Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) has announced that it is doubling its iFund to $200 million of venture capital for iPhone apps. Originally announced in March 2008, the iFund is pool of funds designed to help KPCB find and back budding iPhone developers. According to the company, the entire original $100 million iFind is now fully committed across 14 companies, accounting for more than $100 million in 2010 mobile revenue, more than 100 million aggregate mobile downloads, and 18 titles that reached the Top 10 on the App Store. In addition, iFund-supported companies have more than 20 applications in development for the iPad, 11 of which will be available on April 3: seven games from ngmoco including We Rule, GodFinger and WarpGate, Doodle Buddy and Star Smash from Pinger, textPlus from GOGII, and Shazam from Shazam Entertainment.
Apple has launched a new App Store Facebook page. Developed by social media company Virtue, the new page offers a “Featured” tab of App Store highlights, Top Charts listing the most-downloaded apps, a “Games” tab to showcase featured titles and top-selling games, and a “Search and Share” tab that lets users search for apps—using the App Store API—and share them with their Facebook friends via Wall posts. In addition, each app listing includes a “Get App” button, which will open the app’s iTunes Preview page, and, if iTunes is installed, take the user straight to the related App Store listing. The new App Store Facebook page can be accessed from facebok.com/AppStore. [via Mashable]
TechCrunch reports that Boxcar, developer of the popular Push Notification app of the same name has implemented a new Provider API to allow third-party services to leverage its Push Notification service. Previously Boxcar provided Push Notifications for specific services such as Twitter, Facebook and e-mail as well as a user API for individual users to customize their own Push Notifications from desktop apps such as Growl. The new Provider API allows web sites and other online services to build their own customized Push Notification feeds that can be subscribed to by any Boxcar user. Boxcar plans to allow third-party providers the option of charging for their Push Notifications via a one-time in-app purchase with revenue shared 50/50 between Boxcar and the Provider. Boxcar is available from the App Store as a free download and includes Push Notifications for one service; additional services can be added via in-app purchase for $1 each.
Navigon has released an update to its MobileNavigator suite of applications for the iPhone, adding support for MyRoutes, location sharing via Facebook and Twitter and 3D terrain views. Previously available only on Navigon’s dedicated GPS hardware devices, the MyRoutes feature analyzes users driving habits and patterns based on location and time of day to provide up to three optimal routes tailored to the user with ETA, distance and driving times for each. Social media integration features allow users to post information on their current position, destination and ETA to Facebook and Twitter from directly within the application. The latest update also adds support for Navigon’s new Panorama View 3D feature which provides 3D in-map terrain views with digital landscape elevations and geographic images integrated into the map data. Navigon MobileNavigator North America is available from the App Store for $80 and is a free update for existing Navigon users. MobileNavigator versions for other regions have also been updated and are available separately. The Panorama View 3D is available as an in-app purchase for an additional $10.
MobileAge has released a preview of the iPad version of its popular Shanghai Mahjong for the iPhone and iPod touch. Shanghai Mahjong for iPad will provide new iPad-optimized artwork and 200 new layouts for expanded game play. Users will also be able to download additional custom-designed tileset art and background images from within the app or choose a background from the iPad photo album. The company plans to release the iPad version as a universal app that will run on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. The iPad version will be available as a free update for existing Shanghai Mahjong users. More information and screenshots can be found at the developer’s web site.
Filemaker has announced that it will be launching a version of its popular consumer database application, Bento, for the iPad. Similar in concept to the Bento for iPhone app released last spring, the iPad version of Bento can be used as a standalone app or sync via Wi-Fi with the Mac version of Bento. The new version has been redesigned to take advantage of the larger screen size and UI features offered by the iPad to provide smoother database navigation and a visually appealing presentation of data. The app will ship with a number of database templates to allow users to quickly get started and is expected to be sold as a separate app for the same $5 price tag as the iPhone version. [via Mac Rumors]
Cultured Code has released an update to its popular iPhone task management app, Things. The update adds full support for working in landscape mode and now allows users to search their task list from within the app. Things 1.4 also adds built-in crash reporting functionality and improved stability and addresses multiple bugs from the previous version. Things can be used as a standalone iPhone application or users can sync via Wi-Fi with the Mac version of Things. Things for the iPhone and iPod touch is available from the App Store for $10. Things for Mac is available separately from the Cultured Code web site.
