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.
Chillingo has released Ravensword: The Fallen King, its latest game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Developed by Crescent Moon Games, Ravensword is a 3D action/adventure game with role-playing elements, offering a large, open sandbox-style world in which players can take on quests to earn money and experience, battle enemies including orcs, trolls, and demons, and uncover new weapons, items, and magical runes. Features include the ability to switch between first- and third-person perspectives, an original soundtrack with spacial 3D audio, an optional auto-targeting interface, and more. Ravensword: The Fallen King is available now and sells for $7.
THQ Wireless has released Star Wars: Trench Run, its latest Star Wars-themed title for the iPhone and iPod touch. Based on the final battle sequence of the original film, Trench Run places players in the shoes of a Rebel Alliance Red Squadron pilot, as they attempt to fight their way past the Death Star’s defenses, down into a trench where they must dodge obstacles, cannon fire, and Darth Vader’s ship while attempting to fire their guns into a small hole in order to destroy the battle station. Features include 3D graphics, original music and sound effects, accelerometer-based controls, multiple camera and gameplay modes with multiple difficulty levels, and online leader boards. Star Wars: Trench Run is priced at $5.
Google has released an update to its Google Earth application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Google Earth 2.0 allows users to create their own custom maps to be loaded into the application by logging into a Google Maps account, an improved interface for selecting photos, Wikipedia entries, and place information from the main view, improved performance, and expanded language support. Google Earth 2.0 for the iPhone and iPod touch is available now as a free download from the App Store.
Konami is currently offering its complete lineup of games for the iPhone and iPod touch for $1 each. The company’s titles include Metal Gear Solid Touch, Silent Hill: The Escape, Frogger, Silent Scope, Krazy Kart Racing, and more. It is unknown how long the company plans to keep its titles at this minimum price point.
According to a series of Twitter updates from Iconfactory developer Craig Hockenberry and John Gruber of Daring Fireball, Apple is now using an automated software tool to check for the use of private API calls in new App Store submissions. After Hockenberry stated that it “wouldn’t surprise [him] if the [App Store] review process now includes a step where they pass your binary through something that checks for framework use,” Gruber responded, saying that “Apple recently started running apps through a static analysis tool to look for private API calls,” adding that while he doesn’t know exactly what it flags, he does “believe that it is a serious tool, not simplistic.” The iPhone SDK Developer Agreement has always prohibited the use of private APIs, which, unlike public APIs, are subject to change and are sometimes used to access features Apple does not want to make available to third-party developers. This new system will likely make it easier for Apple to find these private API calls in third-party applications, as the software can scan the app’s codebase for the calls, while a human tester would either have to stumble upon, and recognize, use of the APIs during hands-on testing, or find the API call in a manual search of the app’s code. [via Gizmodo]
The delayed approval status of three DJ applications for the iPhone and iPod touch—from three separate developers—has raised questions from fans of the genre as to whether Apple is intentionally delaying their release. Touch DJ from Amidio, Sonorasaurus from Pajamahouse Studios, and DJ Player from Musicsoft Arts have all been in review for some time, with no word from Apple on what might be causing the delays. “We have been waiting about 3 months now with no word on if we are approved and when we can release,” reads an update on Pajamahouse Studios’ Sonorasaurus website. Unlike current “DJ” apps already available in the App Store, all three of these applications would allow the user to mix his/her own tracks together, complete with simultaneous playback of at least two tracks, pitch, fade, tempo and other controls. In addition, all three developers have seen other apps approved in the past, most notably Musicsoft Arts, whose DJ Spooky The Secret Song app is actually based on the yet-to-be-approved DJ Player.
An online petition created to spur Apple into accepting DJ applications for sale on the App Store notes that the company doesn’t allow dual access of the iPod music library stored on the iPhone and iPod touch, which forced each developer to implement an alternative method—transfer over Wi-Fi—of accessing songs for mixing, but despite their efforts, they have yet to see release. [Thanks, Kasabian]
Update: Touch DJ form Amidio has now been approved and is available from the App Store for $20.
