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Apple unprepared for App Store developer renewals

Apple is surprisingly unprepared for the upcoming round of initial App Store developer renewals, according to new reports. Spurred by an Apple Insider report that developers had yet to be offered a way to renew their contracts with Apple, iPhone developer Erica Sadun contacted the Apple Developer Connection in an attempt to renew her paid iPhone developer membership, and was told there was currently no way to do so. “There is no process in place yet to renew it just now,” the ADC representative said. “As soon as a process is in place, you’ll be notified via e-mail or the website. It’s a new program. This program was not yet in place last year, and Apple needs time.” The representative also said that the ADC had been experiencing high call volume over this issue and that there were “many developers in this situation,” while assuring Sadun that Apple will not be removing already-approved applications from the store. Apple announced its iPhone developer program at a special event on March 6, 2008, and began accepting applications from developers shortly thereafter, meaning that the contracts of the first developers accepted into the paid program will be expiring soon, if they haven’t begun expiring already.

Geppetto releases iNinja for iPhone, iPod touch

iPhone game development firm Geppetto has released iNinja, its latest game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Created by former Square Enix programmer Yoshiyuki Miyagawa, iNinja is a shooting game in which players attempt to hit enemy ninja by using a flicking motion to throw shuriken (throwing stars). The game features an air hockey-inspired two-player versus mode, various one-hit-kill traps, the ability to hold down on the screen to charge the shuriken, and 34 single-player stages. iNinja is available now from the App Store and for $1; the price will raise to $2 when the new version arrives.

Skyworks intros three games for iPhone, iPod touch

Skyworks Interactive, developers of prior iPhone titles Arcade Bowling, Arcade Hoops Basketball, and Arcade QB Pass, have introduced three new games for the iPhone and iPod touch. Mental Blocks is a block-based puzzle game in which players must tap on sections of four or more same colored blocks in order to clear them from the screen, while attempting to leave as few single blocks as possible. It features unlimited levels, four types of special blocks, and both online and local high score tracking. Mental Blocks sells for $2; our review of the game can be found here. Poker Matchup is a unique card game in which the player tries to build the best hand possible from two sliding rows of cards. It features local and online high score boards, and sells for $2. Finally, 3 Point Hoops is a basketball-oriented game in which players use their fingers to fling the ball toward the basket in order to take a shot. Speed and direction are controlled with the fling gesture, and there are a variety of shooting positions. Other features include a classic mode, sudden death mode, unique position mode, bonus balls, local and global high score listings, and two background music tracks. 3 Point Hoops is available now and also sells for $2.

New iPodweek newsletter coming soon

iPodweek, iLounge’s weekly newsletter recapping the last seven days in news, articles, reviews, and more, will be sent out to our email subscribers 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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iPhone spurs 20% mobile gaming growth in 2008

The iPhone and App Store helped push the mobile gaming industry to become a $5.4 billion market in 2008, a 20% increase over 2007, according to a new JupiterResearch report. The report states that overall game downloads were flat in the U.S. and Western Europe, while they rose in emerging markets like China and India. Java-based games reportedly saw a steep decline in sales, but were offset by iPhone game downloads. Report author Dr. Windsor Holden said, “The combination of iPhone and the Apple App Store has galvanized the mobile games industry. Apple has provided an innovative device which enables developers to create smooth, compelling, visually attractive games for the mobile users, together with a business model offering a highly competitive revenue share for developers.” The report goes on to predict that more than half of games downloaded by 2012 will be funded by advertising.

SplashData upgrades File Magic to version 2.0

SplashData has released File Magic 2.0, the latest update to its file transfer utility for the iPhone and iPod touch. File Magic allows users to copy files to their device over Wi-Fi using a desktop-based client program, and supports a wide variety of file formats for handheld viewing. New in version 2 is the ability to transfer files directly from device-to-device, the ability to email files as attachments from File Magic, and the option to set a password to protect File Magic access. File Magic 2.0 is available now from the App Store and sells for $5.

