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Apple, developers fight over tightening iPhone NDA

Continuing a battle over overly strict confidentiality provisions that started immediately after the release of the first iPhone OS applications, Apple attempted this week to silence developers whose applications were rejected, and consequently incurred the wrath of leading members of the iPhone development community. Almerica, the developer of the recently rejected Podcaster iPhone app, yesterday posted and later removed a blog entry entitled “Apple shuts down Podcaster, Again!” In the entry, Almerica said that Apple had removed its ability to distribute the application using Ad Hoc methods, its only option once Apple had rejected the app for distribution through the App Store. Later in the day, a report noted that Apple has added a non-disclosure statement to all App Store rejection letters, preventing developers from talking about their rejections, an apparent attempt to stop developers from generating post-rejection buzz that could lead to successful widespread Ad Hoc distribution.

Following these disclosures, other developers have angrily called out Apple for what they describe as increasingly contemptuous behavior. Brent Simmons, developer of the RSS reader NetNewsWire for Mac OS X and iPhone, wrote on his blog, “When I read that Apple’s solution to the problem of the negative press around apps being rejected from the App Store was to add an NDA warning, I thought it was satire. It couldn’t be true. But it appears to be true. If so, then someone is making a mistake. This behavior is definitely beneath the company that makes the software and hardware I adore and love developing for.”

Developer Wil Shipley, who writes the software for Delicious Monster, said on his blog, “I have to be clear: it simply will not stand for Apple to prevent applications on the iPhone from competing with Apple’s own applications. Besides chasing away all decent developers, besides hurting their customers by stifling competition and innovation, besides it simply being evil, it will, shortly, be illegal. This kind of behavior is illegal when you hit a certain point in market saturation for your product; Microsoft was slapped for it constantly in the late ‘80s. If the iPhone is the success Apple thinks it will be, they will find themselves the target of a huge class-action lawsuit.”

While it remains unclear as to whether the outcry from developers and users will have any effect on Apple, it’s obvious that developers are becoming increasingly wary of the company’s legal and business practices. Expect further updates as this story continues to develop.

Atari requests removal of iPhone Breakout clones

Two developers of Breakout-style games for the iPhone and iPod touch have reportedly been asked to remove their games from the App Store. According to separate postings from the developers, Atari Interactive has requested the removal of BreakClassic, BreakTouch 3D, and SuperPong 2 “due to infringements against the pong and breakout copyrights.” In August, iPhone developer Noah Washington faced a similar request from The Tetris Company, which filed a complaint with Apple over his Tris Tetris clone. As of this writing, all three apps remain available on the App Store.

Apple posts Remote 1.1 for iPhone, iPod touch

Apple has released Remote 1.1, the first update to its iTunes and Apple TV remote control application for iPhone and iPod touch. New in Remote 1.1 is the ability to create Genius playlists and create and edit playlists in iTunes directly from the application. Remote 1.1 is available as a free download from the App Store for all iPhone and iPod touch users running software 2.0 or later.

App Store downloads hit 100 million mark

Apple has announced that iPhone and iPod touch users worldwide have downloaded more than 100 million applications from the App Store since its launch on July 11. More than 3,000 applications are now available on the App Store, with over 90 percent priced at less than $10 and more than 600 offered for free.

“iPhone’s unique capabilities, easy SDK and the ability to reach an audience of millions via the App Store made this an easy development choice for us,” said John Pollard, Jott CEO. “To date, we’ve had hundreds of thousands of downloads of Jott for iPhone, which has been a major win for our company.”

“Because I already had a full-time job I used the iPhone SDK to create Trisim in my spare time and in my wildest dreams I never expected this kind of result,” said Steve Demeter, founder of Demiforce. “Selling over 27,000 downloads in the first three weeks means I now have a significant new income stream and some exciting career choices that I didn’t have a couple of months ago.”

“As an 18 year old iPhone Developer Program member I won an Apple WWDC student scholarship and used the opportunity to complete my app over the summer,” said Bryan Henry, developer of Equivalence. “It was a lot of fun to pull it together and certainly the most lucrative summer job I’ve ever had as I made over $8,000 in my first month of App Store sales.”

