Got a tip for us? Share it...

Apple: iPad Sales at High End of 'Internal Expectations', 2/3 of Users New to Device

During Apple's earnings call today, Apple shared new details on the state of the iPad, including information on sales expectations, the launch of Microsoft Office for the device, the education market, and the use of the tablet compared to competitors.

ipad_air_family_20136
While the company's 16.35 million in iPad sales fell short of analyst expectations, Apple notes that sales came in at the high end of its internal expectations. Company executives cited two main factors: an increase in iPad channel inventory in the March 2013 quarter which artificially increased sales and that was "significantly" reduced this year; it also mentioned that it ended the December 2012 quarter with a substantial backlog of iPad mini orders that didn't shipped until 2013. The company added that it hit iPad supply/demand balance earlier in the launch cycle this year.

Apple also noted that two-thirds of people activating an iPad in the last six months were new to the device, while half of people registering an iPhone had never owned one before. Citing research from App Annie and Chitika, the company stated that the iPad generated four times the mobile web traffic as all Android tablets combined, and that two-thirds of US consumer that planned to purchase an iPad in the next 3 months would be purchasing an iPad.

CEO Tim Cook commented on the recent launch of Microsoft Office for the iPad, stating that the addition of the productivity suite "helps" and that it would have been financially beneficial for Microsoft to release the program "earlier". Overall, Cook noted that customers were "responding well" to Office in a field of many alternatives that were brought to the market, including Apple's own iWork suite for the iPad as well as competitors from other developers.

Cook also noted that Apple has a 95% share in the education market and that the company's focus was on getting more iPads into classrooms. He says the iPad is "the fastest growing product in Apple's history", and that the company is determined to stay focused on the things "we do best" and said that the company focuses on getting the details the right as opposed to simply being the first to launch.

Apple is expected to introduce updated models of the iPad Air and Retina iPad Mini this year, with some rumors suggesting that the company will add a larger "iPad Pro" to its tablet lineup in the near future.

Related roundups: iPad Air, iPad mini

iTunes by the Numbers: 800M Accounts, $5.2B in Billings, 70B App Downloads

ituneslogo.jpgDuring its financial results call covering the first calendar quarter and second fiscal quarter of 2014, Apple shared details on the success of its iTunes Store, which has become an increasingly important revenue source for the company in recent years, mainly due to the popularity of the App Store.

Last quarter, Apple's customers spent a total of $5.2 billion on iTunes purchases, up 24 percent year over year. That's also up from $4.7 during the first quarter of 2014. Cumulatively, Apple's App Store has seen 70 billion total app downloads, up from 65 billion in January.

Apple has 800 million iTunes accounts, most with credit cards attached, an important fact in light of Apple's potential interest in entering the mobile payments market. Back in June of 2013, Apple announced 575 million customers had iTunes accounts, marking a massive growth increase.

Overall, Apple shared via its financial results report that it posted revenue of $45.6 billion and net quarterly profit of $10.2 billion, or $11.62 per diluted share, compared to revenue of $43.6 billion and net quarterly profit of $9.5 billion, or $10.09 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter.

Tim Cook: Apple's Shares 'Undervalued', Expansion of Share Buyback Program 'Shows Confidence'

timcook.pngIn an interview with The Wall Street Journal following the release of Apple's financial results for the most recent quarter, CEO Tim Cook stated that the company's stock was "undervalued" and that the expansion of the share buyback program "shows how much confidence [Apple] has in the future of the company."

Apple announced an increase of its capital return program to $130 billion, from an announced $100 billion last year, with the company expecting to complete the program by the end of 2015. Apple will take on additional debt both domestically and internationally to finance the program.

The company will also institute a 7-for-1 stock split in June, with shareholders of record on June 2 receiving an additional six shares of stock for each share they own on June 9, and a dramatic reduction in the price of each share to match. Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the company was undertaking the split to make it easier for all potential shareholders to afford to invest in the company.

Apple's board approved an 8% increase in the company's quarterly cash dividend, up to $3.29 from $3.05, and Cook said the company anticipates annual increases in the dividend going forward.

