During today’s WWDC keynote address, Apple CEO Steve Jobs revealed several enhancements to the iBooks app for the iPad. The new version will offer highlighting and note taking, with an option to bookmark a page and have the bookmark appear in the table of contents. In addition, the new version of iBooks will offer support for reading PDF files. Jobs noted that the iBookstore has seen five million downloads in the first 65 days, for an average of 2.5 books per iPad, and offers books from five out of the six largest publishers in the U.S., taking a 22% share of eBook sales in just eight weeks. The updated version of iBooks will be released later this month.
Appremix has released an update to its Boxcar Push Notification application for the iPhone platform. Boxcar 3.0 is now a universal app, adding iPad support and a revamped inbox with a pull-down-to-refresh feature, the ability to delete individual notifications and five new notification sounds. Notably, all push notification services offered by Boxcar are now free—previous versions provided one service at no charge and required users to purchase additional notification services via in-app purchase for $1-$2 each. Instead, the new version appears to be ad-supported, with a $5 in-app purchase option for users who would like to upgrade to the ad-free version. Ads are not yet appearing in the application and it is unclear whether or not existing users who have previously purchased additional services will be required to purchase the ad-free upgrade separately. Boxcar 3.0 is available from the App Store as a free download; existing users should receive the new version automatically.
Lexcycle has released a Universal update to Stanza, its acclaimed e-book reader application. Stanza 3.0 adds native iPad support as well as support for PDF, DjVu and Comic Book Archive formats. iPad users can now transfer e-books directly onto their device using the iTunes File Sharing section as well as opening support book formats directly from web pages and e-mail attachments. Additional language support for Turkish and Bulgarian users has also been added. Stanza continues to provide support for a wide variety of e-book formats, including ePub, eReader and Mobipocket as well as direct integration with a number of e-book services from directly within the application. Stanza 3.0 is available from the App Store as a free download; existing users should receive the universal update automatically.
Google has announced that it has added iPhone and Android app results to its mobile search service. On the Google Mobile Blog, they use a search for “bank of america app” as an example, with a direct App Store link to the app appearing above the traditional search results. In addition to the link, the app result also includes the price, rating, publishers, and icon. According to the blog post, the app results will appear when the search “pertains to a mobile application and relevant, well-rated apps are found.” Google’s mobile app search results are available today in the U.S., with “other countries and devices planned for the future.”
Earlier this evening, Apple CEO Steve Jobs gave an on-stage interview with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher to open this year’s D: All Things Digital Conference. Jobs touched on a number of subjects, ranging from the App Store approval process to the purchase and subsequent publication of details relating to the fourth-generation iPhone. Perhaps most notably, Jobs revealed that the basis for the iPhone OS originally started as a software project for a tablet, and was only re-focused on a phone once Jobs saw the initial user interface coming together. He later made an analogy between traditional PCs and trucks and tablet computers and cars, saying that he thinks PCs will be more like trucks, and over time, less people will need them.
Asked about his own open letter regarding Apple’s stance on Flash support for the iPhone OS platform, Jobs depicted the company as having fewer resources than some competitors, and explained that it tries to look for technology that is up and coming, instead of on its way out. He noted Apple’s history of both abandoning outgoing technology earlier than competitors, such as with the 3.5-inch floppy disc in the iMac and optical drives in the MacBook Air, and adopting new, upcoming technologies earlier than others, pointing to USB support in the first iMac. He described Flash as waning, and said he only wrote the letter after Adobe publicly complained about the lack of Flash support on the iPad.
Skype Software has launched a major update to its popular Skype application for the iPhone and iPod touch, introducing the ability for users to place VoIP calls over the cellular 3G network. Although Skype-to-Skype calls over Wi-Fi will remain free, Skype has indicated plans to charge a “small monthly fee” for placing Skype-to-Skype calls over the 3G network, suggesting that 3G calling will be based on a subscription service, rather than the per-minute system currently in place for Skype-to-phone calls. These fees would be in addition to data charges already levied by the user’s carrier. Skype plans to introduce this new fee structure in 2011, and will be providing free 3G Skype-to-Skype calling until that time. The new version also implements a new codec providing “near CD-quality sound” for Skype-to-Skype calls on iPhone 3GS, iPad and second- and third-generation iPod touch devices. Other improvements include an enhanced call quality indicator, improved start-up time, and faster access to the dial pad from the iPhone home screen. Skype is available from the App Store as a free download.
