A funny thing happened last night as Google briefly launched the Google Latitude iPhone app in the Japanese App Store, only to quickly pull it back down. While the company hasn’t made any statements regarding the “blink and you missed it” accidental launch, it would seem that the new app is primed and ready for release at any second.
Google Latitude allows users to easy track one another by displaying the locations of friends and contacts on a map. This way, if a friend asks you to meet them at Starbucks for coffee, you can instantly see which cafe they’re sitting at and head directly there. The service continually updates so you can keep track of your friends and vice-versa, but sharing settings are heavily restricted and there’s an option to turn off tracking altogether if you’d rather go off the grid for a bit.
Latitude has sort of been available for the iPhone for well over a year, but not as a native app. Thus, it can’t run in the backgound on the iPhone and is ultimately rather pointless for most users. The app has been a longstanding feature of phones running on the Android operating system, but it just now seems that the app may be on the cusp of approval from Apple.
The two companies have been at odds with one another for a while since Apple originally saw Google as a threat to iPhone market dominance, but the two companies have been warming to each other recently and it seems they may be about to settle into a more friendly relationship. Last month Google Voice finally appeared on the App Store, so it seems Latitude is set to follow in its footsteps. Also, with the launch of Google eBooks earlier this week it seems the two rivals may have finally turned the corner. More than anyone else, this is a big win for consumers.
Sometimes, it’s inevitable. You’ve bought an app, and it’s just not working as it should. You’re annoyed, and sad, and you want a refund, but Apple doesn’t give refunds, right? And it wasn’t like the app was that expensive.
Actually, it is possible to get a refund from the App Store, and it’s not that difficult, either, provided you have a good reason. There’s no reason to not ask for a refund if you have a legitimate situation! Here’s your one-stop tutorial to how to get a refund from the App Store.
Why Do You Need a Refund?
“I don’t like it” or “I changed my mind” do not work. However, the following reasons are perfectly fine:
The app is broken: it doesn’t function as promised
The app has a bug that prevents it from functioning; the developer has stopped providing support
The app has lost one of its former features.
You didn’t mean to buy it; you bought the wrong version or used the wrong account; your kids jacked your computer; etc. This one is iffy but usually valid, and works best if you ask for a refund ASAP.
This list is by no means exhaustive. In general, having a good reason is just common sense. Remember, though, clear, calm explanations are always best for garnering sympathy. Also, Apple doesn’t have to give you a refund; their terms of service state that all sales are final. Be polite.
Getting that Refund
So you think you have a legitimate reason for wanting a refund? First, you have to contact Apple. There are two ways to do this; the first way is probably the most effective, but use #2 if you don’t have iTunes installed on your computer.
1. Use the Purchase History pane in iTunes.
Go to the iTunes store, then view your account and click on “Purchase History.” Find the application in question, click on “Report a Problem,” and fill out the form. Remember to be calm, and explain everything as clearly as possible.
Apple has a help page with clear pictures of the above steps here.
2. Contact Apple via the Web.
Go to this page, pick your country, and then find the issue that is most closely related to your needs…I’d recommend iTunes Account and Billing / Billing or App Store / Troubleshooting Applications. It’s somewhat murky, since there isn’t any specific “I want a refund” category. (Officially, remember, there are no refunds.) Then go through the process, guided by Apple.
After contacting Apple, wait—for a couple days at the most. (Apple tries to respond to most inquiries within 48 hours.)
Apple may ask you to contact the developer for assistance, particularly if your issue involves a bug; if so, email the developer once or twice. If you can’t resolve the issue with the developer, email Apple back stating that you contacted the developer but would still like a refund. Also include the purchase order number for the application in question.
If all goes well and Apple is satisfied with your reasoning, Apple should reply that you have received your refund! Yes, in most cases, it’s that simple…just a few emails will do the trick. Refunds are typically applied in the manner in which you paid (a credit to your PayPal account, iTunes store credit, a refund to your credit card, etc).
Do you have any stories to tell about Apple’s refund process and the App Store? Let us know in the comments box below!
Just in case you either don’t like browsing the App Store or just prefer doing all your shopping via Google, the search provider has added a nifty feature which allows users to hunt for iPhone apps right in their browser. The process is fairly simple, with users needing but to click the “More” tab on a search results and then tap on “iPhone Apps” in the resulting drop-down menu. A similar service is available for Android users.
