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2K Drive coming this fall from Gotham Racing devs

2K Drive, a racing simulation game for iPhone and iPad, will launch this fall, 2K Games announced. 2K and Lucid Games are behind the game, with Lucid being a boutique studio founded by the creators of Project Gotham Racing and Blur. The racing game will feature single and multiplayer modes, including track racing, drag racing, street racing, off-road racing, and mini-games.

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More than 25 licensed cars will be included in the game. 2K Games has recently released a number of notable iOS games, including XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Haunted Hollow, and Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol.

Apple ramps up hiring in China

Apple currently has more than 200 LinkedIn job openings in China, including an environmental affairs program manager, store specialist, and security specialist, according to The Wall Street Journal. The company also appears to be hiring “a bunch of retail specialists and store leaders.” CEO Tim Cook recently visited China as Apple looks to expand its presence in the important emerging market. A Thursday report noted that Apple is looking to hire engineers in Taiwan. During Apple’s Q2 2013 financial results conference call, Cook said “we still see a significant opportunity in China.”

Apple releases iOS 7 beta 6

Apple has released iOS 7 beta 6, earlier than expected, as a small patch to beta 5. The sixth beta addresses an issue with iTunes in the Cloud, in which some purchases may download or play unexpected items. Apple just released the fifth beta last week.. iOS 7 beta 6 is available through Apple’s developer portal or Software Update in iOS settings.

Apps: Amtrak 1.6, Flipboard 2.0.5, Plants vs Zombies 2 1.1 + Yelp 7.0

Amtrak has updated its free app to version 1.6. The app now features redesigned station details with more features, including more hours and improved map integration. Recently selected stations are now included in the station list for easy access. It’s also easier to switch arrival and departure stations on search pages.

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The free Flipboard app is now at version 2.0.5, and with the update comes… GIFs, which are now supported on Flipboard for both iPad and iPhone. The day’s top stories have also been divided into sections for News, Tech, Business, and Sports.

Apple looking to hire engineers in Taiwan

Apple is seeking engineers in Taiwan, as the company reportedly plans to create a new R&D team within the country for future product development. The iPhone is specifically mentioned as one product the engineers would help in developing. Apple job listings show a number of hardware engineering positions in Taipei, including a reliability engineering manager and engineering project manager, among a collection of jobs that were posted within the past week. [via DigiTimes]

Isaacson: Apple TV revolution stalled on cable bundling

In a CNBC interview, Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson was asked what’s “gone wrong” with Apple’s plan to revolutionize TV, which Isaacson heard firsthand from Jobs before his death in 2011. While the hardware and software were reportedly not problems, getting all the cable providers on board with on-demand programming was the main issue, Isaacson said. “That’s very hard with the cable bundling system we have,” he said.

When Jobs spoke of cracking the code to TV, “He was talking about being able to get whatever you want, on demand, like you could with any song for 99 cents instantly in the original iTunes store,” Isaacson said. And creating an easy interface for viewers isn’t the problem. “That is something I think Apple can crack,” he said, suggesting that the goal was to eliminate multiple remote controls and multiple boxes in favor of a simpler control system anyone could understand.

iOS 7 gold master to partners Sept. 5, devs Sept. 10?

Apple will release the gold master version of iOS 7 to employees and partners “around” Sept. 5, according to a report. The gold master build will then be released to developers on Sept. 10, the day of Apple’s next iPhone event. Though the report isn’t verified, it’s not a stretch to believe Apple will release the gold master to developers on that day based on past events. That version of iOS will likely be released as the finished product — with possible slight variations — a few days before the release of the next iPhone. [via BGR]

Apple updates Guidelines for Children’s Apps

Apple has released an update to its App Store Review Guidelines with a focus on clarifying policies regarding applications for children. Several of the new rules appear designed to address the recent expansion of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), limiting developers from asking for personal information from children under the age of 13 and specifically requiring that apps that collect or “have the capability to share” personal information from a minor must “comply with applicable children’s privacy statutes.”

A new section 24, “Kids Apps” has also been added to provide specific guidelines for apps that are “primarily intended” for users under the age of 13. The section indicates that such apps must include a privacy policy, must include age-appropriate advertising and may not include behavioural advertising of any kind, and must require the user to get parental permission or use a “parental gate” before linking out of the app of engage in any online transactions. Apps in the new “Kids” category must also be specifically made for one of three age groups: 5 and under, 6 to 8, or 9 to 11. [via Mac Rumors]

Apple updates beta iCloud.com site with iOS 7 design

Apple has updated its web-based beta.icloud.com site to match its design for iOS 7. As the iCloud beta site includes Find My iPhone, the update offers clues as to what the iOS Find My iPhone app will look like when it gets updated.