Cydia planning App Store for jailbroken iPhones, iPod touches

The developer behind Cydia, a package installer and manager for jailbroken iPhones and iPod touches, is opening an App Store-like service, according to the Wall Street Journal. Cydia will offer applications not allowed onto the App Store, such as the free Cycorder app, which allows the iPhone to shoot video, and PdaNET, a $29 program that allows the iPhone to function as a cellular modem. Jay Freeman, developer of Cycorder and the Cydia Store, says he decided to launch the service so developers whose work is either outlawed or denied access to the App Store have a way to make money from their efforts. A 27-year-old computer science doctoral student in Santa Barbara, Freeman says he intends to charge developers no more than the commission Apple does for his site’s billing services. Apple recently argued to the U.S. Copyright Office that jailbreaking constitutes copyright infringement and a DMCA violation, and is therefore illegal; Freeman says he has a lawyer lined up in case Apple takes legal action against him. “The overworking goal is to provide choice,” he says. “It’s understandable that [Apple] wants to control things, but it has been very limiting for developers and users.”

Apple seeks patent on localized iTunes Store front

A new Apple patent application suggests the company is attempting to patent location-aware services for the mobile version of the iTunes Store, similar to those seen on iPhones in a limited number of Starbucks locations. Entitled “Dynamic Presentation of Location-Specific Information,” U.S. Patent Application 20090063293 describes wireless devices displaying location-specific “information pertaining to a media item being played in an establishment, such as a store, where the portable electronic device is located.” Apple first debuted similar technology in partnership with Starbucks in September of 2007, enabling iPhone users at participating Starbucks stores to see location-specific menu in the iTunes Store that displays the currently playing and recently played tracks. Post-announcement cutbacks by Starbucks appear to have shuttered plans for a wider rollout and continued access to the special stores. [via Unwired View]

Mix: Verizon Poll, BlackBerry Apps, Windows Mobile, Melinda Gates

Verizon Wireless is running an online survey for customers who cancel service, in which they are offered iPhone-oriented answers to several questions. For both “What is the Primary Reason you chose your new carrier?” and “What is the Primary Reason you disconnected your line of service with Verizon Wireless?” one of the optional answers is “Wanted the iPhone;” the iPhone is also listed as an answer for the question “What could Verizon Wireless have offered you to keep you as a customer?”

BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion has announced further details of its App Store clone. BlackBerry App World will offer apps on a tiered pricing scale, like the App Store, with paid apps priced $2.99 and up. A PayPal account will be required to purchase apps, and download applications must be stored on the phone’s internal memory, and not on a removable SD or similar card, limiting the number of apps that users of certain models can install. No launch date has yet been set for the service. [via Engadget]

During a speech at Microsoft’s CIO Summit this week, CEO Steve Ballmer was asked a difficult question regarding the iPhone. “With platforms like the Google phone and iPhone coming out, it’s really tough to continue to stand behind Windows Mobile when our employees are bringing these consumer devices into our environments,” the questioner said, asking what their commitment was to releasing more current versions of Windows Mobile. ” Ballmer replied, “We have a significant release coming this year,” adding that the company doesn’t yet include “some of the things that people want on the highest-end phones. Those will come on Windows Mobile 7 next year.” Ballmer went on to point out that more Windows Mobile devices were sold last year than iPhones.

In a lengthy interview with Vogue, Melinda Gates—wife of former Microsoft CEO and co-founder Bill Gates—admitted to lusting after Apple’s tabooed iPhone. “There are very few things that are on the banned list in our household,” Gates said. “But iPods and iPhones are two things we don’t get for our kids.” Despite the ban, Gates says she is attracted to Apple’s handset. “Every now and then I look at my friends and say, ‘Ooh, I wouldn’t mind having that iPhone.’”

