFix’s Alan Sepinwall told iLounge via Twitter that Simpsons World would be a separate app from FXNOW on Apple TV. Both FXNOW and Simpsons World will require cable authentication. Simpsons World is set to launch in October, and it will be limited to FXX subscribers in the U.S, though it’s unclear if the Apple TV channel will launch at the same time as the also-announced iOS app.

Update: Lynch subsequently posted that Simpsons World will not be a separate iOS app, but rather will be incorporated into the FXNOW app.

WSJ: Apple asking suppliers to make 70-80M new iPhones this year

Apple is asking its suppliers to manufacture between 70-80 million units of its upcoming two new iPhones combined by Dec. 30, The Wall Street Journal reports. As noted in the report, this represents a significant step up from last year’s initial order of 50-60 million units for the iPhone 5s and 5c. It still appears there could be a delay with the larger model, as display makers are “struggling to improve the production of the larger 5.5-inch screens.” The in-cell technology used to create a thinner, lighter display is reportedly causing the complications, and using sapphire instead of glass could also present more issues. Additionally, sources said that Apple is asking component makers to prepare enough parts for 120 million new iPhones by the end of the year, in case the displays have a high failure rate.

Apple ‘iTime’ patent includes wristband sensors

Apple was granted a patent today for an electronic wristband that can be coupled to an electronic wristwatch. The wristband, which can interact with the watch, can include digital sensors, wireless hardware, and other electronics, and could respond to gestures such as shaking and tapping. Within separate embodiments of the patent, the watch could be integrated into the wristband, or the two pieces could be removably secured together. The device shows “iTime” on the watch face in one illustration.

The device is shown as being able to interact with a mobile phone, portable computer, and desktop computer. This new patent, which was filed in 2011, is simpler than Apple’s other well-known “wearable accessory device” patent published last year. [via Apple Insider]

Tips app debuts in iOS 8 beta 4

Apple’s new Tips app has debuted within the fourth beta of iOS 8. The app shows people how to use the device with a list of tips, each consisting of around a paragraph of text plus an animated image. A list of six tips is shown initially, with the first being “Quickly respond to a notification.” Users can like/unlike tips and share tips, as well. All of the tips at this point are iOS 8-specific.

iTunes 12 makes its first appearance with iOS-style design

Alongside the latest OS X Yosemite beta preview, Apple has issued the first beta of iTunes 12. This represents the first time the app has been seen at all, although a new red icon was visible in the dock during Apple’s Yosemite presentation at WWDC. iTunes 12.0 includes a new “streamlined,” iOS 7/8-style design, Family Sharing, improved playlists, and a redesigned info window. The app has shifted to using black and white iOS-influenced iconography, and lets you view device media and other content (“Apps,” “Music,” “Photos”) in vertical lists rather than with horizontal tabs.

The app is available to registered developers through the Mac App Store.

Apple releases fourth beta of iOS 8

As expected, iOS 8 beta 4 has been released to registered developers, and is available as an over-the-air update as well as a download from Apple’s developer portal. This release comes two weeks after the third beta. We’ll update this story if any major changes are found.

Forensic scientist notes iOS ‘back doors’

Jonathan Zdziarski, a forensic scientist and the author of five iOS-related books, has posted slides from a recent conference talk titled “Identifying Back Doors, Attack Points, and Surveillance Mechanisms in iOS Devices.” Zdziarski’s talk, which he gave at the recent HOPE/X conference in New York, reveals an overview “of a number of undocumented high-value forensic services running on every iOS device,” including “suspicious design omissions in iOS that make collection easier.” While Zdziarski characterizes iOS devices as “reasonably secure,” there are undocumented services that can bypass backup encryption, and can be accessed via USB and wirelessly — over WiFi and “maybe cellular.” He notes the “personal nature of the data” is carried in a raw format, which would make it useless for tech support.

Notably, Zdziarski claims that commercial forensic software manufacturers are taking advantage of these backdoor iOS services to develop forensic tools that law enforcement agencies can use to easily extract data from seized devices. He notes that Apple is allowing packet sniffing without permission and is “dishing out a lot of data behind our backs.” Although Zdziarski raises suspicion to the nature of these services and notes that they “shouldn’t be there,” several of the services he identifies are in fact well-known internal Apple processes for handling things such as device activation, background iCloud and iTunes backup, and iTunes synchronization—processes that by design need to function without requiring the user to first unlock their device. For more details, the slides are available here. [via ZDNet]

Eighth annual iTunes Festival announced

Apple has announced the eighth annual iTunes Festival, a concert series held in London at the Roundhouse. There will be 30 days of concerts throughout September, which will be broadcast live to an iOS app, iTunes on the desktop, and Apple TV. This year’s artists include Maroon 5, Pharrell Williams, Beck, and Blondie. Apple held its first ever U.S. edition of the iTunes Festival at SXSW in March. More information is available on iTunes.

iLounge Game Spotlight: Bio Inc.

