Whether you consider it a game or an odd little demo, Namco Bandai’s Noby Noby Boy has been ported to the iPhone and iPod touch, and will arrive in the App Store roughly one year after its debut on the PlayStation 3. Developed by Keita Takahashi of Katamari Damacy fame, Noby Noby Boy similarly utilizes deliberately unfamiliar play mechanics and a galactic theme to attempt to hook players: Katamari titles involved rolling up balls of junk that eventually increased to planetary scale, and Noby Noby Boy places you in control of a worm-like creature named Boy who is stretched like an ever-expanding rope from a tiny centimeter size to eventually—with help from other players working collaboratively online—reach and unlock other planets. Unlike the joystick-based PlayStation 3 version, which the game oddly acknowledges in a text bubble “received a mixed reaction,” the iPhone and iPod touch version has you touch Boy’s left and right sides to stretch him out.
Decidedly experimental in design, the iPhone and iPod touch version of Noby Noby Boy incorporates a variety of fascinating iPhone OS 3.0 multitasking features, including a play mode that links Boy’s stretching to your use of Google Maps, a button that lets you browse a collection of web sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google from within the game, and a floating music player that has album art for a torso and control buttons on its hands and feet. Camera modes enable you to take pictures to use as in-game backgrounds, and overlay the game on top of live video from the iPhone 3GS, as well. Namco Bandai also leverages social networking services to enable players to share their current progress with friends. The title is due to appear in the App Store soon, but pricing has not been announced. Additional screenshots can be seen by clicking on the title of this article.
IMDb has released a major update to its free movie and TV database app. IMDb 1.1 improves searching and browsing performance, adds a history feature, in-app web browser, and localized TV listings. The update also provides additional charts for top movies and TV shows, the ability to e-mail showtimes and movie info to friends, new DVD release info and shopping integration with Amazon. As of version 1.1, IMDb is also now available outside of the U.S. App Store and provides multiple language support and access to other International IMDb and Amazon sites, although some features such as movie showtimes and TV listings features remain available for the U.S. only. IMDb 1.1 is available from the App Store as a free download.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has released a free iPhone application allowing users to explore hundreds of images taken from spacecraft studying the solar system and beyond. Users can search for images or browse by category, submit ratings for images and view top-rated images from the library. The application also allows users to e-mail images to friends or save directly to the iPhone’s photo library and read full image descriptions from the JPL Photojournal. Space Images is compatible with iPhone and iPod touch devices running OS 3.1.2 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
RealVNC, developer of the popular suite of Virtual Network Computing (VNC) remote control solutions, has released its VNC Viewer application for the iPhone and iPod touch. VNC Viewer allows users to remote control computers running any VNC-compatible server application. Additionally, VNC Viewer provides enhanced security features and performance when connecting to computers running RealVNC’s own server apps, including 128-bit encryption and RSA authentication when used with VNC Enterprise Edition. The application supports the copy-and-paste on the iPhone OS, host computer screen resolutions up to 5120x2400 and a touchscreen optimized interface. VNC Viewer can also be used to connect to Mac computers using the built-in Screen Sharing feature in Mac OS X. VNC Viewer is available on the App Store for $10.
Handmark has released an update to its popular Zagat To Go restaurant guide app, adding offline access, end-user reviews, and augmented reality features. Zagat To Go provides access to reviews and information from 45 different restaurant guides covering major North American cities, including GPS capabilities, recommendations, and support for making reservations directly from within the app. Version 3.0 adds an offline mode allowing users to synchronize the guide information to their iPhone or iPod touch over Wi-Fi for offline reference and the ability for users to add their own reviews. iPhone 3GS users can also access the new RETINA Augmented Reality feature to view restaurant locations in a real-time camera view. Zagat To Go requires an iPhone or iPod touch running OS 3.1 or later and is available from the App Store for $10.
RealArcade has released Vancouver 2010—The Official Game of the Olympic Winter Games. The game allows the player to compete either solo or with friends in five Olympic sport events, including cross country skiing, 500m short track speed skating, snowboard cross, biathlon and freestyle moguls. Events can be played individually or in sequence in an “Olympic Games” campaign mode. Single-device multiplayer is supported to allow users to compete with up to five other players on the same device. Vancouver 2010 - The Official Game of the Olympic Winter Games is compatible with the iPhone and iPod touch running OS 2.2.1 or later and available on the App Store for $3.
