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App Store sales soar on Christmas, touch takes lead

The App Store saw a huge sales spike on Christmas Day, according to new data from Flurry Analytics. The firm found that iPod touch downloads surpassed those of iPhone users for the first time, as iPod touch downloads jumped nearly 1,000% on December 25 compared to the average of all previous Fridays in December, eclipsing iPhone downloads by 172%. iPod touch download volumes continued to exceed that of the iPhone by 104% on December 26. Overall, App Store download growth increased by over 50% in December over November, and current App Store download volume is more than 13 times that of the Android Market. Flurry’s stats are based on information gained through its analytics software for mobile devices.

App Mix: NFS Shift, Dragon Search, Cash Cab, Muppets

EA has released Need For Speed Shift, its latest game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Need For Speed Shift features 20 licensed cars, a unique driver’s seat view, both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi multiplayer across six game modes, the ability to personalize each car’s performance and styling, a driver profile that provides a “persona” based on the player’s skills, driving style, success rate, and other attributes, 18 unique tracks, three difficulty settings, and more. Need For Speed Shift is available now and sells for $10.

Nuance Communications has introduced Dragon Search, the company’s second application for the iPhone. Powered by Nuance’s NaturallySpeaking software, Dragon Search allows users to speak their search queries into the device and returns results across a variety of sources, including Google, Yahoo! or Bing, depending on preference, YouTube, Twitter, iTunes, and Wikipedia. Dragon Search is available now as a free download from the App Store.
 
Capcom has debuted Cash Cab, its latest game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Based on the Discovery Channel’s game show of the same name, Cash Cab has players attempting to answer trivia questions of an increasingly difficult nature as the move from one point of New York City to another. The game features video snippets taken from the show, a variety of question categories including history, pop culture, language, and science, 21 different NYC destinations, the ability to listen to music from the iPod while playing, the ability to upload high scores to Facebook, and more. Cash Cab is priced at $5.

Disney Interactive Studios has unveiled The Muppets Animal Drummer, its latest application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Drummer puts lets users play listen to and play along with Animal, matching his beat and timing to score points and unlock new songs. The app also includes a Free Play Mode in which users can play along to original music—including a record feature—or to songs from their iPod library. The Muppets Animal Drummer is available now and sells for $2.

App Mix: Pastebot, Epson iPrint, Circletris, NYC Meters

Tapbots has released Pastebot, its latest application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Pastebot is a clipboard manager that allows users to save text snippets and images to the application for later access. In addition to this basic functionality, Pastebot allows users to apply filters to the text and images—such as “find & replace” or black and white image conversion — create new image and text clippings from within the application, one-tap copying back to the clipboard, and the ability to push images and text from the app to a Mac computer located on the same network using a free companion app called Pastebot Sync. Pastebot is available now and sells for $2.

Seiko Epson has introduced Epson iPrint, the company’s first application for the iPhone and iPod touch. iPrint lets users print photos stored on the device to a variety of network-capable Epson printers over Wi-Fi. Other features include automatic printer discovery, the ability to print with or without borders, and support for several paper sizes. Epson iPrint is available now as a free download from the App Store.

Ivan Starchenkov has debuted Circletris, a new game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Circletris combines elements of Tetris and Zuma to create a game in which players rotate an outer wheel with their fingers in order to create columns or lines of three or more same-colored cells, which are then cleared from the board. Features include increasing difficulty as the game progresses, two different bonus abilities, a built-in tutorial, and the ability to change background colors. Circletris is priced at $2.

Zen Concepts has launched NYC Broken Meters, its second application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Broken Meters relies on the City of New York’s Scout/311 broken parking meter database to display a location-based map of broken parking meters, with an alternate list view and the ability to sort by distance and also filter by distance and date created. In addition, users can also report broken meters, and photo tag a meter with the iPhone’s built-in camera if he/she happens to get a ticket while at a broken meter—NYC laws state that a person may park at a broken meter for one hour without paying or receiving a ticket. NYC Broken Meters is available as a free download.

