Gameloft has released a new preview of its upcoming game Hero Sparta II for the iPhone and iPod touch. The preview, which can be viewed on YouTube includes the full opening cinematic trailer from the game as well as the first in-game images to be released. First announced last month, Hero of Sparta II will be a sequel to Gameloft’s highly-acclaimed Hero of Sparta. Few additional details have yet been announced beyond the preview, and no mention has yet been made of an iPad version; the initial release is expected to be for the iPhone and iPod touch only. Hero of Sparta II will be demonstrated tonight at Gameloft’s 10th Anniversary Party in Paris and is expected to be released later this year.
iPhone Developer Ricky Bloomfield has released G-Whizz, a new universal application that provides users with a single, convenient point of access to Google’s mobile web applications. Essentially a multi-tabbed browser with each tab pre-defined for a different Google service, G-Whizz allows users to log in once to their Google Account and then easily switch between screens to access their favorite Google applications. The application also provides an unread count badge for Gmail, automatic detection of e-mail links and links to other Google services, and pop-up browser windows for opening external links. Google Apps accounts are also supported for Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Docs while still using a normal Google Account for other services such as Google Reader. Eighteen different Google services are supported, including Gmail, Reader, Calendar, Search, Docs, Voice, Talk, Buzz, Picasa, News, YouTube and more and users can customize the button arrangement for their most commonly-used services. G-Whizz is available from the App Store for $3.
DDH Software has released a native iPad version of its popular HanDBase database application. Specifically redesigned to take advantage of native iPad features, HanDBase for iPad provides split screen views, popovers and enhanced editing capabilities. Users of the iPad version can also open and sync database files from other applications such as the iPad Mail app and backup and install databases via iTunes File Sharing. The iPad version also provides a “Desktop Connect” feature that allows users to access their databases on the iPad through any browser via Wi-Fi in order to load or save database files and import and export CSV files. As with other versions of HanDBase, iPad users can also create and edit fully relational databaes, browse the HanDBase Gallery of database designs, email records and databases to other users and take advantage of advanced features such as custom views, filters, sorting, reports with graphs and charting and advanced searches. HanDBase for iPad is available from the App Store for $10.
Apple has released the third version of iPhone OS 4 and its accompanying Software Development Kit (SDK) for the iPhone and iPod touch. As with prior beta releases, a main Xcode and SDK beta is available for download, as are pre-release builds of the iPhone OS 4 software for the iPhone 3G and 3GS, and the second- and third-generation iPod touch. Changes made in the latest beta have yet to be revealed. Both the new SDK and pre-release builds are available now for download by registered iPhone developers from the iPhone Dev Center.
ABC’s announced update to its ABC Player app for the iPad is now available. In addition to allowing video content to be streamed over a 3G data connection, the update also supports landscape orientation in all views and proper handling of the iPad’s orientation lock. Other improvements include more responsive player controls, better display of parental ratings and other bug fixes and stability enhancements. iLounge editors who have tested the update report impressive video quality over the 3G network with smooth playback and almost no pre-buffering time. The ABC Player service remains available to U.S. users only and is a free download from the U.S. App Store.
Pandora Media has released an update to its popular Pandora Radio streaming music application, adding native iPad support, album artwork and performance improvements. Now a Universal application, Pandora Radio 3.0.2 introduces an enhanced user interface for the iPad, displaying higher resolution album artwork and providing detailed background information on artists. The update also provides album artwork for iPhone and iPod touch users and improves audio streaming performance and support for older iPhone OS versions. Pandora Radio is available from the U.S. App Store as a free download.
Silicon Alley Insider reports that ABC is planning to release an update to its ABC Player app for the iPad that will allow video content to be streamed over a 3G data connection. Following the release of the iPad WiFi + 3G model last week iLounge discovered that the ABC Player app refused to deliver any video content when used over a 3G connection, responding with a pop-up notification advising users to “Please connect to a Wi-Fi network to use this application.” and that “Cellular networks are not supported at this time.” An ABC representative had previously told Silicon Alley Insider that the app had been designed to use Wi-Fi only “based on a variety of business and technical considerations” and it was theorized that licensing rights may have been the cause of any business issues, while the technical issues may have been due to the unavailability of lower-quality live video streams suitable for slower 3G networks. Regardless, these issues seem to now be resolved and ABC has already submitted its updated ABC Player application to the App Store, which will be available for download pending Apple’s review and approval. [via Mac Rumors]
Apple may be facing an antitrust inquiry over the company’s recent decision to ban apps made with cross-platform development tools from the App Store. Citing a person familiar with the matter, the New York Post reports that the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are in negotiations over which body will oversee the inquiry into Apple’s policy, with the decision only “days away.” According to the report, the inquiry will focus on whether or not the policy stifles competition by forcing developers to choose between building apps that only run on iPhone OS devices or apps that are able to run on a variety of competing operating systems, including those from Google, Microsoft, and Research In Motion. The report also points out that the launch of an inquiry does not mean action will be taken against Apple, instead serving to determine whether a full-scale investigation will be needed; Apple could be subpoenaed for further information should an investigation be necessary.
