Whether you consider it a game or an odd little demo, Namco Bandai’s Noby Noby Boy has been ported to the iPhone and iPod touch, and will arrive in the App Store roughly one year after its debut on the PlayStation 3. Developed by Keita Takahashi of Katamari Damacy fame, Noby Noby Boy similarly utilizes deliberately unfamiliar play mechanics and a galactic theme to attempt to hook players: Katamari titles involved rolling up balls of junk that eventually increased to planetary scale, and Noby Noby Boy places you in control of a worm-like creature named Boy who is stretched like an ever-expanding rope from a tiny centimeter size to eventually—with help from other players working collaboratively online—reach and unlock other planets. Unlike the joystick-based PlayStation 3 version, which the game oddly acknowledges in a text bubble “received a mixed reaction,” the iPhone and iPod touch version has you touch Boy’s left and right sides to stretch him out.
Decidedly experimental in design, the iPhone and iPod touch version of Noby Noby Boy incorporates a variety of fascinating iPhone OS 3.0 multitasking features, including a play mode that links Boy’s stretching to your use of Google Maps, a button that lets you browse a collection of web sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google from within the game, and a floating music player that has album art for a torso and control buttons on its hands and feet. Camera modes enable you to take pictures to use as in-game backgrounds, and overlay the game on top of live video from the iPhone 3GS, as well. Namco Bandai also leverages social networking services to enable players to share their current progress with friends. The title is due to appear in the App Store soon, but pricing has not been announced. Additional screenshots can be seen by clicking on the title of this article.
In recognition of the ongoing XXI Olympic Winter Games and Valentine’s Day, today’s classic image from our iPods Around the World archive shows a pink iPod mini near English Bay Beach in the city of Vancouver, Canada.
We’re looking for your great iPhone and iPod images to add to our galleries! Wintertime shots and anything else you might be able to contribute would be appreciated! So get out there, take some pictures featuring your favorite iPod or iPhone and maybe your submission will be our next Photo of the Week!
IMDb has released a major update to its free movie and TV database app. IMDb 1.1 improves searching and browsing performance, adds a history feature, in-app web browser, and localized TV listings. The update also provides additional charts for top movies and TV shows, the ability to e-mail showtimes and movie info to friends, new DVD release info and shopping integration with Amazon. As of version 1.1, IMDb is also now available outside of the U.S. App Store and provides multiple language support and access to other International IMDb and Amazon sites, although some features such as movie showtimes and TV listings features remain available for the U.S. only. IMDb 1.1 is available from the App Store as a free download.
Tunewear has introduced its new Tunewallet case for the iPod touch. The Tunewallet is a hybrid wallet and iPod touch case, featuring a horizontal flip-open design, dual interior card slots, one with a quick release hole, open access to all ports and controls, an included screen protector and cleaning cloth, and an orange, pink, or green elastic band for secure closure. The Tunewallet for iPod touch is compatible with all iPod touch models and is available now for $25.
M-Edge, makers of cases and protective solutions for e-readers like the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble nook, has announced a new line of cases for the Apple iPad. The lineup includes the FlexStand, a stand featuring rubber bumpers at each corner for holding the iPad and flexible steel legs for positioning the stand on different surfaces, the Leisure Jacket, a ripstop nylon case featuring a high density foam frame for protecting the iPad and a clear vinyl front cover that allows the iPad to be used while still encased, the Executive Jacket, a leather flip-style case with a plush fabric interior and the ability to be used as a horizontal stand, the Platform Jacket, a leather flip-style similar to the Executive Jacket but with a vertical-oriented design instead of horizontal, the Trip Jacket, a canvas and leather notebook-like cover with a horizontally-opening front cover and microfiber interior, and the Flip Jacket, which is similar to the Trip Jacket but with a vertically-opening design.
Also included in M-Edge’s lineup is the Latitude Jacket, a zip-open ripstop nylon case with polar fleece interior, the Page Sleeve, a simple, vertical leather case with microsuede interior, the Slip Sleeve, a horizontal canvas and leather case featuring a top-opening flap cover with elastic strap closure and microfiber interior, the Touring Sleeve, a zip-open neoprene case with polar fleece interior, the Hip Bag, a vertical, messenger-style canvas bag with microfiber lining and zip closure, the Journey Bag, a larger, horizontal messenger bag made from ripstop nylon and featuring a dedicated zippered fleece compartment for the iPad and a larger main compartment for chargers and other accessories, and the Destination Bag, a leather bag with microfiber interior, dedicated zipper pocket for the iPad, and an adjustable, removable shoulder strap. M-Edge’s line of new cases for the Apple iPad is listed as coming soon; pricing has yet to be announced.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has released a free iPhone application allowing users to explore hundreds of images taken from spacecraft studying the solar system and beyond. Users can search for images or browse by category, submit ratings for images and view top-rated images from the library. The application also allows users to e-mail images to friends or save directly to the iPhone’s photo library and read full image descriptions from the JPL Photojournal. Space Images is compatible with iPhone and iPod touch devices running OS 3.1.2 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
RealVNC, developer of the popular suite of Virtual Network Computing (VNC) remote control solutions, has released its VNC Viewer application for the iPhone and iPod touch. VNC Viewer allows users to remote control computers running any VNC-compatible server application. Additionally, VNC Viewer provides enhanced security features and performance when connecting to computers running RealVNC’s own server apps, including 128-bit encryption and RSA authentication when used with VNC Enterprise Edition. The application supports the copy-and-paste on the iPhone OS, host computer screen resolutions up to 5120x2400 and a touchscreen optimized interface. VNC Viewer can also be used to connect to Mac computers using the built-in Screen Sharing feature in Mac OS X. VNC Viewer is available on the App Store for $10.
