Electronic Arts has introduced a novel way of distributing in-app content with its new game, Surviving High School (iTunes link), which casts the player in the role of a new high school student who needs to make smart choices to succeed socially and academically. For the initial $3 asking price, EA includes a single story called “Football Season” that gets players started; the novelty is in shorter individual new episodes that appear on a weekly basis with an evolving story line.
Episodes are distributed using a TV-like model with a “Now Airing” new episode that’s available each week for free and previous episodes available “on demand” for $1 each as in-app purchases. This system allows players who keep up with the title from the beginning to continue to play for free after the initial purchase, while allowing stragglers to catch up with the earlier story for a price. As with iTunes Store downloads of TV shows, EA’s episode bundles can also be purchased as seasons. Each episode provides multiple possible story lines based on your choices, which makes even single episodes re-playable. A free version is also available from the App Store, providing only a shortened introductory version of the “Football Season” story and no support for additional episodes.
Dw-c has released Timelapse Pro, its latest application for the iPhone. Timelapse Pro lets users create, edit, and share timelapse movies directly on their devices, and features a built-in camera timer, the ability to view and change the order of pictures in the project, the option to export projects as MOV Quicktime movies, an integrated webserver for transferring movie to a computer, and more. Timelapse Pro is available now and sells for $1.
Following an iLounge report on the delayed approval of DJ applications for the iPhone and iPod touch, Apple has approved a number of applications within the genre. The apps mentioned in the original article, including Touch DJ ($20) from Amidio, Sonorasaurus ($10) from Pajamahouse Studios, and DJ Player Pro ($4) from Musicsoft Arts have all been approved, as has DJ Player Blue Edition ($25) from iMect, which was mentioned in the comments of the original article.
The Iconfactory is currently offering its Ramp Champ game for the iPhone and iPod touch as a free download. Strongly recommended by iLounge at its normal $2 price point, Ramp Champ is a visually compelling skee-ball style game in which players attempt to knock down targets, both moving and motionless, by rolling balls up a ramp in order to win tickets which can be redeemed for in-game prizes. Notably, the game is also one of the best examples of proper use of in-app purchases, offering two-packs of additional ramps for $1 each.
ALK Technologies has released the latest version of its CoPilot Live North America turn-by-turn navigation application for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. New in version 22.214.171.1242 is the ability to purchase premium live services—including live traffic updates, gas prices, and local search—from within the application. The Live services are priced at $20; the CoPilot application itself is on sale through the end of December for $25, a savings of $10 off its regular $35 price.
Square Enix has revealed that it will be releasing its strategy role playing game Sole Summoner: The Unsung Heroes - Encore for the iPhone and iPod touch on the App Store tomorrow. Based on the Click Wheel iPod game Song Summoner: The Unsung Heroes, the game has users play as a “conductor” who creates warriors out of music, and features the ability to transform songs stored on the device into “Tune Troopers” to combat the enemy; a Lite version is also planned and is pending approval. Notably, the iPhone version of the game will also include Song Summoner 2, a title which was never released. Joystiq reports that the sequel never made it to market “due to Apple ending support for Click Wheel games.” While Apple still offers a selection of Click Wheel iPod games on the iTunes Store, no new titles have been released in the format since Cake Mania 3 in February of this year.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs has personally intervened to reverse the rejection of an iPhone and iPod touch application for what is believed to be the first time. Ars Technica reports that Brian Meehan of Pointy Heads emailed Jobs directly following the rejection of the company’s live video streaming app Knocking Live Video. Knocking uses a private API, an act which is strictly prohibited in Apple’s iPhone developer agreement, to stream live video from an iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS to any iPhone or iPod touch. Notably, the iPhone 3G does not support video capture via the built-in Camera app, making the application the first in Apple’s official App Store to offer video from the device—similar techniques have been used in jailbreak applications to gather video using an iPhone 3G or even an original iPhone. According to the report, Meehan’s email focused more on Apple as an organization than on any specific API or application. “I reached out to Apple to reconsider our application due to its potential to culturally change how people share live moments phone-to-phone,” Meehan said. He added that he made his case “in a way that was not about me or our app, rather about being a life-long user of all Apple products, about how I believed in Apple and that I believed Jobs would respond.”
