Apple may be facing an antitrust inquiry over the company’s recent decision to ban apps made with cross-platform development tools from the App Store. Citing a person familiar with the matter, the New York Post reports that the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are in negotiations over which body will oversee the inquiry into Apple’s policy, with the decision only “days away.” According to the report, the inquiry will focus on whether or not the policy stifles competition by forcing developers to choose between building apps that only run on iPhone OS devices or apps that are able to run on a variety of competing operating systems, including those from Google, Microsoft, and Research In Motion. The report also points out that the launch of an inquiry does not mean action will be taken against Apple, instead serving to determine whether a full-scale investigation will be needed; Apple could be subpoenaed for further information should an investigation be necessary.
Distimo has released its latest monthly report on the U.S. App Store, revealing that there are now 4,870 iPad applications in the App Store. Of these, 3,437 are iPad-only apps while the remaining 1,433 are Universal applications that run on both the iPad and iPhone. The report goes on to note that the number of iPad applications on the App Store has grown by 32.7% over the past two weeks and that the largest category for iPad applications is Games, with 1,577 titles, followed by Entertainment and Books with 455 and 396 titles, respectively. The report points out that paid iPad applications make up a larger percentage of that category than paid iPhone applications and are slightly more expensive on average: The average price of an iPad app is $4.67 compared to $3.82 for an iPhone app. The report also lists the top 20 paid and free iPad and iPhone apps, revealing a number of more expensive $10 apps among the iPad top 20, with a higher average price of $5.69, as compared to a larger number of $0.99 apps in the iPhone top 20, with an average price of $2.04. The full report is available from Distimo’s site (free registration required).
Alamofire has released a native iPad version of its popular Gowalla location-based social networking application. Gowalla for the iPad allows users to share and discover locations they visit such as restaurants, coffee shops, landmarks and more. As in the iPhone version, users can check in at various locations, share their experiences on Facebook and Twitter, see places that their friends have visited and unlock bonus rewards by completing trips. Gowalla for iPad is available from the App Store as a free download.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen has responded to statements made about his company and its Flash technology by Apple CEO Steve Jobs in his “Thoughts on Flash” open letter. Calling the technology problems mentioned by Jobs a “smokescreen,” Narayen pointed out that more than 100 applications built using Adobe’s Flash technology were accepted into the App Store. “When you resort to licensing language” to restrict this kind of cross-platform development, he said, it has “nothing to do with technology.” Narayen also said Apple’s refusal to allow cross-platform apps onto its devices makes it “cumbersome” for developers who will have to have “two workflows,” and called Jobs’ claims that Flash causes undue battery drain “patently false.” To conclude the interview, Narayen said that he is for “letting customers decide,” but that he believes the multi-platform strategy will “eventually prevail.”
HootSuite has released an update to its popular iPhone Twitter client, adding support for posting updates to Facebook and including geolocation information to Twitter posts. HootSuite 1.1.1 includes an updated interface with a pull-down-to-refresh option and also introduces translation of tweets between multiple languages, landscape mode for composing messages and a reply all feature. The update also adds Bump technology to allow iPhone users to follow other HootSuite users by bumping their iPhones together. HootSuite 1.1.1 is available from the App Store for $3 and is a free update for existing users.
SHAPE Services has released an update to its popular cross-platform Instant Messaging application for the iPad. IM+ 4.1 is a universal app that provides access to a wide number of messaging services including AIM, MSN, Google Talk, Facebook, Twitter, Skype Chat and Jabber. In addition to better iPad support, the latest version also provides support for speech recognition, longer push notification session time, proper iPad external keyboard support and numerous bug fixes. IM+ is available from the App Store for $10 and is a free update for existing users of the iPhone version.
ALK Technologies has announced plans to bring its popular CoPilot turn-by-turn GPS navigation and trip planning app to the iPad 3G. CoPilot Live HD has just been submitted to the App Store and ALK expects that it will be available for purchase soon. CoPilot Live HD will provide the same featurs as the iPhone version, including on-device street maps and voice-guide navigation. A new split-screen driving view will combine 3D or 2D map displays with driving instructions. Some sample screenshots of CoPilot Live HD can be found on the copilot live Flickr page.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs has posted an open letter entitled “Thoughts on Flash,” in which he explains the company’s motivation for leaving Adobe’s Flash off of its iPhone, iPod, and iPad devices. Jobs divides his explanation into six key factors, including Flash’s proprietary nature, the fact that the vast majority of web video is now accessible without Flash, reliability, security, and performance issues, battery life concerns, Flash’s reliance on mouse-dependent interface elements, and the fact that Adobe wants to allow its developers to use Flash for creating cross-platform applications that will run on Apple’s platform, as well as on competitors’ devices, without exploiting any platform’s unique and innovative features. The crux of the letter is an attack on Flash as a battery-hogging middleware solution that is no longer necessary or desirable in an age of advanced mobile devices.
