Another week goes flying by! Friday is here again, and with it comes the usual wave of rumors, product updates and fee increases by ATT. Oh, missed that last one? Well, be sure to read all the way through today’s news recap, because your next handset is going to cost you more, thanks to the upgrade fee charged by the carrier effectively being doubled, beginning this Sunday. But hey, why close out the week on such a downer note? There’s better news ahead in the rest of our recap for Friday, February 20, 2012.
If you’re syncing files between your desktop computer(s) and mobile device(s), chances are you’re using popular choices such as Dropbox or SugarSync. While the two companies duke it out for the hearts and mind of users everywhere, SugarSync CEO Laura Yecies took a moment today to email customers, reflect on some big developments from last year and look ahead to others yet to come. “Looking back on 2011 not only helps us remember all that was accomplished, but it also keeps us excited about all the new features we’re currently working hard on to bring to you in 2012,” Yecies writes. So what might that include, you ask? According to the email, the company is hard at work on support for external drives, integrating SugarSync with Samsung Smart TVs, redesigning the user interface “to make SugarSync even easier to use,” searching for files and last but not least, “updated mobile apps and new apps for iPad and Windows Phone 7.” Definitely sounds like the best is yet to come!
We’ve heard this news before, but AppleInsider is reporting that Apple is hard at work on the next generation of MacBook Pro, which are expected to be introduced in the near future. Unlike the last several generations, Cupertino is planning to completely revamp the design to something already familiar to mobile notebook users. “They’re all going to look like MacBook Airs,” claims a source familiar with Apple’s plans, with AppleInsider referring to them as “radically redesigned” MacBook Pros. Needless to say, the “new, ultra-thin unibody enclosures” will most certainly require Apple completely scrapping traditional optical drives and hard disks in favor of flash storage already used in the MacBook Air and iOS devices. So what about the current MacBook Pro form factor? “Existing MacBook Pro designs are expected to be phased out over the course of the year,” the report reveals. If you love those MacBook Pros with an optical disk slot, now might be the time to buy one…
Oh, rumors… how we love you so! Since Friday tends to be a slow news day for tech, the internet is abuzz with so-called “evidence” to support an incoming LTE-enabled iPad 3 or — heaven forbid! — even an iPhone 5. It all started earlier today when PhoneArena.com published some photos from “an anonymous tipster” (one shown above) showing how ATT is in the process of swapping out their old 3G micro-SIM cards — the ones used in the current iPad 2 and iPhone 4/4S – for swanky new ones that also happen to work with the carrier’s fledgling LTE network. To their credit, the website tosses out some hard facts before switching gears into wild speculation: These micro-SIMs are likely intended for the imminent release of the Windows Phone-packing Nokia Lumia 900. But then they have to ruin it by going to Crazy Town, suggesting the iPhone 5 will be coming later this year with LTE — and other websites ran with this suggestion, adding the more likely possibility that the iPad 3 could indeed come with LTE on board. Speculate all you want, but the only thing we know for sure is that ATT appears to be getting ready for some LTE handsets that require micro-SIMs.
Apple hasn’t had a lot of luck lately in German courts, but this morning, things seemed to finally turn their way. According to Foss Patents, “Judge Andreas Voss of the Mannheim Regional Court announced that a Motorola Mobility lawsuit over a patent declared essential to the 3G/UMTS wireless telecommunications standard has been dismissed.” The bottom line here is that the court found “that any implementation of 3G/UMTS must inevitably infringe this patent claim, as opposed to [Motorola] demonstrating that the accused Apple products actually practice the claimed invention.” Sadly, there are still two other patents related to GPRS and push email that went in Motorola’s favor last November and countless others yet to come, but always nice to see the home team grab a victory now and again.
ATT may have had a boffo fourth quarter last year, but they seem to be quite busy looking for new ways to milk their customers for even more dough this year. According to BGR, this Sunday, February 12, 2012 will see an increase in the fee the carrier charges when you upgrade to a new handset — from the current $18 to a whopping $36. (Yes, you’re reading that correctly: Double!) How is Ma Bell justifying this change? In a letter to dealers about the change which BGR got their hands on, the carrier blames it on “the overall costs associated with upgrading to a new device,” which they claim have increased in some way. Translation: “We’d rather keep you on an existing handset because we make more money that way. But if you really want that shiny new phone, prepare to pay for it.” At least they’re doing this now instead of waiting for some hot smartphone like the iPhone 5 to be released later this year…
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(Image courtesy of PhoneArenea.com)
Instagram, the wildly popular photo filtering and social sharing app for iPhone, has been updated with a new enhancement feature called Lux. With a tap of a button, Lux will apply an HDR (High Dynamic Range)-like effect to your photo that lightens shadows, darkens highlights and increases contrast. It does a phenomenal job.
