A recent update to AOL’s AIM instant messaging application has added Facebook integration. AIM users can now log in to their Facebook account and chat with their Facebook friends, who will appear integrated into the buddy list alongside other AIM users. Status updates from Facebook friends can also be viewed in the Lifestream section of the app and users can comment on their friends’ status updates. AIM continues to also provide access to AOL, AIM, ICQ, .Mac and MobileMe accounts, AOL’s Lifestream, support for multiple identities, SMS messaging and push notifications. AIM is available from the App Store either as a free ad-supported version or an ad-free version is available for $3 which also provides landscape support.
Positioning Animals Worldwide has released a free app to allow users of its Spotlight GPS Dog Collar to locate and track their pets using their iPhone. The SpotLight GPS Pet Locator application allows the user to locate one or more pets, plot their locations on a map and use the iPhone’s GPS to provide real-time tracking and turn-by-turn directions to their pet. Users can also toggle the Dog Collar’s LED beacon on or off from within the app to help find their pet at night. The Spotlight GPS Pet Locator application is available on the App Store as a free download.
Wide Angle Software has released an update to TouchCopy, a utility that allows Mac or Windows users to transfer media content from their iPods or iPhones back to their computers, complete with playlists, ratings and play counts. Featured in our tutorial on Copying Content from your iPod to your Computer, TouchCopy also provides the ability to copy and manage calendars and voice memos, and allows the iPhone and iPod touch to be used as external storage devices for any type of file. Version 9.5 adds support for copying SMS messages, contacts and notes from the iPhone.
To coincide with the update, iLounge readers have been offered a substantial coupon savings for the application. Normally, TouchCopy is sold for $25, with a free 15-day trial version also available; through April 30th, iLounge readers can use the coupon code 8E503286A at the developer’s web site to receive 50% off the normal price.
Bite Interactive has announced the release of The Red Carpet, a new iPhone application where users can participate in a contest to select their predictions for the 2010 Academy Awards with a $1,000,000 prize for users who correctly predict all 24 televised Oscar winners. In addition to the contest, The Red Carpet application provides real-time information on Oscar nominees, ratings and reviews, Facebook, Twitter and Netflix integration and information on theatres, showtimes and previews of nominated films. The contest itself is open only to U.S. residents and full terms and conditions can be found on the application page on the App Store. The Red Carpet is available on the U.S. App Store for $3.
Norwegian browser company Opera Software has announced plans to show off a version of its Mini browser for the iPhone and iPod touch next week at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, according to a Reuters report. The company claims the browser will offer download speeds up to six times faster than the built-in MobileSafari browser, and could cut data traffic by up to 90 percent. Opera also said it saw no reason why its browser should be rejected by Apple. “We have not submitted it yet to the Apple App Store. However, we hope that Apple will not deny their users a choice in Web browsing experience,” said Jon von Tetzchner, co-founder of Opera. Apple in January began allowing some third-party browsers into the App Store, but those that have been approved thus far use WebKit, the same built-in browser engine that powers Safari, and not a third-party solution.
Shazam Entertainment quietly updated to its popular free Shazam app last night to add support for looking up tour information for tagged artists. The Shazam 1.8.5 update now provides the tour info feature previously found only in the $5 Shazam Encore app allowing users of the free version to look up tour dates both nearby and internationally and purchase tickets. Tour information can also be sent out via e-mail, and the service can also provide information on local concerts from other related artists. Shazam is available from the App Store as a free download.
iPhone Developer Siri has released Siri Assistant for the iPhone, a novel application that provides iPhone users with a voice-activated personal assistant. Users can request information from Siri Assistant simply by speaking natural language questions such as “Where is the best sushi near here” or “What PG-13 movies are playing this afternoon.” Siri Assistant can presently handle requests for information on restaurants, events, movies, taxis, weather and local points of interest and the developer plans to expand the service to include features such as reminders, flight information and reference questions. Siri Assistant can also personalize each users’ results based on the information that they most commonly request. The present version of Siri Assistant is compatible only with the iPhone 3GS using iPhone OS 3.1 or later and works only in the United States. It is available as a free download on the U.S. App Store.