Distimo has released its latest monthly report on the U.S. App Store, revealing that there are now 4,870 iPad applications in the App Store. Of these, 3,437 are iPad-only apps while the remaining 1,433 are Universal applications that run on both the iPad and iPhone. The report goes on to note that the number of iPad applications on the App Store has grown by 32.7% over the past two weeks and that the largest category for iPad applications is Games, with 1,577 titles, followed by Entertainment and Books with 455 and 396 titles, respectively. The report points out that paid iPad applications make up a larger percentage of that category than paid iPhone applications and are slightly more expensive on average: The average price of an iPad app is $4.67 compared to $3.82 for an iPhone app. The report also lists the top 20 paid and free iPad and iPhone apps, revealing a number of more expensive $10 apps among the iPad top 20, with a higher average price of $5.69, as compared to a larger number of $0.99 apps in the iPhone top 20, with an average price of $2.04. The full report is available from Distimo’s site (free registration required).
Alamofire has released a native iPad version of its popular Gowalla location-based social networking application. Gowalla for the iPad allows users to share and discover locations they visit such as restaurants, coffee shops, landmarks and more. As in the iPhone version, users can check in at various locations, share their experiences on Facebook and Twitter, see places that their friends have visited and unlock bonus rewards by completing trips. Gowalla for iPad is available from the App Store as a free download.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen has responded to statements made about his company and its Flash technology by Apple CEO Steve Jobs in his “Thoughts on Flash” open letter. Calling the technology problems mentioned by Jobs a “smokescreen,” Narayen pointed out that more than 100 applications built using Adobe’s Flash technology were accepted into the App Store. “When you resort to licensing language” to restrict this kind of cross-platform development, he said, it has “nothing to do with technology.” Narayen also said Apple’s refusal to allow cross-platform apps onto its devices makes it “cumbersome” for developers who will have to have “two workflows,” and called Jobs’ claims that Flash causes undue battery drain “patently false.” To conclude the interview, Narayen said that he is for “letting customers decide,” but that he believes the multi-platform strategy will “eventually prevail.”
HootSuite has released an update to its popular iPhone Twitter client, adding support for posting updates to Facebook and including geolocation information to Twitter posts. HootSuite 1.1.1 includes an updated interface with a pull-down-to-refresh option and also introduces translation of tweets between multiple languages, landscape mode for composing messages and a reply all feature. The update also adds Bump technology to allow iPhone users to follow other HootSuite users by bumping their iPhones together. HootSuite 1.1.1 is available from the App Store for $3 and is a free update for existing users.
SHAPE Services has released an update to its popular cross-platform Instant Messaging application for the iPad. IM+ 4.1 is a universal app that provides access to a wide number of messaging services including AIM, MSN, Google Talk, Facebook, Twitter, Skype Chat and Jabber. In addition to better iPad support, the latest version also provides support for speech recognition, longer push notification session time, proper iPad external keyboard support and numerous bug fixes. IM+ is available from the App Store for $10 and is a free update for existing users of the iPhone version.
ALK Technologies has announced plans to bring its popular CoPilot turn-by-turn GPS navigation and trip planning app to the iPad 3G. CoPilot Live HD has just been submitted to the App Store and ALK expects that it will be available for purchase soon. CoPilot Live HD will provide the same featurs as the iPhone version, including on-device street maps and voice-guide navigation. A new split-screen driving view will combine 3D or 2D map displays with driving instructions. Some sample screenshots of CoPilot Live HD can be found on the copilot live Flickr page.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs has posted an open letter entitled “Thoughts on Flash,” in which he explains the company’s motivation for leaving Adobe’s Flash off of its iPhone, iPod, and iPad devices. Jobs divides his explanation into six key factors, including Flash’s proprietary nature, the fact that the vast majority of web video is now accessible without Flash, reliability, security, and performance issues, battery life concerns, Flash’s reliance on mouse-dependent interface elements, and the fact that Adobe wants to allow its developers to use Flash for creating cross-platform applications that will run on Apple’s platform, as well as on competitors’ devices, without exploiting any platform’s unique and innovative features. The crux of the letter is an attack on Flash as a battery-hogging middleware solution that is no longer necessary or desirable in an age of advanced mobile devices.