Catcher to Supply Apple With iPhone 6 Casings as Sales Estimates Climb to 70 Million

According to Chinese and Taiwanese media sources, Apple again is contracting with Catcher Technology to supply metal casings for the company's future smartphones, including the rumored iPhone 6. First noticed by GforGames, these reports were published this week in the Taipei Times and The China Post.

iphone6
Most notably, Catcher is predicted to supply Apple with 10.5 million iPhone 6 casings and 20 million casings for other iPhone models in 2014. These figures are thought to represent 15 percent of the total casings needed for the iPhone 6, suggesting Apple could ship as many as 70 million iPhone 6 units by the end of the year.

Barclays Capital made a similar prediction, noting that Catcher is expected to boost its production between 20 and 40 percent to meet demand for the iPhone 6 in the midst of tight supply. Apple is one of Catcher's larger clients, contributing approximately 40 percent to the supplier's revenue.
Barclays said it expects Apple’s next-generation smartphone to be launched in the second half of the year and that shipments of the new model will be 35 to 40 percent higher than the previous one.

Catcher is likely to receive between 10 and 20 percent of the casing orders for the new iPhone, which should help lift its earnings in the second half of the year, Barclays said in a report.
Recent analysis suggests interest in a large-screen iPhone 6 is high in both North America and China, where demand for the iPhone 5s is waning and interest in the iPhone 6 is on the rise. The iPhone 6 is expected to debut this fall with a 4.7-inch display, Apple's A8 processor, an improved Touch ID fingerprint sensor and iOS 8.

Viber Updates iOS App with Redesigned User Interface, Multiple Media Sharing

Popular messaging service Viber today updated its iOS app to version 4.2, bringing a redesigned user interface for iOS 7 in addition to various new features. The app now includes multiple media sharing that allows users to send multiple photos and videos at once, in addition to the ability to block users and send longer video messages. A cross platform typing indicator has also been added.

viber_ios7_redesign

- Completely redesigned for iOS 7! The new look and feel is consistent with the aesthetic of iOS 7 that iPhone users have grown accustomed to.
- Multiple media sharing in one flow. No more back and forth media sharing! Now you can send and edit up to 10 photos and videos at a time!
- Block list. Users can now block contacts they do not know and those that they do not wish to be contacted by. To learn more about managing your block list, click here.
- Send longer video messages. You can now send videos of up to three (3) minutes long.
- Typing indicator. Know when your contacts are typing a message to you on Android tablet, Linux, Mac, PC or Windows 8.
- Bug fixes.
According to the most recent statistics, Viber has over 105 million monthly active users and receives 550,000 sign ups daily. The service was acquired by Japanese Internet company Rakuten in February for $900 million, and launched a new desktop application for Mac and PC last February.

Viber is a free download for iOS devices and can be downloaded through App Store. [Direct Link]

New Renders Show Off 'iPhone 6s' and 'iPhone 6c' Concepts

Following a concept that showed off a possible look at the iPhone 6 based on recent leaked info, French website Nowhereelse.fr [Google Translate] and graphic designer Martin Hajek have once again teamed up to showcase renders for an "iPhone 6s" and "iPhone 6c", which are based off of Apple's current iPhones and alleged iPhone 6 design drawings posted by Japanese magazine MacFan.

iphone6s6c3xx
The renderings show iPhone 6s devices in gold and space grey colors, which retain the same tint as seen in the corresponding iPhone 5s models but adopt the thin, rounded profile that has been rumored for the iPhone 6. Like the previous renders, the power button is located along the upper right side of the device, with the iPhone 6s sporting rectangular volume controls similar to that of the fifth-generation iPod touch.

iphone_6s6c2
Renders for an iPhone 6c concept are also shown, which depict the device in the same blue colorway adopted by the iPhone 5c. Like the iPhone 6s, the iPhone 6c appears to have the same rounded profile with similar button placements, but is shown with a glossy plastic enclosure instead of an aluminum one. The concept is also similar to iPhone 6c renderings done by designer Ferry Passchier, who we commissioned to rethink the rumored design of the iPhone 6 as if it were modeled after the iPhone 5c with colorful plastic backings.

iphoe_6s6c3
Apple is expected to launch the iPhone 6 later this year in two different sizes of 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches. Recent reports have noted that the smaller 4.7-inch version will ship in the third quarter of 2014, while the larger version may ship later this year or early next year due to issues with the device's display and battery.

Along with a larger screen, both models of the next-generation iPhone are said to feature a thinner profile, new A8 processor, Touch ID fingerprint sensor and an improved camera with optical image stabilization. According to a claim from Jefferies analyst Peter Misek, Apple is also negotiating with carriers to increase the price of the iPhone 6 by $100.

