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App devs blast extended Apple delays, “amateur” support

Facing “months” of unexplained delays and telephone support from “the people [who] can barely speak English,” iPhone application developer Perry Hart has blasted Apple for running “inadequate and down right amateur” systems “for reviewing iPhone applications and supporting developers.” In an e-mail to iLounge, Hart says that he and other developers hoping for timely publication of their apps have been placed in a holding pattern, with no ability to know when apps will or won’t be published by Apple. “One developer has been on the queue for three months,” said Hart, “and received absolutely no information about what was wrong. ... Developers can send all the emails they like to [Apple’s app developer] address, they just get ignored.”

Hart is the developer of AutoMangle, previously released on the App Store, as well as the upcoming first person shooter game ZombieMangle, which has been held up for unknown reasons. “I submitted ZombieMangle over a week ago now,” Hart explained, “which was what I thought would be a perfect time to release just before Christmas. However, a few days after submission Apple sends me an email stating that they require ‘Unexpected Additional Time For Review’ with no reason whatsoever for the delay. So I do a search for any other developers who have received this email, and it appears there’s ALOT of them.”

Concerned about reaching customers in time for the holidays, but unsure as to what was wrong with his application, Hart decided to be “proactive and change the game to remove the blood as it may be too extreme, change the effects to green instead of red, change the zombies into aliens, change all the interface graphics containing red blood to green etc. I even changed the sheep to robot sheep in case they had some issue with aliens attacking sheep.” According to Hart, these content changes resulted in another canned response. “Calling out for help on the official forums has yielded nothing more than moderators canned replies stating email addresses and phone numbers. I think it’s time that all developers and potential developers know that they are working with amateurs.”

Apple rejects book app for ‘objectionable content’

Apple recently rejected an iPhone-based version of a book because it contained foul language. Citing a clause in the iPhone SDK that states “applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.), or other content or materials that in Apple’s reasonable judgement (sic) may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users,” Apple rejected Knife Music by David Carnoy, going so far as to provide a sample of one particularly graphic section. Alex Brie, developer of the application, believes Apple is checking for such content using word-matching software because it would be difficult to believe that Apple has staff with the time to manually read each book submitted. “Apple’s staff shouldn’t be allowed to refuse to publish works of literature based only on word matching. Even more, what would happen if I (a Romanian) would publish an ebook filled with Romanian obscenities? - would Apple’s staff need to learn Romanian…and read the entire ebook…to make sure this doesn’t happen?” Brie said. Apple offers both movies and music on the iTunes Store containing similar language to that found in Carnoy’s book, although in those cases it is able to either mark the content explicit or rely on the MPAA’s movie ratings; there is no equivalent ratings system for books.

Equinux announces Live TV television app for iPhone

Equinux has announced its free iPhone application Live TV. Designed to let users watch TV on their iPhones, Live TV works with the company’s The Tube software to stream live television over the user’s Wi-Fi network to the iPhone. The app’s interface will also allow users to change channels directly from the iPhone. Live TV will be a free download from the App Store and will be available “soon.” In addition Equinux has lowered the price on its TubeStick hybrid video recording hardware and software package to $99.

Vuzix previews Wrap 920AV video eyewear

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Vuzix has provided iLounge with a sneak peak at its upcoming Wrap 920AV portable video eyewear. Able to function both as sunglasses (!) or as a portable video display, the 920AV also promises to combine “virtual reality capabilities” and “augmented reality features,” an apparent reference to support for stereoscopic 3-D effects, and possibly head tracking; we are awaiting clarification on these features. Integrated earphones are included, and the lenses will be able to benefit from individual focal adjustments, and more. The Vuzix Wrap 920AV portable video eyewear will be officially unveiled at CES in January; release and pricing information has yet to be announced.

New iPodweek newsletter coming later today

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iPodweek, iLounge’s weekly newsletter summarizing the last seven days in iPod, iPhone, iTunes and Apple TV news, articles, reviews, and more, will be sent out later today. In addition to rounding up the week’s top stories, iPodweek also features giveaways and accessory discount offers from various companies. If you haven’t yet signed up to receive iPodweek, there’s still time to register and receive this week’s edition — just use the simple form below to submit your email address.