“Our new account registrations on the App Store are 300 percent better than all our other registration avenues combined,” said Chris MacAskill, SmugMug’s co-founder. “We’ve been able to do things with our iPhone app that we just couldn’t have dreamed of doing on any other mobile platform, so these are revolutionary times for us and for iPhone and iPod touch users.”

EA: Spore for iPhone coming soon, other titles revealed [updated]

Electronic Arts has announced that Spore Origins for the iPhone will be available later this month, and has also announced a slate of games currently in development for the iPhone platform. In Spore Origins, users create and control their own virtual life form, growing from a single-cell organism into a more complex being as the game progresses. The iPhone version of the game will feature two game modes and 35 levels, as well as the Creature Editor, which lets the user customize their creature’s texture, shape and body parts to improve offense, defense, perception and movement. In addition, EA announced that Yahtzee Adventures, EA Mini Golf, Lemonade Tycoon, Mahjong, Monopoly: Here & Now The World Edition, Sim City, Tiger Woods 09, Need for Speed Undercover, and The Sims 3 are all in development for the iPhone and iPod touch; release and pricing information has yet to be announced.

Update: Spore Origins is now available on the App Store for $10.

iPhone app offers 3D views of Earth, Moon, & Sun

iPhone developer Nicolas Solan has released Earth3D, a new application for the iPhone and iPod touch that presents the user with 3D views of the Earth, Moon, and Sun. The application allows users to drag one finger to rotate the Earth; multiple fingers stop and start the rotation of the camera. Earth3D is available now as a free download from the App Store.

Audi launches iPhone game, website for new A4

Audi has announced the release of a new iPhone game and an iPhone-optimized website as a promotion for its upcoming 2009 model A4 car. Audi A4 Driving Challenge, available as a free download from the App Store, is an overhead-view racing title that uses accelerometer- and screen-based controls to let the user drive the new A4 through a series of five progressively more challenging courses. Alongside the game, Audi has also launched an iPhone-formatted website for the A4, offering users content on the A4, specialized videos, wallpapers, an exterior color customizer, and a dealer locator.

Apple: iPhone app crash fix coming in September

According to another supposed email from Apple CEO Steve Jobs to a concerned customer, Apple is aware of the problem with third-party iPhone and iPod touch applications crashing, and is working on a fix for the next firmware update. “This is a known iPhone bug that is being fixed in the next software update in September,” Jobs allegedly said in the email to an AppleInsider reader. Since the release of iPhone Software 2.0, and continuing through the releases of 2.0.1 and 2.0.2, iPhone, iPhone 3G, and iPod touch owners have reported problems with third-party applications failing to load, and simply returning the user to the home screen. The report speculates that the problem may stem from improperly set permissions.

Nike+ iPhone app images appear online [updated]

A gallery of screenshots (Translated Link) supposedly from the upcoming Nike+ application for iPhone and iPod touch has appeared on a French iPhone blog. The screenshots show the main menu screen, a Google Maps view called “Find Your Way,” and individual pages for goal progress monitoring and management, workout management and status, and more. A Nike spokesperson said in April that the company was planning to expand its Nike+ program to include the iPhone and iPod touch. It is unknown whether the new app will require the current Nike+iPod Sport Kit or a new peripheral, or whether it will leverage the devices’ built-in accelerometers. [via Ubergizmo]

Update: AppleInsider has posted claims that “people familiar with Nike+ initiative” say the images are not authentic. Instead, the report claims the screenshots are “believed to be the product of a third party or individual developer who conceptualized a semi-functional application.” Without official word from Nike, the status of the screenshots is unclear; iLounge has requested comment from Nike and will update this article as appropriate.

BoxOffice re-released on App Store as Now Playing

BoxOffice, a popular movie listing search and browsing application, has been re-released on the App Store under the name Now Playing. Apple previously pulled the application from the store, without giving the developer “any notification that they were doing it, or what their justification was for removing it.” The developer’s Google Code page has been updated to reflect the name change, but it remains unclear why the app was removed, or why its name was changed. Now Playing is currently available as a free download from the App Store.