Related roundups: iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6

Logitech Adds Multi-Angle Viewing to Ultrathin Keyboard, Launches New iPad Cases

Logitech today announced a new version of its Logitech Ultrathin keyboard cover for the iPad Air, iPad mini, and iPad mini with Retina display, offering a new design that includes a flexible multi-angle slot that allows the iPad to be adjusted to different viewing angles.

The Logitech Ultrathin improves the flexibility and design of its predecessor with an even thinner and lighter keyboard cover and new flexible multi-angle slot that allows you to magnetically clip your iPad into the perfect viewing angle.
Like previous versions of the keyboard, the new Logitech Ultrathin is just a fraction of the weight of the iPad, measuring in at 6.4mm thick. It is designed from aluminum to match Apple’s iPads and the keyboard includes iOS shortcuts and keys spaced for optimal typing.

Alongside the updated version of the Ultrathin keyboard, Logitech has also announced several new protective cases for Apple’s iPads, including the Hinge, the Big Bang, and the Turnaround.

newlogitechcases
Logitech Big Bang, Turnaround, and Hinge

The Logitech Hinge is an ultra flexible case designed to offer a wide array of viewing angles, while the Big Bang is an ultra-protective, rugged case designed to protect the iPad from drops, spills, and scratches. The Turnaround, like the Hinge, is a multi-angle stand that also allows the iPad to be rotated from portrait to landscape mode and folds up into a stylish clutch.

All of Logitech's new products can be preordered from the Logitech website, at the following price points:

- Ultrathin for iPad Air - $99.99
- Ultrathin for iPad mini/Retina mini - $89.99

- Big Bang for iPad Air - $99.99
- Big Bang for iPad mini/Retina mini - $79.99

- Hinge for iPad Air - $59.99
- Hinge for iPad mini/Retina mini - $49.99

- Turnaround for iPad Air - $59.99
- Turnaround for iPad mini/Retina mini - $49.99

Nike Could Partner With Apple to Bring NikeFuel Features to iWatch

Nike is said to be trimming its Fuelband team as the company moves its efforts away from hardware in order to focus on its NikeFuel and Nike+ software. What is next for Nike for may be a partnership with Apple to produce a Nike fitness app that could pair with Apple's iWatch hardware, theorizes GigaOm.
If Nike exits the physical wearable market, as now seems likely, Apple will be the primary sensor maker for Nike’s future wearable apps given the length and depth of the two companies’ close ties. Although there are a handful of Nike apps available for Android, there is no app (on any other mobile platform aside from iOS) that supports NikeFuel, which Nike describes as the “heart of the Nike+ ecosystem.” In many ways, this is the culmination of a process that’s been taking place between the two companies for the better part of a decade: Nike will design the fitness app experience, and the hardware will be made by Apple.
In arguing for a Nike and Apple tie-up, GigaOm points out the long history between the two companies, which includes the 2006 Nike+iPod product, which paired a Nike sneaker first with an iPod Nano and later with the iPhone 3GS and iPod Touch second generation. Most recently, Nike was a featured partner in the iPhone 5s launch, releasing its M7-compatible Nike+Move app shortly after the smartphone's launch last September.

fuelbandse.png
Nike earlier this year also announced plans to open up its Fuel fitness system to third-party developers as part of its Nike Fuel Lab initiative. Though not mentioned as being included in the program, one of these Fuel Lab partners theoretically could include Apple. In this scenario, Apple would bring the hardware expertise that Nike lacks, while Nike has the name recognition among the fitness crowd and slick marketing that Apple could leverage.

Apple is rumored to be releasing its iWatch with a late 2014 target launch date. Recent predictions from KGI Securities analyst Ming Chi Kuo suggests the iWatch could be Apple's most important product of the year, surpassing even the highly anticipated iPhone 6.

