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Secret features pose threat to App Store rules

Developers could potentially use hidden features to skirt Apple’s App Store rules, according to a new report. Citing iPhone developer Jelle Prins’ application Lyrics as an example, Wired reports that Apple may not have the ability to thoroughly test iPhone applications for secret features, exposing a potential loophole for developers to slide objectionable content and possibly even malicious code past the company’s watchdogs. Prins’ Lyrics app was originally rejected due to objectionable language in the lyrics of some songs, and was accepted only after Prins added a profanity filter. However, Prins hid the ability to turn the filter off in the app’s About page, letting users access the very content that got the app rejected in the first place.

“It’s almost impossible for Apple to see if there’s an Easter egg because they can’t really see the source code,” Prins said. “In theory a developer could make a simple Easter egg in their app and provide a user with whatever content they want.” Nullriver CEO Adam Dann expressed concern over the potential harm a wave of hidden content could cause, saying, “If people start putting in naked pictures of their ex-girlfriend as an Easter egg to get revenge, or something like that, that isn’t quite right[.] It has the potential to really mess things up for everybody.” iPhone forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski pointed out that hidden code could also potentially be used to invade a user’s privacy by secretly accessing the microphone, camera, or Address Book. “It’s not impossible to write code that looks innocent and acts innocent until you throw some kind of switch,” Zdziarski said. “It’s not hard to get that sort of thing past Apple…. It’s the equivalent of a doctor using a magnifying glass to try and find germs.”

RoamBi converts data to interactive iPhone visuals

MeLLmo, a mobile business application developer, has announced RoamBi, its new service/application for the iPhone and iPod touch. RoamBi allows users to take static information such as spreadsheets, tables, and reports from popular business applications and automatically convert it into interactive visualizations that can be viewed on the iPhone. RoamBi’s online tool lets users upload Excel spreadsheets, HTML table data, CSV files, Salesforce.com CRM reports, and more, select one of four information views, and publish the information to the RoamBi Visualizer iPhone application in one click. RoamBi’s Visualizer iPhone application is available now as a free download from the App Store; the company’s basic online publisher is also free, with a premium offering planned for later in the year.

Apple forces Trackr to drop torrent features

Apple is forcing David Muzi, developer of the iPhone and iPod touch RSS application Trackr, to remove all features related to torrent queuing from the next version of the app, or have it pulled from the App Store. Trackr drew extra attention when iLounge reported that Apple had rejected Maza Digital’s Drivetrain torrent remote control application, as Muzi wrote in to point out that Trackr also lets users remotely queue torrents to start downloading, functionality similar to what Apple rejected in DriveTrain. In a message on his software site, Muzi explains that a new version of Trackr, minus the ability to work with torrent RSS feeds, will be submitted to the App Store today; as a result of the reduced feature set, he is dropping the price of Trackr to $1.99.

App Mix: Vanguard Storm, Elvis, Scoop, Leaf Trombone

Square Enix has released Vanguard Storm, the latest addition to its series of Crystal Defenders games for the iPhone and iPod touch. In Vanguard Storm, players must strategically position units in various formations in order to prevent approaching monsters from breaking though the front lines and stealing the players’ crystals. The game features a real-time turn-based play system, jobs from the company’s Final Fantasy Tactics A2 game, and a wide variety of monsters. Vanguard Storm is available now from the App Store and sells for $5.

Elvis Presley Enterprises has introduced its new Elvis Mobile application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Developed by Resolute Games, Elvis Mobile features an Elvis sightings section for submitting Elvis pictures, with the option for Facebook integration, an images section offering never-before-seen and rare pictures of Elvis, a videos section with clips of the entertainer and other Elvis events, a news section, a livecam section offering real-time views of Graceland, and a podcast section for streaming the Graceland Beat from Elvis Radio. Elvis Mobile is available as a free download from the App Store.

Yellow Zinnia has announced Scoop, its new RSS reader application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Unlike traditional RSS readers, Scoop is optimized for viewing images and media, allowing users to view articles with full screen images. Other features include the ability to save images for offline viewing, the ability to watch YouTube videos in feeds, and full Newsgator sync support. Scoop is available now and sells for $3.

