Sesame Street has released Elmo’s Monster Maker, a new iPhone application for kids that promotes creativity and decision-making by allowing the user to create their own Sesame Street style monster by choosing a body and then adding eyes, a nose and a hat. Once a monster has been created, the user can tap the screen to make the monster dance and play and interact with Elmo or save pictures of their monster to the iPhone or iPod photo album. Elmo’s Monster Maker is available on the App Store for $4.
iPhone developer dw-c has released an update to its iCamcorder application, providing high-quality video recording capabilities for the first-generation iPhone and iPhone 3G. iCamcorder provides support for recordings of 15FPS on the highest quality settings with high-quality audio, unlimited recording length, digital zoom and up to nine digital effects. Both portrait and landscape recording modes are supported and videos can be saved on the device’s Camera Roll, sent out via e-mail or shared on Facebook, YouTube or Twitter. iCamcorder requires a first-generation iPhone or iPhone 3G with iPhone OS 3.1 or later and is available on the App Store and is currently selling for $1.
FastMall has announced a major update to its shopping mall navigation application. FastMall 2.0 is now free and adds a number of new features. FastMall provides turn-by-turn directions to help you find your way around over 1,275 shopping malls with directions to stores, restaurants and even restrooms. FastMall 2.0 also provides the ability to save information on where you parked so you can find your car, to be taken to the nearest restroom simply by shaking your device, and an elevator-only navigation mode for users with strollers or wheelchairs. Users can review stores, restaurants and even restrooms within a mall and can share status on Facebook and Twitter. FastMall is available for free on the App Store.
Editor’s Note: Comments on this article have been closed due to astroturfing.
Electronic Arts has released Spore Creatures for the iPhone and iPod touch. Designed as a sequel to its popular Spore Origins title, Spore Creatures continues the storyline into a land-based evolutionary adventure. Players create a customized Spore Creature from over 45 unique body parts and skins, shapes and colors, and then take their creation through twenty different game levels, avoiding or socializing with other creatures, solving puzzles, and collecting DNA to evolve their creature. Spore Creatures is available on the App Store now and sells for $7.
Quietly coinciding with last week’s iPad announcement, Apple lifted restrictions that had prevented voice over IP (“VoIP”) apps for iPhone OS from running on 3G networks. Last October, AT&T announced that it would begin allowing VoIP applications to run on its 3G network, following which Apple noted that it would be updating its developer agreements and SDK to allow 3G support “as soon as possible.”
In response, three developers have now released VoIP-over-3G capable versions of their apps: iCall was the first to announce Wednesday that its iCall application for the iPhone and iPod touch would begin allowing “unrestricted free local and long distance calling over 3G data networks” via a new version of the application, which is available for free in the App Store. The iCall v1.2.5 update also adds Push Notification support to allow users to receive incoming calls even when the application is not running.
Following the iCall announcement, Fring announced that its popular VoIP and video calling application would also now provide 3G support, and Acrobits made a similar announcement regarding its Softphone app. Both developers indicated that the applications already provided VoIP-over-3G support within the applications, but that they had not been allowed to enable the functionality due to Apple’s previous SDK restrictions. As a result, no update to these applications was required to enable 3G support. Fring is available as a free download from the App Store, while Acrobits’ SoftPhone sells for $8 on the App Store.
In addition, Justin Brady, the developer of WalkieTalkie VoIP has also indicated that an update to allow calls over 3G is pending review by Apple. Notably, the most popular provider of VoIP services, Skype, has not yet commented on when a 3G-compatible version of its app will be available for the iPhone.
iLounge is excited to announce that Jesse David Hollington, a long-time iLounge Contributing Editor and Forum Administrator, today joins our full-time staff as iLounge’s Applications Editor. For the past three years, Jesse has written our Ask iLounge column, numerous iTunes tutorials, and reviews of both applications and games, all of which have been very warmly received by our readers. If you’ve been helped by an iLounge article, or enjoyed using our spam-free Discussion Forums, there’s a strong chance Jesse was involved.
Starting today, Jesse will be handling news announcements and reviews of iPhone, iPod, and iPad applications. If your company would like to reach us with product news, we have created a new submission form for app news, and also maintain an e-mail address for app submissions. Hardware and accessory news should continue to be directed to Charles Starrett at this e-mail address.
Please join us in welcoming Jesse to his new position. We’re truly happy to have him on board.
Apple has updated its iPhone OS SDK to allow Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls over cellular networks. According to a press release touting iCall, a VoIP application that claims to be the first to offer VoIP over 3G on the iPhone, Apple has updated both its developer agreement and SDK to allow for the new functionality. AT&T announced in October that it would allow VoIP apps to run over its 3G network, reversing a policy that limited all VoIP activity from the iPhone to Wi-Fi networks only. While iCall claims to be the first app to offer VoIP over 3G, now that Apple has begun accepting apps that offer this functionality, it is only a matter of time before iCall competitors such as Skype, Truphone and others roll out updated VoIP apps that work over 3G.
