Coinciding with the problematic launch of pre-orders for the iPhone 4, Apple has launched an official, free Apple Store application formatted for the iPhone and iPod touch, but also compatible with the iPad. The application is designed to let customers “buy Apple products and accessories, read customer reviews, find an Apple Retail Store, stay up to date with in-store events, and make Personal Shopping, Genius Bar, or On to One appointments,” and is billed as “the easiest way to buy or reserve your new iPhone—right from your current iPhone.” It also uses push notifications to provide updates for as yet unknown purposes.
Like the Apple Store web site, the application’s main screen currently displays a “We’ll be back soon” post it note graphic, seemingly related to the iPhone 4 ordering outage currently affecting the Store. Screenshots show the application offering five bottom-of-screen buttons to toggle between Featured, Products, Stores, Search, and Cart screens that are not yet available. This is Apple’s fourth separate selling app for iOS devices, following iTunes, App Store, and iBookstore within the iBooks application.
Update: The Apple Store app became functional shortly after 9:30AM. It notably offers iPhone 4 pre-ordering only for existing iPhone customers who wish to replace current iPhones with iPhone 4 models, and only reservations for customers who intend to create new accounts or add lines.
Microsoft is currently offering money to iPhone developers if they port their games to the company’s Windows Phone 7 platform, which will launch later this year. Citing an unnamed developer that was contacted by Microsoft, PocketGamer reports that Microsoft is contacting “successful” iPhone developers, offering them cash to port their games to the new platform. Although the amounts being offered are said to be substantial, they’re reportedly not enough to offset the costs of porting the games over to Microsoft’s programming languages; however, the developer speculated that Microsoft still might be able to woo some developers by tweaking their development tools to make it easier to port from iOS. Sony followed a similar developer recruitment strategy prior to the launch of its PSPgo gaming system.
Apple has updated its iPhone Developer Program License Agreement to allow for a more relaxed stance on interpreted code inside apps. Section 3.3.2 of the agreement previously stated that “[n]o interpreted code may be downloaded or used in an Application except for code that is interpreted and run by Apple’s Documented APIs and built-in interpreter(s).” The new revised version notes that with Apple’s prior written consent, “[a]n Application may use embedded interpreted code in a limited way if such use is solely for providing minor features or functionality that are consistent with the intended and advertised purpose of the Application.” The new terms should open the door for a number of possibilites for developers, including for games to use third-party rendering engines and libraries.
Good.iWare has released another update to its highly popular PDF reading application for the iPad, adding a number of enhancements to PDF reading. GoodReader for iPad 2.8 introduces horizontal page turning for PDF files for a more book-like reading experience. The new version also provides the ability to rotate PDF files, automatically crop margins for a full-screen view of text and display two-page spreads in landscape view. GoodReader also now pre-caches PDF files for better performance when turning pages and adds support for Apple’s iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adapter, allowing documents to be displayed on a secondary monitor, TV or digital projector. GoodReader for iPad is available from the App Store for $1 and is a free update for existing users.
Silvio Rizzi has released an iPad version of his popular Reeder RSS client for iOS. Reeder for iPad brings over all of the features from the iPhone and iPod touch version, including Google Reader sync, browsing by feed or folder, starring and sharing items, image caching, and integration with third-party services such as Instapaper, Twitter, Delicioius and Pinboard. The iPad version introduces a redesigned interface for the iPad with a split-screen reading view and feeds and folders shown as thumbnails. Users can open folders using a pinch gesture—individual feeds appear as thumbnails and expand outward with the same effect as opening albums within the iPad Photos application. Reeder for iPad is available from the App Store for $5.
Syntonetic has released an update to its Moodagent music app for the iPhone and iPod touch, adding support for longer playlists and sharing via Twitter and Facebook. Similar in concept to iTunes’ own Genius feature, Moodagent allows users to generate playlists from their device’s music library based on mood as determined by a series of touchscreen sliders for Sensual, Tender, Happy, Angry and Tempo. Users adjust these sliders to automatically create a playlist of music or simply choose a specific song to generate a playlist based on the mood of that song. The Moodagent 2.0 update now allows users to adjust the length of their playlists to include up to 50 songs, lock specific tracks to ensure that they remain in a playlist and specify tracks or artists to be excluded from playlists. The update also provides the ability for users to share any of their playlists via Facebook and Twitter. Moodagent 2.0 is available from the App Store in two different versions: A free, ad-supported version that is fully functional and an ad-free version that sells for $5.
Electronic Arts has released a minor update to The Sims 3 for iPhone and iPod touch users, adding nothing more than a new cheat code. Users can download the latest version and get unlimited money by pressing the Pause button during gameplay and then selecting the “Gardening Tips” from the “Help & About” section and shaking their device. The Sims 3 is available from the App Store for $5.
Amazon has released an update to its Kindle application for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Kindle 2.1 adds larger fonts and more font sizes for iPad users, improves navigation between home and archived item sections on the iPad, and adds a download progress indicator. The new version also provides iPhone and iPod touch users with the ability to search inside their Kindle e-books; the release notes indicate the search feature will be coming to the iPad version in the next release. The next version also promises a built-in dictionary and the ability to look up words in Google or Wikipedia. Kindle 2.1 is available from the App Store as a free download.