This likely goes without saying, but you will need to be using an iOS device in order to to see the extra options. Just don’t go trying to Google Angry Birds on your home PC and then wondering why you don’t get the option to go directly to the app. Again, we trust that you’re smarter than that, but the last thing we want to do is create confusion and chaos.
At any rate this is a truly handy feature for iOS users, as now you don’t need to jump back and forth from Google to the App Store when looking up something you may want to download. Granted, you’re only really saving a few seconds, but everyone loves convenience and this is just one more way to make your life a little bit easier. If anything this will hopefully speed up searches a bit, allowing you access to the content you want without waiting quite so long.
One other note, we’re hearing that this is a feature which has been around for a while, but this is honestly the first we’ve heard of it and the first time we’ve seen it reported. So before you light up the comment section with “old!” keep in mind that this isn’t a feature Google ever really advertised and it’s one of those things that you don’t know is there if you don’t look for it. We’re just trying to be helpful here, so enjoy the added functionality of Google on your iOS devices.
Do you shop the App Store like a husky kid addicted to a Wonka Chocolate River? Are you the one person that all your friends turn to for app advice on what is badass and what needs avoiding like a leper? Then there is a game that will put your app skills to the ultimate investment test.
Angel’s Choice is part game and part app discovery tool. The game part plays out like a stock investment simulator, only the stocks are apps. You earn Angel Dollars (A$) that you can use to invest in apps on the App Store. As those apps climb the App Store ranking (this does not include popularity drops), so does your return on investment. Now you might have noticed how I said App Store there, that is because you are playing with virtual money on real apps. So imagine what your gamer rank would be if you had invested in Angry Birds before it blew up into the addictive plague it has become today.
There is more to this than just investing Angel Dollars into unknown apps though. You also earn Trust EXP as others invest in your chosen apps, thus making you a beacon of app knowledge. There are also missions, portfolios, and a rather impressive social aspect to this game. Not only can you play this on your phone, but also your successful and not so successful investments become broadcast for the world to see with leaderboards proudly displayed on the Angel’s Choice website. People can click on your name; see your portfolio, current game level, money, profitability, and Trust EXP without even needing an iDevice.
Why not have a bit of fun while you shop for new apps? This just might be one of the coolest ways to shop the app store to date. Check out the website right here, or get a good in-depth feel of how to play the game here. Either way, this app brings a completely new spin on shopping for portable addictions.
App discoverability continues to be a real issue. With the fast churn of apps in the App Store, an app has only a few weeks of promotional life in it before it’s largely forgotten. There are a few things developers can do to fix that, but those things may not work for most apps. That’s why we think it’s important to archive these great, best apps from even just a few months ago. They may have been forgotten by most, but we want a way to remember them forever.
We’re proud to announce the launch of a new site, dedicated to archiving the very best in mobile apps, the App Hall of Fame! We hope it will become the source for finding the very best of the best apps, long after their initial promotional buzz has died down.
With a voting process loosely modeled after the Baseball Hall of Fame, the App Hall of Fame will induct 12 new apps every month. The eligible apps are those that have been in the App Store for at least 6 months. Initially we’ll be focusing on iPhone/iPod Touch apps, but we’ll open it up to iPad apps soon. Next year? We expand further to cover other platforms.
The hall of fame-worthy apps will be chosen by the people that look at, write about, and live apps every day. Our fantastic selection committee includes members from Slide to Play, TUAW, TIPB, The Loop, Pirillo.com, AppAdvice, and more. The selection committee have already chosen the nominees for our first month and they are now voting on those nominations. We will proudly announce our first 12 inductees on Monday, October 11th.
The mobile application analytics company,Flurry, has graciously sponsored the site and will be giving $1,000 in promotional credit to each inducted app while they remain a sponsor. A very generous prize for the inductees, indeed.
But wait, there’s more! We’re having a monthly contest, too! We’re also going to be celebrating the new inductees every month by giving away copies of the winning apps to App Hall of Fame mailing list subscribers.
Take a look at the site, sign-up for the contest and mailing list and check back on October 12th for the first inductees into the new App Hall of Fame!
