SnapChat rival's core requirement backtracked, Messenger now allows fullscreen viewing
On Thursday, Facebook updated two of its applications for iOS users: the now-required Messenger chatting program, and its SnapChat-like photo-messaging app Slingshot. The latter's biggest change is the removal of what was previously a puzzling core requirement of the app -- users no longer have to "reply" with a message, photo or video before being allowed to see the message, photo or video sent to them. The now-mandatory Messenger app has been updated to allow full-screen viewing of photos and videos.
Popular narrative-based game returns for third season, release date unknown
During last's weeks San Diego Comic Con, Telltale Games, the developer of narrative-based adventure games like The Wolf Among Us, announced that it would be producing a third season of its popular The Walking Dead game. Details on the next season of the title are scarce as it was only mentioned during a panel for Skybound Entertainment, The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman's imprint. The game likely won't be out and time soon as the company still hasn't wrapped up season two of The Walking Dead. It's also looking to release narrative games in the same style with Tales from the Borderlands and Game of Thrones.
Excel, PowerPoint get custom improvements
Microsoft has updated its trio of Office apps for the iPad -- Word, Excel, and PowerPoint -- adding a number of significant features. Perhaps the biggest addition is support for PDF export, but new third-party fonts have also been added, as have new Picture tools that let people crop an image or reset it to an unaltered state. Other changes are specific to Excel and PowerPoint.
Password vault app could work with third-party apps, merchants
AgileBits, makers of the security and password vault 1Password, are among the first to implement and preview an iOS 8 extension and third-party Touch ID support, allowing other app makers to utilize the program's stored passwords outside of the 1Password app itself. Apple announced the concept of iOS extensions at June's Worldwide Developer Conference, which enables one app to use tools or services found in a different app in a secure manner.
File insertion, protected sections, notebook organization, formatted text and more
Microsoft on Tuesday issued a significant update of its free note-taking application, OneNote. The new version, 2.3, adds a number of user-requested features, including the ability to insert files into notes, add PDF printouts to any notebook page alongside a users' own notes, copy and paste formatted text and more -- as well as lock or unlock password-protected sections created in OneNote for Windows. The update affects all versions of the app, including iPhone, iPad and Mac.
Grovemade introduces limited edition metal iPhone docks
Accessories producer Grovemade has announced the introduction of a limited edition run of iPhone docks comprised of metal. Called the Black Dock, the new product is available with a solid steel or brass base, combined with an aluminium cap that is protected with a matte black coating. The Black Dock is designed for iPhone 5/5s/5c and the 4/4s, and weighs 3 pounds.
Yelp iOS app adds ability to create up to 12-second video clips
Branching out in its ability to offer reviews of local businesses, Yelp has now updated its iOS app to version 8.1, which gives users the option to create a shortly 3-12 second-long video message alongside or in place of written reviews, comments or images. The video option is the only significant new feature, alongside the usual bug fixes and tweaks, and "lives" alongside the photo option -- which can now be toggled between photos and videos. Users can find existing video reviews alongside photos in both the app and on the company's website.
Now offers Tune Your Taste, verified accounts, song history, more
As the process of Beats Music's acquisition by Apple continues, the iOS app for the subscription-based Beats Music service has received an update to both make playback better and more reliable as well as to improve the overall user experience. The new version 2.2.0 gives users the ability to customize the services's "Just For You" recommendations by changing artists and genres with a new feature called Tune Your Taste. In addition to some other changes, Beats reports that it has "fixed a ton of bugs."
Apple technology will be used by Swirl, Motorola Solutions to deploy in Canadian, US stores
HBC Department Store Group, which owns both the Lord & Taylor and Hudson's Bay department store chain, has announced it will be using indoor iBeacons leveraging Apple technology, manufactured by Motorola Solutions and powered by software from Swirl Networks across more than 130 of the corporation's stores in Canada and the US. The move follows in the footsteps of Macy's, which did a similar deployment of iBeacons last November in stores in New York City and San Francisco.
Hotel chain rolling out iOS and Android device integration through guests' stay
Hilton Worldwide has announced that its guests will now be able to use their iOS or Android device to control most elements of a guest's hotel stay. Due to roll out this summer, the upcoming Hilton app will soon allows users to choose a preferred room, make requests, and check in and out of the hotel through their smarphones. Room selection is anticipated to be available by the end of the year, and will include the DoubleTree and Embassy Suites chains. In 2015, guests' phones will also unlock their room. Most of these features focus on bypassing the physical hotel lobby. By the end of 2016, Hilton aims to integrate the majority of its rooms worldwide with these new app-based functionalities.