Smule has released Leaf Trombone: Lite & Free, a demo version of its latest music creation app Leaf Trombone: World Stage. Lite & Free allows players to get a sample of the paid game by offering a free play mode, a play game mode featuring a single default track, and an observe mode, which lets users watch the judging of performances by a live panel of judges. Leaf Trombone: Lite & Free is available now as a free download from the App Store.

AT&T admits role in SlingPlayer hobbling, blames data drain

Following the announcement that the new SlingPlayer Mobile app for iPhone would be limited to Wi-Fi only, AT&T has released an unusual statement regarding the limitation and why it was put into place. In the statement, the exclusive U.S. iPhone carrier claims the program “would use large amounts of wireless network capacity” and “could create congestion and potentially prevent other customers from using the network.” It goes on to say that the company considers the iPhone and other smartphones to be personal computers, as “they have the same hardware and software attributes as PCs,” while pointing out that applications that redirect a TV signal to a PC are specifically prohibited under its terms of service. Finally, the company pointed out that it doesn’t restrict users from watching video on the web, and that they can get free Wi-Fi access at the company’s 20,000 U.S. hot spots. The statement is the first to suggest that Apple permits its network partners a veto power over certain application approvals.

SlingPlayer for iPhone hitting App Store for $30

After a long delay, Sling Media’s SlingPlayer Mobile app for iPhone and iPod touch has been approved for release in the App Store, albeit with a very high price tag and more restrictions than originally planned. First unveiled in January, the approved app works only on Wi-Fi—not on 3G as planned, suggesting Apple and/or AT&T had issues with the bandwidth used by the app—and will support the SlingBox Pro, Pro-HD, and Solo, with unofficial support for older SlingBox units. According to Engadget, the app’s controls exhibit slight lag despite the Wi-Fi-only restriction, and it displays letterbox-formatted content with black bars on all four sides, failing to take full advantage of the iPhone’s and iPod touch’s screen. SlingPlayer Mobile for the iPhone and iPod touch is expected to hit the App Store between midnight and 6:00 a.m. Eastern Time, and will sell for $30.

Update: SlingPlayer Mobile is now available from the App Store.

Capcom releases Resident Evil: Degeneration for iPhone, iPod touch

Capcom has released its new Resident Evil: Degeneration game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Based on the film of the same name, Degeneration is a fully 3-D survival horror game in which players take control of Leon Kennedy as he shoots his way through hordes of zombies. The game features both touchscreen- and accelerometer-based context-sensitive controls, a third-person over the shoulder perspective, a large variety of weapons, and in-engine cut scenes. Resident Evil: Degeneration is available now and sells for $7.

PopCap launches Peggle for iPhone, iPod touch

PopCap has released its long-awaited version of Peggle for the iPhone and iPod touch. Peggle challenges players to fire a metallic ball from the top of the screen in hopes of clearing as many orange, green, and blue pegs as possible. Players must clear all orange pegs from the screen to advance, while green pegs offer power-ups such as area-clearing blasts, pinball flipper-like lobster claws, and fireballs, and blue pegs can be cleared for a large point bonus. In addition, the game offers a iPhone and iPod touch-exclusive zoom mode, on-screen controls, and new types of style shots. Peggle for the iPhone and iPod touch is available now from the App Store and sells for $5.

For more information on Peggle, see our full review.

Apple blocks religious parody app as ‘offensive’

Apple has rejected yet another iPhone and iPod touch application, Me So Holy, citing “objectionable content.” Similar to the developer Lil’ Shark’s prior photo manipulation app Animalizer, Me So Holy allows users to replace the face of a religious figure with any face from the iPhone’s camera or photo library, optionally adding text. On the product’s blog, the company writes, “Our question is, is religion really to be placed in the same category as these violent apps? Sex, urine and defecation don’t seem to be off-limits, yet a totally non-violent, religion-based app is. We feel that Apple is being too sensitive to its perceived user group and are disappointed that this otherwise creative, freethinking company would reject such a positive and fun application.” [via Silicon Alley Insider]

Amazon opens iPhone-optimized Kindle Store, conflict expected?

