Kishonti Informatics has released GLBenchmark, a universal app for measuring 3D graphics performance on iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices. GLBenchmark provides 36 different tests to measure graphic and computational performance of the various iOS devices, focusing on the underlying OpenGL ES 1.x graphics implementation. The app includes a variety of GPU/CPU skinning and 3D rendering tests as well as graphic measurements for fill rate, lighting, texture filters/size and triangles. Users can choose which specific tests to run and tap on any specific test to read more information about that test. Users can view results directly within the app and optionally upload and share their results on the developer’s web site where results are compared to a variety of other mobile devices. GLBenchmark 1.1 is available from the App Store for $5.
iOS developer Kevin Ng has released results from an experiment he conducted with his app Kick Flick 2010. Early last month, Ng released a free update to the iPhone and iPod touch version of his app adding support for both the iPad and the iPhone 4 Retina Display, bundling this into a single $1 application rather than following the approach of other game developers in releasing a separate premium “HD” version of the game. In reviewing the past month of sales results, Ng believes that the figures make a “compelling argument” for iPhone developers to include iPad support for free in existing apps rather than charging customers twice for the same product.
Ng constructed a graph of sales starting with its initial release in July, noting that additional purchases following the update almost matched the launch spike. Two weeks after its initial launch, Apple chose to feature the game in the iPad section of the App Store, leading to an even larger surge. Ng believes that providing support for both iPhone and iPad in the same, inexpensive app resulted in the application getting better exposure by being noticed and featured by Apple and by hitting top application charts in both the iPhone and iPad sections of the App Store. Ng notes that since the iPad and iPhone versions are the same product in the App Store, sales on either platform contribute toward the sales rankings in both sections. From this experience, Ng concludes that it makes sense for developers to add iPad support to their existing apps rather than charging extra and feels that this situation is “Win-win for the developer and the customer.”
Aurora Feint has announced plans to expand its OpenFeint social gaming network to connect users on both iOS and Android devices. Named OpenFeint PlayTime, the service will allow multiplayer gameplay, matchmaking, and even real-time voice chat between users playing games on iOS and Android devices. The service is currently available in a private beta; iOS and Android developers can apply to the program at the OpenFeint Developer page. No further details have been announced on when the service will actually be released and begin appearing in games. [via Engadget]
ALK Technologies has released an update to CoPilot Live, its turn-by-turn GPS navigation app for the iPhone and iPod touch adding support for new services and updated maps. CoPilot Live North America and CoPilot Live USA now provides ActiveTraffic, an upgraded version of its optional Live Traffic service which improves on the prior service by extending live traffic coverage beyond highways and interstates to also include arterial roads, city streets and secondary roads across the U.S., using data from traffic information provider INRIX. The ActiveTraffic feature is a free upgrade for current CoPilot Live users who have already subscribed to Premium Live Services, and a 14-day free trial of ActiveTraffic is available for other CoPilot Live users. The update also provides in-app MapSure reporting for submitting map updates and corrections and a full map update to the latest Q2 2010 map data which adds thousands of new miles of roads in the U.S. and Canada including map improvements submitted by customers. The latest version also reducing the amount of time that the app remains running in the background while idle on multitasking-capable iOS 4 devices and improves memory usage for iPhone 3G and 3GS users. CoPilot Live North America is available from the App Store for $20; CoPilot Live USA is available for $5. Both versions are free updates for current users.
Location-based social networking services Foursquare and Gowalla have released updates to their iOS applications addressing recently revealed security concerns. A report by software developer Martin Kou last week revealed that both the Foursquare and Gowalla iOS applications were sending all information to their respective services using clear, unencrypted connections, making it possible for usernames, passwords and other information to be intercepted, particularly when used over an open Wi-Fi network. Both companies responded quickly to the report indicating that they were preparing updates to their iOS apps to address these issues. Gowalla has released updates to Gowalla and Gowalla for iPad enabling more secure OAuth authentication while Foursquare has released an update to its Foursquare app adding SSL support to provide encrypted submission of user information. All three apps are available from the App Store as free downloads and should appear as automatic updates for current users.