Macworld UK reports that Opera has shown a preview of its iPhone browser at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Opera co-founder Jon S. von Tetzchner briefly demonstrated the Opera Mobile for iPhone app, showing pages rendering very quickly due to page optimization on Opera’s own servers. Tetzchner indicates that Opera “compress[es] data up to 90 per cent” and is claiming that Opera should be “up to six times faster on 3G networks.” Other Opera Mobile for iPhone features include a tabbed browsing interface and support for saved passwords and bookmarks as well as the ability to automatically zoom in on text columns. Tetzchner notes that Opera has not yet been submitted to the App Store and speculation remains as to whether Opera Mobile will be accepted by Apple, although the new version of Opera has been written using native iPhone code rather than simply being a port of the original mobile app. Alternative browsers have been available on the App Store for almost a year, however Opera Mobile is unique in that it does not use the iPhone WebKit engine. Opera has not yet announced an expected release date for Opera Mobile for iPhone.
Meebo, developers of the popular web-based Instant Messaging application, have released a native IM app for iPhone and iPod touch users. Prior to the advent of the App Store, Meebo was one of the few iPhone optimized web applications for instant messaging on the first-generation iPhone. Released yesterday, the new Meebo app provides a native iPhone application with support for over 100 IM networks through the Meebo service. The Meebo app also includes push notifications, support for multiple conversations, landscape keyboard support, searchable chat history and an integrated buddy list. Chat history is synchronized between the iPhone and the meebo.com web-based chat service, and users can seamlessly switch between the web-based chat and the iPhone app in the same chat session. Meebo requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
IGN reports that Capcom is planning a March release of Street Fighter IV on the iPhone and iPod touch. Reportedly still under development, the game is expected to be specifically optimized for the iPhone platform, with Capcom having taken a great deal of time and effort to develop controls suitable for the touchscreen interface. Further, Capcom plans to use artwork assets from the current generation Street Fighter IV code to provide a visual experience similar to the console version and has confirmed that both classic brawlers and new characters will be available in the game. Street Fighter IV will also support multiplayer gaming to allow two players to fight it out over Bluetooth just like the arcade and console versions. No specific availability date or price has yet been announced. More information and screenshots can be found on IGN.
Hog Bay Software has released TaskPaper for the iPhone and iPod touch, a mobile version of its popular TaskPaper to-do list application for the Mac. Like it’s desktop counterpart, TaskPaper on the iPhone focuses on a simplified, paper-like user experience, providing basic list elements for users to create flexible outlines and task lists. TaskPaper includes searching, filtering and tagging capabilities and can synchronize with TaskPaper on the Mac via the SimpleText.ws online service. TaskPaper is available on the App Store for $5 and includes a $5 discount code for TaskPaper for Mac.
According to new data from application analysis service Flurry Analytics, the announcement of the iPad has led to a huge spike in iPhone development. Flurry saw over 1,600 new iPhone OS application starts in January, compared to under 600 in December. In addition, this spike in new iPhone OS applications has helped the iPhone gain in percentage of overall application project starts versus Android, which accounted for nearly 30% of new project starts in December, compared to under 20% in January. According to the company, “the recent spike in Apple iPad support has swung the pendulum back in Apple’s favor to a level not seen at Flurry in six months. The unprecedented surge in support for iPad is a positive early indicator for its commercial potential.” Flurry tracks over 20,000 live applications and over 2 billion user sessions each month, across the iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, and J2ME platforms. Apple is expected to launch its first iPad models in late March.
Roeland van der Spek has released an update to his flight planning application, PreFlight, adding support for looking up and downloading aviation notices (NOTAMs) from the FAA database. NOTAMs are available for most countries worldwide and downloaded automatically for origin, destination and alternate fields identified in the user’s flight plan as well as any relevant fields or flight information regions (FIRs) en-route. NOTAMs containing coordinates will be shown on the map along the user’s intended route. PreFlight is a multi-leg flight planning application for pilots that provides flight computer calculations, navigation and route planning. The app can automatically look up wind information to provide proper wind correction and cruise altitude data for each leg of a flight. PreFlight is available on the App Store for $17. For users who only want an application to look up NOTAMs without the extra flight planning features, the developer also provides a separate app, NOTAMs for $6 on the App Store.
Fring, developer of the popular Voice-over-IP communications app, has reported that mobile video calling now makes up more than 40% of its worldwide calling traffic among supported devices. Fring first introduced video capabilities last November, allowing users to conduct video calls with other fring users and Skype contacts from supported mobile devices, including the iPhone and iPod touch. The company reports even higher usage rates of 60% of call traffic throughout Western European countries—more than double the usage of leading PC-based video calling services. Fring is available as a free download on the App Store for the iPhone and iPod touch, however only incoming video is supported on these devices due to the lack of a front-facing camera.
