Apple has released its first beta version of iOS 4.1, along with an accompanying software development kit (SDK), to registered iPhone developers. Notably, there is no version of the beta operating system available for the iPad, suggesting that contrary to prior reports, iOS 4.1 will not be a platform-unifying release, but will instead cater to Apple’s pocketable devices exclusively. It is currently unknown what, if any, new features or APIs may be included in the update; it is also unknown whether it is meant to help alleviate initial problems with the iPhone 4, or whether those fixes will come in an incremental 4.0.1 update. Both the new iOS 4.1 SDK and pre-release builds are available now for download by registered iPhone developers from the iPhone Dev Center.
Tapbots, developer of the popular Convertbot and Pastebot apps, has released a new universal calculator app for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Calcbot is a simple and intelligent calculator that includes advanced functions and calculation history features. The application sports the same general design aesthetic as Tapbots’ other apps with an elegant yet simple user interface that includes animation and sound. Calcbot provides a live as-you-type expression history presented as a calculator tape view that shows all figures and expressions; users can also e-mail their calculation history as text or select values and expressions to send back to the calculator. The iPhone 4 Retina Display and iOS 4 Fast App Switching are also supported. Calcbot is currently available from the App Store for $1.
Audible has released a native iOS application for downloading and listening to audiobooks from Audible.com on an iPhone or iPod touch. The Audible application allows users to browse through and download audiobooks from their Audible.com library over a Wi-Fi connection and listen to any downloaded titles directly from within the app. Users can begin listening to an audiobook while it is downloading and iOS 4 multitasking support allows users of multitasking-capable devices to continue downloading and listening to an audiobook even while the Audible app is not actively running. The application also supports chapter navigation, bookmarking and a sleep timer and provides Facebook and Twitter integration and access to the Audible Newsfeed. The Audible app maintains its own library on the device rather than integrating with the built-in iPod app—Audible titles still need to be synced separately via iTunes in order to appear in the normal iPod Audiobooks section. The app also does not provide direct purchasing capabilites although users can visit Audible.com using the Safari browser to purchase titles and add them to their library, at which point they can be downloaded by the Audible app. Only Audible.com accounts are supported at this time, with Audible.co.uk, Audible.de and Audible.fr said to be coming soon. Audible is available from the App Store as a free download; an Audible.com account is required and users can sign up for a new account directly from the app.
Nimbuzz has released an update to its instant messaging and voice-over-IP application adding support for background Internet calling on multitasking-capable iOS 4 devices. With Nimbuzz 2.0.1 users of the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and third-generation iPod touch can now receive and answer VoIP calls even when the Nimbuzz app is not actively running in the foreground. Users can also continue to carry on a conversation via Nimbuzz while accessing other apps on their iPhone or iPod touch or access other Nimbuzz features such as IM chat while within the app. Nimbuzz also works seamlessly with background audio applications such as the built-in iPod app, Spotify or Pandroa, automatically muting playback on an incoming call. In addition to its own VoIP network, Nimbuzz also supports Skype and SIP-based VoIP providers. Nimbuzz 2.0.1 is available from the App Store as a free download, however VoIP calls may incur additional charges depending on the network being used.
Mark/Space has updated its advanced iPhone sync utility to support iOS 4 and iTunes 9.2. The Missing Sync provides iPhone users with the ability to sync additional information between their device and their computer beyond that supported by iTunes. With The Missing Sync, users can backup and archive SMS messages, visual voicemail messages, voice memos and call history and organize, view and access them via a set of included desktop applications. The Missing Sync also provides synchronization support for Mark/Space’s Fliq productivity apps, allowing users to sync notes, tasks and documents with their iPhone over a Wi-Fi connection. The Mac version also includes a tool for creating and editing ringtones from any non-protected track in a user’s iTunes library. The Missing Sync is available for Windows and Mac OS X from the developer’s web site for $40.
Posterous has released an update to its utility for posting photos and videos to Posterous.com adding background uploading on multitasking-capable iOS 4 devices and updated graphics for the iPhone 4 Retina Display. PicPosterous allows Posterous users to upload photos and videos to Posterous from the camera or the device’s saved photos library, either creating new albums on Posterous or adding photos to previous albums. Users can also delete photos from albums, geo tag photos and videos during upload, and manage and create multiple sites and albums. Uploaded videos are converted and stored by Posterous in both Flash and QuickTime-compatible formats allowing them to be viewed in a most desktop and mobile browsers. PicPosterous also supports HD-quality videos when recorded from within the app itself; videos selected from the device’s photo library remain limited to VGA quality. New users can create a Posterous album simply by submitting pictures with no account required, or optionally register on Posterous.com to manage multiple sites, create private albums and automatically post updates to other services such as Twitter, Facebook and Flickr. PicPosterous is available from the App Store as a free download.