Rogue Amoeba has announced that it no longer has any plans to release new iPhone applications following a four-month delay in getting a bug fix release of its app Airfoil Speakers Touch approved by Apple. In a blog posting on the company site, Paul Kafasis writes that version 1.0.1 of Airfoil Speakers Touch was submitted to Apple in July, only to be repeatedly rejected due to the use of Apple-provided images of both computers and applications logos, which were included in the original, approved release and were used to identify what computer and application was supplying the audio to the iPhone app. Notably, these images were not contained within the iPhone app itself, but were instead gathered on the connected Mac using Apple-provided APIs, and then sent to the iPhone for display. Rogue Amoeba eventually removed the functionality, instead replacing it with a link to a page explaining the situation and urging users to donate to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
“In the future, we hope that developers will be allowed to ship software without needing Apple’s approval at all, the same way we do on Mac OS X. We hope the App Store will get better, review times will be shorter, reviews will be more intelligent, and that we can all focus on making great software. Right now, however, the platform is a mess,” Kafasis writes. “The chorus of disenchanted developers is growing and we’re adding our voices as well. Rogue Amoeba no longer has any plans for additional iPhone applications, and updates to our existing iPhone applications will likely be rare. The iPhone platform had great promise, but that promise is not enough, so we’re focusing on the Mac.”
Joe Hewitt, the leading developer behind the official Facebook application for the iPhone and iPod touch, and iLounge’s Editors’ and Readers’ Choice for iPod/iPhone Application Developer of the Year, has announced that he will no longer be involved in iPhone development due to Apple’s review policies. Hewitt, who is quitting only iPhone development, and not Facebook, revealed his decision last night via Twitter, saying, “Time for me to try something new. I’ve handed the Facebook iPhone app off to another engineer, and I’m onto a new project.”
In a more lengthy interview with TechCrunch, Hewitt explained why he decided to abandon iPhone development. “My decision to stop iPhone development has had everything to do with Apple’s policies,” Hewitt said. “I respect their right to manage their platform however they want, however I am philosophically opposed to the existence of their review process. I am very concerned that they are setting a horrible precedent for other software platforms, and soon gatekeepers will start infesting the lives of every software developer.” Discussing his future, he added, “The web is still unrestricted and free, and so I am returning to my roots as a web developer. In the long term, I would like to be able to say that I helped to make the web the best mobile platform available, rather than being part of the transition to a world where every developer must go through a middleman to get their software in the hands of users.”
Universal Studios Home Entertainment, in collaboration with Deluxe Digital Studios, has released pocket BLU, a new application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Beginning with the Blu-ray edition of Bruno and continuing on for Blu-ray releases of films such as Funny People, Public Enemies, and Inglorious Basterds, iPhone and iPod touch users will be able to interact with new and upcoming Universal Blu-ray releases using the pocket BLU app. Features of the app, which uses a Wi-Fi connection to communicate with a networked Blu-ray player, include an on-screen remote that allows for menu navigation, playback and BD-Live control, a video timeline—accessed by rotating the device—which allows users to instantly access any point in the movie, the ability to unlock a selection of bonus “Mobile-To-Go” content to be saved or streamed to the device, and a pop-up keyboard for entering text. This follows Universal’s earlier foray into added Blu-ray content for iPhone and iPod touch users. Universal’s pocket BLU application is available now as a free download from the App Store; the first compatible Blu-ray disc will be released November 17.
Shazam, a popular music identification service for the iPhone and iPod touch, is splitting its single app into two separate applications. The free Shazam application will now limit new users to five song IDs per month; current users will retain the ability to tag as many songs as they like. For users looking for a more comprehensive identification solution, the company’s new Shazam Encore application offers faster, unlimited tags, the ability to add location data to tags, the ability to search Shazam’s music charts—based on other user’s requests—and the service’s music database, a new drive and tag mode that will continuously monitor and tag new songs playing over a car’s stereo while charging, the ability to store music info when offline for later identification, and more. Shazam Encore is available now and sells for $5.