The Federal Trade Commission has announced that it has reached a settlement with Reverb Communications, Inc. and its sole owner, Tracie Snitker, over what it claimed were deceptive advertising practices. According to the FTC’s announcement, the Commission believes that Reverb “engaged in deceptive advertising by having employees pose as ordinary consumers posting game reviews at the online iTunes store, and not disclosing that the reviews came from paid employees working on behalf of the developers.” The allegedly phony reviews were posted by Reverb and Snitker between November 2008 and May 2009 on the pages of the company’s client’s games. “Companies, including public relations firms involved in online marketing need to abide by long-held principles of truth in advertising,” said Mary Engle, Director of the FTC’s Division of Advertising Practices. “Advertisers should not pass themselves off as ordinary consumers touting a product, and endorsers should make it clear when they have financial connections to sellers.”
Snitker denies the charges, telling Kotaku that the issue was “specific to a handful of small, independently developed iPhone apps that several team members downloaded onto their personal iPhones in their own time using their own money and accounts, a right and privilege afforded to every iPhone and iTouch user. This was neither mandated by Reverb nor connected to our policies.” As part of the proposed settlement, Reverb and Snitker must remove any “previously posted endorsements that misrepresent the authors as independent users or ordinary consumers, and that fail to disclose a connection between Reverb and Snitker and the seller of a product or service.”
Facebook has issued a clarification of text posted on its official Facebook for iOS app page that indicated the app had more than 100 million active users. “There are currently 44 million monthly active users of the Facebook for iPhone app,” a Facebook spokesman told Engadget. “We recently changed the definition of mobile active users to exclude those who have only liked or commented on stream stories. Instead we are counting ‘active’ users as people who have taken explicit actions within an application. This practice is more aligned with how we count overall active users for the site.” This brings the overall percentage of iOS users who also actively use the Facebook app down to roughly 40%, far from the huge percentage represented by the prior 100 million figure.
Netflix has released version 1.1.0 of its iOS application, adding support for the iPhone and iPod touch. Released for the iPad in April, the Netflix app allows qualifying subscribers to “instantly” stream movies and TV shows over Wi-Fi or 3G connections, resume watching where they left off on their TV, computer, or other device, browse movies, and manage their instant queues. Netflix version 1.1.0 for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad is available now as a free download from the App Store.
2K Sports has released its new NHL 2K11 game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Created using the company’s proprietary console game engine, NHL 2K11 is a professional hockey simulation game, featuring Season, Quick Game, Free Skate and Shootout gameplay modes, and a full lineup of professional teams and players. As noted in the game’s description, this marks the first time the NHL 2K series has appeared on a portable device. 2K Sports’ NHL 2K11 is available now from the App Store and sells for $2.
Google has released an update to its Google Mobile app for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad adding support for Push Notifications for GMail messages and Google Calendar appointments. The update allows users to optionally configure the application to provide Push Notifications for new mail messages and calendar appointments. New items will appear as a badge count on the Google Mobile App on the iOS home screen and opening the app will show the number of pending items in each account. Tapping on an account will open the mobile GMail or Google Calendar web page in the Safari browser. Popup messages and sound notifications do not appear to be supported at this time. Users can configure multiple accounts for Push Notifications, including Google Apps accounts, and for each account can enable mail and calendar notifications separately and choose to receive notifications only between certain times. The Google Mobile App is available as a free download from the App Store.
Simperium has released a major update to its Simplenote note-taking application for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad adding a number of new features. Simplenote is a minimalist note-taking app that is designed to allow users to quickly and easily make and access notes from their iOS devices and keep them seamlessly synchronized with other devices using the Simplenote web service. Version 3.0.2 adds the ability for users to tag their notes, pin important notes to the top of the list and view notes by tag as well as accessing older versions of current notes and recovering deleted notes. Users can also now easily share notes with other Simplenote users or publish notes as a web page and search within notes that they are viewing. The update also offers a number of other smaller enhancements such as a fullscreen mode for viewing notes, character and word counts and improvements to link detection and synchronization with the web service. Simplenote 3.0.2 is available from the App Store as a free download.
