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Midway Arcade Brings ‘80s Classics Defender, Joust to iOS

Midway Arcade - DefenderThere are those of us at a certain age among the writers who take pride in having lost a big chunk of our youth at the arcade, feeding game machines with quarters. For us, the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad have become like a blast from the past as the video games of our misspent childhood return — and now we have 16 more to get excited about.

As first reported by The Verge, Warner Bros. has just released the 99-cent Midway Arcade, a universal app that comes packing 10 classic ‘80s-era video games, with the option to purchase up to six others. Retro gamers like us have been waiting and hoping, and Midway Arcade has delivered.

Say it with us now: Defender! Joust! Rampage! Yes, these are all included in the purchase price, along with lesser-known memories such as Spy Hunter, Root Beer Tapper, Arch Rivals and simulations of non-electronic games Air Hockey, Arcade Basketball, Pool and Roll Ball.

Midway Arcade features a nicely retro interface which takes you on a tour around a virtual arcade, complete with a jukebox that allows users to play music tracks from your iTunes library and a virtual prize redemption center. Oh, and it includes Defender… did we mention how much we loved that game as a child?

Should you tire of the 10 games included with the app purchase, Warner Bros. is also offering two 99-cent in-app purchases, each with three additional games. The “Action Game Pack” includes NARC, Total Carnage and APB, while the “Adventure Game Pack” brings Gauntlet, Gauntlet II and Wizard of Wor. (Was that a chill that just ran down our spines?)

But yeah… Defender! No telling how many quarters we fed that game as kids. Now that we’ve got you seriously pumped up about Defender and all the rest of the games, be sure to grab the 44.1MB Midway Arcade today — the 99-cent price is billed as a “limited time launch sale,” and at barely 10 cents per game, you’d be crazy not to grab it. After all, Defender alone is worth more than 99 cents… that was, like, only four games for us back in the ‘80s!

Too bad we’ll never see Donkey Kong come to iOS… oh well, we’ll go play some Defender and all will be right with the world…

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter



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Proview Brings iPad Trademark Dispute to Apple’s Front Door

Former Proview officesOh, that whacky Proview! They truly are the new Psystar, the scrappy underdog who took on Apple over being able to use Mac OS X in their clone hardware. Not content to fight Apple’s iPad trademark claims in China, Proview has now brought the drama to California, filing a lawsuit on the tablet maker’s home turf.

Reuters is reporting that Proview International Holdings Ltd. has expanded their iPad trademark dispute with Apple from a number of Chinese cities to Silicon Valley — and specifically, a new lawsuit filed in Santa Clara County that will surely create a new headache for the iPad maker.

As it turns out, the U.S. lawsuit was actually filed on February 17 and requests “an unspecified amount of damages.” Proview accuses Apple of misrepresenting themselves when they purchased the iPad trademark back in 2009 using a shell company called IP Application Development Ltd (iPAD, get it?). In other words, had Proview known the trademark was going to be used for a wildly popular tablet device from the world’s most valuable brand, they probably wouldn’t have sold the rights for a mere ,000.

Legal experts seem to indicate that Proview won’t get very far with that defense, especially here in the U.S. where Apple has “a homeground advantage,” explains Shanghai-based Elliot Papageorgiou of Rouse Legal (China). Proview is also on borrowed time: The company recently filed for bankruptcy and faces being delisted from the Hong Kong stock exchange if they can’t reverse their luck by the middle of 2012.

“Given the current timeline, Apple would have the greater impetus to come to settlement simply because the ability to disrupt shipments is more immediate than the pressure faced by Proview and its potential delisting,” Papageorgiou said.

Meanwhile, Proview’s efforts to block Apple from selling the iPad on their home turf in China will heat up next week, with a February 29 court date to hear an appeal by Apple over a December decision that went in Proview’s favor.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

(Image courtesy of The Next Web)



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GameHouse Brings All-You-Can-Play FunPass Subscription Gaming to Mac

FunPass trial signupWhy should Windows users have all the fun? That’s the question being asked on Thursday by the folks at GameHouse, who have just launched the first all-you-can-play casual game subscription service for both Mac and PC users.