A class action lawsuit (PDF Link) has been filed against iPhone game developer Storm8 accusing the company of secretly transmitting and collecting players’ phone numbers. Storm8 makes a variety of games available for download from the App Store, including iMobsters, Vampires Live, and Zombies Live, which the company says have been downloaded more than 20 million times, making them “the number one role-playing games for the iPhone and iPod touch.” While the suit acknowledges that Storm8 admitted to transferring players’ phone numbers in August, calling the problem a “bug,” it also states that the company “could not have accidentally harvested its users’ phone numbers” and needed to use “very specific and specialized software code to do so.” This is not the first time a company has been accused of secretly stealing users’ phone numbers via an application; European application mogoRoad was said to be transferring users’ numbers and using them to place the unsolicited calls in September.
Apple has officially announced that there are now more than 100,000 applications available on the App Store. iPhone and iPod touch users in 77 countries have access to the store, which includes 20 categories of applications. Application monitoring sites had claimed the company had passed the 100,000 app mark earlier, but this is the first official confirmation from Apple.
“The App Store, now with over 100,000 applications available, is clearly a major differentiator for millions of iPhone and iPod touch customers around the world,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “The iPhone SDK created the first great platform for mobile applications and our customers are loving all of the amazing apps our developers are creating.”
“The App Store has forever changed the mobile gaming industry and continues to improve,” said Travis Boatman, vice president of Worldwide Studios, EA Mobile. “With a global reach of over 50 million iPhone and iPod touch users, the App Store has allowed us to develop high quality EA games that have been a huge success with customers.”
“With 10,000 downloads a day, worldwide customer response to our I Am T-Pain App has exceeded our wildest expectations,” said Jeff Smith, CEO of Smule. “The App Store has given us a unique opportunity to create and grow a very successful business, and we’re looking forward to an exciting future.”
EnvIO networks has released Chorus, its first application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Chorus is a application discovery app, helping users find worthwhile applications on the App Store without the need to dig through the store itself. The application bases its recommendations on those of the user’s friends—which can be brought in from Facebook and Contacts, and added from a list of nearby Chorus users—as well as a select group of “App Maven” experts. Chorus is available now as a free download from the App Store.
Kodak has introduced its new Pic Flick application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Kodak Pic Flick allows users to wirelessly transmit pictures from their devices to Kodak EasyShare W820 or W1020 wireless digital picture froms, or to a Kodak ESP 5250 All-In-One wireless printer for printing out the image. Kodak Pic Flick is a free download from the App Store. [via Photography Blog]
Highlights for Children has debuted Highlights Hidden Pictures, its first game for the iPhone and iPod touch. The game features eight puzzle illustrations featuring more than 100 hidden objects, a scrollable row of objects to use as clues, a hint feature, the ability to register the game for two free puzzles, the ability to play custom music in the background, and more. Highlights Hidden Puzzles is available now and sells for $2.
GLU Mobile has released World Series of Poker Hold’em Legend, its latest game for the iPhone and iPod touch. This No-Limit Texas hold’em poker game features a career mode with cash games, bracelet events, multi-table tournaments, and more, over 20 unique achievements, up to 9-player real-time online multiplayer, a heads-up two-player Bluetooth multiplayer mode, the ability to save favorite hands, the ability to listen to music from the iPod while playing, and more. World Series of Poker Hold’em Legend is available now and is priced at $7.
Ngmoco has released Eliminate Pro, its latest game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Eliminate Pro is a first-person shooter in which players compete with one another in multi-player matches to earn credits to buy upgrades and better weapons. Features include networked play over both 3G and W-Fi, multiple weapons, power-ups, and arenas, Plus+ integration, and more. Eliminate Pro is available now as a free download from the App Store.
Electronic Arts has introduced Command & Conquer Red Alert, its latest title for the iPhone and iPod touch. In Red Alert, players use multi-touch controls to command their forces against the enemy, fighting through twelve combat levels as either the Soviets or Allies—each side has its own specific weaponry and campaign storylines. A map pack with six extra skirmish maps is available as an in-app purchase, and EA is promising Bluetooth and Wi-Fi multiplayer, as well as an “Empire of the Rising Sun” expansion pack as future updates. Command & Conquer Red Alert is available now and sells for $10.
id Software has unveiled Doom Classic, its latest game for the iPhone and iPod touch. As a port of the original first-person shooter, Classic includes the original three episodes as well as episode four for a total of 36 levels, customizable control schemes, both Deathmatch and Co-op multiplayer modes, the ability to listen to the original soundtrack or music from the iPod library, and more. Doom Classic is available now for $7.
