Opera reports that its alternative mobile browser for the iPhone, Opera Mini, has been approved by Apple. First previewed at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February, Opera Mini for the iPhone is intended to provide an alternative to the iPhone’s native Safari browser, promising significantly faster browsing speeds due to data compression on Opera’s servers. Opera Mini was submitted to Apple in March amidst much speculation as to whether it would be approved by Apple due to past restrictions placed on third-party browsers and other applications which duplicated existing iPhone functionality or executed third-party code on the device. While Apple has been approving other mobile browsers for the iPhone for over a year, Opera Mini is the first iPhone browser that does not use Apple’s WebKit engine. Opera Mini will be a free download and is expected to be available on the App Store within the next 24 hours.
Update: Opera Mini is now available from the App Store as a free download.
We’ve just finished updating our iPhone OS 4 app breakdown article with tons of new screenshots showing off the major accessibility changes in the new software. Notably, iPhone OS 4 offers a new feature called Large Text, which lets users radically increase the size of text in alerts, Calendar, Contacts, Mail, Messages, and Notes, as well as support for Braille device connection, found in the VoiceOver menu. Also found in the VoiceOver settings is support for VoiceOver Phonetics and Pitch Change, which are new to the iPhone and iPod touch but were previously found on the iPad. For more on these and other changes coming in iPhone OS 4, see our full article.
AppStar Games, the new game publisher recently founded by acclaimed game designers David Crane and Garry Kitchen has released its first game title. Released initially for the iPad platform only, The Iron Horse is a railroad-themed game where players must build trains by tapping the screen to connect cars as they line up. The game speeds up as the player progresses and higher point values are earned for more accurate timing in connecting train cars. The game includes cinematic widescreen graphics of the Americana landscape and numerous classic train designs. The Iron Horse is available from the App Store for $2 for the iPad; an iPhone and iPod touch version is coming soon.
A change in the iPhone developer SDK terms has caused an uproar among some developers, including one who received a response on the matter from Apple CEO Steve Jobs. At issue is section 3.3.1, which includes a statement that “[a]pplications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited.” Although there are several products that offer such a solution, this new language most notably blocks apps developed using Adobe’s Packager for iPhone, which allows developers to create cross-platform applications using Flash Professional CS5.
After explaining his disagreement to the change, developer Greg Slepak emailed Jobs, stating that there had yet to be “a single positive reaction [to the change], even from John Gruber, your biggest fan,” and adding that the iPhone’s “SDK TOS are growing on it like an invisible cancer.” Jobs responded, pointing Slepak to a post by Gruber that Jobs said “is very insightful and not negative.” Following a second email from Slepak that claimed Gruber was wrong and that Apple is in effect “limiting creativity itself,” Jobs again responded, stating simply, “[w]e’ve been there before, and intermediate layers between the platform and the developer ultimately produces sub-standard apps and hinders the progress of the platform.”
Twitter CEO Evan Williams announced earlier tonight that Twitter has “entered into an agreement with Atebits (aka Loren Brichter) to acquire Tweetie.” Williams noted that the decision was made to enable people to easily access Twitter from their iPhone and that “careful analysis of the Twitter user experience in the iTunes App Store revealed massive room for improvement.” Twitter plans to rename the app “Twitter for iPhone” and offer it for free as the official Twitter application for the iPhone platform. Loren Brichter, developer of Tweetie, will join Twitter’s mobile team to support the continuing development of Twitter for iPhone and a future Twitter for iPad application. In his own blog, Brichter describes his work on Tweetie as having been “an amazing ride” and mentions that he is really looking forward to working with Twitter to simplify the Twitter experience and create the next generation of mobile clients. [via TUAW]
Laminar Research has released an iPad version of its acclaimed X-Plane application. X-Plane for iPad combines many of the features of the X-Plane series of iPhone apps into a single application; the iPad version includes all 9 regions and 13 aircraft from the existing iPhone applications with 12 more regions and 27 more aircraft listed as “Coming Soon.” Users can choose to fly a wide range of different aircraft types including a Cessna 172, Boeing 747, F-22, ASK21 glider, Blackhawk Helicopter or even a Space Shuttle. Due to the larger iPad screen and more powerful CPU on the iPad, X-Plane can now display a full virtual cockpit view and more detailed, higher-resolution aircraft textures and terrain, including 3D buildings. Virtual cockpit interfaces also provide more detailed and completely interactive controls. X-Plane for iPad is available from the App Store for $10.
Screenshots showing off the new developer preview build of iPhone OS 4.0 have begun to appear online, including a number sent to iLounge by an anonymous source. Included below are shots illustrating the new multitasking and folders features, as well as the revised Photos app, universal mailbox, location services management, and more. If you have access to the developer preview and would like to share additional details, send your screenshots and info to news (at) ilounge.com.