Quickoffice today released version 3.0 of its popular Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite, bringing support for accessing and editing files stored in Google Docs, Box.net and Dropbox online services. The application also continues to support files stored on MobileMe iDisk, transferred via Wi-Fi or forwarded to Quickoffice via e-mail. Quickoffice is an iPhone office suite application that allows users to edit Microsoft Word and Excel files directly on their iPhone and view and e-mail other major file formats such as PowerPoint, PDF, iWork and image and audio files. Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite 3.0 is available on the App Store for $8 and is a free update for existing Quickoffice users.
Hudson Entertainment has launched a new turn-based strategy game, Military Madness; Neo Nectaris for the iPhone and iPod touch. Based on the classic Military Madness strategy game for the TurboGrafx-16, the iPhone game features updated visuals, cut scenes and full touch-screen gameplay capabilities. Gamers play as one of two opposing forces with futuristic military equipment battling it out on the moon. Players take turns moving their units on a hex-grid map in an effort to win by destroying all enemy units or capturing the enemy’s headquarters. As with the original title, the key element to the iPhone adaptation is understanding the strengths and limitations of each unit within the game and making the best strategic use of those resources. Military Madness: Neo Nectaris provides 48 levels of gameplay and is available on the App Store for $5.
Update: Our review of Military Madness: Neo Nectaris can be found here.
Wired reports that two iconic game designers of the classic gaming era have formed a new game publisher, AppStar Games. David Crane, co-founder of Activision and Garry Kitchen, co-founder of Absolute Entertainment plan to concentrate on small games for mobile devices such as the iPhone. AppStar has already released a reference application for the iPhone, 2600 Magic which provides an interactive tour of the unique game design challenges of the Atari 2600. The series continues with a second volume, Dragster Magic which focuses on the developers’ specific experiences in designing Activision’s Dragster for the Atari 2600 platform. Additional installments are planned in this series which will focus on tricks that Crane employed in the design of other Atari 2600 titles such as Pitfall! AppStar Games expects to release its first game titles later this year.
Tapulous, the developer of the popular Tap Tap Revenge series of games, has released a new beat-based game in which players use their device’s accelerometer rather than the touchscreen. In Riddim Ribbon, users tilt their device to the beat of the music as they race down a curving ribbon, picking up pebbles along the way to pass checkpoints. Players can make choices at forks in the road and jump up ramps to effects tiers to create their own unique mixes and sounds. Riddim Ribbon features beats of The Black Eyed Peas, Tiësto and Benny Benassi with more artists to come. Bundled tracks include eight remixes of Boom Boom Pow, I Gotta Feeling and Meet Me Halfway. Additional track levels can be downloaded for $1 each as In-App Purchases. Riddim Ribbon is available on the App Store for $3.
The American Museum of Natural History has released its first official application, Dinosaurs: The American Museum of Natural History Collections. Dinosaurs is an educational application that allows users to explore the Museum’s famous fossil halls in depth from their iPhone or iPod touch. The application includes hundreds of photos and renderings from the Museum’s massive collection of dinosaur fossils complete with descriptions and background information. A unique Dinosaurs Mosaic weaves together 800 individual images to create an image of a Tyrannosaurus rex and the user can double-tap or pinch to zoom into the mosaic to inspect any of the individual photos. Dinosaurs also provides a Comments section where users can post notes on photos and share their comments with other users. Dinosaurs: The American Museum of Natural History Collections is available from the App Store as a free download.
id Software has released Doom II RPG, the sequel to its popular 2005 Doom RPG mobile game. Doom II RPG allows the player to choose from three different characters and battle through 9 different maps spanning the Moon, Earth and Hell, providing over 8 hours of gameplay. Players upgrade and customize their skill attributes and can find and use over a dozen unique weapons throughout the game. In addition to traditional combat, players must also hack security systems and interact with NPCs throughout the game to get useful information. The game provides an auto-mapping feature and mission-tracking functions, customizable controls and three levels of difficulty. Doom II RPG is available on the App Store for $4.