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Solar Arcadia offers solar iPhone chargers

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Solar Arcadia is now offering several styles of solar-powered, charging-capable cases for the iPhone and iPhone 3G. Both the SideFlip and Leather Flip cases features solar panels that charge a 3.7V 1500 mAh lithium polymer battery with LED status indicators and a reverse current protection circuit to prevent batteries form being discharged. The cases are made from ABS sheepskin, offer open access to the sleep/wake and volume buttons as well as the ring/silent switch, and feature built-in screen protectors as well as either vertically- (Leather Flip) or horizontally-opening (SideFlip) front flip covers which also hold the solar panels. Available in red, white, or black, Solar Arcadia’s SideFlip Solar iPhone cases sell for $40-$46, while the Leather Flip, available in black only, sells for $46.

RIAA to change anti-piracy tactic, abandon lawsuits

The Recording Industry Association of America has announced that it is planning to end its tactics of suing individual users who are caught sharing music online. According to the Wall Street journal, the RIAA has opened legal proceedings against roughly 35,000 people since 2003, which has done little to stop the illegal downloading of music over the Internet. Instead of lawsuits, the group has instead made preliminary agreements with major ISPs under which users caught uploading music illegally will receive emails from the service provider asking them to stop, possibly accompanied by a degradation in connection speed. Should the user continue to illegally upload music, the ISP could eventually decide to cut off their access altogether. The ISPs with which the RIAA has already reached agreements have not yet been named.

Core Cases debuts Aluminum Sliders for iPod nano 4G, touch 2G

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Core Cases has introduced its new Aluminum Slider cases for the fourth-generation iPod nano and second-generation iPod touch. Featuring a slider-style design, the cases also offer an anodized aluminum outer shell, EVA foam interior lining, cutouts for open access to all ports and controls, and a small cutout for attaching a lanyard or strap. In addition, the nano case features built-in screen protection, while the touch case includes a screen protector. Core Cases’ Aluminum Slider case for iPod nano 4G is available in black, red, purple, or silver, and sells for $20; the iPod touch 2G version comes in black, purple, or silver, and sells for $25.

Lawsuit claims Apple TV infringes patents

EZ4Media, maker of wireless entertainment devices, has filed suit in Illinois Northern District Court against Apple claiming that the company’s Apple TV, AirPort Express, and Macintosh computers infringe on four of the company’s patents. Three of the patents in question relate to streaming digital media from a server to a device, while the fourth covers a method for transferring media content from the Internet to a computer which then wirelessly transmits the data to a TV for playback. Interestingly, each of the patents was obtained by EZ4Media from Universal Electronics earlier this year, and according to the complaint, Apple hired away three key members of Universal’s staff to work in its consumer entertainment during the development of the Apple TV. EZ4Media is seeking a permanent injunction prohibiting Apple from further acts of infringement, as well as “damages adequate to compensate it for the infringement that has occurred.”

Parrot unveils Starck-designed Zikmu wireless speakers

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Parrot has unveiled its new “Zikmu” the Parrot by Philippe Starck wireless speakers for iPod and iPhone. The 2.5-foot tall speakers feature NXT speaker technology, allowing for 360-degree sound, and use Bluetooth for communication between the speakers. In addition, they offer an integrated iPod and iPhone Dock, and can accept streaming audio over Wi-Fi or an A2DP Bluetooth connection. “Zikmu” the Parrot by Philippe Starck wireless speakers will be available in the Spring of 2009 and will sell for $1,500.

iTunes users having App updating difficulties?

A number of iTunes users, including at least one iLounge editor, are reporting difficulties with updating iPhone and iPod touch applications through iTunes. Reports indicate that the users are able to find and download the updates directly from their devices, but when they check iTunes for updates, it reports that none are available. Users in Germany, Australia, and Canada have reported the problem; however, iLounge’s U.S. based editors have not seen similar difficulties, suggesting that the problem may lie with international iTunes Stores.

Mix: Imagination, Rolando, iFrogz sale, 12 Days

  • December 18, 2008

Imagination Technologies Group has announced that Apple is purchasing 8.2 million new shares of the company, giving the iPod maker a 3.6% ownership interest. Imagination is known for its OpenGL ES-compliant PowerVR mobile GPU chips, and revealed alongside the stock announcement that Apple is a licensee of Imagination’s technology, suggesting that the company may be planning to use the PowerVR technology in future iPods and iPhones. This might also help to explain Apple’s acquisition of chipmaker P.A. Semi, which CEO Steve Jobs has said will build chips for future iPod and iPhone models.

