Apps Lists, News/Rumors

Facebook joins fitness market, aquiring activity-tracking app “Moves”

Facebook has jumped into the fitness market after acquiring the developers behind Moves, an iPhone app that helps users create an “activity diary” by automatically recording walking, cycling, and running.

Facebook announced its plans to acquire ProtoGeo Oy on Thursday.

The Moves app is an “incredible tool for the millions of people who want to better understand their daily fitness activity,” Facebook said in a press release.

ProtoGeo also confirmed the deal on its blog, stating that: “Since we launched Moves, we’ve been focused on running a simple and clean activity diary that millions of people have enjoyed using.

“Now, we’re joining Facebook’s talented team to work on building and improving their products and services with a shared mission of supporting simple, efficient tools for more than one billion people.”

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ProtoGeo noted, that the app would continue to operate as a standalone app, and that there were no plans to “commingle data with Facebook”.

Facebook didn’t reveal the price it is paying for the app maker, but according to a spokeswoman, it’s nowhere near the size of other deals the company has made in recent months. Earlier this year, Facebook agreed to pay US$19 billion for Instagram, and last month it bought virtual reality business Oculus Rift for US$2 billion.

Facebook is not the only company, planning to enter the fitness arena. Apple is also expected to join the market with the introduction of a so-called “iWatch” that is believed to be able to sport advanced biomedical sensors that integrate with a new “Healthbook” iOS application.

News/Rumors

iPhone 6 may feature curved edges and display glass

According to a new report from Japanese blog Macotakara, the next-generation iPhone could sport curved edges in place of the squared edges found on every model of the iPhone since the iPhone 4 debuted in 2010.

Citing “reliable sources”, the iPhone 6 will get rounded corners and a curved display glass much like the design found on Samsung’s Galaxy S III.  But unlike the Galaxy S III, Apple’s supposed iPhone design is akin to an existing iPhone bumper made by Japanese company Squair. The Japan-made aluminum bumper for the iPhone, made out of Duralumin, features a rounded housing. It is unclear if the next-generation device will boast such a severe curvature.  Additionally, a slightly curved display glass is also reported to be part of Apple’s design plans.

Finally, the report claims that the company will do away with the rear glass antenna breaks found on the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5s in favor of an all-aluminum design. It is unclear what method of radio transmission will be used in the much-rumored device, but Apple will likely take steps to avoid another “antennagate” debacle.

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Throughout a number of months, different reports have indicated that the future iPhone may come with slightly rounded edges. But, only a few sources have stated that the smartphone will feature a curved glass display, with Bloomberg reporting, that Apple was developing two iPhones with large curved screens for this year. Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal claimed that the company would not be using a curved display in its devices.

Earlier this month, KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted possible release of two new iPhones, a 4.7-inch version and a larger phablet-style 5.5-inch model, with the 4.7-inch iteration using a 1,334-by-750-pixel display with a resolution of 326 pixels per inch.

In addition to a larger display, both versions of the iPhone 6 are believed to include a thinner, bezel-free design, faster A8 processor, Touch ID fingerprint sensor and an upgraded camera with optical image stabilization.

News/Rumors

Leonardo DiCaprio might star as Jobs in Sony’s biopic

With David Fincher recently rejected to direct the upcoming Steve Jobs biopic written by Aaron Sorkin, The Hollywood Reporter writes that Danny Boyle is set to take his place.

He is reportedly in talks with Sony Pictures to direct the film, and has already approached another big star-Leonardo DiCaprio about starring as Jobs in the feature.

The Social Network director David Fincher had previously offered Christian Bale starring, but Sony replaced him over high pay requests.

Boyle and DiCaprio previously collaborated  on 2000′s “The Beach.” In addition, Danny Boyle also directed hits like 127 Hours and Trainspotting. DiCaprio started in major films like Inception, The Wolf of Wall Street, and The Great Gatsby. He also signed onto a violent new project with director Alejandro González Iñárritu, The Revenant, that reportedly could be his Oscar-winning role.

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Aaron Sorkin completed the script for the biopic back in January, with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak working as a consultant on the film.  Sony first announced the film in mid-2012. The movie is expected to focus on three 30-minute scenes ahead of three product launches. There have not been many news related to the project’s progress until recently, with the announcement that Fincher would not direct the film.

Sony hasn’t revealed the release date yet.

Apps Lists, News/Rumors

Apple and Google actively pursuing exclusivity deals with game developers

According to a report from The Wall Street Journal on Sunday, Apple and Google are actively working to gain exclusive games for their iOS and Android platforms, respectively. The companies are pursuing exclusivity deals with game developers, offering them special consideration, like premium positioning in app store sections and lists, for exclusive first rights to a hot title in return.

The Wall Street Journal found that iPhone maker struck a deal with Electronic Arts in August 2013 for the App Store to get exclusive rights to Plants vs Zombies 2, two months before launching a version for Google’s Android. In return, the game publisher saw Plants vs Zombies 2 marketing in multiple spots across the App Store.

