Apple has quietly removed older App Store reviews from users who had not purchased the applications they were reviewing. Prior to last September, when Apple changed the App Store rules to require users to purchase or download an app prior to review, any user could leave a negative review on any application he/she wished, leading to developer complaints and reports of astroturfing. While the rule was changed, the older, possibly fraudulent reviews remained on the pages of the App Store until this week. Mac Rumors reports that several long-released apps have seen noticeable drops in the number of reviews; for example, Super Monkey Ball has dropped from 4197 reviews to 3714, while Pac-Man has gone from 395 to 122. Interestingly, the reviews for iPod Click Wheel Games continue to include numerous reviews from people who acknowledge that they have never played the games.
Continuing to erode the line between “potentially offensive” and acceptable content, Apple has approved Peep Show, a virtual peep show app for the iPhone and iPod touch. As explained by developer Blazing Lizard, Peep Show puts you in front of a partially obscured window, with “shake controls” that are “easy and intuitive when looking at attractive women.” Users shake the device at a certain time to drop a coin into the slot, further revealing a photo of a woman. Missing the slot causes the blinds to cover up more of the image as a penalty. A total of six pictures of women are displayed over and over again by the app, none the same as the ones shown in the app’s current App Store preview page, and each only vaguely risque. Following last week’s revelation that Apple rejected a South Park application for “potentially offensive content,” however, this application only furthers the notion that Apple’s approval process is inconsistent at best. Rated as appropriate for users 9 years of age or older, Peep Show sells for $1.
AOL is splitting its AIM app for the iPhone and iPod touch into two versions, and both add location services and SMS integration. The free version of AIM, now known as AIM Free, is currently available in the App Store and is now supported by ads, while the paid version will remove the advertisements; both will include the same features. The new features include the ability to access Contacts directly from the app to send an IM to a saved screen name or SMS to a phone number, the ability to stay logged in for up to 24 hours after the app has been closed and optionally receive notifications via SMS when a new IM arrives, support for multiple accounts, and the ability to share location information with buddies and access a new Buddies Near Me smart group. According to the free version’s description, AIM Paid is currently going through the App Store approval cycle and will be available soon; pricing has not yet been revealed. [via Ars Technica]
Update: The paid version of AIM is now available on the App Store and sells for $3.
Gameloft has revealed new details regarding its upcoming game The Oregon Trail for iPhone and iPod touch. Based on the Apple II classic, this updated take on the game features the same trail, from Independence, MO to Willamette Valley, OR, and the same random events, such as disease, bandits, bear attacks, and more. The side-scroller also offers updated graphics, side missions, and eight mini-games, including hunting, fishing, wagon repairing, river crossing, rafting, telegraphing, gold panning, and berry picking. The Oregon Trail is expected to arrive in the App Store in the next week, and will sell for $6. Continue reading for more screenshots from the game.
Gameloft has released details on its upcoming Let’s Golf game for the iPhone and iPod touch, which appears set to become the most thoroughly developed golf title yet for the platform. Let’s Golf features cartoonish 3D graphics, four customizable 3D characters, and arcade-style game play with 63 different holes set across four different landscapes, including Fiji Beach, American Mountains, English Countryside, and Scotland Lochs. In addition, the game will offer two control schemes—one for more casual players that uses a simple gauge, and a more advanced mode that provides better accuracy. Notably, Let’s Golf will also include a multiplayer mode that allows two users to play over a local Wi-Fi or online connection. The title is expected to hit the App Store next week and will sell for $6.
Konami has launched a new website for its upcoming iPhone and iPod touch game Metal Gear Solid Touch. According to the site, the company has decided to offer a special “advance release” edition of the game that will offer the first half of the story—which is based on the Playstation 3 title Metal Gear Solid 4. The final release version will include both halves of the game, and purchasers of the advance release edition will receive a free update to the final release, with the ability to carry over game save information. Gameplay will be handled via a multi-touch interface, with the ability to slide a finger for aiming, pinch gestures for zooming in and out, and taps for firing a weapon. Metal Gear Solid Touch is listed as coming soon; continue reading for more screenshots and a preview trailer.
Update: in a new press release, Konami has said that the Advance Release edition of Metal Gear Solid Touch will launch in March.