E-on Software releases free Ozone 2014 Personal Learning Edition
E-on Software has announced the release of its Ozone 2014 Personal Learning Edition, a sun and atmospheric lighting simulator. The software produces ultra-realistic environments with volumetric clouds, accurate light dispersion, and natural phenomena such as "Godrays." Users can create new atmospheres, and load any of the included presets and modify them.
App to be discontinued
Beginning with iOS 8 beta 4, Apple is warning owners of iPhoto for iOS that some features may not make the transition to its replacement, at least at first. Much as with iPhoto on the Mac, users will eventually be migrated over to an all-new, native Photos app, a huge overhaul of the existing iOS Photos app. When trying to run iPhoto in the current beta of iOS 8, an error message now appears stating that iPhoto isn't supported; instead, people are offered the choice to migrate data to Photos, with the exception of "layouts and text added to Books, Journals and Slideshows."
PDF, CBZ copies of Comixology purchases available to download
ComiXology, the digital comic book retailer owned by Amazon, is now allowing users to make backups of some downloaded comics. For a number of publishers, the service will make PDF and CBZ versions of comic book purchases free of any digital rights management (DRM), effectively letting customers view the comics they own in other reader apps.
Gmail for iOS now leverages Google Drive directly for archiving and attachments
Google has updated its Gmail for iOS (free) to allow users to leverage the company's Google Drive in two new ways: users can now save attachments in emails directly to Google Drive, and users can now access Google Drive directly from within the Gmail app to add attachments to outgoing messages. The update to version 3.14159 (yes, pi) also gives users more options with account management, such as deciding which of their Gmail account is seen without removing other accounts, and changing the Gmail profile pic.
E-book subscription service Oyster launches web and mobile web reader
Oyster, an e-book subscription service, has announced its launch of new web and mobile web readers. The expansion marks its second new platform in the past month (with the first launch specifically for Android users in June). Pages in the web reader will scroll smoothly from top to bottom, with five reader themes to select from. Oyster is partnered with over 1,600 publishers, and offers access to a diverse library for $10 per month.
More color selection options
Savage Interactive has released v2.1 of Procreate, its professional-level illustration app for the iPad. The update is a major one, adding a number of new features, most significantly ColorDrop. Users can now simply drag and drop a color to a location to fill; before dropping, continuing to hold will bring up fill threshold controls.
Drive pricey, but in larger sizes cheaper than equivalent iPad storage
Accessory manufacturer PQI is now shipping the Gmobi iStick, an Apple "MFi" USB flash drive. The device, with a Lightning and conventional USB head, is designed for Apple's entire series of iOS devices with a Lightning port, and is available in capacities from 8GB to 64GB.
Disney's Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse released for OS X July 24
Feral Interactive today announced the upcoming release of its fairytale platforming game Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse, a reworking of the SEGA Genesis and Mega Drive original. Players navigate the 3D game as Mickey, with the goal of rescuing Minnie Mouse from the evil witch Mizrabel. Players will run, jump, swing and swim through whimsical levels such as a haunted forest, and solve puzzles along the way.
Feature pulls items into central location, issues save item News Feed reminders
Facebook users no longer need to worry about trying to find a post on that interesting band or restaurant they didn't have time to read. The social media company announced today that it launched Save, a feature that allows users to collect items for later consumption into one place. The feature is rolling out to mobile app and web-based users of the social media service.
Battery powered drive aims to boost mobile storage wirelessly
Regardless of how large a tablet you buy, you always want more space. There's always one more movie or another album you'd cram on, if only there was a little more room! A line of products has surfaced, which purport to expand the capacity of a tablet by offloading media and other documents to a wireless hard drive. Patriot has a device in the class, the Aero Wireless Mobile Drive. The concept is a really good idea, but how is the execution? Read our review and find out.