The article also notes that a similar agreement was in place for the launch of Cut the Rope 2, another sequel to a hot-selling title, as an iOS exclusive for about three months.

Gameloft stated, that they turned down an exclusivity agreement with Apple, choosing to launch on both iOS and Android simultaneously.

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Neither Google nor Apple are offering money for the game exclusives, instead relying on the promise of exposure to iOS’ massive user base as collateral in dealmaking.

Alongside Apple and Google, Amazon also appears to be negotiating similar agreements, offering promotional spots on its Amazon Appstore in order for the rights to launch games on its Kindle family of devices.

Apple and Google declined to comment on the matter, but an Electronic Arts spokesperson said it “works closely with both Apple and Google.”

News/Rumors

Apple to work with Shazam for song recognition in iOS 8

According to the Wednesday report, Apple is planning to incorporate a song identification feature as a new addition to iOS 8, and is working with Shazam to roll out the capability.

Song identification capabilities are believed to gather sound from an iPhone or iPad’s microphone, and after transfering it to the cloud for processing, return results to device owners.

Along with Shazam, the company will be able to offer users a way to discover a song that is playing on the radio or from another source, such as a TV, using a small music clip.

Shazam, itself, has previously marketed its own song identification app and technology in the App Store. The service’s system acts in the very similar way as solution described by sources, suggesting Apple may simply pull data into a first-party app as it does with Weather and Stocks.

Unlike some of the company’s other music-releated features, including Podcasts and iTunes U, it will be built into the OS directly rather than require a separate download.

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According to Bloomberg:

“The song-identification feature will be integrated into the mobile software in the same way that Twitter’s service is currently incorporated, meaning consumers don’t need to separately download it. Among the ways it can be used will be through Apple’s voice-activated search feature, Siri. An iPhone user will be able to say something like “what song is playing,” to find out the tune’s details, one person said.”

Shazam, a popular service with running on 20 percent of iPhones in March 2013, now boasts some 90 million users.

Apple traditionally previews its operating system updates at the upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference slated to begin on June 2.

Apps Lists, News/Rumors

Windows Phone 8.1 adds Apple’s Passbook support

Microsoft has added support for Apple’s Passbook passes in Windows Phone 8.1. The company announced this latest version of Windows Phone earlier this month and equipped the mobile OS with digital assistant and Siri competitor, called Cortana.

The upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 update brings support for Apple’s Passbook iOS app, giving users the ability to load coupons, tickets, boarding passes, etc, designed for Passbook into the Microsoft Wallet app.

According to the report from  Tom Warren of The Verge, Microsoft has created a method that takes the data from a Passbook file and converts it into a card that is imported into Microsoft Wallet.

Passbook debuted in 2012 as an Apple-only platform for iPhone, allowing users to have access to digital wallet items in a convenient fashion. Until now, Passbook has not been officially available on other platforms.

But with the Microsoft’s support, any user running the latest version of the company’s mobile operating system gets the access to Passbook passes on their device without the need for additional software or hacks.

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Microsoft introduced Windows Phone 8.1 earlier this month, bringing a Siri-like voice-driven personal assistant dubbed “Cortana.” However, the company didn’t mention its built-in support for Passbook files.

Meanwhile, Apple has continued to update the service, allowing third-party apps to create Passbook passes and adding support for gift cards.

iPhone, News/Rumors

Rumor: Alleged images of iPhone 6 manufacturing molds and schematics

A pack of photos posted on the Chinese microblogging website Sina Weibo on Sunday allegedly reveals detailed schematics, CAD renderings and physical manufacturing molds for Apple’s next-generation iPhone.

The images are reported to come from a factory belonging to Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn, as the first batch of photos shows very detailed drawings of the chassis for a smartphone-type device, while the second set images is stated to be of the Apple’s next-generation iPhone.

While the molds, as seen on the photos, seem to be designed for a new device, there is no confirmation that these will be used for the next-generation smartphone. The company is rumored to be working on two various models of the iPhone 6 with different screen sizes.

If the modes are truly designed for the next iPhone, they could be for the 4.7″ or 5.5″ versions.

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According to the recent reports, the smaller 4.7 inch version is set to ship in the third quarter of 2014, while the larger one may appear later this year or early next year due to production issues.

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Another photo of purported iPhone 6, reveals technical schematics of the device, showing its thin chassis design with a tapered design.

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The overall look of the smartphone appears to be consistent with the iPhone range, with a display cutout surrounded by thin bezels and larger top and bottom areas for functional components like a Touch ID-equipped home button and FaceTime camera.

Apple is expected to ship the iPhone 6 later this year, whith both models equipped with a thinner design, new A8 processor, Touch ID fingerprint sensor, 1GB of RAM, and an improved camera with optical image stabilization.

Apps Lists, News/Rumors

Age of Empires: World Domination сoming to iOS this summer

Microsoft and KLab have announced Age of Empires: World Domination for mobile coming this summer. The mobile version will be available for users of iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

The first news about Microsoft’s plan to bring the Age of Empires Franchise to iOS was first revealed in July 2013, but some believed it would be a port of the free to play Age of Empires Online. Instead, the company has created an absolutely new game in the series.