Jobs makes several scathing comments in the letter, claiming that Flash is the leading cause of Mac crashes, that Adobe was the slowest major third-party developer to adopt important changes to Apple’s Mac OS X operating system, and that the company has promised but repeatedly failed to deliver an optimized mobile version of Flash. The letter also sheds new light on Apple’s App Store business, including the statement that “[t]here are more games and entertainment titles available for iPhone, iPod and iPad than for any other platform in the world,” and noting that there are now more than 200,000 apps available in the App Store. In closing, Jobs says, “[n]ew open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too). Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind.”
Apple plans to charge close to $1 million for ads on its new iAd network, according to a new report. Citing an unnamed source familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that Apple has indicated it may charge as much as $10 million to be part of the initial group of advertisers on the service. Ad executives told the paper they are used to paying between $100,000 and $200,000 for similar mobile deals. Along with the lofty price tag, Apple is also making demands for greater control over advertisers’ marketing campaigns, at least initially. “It’s a hefty sum,” said Phuc Truong, managing director at Mobext, a mobile marketing business whose clients include Sears, Choice Hotels, Amtrak and Volvo. “What Apple is trying to do is certainly above and beyond what’s been done in the past.”
Despite the pricing, ad executives at agencies across the U.S. have met with Apple in recent weeks to listen to the company’s pitch for iAd. Discussions over possible deals are said to be ongoing, but several ad executives said they are beginning to look at potential creative ideas for iAd campaigns. “It was very easy to think about the several minutes of interaction time consumers can spend with the ad. It’s incredibly attractive,” said Baba Shetty, chief media officer at Boston-based ad agency Hill Holiday. Apple’s demands for creative approval, and that it build the ads itself during the first few months, are giving some agencies pause, however. “As a creative director, I can completely understand that they created this new baby and they want to make sure it gets born looking gorgeous,” said Lars Bastholm, chief digital creative officer at WPP’s Ogilvy. “But as a creative director, I don’t feel completely comfortable letting Apple do the creative.” According to the report, marketers will be able to target ads to users based on past download preferences from the iTunes Store, and by location; Apple is planning to charge one cent each time a consumer sees a banner ad, with a $2 charge if the user taps on the banner.
Apple has acquired the voice-based personal assistance and search service Siri, according to a newly-published FTC document (PDF Link). Business Insider reports that a Siri representative has confirmed the purchase, but would not comment on the financial aspects of the deal. Siri describes itself as a voice-based personal assistant, that can “help you find and plan things to do,” such as finding a dinner spot, telling you what’s playing at a local music venue, or getting tickets to a movie. The company describes the service as “young” and says it “may be awkward at times,” but also says it “will improve quickly by getting to know you better and understanding a broader set of tasks.” The current version service, which is currently only available in the U.S., is built to run on the iPhone 3GS and iPod touch. The Siri Assistant app is available now as a free download from the App Store.
aCleverTwist.com has released a new iPad app, iBrite, that allows users to relive the experience of creating artwork with a Lite-Brite without having to deal with little colored pegs. iBrite allows users to create Lite-Brite style mosaics by tapping and dragging on the screen to draw. A color palette allows users to choose from a virtually unlimited number of colors and shades and images can be saved, e-mailed or shared on Facebook. Images can also be posted on the iBrite Facebook page and entered into contests. iBrite is available from the App Store for $2.
iTeleport has released a Universal update to its popular Jaadu VNC app for accessing remote computers using the VNC protocol. iTeleport originally release a separate, iPad-only version on the day of iPad launch, but had also announced that a free Universal update would be coming for users of the existing iPhone version. The company explained that it originally released the iPad version separately due to a number of improvements to it that weren’t ready for the iPhone version and that it wanted to ensure that a native iPad version was available as early as possible. In addition to native iPad support, iTeleport 4.0 also adds a redesigned remote that allows simultaneous screen access and support for the new iTeleport Connect desktop app for simplifying remote access configuration. iTeleport: Jaadu VNC is available from the App Store for $25 and is a free update for existing users.
PayPal has announced that it has released its Mobile Payments Library for the iPhone and iPad into open beta. Originally released as a closed beta to select developers at Macworld 2010, the PayPal Mobile Payments Library allows developers to quickly and easily add checkout functionality to their iPhone apps to allow users to purchase physical goods and services directly from within the app. Several apps are already available on the App Store that use the new Mobile Payment Library, such as Baublet, an app that allows users to purchase customized charms using their PayPal accounts. The new Mobile Payments Library can be downloaded from the PayPal X Developer Network.