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 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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
FastMall has announced a major update to its shopping mall navigation application. FastMall 2.0 is now free and adds a number of new features. FastMall provides turn-by-turn directions to help you find your way around over 1,275 shopping malls with directions to stores, restaurants and even restrooms. FastMall 2.0 also provides the ability to save information on where you parked so you can find your car, to be taken to the nearest restroom simply by shaking your device, and an elevator-only navigation mode for users with strollers or wheelchairs. Users can review stores, restaurants and even restrooms within a mall and can share status on Facebook and Twitter. FastMall is available for free on the App Store.
Editor’s Note: Comments on this article have been closed due to astroturfing.
Electronic Arts has released Spore Creatures for the iPhone and iPod touch. Designed as a sequel to its popular Spore Origins title, Spore Creatures continues the storyline into a land-based evolutionary adventure. Players create a customized Spore Creature from over 45 unique body parts and skins, shapes and colors, and then take their creation through twenty different game levels, avoiding or socializing with other creatures, solving puzzles, and collecting DNA to evolve their creature. Spore Creatures is available on the App Store now and sells for $7.
Quietly coinciding with last week’s iPad announcement, Apple lifted restrictions that had prevented voice over IP (“VoIP”) apps for iPhone OS from running on 3G networks. Last October, AT&T announced that it would begin allowing VoIP applications to run on its 3G network, following which Apple noted that it would be updating its developer agreements and SDK to allow 3G support “as soon as possible.”
In response, three developers have now released VoIP-over-3G capable versions of their apps: iCall was the first to announce Wednesday that its iCall application for the iPhone and iPod touch would begin allowing “unrestricted free local and long distance calling over 3G data networks” via a new version of the application, which is available for free in the App Store. The iCall v1.2.5 update also adds Push Notification support to allow users to receive incoming calls even when the application is not running.
Following the iCall announcement, Fring announced that its popular VoIP and video calling application would also now provide 3G support, and Acrobits made a similar announcement regarding its Softphone app. Both developers indicated that the applications already provided VoIP-over-3G support within the applications, but that they had not been allowed to enable the functionality due to Apple’s previous SDK restrictions. As a result, no update to these applications was required to enable 3G support. Fring is available as a free download from the App Store, while Acrobits’ SoftPhone sells for $8 on the App Store.
In addition, Justin Brady, the developer of WalkieTalkie VoIP has also indicated that an update to allow calls over 3G is pending review by Apple. Notably, the most popular provider of VoIP services, Skype, has not yet commented on when a 3G-compatible version of its app will be available for the iPhone.
iLounge is excited to announce that Jesse David Hollington, a long-time iLounge Contributing Editor and Forum Administrator, today joins our full-time staff as iLounge’s Applications Editor. For the past three years, Jesse has written our Ask iLounge column, numerous iTunes tutorials, and reviews of both applications and games, all of which have been very warmly received by our readers. If you’ve been helped by an iLounge article, or enjoyed using our spam-free Discussion Forums, there’s a strong chance Jesse was involved.
Starting today, Jesse will be handling news announcements and reviews of iPhone, iPod, and iPad applications. If your company would like to reach us with product news, we have created a new submission form for app news, and also maintain an e-mail address for app submissions. Hardware and accessory news should continue to be directed to Charles Starrett at this e-mail address.
Please join us in welcoming Jesse to his new position. We’re truly happy to have him on board.
Apple has updated its iPhone OS SDK to allow Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls over cellular networks. According to a press release touting iCall, a VoIP application that claims to be the first to offer VoIP over 3G on the iPhone, Apple has updated both its developer agreement and SDK to allow for the new functionality. AT&T announced in October that it would allow VoIP apps to run over its 3G network, reversing a policy that limited all VoIP activity from the iPhone to Wi-Fi networks only. While iCall claims to be the first app to offer VoIP over 3G, now that Apple has begun accepting apps that offer this functionality, it is only a matter of time before iCall competitors such as Skype, Truphone and others roll out updated VoIP apps that work over 3G.
Google has launched a new web-based application for the iPhone OS, allowing iPhone users to access its Google Voice service via the mobile Safari browser. The new app is built using HTML5, and offers access to a streamlined version of the Google Voice inbox, the ability to display the user’s Google Voice number as the outbound caller ID, the ability to send and receive text messages for free, and more. Apple rejected Google’s native Google Voice application last July, and also removed several competing third-party solutions, leading to an FCC inquiry. The new web app is available at m.google.com/voice and requires a Google Voice account, a carrier-provided voice plan, and iPhone OS 3.0 or later.