Ngmoco has released its anticipated game Rolando for the iPhone and iPod touch. As a puzzle/platform game, Rolando puts players in control of circular characters called Rolandos, which they must guide through puzzles and past enemies in order to return their land to normal. The game features 36 levels across four unique worlds, both tilt and multi-touch controls, graphics by pop illustrator Mikko Walamies and original music by Mr. Scruff, as well as a feature that saves and restores game progress automatically when play is stopped or interrupted. Rolando is available now from the App Store and sells for $10.

iFrogz is holding a one-day sale today through 10:00 p.m. MST. The company is offering a 50% discount on every product available from ifrogz.com, including cases for the iPhone 3G and Fall 2008 iPods, as well as the company’s complete line of headphones. The discount is taken automatically; no code or coupon is needed.

Apple has revealed that it will offer a free download every day to iTunes users in the U.K. and France from December 26 to January 6 as part of its 12 Days of Christmas promotion. According to the promotion’s U.K. site, the giveaway will include “rare singles, exclusive live tracks and free music videos” as well as “classic TV episodes.” While an official site for the French promotion has yet to appear, Pocket-lint reports that advertisements for the promotion have begun appearing on the French retail website Darty.com. Update: Christian Hieber of iFun.de has informed us that Apple is also running the promotion in Germany.

SwitchEasy intros CapsuleClassic for iPod classic

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SwitchEasy has introduced its new CapsuleClassic case for the iPod classic (120GB). The CapsuleClassic is made from hard GE Lexan polycarbonate and features a slide-in two-piece design, as well as integrated screen protection. It offers open access to the Click Wheel, headphone jack, and hold switch, and includes two anti-static screen guards, one anti-static back guard, two Click Wheel protectors, a microfiber cleaning cloth, a custom Universal Dock adapter, a Dock Connector protector, and a 3.5mm headphone adapter. In addition, the UltraBlack version’s design makes the classic’s screen seem to disappear when turned off. Available now in UltraClear or UltraBlack, SwitchEasy’s CapsuleClassic for the iPod classic (120GB) sells for $25.

Reed Exhibitions cancels Apple Expo Paris

  • December 17, 2008
  • Apple

Reed Exhibitions has announced that it will not hold Apple Expo Paris in 2009. Apple previously pulled out of the 2008 show, and the future of the show has been in question for several years due to Apple’s diminished presence. The company has not held a keynote presentation at the event since Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing Phil Schiller introduced the iMac G5 during his 2004 address. This news follows yesterday’s announcement that the 2009 Macworld Expo would be the company’s last, and serves to further highlight the diminished role of trade shows in Apple’s efforts to inform the public of its product offerings.

Orange French iPhone exclusivity deal suspended

The French Competition Council has provisionally suspended the exclusivity agreement between Apple and France Telecom tying the iPhone to mobile operator Orange. The Council, whose decision should take effect from Thursday at the latest, called the network’s five-year exclusivity deal with Apple “clearly excessive” and said it risked “serious and immediate damage to competition on the mobile market and to consumers.” The ruling would allow customers to buy the iPhone from rival operators SFR and Bouygues Telecom in time for the holidays. France Telecom has said it intends to appeal the decision, which it says “places France in a radically different position” than Britain, Germany and Spain, where Apple has also signed exclusivity deals.

Mix: X-Plane, Soaripod, Kodak Gallery, SimCity

  • December 17, 2008

Laminar Research, developers of Best iPhone/iPod touch App of the Year, X-Plane 9, has released X-Plane Helicopter and X-Plane Airliner for the iPhone and iPod touch. X-Plane Helicopter and Airliner use the same FAA-Certified flight-model used in X-Plane for the desktop and the prior X-Plane 9 for the iPhone, providing users with realistic helicopter and commercial airliner flight simulation. Helicopter offers a number of different helicopters to fly, including the Robinson R-22, the Bell-206, the BlackHawk, and the Sea King, and uses the Grand Canyon as the in-flight area, providing varied, visually-interesting terrain in which to fly. Airliner, on the other hand, lets users pilot large, long-range airliners including the Boeing 777, 747, and 787, as well as the Airbus A-380, and lets users fly over Southern California, from San Diego to Edwards Air Force Base. X-Plane Helicopter and X-Plane Airliner are available now from the App Store and sell for $5 each.

Papadakis Technologies has announced that it is now shipping its Soaripod device stand with a holster compatible with the iPhone 3G. The Soaripod is a flexible stand that holds devices using a belt clip holster included with the stand, and attaches to various surfaces using a metal P-clamp. Papadakis Technology’s Soaripod is available now for $30; for more information, see our review.

