Loopt announced today that it has partnered with Mobile Spinach to integrate location-based advertising into its social networking service. The new feature provides Loopt users with access to offers, coupons and discounts from local neighbourhood retailers. Users are informed about nearby offers based on their current location and directions and contact details for the retailers. Offers can be redeemed directly from the phone or can be sent via SMS or e-mail. The service is initially being rolled out in the San Francisco area with plans to add additional major metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles and New York during the coming months. Loopt is available in the U.S. only as a free download from the App Store.
Eventual Innovations has released an application that aims to improve upon the limited AVRCP capabilities in the iPhone and iPod touch. Apple first introduced support for stereo A2DP Bluetooth accessories in iPhone OS 3.0, however AVRCP remote control capabilities over Bluetooth were limited to only starting and pausing playback. Bluetooth Helper is a third-party application that provides additional playback controls including next track, previous track and seeking within tracks. Users enable Bluetooth Helper by starting their music within the iPod application and then starting the Bluetooth Helper app to allow access to the additional playback commands. Bluetooth Helper is available on the App Store for $1.
AT&T has released the official NBC Olympics app, providing iPhone and iPod touch users with NBC’s coverage of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games right on their devices. NBC Olympics on AT&T provides live, real-time updates on every event complete with video highlights, news stories, schedules, results and medal counts. Users can configure push notifications for their favorite events, view a TV schedule for NBC Olympics’ on-air coverage or search for more information on specific events and athletes. Social networking integration is also provided to enable users to follow their favorite athletes on Twitter or share content with their own friends via Facebook or Twitter postings. NBC Olympics on AT&T is available on the App Store as a free download.
iPhone Developer BossHouse has released a new application for movie fans to follow information and join in pools on the 2010 Academy Awards. OSCAR Pool 2010 provides access to information on all of the Academy Award nominees as well as links to web sites, pictures, and more. Users can create pools, secretly vote for their winning picks and then invite their friends and co-workers to join in and cast their own votes. Other users can download the application onto their own iPhone or iPod touch or can vote using a single, shared device. A simplified setting of only the ten main awards categories is provided for casual users, while serious movie fans can choose to vote in all 24 categories. Following the Academy Awards ceremonies, the application will display information about the winners and automatically tabulate votes and ranks within each of the user’s pools. OSCAR Pool 2010 is available on the App Store for $1.
CodeGoo, developer of the popular Camera Genius application, has released a new app for recording video on older-model iPhones. While not the first such application, Video Genius is unique in that it provides owners of older iPhone devices with a free option for video recording. Video Genius provides two basic video recording modes, the first of which records 40-60 seconds of video at 10fps and a second which records longer videos at a lower 4fps frame rate. Video Genius is available on the App Store free for a limited time.
Building on the success of its popular Soccer Manager game, Fizz Software has released Baseball Manager 2010 for the iPhone and iPod touch. Baseball Manager is a Fantasy Baseball simulation where players take control of their favorite baseball team and guide them from spring training to the World Series. To accomplish this the player deals with such things as player trades, contract negotiations and starting lineups. Reports and stats are available to guide the player and the game also presents challenges such as injuries, poaching by other teams, salary caps and meeting the team owner’s expectations. Baseball Manager 2010 is available on the App Store for $5. A video preview can be viewed on YouTube.
iPhone Developer Joel Epstein has released a Valentine’s Day themed version of his educational iPoetry 101 app. iWrite: Love Poems coaches users through the process of writing their own love poetry from brainstorming to actual step-by-step writing and final revisions. Eight different styles of poetry are provided as a base to educate users and develop skills such as identifying formulas for structured forms of poetry, prewriting and revision, figurative language and creating a sustained image. The application also provides the ability to generate its own unique poetry using the rules for each of the structured poems. iWrite: Love Poems is available on the App Store for $2.
The official Canadian broadcasters for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games have released a news and information application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Developed by Indusblue, the CTVOlympics.ca app provides headlines and news on every sport at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games with comprehensive photo galleries, athlete profiles, venue information and a schedule of upcoming events. An updated “Games-time” release of the application is scheduled for the week of February 8th which will add a full TV schedule, a play-by-play feed of the Games, medal and result information and live blogging of the major events. Push Notifications will also be provided for breaking news and medal information. CTVOlympics.ca is available as a free download from the App Store.