Navigon has updated its MobileNavigator turn-by-turn navigation applications, adding support for iOS 4 Background Location and Fast App Switching on multitasking-capable devices and several other new features. In addition to multitasking, MobileNavigator 1.6 adds live weather information, directions to parking, voice guidance for pedestrian mode and an enhanced Reality View Pro. The new Live Weather feature updates and reports current weather conditions enroute and at the destination with temperature and weather conditions shown in the route overview screen during navigation. A new Clever Parking feature enables users to display a list of available parking areas near their destination and easily plot a route to a parking spot. Support for iOS 4 Background Location allows MobileNavigator to continue running in the background and providing voice guidance on multitasking-capable devices. MobileNavigator will also automatically shut down background location mode when no route is active or once you’ve reached your destination, avoiding unnecessary power consumption from the GPS hardware. The latest update also adds enhanced graphics for the iPhone 4 Retina Display and includes the latest NAVTEQ map data, while bringing the Navigon MyRegion suite of regional apps up to the same feature level as the main MobileNavigator series; the MyRegion apps have been renamed to MobileNavigator MyRegion to reflect this. MobileNavigator North America is available from the App Store for $50 until July 22 and is a free update for current users. Versions for other countries can be found on Navigon’s App Store page.
Fring has released an update to its iOS voice and video communications app adding support for two-way video calling and multitasking on capable iOS 4 devices. Although Fring added one-way video calling to its iPhone application last December, the lack of a front-facing camera on the earlier iPhone models precluded its use for two-way video conferencing. With the addition of the new front-facing camera on the iPhone 4, Fring users can now engage in bi-directional video calls over either Wi-Fi or 3G from the iPhone 4. As a cross-platform client, users of Fring on the iPhone can also conduct video calls with users on Android and Symbian S60 devices. Users of older iPhone models can also now participate in two-way video calls using the built-in camera, however the absence of the front-facing camera on these devices makes face-to-face video calling less practical. The latest version also adds iOS 4 multitasking support, a new social stream for integrating Twitter, Facebook, chats and call updates in a single view, and a smarter address book for managing the buddy list and contacts. Fring is available from the App Store as a free download.
Update: Our preliminary testing indicates that the two-way video calling works fine on older iPhone models as well, although as noted the feature may be less useful here due to the lack of a front-facing camera. Video and audio quality are noticeably lower than FaceTime, even over a Wi-Fi connection. Further, on the iPhone 4 only the front-facing camera appears to be used with no way of switching to the rear-facing camera as in FaceTime. The main advantages over FaceTime are 3G support and compatibility with older iPhone models and Android and Symbian S60 devices.
iOS developer Ricky Bloomfield, known for his G-Whizz unified Google Apps browser, has released a new mobile app browser for social networking applications. G-Whizz Social provides a single app with tabbed browsers for Google Talk, Google Buzz, Facebook, Twitter and MySpace within a single app. Users can remain logged in to any of these services and effortlessly switch back and forth between them using a menu bar at the bottom of the screen. External links are opened using a built-in quick-view browser and integration with Instapaper and Read It Later allows users to save links from any of their social network services for later reference or repost links via e-mail or Twitter. G-Whizz Social is a universal app for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad and provides full iOS 4 support with Fast App Switching for multitasking-capable devices. G-Whizz Social is available from the App Store for $1.
Developer Kevin Smith has released an iOS text editor for Dropbox users. Droptext is a universal app for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad that allows users to open, edit and save text files directly within their Dropbox account. In addition to standard text files, the application allows users open any file with a text-based mime type, such as HTML files, PHP scripts, and C programming code. Viewing of other non-text-based file types is not supported. Droptext is available from the App Store for $1.
Rogue Amoeba has released an update to Airfoil Speakers Touch adding support for background audio on multitasking capable iOS 4 devices. Airfoil Speakers Touch allows users to stream audio to their iOS device from a Mac or PC on the same Wi-Fi network, effectively allowing the iPhone or iPod touch to act as a set of remote headphones. With the latest update users of the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and third-generation iPod touch can now keep Airfoil Speakers Touch playing audio in the background while using other applications. The update also includes updated graphics for the iPhone 4 Retina Display and several other minor improvements. Airfoil Speakers Touch 1.1 is available from the App Store as a free download. Streaming audio from a PC or Mac requires Airfoil for Mac or Airfoil for Windows to be installed on the host computer.
Demiforce has released an update to its acclaimed Trism puzzle game for the iPhone and iPod touch, adding native iPad support and fixing some iOS 4 related problems. First released in July 2008, Trism was the first Match-3 puzzle game to make use of the iPhone’s accelerometer feature and was a runaway success in its category. Trism 1.5 maintains the same game play and features as the original with five game modes, online scoring and 22 in-game achievements that can be collected. The update fixes stability problems that some users have experienced with iOS 4.0, adds native iPad support and provides code optimizations that should result in improved battery life. Trism 1.5 is available from the App Store for $3 and is a free update for current users.
Apple has released a maintenance update to iMovie for the iPhone 4 addressing several issues with the 1.0 version. iMovie 1.0.1 improves reliability when exporting movies containing photos, resolves issues with music playback within a project and promises additional performance and reliability improvements. iMovie is available from the App Store in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany and Japan for $5 and is a free update for current users.
