Welcome to the Game Replay, the thrice-weekly look back at the wider world of gaming by the staff of MacNN. In today's edition, Codemasters steps in to help Evolution Studios avoid closure, Miitomo may be earning Nintendo $280,000 per week, and a lawsuit from the former president of Rockstar North is demanding $150 million in royalty payments from Take-Two Interactive.
Every so often, people browse the Internet and the Mac App Store to try and find useful things to add to their app arsenal, but sometimes it's hard to find discounted apps that you really want to get. For App Deals for OS X, the MacNN staff has compiled a list of apps for your Mac that are either a great bargain, or even free for a short while.
The App Store is a constantly-changing place, with new apps joining the catalog, while others adjust their prices to encourage some new sales. App Deals for iOS aims to point you in the direction of apps for your iPhone or iPad that have been reduced in price, making them an essential purchase, or in some cases, even free.
In a transparency report on its dealings with the US government, alternative ride provider Uber Technologies has revealed that it provided data on more than 12 million riders and drivers to the government -- but that nearly all of it was abstract statistical reports to various US regulatory agencies. The company did, however, show that it would provide details of trips, pickup and drop off areas, fares, vehicles, and drivers to law enforcement when requested, but had just 415 requests from such agencies on just 469 users -- mostly revolving around the use of stolen credit cards. Importantly, Uber said it had not received any FISA orders, or national security letters to obtain data on drivers or passengers.
Facebook's bid to expand its video offerings involves the creation of its own 360-degree camera, among the announcements made at the company's keynote for the F8 conference. The Surround 360 uses an odd dual cone shape with a total of 17 cameras, though rather than taking the approach of producing the device itself, the social network is instead making the design open source, effectively allowing anyone to make their own version.
Welcome to Daily Deals, the post where the writing crew of MacNN searches online retailers for sales, bargains, discounts, and offers on hardware, software, gadgets, and games for our readers. Yesterday's list has been pruned of inactive deals, with the new batch including a refurbished Apple Watch Sport 38mm for $200, AKG noise-cancelling headphones for $100, and a Samsung 48-inch 4K television for $500.
New and in-depth testing on the display of the latest 9.7-inch iPad Pro by monitor lab DisplayMate has revealed that not only is it an improvement over the screen used in the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and a "major upgrade" over the iPad Air 2, but that it handily beats all other mobile displays the company has ever measured. In an unusually praise-filled analysis by the AMOLED-favoring company, it notes that while the latest iPad Pro's display is the same size, ratio, resolution and PPI dot pitch as the iPad Air 2 it replaced, various improvements -- including the use of two color gamuts, and being 20 percent brighter than the previous model -- make it "very likely better than any mobile display, monitor, TV or UHD TV" on the market at present.
The makers of the handy auto-text utility TextExpander, Smile Software, have announced a dramatic change in plans for the recently-announced TextExpander 6 for Mac, which unexpectedly emerged as a subscription-only upgrade that required a cloud account and mandatory paid plans in order to upgrade to the latest version of the software last Thursday. Following widespread press and customer unhappiness over both the forced move to subscription and the substantial jump in average yearly cost, the company has revised its subscription pricing downwards and reinstated the previous standalone versions of the applications for Mac and iOS. Previous customers will receive a lifetime 50 percent discount on the new TextExpander, rather than just for the first year, and the annual subscription cost for new individual users has been lowered from $60 per year to $40 per year.
On Monday, Apple unveiled a set of eight short ads -- about 15 seconds each -- that offer examples of features found on the Apple Watch. Continuing the company's emphasis on fitness, half of the spots highlight the Watch's use for (respectively) stair climbers, rowers, runners, and golfers. The four fitness ads show users competing with friends to achieve the best time, or tracking the progress of a workout, monitoring one's heartbeat, or achieving fitness goals. The other four spots focus on other features, such as weather notifications letting users know when it is going to rain, or the Watch's ability to locate the iPhone. One ad, called "Swap," highlights the fashionable band options that are available.
Alongside our regular Daily Deals post, we are showcasing some of the offers available from our own MacNN Deals store. Today's items are all apps for your Mac, including a pair of creative tools from Literature and Latte, a way to synchronize your music playlists across streaming services, and one product that could help you get more from your iOS device's storage.
As is usually the case in estimating worldwide and US shipments of PC hardware, the two leading US firms charged with tracking the industry disagree -- sometimes quite significantly -- on the specific figures of how much the general PC market has fallen, but agree completely that it has. In the year-over-year comparison of first-quarter computer shipments, Gartner reports a 9.6 percent decline, while IDC paints a gloomier picture with an 11.5 percent drop. While Gartner claims there were 64.8 million units shipped in the first three months of the year compared to IDC's notably-lower 60.6 million, both companies agree it is the sixth consecutive quarter of declines, and the first time since 2007 that shipments fell below 65 million units.
A scheme that could have provided the Metropolitan Police Service in London with iPads has been put on hold for unknown reasons. The failed program, which aimed to provide iPad minis to up to 20,000 officers in the capital of the United Kingdom, has also been found to be fairly expensive to put into practice, with approximately £6 million ($8.5 million) in taxpayer funds spent on the project and relatively few iPads handed out before being pulled.
Republican New York State Senator Terrence Murphy and Democrat Assembly Assistant Speaker Felix Ortiz, together with awareness organization Distracted Operators Risk Casualties (DORCs), are attempting to pass a law to combat distracted driving. The law, if implemented, will require police to examine phones at an accident scene to see if the phone was involved in the crash.