DJ Player updated, adds navigation improvements, new track browser
DJ Player for iOS devices has received an update, offering redesigned, streamlined features. DJ Player aims to provide desktop-grade performance on one's mobile device, and allows users to manually beat-match and bend pitches as desired. Displaying, sorting, search and filtering one's music library can be executed with little time elapsing. DJ Player v7.2 includes a completely rewritten track browser. Its "intelligent path bar" allows for one-tap navigation between multiple playlists, and tapping on the artwork, time, comment or BPM columns can queue or "unqueue" a track.
MacNN and Electronista staff deals for July 18, 2014
Yes, its that time again! Time for another episode of "Friday Deals!" Every Friday, we're going to take a look at sales, and bring you what we think are some of the best bargains on prime apps, gadgets, and peripherals for you, the discriminating MacNN and Electronista reader. All prices are verified at the time of publication, but any sales may not be valid if you're reading a few days down the line. Check pricing before you click buy!
Google Analytics for iOS released on iTunes
Google has released its Analytics app, optimized for iPhone 5 users. The app allows users to access web and app data from Google Analytics, and the company aims to offer a variety of marketing research tools to generate more viewers and more revenue. The mobile app eliminates the need to view account information through a browser page, and users can monitor real-time reports. Available for iOS 6 or later, the Google Analytics app is free to download.
Passbook card is refillable at Apple Stores, debuted in Japan
One day after the service initially debuted in Japan, the new "iTunes Pass" Passbook card is now available in the US and Australia. The iTunes app on an iPhone or iPad can now issue an "iTunes Pass" card for Passbook to users who click on the "Redeem" button in the iTunes app. Once in place, users can bring the device to their nearest Apple retail store, where staff can take money and instantly add it to the Passbook card by scanning the card, which in turn credits the users' iTunes account.
AirBnB revamps look of app for iOS 7, adds 'Discover' feature
Short-term housing and accommodations app Airbnb (free) has been redecorating its entire public-facing image, from redesigning its website and sporting a new logo to bringing the flatter and larger design language of iOS 7 to its latest update. The new version of the app offers larger images and fonts, but retains the main features that both hosts and would-be renters use to connect. A new "Discover" feature lets users find places to stay through less conventional means, such as by theme, as well as the traditional methods of where and when.
Natural acoustic iPhone dock Eight now available
A new acoustic amplifier has been released for iPhone, composed of a natural wood construction. The Eight is hand sanded and hand oiled, making the wood structure the center of the design. Made of walnut and Birdseye maple, the iPhone dock features a built-in microphone, and its speakers are inspired by the shape of an ear, with conically-shaped chambers that produce aesthetically pleasing sound. The iPhone is accessible for use while in the dock, and its built-in slot includes a Lightning cable that can charge an iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s. Priced at $300, the Eight wooden dock is available internationally.
New app versions include videos, interviews, photos and lower cost
In an unusual move, Concord Music Group and former Beatle Paul McCartney have re-worked five of the singer-songwriter's classic albums -- McCartney, Ram, Band on the Run, Wings over America and 1980's McCartney II -- as multi-media iPad apps. The re-worked iPad versions feature not only remastered audio of the albums in question, but also videos, interviews, artwork associated with the release (such as single covers) and photos from the period.
Google's Chrome browser app for iOS adds Chromecast support
Google has updated its Chrome browser app for iOS today, adding Chromecast support. Chrome for iOS syncs tabs and bookmarks across devices, can translate webpages in any language, and allows users to open as many tabs as is desired. Chrome v36.0.19 allows mobile sites that have added Cast support to work one's Cast-enabled device. Additionally included in the update are stability-focused improvements and bug fixes. Chrome for iOS is free to download and requires iOS 6.0 or later.
New update brings user interface enhancements, new graphical elements
Subscription reading service Scribd today announced key updates to its existing iOS and Android apps, and the formal launch of its all-new app for Windows phones and tablets. As part of the update, current iOS and Android readers will find a new browse and book page experience, as well as new fonts and color palettes.
Song identifier app integrates subscription Rdio streaming
Song-indentifying app Shazam (free) has introduced a new update that incorporates streaming music service Rdio into the app, allowing subscribers to Rdio to hear the full version of songs identified using Shazam. Previously, Shazam would have to switch over to a third-party app if users wanted to hear a full copy of a song they identified in the app, but now those with Rdio installed won't have to fire up the previously-installed Rdio app to hear the full track. Shazam also offers iTunes buying of tracks, and in iOS 8 will integrate with Siri so that users can simply ask what song is playing at any time.