Google has launched a new web-based application for the iPhone OS, allowing iPhone users to access its Google Voice service via the mobile Safari browser. The new app is built using HTML5, and offers access to a streamlined version of the Google Voice inbox, the ability to display the user’s Google Voice number as the outbound caller ID, the ability to send and receive text messages for free, and more. Apple rejected Google’s native Google Voice application last July, and also removed several competing third-party solutions, leading to an FCC inquiry. The new web app is available at m.google.com/voice and requires a Google Voice account, a carrier-provided voice plan, and iPhone OS 3.0 or later.
The BBC, via its commercial unit BBC Worldwide, is planning to turn some of its most popular shows into games for the iPhone, iPod touch, and other platforms. According to MCV, the broadcaster is in talks with both publishers and developers to turn a number of shows in games, including “Doctor Who,” “Top Gear,” “In The Night Garden,” and more. “We are open to conversations with anybody in games about all kinds of business models to see how we can extract more value,” said Neil Ross Russell, managing director of children’s and licensing with the BBC. “What we’re trying to do is build the brands here – this is not about opportunistic licensing. If we wanted to do that we would have done more with these key brands over the last few years.” As part of this new initiative, BBC Worldwide has hired former EA executive Robert Nashak as executive vice president of digital entertainment.
A number of upcoming game releases for the iPhone and iPod touch have been revealed over the last several days. Square Enix has revealed plans to release its classic Role Playing Games Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II on the App Store. Although few details have been announced, screenshots posted to the company’s Facebook account show dramatically enhanced graphics compared to the original Nintendo Entertainment System releases, and slight interface tweaks meant to take advantage of the devices’ touchscreens.
Ubisoft has confirmed that it will be releasing a follow-up to its Assassin’s Creed: Altair’s Chronicles game on February 1st. According to USA Today, Assassin’s Creed II: Discovery will follow lead character Ezio as he attempts to rescue fellow assassins being held in Spain. Curiously, an “unfinished” version of the game was posted early to and subsequently pulled from the App Store, according to an IGN report; it was priced at $12 for the brief time it was available, although it is unclear whether that will remain the price when the game is officially released.
Finally, Sega has announced plans to release its Sega Ultimate Genesis Collection title for the iPhone and iPod touch. Essentially serving as an official emulator for the console, Ultimate will include the game Space Harrier II for free, with other titles, including Sonic the Hedgehog, Golden Axe, Eco the Dolphin, and Shining Force available via In-App Purchase at prices ranging from $3-$6; more titles are expected to be added as time goes on.
The White House has released its new official application for the iPhone and iPod touch. The app offers access to whitehouse.gov’s White House Blog and Briefing Room news areas, including photo and video content, and also offers live video streaming of White House events, including the President’s public events, web chats with Administration officials, key speeches, and press briefings. Notably, the live streaming feature will also allow users to watch next week’s State of the Union address directly on their device. The White House official application for iPhone and iPod touch is available now as a free download from the App Store.
According to the latest research released by Gartner, worldwide mobile application store download revenue reached $4.2 billion in 2009, a number that is set to grow to $6.2 billion by the end of this year. The research group claims that 2009 saw 2.5 billion app downloads, a number that Engadget used to estimate Apple’s share of the market at roughly 97.5%. Gartner also claims that advertising-sponsored apps will generate nearly a quarter of all mobile app store revenue by 2013, a year in which the group expects overall revenue to hit $29.5 billion. Free apps are expected to account for 82% of all downloads in 2010, growing to account for 87% of downloads in 2013. “As smartphones grow in popularity and application stores become the focus for several players in the value chain, more consumers will experiment with application downloads,” said Stephanie Baghdassarian, research director at Gartner. “Games remain the No. 1 application, and mobile shopping, social networking, utilities and productivity tools continue to grow and attract increasing amounts of money.”
Following the Canadian launch of Slacker Radio last week, Slacker today announced the release of its Slacker Radio for iPhone application on the Canadian App Store. The Slacker Radio iPhone application allows users to listen to streamed music on the iPhone via a wide variety of pre-defined stations by genre or user-created custom stations. Canadian users can try Slacker Radio for free for 30 days with an ad-supported Basic subscription that provides unlimited streamed music and the ability to skip ahead by up to six songs per hour. To continue using Slacker Radio beyond the initial thirty-day trial users must upgrade to a Slacker Radio Plus subscription for $5/month which removes the advertising, provides unlimited skips, and provides access to complete lyrics and song requests.