Developer Ricky Bloomfield has released an update to his popular G-Whizz client for Google applications. G-Whizz 1.1.1 adds support for sending links to Instapaper, copying to the clipboard or opening in the Safari browser. In addition to bug fixes and memory optimization, the update further improves the help tab, adds cosmetic changes to the in-app browser and provides Google Talk and Tasks support for Google Apps users. G-Whizz is a universal app for both iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users and is available from the App Store for $3.
Apple has released iTunes Connect Mobile, a new iPhone and iPod touch app designed to allow developers to access their sales and trend data from the iTunes Store directly on their devices. iTunes Connect Mobile allows users to view daily and weekly sales data related to application updates, paid apps, free apps, and In-App purchases. Although iTunes Connect Mobile provides sales numbers in terms of actual downloads, this version does not provide any reporting on more detailed information available from iTunes Connect such as actual dollar revenue, sales history, chart positions or customer reviews. iTunes Connect Mobile is available from the App Store as a free download.
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.
FileMaker has released an update to its Bento database application for the iPad. Bento for iPad 1.0.1 adds the ability to view Adobe PDF documents stored in media fields and resolves a number of issues related to Address Book integration and videos, pictures, encrypted fields and calculation fields. The update also includes several improvements related to searching, navigation, orientation support and performance and adds three new themes. Bento for iPad is available from the App Store for $5 and is a free update for existing Bento for iPad users.
Slacker has released an update to its popular Slacker Radio streaming music application, introducing the ability for users to listen to Slacker Radio content without an active Internet connection. With Slacker Radio 2.0 users can now cache their favorite stations on the device for offline listening, regardless of whether a Wi-Fi or cellular data connection is available. The offline station caching feature requires a $5/month Slacker Radio Plus subscription; free Slacker Radio Basic users can try the caching feature free for 14 days. Slacker Radio Plus subscriptions also provide users with ad-free listening, access to song lyrics, unlimited song skipping and unlimited song requests. The application also provides both free and paid subscribers with access to artist biographies and album reviews, unlimited online listening and custom radio stations. Slacker Radio 2.0 is available from the App Store as a free download; Slacker Radio Plus subscriptions may be purchased from within the application.
Pangea Software has released a universal update to its game, Antimatter, bringing native iPad support. Antimatter 2.0 is a unique physics-based arcade game where users must direct a stream of glowing antimatter blobs to affect cosmic strings in order to advance through the game, while collecting power-ups and bonus points as well. Antimatter 2.0 is available from the App Store as a free download and is a free update for existing users.
U.S. antitrust regulators are preparing to launch an investigation into Apple’s decision to effectively bar AdMob from its iOS devices. The Financial Times, citing people familiar with the matter, reports that it’s currently unclear whether the Federal Trade Commission or the Justice Department will handle the investigation. Apple recently changed its iOS developer terms to forbid the sharing of user information with “an advertising service provider owned by or affiliated with a developer or distributor of mobile devices, mobile operating systems or development environments other than Apple,” effectively barring AdMob from all iOS applications. Notably, the company also added language that bars third-party analytics services. Apple is already facing antitrust scrutiny from the Justice Department in relation to its digital music business and its blocking of Flash software from its iOS devices.
Apple has updated its iOS developer agreement to allow for some sharing of user and device data with third-party advertisers, while effectively banning Google-owned AdMob in the process. AllThingsD reports that in April, Apple changed its developer agreement to ban the sharing of user and device data with third party ad networks and analytics tools, a move that Apple CEO Steve Jobs later said was made in the interest of protecting user privacy, adding that the company might revisit the terms in the future. The new terms allow for the sharing of “UDID, user location data, and other data specifically designated by Apple as available for advertising purposes,” but only when prior user consent has been given, and then in only two circumstances: when the collection, use or disclosure is necessary “in order to provide a service or function that is directly relevant to the user of the Application,” or “is for the purpose of serving advertising” to the application.
Notably, the new terms specify that developers “may not use third party analytics software” to “collect and send device data to a third party for aggregation, processing, or analysis.” They also stipulate that third party advertising is only allowed when the advertising service is “an independent advertising service provider whose primary business is serving mobile ads (for example, an advertising service provider owned by or affiliated with a developer or distributor of mobile devices, mobile operating systems or development environments other than Apple would not qualify as independent).” The new terms appear to ban both AdMob and analytics services such as Flurry, which was singled out in Jobs’ response explaining the initial change.
AdMob founder Omar Hamoui has responded to Apple’s move in a post on AdMob’s blog, saying the changes threaten to “decrease – or even eliminate – revenue that helps to support tens of thousands of developers. The terms hurt both large and small developers by severely limiting their choice of how best to make money. And because advertising funds a huge number of free and low cost apps, these terms are bad for consumers as well.” He added that the change in terms “is not in the best interests of users or developers,” and said the company would be “speaking to Apple to express our concerns about the impact of these terms.”
