iPhone and iPod touch game piracy has started to rear its ugly head, as an increasing number of videos on YouTube now offer “cracked” iPhone and iPod touch applications—paid software that has been modified for free, generally illegal distribution—promoting sites that allow users to download and install thousands of hacked apps for free. The applications can be used on devices running software version 2.0, 2.1, or 2.2 and do not require users to jailbreak their devices; iTunes 7.7.0 is required to actually synchronize the cracked apps.
Sling Media is demonstrating a version of its SlingPlayer Mobile application for the iPhone at Macworld Expo, and has said the application will be submitted for App Store approval in the first quarter. The application allows users to stream video from any Slingbox directly to the device, and can also control their home digital video recorder to watch recorded shows, pause, rewind, and fast forward live TV, or queue new recordings while away from home. “SlingPlayer Mobile is ideally suited for the iPhone’s large touch screen display and I know iPhone users are eagerly anticipating the application’s availability,” said Blake Krikorian, co-founder and CEO of Sling Media. Pricing for SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone has yet to be determined.
Aurora Feint has revealed to iLounge that it is releasing two new games for the iPhone and iPod touch based on its most recent title, Aurora Feint II: The Arena. Aurora Feint II: The Beginning is a budget-priced upgrade to the original, free Aurora Feint title, Aurora Feint: The Beginning, including new and improved mining game play with new visuals and sound, asynchronous real time chat in the Tavern area for sharing tips, strategies, and experiences with other players, and Facebook-style player profiles and “walls” where other players can leave comments and challenges, which in turn become events in the Tavern. These social networking features were previously seen in the company’s Aurora Feint II: The Arena, which offers a similar style of game play but does so by letting users play against “ghosts” of other players that persist in the game even when the ghost’s player is not actually using his/her device.
Also available will be Aurora Feint II: The Tower Puzzles. This separate title will offer more than 30 “match three” strategy puzzles arranged in increasing levels of difficulties to take the player to the top of the tower. Some puzzles will present a certain number of moves with which the player must clear the screen of all blocks, and “Instapop” strategy elements without which the final levels cannot be cleared. In addition, the game will offer emaIl-based friend challenges. Aurora Feint II: The Tower Puzzles is available now for $1, while Aurora Feint II: The Beginning is expected to be available on December 25 for $1. Those prices are good through New Year’s Day, at which point they will increase to $2 and $3, respectively.
Facing “months” of unexplained delays and telephone support from “the people [who] can barely speak English,” iPhone application developer Perry Hart has blasted Apple for running “inadequate and down right amateur” systems “for reviewing iPhone applications and supporting developers.” In an e-mail to iLounge, Hart says that he and other developers hoping for timely publication of their apps have been placed in a holding pattern, with no ability to know when apps will or won’t be published by Apple. “One developer has been on the queue for three months,” said Hart, “and received absolutely no information about what was wrong. ... Developers can send all the emails they like to [Apple’s app developer] address, they just get ignored.”
Hart is the developer of AutoMangle, previously released on the App Store, as well as the upcoming first person shooter game ZombieMangle, which has been held up for unknown reasons. “I submitted ZombieMangle over a week ago now,” Hart explained, “which was what I thought would be a perfect time to release just before Christmas. However, a few days after submission Apple sends me an email stating that they require ‘Unexpected Additional Time For Review’ with no reason whatsoever for the delay. So I do a search for any other developers who have received this email, and it appears there’s ALOT of them.”
Concerned about reaching customers in time for the holidays, but unsure as to what was wrong with his application, Hart decided to be “proactive and change the game to remove the blood as it may be too extreme, change the effects to green instead of red, change the zombies into aliens, change all the interface graphics containing red blood to green etc. I even changed the sheep to robot sheep in case they had some issue with aliens attacking sheep.” According to Hart, these content changes resulted in another canned response. “Calling out for help on the official forums has yielded nothing more than moderators canned replies stating email addresses and phone numbers. I think it’s time that all developers and potential developers know that they are working with amateurs.”
