EA Mobile has announced additions to its lineup of upcoming titles for the iPhone and iPod touch. Joining the already promised Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf, Need for Speed Underground, The Sims 3, and Wolfenstein RPG as 2009 releases are FIFA Soccer, Madden NFL Football, NBA Live Basketball, Spore Creatures, Mystery Mania, SSX Snowboarding, Connect Four, Battleship, RISK, Monopoly Classic, Clue, American Idol, and Command & Conquer. In addition, the company disclosed that it has released an update to its Scrabble game for iPhone, enabling users to play against friends using the Facebook Connect feature.
iPhone developers are dealing with a new threat: duplicates of their applications being approved by Apple, and then released in the App Store as competitors. Citing an Apple Developer Forums thread in which app developers are complaining of their apps being downloaded, copied by other developers, and then re-posted to the store with either the same or very similar names, iLounge reader Zen Ho says that the cloning phenomenon is “being handled unsatisfactorily by Apple.” Ho cites TouchScan, an application cloned by a different developer’s “Touch Scan Pro,” reusing images, sound, and text from the original app; additionally, the developer of iCopter recently watched as both “iCopter Free”—now titled “Copter Free”—and “iCopter Classic” were released, further confusing consumers by using an only slightly modified version of the original iCopter’s logo. Thus far, Apple has been unwilling to help affected developers by removing the impostor applications, says Ho, and instead has told them “to sue the offenders themselves.” Ho sees it as “Apple’s duty to ensure that such plagiarism is rejected in the first place, and to at least take them down upon complaints,” noting that “it is scary to think that anyone developing for the platform can have their business stolen [at] anytime.”
Updated: In an e-mail response to iLounge, the developer of Touch Scan Pro has presented several counter-arguments to the ones made by Ho above. “I wrote Touch Scan Pro in 38 minutes,” explains Gary Fung, suggesting that due to the trivial time it took to copy Touch Scan, and the lack of originality in the original application’s graphics, name, and concept, all of which he claims were legally unprotectable, “[t]he author of Touch Scan simply cannot expect this amount of effort to earn him a living for the rest of his life.” Fung also claims that he developed the Pro application to make a statement about the lack of value that the original Touch Scan application offered. “I felt that consumers are not getting their $0.99 worth of utility from this app so I wrote one and gave it away for free,” said Fung. “For the first week Touch Scan Pro was free not as a trial or limited time offer. It was simply free. It was only until Markus started to harass me then I decided to change my mind.” Now Fung is charging the same $1 that he said the original program was not worth.
Update 2: Markus Stöbe, developer of the original Touch Scan, has weighed in with his own e-mail response: “What kind of difference does it make how long it took me to code TouchScan?... And it doesn’t make any difference if he thinks this is not original… it’s my work and hence it is protected by copyright. [M]y interpretation of the theme, regardless how long it took me, regardless if he doesn’t like it and regardless of the prize I ask for it: it is my work and it is protected… [he] did not start charging because I mailed him but because he wanted to make some quick bucks with someone elses work.”
The 2009 Independent Games Festival Mobile award winners have been announced, with iPhone applications winning six out of the seven available awards. Zen Bound from Secret Exit was given the Mobile Audio Achievement Award and won the Best iPhone Game category as well, while Fieldrunners from Subatomic Studios was also honored twice, winning in the Art category and being named the IGF Mobile Best Game. Real Racing from Firemint won in the Technical Achievement category, and Galcon from Hassey Enterprises won in the Design category. Reflection for the Nintendo DS was the lone non-iPhone winner, taking the Next Great Mobile Game category.
During a keynote address at the GDC conference, Ngmoco CEO Neil Young revealed the company’s plans for more Rolando level packs, two sequels, and a collaboration with Secret Exit. Young said the company plans on releasing three more level packs for Rolando between now and the end of May, bringing the total number of add-on levels to 20, with Rolando 2 following with a June release. It will feature four worlds with 36 levels, and will see a similar level pack expansion with 20 extra levels by October. Young also announced Rolando 3 for a November release; it should see similar level packs released thereafter. Finally, Young said that Ngmoco and Zen Bound-creators Secret Exit are collaborating on a new game, utilizing the companies’ “super powers” in order to build on each other’s strengths.
iPhactory has released iPhorest, a new application for iPhone and iPod touch. iPhorest allows users to plant and grow virtual trees, and view a world map of all iPhorest users worldwide. For each virtual tree planted in the app, the company, in conjunction with The Conservation Fund, says that it will plant a native tree in real life, beginning with the restoration of the vulnerable wildlife habitat along the Gulf Coast. As the virtual iPhorest grows, the Fund will work with public natural resource agencies to ensure the real trees are protected. iPhorest is available now from the App Store and sells for $5.
