Review: Drop Scale makes baking foolproof w/ Bluetooth scales & companion iPad app

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As a dedicated fan of kitchen gadgets, a Bluetooth scale linked to a companion iPad app that walks you through recipes step-by-step was too much to resist. Besides, it was a chance to bake some cookies and call it work (though I’m not entirely convinced the taxman is going to allow me to deduct the cost of the ingredients).

The scale is very compact – a little under 6.5 inches across with the front lip, and around 5.5 inches wide. There are no visible controls or display, but the lip contains a button and a hidden LED which lights up briefly when the scale connects to the app. Otherwise, it’s entirely featureless …  Read more

Bloomberg reiterates new Apple TV incoming, April introduction and Christmas launch

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Following our reports in recent months that Apple was looking to introduce a revamped Apple TV set-top box sometime around the month of March, Bloomberg is out with its own report today confirming much of what we’ve already reported. The report claims Apple is currently planning to launch the new Apple TV set-top box as early as April:

Apple Inc. (AAPL) is planning to introduce a new Apple TV set-top box as early as April and is negotiating with Time Warner Cable Inc. and other potential partners to add video content, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

In January we reported that Apple was working testing the new box that could include a revamped operating system and possibly app and game support for sometime in the first half of 2014. We also reported that Apple was testing upgraded hardware that included built-in AirPort Express 802.11ac router functionality and versions that include a built-in TV tuner to control existing cable boxes. Most recently we reported that code in recent builds of iOS 7 point to refreshed hardware, at least internally. Bloomberg today confirmed a couple of the same details including a new interface for navigating content. It also said the hardware will include a faster processor.

Bloomberg adds that a launch of the product is currently planned for Christmas but that might change if Apple isn’t able to nail down deals with content partners in time. Content from Time Warner has been rumored to be arriving soon for quite a while now, but negotiations are still ongoing according to Bloomberg’s report from today.

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Analysts estimate iPad sales up 10 percent year-on-year, to 25M last quarter

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A couple of days after Fortune did its roundup of analyst estimates of iPhone sales, it has now done the same for the iPad, with the average forecast coming out at 25M sales in the final quarter of last year (Apple fiscal Q1) – up 10 percent from the previous year.

iPads were a more challenging market to forecast, observes Fortune‘s Philip Elmer-Dewitt:

The iPad Air didn’t ship until Nov. 1, missing one third of the quarter; the new iPad Mini (with Retina display) showed up 12 days later and was in short supply all the way through Christmas …  Read more

Apple airs touching holiday commercial featuring the iPhone 5s and AirPlay

As is tradition, Apple is airing a new holiday commercial this evening, this time highlighting the iPhone 5s, its movie making capabilities, and AirPlay with the Apple TV. The ad is set to the tune of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”. As you may recall, last year Apple highlighted the iPad and FaceTime, with an ad set to “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”. In 2011, Apple featured Siri and the then-new iPhone 4S.

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Bestselling iTunes Albums of 2012 for $6.99, sixth 12 Days of Christmas gift, Vimeo, SlingPlayer Mobile, more

From 9to5toys:

Screen Shot 2012-12-31 at 10.59.14 AM

As a special offer to close out the year, Apple is offering the bestselling albums of 2012 on iTunes for $6.99. The promotion is running from Dec. 31 to Jan. 3 only and includes some pretty nice offerings for you hip music listeners in the crowd:

12 Days of Christmas Day 6:

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App Store on Christmas Day 2012 saw downloads increase 87 percent, revenue rose 70 percent

holiday app store

As users powered on their new iOS devices and received iTunes gift cards on Christmas day, a strong surge of app downloads obviously followed. According to analytic firm Distimo, App Store downloads increased a whopping 87 percent on Christmas Day, compared to the rest of December 2012. With the increased downloads, revenue consequently rose 70 percent. Interestingly, the iPad and iPad mini seemed to be the most popular iOS gift given, as downloads and revenues rose by 140 percent and 83 percent, respectively.

Distmo also looked at the most downloaded applications from the App Store on Christmas day. They included Google’s standalone YouTube app and the recently released Apple Maps alternative Google Maps at the top. Other top downloads, excluding Apple’s in-house apps like iWork, included: ElfYourself by OfficeMax, Where’s My Holiday?, and Skype for iPad. The numbers that will give us a real look at how iOS device sales were during the Christmas quarter will be during Apple’s January earnings call with investors, where record sales are expected.

Competitor Amazon, who doesn’t like to give hard numbers, detailed some of its shopping statistics for the holiday season. The Seattle-based online retailer said that Christmas day brought the busiest day ever for digital downloads of movies, TV shows, apps, and more. The Angry Bird fans were also busy with purchases, as Angry Birds plush toys would stack up to 285 times the height of the world’s tallest tree in California. Research firm Flurry also detailed that Christmas 2012 saw the highest amount of activated gadgets than any other day in history.

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WordPress, Tumblr, Angry Birds Seasons, Notability, Starbucks, deals, more

App & Updates Dec 3

WordPress version 3.3: The WordPress iOS app gets an update today that brings audio feedback with new sound effect options for “refreshing, swiping, and more” accessible from Settings. The app has also been updated with optimizations for iPad mini, support for self-signed certificates, and fixes for over 20 bugs:

★ Sound effects: get audio feedback when refreshing, swiping, and more. You can turn off Sounds easily in Settings.
• Works great on the iPad Mini.
• Added support for self-signed certificates.
• Over 20 bugs and crashes fixed.

Angry Birds Seasons version 3.1.0: Over the weekend Rovio updated its Angry Birds Seasons apps with new content for Winter. Included is 25 winter levels (one each day) and “three secret levels for some special wintry treats.” HD iPad version available here.

