Square Enix has released iPhone and iPod touch versions of the first two games in its highly acclaimed Final Fantasy series. Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II are role-playing adventure games where players guide a party of four characters around a magical world, battling creatures, meeting other characters and performing quests. The iPhone and iPod touch versions use a graphical style similar to the later PSP versions and both games include the bonus dungeons first found in the 2004 Dawn of Souls release. Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II are available separately from the App Store; each game sells for $9.
A team of programmers at NASA have developed an application for studying the sun in a three-dimensional view. Led by Dr. Tony Phillips, editor of Science@NASA, the 3D Sun application allows users to see a live view of the sun using images downloaded from NASA’s Solar-Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) satellites. Users can rotate the view of the star and zoom in on active regions using the touch screen. News items provide information on significant solar events with associated 3D views, images or movies accompanying each news bulletin. Users can also be notified of major events such as solar flares via push notifications. In addition to the 3D views of the sun the application also provides regularly updated movies and image galleries. 3D Sun is available on the App Store as a free download.
Expedia has released a major update to its TripAssist application designed to help travellers with booking, researching and tracking travel information. In addition to syncing itineraries from Expedia.com, TripAssist 2.0 allows users to enter and track non-Expedia travel itineraries as well. Other new features in the update include free real-time SMS and e-mail alerts for any flight, a new landscape-mode “billboard” view and a “date view” that consolidates all of the user’s itineraries into day-by-day listings. Users can also quickly look up alternate flight information, view a SeatGuru seat map for any flight and add their own notes to any itinerary. TripAssist requires iPhone OS 3.1 or later and is available from the U.S. App Store as a free download.
Apple has added a new primary category named “Explicit” to its iTunes Connect backend service for submitting and monitoring App Store applications, suggesting the company may be readying a new adults-only category on the App Store. According to Mac Rumors, the new category appears in a drop-down menu found in the new submission section, alongside other already-existing categories such as “Books,” “Games,” and “Entertainment.” Although the exact reason for the new category’s appearance is unknown, it is possible that Apple plans to allow recently-banned “overtly sexual” content back into the App Store under this new category, which would allow the company to more easily hide it from underage users via Parental Controls.
Update: Wired reports that the new “Explicit” option has since been removed from iTunes Connect.
In a recent interview with Touch Arcade, ngmoco CEO Neil Young clarified the company’s position on the recent acquisition of Freeverse and its move toward a new free-to-pay model. In discussing why ngmoco specifically chose to acquire Freeverse, Young described the company as “wonderful people” who “shared their vision and values.” Young indicated that Freeverse will remain functionally independent and retain the Freeverse brand on their applications.
Discussing ngmoco’s shift to a free-to-pay model, Young dispelled rumours that the move was in response to high piracy rates for iPhone games. Young described the move instead as a result of a combination of other factors, with the two main concerns being significantly higher download numbers for free applications and a general trend away from higher-priced premium games. [via Touch Arcade]
Disney has released an official Alice in Wonderland game for the iPhone and iPod touch in anticipation of the upcoming theatrical premiere of its new movie. In Alice in Wonderland—An Adventure Beyond the Mirror, players take on the role of Alice and must solve a series of puzzles while exploring the world of Wonderland. Other well-known characters such as the Mad Hatter and White Rabbit appear during the game to assist Alice with their special abilities. The game also includes integration with the iPhone GPS, camera and photo library to unlock hidden objects. Alice in Wonderland—An Adventure Beyond The Mirror is available on the App Store for $5.
At least one application has returned to the App Store unchanged following Apple’s recent purge of “overtly sexual” content. IUGO’s Daisy Mae’s Alien Buffet was reportedly pulled from the App Store late last week as part of the culling of adult-themed apps. Daisy Mae is a B-movie style survival shooter game that contains a voluptuous lead character and some mildly risque elements.