Within days of sending the email, Meehan received a phone call from an Apple executive—who wishes to remain anonymous, according to the report—and was told that the app would be approved for sale, and that the rejection reversal order came “directly from the top.” Although Google’s Google Mobile App was previously approved despite using unpublished APIs, it is unclear whether Apple knew about the infraction, making this the first time Apple has knowingly approved an application which uses an undocumented or private API. In fact, it is believed that the company is now using automated software to check incoming App Store submissions for private API. Knocking Live Video is available now as a free download from the App Store.
Fring has released version 126.96.36.199 of its official application for the iPhone and iPod touch. New in version 188.8.131.52 is the ability for users to engage in one-way video calls with other Fring or Skype users—two-way video calling is unfortunately disabled on the iPhone due to the placement of the camera. Fring lets users place free voice calls from the iPhone and iPod Touch to other Fring users, Skype or GTalk buddies, or friends on regular phone lines via Skype-Out or other SIP services. Fring is available now as a free download from the App Store.
Sega has unveiled Super Monkey Ball 2, the sequel to its popular App Store launch-day title for the iPhone and iPod touch. As in the first Super Monkey Ball, players take control of a monkey character in side a clear ball and attempt to steer it through maze-like tracks to reach a goal and clear the level. Super Monkey Ball 2 offers four different characters, over 115 tracks, improved accelerometer based controls, local Wi-Fi multiplayer, and a Monkey Bowling mini-game, with Monkey Golf and Monkey Target games promised in a free update early next year. Super Monkey Ball 2 is available now and sells for $10.
eBay has introduced its new eBay Deals application for the iPhone and iPod touch. The application lets users browse through a variety of deals, including Daily Deals, deals ending soon and personalized searches for the best possible price on an item. It also offers built-in integration with social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter for sharing shopping activity, and PayPal integration for easy checkout. eBay Deals is available now as a free download.
Bluestone Software has debuted Hand Waver, its first application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Hand Waver is a banner display application that uses a common visual illusion to create a message that appears to float in the air. Users simply enter a new message or pick from the list of the last 20 played, select a color, and wave their hand back and forth in the air to display the message. Hand Waver is priced at $1.
A new job posting on Apple’s website suggests the company is working to substantially improve and/or rework its Maps application for the iPhone and iPod touch. The listing for a full time iPhone Software Engineer says, “[t]he iPhone has revolutionized the mobile industry and has changed people’s lives and we want to continue to do so. We want to take Maps to the next level, rethink how users use Maps and change the way people find things. We want to do this in a seamless, highly interactive and enjoyable way. We’ve only just started.” Responsibilities of the job include implementation of low-level client/server code, high-level user interfaces, and “new and innovative features,” as well as enhancing the performance of Maps. The listing also refers to working closely with “partners in other companies,” but it is unclear whether this is meant to include Google, or simply other location services partners such as Skyhook Wireless. Apple purchased mapping company PlaceBase earlier this year, and it is possible the new hire could be involved in implementing the technologies acquired in the purchase into a new version of Maps that is less dependent on outside sources. [via Mac Rumors]
Apple has released Remote 1.3.3, the latest update to its remote control application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Remote allows iPhone and iPod touch users to access and control their iTunes installations or Apple TVs directly from their devices, doubling as a keyboard and touchpad navigator for the latter. According to Apple’s release notes, Remote 1.3.3 provides bug fixes, as well as the previously added compatibility with iTunes 9 and Apple TV 3. Remote is available now as a free download from the App Store.
Apple is planning to roll out at least two more iPod touch applications to be used in its company-owned retail stores, according to an AppleInsider report. In addition to the previously revealed point-of sale application, Apple will reportedly be providing an application that allows employees to replace iPhones and iPods directly on the store floor, removing the need for a Genius Bar visit. A separate application is said to be designed for the stores’ stock rooms, where it will help facilitate necessary tasks performed in all of Apple’s retail stores. According to the report, the new apps will arrive simultaneously, alongside the new iPod touch-based POS system.
