Mobile app news roundup: GREE, Red Bull, iTunes gift cards and more

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By Kathleen De Vere

GREE expands platform partnerships with Vostu, Brainz and more — GREE has signed partnership deals with five more international studios. The company announced this week it has signed up Vostu, Brainz, Sun Dried Games, Pangalore and Vast Studios. Our readers may remember in October GREE announced it had signed deals with Enders Fund, Fathom Interactive, Fifth Column and FreezeTag.

Variable rate iTunes gift cards now available — Apple customers can now decide exactly how much their friends and family are worth to them. The company has introduced new gift cards that can come in denominations ranging from $15 to $500 reports 9to5 Mac. The new cards are already rolling out at major U.S. retailers.

SGN teams with Betable — Social and mobile game developer SGN is the latest company to sign a deal with London-headquartered Betable to bring real-money gambling elements to its mobile titles. The features will only be available in markets where mobile gambling is legal, such as the U.K. SGN expects to roll out the features in the first half of 2013.

iPhone 5, iPad Mini finally headed to China — The latest generation of Apple devices will soon be in the hands of Chinese consumers. The company announced today the iPad Mini and the fourth generation iPad will be available in China on Dec. 7. The iPhone 5 will be available on Dec. 14.

LINE integrates with Facebook — NAVER’s ultra-popular Japanese chat app LINE has started integrating with Facebook. Facebook users can now create LINE accounts using their Facebook credentials according to Dr. Serkan Toto. Users can also invite their Facebook friends to the service.

PlayPhone picks up Red Herring Global 100 award — San Francisco based PlayPhone has won the Red Herring Global Top 100 award in the mobile category. The awards are decided by Red Herring editorial team and honor promising private technology ventures.

Gameloft teams with Red Bull — Gameloft has signed a deal with Red Bull that will see the energy drink maker’s branded cars coming to Gameloft’s racing game GT Racing: Motor Academy. The F1 RB8 (driven by F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel) and the Red Bull editions of the Camaro SS and Hyundai Genesis Coupe will all be available in the next update of the game.

GREE picks up Best Social Games Service Provider award — GREE has picked up a Mobile Entertainment award for Best Social Games Service Provider, beating out the likes of DeNA, PapayaMobile and PlayPhone for the honor. Based on London, the Mobile Entertainment Awards honor excellence in publishing, services and operations.

Blackboard Mobile Apps hit 4.5 million downloads — Blackboard Inc’s line of educational and campus life apps have been downloaded more than 4.5 million times on iOS and Android.