A number of iTunes users are reporting that their accounts have been hacked and used to purchase a select group of applications, boosting the App Store rankings of those titles in the process. The Next Web initially reported that the titles in question were Books applications sold by developer Thuat Nguyen, which have subsequently been removed from the App Store. Upon further inspection and based on more reader reports, the site found that several companies are using hacked accounts to boost sales of their apps across multiple categories. Notably, at least one iLounge editor has seen his account hacked within the last month, although the fraudulent App Store purchases made while the account was compromised were not for apps made by any of the companies named in The Next Web’s report.
It is unclear exactly how the companies in question are acquiring the affected users’ account data, however, Mac Rumors points out that similar iTunes account hackings have been reported on its forums since January 2008, and argues that despite the rise in reports, which may be attributed to the added press coverage, the number of accounts being hacked is actually minuscule compared to the 100 million active iTunes accounts.
Nintendo President Satoru Iwata has indicated that Nintendo will not be bringing any of its games to hardware platforms manufactured by other companies. In responding to a question following a recent investors meeting, Iwata stated that “Nintendo’s software and hardware are the same thing,” and that “[o]ther companies don’t share Nintendo’s values or traditions when it comes to creating devices.” Although Iwata did not specifically mention Apple, iOS devices or the App Store, the general statement is that Nintendo only plans to release its titles for hardware created by the company itself, maintaining its current closed development model. [via TUAW]
In a post on Apple’s iPhone Developer News site the company has provided some additional details concerning the roll out of its new iAd advertising platform. As expected, the rollout began July 1st, however this initial rollout is limited to North America only, with the service scheduled to be deployed outside of North America in “a few months.” Apple also notes that only a few ads will initially be appearing but the number of ads served will be increased over the next few weeks and months. A separate post provides additional information for developers on displaying iAds within their applications and cautions developers to take steps to avoid blank banners appearing when ads are not available, noting that apps that display blank iAd banners will not be accepted by the App Store Review Team.
Tech Crunch reports that Tapulous has been acquired by Disney. Tapulous is best known for its music-oriented games such as its Tap Tap Revenge series, which also included individual titles featuring specific artists such as Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Nickelback and Nine Inch Nails. Disney Interactive Studios sells games based on Disney movies and characters such as Toy Story and Cars. Although many of its are for consoles, Disney has released a number of iOS applications such as its recent Toy Story 3 app. The purchase of Tapulous likely indicates a desire to more aggressively pursue iOS devices as a gaming platform and Disney also appears to be very interested in the social aspects of mobile gaming. As part of the acquisition, Tapulous founder Bart Decrem will join Disney as the General Manager and senior Vice-President in charge of mobile for Disney Interactive’s gaming group. Tapulous COO Andrew Lacy will also be joining Disney as a senior VP. Decrem indicates that his group will “continue to develop apps that live at the intersection of music and gaming” but also plans to expand into new areas of mobile social entertainment. He also indicates that his charter is to add social elements to all of Disney’s games over time while still remaining focused on Tapulous’ current portfolio of games.
Sillysoft Games has released a universal update to its popular Lux DLX strategy game for the iPhone and iPod touch. An iOS version of its popular Lux Delux desktop game, Lux DLX is a Risk-style strategy game where users play against the AI or other players in an attempt to capture all of the opposing territories. Players can choose to play on any of over 80 free maps, including classic world maps such as the British Isles and Europe or more whimsical choices such as Earth vs Moon. Version 2.0 adds native iPad support, an extra-hard AI mode, the ability to download multiple maps at once and multi-player improvements. Lux DLX 2.0 is ”>available from the App Store for $5 and is a free update for current users.
Foursquare has updated its location-based social networking app for the iPhone and iPod touch, adding basic support for iOS 4 Fast App Switching and high-resolution artwork for the iPhone 4 Retina Display. The update also adds an integrated map view allowing users to view their friends’ check-in locations displayed on a map relative to their own position. Although Foursquare can now take advantage of Fast App Switching on capable devices it does not yet provide other iOS 4 multitasking features such as background location. The latest version continues to support optional push notifications for tracking friends’ check-ins. Foursquare 1.9 is ”>available from the App Store as a free download.
Silvio Rizzi has released an update to his popular Reeder Google Reader client for tbhe iPhone and iPod touch. Reeder 2.0.3 adds support for background task completion on multitasking-capable iOS 4 devices, allowing synchronization to finish in the background after the app is closed. The update also adds a new setting to allow users to choose whether folders should open as a list of feeds or articles by default and fixes some graphic and compatibility issues when running on iOS 4. This update does not yet add retina display support for the iPhone 4, however the developer notes that this will is coming soon in another update. Reeder 2.0.3 is available from the App Store for $3 and is a free update for current users. An separate iPad-native version is also available for $5.
