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.
Omz:software has released a major update to its popular NewsRack RSS reader for the iPhone and iPad adding iOS 4 support and several additional features and improvements. NewsRack 2.5 now supports background task completion and fast app switching on multitasking-capable iOS 4 devices and provides high-resolution graphics for the iPhone 4 Retina Display. A new slideshow mode is also now available for iPad users. Additional improvements include much faster synchronization with Google Reader, the ability to mark articles as unread, synchronization of Google Reader shared items, Instapaper Mobilizer support and the ability to download older news items from Google Reader. The update also provides a number of user interface improvements on both the iPhone and iPad platforms, although themes are no longer available for iPhone and iPod touch users. NewsRack 2.5 is currently not compatible with the iPhone 3G with iOS 4; the developer indicates an update for this will be “follow shortly.” The iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 are fully supported, as are any devices running iOS 3.x. NewsRack is available from the App Store for $5 and is a free update for current users.
Resolution Interactive has released a sequel to its acclaimed Aqua Moto Racing game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Aqua Moto Racing 2 is a first-person water racing game that allows players to race one of 12 unique JetSkis in exotic locations such as the Tropics, Greece and Egypt. The game provides significantly improved graphics with dynamic waves and an improved wave physics engine for increased realism. Players can race in six different locations with unique lighting, choose from 48 different courses, and play in career mode to unlock new championships and achievements in the quest to attain Legendary Status. Players level-up their rider through 10 different ranks by performing stunts, beating target times, unlocking medals and winning championships, and can connect to OpenFeint to challenge other players and compare race results on the OpenFeint Leaderboards. Aqua Moto Racing 2 is available from the App Store for $5. A free Lite version with only three courses and three JetSkis is also available.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Citigroup has disclosed a security flaw in its free U.S. mobile-banking application for iOS devices. Citi has indicated that the iOS app inadvertently saves information such as account numbers, bill payments and security access codes on users’ iOS devices and that this information may also be saved to a users’ desktop computer as part of the iTunes backup created during the sync process. The issue is reported to have affected approximately 117,600 Citigroup customers who have registered the iPhone app with Citi since its March 2009 launch, however the bank does not believe that any personal data has actually been exposed by the flaw. Citi has sent out letters to customers advising them of the security issue and directing users to download the newest version of the Citi Mobile app as a mandatory update. The latest version of Citi Mobile addresses this issue and also provides iPod touch support for credit card customers and other bug fixes. Citi Mobile 2.0.3 is available from the App Store as a free download and should appear as an automatic update for current users. [via TUAW]
American Airlines has launched an official travel app for iPhone and iPod touch users. The American Airlines app allows users to book and check-in for flights, check flight status and schedules, setup flight status notifications and access AAdvantage program and account information. Users can also use the app to set airport parking reminders, monitor their place on standby lists, view flight gate and seat information, access a barcoded mobile boarding pass, view terminal maps and even play a game of Sudoku. The American Airlines app is available from the App Store as a free download.
AudioBox has released an official native iOS app for streaming music from its cloud-based media storage service. The AudioBox service allows users to upload and store their own MP3 files online and stream their music from the AudioBox servers to any number of desktop computers or supported mobile devices. The AudioBox app for the iPhone and iPod touch provides streaming access to the user’s online AudioBox.fm library allowing users to listen to their online media content from their device over a Wi-Fi or 3G connection. The app features support for background audio on multitasking-capable iOS 4 devices, library organization by playlist, artist, album or genre, playback controls, track scrubbing and scrobbling of played tracks to Last.FM. AudioBox for the iPhone and iPod touch is available from the App Store as a free download. An AudioBox.fm account is required to use the app with 1GB of storage available in a free account and paid accounts starting at $4 for 11GB of storage. At the present time the iOS app can be used with a free AudioBox.fm account as part of a limited promotional period, at the end of which a paid account will be required to continue using any native client with the service. [via TechCrunch]