Vlingo has released a major update to its voice recognition application for the iPhone. Initially released in late 2008, Vlingo was one of the first voice-powered iPhone apps to allow users to initiate calls, search the web and Google Maps and compose Facebook and Twitter status updates using voice commands. Vlingo 2.0 adds support for dictating and sending e-mail and SMS messages by voice and a completely redesigned user interface to improve ease of use. Searching, updating Facebook and Twitter status and placing calls from the iPhone contact list remain free, however the new features for sending e-mail and SMS messages require an in-app purchase of $7 for one service, or $10 for both. Vlingo 2.0 requires an iPhone running OS 3.1.2 or later and is available on the App Store as a free download.
iPhone developer Alberto Garcia Hierro has released Buzzie, a native iPhone app for accessing Google’s new Google Buzz service. Buzzie allows iPhone and iPod touch users to post public or private Buzz messages, view messages from other Buzz users and comment on messages and mark them as liked. Users can also browse links and images attached to messages, manage followers, find new people to follow and view nearby places and related Buzz messages. Buzzie is available from the App Store at an introductory price of $2.
Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corp, has confirmed that an iPad application for the Wall Street Journal is presently under development. This follows a report that Apple CEO Steve Jobs had visited the Wall Street Journal last month to provide a personal demonstration of the iPad. According to Murdoch, WSJ developers have been given access to a pre-release iPad for development purposes but that the device is “kept under padlock and key” by an Apple employee. The iPad WSJ app is expected to expand upon the publication’s existing iPhone app to take better advantage of the larger screen on the iPad. [via TUAW]
MLB.com has released the 2010 season edition of its popular sports app. MLB.com At Bat 2010 allows iPhone and iPod touch users to watch or listen to Major League Baseball games live on their device, view up to the minute scores and player stats and watch in-game highlights and condensed games. The 2010 edition introduces several new features including Spring Training statistics, breaking news, schedules, rosters, player stats and a searchable video library. The application also provides support for push notifications and background audio playback. MLB.com At Bat 2010 is available on the App Store for $15. A free Lite version is also available which provides scores, schedule, news and standings information only.
FreshDirect, a leading online grocer in New York City, has released a new application to allow FreshDirect users to place grocery orders directly from their iPhone or iPod touch. Developed by digital firm Schematic, the application is designed to deliver the same functionality as the FreshDirect web site, allowing users to create, submit, and update orders and schedule and update delivery times right from their device. Users can search the FreshDirect store for items, shop from their previous orders or favorites and see product recommendations based on past orders. In-progress orders can be saved and resumed allowing users to build their grocery lists on the go and place them later. The application is also integrated with the FreshDirect web service so orders started on the iPhone can be completed on the web site or vice-versa. The FreshDirect application is available on the U.S. App Store as a free download.
In honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday and NEA’s Read Across America Day, Oceanhouse Media has dropped the price of its Dr. Seuss iPhone and iPod touch applications to $1 for today only. The licensed developer of Dr. Seuss applications for the iPhone platform, Oceanhouse Media currently offers six interactive eBooks, games and activity applications including titles such as The Cat in the Hat, How The Grinch Stole Christmas and Dr. Seuss Camera. Oceanhouse Media’s Dr. Seuss applications are available on the App Store.
Gameloft has released an iPhone version of the highly-acclaimed console game Rayman 2: The Great Escape. Rayman 2 is a 3D-rendered platform game where the player must travel through a sequence of levels, fighting enemies, solving puzzles and collecting lums in search of four magical masks that will save the world from evil robot pirates from outer space. The game features 45 environments fully rendered in 3D through which the player must control Rayman as he runs, climbs, swims, water-skis and flies. Rayman 2: The Great Escape is available on the App Store for $7.
Starbucks has released its myStarbucks iPhone application in the Canadian and UK App Stores. Previously released only in the U.S. myStarbucks allows iPhone and iPod touch users to locate nearby Starbucks stores, browse the menu and create and share their favorite Starbucks beverages. The original U.S. version of the application has also been updated to provide more detailed information on Canadian and UK Starbucks locations for users travelling in those countries. The companion Starbucks Card management iPhone application, Starbucks Card Mobile, remains available in the U.S. only at this time. myStarbucks Canada and myStarbucks UK are available from their respective App Stores as free downloads.