App Mix: Battleship, Sphere Raider, Gravity Sling Deluxe, Chromixa

Electronic Arts has released Battleship, an iPhone and iPod touch version of the classic board game. Battleship provides both a classic turn-based mode and a more real-time “Salvo mode” allowing players to choose to play against the computer or a human opponent via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or pass-and-play modes. Animated graphic cut scenes are included to liven up the game play by showing guns firing, successful hits, and enemy ships being sunk. Battleship also includes an additional “Super Weapons Mode” where players can unlock additional weapon types for more expanded game play with additional Super Weapons becoming available as players progress. Battleship is available for $3 on the App Store.

Gallen Technologies has released Sphere Raider, a puzzle game in which players must rotate a sphere using the touch screen or accelerometer to capture as many objects as possible within a limited time. Players can choose from three initial difficulty levels and progress through ten game levels, each with unique graphics. Sphere Raider is available for $2 on the App Store.

Riptide Games has released Gravity Sling Deluxe, a paid version of its earlier Gravity Sling game. Gravity Sling Deluxe bundles all of the content previously available through in-app purchases into the base application, allowing OS 2.2 devices to take advantage of the extended game content. In this inertia-based puzzle game you must route an astronaut back to a space shuttle while taking into account the gravity from nearby planets. Gravity Sling Deluxe is currently being sold for $1 for the first 5,000 customers and is available from the App Store.

Developer Simon Watson has released Chromixa, a unique color-blending puzzle game. Chromixa presents the player with a series of multi-colored shapes which are arranged in an outlined area to produce a desired color. Shapes can be moved, rotated and intersected to mix colors and desired shape as appropriate. The game includes 48 puzzles, three arcade-style mini-games and three difficulty levels. Chromixa is available in the App Store for $2.

Amazon releases Kindle for iPhone outside of U.S.

Following the release of the hardware Kindle device internationally in October, Amazon has released the Kindle for iPhone app in the iTunes App Store in 60 other countries outside of the United States. The Kindle for iPhone app (iLounge rating: B+) allows Amazon Kindle ebooks to be downloaded and read on the iPhone and iPod touch, including WhisperNet synchronization of read status and bookmarks across multiple devices running Kindle software. The international version remains available in U.S. English only and does not appear to have changed significantly from the previous version; version 1.3 release notes state simply that “Kindle for iPhone is now available in more than 60 countries.” (via Wired)

App Mix: IMDb, Google Mobile, Gorillacam, NASA

The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has released an iPhone application to enhance access to its service from the iPhone. IMDb lets iPhone users search through its entire database of movies, TV shows and celebrities, as well as access trailers, photos, U.S.-based TV and movie listings, box office results and top-ranked movies and celebrities. The IMDb app is available as a free download from the U.S. App Store; it is not yet available in other countries.

Google has released an update to its Google Mobile App, providing the ability to open search results within an in-app browser rather than switching to Safari, and expanding International support with additional languages, the ability to choose the spoken language used when searching by voice, and support for users within China. The Google Mobile App is available as a free download from the App Store.

Joby, maker of the Gorillamobile camera mount for the iPhone, has released a new iPhone photography application designed as a companion to its iPhone mounts. The Gorillacam application provides enhanced iPhone camera features such as a self-timer for taking delayed pictures, a time-lapse feature for taking automatic photos at regular intervals and a continuous rapid-fire feature that allows a series of photos to be taken at 1.6fps. The application also features a grid overlay and bubble level to properly adjust your iPhone for taking pictures and the ability to upload or share photos directly from within the app itself. Gorillacam is available as a free download from the App Store.

NASA has released an update to its iPhone application providing new features such as information on visible sighting opportunities for the International Space Station (ISS) and Space Shuttle based on the user’s current location, more detailed information on missions and additional content, an option to display high-resolution images and status updates on upcoming launches. The NASA App is available as a free download from the App Store.

