Tech Crunch reports that Tapulous has been acquired by Disney. Tapulous is best known for its music-oriented games such as its Tap Tap Revenge series, which also included individual titles featuring specific artists such as Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Nickelback and Nine Inch Nails. Disney Interactive Studios sells games based on Disney movies and characters such as Toy Story and Cars. Although many of its are for consoles, Disney has released a number of iOS applications such as its recent Toy Story 3 app. The purchase of Tapulous likely indicates a desire to more aggressively pursue iOS devices as a gaming platform and Disney also appears to be very interested in the social aspects of mobile gaming. As part of the acquisition, Tapulous founder Bart Decrem will join Disney as the General Manager and senior Vice-President in charge of mobile for Disney Interactive’s gaming group. Tapulous COO Andrew Lacy will also be joining Disney as a senior VP. Decrem indicates that his group will “continue to develop apps that live at the intersection of music and gaming” but also plans to expand into new areas of mobile social entertainment. He also indicates that his charter is to add social elements to all of Disney’s games over time while still remaining focused on Tapulous’ current portfolio of games.
Mozilla announced yesterday that it has submitted its first iPhone app, Firefox Home to the App Store. Firefox Home allows users to access their Firefox desktop history, bookmarks, and even currently open tabs on their iPhone, iPod touch or iPad, enabling users to easily look up information on the go and pick up where they left off from their desktop browsing. Data is synced securely from Firefox on the desktop using the Firefox Sync browser plug-in, and Firefox Home users can view sites directly in Firefox Home, open them in Mobile Safari or share them via e-mail. Firefox Home is currently under App Store review and is expected to be available as a free download once it has been approved by Apple. [via Tech Crunch]
Amazon has introduced Kindle Editions with Audio/Video for users of the Kindle application on the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. The new e-book format now includes embedded video and audio clips in Kindle books, allowing readers to access rich-media content as part of the reading experience. Support for the new content was quietly added to the Kindle app for iOS devices last week with the new content appearing on Amazon’s Kindle Store yesterday. Some of the first books to take advantage of the new technology include Rick Steves’ London which provides walking tours with narration and Rose’s Heavenly Cakes which includes video tips on preparing the perfect cake. The current books are priced at $12 each and although only nine audio/video titles are presently available, Amazon notes that this is only the beginning and they are collaborating with major publishers such as Wiley and Avalon Travel to take advantage of this new functionality. Kindle for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch is available from the App Store as a free download. Kindle Editions with Audio/Video can be found at http://www.amazon.com/kindleaudiovideo.
The first applications supporting Apple’s new iAd mobile advertising platform have appeared on the App Store. Avantar, developer of mobile search applications such as OneTap Movies, Showtimes, Munch and Yellow Pages, has updated several of its applications integrating the new mobile advertising platform. Apple’s iAd does not go live until July 1st, and at this time these apps appear to be showing either a test ad or an empty banner. The release notes for these apps originally cited iAd integration; this note has since been removed and replaced simply with “minor bug fixes,” however the apps themselves remain on the App Store and continue to display the iAd banners. Avantar’s App Store page can be found here.
Parrot has announced a U.S. release date and pricing for its much-anticipated AR.Drone. First demoed at CES 2010, where it received a Best of Show Award, the AR.Drone is a quadricopter that can be piloted by remote control from an iPhone or iPod touch device using an accompanying iOS application. Users control the AR.Drone via Wi-Fi using their device’s touchscreen and accelerometer controls while the quadricopter employs two on-board cameras, an accelerometer, gyro and ultrasound sensor to help control the device and provide first-person video. The AR.Drone will go on sale in the U.S. this September via “selected retailers” for $299. Parrot expects to announce U.K. availability soon after the E3 Expo and availability in Asia and Europe “in the following weeks.” The Parrot Free Flight control app is already available from the App Store as a free download. Parrot also has two additional augmented-reality iOS games in the works for the AR.Drone allowing users to explore virtualized environments and conduct simulated dogfights with other AR.Drone users. More information and demos of the apps can be viewed at the company’s website. Parrot has also released an open source SDK for the AR.Drone to allow other third-party developers to create their own augmented reality applications for the quadricopter. [via Engadget]
According to a Forbes Blog report, The Hershey Co. has filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania against Hotrix LLC, creators of the iPhone application iMilk, seeking a declaratory judgment that its own Hershey’s Chocolate Milk iPhone application does not infringe upon Hotrix’s copyright on iMilk. According to the suit filed by Hershey, Hotrix sent a notice of infringement to Hershey in December 2009, claiming that Hershey had stolen the iMilk code and modified it for its own product. In the notice, Hotrix also demanded that Hershey cease marketing its Chocolate Milk app, and threatened to sue if the Chocolate Milk application was not removed.