It’s a snowy winter night, the northern lights are ablaze, and it seems like peace on earth… until the bad piggies show up! The Angry Birds didn’t realize that they’re walking in a winter wonderham!

Tumblr version 3.2.2: The Tumblr iPhone app gets a few features today include a new blog lookup feature to find blogs by username, and a panorama view when tapping photos:

• New blog lookup feature! Go to your Account screen and tap “Find blogs” to search by username.
• New panorama view! Just tap the photo to get a closeup.
• Bug fixes, including one that made it difficult for some users to launch the app.

Starbucks 2.5.2:

* iPhone 5 Support
* Multiple Bug fixes
* Added back sound when stars drop in cup – now an option to turn on or off

Notability version 4.42: A big update goes to the popular note taking, handwriting, and PDF annotation app that brings iOS 6 support, the ability to import .doc, .ppt, and .xls files as PDFs with Google Drive, localizations, and much more: Read more

Apple saw record sales this holiday season, 12 times the amount of activations on Christmas Day

Apple saw record-setting sales this holiday season, according to Localytics. So well, that 12.5 times more iOS devices were activated over Christmas than past weekends. For comparison sake: there were 21 times more iPods compared to 14 times more iPhones. The iPods were most likely gifted to younger children who do not yet have a cell phone. At any rate… there were many people enjoying iOS devices on Christmas Day.

Apple is said to have another record setting quarter after a very successful fiscal Q4 for the company. The last earnings report said Apple claimed $28.27 billion in revenue and saw record-setting Mac and iPhone sales. The holiday quarter is expected to be even better.

Apple is set to have its best year ever in its App Store with approximately 10 billion downloads in 2011, along with a record-setting holiday season. That estimate doubles collective downloads from the three years prior, according to research firm Flurry. The report noted the Android Market hit 10 billion cumulative downloads in December, up from 3 billion total downloads in May 2011.

Flurry also backs up Localytics claim and said Christmas Day 2011s activations crushed Christmas Day 2010s by almost 2.5 times. This year saw 6.8 million iOS and Android device activations, and last year saw 2.8 million device activations. That’s a 140 percent growth. We are looking forward to hearing what Apple has to say in late January.

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Last minute gift reviews for Apple lovers

As we close out the year and approach Christmas, here is a quick review of some stellar items we have reviewed over the past few months.

Audyssey Lower East Side Speakers.  Truth be told, we were interested in the Airplay-enabled Lower East Side Audio Dock Air that seems to have been struck by production delays.  In the meantime, we are in love with the standalone LES powered speakers (right).  Very simple I/Os and almost perfect desktop-level sound makes these incredibly good for the small room or workspace.  Sure, they will fill up a medium sized room, but you will find much larger/expensive setups for that.  $199 Amazon. Bonus: If you want Airplay functionality, throw in a $95 Apple TV and an Optical cable.

Doxie Go Wireless scanner: The magic is putting an Eye-Fi card in the SD card slot that allows automatic Evernote/flickr Cloud synchronizing.  I use this at the front of my house without a computer where mail comes in.  Important stuff is run through the scanner and sent to the Cloud before it hits recycling.  Standalone Cloud scanners are the future.  It also does traditional Desktop scanning via USB. ($150-200 at Amazon.)

Atari Arcade. This little plastic iPad “dock” (does not work with iPhone 4) adds a joystick to the 100 Atari applications for $15 app (at present no other games support this – but more are planned). The quality is good and the gaming is certainly nostalgic.  It was fun to teach my kid the games I played when I was his age (which is probably why this thing is such a hit).  It would have been much better with a pass thru charger and landscape options.  Still, fun. ($59.99 Amazon) iCade is a more expensive option.

iHelicopter.net sent us a review unit after we showed their latest preview of their missile-shooting iHelocopter. After a few weeks of playing with this iOS device controlled (through an earphone dongle) helicopter, I can say it works as expected.  I have only used it inside but it has survived a lot of hard “landings” as well as direct hits on the ceiling and walls. The reason this one is so notable is that it shoots missiles through a spring-loaded system.  Yes, this works and with the gyroscope going, it is easy to hit your target.  ($69 shipped free globally.)

Logitech Tablet speaker.  Initially we were down on this little gadget because, let us face it, it is not a “looker”.  However, after playing with our review unit for a number of weeks, it has come in handy on a number of occasions and it produces impressive sound considering its size and portability. It clips to your iPad, is charged via USB and plugs into the headphone jack. The rechargeable batteries last for 8 hours. (Amazon – as low as $22)

Western Digital TV Live. Sure Apple TV does 90% of what this thing does, but if you want stuff like Hulu Plus, Spotify, Facebook or compatibility with DLNA and non- iOS compatible videos, this little $90 1080P TV works great. It also has a full sized USB port for hooking directly into USB Sticks, wireless keyboards, and hard drives.  ($89.99 – Amazon.) Also, consider Roku devices that start at $45.

UK 'Austerity culture' hits Orange's iPad Christmas cheer

Price conscious UK consumers are already grappling with declining public services and public sector jobs and a huge climb in VAT — perhaps that’s why Orange sold just 1,000 iPads in the first week the products went on sale via the carrier in the UK.

As has been widely-reported, Orange is one of the first UK networks to offer the 3G/Wi-Fi iPad at a subsidized price in the UK to customers signing-up for a 24-month service contract. The subsidy means you can get an iPad for just £199, so long as consumers agree to a £25/month contract. Read more

'Apple will be number one for a long time', says Angry Birds

Apple’s iOS has won a big thumbs-up from the Angry Birds themselves, who say that when it comes to mobile devices, Apple’s going to excel against the rest.

“Apple will be the number one platform for a long time from a developer perspective, they have gotten so many things right,” said Peter Vesterbacka, Angry Birds development lead. Read more