Gameloft announced today that it has sold a monstrous 20 million apps since the App Store opened in July of 2008. Regardless on your stance on Gameloft and the originality of their titles, this number is incredible.
According to Gameloft, 42 of their 47 iPad and iPhone games that have come out this calendar year have reached the top 5 in the games category with 25 of the games reaching the #1 spot (presumably in their respective game categories. I think Angry Birds has been the #1 overall game since 1906, but don’t quote me on that).
“The first half of 2010 marks a new step for us on the App Store,” declared Michel Guillemot, President of Gameloft. “The launch of the iPad and iPhone 4 has opened new horizons for developers and allowed us once again to transform our consumers’ gaming experience. 20 million paid downloads is proof that our games meet the expectations of our players and we will continue to satisfy them.”
With 100 apps currently in the App Store, each app has, on average, sold 200,000 copies. They seem to be keen on pumping them out at record pace now too, with 15 titles to be released by the end of 2010, including “NFL 2011 HD, Assassin’s Creed: Altaïr’s Chronicles HD, Spider-Man: Total Mayhem HD on the iPad, as well as Dungeon Hunter 2, Gangstar: Miami Vindication, Star Battalion and Modern Combat 2: Black Pegasus (also available on the iPad) on the iPhone”.
Congratulations Gameloft. It’s always nice to see a huge success in the App Store. And please, if you are reading this, I am not so patiently awaiting a sequel to The Oregon Trail. I’m dying here. Of dysentery.
If you have been around the App Store lately, you’re likely to have heard that Apple enforces a strict, albeit inconsistent and subjective, no-offensive-material policy that includes what Apple deems to be pornographic or offensive. We’re not here to debate whether Apple has that right, but rather to talk about Apple’s main App Store Director, Phillip Shoemaker.
Now, imagine you’re a businessperson, trying to eke out a living providing a product or service to your customers. Now imagine if your product or service is regulated in some way, forcing you to do things the way the regulatory body insists you do them. Then imagine that your competitor is in charge of this regulatory body, and has a say over whether you may or may not sell a particular product. Are you upset, yet?
Carter speaks to listener Jessi Rathwell about her experiences as a blind iPhone gamer, what it’s like to play audio-only games as a blind gamer, and how other games could improve their experiences for disabled gamers.
Carter talks with Dave “Cazz” of Bolt Creative about the past, present, and future of Pocket God.
Who We Are:
Host: Carter Dotson
Guest: Jessi Rathwell
Guest: Dave Castelnuovo, Bolt Creative (Pocket God)
The team over at PowPowGames has announced the release of its first iPhone game, Rocket Boy 2D. The colorful side-scroller offers over 35 guns and more than 70 items to collect and use across three worlds. What sets Rocket Boy 2D apart from other titles of this type, however, is its RPG-esque leveling system which calculates stats and damage leading to unlockable content and powerups.
As the enemies, which range from aliens to zombies, get tougher the leveling up process allows you to equip more powerful weapons and skills in order to remain competitive. Rather than just blindly moving to the next available gun, users can choose which areas they wish to enhance in order to defeat the more challenging levels later in the game.
The control system also sounds interesting, using a mixture of the accelerometer for moving the character and touch input to aim and fire a weapon. As you would expect from the name of the game, the hero is also the proud owner of a jetpack which is controlled by the user’s thumb.
From what we’ve seen so far, Rocket Boy 2D looks like a fun arcade game with some interesting takes on the genre and, should the control system work as fluidly as promised, will likely become an addictive time waster for your iPhone or iPod touch.
Mr. CEO, members of the developer program, iOS users, and abusers. I have come here today not to only address the great advances of the App Store but to also address the issues.
During the past year the App Store has seen amazing growth. We’ve seen a quadrupling of the number of applications, downloads, and devices. Since it’s inception, the App Store has generated over 1.5 billion dollars in revenue for Apple with over a billion dollars of that going to developers.
