Apple has started blocking so-called “cookie-cutter” basic applications from the App Store, according to a new report. Citing developer comments, TechCrunch reports that Apple is cracking down on applications that function as little more than glorified RSS feeds or business cards, many of which have traditionally been produced by app-building services. One such service, Appmakr, said Apple has reached out to provide suggestions which could be used to improve the service. The company now plans to add more advanced features to the apps that it builds, including push notifications, in-app purchases, offline access, and landscape viewing modes. Other services, according to anonymous developer comments, are not receiving as much help from Apple on improving their products; TechCrunch suggests these are likely the services offering only the most basic of app templates. Notably, Apple does not appear to be going through the store and removing currently available applications that would not be approved under this new policy, as it did with a large number of “overtly sexual” applications last month.
A team of Apple executives is expected to arrive in the United Kingdom this week for discussions with mobile operators about the iPad. The Sunday Times reports that Apple is expected to sign deals with more than one mobile operator, instead of going with a single provider approach. All three current UK iPhone carriers—O2, Orange, and Vodafone—are said to be anxious to make a deal, due to the positive buzz around the product and the potential data revenues it could produce. Citing anonymous sources, the report states that preliminary discussions about the iPad have already taken place between Apple and the carriers, but pricing details have yet to be worked out. Notably, the report also claims that Apple CEO Steve Jobs is not expected to take part in the discussions, which are scheduled to run into next week. Apple has announced that it will launch both the Wi-Fi and 3G models of the iPad in the UK in late April.
China Unicom is working with Apple to build a Wi-Fi-capable version of the iPhone for the Chinese market, according to comments from Unicom chairman Chang Xiaobing. During initial negotiations between the two companies, Chinese regulations required handset makers to use a homegrown standard called WAPI for wireless Internet instead of Wi-Fi, causing Apple to remove the feature from iPhones bound for the Chinese market. These regulations were later revised to allow for Wi-Fi alongside WAPI, but only after Apple had finished its redesign of the phone. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Chang’s comments to reporters indicate that the revision in policy has opened the door for a new model of iPhone with Wi-Fi capability. Without giving a specific timetable for the arrival of the new model, Chang did say that if the new model is introduced the company would consider compensating current iPhone users by allowing them greater use of China Unicom’s 3G network. China Unicom launched the iPhone in China in October 2009, and had sold 300,000 units as of December 29.
Sprout Creation has introduced its new Vers Wood case for the Apple iPad. Handcrafted from solid hardwoods and bamboo, the case features steel reinforcement for added strength, a soft, scratch resistant lining, a form factor that covers the rear, sides, and bezel of the iPad, a top-loading design, open access to the 30-pin connector, volume controls, headphone port, home and power buttons, and an optional integrated vertical stand. Sprout Creation’s Vers Wood case for iPad is listed as coming soon and will sell for $80.
Apple has aired its first television commercial for the iPad, during the broadcast of the 82nd Annual Academy Awards. The 30-second spot shows the iPad in use, and highlights many of the device’s built-in applications, including Photos, Maps, iTunes, iPod, Safari, Calendar, and Mail, along with iBooks, the iBookstore, and Pages. The ad finishes by showing the device’s launch date followed by the iPad name; the spot also features the song “There Goes My Love” by The Blue Van throughout. Notably, Apple used the same event—the Academy Awards—to air its first iPhone television commercial. Apple’s new iPad commercial is now available for viewing on Apple’s website.
If you haven’t yet entered our Schlage LiNK Giveaway, there’s still time to do so. In our Giveaway of the Month for March, iLounge and Schlage are giving away five Schlage LiNK Starter Kits with Wireless Keypad Deadbolts, which are compatible with the Schlage LiNK iPhone app. To enter, simply fill out and submit the form on the giveaway page—the giveaway will end on March 31, 2010 at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Good luck!
