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Microsoft took a major step into Apple's iOS mobile platform yesterday with the release of Kinectimals. The game launched last year taking full advantage of the Kinect Xbox 360 interface. Primarily, the game targets children and involves interacting with virtual animals.
Appshopper rates the newly released iOS game highly: "this irresistible mobile experience gives you the chance to use your phone to visit the island of Lemuria and play with, care for and fall in love with your very own cub. Bring your pet with you wherever you go! If you have already experienced Kinectimals on Kinect for Xbox 360, your phone becomes the key to unlocking five new cubs on your console. Stand-alone mobile game features Kinectimals’ signature visual quality, delightful animation and brand new ways to play with your cub!" The game is compatible with all iOS devices and is available from the app store for $2.99.
It is a rather strange move from the Redmond-based software giant as until now they have been leveraging the success of their Xbox gaming platform to help advance the popularity of its Windows Phone operating system. The last week has seen a few iOS-ready gaming apps from Microsoft appear on the App Store, such as the Halo Waypoint companion app and the earlier release of its "My Xbox Live" profile management app.
Also announced for iOS was the company's note-taking application, OneNote, which became the first Microsoft Office app to debut on the iPad, although it was already available for the iPhone. The iOS version has a slightly more limited feature set compared to its desktop sibling. Specifically, you can't insert objects other than photos in the iOS version or move and manipulate your content the way you can on the desktop version.
The main features are present though, so it could be a worthwhile purchase for heavy OneNote users. It has been released as a basic app, free with a limit of 500 notes. To enable unlimited notes, iPhone users will have to pay $4.99 and iPad owners $14.99.
Microsoft also announced the release of its cloud based SkyDrive storage solution for iOS devices. The storage solution is baked into its Windows Phone 7 software, but the company has released a standalone version compatible with WP7.5 and another for Apple's iOS. Both versions give users complete control of their SkyDrive accounts. They are available from their respective app stores and include 25GB of free storage.
The move to incorporate its software further into iOS might have something to do with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's admission that the Windows Phone division has not progressed as far as he would have hoped. In an internal memo sent to employees on Monday, he announced that leadership of the WP7 team would be handed over to vice president and lead engineer, Terry Myerson. The current leader Andy Lees will move on to another project for the company.
The iPad 2 improves on the original in many ways, including a significantly faster dual-core CPU, improved graphics and a thinner footprint. The iPad 2 also manages to shave off 0.2 pounds for a total weight of 1.33 pounds on the Wi-Fi only model. Apple has included two cameras on the iPad 2 – a VGA-quality front facing lens for FaceTime and a rear-facing camera capable of recording 720p video.
The iPhone 4S looks identical to last year's model but comes in a new 64GB flavor and upgrades the camera to include an 8-megapixel sensor with improved low-light performance and 1080p video capture. In terms of performance the new iPhone is reportedly up to 2x faster and is also capable of running on faster HSPA+ networks, reaching theoretical download speeds of up to 14.4Mbps.
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