Jobs makes several scathing comments in the letter, claiming that Flash is the leading cause of Mac crashes, that Adobe was the slowest major third-party developer to adopt important changes to Apple’s Mac OS X operating system, and that the company has promised but repeatedly failed to deliver an optimized mobile version of Flash. The letter also sheds new light on Apple’s App Store business, including the statement that “[t]here are more games and entertainment titles available for iPhone, iPod and iPad than for any other platform in the world,” and noting that there are now more than 200,000 apps available in the App Store. In closing, Jobs says, “[n]ew open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too). Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind.”
Apple plans to charge close to $1 million for ads on its new iAd network, according to a new report. Citing an unnamed source familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that Apple has indicated it may charge as much as $10 million to be part of the initial group of advertisers on the service. Ad executives told the paper they are used to paying between $100,000 and $200,000 for similar mobile deals. Along with the lofty price tag, Apple is also making demands for greater control over advertisers’ marketing campaigns, at least initially. “It’s a hefty sum,” said Phuc Truong, managing director at Mobext, a mobile marketing business whose clients include Sears, Choice Hotels, Amtrak and Volvo. “What Apple is trying to do is certainly above and beyond what’s been done in the past.”
Despite the pricing, ad executives at agencies across the U.S. have met with Apple in recent weeks to listen to the company’s pitch for iAd. Discussions over possible deals are said to be ongoing, but several ad executives said they are beginning to look at potential creative ideas for iAd campaigns. “It was very easy to think about the several minutes of interaction time consumers can spend with the ad. It’s incredibly attractive,” said Baba Shetty, chief media officer at Boston-based ad agency Hill Holiday. Apple’s demands for creative approval, and that it build the ads itself during the first few months, are giving some agencies pause, however. “As a creative director, I can completely understand that they created this new baby and they want to make sure it gets born looking gorgeous,” said Lars Bastholm, chief digital creative officer at WPP’s Ogilvy. “But as a creative director, I don’t feel completely comfortable letting Apple do the creative.” According to the report, marketers will be able to target ads to users based on past download preferences from the iTunes Store, and by location; Apple is planning to charge one cent each time a consumer sees a banner ad, with a $2 charge if the user taps on the banner.
Apple has acquired the voice-based personal assistance and search service Siri, according to a newly-published FTC document (PDF Link). Business Insider reports that a Siri representative has confirmed the purchase, but would not comment on the financial aspects of the deal. Siri describes itself as a voice-based personal assistant, that can “help you find and plan things to do,” such as finding a dinner spot, telling you what’s playing at a local music venue, or getting tickets to a movie. The company describes the service as “young” and says it “may be awkward at times,” but also says it “will improve quickly by getting to know you better and understanding a broader set of tasks.” The current version service, which is currently only available in the U.S., is built to run on the iPhone 3GS and iPod touch. The Siri Assistant app is available now as a free download from the App Store.
aCleverTwist.com has released a new iPad app, iBrite, that allows users to relive the experience of creating artwork with a Lite-Brite without having to deal with little colored pegs. iBrite allows users to create Lite-Brite style mosaics by tapping and dragging on the screen to draw. A color palette allows users to choose from a virtually unlimited number of colors and shades and images can be saved, e-mailed or shared on Facebook. Images can also be posted on the iBrite Facebook page and entered into contests. iBrite is available from the App Store for $2.
iTeleport has released a Universal update to its popular Jaadu VNC app for accessing remote computers using the VNC protocol. iTeleport originally release a separate, iPad-only version on the day of iPad launch, but had also announced that a free Universal update would be coming for users of the existing iPhone version. The company explained that it originally released the iPad version separately due to a number of improvements to it that weren’t ready for the iPhone version and that it wanted to ensure that a native iPad version was available as early as possible. In addition to native iPad support, iTeleport 4.0 also adds a redesigned remote that allows simultaneous screen access and support for the new iTeleport Connect desktop app for simplifying remote access configuration. iTeleport: Jaadu VNC is available from the App Store for $25 and is a free update for existing users.