GameHouse has announced the availability of its FunPass subscription gaming service for the Mac, which will now bring members unlimited access to more than 100 full-version games for Apple’s platform out of more than 1,700 titles currently available on the service. Titles include such popular selections as Emily’s Childhood Memories, TextTwist 2, Bejeweled 2 and Plants vs Zombies.

“Beginning today, Mac users can try FunPass during a seven-day free trial and then decide if they want to subscribe to the service for only .99 per month,” GameHouse announced in a press release today. “FunPass members have access to unlimited play of 1700+ full-version games, including 100 titles for Mac at launch. View the complete list of FunPass Mac Games here, but if you don’t see your favorite Mac game on the list at launch, we’ll be rolling out new games every week.”

FunPass members will also receive a 30 percent discount on standard game purchases, and once the trial period has passed, you’ll also gain 10,000 GameHouse coins every month, which can be redeemed for more titles.

With the Mac continuing to grow each year, new services such as FunPass are equally enticing to developers as well as end users. “Developers have been eager to tap this market and thanks to GameHouse’s FunPass, they can now bring their casual games to the Mac OS platform,” GameHouse explains. “Developers can now drop their casual titles into our FunPass service and reach tens of millions of players across the PC and Mac. It’s that simple you wonder why it’s never been done — until now.”

It’s certainly good to see the playing field leveled a bit between the Mac and PC. So what are you waiting for? Your free seven-day FunPass trial is just a click away…

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Speaktoit Assistant Brings Siri-Like Features to Older iPhones

Speaktoit AssistantThere’s no denying that Siri is a great addition to the iPhone 4S, but now that Apple removed the free Siri Virtual Assistant app from the App Store, what’s an owner of older hardware to do? Enter Speaktoit, which promises to bring Siri-style technology to iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 users.

Speaktoit LLC has announced the availability of Speaktoit Assistant, a Siri-style virtual assistant that brings similar functionality to devices that can’t get it (without a jailbreak, anyway) — namely, the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4.

The app is noteworthy for debuting on Android first back in October, where it quickly gained the attention of The New York Times, who called it a Top Ten Android App for 2011. Porting Speaktoit Assistant to iOS may seem like an odd move given the big push Apple is giving its own Siri technology, but for now users of older handsets are left out in the cold, and Speaktoit Assistant makes it a reality right now.

“The Speaktoit Assistant is a virtual buddy for your smartphone that answers questions in natural language, performs tasks, and notifies you about important events,” the company’s website explains. “The Assistant saves you time and makes communication with gadgets and web services easier and less stressful.”

Unlike Siri, Speaktoit Assistant allows users to customize their avatar rather than talking to a faceless circle, search maps outside the U.S., update your Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare accounts and claims to be more conversational than Siri, actually speaking its results.

Speaktoit Assistant is .99 from the App Store and requires iOS 4.0 or later (sorry, no original iPhones here!). However, the company is running a promotion on Valentine’s Day only — that’s this Tuesday, February 14, 2012 — and the app will be free to the first 100,000 App Store customers. If you happen to own an Android device, the app is free for all.

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aTV Flash (black) 1.3 Brings Firmware Backups, Other Improvements

aTV Flash backupsThe Apple TV may continue to be a hobby for Apple, but it’s serious business for the folks at FireCore, LLC who offer the Seas0nPass and aTV Flash tools, which make it possible to make the little media player boxes learn some new tricks. The company has just pushed out aTV Flash (black) version 1.3, adding automated firmware backups and a host of new features.

FireCore, LLC has just released aTV Flash (black) 1.3, the latest update to its slick collection of hacks for jailbroken second-generation Apple TVs — those being the small black boxes that Apple now sells for , although the company also offers a version for the original white ATV box as well.