Magellan has released its new RoadMate 2010 North America application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Features of the turn-by-turn navigation app include a OneTouch favorites menu for fast bookmarking and retrieval of commonly-accessed places and searches, spoken street name guidance, highway lane assist, QuickSpell with SmartCity Search for faster entry of addresses, 3D landmarks, Address Book integration, in-app music control, the ability to save a vehicle’s parking location, a pedestrian mode for use outside a vehicle, and up-to-date NAVTEQ maps. In addition, the application offers support for the iPod touch, allowing for use with an optional third-party GPS receiver, such as Magellan’s upcoming Premium Car Kit. The Car Kit will offer a fully adjustable, rotating mount to work with any skin or case, enhanced GPS signal via the built-in receiver, the ability to charge the connected iPhone or iPod touch, a noise-cancelling speakerphone with Bluetooth hands-free calling, and an amplified speaker. Magellan’s RoadMate 2010 North America application is available now and sells for $80; the Premium Car Kit is listed as coming soon, but no exact release date or pricing information has yet been announced.
TomTom has released version 1.2 of its TomTom U.S. & Canada turn-by-turn navigation application, adding support for the iPod touch and original iPhone. The inclusion of iPod touch and iPhone support means the application can now be used on those devices when connected to third-party GPS solutions, such as the TomTom Car Kit. Other improvements include improved search and route summary screens, updated maps and points of interest databases, an updated IQ Routes database, Advanced Lane Guidance in both portrait and landscape modes, Text-to-speech in English, French, and Spanish, a Help Me! emergency menu, and iPod player support. TomTom U.S. & Canada is available from the App Store and sells for $100.
The Chinese market represents a large opportunity, and perhaps an equally large challenge, for iPhone app developers, according to a Wall Street Journal report. While the country is said to have roughly two million iPhone users, the vast majority of those are jailbroken units, and are therefore more likely to hold pirate applications. In addition, official China Unicom iPhones lack Wi-Fi, removing a key capability for some applications, and many App Store offerings are in English, with prices in U.S. dollars. Even so, companies are racing to become the top apps in China. “We know perfectly well that Chinese market is huge and has great potential. But when we release apps targeting users here, we’re usually not able to get reasonable returns because of piracy,” said Shi Weixing, CEO of Chinese mobile application company 9thQ.
Shi estimates that about $1 million of legitimate apps have been sold in China so far this year, though the number could rise to $6 million in 2010. By comparison, AdMob estimates about $200 million in apps are sold through the App Store each month. Payment methods also pose a barrier to growth, as the App Store requires a credit card issued by a Chinese bank, something not commonplace, said Frank Yu, COO of Beijing-based app designer Shouji Mobile. “Once Wifi is allowed on future 3G iPhones and the price of handsets falls due to product life cycle, more subsidies or economies of scale, we will see the iPhone market in China go mainstream,” Yu said.
Chillingo has released Ravensword: The Fallen King, its latest game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Developed by Crescent Moon Games, Ravensword is a 3D action/adventure game with role-playing elements, offering a large, open sandbox-style world in which players can take on quests to earn money and experience, battle enemies including orcs, trolls, and demons, and uncover new weapons, items, and magical runes. Features include the ability to switch between first- and third-person perspectives, an original soundtrack with spacial 3D audio, an optional auto-targeting interface, and more. Ravensword: The Fallen King is available now and sells for $7.
THQ Wireless has released Star Wars: Trench Run, its latest Star Wars-themed title for the iPhone and iPod touch. Based on the final battle sequence of the original film, Trench Run places players in the shoes of a Rebel Alliance Red Squadron pilot, as they attempt to fight their way past the Death Star’s defenses, down into a trench where they must dodge obstacles, cannon fire, and Darth Vader’s ship while attempting to fire their guns into a small hole in order to destroy the battle station. Features include 3D graphics, original music and sound effects, accelerometer-based controls, multiple camera and gameplay modes with multiple difficulty levels, and online leader boards. Star Wars: Trench Run is priced at $5.
Google has released an update to its Google Earth application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Google Earth 2.0 allows users to create their own custom maps to be loaded into the application by logging into a Google Maps account, an improved interface for selecting photos, Wikipedia entries, and place information from the main view, improved performance, and expanded language support. Google Earth 2.0 for the iPhone and iPod touch is available now as a free download from the App Store.