Apple Patents Technology to Disable Certain Phone Functions While Driving

Apple today was awarded a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (via AppleInsider) that describes technology to partially disable a phone when the user is driving. The patent details several different lockout mechanisms that block functions like texting and SMS in order to reduce distracted driving.

carplay_3
U.S. Patent No. 8,706,143 describes two main methods to block select iPhone features. The first method requires no input from the car and uses the iPhone's accelerometer and other on-board sensors to determine when a user is driving. Another method uses direct input from a car, which sends a signal to the iPhone that blocks a user from text messaging and using other mobile phone functions while behind the wheel.
The lock-out mechanisms disable the ability of a handheld computing device to perform certain functions, such as texting, while one is driving. In one embodiment, a handheld computing device can provide a lock-out mechanism without requiring any modifications or additions to a vehicle by using a motion analyzer, a scenery analyzer and a lock-out mechanism. In other embodiments, the handheld computing device can provide a lock-out mechanism with modifications or additions to the vehicle, including the use of signals transmitted by the vehicle or by the vehicle key when engaged with the vehicle.
The technology would contain a provision that would allow a phone to be used in a car by the passenger. This feature uses visual input and sensor data to determine whether a person is in the driver's seat or sitting in the passenger seat of the car .

As with all patents, this is proposed technology that may or may not make its way into a future device. Apple's in-car efforts now focus on the Siri-controlled CarPlay, which provides voice-controlled access to Maps, phone, messages and music.

The in-car technology initially debuted as a factory-installed option in new 2014 luxury models from Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo and will be available as an aftermarket add-on via Pioneer and Alpine-branded receivers. It also will debut in 2015 Sonata models from Hyundai.

Cannibalization of iPad Mini by iPhone 6 Unlikely to Negatively Affect Apple's Overall Sales

Apple is expected to introduce a large-screened iPhone 6 with a 4.7-inch model arriving this fall and a 5.5-inch version debuting early next year. Though this large iPhone may cannibalize iPad mini sales, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster does not believe this shift in sales will have a net effect on Apple, reports CNET.

retina_ipad_mini_colors_front_back
In a Monday note to investors, Munster argues that many iPhone owners will accelerate their upgrade to buy the iPhone 6 instead of the iPad mini, while other customers will purchase a bigger iPhone and pair it with an iPad Air. The net effect on Apple is an equal amount of sales even though the distribution among iPad and iPhone models may change with the debut of a larger iPhone.
We note that even at a 5" screen size, the viewable area of an iPad Mini at 7.9" would still be 150% larger than the iPhone 6. Net-net we believe any potential cannibalization would be roughly neutral overall to the model as we believe in some situations users might accelerate their phone update instead of buying an iPad Mini and keep an old phone, while in other cases we might see consumers that purchase an iPhone 6 decide to purchase an iPad Air instead of Mini to increase the utility difference between the devices.
Similar to other analysts, Munster believes Apple will report earnings at the higher end of its own guidance for the second quarter of 2014 with revenues of $44 billion, iPhone sales of 38.5 million units and iPad sales of 21 million units. Munster predicts the current quarter, which will end in June, will be slow for Apple with only 5 percent year over year growth.
"We continue to believe that June numbers are too high given our expectation that there will be no new products in the quarter. We note that given the company's history with guidance, the high-end of Apple's guide is all that matters and we expect the company's high-end of guidance to imply no more than 5% y/y revenue growth. Most importantly, while iPhone will benefit from China Mobile in the first full quarter of iPhone availability, we believe that iPhone unit sales may remain in the low single digits in Jun-13 ahead of the iPhone 6 launch."
Apple will announce its earnings for the second fiscal quarter (first calendar quarter) of 2014 on Wednesday, April 23. The earnings release usually is released around 4:30 PM ET following the close of regular stock trading. The conference call to discuss the earnings report is scheduled to follow at 5:00 PM Eastern / 2:00 PM Pacific.

'Beats Music' Updated With In-App Subscriptions, Offline Mode and More

817640_largerBeats has updated its Beats Music streaming music app with in-app subscriptions, Facebook friend search, an offline mode and more. The move allows users to subscribe to the Beats Music service via their iTunes account.

What's New in Version 1.0.7


You asked for it, and we listened! Some highlights in this release include:

- In-app subscription and account management via your iTunes account
- Find Your Friends -- find and follow your Facebook friends on Beats Music
- Improved Facebook and Twitter account management
- Thousands of new tracks available in The Sentence
- Artist Offers -- discover new content and merchandise from your favorite artists
- Offline Mode & Downloading improvements
- Music Player performance fixes
Previously, users had to subscribe to Beat Music on the service's website, allowing Beats to bypass Apple's 70 / 30 split with developers, which would result in the Cupertino company netting $3 a month from Beats Music's $10-a-month fee for every subscriber Beats adds within the app.

Beats CEO Ian Rogers tells Re/code that the company made its decision to add in-app subscriptions, and therefore submit to the 70 / 30 split, when it found that more than half of its users used iPhones, making it difficult to get an iOS user to subscribe with no in-app subscription option.

