Slacker has released an update to its popular Slacker Radio streaming music application, introducing the ability for users to listen to Slacker Radio content without an active Internet connection. With Slacker Radio 2.0 users can now cache their favorite stations on the device for offline listening, regardless of whether a Wi-Fi or cellular data connection is available. The offline station caching feature requires a $5/month Slacker Radio Plus subscription; free Slacker Radio Basic users can try the caching feature free for 14 days. Slacker Radio Plus subscriptions also provide users with ad-free listening, access to song lyrics, unlimited song skipping and unlimited song requests. The application also provides both free and paid subscribers with access to artist biographies and album reviews, unlimited online listening and custom radio stations. Slacker Radio 2.0 is available from the App Store as a free download; Slacker Radio Plus subscriptions may be purchased from within the application.
Pangea Software has released a universal update to its game, Antimatter, bringing native iPad support. Antimatter 2.0 is a unique physics-based arcade game where users must direct a stream of glowing antimatter blobs to affect cosmic strings in order to advance through the game, while collecting power-ups and bonus points as well. Antimatter 2.0 is available from the App Store as a free download and is a free update for existing users.
U.S. antitrust regulators are preparing to launch an investigation into Apple’s decision to effectively bar AdMob from its iOS devices. The Financial Times, citing people familiar with the matter, reports that it’s currently unclear whether the Federal Trade Commission or the Justice Department will handle the investigation. Apple recently changed its iOS developer terms to forbid the sharing of user information with “an advertising service provider owned by or affiliated with a developer or distributor of mobile devices, mobile operating systems or development environments other than Apple,” effectively barring AdMob from all iOS applications. Notably, the company also added language that bars third-party analytics services. Apple is already facing antitrust scrutiny from the Justice Department in relation to its digital music business and its blocking of Flash software from its iOS devices.
Apple has updated its iOS developer agreement to allow for some sharing of user and device data with third-party advertisers, while effectively banning Google-owned AdMob in the process. AllThingsD reports that in April, Apple changed its developer agreement to ban the sharing of user and device data with third party ad networks and analytics tools, a move that Apple CEO Steve Jobs later said was made in the interest of protecting user privacy, adding that the company might revisit the terms in the future. The new terms allow for the sharing of “UDID, user location data, and other data specifically designated by Apple as available for advertising purposes,” but only when prior user consent has been given, and then in only two circumstances: when the collection, use or disclosure is necessary “in order to provide a service or function that is directly relevant to the user of the Application,” or “is for the purpose of serving advertising” to the application.
Notably, the new terms specify that developers “may not use third party analytics software” to “collect and send device data to a third party for aggregation, processing, or analysis.” They also stipulate that third party advertising is only allowed when the advertising service is “an independent advertising service provider whose primary business is serving mobile ads (for example, an advertising service provider owned by or affiliated with a developer or distributor of mobile devices, mobile operating systems or development environments other than Apple would not qualify as independent).” The new terms appear to ban both AdMob and analytics services such as Flurry, which was singled out in Jobs’ response explaining the initial change.
AdMob founder Omar Hamoui has responded to Apple’s move in a post on AdMob’s blog, saying the changes threaten to “decrease – or even eliminate – revenue that helps to support tens of thousands of developers. The terms hurt both large and small developers by severely limiting their choice of how best to make money. And because advertising funds a huge number of free and low cost apps, these terms are bad for consumers as well.” He added that the change in terms “is not in the best interests of users or developers,” and said the company would be “speaking to Apple to express our concerns about the impact of these terms.”
KainosAgora has released TweetAgora, its anticipated filtering client for Twitter users on the iPhone and iPod touch. First previewed in late March, TweetAgora is a fully featured Twitter client that aims to improve the signal-to-noise ratio in users’ Twitter streams by providing advanced filtering capabilities to allow users to better control what they see in their timelines. Users can filter out tweets by keyword or sender, filter out conversations and in the full version can also hide tweets from services such as Foursquare, Gowalla and Formspring. Further, TweetAgora allows users to view only specific types of tweets within their timeline, such as links, pictures or retweets and to also create their own “Agoras” to consolidate content into a single stream based on keywords, lists and people. Beyond its filtering capabilities, TweetAgora also provides support for Twitter lists, full conversation threads, drafts, Evernote integration, Geo-location support, image links and URL shortening, both new and old style retweeting, and support for 280-character Direct Messages. TweetAgora is available from the App Store as a free download. The free version allows users to filter up to three keywords and three people, create up to three Agoras and load up to 150 tweets in a timeline. Users can upgrade to the paid version for $5 via in-app purchase to remove these limitations and add support for multiple accounts and Foursquare, Gowall and Formspring filtering.