Showtime offering Emmy screeners on iPhone, iPod touch

Following a move last year to offer its Emmy screeners online, Showtime is letting TV Academy voters view shows on the iPhone and iPod touch. Emmy voters will be able to screen full-length episodes of Showtime series including “Dexter,” “Weeds,” and “United States of Tara” simply by entering a passcode on a website. “It’s just another option for those TV Academy members who want to see product any time and any place,” said Richard Licata, Showtime’s exec VP of corporate communications. Licata said the channel saved “tens of thousands of dollars” last year by offering episodes online, and added that he isn’t concerned about voters viewing shows on the small screen of the iPhone. “I don’t think the creative is compromised in this way. It’s just another avenue for people to explore. They can watch two or three minutes of an episode on an iPhone, and they can at least decide if they like the show.”

Konami debuts DanceDanceRevolution S for iPhone, iPod touch

Konami has released its DanceDanceRevolution S game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Based on the popular arcade dancing game series, the main Game Mode requires users to tap on the screen to the rhythm of the song, with upcoming arrows rising from the bottom of the screen. Two other game modes are available, including Shake Mode, in which players shake the device in the direction of the arrows, and Training Mode, which helps novice players acclimate themselves to the main game mechanics. In addition, the game offers 26 and 18 playable characters, with a soundtrack featuring both new and old tracks from past DDR titles. DanceDanceRevolution S is available now and sells for $7; a free Lite version is also available.

iLounge announces JBL On Stage Speaker Giveaway

iLounge is pleased to announce the JBL On Stage Speaker Giveaway, our Giveaway of the Month for March. In this month’s giveaway, JBL and iLounge are giving away ten JBL On Stage 200ID Loudspeaker Docks for iPod and iPhone to ten lucky readers. To enter, simply fill out and submit the form on the giveaway page—the giveaway will end on March 31, 2009 at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Good luck!

Zynga releases Scramble Live for iPhone, iPod touch

Zynga has released its Scramble Live word game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Based on what the company’s Scramble game for Facebook, Scramble Live lets users build words by using connecting letters on a 4x4 or 5x5 board. The game offers both solo and play n’ pass modes in addition to its Live mode, in which players can compete with friends or other Facebook, iPhone, and iPod touch users in real time over 3G or Wi-Fi. Scramble Live is available now from the App Store and is priced at $3 through March 8, at which point it will cost $5.

China Unicom, China Mobile continue iPhone talks

Chang Xiaobing, chairman of China Unicom, has confirmed that the company is in talks with Apple to bring the iPhone to China. “We are in talks with many handset suppliers, including Apple,” Chang said, adding, “3G users will account for 20 percent of all mobile phone users in China in the next three years.” A previous report from February cited an anonymous Unicom manager as stating that the companies were in discussions over the iPhone. Interestingly, despite earlier reports that Unicom rival China Mobile had broken off talks with Apple due to a disagreement over control fo the App Store, Reuters reports that China Mobile chairman Wang Jianzhou said that the company would continue to talk to Apple, while declining comment on discussions between Unicom and iPhone maker. Reports of China Mobile and Apple’s iPhone negotiations date back to November 2007, and have reportedly stalled multiple times over various issues.

JP Morgan analysts Jimmy Cheong and Tim Storey suggest that both iPhone clones and large subsidies may be holding back discussions. “iPhone copies (i.e. the Hi-Phone) are available without (users) having to sign long-term contracts,” the analysts said in a note. “iPhone is likely to be highly subsidized and China Unicom may give away large revenue share so earnings upside is possibly limited, in our view. We think this is a reason why China Mobile has refused to sign with Apple to date.”

Amazon launches Kindle app for iPhone, iPod touch

Amazon has released Kindle for iPhone, a new application that lets iPhone and iPod touch users read Kindle books directly on their devices. Kindle books may be purchased from a Mac, PC, or the iPhone using a browser and wirelessly transferred to the iPhone or iPod touch, and users may also download Kindle books they already own for free, adjust the text size, add bookmarks, and view annotations created on the Kindle.  In addition, the app includes Amazon’s new Whispersync technology that saves and synchronizes users’ bookmarks across their original Kindle, Kindle 2, iPhone and iPod touch devices, so they never lose their place.

