Microsoft COO Kevin Turner announced today a line of new HP laptops called "Stream". The Windows-enabled laptops will be priced at $99 for the 7- and 8-inch versions. There will also be a $199 version to directly compete with Google's affordable Chromebooks, which also start at around $200. Turner did not reveal much about the new laptops, but he did note that Acer and Toshiba will also be releasing their own low-cost laptops for around $249. The Acer will ship with a 15.6-inch screen and a 2.16GHz Intel Celeron processor, and Toshiba’s will sport a 11.6-inch display, according to The Verge.
As a comparison, Apple's entry-level 11-inch MacBook Air is $899, but comparing a MacBook Air and a Chromebook is like comparing apples and oranges. The Chromebook is a decent device for surfing the web, but it is not designed for storing media, playing games and it requires an internet connection to work. Microsoft is banking on the fact that Chromebooks are limited in functionality and that Apple laptops are on the more expensive side of things.
Apple's iPad may be "increasing nickel exposure in children," according to a report released on Monday in Pediatrics. According to the report (via The Washington Post) an 11-year-old boy was treated at a San Diego hospital for an itchy body rash possibly caused by the nickel contained in his iPad.
The boy, treated at a San Diego hospital, had a history of skin issues, but a different rash developed all over his body and wouldn’t respond to typical treatment. His skin tested positive for nickel, one of the most common allergy-inducing metals, and doctors traced it back to an iPad he had used with increasing frequency the past six months. The iPad tested positive for nickel as well, according to the report.
With the iPhone 6 launch date quickly approaching, there has been much talk of Apple's new A8 processor, which analysts across the board expect to inhabit the new handset. If that is the case, then we can expect the next generation of iPads, including the iPad Air 2, iPad Pro and new iPad mini, to be equipped with it as well. This is no small detail, as the A8 apparently blows the A7 out of the water when it comes to speed.
According to Chinese site cnBeta, the A8 will surpass 2.0 GHz, perhaps reaching 2.6 GHz. Currently, the iPhone 5s and iPad mini with Retina display run at 1.3 GHz, while the iPad Air runs at 1.4 GHz. All three have the 64 bit A7 processor with the M7 motion coprocessor. If the A8 truly can reacha 2.6 GHz clock rate, the iPad Air 2 will be nearly twice as fast as the current generation.
It was a busy week for the App Store and iOS gaming news, Gameloft finally announced a release date for Modern Combat 5: Blackout. The first-person shooter will be available for both iOS and Android devices on July 24, 2014. The game will cost $6.99 and feature no in-app purchases, but it will require a Wi-Fi connection. In other gaming news, Angry Birds Star Wars II is now free on the App Store for the first time, Minecraft received its biggest iOS update ever (see below for complete list of improvements), and The Wolf Among Us finale "Cry Wolf" was released this week.
Here are this week's games and apps released for the iPad through 07/06/14 to 07/12/14. Apple's Free App of the Week is Assassin's Creed Pirates. The game app will be free on the Apple App Store until 07/17/14.
Minecraft Pocket Edition for iOS has been upgraded to version 0.9.0. The upgrade brings several improvements including infinite worlds and a new interaction button so you "never accidentally punch a sheep again". Players can also now explore caves, abandoned mineshafts / villages and tame wild wolves. Other new features include new flowers, new blocks including Monster Eggs, new mobs, and new biomes from the PC version.
Minecraft Pocket Edition version 0.9.0 is available for $6.99 on the App Store, or as a free OTA update for existing customers. The iOS version includes Survival and Creative modes and Wi-Fi multiplayer mode. The game supports all devices running iOS 5.0 or later.
Wizards of the Coast's follow-up to Magic 2014 is now available for the iPad. The new collectible card game not only features new cards, but players are now allowed to build their own decks instead of being forced to add cards to an already crafted starter set.
Magic 2015 – Duels of the Planeswalkers features a detailed tutorial for new players, new "challenging" opponents from the Multiverse and multi-player mode. The app is free to download from the App Store, but booster packs cost $1.99 to expand your deck. The game only supports the iPad and it is recommended for the iPad 3 or later.
Target is giving away a $100 gift card with the purchase of any iPad Air or iPad mini with Retina display. This means you can nab a 16GB Wi-Fi iPad Air model for only $399, making this one of the best deals we have seen for Apple's latest tablet. The deal is available for all iPad models, including any storage size and cellular versions, through Target.com.
Remember, you will have to pay full price for the tablet then your physical gift card will be sent separately, but you can use the $100 credit towards any future Target purchase. There doesn't seem to be any other fine print attached to the sale, except on returns (see below). The offer expires on 7/12/2014 at 11:59pm PST.
In another case of freemium gaming gone wrong, Bandai Namco has announced it is pulling Tales of Phantasia from the App Store on August 28, 2014. The game will also stop accepting in-app purchases on July 29, and all associated services like saved data will become unusable after the game is officially shut down. This is bad news for anyone who has spent money on the game and a good example of why some people dislike always-online requirements.
Bandai Namco released the mobile version of its 16-bit RPG as a free-to-play title in January. The game was met with mostly negative reviews because it forced players to pay for in-game items even though the App Store description promises you can play the game from "start to finish for free".
Q*bert and his pals have found a new job and are no longer homeless! The little orange guy, last seen begging for food in Wreck-It Ralph, is teaming up with new friends for Gonzo Games and Sideline Amusements' Q*bert Rebooted. The game will offer two game modes: Q*bert Classic and Q*bert Rebooted.
The Classic mode will feature "2D gameplay on an isometric pyramid", and the Rebooted mode will offer an updated 3D version of the game with new enemies, according to Polygon. The game will also include new power-ups, traps and new playable characters named Q*zard, Q*bertha, Q*bot, Q*zilla, Q*tee, Q*knight and Q*nicorn. The classic Q*bert villains Ugg, Wrong Way and Coily will also be making appearances alongside new enemies Homer and Uppercut.
It was a slow week for App Store releases presumably due the the 4th of July holiday, but two highly anticipated premium games did make their App Store debuts. Civilization Revolution 2 is the sequel to the popular PC game Sid Meier's Civilization, and the PSP title Monster Hunter Freedom Unite has also been ported to iOS devices.
Here are this week's games and apps released for the iPad through 06/29/14 to 07/05/14. Apple's Free App of the Week is Day One. The journal app will be free on the Apple App Store until 07/10/14. In other App Store news, Rayark released a trailer for its upcoming 3D, action game Implosion, Facebook Messenger has received iPad support and Denny's has teamed up with Atari to release a suite of breakfast-themed games.