According to data from the latest ChangeWave survey, respondents looking to purchase an e-Reader in the next 90 days are more likely to buy an iPad than an Amazon Kindle. Specifically, 40% of those respondents said they would purchase an iPad, compared to 28% for the Amazon Kindle, 6% for the Barnes & Noble Nook, and only 1% who said they planned to purchase a Sony Reader. Among current e-Reader owners, 27% said they would have purchased an iPad instead of their current e-Reader had it been available at the time, compared to 45% who would have still purchased their current e-Reader, and 30% of respondents who didn’t know. The survey also asked likely iPad buyers about the timing of their purchase. 6% said they expected to purchase an iPad within a week of its release, 10% said they would likely purchase one 2-4 weeks after its release, 20% said they would likely buy an iPad 2-3 months after its release, and 23% said they thought they would purchase one 4-6 months after its release. Another 19% said they expected to purchase an iPad 7-12 months after its release, while only 8% said they expected to wait for more than a year before purchasing an iPad. ChangeWave’s survey consisted of 3,171 consumers, and was conducted from Feb 1-10, 2010.
A newly-published Apple patent application suggests the company is looking at offering ad-supported video content on its devices. Titled “System and Method for Video Insertion Into Media Stream or File,” the patent describes a system by which video files, such as TV shows, would feature built-in segments, that could be filled with various forms of advertising. According to the patent, segments past the next scheduled ad break could be locked until the user watches the set of ads related to that segment; the ads could be bundled separately from the media itself, and could be removed from the content stream upon reaching a set expiration date. As with all Apple patents, this filing does not necessarily represent any future product release from Apple, but offers evidence of the company’s research in this area. [via Patently Apple]
Following last month’s acquisition of reMail by Google, developer Gabor Cselle announced today that he has released the reMail code under an open source license as he will be focusing on other projects at Google. After purchasing reMail, Google decided to discontinue the application and remove it from the App Store, although existing users who had already purchased the app were able to continue using it. Cselle writes in his blog that he has open sourced the code because he is passionate about mobile e-mail, and hopes “that developers interested in making email-related apps can use reMail code as a starting point.” The source code for reMail is now available on Google Code as remail-iphone under the Apache 2.0 License.
Volkwagen has released a unique new racing game for the iPhone and iPod touch that challenges players to drive efficiently rather than simply fast. In Think Blue Challenge players are rewarded for efficient driving and maximum range, with the goal of racking up the most kilometers by consuming the least amount of fuel. Quiz questions are presented between each game stage to provide tips on how to play and fuel bonuses for correct answers. Scores can be submitted to an online high score table and players can also submit their scores to the Volkswagen eGames Facebook page. Volkswagen Think Blue Challenge is available from the App Store as a free download.
The latest edition of iPodweek, our weekly newsletter covering all things iLounge, is coming later today. iPodweek is a weekly summary of the best news, reviews, and feature articles we’ve published, and it also features giveaways and iPod accessory discount offers from various companies. There’s still plenty of time to sign up and receive this week’s edition — just use the simple form below to submit your email address, if you haven’t done so already.
IMPORTANT: Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Earthlink and others, make sure we don’t end up in your spam box. Please accept emails from iLounge.com. Thank you.
An iTunes dialog box spotted by iPhone and Mac developer Fraser Speirs suggests Apple may be considering implementation of upgrade pricing in the App Store. The dialog box carries the heading “You do not qualify for this price,” going on to explain that “[t]his discounted price is only available to customers who own a previous version of this item. To purchase this item at full price, click OK.” Curiously, no “OK” button is offered, instead users have a choice between “Cancel” and “Buy.” The ability to offer current users upgraded software at a discount has been a feature long requested by iPhone developers; Apple has yet to officially announce such a feature.
Update: According to a Mac Rumors forum thread, the dialog box has in fact been in use for some time, and may be presented to users who attempt to re-download or update an application while logged into a different iTunes account than the one used to purchase the application originally.
Apple has announced that the Wi-Fi-only version of its long-awaited iPad tablet will launch on Saturday, April 3 in the United States, with the 3G model launching in late April. U.S. customers will be able to pre-order both Wi-Fi-only and 3G iPads from Apple’s online store, or reserve a Wi-Fi model for pick up at an Apple retail store, beginning on March 12. Internationally, all models of iPad will be available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK in late April, with additional countries coming later this year.
