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Tuesday Recap: Apple FTC Subpoena, Tweetbot Goes Retina, iPad Launch News

Apple notice to Hong Kong scalpersDevelopers are starting to update their apps for the new iPad’s Retina Display, which both AT&T and Verizon have now announced will be available in their own retail stores this Friday. Can you feel the excitement? If not, chances are you decided to sit out the new iPad — or maybe you just don’t get that excited over objects made of glass and metal. In that case, sit back and read up on what else might be happening this Tuesday, March 13, 2012.

Report: Apple Subpoenaed in Google Federal Antitrust Probe

According to Bloomberg, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is beefing up its antitrust case against search giant Google, reportedly issuing subpoenas to onetime friend, current frenemy Apple Inc. “seeking information on how the computer maker uses the search engine on the iPhone and iPad.” Among the request are documents showing how Google was made “the preferred search engine on Apple’s mobile devices,” according to two people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to speak publicly or even be identified. “The subpoena indicates the FTC is intensifying its scrutiny of Google’s business practices,” the report reveals. “Details of the Apple-Google relationship may show whether Google is abusing its dominance of Internet search to boost revenue in the mobile phone advertising market.” Curiously, the move comes at a time when Apple seems to be shifting away from Google’s services, recently swapping their Maps service for an open-source service in the new iPhoto app, for example.

Tweetbot for iPad Goes Retina, Adds Streaming

If you’re waiting impatiently for that new Retina Display iPad to be delivered on Friday, you might want to kill some time in the App Store, where developers are already pushing out updates to your favorite apps to take advantage of the higher-resolution screen. Tweetbot is among them, with a new version 2.1 update for the iPad that beefs up the graphics as well as adding streaming, which will continually update your timeline while the app is open (but only via Wi-Fi, and it can be disabled in settings). That “new tweets” sound is likewise limited to mentions, direct messages and new tweets, but only when you pull-to-refresh. Tweetbot 2.1 also brings version number parity to the iPad edition along with TweetMarker improvements and the ability to double-tap on the timeline tab to view the last read tweet before jumping to the top of the screen. Tweetbot for iPad 2.1 is a 25MB download from the App Store, free for existing users but only .99 for everyone else. (The iPhone 2.1 version will be following soon.)

AT&T, Verizon Confirm Sales of New iPad Starting March 16

MacRumors is reporting that both AT&T and Verizon Wireless have been busy thumping their chests today, making sure everyone knows they’ll have their respective 4G LTE-equipped new iPads in stock on Friday, March 16 in case you want to skip the mobs at Apple’s retail stores and go directly to the carriers. While AT&T offers a much more limited range of 4G LTE coverage, the carrier does offer a cheaper .99 per month plan for 250MB of data, which also nets you free AT&T Wi-Fi Hotspot access at over 29,000 locations. For their part, Verizon is busy making sure you know that they’re the only iPad carrier currently offering Personal Hotspot, which is bundled free with any of their 4G LTE month-to-month plans and allows up to five other devices to share the high-speed goodness. Verizon is also the only one offering a 10GB plan for per month, which you might want to consider before you go sharing the LTE love with those around you.

Rdio Challenges Spotify with Desktop App, Social Updates

Spotify, you have been challenged. The Rdio Blog today announced “a new Rdio” service, touted as “faster, simpler and more social.” The new design is now available on both the Rdio.com website as well as the company’s desktop apps for all Web and Unlimited subscribers. A new look and feel cuts down on the navigation, keeping your music, playlists and network in one view, while entire albums can now be added to playlists, something the company claims is one of their most-requested features. If your friends have the same good taste you do, you can listen along to what they’re playing in real-time with just a click, or share your own tastes with friends on Facebook, Twitter or via email. About the only bad news is that the redesign isn’t yet available to moochers — er, free users — but the company says it “will be available in the near future.” In the meantime, you’re encouraging to cough up some dough and jump on the Web or Unlimited plans, should your curiosity be too much to bear…

Apple Moves to Deter iPad Scalpers in Hong Kong

As much as we love our Apple gadgets here in America, it seems the obsession runs far deeper in Asian countries. The Next Web is reporting that Apple has taken steps to ward off new iPad scalpers in Hong Kong come this Friday, posting notices around their flagship store at the IFC Mall that the tablet will not be available on a first-come, first-served basis the way it is here. “No staying or queueing up here,” the note reads in both Chinese and English, as first noted by Engadget China (and shown above). “Apple will not serve on a first come first serve basis for new iPad. Please refer to Apple’s official website for the detailed arrangement.” This “detailed arrangement” is simply the company’s Reserve and Pickup program, requiring a visit to the Apple website to first reserve the iPad prior to heading to the store to pick it up, a service that begins in Hong Kong on Thursday morning. No doubt the company hopes to avoid the chaos that erupted during the recent iPhone 4S launch in China, although the scalpers appear to be changing tactics by queuing up outside to offer cash for those iPads as they’re picked up. Good luck with that one, guys…

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

(Image courtesy of The Next Web and Engadget China)

 

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iOS Gaming News: Dark Meadow Going Free-to-Play, Other Gorgeous Games on the Way

Last week brought perhaps the largest step forward that mobile gaming has ever taken, thanks to the announcement of the incredibly powerful New iPad. The device has piqued the interest of iOS gamers and developers alike, and here are some of the biggest iOS gaming headlines to appear since the announcement.