App Store Finds: iDrum, 2008 Olympics, GTS World Racing, Dice

iZotrope has introduced the first of its iDrum series of beat creation applications for the iPhone and iPod touch. iDrum allows users to access professional sound content and patterns to create their own music. Users can tap virtual pads to create rhythms, shake the handset to clear patterns, and use slide and flick gestures to navigate the interface. According to the developer, a special combination application will also be available to turn created beats into iPhone-compatible ringtones. The first two editions of iDrum, Hip Hop Edition and Club Edition, are now available on the App Store and sell for $5 each.

Marvel Apps has released its Fandora’s Box 2008 Summer Games application for the iPhone and iPod touch. The app provides medal standings for every country, news updates, event schedules and results, and more. Fandora’s Box 2008 Summer Games is available now from the App Store and sells for $1.

Handmark has released its new GTS World Racing game for the iPhone and iPod touch. The game offers users accelerometer-based controls, 64 track layouts, a choice of multiple car types and difficulty levels, and four play modes. It also offers the ability to choose between the game’s soundtrack or the user’s own audio. GTS World Racing is available now via the App Store and sells for $8. For more information on GTS World Racing, see our iPhone Gems article.

Fullpower has released its MotionX Dice application for the iPhone and iPod touch. MotionX Dice is a real-world physics based dice simulator, using the iPhone’s accelerometer and user motion to determine the way the dice roll, collide, and settle. The app also allows the user to choose the number of dice to use, from one to five, and customize the appearance of the dice and the rolling surface. Fullpower’s MotionX Dice is available now as a free download from the App Store.

Jobs: 60 million downloads, $30 million sales in App Store’s first month

Speaking in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Apple CEO Steve Jobs revealed that the App Store saw more than 60 million downloads in its first month, with an average of $1 million in sales per day, for a monthly total of around $30 million. That puts Apple on pace for $360 million a year in new revenue from the App Store. “This thing’s going to crest a half a billion, soon,” Jobs said. “Who knows, maybe it will be a $1 billion marketplace at some point in time.” “I’ve never seen anything like this in my career for software,” he added. Jobs pointed out that Apple isn’t likely to make much of a direct profit off the store, but is instead hoping to use the App Store to sell more iPhones and iPod touch devices. “Phone differentiation used to be about radios and antennas and things like that,” he said. “We think, going forward, the phone of the future will be differentiated by software.” Finally, Jobs confirmed that Apple has the capability to remotely disable any software purchased from the App Store, but argued that Apple needs it in case it inadvertently allows a malicious program, such as one that stole users’ personal data, to be distributed to iPhones through the App Store. “Hopefully we never have to pull that lever, but we would be irresponsible not to have a lever like that to pull,” Jobs said.

App Store Finds: PhoneSaber removed, FMTouch, ProRemote, PuzzLoop

The developers behind the popular iPhone and iPod touch application PhoneSaber have posted a statement regarding the app’s removal from the App Store. According to TheMacBox, they pulled the app at the request of THQ Wireless, which owns the rights for Star Wars apps on mobile phones. Their talks with THQ were friendly, however, and the devs write that “[t]hey want to do some sort of official, Star Wars branded version of PhoneSaber, and will be working with us on that one.” Release date and pricing information for the new version has yet to be revealed.

FMWebSchool has introduced its new FMTouch application, which allows users to deploy FileMaker Pro on an iPhone or iPod Touch. The app offers support for multiple databases, multiple related tables, layouts, portals and value lists, and allows users to add records, edit records, delete records, delete found sets, sort records, edit portal rows, search, find all records and use FileMaker generated runtimes. FMTouch requires FileMaker 8 or 9, and is now available through the App Store for $99.99.