“iPad is something completely new,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We’re excited for customers to get their hands on this magical and revolutionary product and connect with their apps and content in a more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before.”
SpinThought has released a new version of its StoryPages app for creating illustrated stories directly on the iPhone or iPod touch. StoryPages uses a storyboarding format similar to film and animation production and allows users to quickly layout drawings and associated text within a storyline. The StoryPages documents can be converted to PDF to share via e-mail or PNG to export to the photo library. StoryPages 2 adds full-screen landscape and portrait drawing modes and one-tap access to colored pencils and an eraser. Users can also set backgrounds using images from the device’s photo library, and the application now also provides full undo and redo support. StoryPages is available on the App Store for $3.
Soma Games has announced a major update to its game G: Into The Rain. G is a gravity golf genre puzzle game where players build and launch exploration rockets to map out an uncharted solar system. Completely rewritten from the ground up, G 2.0 improves game performance, adds on-line leaderboards, more interactive arcade-style gameplay, an expanded storyline and Facebook and Twitter integration. To promote the launch of the new version Soma Games is also running an in-game contest where players can compete to win an iPad by playing the game and posting their high scores to the online leaderboard. The contest runs through March 17, 2010; full contest rules can be found at the developer’s web site. G: Into The Rain is available on the App Store for $1; a free Lite version is also available for the contest.
New Potato Technologies has announced its new FLPR universal remote control accessory for the iPhone and iPod touch. FLPR is a dock-connecting infrared accessory that works in concert with the company’s free FLPR application to let users control any IR remote-controlled device from their iPhones or iPod touches. Features include a preprogrammed database of over 14,000 remote control codes, customizable skins and icons for each device, support for a wide range of IR devices including TVs, cable/satellite boxes, DVD/CD players, and lighting control systems, the ability to learn new remote codes from existing remote controls, and the ability to create custom macro sequences that perform functions across multiple devices. New Potato Technologies’ FLPR universal remote control accessory for the iPhone and iPod touch is available now and sells for $80.
Caze has unveiled its new Jade Polish Rainbow case for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. An accented version of the company’s Jade Polish See-Thru case, the Polish Rainbow features more than 50 Swarovski crystals of different colors scattered around the bottom of the case’s rear to create a rainbow pattern. Included with the case are one mirror-finish and one anti-fingerprint screen protector, clear protection film for the Apple logo, a wallet-size iPhone stand, and either a free Swarovski Apple logo cover or a free bonus iPhone case. Caze’s Jade Polish Rainbow case for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS is available now and sells for $39.
Philips has launched a new webpage dedicated to its upcoming accessories for the Apple iPad. Included on the page are a new sleeve-style soft case that offers a reversible design with different inner and outer colors, a leatherette case with a velcro-closure top flap, neoprene lining, and added padding for the screen, and a screen protector. Also shown on the page are a device-agnostic portable speaker and a pair of headphones; no exact product names, pricing, or release dates have yet been announced.
For the third year in a row, Apple has been ranked as the “World’s Most Admired Company” by Fortune. The magazine describes Apple as the company that “changed the way we do everything from buy music to design products to engage with the world around us. Its track record for innovation and fierce consumer loyalty translates into tremendous respect across business’ highest ranks.” A quote from BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer is also included, stating, “The whole world held its breath before the iPad was announced. That’s brand management at its very best.” Joining Apple in Fortune’s top five are Google, Berkshire Hathaway, Johnson & Johnson, and Amazon. Fortune’s rankings are based on the results of a survey conducted among 4,170 executives, directors, and securities analysts, who were asked to list the 10 companies they admired most.
The AppMaster has released a new free reference app for the 2010 Academy Awards. Meet The Oscars provides a full list of this year’s Academy Awards nominees, organized by category and film and allows users to keep a checklist of which movies they have viewed or are interested in seeing. Links to IMDB are provided for each nominated film, director and actor and users can view movie trailers directly from within the app. Meet The Oscars is available from the App Store as a free download.