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Flappy Bird: The Short Life of the World’s Biggest Little Superstar

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In July of 2012, an independent game developer named Dong Nguyen from Vietnam, inspired by what could only be the same angelic muses that visited Poe and Hemingway during their creative slumbers, decided on a whim to create a game consisting of birds smashing into green plumbing.

In all seriousness, the brilliant mind behind the indie craze Flappy Bird created a game similar to others he designed within his .GEARS game development team: a repetitive and difficult throwback to 8-bit retro console games popular in Japan. As someone still addicted to Super Hexagon, VVVVV, and Super Meat Boy, I can attest that with Flappy Bird Nguyen hit a home run out of the park.



Bluetooth for the Audiophile: The Parrot Zik Over-Ear, Luxury iDevice Headphones

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Recently at CES I met with the folks at Parrot and among all of their flying drones and hopping and spinning robots, one of the things that stood out most for me at their display area was the elegant, stylish, and technologically advanced Zik Over-Ear Bluetooth headphones ($399.95).

I'll admit, I'm somewhat of a headphone snob; and it can take a lot to impress me, especially when it comes to Bluetooth personal listening accessories. I review a lot of great headphones for iPhone Life, and one of the side-effects to that is the fact that a pair of headphones has to be quite exceptional to get really high marks from me. Well, the Zik not only impressed me, they totally blew my mind and exceeded any expectations I may have had.



iBeacons Installation in Baseball Stadiums Has Begun

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Major League Baseball announced on Friday that installation of iBeacon transmitters in two stadiums has now been completed as part of a project to install the technology in over 20 ballparks by the start of the season in late March. Some 65 iBeacon transmitters were installed in Dodger Stadium and Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres. So what will it do for you? You'll need to load the MLB.com At the Ballpark app (free) on your iPhone or iPad, and then as you approach specific locations within the park, you'll receive messages on your device. Typically you'll receive offers for discounts at nearby concessions. Also, some parks are planning to use the technology to help guide you to your seat. And some will likely use it to offer information about points of interest within the ballpark. For example, a demo of the technology last fall at Citi Field, home of the Mets, used iBeacon to offer fans digital coupons as they entered the team's store. The demo also brought up an informational video when walking near the giant Apple in the stadium. Different parks will use it for different purposes.



BOOMBOTIX REX Review: Can It Survive the Ultimate Ruggedness Test?

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I was recently given a BOOMBOTIX REX ($119.99-$129.99) trial unit to experiment with. I warned the folks at BOOMBOTIX that I was going to be rough on it, but I honestly had no idea just how roughly that little speaker was going to be treated. You see, when it arrived, my infant son instantly appropriated it as his own—he LOVED the silky smooth, grippy texture the speaker had, and he also completely dug the cool geometric shape of the thing. It was light enough and small enough that his little baby hands could hold it and turn it over and over, while I tried to keep him from gnawing on it with his new front teeth. Read on to find out just how the REX fared under the baby torture test...



Wall Street Journal Offers More Clues About Forthcoming Apple TV

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In a previous post, I reported on the story from Bloomberg that Apple was closing in on a deal with Time Warner and was hoping to introduce a new Apple TV device by April. That's starting to look unlikely. An article in the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that one source familiar with Apple's plans said Apple hopes to release a new device by June, and another said it may not be ready until several months after that. The WSJ article also helps to clarify the earlier reports of Apple's possible deal with Time Warner. The question was whether Apple was still trying to make a deal that would allow it to offer its own cable channels or if it's simply hoping to offer the cable companies a better set-top box. Apple had earlier wanted to offer full seasons of TV shows along with live programming. However, the article says Apple has given up on that idea, given the resistance of the cable providers. Most recently Apple is asking just for the five most recent episodes of TV shows. It's also possible, the article says, that Apple would simply sell the new Apple TV devices to the cable companies, who would then rent them as set-top boxes to subscribers, rather than Apple selling the device directly to consumers.



February 24th Biweekly Giveaway!