Other music streaming services like Rdio and Rhapsody also sell subscriptions in-app, although Rdio's in-app subscription price was raised from $10 a month to $15 a month to make up for Apple's cut. Spotify, however, does not offer in-app subscriptions, though it does offer a free, ad-supported mode available in its app.

Beats Music is available in the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Facebook Updates 'Paper' App With Birthdays, Events, Photo Comments and More

163692_largerFacebook has updated its news creation and curation app Paper with birthdays, events, group updates, photo comments and much more, filling in the app with features from the "main" Facebook app that users have requested since its debut.
Thanks again for your feedback on Paper. We've been working to build features you've asked for, and we're excited to share version 1.1. Here's the scoop:

- Birthdays and events: Never miss a chance to celebrate! Just tap the notifications globe and scroll down to see important dates ahead.

- Photo comments: When words aren't enough, now you can add photos to comments to show how you feel.

- Group updates: Don't miss posts from your favorite groups. Swipe down to open the Main Menu. Tap the More Options icon to the right of the Search box. When you see your groups, check the new unread counts to catch up on the posts you've missed.

- New story buttons: To keep up with the latest stories in a section in fullscreen view, or to catch the newest stories in the next section, tap the new story arrows when they appear.

- More article covers: 9 new article covers join our collection, making easier to spot your favorite sources on Paper. Keep an eye out for Fox News, Bloomberg News, Mashable, FT, kottke, Popular Science, The Hollywood Reporter, Vanity Fair and Hacker News.

- Basic accessibility: All of your sections now support basic accessibility features, and we're working to extend accessibility throughout the app.
In addition, Paper product manager Michael Reckhow tells The Verge that despite Facebook's plans to strip Messenger out of its main Facebook app, the Paper product team does not have plans to remove messaging from its app, saying that the team wishes to keep the app independent from the goals and strategies of the main Facebook app.

Paper isn't the only app Facebook has been working on updates for, as the company yesterday announced a new feature called Nearby Friends for its main app. Similar to Apple's Find My Friends, the optional feature allows users to see if their friends are nearby so that they can meet up.

Paper - stories from Facebook is available for free in the App Store. [Direct Link]

Facebook is available for free on the App Store. [Direct Link]

Apple Could Benefit as Samsung and Globalfoundries Standardize Mobile Chip Production

Samsung and Globalfoundries announced yesterday that the two companies will adopt the same chip production process as they upgrade their manufacturing facilities in preparation for the next generation mobile devices. (Via Wall Street Journal) This announcement adds credence to an earlier rumor that Apple was negotiating with GlobalFoundries to start making the A-Series chip in the company's Malta, New York Fab 8 facility, with Samsung helping in the early stages of production.

global-foundaries-logo
As part of the agreement, Globalfoundries has agreed to drop its current 14 nanometer circuit technology and will instead license Samsung's 14 nanometer process. This standardization of production processes could have a significant impact on Apple, which can now source its A-series processors from either Samsung or GlobalFoundries without any additional engineering effort.
"What really drove us to this agreement was a strong pull from customers," said Ana Hunter, Globalfoundries' vice president of product management. "They see the value in really having one process where they have choice and flexibility in the manufacturing options that they have."
Intel is the first company to start producing chips based on 14-nanometer technology with production starting in the current quarter. Apple supplier Samsung is expected to begin volume production of its 14 nanometer chips in late 2014, while Globalfoundries may introduce the process in early 2015.

There is no information on how this agreement affects Apple's current chip manufacturing deal with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC). Apple reportedly contracted with TSMC to start producing its A-series chips in early 2014 using 20-nanometer technology. Apple turned to TSMC for its chip manufacturing needs as the Cupertino company strives to lessen its reliance on Samsung to meet its production needs. This balance of suppliers helps alleviate supply constraints that result from production problems at a single supplier.

RadioShack Drops iPhone 5s Price to $99

Radio ShackBeginning tomorrow, Radio Shack will be selling the 16GB iPhone 5s for $99 with two-year contract on AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. This is $100 off the standard $199 price and one of the lowest prices we've seen for a new iPhone 5s.

It's unclear if the price drop will be permanent or just a temporary price, but a source at Radio Shack says the promotion does not currently have an end date. For many, the discount will matter less with the new pay-by-the-month phone financing plans offered by AT&T and Verizon, but for customers still on a two-year contract plan, the $100 discount could encourage customers to choose the iPhone 5s over the 5c.

