'Opera Coast' Browser for iOS Gains Discover Feature, Turbo Data Compression

The Opera Coast webkit-based browser for iOS was today updated to version 4.0, adding Opera Software's Turbo data compression technology to make browsing websites on the iPhone and iPad much faster on congested networks.

With Opera Turbo data compression, each website a user visits is compressed down to a fraction of its original size, which both speeds up loading times and uses less data. According to Opera, its data compression techniques are useful when browsing on slow cell phone networks or on crowded Wi-Fi hotspots. Opera Turbo is enabled by default and will kick in whenever a user is on a GPRS or Edge network.


Along with the new data compression engine for faster browsing, Opera Coast has been updated with a new "Discover" feature that lets users find interesting news. Whenever a search is opened in the Opera Coast browser, a range "the latest and greatest" articles for users to browse through will be displayed above the search box.


On the iPhone 6 Plus, there's a new widescreen layout, and the update brings support for landscape mode. There's also a new "Share" button that makes it easier for users to share content from the browser to various social networks like Facebook and Twitter, and Opera Coast supports Handoff, letting users seamlessly switch between the iOS app and Opera for Mac for the first time.

Opera Coast can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

EA Launches Free to Play 'SimCity BuildIt' for iOS

Electronic Arts today launched SimCity BuildIt for iOS devices, which is a new mobile iteration of its popular city-building franchise. The game features a variety of fully-detailed buildings found in the PC iterations of SimCity with touch-optimized controls for pinching, zooming, and rotating, as the game works online and offline.

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Like the PC version, gameplay is centered around keeping citizens happy by solving challenges like traffic and pollution while expanding a city with new resources and buildings. Players can also trade resources with friends and unlock exclusive buildings, natural disasters, and other content. The game was originally announced in September, and follows the release of the latest SimCity title on the Mac last August.

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SimCity BuildIt is a free download for the iPhone and iPad on the App Store. [Direct Link]

Apple's Antitrust E-Book Case Enters Appeals, Outlook Good for Apple

ibooks-iconLast year, Apple lost a monumental e-book antitrust case that alleged the company had colluded with publishers to raise the price of e-books. As a result, Apple was forced to submit to a cumbersome external antitrust monitor and the company agreed to pay out $450 million as part of a settlement with several class action lawyers and state district attorneys.

Throughout the lawsuit, Apple maintained its innocence, and in February, the company formally filed for an appeal, asking the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the original ruling. In the appeal filing, Apple called the judge's decision a "radical departure" from modern antitrust law.

As of this week, Apple's case is being heard in appeals court, and it appears that things are going in the company's favor thus far. According to a report from Reuters, some of the judges "appeared sympathetic" to Apple's argument that its agreements with e-book publishers were "pro-competitive."

One of Apple's main arguments during the e-book antitrust case focused on Judge Cote's treatment of the company. Apple believes it was treated unfairly because Cote opted to ignore the positive impact that Apple had on introducing competition into the e-book market at a time when Amazon had a 90 percent market share.

Rather than being treated as a new entrant into the e-book market, which would have demanded a "rule of reason" analysis that judged Apple's impact on improving competition in a way that was good for consumers, Apple's role was viewed as "per se illegal" and automatically labeled anticompetitive despite Amazon's large command of the e-book market.
Circuit Judge Dennis Jacobs asked a Department of Justice lawyer why it was wrong for the publishers to get together to defeat a "monopolist" that was using "predatory pricing."

"It's like the mice getting together to put a bell on the cat," Jacobs said.
Circuit Judge Debra Livingston also said it was "troubling" that Apple's normally "perfectly legal" contracts were labeled as a scheme. A lawyer for Apple told the judges "We think the conduct here was innovative and pro-competitive." Should Apple win its appeal, it may not have to pay the $450 million settlement it reached in July. If the case is overturned, Apple will pay no fines, and if it's sent back to Judge Cote for a retrial, Apple will pay just $50 million to consumers and $20 million in attorney fees.

Google App for iOS Gains Nest Integration

nestimageFollowing last week's major redesign, the Google app for iOS has seen yet another update today that adds Nest integration. With the over-the-air update, Nest owners can now use the Google app to control their Nest thermostat systems, in addition to the standard Nest app.

As detailed by VentureBeat, along with in-app controls, Nest owners can also use the built-in Google Now voice commands to change or set the temperature.
On your mobile device, open the Google app and either tap the mic or say "Ok Google" to get started. Then say, "turn the temperature to 70 degrees". In Chrome, either tap the mic or type directly in the search box to set the temperature.
The Google app will also bring up Now card notifications based on location to help users adjust temperature even when away from home.