Apple has posted an online application for authors looking to publish and sell their own works on the iBookstore. A new page on Apple’s iTunes Connect developer/media portal reveals the technical requirements for distributing content on the iBookstore, including an Intel-based Mac running OS X 10.5 or later, at least 1GB of RAM, QuickTime 7.0.3 or later, at least 10GB of available hard drive space, and a broadband Internet connection. Book content needs to have an ISBN number for each title intended for distribution, and be submitted in the EPUB format, capable of passing Epubcheck 1.0.5. Finally, publishers will need a U.S. Tax ID and a valid iTunes Store account. The page also notes that Apple does not pay partners until they have reached certain payment requirements and earnings thresholds in each territory, and suggests that certain authors may receive payments faster by working with an Apple-approved aggregator. [via Mac|Life]
Apple is now allowing Canadian iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad users to purchase apps using iTunes Gift Cards. Citing reader reports, iPhone in Canada notes that prior to this week, Canadian iTunes Gift Cards could only be used to purchase movies, videos, and music from the iTunes Store; the cards are sold in $15, $25, $50, and $100 dominations. The report states that Apple has yet to update its support pages relating to the topic.
Apple has started bringing its iPad-based App Store online in the nine countries in which the device will launch next week. iPad users in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK should now be able to access their local App Stores through their device by logging in with their home-country iTunes accounts. Notably, this early rollout has not yet extended to iTunes on the desktop, so only those who imported an iPad early will be able to visit the new stores. Engadget notes that the stores seem “a bit unstable” as things are being brought online; Apple will launch the iPad in all nine countries listed above on May 28.
- May 20, 2010
- Apps + Games,
Beejive has released an iPad version of its BeejiveIM instant messaging application. A popular IM option for iPhone users, the iPad version includes all of the same features and a redesigned interface for the iPad. BeejiveIM is a multi-platform instant messaging client, supporting connections to AIM/MobileMe, MSN/Windows Live, Yahoo, Google Talk, Facebook, MySpae, ICQ and Jabber. The application provides offline messaging via Push Notifications, persistent conversations, support for direct file transfers, SMS support for AIM and Yahoo users, and emoticon support. The iPad version also fully supports both landscape and portrait orientation and use with external keyboards. BeeJiveIM for iPad is currently available from the App Store for $6 as a special introductory price.
- May 20, 2010
- Apps + Games,
Netflix has released a new update to its popular movie streaming application for the iPad. Netflix 1.0.2 now allows users to output their Netflix movies from the iPad to a TV or monitor via VGA, component or composite output cables. The Netflix app provides iPad users with access to instantly rent and watch TV shows and movies from Netflix, access existing rented content from their library and manage their Netflix Queue. The Netflix app is available from the U.S. App Store as a free download and requires a Netflix membership to use.
Twitter has released the official Twitter client for the iPhone and iPod touch. Early last month Twitter announced that it had acquired the popular Tweetie app in order to develop it into an official Twitter client for the iPhone platform, with developer Lorne Brichter joining Twitter to continue developing the application under the official company banner. Twitter for the iPhone is essentially a direct update of Tweetie and retains most of the same interface design and functionality while adding a few new features to bring the user experience more in line with Twitter.com features. New features include a reorganized search that combines tweets and users, display of Top Tweets and Suggested users, the ability to sign up for Twitter from within the application and add additional accounts and more actions such as Retweet on the main actions bar. Twitter is available from the App Store for new users as a free download; existing Tweetie users will receive the new app as an update to Tweetie. An iPad version is also under development.
In an atypically lengthy email exchange with Valleywag editor Ryan Tate, Apple CEO Steve Jobs made several comments explaining and defending his company’s stance relating to third-party iPhone OS development. Tate, incensed by Apple’s latest iPad commercial, wrote Jobs asking whether a 20-year-old Bob Dylan—often cited as an inspiration for Jobs—would think the iPad had anything to do with a “revolution,” stating that “[r]evolutions are about freedom.” Jobs responded positively, saying it represents freedom from “programs that steal your private data” and “trash your battery” and “[f]reedom from porn.” Quoting Dylan, Jobs added, “The times they are a changin’, and some traditional PC folks feel like their world is slipping away. It is.”
When Tate commented that he’d “rather have a Wired magazine app that offers interactivity [referencing the mag’s demo app built on Adobe Air] than one that is a glorified PDF,” Jobs responded that “Wired is doing a native Cocoa app,” as is “almost every publisher.” Tate then argued that they were only making native Cocoa apps because they have to, to which Jobs replied that “they don’t have to. They don’t need to publish on the iPad if they don’t want to. No one is forcing them. But it appears they DO want to.” He continued, “The magazine apps will be far better in the end because they are written native. We’ve seen this movie before.” After another round of replies from Tate, Jobs summed up in his final email, “we’re just doing what we can to try and make (and preserve) the user experience we envision. You can disagree with us, but our motives are pure.”
