MindSmack has released an update to FastMall, its interactive mall navigation and shopping application, adding offline access and barcode-based price comparisons. FastMall provides maps and information on the largest shopping malls in the U.S., the U.K., Canada and France to help users easily find stores and other amenities such as restrooms and elevators while inside the mall. FastMall 3.0 now integrates with ShopSavvy to allow users to scan product bar codes for online price comparisons and provide completely offline access to all interactive mall maps, including support for turn-by-turn navigation within a mall. The update also boasts enhanced speed and performance with a redesigned user interface including map dock icons to provide quicker access to important feature and a new category and keyword search feature to help find stores. FastMall 3.0 requires an iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 4.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Hooked in Motion has released an update to its movie cataloguing application, iCollect Movies, adding online synchronization and sharing features. iCollect Movies allows users to manage their movie collection directly on their iOS device with features such as automated lookup for adding movies, integrated barcode scanning, links to IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes and tracking wishlists and loaned movies. Version 3.4 adds the ability to sync the user’s movie database from their device to icollectmedia.com and share their collection with friends and family members’ devices. Users can also backup and restore their collection via the web and update their movie information with the latest information from the developer’s database. The update includes numerous other changes and fixes including revamped settings, a new tutorial section, additional genre and format options, and new movie information fields. iCollect Movies 3.4 is available from the App Store for $3 and is compatible with all devices running iOS 3.0 or later; the barcode scanning feature requires an iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4.
Apple’s new iAd mobile advertising platform is pleasing early partners on both sides, according to a Los Angeles Times report. Application developers, including Dictionary.com and CBS Mobile, told the paper that iAd is allowing them to charge more for ad space in their applications — a 177% increase in Dictionary.com’s case. Meanwhile, advertisers like Nissan and Unilever report that their initial ads are attracting more users and holding their attention for a longer period of time. “We feel pretty strongly that this is the way to capitalize on where the mobile Web is heading,” said Chad Jacoby, a senior manager of Nissan’s media operations. “What iAd promises is the most progressive thing I’ve seen to date” in digital advertising. Rob Master, the North American media director for Unilever — which ran an iAd for its men’s line of Dove hygiene products — said the company’s iAd resulted in a double-digit percentage of users seeking more information about the product. “The ad served to help rally the organization at large” to the possibility of iAd advertising, he said. “And now that we’ve been through one, the amount of time and team dedicated [to producing an ad] drops dramatically.” Apple began rolling out its iAd platform on July 1.
UneasySilence has uncovered a hidden feature in tap tap tap’s Camera+ iPhone photography app that allows users to control the camera shutter using the iPhone volume controls. Tap tap tap had originally planned to include this feature in the most recent update to Camera+, however the update was rejected by Apple for using “iPhone volume buttons in a non-standard way, potentially resulting in user confusion.” Tap tap tap reports that it spoke with Apple at some length about this and were informed that “overriding the volume controls is one of the most common reasons for app rejection” and that other camera apps that make use of the volume buttons likely “slipped through the review cracks” due to developers intentionally hiding the feature during submission. Tap tap tap was ultimately forced to resubmit its Camera+ update to the App Store without the hardware shutter control feature enabled. As UneasySilence reports, however, the feature is still present in the app and can be enabled by entering a simple URL in Safari on the iPhone. To enable the volume buttons to be used as shutter controls within Camera+ users can open Safari and enter camplus://enablevolumesnap into the address bar. The feature can be similarly disabled by entering camplus://disablevolumesnap in the Safari address bar. It is unclear at this time what Apple’s response will be, if any, to this feature still being available within the app. Camera+ is available on the App Store for $2.
Update: Camera+ is no longer available on the App Store. There has been no official word from Apple or Tap tap tap as to why the app was removed.