The App Store is a unique mobile application market. Apple has done something that no other device manufacturer had done before or since. Not only has Apple developed a common mobile platform delivered across a variety of devices, they have done so across over eighty different countries and mobile carriers. This is the most perfect mobile device and application marketplace match ever created. Apple controls everything from the device research and development, manufacturing, sales, and application delivery. Reducing the mobile carriers to the point that they are simply service providers. Prior to the iPhone, mobile carriers controlled everything from device features, names, and what applications were available at what price. Under the iPhone, they control just the cellular service. Palm, Google, and soon Microsoft will try to replicate the Apple App Store model, but none have yet to be able to — even though they have the perfect example of how to do so.
One year ago there were 65,000 applications available that had amassed 1.5 billion downloads. As of now there are over 229,000 applications available and those applications have been downloaded a total of over 5 billion times.
Growth in the number of applications this year has been more linear than the exponential growth we saw the first year. That has more to do with the saturation of the app store than it does with size of the market. Over the past 12 months we saw nearly 200,000 new applications approved and nearly 4 billion additional downloads. That’s a 3x growth in number of applications this year as opposed to a 109x growth the first year. That works out to a pretty steady 10-20% growth in the number of applications, month-over-month for the past 12 months.
If the current growth trends continue, the App Store could see 35 billion downloads of nearly three-quarters of a million different apps one year from today. Lofty goals indeed, but I don’t think we expected to see the growth we saw this past year. With the continued adoption of the platform on revised devices like the iPhone 4, and whole new device lines like the iPad, and potentially others, I think there’s a great chance that it will continue that growth.
While in it’s first year, application prices dropped considerably and quickly, they have remained fairly steady this year. Due to changes made this year we can expect to see the growth of freemium applications continue as well. And more income will be generated by in-app purchases versus application sales. This is something we can not track though, so it will be a mystery how much income this will bring developers.
The last year has not been without issues. While the App Store to consumer segment continues to be very well received, Apple still has issues to address with it’s developer relations. While greatly improved, there are still issues with application approval. In addition, the open-ended nature of that developer agreement has given Apple the opportunity to change their mind repeatedly and remove an entire segment of application from the App Store without notice.
The developer tools provided by Apple continue to evolve. Xcode, the development environment provided by Apple is consistently lauded by developers as the best available on any platform. The next version, Xcode 4 appears to be even better. While still in beta and under NDA, developers have been leaking a few details here and there that make it sound like a great step forward. Adding features often requested and integration of features such as interface designer and the Instruments performance monitor into the main application.
While everyone knows that developers have to play by Apple’s rules if they want to be in the App Store, those rules are an ever changing target. This causes problems as it’s difficult to develop to rules that are enforced inconsistently and constantly changing. We’ve seen whole companies sprout up, spend money researching and developing applications, and then be ruined as those applications were not approved by Apple for sale in the App Store. Thereby destroying the company that had been built up exclusively to develop for the iOS platform. This has to change.
We’ve also seen whole segments of application approved for sale and then later removed from the App Store. Segments such as Google Voice based application, applications that present a desktop-like interface, and so-called bikini apps were once approved and then later removed – en masse from the App Store. This too has to change.
The application approval delay has been reduced considerably — a job well done there. But there are still some apps that fall through the cracks and don’t get approved in a timely manner. The real issue there is that the developers don’t know why. There is no communication back to the developers on what is going on, what the potential issue is, or how to resolve it. It appears this is usually caused by an exception. An app reviewer takes a look at the app and has a question and passes it up the chain of approval. That seems to be where it gets stalled. Nothing is communicated back to the developer other than it requires further review and it can stall for weeks in that status. Oddly, some developers have been able to remove that application and re-submit and have it go right through as a different reviewer doesn’t see an issue. There is the inconsistency and communication issues, those need to change.
Over this coming year I hope to see Apple firm up it’s developer agreement and explicitly spelling out what developers can and can not do in the App Store. And then the important part, stick to that agreement for all developers. You can’t ignore the rules for some developers and strictly enforce them for others.
While there are reasons to change the rules to adapt to the changes in the market, keeping these changes to a minimum and communicating them properly before they are made are the key to keeping your developers happier.
Censorship has become a concern. We’ve seen the issue where any application that pulls data from the Internet needs to be marked as 17+ since they could, theoretically, pull adult content. This has been very randomly applied to apps it seems. If it were consistently applied, the NY Times application would be marked 17+. It, of course is not marked that way. We’ve also seen applications rejected that could be considered a freedom of press concern.