- May 13, 2010
- Apps + Games,
The Iconfactory has released an update to its popular iPad Twitter client. Twitterrific for iPad 1.1 adds support for picture and video uploading via yFrog, TwitPic, Posterous, Twitgoo, img.ly or a custom image upload service. The new version also now displays images from img.ly and Tweetphoto services in a popover window, uses OAuth for Twitter authentication and supports replying to all users. The update further provides a number of other minor improvements and bug fixes, including an increased number of API calls per hour, better parsing of URLs and links containing special characters, correct reporting of new tweets and better handling of multiple popover windows. Twitterrific for iPad is available from the App Store as a free, ad-supported application; a $5 in-app “Premium” upgrade is available to remove the ads and provide multiple account support.
Apple has released updates to its iWork suite of applications for the iPad. The updates generally improve performance and reliability across all three applications and improve compatibility with importing and exporting Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents in their respective applications. The updates also add support for French, German, Japanese, Dutch, Italian, Russian, Simplified Chinese and Spanish. Pages 1.1 now displays the toolbar and ruler and automatically fits documents to the page width when working in landscape orientation. Numbers 1.1 improves reliability when importing Numbers ‘09 spreadsheets and improves compatibility with pasting information in from Keynote and Pages. Keynote 1.1 now provides an option to show additional alignment guides at smaller intervals when moving items and improves reliability with Keynote ‘09 and Microsoft Powerpoint presentations. All three iWork applications remain available on the U.S. App Store only at this time, are priced at $10 each and are a free update for existing users.
- May 12, 2010
- Apps + Games,
Firemint has released an update to its popular Flight Control game for the iPod and iPod touch. Flight Control 1.7 adds several new enhancements originally introduced in Flight Control HD for the iPad, including a windy airfield for additional challenges in landing planes, updated high quality graphics and added map detail, and a new “safe” fast forward option that slows the game down during collision warnings. The update also improves performance, offers better configuration of music and sound settings, and includes a longer version of the classic Flight Control theme song. Flight Control is available from the App Store for $1 and is a free update for existing users.
- May 12, 2010
- Apps + Games,
Tapbots has released an update to its Pastebot clipboard management app for the iPhone. Pastebot 1.2 adds support for synchronizing clipboard content with multiple iPhone OS devices from a single Mac desktop. Prior to this update, Pastebot could be installed on multiple devices, and a single instance of Pastebot could be associated with more than one Mac, however each Mac could only be linked to a single device. As of version 1.2, items copied to the Mac clipboard are automatically synced to all connected devices and clipboard items can also now be shared directly between devices running Pastebot on the same local network. The application icon has also been updated in version 1.2 due to trademark issues noted by the developer in a post on the company’s blog. Pastebot is available from the App Store for $3 and is a free update for existing users. The free Pastebot Sync application has also been updated to v1.2 and is required for syncing clipboard content with a Mac.
Apple will be rolling out its iBooks app and iBookstore internationally alongside the iPad’s launch on Friday, May 28. Press releases from the UK, Australia, Canada, and Japan indicate that the iBooks app for iPad, including the iBookstore, will be available as a free download from the App Store on May 28; as with pricing, Apple has yet to update the press websites of many of the other countries slated to launch the iPad on that day. We will be updating this story with further details as they become available.
Update: Apple has confirmed that both Italy and Spain will also be getting iBooks and the iBookstore on May 28.
Update x2: France has also been confirmed to receive iBooks and the iBookstore on May 28.
Update x3 Germany is now confirmed for the May 28 iBooks launch as well.
Apple’s 2010 Worldwide Developers Conference has sold out in only eight days, according to an update on the event’s dedicated website. Dates for the conference, to be held June 7-11 in its traditional venue of Moscone West in San Francisco, CA, were announced on April 28; John Gruber of Daring Fireball notes that last year’s event took a month to sell out, despite the fact that it included a number of Mac OS X and IT sessions that are not being offered at this year’s WWDC. In addition to providing developer sessions, Apple has for the past three years used the event’s keynote address as a venue for iPhone-related announcements, revealing the launch date for the original iPhone in 2007, introducing the iPhone 3G at the 2008 event, and unveiling the iPhone 3GS in 2009.
New Zealand-based iPhone developer David Frampton has posted an image to his Flickr account depicting a new way for iPhone app icons to be displayed on the iPad. Instead of the current model, under which the iPhone applications’ 57x57 icons are upscaled to the higher 72x72 resolution of iPad app icons and displayed alongside, Frampton suggests Apple use black borders around the 57x57 icon to denote the application as a lower-resolution iPhone app, which also serves to remind the user that the app itself will run either in the center of the screen with black surrounds or in 2x scaled mode. Notably, Frampton is the developer behind Majic Jungle Software, the same company that recently posted a proof-of-concept video showing the upcoming game Chopper 2 being run on and output from an iPad to an HDTV while a separate iPhone is used as a controller.