According to stats found on the Facebook for iOS app’s dedicated Facebook page, the app now has over 100 million monthly active users. This represents the vast majority of iOS devices sold up to this point, based on figures released by Apple at its 2010 Worldwide Developers Conference in June, and serves to highlight the app’s importance to the iOS ecosystem.
In addition to showing over 100 million users, the app’s Facebook page also suggests that the new 3.2.2 update, released on the App Store today and said to fix login issues, may actually be targeted at users of jailbroken iOS devices who had experienced problems with the app’s latest updates. Places, a feature new to version 3.2 of Facebook that was not originally working when the application launched last week, has started to become active in a number of cities coinciding with the release of versions 3.2.1 and 3.2.2. Facebook version 3.2.2 is available now as a free download from the App Store.
Matt MacInnis, a former Apple employee, is behind a new start-up looking to bring collegiate textbooks to the iPad. The Wall Street Journal reports that MacInnis’ company, Inkling, is set to introduce four full-length interactive textbooks on the App Store. The books—McGraw-Hill’s best sellers in biology, economics, marketing, and psychology—will include features like 3-D views, video lectures, and interactive quizzes, while allowing students to highlight text and take and share notes. According to the report, Inkling has already made deals with other major publishers, including John Wiley & Sons, and Cengage Learning, to launch new titles. Prices for McGraw-Hill’s first titles are expected to start a $2.99 per chapter or $69.99 per book, with prices increasing over time to $3.99 per chapter and $84.99 per book.
Following an update to Photogene for the iPad earlier this week, the iPhone version has also received an update. Photogene 2.6 for the iPhone and iPod touch adds the new features introduced in the earlier iPad version including support for Flickr and FTP uploading, custom resizing and IPTC metadata. This update also adds support for the Retina Display, 5MP camera and rear-facing camera on the iPhone 4 and brings Fast App Switching and background saving and uploading for multitasking-capable devices. Users can also now share photos while preserving geo-tag information stored in the EXIF data. Photogene 2.6 requires an iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 4 or later and is available from the App Store for $2.
Gameloft has released an iPhone 4 update to its acclaimed Modern Combat: Sandstorm for the iPhone and iPod touch. Modern Combat: Sandstorm (iLounge Rating: A) is a first-person action-thriller where players must locate and annihilate a terrorist cell in a remote desert hotspot. Users play through 10 missions featuring detailed Middle Eastern environments and are provided with a wide range of authentic advanced weapons ranging from assault rifles to rocket-propelled grenade launchers. The game provides local and online multiplayer support, a choice of multiple control systems and polished 3D graphics with cinematic interludes and voice-overs. The latest update brings support for gyroscopic control mode on the iPhone 4 with full 3D range of motion, high-resolution graphics for the iPhone 4 Retina Display and support for Fast App Switching on multitasking-capable iOS 4 devices. Modern Combat: Sandstorm is available from the App Store for $5 and is a free update for current users.
Apple has finally enabled publishers to offer their magazines via iPad apps to current subscribers free of charge. Beginning with the update of the People Magazine app earlier today, subscribers to Time, Inc. publications including Time, Sports Illustrated, and Fortune will soon be able to be able to access the iPad versions of issues for free as part of their print subscriptions. Fortune reports that the changes should roll out to the other magazines within 30 days, and suggests that other magazine publishers will likely adopt the same policy. The report also states that publishers who were encouraged to built iPad apps say they were ready from the start to make them free to subscribers, but Apple would not provide the tools necessary, or explain what was delaying their release. Publishers remain unable to sell subscriptions directly through the App Store.
Black Enterprise, the premier business and wealth building resource for African Americans, has released a digital edition of its magazine publication exclusively for the iPad. The application, Black Enterprise Wealth for Life serves as a portal to download and read monthly issues of the magazine and will provide access to additional exclusive content not found in the printed edition including full-screen high-definition videos, slide shows, photo galleries, social networking links and extended editorial content. The application also allows users to sign-in to their custom reader accounts to share, bookmark and reference personal notes and includes the ability to search by keywords including names, tools, brands and services. An integrated browser allows users to select their desired content with color-coded categories and quick access to an itemized display of pages, photos, videos, bookmarks and ads. Black Enterprise Wealth For Life is available from the App Store as a free download. The app includes the 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition and Best Companies for Diversity issue at no cost; subsequent issues will be priced at $2.
