Electronic Arts has released the first new mega pack for its episodic Surviving High School game. “Homecoming Queen” casts the player in the role of a female student who must work on her popularity, dancing skills and find a date in order to become Homecoming Queen. While the original main game pack “Football Season” cast the player in the role of a male football player, the new add-on pack provides players with the opportunity to play in the first-person as a female character instead. Released last fall, Surviving High School is a choice-based role-playing game that is unique in its approach of providing free short weekly “episodes” using a TV-like model. The game includes a single full game pack, “Football Season” followed by shorter episodes released weekly that allow the player to follow various other characters and stories. New episodes are available for free each week with past episodes and new mega-packs sold as in-app purchases from within the game. Surviving High School is available on the App Store for $3, the Homecoming Queen Mega pack is $2 as an in-app purchase.
Apple has started blocking so-called “cookie-cutter” basic applications from the App Store, according to a new report. Citing developer comments, TechCrunch reports that Apple is cracking down on applications that function as little more than glorified RSS feeds or business cards, many of which have traditionally been produced by app-building services. One such service, Appmakr, said Apple has reached out to provide suggestions which could be used to improve the service. The company now plans to add more advanced features to the apps that it builds, including push notifications, in-app purchases, offline access, and landscape viewing modes. Other services, according to anonymous developer comments, are not receiving as much help from Apple on improving their products; TechCrunch suggests these are likely the services offering only the most basic of app templates. Notably, Apple does not appear to be going through the store and removing currently available applications that would not be approved under this new policy, as it did with a large number of “overtly sexual” applications last month.
Following last month’s acquisition of reMail by Google, developer Gabor Cselle announced today that he has released the reMail code under an open source license as he will be focusing on other projects at Google. After purchasing reMail, Google decided to discontinue the application and remove it from the App Store, although existing users who had already purchased the app were able to continue using it. Cselle writes in his blog that he has open sourced the code because he is passionate about mobile e-mail, and hopes “that developers interested in making email-related apps can use reMail code as a starting point.” The source code for reMail is now available on Google Code as remail-iphone under the Apache 2.0 License.
Volkwagen has released a unique new racing game for the iPhone and iPod touch that challenges players to drive efficiently rather than simply fast. In Think Blue Challenge players are rewarded for efficient driving and maximum range, with the goal of racking up the most kilometers by consuming the least amount of fuel. Quiz questions are presented between each game stage to provide tips on how to play and fuel bonuses for correct answers. Scores can be submitted to an online high score table and players can also submit their scores to the Volkswagen eGames Facebook page. Volkswagen Think Blue Challenge is available from the App Store as a free download.
An iTunes dialog box spotted by iPhone and Mac developer Fraser Speirs suggests Apple may be considering implementation of upgrade pricing in the App Store. The dialog box carries the heading “You do not qualify for this price,” going on to explain that “[t]his discounted price is only available to customers who own a previous version of this item. To purchase this item at full price, click OK.” Curiously, no “OK” button is offered, instead users have a choice between “Cancel” and “Buy.” The ability to offer current users upgraded software at a discount has been a feature long requested by iPhone developers; Apple has yet to officially announce such a feature.
Update: According to a Mac Rumors forum thread, the dialog box has in fact been in use for some time, and may be presented to users who attempt to re-download or update an application while logged into a different iTunes account than the one used to purchase the application originally.
SpinThought has released a new version of its StoryPages app for creating illustrated stories directly on the iPhone or iPod touch. StoryPages uses a storyboarding format similar to film and animation production and allows users to quickly layout drawings and associated text within a storyline. The StoryPages documents can be converted to PDF to share via e-mail or PNG to export to the photo library. StoryPages 2 adds full-screen landscape and portrait drawing modes and one-tap access to colored pencils and an eraser. Users can also set backgrounds using images from the device’s photo library, and the application now also provides full undo and redo support. StoryPages is available on the App Store for $3.