Bio Inc. ($2) is a new game from DryGin Studios that’s being billed as a “biomedical strategy simulator.” The game challenges players to create the ultimate illness. It is decidedly not for everyone.

Some have compared Bio Inc. to Plague Inc., for obvious reasons. But where Plague Inc. tasks you with developing a plague to bring about the end of humanity, Bio Inc. is focused on one patient at a time. You name a person, see his health weaknesses, and set about trying to kill him by assailing him with a wide range of ailments. It’s a morbid premise that becomes more macabre as the game progresses.

EU criticizes Apple for in-app purchases (Update)

The European Commission said that Apple has “provided no concrete and immediate solutions” to in-app purchase problems, Reuters reports. Payment approvals within the App Store are still a sticking point for the EU. Google, on the other hand, was praised by the commission for taking measures to improve their in-app payment issues. “Over the last year we made sure any app which enables customers to make in-app purchases is clearly marked,” an Apple spokesman said. “We will continue to work with the EC member states to respond to their concerns.” Apple drew heat from Italian authorities in May for advertising free apps that required in-app purchases for continued use. The company could face legal action if the company is seen as breaking EU consumer protection law.

Update: Apple issued a response to Engadget, in which the company points out the strides it has made regarding clarifying in-app purchases. The statement concludes: “Our goal is to continue to provide the best experience for our customers and we will continue to work with the EC member states to respond to their concerns.”

Sue Wagner joins Apple board of directors as Bill Campbell retires

Apple has announced the retirement of one of its longest-serving members on its board of directors, Bill Campbell, and the election of Susan L. Wagner of BlackRock to the board. Campbell has been with Apple since 1983, and is behind only Steve Jobs and Mike Markkula in length of tenure on the board.

Wagner co-founded BlackRock, an asset management company, where she served in various roles including vice-chairman. She’s on the board of several companies, including BlackRock, DSP BlackRock, Swiss Re, Wellesley College, and Hackley School. “Sue is a pioneer in the financial industry and we are excited to welcome her to Apple’s board of directors,” Tim Cook said in Apple’s press release. “We believe her strong experience, especially in M&A and building a global business across both developed and emerging markets, will be extremely valuable as Apple continues to grow around the world.”

Apps of the Week: Overcast, Ingress, Endless Numbers 1.2 + more

New Apps

Google Analytics (free) — Google has released a new Google Analytics app that allows users to access their web and app data from an iOS device. For those not in the know, Google Analytics is a popular service that offers website owners detailed site traffic statistics. The app offers Real Time reports, which lets users monitor recent changes.

Overcast: Podcast Player (free) — There is no shortage of thoughtfully designed podcast apps made to replace Apple’s own app, which has been through many ups and downs since it was released. The latest, and perhaps most hotly anticipated, is Marco Arment’s Overcast. The app is currently iPhone-only, available as a free download. It’s fully usable as-is, although a $5 in-app purchase unlocks a number of features that enhance the experience, such as cellular downloads, a sleep timer, and unlimited playlists. The key features that help differentiate this one from the others on the market, apart from aesthetic design, are both audio engineering tricks that get unlocked when you spend the money. Smart Speed is a really cool tool; rather than increasing the speed of the podcast and making the speakers sound like chipmunks, it’s able to detect gaps and edit out the silence, saving you time in listening. Voice Boost does just what its name says, making it easier to listen to podcasts in cars or other environments where there’s background noise, without having to pump up the volume. Both Smart Speed and Voice Boost can be used for five minutes at a time before you decide to buy.

New Games

daWindci Deluxe ($3) — Mimimi Productions has released a new version of its popular, Apple Design Award winning daWindci game with daWindci Deluxe. The upgraded game — in which players paint wind, hurricanes, and lightning on screen to guide a hot air balloon through levels — now features full Retina support and new wind drawing mechanics. All new particle effects, crisper textures, and post effect shaders have also been added to the game. Considering the original daWindci is still $4, this is the one you want.

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