Wunderlist 3 announced, to premiere in coming weeks
Task management app Wunderlist has announced the upcoming release of its third version, due in the coming weeks. Featuring a new design, Wunderlist 3 includes 60 new improvements, which centre around improving the app's versatility in curating and sharing lists. Those interested in being one of the first users of Wunderlist 3 can sign up, and news updates can be found on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Google+.
New version offers integrated, synced one-stop PIM shop
Some users need a lot more than just what Apple's built-in Calendar, Notes and Reminders can offer in terms of organizing their life, and for them the term PIM (Personal Information Manager) becomes a familiar one. We've had a chance to work with the recent 4.0 major update of long-time PIM Pocket Informant, and have really appreciated the changes and the versatility of the app. Users looking for a one-stop app that syncs with popular calendar and related services, this just might be your Nirvana.
Jury finds Apple did not push app developers into infringing older streaming patent
Apple has scored another legal victory, this time against Israeli firm Emblaze and its charge that Apple induced app developers to infringe Emblaze's US patent on live video streaming. A federal jury found in Friday that Apple was not guilty of requiring any of the seven example apps used in the trial to use Apple's own HLS (HTTP live streaming) protocol, and thus did not foster infringement of the patent. Emblaze, a struggling audio company that had tried to sell the technology many times, is also suing Microsoft in a similar case.
Photoshop Express adds new tools, filter strength gauge, RAW format import
Adobe has followed up on its recent spate of new iPad apps with an update to the older Photoshop Express, now at version 3.4. The new version offers four specific new features: two new tools, the ability to import photos in RAW format, and a new ability to increase or decrease filter strength as desired. The two new tools are a "defog" tool to remove haziness, and a "blemish removal" tool. Photoshop Express is available free from the App Store. The app is also compatible with the iPhone.
Electronista and MacNN staff deal picks for July 11, 2014
Another week, another episode of "Friday Deals!" Every Friday, we're going to take a look at sales, and bring you what we think are some of the best bargains on prime apps, gadgets, and peripherals for you, the discriminating MacNN and Electronista reader. All prices are verified at the time of publication, but any sales may not be valid if you're reading a few days down the line. Check pricing before you click buy!
New Explore feature points out places and activities
Google has released an update of its Google Maps client for iOS, adding several significant features. When searching for places, for instance, results will now appear directly on a map. Users can switch between this view and a more standard list.
IK Multimedia launches portable Lightning/USB iRig MIDI 2
IK Multimedia has announced that it is now shipping the iRig MIDI 2, a portable MIDI interface with Lightning and USB connectivity for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, as well as Mac and PC. The device is equipped with three standard-sized female MIDI DIN sockets -- IN, OUT and THRU -- which allow for full MIDI functionality and connectivity with any MIDI-enabled device, such as a keyboard, hardware synthesizer and more. Its two blue LED lights provide monitoring of the MIDI data passing through the In and Out sockets.
All-Star Game gets interactive content
Major League Baseball is entering into a second phase of iBeacon deployments at stadiums. Beginning this is project for the 2014 All-Star Game, which is being hosted at Target Field in Minneapolis. People with a supporting iPhone and the latest version of At the Ballpark will get extra content, including interactive material, when visiting nine different exhibits in the stadium. iBeacons are already in use at 28 other ballparks, but mostly for check-ins and discounts.
D-Link now shipping new 802.11ac Wireless Access Point device
D-Link has announced the release of the DAP-2660, a new high-power 802.11ac wireless access point. Enclosed in a low-profile white housing, the DAP-2660 can be installed on the ceiling or wall-mounted in locations that require access to a wireless signal. Its maximum wireless signal rates are up to 300Mbps using a 2.4GHz band, and 867Mbps using the 5GHz band. The access point supports advanced radio management features such as band steering, airtime fairness and load balancing.
Google Search app now features fix option for voice recognition
Google Search's voice recognition has a new feature that aims to relieve the problem of misheard words. Prior to the update, users would need to restart their verbal search query if it was originally misheard by the app - now, the command "no I said" is in effect, meaning that the new search replaces just the one word that was incorrect. The update is available for both iOS and Android versions of Google Search.