Yesterday the game reappeared on the App Store, quietly reinstated without any changes from the original version. IUGO indicates that the game just quietly reappeared without any contact from Apple explaining the game’s return. Further, the game now appears as a featured title with the App Store games section. [via Touch Arcade]
Apple has released the third beta version of its iPhone SDK 3.2 for iPad. Originally released on January 27 following the introduction of the iPad and updated on February 10, the new SDK is tailored specifically for iPad development. It includes support for the device’s 1024x768 resolution, other iPad-specific interface functions, and an iPad simulator application so developers can pre-test their apps in an environment similar to that of the final device. It is currently unclear what, if any major changes were made in the latest version. The iPhone OS 3.2 SDK beta 3 for iPad is available now to registered iPhone developers through the iPhone Dev Center.
TechCrunch reports that following a third round of venture capital funding, ngmoco has acquired iPhone game developer Freeverse. Ngmoco is known for such titles as Rolando, Eliminate and TouchPets, and has recently announced a shift to a free-to-play pricing model. By contrast, Freeverse has a staple of popular paid games including Skee-Ball, Flick Fishing and Moto Chaser. With this acquisition Ngmoco has confirmed that it plans to move these titles over to its free-to-play model whereby the games will be offered for free and revenue generated from in-app purchases instead. Ngmoco CEO Neil Young indicates that this business model has been working well for the company, and expects that ngmoco will release approximately 20 new games this year with the newly-acquired Freeverse team releasing about the same number.
IGN has confirmed some additional details on Capcom’s upcoming release of Street Fighter IV for the iPhone and iPod touch. The game will allow users to play as one of eight characters from the console game: Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Blanka, M. Bison, Abel, Guile, and Dhalsim. There will reportedly be no additional characters that can be unlocked later in the game. It is expected that the same moves will be available on the iPhone as the console version for each of the fighters, and both single player and local two-player modes will be supported. An on-screen joystick and virtual buttons will be used as controls and assists will be available to automatically use special moves. Street Fighter IV is expected to be released on the App Store in March and sell for $10. [via IGN]
Good.iWare has released an update to its popular GoodReader application. GoodReader 2.6 adds support for editing text files, importing and exporting photos from the iPhone and iPod touch photo album, and a page slider for quickly browsing through large PDF files. The update also adds support for Adobe Illustrator files saved with the PDF Compatible option and fixes several issues with FTP servers, downloading of spreadsheets from Google Docs or iDisk and downloading e-mail attachments. GoodReader is available from the App Store for $1; a full-featured “Lite” version is available for free with a limit of five stored files.
Dropbox has released an update to the iPhone application for its online file storage service. Dropbox 1.1 adds a several new features including support for locking the app with a passcode, copying file and image sharing links to the clipboard and adjusting photo and video upload quality settings. The update also adds full-screen document viewing, a scroll bar for navigating large documents and the ability to zoom in on photos. The search feature now allows users to search sub-folders and the application will default to displaying the last-used folder on startup. The Dropbox application requires an iPhone or iPod touch running OS 3.0 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.
Phil Schiller, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing, has made several comments regarding the company’s recent move to ban “overtly sexual” content from the App Store. In an interview with the New York Times, Schiller said the company was simply responding to complaints from App Store users. According to Schiller, the company had received “an increasing number of apps containing very objectionable content” from a small number of developers. “It came to the point where we were getting customer complaints from women who found the content getting too degrading and objectionable, as well as parents who were upset with what their kids were able to see,” Schiller said. He added, “[w]e obviously care about developers, but in the end have to put the needs of the kids and parents first.”
Some developers, such as Fred Clarke of the company On the Go Girls, had their entire catalogs removed from the store. “I’m shocked,” said Clarke, who said the company had not had a problem with its applications since the first one went on sale last June. “We’re showing stuff that’s racier than the Disney Channel, but not by much.” Clark also said the company had been making thousands of dollars per day from App Store sales. “It’s very hard to go from making a good living to zero,” he added. “This goes farther than sexy content. For developers, how do you know you aren’t going to invest thousands into a business only to find out one day you’ve been cut off?” When asked about apps such as the Sports Illustrated annual swimsuit issue app, which remains in the store despite offering content similar to that found in many of the banned apps, Schiller said Apple takes the source and intent of the apps into consideration. He said, “[t]he difference is this is a well-known company with previously published material available broadly in a well-accepted format.”