Apple has started rolling its new iAd mobile advertising platform in iOS 4 applications coded to display the ads. Although reports indicate that some users are already able to see and interact with the new ads, two iLounge editors have yet to have one appear—possibly due to their geographic locations—leaving nothing but a blank banner, as pictured above. Previewed by Apple at both its iPhone OS 4 event in April and then again during the company’s WWDC keynote address, iAd is a new, Apple-controlled mobile advertising platform that is built directly into iOS, allowing for more advanced interaction between the viewer and the content, with the bonus of not having to leave the app in which the ad was displayed. A recent report indicated that the first companies with iAds paid $1 million for the privilege, with some paying up to $10 million for some measure of exclusivity in their respective categories.
Mozilla announced yesterday that it has submitted its first iPhone app, Firefox Home to the App Store. Firefox Home allows users to access their Firefox desktop history, bookmarks, and even currently open tabs on their iPhone, iPod touch or iPad, enabling users to easily look up information on the go and pick up where they left off from their desktop browsing. Data is synced securely from Firefox on the desktop using the Firefox Sync browser plug-in, and Firefox Home users can view sites directly in Firefox Home, open them in Mobile Safari or share them via e-mail. Firefox Home is currently under App Store review and is expected to be available as a free download once it has been approved by Apple. [via Tech Crunch]
Facebook has released an update to its iPhone and iPod touch app, bringing support for iOS 4 Fast App Switching. The update also provides high-resolution icons for the iPhone 4 Retina display, Korean and Russian localizations and minor bug fixes. Facebook released an update last week on the same day that iOS 4 was released, however this prior update was notably missing any features related to iOS 4 itself, focusing instead on adding support for video playback and other integration features. This latest update focuses primarily on iOS 4 and iPhone 4 compatibility. Facebook 3.1.4 is available from the App Store as a free download.
Building on the success of its popular iPhone application launched last fall, the National Film Board of Canada has released a native iPad version. NFB Films for iPad allows users to enjoy over 1,000 free NFB documentaries, animated shorts and trailers streamed over either Wi-Fi or 3G. The app also includes a selection of films in 3-D and high-definition as well as a dedicated kids’ channel containing fun and educational content for children. In addition to online streaming, users can download and store films for offline viewing for up to 48 hours. The app provides the same basic features as its iPhone counterpart but has been optimized for the iPad not only for higher-resolution video support but also includes improved navigation controls and a split-screen view that allows users to browse other NFB content while viewing a film. NFB Films for iPad is available from the App Store as a free download and includes access to all of the National Film Board’s iPad-ready content at no charge.
Marco Arment has released another update to his popular Instapaper offline reader application introducing synchronization of reading positions in articles between multiple iOS devices. The new feature allows users of more than one iOS device, such as an iPhone and iPad, to switch back and forth between devices and easily pick up where they left off on the other device. The update also adds the promised background task completion for iOS 4 devices allowing synchronization with the Instapaper service to complete even after you exit the app. Other enhancements in Instapaper 2.2.5 include dramatically improved performance and accuracy when rotating the device between portrait and landscape mode, the ability to e-mail the full text of stored articles and improvements to tilt-scrolling and password entry on iOS 4. Instapaper is available from the App Store for $5 and is a free update for current users.
Cocoa Box Design has released an update to its iPad digital ink note-taking application, Penultimate. The update adds support for colored ink, including red, green, blue and two shades of grey as well as two additional line weights suitable for words, bold shapes and shading. Penultimate 1.2 also now allows to place the toolbar at the top of the screen and includes a magic eraser to assist with removing fine details. Other changes include bug fixes and usability improvements as well as additional language support for Japanese, French, Italian, German and spanish. Penultimate 1.2 is available from the App Store for $3 and is a free update for current users.
Apple has released an update to its MobileMe Gallery application for iPhone and iPod touch devices. MobileMe Gallery 1.1.1 adds support for downloading higher-resolution images when using an iPhone 4 on a Wi-Fi network. The update also notes additional bug fixes, and although no mention is made of iOS 4 support the update appears to add Fast App Switching capabilities as well, although no other specific iOS 4 multitasking features are available. MobileMe Gallery allows iPhone and iPod touch users to view photos and movies from their own and their friends’ MobileMe Galleries in a manner similar to the built-in Photos app. Previously viewed photos are cached on the device so that they can be viewed even without an Internet connection, and links to albums and photos can be e-mailed out directly from within the app. MobileMe Gallery is available from the App Store as a free download for the iPhone and iPod touch and although the current version runs on the iPad, an iPad-native version is not yet available.