Radio Shack has sold the iPhone since 2009 and has often offered discounts on refreshed and new iPhones numerous times a year. Radio Shack is offering trade-ins on older iPhones, including a minimum of $100 on the iPhone 4s, meaning customers trading in that phone can receive the iPhone 5s for free.

Flickr Debuts Redesigned iOS App With Live Filters, HD Video Recording

Yahoo today updated its Flickr photo sharing app to version 3.0, introducing a major design overhaul that revamps the look and feel of the app. Aiming to make capturing and editing photos easier, the app features 14 live filters for the app's camera, allowing users to see what edits will look like before an image is captured.

The app also has a cleaner, better organized grid-style gallery view for browsing through photos and its camera capture and filter menu now resembles Instagram's successful image editing layout. Searching for captured photos is easier, with a revamped "intelligent" search engine that can filter by date, time, place, and even scenes and objects like "car" or "sunset."

flickrredesign
A new Auto Sync feature lets users upload photos from the camera roll to Flickr automatically, creating a cloud-based backup of all iPhone images. As announced last year, Flickr provides all of its users with 1TB of free storage space.

Video recording, previously unavailable in the Flickr app, is has also been added, allowing Flickr to compete with other photo and video sharing services like Instagram and Vine. There are simple video customization features available and the new live filters also apply to video footage.
Welcome to Flickr 3.0! We have completely rebuilt and redesigned the app to make it simple, beautiful, and easy to use.

Favorite features:
- Capture everything: Take stunning photos and videos. We make it easy.
- Save it all: All your pictures in one place. Take them everywhere.
- Advanced editing: Gorgeous live filters. Powerful editing tools. All for free.

Helpful Tips:
- Capture the world in all new HD video you can share to Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter.
- Explore our editing tools: Levels, Crop, Color Balance, Contrast, Saturation and more.
- Follow friends and the world’s best photographers. Always discover something new.
- Customize your privacy settings so you can make a photo as public or private as you like.
- Take lots of photos! Everyone gets 1,000GB of free storage.
Flickr can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

iPhone 6 Renders Reimagined as iPhone 6c

Last week we posted renderings of what the iPhone 6 might look like based on leaked design drawings of the unreleased device. Since that time, we've seen early cases and possible design molds for the device.

Ferry Passchier, the designer we commissioned for the original designs, has rethought the design as if it was modeled after the iPhone 5c with colorful plastic backings. Passchier produced these renderings with that in mind:

iphone6c-back

iphone6c-front

The original renderings assumed it followed Apple's aluminum design of the iPhone 5s, though an all-aluminum design would introduce issues with Apple's antenna design.

Apple is expected to release the iPhone 6 this fall, and we expect to see more design and part leaks as production starts ramping up.

Related roundups: iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6

'Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft' for iPad Now Available Worldwide

Blizzard Entertainment’s digital card trading game Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft for iPad is now available for download worldwide after soft-launching in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand in early April. The game initially launched for the Mac in March.

The free-to-play collectible card game is set in the Warcraft universe, allowing players to compete with Magic the Gathering-style decks in one-on-one fights via Battle.net or against the computer. The iPad version of the game is able to connect to a Battle.net account, syncing with the PC/Mac version.

JUMP RIGHT IN: Fun introductory missions bring you into the world of Hearthstone’s intuitive gameplay.

BUILD YOUR DECK: With hundreds of additional cards to win and craft - your collection grows with you.

HONE YOUR SKILLS: Play in practice matches against computer-controlled heroes of the Warcraft universe. Thrall, Uther, Gul’dan - they’re all here!

COLLECTION TRAVELS WITH YOU: Your card collection is linked to your Battle.net account - enabling you to switch your play between tablet and desktop with ease.

AND FIGHT FOR GLORY: When you’re ready, step into the Arena and duel other players for the chance to win awesome prizes!
Our sister site Touch Arcade has given Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft a five star review, calling the game "a ton of fun" and "super easy to pick up."
Hearthstone is not only an example of a free-to-play model done right, but it's a must-play for card game enthusiasts everywhere. It's incredibly easy to get into, the picturesque art is easy on the eyes, and best of all -- it plays perfectly on an iPad.
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is also available for the Mac after launching in March and Blizzard has plans to bring it to the iPhone as well, later in the year.