Online music service MOG has released an update to its music player for the iPhone and iPod touch, adding iOS 4 background audio support and several other new features. MOG is a subscription-based service that allows users to listen to personalized radio and music on demand via a web browser on their computer or a mobile app on iOS devices. The mobile application for the iPhone and iPod touch provides access to CD-quality music streamed on demand or downloaded directly to the device for offline listening, automatically syncing with settings and playlists on the MOG web site. Users can create personalized listening experiences by using music discovery modes or choosing from a selection of featured playlists. MOG 1.2 now provides background audio support on multitasking-capable iOS 4 devices allowing users to continue listening to their MOG playlists while using other applications as well as taking advantage of lock screen playback controls. The latest update also includes support for audio remote controls, in-line headphone remotes and third-party hi-fi docks and includes larger album artwork in downloaded tracks. MOG 1.2 is available from the U.S. App Store as a free download; a three-day free trial of the MOG online music service is available after which a $10 monthly subscription is required to continue using the app.
Sauce Digital has released its latest game, Space Balls, an atmospheric physics puzzler for the iPhone and iPod touch. In Space Balls, players must skillfully fire unique space balls at various objects to either activate, move, alter or destroy them in order to capture enemies. Players progress through a variety of levels that present different challenges with each level requiring specific tactics. The game features 90 levels, 35 unique obstacles and enemies, 16 different Space Ball characters, and a progressively disclosed storyline presented in comic strip format. High-resolution iPhone 4 Retina Display graphics are included along with atmospheric sound effects and an exclusive music soundtrack by Tokyo Pushers. Space Balls is available from the App Store for $1. The company has also announced that it has begun development of higher-resolution iPad releases of Space Balls and its five other iOS games: Killer Pool, Nano Rally, Amoebas, Touch Soccer 3D and Monkey Tennis. The iPad versions of the games are expected to begin appearing within a month and are expected to be priced at $1.
Cloud storage service Box.net has released an update to its universal app for iOS devices adding iOS 4 support and the ability to access files offline. The new version allows users to designate specific files to be saved locally on the device for offline access and later sync those saved files with updated versions when others make changes. The update also adds file caching to allow for faster previewing of files, makes several user interface tweaks to both the iPad and iPhone UIs with regard to sharing and viewing content and provides iOS 4 support with fast app switching and high-resolution graphics for the iPhone 4 Retina Display. Box.net is available from the App Store as a free download. A Box.net subscription is required in order to use the app; a free subscription is available which includes 1GB of storage and a 25MB file size limit, with paid subscriptions ranging from $10-15 per user per month for up to 15 GB of storage. Enterprise subscription plans are also available for larger organizations.
Developer Kevin Ng has updated his Kick Flick Soccer 2010 game to add support for the iPad and the iPhone 4 Retina Display. In Kick Flick Soccer 2010 players attempt to score goals from free kick positions by flicking shots using the touchscreen. Extra points are earned by making more skillful shots and scoring multiple goals in succession. The game provides a realistic physics simulation based on the Bullet Physics library to model real-world aerodynamic effects on the ball. Kick Flick Soccer 2010 version 1.1 is now a universal app supporting both the iPhone and iPad and provides higher-resolution graphics to support the iPhone 4 Retina Display. The update also adds a new “10 Kicks” game mode, six new achievements to be earned and provides several performance and graphics improvements. Kick Flick Soccer 2010 is available from the App Store for $1 and is a free update for current users.
The European Commission has joined the FTC in probing Apple’s iOS developer policies, according to a new report. Citing an anonymous source, the New York Post reports that the European body is investigating whether Apple’s decision to bar iOS developers from using other companies’ tools to developer software is harming competition. Also at issue is Apple’s decision to ban Adobe’s Flash technology from its iOS devices. According to the report, the investigation could last another four to six months. [via Mac Rumors]
Following the successful launch of Pinball HD for the iPad earlier this year, Gameprom has released a new version optimized for the iPhone 4. Like its iPad counterpart, Pinball HD 4 iPhone combines Gameprom’s Wild West Pinball, The Deep and Jungle Style Pinball into a single game and adds new features including high-resolution graphics for the iPhone 4 Retina Display and new multiplayer capabilities. In Pinball HD 4 iPhone users can challenge other users on the iPhone, iPod touch or iPad over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi in competition to reach the highest score or to complete specific quests. Pinball HD 4 iPhone includes the same general features found in the earlier iPad version, including landscape and portrait modes with full- or flying-table views, a realistic 3D physics and graphics engine, local and global high scores and unique soundtracks with atmospheric music, sound effects and voices. Pinball HD 4 iPhone requires an iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS or third-generation iPod touch and is available from the App Store for $2. The iPad version, Pinball HD is sold separately for $3 and has recently been updated to add the new multiplayer features as well.