Label Interactive has announced that it is developing a virtual board and card games app for the iPad. GameTable takes advantage of the iPad’s larger screen to provide a virtual game table on which users can play classic games such as Checkers, Chess, Backgammon, Poker, Solitaire and more. Rather than taking the traditional single-player game approach, GameTable is instead designed simply to provide a virtual board for players to compete against their friends using the iPad as the platform. “GameTable isn’t a typical video game,” explains Jeff Juliard, Label Interactive founder and president. “There is no ‘logic’ built in. GameTable simply provides gorgeous, photo-realistic tables, boards and game pieces along with an extremely intuitive and fun way for users to interact with them.” GameTable is expected to be available on the App Store for an introductory price of $1 shortly after the iPad is released in late March. More information can be found on the developer’s web site at http://www.gametableapp.com.
Gameloft has released GT Racing; Motor Academy for the iPhone and iPod touch. Designed for fans of realistic racing simulation games, GT Racing: Motor Academy puts the player in the driver’s seat of authentic racing cars they compete to earn top honors in professional racing. The game allows the player to choose from over 100 fully licensed cars from 25 manufacturers ranging from the Nissan GT-R and Audi R8 to the top-end Ferrari models and race them on any one of 14 different tracks. An Arcade Mode is available for quick races, or players can choose to play in Career mode where they must progress through the racing world by passing challenges and upgrading and customizing their cars for optimum performance. Players can also compete in online competitions and post instant replays to YouTube to show off their driving skills. GT Racing: Motor Academy is available from the App Store for $7.
Apple has begun sending out a survey to iPhone developers asking for their thoughts on the iPhone Developer Program and App Store experience. TechCrunch reports that while the lengthy survey covers a wide range of topics, the majority of questions revolve around the application review process and the developers’ overall happiness with the program. According to the report, the survey asks developers to rate their level of satisfaction with various aspects of the App submission process, app review process, and the “length of time it takes to get updates available on the App Store,” with options ranging from “Very dissatisfied” to “Very satisfied.” Another open-ended question asks “What one thing could Apple do to make the iPhone Developer Program better?”
Amber Digital has released MrSun, a free app for iPhone and iPod touch users to determine the location of the sun at any given time, date or place. Using a slider control, users select the time of day and are shown the direction of the sun and angle over the horizon both numerically and visually. The application can also use the iPhone 3GS compass to display the direction of the sun relative to the user’s current position. Users can get information for their current location using the device’s location services or can choose any other place in the world by selecting it on a map. MrSun is available as a free download on the App Store.
GAMEVIL has announced the release of VANQUISH: The Oath of Brothers, a new action RPG presented with a unique ink and wash painted graphic style. Based on the historical novel “Romance of the Three Kingdoms,” the game’s storyline follows the adventures of the hero Guan Yu as he journeys to reunite with his sworn brother, battling the generals of Cao Cao and their armies along the way. The game combines action and RPG elements, allowing the player to choose one of three characters to play as through three different scenarios. VANQUISH: The Oath of Brothers is available on the App Store for $3.
Loopt announced today that it has partnered with Mobile Spinach to integrate location-based advertising into its social networking service. The new feature provides Loopt users with access to offers, coupons and discounts from local neighbourhood retailers. Users are informed about nearby offers based on their current location and directions and contact details for the retailers. Offers can be redeemed directly from the phone or can be sent via SMS or e-mail. The service is initially being rolled out in the San Francisco area with plans to add additional major metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles and New York during the coming months. Loopt is available in the U.S. only as a free download from the App Store.
Eventual Innovations has released an application that aims to improve upon the limited AVRCP capabilities in the iPhone and iPod touch. Apple first introduced support for stereo A2DP Bluetooth accessories in iPhone OS 3.0, however AVRCP remote control capabilities over Bluetooth were limited to only starting and pausing playback. Bluetooth Helper is a third-party application that provides additional playback controls including next track, previous track and seeking within tracks. Users enable Bluetooth Helper by starting their music within the iPod application and then starting the Bluetooth Helper app to allow access to the additional playback commands. Bluetooth Helper is available on the App Store for $1.