Marware has introduced several new cases for the fifth-generation iPod nano and second- and third-generation iPod touch. The MicroShell for iPod touch 2G and 3G is a thin, half-shell hard case offering a thickness of less than 1mm, a metallic finish with a rubberized feel, open access to all ports and controls, and an included screen protector and cleaning cloth. It is available now in six colors and sells for $25. The EcoSleeve for iPod nano 5G is an environmentally friendly case made from stretchy, black Eco-Fabric cotton canvas, featuring a clear vinyl cover for protection of the screen and Click Wheel, a thin bottom flap that opens to allow for access to the Dock Connector, wave styling on the rear, an included clear screen protector and cleaning cloth, and open access to the headphone port and camera. It is available now and priced at $20.
Finally, the Eco-Runner for iPod nano 5G is an environmentally friendly armband-style case made from eco-friendly materials. It offers the ability to function as a wristband or armband case, a clear vinyl cover for the nano’s screen and Click Wheel, reflective pieces for nighttime visibility, an adjustable bottom strap to allow support for the Nike+iPod Sport Kit Receiver, and an included clear screen protector and cleaning cloth. It too is available now in black, blue, or pink, and sells for $35.
TomTom has released version 1.2 of its TomTom U.S. & Canada turn-by-turn navigation application, adding support for the iPod touch and original iPhone. The inclusion of iPod touch and iPhone support means the application can now be used on those devices when connected to third-party GPS solutions, such as the TomTom Car Kit. Other improvements include improved search and route summary screens, updated maps and points of interest databases, an updated IQ Routes database, Advanced Lane Guidance in both portrait and landscape modes, Text-to-speech in English, French, and Spanish, a Help Me! emergency menu, and iPod player support. TomTom U.S. & Canada is available from the App Store and sells for $100.
AdMob, the mobile advertising network recently acquired by Google, has launched a new “Interactive Video Ad Unit” for the iPhone. The new ad unit promises “true interactivity,” offering in-player actions that enable users to browse Web sites, view additional videos, and more while the video is playing. AdMob says the unit will be sold primarily as an interstitial that will automatically play as an application loads, but may also be accessed through banner ads. In addition, AdMob creates multiple bitrate encodings of the video files for each and then dynamically streams the most appropriate file size based on the devices’ EDGE, 3G, or Wi-Fi connection, utilizing its network of globally distributed servers to ensure the fastest possible video load times. According to the company, AdMob’s iPhone ad network reached more than 20 million unique iPhones and iPod touch devices worldwide in 2009.
The Chinese market represents a large opportunity, and perhaps an equally large challenge, for iPhone app developers, according to a Wall Street Journal report. While the country is said to have roughly two million iPhone users, the vast majority of those are jailbroken units, and are therefore more likely to hold pirate applications. In addition, official China Unicom iPhones lack Wi-Fi, removing a key capability for some applications, and many App Store offerings are in English, with prices in U.S. dollars. Even so, companies are racing to become the top apps in China. “We know perfectly well that Chinese market is huge and has great potential. But when we release apps targeting users here, we’re usually not able to get reasonable returns because of piracy,” said Shi Weixing, CEO of Chinese mobile application company 9thQ.
Shi estimates that about $1 million of legitimate apps have been sold in China so far this year, though the number could rise to $6 million in 2010. By comparison, AdMob estimates about $200 million in apps are sold through the App Store each month. Payment methods also pose a barrier to growth, as the App Store requires a credit card issued by a Chinese bank, something not commonplace, said Frank Yu, COO of Beijing-based app designer Shouji Mobile. “Once Wifi is allowed on future 3G iPhones and the price of handsets falls due to product life cycle, more subsidies or economies of scale, we will see the iPhone market in China go mainstream,” Yu said.
Qualcomm has confirmed that it is in talks with Apple over the possibility of supplying telecommunications chips for future versions of the iPhone. “We continue to discuss it, but haven’t made it yet,” Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “Hopefully, in the future, we will have the opportunity.” The company already provides chips to other smartphone manufacturers, including those building phones that run Windows Mobile and Google’s Android operating systems. “We talk to everybody in the industry,” Jacobs said. “We are very strong in the smart-phone market.” Bloomberg reports that Qualcomm plans to begin selling chips compatible with China’s domestically-developed TD-SCDMA technology next year; China Mobile uses the technology and had 1.66 million TD-SCDMA customers as of September 30. China Mobile recently said that it remains in talks with Apple about offering the iPhone on its network.