Konami is currently offering its complete lineup of games for the iPhone and iPod touch for $1 each. The company’s titles include Metal Gear Solid Touch, Silent Hill: The Escape, Frogger, Silent Scope, Krazy Kart Racing, and more. It is unknown how long the company plans to keep its titles at this minimum price point.
According to a series of Twitter updates from Iconfactory developer Craig Hockenberry and John Gruber of Daring Fireball, Apple is now using an automated software tool to check for the use of private API calls in new App Store submissions. After Hockenberry stated that it “wouldn’t surprise [him] if the [App Store] review process now includes a step where they pass your binary through something that checks for framework use,” Gruber responded, saying that “Apple recently started running apps through a static analysis tool to look for private API calls,” adding that while he doesn’t know exactly what it flags, he does “believe that it is a serious tool, not simplistic.” The iPhone SDK Developer Agreement has always prohibited the use of private APIs, which, unlike public APIs, are subject to change and are sometimes used to access features Apple does not want to make available to third-party developers. This new system will likely make it easier for Apple to find these private API calls in third-party applications, as the software can scan the app’s codebase for the calls, while a human tester would either have to stumble upon, and recognize, use of the APIs during hands-on testing, or find the API call in a manual search of the app’s code. [via Gizmodo]
The delayed approval status of three DJ applications for the iPhone and iPod touch—from three separate developers—has raised questions from fans of the genre as to whether Apple is intentionally delaying their release. Touch DJ from Amidio, Sonorasaurus from Pajamahouse Studios, and DJ Player from Musicsoft Arts have all been in review for some time, with no word from Apple on what might be causing the delays. “We have been waiting about 3 months now with no word on if we are approved and when we can release,” reads an update on Pajamahouse Studios’ Sonorasaurus website. Unlike current “DJ” apps already available in the App Store, all three of these applications would allow the user to mix his/her own tracks together, complete with simultaneous playback of at least two tracks, pitch, fade, tempo and other controls. In addition, all three developers have seen other apps approved in the past, most notably Musicsoft Arts, whose DJ Spooky The Secret Song app is actually based on the yet-to-be-approved DJ Player.
An online petition created to spur Apple into accepting DJ applications for sale on the App Store notes that the company doesn’t allow dual access of the iPod music library stored on the iPhone and iPod touch, which forced each developer to implement an alternative method—transfer over Wi-Fi—of accessing songs for mixing, but despite their efforts, they have yet to see release. [Thanks, Kasabian]
Update: Touch DJ form Amidio has now been approved and is available from the App Store for $20.
Rogue Amoeba has announced that it no longer has any plans to release new iPhone applications following a four-month delay in getting a bug fix release of its app Airfoil Speakers Touch approved by Apple. In a blog posting on the company site, Paul Kafasis writes that version 1.0.1 of Airfoil Speakers Touch was submitted to Apple in July, only to be repeatedly rejected due to the use of Apple-provided images of both computers and applications logos, which were included in the original, approved release and were used to identify what computer and application was supplying the audio to the iPhone app. Notably, these images were not contained within the iPhone app itself, but were instead gathered on the connected Mac using Apple-provided APIs, and then sent to the iPhone for display. Rogue Amoeba eventually removed the functionality, instead replacing it with a link to a page explaining the situation and urging users to donate to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
“In the future, we hope that developers will be allowed to ship software without needing Apple’s approval at all, the same way we do on Mac OS X. We hope the App Store will get better, review times will be shorter, reviews will be more intelligent, and that we can all focus on making great software. Right now, however, the platform is a mess,” Kafasis writes. “The chorus of disenchanted developers is growing and we’re adding our voices as well. Rogue Amoeba no longer has any plans for additional iPhone applications, and updates to our existing iPhone applications will likely be rare. The iPhone platform had great promise, but that promise is not enough, so we’re focusing on the Mac.”
Joe Hewitt, the leading developer behind the official Facebook application for the iPhone and iPod touch, and iLounge’s Editors’ and Readers’ Choice for iPod/iPhone Application Developer of the Year, has announced that he will no longer be involved in iPhone development due to Apple’s review policies. Hewitt, who is quitting only iPhone development, and not Facebook, revealed his decision last night via Twitter, saying, “Time for me to try something new. I’ve handed the Facebook iPhone app off to another engineer, and I’m onto a new project.”
