Microsoft Releases Wordament, First iPhone Game with Xbox Live Achievements

Today, Microsoft released a game called Wordament for the iPhone. It has been a popular game on Windows Phone, but available on iOS also. Wordament was originally a side-project for two Windows Live employees that was later acquired and published by Microsoft Game Studios. The game is also the first Microsoft game to come to iOS with Xbox Achievements.

When you sign in with your free Microsoft account, you can earn up to 50 Gamerscore from our 10 achievements and you’ll have access to all of your Xbox Friends and Wordament Frenemies. If you’ve played on Windows Phone or Window 8 and jump to the iOS version, all of your player stats and friends will follow your account automatically.

Wordament is a word game that allows you to compete, real-time, with everyone else playing at the same time. The app is available for free on the App Store. [Direct Link]

Microsoft has been taking steps to adopt the iOS gaming space. Earlier this year, they released an Xbox Live App that allows you to manage your Xbox Live account, and a few iOS games.

Review: The Willy And FrameShift Stands By Insanely Great Products

If you’re in the market for a stand for either your iPhone or iPad, you may or may not have heard of Insanely Great Products. Insanely Great is a smaller iOS accessory maker who specializes in handcrafted stands for both the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Its whole line of stands are made from extremely high quality materials, like aluminium and sturdy acrylics. Because of this, most of the stands manufactured by Insanely Great Products feature a very industrial look, something which I’m a huge fan of.

Insanely Great Products was nice enough to let me test out a couple of their stands: the Willy and the Frameshift. The Willy Stand is made for the iPhone, but can be used with pretty much any smartphone. The FramesShift is an iPad stand which works with most tablets and eReaders on the market. Below, I’ve written up an individual review for each product, giving you my opinion on whether or not I think you should purchase either of the stands for yourself.

FrameShift For iPad

The FrameShift is a pretty awesome stand for the iPad, though it’s compatible with most tablet devices. It’s constructed completely out of anodized aircraft aluminium, and is available in three colors: red, blue and black. All three of these colors look absolutely stunning, though I prefer blue. Since the FrameShift is made out of aluminium, you don’t have to worry about the stand breaking, denting or cracking. Also, all of the nuts, bolts and washers used to construct the FrameShift are standard, so if anything gets broken, you can easily replace the part yourself.

One nice thing about the FrameShift is how versatile it is. The stand’s arm can be configured in multiple angles, allowing for easier viewing of movies and typing. Because of this, the FramesShift can also fold flat, which is helpful when traveling. Also, the interior of the FrameShift is padded with rubber, ensuring that your iPad won’t come in contact with the Frameshift’s metal construction.

All in all, I’d be happy to recommend the FrameShift as an iPad stand, though the price is a bit steep at $99 USD. For the price, however, you’re getting an extremely durable stand for your iPad which should be able to withstand most any situation, whether you’re storing it in your messenger bag or watching movies on the airplane. The fact that the FrameShift can be used to position your iPad at pretty much any angle really seals the deal for me.

Willy For iPhone

Willy For iPhone

If you’re looking for a cheap and functional iPhone stand, the Willy is your match. The Willy is made out of a sturdy acrylic material and features a non-skid bottom, so you don’t have to worry about using the Willy on your nightstand or desk.

Your iPhone is held into the Willy using one of two suction cups. The secondary suction cup can be used to mount the Willy to your car’s dashboard, your whiteboard or even the bathroom mirror. One of my favorite uses for the Willy is for positioning my iPhone comfortably between my ear and shoulder when on long calls. When used on a table, the Willy is positioned at a perfect angle for hands-free movie viewing and FaceTime calling.

If you’d like to purchase the Willy for yourself, expect to drop $20 on Insanely Great Products’ website. With such a low price-tag for such a functional product, I have no trouble recommending the Willy to any smartphone user.

Disclosure: Insanely Great Products provided both the FrameShift and Willy for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

AT&T Activates 4.7 Million iPhones in Q3

Today, AT&T announced financial results for the third quarter of 2012, revealing that the carrier continues to see strong iPhone sales. AT&T revealed that the carrier activated 4.7 million iPhones during the quarter, which is an increase of one million over the previous quarter.

