A number of iPhone app review sites are unscrupulously charging developers to have their applications reviewed, according to a Wired report. The practice of soliciting money in exchange for a review is not illegal, but is frowned upon by the Federal Trade Commission, which revised its guidelines covering blogger endorsements in October 2009 to require a disclosure whenever a review is written in exchange for money or gifts. “They prey on people who need exposure,” said Oliver Cameron, developer of the iPhone app Postman, who has actively avoided sites charging for reviews. “It strikes me as a paid ad, really. They never seem to actually ‘review’ it.” The report states that the two sites mentioned most by developers as engaging in the practice were theiphoneappreview.com and appcraver.com.
In addition to charging for reviews, some sites, including The iPhone App Review, openly charge developers for what they call “expedited” reviews, in which the paying developer’s app is given priority over other, standard reviews. The site’s editor-in-chief Shaun Campbell defended the practice, citing the large number of apps available on the store and saying it would be an “impossible task to review all the apps we receive, paid or unpaid.” “The iPhone App Review is not a PR charity,” he continued. “We’re a business, and like in any business, there are costs that need to be recovered.”
iLounge does not charge for reviews, and actively rejects attempts from developers to pay for coverage. Our long-standing product coverage policies include additional details for those who may be interested.
Fisher-Price has released three new iPhone applications based on its classic toys. Targeted at children ages 2-5, Fisher-Price Chatter Telephone, See ‘n Say and Little People Farm provide interactive digital versions of the iconic toys of the same name. Chatter Telephone ($1) includes three screens: Numbers, Music and People in Your Neighborhood where children can touch or swipe to hear sounds and narrations. See ‘n Say ($2) presents the child with a spinner that they can touch or move to point at various pictures of animals and hear the name of the animal and the sound that it makes. Little People Farm ($2) displays a farm yard where the child can tap on various objects to discover animals and their sounds and play other interactive games and activities. The three applications were developed for Fisher-Price by IDEO LLC and are available on the App Store.
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.
Gameloft has released a new application combining three of their popular sports games. Gameloft Sports Pack bundles Gameloft’s highly acclaimed Let’s Golf, Real Tennis and Pro Baseball into a single $5 app. Let’s Golf is a top-rated golf game that allows users to play through 63 holes in four distinct 3D-rendered locations and provides easily adaptable controls and local Wi-Fi multiplayer support. Real Tennis takes the player on a world championship tour across 7 stadiums and 3 different surfaces with touchscreen and accelerometer based controls, a wide array of strokes and local Wi-Fi multiplayer support. Pro Baseball provides a 3D-rendered baseball simulation with audio commentary, sound effects and spectator reactions and game modes ranging from a full 162-game season to a quick play home-run mode. Gameloft Sports Pack is available from the App Store for $5.
Apple has released the fifth beta version of its iPhone SDK 3.2 for iPad. First released in January following the introduction of the iPad, the SDK is tailored specifically to the device, including support for its 1024x768 resolution, other iPad-specific interface functions, and includes an iPad simulator application so developers can pre-test their apps in an environment similar to that of the final device. It is unknown what, if any, changes were made in this latest version. The iPhone OS 3.2 SDK beta 5 for iPad is available now to registered iPhone developers through the iPhone Dev Center.
Electric Pocket has released the iPhone version of its popular BugMe digital ink note and reminder app. BugMe allows users to jot free-form notes using their finger or a stylus, share their notes and set scheduled reminders for them. Users can choose from one of four background colors or specify their own photo for each note. Notes can be shared via Twitter or e-mail, saved directly to the device’s photo album or even saved as tiny sticky-note icons on the main Home Screen. Users can set an alarm on each note and be alerted via Push Notifications when the note comes due. BugMe! is available from the App Store for $1.
Apple has updated its iTunes Connect online iPhone application submission service to allow developers to schedule pricing changes to their apps, according to one iPhone developer. In an update to his Twitter account, Amro Mousa, a developer for return7, states that “iPhone devs can now schedule sales in iTunes Connect,” with an accompanying screenshot showing the new options within the iTunes Connect interface. Developers can access the new features by logging into iTunes Connect. [via Ars Technica]
Navigon has released three new regional versions of its popular MobileNavigator app. Dubbed NAVIGON MyRegion, the new apps provide the same features as the full version but limit map information to regional areas of the United States. Three versions are presently available: U.S. Central, U.S. East and U.S. West; each currently sells for $25 and includes the ability to add the other regions via in-app purchase for $13 each. The MyRegion apps also include support for the Traffic Live feature, available as an in-app purchase for $20. Current prices are promotional prices, valid until April 12th. [via TUAW]
Konami Digital Entertainment has released Frogger Inferno for the iPhone and iPod touch. In Frogger Inferno, players employ the familiar dodge-and-run tactics from the original game to guide Frogger across a busy highway to his home marsh. As an additional twist, however, Frogger Inferno now leaves a trail of fire behind him, requiring players to get Frogger home without the ability to double-back along their path. Additional features include Facebook Connect integration to allow users to post their game scores, play against others and follower the Frogger Leader Board. Frogger Inferno is available from the App Store for $1.