Soma Games has announced a major update to its game G: Into The Rain. G is a gravity golf genre puzzle game where players build and launch exploration rockets to map out an uncharted solar system. Completely rewritten from the ground up, G 2.0 improves game performance, adds on-line leaderboards, more interactive arcade-style gameplay, an expanded storyline and Facebook and Twitter integration. To promote the launch of the new version Soma Games is also running an in-game contest where players can compete to win an iPad by playing the game and posting their high scores to the online leaderboard. The contest runs through March 17, 2010; full contest rules can be found at the developer’s web site. G: Into The Rain is available on the App Store for $1; a free Lite version is also available for the contest.
The AppMaster has released a new free reference app for the 2010 Academy Awards. Meet The Oscars provides a full list of this year’s Academy Awards nominees, organized by category and film and allows users to keep a checklist of which movies they have viewed or are interested in seeing. Links to IMDB are provided for each nominated film, director and actor and users can view movie trailers directly from within the app. Meet The Oscars is available from the App Store as a free download.
Polarbit has released Raging Thunder 2, a successor to its popular Raging Thunder racing game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Raging Thunder 2 allows the player to choose from among a fleet of fully upgradeable tuner cars and race on one of ten different tracks featuring high-quality OpenGL 2.0 3D graphics. Users can upgrade various aspects of their car including wheels, body, wings and engine to tune for optimal performance. The game features six single-player modes: Career, Arcade, Single Race, Time Attack, Survival and Instant Race. Cross-platform online and local multiplayer modes are also supported, allowing users to compete against other iPhone or even Android users. Raging Thunder 2 is available from the App Store for $5.
Apple has pulled several Wi-Fi detection applications from the App Store, according to a Register report. The reports states that Apple has pulled the apps, which actively scanned for nearby available Wi-Fi networks, because they used a “private framework.” “We received a very unfortunate email today from Apple stating that WiFi Where has been removed from sale on the App Store for using private frameworks to access wireless information,” said one developer, who noted that Apple has declined to explain exactly what framework it is referencing. Users can still scan for nearby Wi-Fi networks using the Wi-Fi area of the iPhone’s and iPod touch’s Settings app; several Wi-Fi locating applications that rely on Location data and a database of hotspots also remain available.
Chillingo has released Radio Flare REDUX for the iPhone and iPod touch. Developed by studio radiolaris as a successor to its popular Radio Flare, REDUX is a music-based side-scrolling shooter featuring action choreographed to a techno, club and house soundtrack by internationally renowned DJs and dance artists. In the game, players pilot a spaceship through 33 levels by dragging or using an on-screen joystick, dodging or destroying enemy ships as they go. Each level provides a unique soundtrack and distinct club-style visuals with action moving to the rhythm of the music. The game also includes unlockable rewards, support for Crystal online leaderboards and a feature for users to upload and share their gameplay screenshots via Twitter. Radio Flare REDUX is available from the App Store for $3.
Vlingo has released a major update to its voice recognition application for the iPhone. Initially released in late 2008, Vlingo was one of the first voice-powered iPhone apps to allow users to initiate calls, search the web and Google Maps and compose Facebook and Twitter status updates using voice commands. Vlingo 2.0 adds support for dictating and sending e-mail and SMS messages by voice and a completely redesigned user interface to improve ease of use. Searching, updating Facebook and Twitter status and placing calls from the iPhone contact list remain free, however the new features for sending e-mail and SMS messages require an in-app purchase of $7 for one service, or $10 for both. Vlingo 2.0 requires an iPhone running OS 3.1.2 or later and is available on the App Store as a free download.
iPhone developer Alberto Garcia Hierro has released Buzzie, a native iPhone app for accessing Google’s new Google Buzz service. Buzzie allows iPhone and iPod touch users to post public or private Buzz messages, view messages from other Buzz users and comment on messages and mark them as liked. Users can also browse links and images attached to messages, manage followers, find new people to follow and view nearby places and related Buzz messages. Buzzie is available from the App Store at an introductory price of $2.
Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corp, has confirmed that an iPad application for the Wall Street Journal is presently under development. This follows a report that Apple CEO Steve Jobs had visited the Wall Street Journal last month to provide a personal demonstration of the iPad. According to Murdoch, WSJ developers have been given access to a pre-release iPad for development purposes but that the device is “kept under padlock and key” by an Apple employee. The iPad WSJ app is expected to expand upon the publication’s existing iPhone app to take better advantage of the larger screen on the iPad. [via TUAW]
MLB.com has released the 2010 season edition of its popular sports app. MLB.com At Bat 2010 allows iPhone and iPod touch users to watch or listen to Major League Baseball games live on their device, view up to the minute scores and player stats and watch in-game highlights and condensed games. The 2010 edition introduces several new features including Spring Training statistics, breaking news, schedules, rosters, player stats and a searchable video library. The application also provides support for push notifications and background audio playback. MLB.com At Bat 2010 is available on the App Store for $15. A free Lite version is also available which provides scores, schedule, news and standings information only.
FreshDirect, a leading online grocer in New York City, has released a new application to allow FreshDirect users to place grocery orders directly from their iPhone or iPod touch. Developed by digital firm Schematic, the application is designed to deliver the same functionality as the FreshDirect web site, allowing users to create, submit, and update orders and schedule and update delivery times right from their device. Users can search the FreshDirect store for items, shop from their previous orders or favorites and see product recommendations based on past orders. In-progress orders can be saved and resumed allowing users to build their grocery lists on the go and place them later. The application is also integrated with the FreshDirect web service so orders started on the iPhone can be completed on the web site or vice-versa. The FreshDirect application is available on the U.S. App Store as a free download.
In honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday and NEA’s Read Across America Day, Oceanhouse Media has dropped the price of its Dr. Seuss iPhone and iPod touch applications to $1 for today only. The licensed developer of Dr. Seuss applications for the iPhone platform, Oceanhouse Media currently offers six interactive eBooks, games and activity applications including titles such as The Cat in the Hat, How The Grinch Stole Christmas and Dr. Seuss Camera. Oceanhouse Media’s Dr. Seuss applications are available on the App Store.
Gameloft has released an iPhone version of the highly-acclaimed console game Rayman 2: The Great Escape. Rayman 2 is a 3D-rendered platform game where the player must travel through a sequence of levels, fighting enemies, solving puzzles and collecting lums in search of four magical masks that will save the world from evil robot pirates from outer space. The game features 45 environments fully rendered in 3D through which the player must control Rayman as he runs, climbs, swims, water-skis and flies. Rayman 2: The Great Escape is available on the App Store for $7.
Starbucks has released its myStarbucks iPhone application in the Canadian and UK App Stores. Previously released only in the U.S. myStarbucks allows iPhone and iPod touch users to locate nearby Starbucks stores, browse the menu and create and share their favorite Starbucks beverages. The original U.S. version of the application has also been updated to provide more detailed information on Canadian and UK Starbucks locations for users travelling in those countries. The companion Starbucks Card management iPhone application, Starbucks Card Mobile, remains available in the U.S. only at this time. myStarbucks Canada and myStarbucks UK are available from their respective App Stores as free downloads.
According to a recent report from Hacking Netflix, several Netflix users have received a survey suggesting that an iPhone streaming application may be in development. The survey describes a hypothetical iPhone app that would allow Netflix members to stream movies and TV show episodes over Wi-Fi at no additional fee and with no advertisements or trailers. The proposed application would also include the ability to fast-forward, rewind, pause and watch content again. Last fall Netflix CEO Reed Hastings told Reuters that an iPhone application is “likely to come over time” but that the company was not yet focusing on mobile solutions. Netflix has previously used surveys like this prior to releasing support for other platforms such as the PS3 and Wii. [via TechCrunch]