Taito has released its classic Space Invaders game for the iPhone and iPod touch. The game offers a faithful recreation of the arcade experience, providing a simulated cabinet mode with on-screen joystick, button, and arcade-style display; touch/drag and tilt controls are also available, along with four different screen modes. In addition, it features bonus extras including materials from the original game’s development. Disappointingly, the game does not include any of the features of Taito’s later, better Space Invaders sequels, including the well-regarded Space Invaders Extreme. Space Invaders is available now from the App Store and sells for $5.
SnapMyLife, an online mobile-focused photo sharing service, will on Monday announce a partnership with The Travel Channel to help promote the network’s No Reservations program starring chef Anthony Bourdain. According to SnapMyLife, 95% of its 700,000 members access the site though their iPhones or iPod touches. In the promotion, producers of the show will take pictures on-site during taping, and post the photos to the show’s account on the day each new episode airs, allowing SnapMyLife members to get a “sneak peek” of that evening’s show. SnapMyLife’s iPhone application is available as a free download from the App Store.
Seattle-based alternative rock band The Presidents of the United States of America have released The Presidents’ Music, a new app for the iPhone and iPod touch. The app provides users with streaming access to four of the band’s albums, early “lost” recordings, extras and exclusives, and a direct connection to the band’s blog. Songs include the 1995 hits “Kitty,” “Lump,” and “Peaches,” taken from the band’s Grammy-nominated self-titled debut album. The Presidents’ Music is available now from the App Store and sells for $3. [via Wired]
Namco has released its Tamagotchi: ‘Round the World game for iPhone and iPod touch. Previously released for Click Wheel iPods, the game lets players pick one of four Tamagotchi, and then play one of six missions that take place across three differently-themed planets, each of which features Gaiatchi, or living clouds, plants, geysers and seedlings that populate the planet. Players interact with the Gaiatchi through mini-games and activities such as rock paper scissors, dancing, memory matching, and math puzzles. Tamagotchi: ‘Round the World is available now from the App Store and sells for $6; a Lite version is also available as a free download.
Apple has twice rejected a South Park application for the iPhone and iPod touch because the content was “potentially offensive.” Originally previewed in October, the app would allow users to stream clips, download wallpapers, read news, browse the show’s complete episode index, and choose character likenesses to use as contact images. A member of the team working on the app told Boing Boing Gadgets, “After a couple of attempts to get the application approved, we are sad to say that our app has been rejected…. But Apple did admit that the standards would evolve, citing that when iTunes first launched it didn’t sell any music with explicit lyrics. At this point, we are sad to say, the app is dead in the water. Sorry, South Park fans.”
GameResort, maker of Downhill Bowling, has released Biplane: Wings of Raccoon, the developer’s second game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Biplane puts players in the role of Captain Raccoon, as he navigates the skies on a mission to defend his island from pirate attackers. The game offers two game modes—arcade and race—as well as tilt-based plane controls, nine race tracks, and 3D graphics. Biplane: Wings of Raccoon is available now from the App Store and sells for $2.
Font warehouse MyFonts has released WhatTheFont, its new typeface identification application for the iPhone and iPod touch. WhatTheFont allows the user to snap a picture of any type and upload it to MyFonts in order to find out what font it is, along with the ability to email a link to the font. iPod touch users can also use the application by accessing images saved in the Photo Library. WhatTheFont is available now as a free download from the App Store.
Canadian producer and DJ Deadmau5 has released a new DJ app for the iPhone and iPod touch. The new application, Deadmau5 Touch Mix, allows users to remix and perform using ten exclusive tracks. Users can apply delays, effects, rewinds, cuts, and more, and utilize a scratch pad. Deadmau5 Touch Mix is available now from the App Store and sells for $3. [via Beatportal]
Gameloft has provided iLounge with an exclusive preview of its upcoming iPhone and iPod touch game Wild West Guns. Based on the Wii title of the same name, Wild West Guns is a carnival shooter-style game set in a Western environment. The game will feature 18 challenges featuring typical Western environments such as saloons, deserts, stables, trains, and more, with interactive backgrounds that let players shoot elements in the environment to earn more points. Other features include diverse targets and enemies, five different game modes, and touch-based shooting controls. The game will be submitted to the App Store tomorrow, and should be available in the coming days. Continue reading for more screenshots from Wild West Guns.