Following a report from last week suggesting that Apple was banning “overtly sexual” content from the App Store, Apple offered a brief statement on the matter in response to an inquiry from iLounge. “Whenever we receive customer complaints about objectionable content we review them,” said Apple representative Trudy Miller. “If we find these apps contain inappropriate material we remove them and request the developer make any necessary changes in order to be distributed by Apple.” The statement references an application removal notice from Apple previously posted online, stating that the company had received “numerous complaints” about sexual content on the App Store, and that it had changed its guidelines appropriately. After publication of the notice, application tracking site AppShopper.com released a graph showing over 5,000 application removals from February 17-20.
Bell Mobility has released a Mobile TV app for iPhone owners on the Bell 3G network in Canada. The Bell Mobile TV application allows Bell iPhone users to subscribe to and view streaming live TV over a 3G data connection. Three subscription packages are available: Live NHL Games coverage is included in several Bell Mobility package bundles while seven channels of standard live TV are available for $8 per month and coverage of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games is available for a one-time fee of $10. The Bell Mobile TV service is available only on the Bell 3G network and data usage is charged in addition to the subscription packages, with data usage estimated at 9MB per one minute of streamed video. The Bell Mobile TV application is available on the Canadian App Store as a free download.
Konami Digital Entertainment has released Draw Parking, a new puzzle game that challenges players to park virtual cars using the touchscreen. Players must draw a path to a parking spot while avoiding obstacles like pedestrians and other vehicles, racing against the clock to advance to the next level and gain points based on accuracy and neatness. The game includes 20 distinct vehicle styles and 30 different levels spanning the US., Europe and Asia. Draw Parking is available on the App Store for $1.
Dynamo Games has released The Crystal Maze for iPhone and iPod touch, a video game adaption of the cult UK game show of the same name. Featuring appearances by the show’s host, Richard O’Brien, The Crystal Maze recreates the experience of the TV game show, providing the same theme music and sounds and four challenging games from the original zones: Medieval, Futuristic, Aztec and Industrial. Players can choose to play in either a full TV Show Campaign mode or try individual games in Challenge mode and post their best times to a global OpenFeint leaderboard. A soundboard mode provides 16 classic quotes and sounds from the TV show that can be played on demand for fans of the original TV show. The Crystal Maze is compatible with iPhone and iPod touch devices running OS 3.0 or later and is available on the App Store for $3.
Google has released an update to its Google Mobile App, adding support for Search by Voice for second- and third-generation iPod touch models. Originally released in late 2008, the Google Mobile app is supported on all iPhone OS devices, however the ability to search by voice was originally limited to the iPhone only. This latest update allows iPod touch users with an external microphone to access Voice Search and provides other related stability improvements. Google Mobile App is available on the App Store as a free download and is compatible with iPhone and iPod touch devices running OS 2.0 or later. The Search by Voice feature requires an iPhone or a second- or third-generation iPod touch.
Apple has modified its iPhone SDK agreement to allow for both sweepstakes and contests within applications. The new rule, found in section 3.3.17, states, “Your Application may include promotional sweepstake or contest functionality provided that You are the sole sponsor of the promotion and that You and Your Application comply with any applicable laws,” adding that developers must “clearly state in binding official rules for each promotion that Apple is not a sponsor of, or responsible for conducting, the promotion.” The first application to take advantage of the new rules is available in the App Store for $1, and is tied to a sweepstakes running through March 16 in which one winner a day will receive “up to $1,000.” Notably, the app’s description says that the actual amount is dependent on sponsor discretion, and as the app otherwise offers little to no utility, we would advise readers to exercise extreme caution before purchasing or participating in promotions of this kind. [via TUAW]
Open Door Networks has released Art Authority, a new application that allows users to view a comprehensive collection of artwork directly on the iPhone or iPod touch. Art Authority provides access to works from over 1000 major artists, organized by period from ancient times to contemporary, with a database of over 40,000 paintings and sculptures. Device-optimized images are stored on Open Door’s servers and downloaded on demand, conserving space on the iPhone and providing a catalog that can be updated as needed. The application also provides detailed captions for each image and in-depth information on the periods and artists. Users can zoom and rotate images, save images, or display a full-screen slideshow with their own background music. Art Authority is compatible with the iPhone and iPod touch using OS 3.0 and available on the App Store for $10. An iPad version is also being developed.