iOS 4.3 Brings Back iPad Hardware Rotation Lock, Other Changes on the Way

It wasn’t that long ago that I was ranting about Apple converting the iPad’s hardware rotation lock slider switch into a Mute switch.

Looks like Apple heard the iPad user community crying foul, and people who have played with iOS 4.3 Beta 1 for the iPad are reporting that Apple has made it possible for users to chose, via a preference, what behavior the hardware slider switch will perform.

Multi-Touch Support, Hardware Changes

 In addition to getting our beloved hardware rotation lock switch back, Apple is also tossing in support for new multi-touch commands that will allow you to access things like the multi-tasking bar.

Rumors are also going around on the Internet because BRG.com is reporting that one of the reasons why multi-touch support is coming to iOS devices is because Apple is rumored to be taking away the Home button located at the bottom center of the each and every iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch released to date.

iOS 4.3 Device Compatibility

Oh, and about previously released iDevices: iOS 4.3 drops support for the iPhone 3G and second generation iPod touch, leaving them stranded at iOS 4.2.1.  The first generation iPhone, the iPhone 2G, and the first generation iPod touch max out their software upgrades at iOS 3.1.3.

[Via MacStories.net…]

Decked Builder for Mac OS X, iOS

Decked Builder, from developer TJ Soft, is a Magic: The Gathering deck building application for Mac OS X, iPhone and iPod touch, and coming soon to the iPad.

Magic: The Gathering (M:TG), is a collectible trading card game from Wizards of the Coast.  I’ve tried other M:TG “helper apps” for the iPhone before, but I never really like them.  Decked Builder is the first that I’ve fallen in love with.  This app looks good and works well.  I’ve tested the Lite version of Decked Builder on my Mac.

The desktop version of Decked Builder has three windows: Search, View Card, and Deck.  You use the Search window to find a card you are looking for.  Decked Builder has a complete offline database of the over 17,000 cards that have been printed during Magic’s 15+ years.  Search engine is fast and the database is compact.  To keep the footprint on your computer, iPhone, or iPod touch down, card images are downloaded in the background in standard resolution.  If you want, you can turn on hi-res card scans.

 

Decked Builder also gives players all the tools they would need to quickly find the card(s) they are looking for.  You can sort find results by rarity, card type, mana cost, mana color, or core and expansion set.  The Lite versions only provide you access to the most recent Magic expansion sets, meaning that you will have to buy the full version of Decked Builder ($3.99 iPhone/iPod touch, $14.99 Mac OS X) to get access to the full database of all the Magic cards ever printed.  (We’re not kidding.  TJ Soft has built a database of all of the Magic cards to date.)

[Editor’s Note: TJ Soft has reduced the price of Decked Builder for Mac OS X to a very reasonable $5.99.  Decked Builder for Mac OS X is available now in the Mac App Store with the new price.]

The Deck window is where players will spend a lot of time.  You use this window to view the 60 cards that you have added to your deck and 15 cards in your sideboard.  The Stats view quickly shows you a break down of the type of cards in your deck, their mana type, and a summary how many cards of a particular mana cost you have in your deck.  You can also sort the cards in your deck by name, type, and cost to play.

Speaking about costs, the View Card window has a nice feature that tells you the high, mean, and low price of the card.  If you want to buy the card for your collection, the Store button links you over to the TCGPlayer.com website page for the card.  I can also see players using this feature on their iPhone or iPod touch while at a game store and playing the game.  They will easily be able to see if it is cheaper to buy the card at the store, right then and there, or order it online.

Over all, collectors and players of Wizards of the Coasts Magic: The Gathering will really like using Decked Builder.  It stands out head and shoulders above the other M:TG helper apps on the market today.  The app is well designed and looks great.

Decked Builder is available now for both Mac OS X and the iPhone/iPod touch. TJ Soft is working on a version of Decked Builder for the iPad and an update to the iPhone/iPod touch edition that supports Retina Display on those models.  A Lite version exists of both so you can try before you buy.  You can purchase and download either version from the Mac App Store or the iOS App Store today.