According to stats found on the Facebook for iOS app’s dedicated Facebook page, the app now has over 100 million monthly active users. This represents the vast majority of iOS devices sold up to this point, based on figures released by Apple at its 2010 Worldwide Developers Conference in June, and serves to highlight the app’s importance to the iOS ecosystem.
In addition to showing over 100 million users, the app’s Facebook page also suggests that the new 3.2.2 update, released on the App Store today and said to fix login issues, may actually be targeted at users of jailbroken iOS devices who had experienced problems with the app’s latest updates. Places, a feature new to version 3.2 of Facebook that was not originally working when the application launched last week, has started to become active in a number of cities coinciding with the release of versions 3.2.1 and 3.2.2. Facebook version 3.2.2 is available now as a free download from the App Store.
A number of Nintendo NES game titles have once again returned to the App Store, in apparent violation of Nintendo copyrights. Two titles released this month, 8-Bit Gamepak and 8-Bit Gamepack LITE from Dalian Bale Trade Co., are based upon Nintendo’s Ice Climber and Wild Gunman titles, mentioned in the app’s description as “Wild Gunman Plus” and “Ice Climber Plus.” Another title, Duck Hunt: The Game from Arsen Torosian, steals not only graphics and gameplay, but also the box art and title of Nintendo’s famous Zapper-based title Duck Hunt. Prior Nintendo titles appropriated by developers have disappeared from the App Store relatively quickly, but Duck Hunt: The Game has been on the store since June 18, according to its description.
In a keynote speech at QuakeCon 2010 today, John Carmack of id Software demonstrated an impressive iOS version of its upcoming Rage first-person shooter running on an iPhone 4. Primarily a proof-of-concept at this point, the game was shown using the id tech 5 game engine running at 60 frames-per-second, which Carmack described as a “similar or better frame rate to Doom Classic [and] significantly better than Doom Resurrection.” Carmack noted that he “did some fairly clever things to approximate sub-pixel precision on the movement” and that the games also look “incredibly cool on an iPad” and can even run reasonably well on an original iPhone. He went on to mention that with the capabilities of modern iOS devices he can “kill anything done on a previous-generation console like an Xbox or PlayStation 2” with the biggest limitation of the devices being battery drain—Carmack notes that id Software will need to offer a 30 fps option in their game engine in order to deal with this. Carmack also mentioned that id’s iPhone titles have been doing well for the company and that it plans to continue developments for the iOS platform.
During his keynote, Carmack also provided some insight into Apple’s general approach to gaming on the iOS platform, mentioning that “at their heart and core they’re not really a game-friendly company” and that it was an “eye-opener for Apple that gaming has been big on their platforms.” He went on to say that although there are gaming advocates at Apple that he speaks with, such as Quake III Arena designer Graham Devine, Apple as a company remains resistant to making hardware changes specifically for gaming. As an example, Carmack describes touchscreen and graphics delays on the iPad while running the Rage demo and strongly believes that this indicates room for improvement in Apple’s engineering.
id Software is still in the process of pulling Rage into a game framework and indicates that the first iteration of the game on the iOS platform will be a small “show-off” sort of title using the tech 5 game engine and set in the Rage universe, with a larger game due out next year to coincide with the main release of Rage. [via Kotaku]
UneasySilence has uncovered a hidden feature in tap tap tap’s Camera+ iPhone photography app that allows users to control the camera shutter using the iPhone volume controls. Tap tap tap had originally planned to include this feature in the most recent update to Camera+, however the update was rejected by Apple for using “iPhone volume buttons in a non-standard way, potentially resulting in user confusion.” Tap tap tap reports that it spoke with Apple at some length about this and were informed that “overriding the volume controls is one of the most common reasons for app rejection” and that other camera apps that make use of the volume buttons likely “slipped through the review cracks” due to developers intentionally hiding the feature during submission. Tap tap tap was ultimately forced to resubmit its Camera+ update to the App Store without the hardware shutter control feature enabled. As UneasySilence reports, however, the feature is still present in the app and can be enabled by entering a simple URL in Safari on the iPhone. To enable the volume buttons to be used as shutter controls within Camera+ users can open Safari and enter camplus://enablevolumesnap into the address bar. The feature can be similarly disabled by entering camplus://disablevolumesnap in the Safari address bar. It is unclear at this time what Apple’s response will be, if any, to this feature still being available within the app. Camera+ is available on the App Store for $2.