Censorship could become a major concern, and something to think about for any publication releasing an app on the App Store. Some theorize a world where Apple can control the media by approving or disallowing applications based on their political content. While I don’t think it’s a huge potential concern — or at least not as much of a concern as conspiracy theorists would make you believe — it needs to be considered when developing for the iOS platform.
In summary, the App Store is growing by a phenomenal amount and sales of devices and applications show no real signs of slowing down. We’ve seen growing pains as the larger the App Store gets, the harder it is to manage, in general those have been addressed well. There are issues with developer relations and approvals, but consumers are happier than ever.
In spite of the issues, the state of the App Store is strong.
A lot has been said about mobile fragmentation in the Android world which is filled with a bunch of different devices with different specifications and different versions of the Android OS. This leads to lots of exceptions in the Android app marketplace and isn’t good for consumers. That problem has been, until now, not a big issue for iPhone and iPod Touch users. While there’s been a split between iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad applications, it can be argued that they really are different platforms sharing the same OS.
But now, EA spins everyone around and multiplies consumer confusion in the App Store by creating a new fracture. They have released an iPhone 4 only version of their NCAA Football game along with a version for older models. They further add to the confusion by using the tag HD on it, something already in use by most developers as a designation for iPad applications. While I am of the opinion that these decisions are downright consumer hostile and I question EA’s motives, I also have to wonder why Apple would let them do something that causes such consumer confusion and leads to greater fragmentation of the iOS App Store.
Is the iOS a single platform or multiple platforms? Apple greatly prefers Universal applications that work on all iOS devices and suggests them to developers over having multiple versions of the same applications for iPhone and iPad. Yet in this instance they have approved the exact same app for two different models of the same platform, the iPhone. We’ve heard stories in the past of Apple rejecting iPad specific versions of apps that don’t provide extra functionality over their iPhone versions. Instead Apple have suggested that the developers create universal versions. Yet this game, an exact duplicate with just higher resolution graphics was approved, fragmenting the iPhone App Store. That confuses consumers and sets a precedent I hope doesn’t hold up.
There could be a case to be made to releasing a game that was only compatible with the iPhone 4 due to hardware specific requirements. We saw a handful of games that were only compatible with the iPhone 3GS due to processor speed or specific hardware accelerated graphics requirements. I’m sure we’ll see more with the higher power and hardware changes of the iPhone 4. But this game is not an iPhone 4 only game, there is another version of the exact same game, but for older hardware released separately.
“We do see a difference between iPhone 3G/3GS and iPhone 4. For EA, it’s important that we create our games for the unique capabilities of each platform or device including NCAA Football maximizing iPhone 4′s high quality graphics.” commented Michelle Jacob, Head of Global PR for EA Mobile when I asked for comment on the release of two different iPhone versions of the game. But to me, this just doesn’t make any sense as there’s absolutely no technical reason to create an iPhone 4 specific version of a game to take advantage of the higher quality graphics.
This is the first time we’ve seen a large developer release multiple versions of an app for different iPhone versions. The generally accepted practice is to release a single application for the iOS4 iPhone and iPod Touch platform that takes advantage of the hardware it runs on while degrading properly for lower performance devices. That leaves this as being a purely business decision and a bad one at that.
Let’s take a look at Real Racing from Firemint for an example of how developers have been addressing adding features to their applications for the iPhone 4. One universal application for all iPhone and iPod Touch devices, from a company with fewer employees than the EA campus cafeteria has. And it takes great advantage of the Retina Display on the iPhone 4 and anti-aliasing on the 3GS and degrades nicely for older devices. This is the what consumers want and it makes sense. The iPad and the iPhone/iPod Touch can logically be called different platforms. The iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 4 can not. When upgrading devices you shouldn’t be required to re-purchase apps for them to take advantage of the new hardware. This hasn’t been the practice in the past and I hope it’s not in the future.
Doesn’t this create consumer confusion? “We certainly don’t want to create any consumer confusion. We think we’re quite clear in distinguishing between the two versions of NCAA Football and giving consumers a choice.” But confusion is what we are seeing. If we look at the ratings in iTunes for the iPhone 4 version of NCAA Football, 12 of the 28 comments as of Monday evening are from users who have purchased the app for incompatible devices.