Developer KLabGames proffers:

“Age of Empires: World Domination expands the award-winning Age of Empires series by building an intuitive, yet deep, mobile strategy game.”

Dubbed Age of Empires: World Domination, it is expected to be a true RTS game with lots of action and some solid animation for the units. Users will be allowed to pick from several various historical civilizations, including the Celts, Huns, Franks and more. It’s unknown if it will be a paid game or a free title with in-game purchases.

Age of Empires is a collection of real-time strategy games published by Microsoft Studios. The first game, Age of Empires, debuted in 1997 and received a lot of positive reviews.

Microsoft released a revamped version of Age of Empires II for the PC in 2013, along with an all-new expansion pack for that game. A graphically updated version of the spin-off game Age of Mythology is also scheduled at May.

Apps Lists, News/Rumors

Apple to add high resolution audio downloads to iTunes

Following a report, that Apple is planning a “dramatic overhaul” of its iTunes Music store, allowing to combat declining music downloads, which could include an on-demand streaming music service and an Android version of iTunes, the company seems to be considering an entry into the high-definition music industry with 24-bit tracks.
According to music blogger Robert Hutton, who cites an unspecified source, Apple is going to roll out hi-res iTunes music downloads in early June, possibly at WWDC.

“For several years, Apple have been insisting that labels provide files for iTunes in 24 bit format – preferably 96k or 192k sampling rate. So they have undeniably the biggest catalog of hi-res audio in the world.

And the Led Zeppelin remasters in high resolution will be the kick off event – to coincide with Led Zep in hi-res, Apple will flip the switch and launch their hi-res store via iTunes – and apparently, it will be priced a buck above the typical current file prices.

That’s right – Apple will launch hi-res iTunes in two months.”

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However, the source wasn’t named by Hutton, Apple was much rumored to be interested in adding higher quality music to iTunes. Steve Jobs was reportedly working on hardware to store and play back “high-quality audio” before he left.

Apple has been working on bringing music in a 24-bit format for a few years, with a 2011 report suggesting the tech giant was in talks with record labels to improve the quality of iTunes Music. Now, the company offers audio files on iTunes in 16-bit lossy AAC format encoded at 256 kbps to minimize file size.

Assuming all of these facts, Apple’s obviously interested in market for 24-bit music but are they interested enough to make a move?

Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, Mac, News/Rumors

Apple to roll out multiple products in 2014, including iWatch, ‘iPhone 6,’ 12″ MacBook and low-cost iMac

Apple is preparing to release multiple new products in Q3 2014,  including the much rumored iWatch, redesigned “iPhone 6,” a 12-inch MacBook Air and a low-cost iMac.

According to the KGI securities analyst Ming Chi Kuo, who often provides reliable information, the only thing we can expect to see in the first half of the year is a small iMac update. Starting at the end of the third quarter and continuing into the beginning of the fourth, the company will start introducing a number of upgraded and new devices.

“We believe the rumored iWatch will be Apple’s most important product this year, carrying much more weight than iPhone 6,” Kuo writes, adding, “as market feedback for the product should reveal whether Apple still has the ability to continue making game-changing products with Tim Cook at the helm.”

Such products, like an upgraded Apple TV set-top box is set to appear somewhat later, including the rumored 12-inch ultra slim MacBook and upgraded Retina MacBook Pros. The fourth quarter will bring the 5.5-inch iPhone, which is also rumored to be delayed due to issues with in-cell display technology.

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Here is an overview of all of Kuo’s predictions for this year:

iWatch

The iWatch is believed to be available in two sizes: 1.3-inch and 1.5-inch and equipped with flexible, sapphire-covered AMOLED displays. Additionally, the product will feature biometric recognition, an NFC chip, wireless charging, a 200-250 mAh battery, and get a slim and light design. The iWatch may also be offered at multiple price points, with the most expensive version costing upwards of $1,000.

iPhone 6

The device will come in two sizes: 4.7 and 5.5-inches, with resolutions of 1334×750 (326ppi) and 1920 x 1080 (401 ppi), respectively. Both models will be provided an A8 processor, 1GB of RAM, LTPS display panels, optical image stabilization, and Touch ID. Both smartphones will have up to 20% narrower bezels than and measure between 6.5-7mm thick.

iPads

Both the second generation iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display may come with an A8 chip and Touch ID. The analyst also says that the new Air could also receive a bump in iSight camera quality thanks to a new 8MP sensor, and launch earlier than October.

Macs

An updated iMac, equipped with a new processor is believed to be the first product launch of the year. The company could also reveal a new lower-priced model, which would help boost slipping iMac shipments. In addition, a new MacBook model could be expected in the near future: a 12-inch MacBook Air with a higher resolution display.

KGI is usually pretty reliable on the product details in reports like this, though the timing is sometimes less accurate.