Livio Radio has released an update to its Internet Radio app for the iPhone and iPod touch. Livio Car Internet Radio provides an in-vehicle optimized interface for browsing and listening to Internet Radio on the iPhone or iPod touch. Users can easily search for stations by genre, location or language, tune stations in by call letters or keywords or find local stations based on the iPhone’s current GPS location. Background listening is supported via a Safari browser stream, allowing for compatibility with older non-multitasking-capable iOS devices. The application also provides a built-in speed dialer feature for iPhone users, allowing quick access to frequently called contacts from directly within the app and Facebook and Twitter sharing for posting favorite stations to social network feeds. Originally priced at $5, Livio Internet Car Radio is now available from the App Store as a free download and includes access to hundreds of Internet Radio stations at no extra charge; an upgrade to the Premium version is available for $5 as an in-app purchase which unlocks access to 42,000 additional stations through the RadioTime directory and enables a recommendations feature for locating similar radio stations.
NXP Software has released CineXPlayer, a new app that allows users to view Xvid movies on the iPad, a format not directly supported by the built-in video codecs on iOS devices. Using CinexPlayer, users can transfer movies in the Xvid format directly onto their iPad without the requirement to convert them an iPad-specific video format. Movies are transferred to the application over USB via iTunes’ File Sharing options and the app provides a listing of movies stored on the device with standard playback controls, automatic bookmarking of playback positions and the ability to delete movies directly from within the app. At this time, CineXPlayer only supports standard Xvid format movies and does not yet have the ability to handle additional codecs such as MKV and AC3 audio. CineXPlayer is available from the App Store as a free download. [via Engadget]
Tim Sears has released an update to Future Checkin, an app which uses iOS 4 background location services to automatically check-in users to nearby Foursquare venues. Future Checkin allows users to specify locations on Foursquare that they wish to check into automatically and the app continues running in the background to monitor the user’s location and check them in when they are near any of their chosen locations for more than three minutes. Users can also configure the app to auto-checkin to any places that they have checked into in the past, customize settings to control GPS accuracy in exchange for battery life and choose to receive notifications to confirm auto-checkins when they occur. Version 1.1 adds the ability for users to adjust the proximity to a location before they will be checked in and allows users to share automatic checkins using their Foursquare-linked Twitter and Facebook accounts. This latest update also improves battery life and contains several UI improvements and bug fixes. Future Checkin requires an iPhone 4 or iPhone 3GS running iOS 4.0 or later and is available from the App Store for $2.
ANDESigned has released an update to Total Baby, its baby and child care tracking application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Total Baby 2.0 adds support for iOS 4 and the iPhone 4 Retina Display, including background task completion for automatic backups and syncing between devices. The latest version also adds Growth Charts and percentiles for ages 0-36 months based on CDC and WHO datasets and now allows the user to fully customize the e-mail export output with 18 preset templates. Other improvements include the ability to disable the device’s auto-lock feature when a timer is running, better syncing performance between devices, and several bug fixes related to iOS 4. Total Baby is available from the App Store for $5 and is a free update for current users.
iTeleport has released an update to its VNC remote control app for the iPad adding support for Bluetooth keyboards and displaying a remote desktop screen via Apple’s iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adapter cable. iTeleport for the iPad allows users to securely view and remotely control a PC, Mac or Linux desktop via the VNC protocol over either a 3G or Wi-Fi connection. A free companion desktop application, iTeleport Connect for Mac and Windows allows users to easily configure their computer to accept remote VNC connections from the app while outside of their local home or office network. iTeleport for iPad 4.1 is available from the App Store for $20 and is a free update for current users. A universal app, iTeleport: Jaadu VNC is also available for $25 but has not yet been updated to receive the latest features of the iPad-only version.