Paramount Digital Entertainment, in cooperation with Freeverse, has released Top Gun 2, the sequel to its earlier first-person combat jet shooter for the iOS platform. In Top Gun 2 players engage in air-to-air and air-to-ground arcade style combat with new high-speed defensive maneuvers and offensive attacks. Players fly using the accelerometer to engage in combat with multiple enemies through seven unique environments, including outer space, in a variety of different mission types. Top Gun 2 features dynamic level design with surprise attacks and unique gameplay and an enhanced AI. Players can choose to pilot an F/A-18 Hornet, F-16 Fighting Falcon or F-14 Tomcat, each with upgradeable cannon and missile systems and unique offensive and defensive capabilities. Top Gun 2 features full-screen anti-aliasing and enhanced visual effects and a soundtrack by Brooklyn-based Daredevil Squadron as well as the classic track “Danger Zone” from the Top Gun movie. Top Gun 2 requires an iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 4 or later and is available from the App Store at a discounted price of $3 until August 23.
Facebook has released an update to its iPhone and iPod touch application adding support for its new Places feature and improving iOS4 multitasking support. Introduced by Facebook earlier this week, Places is a new location-based social networking that allows users to register their presence at physical locations in a manner similar to services such as Foursquare and Gowalla. Facebook 3.2 provides a new section on the home screen for accessing the new Places location feature and integrates GPS location services support to allow users to view nearby places from within the app, check-in at various locations and view friends’ locations. The new version can also now continue photo and video uploads in the background on iOS 4 multitasking-capable devices and adds the ability to set the privacy of individual status updates and see all recipients of inbox messages. Facebook 3.2 is available from the App Store as a free download. The Facebook Places feature is presently only available in the U.S.
A number of Nintendo NES game titles have once again returned to the App Store, in apparent violation of Nintendo copyrights. Two titles released this month, 8-Bit Gamepak and 8-Bit Gamepack LITE from Dalian Bale Trade Co., are based upon Nintendo’s Ice Climber and Wild Gunman titles, mentioned in the app’s description as “Wild Gunman Plus” and “Ice Climber Plus.” Another title, Duck Hunt: The Game from Arsen Torosian, steals not only graphics and gameplay, but also the box art and title of Nintendo’s famous Zapper-based title Duck Hunt. Prior Nintendo titles appropriated by developers have disappeared from the App Store relatively quickly, but Duck Hunt: The Game has been on the store since June 18, according to its description.
Apple’s applications director is selling his own fart apps on the App Store. Wired reports that Phillip Shoemaker, director of applications technology at Apple, is behind a selection of seven iPhone apps from Gray Noodle, including both a fart app called Animal Farts and a urination simulator called iWiz. Shoemaker’s apps range in price from $1 ro $2, and have generally received below-average ratings from users, while also testing the limits of Apple’s App Store decency restrictions. Apple told Wired that Shoemaker was hired partly because of his background in application development. “Phillip’s apps were written, submitted and approved before he became an Apple employee,” an Apple spokeswoman said in a statement. “His experience and perspective as a developer is one of the valuable things he brings to Apple’s developer relations team. Apple’s policy allows for employees to have apps on the App Store if they’re developed and published prior to their start at Apple.” The report notes that Shoemaker said he had started working at Apple via a tweet on March 9, 2009, while three of his apps weren’t published until afterwards.
Former Apple senior iPhone software engineer Evan Doll said the company typically doesn’t allow employees to sell apps unless they receive special permission from an executive, part of a policy to avoid conflicts of interest. “Apple employees are generally prohibited [from selling apps],” Doll told Wired. “You have to get a special exception from a VP. Otherwise, big no-no. If he was doing it pre-Apple then he’d have an easier time getting an exception.” Doll left Apple last year and now runs the company behind the Flipboard application for the iPad. Following the publication of Wired’s story, Shoemaker edited or outright deleted many of his social networking profiles that linked him with Gray Noodle, and has yet to comment on the matter.