Izy CG has released IzyPhotoTip, its latest application for the iPhone and iPod touch. IzyPhotoTip is designed to help photographers and travelers mark, locate, and revisit places where they might want to take a picture with more advanced photographic equipment. Features include the ability to manage, categorize, and tags shooting locations, add photos from the camera or library to a location, save the best time to shoot the location, share locations with friends, and more. IzyPhotoTip is available now and is priced at $4.
The Iconfactory has released Pickin’ Time, its latest game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Pickin’ Time has players attempt to pick their chosen vegetable as fast as they can when it pops up. The game offers both a single-player mode plus single-device and Wi-Fi multi-player modes, as well as a family-friendly theme and original soundtrack. Pickin’ Time is available now and sells for $2.
UPS has launched UPS Mobile, its new application for the iPhone and iPod touch. UPS Mobile lets users track package and freight shipments, find nearby UPS locations, and estimate shipping costs and delivery times; users logged in with a My UPS ID can also nickname tracked shipments, see recent tracks, create shipping labels to e-mail and then print, access their ups.com address books, and use saved shipping and payment preferences. UPS Mobile is available now as a free download from the App Store.
Nikon has introduced Nikon Learn & Explore, its new photography application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Learn & Explore gives users access to a host of photography tips and information, including educational images and videos, advice on shooting techniques, guides to fundamental photography principles, a photography glossary, complete access to Nikon’s quarterly print magazine Nikon World, and more. Nikon Learn & Explore is available now as a free download.
Namco has released Garters & Ghouls, its latest title for the iPhone and iPod touch. Developed in collaboration with Big Blue Bubble, Garters & Ghouls puts players in the shoes of Marie Dupois, who has been summoned to battle a horde of baddies with dual on-screen stick controls. Features include over 25 levels, a variety of weapons and power-ups, extra downloadable content, the ability to share in-game achievements via Facebook Connect, and more. Garters & Ghouls is available now and sells for $5.
Apple has released an update to its Remote application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Remote allows iPhone and iPod touch users to control their iTunes installations or Apple TVs directly from their devices. New in version 1.3.2 is compatibility with iTunes 9 and Apple TV 3.0, as well as unspecified bug fixes. Remote 1.3.2 is available now as a free download from the App Store.
Disney.com has launched its new official application for the iPhone and iPod touch. The new app offers access to Disney news and entertainment, interaction with popular characters through customizable photo frames and audio greetings, the ability to listen to Radio Disney live and watch videos, in-app games like Name That Song, and more. In addition, it offers a “Click2Life” feature that allows iPhone users to take pictures of images on the disney.com website that then become animated images within the app. Disney.com is available now as a free download from the App Store.
Priceline.com has released its Hotel Negotiator application for the iPhone and iPod touch. The app lets users find and book last-minute accommodations using the site’s Name Your Own Price hotel service. Features include a winning bids listing that displays multiple recent winning bids made by other customers for hotels across a city, a shake-activated, location-based winning bids search, the ability to sort listings by star level, price, proximity, and popularity, instant bid results, the ability to browse Priceline’s published-price hotel listings, and a specially-designed one-page checkout screen. Priceline.com’s Hotel Negotiator app is available as a free download.
Seeitwithus has introduced Videopix, its first application for the iPhone 3GS. Videopix allows iPhone 3GS users to scrub through their videos frame-by-frame, extracting 640x480 stills directly from the video files. Features include precise navigation controls, automatic video orientation detection for proper photo exporting, and the ability to take images from any video in the Camera Roll. Videopix is available now and sells for $5.
Location-aware social networking service Brightkite has updated its native iPhone and iPod touch application to version 2.0. Sporting a slightly tweaked interface, the new version gives users access to new features recently added to the service’s website, including a new Friend model that allows others to follow as a fan, leaving the choice as to whether or not they are a “friend” up to the user, a new privacy model that lets users decide who sees each post, post-by-post settings for sending updates to other sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr, the option to post without location data, and more. Brightkite 2.0 is available now as a free download.