Apple Resumes iTunes App Approvals

9To5Mac.com has posted a note today to let us know that Apple’s iTunes Connect department is back from their week long holiday shutdown.

That means that we will start seeing new apps and updates to exiting apps showing up in iTunes and on our iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches in the next day or so.  It also means that the pricing freeze is over, and we should expect to see applications and games that were heavily discounted during the Christmas holiday returning to normal.

If you have been putting off getting that game or app while it has been on sale, better get it soon!

[Via 9To5Mac.com…]

Year End Deals on iPods, iPads, iPhones, Smartphones

Didn’t get the cool new phone or iDevice for Christmas that you were hoping for?  Are you sitting on a pile of cash or gift cards?  Don’t worry!  There are still deals to be had on new and refurbished hardware between now and the end of the year.

Apple (Refurbished Hardware)

  • iPod Classic (Silver or Black) – $209
  • iPod touch 32GB (third generation) – $229
  • iPod touch 64GB (third generation) – $299
  • iPad Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + 3G – $50-100 off refurbished units

AT&T Wireless (Refurbished Hardware)

  • Apple iPhone 4 16GB – $99, $36 activation fee
  • Apple iPhone 4 32GB – $199, $36 activation fee
  • Apple iPhone 3GS 8/16/32GB – $29/$49/79, $36 activation fee
  • BlackBerry Torch – $9.99, activation fee waived
  • HP Palm Pre Plus – $0.00, activation fee waived
  • HTC Aria – $0.01, activation fee waived

Keep reading for Verizon Wireless and Sprint phones.

Sprint

  • BlackBerry Bold 9650 – $150 off online order
  • BlackBerry Curve 3G – $200 off online order
  • HP Palm Pixi – Free when ordered online
  • HTC Evo 4G – $150 off online order

Verizon Wireless

  • HTC Droid Incredible – $149.99, BOGO
  • BlackBerry Curve 3G 9330 – $49.99, BOGO
  • BlackBerry Bold 9650 – $99.99, BOGO
  • HP Palm Pixi Plus – $0.00

Depending on the phone model and service plan, a $36 activation fee may apply.

Angry Birds for iPhone/iPod Touch Updated to 1.5.0

Angry Birds for the iPhone and iPod touch has been upgraded to version 1.5.0 following Monday’s update to Angry Birds HD for the iPad.

The Angry Birds 1.5.0 update includes:

  • A new theme in the Frontier Badlands
  • 15 new levels and one new golden egg
  • Game Center support
  • Introduces the Mighty Eagle

[Notes] The Mighty Eagle feature is a $0.99 in app purchase.

Head over to the iTunes Store or hit the App Store on your iPhone/iPod touch to get in on all the new bird flinging action!

Facebook for iOS Updated to Version 3.3.3

Today, Facebook for iPhone and iPod touch has been updated to version 3.3.3.

Included in this maintenance release of Facebook for iOS are the following enhancements:

  • Improved reliability in chat and messages
  • Improved notifications interface
  • Fixed a memory usage bug
  • Fixed some conditions which cause the application to crash
  • Removed the text field for walls you can not post to
  • Restored the ability to post on a Page where you are an admin
  • Fixed a group photos bug
  • Improvements to the Places feature

You can download the update directly to your iPhone or iPod touch by using the App Store icon, or you can dowload the application to our Mac or Windows PC (link) and iTunes sync it to your iDevice.

You can use the Facebook application on your iPad, however, this it is not a “Plus” application which means the app will not take advantage of the large display and the text and photos will look a little bit fuzzy when you use the 2x zoom feature of iOS on the iPad.

Rage HD Updated to 1.11

id Software has updated their first person shooter (FPS), Rage HD for the iPad, iPhone 4 and 3GS, and iPod touch 4G and 3G.