Griffin Technology, as part of its new Co-Op Initiative, has announced a partnership with community-based online apparel store Threadless to produce a new line of accessories. First in the series are the new Clouds within the Thunder and Birds of a Feather cases for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. Each single-piece thin polycarbonate case offers a thickness of less than 1mm, and open access to all ports, controls, and the camera. In addition, like the t-shirt designs on which they are based, each case design is made in limited quantities. Both new Griffin+Threadless cases for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS are available now and sell for $35.
Following last month’s launch of the iPhone in China on rival network China Unicom, China Mobile has reaffirmed that it remains in talks with Apple to offer the iPhone on its own, more popular, network. “We really are still in talks with Apple…In our negotiations in the past, we insisted on sticking to our conditions,” company chairman Wang Jianzhou told reporters at a regional mobile phone conference in Hong Kong, reports the AFP. “We are still very sincere about completing this negotiation,” he said, adding that the company would like to introduced several different types of smartphones in the coming years. “iPhone is only one type of smartphone. On the whole, we hope to turn all our future phones into smartphones. This would require the collective effort of our vendors.”
The Korea Communications Commission, South Korea’s telecommunications regulator, gave the iPhone its approval at a meeting this week, meaning the phone can now be launched at any time in the country. Strangely, this is the second time the device has been granted approval by the commission; the first was in September. Although commission spokesman Lee Sang-hun could not immediately confirm how this new decision different from September’s, he did say it was related to location-based services. South Korean law requires companies providing location-based data to obtain government permission, and in September’s decision, the commission decided that local service providers could obtain permission on Apple’s behalf.
KT and SK Telecom, local network providers in South Korea, have both been in discussions with Apple over the iPhone; Apple spokesman Steve Park told the Associated Press that the company has yet to confirm whether it will introduce the iPhone to South Korea. Still, South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo has reported that KT—which confirmed plans to sell the iPhone in August—plans to begin taking online orders for the device on Thursday with a launch date of November 28, while a SK Telecom spokeswoman said the carrier has made no decisions regarding the device. Apple has yet to add South Korea to its list of countries to which the iPhone is “coming soon.”
This week’s featured photo is from our iPhones Around the World gallery, and shows an iPhone in front of the “Wall of Dominos,” a line of over 1,000 foam domino tiles, each over eight feet tall, created as part of the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The dominos were toppled on November 9, 2009. 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!
Dexim has introduced its new DCA132 P-Flip Foldable Power Dock for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. The P-Flip is a portable battery pack featuring a unique folding design that allows it to serve as either a cradle or video stand for the attached device, depending on whether it’s in a vertical or horizontal position. In addition, it offers a 2000 mAh lithium polymer battery good for up to eight extra hours of talk time, a mini-USB port for recharging the battery and for both syncing and recharging the attached device, and an included cradle for second- and third-generation iPod touches. Dexim’s DCA132 P-Flip Foldable Power Dock for the iPhone 3G, 3GS, and iPod touch 2G and 3G will be available online and in AT&T stores starting November 22, and will sell for $60. For more on the Dexim P-Flip Power Dock, see our First Look article.
Tunewear has announced that it is now shipping its VisualDock AV Docking Station for the iPod and iPhone. VisualDock AV is a black iPod/iPhone dock featuring both S-Video and RCA/line outputs for connecting to a TV or home theater system, a “3D” sound processing with a button on the front to toggle it on and off, and a rear USB port with a switch for choosing between sync and charge or charge only functionality. Included with the VisualDock is an assortment of black iPod dock inserts, a USB wall charger, S-Video and RCA cables, and a remote control with menu navigation capabilities. Tunewear’s VisualDock AV for the iPod and iPhone is available now and sells for $80.
Chillingo has released Ravensword: The Fallen King, its latest game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Developed by Crescent Moon Games, Ravensword is a 3D action/adventure game with role-playing elements, offering a large, open sandbox-style world in which players can take on quests to earn money and experience, battle enemies including orcs, trolls, and demons, and uncover new weapons, items, and magical runes. Features include the ability to switch between first- and third-person perspectives, an original soundtrack with spacial 3D audio, an optional auto-targeting interface, and more. Ravensword: The Fallen King is available now and sells for $7.