Apple has demanded the removal of promotional text mentioning Google’s Android platform from an application’s App Store description. Mobile development house Flash of Genius has reprinted part of Apple’s email discussing the description text for the company’s Flash of Genius: SAT Vocab app, in which it requests removal of the text. The e-mail reads, “During our review of your application, we found that your application contains inappropriate or irrelevant platform information in the Application Description and/or Release Notes sections. Providing future platform compatibility plans or other general platform references are not relevant in the context of the iPhone App Store. While your application has not been rejected, it would be appropriate to remove ‘Finalist in Google’s Android Developer’s Challenge!’ from the Application Description.” In addition, the e-mail recommends the developer make the changes to the description “to avoid an interruption” in the app’s availability. For its part, Flash of Genius believes the text is relevant and helps to boost sales, and is considering e-mailing Apple to try and find an acceptable way to reincorporate the text.
Apple has posted an App Store Tip on its iPhone Dev Center warning app developers not to use location based services primarily for serving location-targeted ads. The tip states, “if you build your application with features based on a user’s location, make sure these features provide beneficial information. If your app uses location-based information primarily to enable mobile advertisers to deliver targeted ads based on a user’s location, your app will be returned to you by the App Store Review Team for modification before it can be posted to the App Store.” While it is possible that Apple is issuing the warning in an effort to reduce unnecessary battery drain potentially caused by activating GPS and other location-based features, others, including Iconfactory developer Craig Hockenberry, have suggested that Apple is instead trying to prohibit other location-based advertising in favor of an Apple/Quattro Wireless-provided solution. Apple purchased Quattro Wireless for $275 million earlier this year, and former Quattro head Andy Miller is now employed by Apple as Vice President, Mobile Advertising.
The Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games has released its official Mobile Spectator Guide for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Available as a free download from the App Store, the 2010 Guide app provides a location-aware schedule detailing the more than 2,000 sport and cultural events taking place during the Olympic Winter Games. The schedule will be updated throughout the Games and can be accessed offline and adjusted for the user’s current time zone. Users can mark their favourite events and see real-time results for every sport, and those attending the Games can easily find events close to their location and access maps and turn-by-turn directions to the venues.
Following last week’s iPad announcement, venture capital firms have launched initiatives to fund projects destined for Apple’s latest device. AppFund, a new joint initiative by CNET and E! Online co-founder Kevin Wendle and MusicNation and Original Signal co-founder Daniel Klaus, has announced that it is creating a multi-million dollar fund to provide seed capital and expertise for launching iPad and mobile tablet applications. AppFund will evaluate developers around the world, with investments expected to range from $5,000 to $500,000 depending upon the complexity of a given application and its potential. Written proposals are welcomed at [email protected]
On a more regional scale, British Firm Northern Film & Media has also announced a £40,000 application development fund targeted at potential iPad application developers in northeastern England. The company’s goal is to encourage local developers to be among the first to enter the iPad marketplace. Northern Film & Media is accepting applications until February 24th and specifically looking for submissions that (a) have the potential to generate revenue, (b) take specific advantage of the new features and potential of the iPad, (c) provide a design distinct to the iPad relative to an iPhone or a desktop computer, (d) are original ideas, and (e) are ready to launch this summer. Developers must also have the majority of their talent and spending based in the local region.
Good.iWare has announced a major update to its popular GoodReader document viewing application. GoodReader v2.5 adds file search capabilities, password protection for individual files and folders, and support for “PDF Portfolios” which allow users to collect multiple files in different formats into a single integrated PDF unit. The developer notes that the latest version also removes USB file transfer capabilities “due to Apple’s demand, to avoid a violation of Apple’s rules.” The GoodReader update also provides support for additional features that can be added via In-App Purchases, allowing users to select only the features that they specifically need. There are currently three add-ons available: A plug-in for generic e-mail attachment support via POP3/IMAP4, a Google Docs plug-in and an FTP plug-in. The full version of GoodReader is available on the App Store for $1, with additional plug-ins selling for $1 each as In-App Purchases. A free GoodReader Lite version is also available which includes all of the plug-ins and is fully functional except for a storage limit of 5 files.