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft for the iPad can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

'Anki Drive' AI-Based Slot Car Racing Game Gains New Cars and Tracks

Anki today announced the debut of two new cars and two new tracks for its iPhone-compatible Anki Drive slot car racing game. Joining the existing four cars are Hadion and Corax, new characters that focus on speed and weaponry, respectively.

ankicars
Designed by Anki and Hollywood legend Harald Belker, Corax and Hadion are the newest characters available for Anki DRIVE. Hadion is built for speed and is the only car that can access Turbo Boost, which enables you to fly incredibly fast down the track. Corax is the ultimate warrior, with the option to mount multiple weapons. Watch out, he's an aggressive one!
First introduced in 2013 during Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, Anki Drive is a unique racing game that Anki describes as a "video game in the real world." Similar to slot car racing, Anki Drive incorporates artificial intelligence, machine learning, and smartphone-based controls, allowing two players to shoot at one another while their cars autonomously race down a vinyl track.

Each of Anki's cars have their own unique name, personality, look, and statistics. While some of them offer greater acceleration speeds, others have more energy or better weaponry. The two released today expand on the abilities of the existing cars, offering Turbo Boost (Hadrion) and multiple mounted weapons (Corax).

Along with the new cars, Anki is also introducing two new tracks: Crossroads and Bottleneck. Crossroads offers hard corners and a challenging intersection that requires solid timing and maneuvering skills, while Bottleneck introduces a bottleneck shape that must be overcome.

crossroadstrack
There's also a brand new Race Mode in the Anki Drive app, which joins the existing Battle Mode. Weaponry is still available and the goal is to make it to the finish line first, beating out other players or AI-controlled cars.

Anki's new cars can both be purchased today from the Anki website for $69.99 each, and the new tracks will be available on May 6 for $99. The original Anki starter kit can also be purchased from the Anki website for $199.

The accompanying Anki Drive app can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Apple Launches 8 GB iPhone 5c in 16 New European Countries [Updated]

Following a brief maintenance period worldwide, Apple's Online Stores in the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Sweden, Poland, and the Czech Republic are now selling the 8 GB iPhone 5c. The device was spotted in these online stores by 9to5Mac.

8gb_iphone5c_6countries
The 8 GB version of the phone was launched last month in a few of Apple's Online Stores alongside the relaunched 16 GB iPad 4. Apple revealed in a statement to Re/code that its strategy with the 8 GB iPhone 5c is to offer a low-cost option that is compatible with the growing number of developing LTE networks in certain countries. The report also noted that Apple prefers not to sell the lower-cost model in the United States because of the popularity of subsidized phones.

The 8GB iPhone 5c is available now through select Apple Online Stores as well as through various Apple Retail locations.

Update 2:31 AM: As spotted by MacRumors readers, the 8 GB iPhone 5c is also now available through Apple's Online Stores in Ireland, Portugal, Austria, Spain, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Hungary, and Luxembourg.

Related roundups: iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6

Compliance Monitor Says Relationship With Apple Has 'Significantly Improved'

ibooks.pngIn his first report to US District Judge Denise Cote, external compliance monitor Michael Bromwich says that his relationship with Apple has "significantly improved" since Apple was ordered to hire him to ensure the company complies with antitrust requirements in the wake of the e-book antitrust case, reports the Wall Street Journal.

After the Second Circuit panel issued its decision in early February, we took steps to reestablish contact and to attempt to “reset” our relationship with Apple, as this Court had directed during the January 13, 2014 proceedings and in its January 16, 2014 opinion. Those steps prompted constructive responses from Apple. As more fully described in this Report, the relationship between Apple and the monitoring team has significantly improved over the past six weeks and has become more focused on achieving the goal of enhancing Apple’s Antitrust Compliance Program pursuant to the Final Judgment.
Bromwich goes on to say that there's been a shift in tone in his relationship with Apple, largely due to the new in-house point of contact that Apple has assigned to work with Bromwich and his team. The new contact has helped Bromwich and his team attain more information and provide a greater commitment to solving disputes than its predecessor, although Bromwich also notes the information was largely about Apple "generally" and that more would be required.

This is a promising turn in a relationship that has so far been troubled, with Apple complaining of Bromwich's exorbitant fees and Bromwich complaining that Apple was blocking interviews and interfering with his investigation. Apple later requested Bromwich's removal. While the request was not granted, Judge Cote did place boundaries on Bromwich's monitorship.