Ahead of the release of iPhone OS 3.0, Amazon has launched a new version of its Kindle Store optimized for the iPhone and iPod touch. Accessible from the “Get Books” button in Amazon’s Kindle for iPhone app, the new site opens pages in the Safari browser, giving users the ability to make one-click purchases of the Kindle Store’s 280,000 books without using an in-application downloading mechanism. Notably, Apple has announced “In-App Purchasing” as an iPhone OS 3.0 developer tool for adding content to apps, with Apple taking a 30% cut of any sales handled in this matter; the use of Safari appears to be a workaround to enable easy purchasing without Apple revenue sharing. Ian Freed, vice president of Amazon Kindle operations, said, “The most common feedback we heard from customers was that they wanted a better experience for purchasing new Kindle books from their iPhones. We’ve been working hard to respond to that feedback with a new web site optimized for Safari on iPhone and we’re excited to do that today.” Amazon’s Kindle for iPhone application is available now as a free download from the App Store.

Apple rejects BitTorrent control app Drivetrain [Updated]

Apple has rejected iPhone developer Maza Digital’s Drivetrain application, a remote control for Transmission, a BitTorrent client for Mac OS X and other platforms. After an initial email stating that Drivetrain required “unexpected additional time for review,” Maza then received a rejection email from Apple, stating that “this category of applications is often used for the purpose of infringing third party rights. We have chosen to not publish this type of application to the App Store.”

Calling the rejection “ridiculous,” Maza notes that “a BitTorrent client or the BitTorrent protocol are not illegal (and does not infringe on third party rights),” and points out that Drivetrain does not download anything itself, instead allowing users to manage the activity of Transmission, including controls for stop, start, and delete; while it allows users to upload .torrent files to Transmission, it does so by sending links to Transmission instead of downloading/uploading files itself. Maza suggests that Apple “seems to have decided that any app that has anything to do with BitTorrent (even if the app does not download/upload anything!) is treated as doing something that ‘is often used for the purpose of infringing third party rights,’ and will therefore likely be rejected.”

Update: iPhone developer David Muzi contacted iLounge to point out that his iPhone and iPod touch RSS application Trackr, currently available on the App Store, also lets users remotely queue torrents to start downloading to a computer running uTorrent or Transmission—functionality similar to what Apple rejected in DriveTrain. Trackr sells for $2.99.

Twitterrific for iPhone, iPod touch updated to 2.0

The Iconfactory has released version 2.0 of its Twitterrific and Twitterrific Premium Twitter client applications for the iPhone and iPod touch. New in version 2.0 is a redesigned user interface, new themes and timeline layouts, support for multiple Twitter accounts, extended author information, support for Twitter searches and trends, timeline filtering, conversation threads, retweeting support, an improved posting interface, and advanced setting options. Twitterrific and Twitterrific Premium are available now from the App Store; Twitterrific is a free download, while the Premium version is priced at $4.

Namco releases Dig Dug Remix for iPhone, iPod touch

Namco has released Dig Dug Remix, its latest retro-inspired game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Like Galaga Remix, Dig Dug Remix includes both the arcade classic and a new “remix” version of the game, featuring all new graphics, boss battles, six different power-ups, 35 levels, and five bosses. Both versions of the game offer a choice between an on-screen D-pad and a “flick” control mode, three difficulty settings, and normal or free play game modes. Dig Dug Remix is available now from the App Store and sells for $6.

Apple mandates iPhone OS 3.0 for apps, warns of 2.x removals

Apple has emailed registered iPhone developers to inform them all app submissions will be tested on iPhone OS 3.0, starting today. In the email provided to iLounge, Apple states, “Beginning today, all submissions to the App Store will be reviewed on the latest beta of iPhone OS 3.0. If your app submission is not compatible with iPhone OS 3.0, it will not be approved.” The email continues, “[e]xisting apps in the App Store should already run on iPhone OS 3.0 without modification, but you should test your existing apps the iPhone OS 3.0 to ensure there are no compatibility issues. After iPhone OS 3.0 becomes available to customers, any app that is incompatible with iPhone OS 3.0 may be removed from the App Store.” Apple is expected to release iPhone OS 3.0 this summer.