Presented in reverse chronological order, iLounge’s complete coverage transcript from the iPhone OS 4.0 Sneak Peek Event is included below for your reference. The transcript includes the full event, which will likely be available in QuickTime video format later today from Apple, as well as a journalists’ question and answer session that followed the event, which is typically not included in Apple’s videos. Click on the title of this article for all of the details.
Big Stone Phone has released a significantly redesigned iPad version of its Twittelator client for Twitter. Described as “distinctly tailored” Twittelator Pad bears almost no resemblance to the corresponding iPhone version of the application with a rich user interface specifically designed for the larger iPad screen. In landscape mode, Twittelator Pad displays the friends’ timeline persistently in a column on the left-hand side of the screen while allowing the user to browse direct messages, mentions, searches and more using the remaining screen space. Images are displayed in-line in the timeline, which is presented in a chat-like interface. Twittelator Pad also adds support for customizable background wallpapers, nearby Twitter searches, saving tweets as drafts and posting of photo and audio tweets. Twittelator Pad is available from the App Store for $5.
Capcom has announced the upcoming release of the critically acclaimed Dark Void Zero for the iPhone and iPod touch. Designed as a retro 8-bit prequel to the popular Dark Void console game, Dark Void Zero puts the player in the role of Rusty, a warrior test-pilot who must strap on a rocket pack and blast through three retro levels of enemies in a quest to close Portal X and save the human race. OpenFeint social features will be included to allow users to be rewarded with achievements, connect with their friends on Facebook and compete in online leaderboards. The iPhone version will feature refined touchscreen controls and a retro soundtrack composed by Battlestar Galactica composer Bear McCreary. A secret ending has also been added exclusively for the iPhone and PC versions of the game. Dark Void Zero is scheduled for release on the App Store on April 12th and will sell for $3.
Capcom has released the iPad version of its highly acclaimed Resident Evil 4. The iPad Edition features a new high-resolution art set specifically designed for the iPad’s larger display and an enhanced Visual Pad control system, making gameplay a more immersive and intuitive experience. In Resident Evil 4 players take on the role of Leon S. Kennedy, a U.S. agent with a mission to rescue the President’s daughter who must battle his way through numerous enemies to discover who or what is behind the plot. In developing the iPad version, Capcom leveraged App Store feedback from its Resident Evil series of iPhone apps and has implemented several platform-specific features as a result. Players can engage in running gun fights against crowds of enemies, climb ladders, equip items such as binoculars and jump out windows. Resident Evil 4: iPad Edition is available from the App Store for $13.
Headlight Software has released a new application, Camera for iPad that allows iPad users to take photos on their iPad using their iPhone camera. Users load the Camera for iPad app on both their iPhone and iPad which then established a Bluetooth connection between the two devices. Once connected, users can take photos on the iPad from the iPhone camera. A live view is shown on the iPad screen and users can zoom in and out and rotate the view using standard pinch and swipe gestures. Photos are taken at the maximum resolution of the iPhone camera and automatically transferred to the iPad over Bluetooth and stored in the iPad’s Saved Photos album. The application can also be used to take and receive photos on a second- or third-generation iPod touch or another iPhone 3G or 3GS. The original iPhone and first-generation iPod touch are not supported. Camera for iPad is a Universal app and is available from the App Store for $1.
The Omni Group has released iPad versions of two of its popular Mac applications, OmniGraffle and OmniGraphSketcher. OmniGraffle for the iPad allows users to create sophisticated diagrams, flow charts and layouts using the touchscreen, and includes many features found in the desktop version such as shapes, stencils, smart guides, automatic layouts and connectors. Documents are saved in the standard OmniGraffle format used by the Mac version and can be shared between both applications, exported to PDF or saved as a graphic image to the photo library. OmniGraffle for the iPad is available from the App Store for $50.
OmniGraphSketcher allows users to easily create graphs and charts on the iPad using freehand drawing to quickly plot lines and data points on the touchscreen. Users can also easily add text labels, colors and shapes and export graphs to scalable PDF files or save them as images to the iPad photo library. Documents are saved in the same format used by OmniGraphSketcher on the Mac, allowing files to easily be shared between both applications. OmniGraphSketcher for the iPad is available from the App Store for $15.
Despite the successful launch of the iPad this weekend, Random House, the lone major publisher not signed on to offer its titles in the iBookstore, remains a holdout. The Wall Street Journal reports that Random House is unimpressed with Apple’s “agency” pricing model, which allows the publishers to set book pricing, while Apple takes 30% of the sales price. A senior Random House executive said that the company will benefit economically from sticking to its current model whereby it receives half of the hardcover price for new ebooks, regardless of the pricing set by the retailer. The same executive was also skeptical about publishers’ ability to effectively discount titles to drive sales, and said there could be possible contractual issues with authors now that the publishers are setting their own prices. Furthermore, he expressed concern over the potential for piracy, saying, “At $9.99, e-books are perceived as a bargain[.] When e-books are $15, it may affect the behavior of some. We don’t want a segment of the population growing up with stolen books.” Despite Random House’s concerns, the company and Apple are still engaged in “ongoing conversations that remain cordial,” according to Random House spokesperson Stuart Applebaum. Apple announced yesterday that iPad owners had downloaded over 250,000 ebooks from the iBookstore on launch day.
