Skype Software has launched a major update to its popular Skype application for the iPhone and iPod touch, introducing the ability for users to place VoIP calls over the cellular 3G network. Although Skype-to-Skype calls over Wi-Fi will remain free, Skype has indicated plans to charge a “small monthly fee” for placing Skype-to-Skype calls over the 3G network, suggesting that 3G calling will be based on a subscription service, rather than the per-minute system currently in place for Skype-to-phone calls. These fees would be in addition to data charges already levied by the user’s carrier. Skype plans to introduce this new fee structure in 2011, and will be providing free 3G Skype-to-Skype calling until that time. The new version also implements a new codec providing “near CD-quality sound” for Skype-to-Skype calls on iPhone 3GS, iPad and second- and third-generation iPod touch devices. Other improvements include an enhanced call quality indicator, improved start-up time, and faster access to the dial pad from the iPhone home screen. Skype is available from the App Store as a free download.
Apple has posted an online application for authors looking to publish and sell their own works on the iBookstore. A new page on Apple’s iTunes Connect developer/media portal reveals the technical requirements for distributing content on the iBookstore, including an Intel-based Mac running OS X 10.5 or later, at least 1GB of RAM, QuickTime 7.0.3 or later, at least 10GB of available hard drive space, and a broadband Internet connection. Book content needs to have an ISBN number for each title intended for distribution, and be submitted in the EPUB format, capable of passing Epubcheck 1.0.5. Finally, publishers will need a U.S. Tax ID and a valid iTunes Store account. The page also notes that Apple does not pay partners until they have reached certain payment requirements and earnings thresholds in each territory, and suggests that certain authors may receive payments faster by working with an Apple-approved aggregator. [via Mac|Life]
Apple is now allowing Canadian iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad users to purchase apps using iTunes Gift Cards. Citing reader reports, iPhone in Canada notes that prior to this week, Canadian iTunes Gift Cards could only be used to purchase movies, videos, and music from the iTunes Store; the cards are sold in $15, $25, $50, and $100 dominations. The report states that Apple has yet to update its support pages relating to the topic.
Apple has started bringing its iPad-based App Store online in the nine countries in which the device will launch next week. iPad users in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK should now be able to access their local App Stores through their device by logging in with their home-country iTunes accounts. Notably, this early rollout has not yet extended to iTunes on the desktop, so only those who imported an iPad early will be able to visit the new stores. Engadget notes that the stores seem “a bit unstable” as things are being brought online; Apple will launch the iPad in all nine countries listed above on May 28.
Beejive has released an iPad version of its BeejiveIM instant messaging application. A popular IM option for iPhone users, the iPad version includes all of the same features and a redesigned interface for the iPad. BeejiveIM is a multi-platform instant messaging client, supporting connections to AIM/MobileMe, MSN/Windows Live, Yahoo, Google Talk, Facebook, MySpae, ICQ and Jabber. The application provides offline messaging via Push Notifications, persistent conversations, support for direct file transfers, SMS support for AIM and Yahoo users, and emoticon support. The iPad version also fully supports both landscape and portrait orientation and use with external keyboards. BeeJiveIM for iPad is currently available from the App Store for $6 as a special introductory price.
Netflix has released a new update to its popular movie streaming application for the iPad. Netflix 1.0.2 now allows users to output their Netflix movies from the iPad to a TV or monitor via VGA, component or composite output cables. The Netflix app provides iPad users with access to instantly rent and watch TV shows and movies from Netflix, access existing rented content from their library and manage their Netflix Queue. The Netflix app is available from the U.S. App Store as a free download and requires a Netflix membership to use.
Twitter has released the official Twitter client for the iPhone and iPod touch. Early last month Twitter announced that it had acquired the popular Tweetie app in order to develop it into an official Twitter client for the iPhone platform, with developer Lorne Brichter joining Twitter to continue developing the application under the official company banner. Twitter for the iPhone is essentially a direct update of Tweetie and retains most of the same interface design and functionality while adding a few new features to bring the user experience more in line with Twitter.com features. New features include a reorganized search that combines tweets and users, display of Top Tweets and Suggested users, the ability to sign up for Twitter from within the application and add additional accounts and more actions such as Retweet on the main actions bar. Twitter is available from the App Store for new users as a free download; existing Tweetie users will receive the new app as an update to Tweetie. An iPad version is also under development.
