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]
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.