Google for iOS can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

T-Mobile Looks to Shake Up Cellular Industry Again With 'Un-carrier 8.0' Announcement Tuesday

T-Mobile today announced that it will be broadcasting a "fireside chat" with CEO John Legere and Yahoo Tech's David Pogue tomorrow. During the live webcast, Legere will announce the terms of "Un-carrier 8.0" and answer questions about the latest chapter in the company's ongoing Un-carrier initiative to differentiate itself from the other major U.S. providers.

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Details on the changes T-Mobile plans to introduce have not yet been revealed, but the carrier teased the announcement was "so big we had to keep it under wraps."

In the past, the company's initiatives have produced market-wide changes in the cellular industry, including contract-free service plans and generous bonuses for switching carriers. The most recent Un-carrier announcement back in September focused on Wi-Fi calling and texting as well as a partnership with Gogo in-flight wireless.

The Un-carrier 8.0 webcast will begin on Tuesday, December 16 at 10:30 AM Eastern / 7:30 AM Pacific. It will be broadcast from newsroom.t-mobile.com with a link to the stream available starting Tuesday morning.

ShopKeep Updates iPad App with Apple Pay Support

Point-of-sale manufacturer ShopKeep today updated its official iPad app with support for Apple Pay, now allowing customers to pay with their iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus. Merchants can accept Apple Pay payments if they have a ShopKeep terminal and an Ingenico iCMP Bluetooth Credit Card reader, which sells for $249 and also supports mangetic swipe and contactless payments. The reader will also be able to support EMV chip card payments in the future.

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What's New in Version 2.5.2

Introducing support for Apple Pay.

ShopKeep has partnered with Ingenico, the global leader in secure electronic transactions, to integrate support for the iCMP card reader. This reader allows merchants to accept various forms of credit card payments, including magnetic swipe and contactless. This reader also supports chip card (EMV) capabilities, and support in the app will be available early next year ahead of the liability transition deadline.
ShopKeep's move to accept Apple Pay comes a few weeks after payment processing service Square announced that it would be supporting Apple Pay at some point in 2015. Square would have to release all new hardware with built-in NFC connectivity to support Apple Pay, as its current reader is not able to accept the payment method.

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iCMP's Apple Pay capable Bluetooth reader for ShopKeep POS systems

ShopKeep is a free app for the iPad and can be downloaded through the App Store. [Direct Link]

Canada Investigating Apple Over Accusations of Anti-Competitive Carrier Contracts

Canada's Competition Bureau confirmed on Thursday that it is investigating Apple's contracts with wireless carriers to determine whether they violate the country's anti-trust laws, reports CNET. The investigation is in the early stages, with the Bureau filing a court order to compel Apple to supply documents that will assist with its investigation.

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Apple is being accused of including clauses in its contracts with wireless carriers that would hinder competition. No official charges have been filed against Apple, and the Bureau has yet to find evidence supporting the initial anti-competitive allegations raised by unnamed sources.
"There is no conclusion of wrongdoing by Apple Canada Inc. at this time, and no application has been filed with the Competition Tribunal or any other court to seek remedies for any alleged anticompetitive conduct," [Competition Bureau Gregg] Scott said, without identifying how the contract allegations came to the bureau's attention. "Should evidence indicate that the Competition Act has been contravened, the Commissioner will take appropriate action."
If the Competition Bureau finds evidence that Apple violated Canada's Competition Act, the Cupertino company will be asked to change its practices or face sanctions by the Competition Tribunal. In the past several years, Apple has faced similar anti-trust allegations over its iPhone distribution terms from both the European Commission and France's DGCCR.

Related roundup: iPhone 6

Retro 3D Shooter 'Space Qube' Named App of the Week, Available for Free

Described as a 'retro-futuristic 3D' shoot-em-up, Space Qube has been designated by Apple as this week's App of the Week. The game, created by Qubit Entertainment and launched in early 2013, will be free on the App Store for the next week.

Normally priced at $2.99, the game tasks players with building their own personal spaceships and running through "endless levels of Alien mayhem," besting high scores and taking down bosses.

The extensive voxel-based ship editor allows users to build an endless variety of ships, share them online, or download another player's creation for themselves. Most players reviewing the game on the App Store praise these ship-building and customization elements of the game, but forewarn future players of in-app purchases down the road.

With Space Qube’s in-game Voxel editor you can create anything and take it for a spin in the space! There are tons of models already created and more is coming in - fast. Take control of a space ship, a flying toilet, a flying cow or anything else, shoot as many aliens as you can and get the highest score to climb up the ranks. Some serious unique bosses are waiting for you on your quest! Space shooters will never be the same.