Building on its successful iHome+Sleep app introduced earlier this year, accessory manufacturer iHome has released its second iOS application. iHome+Radio is a new Internet radio application that provides users with access to over 20,000 local and international radio stations streamed over Wi-Fi or 3G. iHome+Radio uses RadioTime.com as its source for Internet radio channels and can sync any presets that existing Radiotime.com users have stored online for a seamless transition onto the iPhone and iPod touch. iHome+Radio also integrates with the company’s iHome+Sleep app to allow users to wake up or fall asleep to their favorite Internet radio stations and includes controls and settings for iHome’s app-enhanced products such as the iA5 and upcoming iA100 alarm clocks. iHome+Radio is compatible with iPhone and iPod touch devices using iOS 4.0 or later and supports Radiotime listed stations streamed in MP3 and AAC formats only. iHome+Radio is available from the App Store for an introductory price of $2.
A newly published Apple patent application is causing controversy online as it contains a screen illustration that is very similar to the interface of a third-party iOS application. The patent application, titled “Systems And Methods For Accessing Travel Services Using A Portable Electronic Device,” describes an app offering services such as “reserving a travel itinerary, checking-in remotely for a reservation, providing airport information, providing for social networking, obtaining dining or entertainment during travel, controlling and requesting cabin services, providing arrival notifications to third parties,” and “providing destination location information.”
The issue stems from figure 6 of the patent application, which contains an illustration of a screen virtually identical to the main interface of WhereTo? from FutureTap. As the app has been available since day one of the App Store and the application was filed in December 2009, it is unlikely that Apple didn’t know of WhereTo? prior to the filing—in fact, the app’s name appears in the illustration. “At first, we couldn’t believe what we saw and felt it can’t be true that someone else is filing a patent including a 1:1 copy of our start screen. Things would be way easier of course if that ‘someone else’ would be really an exterior ‘someone else.’ Unfortunately, that’s not the case,” said Ortwin Gentz of FutureTap. “We’re faced with a situation where we’ve to fear that our primary business partner is trying to ‘steal’ our idea and design.” While the text of the patent application doesn’t completely overlap with the idea and purpose of the WhereTo? app, its very appearance in an Apple patent application without prior notice or warning is cause for concern; Apple has yet to comment on the matter.
Apple has updated the iPad App Store to add its Genius Recommendations feature for iPad apps. Introduced to the iPhone and iPod touch App Store last year in iOS 3.1, the Genius for Apps feature for the iPad provides personalized recommendations on additional apps that users may be interested in based on their existing purchases, installed apps and how often and how long existing apps are used for. As with the Genius feature in iTunes and on the other iOS devices, users must specifically opt-in within the iPad App Store application to enable Genius for Apps on their device and agree to additional Terms of Service. Notably, the Terms of Service indicate that Apple will anonymously collect information related to the applications installed on a users’ device, including time spent with each application and the number of times each application is launched, as well as users’ application download histories. This information is aggregated with similar information from other users who opt-in to the Genius feature along with customer ratings of applications on the App Store to provide personalized recommendations through the service. Users who have enabled the Genius feature may also later opt-out from the App Store Account settings page on their device.
Truphone has released an update to its voice-over-IP application for the iPad, adding the ability to make VoIP calls over a 3G connection. Truphone provides VoIP apps for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad allowing users to place voice calls to other Truphone users as well as Skype and Google Talk users as well as instant messaging support for Truphone, Facebook, Skype, AIM, Google Talk and MSN. Truphone for iPad 2.0 adds full VoIP over 3G support, a new Truphone Directory search, an integrated TruFriends and IM listing, multi-chat instant messaging capabilities and the ability to send and receive SMS messages, including group SMS. Truphone for iPad is available from the App Store as a free download; some calling features may require purchase of Truphone credits.
Vonage has released a new app that allows iOS device users to make free voice-over-IP calls to their Facebook friends. Vonage Mobile for Facebook uses Facebook Connect to link users with contacts on their Facebook profile and then make free calls to any of their Facebook friends who are also using the Vonage Mobile for Facebook app on their iOS or Android device. Users can make and receive calls on their iPhone or iPad or on an iPod touch using an external headset and mic. Calling is supported over both Wi-Fi and 3G networks anywhere coverage is available and calls can be made to any user regardless of location with no international calling fees or airtime charges—only data usage applies when using a 3G connection. The application uses Push Notifications to allow users to receive calls when the app is in the background; it does not support iOS 4 background VoIP features at this time. Vonage Mobile for Facebook is available from the App Store as a free download.