Barnes & Noble has released an iPhone version of its Nook e-reader software introduced for the iPad earlier this year. The Nook e-reader apps feature access to over a million titles from Barnes & Noble’s eBookstore, multiple font types and sizes, customizable background and text colors and brightness controls. Nook also provides an integrated Merriam-Webster Pocket Dictionary, synchronization of notes, highlights and current reading position and provides a unique LendMe digital lending feature that allows users to share their purchased eBooks with friends using the Nook platform. Nook for iPhone provides the same features offered in the iPad application optimized for the iPhone’s smaller screen and iPhone 4 Retina Display and includes integrated B&N eBookstore shopping, personal B&N digital library access, digital lending features and the ability to sync notes, highlights and current reading position with other Nook apps. Barnes & Noble has also released an update to its iPad application, renaming it from BN eReader to Nook for iPad and adding the ability for users to rate their books and sort by favorites as well as a user guide and first run tutorial for new users. Nook for iPhone and Nook for iPad are available separately as free downloads from the U.S. App Store.
Sony has released a new TV advertisement for its PlayStation Portable handheld gaming console that mocks players of iOS games. Holding a device that clearly is meant to resemble an iPhone, a young man—identified as “Josh Rose,” who is said to be “kidding himself”—holds up the device, talking about the “sweet game” he’s playing. Sony’s new PSP TV advertisement spokesperson “Marcus” exclaims that the device “isn’t built for big boy games,” and proceeds to show a variety of games available for the PSP for only $9.99. The new advertisement appears in embedded form below. [via Kotaku]
Mind Crew has released Mayan Puzzle, a new puzzle game for the iPhone and iPod touch. A unique variant of a match-three style game, Mayan Puzzle includes four modes: classic, time trial, challenge and marathon to provide different styles of play ranging from an action puzzler to a more classic strategy game. The game is set in a beautiful Mayan surrounding with 32 animated backgrounds and includes impressive special effects and an original Mayan soundtrack. The game provides 32 levels in classic strategic mode, four target times in time trial mode, four difficulty settings in challenge mode or infinite gameplay in marathon mode. Online leaderboards and 35 achievements are provided through OpenFeint integration. Mayan Puzzle is available from the App Store for $1.
Square Enix has released the iPad version of Chaos Rings, its popular RPG introduced earlier this year for the iPhone and iPod touch. The story in Chaos Rings centers on a tournament where combatants must fight for their lives in the Ark Arena. Players choose a pair of characters and must then fight against other pairs as the story unfolds to reveal the truth behind the Ark Arena. The game provides a deep storyline with unique tales for each pair of characters and multiple endings. The iPad version brings the same classic game system from the iPhone app with higher-resolution graphics, detailed backgrounds, intense battle scenes and an enhanced soundtrack. Chaos Rings for iPad is available from the App Store for $16.
Apple is facing some early challenges in getting its iAd mobile advertising network up and running, according to a new report. Citing unnamed ad executives, the Wall Street Journal reports that some ad campaigns are experiencing delays due to Apple’s tight control over the creative process and the agencies’ learning curves. The report claims that the creation of iAds is taking from eight to ten weeks, or longer than normal for typical mobile ads, and the building of the actual ads, which is currently being handled by Apple, is sometimes taking two weeks longer than expected. Of the 17 iAd launch partners named by Apple, only ads from Unilever and Nissan were running for much of July; Citigroup, Disney, and J.C. Penney have since launched iAd campaigns with more companies to follow. Notably, one named launch partner—Chanel SA—is now saying it has no iAd campaigns planned at this time. A recent report claimed that early advertisers and developers are nonetheless pleased with iAd’s early performance; Apple recently added new functionality to iAd allowing developers to sell apps directly from within iAds, helping the company to fill iAd slots.
iOS developer Omer Shoor has released an update to his acclaimed photo editing application for the iPad. Photogene for iPad is an intuitive application that provides iPad users with a comprehensive set of photo editing tools, including cropping and straightening, sharpening, color adjustments, red-eye correction, resizing, filters, special effects and text boxes and frames. Users can upload their edited photos directly to Facebook and Twitter, send the new photos out via e-mail or save them back to the iPad Photo Library. Photogene also provides support for opening and editing RAW files imported with the iPad Camera Connection kit. Photogene for iPad 1.3 adds support for uploading images directly to Flickr and FTP servers and adding IPTC metadata to photos during upload. The update also provides custom crop ratios and fixes a bug related to selecting Facebook albums. Photogene for iPad 1.3 is available from the App Store for $4 and is a free update for current users. The iPhone and iPod touch version of Photogene has not yet been updated.