THQ Wireless has released Star Wars: Trench Run, its latest Star Wars-themed title for the iPhone and iPod touch. Based on the final battle sequence of the original film, Trench Run places players in the shoes of a Rebel Alliance Red Squadron pilot, as they attempt to fight their way past the Death Star’s defenses, down into a trench where they must dodge obstacles, cannon fire, and Darth Vader’s ship while attempting to fire their guns into a small hole in order to destroy the battle station. Features include 3D graphics, original music and sound effects, accelerometer-based controls, multiple camera and gameplay modes with multiple difficulty levels, and online leader boards. Star Wars: Trench Run is priced at $5.
Google has released an update to its Google Earth application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Google Earth 2.0 allows users to create their own custom maps to be loaded into the application by logging into a Google Maps account, an improved interface for selecting photos, Wikipedia entries, and place information from the main view, improved performance, and expanded language support. Google Earth 2.0 for the iPhone and iPod touch is available now as a free download from the App Store.
Konami is currently offering its complete lineup of games for the iPhone and iPod touch for $1 each. The company’s titles include Metal Gear Solid Touch, Silent Hill: The Escape, Frogger, Silent Scope, Krazy Kart Racing, and more. It is unknown how long the company plans to keep its titles at this minimum price point.
According to a series of Twitter updates from Iconfactory developer Craig Hockenberry and John Gruber of Daring Fireball, Apple is now using an automated software tool to check for the use of private API calls in new App Store submissions. After Hockenberry stated that it “wouldn’t surprise [him] if the [App Store] review process now includes a step where they pass your binary through something that checks for framework use,” Gruber responded, saying that “Apple recently started running apps through a static analysis tool to look for private API calls,” adding that while he doesn’t know exactly what it flags, he does “believe that it is a serious tool, not simplistic.” The iPhone SDK Developer Agreement has always prohibited the use of private APIs, which, unlike public APIs, are subject to change and are sometimes used to access features Apple does not want to make available to third-party developers. This new system will likely make it easier for Apple to find these private API calls in third-party applications, as the software can scan the app’s codebase for the calls, while a human tester would either have to stumble upon, and recognize, use of the APIs during hands-on testing, or find the API call in a manual search of the app’s code. [via Gizmodo]
Apple has begun to air two new television commercials for the iPhone 3GS. As with past iPhone 3GS ads, these two continue Apple’s recent end of highlighting different apps on an iPhone set against a white background, and show a wide variety of applications. “Gift” mentions the applications Target, ColorChange, The Snow Report, Monopoly Here & Now: The World Edition, HotelPal, and Zipcar, while “Song” highlights Jamie Oliver’s 20 Minute Meals, Credit Card Terminal, Facebook, The Sims 3, Redfin Real Estate, and Shazam. Both commercials are available for viewing on Apple’s website.
The delayed approval status of three DJ applications for the iPhone and iPod touch—from three separate developers—has raised questions from fans of the genre as to whether Apple is intentionally delaying their release. Touch DJ from Amidio, Sonorasaurus from Pajamahouse Studios, and DJ Player from Musicsoft Arts have all been in review for some time, with no word from Apple on what might be causing the delays. “We have been waiting about 3 months now with no word on if we are approved and when we can release,” reads an update on Pajamahouse Studios’ Sonorasaurus website. Unlike current “DJ” apps already available in the App Store, all three of these applications would allow the user to mix his/her own tracks together, complete with simultaneous playback of at least two tracks, pitch, fade, tempo and other controls. In addition, all three developers have seen other apps approved in the past, most notably Musicsoft Arts, whose DJ Spooky The Secret Song app is actually based on the yet-to-be-approved DJ Player.
An online petition created to spur Apple into accepting DJ applications for sale on the App Store notes that the company doesn’t allow dual access of the iPod music library stored on the iPhone and iPod touch, which forced each developer to implement an alternative method—transfer over Wi-Fi—of accessing songs for mixing, but despite their efforts, they have yet to see release. [Thanks, Kasabian]
Update: Touch DJ form Amidio has now been approved and is available from the App Store for $20.
Marware has introduced the SportShell Convertible for the fifth-generation iPod nano. This 3-in-1 solution features a clear hard shell case that can be attached to either an included armband or carrying clip, the latter of which doubles as a stand, or can be carried by itself for a minimum profile. Other features include open access to all ports and controls, and an included clear screen protector and cleaning cloth. Marware’s SportShell Convertible for the iPod nano 5G is available now and sells for $35.