In an atypically lengthy email exchange with Valleywag editor Ryan Tate, Apple CEO Steve Jobs made several comments explaining and defending his company’s stance relating to third-party iPhone OS development. Tate, incensed by Apple’s latest iPad commercial, wrote Jobs asking whether a 20-year-old Bob Dylan—often cited as an inspiration for Jobs—would think the iPad had anything to do with a “revolution,” stating that “[r]evolutions are about freedom.” Jobs responded positively, saying it represents freedom from “programs that steal your private data” and “trash your battery” and “[f]reedom from porn.” Quoting Dylan, Jobs added, “The times they are a changin’, and some traditional PC folks feel like their world is slipping away. It is.”
When Tate commented that he’d “rather have a Wired magazine app that offers interactivity [referencing the mag’s demo app built on Adobe Air] than one that is a glorified PDF,” Jobs responded that “Wired is doing a native Cocoa app,” as is “almost every publisher.” Tate then argued that they were only making native Cocoa apps because they have to, to which Jobs replied that “they don’t have to. They don’t need to publish on the iPad if they don’t want to. No one is forcing them. But it appears they DO want to.” He continued, “The magazine apps will be far better in the end because they are written native. We’ve seen this movie before.” After another round of replies from Tate, Jobs summed up in his final email, “we’re just doing what we can to try and make (and preserve) the user experience we envision. You can disagree with us, but our motives are pure.”
The Iconfactory has released an update to its popular iPad Twitter client. Twitterrific for iPad 1.1 adds support for picture and video uploading via yFrog, TwitPic, Posterous, Twitgoo, img.ly or a custom image upload service. The new version also now displays images from img.ly and Tweetphoto services in a popover window, uses OAuth for Twitter authentication and supports replying to all users. The update further provides a number of other minor improvements and bug fixes, including an increased number of API calls per hour, better parsing of URLs and links containing special characters, correct reporting of new tweets and better handling of multiple popover windows. Twitterrific for iPad is available from the App Store as a free, ad-supported application; a $5 in-app “Premium” upgrade is available to remove the ads and provide multiple account support.
Apple has released updates to its iWork suite of applications for the iPad. The updates generally improve performance and reliability across all three applications and improve compatibility with importing and exporting Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents in their respective applications. The updates also add support for French, German, Japanese, Dutch, Italian, Russian, Simplified Chinese and Spanish. Pages 1.1 now displays the toolbar and ruler and automatically fits documents to the page width when working in landscape orientation. Numbers 1.1 improves reliability when importing Numbers ‘09 spreadsheets and improves compatibility with pasting information in from Keynote and Pages. Keynote 1.1 now provides an option to show additional alignment guides at smaller intervals when moving items and improves reliability with Keynote ‘09 and Microsoft Powerpoint presentations. All three iWork applications remain available on the U.S. App Store only at this time, are priced at $10 each and are a free update for existing users.
Firemint has released an update to its popular Flight Control game for the iPod and iPod touch. Flight Control 1.7 adds several new enhancements originally introduced in Flight Control HD for the iPad, including a windy airfield for additional challenges in landing planes, updated high quality graphics and added map detail, and a new “safe” fast forward option that slows the game down during collision warnings. The update also improves performance, offers better configuration of music and sound settings, and includes a longer version of the classic Flight Control theme song. Flight Control is available from the App Store for $1 and is a free update for existing users.
Tapbots has released an update to its Pastebot clipboard management app for the iPhone. Pastebot 1.2 adds support for synchronizing clipboard content with multiple iPhone OS devices from a single Mac desktop. Prior to this update, Pastebot could be installed on multiple devices, and a single instance of Pastebot could be associated with more than one Mac, however each Mac could only be linked to a single device. As of version 1.2, items copied to the Mac clipboard are automatically synced to all connected devices and clipboard items can also now be shared directly between devices running Pastebot on the same local network. The application icon has also been updated in version 1.2 due to trademark issues noted by the developer in a post on the company’s blog. Pastebot is available from the App Store for $3 and is a free update for existing users. The free Pastebot Sync application has also been updated to v1.2 and is required for syncing clipboard content with a Mac.
Apple will be rolling out its iBooks app and iBookstore internationally alongside the iPad’s launch on Friday, May 28. Press releases from the UK, Australia, Canada, and Japan indicate that the iBooks app for iPad, including the iBookstore, will be available as a free download from the App Store on May 28; as with pricing, Apple has yet to update the press websites of many of the other countries slated to launch the iPad on that day. We will be updating this story with further details as they become available.
Update: Apple has confirmed that both Italy and Spain will also be getting iBooks and the iBookstore on May 28.
Update x2: France has also been confirmed to receive iBooks and the iBookstore on May 28.