Handmark has released an update to its popular Zagat To Go restaurant guide app, adding offline access, end-user reviews, and augmented reality features. Zagat To Go provides access to reviews and information from 45 different restaurant guides covering major North American cities, including GPS capabilities, recommendations, and support for making reservations directly from within the app. Version 3.0 adds an offline mode allowing users to synchronize the guide information to their iPhone or iPod touch over Wi-Fi for offline reference and the ability for users to add their own reviews. iPhone 3GS users can also access the new RETINA Augmented Reality feature to view restaurant locations in a real-time camera view. Zagat To Go requires an iPhone or iPod touch running OS 3.1 or later and is available from the App Store for $10.
RealArcade has released Vancouver 2010—The Official Game of the Olympic Winter Games. The game allows the player to compete either solo or with friends in five Olympic sport events, including cross country skiing, 500m short track speed skating, snowboard cross, biathlon and freestyle moguls. Events can be played individually or in sequence in an “Olympic Games” campaign mode. Single-device multiplayer is supported to allow users to compete with up to five other players on the same device. Vancouver 2010 - The Official Game of the Olympic Winter Games is compatible with the iPhone and iPod touch running OS 2.2.1 or later and available on the App Store for $3.
Japanese authorities plan to summon Apple officials this week over a rash of complaints from iTunes Store customers who have been billed for charges they never made. AFP reports that at least 95 cases involving five major credit card companies have been filed, in which iTunes customers said they had sometimes been charged thousands of dollars. “We have seen such cases increasing, notably since autumn last year,” said an official with Japan’s Consumer Affairs Agency. “The damage in those cases seems to range from a few hundred yen to several hundred thousand yen (from several dollars to several thousand dollars).” The agency official went on to cite the case of one particular woman, “who registered her ID and credit card number on the music download site several years ago but hadn’t used it in recent years received bills of purchases that she wasn’t aware of. The amount of money she was charged over several bills totalled more than 100,000 yen (1,100 dollars).” Japanese industry and communications ministries has also become involved in the probe, and are investigating whether personal data has been stolen.
Following the publication of several unauthorized biographies on Apple CEO Steve Jobs, which lacked his cooperation and sometimes drew his ire, the Apple co-founder is set to collaborate on an official biography. Citing two people briefed on the project, the New York Times reports that Jobs has agreed to collaborate with Walter Isaacson, former managing editor of Time magazine, on the book. Still in the early planning stages, the book is said to cover Jobs’ entire life, from his youth in the Silicon Valley area through his second term at Apple. Jobs, who will turn 55 on February 24, has reportedly invited Isaacson to tour his childhood home as part of the project. Isaacson is the author of two previous best-selling biographies, “Einstein: His Life and Universe” and “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life;” all of his books have been published by Simon & Schuster, which was touted as one of five major publishers on board to provide content for Apple’s upcoming iBookstore.
Macworld UK reports that Opera has shown a preview of its iPhone browser at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Opera co-founder Jon S. von Tetzchner briefly demonstrated the Opera Mobile for iPhone app, showing pages rendering very quickly due to page optimization on Opera’s own servers. Tetzchner indicates that Opera “compress[es] data up to 90 per cent” and is claiming that Opera should be “up to six times faster on 3G networks.” Other Opera Mobile for iPhone features include a tabbed browsing interface and support for saved passwords and bookmarks as well as the ability to automatically zoom in on text columns. Tetzchner notes that Opera has not yet been submitted to the App Store and speculation remains as to whether Opera Mobile will be accepted by Apple, although the new version of Opera has been written using native iPhone code rather than simply being a port of the original mobile app. Alternative browsers have been available on the App Store for almost a year, however Opera Mobile is unique in that it does not use the iPhone WebKit engine. Opera has not yet announced an expected release date for Opera Mobile for iPhone.
A number of newspaper and magazine publishers are expressing concerns over potential deals with Apple due to fears that the company will not be as forthcoming with customer data as the publications would like. The Financial Times reports that Apple’s history of sharing little customer data beyond sales volume information could prove to be a “deal breaker,” said one senior media executive in discussions with Apple. “We have for many years relied on subscriptions to be able to communicate with our readers,” Sara Öhrvall, senior vice-president of research at Swedish publisher Bonnier, told FT. “It is absolutely crucial to keep the data. That’s something that our advertisers need. It is something that we need.” Also a concern is the ability to identify current print subscribers to offer them discounts or free access to digital versions. Customers “will be really upset if we try to charge [them] again,” Ms Öhrvall said. Regardless of the device, she added that “it’s a deal killer.”