KainosAgora has released TweetAgora, its anticipated filtering client for Twitter users on the iPhone and iPod touch. First previewed in late March, TweetAgora is a fully featured Twitter client that aims to improve the signal-to-noise ratio in users’ Twitter streams by providing advanced filtering capabilities to allow users to better control what they see in their timelines. Users can filter out tweets by keyword or sender, filter out conversations and in the full version can also hide tweets from services such as Foursquare, Gowalla and Formspring. Further, TweetAgora allows users to view only specific types of tweets within their timeline, such as links, pictures or retweets and to also create their own “Agoras” to consolidate content into a single stream based on keywords, lists and people. Beyond its filtering capabilities, TweetAgora also provides support for Twitter lists, full conversation threads, drafts, Evernote integration, Geo-location support, image links and URL shortening, both new and old style retweeting, and support for 280-character Direct Messages. TweetAgora is available from the App Store as a free download. The free version allows users to filter up to three keywords and three people, create up to three Agoras and load up to 150 tweets in a timeline. Users can upgrade to the paid version for $5 via in-app purchase to remove these limitations and add support for multiple accounts and Foursquare, Gowall and Formspring filtering.
As part of its ongoing WWDC 2010 event, Apple has given out its annual Apple Design Awards to notable iPhone and iPad apps. According to the company’s website, the Awards recognize apps that “demonstrate technical excellence, innovation, technology adoption, and quality.” This year’s iPhone winners included Lima Sky’s Doodle Jump, Firemint’s Real Racing, Sophiestication Software’s Articles, Steve Sprang’s Brushes, and Zolo’s 20 Minute Meals for Jamie Oliver. Among the iPad applications honored were The Financial Times’ Financial Times iPad Edition, Agile Partners’ TabToolkit, Vito Technology’s Star Walk for iPad, Firemint’s Flight Control HD, and OOO Gameprom’s Pinball HD. In an unusual move likely due to the iOS focus of this year’s conference, Apple did not include a Mac application category in its Design Awards event. [via Ars Technica]
Apple has released the Golden Master Candidate version of iOS 4, as well as iTunes 9.2 Beta, to registered iPhone developers. The iOS 4 GM Candidate is a near-final version of the next-generation iPhone and iPod touch operating system, offering a number of new features including multitasking folders, the unified Mail inbox, rotation lock, and more. iTunes 9.2 will include a number of new features, including support for iPhone 4, the ability to sync and organize books on the iPhone and iPod touch and PDFs on the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, the ability to create iOS Folders from within iTunes, faster back-ups when syncing an iPhone or iPod touch with iOS 4 installed, and performance improvements. Both iOS 4 GM and iTunes 9.2 Beta are available for download now from the iPhone Dev Center. Apple will launch iOS 4 on June 21 as a free upgrade for all applicable products, including the second- and third-generation iPod touch, iPhone 3G, and iPhone 3GS; iTunes 9.2 will likely appear around this time, as well.
Update: Apple has announced that developers can start submitting iOS 4 applications for approval on June 10, 2010.
During its WWDC keynote address, Apple and several third-party developers announced notable new and upcoming app releases for the iPhone and iPod touch. Most notably, Apple announced a new version of iMovie for iPhone 4. Described by Apple as a “feature-rich video editing app,” iMovie will offer a Multi-Touch interface for selecting and editing video, with the ability to add photos customized with a Ken Burns panning effect, and soundtrack audio chosen from a built-in, custom-scored music library or from the device’s own iPod library. The app can detect audio such as conversations or narration and automatically reduce the soundtrack volume, and can export in one of three sizes—medium (640x360), large (960x540), or HD (1280x720)—with sharing options including email, MMS, MobileMe, and YouTube. Edited movies can be further enhanced by applying one of five built-in themes, with custom titles, transitions, and maps based on the geotag information of the video clips being used. iMovie will soon be available from the App Store and will sell for $5.
Activision got on stage to announce the release of Guitar Hero for the iPhone and iPod touch. Based on the popular music videogame for traditional consoles, Guitar Hero offers new gameplay mechanics including slide, strum, and whammy gestures, built-in social network feeds, the ability for users to personalize their in-game personas and share them with friends. Six songs, including selections from The Rolling Stones, Queen, Vampire Weekend, and The White Stripes are included, with other tracks available via in-app purchase. Guitar Hero for the iPhone and iPod touch is available now and sells for $3.
Announced for a release this summer was Netflix for the iPhone and iPod touch. Similar to the company’s well-received app for the iPad, Netflix for the iPhone and iPod touch will allow users to instantly stream movies and TV shows to their devices, with features including the ability to resume content in progress that was started on another device, queue access, and optimization for playback over 3G or Wi-Fi. Finally, Zygna announced that it will be bringing its Farmville virtual farming game to the iPhone and iPod touch, with touch screen-based controls, the ability to visit Facebook friends’ farms, and an in-app store. It will be released by the end of this month.