PopCap Games has announced the launch of its word game Bookworm for the iPhone and iPod touch. Touted by the company as “the most popular digital word game of all time,” Bookworm lets players build words from contiguous letter tiles on a grid, with longer and more difficult words scoring more points and spawning “gem tiles” which offer additional bonuses when used. The game features a vocabulary of over 170,000 words, all-time high score tracking, a shake to scramble feature, and more. Bookworm is available now for the iPhone and iPod touch and sells for $5.
Popcap Games has revealed to iLounge that it is planning to release a new, as-yet-unannounced iPhone title next week, and that the long-awaited iPhone and iPod touch version of Peggle should be arriving in 3-5 weeks. Peggle was previously released for Click Wheel iPods, earning our acclaim as the 2008 iPod Click Wheel Game of the Year, and has more recently been followed up by Peggle Nights, a Mac- and PC-based continuation of the franchise. Popcap has noted that the mystery game is not Bejeweled Twist, a sequel to its popular block-matching franchise; other possible titles includes Zuma, previously released for Click Wheel iPods, and Chuzzle, a matching game with colored Koosh-like balls.
Konami has released its long-awaited Metal Gear Solid Touch game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Despite the company’s prior indication that it would offer a special “advance release” edition of the game that would offer only the first half of the game, the App Store description of the game makes only a passing reference to its advance release nature. The final release version will include both halves of the game, and purchasers of the advance release edition will receive a free update to the final release, with the ability to carry over game save information. MGST is based on the Playstation 3 title Metal Gear Solid 4, and gameplay is handled via a multi-touch interface, with the ability to slide a finger for aiming, pinch gestures for zooming in and out, and taps for firing a weapon. Metal Gear Solid Touch is available now from the App Store and sells for $8.
The following is a list of third-party developers and applications that were selected by Apple for live demonstration during the iPhone OS 3.0 event today.
Meebo: Having created a popular web app for iPhone and iPod touch instant messaging before the release of the App Store, this developer demonstrated a multi-service instant messaging client that was capable of handling background notifications, a feature that enables users to receive messages even when the program is not open and active on the screen.
Electronic Arts The Sims 3: Another version of the company’s “monitor and guide peoples’ lives” game, demonstrating how characters can use real-world cash through iTunes to buy items in the game, somewhat disgustingly including a $1 stereo that lets you hear your own iPod’s music during the game. Let’s hope that one doesn’t make it into the actual title.
Oracle: Known for its database and enterprise software, Oracle demonstrated how information passed from Oracle’s servers to an iPhone client app can be used to provide background indicators and alerts even when the app is not running.
ESPN: Showed new application functionality enabling users to receive sports scores as background notifications, as well as seeing streaming sports videos that have been optimized to the bandwidth you actually have. The iPhone OS has gained support for HD-quality video and audio streaming, explained Apple, though no indication was given as to why users might need that on a 480x320 screen.
LifeScan Diabetes Monitor: A demonstration of how medical monitoring applications could interact with Dock Connector or wireless accessories such as a diabetes glucose meter, which could communicate to the iPhone a user’s current sugar level, track them over time, and make recommendations on proper meal planning.
Ngmoco TouchPets: Inspired by Nintendo’s Nintendogs, this app showed how users could invite one another to interact with their in-game pet dogs, and make purchases of in-game dog clothing as transactions through the App Store.
Ngmoco LiveFire: A newly announced first-person shooter, LiveFire somewhat resembles Nintendo’s and Rare’s classic Perfect Dark, and enables users to play against each other in an online multiplayer mode, complete with in-game voice chat. Again, microtransactions were shown off, with Ngmoco suggesting that it would sell individual weapons for $1 each.
Smule Leaf Trombone: World Stage: A demonstration of a sequel to the popular Ocarina application that enabled players to perform music and share it with others around the world. Leaf Trombone lets two people play together in a room using Bluetooth wireless, or multiple people play together over a global multiplayer system.
Apple has announced that iPhone OS 3.0 will offer developers the option of selling subscriptions, extra levels, e-books, or other content from within their applications using a new service called In-App Purchase. The service will utilize the iTunes Store for transactions, including payment and authentication, and Apple will take 30% of the proceeds as an operations fee, as it does for normal paid applications sold through the App Store. Free applications will not be allowed to use the In-App Purchase feature.
Notably, several third-party game demonstrations depicted the In-App Purchase feature being used for increasingly questionable purposes: one added new levels for an additional fee, while others allowed you to buy new dog clothing and in-game weapons, and the worst, in EA’s The Sims 3, sold you $1 access to your own device’s built-in music library—a way for developers to charge you for new OS 3.0 features.
Online movie ticketing service Fandango has launched its new application for the iPhone and iPod touch. The new app allows users to read synopses and watch trailers for both currently showing and upcoming releases, find nearby theaters using the Location feature, add theaters to a Favorites list, and order up to 10 tickets at a time from 16,000 different theaters, securely storing credit card information for faster purchasing. Fandango is available now as a free download from the App Store.