Ustream releases Live Broadcasting app

Ustream today released its free live broadcasting application for the iPhone 3G and 3GS, allowing iPhone users to stream and broadcast live video from the iPhone over either Wi-Fi or the 3G network. Ustream Live Broadcaster provides the ability to broadcast a live stream via the Ustream servers or record video locally on the device, even on the iPhone 3G. Videos are streamed or recorded at a maximum resolution of 320x240 and recorded videos can be viewed within the Broadcaster application on the iPhone itself or uploaded to Ustream, YouTube, Facebook or Twitter for sharing. Live Broadcaster also provides the ability to send out a notification via Twitter when you start a broadcast as well as interact with your audience during a broadcast through chat or a Twitter feed via Ustream’s Social Stream service. Ustream Live Broadcaster requires an iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS running OS 3.1 or later and is available as a free download from the App Store.

App Mix: AT&T Problem & Rogers Apps, Modern Combat, AppButler + Beaterator

AT&T has released a new iPhone application that provides customers with the ability to report service problems, complete with information on the location where they experienced the problem. Customers can report problems such as dropped or failed calls, coverage problems, data failure or poor voice quality, and can specify a location or use the current location from the iPhone GPS. Reports can be submitted immediately or after the fact and customers can specify how frequently they’ve encountered problems of this nature. Submitted reports are acknowledged with a return SMS to indicate that the information was received properly. AT&T Mark the Spot is available as a free download from the U.S. App Store.

Rogers Wireless in Canada has released its Rogers My Account app, providing real-time access to up-to-date voice, data and messaging usage, account balance information, and online payments. The My Account app authenticates the user automatically based on the specific iPhone it is being run on and requires an active cellular data connection rather than a Wi-Fi connection to operate. Users are not charged for data used by the application itself, and the app does not work with Corporate or Prepaid accounts. Rogers My Account is available as a free download from the Canadian App Store.

Gameloft has released an update to its popular Modern Combat: Sandstorm game, providing both local and online multiplayer support. Modern Combat; Sandstorm is a first-person shooter for the iPhone and iPod touch, and recipient of 2009 Game of the Year award—a highly recommended download even prior to this update.

A new application for the iPhone and iPod touch, AppButler, provides a new way of searching and discovering information on applications in the App Store by aggregating the rating and top listings information from the largest iTunes App Store countries—the U.S., Canada, UK, France, Italy, Japan and Australia. AppButler uses its own algorithm to calculate a score for every app based on its ranking over a 24-hour period in the top 100 listings for these countries, creating an International ranking for the top applications. Users can choose specific categories and their own score threshold to filter only those apps they are interested in. AppButler also takes advantage of push notifications to allow users to set up customized alerts for their favorite categories. AppButler is available as a free download from the iTunes Store.

Rockstar Games has released a new app, Beaterator which provides users with access to a large library of sounds with which to create their own music. Many of the sounds have been constructed by super producer Timbaland, and Beaterator has been specifically designed and optimized for user on the iPhone and iPod touch, with a pick-up-and-play interface that gets users started quickly creating their own music on the go. Beaterator sells for $5 on the App Store.

App Mix: Aqua Forest 2, Le Bar Guide, Christmas Cards, Mean Girls

Hudson Entertainment has announced the release of Aqua Forest 2, the sequel to its popular Aqua Forest game. Aqua Forest 2 builds on the unique and innovative puzzle game experience from the original version, focusing on realistic physics and fluid dynamics of water across fifty new game environments to challenge players. It is available from the App Store for $5.

Stella Artois has released a new augmented reality app, Le Bar Guide, which uses augmented reality combined with an extensive guide of the best bars around the world to help guide users to the best beer experience. The app includes bar reviews and ratings as well as an integrated taxi number service that uses the iPhone’s GPS to locate the nearest cab company and automatically give it a call for a ride home afterwards. Le Bar Guide is available as a free download from the App Store and requires iPhone OS 3.1 or later, and is compatible with the iPhone and iPod touch, although AR features are only available on the iPhone 3GS.

Equinux has released a new Christmas Greeting Cards application that allows users to send out holiday wishes directly from the iPhone. The app includes eight greeting card designs that can be further customized with specific greetings and photos from the iPhone camera or photo library. Once complete, the electronic greeting card is sent out directly from the device via e-mail. Christmas Greeting Cards is available on the App Store for $1.