This update adds some new features to the game that will enhance the game for players that enjoy fragging muties in this rails based shooter.

Rage HD 1.11 adds the following new features:

  • Game Center support fro Leaderboards and Achievements
  • Gyroscope support for the iPhone 4 and iPod touch 4G
  • Explore all 3 levels in “Museum Mode” before the shooting starts
  • Mirror Mode allows you to play the original three levels backwards
  • Second display support so you can play Rage HD on your TV with Apple’s video out solutions
  • Control Rage HD from your iPhone or iPod touch
  • Language localization for French, Italian, German, and Spanish
Rage HD is a universal binary game that works on both the iPad and current model iPhones and iPod touch models.  You can buy Rage HD for $1.99 and version 1.11 is a free upgrade to current game owners.
For more details, check out Rage HD in the App Store (link).

iBooks 1.2 Released

Today, Apple released a new version of their iBooks application for iPad and iPhone.

The iBooks 1.2 update brings the following features:

  • Experience fully illustrated books, from children’s picture books to beautifully designed art books, available for download in the iBookstore.
  • Organize your books and PDFs into personal Collections. Swipe left or right to jump between Collections.
  • Print PDF documents and notes you’ve written in iBooks using AirPrint.
  • iBooks now fits more words per page by automatically hyphenating text, available only on iOS 4.2 or later.

iBooks is a free application and is available now from the iTunes Store (Link).  iBooks requires iOS 3.2 or later on the iPad or 4.0 or later on current model iPhone and iPod touch devices.

Rovio Releases Angry Birds Seasons

Rovio has followed up their successful Angry Birds: Halloween app with Angry Birds Seasons.  “Seasons” is a separate game for iPhone and iPad that includes the Halloween levels, and a new set of Christmas themed levels.

The twist for the Christmas themed levels is that you play one a day until December 25th.  That is kind of annoying while we’re waiting for Christmas to get here, but the Seasons levels are harder for me to get 2 or three stars so I’ll end up spending a day trying to get to three starts so it won’t be a big problem for me anyway.

One thing that I really like about Angry Birds: Seasons is that is supports iOS 4’s Game Center feature so I can compare how I’m fairing against my friends and family in the leaderboards.

Like the original Angry Birds, Angry Birds: Seasons comes in two flavors: iPhone/iPod touch ($.99) and HD for iPad ($1.99).  If you purchased Angry Birds: Halloween, Angry Birds: Seasons will be a free upgrade.

Rumor: iOS 4.3, Periodical Subscriptions Coming in December

It seems like just yesterday Apple rolled out iOS 4.2.1 to bring a number of new features to the iPad and refinements to the iPhone 4, both models of iPhone 3, and recent model iPod touch handsets.  Oh!  Wait!  It was just yesterday!
But today is a new day, and with it came new rumors that Apple is already at work on iOS 4.3 which is rumored to have enhancements for AirPlay will feature a new set of application program interfaces, or APIs, that will support a new type of for pay subscription system for digital periodicals, like New Corp’s “The Daily” digital only “newspaper.”
It is also rumored that Apple will make some noise with this update and will hold a media event.  This is where things can get a little bit sketchy.  According to an article that appeared on MacStories.net today, a source indicated that Apple had planned to have iOS 4.2 out within the first two weeks of November, with a public announcement and release of iOS 4.3 about a month later in the first half of December.  It is not clear what impact the discovery of a Wi-Fi bug in iOS 4.2 will have on the iPad maker’s plans for iOS 4.3 within the first fifteen dates of December.
What will happen between now and when we close the book on 2010 is anyone’s guess right now.  Be on the look out for an Apple media event on or about December 9 and for iOS to start hitting iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches on or about December 13.
Personally, I’m looking forward to a digital daily news paper, and will try out News Corp’s “The Daily” for about $4.25/month.  I’m also still looking for digital subscriptions to the paper magazines that I already subscribe to.