NASA has released an update to its official NASA App introducing support for sharing information on Facebook and Twitter. Version 1.2 supports Facebook Connect to allow users to share images, videos, tweets and mission information on their Facebook profile and also integrates its own full Twitter client for not only posting but also retweeting, replying and direct messaging from within the app. Other new features include the addition of the NASAImages.org collection containing over 125,000 new images, an advanced search option, and an offline caching system. The NASA App is available from the App Store as a free download.
Sophiestication Software has released Articles, a new application for browsing and searching Wikipedia on the iPhone and iPod touch. Articles presents Wikipedia content in an iPhone optimized format and includes several advanced UI features such as the ability to quickly scroll through articles by chapter, adjust text size via pinch-and-zoom gestures and lock screen orientation using a pull-down gesture. Articles allows users to search by title or content and select alternate Wikipedia languages, with automatic spelling suggestions provided for search text. An integrated maps feature provides users with a geographic display or Wikipedia entries for nearby points of interest or any selected location around the globe, or users can simply shake their device to bring up a random Wikipedia article of interest. Articles also provides full-screen previews of images, a multi-page tabbed interface similar to the Safari browser, bookmarks with folder organization, and offline access to recently-viewed articles. Wikipedia entries can be shared via e-mail and photos can be saved to the device’s photo library or copied to the clipboard. Articles - The Wikipedia App is available from the App Store for $3.
ALK Technologies has released the latest update to its CoPilot Live North America application, providing updated street maps of the U.S. and Canada, integrated local search and Facebook integration. The included local search, previously only available as a $20 in-app purchase, allows users to quickly locate products, services and stores directly from within the application. The update promises improved guidance and a more realistic display at complex intersections with its new Lane Assist and ClearTurn features. The new Facebook integration allows users to update their Facebook status from within the app with their current location, their destination, or the currently playing iPod track. The new version also now provides user-controllable volume settings, allowing users to mute or lower music volume during voice directions. CoPilot Live North America is available from the App Store for $30; live traffic updates continue to be available as an in-app purchase for an additional $20. A free version, CoPilot Live Directions is also available which provides thirty days of free access to the Premium features, after which users can choose to pay for a subscription via in-app purchase or continue using the free app with standard turn-by-turn directions without voice guidance.
PayPal has released a major update to its mobile iPhone application. Along with a complete redesign, PayPal 2.0 now adds support for withdrawing funds and requesting money as well as an integrated tip calculator for splitting restaurant bills and requesting everyone’s share via PayPal. Users can also use the app to collect contributions from a group for events, gifts or causes and can now configure bill reminders with Push Notifications. The update also adds support for Bump technology, allowing users to initiate funds transfers with other PayPal users simply by running the app and bumping their devices together. PayPal 2.0 is available from the App Store as a free download.
Electronic Arts has released an update to The Sims 3, adding support for new expansion packs and transferring Sims into future Sims games. The update includes support for a new “prank pack” that can be purchased from the in-game store to allow players to play pranks on their fellow Sims, and additional theme packs are also available via in-app purchase. Each pack sells for $1 and push notifications can now be enabled to notify users when new content is available. The latest update also adds a new import/export feature to allow players to transfer their Sims between The Sims 3 and the upcoming The Sims 3 World Adventures game. The Sims 3 is available from the App Store for $7. The Sims 3 World Adventures for the iPhone was previewed at CES 2010 in January; a release date for the game has not yet been announced.
Mobile advertising network Mobclix has released a new iPad-specific software development kit to enable developers to integrate advertising into their iPad apps. The new SDK allows developers to integrate video and rich media ads into their apps in four different sizes: 468x60, 300x250, 120x600 and 728x90, with more options to come. The Mobclix iPad SDK is available for download from the Mobclix Developer Dashboard (free registration required). [via TechCrunch]
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]
Ngmoco has released a new version of its popular first-person shooter. Eliminate:CO-OP provides a new multiplayer game mode where users can team up with their friends for cooperative game play against computer-generated battle drones. The new game builds on the original Eliminate Pro, providing ten new multiplayer environments, the ability to collect items and credits from demolished battle drones and an enhanced global matchmaking system for quickly connecting with other players. Eliminate:CO-OP is also fully compatible with Eliminate Pro for online deathmatch play. Eliminate:CO-OP is available from the App Store as a free download.
TomTom International has released an update to its series of turn-by-turn GPS navigation applications for the iPhone and iPod touch. The latest version allows users to subscribe to real-time traffic notifications via an in-app purchase and adds support for Google local search to find points of interest. The update also adds new maps, automatic music fading during voice instructions, automatic day and night modes and the ability to add locations from other supported iPhone applications. Real-time traffic notifications require an iPhone and are only available in the U.S. at the present time. TomTom U.S.A. is available from the App Store for $60; real-time traffic updates require an in-app subscription of $20 annually. Updated versions for other geographic areas are also available.
Worldly Developments, creator of the Plancast.com social networking site has released an iPhone app for users of its service. Plancast.com is a social networking service designed to allow users to share information about where they are planning to be in the future, as opposed to where they currently are. The new Plancast application allows users to create new plans and share them with their friends directly from their iPhone or iPod touch. Users can browse friends’ plans, including mapped location information and a list of who else is planning to attend, and can add themselves to the list. The app also allows users to search for their friends’ plans or browse from a list of featured users, and plan links can be sent out via Twitter and Facebook. Plancast is available from the App Store as a free download. [via TechCrunch]