Silvio Rizzi has released a major update to his popular Reeder client for Google Reader. Reeder 2.0 provides significant performance improvements over the previous version as well as support for caching images in feeds for offline viewing and state saving so that users can return to the app and pick up where they left off. The new version also improves syncing speeds and provides the ability to sync shared items, read items, and items from friends for offline viewing. Built-in support for Google Mobilizer and Instapaper Mobilizer is now included as well as the option to open links with Safari or copy them to the clipboard. Reeder 2.0 is available from the App Store for $3 and is a free update for existing users.
A team at Toronto’s University Health Network Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, in partnership with The Hospital for Sick Children and Saint Elizabeth Health Care, has released a new iPhone application designed to simplify diabetes management. Designed initially as a self-management system for adolescents with Type I Diabetes, Bant allows iPhone and iPod touch users to track their blood glucose levels and self-manage their condition. Users can store their recorded data to their Google Health account and share their experience with the diabetes community via Twitter. In an interview with The Care to Know Centre, Dr. Joseph Cafazzo, one of the researchers on the project explained that it began as a study in the “challenges in managing kids with Type 1 Diabetes” and the issue that many teens to do not take their measurements regularly or properly self-manage their condition. Cafazzo indicated that the team wanted to find a way to encourage teens to develop proper self-management skills. They looked at an iPhone app as a solution since “the ubiquitous mobile phone is so central to this demographic’s life ... even as inpatients, teens are never far from their phone.” Cafazzo explains that social networking features were also built in to further engage adolescents and allow them to share their experiences with others like themselves. Cafazzo also notes that the team is working with Apple Canada to arrange for iTunes redemption codes to reward teens who use the app to take their measurements regularly and participate in the community. Bant is available from the App Store as a free download.
iPhone developer KainosAgora has shown a preview of TweetAgora, a unique new Twitter client for the iPhone aimed at improving the signal-to-noise ratio in users’ Twitter streams. TweetAgora provides users with the ability to filter or “mute” tweets in their timeline based on hashtags, sender or conversation, allowing them to hide tweets they may not be interested in without having to unfollow people. Users can also filter their timeline to show only tweets containing photos, links or retweets and create superset lists, or “Agoras,” that contain an aggregated timeline of tweets from other Twitter Lists, people and/or hashtags. The app also provides the ability to display full conversation threads from a selected tweet, including all of the reply branches of a conversation. TweetAgora is currently in closed beta; users can apply to join the beta at [email protected] TweetAgora is scheduled for release to the App Store in mid-April. Pricing has not yet been announced.
Following a report from yesterday indicating that the iBookstore would offer most titles on The New York Times best sellers list for $9.99, App Advice is now reporting that the iBookstore will also feature a vast number of free titles from Project Gutenberg. Project Gutenberg is a volunteer organization that digitizes and catalogs books which have seen their U.S. copyright expire; the Gutenberg website claims to offer over 30,000 ebook titles for free. The report is accompanied by a supposed screenshot of the iBookstore interface, showing several free titles, including Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, both of which are available through Project Gutenberg; the report also notes that while the number of free titles wasn’t counted, it appears the entirety of Gutenberg’s catalog is available. It was previously revealed that the iPad’s iBooks applicaiton would support non-DRM ePub books not downloaded from the iBookstore, however, this is the first evidence of Apple actually offering these books for direct download.