Paramount Digital Entertainment has released a new app based on a popular film. Mean Girls allows the player to take on the role of a new student who must fight opposing high school cliques in a series of Match 3 battles. The game provides a full story mode with customizable character profiles, a plot line based on your in-game accomplishments and social interactions, or simply a quick play mode where players can jump in and play a single Match 3 battle. Mean Girls is available now on the App Store for an introductory price of $1.

EA adds novel episodic content to Surviving High School game

Electronic Arts has introduced a novel way of distributing in-app content with its new game, Surviving High School (iTunes link), which casts the player in the role of a new high school student who needs to make smart choices to succeed socially and academically. For the initial $3 asking price, EA includes a single story called “Football Season” that gets players started; the novelty is in shorter individual new episodes that appear on a weekly basis with an evolving story line.

Episodes are distributed using a TV-like model with a “Now Airing” new episode that’s available each week for free and previous episodes available “on demand” for $1 each as in-app purchases. This system allows players who keep up with the title from the beginning to continue to play for free after the initial purchase, while allowing stragglers to catch up with the earlier story for a price. As with iTunes Store downloads of TV shows, EA’s episode bundles can also be purchased as seasons. Each episode provides multiple possible story lines based on your choices, which makes even single episodes re-playable. A free version is also available from the App Store, providing only a shortened introductory version of the “Football Season” story and no support for additional episodes.

App Mix: Timelapse Pro, DJ apps, Ramp Champ, CoPilot

Dw-c has released Timelapse Pro, its latest application for the iPhone. Timelapse Pro lets users create, edit, and share timelapse movies directly on their devices, and features a built-in camera timer, the ability to view and change the order of pictures in the project, the option to export projects as MOV Quicktime movies, an integrated webserver for transferring movie to a computer, and more. Timelapse Pro is available now and sells for $1.

Following an iLounge report on the delayed approval of DJ applications for the iPhone and iPod touch, Apple has approved a number of applications within the genre. The apps mentioned in the original article, including Touch DJ ($20) from Amidio, Sonorasaurus ($10) from Pajamahouse Studios, and DJ Player Pro ($4) from Musicsoft Arts have all been approved, as has DJ Player Blue Edition ($25) from iMect, which was mentioned in the comments of the original article.

The Iconfactory is currently offering its Ramp Champ game for the iPhone and iPod touch as a free download. Strongly recommended by iLounge at its normal $2 price point, Ramp Champ is a visually compelling skee-ball style game in which players attempt to knock down targets, both moving and motionless, by rolling balls up a ramp in order to win tickets which can be redeemed for in-game prizes. Notably, the game is also one of the best examples of proper use of in-app purchases, offering two-packs of additional ramps for $1 each.

ALK Technologies has released the latest version of its CoPilot Live North America turn-by-turn navigation application for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. New in version 8.0.0.512 is the ability to purchase premium live services—including live traffic updates, gas prices, and local search—from within the application. The Live services are priced at $20; the CoPilot application itself is on sale through the end of December for $25, a savings of $10 off its regular $35 price.

Song Summoner coming to iPhone, Apple nixes Click Wheel games

Square Enix has revealed that it will be releasing its strategy role playing game Sole Summoner: The Unsung Heroes - Encore for the iPhone and iPod touch on the App Store tomorrow. Based on the Click Wheel iPod game Song Summoner: The Unsung Heroes, the game has users play as a “conductor” who creates warriors out of music, and features the ability to transform songs stored on the device into “Tune Troopers” to combat the enemy; a Lite version is also planned and is pending approval. Notably, the iPhone version of the game will also include Song Summoner 2, a title which was never released. Joystiq reports that the sequel never made it to market “due to Apple ending support for Click Wheel games.” While Apple still offers a selection of Click Wheel iPod games on the iTunes Store, no new titles have been released in the format since Cake Mania 3 in February of this year.