MapQuest for iOS update improve ETA feature, adds airport maps, GrubHub support
AOL's MapQuest: Maps, GPS, Voice Navigation and Traffic app for iOS has received an update, improving its ETA feature, and adding new components. MapQuest for iOS allows users to access travelling resources such as live maps, GPS, voice navigation and live traffic updates. The release of v4.4 now includes additional traffic data for improving the accuracy of the estimated arrival time. Its new volume slider helps control volume relative to other applications, so that dictated directions can be adequately heard.
NYC officials demanding drug, criminal screening for all Lyft drivers
Ride-sharing service Lyft has revealed that it intends to start operating in the outer boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens as initial launch markets in New York City. Calling the areas "vastly underserved by public transit options," the service launches on 7PM EST on Friday, July 11, but is facing significant resistance both from established cab companies and city government.
Discussions let students, teachers communicate
As promised at the end of June, Apple has released a major update of iTunes U, v2.0. On the iPad, teachers can now create and manage courses entirely on their own, including assignments, outlines, and other course materials. Custom content can be added via an "Open in iTunes U" extension in other iOS apps such as Pages and Keynote; photos and video can be captured and uploaded directly. If a teacher is associated with a qualifying institution, they can publish courses to the official iTunes U catalog.
Dropbox and MIT alumni launch Inbox start-up
A new cross-platform email application start-up has been released by Dropbox and MIT alumni, billed as a "next generation" platform. Inbox offers a way to build apps that access end users' inboxes, working with Gmail, Yahoo, Microsoft Exchange and more. The platform does not require the use of IMAP, and so can support a wider range of developers who can create a wider range of email tools, such as snoozing messages, or sending emails on behalf of an end user.
Health app now leverages iPhone 5s M7 motion co-processor
Another notable change found as testers pore over the latest iOS 8 beta is that the Health app is now connected to the M7 motion co-processor found in the iPhone 5s. As a result, the app can now keep track of steps taken without the aid of any third-party apps or hardware. Upon opening the revised Health app, users will find the previous week's worth of step data (which is continuously monitored by the M7) pre-populated. Users can remove "sets" of steps if desired, and sort all Health data by day, week, month or year.
Skype rolls out iPhone app update, re-introduces voice-message support
Microsoft has released v5.2 of the iPhone version of its Skype app. Users can now receive recorded messages from when they are offline within a conversation stream, and it can be listened to directly. User profiles can be viewed from one's contacts, displaying status, username, location and more. Additionally, participants can be added to existing conversations through the main menu on the bottom right-hand side. Skype v5.2 is free to download through iTunes.
Akvis Pastel released, available as standalone app and Photoshop plug-in filter
Akvis has announced the release of Pastel, a photo-to-painting image editor available for both Windows and OS X. Offering a variety of presets as well as detailed setting options, users of Pastel can create images that appear as though they are paintings from digital or scanned photographs. Its adjustable effect parameters function as an artistic filter, with advanced brush tools that assist in refining the result.
Non-collectible card-game arcade fighting game spans genres, fan bases
Apple's iOS and other mobile platforms have occasionally been criticized for offering relatively few "deep" gaming experiences, with simplified versions of complex titles being big movers. The iPad came into its own about six months after its release with titles such as Ticket to Ride and other board game adaptations, with a bevy of other releases following. Card games, mostly of the collectible variety, are popular -- with the recently-released Hearthstone by Blizzard taking top honors. But what about deep card games without a collectible mechanic? Game designer David Sirlin has released Yomi, a genre-spanning card-based game, drawing on arcade fighting games like Street Fighter II and the like for inspiration. Does Yomi live up to its promises of a deep, strategic experience, without "pay to win" being a factor?
Electronista and MacNN staff's deal picks for July 4, 2014
Welcome to this week's installment of Friday Deals -- oh, and also America's birthday! Every Friday we're going to take a look at sales, and bring you what we think are some of the best bargains on prime apps, gadgets, and peripherals for you, the discriminating MacNN and Electronista reader. All prices are verified at the time of publication, but any sales may not be valid if you're reading a few days down the line. Check pricing before you click buy!
Pioneer releases update for its digital music management software
Pioneer has announced the release of an updated version of Rekordbox for OS X, its digital music management software. Rekordbox is designed for DJing, and allows users to export tracks and playlists to USB devices and the Rekordbox app. During a DJing session, performance history is automatically saved, and after a set the user can review and prepare for a future performance by adding comments and ratings to an old set.