Both applications allow users to virtually drink a glass of milk on the iPhone and iPod touch. Hershey’s complaint argues that Hotrix LLC cannot claim to own “the unprotectable idea of a virtual glass of milk.” According to the complaint, Hershey created the application independently and notes that the two products are not substantially similar. “Although both reflect the idea of using an iPhone to create a virtual milk drink,” the complaint says, “the actual execution of Hershey’s Chocolate Milk iPhone application is very different than that of the Hottrix application, with numerous substantial differences in the actual expression of each application.” Hershey’s Chocolate Milk application includes a number of features not found in iMilk, including a virtual Hershey’s Syrup bottle, a spoon for stirring, and the iconic red and white straw from Hershey’s product labels.
Skype Software has launched a major update to its popular Skype application for the iPhone and iPod touch, introducing the ability for users to place VoIP calls over the cellular 3G network. Although Skype-to-Skype calls over Wi-Fi will remain free, Skype has indicated plans to charge a “small monthly fee” for placing Skype-to-Skype calls over the 3G network, suggesting that 3G calling will be based on a subscription service, rather than the per-minute system currently in place for Skype-to-phone calls. These fees would be in addition to data charges already levied by the user’s carrier. Skype plans to introduce this new fee structure in 2011, and will be providing free 3G Skype-to-Skype calling until that time. The new version also implements a new codec providing “near CD-quality sound” for Skype-to-Skype calls on iPhone 3GS, iPad and second- and third-generation iPod touch devices. Other improvements include an enhanced call quality indicator, improved start-up time, and faster access to the dial pad from the iPhone home screen. Skype is available from the App Store as a free download.
Twitter has released the official Twitter client for the iPhone and iPod touch. Early last month Twitter announced that it had acquired the popular Tweetie app in order to develop it into an official Twitter client for the iPhone platform, with developer Lorne Brichter joining Twitter to continue developing the application under the official company banner. Twitter for the iPhone is essentially a direct update of Tweetie and retains most of the same interface design and functionality while adding a few new features to bring the user experience more in line with Twitter.com features. New features include a reorganized search that combines tweets and users, display of Top Tweets and Suggested users, the ability to sign up for Twitter from within the application and add additional accounts and more actions such as Retweet on the main actions bar. Twitter is available from the App Store for new users as a free download; existing Tweetie users will receive the new app as an update to Tweetie. An iPad version is also under development.
PayPal has announced that it has released its Mobile Payments Library for the iPhone and iPad into open beta. Originally released as a closed beta to select developers at Macworld 2010, the PayPal Mobile Payments Library allows developers to quickly and easily add checkout functionality to their iPhone apps to allow users to purchase physical goods and services directly from within the app. Several apps are already available on the App Store that use the new Mobile Payment Library, such as Baublet, an app that allows users to purchase customized charms using their PayPal accounts. The new Mobile Payments Library can be downloaded from the PayPal X Developer Network.