“It’s not quite Valentine’s Day, but we couldn’t wait to show how much we love you all — so today we have a fresh new version just for you,” the company announced on its blog Wednesday. “Version 1.3 includes an all-new firmware backup option, new translations, playback enhancements and a whole slew of other improvements and fixes.”

The headliner for aTV Flash (black) 1.3 is a new feature for automatically backing up firmware signatures. Coupled with a forthcoming version of Seas0nPass — the tool that jailbreaks an Apple TV to make installation of these extra features possible in the first place — users will soon have the ability to do “one-click restores to the firmware of your choosing.”

Of course, the new version brings a laundry list of other improvements, including new language translations (adding Danish, Dutch, French, Greek, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese and Spanish), advanced remote commands, multiple external subtitles, folder-based organization and playback, support for embedded DVD chapters, a global zoom setting and little tweaks and enhancements across the board.

If you’re an existing user of aTV Flash (black), the new version can be installed as usual through the Maintenance menu from your second-generation Apple TV; for everyone else, it’s a .95 purchase from the FireCore website.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter



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CES 2012: OnLive Desktop for iPad Brings Full Windows Experience

OnLive DesktopWhen it comes to wrangling the power of the cloud, few companies have done it as well as OnLive, the folks who have revolutionizing online gaming. Thankfully for us, they aren’t going to stop there. On Thursday, a new iPad app arrives called OnLive Desktop, which brings the full Windows 7 desktop experience to Cupertino’s beloved tablet — and it’s free.

OnLive, Inc. has announced the company’s leap from cloud-based gaming to cloud-based computing with the arrival of OnLive Desktop, a free app for the iPad which lands in the App Store this Thursday, January 12. Tapping into the company’s powerful instant-action cloud gaming technology, OnLive Desktop will deliver a “full-featured, media-rich Windows 7” desktop experience hosted on remote services, complete with Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

“OnLive Desktop is the first app to deliver a no-compromise, media-rich Windows desktop experience to iPad, opening up powerful new possibilities for consumers and businesses,” said Steve Perlman, OnLive Founder and CEO. “iPad users will now be able to simply and securely view and edit cloud-hosted documents with full-featured Windows desktop applications like Microsoft Office, just as if they were using a local high-performance PC. Multi-touch gestures respond instantly and smoothly, while HD videos, animations and PC video games — never before usable on a remote desktop — play seamlessly.”

Perhaps the most exciting news about OnLive Desktop is that the app is absolutely free and comes with 2GB of secure cloud storage and access to a full Windows 7 install pre-populated with MS Office, popular utilities and touch-based games. But this isn’t simply a way to access Windows 7 from the iPad — it’s a full touch-based experience which taps into a Windows touchscreen keyboard as well as handwriting recognition and even a Bluetooth keyboard.

U.S. customers can download the free OnLive Desktop from the App Store beginning Thursday, with a release soon after for those across the pond in the U.K. A free OnLive account is required, which anxious users can sign up for today on the company’s website. The app will soon spread to Android, PC and Mac platforms with external monitor and TV support (by way of the OnLive MicroConsole hardware), and the company plans to soon unleash OnLive Desktop Pro which adds 50GB of cloud storage and priority access for only .99 per month.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter



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Facebook F8 Brings Timeline, Verbs, Music and Video Content

Facebook Timeline

Not crazy about the changes made to Facebook this week? As it turns out, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Mark Zuckerberg took the stage at the company’s F8 event on Thursday to unveil the company’s new direction, which includes a new way to display your life and plenty of music and video content yet to come.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg took to the stage today at the company’s F8 event following a rousing parody by Saturday Night Live cast member Andy Samberg — right down to the hoodie, sandals and mannerisms. (Didn’t anyone tell them we’ve seen this joke before… at an Apple keynote?) While you would think that the social network had exhausted its arsenal of changes for the week after the new Subscribe button and Friends list revisions, those appear to be just the appetizer for the main entrée yet to come.