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The design also suggests that Apple is readying some iOS 7-style changes to future Mac desktops; it incorporates an animated background akin to iOS 7’s, as well as similar font choices. Apple’s new iCloud.com will likely come out of beta in the fall. [via 9to5Mac]

Orbotix announces Sphero 2.0 robotic ball

Orbotix has announced Sphero 2.0 ($130), the new edition of its iOS-compatible robotic gaming ball. Sphero 2.0 boasts a new motion engine that’s twice as fast as the original Sphero, and updated multicolor LEDs make Sphero 2.0 three times brighter than its predecessor.

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Sphero 2.0 also features brand new accessories — it comes with two ramps, and Nubby covers for harsher environments are sold separately. More than 25 apps now support Sphero. Sphero 2.0 will be released on Aug. 30.

Billionaire Carl Icahn makes large Apple investment

Carl Icahn, the billionaire chairman of holding company Icahn Enterprises, has disclosed that his company has taken a “large position in Apple,” and that Apple is “extremely undervalued.” Icahn has been an active investor in a wide variety of well-known companies, frequently coming into conflict with existing management over issues of shareholder value, while using pressure and lawsuits to force changes to their boards and plans—often to drive short-term profits for shareholders.

In posts to Twitter, Icahn also mentioned that he spoke to Apple CEO Tim Cook, and stated that a “larger buyback should be done now.” Apple confirmed Icahn’s conversation with Cook and told AllThingsD: “We appreciate the interest and investment of all our shareholders. Tim had a very positive conversation with Mr. Icahn today.” Apple shares have jumped to nearly $500 as of this writing, a six-month high.

Apple acquires TV discovery startup Matcha.tv

Apple has acquired Matcha.tv, a startup company that developed a second screen TV content discovery app. Matcha.tv was a popular iOS app that shut down in May. The service let users view programs available to watch from TV providers, digital stores such as iTunes and Amazon, and streaming video services like Netflix and Hulu. Matcha.tv’s app also provided a number of social options and recommendations. Apple responded to the acquisition report with a typical statement: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.” One source claimed Apple acquired Matcha.tv for $1-1.5 million, with another source refuting those numbers. Matcha.tv’s service could fit in to Apple’s future plans for TV, or could possibly be used in some capacity in the existing Apple TV. [via VentureBeat]

Update: TechCrunch reports the acquisition likely cost between $10-15 million, and that Apple was interested in acquiring Matcha due to its recommendation algorithms, which worked better than those of competing apps.

Apps: CBS Sports 6.0, KeyMe, Moose Math + Skype 4.1

CBS Sports (free) from CBS Interactive now features full iPad support. Version 6.0 of the redesigned app features live video, including SEC football games, NCAA basketball games, PGA Tour events, and various CBS Sports shows. When it comes to live scores, CBS Sports doesn’t offer scoring in as many leagues as ESPN’s ScoreCenter, but it’s still extensive and won’t affect most users of the app. Considering how quick and reliable scoring is on CBS Sports’ website, the CBS Sports app will likely be a good alternative to other popular offerings.

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KeyMe’s free KeyMe: Digital Keychain is an interesting new app that allows users to take a picture of their house keys for storage in the cloud. The app offers instructions on making the keys from scratch, so that if users get locked out, they could conceivably go to a local hardware store or locksmith to get a new key. KeyMe also lets users order copies of keys directly from the app for $10 each. The keys are then mailed to the user, in a number of different designs. It’s also possible to share digital copies of keys with family and friends.

Former Board member Ellison predicts Apple’s decline

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison foresees a decline at Apple in the post-Steve Jobs era, based on comments he made during a recent interview. While on “CBS This Morning,” Ellison — a former Apple Board of Directors member and very close friend of late Apple CEO Jobs — didn’t shy away from sharing his opinion on what Apple will be like without Jobs around. “Well, we already know,” Ellison told Charlie Rose. “We saw — we conducted the experiment. I mean, it’s been done. We saw Apple with Steve Jobs,” he said, gesturing upwards. “We saw Apple without Steve Jobs,” he said, drawing a steep imaginary line downwards, then another line up as he repeated, “We saw Apple with Steve Jobs.” Finally, he gestured sharply downwards again while saying, “Now, we’re gonna see Apple without Steve Jobs.” Ellison also referred to Jobs as “brilliant,” saying that “he was our Edison, he was our Picasso,” while noting Jobs’ ability to invent products. His pessimistic take on Apple is the strongest yet from a friend of Jobs, and coincides with concerns apparently voiced by current members of Apple’s Board of Directors. [via AllThingsD]