Google has revealed details of its upcoming free turn-by-turn Google Maps Navigation, and has said it plans to bring the app to the iPhone. The new application will offer common Google Maps features, including the ability to search by name of business and traffic data, as well as new features like voice-assisted turn-by-turn navigation, integration with Satellite and Street View, and the ability to search along the selected route for upcoming points of interest like gas stations and restaurants.
The application will launch with Android 2.0 on the Motorola Droid, which will be available on Verizon on November 6, and will be featured on other upcoming GPS-capable Android 2.0 devices. Google’s Vice President of Engineering, Vic Gundotra, also confirmed that the company is currently working with Apple to bring the application to the iPhone, but noted that the process is different than the normal App Store submission process, because Maps is a built-in iPhone application. No preliminary launch date was mentioned for the iPhone version.
Tapulous has teamed with rock band Metallica for the release of its new Tap Tap Revenge: Metallica game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Like prior Tap Tap releases, Revenge: Metallica is a rhythm game in which players attempt to hit one of three, four, or five tracks in time with the music and with the note indicators moving down the screen. The game features 10 songs, four boss tracks, a landscape mode with four rails on hard difficulty and five on extreme, an arcade mode, a Bluetooth multiplayer battle mode, four difficulty levels, and Facebook Connect functionality. Notably, several iLounge editors wondered whether Tapulous would continue releasing artist-specific editions of Tap Tap games after its launch of Tap Tap Revenge 3, which can be expanded via an in-game music store; this release seems to suggest that it will. Tap Tap Revenge: Metallica is available now from the App Store and sells for $5.
Electronic Arts today released NBA Live by EA Sports ($10), a full-featured basketball game title with a number of features such as real teams and real players, an 82-game season mode, a shorter playoff mode, and light managerial options. Our review is available here.
NASDAQ announced today that it has introduced a new stock market application, NASDAQ Portfolio Manager, allowing investors to build watch lists and detailed portfolios of U.S. stocks, track price performance in real time, access pre-market and after-hours quotes, and view dynamic charts. NASDAQ Portfolio Manager is available for free from the App Store.
The National Film Board of Canada has released NFB Films, an app for the iPhone or iPod touch that provides access to hundreds of independent films, documentaries, and animation films from the NFB collection. The application, available free from the App Store, allows users to search or browse through the NFB library and view content on their device, as well as downloading content to watch offline for up to 24 hours, marking content as favorites. The app also includes a “nearby” feature to show you what other people in your area are watching.
GameFly also recently introduced its free GameCenter app for the iPhone and iPod touch. GameCenter provides users with access to information on more than 5,000 video games across major gaming platforms, as well as news, videos, screenshots, release dates, user reviews, gameplay controls, cheat codes, and more. The GameCenter App is available free on the App Store.
NASA today announced the release of an application for the iPhone and iPod touch. The NASA app for iPhone aggregates and delivers up-to-the-minute information, videos, images and news updates about NASA missions. Users can access NASA countdown clocks, the NASA Image of the Day, Astronomy Image of the Day, online videos, NASA’s Twitter feeds and more in an interface optimized for the iPhone and iPod touch. The NASA App also provides three different views to allow users to track the current positions of the International Space Station and other spacecraft currently orbiting Earth. The NASA app for iPhone is available free from the iTunes App Store.
Electronic Arts has released its Rock Band music game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Like the console version of the game, Rock Band for iPhone and iPod touch has players attempting to time up taps on a set of four virtual picks or drum pads to a cascade of corresponding notes that fall vertically down the screen, or sing along to notes that travel horizontally from right to left, depending on whether the player chooses guitar, bass, drums, or vocals. A four-player Bluetooth multiplayer mode lets players enjoy a “full band” experience; other features include three difficulty levels, twenty included tracks with more available from the in-app Music Store, a rewards and achievements system, Facebook integration, Push Notifications for game invites, and more. Rock Band is available now from the App Store and sells for $10.