“Since the beginning of Facebook, your profile has been the place where you tell your story,” explains The Facebook Blog. “People use it to share everything from the small stuff, like their thoughts on an article, to the most important events of their lives, like the photos of their wedding or the birth of their child.”

Needless to say, a user’s profile has evolved over time and soon, you’ll see the biggest change to date with Timeline, with Facebook claims will “tell your story” by focusing on three specific areas: Your stories, your apps and a new way to express who you are, all going back to the time you were born.

Mark Zuckerberg at F8

“It’s the heart of your Facebook experience, completely re-thought from the ground up,” Zuckerberg explains of the new design, which the CEO claims has been keeping the company busy all year. (No wonder there’s still no native iPad app…)

Where the original Facebook profile design focused on the last few moments in your life (and the 2008 update extended that to the last 15 minutes), Timeline aims to show it all, from birth to the present. Explaining that Timeline was a major design challenge, Zuckerberg showed off the new look at F8 using his own profile, which now appears in a more grid-like layout, presenting only the key moments as you go backward in time.

Timeline also features Reports, a method for compiling your profile data every month or every year as a summary of everything you’ve ever done on Facebook. Timeline will display properly on mobile devices in a condensed view, and new look will roll out over the next couple of months. “We wanted to design a place that feels like your home,” Zuckerberg concluded.

Needless to say, Facebook didn’t stop there, adding “verbs” to your status updates so users can “express themselves in new ways.” For example, you can now post when you’ve done something after the fact, rather than at the exact moment you’re doing it. But fear not, verbs are considered a “lightweight” part of your stream and will appear on the side of your homepage rather than cluttering up your news feed.

Facebook has also overhauled its OpenGraph protocol, opening the doors for developers to include the feature in their own apps with a focus on the Timeline first and discovering new things through your Facebook friends — which leads into the final segment of the F8 event.

Spotify hearts Facebook

As widely rumored, Facebook has now teamed with Spotify for the “real-time serendipity” feature, allowing you to share music with friends and even listen along at the same time they do. The feature isn’t exclusive to Spotify, and Facebook is partnering with other content providers as well, including Rdio, MOG, Rhapsody and others.

“You’ll now start seeing new music posts and play buttons all over your newsfeeds,” Spotify explains on their blog. “Hit a play button and the music starts. Right there.”

Last but not least, the recent controversy with Netflix didn’t keep that company’s CEO, Reed Hastings, from popping in at the close of the F8 keynote to say hello and comment on how his company (as well as Hulu Plus) will soon be able to stream video content to the new Timeline feature — but oddly, not quite yet in the United States.

That’s right — Netflixers in Canada and Latin America will actually get first crack at enjoying their content in Facebook before we colonials do, apparently due to some kind of bizarre privacy law currently due for revision in Congress, according to This Is My Next. Weird, right? Of course, you’ll need the new Timeline in order to get that integration anyway, so keep your eyes peeled for those changes.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

(Images courtesy of Facebook and BGR)



Steadicam Smoothee Brings Hollywood Magic to Your iPhone 4

Steadicam Smoothee for iPhone 4Oh come on, don’t act so surprised — someone was bound to make one of these eventually, right? We all know the iPhone 4 takes great 720p HD video, but usually it looks like we were shooting during an earthquake. Now you can shoot video like the pros with the Steadicam Smoothee.

Pixiq is reporting
that U.K. gadget website is now selling the Steadicam Smoothee for iPhone 4, a £169.99 (9 USD) gadget that promises “home movies without the motion sickness” — although it certainly won’t be fitting inside your pocket with your handset, that’s for sure.

Cinema fans have no doubt heard of the Steadicam, a large camera rig worn by an operator that uses gyroscopes to stabilize footage without the use of a tripod, allowing for greater mobility and much cooler shots. Those costly rigs have been miniaturized over the years for prosumer camcorders, so it was just a matter of time before someone started offering one for the iPhone as well.

