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VC firms launch iPad app development funds

imageFollowing 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 releases major update to GoodReader

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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 gives go-ahead for iPhone SlingPlayer over 3G (Updated)

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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.

iTunes adds Valentine’s Day section to App Store

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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.

Font Wizard provides a Font Case on your iPhone

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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 releases Cogs

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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.

Aptodo provides location-based task management

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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 releases Avatrivia for Avatar fans

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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 2.2 adds improved search, customized Tweets

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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.

iPhone game sales help boost Gameloft’s annual revenue

Previewing its fiscal earnings for 2009, Gameloft has revealed that overall company revenue increased by 11% in 2009 to €122 million (roughly $170 million), thanks in part to strong sales of the company’s iPhone games. Revenue from sales of App Store titles totaled €17.6 million, or roughly $24.5 million, for the year, representing over 14% of the company’s annual revenue. In the fourth quarter alone, iPhone game sales accounted for €7.0 million (~$9.8 million), up 115% from the year-ago quarter and accounting for 22% of the company’s quarterly revenue total. Overall, mobile games accounted for 94% of Gameloft’s sales in 2009, with the remainder made up of console sales.

Documents To Go now includes PowerPoint editing

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DataViz has released a major update to its premium version of Documents To Go to add support for editing PowerPoint presentations and editing and viewing supported attachments from Gmail directly on the iPhone. Formerly known as Documents To Go with Exchange Attachments, the rebranded Premium version now permits users to edit and create PowerPoint presentations directly on their devices, including support for editing and adding bullets, text, and speaker notes as well as sorting, adding, duplicating and deleting slides. The new version also allows users to access attachments directly from their Gmail accounts for viewing or editing directly on the device. Documents To Go Premium continues to support viewing and editing of Microsoft Word and Excel formats as well as enhanced viewing of PDF files. Documents to Go Premium 3.0 is available on the App Store for $15 for new users and is available as a free upgrade for owners of Documents To Go with Exchange Attachments.  DataViz also provides a standard version of Documents To Go 2.1 with only Word and Excel editing and no attachment support for $10.

Gameloft releases Pocket Chef

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Gameloft has released Pocket Chef, a 3D cooking game for the iPhone and iPod touch that allows players to challenge their virtual cooking skills by following 25 different real-world recipes with an emphasis on precision and speed. Players use the accelerometer and touchscreen to replicate real-world movements such as flipping steaks and breaking eggs and can play through 19 mini-games that cover aspects of the process from the preparation of ingredients to baking and the presentation of the finished result. Pocket Chef also provides a recipe book so that the recipes can be looked up and used for real-life cooking as each recipe is unlocked. Pocket Chef is available from the App Store for $5.

Apple forces removal of USB sharing from e-book app

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Lexcycle, maker of the popular e-book reader Stanza for the iPhone and iPod touch, recently released an update for the app that killed a popular feature, reportedly at Apple’s request. In the App Store release notes for Stanza version 2.1, it states “removed the ability to share books via USB as required by Apple.” Previously, the feature allow users to transfer books in the eReader or ePub formats—the latter being used for Apple’s upcoming iBookstore—to their iPhone or iPod touch using a USB cable. TechCrunch reports that in email correspondence with Lexcycle, Apple indeed demanded the feature be removed, but the company stopped short of explaining why, stating the it was “forbidden from discussing the specifics of our conversations with Apple on this matter.” The timing of the update is curious, as Apple just last week announced its plans to enter the e-book business via its new iBooks app for the iPad and accompanying iBookstore; Lexcycle itself is owned by Amazon.com, which purchased the app developer in April 2009.

St. John Ambulance releases First Aid app

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St. John Ambulance has released its official First Aid application, providing a user-friendly reference to first aid procedures for situations ranging from major emergencies to minor incidents. The application provides a streamlined interface to allow users to quickly look up appropriate first aid procedures for a given situation. Procedures are divided into major and minor categories and a section on common first aid techniques is also provided. Selecting a procedure or technique guides the user through a step-by-step series of straightforward instructions with diagrams where appropriate. An information section is also available to provide guidance on calling emergency services, proper first aid kits and first aid training. St. John Ambulance First Aid is available on the App Store for $4.