Apple has announced that it sold more than 300,000 iPads on launch day, surpassing the launch weekend total of the original iPhone. These sales included deliveries of pre-ordered iPads, deliveries to channel partners, and sales at Apple retail stores. In addition, iPad users downloaded over one million apps from the App Store and over 250,000 ebooks from the iBookstore during the first day. “It feels great to have the iPad launched into the world—it’s going to be a game changer,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “iPad users, on average, downloaded more than three apps and close to one book within hours of unpacking their new iPad.”
Google has announced a new iPad-optimized version of its Gmail for Mobile HTML5 web app. Launched last year for the iPhone and Android platform, the GMail for mobile web app provides an optimized browsing experience on the iPhone and iPod touch and uses HTML5 to provide a native app-like experience in the web browser. For the iPad browser, Google has created a two-pane view to take advantage of the larger screen. In the new iPad web app, the list of messages and conversations appears on the left with detailed messages appearing on the right, similar to the iPad’s built-in Mail application. To access the new site, users merely need to visit gmail.com in their iPad web browser, and can also add a home screen icon for easier access in the same manner as on the iPhone and iPod touch. Google notes that its other web-based apps have not yet been specifically optimized for the iPad, but that it has evaluated the behaviour of each app using the iPad Simulator to serve the desktop or mobile user interfaces based on which user experience it thinks will be the best for iPad users.
Apple has posted a number of videos showing off a handful of launch day iPad applications. Featured on the new “Apps for iPad” page are The Elements, Real Racing HD, Marvel Comics, The Wall Street Journal, Epicurious, MLB.com At Bat 2010, E*TRADE Mobile Pro, Asphalt 5, Scrabble, F1 2010, and Labyrinth 2 HD. Notably, the video for EA’s Scrabble shows off the game’s ability to use iPhone and iPod touch units as personal tile racks, with the players “flicking” the desired tiles over to the main iPad game board. The company has also changed the main graphic on its home page to a large image of the iPad with the text “iPad is here.”
Craig Rothwell, inventor of the iControlPad peripheral for jailbroken iPhones, has taken issue with a recently-published Apple patent application that appears to describe a device much like his own. Entitled “Accessory For Playing Games With A Portable Electronic Device,” the application describes a controller-like accessory—with standard game controller buttons—with a recess in the center into which a user can place a touchscreen gaming device. Variations on the design include one with a rotating dock connector for connection to the device, one which connects wirelessly, and one that offers wireless connectivity to other devices.
In a post titled “An extremely sinister development,” Rothwell said he and his colleagues “were very very surprised to see that Apple have [sic] allegedly filed a patent for our original iControlPad design some 6 months after we revealed it,” promising to give “More updates once we get a more clear picture of what the h—- is going on.” Development on the iControlPad dates back to May 2008, while Apple’s application was filed in September 2008. [via Pocket Gamer]
A number of noteworthy iPad-optimized applications have hit the App Store ahead of the device’s April 3 launch. Below is a list of some of the titles we consider to be the most interesting, important, or otherwise worth mentioning.
Pandora Media has released a new universal version of its free Pandora Radio app offering an enhanced iPad interface.
Smule has released Magic Piano, an iPad-specific virtual instrument app.
Social networking service Loopt has released Loopt Pulse, offering location-based event, restaurant, entertainment, and nightlife search.
Chillingo has released Cogs HD, an iPad version of its well-received game for the iPhone and iPod touch, along with 13 other games.
iPad updates for existing applications have begun to appear in the App Store. Rather than releasing separate iPad versions of their apps, some developers have chosen to release “Universal” updates to the existing apps, providing both iPhone and iPad support in the same application package. Universal apps are denoted on the App Store by a small Plus sign beside the purchase button in the app listings, similar to the icon that was formerly used to denote iTunes Plus music tracks. A note also appears on the App Store page for Universal apps indicating that “This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad” and Universal apps will appear in search results under both the general Apps and the new “iPad Apps” headings. The App Store page for Universal apps now includes a selection button above the screenshots where users to choose to view either iPhone or iPad screenshots for the app.
Some of the apps that have been updated with iPad support include Instapaper Pro, LogMeIn Ignition, IMDb, Evernote, WordPress, and Now Playing. Despite the packaging of content for both platforms into a single app, most of the Universal app updates do not show a significant increase in size over their previous versions. As with all previous iPhone OS app updates each of these are available free to existing users, and new users gain the benefit of paying one price for a single app that will run on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.