Update x3 Germany is now confirmed for the May 28 iBooks launch as well.
Apple’s 2010 Worldwide Developers Conference has sold out in only eight days, according to an update on the event’s dedicated website. Dates for the conference, to be held June 7-11 in its traditional venue of Moscone West in San Francisco, CA, were announced on April 28; John Gruber of Daring Fireball notes that last year’s event took a month to sell out, despite the fact that it included a number of Mac OS X and IT sessions that are not being offered at this year’s WWDC. In addition to providing developer sessions, Apple has for the past three years used the event’s keynote address as a venue for iPhone-related announcements, revealing the launch date for the original iPhone in 2007, introducing the iPhone 3G at the 2008 event, and unveiling the iPhone 3GS in 2009.
New Zealand-based iPhone developer David Frampton has posted an image to his Flickr account depicting a new way for iPhone app icons to be displayed on the iPad. Instead of the current model, under which the iPhone applications’ 57x57 icons are upscaled to the higher 72x72 resolution of iPad app icons and displayed alongside, Frampton suggests Apple use black borders around the 57x57 icon to denote the application as a lower-resolution iPhone app, which also serves to remind the user that the app itself will run either in the center of the screen with black surrounds or in 2x scaled mode. Notably, Frampton is the developer behind Majic Jungle Software, the same company that recently posted a proof-of-concept video showing the upcoming game Chopper 2 being run on and output from an iPad to an HDTV while a separate iPhone is used as a controller.
Gameloft has released a new preview of its upcoming game Hero Sparta II for the iPhone and iPod touch. The preview, which can be viewed on YouTube includes the full opening cinematic trailer from the game as well as the first in-game images to be released. First announced last month, Hero of Sparta II will be a sequel to Gameloft’s highly-acclaimed Hero of Sparta. Few additional details have yet been announced beyond the preview, and no mention has yet been made of an iPad version; the initial release is expected to be for the iPhone and iPod touch only. Hero of Sparta II will be demonstrated tonight at Gameloft’s 10th Anniversary Party in Paris and is expected to be released later this year.
iPhone Developer Ricky Bloomfield has released G-Whizz, a new universal application that provides users with a single, convenient point of access to Google’s mobile web applications. Essentially a multi-tabbed browser with each tab pre-defined for a different Google service, G-Whizz allows users to log in once to their Google Account and then easily switch between screens to access their favorite Google applications. The application also provides an unread count badge for Gmail, automatic detection of e-mail links and links to other Google services, and pop-up browser windows for opening external links. Google Apps accounts are also supported for Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Docs while still using a normal Google Account for other services such as Google Reader. Eighteen different Google services are supported, including Gmail, Reader, Calendar, Search, Docs, Voice, Talk, Buzz, Picasa, News, YouTube and more and users can customize the button arrangement for their most commonly-used services. G-Whizz is available from the App Store for $3.
DDH Software has released a native iPad version of its popular HanDBase database application. Specifically redesigned to take advantage of native iPad features, HanDBase for iPad provides split screen views, popovers and enhanced editing capabilities. Users of the iPad version can also open and sync database files from other applications such as the iPad Mail app and backup and install databases via iTunes File Sharing. The iPad version also provides a “Desktop Connect” feature that allows users to access their databases on the iPad through any browser via Wi-Fi in order to load or save database files and import and export CSV files. As with other versions of HanDBase, iPad users can also create and edit fully relational databaes, browse the HanDBase Gallery of database designs, email records and databases to other users and take advantage of advanced features such as custom views, filters, sorting, reports with graphs and charting and advanced searches. HanDBase for iPad is available from the App Store for $10.
Apple has released the third version of iPhone OS 4 and its accompanying Software Development Kit (SDK) for the iPhone and iPod touch. As with prior beta releases, a main Xcode and SDK beta is available for download, as are pre-release builds of the iPhone OS 4 software for the iPhone 3G and 3GS, and the second- and third-generation iPod touch. Changes made in the latest beta have yet to be revealed. Both the new SDK and pre-release builds are available now for download by registered iPhone developers from the iPhone Dev Center.
ABC’s announced update to its ABC Player app for the iPad is now available. In addition to allowing video content to be streamed over a 3G data connection, the update also supports landscape orientation in all views and proper handling of the iPad’s orientation lock. Other improvements include more responsive player controls, better display of parental ratings and other bug fixes and stability enhancements. iLounge editors who have tested the update report impressive video quality over the 3G network with smooth playback and almost no pre-buffering time. The ABC Player service remains available to U.S. users only and is a free download from the U.S. App Store.