Apple included an enhancement feature in the iOS 5 Photos app, but it’s mediocre at best. The problem with Apple’s version is that it’s supposed to fix all types of photos, but Lux focuses specifically on one issue and does it well. Lux is best used on landscapes that have areas that are too dark and too light — photos that you should’ve probably taken with HDR turned on, but didn’t, and now need to fix. Here’s an example of Lux on a photo of train tracks that I took.
In addition to Lux, Instagram has also added a new filter called “Sierra”, which frames and lightens a picture, and they’ve refreshed the look of the app in general, and the icons on the tab bar as well.
If you’ve taken any great shots with the new Lux enhancement or Sierra filter, share them in our Photography Forum — we’d love to see them!
This week offered a mix of good and bad news for iOS gaming. On the one hand, former iOS powerhouse Ngmoco announced layoffs, but we got some awesome news to offset that. It looks like old school adventure game superstars Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert could be making a new iOS adventure game funded entirely by Kickstarter users.
We’ll start with the bad news. One of the most notable and exciting publishers from the early days of the App Store has announced that it will be conducting a string of layoffs. We don’t know the exact numbers yet, but TechCrunch reports that the Rolando and Godfinger creator has shed upwards of 30 employees, with one game canceled and another trimmed down as a result of the downsizing.
We’re not quite sure if this has anything to do with iOS gaming yet, but it seems incredibly likely. Famed creator of old school adventure games, Tim Schafer, announced Wednesday that he was launching a Kickstarter for a new project via his Double Fine Productions game studio. He asked for $400,000 to fund the team and a documentary project about it, and within 24 hours, the total smashed past the $1 Million mark with more than 25,000 backers, and continues to add onto both tallies with each passing hour.
Double Fine is responsible for beloved titles like Psychonauts, Stacking, and Costume Quest, and Schafer says that the extra funds will go towards releasing the game on more platforms and in more languages. Considering how well point-and-click adventures typically work on the iPad and other touch screen devices, it shouldn’t be long before we hear about an iOS release. Keep your fingers crossed.
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This charming little game ($0.99, Universal) from freshman developer Red Zebra Games reminds many of the simplified RPG style employed by popular games like Battleheart. The big difference here is the heavy focus on giant boss battles. We approve.
You and your cadre of heroes (each a unique class) will be tasked with dispatching some nasty bosses in a setting that’s reminding some people of World of Warcraft’s end-game raids. It’s not a multiplayer game though. You control all the heroes and their abilities by yourself, which makes for an intriguing concept.
Ragdoll Blaster 3
The first two Ragdoll Blaster games were some of the earliest success stories on the newly-born App Store. However, the series has been notably quieter lately. After taking just one look at the third entry ($0.99, iPhone), it’s easy to see why. Clearly a lot more effort has gone into this project.
The visuals are far more eye-catching than either of the two previous installments, and it seems pretty clear that the developer is taking some cues from other success stories like Angry Birds, and Tiny Wings. Namely, cute sells like hot cakes on the App Store.
Back in 2009 and 2010, racing games were all the rage on iOS devices. In an era when touch controls were still spotty and frustrating, racing games provided some of the best control of any other genre. Since then, the genre has lost much of its luster for iOS developers and we don’t see as many releases these days.
Ignite is a bit of a throwback to those times. It’s an arcade-style racing game that takes cues from other favorites like Real Racing and Project Gotham Racing, and drifting and doing stunts earns you extra points. We’re looking forward to playing Ignite when the PC game makes it way to iOS in the near future.