Apple offers deep discounts on iTunes movie, TV bundles

Apple is now offering a sale on iTunes movie and TV bundles, featuring some surprisingly deep discounts. For example, the entire eight-film Harry Potter collection is being sold for $10 in SD or HD, and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy is being offered for the same price. The Godfather Trilogy, Back to the Future Trilogy, and a 10-film Star Trek collection are also offered, among many other bundles. Some discounted bundles have appeared in the TV show section as well, including The Sopranos Seasons 1-3 and 4-6 for $45 each—notably down from $125 total before, but up from $40 per bundle several days ago—and a Fan Favorites collection from Star Trek: The Original Series for $10.

Update: Some of the bundle prices were changed early in the sale — the Harry Potter collection went from $10 to $60, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy changed to $18, and some other prices changed, as well. Though some of those early prices were likely accidental, some buyers did get bundles for those low initial prices.

Apple to unveil new iPad and mini before year’s end

Apple will indeed unveil the fifth-generation iPad and second-generation iPad mini in time for this year’s holiday season, Bloomberg reports. As expected, the new iPad will feature a thinner body design and a thinner bezel, more closely resembling the iPad mini. The next iPad mini will have a “high-resolution screen” — likely meaning a Retina display. According to the report, Apple won’t unveil the new iPads until after its new iPhone event, which is scheduled for September 10. Some reports circulating online have suggested that the new iPads will debut in the last three months of 2013, however, Bloomberg’s article does not specifically mention that window or a release in October, November, or December.

Sony to launch iPhone-compatible lens cameras

Sony is reportedly readying the launch of two iPhone-compatible lens camera attachments, as allegedly leaked images show. One of two rumored cameras would have a short zoom Carl Zeiss lens and 20.2 MP sensor, while the other would have an long zoom lens and 18 MP sensor. Each accessory will apparently have a Wi-Fi/NFC wireless connection and SD card slot, and could be controlled through an iOS device.

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The lenses can be “magnetically attached” to a smartphone, according to the report. Pricing is unknown at this point, though similar Sony cameras carry prices of about $750 and $400, respectively. September 4 has been noted as a possibility for the release date. [via SonyAlphaRumors]

iPhone 5S: gold, new Home Button, dual flash confirmed?

Apple’s upcoming iPhone will indeed be called the iPhone 5S, according to a new report from Macotakara, which also makes several claims regarding specifics of the model that is now expected to debut in September. First, the report suggests that a third color option beyond black or white will in fact be offered — a gold iPhone 5S, matching prior component leaks. Second, the rounded square icon seen on all prior iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad Home Buttons may be removed for this model, due to inclusion of a fingerprint sensor. A report from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (via 9to5Mac) suggests that the new button will be slightly convex, and made from sapphire, a switch from the concave plastic in prior Home Buttons.

Third, it’s claimed that the iPhone 5S camera will be improved with a faster f/2.0 lens to increase light gathering capabilities, but the sensor will stay at 8-Megapixels; reports have differed on whether the sensor would jump in megapixel count this time. A separate leak (via AppleInsider) also appears to confirm that the new camera will include a dual-LED flash system.

iPad 5 to use mini-style film touch panel

Apple’s fifth-generation iPad will use a film-based touch panel like the iPad mini, according to The Wall Street Journal. The film-based touch panel sits on top of the iPad’s glass display, and is both lighter and thinner than the glass-based touch panel used in the current iteration of the iPad. Film-based touch panels are now more advanced than before, allowing Apple to reduce space while still providing a high-quality display. The fifth-generation iPad is now reportedly being produced by Asian suppliers. We’ve long expected the new iPad to use a different screen technology, and to resemble the iPad mini.

Report: New iPhone event slated for September 10

Apple will unveil its next-generation iPhone at a September 10 event, according to a report from AllThingsD—a publication that is frequently fed accurate advance details on upcoming product releases by Apple. AllThingsD says that the event will focus on the “update it has in store for the current iPhone,” but doesn’t definitively rule in or out an unveiling of the well-documented but still unannounced low-cost iPhone. “Naturally, any new phones will be running iOS 7,” the report notes, suggesting that the public release of the operating system first shown in June will also take place in September.

The report suggests that the event is unlikely to see the release of OS X Mavericks, and says there is “no indication” that Apple’s television or watch products are “close to debuting.” Nothing was said about new iPads, iPods, or other products.

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