According to the latest data from mobile advertising firm AdMob, the iPod touch is playing a large part in the growth of traffic from mobile Internet devices (MID). The company’s newly-published February Mobile Metrics Report (PDF Link) states that traffic growth from MIDs is outpacing that of smartphones and feature phones, increasing 403% over the last year to account for 17% of AdMob’s traffic in February. The iPod touch is by far the leader in the category, accounting for 93% of this traffic. Likewise, strong growth in iPhone and Android traffic, fueled by heavy application usage, helped boost overall smartphone traffic by 193% year-over-year. Smartphones now account for 48% of AdMob’s worldwide traffic, with the iPhone accounting for 49.5% of that traffic, a figure that’s down 0.9% from January. AdMob’s numbers are based on ad requests for more than 15,000 mobile Web sites and applications worldwide.
37signals, developer of the popular Basecamp and Highrise web-based productivity applications, has released its first iPhone app. Highrise for the iPhone and iPod touch is designed to allow users to access their contacts, notes, e-mails and tasks from Highrise while on the go; deals and cases are not yet supported in the current version. The application downloads and syncs Highrise information directly to the device so that users can access their contacts and notes more quickly and without requiring an active data connection. Highrise uses its own local contact database rather than the iPhone’s contacts, allowing users to keep their Highrise CRM data separate from their personal address book. Users can also record and attach voice notes to contacts, which are automatically synchronized back to the Highrise server, and view any other attachments that are natively supported by the iPhone OS. Noting that the initial download of Highrise information to the iPhone may take some time, 37signals also provides a simple tic-tac-toe game for users to play while waiting for the download to complete. Highrise is available from the App Store as a free download and requires a Highrise account. More details on the app can be found at the 37signals blog.
Apple may be planning to match Amazon’s $9.99 pricing on books featured in the New York Time’s Best Sellers lists, according to a new report. Citing a first-hand preview of the iBookstore, App Advice reports that 27 of the 32 books featured in the NYT Best Seller section were priced at $9.99, matching the pricing of Amazon.com’s Kindle bookstore. Notably, the number four best seller was missing from the list entirely, perhaps because Apple has not yet secured a deal with the book’s publisher; among the titles not priced at $9.99, the most expensive was $12.99. In addition, one book—The Help by Kathryn Stockett—was also featured on the screen during Apple’s iPad special event, and at that time was listed at $7.99, while most of the other titles were priced at $10.99 or higher. Curiously, the report closely follows a separate article citing pricing concerns as the reason why Random House, the world’s largest book publisher by sales, has yet to sign a deal with Apple to offer its titles on the iBookstore.
Random House, the world’s largest book publisher by sales, has yet to sign a deal with Apple to sell its books in the upcoming iBookstore over fears of the effect Apple’s pricing strategy could have on the pricing of electronic books. The Financial Times reports that Random House CEO Markus Dohle is not ruling out the possibility of reaching a deal with Apple before the iPad goes on sale April 3, but is moving carefully because of pricing concerns. Dohle said the new model poses “changes, in particular for our stakeholders,” that require the publisher to consult with its authors and agents before moving ahead with the deal. Hartmut Ostrowski, CEO of Random House’s parent company Bertelsmann, acknowledged the importance of the iPad and other electronic book readers in a recent press conference, stating that they are influencing the media sector “like nothing else.”
Marco Arment has released details on the upcoming iPad version of his popular Instapaper offline reading app. In a blog post on his site, Arment confirms that Instapaper is coming to the iPad “possibly even on day one.” The new design is described as very similar to Instapaper Pro with “slight interface tweaks and redesigns where appropriate.” The most significant visual changes have been made to the landscape view with the folders now appearing in a sidebar to the left of the main content listing. Arment mentions that he had originally planned to wait to release a native version of Instapaper until he actually had an iPad available to work with, however after seeing the pixel-doubled iPhone version in the iPad simulator he found it “completely unusable.” As a result he decided that a native iPad version was necessary sooner rather than later. Arment also plans to make Instapaper Pro a universal iPhone and iPad application as he doesn’t “want anyone subjecting themselves to the iPhone edition in pixel-doubled mode.” The universal version will be a free upgrade for existing Instapaper Pro users and will allow new users to use a single app on either the iPhone or iPad without having to purchase separate versions. Arment indicates that he plans to “experiment with more radical interface changes in the future” once he’s actually used an iPad, but he felt that having an iPad-native Instapaper app available at launch was more important than waiting to perfect the app. Additional details and screenshots can be found at the Instapaper Blog.