Online headphone and earphone retailer SoundEarphones.com is currently offering a 20% off coupon to all iLounge readers. To take advantage of the discount, simply enter the coupon code lounge20 during the checkout process. The coupon is valid until November 30 and is good for 20% off anything offered on the online store.
Inventor Alissa Gardenhire-Crooks has unveiled the IMP Earbud Belt, a new accessory that aims to secure earbud cords to an iPod, iPhone, or other mobile device. The lightweight IMP is available in five- or seven-inch varieties, good for the iPod nano or iPod classic/touch, respectively, and is also available in either black or with a multi-color pattern. The IMP Earbud Belt is available now and sells for $7 for the five-inch version and $9 for the seven-inch model.
Activision has released Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies, its latest game for the iPhone and iPod touch. The game is based on a special gameplay mode that was available in the console version of Call of Duty: World at War, and features three different control schemes, single-player and co-op multiplayer modes, including up to four players over Wi-Fi and two over Bluetooth, a full list of unique unlockable achievements, online leaderboard support, support for future downloadable content, and more. Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies is available now and sells for $10.
Following months of back-and-forth between Palm and Apple over the Palm Pre’s “Media Sync” feature, which enabled the handset to masquerade as an iPod in order to sync with iTunes, the latest update to the Pre’s webOS fails to restore the functionality, perhaps signaling an end to the dispute. According to Boy Genius Report, webOS 1.3.1 does not include iTunes support, although the company’s last webOS release, 1.2.1, did include a fix for iTunes syncing with iTunes 9 and 9.0.1. Apple later released iTunes 9.0.2, which again broke Palm’s Media Sync functionality. USB Implementers Forum executive director Traci Donnell told Palm in September that using Apple’s Vendor ID to falsely identify its devices as iPods and circumvent iTunes’ restrictions was “specifically precluded” by the USB-IF’s policies.
Prior to its acquisition by Google, mobile advertising firm AdMob was approached by Apple about a possible purchase, according to a new report. Citing a person familiar with the matter—who declined to be identified due to the private nature of the negotiations—Bloomberg reports that Apple approached AdMob to discuss a possible acquisition “a few weeks” before Google made its $750 million bid. Apple declined to comment on the story, while a spokesperson for AdMob said the company doesn’t comment on “rumor and speculation.” A purchase by Apple would have allowed the company to extend into online advertising, stated Karsten Weide, an analyst with research firm IDC. “If a lot of traffic goes through my devices, why can’t I become the middleman that serves ads against that inventory?” Weide said. “AdMob would have allowed [Apple] to do that quickly.” Weide estimates that together, Google and AdMob will account for between 30 and 40 percent of the mobile advertising market.
Apple has posted a job listing for a “Game/Media Software Engineer” to help develop “interactive multimedia experiences on the iPhone and iPod touch.” Among the preferred background requirements are 3-4 years of video game development experience, with at least one “AAA title” shipped, skills in “audio systems, graphics pipeline, and network programming,” and a passion for gaming. The job description states that the hire will “work as part of a small highly motivated team” and that the position “requires a creative thinker who can contribute and comment on the design process as well as being flexible enough to aid in all aspects of production such as asset management and able to work to a deadline.”
Mac Rumors notes that Apple has hired experienced game designer and programmer Graeme Devine, who most recently was the Lead Designer on the real-time strategy game Halo Wars for the Xbox 360, suggesting the company is forming an in-house gaming development team. Thus far, Apple has released only one first-party game for the iPhone and iPod touch, the App Store launch day title Texas Hold’em.
Yamaha has introduced its new MCR-140 micro-component music system for the iPod. The MCR-140 features a built-in CD player, front-panel USB port, FM radio, and 3.5mm auxiliary input, an included remote control, as well as an iPod dock on the top. In addition, it features a wireless transmitter for iPods that utilizes the company’s yAired wireless technology to allow users to listen to their music remotely while maintaining direct control from their device. An optional wireless subwoofer kit is also available. The MCR-140 system is available in orange, dark or light blue, white, red, dark green, brown, light or dark gray, or pink, and sells for $400; a non-wireless version, the MCR-040, is also available in the same colors for $280. [via Engadget]