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.
Urbanspoon has released a native iPad version of its popular restaurant search and review application. Like its iPhone counterpart, Urbanspoon for iPad allows users to explore thousands of restaurants in their local neighbourhood or anywhere in the world. Users can filter restaurants based on neighbourhood, cuisine or price and even spin to find a random choice in their area that meets the selected criteria. Urbanspoon for iPad stores all restaurant data within the app itself so that it can be used without requiring an Internet connection; online access is required to view ratings and reviews. Urbanspoon for iPad has been released as a separate app from the iPhone version, it is available from the App Store as a free download.
Apple has announced the dates for its 2010 Worldwide Developers Conference. This year’s event will be held June 7-11, in its traditional venue of Moscone West in San Francisco, CA. As with last year’s event, Apple will be providing sessions focusing on both Mac OS X and iPhone OS X, as well as web app development; although this year’s sessions appear to be more heavily focused on iPhone OS development than in previous years. For the past three years, the company has also used the event’s keynote address as a venue for iPhone-related announcements, revealing the launch date for the original iPhone in 2007, introducing the iPhone 3G at the 2008 event, and unveiling the iPhone 3GS in 2009.
“This year’s WWDC offers developers in-depth sessions and hands-on working labs to learn more about iPhone OS 4, the world’s most advanced mobile operating system,” said Scott Forstall, Apple’s senior vice president of iPhone Software. “WWDC provides a unique opportunity for developers to work side-by-side with Apple engineers and interface designers to make their iPhone and iPad apps even better.”
iPhone game developers Majic Jungle Software have posted a proof of concept video to YouTube showing their upcoming title Chopper 2 being run on and output from an iPad to an HDTV while a separate iPhone is used as a controller. According to the post, the setup—which uses a standard Apple Component AV Cable to connect the iPad to a 42-inch HDTV, while the iPhone is connected over Bluetooth—uses only publicly available API calls, and could conceivably be released in its current form. The post notes, however, that the initial release may not support the TV-out functionality. Continue reading to watch the video in embedded form. [via TUAW]
Gameloft has released new iPad “HD” versions of four more of its iPhone game titles, including James Cameron’s Avatar for iPad ($10), Secrets of the Vatican HD ($5), Hollywood The Director’s Cut HD ($5) and Frankenstein - The Dismembered Bride HD ($5). As with Gameloft’s earlier “HD” releases, the new games must be purchased separately and provide iPad-optimized versions of the corresponding iPhone games with higher resolution graphics and optimized controls suitable for the iPad screen, but do not otherwise expand on the core gameplay from their earlier iPhone releases. Gameloft’s newest games can be found on Gameloft’s App Store page.
The Omni Group has released a significant update to OmniGraffle, its flagship diagramming app for the iPad. OmniGraffle 1.1 adds support for Multi-Touch gestures within the app such as the ability to select multiple objects by tapping and holding while selecting, two-finger rotation of objects and invoking temporary smart alignment guides while moving objects. The update also delivers improvements in performance, text editing and file handling. Several stability issues have also been addressed in this latest update. OmniGraffle 1.1 is available from the App Store for $50.
CodeGoo has released an update to its popular Camera Genius app adding the ability to record videos on any iPhone model. Other recent improvements include the ability to edit location information for photos, burst mode shooting, sharing photos via e-mail or the iPhone clipboard and an interval timer for automatically capturing photos at specified intervals. Camera Genius also continues to provide a wide variety of additional unique features such as voice-activated capture, anti-shake stabilization and built-in camera guides for photo composition. Camera Genius is available from the App Store for $2 and is a free update for existing users.
Next Mobile Web has released a major update to its iPhone app for Craigslist. Craigsphone 2.0 is a significant re-write from the previous version and adds a number of new features including faster loading screens, integrated maps for housing listings and built-in image previews. The app also sports a complete UI redesign, a dedicated search tab and now allows users to access their Craiglist accounts, forums and blog from directly within the app. Craigsphone is available from the App Store as a free download.
Gameloft has released its anticipated Iron Man 2 game to the App Store in select countries. The official game for the upcoming movie, Iron Man 2 is a 3D action/adventure where players take on the role of Iron Man or War Machine and battle enemies such as Ultimo, Firepower and Whiplash through various locations across the globe. In Iron Man 2, players use on-screen controls to run, hover and fly as well as jumping into the Mark IV, Mark VI, Stealth and underwater suits. A variety of combat options are available ranging from melee to long-range weapons and players can upgrade their suit after each stage to improve their weaponry and abilities. The game provides 9 locations rendered in full 3D ranging from Stark Expo in New York to a jungle war zone in Somalia and a rock metal soundtrack. Iron Man 2 is presently available from the App Store in several countries including the UK, France, Switzerland, Australia, and New Zealand. The game will launch May 3rd in the US, Canada, China, Austria, Finland, Germany, Kazakhstan and Turkey and in Japan on June 7th to coincide with the movie release dates in those countries. An iPad version will also be released in countries where the iPad is available.