In a brief update to its iPhone Developer news and announcements page, Apple has revealed that it is ending support for iOS 2.x apps. The post, which urges developers to review Apple’s iOS 4 Readiness Checklist, states that “the App Store will no longer support applications that target iOS 2.x,” while reminding developers that “[a]ll new applications and updates to existing applications must be built with iPhone SDK 4.” Apple released iOS 4 on June 21 as a free update for all iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, second-, and third-generation iPod touch users.
Online video service Hulu today announced Hulu Plus, a new $10 per month, ad-supported subscription service that offers users the ability to watch Hulu content on a wide variety of devices. Notably, the new Hulu Plus service will allow subscribers to watch any TV show from a sizable catalog, streamed in 720p, on the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, third-generation iPod touch, and iPad via the new Hulu Plus app. Writing about the announcement on the company blog, Hulu CEO Jason Kilar said, “I’ve been watching Hulu on my iPad for several weeks now, and I’ve watched more TV through the iPad than any other device.” The Hulu Plus service will also offer users access to more current full-length episodes and seasons than the standard service. Hulu Plus is currently in a private, invitation only phase, and will be opened up to all customers “as soon as [it’s] ready.”
iPont has released an update to its FlickStackr Flickr photo sharing application for the iOS devices. A universal app, FlickStackr allows iPad, iPhone and iPod touch users to search and browse photos on Flickr, upload new photos and edit metadata for existing photos. FlickStackr 1.3 adds a number of new features including iOS 4 compatibility, Flickr video playback support, better integration with the Camera Connection Kit and iPhone camera and improved slideshow, swipe and photo list views and additional social features including Facebook integration. The update also now preserves existing EXIF information when uploading photos to Flickr and allows users to select a photo size when uploading. FlickStackr is currently available from the App Store for $1.
SmileOnMyMac has released a universal update to its TextExpander text expansion application for iOS devices. TextExpander 1.1.4 adds an iPad-native user interface and additional minor fixes and improvements. TextExpander is a utility app for iOS devices that allows users to create their own abbreviations for common snippets of text and expand them automatically. Unlike its Mac counterpart, limitations in iOS prevent TextExpander from functioning as a background application, requiring users to either compose their text within the app for pasting into another app or use a TextExpander-enhanced third-party application. TextExpander compatible apps include Twitter for iPhone, SimpleNote, WriteRoom, SMS touch and others; a complete list of third-party apps integrating TextExpander support can be found at http://www.smileonmymac.com/applist. TextExpander 1.1.4 is available from the App Store for $5 as a universal app for both iPad and iPhone devices and is a free upgrade for current users.
Amazon has introduced Kindle Editions with Audio/Video for users of the Kindle application on the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. The new e-book format now includes embedded video and audio clips in Kindle books, allowing readers to access rich-media content as part of the reading experience. Support for the new content was quietly added to the Kindle app for iOS devices last week with the new content appearing on Amazon’s Kindle Store yesterday. Some of the first books to take advantage of the new technology include Rick Steves’ London which provides walking tours with narration and Rose’s Heavenly Cakes which includes video tips on preparing the perfect cake. The current books are priced at $12 each and although only nine audio/video titles are presently available, Amazon notes that this is only the beginning and they are collaborating with major publishers such as Wiley and Avalon Travel to take advantage of this new functionality. Kindle for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch is available from the App Store as a free download. Kindle Editions with Audio/Video can be found at http://www.amazon.com/kindleaudiovideo.
Marco Arment has updated his popular Instapaper Pro application, adding basic iOS 4 support and renaming the application to simply “Instapaper,” dropping the “Pro” designation. Instapaper 2.2.4 continues to support all of the features of the previous “Instapaper Pro” version and adds support for Fast App Switching on iOS 4, swipe gestures for page-turning on iOS 4 and iPad devices with improved page turn performance and OAuth support for Twitter. The update also fixes minor interface bugs related to the actions menu, the folder list and zooming of text. iOS 4 multitasking support is currently limited to Fast App Switching; background task completion for synchronization is expected to be coming in a later update. Instapaper 2.2.4 is a universal app and is available from the App Store for $5; a free version is also available for the iPhone and iPod touch.