New Infinity Blade Ready to Show Off iPad 3′s Display

Epic Games’ Infinity Blade has been the standard for how great a game can look on the iPad since its first iteration in 2010. They’ll continue raising the bar with Infinity Blade: Dungeons, which is set to drop later this year. The game aims to make the most of the iPad 3′s Retina display and show off the true power of the device, and will feature a third-person, top-down view as players swing their way through dungeon after dungeon. The game is sure to capitalize off gamers’ longing for another installment in the Diablo series, albeit viewed through the lens of the Infinity Blade aesthetic.

Dark Meadow Going Free-to-Play

The team at Phosphor Games has decided that it wants to get Dark Meadow into many more hands, and to do so, it’s wiping out the initial .99 price tag and replacing it with a free app full of in-app purchases. The update is due this week, but Phosphor hasn’t forgotten about those who have already purchase the game; early adopters that have already paid for the game will receive an exclusive upgrade that has yet to be detailed. With luck, it’ll be sizable enough to erase any hard feelings about paying for something that was eventually given away.

Ravensword 2 Coming Mid-2012, Looks Gorgeous

The original installment of Ravensword showed gamers what an action RPG could be on iOS. Now looking to build upon the success of its initial foray into mobile gaming, Crescent Moon Games has announced Ravensword 2 (via Touch Arcade). The game will offer a complete overhaul of the graphics, which look stunning in the initial shots; and the combat system also appears like it will get some tweaking, so taking on the monsters that roam the world will hopefully be that much more satisfying. Crescent Moon expects to bring the sequel to the public sometime this sunny summer, so keep your eye on the App Store for this promising release.

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The Week's 10 Hottest Apple News Stories, February 24th

Big news last week was Mountain Lion’s sneaking out the gate without a big hoopedy doo Keynote. There’s been little news on that front since then, but there are a few pieces to the puzzle, along with iCloud follies, and a few Apple TV tips (which might just be Apple’s next big thing). Let’s see what’s cookin’ in the hot stories this week.

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Foxconn Factoids from ABC News’ Nightline Special Report (with Full Video!)

Foxconn packing iPhoneAs we reported on Monday, ABC News’ Nightline aired a 30-minute special report Tuesday night that put the spotlight on factory conditions at Foxconn, where many of Apple’s products are manufactured. Missed it? Read on for the highlights.

The Verge has assembled a list of key points from Tuesday night’s Nightline special report on Foxconn. ABC News anchor Bill Weir is the first journalist to be granted access to the factories where Apple’s popular devices are manufactured and assembled, which comes at a time when the spotlight is already shining on these Chinese facilities rather intently.

As it turns out, the report didn’t reveal anything truly shocking — or as The Verge editor Joshua Topolsky puts its, “there wasn’t much meat on the bones of the 30-minute report.” But that doesn’t mean the Nightline broadcast didn’t glean a few factoids about Foxconn and Apple’s relationship with the company.

For example, there are 141 different steps involved in making an iPhone, almost all of which is done by hand. Meanwhile, it takes five days and 325 hands to produce a single iPad, even though Foxconn manages to produce 300,000 iPad camera modules each day.

On the subject of the Foxconn workers, they receive .78 per hour for their work and sleep six to eight in a Foxconn-provided dorm room, which costs each worker .50 per month (yes, paid out of their salary). Foxconn workers also pay for their own food (70 cents per meal) and work in 12-hour shifts. Ready to sign up? New hires must survive three days of training and “team building exercises” first.

Last but not least, Apple’s voluntary inspections by the Fair Labor Association are costing the iPhone maker 0,000. And did you know that Foxconn executive Louis Woo would actually prefer it if Apple forced the manufacturer to pay its workers double the pay? Sounds like somebody’s making too much bank.

ABC News has posted the entire Nightline special report, which is available in all its Adobe Flash-plagued glory embedded below as well as through the ABC News app.

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

(Image courtesy of The Verge; video courtesy ABC News)

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The Week's 10 Hottest Apple News Stories, February 17th

Well, that quiet little sneak, Mountain Lion certainly got people riled up once it showed itself out in the open. It comes in on its quiet cat feet, then suddenly it’s on you. Well, we’re not complaining. We kinda like turning down the volume once in a while, so we can focus on the heat. And do we have a week’s worth of hot for y’all. Of course, with cats.

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