The 4.7 million iPhone activations represent about 77% of AT&T’s total smartphone sales of 6.1 million during the quarter. In addition, AT&T’s smartphones sales rose to 81% and the iPhone represented 62% of AT&T’s sales of all phones (smartphones and feature phones).

So much for the iPhone being “doomed.”

Viewpoint: Dan Lyons’ Articles No Longer Excite

In less than an hour, Apple will unveil the next iPhone. And, as with all Apple releases, certain bloggers are seizing the moment to drive traffic to their sites by writing posts that cast a cloud of doubt and claim that the product at hand will be a complete and utter failure. One writer Dan Lyons is claiming that iPhone launches are no longer exciting. Several jabs were taken at Apple — some of which I agree with — while others are meritless, and seemingly crafted for the sole reason of being provocative.

If that’s correct, I imagine Steve is not happy. First of all, he’d be furious about the leaks. Steve liked surprising people.

I find it hilarious how the theme of this article is what Steve Jobs would hypothetically think of Apple’s actions if he were still around. Jobs specifically didn’t want people asking “WWJD” after his time at the company, and you’d think that someone who created a satirical blog around him would know this. I agree with the point of this statement though. The leaks are surprising for Apple, and, while I doubt they will diminish sales in any way, it’s really an usual thing for a company that’s notoriously silent and (mostly) leak-free while new products are brewing.

This is the sixth version of the iPhone, and the user interface still looks almost exactly like the original iPhone in 2007.

The hardware on the iPhone has been the same for two years, since the iPhone 4 and 4S were virtually identical.

Dan Lyons seems to have an aversion to incremental updates. The 3G and 3GS were virtually identical. I’m astonished that people didn’t get bored then, taking it as a sign that Apple isn’t going to produce some mind-blowing, market-changing iteration of the device every single year. We should all have abandoned the platform back then.

Now, having had two years to plot and scheme, Apple’s renowned designer Jonathan Ive has replaced the tiny 3.5in (8.9cm) screen with a slightly-less-tiny 4in (10.2cm) screen? Wow. Knock me over with a feather. What do you do with the rest of your time, Jony?

There appears to be correlation between increased screen size and Jony Ive’s work ethic. We should investigate Samsung for unfair worker treatment; I weep for the designer of the Galaxy Note. He must have been chained to a pole 24/7, slaving to produce such a large screen. In fact, has Lyons designed any large screens? What do you do with your time, sir?

But seriously, Jony was probably too busy authoring some parody blog.

This is what happens when a company is too cheap to invest in research and development. Did you know that Apple spends far less on R&D than any of its rivals – a paltry 2% of revenues, versus 14% for Google and Microsoft?

They seem to be spending that 2% quite well, seeing that their products have set the tone of entire markets.

No wonder the Android platform, where new models appear every week, now represents 68% of the smartphone market, up from 47% a year ago, while Apple slid to 17% over the same period.

Market share is definitely an important benchmark, but it’s not everything. I partially agree with what Gruber said in a post back in January addressing this very matter. What Apple has is a mind-blowing profit share.

Worse, despite all its bluster about innovation, Apple has become a copycat, and not even a good one. Why is Apple making the iPhone bigger? To keep up with the top Android phones.

(Phones that, mind you, Apple fanboys ridiculed at first.)

I like it how you accuse Apple of not thoroughly copying Android devices. If they were complete copycats, they’d be creating a 4.8″ or larger device. They’ve clearly spent time mulling over the issue of screen size.

I don’t personally prefer devices with extremely large screen sizes (I think that the Lumia 900’s screen is kind of the max for me; anything else is excessive.) However, it is a growing trend that consumers are leaning towards phones that are at least 4 inches in size, and I think that, if they do want to increase the screen size of the devices, 4 inches is a comfortable compromise. Also, if the leaks look accurate, they didn’t increase the width of the device. It is slightly quirky — I’ve joked on Twitter that it resembles longcat — but this way, it still (in theory) should feel comfortable in hand.