Steve Jobs intervenes in App Store rejection, approves iPhone 3G video streaming app

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has personally intervened to reverse the rejection of an iPhone and iPod touch application for what is believed to be the first time. Ars Technica reports that Brian Meehan of Pointy Heads emailed Jobs directly following the rejection of the company’s live video streaming app Knocking Live Video. Knocking uses a private API, an act which is strictly prohibited in Apple’s iPhone developer agreement, to stream live video from an iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS to any iPhone or iPod touch. Notably, the iPhone 3G does not support video capture via the built-in Camera app, making the application the first in Apple’s official App Store to offer video from the device—similar techniques have been used in jailbreak applications to gather video using an iPhone 3G or even an original iPhone. According to the report, Meehan’s email focused more on Apple as an organization than on any specific API or application. “I reached out to Apple to reconsider our application due to its potential to culturally change how people share live moments phone-to-phone,” Meehan said. He added that he made his case “in a way that was not about me or our app, rather about being a life-long user of all Apple products, about how I believed in Apple and that I believed Jobs would respond.”

Within days of sending the email, Meehan received a phone call from an Apple executive—who wishes to remain anonymous, according to the report—and was told that the app would be approved for sale, and that the rejection reversal order came “directly from the top.” Although Google’s Google Mobile App was previously approved despite using unpublished APIs, it is unclear whether Apple knew about the infraction, making this the first time Apple has knowingly approved an application which uses an undocumented or private API. In fact, it is believed that the company is now using automated software to check incoming App Store submissions for private API. Knocking Live Video is available now as a free download from the App Store.

App Mix: Fring video, Monkey Ball 2, eBay Deals, Hand Waver

Fring has released version 3.0.0.4 of its official application for the iPhone and iPod touch. New in version 3.0.0.4 is the ability for users to engage in one-way video calls with other Fring or Skype users—two-way video calling is unfortunately disabled on the iPhone due to the placement of the camera. Fring lets users place free voice calls from the iPhone and iPod Touch to other Fring users, Skype or GTalk buddies, or friends on regular phone lines via Skype-Out or other SIP services. Fring is available now as a free download from the App Store.

Sega has unveiled Super Monkey Ball 2, the sequel to its popular App Store launch-day title for the iPhone and iPod touch. As in the first Super Monkey Ball, players take control of a monkey character in side a clear ball and attempt to steer it through maze-like tracks to reach a goal and clear the level. Super Monkey Ball 2 offers four different characters, over 115 tracks, improved accelerometer based controls, local Wi-Fi multiplayer, and a Monkey Bowling mini-game, with Monkey Golf and Monkey Target games promised in a free update early next year. Super Monkey Ball 2 is available now and sells for $10.

eBay has introduced its new eBay Deals application for the iPhone and iPod touch. The application lets users browse through a variety of deals, including Daily Deals, deals ending soon and personalized searches for the best possible price on an item. It also offers built-in integration with social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter for sharing shopping activity, and PayPal integration for easy checkout. eBay Deals is available now as a free download.

Bluestone Software has debuted Hand Waver, its first application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Hand Waver is a banner display application that uses a common visual illusion to create a message that appears to float in the air. Users simply enter a new message or pick from the list of the last 20 played, select a color, and wave their hand back and forth in the air to display the message. Hand Waver is priced at $1.

Apple job posting points to improved Maps app

A new job posting on Apple’s website suggests the company is working to substantially improve and/or rework its Maps application for the iPhone and iPod touch. The listing for a full time iPhone Software Engineer says, “[t]he iPhone has revolutionized the mobile industry and has changed people’s lives and we want to continue to do so. We want to take Maps to the next level, rethink how users use Maps and change the way people find things. We want to do this in a seamless, highly interactive and enjoyable way. We’ve only just started.” Responsibilities of the job include implementation of low-level client/server code, high-level user interfaces, and “new and innovative features,” as well as enhancing the performance of Maps. The listing also refers to working closely with “partners in other companies,” but it is unclear whether this is meant to include Google, or simply other location services partners such as Skyhook Wireless. Apple purchased mapping company PlaceBase earlier this year, and it is possible the new hire could be involved in implementing the technologies acquired in the purchase into a new version of Maps that is less dependent on outside sources. [via Mac Rumors]

Apple updates Remote for iPhone, iPod touch to 1.3.3

Apple has released Remote 1.3.3, the latest update to its remote control application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Remote allows iPhone and iPod touch users to access and control their iTunes installations or Apple TVs directly from their devices, doubling as a keyboard and touchpad navigator for the latter. According to Apple’s release notes, Remote 1.3.3 provides bug fixes, as well as the previously added compatibility with iTunes 9 and Apple TV 3. Remote is available now as a free download from the App Store.