Apple recently rejected an iPhone-based version of a book because it contained foul language. Citing a clause in the iPhone SDK that states “applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.), or other content or materials that in Apple’s reasonable judgement (sic) may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users,” Apple rejected Knife Music by David Carnoy, going so far as to provide a sample of one particularly graphic section. Alex Brie, developer of the application, believes Apple is checking for such content using word-matching software because it would be difficult to believe that Apple has staff with the time to manually read each book submitted. “Apple’s staff shouldn’t be allowed to refuse to publish works of literature based only on word matching. Even more, what would happen if I (a Romanian) would publish an ebook filled with Romanian obscenities? - would Apple’s staff need to learn Romanian…and read the entire ebook…to make sure this doesn’t happen?” Brie said. Apple offers both movies and music on the iTunes Store containing similar language to that found in Carnoy’s book, although in those cases it is able to either mark the content explicit or rely on the MPAA’s movie ratings; there is no equivalent ratings system for books.
Equinux has announced its free iPhone application Live TV. Designed to let users watch TV on their iPhones, Live TV works with the company’s The Tube software to stream live television over the user’s Wi-Fi network to the iPhone. The app’s interface will also allow users to change channels directly from the iPhone. Live TV will be a free download from the App Store and will be available “soon.” In addition Equinux has lowered the price on its TubeStick hybrid video recording hardware and software package to $99.
Konami has announced that it will be releasing three games for the iPhone and iPod touch based on well-known franchises. Set for release are Metal Gear Solid Touch, an original game based on the Playstation 3 release Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, which coincidentally featured an in-game, licensed iPod, DanceDanceRevolution S Lite, based on the popular dancing game, and Silent Hill: The Escape, a first-person 3D shooter based on the survival horror series. DanceDanceRevolution S Lite and Silent Hill: The Escape are set for release in late December 2008, while Metal Gear Solid Touch is expected to be released in Spring 2009.
Due to what is being described by Apple as a “minor glitch,” developers who have released applications rated 17+ are currently unable to issue promotional codes for software reviews and other purposes. Last week, Apple began letting iPhone and iPod touch developers issue promotional codes which could be redeemed on the App Store for free copies of the apps. It is unclear whether the problem is an attempt by Apple to oversee or limit the promotion of applications rated 17+ , which is roughly equivalent to a Mature rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board, or if it is a temporary situation that will be fixed in time.
Apple has quietly revealed that the App Store users have now downloaded more than 300 million applications, having passed the 200 million download mark only six weeks earlier. The announcement came in the form of an advertisement run in today’s New York Times, in which Apple touted the more than 10,000 applications now available in the App Store, from games to business programs. The App Store officially launched on July 11 alongside the iPhone 3G and iPhone OS 2.0.
Tag Games has provided iLounge with a preview of it’s upcoming Car Jack Streets game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Based on Tag’s prior mobile title, Car Jack Streets is a top-down Grand Theft Auto-style game in which players must complete a number of missions, jobs, and assignments in order to pay down a massive gambling debt. The game will feature a large urban environment to explore, a wide variety of vehicles to operate, including both cars and helicopters, and will run in real time, utilizing the iPhone’s clock and date to keep track of in-game events. Car Jack Streets is set for an early 2009 release; pricing has yet to be announced.
Amazon.com has released its new Amazon Mobile application for the iPhone and iPod touch. The new application allows users to search and browse products offered by both Amazon and various third-party partners, access Customer Reviews, and make purchases using 1-Click Shopping. In addition, the app offers an experimental feature called “Amazon Remembers.” Users may snap a picture of an item using the iPhone’s camera, and then upload it to Amazon, which then tries to find products similar to the ones in the photos. When the user receives the results, they may purchase the item immediately, or “remember” it for later reference in his/her Amazon account. Amazon Mobile is available now as a free download from the App Store.
Vlingo Corporation has announced the release of its new vlingo application for the iPhone. The new voice-powered app enables users to initiate calls, search via Yahoo! or Google, look up locations and search Google Maps, and send Facebook and Twitter status updates, all without typing. Unlike Google’s slightly-controversial implementation of voice search, which used unpublished APIs to automatically prompt for voice search, vlingo uses an on-screen button, which is held down while speaking. A demo video of the application is available online. Vlingo for the iPhone is available now as a free download from the App Store.
Apple has begun allowing iPhone developers whose iPhone applications have been released on the App Store to hand out up to 50 promotional codes good for a free download of the applicaiton. The codes are currently only redeemable through the iTunes Store in the U.S., by using the “Redeem” link in the App Store. As an example, Sykhronics Entertainment provided iLounge with a promotional copy of its new game Smiles. Prior to the start of this program, it was difficult for developers to offer promotional or review copies of their applications, as they had to rely on ad-hoc distribution methods.