As part of its ongoing WWDC 2010 event, Apple has given out its annual Apple Design Awards to notable iPhone and iPad apps. According to the company’s website, the Awards recognize apps that “demonstrate technical excellence, innovation, technology adoption, and quality.” This year’s iPhone winners included Lima Sky’s Doodle Jump, Firemint’s Real Racing, Sophiestication Software’s Articles, Steve Sprang’s Brushes, and Zolo’s 20 Minute Meals for Jamie Oliver. Among the iPad applications honored were The Financial Times’ Financial Times iPad Edition, Agile Partners’ TabToolkit, Vito Technology’s Star Walk for iPad, Firemint’s Flight Control HD, and OOO Gameprom’s Pinball HD. In an unusual move likely due to the iOS focus of this year’s conference, Apple did not include a Mac application category in its Design Awards event. [via Ars Technica]
Apple has released the Golden Master Candidate version of iOS 4, as well as iTunes 9.2 Beta, to registered iPhone developers. The iOS 4 GM Candidate is a near-final version of the next-generation iPhone and iPod touch operating system, offering a number of new features including multitasking folders, the unified Mail inbox, rotation lock, and more. iTunes 9.2 will include a number of new features, including support for iPhone 4, the ability to sync and organize books on the iPhone and iPod touch and PDFs on the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, the ability to create iOS Folders from within iTunes, faster back-ups when syncing an iPhone or iPod touch with iOS 4 installed, and performance improvements. Both iOS 4 GM and iTunes 9.2 Beta are available for download now from the iPhone Dev Center. Apple will launch iOS 4 on June 21 as a free upgrade for all applicable products, including the second- and third-generation iPod touch, iPhone 3G, and iPhone 3GS; iTunes 9.2 will likely appear around this time, as well.
Update: Apple has announced that developers can start submitting iOS 4 applications for approval on June 10, 2010.
During its WWDC keynote address, Apple and several third-party developers announced notable new and upcoming app releases for the iPhone and iPod touch. Most notably, Apple announced a new version of iMovie for iPhone 4. Described by Apple as a “feature-rich video editing app,” iMovie will offer a Multi-Touch interface for selecting and editing video, with the ability to add photos customized with a Ken Burns panning effect, and soundtrack audio chosen from a built-in, custom-scored music library or from the device’s own iPod library. The app can detect audio such as conversations or narration and automatically reduce the soundtrack volume, and can export in one of three sizes—medium (640x360), large (960x540), or HD (1280x720)—with sharing options including email, MMS, MobileMe, and YouTube. Edited movies can be further enhanced by applying one of five built-in themes, with custom titles, transitions, and maps based on the geotag information of the video clips being used. iMovie will soon be available from the App Store and will sell for $5.
Activision got on stage to announce the release of Guitar Hero for the iPhone and iPod touch. Based on the popular music videogame for traditional consoles, Guitar Hero offers new gameplay mechanics including slide, strum, and whammy gestures, built-in social network feeds, the ability for users to personalize their in-game personas and share them with friends. Six songs, including selections from The Rolling Stones, Queen, Vampire Weekend, and The White Stripes are included, with other tracks available via in-app purchase. Guitar Hero for the iPhone and iPod touch is available now and sells for $3.
Announced for a release this summer was Netflix for the iPhone and iPod touch. Similar to the company’s well-received app for the iPad, Netflix for the iPhone and iPod touch will allow users to instantly stream movies and TV shows to their devices, with features including the ability to resume content in progress that was started on another device, queue access, and optimization for playback over 3G or Wi-Fi. Finally, Zygna announced that it will be bringing its Farmville virtual farming game to the iPhone and iPod touch, with touch screen-based controls, the ability to visit Facebook friends’ farms, and an in-app store. It will be released by the end of this month.
During his keynote address today at the company’s WWDC event, Apple CEO Steve Jobs gave several updates regarding the App Store. As of today, there are 225,00 apps available in the store, with 8,500 available for iPad users. iPad users have downloaded over 35 million apps thus far, for an average of 17 apps per iPad, while the App Store overall has seen over 5 billion downloads, with more than $1 billion in revenue paid out to developers. Jobs said that Apple is seeing over 15,000 new app submissions each week, with apps coming in up to 30 different languages, and despite the constant influx, 95% of all submissions are approved within seven days.
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.
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.
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.