According to a recent report from Hacking Netflix, several Netflix users have received a survey suggesting that an iPhone streaming application may be in development. The survey describes a hypothetical iPhone app that would allow Netflix members to stream movies and TV show episodes over Wi-Fi at no additional fee and with no advertisements or trailers. The proposed application would also include the ability to fast-forward, rewind, pause and watch content again. Last fall Netflix CEO Reed Hastings told Reuters that an iPhone application is “likely to come over time” but that the company was not yet focusing on mobile solutions. Netflix has previously used surveys like this prior to releasing support for other platforms such as the PS3 and Wii. [via TechCrunch]
Marco Arment has released a major update to his popular Instapaper Pro offline reading application. Instapaper Pro 2.2 adds an in-app browser for opening links and graphical pages and the ability to scroll by page and share selected text or look it up in a dictionary. The update also provides several UI improvements such as partially-read indicators for articles, landscape view for the article list, and the ability to delete items from the archive folder. Version 2.2 also removes the full offline graphical mode, replacing it with a unified and faster text mode that includes in-article images without having to download the entire page. Instapaper Pro is available from the App Store for $5 and is a free update for existing users.
Ngmoco has launched its latest game, We Rule as an initial release on the Canadian App Store. This follows the same strategy the company has used with other recent games to ensure that its Plus+ network is working properly and stable prior to releasing the game to a larger audience. We Rule is an empire-building game where players direct their citizens to grow crops, construct buildings and work at other tasks to develop their estate’s infrastructure and transform a humble castle into a sprawling kingdom. Users can invite their friends through the Plus+ network to develop their realms together and visit each other’s kingdoms. As with other recent ngmoco releases, We Rule is a free download and generates revenue through in-app purchases. We Rule is currently available on the Canadian App Store. Ngmoco has not yet announced when the game will be released in other countries. [via Touch Arcade]
Nuance, makers of the popular Dragon Dictation application, announced today that it plans to release three new iPhone applications for medical professionals: Dragon Medical Mobile Dictation, Dragon Medical Mobile Search and Dragon Medical Mobile Recorder. These applications build on the technologies in Nuance’s consumer Dragon Dictation and Dragon Search applications to allow physicians, nurses and other healthcare workers to access clinical information and document patient encounters while on the go. A Medical Mobile SDK is also planned to allow developers to build solutions that can interface with the Dragon Medical Mobile applications. Nuance will be previewing the new applications this week at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMMS) conference. No specific release date or pricing has yet been announced. [via TUAW]
Ubisoft has released a multiplayer version of its popular Assassin’s Creed II game exclusively for the iPhone and iPod touch. The multiplayer version of the game allows players to compete with up to three other player-controlled assassins over a Wi-Fi connection. The goal for each player is to hunt down the other players and assassinate them by using stealth and hiding in amongst non-player characters. The game provides three different playing environments from Assassin’s Creed II, six different power-ups, online leaderboards and an integrated friends system for challenging other players. As part of a 48-hour launch promotion, Assassin’s Creed II: Multiplayer is currently free on the App Store. The normal price is $3.
The Associated Press has announced that it plans to develop a native iPad application for accessing AP news content as part of an initiative to create new experiences for consuming news on various mobile devices. To facilitate this The Associated Press has created a new strategic business unit, AP Gateway that will be responsible for developing new business opportunities for multimedia news. Speaking with the Colorado Press Association, Tom Curley, president and CEO of The Associated Press indicated that their new AP Gateway unit will “allow the news industry to deliver the news directly to the consumer in a variety of exciting new ways.” The AP Gateway unit builds upon the company’s existing AP Mobile application with a goal of creating user experiences that are tailored to specific target devices such as the iPad, rather than simply displaying generic content. A release date and price for the iPad application has not yet been announced. [via Mac Rumors]
Riptide Games has released Rehearsal, a new application designed to help actors with their scripts. Developed in collaboration with actor David H. Lawrence XVII of Heroes and LOST fame, Rehearsal allows actors to view and practice scripts on an iPhone or iPod touch. Actors can take electronic scripts in PDF or Word document forms and e-mail them to their devices for review and practice, highlighting lines and adding text, audio, photo or video comments. Users can “blackout” their lines to practice remembering them and record multiple versions of their readings for later review and playback. Individual recordings can be sent out via e-mail in MP3 format, suitable for auditioning or voice over work. Rehearsal is available on the App Store as a free download and allows the user to work with up to three of their own scripts; additional scripts are sold as in-app purchases for $2 each, with monthly and annual subscriptions also available. An iPad version is also planned.