Far Out Labs has announced the release of its new ProRemote applications, which allow iPhone and iPod touch users to control professional audio products such as Digidesign’s ProTools and Apple’s Logic Music production system using a proprietary protocol over a Wi-Fi network. It provides users with either eight channels (light edition) or 32 channels of remote control with real-time color metering and 40mm touch-sensitive virtual faders. The full version of also offers a dedicated transport view that allows the user to do audio scrubbing/shuttling, set markers, and control many advanced aspects of the transport as well as basic play, record, and return to zero. ProRemote Light Edition and ProRemote are both available now from the App Store, and sell for $39.99 and $149.99, respectively.

Hudson Soft has released its second iPhone/iPod touch game Puzzloop. First released as an arcade game in 1998, Puzzloop is a “looping puzzle” game in which players attempt to clear differently-colored balls from the game screen by shooting balls from a central position in hopes of connecting three or more of the same color. Puzzloop is available now from the App Store and sells for $7.99.

$999.99 I Am Rich app hits the App Store [Updated]

Described as “a work of art with no hidden function at all,” a new $999.99 iPhone application has appeared on the App Store. I Am Rich by Armin Heinrich does very little despite its exorbitant price tag, displaying a screen with a red jewel and an info button that can be clicked to show a “secret mantra” that “may help you to stay rich, healthy, and successful.” It is unclear why Apple chose to approve an application that costs so much and does so little, but I Am Rich may further elucidate the nature of Apple’s software review procedures.

Update: It appears the app has been pulled from the App Store.

App Store Finds: Frogger, AkiMahjong, Flickbook, Cocktails

An iPhone and iPod touch version of the arcade classic Frogger has been released on the App Store. The $9.99 app, released by Konami Digital Entertainment, is a basic port of the original, with the point of the game to guide five frogs to safety in order to advance to the next level. It also boasts enhanced graphics, and sounds from the original game. Strangely, it is listed as only being compatible with the iPhone, although iLounge editors have been able to load the game on the iPod touch.

Ambrosia’s $4.99 Aki Mahjong game has received a substantial update, which adds a new zoom-in mode, new and improved tile artwork, 25 additional bonus levels, and more. You can find out more about the original version of Aki Mahjong in our iPhone Gems: Mahjong article.

Flickbook is a new application that allows users to create simple animations on the iPhone and iPod touch. The $4.99 application from Ollie Wagner and Geoff Pado features colors that build up for shading, an underlay of the last frame for easier animation, the ability to store unlimited animations, and more.

Cocktails is a $4.99 drink recipe reference application from Skorpiostech that offers users access to thousands of cocktail and mixed drink recipes from their iPhone or iPod touch. Features include full-text searching across recipe names and ingredients, the ability to browse by base, drink type, flavor, or alphabetically, the ability to favorite frequently used recipes, share recipes though email and Twitter, and more. In addition, the application presents each recipe on a background that corresponds to its age, so that older recipes appear to be printed on weathered parchment, while newer drinks appear on a flat white backdrop.

Apple pulls Box Office app, Nullriver responds to NetShare removal

Apple has pulled another application, Box Office, from its App Store, while Nullriver has posted a statement regarding the removal of its NetShare application. Box Office, a popular movie listing search and browsing application, was removed from the store over the weekend with no explanation from Apple. In a posting on the Mac Rumors forums, the developer of the application said, “Apple pulled the app yesterday without giving my any notification that they were doing it, or what their justification was for removing it. I’ve tried to contact them about the issue, but it’s been a complete dead end. If anyone has a useful contact number for apple, please let me know. I’m in regular contact with all my data providers, and none of them have had an issue with my app. Indeed, the response was the exact opposite. They like my app and have even asked if i would do custom application work for them in the future. Furthermore, all the data i use is licensed by the owners as ‘free for non commercial use’. i.e. precisely what BoxOffice is.”

In a related development, Nullriver Software, developers of the NetShare iPhone tethering application that was posted to and then removed from the App Store multiple times last week, posted the following statement on their website regarding the app: “We’re not quite sure why Apple took down the NetShare application yet, we’ve received no communication from Apple thus far. NetShare did not violate any of the Developer or App Store agreements. We’re hoping we’ll get some feedback from Apple today. Sorry to all the folks that couldn’t get it in time. We’ll do our best to try to get the application back onto the App Store if at all possible. At the very least, we hope Apple will allow it to be used in countries where the provider does permit tethering.”