It sounds like an app you use to get a lift somewhere and annoy the taxi drivers it replaces. Instead, it's a replacement for the OS X dock and you use it to get very quick access to your apps and documents. uBar 3.1.9 also tells you more about each app you're running.
Every so often, MacNN finds a deal that is too big or important to go into our usual deals lists, and is major enough to be highlighted in its own Big Deals post. If you've wanted to get onto the smart watch bandwagon but didn't want to shell out for an Apple Watch, there is a solution, with the MacNN Deals store offering a handy discount on the Pebble Time, the company's second-generation wearable device.
Apple recently refreshed its Apple Watch band range, which it is calling its "Spring Collection," with a number of new colors, styles and materials. Chief among these is the new Woven Nylon range, which comes in at the same price as the fluoroelastomer Sport Bands at $49, in both 38mm and 42mm sizes. There are seven new colors to choose from, from which we picked the new pearl color to try out.
The developers of third-party apps that access the community site Reddit have found their apps to have been pulled from the App Store for breaking content rules. Antenna, BaconReader, Eggplant, and Narwhal were all temporarily removed from store listings for violating one of the App Store rules regarding pornographic content, with the timing of the removals also occurring less than a week after the site launched its own official reader app for iOS.
OWC Holdings announced today the release of SoftRAID version 5.5. This update adds the ability to convert AppleRAID volumes created by earlier versions of Disk Utility to SoftRAID, expanded error logging, and Thunderbolt chain error detection. SoftRAID version 5.5 is a free update for all version 5.x users of SoftRAID.
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Cirrus creates Lightning-headphone dev kit
Apple supplier Cirrus Logic has introduced a MFi-compliant new development kit for companies interested in using Cirrus' chips to create Lightning-based headphones, which -- regardless of whether rumors about Apple dropping the analog headphone jack in its iPhone this fall -- can offer advantages to music-loving iOS device users. The kit mentions some of the advantages of an all-digital headset or headphone connector, including higher-bitrate support, a more customizable experience, and support for power and data transfer into headphone hardware. Several companies already make Lightning headphones, and Apple has supported the concept since June 2014. http://bit.ly/29giiZj
Apple Store app offers Procreate Pocket
The Apple Store app for iPhone, which periodically rewards users with free app gifts, is now offering the iPhone "Pocket" version of drawing app Procreate for those who have the free Apple Store app until July 28. Users who have redeemed the offer by navigating to the "Stores" tab of the app and swiping past the "iPhone Upgrade Program" banner to the "Procreate" banner have noted that only the limited Pocket (iPhone) version of the app is available free, even if the Apple Store app is installed and the offer redeemed on an iPad. The Pocket version currently sells for $3 on the iOS App Store. [32.4MB]
Porsche adds CarPlay to 2017 Panamera
Porsche has added a fifth model of vehicle to its CarPlay-supported lineup, announcing that the 2017 Panamera -- which will arrive in the US in January -- will include Apple's infotainment technology, and be seen on a giant 12.3-inch touchscreen as part of an all-new Porsche Communication Management system. The luxury sedan starts at $99,900 for the 4S model, and scales up to the Panamera Turbo, which sells for $146,900. Other vehicles that currently support CarPlay include the 2016 911 and the 2017 models of Macan, 718 Boxster, and 718 Cayman. The company did not mention support for Google's corresponding Android Auto in its announcement. http://bit.ly/295ZQ94
Apple employees testing wheelchair features
New features included in the forthcoming watchOS 3 are being tested by Apple retail store employees, including a new activity-tracking feature that has been designed with wheelchair users in mind. The move is slightly unusual in that, while retail employees have previously been used to test pre-release versions of OS X and iOS, this marks the first time they've been included in the otherwise developer-only watchOS betas. The company is said to have gone to great lengths to modify the activity tracker for wheelchair users, including changing the "time to stand" notification to "time to roll" and including two wheelchair-centric workout apps. http://bit.ly/2955JDa
SanDisk reveals two 256GB microSDXC cards
SanDisk has introduced two 256GB microSDXC cards. Arriving in August for $150, the Ultra microSDXC UHS-I Premium Edition card offers transfer speeds of up to 95MB/s for reading data. The Extreme microSDXC UHS-I card can read at a fast 100MB/s and write at up to 90MB/s, and will be shipping sometime in the fourth quarter for $200. http://bit.ly/294Q1If
Apple's third-quarter results due July 26
Apple has advised it will be issuing its third-quarter results on July 26, with a conference call to answer investor and analyst queries about the earnings set to take place later that day. The stream of the call will go live at 2pm PT (5pm ET) via Apple's investor site, with the results themselves expected to be released roughly 30 minutes before the call commences. Apple's guidance for the quarter put revenue at between $41 billion and $43 billion. http://apple.co/1oi1Pbm
Twitter stickers slowly roll out to users
Twitter has introduced "stickers," allowing users to add extra graphical elements to their photos before uploading them to the micro-blogging service. A library of hundreds of accessories, props, and emoji will be available to use as stickers, which can be resized, rotated, and placed anywhere on the photograph. Images with stickers will also become searchable with viewers able to select a sticker to see how others use the same graphic in their own posts. Twitter advises stickers will be rolling out to users over the next few weeks, and will work on both the mobile apps and through the browser. http://bit.ly/29bbwUE