Digital music service Rhapsody has announced the release of a major update to its streaming music player app for the iPhone platform. Rhapsody 2.0 now allows subscribers to download their favorite Rhapsody playlists for offline listening. Rhapsody playlists can be streamed or downloaded over either a 3G or Wi-Fi connection, and once downloaded can be played through the app even when outside of network coverage. Downloaded songs use the same 64kbps AAC format as tracks streamed from the Rhapsody servers. The Rhapsody app is designed for the iPhone and iPod touch but works on the iPad in the same manner as other iPhone apps. A native iPad version is planned for later this year once multitasking capabilities are available and will allow users to listen to music in the background. The updated app has been released as a new application rather than an update, so existing users will need to specifically download the new version. Rhapsody 2.0 is available from the U.S. App Store as a free download; a $10 per month Rhapsody Premier subscription is required to use it on a single device beyond the free seven-day trial period, and the subscription must be maintained to continue accessing downloaded tracks.
The National Hockey League has released an official iPhone app for hockey fans. NHL Ice Time 2010 allows iPhone and iPod touch users to track live game scores, player profiles, player and team statistics and schedules for upcoming games directly on their devices. Users can view live scores and in-game stats for ongoing games, access a full season schedule, view standing by division and even view game photos. The application also provides a unique Ice Tracker feature that allows fans to view locations of goals, hits and saves for live games on a virtual hockey rink. NHL Ice Time 2010 Free is available from the U.S. App Store as a free download. It is not presently available outside of the U.S.
Twitter CEO Evan Williams announced earlier tonight that Twitter has “entered into an agreement with Atebits (aka Loren Brichter) to acquire Tweetie.” Williams noted that the decision was made to enable people to easily access Twitter from their iPhone and that “careful analysis of the Twitter user experience in the iTunes App Store revealed massive room for improvement.” Twitter plans to rename the app “Twitter for iPhone” and offer it for free as the official Twitter application for the iPhone platform. Loren Brichter, developer of Tweetie, will join Twitter’s mobile team to support the continuing development of Twitter for iPhone and a future Twitter for iPad application. In his own blog, Brichter describes his work on Tweetie as having been “an amazing ride” and mentions that he is really looking forward to working with Twitter to simplify the Twitter experience and create the next generation of mobile clients. [via TUAW]
TechCrunch reports that Boxcar, developer of the popular Push Notification app of the same name has implemented a new Provider API to allow third-party services to leverage its Push Notification service. Previously Boxcar provided Push Notifications for specific services such as Twitter, Facebook and e-mail as well as a user API for individual users to customize their own Push Notifications from desktop apps such as Growl. The new Provider API allows web sites and other online services to build their own customized Push Notification feeds that can be subscribed to by any Boxcar user. Boxcar plans to allow third-party providers the option of charging for their Push Notifications via a one-time in-app purchase with revenue shared 50/50 between Boxcar and the Provider. Boxcar is available from the App Store as a free download and includes Push Notifications for one service; additional services can be added via in-app purchase for $1 each.
A team at Toronto’s University Health Network Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, in partnership with The Hospital for Sick Children and Saint Elizabeth Health Care, has released a new iPhone application designed to simplify diabetes management. Designed initially as a self-management system for adolescents with Type I Diabetes, Bant allows iPhone and iPod touch users to track their blood glucose levels and self-manage their condition. Users can store their recorded data to their Google Health account and share their experience with the diabetes community via Twitter. In an interview with The Care to Know Centre, Dr. Joseph Cafazzo, one of the researchers on the project explained that it began as a study in the “challenges in managing kids with Type 1 Diabetes” and the issue that many teens to do not take their measurements regularly or properly self-manage their condition. Cafazzo indicated that the team wanted to find a way to encourage teens to develop proper self-management skills. They looked at an iPhone app as a solution since “the ubiquitous mobile phone is so central to this demographic’s life ... even as inpatients, teens are never far from their phone.” Cafazzo explains that social networking features were also built in to further engage adolescents and allow them to share their experiences with others like themselves. Cafazzo also notes that the team is working with Apple Canada to arrange for iTunes redemption codes to reward teens who use the app to take their measurements regularly and participate in the community. Bant is available from the App Store as a free download.
