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.
The App Store saw a huge sales spike on Christmas Day, according to new data from Flurry Analytics. The firm found that iPod touch downloads surpassed those of iPhone users for the first time, as iPod touch downloads jumped nearly 1,000% on December 25 compared to the average of all previous Fridays in December, eclipsing iPhone downloads by 172%. iPod touch download volumes continued to exceed that of the iPhone by 104% on December 26. Overall, App Store download growth increased by over 50% in December over November, and current App Store download volume is more than 13 times that of the Android Market. Flurry’s stats are based on information gained through its analytics software for mobile devices.
EA has released Need For Speed Shift, its latest game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Need For Speed Shift features 20 licensed cars, a unique driver’s seat view, both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi multiplayer across six game modes, the ability to personalize each car’s performance and styling, a driver profile that provides a “persona” based on the player’s skills, driving style, success rate, and other attributes, 18 unique tracks, three difficulty settings, and more. Need For Speed Shift is available now and sells for $10.
Nuance Communications has introduced Dragon Search, the company’s second application for the iPhone. Powered by Nuance’s NaturallySpeaking software, Dragon Search allows users to speak their search queries into the device and returns results across a variety of sources, including Google, Yahoo! or Bing, depending on preference, YouTube, Twitter, iTunes, and Wikipedia. Dragon Search is available now as a free download from the App Store.
Capcom has debuted Cash Cab, its latest game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Based on the Discovery Channel’s game show of the same name, Cash Cab has players attempting to answer trivia questions of an increasingly difficult nature as the move from one point of New York City to another. The game features video snippets taken from the show, a variety of question categories including history, pop culture, language, and science, 21 different NYC destinations, the ability to listen to music from the iPod while playing, the ability to upload high scores to Facebook, and more. Cash Cab is priced at $5.
Disney Interactive Studios has unveiled The Muppets Animal Drummer, its latest application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Drummer puts lets users play listen to and play along with Animal, matching his beat and timing to score points and unlock new songs. The app also includes a Free Play Mode in which users can play along to original music—including a record feature—or to songs from their iPod library. The Muppets Animal Drummer is available now and sells for $2.
Tapbots has released Pastebot, its latest application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Pastebot is a clipboard manager that allows users to save text snippets and images to the application for later access. In addition to this basic functionality, Pastebot allows users to apply filters to the text and images—such as “find & replace” or black and white image conversion — create new image and text clippings from within the application, one-tap copying back to the clipboard, and the ability to push images and text from the app to a Mac computer located on the same network using a free companion app called Pastebot Sync. Pastebot is available now and sells for $2.
Seiko Epson has introduced Epson iPrint, the company’s first application for the iPhone and iPod touch. iPrint lets users print photos stored on the device to a variety of network-capable Epson printers over Wi-Fi. Other features include automatic printer discovery, the ability to print with or without borders, and support for several paper sizes. Epson iPrint is available now as a free download from the App Store.
Ivan Starchenkov has debuted Circletris, a new game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Circletris combines elements of Tetris and Zuma to create a game in which players rotate an outer wheel with their fingers in order to create columns or lines of three or more same-colored cells, which are then cleared from the board. Features include increasing difficulty as the game progresses, two different bonus abilities, a built-in tutorial, and the ability to change background colors. Circletris is priced at $2.
Zen Concepts has launched NYC Broken Meters, its second application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Broken Meters relies on the City of New York’s Scout/311 broken parking meter database to display a location-based map of broken parking meters, with an alternate list view and the ability to sort by distance and also filter by distance and date created. In addition, users can also report broken meters, and photo tag a meter with the iPhone’s built-in camera if he/she happens to get a ticket while at a broken meter—NYC laws state that a person may park at a broken meter for one hour without paying or receiving a ticket. NYC Broken Meters is available as a free download.
Electronic Arts has released Battleship, an iPhone and iPod touch version of the classic board game. Battleship provides both a classic turn-based mode and a more real-time “Salvo mode” allowing players to choose to play against the computer or a human opponent via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or pass-and-play modes. Animated graphic cut scenes are included to liven up the game play by showing guns firing, successful hits, and enemy ships being sunk. Battleship also includes an additional “Super Weapons Mode” where players can unlock additional weapon types for more expanded game play with additional Super Weapons becoming available as players progress. Battleship is available for $3 on the App Store.
Gallen Technologies has released Sphere Raider, a puzzle game in which players must rotate a sphere using the touch screen or accelerometer to capture as many objects as possible within a limited time. Players can choose from three initial difficulty levels and progress through ten game levels, each with unique graphics. Sphere Raider is available for $2 on the App Store.
Riptide Games has released Gravity Sling Deluxe, a paid version of its earlier Gravity Sling game. Gravity Sling Deluxe bundles all of the content previously available through in-app purchases into the base application, allowing OS 2.2 devices to take advantage of the extended game content. In this inertia-based puzzle game you must route an astronaut back to a space shuttle while taking into account the gravity from nearby planets. Gravity Sling Deluxe is currently being sold for $1 for the first 5,000 customers and is available from the App Store.
Developer Simon Watson has released Chromixa, a unique color-blending puzzle game. Chromixa presents the player with a series of multi-colored shapes which are arranged in an outlined area to produce a desired color. Shapes can be moved, rotated and intersected to mix colors and desired shape as appropriate. The game includes 48 puzzles, three arcade-style mini-games and three difficulty levels. Chromixa is available in the App Store for $2.