Wired Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson, speaking at the Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) 2010 conference, has revealed that the publication plans to release its content for the iPad by summer. “I’m from the media world,” Anderson said, “and as you may have heard, we have lots of questions about our future. The good news is I think we found part of the answer…. We think this is a game changer.” Anderson explained that the iPad allows periodicals for the first time to offer digital content with the same values and artistic range of print magazines. The new digital edition was demonstrated on a large touchscreen-capable display, and offered both single and two-up page views, depending on orientation, as well as a thumbnail view, and interactive media and advertisements. Interestingly, Wired’s creative director, Scott Dadich, worked with Jeremy Clark of Adobe to developer the iPad edition, a process which has been ongoing over the last six months. Pricing for the iPad edition of Wired was not announced.
Update: Wired has posted a video of the interface in-action online; it is available in embedded form below.
Interview magazine, founded in 1969 by artist Andy Warhol and John Wilcock, has unveiled plans to launch new iPad-formatted versions of its issues. The Huffington Post reports that the company announced the new digital initiative at its 40th anniversary party; a video preview of the new iPad editions accompanies the article. Interview’s iPad editions will integrate photography and text with both audio and video features, and it will launch the 40th anniversary, December/January 2010, February 2010, and March 2010 issues simultaneously. The new iPad versions of Interview are expected to be available next month.
“When Andy Warhol founded Interview four decades ago, he did so with an ethos that embraced the new,” the magazine said in an announcement. “As with his art, Warhol re-wrote the rulebook with Interview, creating an innovative, intelligent, sophisticated, cutting-edge magazine that was culturally impactful, pushed the boundaries of the medium, and reinvented what a magazine could be. So it’s entirely fitting that Interview is once again at the forefront of reinventing the magazine experience for Apple’s iPad, combining the benefits of the digital age with the familiar advantages of Guttenberg’s printing press to deliver a groundbreaking, knock-out reader experience. One could call Interview magazine on the iPad ‘an affordable Warhol screenprint.’”
Oceanhouse Media has announced the release of three new officially licensed Dr. Seuss iPhone applications. The Cat in the Hat and Dr. Seuss’s ABC are interactive eBooks providing professional narration, background audio and original text and artwork from the popular Dr. Seuss children’s titles. The two eBook applications also include the ability to highlight words as the story is read and to read back words as pictures are touched. Both titles sell for $4 each on the App Store. The third application, Dr. Seuss Camera - The Cat in the Hat Edition allows users to create Dr. Seuss themed photo cards using the iPhone’s camera or existing saved photos. Users can pose for pictures either with Dr. Seuss characters or become those characters in the photos. Resulting photo cards can be e-mailed or saved to the photo library. Dr. Seuss Camera - The Cat in the Hat Edition sells for $3 on the App Store. All three applications are supported on both the iPhone and iPod touch and Oceanhouse Media has announced that they will also be available for the iPad.
Clickgamer has announced an update to its popular Angry Birds catapult destruction game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Angry Birds 1.2 adds 42 new levels, two new worlds and new graphical themes for the levels. The new version also adds support for Crystal leaderboards and provides users with the ability to listen to their own iPod music library while playing. Angry Birds 1.2 is available on the App Store for a new price of $1, and is a free update for existing users.
Coinciding with yesterday’s annoucnement of its new Gorillamobile stand for the iPod touch, Joby has released an update to its Gorillacam companion application. Gorrilacam 1.1 adds tap-to-focus on the iPhone 3GS, 4X digital zoom capabilities and selectable image sizes. The new version also introduces an anti-shake feature that uses the accelerometer to detect when the device is steady before capturing an image. Gorillacam 1.1 is available on the App Store as a free download.
Following Apple’s announcement of iPhone OS 3.2 in late January, the first application update boasting compatibility with the iPad-ready operating system has appeared on the App Store. The release of TextExpander 1.1.3 lists only “updates for iPhone OS 3.2” in its release notes, without citing additional features. Taking directions from Apple in new iPad Human Interface Guidelines, numerous developers are updating their applications to provide improved compatibility with the iPad upon its release, including higher-resolution graphics and in some cases entirely new user interfaces.
Quinn Genzel has announced a major update to his popular Packing and Packing Pro applications. Packing is designed to help iPhone and iPod touch users with their packing lists when preparing to travel. The applications allow the user to create fully customizable packing lists from scratch or based on sample lists designed for typical travel scenarios. Users can track which items have been packed or not, tally up packed items and even calculate the size and weight of their luggage. Packing Pro provides additional organization features and an expert list assistant that can automatically create packing lists based on criteria such as number of travellers, weather conditions and food and clothes washing preferences. The latest versions of Packing and Packing Pro include a complete redesign of the application with new artwork and a redesigned and simplified layout. Both applications are currently on sale on the App Store, Packing selling for $1 and Packing Pro for $3.