Bills On Your Table provides bill reminders with Push Notifications

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PoweryBase has released Bills On Your Table, a new application for tracking and managing bills on the iPhone. The application allows users to enter various types of bills and other expenses with their due dates and recurrence. A main overview screen then provides a visual indication of upcoming bills and Push Notification alerts can be sent to the user’s device to notify when bills are about to becomes due. Bills On Your Table provides support for 170 different currencies, a payment log with a history of actions, AutoPay support, a passcode lock, and includes Push Notifications with no additional subscription required. Bill information can also be synchronized with an online web service where users can log on and manage their bill information from any web browser. Bills On Your Table is available on the App Store for an introductory price of $2.

Liquid Scale provides content aware image processing

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Savoy Software has released Liquid Scale 1.0, an iPhone application for mobile image processing which allows for simple content aware retouching and resizing of images directly on the iPhone without creating unnatural distortions of the original photo. WIth Liquid Scale, users can perform retouching tasks such as removing people and objects from photos or resizing a photo to adjust foreground objects in relation to each other the image background. Liquid Scale performs intelligent analysis on images to identify the real motif of the photo in relation to the background allowing the different components of the image to be manipulated separately. Processed images can be re-saved to the iPhone camera role in three different quality levels or they can be sent by e-mail. A Before-after view is also available for quick comparison of the original image to the results. Liquid Scale is available on the App Store for $2.

Perceptive Development releases iMicroscope

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Perceptive Development has announced the release of iMicroscope, an iPhone application that allows scientists and students to use the iPhone camera to take precision microphotographs through microscopes. Originally created by Zack Gainsforth, a scientist at the UC Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory, iMicroscope aims to make microphotography more accessible for education and research by providing a simple and cost-effective solution for students and researchers who may not have access to sophisticated and expensive micrograph equipment. iMicroscope works simply by placing the iPhone camera above the microscope’s eyepiece and then using the microscope’s magnification settings to produce a calibrated micrograph image. iMicroscope is available on the App Store for $3.

Newsstand changes name to NewsRack

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iPhone developer omz:software has changed the name of its popular Newsstand RSS reader app to NewsRack. According to the developer’s blog, Newsstand was pulled from the App Store early last weekdue to a trademark complaint that was received by Apple. An updated version of the application under the new name was submitted to the App Store last Tuesday and was approved last night. In addition to rebranding, the update also provides improved support for RSS feeds that use basic authentication. NewsRack 2.3.1 is available on the App Store for $5 for new customers and is a free update for prior users of Newsstand.

Sesame Street releases Elmo’s Monster Maker

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Sesame Street has released Elmo’s Monster Maker, a new iPhone application for kids that promotes creativity and decision-making by allowing the user to create their own Sesame Street style monster by choosing a body and then adding eyes, a nose and a hat.  Once a monster has been created, the user can tap the screen to make the monster dance and play and interact with Elmo or save pictures of their monster to the iPhone or iPod photo album. Elmo’s Monster Maker is available on the App Store for $4.

iCamcorder provides video recording for older iPhones

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iPhone developer dw-c has released an update to its iCamcorder application, providing high-quality video recording capabilities for the first-generation iPhone and iPhone 3G.  iCamcorder provides support for recordings of 15FPS on the highest quality settings with high-quality audio, unlimited recording length, digital zoom and up to nine digital effects. Both portrait and landscape recording modes are supported and videos can be saved on the device’s Camera Roll, sent out via e-mail or shared on Facebook, YouTube or Twitter.  iCamcorder requires a first-generation iPhone or iPhone 3G with iPhone OS 3.1 or later and is available on the App Store and is currently selling for $1.

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