Digital music service Rhapsody has announced the release of a major update to its streaming music player app for the iPhone platform. Rhapsody 2.0 now allows subscribers to download their favorite Rhapsody playlists for offline listening. Rhapsody playlists can be streamed or downloaded over either a 3G or Wi-Fi connection, and once downloaded can be played through the app even when outside of network coverage. Downloaded songs use the same 64kbps AAC format as tracks streamed from the Rhapsody servers. The Rhapsody app is designed for the iPhone and iPod touch but works on the iPad in the same manner as other iPhone apps. A native iPad version is planned for later this year once multitasking capabilities are available and will allow users to listen to music in the background. The updated app has been released as a new application rather than an update, so existing users will need to specifically download the new version. Rhapsody 2.0 is available from the U.S. App Store as a free download; a $10 per month Rhapsody Premier subscription is required to use it on a single device beyond the free seven-day trial period, and the subscription must be maintained to continue accessing downloaded tracks.
Apple has hired long-time IGN editor Matt Casamassina to help manage the App Store’s games section. Casamassina worked at IGN for over a decade, focusing primarily on Nintendo; his official title at Apple will be global editorial games manager, App Store. “I will be leading the charge for games on the App Store, so whether you browse through iTunes, iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, the games content you see will be handpicked and organized by me and my team[,]” Casamassina wrote in a post on his personal blog, adding, “I couldn’t be happier.” Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime recently made some disparaging remarks about gaming on iPhone OS devices, saying that Apple “is not having an impact on Nintendo when you look at our business, our volume, our hardware, our software,” later adding that the iPhone isn’t a “viable profit platform” due to the ratio of free to paid downloads.
A recently published Apple patent application suggests the company is working on a system for wireless transportation ticketing and check-in. Entitled “System and method for transportation check-in,” the patent refers to a travel management application called “iTravel” which would allow the users to purchase, store, and use travel documents. The patent goes on to show the application being used on an iPhone equipped with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, such as RFID, which then interacts with similarly-equipped electronics throughout the travel process, such as at check-in, security checkpoints, and when boarding. As with all Apple patents, this filing does not necessarily represent any future product release from Apple, but offers evidence of the company’s research in this area. [via Patently Apple]
Gameprom has released The Pinball HD, an iPad version of its popular set of Pinball games for the iPhone and iPod touch. The Pinball HD combines the tables from Gameprom’s three iPhone pinball games into a single iPad game featuring a higher-resolution display of the detailed 3D graphics, multiple camera angles and realistic physics that the iPhone versions are known for. Pinball tables in The Pinball HD include Wild West, The Deep and Jungle Style, with each table providing unique detailed artwork and distinct gameplay features. Users can also reorient the iPad to view the table in either a full table view or follow the ball in a “flying camerea” view. The Pinball HD is available from the App Store for $3.
SplashData has released an update to its popular SplashID Password Manager for the iPhone and iPod touch. The latest version adds the ability to buy additional icons through in-app purchase, a search history, landscape support in web view and a new Pattern Unlock option. The Finger Pattern Unlock option allows users to access the app by tracing a pattern on the iPhone screen rather than typing in a password, providing a more convenient means of quickly accessing the application securely. The update also adds localization into French, German, Italian and Spanish and several other UI improvements. SplashID for the iPhone and iPod touch is available from the App Store for $10.
Amidio has released iHolophone, a new digital music instrument for iPhone and iPod touch users. iHolophone allows users to add their own live performance over fully programmable sequencer beats for a futuristic sound. The application includes over 250MB of sequenced sounds 160 factory sequencer patterns, 60 modern instrument sounds and 800 percussive and melodic samples. Users play sounds, melodies and rhythms by placing their fingers on the two HoloDiscs and can access precise sound controls using the touchscreen including attack, release, vibrato, volume and portamento and use the accelerometer for pitch-bending and switching between instruments. As the user plays the screen backgrounds change to produce artistic effects corresponding to the rhythms, sounds and harmonies. iHolophone is available from the App Store for $7. A free iHolophone Happy Birthday Edition is also available which allows users to try the app by playing Happy Birthday.
Following a change in Apple’s Phone developer SDK terms that outlawed intermediary, cross-compatibility tools from iPhone apps, an Adobe employee has responded to the new restrictions. Specifically, section 3.3.1 of the new iPhone developer terms states that “[a]pplications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool,” such as Adobe’s Packager for iPhone that ships with Flash Professional CS5, “are prohibited.” Mike Chambers, Adobe’s Principal Product Manager for developer relations for the Flash Platform, says that “[d]evelopers should be prepared for Apple to remove existing content and applications (100+ on the store today) created with Flash CS5 from the iTunes store.”
Concerning the future of the company’s Flash-to-iPhone-app software, Chambers claims that the company “will still be shipping the ability to target the iPhone and iPad in Flash CS5. However, we are not currently planning any additional investments in that feature.” Chambers adds that he doesn’t have any plans to update or maintain his existing iPhone applications, as he thinks “the closed system that Apple is trying to create is bad for the industry, developers and ultimately consumers, and that is not something that I want to actively promote.” A recent report suggested that Adobe may be considering legal action against Apple over its refusal to allow Flash to run on its iPhone OS devices, and this recent decision to ban iPhone apps made using Flash software. [via Digital Arts]
The IconFactory has released an update to the iPad version of its popular Twitter client. Twitterrific for iPad 1.0.1 adds the ability to save links to Instapaper, use older style retweets and turn off new tweet alert sounds. The update also fixes several bugs and adds support for integration with third-party notification services such as Boxcar. Instapaper for iPad is available from the App Store as a free download. Unlike its iPhone counterpart, Twitterrific for iPad is a single app which is fully functional but ad-supported; instead of downloading a separate Premium app, users can upgrade to the ad-free version via in-app purchase for $5.