PayPal has announced that it has released its Mobile Payments Library for the iPhone and iPad into open beta. Originally released as a closed beta to select developers at Macworld 2010, the PayPal Mobile Payments Library allows developers to quickly and easily add checkout functionality to their iPhone apps to allow users to purchase physical goods and services directly from within the app. Several apps are already available on the App Store that use the new Mobile Payment Library, such as Baublet, an app that allows users to purchase customized charms using their PayPal accounts. The new Mobile Payments Library can be downloaded from the PayPal X Developer Network.
Urbanspoon has released a native iPad version of its popular restaurant search and review application. Like its iPhone counterpart, Urbanspoon for iPad allows users to explore thousands of restaurants in their local neighbourhood or anywhere in the world. Users can filter restaurants based on neighbourhood, cuisine or price and even spin to find a random choice in their area that meets the selected criteria. Urbanspoon for iPad stores all restaurant data within the app itself so that it can be used without requiring an Internet connection; online access is required to view ratings and reviews. Urbanspoon for iPad has been released as a separate app from the iPhone version, it is available from the App Store as a free download.
Apple has announced the dates for its 2010 Worldwide Developers Conference. This year’s event will be held June 7-11, in its traditional venue of Moscone West in San Francisco, CA. As with last year’s event, Apple will be providing sessions focusing on both Mac OS X and iPhone OS X, as well as web app development; although this year’s sessions appear to be more heavily focused on iPhone OS development than in previous years. For the past three years, the company has also 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.
“This year’s WWDC offers developers in-depth sessions and hands-on working labs to learn more about iPhone OS 4, the world’s most advanced mobile operating system,” said Scott Forstall, Apple’s senior vice president of iPhone Software. “WWDC provides a unique opportunity for developers to work side-by-side with Apple engineers and interface designers to make their iPhone and iPad apps even better.”
iPhone game developers Majic Jungle Software have posted a proof of concept video to YouTube showing their upcoming title Chopper 2 being run on and output from an iPad to an HDTV while a separate iPhone is used as a controller. According to the post, the setup—which uses a standard Apple Component AV Cable to connect the iPad to a 42-inch HDTV, while the iPhone is connected over Bluetooth—uses only publicly available API calls, and could conceivably be released in its current form. The post notes, however, that the initial release may not support the TV-out functionality. Continue reading to watch the video in embedded form. [via TUAW]
Gameloft has released new iPad “HD” versions of four more of its iPhone game titles, including James Cameron’s Avatar for iPad ($10), Secrets of the Vatican HD ($5), Hollywood The Director’s Cut HD ($5) and Frankenstein - The Dismembered Bride HD ($5). As with Gameloft’s earlier “HD” releases, the new games must be purchased separately and provide iPad-optimized versions of the corresponding iPhone games with higher resolution graphics and optimized controls suitable for the iPad screen, but do not otherwise expand on the core gameplay from their earlier iPhone releases. Gameloft’s newest games can be found on Gameloft’s App Store page.
The Omni Group has released a significant update to OmniGraffle, its flagship diagramming app for the iPad. OmniGraffle 1.1 adds support for Multi-Touch gestures within the app such as the ability to select multiple objects by tapping and holding while selecting, two-finger rotation of objects and invoking temporary smart alignment guides while moving objects. The update also delivers improvements in performance, text editing and file handling. Several stability issues have also been addressed in this latest update. OmniGraffle 1.1 is available from the App Store for $50.
CodeGoo has released an update to its popular Camera Genius app adding the ability to record videos on any iPhone model. Other recent improvements include the ability to edit location information for photos, burst mode shooting, sharing photos via e-mail or the iPhone clipboard and an interval timer for automatically capturing photos at specified intervals. Camera Genius also continues to provide a wide variety of additional unique features such as voice-activated capture, anti-shake stabilization and built-in camera guides for photo composition. Camera Genius is available from the App Store for $2 and is a free update for existing users.
Next Mobile Web has released a major update to its iPhone app for Craigslist. Craigsphone 2.0 is a significant re-write from the previous version and adds a number of new features including faster loading screens, integrated maps for housing listings and built-in image previews. The app also sports a complete UI redesign, a dedicated search tab and now allows users to access their Craiglist accounts, forums and blog from directly within the app. Craigsphone is available from the App Store as a free download.