Namco has released Time Crisis Strike, its latest game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Similar to the popular Time Crisis arcade games, Strike uses a duck-and-shoot design, allowing users to tap on the screen to fire and tilt the iPhone or iPod touch to duck, take cover, and reload. The game offers two game modes—Arcade Mode and Crisis Missions—and is available now from the App Store for $6.
Mesa Dynamics has released its new CardStar application for the iPhone and iPod touch. CardStar is a personal “rewards” and “club” card manager, letting users enter and store their membership information for items such as grocery and pharmacy discount cards, travel reward cards, and more. The app currently offers a merchant list of over 100 U.S. companies in six categories, advanced options for adding cards not included in the merchant list, and the ability to access any account directly from the main CardStar screen. CardStar is available now and sells for $1.
The Tiffen Company, a photography accessory manufacturer and distributor, has announced Photo fx, a special iPhone and iPod touch version of its Tiffen Dfx Digital Filter Creative Effects software. Photo fx features 26 different filters and effects, each with slider controls, as well as 27 different film looks that can be applied to existing photos or new pics shot with the iPhone’s built-in camera. Photo fx is available now and sells for $3.
Tapinoma has released Easycontact, its new contact sharing application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Easycontact allows users to share their address book contacts individually or in groups with others via email, or directly via Wi-Fi or Audio if the recipient is also an Easycontact user. Easycontact is available now from the App Store and sells for $3.
Laminar Research has released X-Plane Extreme, its fourth flight simulation application for the iPhone and iPod touch. In X-Plane Extreme, players can choose between the F-22 Raptor, the SR-71 Blackbird, the B-1 “Bone” Bomber, and the B-2 Bomber. To handle the advanced capabilities of these planes, Extreme offers desktop-level flight modeling, with speeds from zero to Mach-3 plus, and altitudes up to 100,000 feet, along with AI-controlled planes that fly in the same zone, challenging the player to keep up. X-Plane Extreme is available now from the App Store and sells for $10.
Apple may be planning to open a $20-and-up premium games section on the App Store, according to a new report. Citing anonymous sources, PocketGamer is reporting that the section will be open to only a restricted number of large developers and publishers, rather than the broad acceptance afforded by other areas of the store. Apple and potentially included publishers EA Mobile and Gameloft refused to comment on the matter; the report speculates that the move could be announce at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference, or at a special iPhone or gaming event. Developers have previously expressed concern over the abundance of $1 apps on the store’s Top 100 lists, leading at least one to try a hybrid paid/donation revenue model to boost sales.
Mark/Space has released its new Fliq Tasks application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Fliq Tasks allows users to create, edit, categorize, prioritize, sort, search and share their tasks and to do lists directly from their device. Tasks can be shared over a Wi-Fi network with other Fliq users on the iPhone, iPod touch, Mac, or Windows. Fliq Tasks is a free download from the App Store; Fliq for the Mac or Windows sells for $20. The original Fliq contacts and photo application for iPhone and iPod touch is also available as a free download.
iPhone developer App Cubby has begun what it calls a pricing “experiment” in which it will sell all its iPhone and iPod touch applications for a flat price of $1 each, letting users who find their utility to be worthy of more money make a donation towards future app development. The company’s products, Gas Cubby, Health Cubby, and Trip Cubby previously sold for $5, $5, and $10, respectively. App Cubby founder David Barnard told iLounge, “the challenges of selling in the App Store have continued to frustrate me and foil my best efforts. So I’ve decided to try a little experiment.”
Barnard has previously discussed the issue of pricing on the company’s blog, stating that developers are “frustrated that artificial market forces are driving down the price of apps, which in turn drives down the perceived value of the products we have invested significant time and money to create. Marketing can help, but it’s throwing good money after bad if the market discourages charging a fair price for an app.” The new revenue model appears to circumvent Apple’s pricing policies, which only allow for pricing on a dollar-by-dollar basis, and require developers interested in offering demo versions of their applications to create separate listings in the App Store, which they can distribute as free downloads. However, the subject of whether developers can solicit donations outside of the purchase price for a given piece of software appears to be a gray area.