There’s a new game out on the App Store called Crabs & Penguins, and the origins of the game itself are somewhat interesting. The game is actually sponsored by Coca-Cola, and players can collect Coke bottle caps for bonus points in the game. There’s also McDonald’s logos that appear in the game. This is the second mobile game that Coca-Cola has sponsored, including Axon Runners which released recently, and actually has a new free version out.
Otherwise, this is an auto-runner where players control a crab that must collect sand dollars and stars to score points and increase the score multiplier. The game isn’t easy to get three stars in a level in; it takes some legitimate skill and mastery of the levels to get those high ranks. The game is very detailed visually, and is a big download at over 500 MB when installed on the device. The game is actually free, unlike Axon Runners’ paid version, though the Coke licensing feels a bit more apparent in this game. I mean, eventually the crab is riding on a Coke bottle through the latter half of the game’s 6 levels. No such thing as a free lunch.
Technology is cool and moving rapidly. We all know that, right? Sometimes though, something will catch the eye that is just mindbloggingly cool. The kind of thing that makes the future seem more like present day. One such technology is that of Autonomy’s Aurasma platform.
It’s an app that can be installed to then allow the iOS device’s camera to see and recognize images in the real world. In doing so it then allows for the possibility of adding a virtual world layer that can then provide anything from a 3D animation to a trailer of a film or game. As the demo below shows, it can enhance a regular paper advert, showing a trailer for a movie or how a piece of furniture could be implemented. It’s impressive stuff and certainly futuristic in nature.
The Aurasma app also offers the ability to create individual channels with users able to make their own virtual worlds for their friends. As well as that, exclusive deals and content can be accessed from participating movie studios and retail stores. Such partners range from Paramount Pictures and Universal to publications such as New Scientist and The Wall Street Journal, as well as shoe retailer Tsubo.
Aurasma is available now for all iOS devices and is a free app. All users need to find is the relevant content!
iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad developers – rejoice. Yesterday Apple released a statement announcing the removal of a number of restrictions placed on developers, relaxing the development process and making the approval process significantly more transparent by publishing official guidelines for the application approval process.
Beforehand, developers were unaware of the official process, creating a significant grey area where writers of applications remained in the dark with regards to certain policies – adult content, the use of physical buttons on iDevices etc. For example, earlier last month the developers of ReadItLater – a tool similar to Instapaper that saves webpage content for later reading – had version 2.2 of their application rejected by Apple due to a registration process seen on thousands of other applications live on the App Store. “Applications cannot require user registration prior to allowing access to app features and content” wrote the statement of disapproval from Apple. The application was later resubmitted – unchanged – and approved. It is not yet known when the guidelines will be published for viewing by developers.
The press release also announced that Apple “are relaxing all restrictions on the development tools used to create iOS apps, as long as the resulting apps do not download any code.” In other words, no longer are developers limited to tools made by Apple specifically for iOS software development. “This should give developers the flexibility they want, while preserving the security we need” the release continued.
Finally, Apple also relaxed restrictions on mobile advertising, an unexpected change given Apple’s recent iAd integration. Specifically, the new changes allow developers to choose which type of ads (if any) they want their application to include. “The new terms provide immediate clarification about the status of mobile advertising on the iPhone and will benefit users, developers, and advertisers. Users will benefit from more free, or low cost, apps that can now more readily be supported by advertising” wrote Omar Hamoui, Vice President of Product Management at Google Mobile. “This is great news for everyone in the mobile community, as we believe that a competitive environment is the best way to drive innovation and growth in mobile advertising.”
The changes represent a big step forward for developers, who now have much clearer rules regarding application development. And that’s good news for the end user as well as the developers.
Even with apps being as easy as they are to deliver to consumers, being a developer in the App Store is a stressful endeavor. Sure, having a piece of code out there is fun, but getting it to rise to the top of the heap is no easy undertaking.
The thing that most developers find fairly quickly is that it is very hard to get any good exposure. Traditional media (TV, anything print) ads are far too expensive for most app developers, so they tend to gravitate towards app sites like 148Apps. We offer our own advertising and write reviews and articles, but there are just too many apps out there to cover them all, so we have to make snap judgements on first impressions.
