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Apple Weekly News Roundup: Unlocking Cellphones Legalized, iWatch Patent Filed and more

The biggest news last week was the approval of the Unlocking Consumer Choice Act legislation by the the House of Representatives. Up until now, wireless carriers having been "locking" their devices, forcing customers to sign a new contract with them after their current one expires, rather than going to another carrier. The penalties for unlocking your phone are stiff, including fines and, believe or not, jail time. No longer though, once Obama signs the bill into law, which he is happy to do, cell phone owners will be able to change carriers and keep their phones when their contracts are up.

House approves unlocking consumer choice bill

Apple's Q3 earnings report was issued on Tuesday. Even though they dipped from Q2, it was a record third quarter for iPhone sales. Much of the success was attributed to the 55% year-over-year increase in sales in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China).

New iOS Apps, Games and JB Tweaks of the Week: SDCC 2014, Firefly and More

There is a large mobile gaming presence at San Diego Comic Con this year and plenty of developers are showing off their upcoming mobile gaming lineups. Rovio Entertainment previewed Angry Birds Transformers, and AMC launched the first teaser trailer for The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land. Bandai Namco announced three titles at the event: Outcast Odyssey, Pac-Man Friends and Pac-Man Championship Edition DX. All three games will be available for mobile devices later this year. It was also announced that the original cast of Firefly would reunite to voice the upcoming online game based on the television show. You can check out the Firefly Online and the other SDCC trailers at the end of this post.

FIrefly Online

Marvel is offering 1-month of Marvel Unlimited for only $0.99 for a limited time, and the mobile game Uncanny X-Men: Days of Future Past is now only $1. Storm and Polaris were also added as playable characters along with the price decrease.

There were also a lot of iPad-only games released this week and the first Hearthstone expansion "Curse of Naxxramas" is now available. You can see a list of all the newly released iPad games here. The only one we missed was the strategy game Commander the Great War which launched later in the week. It is available now for $14.99 on the App Store.

Apple Receives Patent for iTime Device

Despite rumors that Apple's fabled iWatch could be delayed due to manufacturing difficulties, the company is widely expected to launch a wearable device later this year. In contrast to the next generation iPhone, there have been no parts leaks or photos to prove that an iWatch is actually nearing production.

US patent office

Now AppleInsider reports that Apple has been granted a patent for a "Wrist-worn electronic device and methods therefor". The patent application details a device called iTime, providing the clearest indication yet that a watch is indeed in the works.

Amazon Fire Phone Fails to Impress Reviewers

The Fire Phone was released on the AT&T network this week, roughly a month after the official announcement took place. Amazon is looking to compete with the likes of Apple, Samsung and others in the smartphone segment with a unique feature set. Initial reviews are already in, and the Amazon Fire Phone sounds less than groundbreaking.

Amazon Fire Phone

At launch, the Fire Phone will come in 32GB and 64GB flavors for $199.99 and $299.99 respectively, with unlocked versions starting at $649. The device is exclusive to AT&T for the time being. According to some reviewers, those who are Amazon Prime subscribers or who often use other Amazon services will see more benefits from the Fire Phone.

House Passes Cellphone Unlocking Bill, Obama to Sign into Law

It has long been a practice of wireless carriers to "lock" cell phones and other devices they sell to customers, so the customer can't leave them for another carrier. The U.S. House of Representatives today approved a bill that will outlaw that practice.

Congress approves cellphone unlocking bill

Legislation for the "Unlocking Consumer Choice Act" passed the Senate last week. President Obama will need to sign it into law, which he looks forward to: "The bill congress passed today is another step toward giving ordinary Americans more

Apple's Mobile Wallet Could Launch This Fall with iOS 8

Purchasing merchandise with a mobile phone is nothing new in many parts of the world, including Japan, South Korea, Scandinavia and many other parts of Europe, but it hasn't taken hold in the U.S. yet. Google Wallet is around but it hasn't been heavily adopted thus far. Apple, seeing a future in mobile commerce, has been working fervently on such a system.

Apple e-wallet could debut with iPhone 6

According to The Information, in recent months Apple has been in talks with many payment industry companies, including Visa, in effort to come to an agreement on a mobile payment system. People with knowledge of those discussions say that

iOS App of the Week: Amazon Music with Prime Music

When Amazon fist launched its Prime Music subscription service some people pointed out that its song library wasn't as deep as other services such as Pandora, but this week Amazon bulked up its catalog by adding thousands of new tracks from new and existing artists. Song selection aside, it is hard to ignore Prime Music as a viable music streaming option mostly because what you get for only $10 a month.

Amazon Music with Prime Music

Prime Music comes free with a Amazon Prime membership. This means you not only get access to free streaming music without ad interruptions, but a Prime account also includes free two-day shipping from Amazon.com, free access to Prime Instant Video and the ability to borrow digital books from the Lending Library if you own a KIndle. Not a bad deal if you consider the price of cable television or that Netflix only offers movie streaming for $.7.99/$8.99 a month.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Sneak Their Way Onto the App Store

It's the summer movie season and that means lot and lots of movie tie-in apps and games are being created for mobile devices. Marvel Entertainment launched Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon last week, and today Nickelodeon released the official Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie game. Just like Marvel, Nickelodeon decided not to release a free-to-play title, but they did include in-app purchases, which will probably not sit well with some fans.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

TMNT is a classic, side-scrolling beat 'em up where players can "take back the streets of NYC" using Leo, Mikey, Donnie and Raph. Players can upgrade their turtles with unique powers and weapons, complete combo moves to unlock a "Turtle Power" mini-game and use special abilities like "Freak Streak". The game features a Story Mode written by Tom Waltz, a Survival mode and Leaderboard support.

Angry Birds Transformers Comic Con Trailer is Better Than the Movies

The Angry Birds franchise may be getting a little crazy with all its products, games and HASBRO toy tie-ins, but Rovio Entertainment's Angry Birds Transformers Comic Con trailer is pretty fun. Rovio hasn't revealed much about the game, but we do know there will be lots Transformer telepods for people to waste their money on, and plenty of "Autobird" and "Deceptihog" action. No official release date for the game has been announced.

Rovio is going to be at Comic Con from July 24th to July 27th. You can see their full schedule of events here. Rovio isn't the only mobile gaming studio showing off their products in San Diego. AMC is previewing their new game based on the Walking Dead television series, and Bandai Namco also unveiled its 2014 mobile game lineup at the event.

AAPL Financial News Weekly Roundup: Q3 Earnings Expected to be Strong, iPhone 6 Production to Begin and More

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) closed at $94.43 with a volume of just under 50 million shares, which is about average in recent weeks. As of this writing, AAPL is trading at $94.66, which doesn't seem too exciting considering the company is widely expected to post strong numbers when it releases its Q3 earnings after today's closing bell. The iPhone largely drove sales in the first half of 2014 and, according to Bidness Etc., third quarter sales will be strong as well, with analysts expecting 35.88 million units sold (UPDATE: Q3 earnings report is in). This will miss second quarter sales of 43.72 million units, but it was expected that customers would hold off buying new iPhones this quarter, with the iPhone 6 launch just around the corner.

AAPL stock news roundup and outlook.

In other news, we recently reported that Apple CEO Tim Cook was looking for new members for Apple's Board of Directors. This past week, on Thursday, Apple announced that Susan L. Wagner, founding partner and director of BlackRock, has been elected to Apple's board of directors. She will replace Bill Campbell, the board’s

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