Following news from earlier this week on a hidden volume shutter button feature in the Camera+ app, it appears that Apple may now be cracking down on other iPhone camera applications that have employed similar features. In a post on Tap tap tap’s blog explaining how its Camera+ update was initially rejected by Apple, developer John Casasanta noted that there were other camera apps that “make use of the volume buttons for snapping photos” but that Apple advised him that these likely “slipped through the review cracks” as a result of developers intentionally omitting the feature from descriptions and screenshots. Tap tap tap was forced to remove the volume button shutter feature from Camera+ but later revealed via Twitter that the feature was still hidden away within the app and described how to enable it. Camera+ was subsequently removed from the App Store, presumably for violating the terms of Apple’s Developer Agreement.
Today, another iOS developer, KendiTech, released an update to its Camera Zoom 2 app with release notes indicating that it had “Removed [the] Volume Button Shutter feature.” It is unclear whether this removal was precipitated by a specific request from Apple or whether the developer chose to be proactive in removing this feature as a result of the demise of Camera+.
Citing precedent with Apple’s approach to LED flashlight apps, which were originally banned from the App Store for a similar reason, Casasanta has submitted a feature request to Apple to allow for the hardware volume controls to be used for other purposes and encourages users to send feedback to Apple to attempt to pressure the company to change its policy.
Guided Ways Technologies has released a major update to its 2Do task management application adding iOS 4 support and several other significant new features. 2Do 2.0 brings iOS 4 multitasking support on capable devices including Fast App Switching and Local Notifications, including updating of the application badge count. Push Notifications can still be used for devices that do not support multitasking or are running an older iOS version, and users can continue to configure e-mail alerts as well if desired. The new version also completely revamps the interface, themes and internal layouts, including adding iPhone 4 Retina Display support and landscape view and in-place display of notes, audio and images within tasks. A new Nearby and Locations feature has also been added, allowing users to assign tasks to physical locations and have the application filter tasks based on GPS location, display tasks on a map or automatically notify the user when they are near a location with outstanding tasks. The update also improves synchronization and backup features, with automatic nightly backups for users who don’t sync and the ability to sync multiple devices with the desktop helper app. Users can also now export their tasks as a CSV file via e-mail. 2Do 2.0 is available from the App Store for $4 and is a free update for current users.
Adobe Systems has released an update to its free Photoshop Mobile application for the iPhone and iPod touch, adding native iPad support and renaming the app Adobe Photoshop Express. The latest update provides initial support for the iPad with specific features such as landscape and portrait orientations, redesigned Online, Edit and Upload workflows and the ability to work on multiple photos in sequence from within a single workflow. The new version also sports a redesigned Organizer view with simplified album sharing and updates icons and visuals for easier navigation and use of the Editor. Users can also now upload to both Photoshop.com and Facebook simultaneously. Adobe Photoshop Express is available from the App Store as a free download and should appear as an automatic update for users of Photoshop Mobile.
In a keynote speech at QuakeCon 2010 today, John Carmack of id Software demonstrated an impressive iOS version of its upcoming Rage first-person shooter running on an iPhone 4. Primarily a proof-of-concept at this point, the game was shown using the id tech 5 game engine running at 60 frames-per-second, which Carmack described as a “similar or better frame rate to Doom Classic [and] significantly better than Doom Resurrection.” Carmack noted that he “did some fairly clever things to approximate sub-pixel precision on the movement” and that the games also look “incredibly cool on an iPad” and can even run reasonably well on an original iPhone. He went on to mention that with the capabilities of modern iOS devices he can “kill anything done on a previous-generation console like an Xbox or PlayStation 2” with the biggest limitation of the devices being battery drain—Carmack notes that id Software will need to offer a 30 fps option in their game engine in order to deal with this. Carmack also mentioned that id’s iPhone titles have been doing well for the company and that it plans to continue developments for the iOS platform.
During his keynote, Carmack also provided some insight into Apple’s general approach to gaming on the iOS platform, mentioning that “at their heart and core they’re not really a game-friendly company” and that it was an “eye-opener for Apple that gaming has been big on their platforms.” He went on to say that although there are gaming advocates at Apple that he speaks with, such as Quake III Arena designer Graham Devine, Apple as a company remains resistant to making hardware changes specifically for gaming. As an example, Carmack describes touchscreen and graphics delays on the iPad while running the Rage demo and strongly believes that this indicates room for improvement in Apple’s engineering.
id Software is still in the process of pulling Rage into a game framework and indicates that the first iteration of the game on the iOS platform will be a small “show-off” sort of title using the tech 5 game engine and set in the Rage universe, with a larger game due out next year to coincide with the main release of Rage. [via Kotaku]