-Retro shoot ‘em up using sensor controls
-Best music theme ever, no doubt
-Share your 3D creations online
-Use your own creation or download another gamer’s model to play the game
-3D Print out your creations with one click

Game tech support:
-Game Center support
-WideScreen support
-Voxel-based rendering engine

Welcome to Space Qube!
Space Qube can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Twelve South Launches BookBook Wallet Case for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

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Twelve South has launched its popular BookBook iPhone wallet case for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

Because the new iPhones are larger than Apple's older smartphones, the company has added several new features to the case, in addition to the credit card and ID slots in the older versions.

Now, the iPhone snaps into a soft-touch shell inside the case. The shell can be quickly removed from the wallet portion to make it easier to pop the iPhone into a desktop charging stand or dashboard clip. The company also suggests this might make it easier for parents to give their iPhone to their kids without handing over their whole wallet.

The BookBook can also prop the phone up at an angle to use as a hands-free viewing stand, a useful improvement.

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BookBook for iPhone 6/6 Plus is an all-new wallet case, hands-free stand and removable shell – wrapped up in one gorgeous, vintage leather book. BookBook has pockets to hold your ID, cards and cash. It now folds into a display stand for hands-free FaceTime chats and watching videos. And one more thing: BookBook features a removable soft-touch shell to protect your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus in or out of BookBook. Whatever your needs, this feature-packed case has you covered.
Available for $60 in black or brown leather, the new case is currently only available through the Twelve South website and in relatively limited quantities.

Classic Apple Watches From 1995 Once Again Available for Sale

While customers are looking forward to the launch of the Apple Watch early next year, there have been several other Apple-branded watches over the years typically offered as promotional items, and one of those items from nearly 20 years ago is making a comeback.

A limited number of these Apple watches from 1995 were kept by a distributor and have now been made available for sale, priced from $99-$129 depending on condition, and all watches come with a new battery. While they lack any advanced features, the watches with their quirky design may be of interest to some collectors.

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The 1995 Apple-branded watch was originally offered as a promotional item to encourage users to upgrade their Macs to System 7.5. In an offer running from May through July of 1995, users purchasing System 7.5 could receive an Apple watch or a copy of third-party extensions and control panel manager Conflict Catcher 3 as a free gift. System 7.5 had debuted in September 1994 and with bug fixes served as the Mac operating system until the release of Mac OS 7.6 in early 1997.

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Two decades later, the watches are back with limited launch-week pricing through the weekend starting at $99 for units with minor blemishes and ranging up to $129 for those considered "flawless". The launch-week promo includes free shipping in the U.S. with delivery by Christmas, and discounted shipping internationally.

Update: Stock of the "flawless" units appears to be quickly running low, with pricing now at $199.

Update 2: The watches are now completely sold out, although a "single digit" number may become available once stock is reassessed following the initial flurry of orders.

Google App for iOS Updated With Material Design, Maps Integration

Google is in the process of updating all of its apps with its new Material Design interface guidelines, and as of today, the Google app for iOS has been updated with the new look. Material Design, which Google says is based on ink and paper, uses grid-based layouts, responsive animations, and depth effects to create clean, touchable interface elements.

Along with adding new Material Design animations, the Google app has been updated to take advantage of the larger screens on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and it now displays bigger photos in image search.

Google's update includes more than just design changes, as the app has been completely rebuilt. There's a new "Google" button that lets users search with just one tap anywhere in the app, and Google Maps integration has been added, letting users check out interactive maps and Google Street View within the app. A new "recents" button is also designed to let users keep track of the searches they've conducted.

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Introducing the new Google app
Completely rebuilt to bring you the best of Google:
- Recents--see & return to your recently visited pages
- Google button--start a new search with just one tap
- Google Maps--explore interactive maps, nearby places & Street View right inside the app (for iPhone)

New look and feel:
- Beautiful new Material Design animations
- Bigger photos in image search
-Looks great on the new iPhone 6 & 6 Plus
Google can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Smartphone-Compatible Digital Driver's Licenses Launching in Iowa in 2015

The Iowa Department of Transportation will begin allowing customers the option of receiving their newly issued driver's licenses via a mobile app on their smartphones, reports The Des Moines Register.

The app, set to launch next year, will be available to customers at no additional cost and will include all of the necessary information a traditional plastic license includes.

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During a state agency budget hearing this past Monday, DOT Director Paul Trombino reassured Iowa Governor Terry Branstad about the upcoming launch of the pioneering digital ID system.
"We are really moving forward on this," Trombino said. "The way things are going, we may be the first in the nation."
Trombino assured that those wanting to stick with a traditional plastic ID will have the option to do so, but that the new digital license will be widely supported throughout the state, including "Iowa law enforcement officers during traffic stops and by security officers screening travelers at Iowa's airports." The new smartphone app was called "an Identity Vault app" and is promised to be highly secure, with customers using a PIN number for verification.

More than thirty states, including Iowa, already accept digital copies of proof of insurance during traffic stops, so a driver's license as a smartphone app is the next logical step.

Related roundup: iPhone 6