To many developers delight, Apple is rolling out iAd For Developers so that they can “promote (their) app(s) to millions of (built in) users across the iAd Network”. According to BusinessInsider, Apple will be initially charging 25 cents per click for iAd for Developers.” rather than their million dollar contract spots on their current iAd’s, so the system will be rather affordable.
Maybe now the developers will feel that they can market their apps on the cheap without hiring a PR firm. Will anybody click on the ads/will we start to resent companies for invading our screen with advertisements? Maybe, but as they say, “any press is good press”.
There are some things that we know the iPhone can do, from play games to make calls, however, until this app came along we doubt anyone thought about adding their face to a poster in a movie. But that’s what ModdedMovie offers, and it does a brilliant job of it.
The process of making your movie is easy, simply pick a background, choose the type of poster or billboard you want and then add a photo of someone’s face from the iPhone’s camera. You then simply position the face using pinching and dragging gestures and adjust the color and exposure of the image to make it look as natural as possible. We found that picking images focused on a face rather than a group shot worked well and, where possible, shooting a photo specifically for the app provided the best results.There are a bunch of initial styles to choose from including Car Advertising, Advertising hoardings and billboard advertising and, within each, there is a selection of advertising types. These include Happy Birthday, a wanted poster, movie poster, fashion poster and an I Love You message.
Once you have picked your theme and added an image, the fun really starts. The image is rendered within a movie that shows a street scene with a poster containing your picture in the background. The video clip looks a little like handheld footage so you could easily use the output as part of a “have you seen this?!” prank to play on friends. You can view finished movies from within the app or send them to your iPhone’s Camera Roll for sharing online or syncing to your computer. The output is pretty impressive however does need an iPad or iPhone 3GS in order for it to work. In our initial inspection we did encounter a couple of crashes when rendering or choosing certain themes but we hope these will be ironed out with an update. This is version 1.0 after all.
You might be asking, what on earth would I use this app for, and we thought the same, however once you get to grips with it, ModdedMovie does offer a whole host of possibilities including personalized birthday greetings to friends and loved ones. You could even add the video to your own website if you have one or to a home movie as a dynamic introduction. Regardless, this is an enjoyable app to use and, while slightly pricey at $2.99, does offer a number of possibilities and will be great for kids.
A lot of attention has been given to section 3.3.1 in Apple’s that developer agreement. That clause forbids apps in the app store that are developed with intermediary programing environments. There is another update in the developer agreement that has the potential to be far more limiting to app developers.
Section 3.3.9 states in part that:
…the use of third party software in Your Application to collect and send Device Data to a third party for processing or analysis is expressly prohibited.
This section states that an application may not include a third party library in your application that collects device data and sends it to another party for processing. The key to this is the “Device Data” in that clause. We can hopefully assume that device data would mean things that relate to a device and not an app. For instance you can’t collect the UDID, a unique device identification number, the OS or device version number, and maybe even the location. You are still free to collect and send to be processed app usage data, that the user launches your app at 9am and uses it for 4 minutes for example. What features they use on your app, etc.
While this is restrictive, it does not specifically lock out all analytics and advertising companies. But it does put them at a distinct disadvantage.
Peter Farago, VP of Marketing for Flurry, a leading mobile app analytics company, has had a chance to read over this clause and is looking for further clarification from Apple: “We are seeking clarification from Apple directly. The move appears directed at ad networks, analytics providers and others. The language, as written, would cause Flurry to modify some of what it collects. However, there is no way to understand this fully without working with Apple.”
All mobile advertising companies collect data. They collect demographic and usage data to target ads. They also collect data to determine what ads are clicked on. And they collect data about what ads are served. If Apple decides to enforce section 3.3.9 in it’s strictest form, this will not allow ad companies to operate in a way that would allow them to be competitive with iAd since iAd doesn’t have to abide by these restrictions.
Developer Mark Johnson comments, “Targeting ads raises click through rates – that makes the ad network look like better to it’s clients and it allows them to maximize revenue from publisher ad space. Apple is going to launch it’s own ad network, that’s why they are banning third parties from gathering app usage data – to keep compeating ad networks from using that data for targetting.”
This clause seems to create a scenario where Apple has a distinct advantage over other mobile ad platforms. That advantage has the potential to make a huge difference to developers trying to monetize their applications with ads.