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This is the official announcement of the iPhone life Biweekly Giveaway! Be sure to enter the giveaway at iphoneLife.com/giveaways to win prizes, which we'll announce February 24th! We are raffling off tons of great accessories for FREE.

Here's how it works: Every other Friday we will announce the prizes we're giving away through iphonelife.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. To enter the giveaway, go to iphoneLife.com/giveaways. On the following Monday morning, we will randomly select the winners. If you win an app, we will email you the promo code to redeem the app for free. If you win an accessory, send us your address and we will mail it to you.

 

This weeks featured items are:



Top 3 App Deals of the Week

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As new iOS apps flood the App Store every day — recently topping 1,000,000 — we know it’s tough to tell which ones are worth their salt. But thanks to our Weekly Scoop, you can have the best for free! Here you’ll find a weekly roundup of the coolest apps free or at a discount for a limited-time only. Each week features the best and brightest from websites like Free App ReportAppsGoneFree, appsfire, and more.

Hurry! Get 'em while they’re hot!



Got an iPhone 5? You might need a uNu AERO

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I've written about uNu before, as I've been using their battery cases for my older iPhone 4. Now that I have an iPhone 5s, I still need that extra juice throughout the day, especially when I'm traveling. Fortunately, they have a version for the Lightning-based iPhone 5, but their AERO model ($99.95) goes even further. In addition to providing extra power and letting you charge the case by microUSB, you can charge the case wirelessly!



Bloomberg Reports Apple Planning New Apple TV Device by April

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There's been an odd coincidence of events this week, with Bloomberg reporting on Wednesday that Apple was negotiating a partnership with Time Warner and hoped to announce a new Apple TV by April. Then on Thursday news reports said that Comcast had agreed to buy Time Warner, causing observers to wonder what that will mean for Apple's deal with Time Warner. In any case, the Bloomberg report had some interesting details, citing "people with knowledge of the matter." The report said the updated Apple TV would have a faster processor and a new interface. The report also said Apple had also been in talks with Comcast and Direct TV, but they were reluctant to partner with Apple.



Review - Jongo S3 Wireless Speakers

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Pure is an audio speaker division under Imagination Technology, the wizards of low-power, high-performance SoC technology including PowerVR—the graphics capability we enjoy in our iOS devices. It might seem surprising that their tech portfolio includes a line of wireless speakers until you consider the low-power, performance, and portability of the Jongo lineup. Pure has wireless streaming speaker products ranging in the 20–100W range of output, all of which are attractively styled and innovative inside and out. The Jongo S3 ($229) is the 20W "little speaker" of the family that can be paired up with partner speakers of the same ilk. Don't let their size fool you, these scrappy little speakers produce quality sound at almost any volume!



Five Apps to Help You Win at Valentine's Day

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February 14 is known as the most romantic day of the year. If you want to win over your love and make Valentine's Day a success, check out these five free apps.



Rumor: Apple Testing Bezel-Free iPhone 6

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When Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, it was dramatically different. Smartphones back then were covered with buttons, and typically had a keyboard on the front, like the Blackberry. Apple's iPhone was almost free of buttons, and unlike most phones at the time, used much of the face of the device for the display. There were bezels (or borders) around the edge to give you something to hold on to and avoid inadvertent touches of the display. Then Apple figured out how to recognize and ignore inadvertent touches, and therefore make the bezels narrower. Now the latest rumor, via The Korea Herald, is that Apple is testing a prototype of the iPhone 6 that has no bezel at all. The display would be the entire width of the phone.



Opinion: Snowden Leak about App Data Collection Leads to Question: 'What? Me Worry?'

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Purported Hack of Rovio Angry Birds Website (listed on Google as unverified)

Every week now there seems to be some new revelation about how our information is being collected by U.S. Government agencies for reasons that range from vague to useless to nefarious.  In late January, former NSA Edward Snowden suggested that Angry Birds, along with a number of mobile apps, were the source of intelligence information.