“Too many of our home movies have ended up unwatchable thanks to our shaky camera work,” the product description reads. “Whether we’re moving around while we film, or just too flipping giddy to be operating a camera, the final footage so often ends up a jittery mess. That’s where the Steadicam Smoothee for iPhone 4 can help.

“Based on the ,000 Steadicam rigs used in Hollywood, this professional-looking monoframe lets you capture incredibly smooth video without the collywobbles,” the description continues. “Simply mount your iPhone in the specially-designed frame and start shooting. No practice or training required!” has left no stone unturned, offering both iPhone 3GS or iPod touch users their own mounts (for an additional £24.49/ USD each). Don’t believe it’s possible? A brief demo video on the Firebox website shows how to use the Steadicam Smoothee, although it’s suspiciously short on actual footage shot with the device. To order yours, hit the Firebox website — it’s in stock and shipping within the U.K. is free.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter



VUDU Brings More Than 20,000 Titles To iPad, But Skips The App Store

VUDU on iPadAs if the iPad doesn’t have enough choices for streaming movies and television shows direct to you, VUDU has announced that the company is now offering its library to tablet users — but don’t go looking for it in the App Store, because the service is only available in your browser for now.

VUDU, Inc. announced that its vast catalog is now available on the iPad, but the news is one of those “good news/bad news” scenarios. While it’s great to have more choices, VUDU has bypassed the App Store entirely in favor of an HTML5-based website optimized for tablets — presumably so they can sell titles without paying a 30 percent tax to Apple.

“Got an iPad®? If so, we’ve got great news for you!” reads an email sent out Tuesday morning to VUDU customers. “Starting today, you can rent, purchase and watch movies from VUDU directly on your tablet. We’ve optimized our website for viewing on your iPad, so you can navigate our collection of over 20,000 movies with a simple flick of your finger.”

VUDU for iPad Now Available

VUDU’s email boasts “there’s not even a need to install an App,” suggesting instead that users simply add an icon to the home screen while browsing the tablet-optimized website from their iPad.

Unfortunately, VUDU’s iPad solution comes with a couple of caveats. Claiming “restrictions by content providers,” playback is limited to standard definition quality only, although movies purchased on the iPad will be available in HD or HDX resolution when accessing from another device. Finally, Walt Disney Corporation has opted out of VUDU’s iPad effort for now, although you can browse and purchase those titles — just not view them on the iPad itself.

Could this move have anything to do with Apple CEO Steve Jobs being on the board of directors? Hmmm…

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Trade Nations Announces Charity Initiative, Brings Water to Developing Nations

Trade Nations

Unfortunately, video gaming has a stigma attached to it in the eyes of popular culture. They see us as lazy nerds who sit around gaming all day instead of serving humanity. Well, now there’s good news! You can now do both. You can sit around gaming all day while simultaneously serving your fellow man! It’s called Play2Change.

The Play2Change program is being implemented by Z2Live, the social game developer behind the game Trade Nations. The program is set up to provide funds for developing nations so they can build wells in areas that need fresh, clean water. Rather than asking random people for outright donations, Z2Live is using the game Trade Nations to engage its customers.

“We will use our games to work with our community to benefit this charity though donations, in game purchases and other promotions in the future,” said David Bluhm, CEO of Z2Live. “We are hoping that other game and entertainment companies will join the Play2Change movement and help us all make a positive impact on the world through gaming.”

Every time players purchase a well in the game, a certain amount of money goes to the charity to help them build wells. So if you’re a fan of Trade Nations, get out there and buy like fifty freakin’ wells. And if you don’t play Trade Nations, we’d say this is a pretty good reason to give it a shot.

So far Z2Live says they’ve sold 2,000 in-game wells which will build two real-world wells to supply over 800 people with fresh water.