AT&T has announced that it will now allow the SlingPlayer app for iPhone to stream live TV over its 3G network. According to the New York Times, AT&T has worked with Sling to optimize the app in order to minimize network congestion. “Since mid-December 2009, AT&T has been testing the app and has recently notified Sling Media — as well as Apple — that the optimized app can run on its 3G network,” AT&T said in a press release. Sling Media’s SlingPlayer Mobile app for iPhone and iPod touch was originally launched in May 2009 without the ability to stream over 3G, a limitation AT&T admitted to putting in place due to fears that the app “would use large amounts of wireless network capacity” and “could create congestion and potentially prevent other customers from using the network.”
Update: Despite AT&T’s claims that it worked with Sling on the app, Sling Media’s John Santoro has said in an interview that the two companies in fact didn’t work together, and that no code changes were required from the original app. “We didn’t change anything,” Santoro told Ars Technica. “AT&T never discussed any specific requirements with us. Whatever the reason, we’re just glad AT&T has approved it. We’re just waiting for Apple’s OK, now.” The 3G-enabled app has been submitted to the App Store and is awaiting Apple’s approval.
Apple has added a promotional section to the App Store featuring over 30 Valentine’s Day themed applications in areas such as eBooks, greeting cards, recipes, music, dating and novelty and games. All of the applications have clearly been designed specifically for Valentine’s Day and most are selling for $1 or $2. The App Store Valentine’s Day page can be accessed here.
Stalin Kay Software has released Font Wizard, an application that allows iPhone and iPod touch users to browse, view and download fonts directly onto their portable device. Using a built-in web browser, users can download fonts from virtually any Internet source, view them on the device and store them for future access. Downloaded fonts can then later be transferred from the device to a Mac or PC simply by accessing the iPhone or iPod touch using a web browser over Wi-Fi. Font Wizard comes bundled with a redistributable font family and is available on the App Store for $5.
Chillingo has released Cogs, a unique new puzzle game where players are challenged to build complex machines in two- and three-dimensional environments by sliding tiles. The game includes multiple game play modes including an exploratory free-play inventor mode and time- and move-limited challenge modes. New puzzles are unlocked as players complete challenges. Cogs provides a visually attractive design and an online leaderboard for users to share their high scores. A basic version of Cogs with 10 puzzles and three game play modes is available on the App Store for $1. Four additional add-on puzzle packs are available for $1 each via In-App Purchases with each puzzle pack containing 10 additional puzzles.
iPhone Developer Lisa Coumont has released aptodo, a simple, location-aware task manager for the iPhone and iPod touch. Unlike most other simple to-do list applications, aptodo organizes tasks by location and uses the iPhone and iPod touch location services to help identify which tasks can be performed in relation to the user’s current location. Tasks are organized into lists which are in turn assigned to one or more places. Users can then quickly determine which tasks are available to them based on their current location, or can choose to display a map of their places and tasks by turning their device into a landscape orientation. Aptodo is available on the App Store for $2.
Spinapse has released a new trivia game for fans of the hit movie Avatar. Avatrivia provides hundreds of trivia questions from the movie ranging from the plot itself to background information and production details. Designed with visually appealing graphics set in a jungle environment, Avatrivia challenges players to spin to determine how many points are scored for each question with point values and multipliers that increase as the game progresses. Scores can be shared with friends on a local scoreboard or compete against other players around the world with a global online scoreboard. Avatrivia also supports up to five profiles on the same device to allow players to share the game among a group of friends. Avatrivia is available on the App Store for $1.
i.TV has released version 2.2 of its popular movie and TV listings application, adding significant improvements to its search capabilities, the ability to categorize video streams and to customize tweets and Facebook posts. i.TV has partnered with search provider Perfect Search Corporation to improve both performance and accuracy of results when searching for TV shows, movies and celebrities within the application as well as improved categorization of search results. i.TV provides local TV, movie and theatre listings for the US and Canada as well as integration with iTunes, Netflix and TiVo for purchasing, renting and scheduling content as well as access to online media and entertainments news. i.TV 2.2 is available on the App Store as a free download.