Namco has released Inspector Gadget, its latest game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Based on the 1980’s animated TV series of the same name, the platform-style game allows users to play as Inspector Gadget, Penny, and Brain as they travel across multiple locations, utilizing vehicles including the Gadgetmobile and Gadget ‘Copter to recover the royal jewels and defeat Dr. Claw. Inspector Gadget is available now from the App Store and sells for $5.
The New York Times Crosswords Daily 2009 has been released on the App Store. Developed by Magmic, the game allows users to play the daily puzzle from the New York Times print newspaper, as well as over 4,000 classic puzzles from the Times’ archive. Other features include the ability to send messages and compare solve times with friends online, an option to listen to the in-game soundtrack or music from the iPod app, the choice to write in “pen” or “pencil,” and more. The New York Times Crosswords Daily 2009 is available now and sells for $10.
Boxee, developers of the popular media center software of the same name, has released its Boxee Remote application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Described as a “very basic” remote, the application offers two modes of control, one of which uses a set of six on-screen buttons for navigation, while the alternate “gesture” controls lets the user move around a Boxee logo cursor on the iPhone’s screen that corresponds with the cursor inside the Boxee program. The application also allows users to type using the iPhone’s built-in keyboard when entering text in an input field. Boxee Remote is available now as a free download from the App Store.
Sirius XM has announced plans to release a streaming audio application for the iPhone and iPod touch during the second quarter. The application will be available to both the company’s current 19 million subscribers and to all iPhone and iPod touch users. “This is a large and interesting opportunity that will maintain our subscription-based economics while providing customers easier access to our content through means other than our traditional satellite-based platform,” Sirius President of Operations and Sales Jim Meyer. Pricing and and exact release date for the application have yet to be set.
EA Mobile has released new details of the upcoming Tiger Woods PGA Tour game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Users will get to play as or against Tiger Woods and other professional golfers including Annika Sorenstam, Vijay Singh, and Retief Goosen, on realistic 3D courses such as Pebble Beach, St. Andrews, and TPC Sawgrass. The game will employ a “touch-n-drag” swing meter with visual feedback for swing control, allowing players to swipe the screen while the ball is in the air to affect ball spin direction and intensity. Other features will include official “Bragging Rights” and achievements, and play-by-play commentary by Sam Torrance and Kelly Tilghman. Tiger Woods PGA Tour for iPhone and iPod touch is expected to launch later this year; exact release and pricing information has yet to be released. Continue reading for more screenshots from the game.
In another tweak to its App Store application review system, Apple has now begun tying each review to the application’s current version number. Previously, reviews could only be sorted by date, leaving potential customers with no way to know whether or not a negative review pertained to the current version. This move follows a number of changes Apple has made since the opening of the App Store in hopes of making application reviews more helpful; last September, it began requiring users to purchase or download an app prior to review, and last month it removed older reviews from users who had not purchased the applications they were reviewing. [via TouchArcade]
Apple has released Remote 1.2, the latest version of its iTunes and Apple TV remote software for the iPhone and iPod touch. According to Apple, the new release contains bug fixes and provides compatibility with iTunes 8.1. More specifically, it adds the ability for guests to select songs to add to the iTunes DJ playlist, and vote for songs picked by others. Remote 1.2 is avialable now as a free download from the App Store. Continue reading for screenshots of Remote 1.2.
Google will today shut down a feature of its Gmail service that allowed third-party applications to send SMS messages using Google’s servers. According to Inner Fence, developers of the iPhone SMS app Infinite SMS, Google contacted them Monday regarding their decision to shut down the feature, causing Inner Fence to pull their product from the App Store, despite the fact that it was among the Top 10 Paid Apps on the store. Google has notified Inner Fence that the service will be officially blocked starting today. Below is Google’s official statement on the matter.
“Infinite SMS is a third party app that has been using Google technology to provide free SMS for users, while we were paying for the cost of the text messages. While Google is supportive of third party apps, we’ve decided we can’t support this particular usage of our system at this time…. We’re blocking all external XMPP clients from sending SMS; we’re not singling out Inner Fence.” Inner Fence notes that Apple doesn’t offer them a way to issue refunds, saying, “[h]opefully, at 99¢ people will feel like our app paid for itself after only a few messages.”
Version 1.3 of Tweetie, a popular Twitter client for the iPhone and iPod touch, has been rejected by Apple due to the appearance of an offensive word in the site’s “Trends” data. “Trends” is a list of the most frequently referenced topics or words on Twitter at that moment. A picture of the offensive language in question is available online (NSFW), while a list of the improvements expected in version 1.3 is available here. Tweetie 1.2.1 is available now in the App Store and sells for $3.
Update: Tweetie 1.3 has been resubmitted and approved, and is now available from the App Store.