NetShare app re-appears on iTunes Store

NetShare, a new iPhone application for sharing your phone’s cellular internet connection over Wi-Fi, has reappeared on the App Store following its removal last evening. It is unclear if Apple has decided to let sales of the application proceed, or if this is simply a brief reappearance due to a glitch. NetShare is available through the App Store via this direct link and sells for $9.99. [via Waxy]

Apple posts, pulls iPhone tethering app from App Store

NetShare, a new iPhone application that allows users to share their phone’s cellular internet connection with their computers, was posted to and then pulled from the App Store last evening. Developed by Nullriver Software, which recently released its Tuner Internet Radio application, NetShare uses a SOCKS5 proxy connection to enable sharing of the iPhone’s internet over Wi-Fi, which could potentially lead to greater data usage than with the iPhone alone, and therefore might incur higher data rates common with laptop data solutions. The application sold for $9.99 before being pulled from the store; neither Apple nor the developer have yet to explain why the app was pulled.

Sega, Electronic Arts talk iPhone gaming

Speaking in interviews at the annual E3 trade show, representatives from both Sega and Electronic Arts have spoken out about gaming on the iPhone. In a video interview with gaming blog Kotaku, Sega of America president Simon Jeffery made several comments about the iPhone gaming market, and the device’s processing power. Jeffery said Sega was “deliriously happy” with the response to Super Monkey Ball on the iPhone, adding that “[o]ur relationship with Apple is such that they talked to us really early about their iPhone gaming plans, so we could get the whole accelerometer stuff working on Super Monkey Ball quite early on.” Asked if there is a big enough user base for Sega to put a lot of emphasis on developing iPhone games, he said, “we’re going to have a pretty substantial iPhone development effort, yeah. We think that the iPhone is everything the N-Gage wasn’t, as a gaming device.” He added, “[w]hy people play those crappy games on their mobile phones, I’ll never understand. I’ll never understand it, personally. The iPhone changes that, completely. You’re playing Dreamcast-quality games on this tiny little device[.]”

The comparison to the Dreamcast led to another statement that the iPhone is “right there” with the discontinued Sega console in terms of power, with Jeffery calling it “pretty impressive.” When asked if the company would then be looking to bring over a lot of Dreamcast games to the iPhone, Jeffery said, “We’re looking pretty sensibly at what we can do on the iPhone that works and resonates with the market. We’re really happy with Super Monkey Ball, and it totally proves that our IP-owned properties resonate with that casual gaming demographic. So looking back towards some of the Dreamcast content makes a ton of sense.” Finally, he revealed that the company has quite a few games in development for the iPhone right now, including what he described as some “very cool stuff.”

In a separate interview, an unnamed EA developer said the iPhone was in between the Nintendo DS and the Sony PSP in terms of power, but closer to the PSP. The developer added, however, that the accelerometer needs assistance to function as a gaming control device. “Think of it as a loose analog stick…you get lots of random data.” Game developers therefore need to create smoothing algorithms to interpret the data into movement info.

EA reveals future iPhone gaming titles, features

During its press conference at the annual E3 trade show, Electronic Arts revealed new upcoming titles for the iPhone and iPod touch, as well as a new feature for its recently released Scrabble and Tetris games. Spore Origins will be the full name of the iPhone/iPod touch version of the new organism creation game, and it will launch later this year through the App Store alongside Monopoly, Tiger Woods 09, and Need for Speed. Contrary to prior understanding of the Spore title, Spore Origins will not be a full version of the computer and console game, but rather a section of it. In addition, EA will use updates to add a feature to its already-published Tetris game that allows the player to draw the upcoming piece right on the screen, and to add Wi-Fi multiplayer and an accelerometer action to shuffle the letters in the player’s tray to Scrabble.

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