The BBC, via its commercial unit BBC Worldwide, is planning to turn some of its most popular shows into games for the iPhone, iPod touch, and other platforms. According to MCV, the broadcaster is in talks with both publishers and developers to turn a number of shows in games, including “Doctor Who,” “Top Gear,” “In The Night Garden,” and more. “We are open to conversations with anybody in games about all kinds of business models to see how we can extract more value,” said Neil Ross Russell, managing director of children’s and licensing with the BBC. “What we’re trying to do is build the brands here – this is not about opportunistic licensing. If we wanted to do that we would have done more with these key brands over the last few years.” As part of this new initiative, BBC Worldwide has hired former EA executive Robert Nashak as executive vice president of digital entertainment.
A number of upcoming game releases for the iPhone and iPod touch have been revealed over the last several days. Square Enix has revealed plans to release its classic Role Playing Games Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II on the App Store. Although few details have been announced, screenshots posted to the company’s Facebook account show dramatically enhanced graphics compared to the original Nintendo Entertainment System releases, and slight interface tweaks meant to take advantage of the devices’ touchscreens.
Ubisoft has confirmed that it will be releasing a follow-up to its Assassin’s Creed: Altair’s Chronicles game on February 1st. According to USA Today, Assassin’s Creed II: Discovery will follow lead character Ezio as he attempts to rescue fellow assassins being held in Spain. Curiously, an “unfinished” version of the game was posted early to and subsequently pulled from the App Store, according to an IGN report; it was priced at $12 for the brief time it was available, although it is unclear whether that will remain the price when the game is officially released.
Finally, Sega has announced plans to release its Sega Ultimate Genesis Collection title for the iPhone and iPod touch. Essentially serving as an official emulator for the console, Ultimate will include the game Space Harrier II for free, with other titles, including Sonic the Hedgehog, Golden Axe, Eco the Dolphin, and Shining Force available via In-App Purchase at prices ranging from $3-$6; more titles are expected to be added as time goes on.
The White House has released its new official application for the iPhone and iPod touch. The app offers access to whitehouse.gov’s White House Blog and Briefing Room news areas, including photo and video content, and also offers live video streaming of White House events, including the President’s public events, web chats with Administration officials, key speeches, and press briefings. Notably, the live streaming feature will also allow users to watch next week’s State of the Union address directly on their device. The White House official application for iPhone and iPod touch is available now as a free download from the App Store.
According to the latest research released by Gartner, worldwide mobile application store download revenue reached $4.2 billion in 2009, a number that is set to grow to $6.2 billion by the end of this year. The research group claims that 2009 saw 2.5 billion app downloads, a number that Engadget used to estimate Apple’s share of the market at roughly 97.5%. Gartner also claims that advertising-sponsored apps will generate nearly a quarter of all mobile app store revenue by 2013, a year in which the group expects overall revenue to hit $29.5 billion. Free apps are expected to account for 82% of all downloads in 2010, growing to account for 87% of downloads in 2013. “As smartphones grow in popularity and application stores become the focus for several players in the value chain, more consumers will experiment with application downloads,” said Stephanie Baghdassarian, research director at Gartner. “Games remain the No. 1 application, and mobile shopping, social networking, utilities and productivity tools continue to grow and attract increasing amounts of money.”
Following the Canadian launch of Slacker Radio last week, Slacker today announced the release of its Slacker Radio for iPhone application on the Canadian App Store. The Slacker Radio iPhone application allows users to listen to streamed music on the iPhone via a wide variety of pre-defined stations by genre or user-created custom stations. Canadian users can try Slacker Radio for free for 30 days with an ad-supported Basic subscription that provides unlimited streamed music and the ability to skip ahead by up to six songs per hour. To continue using Slacker Radio beyond the initial thirty-day trial users must upgrade to a Slacker Radio Plus subscription for $5/month which removes the advertising, provides unlimited skips, and provides access to complete lyrics and song requests.
Slacker Radio is available as a free download from the Canadian iTunes Store. Slacker Radio Plus subscriptions are available from within the app as in-app purchases.
Rockstar Games has released Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, its latest game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Based on the title of the same name for the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP systems, Chinatown Wars places players in the shoes of Huang Lee, who must seek revenge following his father’s murder. Features include Multi-Touch based controls, adjusted difficulty levels, top-down gameplay, a new radio station that allows players to create custom playlists for in-game listening, and more. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is available now and sells for $10.