As with previous documents provided by Snowden, the NSA did not deny or confirm what information sources they use, but rather said that any communications they did collect not associated with “valid foreign intelligence targets” was not of interest.



Review: Do the SMS Sync On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones Live Up to Their Reputation?

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We’re pretty big fans of SMS headphones here at iPhone Life. My colleagues and I have all written favorably about these headphones in the past, and you can read our various reviews by clicking HERE, HERE and HEREThese premium quality cans are very deserving of their “Studio Mastered Sound” name; they not only sound phenomenal, they rival some of the best studio headphones on the market. And as if that weren't enough, they are extremely durable and well-constructed so as to last for many, many years. This time around I'll be focusing on SMS Sync On-Ear Bluetooth headphones ($229.95), and while they are undoubtedly excellent headphones, you'll have to read on to find out if they are really worth their price tag.



More Evidence for iWatch; Apple's Sapphire Crystal May Be for iWatch, Not iPhone

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MobiHealthNews posted a number of iWatch scoops Monday based on sources with "limited but direct knowledge of Apple's plans...." They reported that Apple has over 200 employees working on the project. That suggests Apple is really serious about this new device, not just experimenting with prototypes.



WINNERS of the iPhone Life February 10th Biweekly Giveaway

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Thanks to everyone who entered iPhone Life's Biweekly Weekend Giveaway! We received entries from 543 people in 32 different countries this week! WOW! And we're giving away 3 amazing accessories!

And the winners are... (drum roll please):



Lost Echo: Engaging Story But Needs More Interaction

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When I first played Lost Echo ($2.99) I got to the trigger event that causes everything else to unfold and while the game seemed like it had a lot of potential it didn’t really hook me. Now that I’ve revisited the game several months later I’ve realized that it’s actually a really interesting interactive story. Much like a chapter of the Twilight Zone mythos, this sci-fi romp manages to provide more adult-oriented themes à la Cognition: Episode 1 or Yesterday. I think it has a lot to offer adventure game fans, though it might not be as “hands on” as one might like.



Confirmation of New Apple TV Device; Beatles Channel Added

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Rumors continue to swirl regarding the Apple TV set-top box. One rumor is that Apple will be adding gaming and an App Store for the device sometime within the next six weeks. My hunch is that there's a good chance for this happening. In addition, there have been rumors that we'll see a new Apple TV device in the first half of this year. Now, according to a post on 9To5Mac, we have confirmation of a new device. Buried in iOS 7 is a reference to the forthcoming device, alongside references to the already-available versions. It's referenced as AppleTV4,1, with the previous iteration being AppleTV 3,2. The post says that the jump in increment to 4 suggests that the box will be a major upgrade rather than a minor update. 9To5Mac also notes that the previous Apple TV was introduced in March 2012, so it would make sense that March would be the month for the announcement for a new generation of the device.



Apple Ramping Up for Huge Sapphire Crystal Production

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Often Apple rumors are speculation based on comments from individuals in Apple's supply chain. However, the news about Apple's forthcoming use of super-hard sapphire crystal isn't rumor. The manufacturing facility has been built in Arizona and is expected to go into production this month, with 700 full-time employees. According to a report on Bloomberg, Apple will be able to produce as much as two times the current world capacity of sapphire crystal. Citing the mayor of Mesa, Arizona, where the plant is located, Apple will be able to make enough sapphire for 80-100 million iPhones. The question is, of course, what will Apple use the sapphire for?



Steve Wozniak on Steve Jobs, Wearables, Android, and the NSA

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Last week I had more fun than one person should be allowed to have. At appsworld in San Francisco, I had the privilege of meeting Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple.
 
When you think of Apple, it's natural to think first of Steve Jobs and the tremendous task he performed taking Apple, a company near the brink, and completely turning it around to become one of the world's largest companies and most coveted brands. However, if there were no Steve Wozniak, there would have been no Apple. Wozniak is the wizard who designed and built the first highly successful mass-produced personal computer.



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