Kodak has released its Kodak Gallery application for the iPhone and iPod touch. The app allows Gallery members to access and browse their albums directly from device, upload pictures from the iPhone’s camera to the service, share albums via email, and lets users view their albums as full screen slideshows. Kodak’s Gallery application is available as a free download from the App Store.

Electronic Arts has released its SimCity game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Based on SimCity 3000 and offering a full PC experience, the game lets users build a city from scratch, including public and private transportation, six zone types, and public works management, lets them destroy their city with five different disasters, and features three difficulty settings and city sizes. In addition, the game offers intuitive touch-based controls, letting users flick to move about in the city, and zoom in and out to see more detail of a given area. SimCity is available now from the App Store and sells for $10.

Konami announces Metal Gear Solid, more for iPhone

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Konami has announced that it will be releasing three games for the iPhone and iPod touch based on well-known franchises. Set for release are Metal Gear Solid Touch, an original game based on the Playstation 3 release Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, which coincidentally featured an in-game, licensed iPod, DanceDanceRevolution S Lite, based on the popular dancing game, and Silent Hill: The Escape, a first-person 3D shooter based on the survival horror series. DanceDanceRevolution S Lite and Silent Hill: The Escape are set for release in late December 2008, while Metal Gear Solid Touch is expected to be released in Spring 2009.

Photo of the Week: iPod touch in Denver

This week’s featured photo is from our iPods Around the World gallery, and shows an iPod touch at a Broncos game at Invesco Field in Denver, Colorado. To share your photos and to be considered for our Photo of the Week, you simply need to submit your own photo to one of our galleries. So get out there, take some pictures with your iPod or iPhone, and maybe your submission will be our next Photo of the Week!

Apple announces its final year at Macworld Expo

  • December 16, 2008
  • Apple

Apple today unexpectedly announced that this year’s Macworld Conference & Expo, scheduled for January 5-9, 2009, in San Francisco, will be the company’s last. For the first time since 1997, Apple CEO Steve Jobs will not be giving a keynote presentation to open the show; instead, Phil Schiller, Apple senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, will deliver the opening address. In the release announcing the change, the company states: “Apple is reaching more people in more ways than ever before, so like many companies, trade shows have become a very minor part of how Apple reaches its customers. The increasing popularity of Apple’s Retail Stores, which more than 3.5 million people visit every week, and the Apple.com website enable Apple to directly reach more than a hundred million customers around the world in innovative new ways. Apple has been steadily scaling back on trade shows in recent years, including NAB, Macworld New York, Macworld Tokyo and Apple Expo in Paris.”

Contour Design debuts cases for iPod nano 4G, touch 2G

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Contour Design has introduced its iSee, Fusion, Flick, Showcase, and HardSkin cases for the fourth-generation iPod nano and second-generation iPod touch. The iSee case feature a snap-together design and are made from clear polycarbonate, offering full access to all ports and controls, as well as access to the iPod touch’s touch screen and full protection for the iPod nano’s screen. Available now, the iSee for iPod nano 4G and iPod touch 2G sell for $25 and $30, respectively. In contrast, the Fusion cases for nano 4G and touch 2G offer a mix of hard shell protection and silicone, featuring a wave-like design on the rear of the nano cases and a drop-like design on the rear of the touch case. Both cases offer full access to all ports and controls, and are available in several different colors—six for the nano and four for the touch. Contour Design’s Fusion cases for the iPod nano 4G and iPod touch 2G sell for $25 and $30, respectively.

imageThe Flick cases for iPod nano 4G and iPod touch 2G are made from two pieces of colored hard polycarbonate joined by a recessed rubber hinge that allows the case to be partially opened for docking. Offering full access to all ports and controls, the Flick nano 4G and touch 2G sell for $30 and $35, respectively. The Showcase cases feature a dual-material design with a lightweight polycarbonate chassis and silicone border, and offer full access to all ports and controls, along with a hinged lid for easy insertion and removal. The Showcases for iPod nano 4G and iPod touch 2G sell for $30 and $35, respectively, and are available now. Finally, the HardSkin cases for iPod nano 4G and iPod touch 2G feature a snap-together design, much like the iSee, but are made with rubber finished hard shell polycarbonate. The iPod touch version offers open access to all ports and controls, along with optional volume and sleep/wake button covers, while the iPod nano version offers full access to all ports and controls, as well as an optional screen cover. Available in seven colors for the iPod nano and five for the iPod touch, the HardSkin cases sell for $25 and $30, respectively.

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