Web Information Solutions has released an update to its Pocket Information calendar and task manager for the iPhone and iPod touch. The version 1.5 update adds support for iOS 4 background alarms, location and syncing on multitasking-capable devices such as the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPod touch. Local Notifications allow calendar alarms to now be set locally rather than relying on a Push Notification server and Pocket Informant can now take advantage of task completion to finish syncing with online services such as Google Calendar and ToodleDo even after the user has closed the app. The update also provides support for location-based task notifications on the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4. Other improvements include resolution enhancements for the iPhone 4 Retina Display, the ability to associate icons with events and tasks and tap-and-hold context menus in month and week views. The update also improves performance and fixes several bugs from the previous version. Pocket Information 1.5 is available from the App Store for $13 and is a free update for current users.
Apple has released an update to its MobileMe iDisk application, adding iPad support and iOS 4 multitasking capabilities. MobileMe iDisk 1.2 is now a universal app providing native support for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. The update also adds iOS 4 multitasking support for iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and third-generation iPod touch devices with not only Fast App Switching support but also background audio allowing users to stream audio files from their iDisk while using another app. Users can also now open documents from their iDisk directly in compatible third-party applications, send out shared file links using any configured e-mail account or simply copy a shared file URL to the clipboard to paste into another application. The new version also now displays the last file or directory when opening the app and includes various stability improvements over the previous version. Mobile iDisk 1.2 is available from the App Store as a free download.
Groundspeak has released a major update to its Geocaching application for iPhone and iPod touch users. Geocaching 4.0 adds a number of popular user-requested features including a functionally redesigned user interface and Google Maps integration. Users can also take photos with the iPhone camera and submit them with geocache logs, submit logs for Trackable items and view and edit log submissions. It is now also possible for users to view any list of caches on the map and view their inventory of Trackable items. The update also provides improved support for Pocket Query downloads, an online/offline indicator, GPS status and support for setting a Home location within the app. Geocaching 4.0 is ”>available from the App Store for $10 and is a free update for existing users.
Apple has issued a response to reports of iTunes users seeing their accounts hacked and used to purchase certain apps in order to build App Store rankings. “The developer Thuat Nguyen and his apps were removed from the App Store for violating the developer Program License Agreement, including fraudulent purchase patterns,” Apple told Engadget. “Developers do not receive any iTunes confidential customer data when an app is downloaded. If your credit card or iTunes password is stolen and used on iTunes we recommend that you contact your financial institution and inquire about canceling the card and issuing a chargeback for any unauthorized transactions. We also recommend that you change your iTunes account password immediately. For more information on best practices for password security visit http://www.apple.com/support/itunes.” It remains unclear how many accounts were compromised, or how, although it has been suggested that it was a very small percentage of the 100 million active iTunes accounts.
Gowalla has released an update to its social location sharing app for the iPhone and iPod touch, adding support for iOS 4 multitasking and adding new high-resolution graphics for the iPhone 4 Retina Display. iOS 4 improvements include support for Fast App Switching and continuous tracking of nearby spots as well as other improvements in how Gowalla handles location tracking. New users can now sign up for a Gowalla account directly within the app, including the ability to fill in information from the iPhone Address Book and the update also improves the process of connecting to Twitter and Facebook. Gowalla 2.2 is available from the App Store as a free download. A separate iPad version is also available.
Ten One Design has posted a demonstration video showing off the company’s pressure-sensitive software for the iPad. Using the software in a demo sketch application, along with a Pogo Sketch stylus, a Ten One designer is able to vary the line width drawn on the screen by differing the amount of pressure exerted. The video also shows off advanced palm and finger rejection, allowing the application to respond solely to the stylus. While the company says it plans to release these capabilities as a free library that can be included in any application, it admits that the library currently uses a private function call to access the required information, and will require an update to the UIKit framework to allow for widespread distribution. Ten One’s pressure-sensitive drawing video is available for viewing on YouTube and can be seen in embedded form below.
A number of iTunes users are reporting that their accounts have been hacked and used to purchase a select group of applications, boosting the App Store rankings of those titles in the process. The Next Web initially reported that the titles in question were Books applications sold by developer Thuat Nguyen, which have subsequently been removed from the App Store. Upon further inspection and based on more reader reports, the site found that several companies are using hacked accounts to boost sales of their apps across multiple categories. Notably, at least one iLounge editor has seen his account hacked within the last month, although the fraudulent App Store purchases made while the account was compromised were not for apps made by any of the companies named in The Next Web’s report.
It is unclear exactly how the companies in question are acquiring the affected users’ account data, however, Mac Rumors points out that similar iTunes account hackings have been reported on its forums since January 2008, and argues that despite the rise in reports, which may be attributed to the added press coverage, the number of accounts being hacked is actually minuscule compared to the 100 million active iTunes accounts.