In a more lengthy interview with TechCrunch, Hewitt explained why he decided to abandon iPhone development. “My decision to stop iPhone development has had everything to do with Apple’s policies,” Hewitt said. “I respect their right to manage their platform however they want, however I am philosophically opposed to the existence of their review process. I am very concerned that they are setting a horrible precedent for other software platforms, and soon gatekeepers will start infesting the lives of every software developer.” Discussing his future, he added, “The web is still unrestricted and free, and so I am returning to my roots as a web developer. In the long term, I would like to be able to say that I helped to make the web the best mobile platform available, rather than being part of the transition to a world where every developer must go through a middleman to get their software in the hands of users.”
Universal Studios Home Entertainment, in collaboration with Deluxe Digital Studios, has released pocket BLU, a new application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Beginning with the Blu-ray edition of Bruno and continuing on for Blu-ray releases of films such as Funny People, Public Enemies, and Inglorious Basterds, iPhone and iPod touch users will be able to interact with new and upcoming Universal Blu-ray releases using the pocket BLU app. Features of the app, which uses a Wi-Fi connection to communicate with a networked Blu-ray player, include an on-screen remote that allows for menu navigation, playback and BD-Live control, a video timeline—accessed by rotating the device—which allows users to instantly access any point in the movie, the ability to unlock a selection of bonus “Mobile-To-Go” content to be saved or streamed to the device, and a pop-up keyboard for entering text. This follows Universal’s earlier foray into added Blu-ray content for iPhone and iPod touch users. Universal’s pocket BLU application is available now as a free download from the App Store; the first compatible Blu-ray disc will be released November 17.
Shazam, a popular music identification service for the iPhone and iPod touch, is splitting its single app into two separate applications. The free Shazam application will now limit new users to five song IDs per month; current users will retain the ability to tag as many songs as they like. For users looking for a more comprehensive identification solution, the company’s new Shazam Encore application offers faster, unlimited tags, the ability to add location data to tags, the ability to search Shazam’s music charts—based on other user’s requests—and the service’s music database, a new drive and tag mode that will continuously monitor and tag new songs playing over a car’s stereo while charging, the ability to store music info when offline for later identification, and more. Shazam Encore is available now and sells for $5.
A class action lawsuit (PDF Link) has been filed against iPhone game developer Storm8 accusing the company of secretly transmitting and collecting players’ phone numbers. Storm8 makes a variety of games available for download from the App Store, including iMobsters, Vampires Live, and Zombies Live, which the company says have been downloaded more than 20 million times, making them “the number one role-playing games for the iPhone and iPod touch.” While the suit acknowledges that Storm8 admitted to transferring players’ phone numbers in August, calling the problem a “bug,” it also states that the company “could not have accidentally harvested its users’ phone numbers” and needed to use “very specific and specialized software code to do so.” This is not the first time a company has been accused of secretly stealing users’ phone numbers via an application; European application mogoRoad was said to be transferring users’ numbers and using them to place the unsolicited calls in September.
Apple has officially announced that there are now more than 100,000 applications available on the App Store. iPhone and iPod touch users in 77 countries have access to the store, which includes 20 categories of applications. Application monitoring sites had claimed the company had passed the 100,000 app mark earlier, but this is the first official confirmation from Apple.
“The App Store, now with over 100,000 applications available, is clearly a major differentiator for millions of iPhone and iPod touch customers around the world,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “The iPhone SDK created the first great platform for mobile applications and our customers are loving all of the amazing apps our developers are creating.”
“The App Store has forever changed the mobile gaming industry and continues to improve,” said Travis Boatman, vice president of Worldwide Studios, EA Mobile. “With a global reach of over 50 million iPhone and iPod touch users, the App Store has allowed us to develop high quality EA games that have been a huge success with customers.”
“With 10,000 downloads a day, worldwide customer response to our I Am T-Pain App has exceeded our wildest expectations,” said Jeff Smith, CEO of Smule. “The App Store has given us a unique opportunity to create and grow a very successful business, and we’re looking forward to an exciting future.”