At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week mobile app analytics startup Distimo presented a report with some comparisons on the relative size of the iPhone App Store and the popularity of different categories of applications. Distimo reports that games presently make up 58 percent of the applications on the App Store and breaks this down further by price, category and top sellers. According to the report, the Puzzles category is the largest, consisting of 15 percent of the games on the App Store, with the Action and Arcade categories in second place at 11 percent each. The categories with the fewest titles are Casino, Dice, Music, Racing and Role Playing, with each of these categories making up less than 2 percent of the total number of games.
The Distimo report indicates that the average price of a paid game in the App Store is $2.24, with the most expensive games being found in the Role Playing category at an average price of $7.96. The least expensive games are in the Action and Arcade categories with average prices of $1.68 and $1.39 respectively. By comparison, Distimo reports that 22 percent of the top grossing games are found in the Action category, with 12 percent in the Arcade category and 9 percent in the Adventure category. The report also notes that even though it has the most expensive games on average, the Role Playing category represents only 5 percent of the top grossing games, and the largest single category of games on the App Store, Puzzles, only accounts for 6 percent of the top-grossing applications. The full report can be downloaded from Distimo (free registration required). [via TechCrunch]
Adobe has released a new iPhone application for its Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro enterprise web conferencing solution. Connect Pro Mobile allows iPhone users to watch and listen to live presentations including real-time meeting webcam video and screen sharing demonstrations. Mobile users can see a list of other meeting participants and collaborate directly with others using live text chat. Connect Pro Mobile was built using Flash Professional CS5 beta and published as a native iPhone application using Adobe’s Packager for iPhone demonstrated last October. This marks the first Adobe-authored application to use this technology. Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro Mobile is available on the App Store as a free download.
According to a survey published in mobile advertising firm AdMob’s January Mobile Metrics Report (PDF Link), iPod touch users download more apps and spend more time using apps than iPhone or Android users. The report states that iPod touch users download an average of 12 apps per month, 37% more than iPhone and Android users, and spend an average of 100 minutes a day using apps, 25% more time than iPhone and Android users. iPod touch users are also younger on average than users of other platforms and devices, with 78% of iPod touch users surveyed below the age of 25, compared to 25% of iPhone users and 24% of Android and webOS users. According to the survey, 16% of iPhone users said they intend to purchase an iPad, compared to 11% of webOS users and only 6% of Android users; a similar percentage of Android users were instead interested in the Amazon Kindle. Finally, 91% of iPhone users and 88% of iPod touch users would recommend their device, compared to 84% of Android users and 69% of webOS users. AdMob’s January survey included 963 respondents across all of the platforms.
Square Enix has released iPhone and iPod touch versions of the first two games in its highly acclaimed Final Fantasy series. Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II are role-playing adventure games where players guide a party of four characters around a magical world, battling creatures, meeting other characters and performing quests. The iPhone and iPod touch versions use a graphical style similar to the later PSP versions and both games include the bonus dungeons first found in the 2004 Dawn of Souls release. Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II are available separately from the App Store; each game sells for $9.
A team of programmers at NASA have developed an application for studying the sun in a three-dimensional view. Led by Dr. Tony Phillips, editor of Science@NASA, the 3D Sun application allows users to see a live view of the sun using images downloaded from NASA’s Solar-Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) satellites. Users can rotate the view of the star and zoom in on active regions using the touch screen. News items provide information on significant solar events with associated 3D views, images or movies accompanying each news bulletin. Users can also be notified of major events such as solar flares via push notifications. In addition to the 3D views of the sun the application also provides regularly updated movies and image galleries. 3D Sun is available on the App Store as a free download.