Update: Camera+ is no longer available on the App Store. There has been no official word from Apple or Tap tap tap as to why the app was removed.
Tim Sears has released an update to Future Checkin, an app which uses iOS 4 background location services to automatically check-in users to nearby Foursquare venues. Future Checkin allows users to specify locations on Foursquare that they wish to check into automatically and the app continues running in the background to monitor the user’s location and check them in when they are near any of their chosen locations for more than three minutes. Users can also configure the app to auto-checkin to any places that they have checked into in the past, customize settings to control GPS accuracy in exchange for battery life and choose to receive notifications to confirm auto-checkins when they occur. Version 1.1 adds the ability for users to adjust the proximity to a location before they will be checked in and allows users to share automatic checkins using their Foursquare-linked Twitter and Facebook accounts. This latest update also improves battery life and contains several UI improvements and bug fixes. Future Checkin requires an iPhone 4 or iPhone 3GS running iOS 4.0 or later and is available from the App Store for $2.
Vonage has released a new app that allows iOS device users to make free voice-over-IP calls to their Facebook friends. Vonage Mobile for Facebook uses Facebook Connect to link users with contacts on their Facebook profile and then make free calls to any of their Facebook friends who are also using the Vonage Mobile for Facebook app on their iOS or Android device. Users can make and receive calls on their iPhone or iPad or on an iPod touch using an external headset and mic. Calling is supported over both Wi-Fi and 3G networks anywhere coverage is available and calls can be made to any user regardless of location with no international calling fees or airtime charges—only data usage applies when using a 3G connection. The application uses Push Notifications to allow users to receive calls when the app is in the background; it does not support iOS 4 background VoIP features at this time. Vonage Mobile for Facebook is available from the App Store as a free download.
iOS developer Max Weisel has released MiTube, an application for viewing and downloading videos from YouTube on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Although a version of this app named MxTube has been available for jailbroken iOS devices for some time, this represents the first official App Store approved version of the app. MiTube is a universal app and allows users to stream and download videos from YouTube Mobile in any available quality, including HD versions. The application provides a basic YouTube search capability to locate videos and users can choose to stream or download each video in low or high quality, with HD versions where available. Downloaded videos are stored within the app and can be transferred to the user’s PC or Mac over USB via the File Sharing feature in iTunes. MiTube is available from the App Store as a free download.
Update: Sadly, but perhaps not surprisingly, the app has been removed from the App Store.
Popcap Games has released its Boosts & Coins update to Bejeweled 2 for the iPhone and iPod touch. The new version 1.3 expands the popular Bejeweled Blitz mode, enabling players to use coins to purchase “boosts,” power-ups that can generate higher scores. Players receive a 50,000 coin bonus the first time they play online, and then earn more coins as they progress through the game. Thousands of coins are needed to purchase several extra seconds on the clock—which last for several games in a row—or gem-flipping, mystery gem, detonator, or free multiplier boosts. Coins earned on the iPhone and iPod touch version can be used anywhere that the user plays Bejeweled Blitz, whether on their device or via the web. The latest update also improves iOS 4 compatibility and support for international player names. Bejeweled 2 + Blitz is available from the App Store for $3 and is a free update for current users; a Facebook account is required to play in the online Blitz mode.
Amazon has released an update to its Kindle app for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad adding an in-app dictionary, book searching, and iOS 4 improvements. Kindle 2.2 now provides the ability to instantly lookup selected words in a 250,000-entry built-in dictionary as well as searching for words on Google and Wikipedia from within the app. The update also brings the ability to search inside books to the iPad and improves the in-book search introduced to the iPhone and iPod touch in the previous update. The latest version also brings iOS 4 Fast App Switching on multitasking-capable devices and other iOS 4 related bug fixes. Kindle is available from the App Store as a free download.