Apple planning more iPod touch apps for retail?

Apple is planning to roll out at least two more iPod touch applications to be used in its company-owned retail stores, according to an AppleInsider report. In addition to the previously revealed point-of sale application, Apple will reportedly be providing an application that allows employees to replace iPhones and iPods directly on the store floor, removing the need for a Genius Bar visit. A separate application is said to be designed for the stores’ stock rooms, where it will help facilitate necessary tasks performed in all of Apple’s retail stores. According to the report, the new apps will arrive simultaneously, alongside the new iPod touch-based POS system.

Magellan releases RoadMate app, Car Kit coming

Magellan has released its new RoadMate 2010 North America application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Features of the turn-by-turn navigation app include a OneTouch favorites menu for fast bookmarking and retrieval of commonly-accessed places and searches, spoken street name guidance, highway lane assist, QuickSpell with SmartCity Search for faster entry of addresses, 3D landmarks, Address Book integration, in-app music control, the ability to save a vehicle’s parking location, a pedestrian mode for use outside a vehicle, and up-to-date NAVTEQ maps. In addition, the application offers support for the iPod touch, allowing for use with an optional third-party GPS receiver, such as Magellan’s upcoming Premium Car Kit. The Car Kit will offer a fully adjustable, rotating mount to work with any skin or case, enhanced GPS signal via the built-in receiver, the ability to charge the connected iPhone or iPod touch, a noise-cancelling speakerphone with Bluetooth hands-free calling, and an amplified speaker. Magellan’s RoadMate 2010 North America application is available now and sells for $80; the Premium Car Kit is listed as coming soon, but no exact release date or pricing information has yet been announced.

TomTom updates navigation app with iPod touch, iPhone 1G support

TomTom has released version 1.2 of its TomTom U.S. & Canada turn-by-turn navigation application, adding support for the iPod touch and original iPhone. The inclusion of iPod touch and iPhone support means the application can now be used on those devices when connected to third-party GPS solutions, such as the TomTom Car Kit. Other improvements include improved search and route summary screens, updated maps and points of interest databases, an updated IQ Routes database, Advanced Lane Guidance in both portrait and landscape modes, Text-to-speech in English, French, and Spanish, a Help Me! emergency menu, and iPod player support. TomTom U.S. & Canada is available from the App Store and sells for $100.

China offers opportunity, challenges for app developers

The Chinese market represents a large opportunity, and perhaps an equally large challenge, for iPhone app developers, according to a Wall Street Journal report. While the country is said to have roughly two million iPhone users, the vast majority of those are jailbroken units, and are therefore more likely to hold pirate applications. In addition, official China Unicom iPhones lack Wi-Fi, removing a key capability for some applications, and many App Store offerings are in English, with prices in U.S. dollars. Even so, companies are racing to become the top apps in China. “We know perfectly well that Chinese market is huge and has great potential. But when we release apps targeting users here, we’re usually not able to get reasonable returns because of piracy,” said Shi Weixing, CEO of Chinese mobile application company 9thQ.

Shi estimates that about $1 million of legitimate apps have been sold in China so far this year, though the number could rise to $6 million in 2010. By comparison, AdMob estimates about $200 million in apps are sold through the App Store each month. Payment methods also pose a barrier to growth, as the App Store requires a credit card issued by a Chinese bank, something not commonplace, said Frank Yu, COO of Beijing-based app designer Shouji Mobile. “Once Wifi is allowed on future 3G iPhones and the price of handsets falls due to product life cycle, more subsidies or economies of scale, we will see the iPhone market in China go mainstream,” Yu said.

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