Slacker Radio is available as a free download from the Canadian iTunes Store. Slacker Radio Plus subscriptions are available from within the app as in-app purchases.
Rockstar Games has released Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, its latest game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Based on the title of the same name for the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP systems, Chinatown Wars places players in the shoes of Huang Lee, who must seek revenge following his father’s murder. Features include Multi-Touch based controls, adjusted difficulty levels, top-down gameplay, a new radio station that allows players to create custom playlists for in-game listening, and more. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is available now and sells for $10.
Apple has released its new MobileMe Gallery application for the iPhone and iPod touch. This new application lets MobileMe users access all their galleries, including those that are password protected or hidden albums, view friends’ gallery photos and movies, access previously view photos when offline, share links to albums directly from the iPhone, and also supports flick and pinch-to-zoom gestures. MobileMe Gallery requires a MobileMe account and iPhone OS 3.1 or later, and is available as a free download from the App Store. [via iFun.de]
The New York Times and several other content providers are dealing with a number of paid iPhone apps that are using the providers’ names while scraping content from their websites for unauthorized commercial use. Time Magazine editor Josh Quittner found that several of the top-selling paid apps in the App Store’s News category are unauthorized, such as The New York Times Mobile Reader, New York Times Mobile News Reader, and BBC Mobile News Reader. The Times’ official app, by contrast, is the number one downloaded free News app. A Times spokeswoman told AllThingsD that the apps “are not authorized and our legal department is looking into the matter,” but for now the apps remain on the store. Apple has said that is has “a process in the App Store for developers to alert us to possible IP infringement. When we’re notified, our policy includes the removal of the infringing app until a resolution is reached between the parties.”
Less than one hundred days after marking the two billionth download from the App Store, Apple today announced an additional one billion downloads, bringing the total to three billion during the Store’s less than 18-month life span. Equating to roughly 10,000,000 downloads per day, or 300 million downloads per month, this three billion download milestone demonstrates a dramatic acceleration in app acquisition, more than doubling the 4.7 million download per day average of the first two billion downloads. Apple has previously stated that its download figures are based on initial downloads and do not include updates, which would make the statistics far higher. “This is like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in a press release, which noted the App Store’s current availability in 77 countries. “And we see no signs of the competition catching up anytime soon.”
Following Google’s November acquisition of mobile phone advertising company AdMob for $750 million, a last-minute bid that reportedly scuttled AdMob’s acquisition by Apple, a Wall Street Journal report states that Apple has purchased AdMob competitor Quattro Wireless for $275 million. Quattro provides an advertising platform for the iPhone and iPod touch, complete with dynamic targeting and tracking capabilities, citing its ability to use banner advertisements to generate both revenue and additional app downloads for developers. The company’s advertising software development kits are also available for Android, Blackberry, and Palm WebOS platforms.
Updated: Quattro and Apple have confirmed the acquisition, with former Quattro head Andy Miller joining Apple as Vice President, Mobile Advertising.
Synthetic Corp has released Hipstamatic, its first application for the iPhone. Hipstamatic is a new camera application that mimics the functionality of an interchangeable lens analog camera, with multiple lenses and “films” provided with the initial purchase; more lenses, films, flashes, and gels are available as $1 packs from within the application. Hipstamatic is available now and sells for $2.
D3i has introduced Momento, a new writing application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Momento is a diary and journal writing application, which allows users to keep a private daily diary on their device, and integrates with a variety of social networking services like Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr to add updates and photos to each day’s log of activities. Momento sells for $3.
Izatt has debuted MatchTunes, its latest game for the iPhone and iPod touch. MatchTunes is an audio-based matching game that challenges users to match audio clips to the appropriate track in their iPod library. Features include the ability to match by song, album, artist, or music clip, a two-player mode, and the ability to select music from a particular genre and clip length. MatchTunes is a $3 download from the App Store.
Random Ideas has unveiled iZen Garden 2.0, a new version of its Top 100 app for the iPhone and iPod touch. Like the original, iZen Garden 2.0 offers users a virtual zen garden to interact with on their device; version 2.0 adds more garden elements, more relaxation sound tracks, more bits of “daily zen,” a meditation timer, a sleep timer, and the ability to share a garden via Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, or through the device’s photo library. iZen Garden is available now and sells for $3.
Tapulous has revealed that its popular Tap Tap Revenge 3 rhythm game has seen 2 million downloads since its price was dropped from $1 to free on December 23. Silicon Valley Insider reports that the game, which employs both in-app advertising and in-app purchases to generate revenue, did more than 700,000 downloads on Christmas alone, far more than the most current Tap Tap release did last year. Tap Tap Revenge is currently the most popular free application on the U.S. App Store; for more information on the game, see our iPhone Gems review.