Like the Kindle itself, the Kindle iPhone app is only available in the U.S. iTunes Store, and Kindle content is likewise only available to Amazon U.S. customers, differing from competing iPhone apps eReader and Stanza, which seem to have no country-based distribution restrictions on their apps or their content. Additionally, and unlike the Kindle devices, Kindle for iPhone currently works only with books, and not with other downloadable content such as magazines, newspapers, and blogs that are supported by the Kindle and Kindle 2. Kindle for iPhone is available now as a free download from the U.S. App Store; our full review is also available.

Photo of the Week: iPod touch in Vermont

This week’s featured photo is from our iPods Around the World gallery, and shows an iPod touch gazing out the window at Mount Mansfield near Underhill, Vermont. 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!

Hama shows two gaming pads for iPod, iPhone

European accessory company Hama is showing two different gaming pads for the iPhone and iPod touch at the CeBIT, videos of which have been posted online. The first model is an oversized, steering wheel-shaped pad, while the second is a more compact, case-like pad. Pricing and release information are currently unavailable; continue reading for embedded videos of the products.

iPhone 3G, iPod nano 4G, touch 2G win iF gold design awards

Apple’s iPhone 3G, fourth-generation iPod nano, and second-generation iPod touch were all given International Design Forum gold awards at the 2009 CeBIT conference, SetteB.IT reports. Among 802 products that were recognized, including the Apple In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic, only 50 products earned gold awards. The products were judged on the basis of design quality, workmanship, choice of materials, degree of innovativeness, environmental compatibility, functionality, ergonomics, visualization of use, safety, brand value / branding and universal design. Notably, the MacBook Air was also the recipient of a gold award.

Jailbreak poll ends, storage poll begins

With over 3,100 votes from iLounge readers, our latest poll—“Are you using a jailbroken and/or unlocked iPhone or iPod touch?” has ended. Readers could reply that yes, they have both jailbroken and unlocked their iPhone, yes, they have jailbroken their iPhone or iPod touch, no, at one point they jailbroke their device but have since returned it to normal, and no, they have never jailbroken or unlocked their device, with a final option for those who don’t own an iPhone or iPod touch.

Eighty-six percent of responding readers said that they owned an iPhone or iPod touch. Of that 86%, a massive three-quarters said that they are not using jailbroken devices, with two-thirds having never jailbroken, and 9% having jailbroken and later reverted to factory settings. By comparison, 15% of responding iPod touch and iPhone users said they were using jailbroken devices, while another 9% said they were using jailbroken and unlocked iPhones. Thanks for all your responses!

Our latest poll focuses on iPod and iPhone storage. We want to know how much storage space your ideal 2009 iPod or iPhone would have. 2GB or less, 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, or 32GB? Or perhaps you’d like to see a higher-capacity flash-based model with 64GB or 128GB, or a new hard-disk model with 256GB or more? Our new poll, “How much storage space would your ideal 2009 iPod or iPhone have?” lets you answer that question. As always, you can find the iLounge Poll in the left-hand column of the main home page. Vote today!

Apple intros Airport Extreme with iPhone-ready dual-band mode

Along with across-the-board updates to its Mac desktop computers, Apple today quietly introduced a new version of its Airport Extreme Base Station, featuring a new dual-band Wi-Fi mode that improves wireless performance on recent computers that share networks with devices such as the iPhone and iPod touch. The new dual-band support lets 802.11b/g devices, such as older computers, the iPhone, and the iPod touch, connect using the 2.4GHz wireless band, while simultaneously allowing 802.11n devices, such as modern computers and the Apple TV, to connect over the higher-speed 5GHz band, ensuring the fastest possible wireless performance for all devices on the network. In addition, the new Extreme offers guest networking features, support for up to 50 devices, the ability to share an external USB printer or hard drive—including over the Internet via a MobileMe account—and more. Apple’s new Airport Extreme Base Station is available now and sells for $180; the same dual-band and other features were added to the company’s Time Capsule wireless backup routers, which remain priced at $299 for the 500GB model and $499 for the 1TB model.

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