Mail Enhancer adds a great deal of extra functionality to your jailbroken iPhone, including the ability to set custom signatures for different accounts, tailored notifications, advanced mail sorting options, and account highlighting. If the stock version of iOS simply doesn’t meet your needs, and you’re looking for more and better functionality, give Mail Enhancer a try.
iOS lacks the inability to have more than one e-mail signature. (That’s why we all see “Sent from my iPhone so often.) If you have a different account for home and office, for example, you’re forced to include the contact information for both and delete the inappropriate one each time, or neither, and enter it in manually on a case by case basis. If you remember. Mail Enhancer allows you to add as many mail signatures as you’d like. Not only can you set them per account, but you can take it one step further and also have separate signatures for composing, replying, and forwarding.
Mail Enhancer also has advanced notification controls built-in. You can set mail accounts as high priority and low priority and adjust notifications accordingly. For example, you can set up high priority email to use popup notifications but have them turned off for low priority email.
If you’re the type of person that likes to view all of your e-mails in one thread, Mail Enhancer makes it easy to set highlight colors for each account. That way, even when you’re viewing the unified inbox, you can still easily identify which account each email was sent to, without having to tap into each one individually. You can also add a bar to the top of your Mail app that allows you to easily toggle between all your messages and just unread messages.
Mail Enhancer is already available in Cydia, the jailbreak app store.
$4.99 – Cydia Search Link
Additional jailbreak resources:
Lots of good stuff in the deal basket for this weekend, so you can get your App Store finger ready for some freebies, some price cuts, and some fantastic app deals.
Sonic The Hedgehog 4™ Episode I HD
Old school Sega classics on your iOS device, with a price cut from $4.99 to $2.99. Unlock Super Sonic!
Keep your hedgehog action fresh and jumping with this classic. Same price as above, $2.99 gets you plenty arcade action.
20 maps, 48 levels, 35 cute monsters. And currently $2 off so you get it for free.
Sam Max Beyond Time and Space Ep 1
Our favorite freelance police are on the case and they’re also down to $4.99 from $6.99 and they’re totally worth it.
Interactive Painting Board
Do your kids love to paint? Of course they do so nab this currently free interactive iPad paint board.
World Atlas for iPad
Smart Solutions also has a delightful iPad freebie in this gorgeous World Atlas.
Little Rockets HD
We can’t get enough of these iPad free apps, nor will you with this brain puzzle challenge that costs you nothing but time.
The Treasures of Montezuma 3 HD
Valentine’s Day sale is bringing this app down 40% from $4.99 to $2.99 and with 160 arcade levels, you’ll love playing this for hours.
Converter — The Amazing Unit Converter
If practicality is your speed, then a free unit converter with this many options can’t be beat.
Old school photographers will recognize that number and everyone will recognize this one: $0.00. That’s all it costs for this feature packed toy camera app.
Or turn your pictures (drawings that is), into cartoons with FlipToon, down a buck to free.
The Love Tangram
Love is totally in the air and you’ll love this free universal app that has you solving puzzles with heart.
Back to the Future Ep 1 HD
Get started on the series because this first one’s free and all the others are at the bargain price of $2.99 a pop.
The Apple TV remote that comes with the latest Apple TV 2 is very small and can be very easily misplaced or lost completely. Luckily, Apple has included a very easy way for you to use a third-party remote control as an alternative. Sure you could use your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad and the Apple Remote app but if you don’t want your kids, friends, or spouses, bugging you every time they need to change something on the Apple TV, you’ll want something dedicated.
Here’s how to set it up, and you should do it now before you lose your current remote.
If you see the “Button Already Learned” error message, this means one of the following:
Either use a different button or delete the previously learned remote if it is not being used.
That is all there is to it, a very easy way to use a third-party remote as a backup for your Apple TV remote!
Daily Tips range from beginner-level 101 to advanced-level ninjary. If you already know this tip, keep the link handy as a quick way to help a friend. If you have a tip of your own you’d like to suggest, add them to the comments or send them in to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Apple Support Article
AllThingsD Claims iPad 3 Announcement First Week of March
You know we can’t keep ourselves away from the Mac rumor mill forever, and with the start of the new year, you know they gotta bring the iPad heat. First week of March sounds right to us, since that’s when they’ve done it before, more or less. C’mon, Cook, don’t stiff.
We’ve made our way through a lot of stuff this week. Plenty of reviews, rumors and tips tricks. If you missed out on anything make sure you get yourself caught up either here on the blogs or in the iMore forums. You can register now to get started today and while you’re at it, check out some of the threads below:
If you’re not already a member of the iMore Forums, register now!