iPhone developer KainosAgora has shown a preview of TweetAgora, a unique new Twitter client for the iPhone aimed at improving the signal-to-noise ratio in users’ Twitter streams. TweetAgora provides users with the ability to filter or “mute” tweets in their timeline based on hashtags, sender or conversation, allowing them to hide tweets they may not be interested in without having to unfollow people. Users can also filter their timeline to show only tweets containing photos, links or retweets and create superset lists, or “Agoras,” that contain an aggregated timeline of tweets from other Twitter Lists, people and/or hashtags. The app also provides the ability to display full conversation threads from a selected tweet, including all of the reply branches of a conversation. TweetAgora is currently in closed beta; users can apply to join the beta at [email protected] TweetAgora is scheduled for release to the App Store in mid-April. Pricing has not yet been announced.
Twitter has enabled geolocation support on its mobile site for at least some users, iLounge editors have discovered. First released for the main Twitter.com site last week, the new geolocation feature allows users to add their current location to tweets posted from the website, but the initial rollout conspicuously left out support for GPS-enabled mobile devices. Twitter has supported geolocation capability for some time through the Twitter APIs used by third-party Twitter clients, however location information could not previously be viewed or updated directly from the actual Twitter.com site. No official announcement has yet been made by Twitter regarding the mobile site geolocation feature and it is unclear whether it is being rolled out to all users simultaneously or being phased in as Twitter has done with new features in the past. Users who have the feature available should see a standard iPhone location warning when first logging in to m.twitter.com followed by a drop-down menu beneath the posting box to specify a location.
Electronic Arts has released new screenshots and details on two upcoming iPhone releases in its popular Sims and SimCity franchises. The Sims 3 World Adventures is a sequel to The Sims 3 where players take their Sims on journeys to explore exotic destinations around the world. Destinations include “Al Simhara” Egypt, “Champs Les Sims” France or “Shang SimLa” China, with each location offering opportunities for danger, adventure and romance. The Sims 3 World Adventures will include additional custom content suited to foreign locations as well as 52 new goals and 4 new mini-games. Players can also transfer their existing Sims between the original iPhone version of The Sims 3 and The Sims 3 World Adventures. A specific release date for The Sims 3 World Adventures has not yet been announced.
Simplify Media, developer of the Simplify Music and Simplify Photo iPhone applications announced Friday that it will no longer be offering its current software to new users and that it has removed the Simplify iPhone apps from the App Store. Simplify Media was best known for its applications that allowed iPhone and iPod touch users to stream music and view photos from their computer over a Wi-Fi or 3G connection, even while away from home. In a post in its blog, the company indicates that it is heading in a “new direction” and has taken these steps to focus on that transition. The post goes on to state that Simply Media will continue operating and supporting the service for at least the next 3 months for existing users, and that the company hopes by that time to be able to announce more information on “future incarnations” of the service. [via TUAW]
The City of Edmonton, Alberta has announced plans to sponsor an application development contest. Scheduled to be formally announced later this month, the Apps4Edmonton contest will aim to encourage local iPhone developers to create apps that improve municipal information sharing and communications. The contest will offer $50,000 in prizes and the winning application will be showcased at the 2010 Canadian Government Technology Conference (GTEC) in Ottawa in October. Edmonton is also planning the launch of its own iPhone application, CityWatch to allow residents to report problems to 311 call centres. [via iPhoneinCanada.ca]
Thing Labs, developer of the Brizzly.com online Twitter and Facebook reader announced today that it has acquired the Birdfeed Twitter client from iPhone developer Buzz Andersen as the foundation for its new Brizzly for Twitter iPhone application. The original Birdfeed application has been removed from the App Store and the former home page for the app now simply displays an announcement from Brizzly informing users of the news and where to download the new Brizzly for Twitter application. The announcement notes that Birdfeed will continue to work for existing users but will no longer be supported or updated. The new Brizzly application provides support for multiple Twitter accounts, Twitter Lists, sharing of photos via Brizzly Pics or Flickr, saved searches, and integration with the Brizzly.com online reader. Brizzly for Twitter is available from the App Store as a free download.