Publishers are also said to be wary of Apple’s revenue model, which would see the publisher paid 70 percent of the selling price, with Apple keeping the rest. While the plan makes sense for books, publishers said, it makes less sense for recurring charges like subscriptions, adding that giving away close to a third of subscription sales over an indefinite period of time would be hard to accept.
Meebo, developers of the popular web-based Instant Messaging application, have released a native IM app for iPhone and iPod touch users. Prior to the advent of the App Store, Meebo was one of the few iPhone optimized web applications for instant messaging on the first-generation iPhone. Released yesterday, the new Meebo app provides a native iPhone application with support for over 100 IM networks through the Meebo service. The Meebo app also includes push notifications, support for multiple conversations, landscape keyboard support, searchable chat history and an integrated buddy list. Chat history is synchronized between the iPhone and the meebo.com web-based chat service, and users can seamlessly switch between the web-based chat and the iPhone app in the same chat session. Meebo requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
In spite of increasing competition between the two companies, a Google executive has made positive public comments about its relationship with Apple. Reuters reports that Vic Gundotra, head of mobile engineering for Google, said, “Apple is a very close and valuable partner and we’re very excited about the relationship we have with them today. We have no reason to believe that’s going to change.” Speaking at an industry roundtable discussion at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Gundotra was also pressed on the issue of Google’s presence on the iPhone, and responded, We don’t want to comment on those rumors. We think that relationship is stable.” A report from January stated that Apple was in talks with Microsoft to see the latter’s Bing service replace Google as the default search engine on the iPhone; a more recent analyst note said there was a “high” likelihood of the deal becoming a reality. Apple CEO Steve Jobs also took a couple of shots at Google during a recent company meeting, reportedly saying that some “teams at Google want to kill us,” and added that Google’s “Don’t be evil” mantra is “a load of crap.”
IGN reports that Capcom is planning a March release of Street Fighter IV on the iPhone and iPod touch. Reportedly still under development, the game is expected to be specifically optimized for the iPhone platform, with Capcom having taken a great deal of time and effort to develop controls suitable for the touchscreen interface. Further, Capcom plans to use artwork assets from the current generation Street Fighter IV code to provide a visual experience similar to the console version and has confirmed that both classic brawlers and new characters will be available in the game. Street Fighter IV will also support multiplayer gaming to allow two players to fight it out over Bluetooth just like the arcade and console versions. No specific availability date or price has yet been announced. More information and screenshots can be found on IGN.
Apple may be planning to use its FairPlay Digital Rights Management (DRM) software on iBookstore purchases. Citing sources in the publishing industry, the Los Angeles Times reports that Apple will use its proven DRM to protect book sales from the iBookstore, although some publishers, such as O’Reilly Media—which has spoken out against DRM on e-book sales—may choose to opt-out of FairPlay on its offerings. According to the report, O’Reilly is in negotiations with Apple offer its books on the iBookstore, which will be part of the new iBooks app expected to launch alongside the iPad. Apple originally developed FairPlay for use on the iTunes Music Store, but has since moved to selling all DRM-free music.
Hog Bay Software has released TaskPaper for the iPhone and iPod touch, a mobile version of its popular TaskPaper to-do list application for the Mac. Like it’s desktop counterpart, TaskPaper on the iPhone focuses on a simplified, paper-like user experience, providing basic list elements for users to create flexible outlines and task lists. TaskPaper includes searching, filtering and tagging capabilities and can synchronize with TaskPaper on the Mac via the SimpleText.ws online service. TaskPaper is available on the App Store for $5 and includes a $5 discount code for TaskPaper for Mac.
According to new data from application analysis service Flurry Analytics, the announcement of the iPad has led to a huge spike in iPhone development. Flurry saw over 1,600 new iPhone OS application starts in January, compared to under 600 in December. In addition, this spike in new iPhone OS applications has helped the iPhone gain in percentage of overall application project starts versus Android, which accounted for nearly 30% of new project starts in December, compared to under 20% in January. According to the company, “the recent spike in Apple iPad support has swung the pendulum back in Apple’s favor to a level not seen at Flurry in six months. The unprecedented surge in support for iPad is a positive early indicator for its commercial potential.” Flurry tracks over 20,000 live applications and over 2 billion user sessions each month, across the iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, and J2ME platforms. Apple is expected to launch its first iPad models in late March.
Roeland van der Spek has released an update to his flight planning application, PreFlight, adding support for looking up and downloading aviation notices (NOTAMs) from the FAA database. NOTAMs are available for most countries worldwide and downloaded automatically for origin, destination and alternate fields identified in the user’s flight plan as well as any relevant fields or flight information regions (FIRs) en-route. NOTAMs containing coordinates will be shown on the map along the user’s intended route. PreFlight is a multi-leg flight planning application for pilots that provides flight computer calculations, navigation and route planning. The app can automatically look up wind information to provide proper wind correction and cruise altitude data for each leg of a flight. PreFlight is available on the App Store for $17. For users who only want an application to look up NOTAMs without the extra flight planning features, the developer also provides a separate app, NOTAMs for $6 on the App Store.