Apple flips, approves NIN iPhone app update

Following its rejection of an update to rock band Nine Inch Nails’ iPhone app “nin: access,” which was followed by a profanity-laden response from band founder Trent Reznor, Apple today unexpectedly reversed course and approved the application. According to a series of posts to Reznor’s Twitter account, the app was approved as recently as today, and should be live in a “few hours.” Despite the fact that Apple originally rejected the app due to objectionable content, Reznor claims the approved app is unchanged, saying that the “‘issues’ seem to have been resolved.” Nine Inch Nails’ nin: access application is a free download from the App Store.

Gameloft releases Terminator Salvation for iPhone, iPod touch

Gameloft has released its Terminator Salvation game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Based on the upcoming film of the same name, Terminator Salvation is a third-person shooting game that puts players in the shoes of John Connor, who must battle against the forces of Skynet. Features include four different control schemes, 11 different enemies, including some models designed especially for the iPhone and iPod touch game, six weapons to choose from, eight levels, and an unlockable game mode in which players can play as a T-600. Terminator Salvation is available now and sells for $10.

For more information on Terminator Salvation, see our review.

Apple updates iPhone OS 3.0, SDK, iTunes 8.2

Apple has released its fifth beta version of iPhone OS 3.0 to developers, along with an updated version of the iPhone SDK and iTunes 8.2. It is currently unclear what changes might have been made to the SDK, OS, or iTunes with this release. The updated SDK weighs in at 2.13GB and is listed as build 9M2735, while iPhone OS 3.0 beta 5 is listed as build 7A312g.

Registered developers can download iPhone OS 3.0 beta 5 and the updated versions of the SDK and iTunes 8.2 from Apple’s iPhone Dev Center.

Pragmatic Studio announces iPhone Development course

The Pragmatic Studio has announced a new 4-day iPhone Development Studio training course, to be held in Reston, VA on August 4-7. In the workshop, developers will learn how to build full-featured iPhone applications from experienced iPhone developers and authors Bill Dudney and Daniel Steinberg. According to Pragmatic, the studio is best suited to experienced developers who have a programming background in C or an object-oriented language and are new to iPhone and Mac development. Registration for the iPhone Development Studio includes a continental breakfast and full lunch each day, a binder with all printed material, Internet connectivity and power during the Studio, a full catalog of example source code for later reference, discounts on books, screencasts, and future training, and more. Alumni of Pragmatic’s courses can register for $1,595; for others the price is $1,895 through June 15, and $2,195 from June 16 on.

AT&T launches myWireless Mobile for iPhone

AT&T has launched its new myWireless Mobile application for the iPhone. AT&T myWireless Mobile enables U.S.-based iPhone users to view and pay their bills, view voice minutes and data usage, and add or remove features from their account. The app requires the user to have an active AT&T Mobility account that is registered for online account management and does not support Premier business or prepaid accounts; users can sign up at att.com/mywireless. AT&T myWireless Mobile is available now as a free download from the App Store.

EA releases Need For Speed Undercover for iPhone, iPod touch

After several delays, Electronic Arts has introduced its Need For Speed Undercover game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Originally planned for a 2008 release, then pushed to March 2009, and finally to May, Need For Speed Undercover is a racing game offering 3D graphics, customizable vehicles, and an in-game sound track featuring well-known artists, as well as the option to listen to music from the iPod app. Features include 20 different cars like the Porsche Carrera GT, Nissan 370Z, Lamborghini Gallardo, and more, 24 secret missions, eight game modes, including Highway Battle, Sprint, and Cop Takeout, the ability to earn performance upgrades, and an in-game handler played by Maggie Q. Need For Speed Undercover is available now from the App Store and is priced at $10.

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