CNET reports that Opera has now submitted its Opera Mini web browser for the iPhone to Apple for App Store approval. First previewed at the Mobile World Congress, Opera Mini is designed to be used as an alternative to the iPhone’s built in Safari browser and promises faster page loading due to server-side optimization and a tabbed browser interface. CNET indicates that Opera Mini 5 running on the iPhone looks and behaves “almost identically” to the version of Opera Mini 5 on other mobile devices but also includes the ability to reload the previous session to maintain a persistent state when relaunched. Unlike other alternative browsers currently available on the App Store, Opera Mini is not based on WebKit, and there has been much speculation as to whether Apple will approve it. Third-party browsers have previously fallen afoul of Apple’s restriction on third-party applications executing code, however in discussing the matter with CNET, Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner indicated that he doesn’t feel that Opera Mini directly violates anything in Apple’s SDK license as it merely displays web pages rendered on Opera’s own proxy servers.
The iPhone OS has overtaken Sony’s Playstation Portable in terms of U.S. portable game software revenue, according to a new report from Flurry Analytics. Using publicly available market data from NPD, estimated Nintendo DS and Sony PSP game software sales, and iPhone games sales estimated using a combination of data from both Apple and the company’s own app-tracking analytics service, the iPhone OS as a platform increased its share of U.S. portable game software revenue from 5% in 2008 to 19% in 2009. In the same time period, the Nintendo DS’ revenue share fell from 75% to 70%, and the PSP’s share fell from 20% to 11%, leaving it behind the iPhone OS. Apple’s overall share of U.S video game software revenue, which includes revenue from console software sales, increased from 1% in 2008 to 5% in 2009; Flurry speculates that the launch of the iPad could lead to more increases for the iPhone OS platform. “With the iPad featuring a larger screen and more processing power, games on the tablet take a step closer to PC and console gaming,” the report states. “Unless the other major video game platform providers (i.e., Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft) respond accordingly, Apple could continue to roll up video game market share.”
Following its launch of the “Gift This App” feature on the App Store, Apple has updated its iTunes Store Terms & Conditions to add a section to the document covering gifts. Specifically, the new section explains “the conditions under which Apps can be gifted, including an explanation that Gifts may not be used for in-app purchases, in-app subscriptions, upgrades, or the iPod touch OS,” and “that some gifts require compatible hardware and parental control settings so they can be redeemed.” Notably, the Gift this App feature is also available on the Canadian App Store, despite the continuing restrictions on purchasing applications with gift cards, which leave users lacking personal credit cards, or family members willing to offer theirs, without any reasonable way of purchasing apps from the App Store.
Perseus Books Group, the largest distributor of independent publishers, has signed a deal with Apple to offer its books on Apple’s upcoming iBookstore. The New York Times reports that Perseus is a large independent publisher itself, but also distributes works from 330 smaller companies including Grove Atlantic, Harvard Business School Press, Zagat and City Lights Books. “We’re working with Apple to make books from The Perseus Books Group and the independent publishers we represent available on the iBookstore starting on April 3,” David Steinberger, CEO of Perseus, told the NYT. “As the leading provider of distribution services for independent publishers, including digital distribution through our Constellation digital service, Perseus is thrilled to be making our books available on the iPad.”
Update: Apple has also signed a deal with independent publisher Workman Publishing Company, responsible for the “What to Expect” series, novels like “Water for Elephants” and the Silver Palate cookbooks, to offer its books on the iBookstore.