Now operating under the corporate name Aurora Feint Inc., developers Danielle Cassley and Jason Citron have unveiled Aurora Feint II: The Arena for the iPhone and iPod touch. Based on the original RPG-slash-block-matching game Aurora Feint: The Beginning, the new game is described as an asynchronous massively multi-player RPG, which promises to let users play against “ghosts” of other players that persist in the game even when the ghost’s player is not actually using his/her device. According to the company, playing against a ghost is “exactly” like playing in real-time against a real player, with real-time interaction between challenger and ghost. Other new features in the game include a world newsfeed, which is a continuous stream of real-time events happening in the game that appears as a ticker on the bottom of the screen. Tapping on an event in the ticker takes the player to an area called the Tavern, where players can conduct “asynchronous” chat with other players in the world, propose duels, share strategies and compete for leader board rankings. Each player will also get a wall where other players can leave comments and challenges and suggestions, which in turn become events in the Tavern.
In addition, the game offers all the functionality of the company’s first title, Aurora Feint: The Beginning, including characters, role playing, and skill-based progression in a single player environment. The Arena will be the second in a series of three products the company intends to build around the theme of Aurora Feint, a girl whose coma takes her through a dream world and series of casual puzzle based challenges aided by player characters. Aurora Feint II: The Arena will initially be priced at $8, going up to $10 after the holidays, and is expected to be available on the App Store on Friday, pending Apple’s update schedule.
Google is planning to release an iPhone application that allows users to search by voice instead of using the keyboard. According to the New York Times, the application may be available as soon as today, although it’s currently unclear whether the voice searching feature will be added to the company’s existing Google Mobile App or whether it will arrive in the form of a standalone application. Results, which may be displayed as quickly as seconds after the query, will at times also include local information, leveraging the iPhone’s location services. The service will be free to customers when it is released.
Demiforce has provided iLounge with a preview of its upcoming iPhone and iPod touch game Trismology, a spin-off of its popular, top 100 iPod touch/iPhone game Trism. Trismology will feature 30 brand new puzzle levels, similar to those found in Trism’s “Syllogism” mode, requiring players to tilt the device to match and thereby eliminate triangular blocks. It will also include a level creator that is tied to an online mode, allowing users to share their levels with other players and in turn play levels created by other users. According to Demiforce, the game will appear on the App Store “soon,” pricing has yet to be announced.
AT&T, in cooperation with Firethorn Holdings, has released its new Mobile Banking on AT&T application for the iPhone. The app allows users to check account balances, view account history, make transfers, and pay bills, and supports the access of accounts from multiple financial institutions. Participating banks include Wachovia, SunTrust, USAA, Carolina First, America First, Arvest, Bancorp South, Synovus, Mercantile Bank, and more. Mobile Banking on AT&T is available now as a free download for iPhone users from the App Store.
Sonos, maker of wireless multi-room music systems, has announced the release of its new Sonos Controller application for the iPhone. This free application allows iPhone, iPhone 3G, and iPod touch users to control the Sonos Multi-Room Music System directly from their device over Wi-Fi. Controller lets users control the entire Sonos system, allowing them to quickly link and unlink rooms, select, play, pause, and skip music in any room, search for artists and songs, browse their music collection, and change the volume in a single room, or in all rooms at once. Sonos Controller is available now as a free download from the App Store.
Google has released a new version of its Google Earth application for the iPhone and iPod touch. According to the app’s release notes, it offers the same global satellite and aerial imagery available in the desktop versions of Google Earth. The app employs a multi-touch interface to navigate the virtual globe, with the ability to tilt the device to adjust the view, view geo-located Wikipedia articles, use the location feature to move to the user’s current location, and search for different destinations worldwide. Google Earth for iPhone and iPod touch is a free download from the App Store, and is available now.
Griffin Technology has released iTalk Recorder, a free iPhone and iPod touch 2G software version of its earlier iTalk hardware voice recorders for iPods and iPod nanos. Designed with three recording quality settings—good, better, and best—iTalk Recorder creates AIFF-format recordings that can be sent wirelessly to your computer using a separate free application, iTalk Sync. Both applications are available now, though Griffin’s web site currently only offers iTalk Sync in a Macintosh version; a Windows version is “coming soon.”