Apple also has become a copycat in tablets. Jobs once said the iPad’s 9.7in screen was the perfect size, and smaller tablets made no sense. Then the Android camp had success with 7in tablets like Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Google’s Nexus 7, and now Apple supposedly will announce its own smaller iPad in October. Talk about thinking different!

The company is no stranger to 180-degree turns from firm stances. And, in this case, yes, devices like the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 have defined the market. But let’s be clear, they’re not entering this market out of desperation, that’s for sure.

Um, Siri still doesn’t work. The oft-rumoured Apple TV doesn’t exist yet, presumably because media companies won’t let Apple take over their business.

Agreed about Siri. But criticizing Apple for a TV, a device that exists only in rumors? Huh?

The latest batch of Apple ads were such embarrassing garbage that Apple had to take them down from YouTube.

Agreed, the ads were shit.

To use a car analogy, six years ago the iPhone was like a sexy new flagship model from BMW or Porsche. Today it’s a Toyota Camry. Safe, reliable, boring. The car your mom drives. The car that’s so popular that its maker doesn’t dare mess with the formula.

That’s funny. According to the very market share statistics that were just pointed out, Android is more popular than iOS. And has the iPhone not come far from its original model back in 2007?

I could make a few car analogies comparing the iPhone — and Windows Phone, while we’re at it — to luxury automobiles, but that would make me an elitist.

Somewhere up there, I can hear Steve screaming.

Hm, weird, I don’t hear anything.

Rumor: Next-gen iPhone to Support “Around the World” LTE

Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple maybe looking to create a radio streaming service to rival current services like Pandora. Today, WSJ is reports that Apple’s upcoming iPhone will support 4G LTE networks around the world. Citing people familiar with the matter, the report notes that the next-generation iPhone will offer compatibility with 4G LTE networks in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. However, the functionality may not be available to all countries and carriers at launch.

Apple Inc.’s next iPhone will work on the fastest wireless networks around the world—including in the U.S., Europe and Asia—though it is unlikely to be available on every carrier, people familiar with the matter said.


It isn’t likely to work with all carriers’ LTE networks in all countries, the people said, though it wasn’t clear which would be left out.

The first Apple device to support high-speed 4G LTE networks was the third-generation iPad, which supported AT&T and Verizon’s network, but did not work internationally. Apple is expected to reveal the next-generation iPhone on September 12th.

Rumor: Apple Working on Pandora-Like Music Service?

The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple may be looking to create a radio streaming service to rival current services like Pandora in an attempt to protect its position as the world’s largest music dealer. Supposedly, the company is already in talks with content owners.

The report claims that a service like this would work across Apple’s line of products including Macs, the iPhone and the iPad, and possibly even Windows PCs. People familiar with the matter said that the service will offer virtual stations to play music on a web browser or via dedicated apps. Unsurprisingly, Android is not expected to receive access. Sources also said that Apple is looking to strike deals which would allow users to skip songs and eliminate other restrictions on internet radio services.

The New York Times also reports on these developments citing “three people briefed on Apple’s plans”. The report is a similar description of Apple’s goals and noted that the service would likely be offered as an app that could interface with a user’s iTunes Store account to build upon the current Genius functionality in iTunes.

Watch Nokia’s Lumia WP8 Event And Motorola/Verizon Event Live Here

September has turned out to be major tech month with quite a lot of big companies holding major tech events. Samsung started September by announcing the Galaxy Note 2 and the first Windows Phone 8 handset, the Ativ S. Today, Nokia will be announcing its hotly anticipated next-generation WP8 running Lumia handsets with PureView technology.

Along with Nokia, Motorola is also holding an event today to announce the much leaked RAZR M and RAZR HD. Tomorrow, Amazon will be holding an event to announce a new version of the Kindle Fire.

Next week, the mobile industry will see new standards being set when Apple announces the next-generation iPhone along with iOS6.

Motorola will once again be holding an event in New York on September 18th, this time with Intel, to announce a new Intel powered Android smartphone. This will be the first time a major Android OEM will be using an Intel SoC in their Android smartphone.

On the very next day, i.e. on September 19th, which is again a Wednesday, HTC also has an event scheduled in New York where the company will presumably announce some new WP8 handsets. There is still no confirmation whether the Taiwanese maker will be announcing some new Android based devices or not at the event.

While Apple and HTC won’t be live streaming their events, Nokia and Motorola will be doing a live webcast of their events today. The Nokia Lumia WP8 event can be watched live from here, but make sure your browser has the required Silverlight plugin installed.

The Motorola event, thankfully, will be streamed live on the company’s YouTube channel. The event is scheduled to start in 11 hours from now, and can be watched live from here.


comScore: Android, Apple Continue to Rule U.S. Smartphone Market in July

It’s that time of the year when comScore releases its report on the U.S. mobile phone market. It has revealed numbers for the quarter ending July 2012, and the numbers aren’t really surprising.

Apple was the only OEM which gained in terms of mobile phone market share last quarter. It managed to increase its market share by 1.9% to 16.3%, while both Samsung and LG lost less than 1% each, ending up with 25.6% and 18.4% of the market respectively. Motorola shed some market share to end up with 11.2% of the market, while HTC, surprisingly, gained 0.4% share to end up with 6.4%. The overall mobile phone market expanded to around 234 million.

Smartphone users increased to more than 114 million in the U.S., and the market was dominated by Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone. Google increased its share of the smartphone market by 1.4% to 52.2%, while Apple increased its share by 2% to 33.4%.

RIM, Microsoft and Symbian all lost market share. While I wouldn’t bet on the same for RIM and Symbian, Microsoft could reverse the trend in the next quarter with the holiday season coming up, and Windows Phone 8 coming next month.

With the iPhone 5 launching in the next week, expect Apple’s share of the market to shoot up again when comScore reports the numbers in November.

via comScore

Samsung Galaxy S III Overtakes iPhone 4S in August; Victory Short-lived

The Samsung Galaxy S III, Samsung’s flagship Android smartphone, has apparently become the top smartphone in the U.S., in terms of sales. While surpassing the most popular smartphone — the iPhone 4S — in the market may seem like a huge achievement, it’s really not.

Apple is expected to launch the next version of the iPhone – the iPhone 5 – on September 12. As users gear up to buy the latest iPhone, many have been holding off their iPhone purchases in the last couple of months, which has led to a decline in iPhone 4S sales.

However, September is expected to be a very good month for Apple, as scores of customers buy its latest iPhone, should it launch it then.

We expect the iPhone 5 to help Apple easily reclaim its throne in the U.S. and multiple international markets for the remainder of 2012, as consumers clamor to buy the newest iPhone.

Samsung’s victory will be short-lived. The Galaxy S III’s prospects may also be diminished by the fact that Apple may now try to get a ban on sales of the device in the U.S., following its success with getting Samsung’s other devices banned last month.

For now, just brace yourselves. The iPhone 5 is coming.

Apple Announces Special Event for September 12th

via AppleInsider

Apple Announces Special Event for September 12th

The Loops reports that Apple has just sent out media invites for an upcoming media event scheduled for next week Wednesday, September 12. Apple’s event will be at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco and is scheduled to begin at 10:00 AM Pacific / 1:00 PM Eastern. The tagline for the invitation is simply “It’s almost here.”

On September 12th, Apple is expected to reveal the next-generation iPhone and give a final preview of iOS 6 at the event. The rumored “iPad mini” is also nearing a launch, but rumors have suggested that Apple is planning a second media event for October to introduce that product. On the invitation, there’s a “5” which would suggest that Apple’s next iPhone will indeed be called the iPhone 5.

Apple’s iPod lineup is also rumored to see an update at one of two events, while rumored iMac updates and the launch of a 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro are rumored to appear separately.