The real reason for the consumer confusion is that EA is doing something that iTunes, and therefore the App Store, doesn’t really support. There’s no filter for what you buy when using iTunes on the desktop. You could purchase any apps you wish even if you have never connected an iOS device to iTunes. When you click Buy App on the iPhone 4 specific version of NCAA Football, it doesn’t check to make sure you have an iPhone 4, it just takes the money from your account and delivers the app.
Ms. Jacob continues “If anything, we are hurting ourselves by offering two apps – our overall rankings for the title are split. But again, we feel it is important to give consumers that choice.” Sometimes choice isn’t a good thing when it isn’t done to serve consumers. And I think that’s what we have here. Consumers want choice, but not when it’s so easy for them to make bad choices. What consumers really want it convenience. It should just work and work well. This release method does not work for consumers.
The comment that they are sacrificing overall ranking is very true and makes this an even odder decision. Had they released a single application compatible with all devices and enhanced for the iPhone 4 they would have increased their rank in the top selling app lists by having all sales for a single application instead of two different apps. This is something that can lead to a waterfall effect — the higher up the top selling lists you are the more people see it and therefore the more that buy it.
iPhone 4 is not HD. And how about the odd choice to name the app with the HD tag? That’s something that has become the de-facto standard designation for iPad applications. (Even though none of the iOS devices are really HD resolution.) Adding that designation to an iPhone 4 only application is even more confusing. Perhaps EA know something we don’t know yet with the convergence of the iOS 4 for iPad and iPhone. Maybe that will lead to apps on the iPhone 4 and iPad being closer tied? I doubt that’s the reason. Probably just a inexperienced marketing person decided that was the best way to designate the special version. Bad choice.
Isn’t the Apple approval process supposed to stop bad developer moves like this? The question I keep coming back to is why would Apple let them do this? Why would Apple let EA fracture the App Store market further and confuse consumers by doing something like this — something that iTunes doesn’t fully support? I have to think that it’s a mistake or they are just testing the waters.
But isn’t this going to hurt Apple? One of the most appealing things about the iOS App Store is that once you purchase an app, it’s yours. You can install it on as many devices as you buy. When you upgrade your devices, the apps come with you. And traditionally, developers have updated applications for updates in hardware and new versions of the iPhone OS / iOS. This throws that practice up in the air. If I buy the NCAA Football for my iPhone 4, it won’t work on my iPad or iPod Touch. I have to either purchase the lower quality version which suffers on the iPhone 4, or purchase 2 versions. Neither option is good for consumers — both options are good for EA.
What is EA really doing by releasing NCAA Football like this? They are probably just testing the waters to see what direction the market will head and if consumers will be ok with this. I really hope it’s not their plan for future releases. And I hope that Apple will restrict any developer from doing this in the future. It hurts users which in turn hurts Apple hardware sales and in the end, all developers.
Are you for this method of app release? Against it? If you want to let EA know what you think of this decision, head on over to their Facebook page or Twitter stream and leave a message with your thoughts. And of course you are always welcome to leave a comment below.
Elgato has announced that the 1.1 update to its EyeTV app now provides iPad compatibility for streaming TV wherever you are.
Now, before you get too excited, the EyeTV app does need Elgato’s EyeTV software and tuner as well as a Mac or PC in order to stream TV but. if you fulfill these requirements, today is a good day for you. An Elgato package isn’t that expensive either, with products starting around the $150 mark and taking advantage of the free digital video signals it catches.
Elgato is renowned for its EyeTV software that turns your computer into a digital TV and allows for recording live shows as well as scheduling using a small tuner that connect via USB. The EyeTV app for iPhone and now iPad allows users to view all of their recorded content as well as watch TV live on their device, taking advantage of the in-built TV guide. The app even allows you to set recordings on your home computer remotely.
At $5.99, the EyeTV app is a worthy investment for existing EyeTV users and will more than likely lure many new customers too.
Apple’s new iAd mobile advertising platform looks to be gearing up for its launch on July 1st with test ads and spaces for iAds appearing in apps on the App Store.
iAd offers a way for developers to make money from free applications by including advertising spaces within their apps that are then filled by Apple’s new service. iAd looks to deliver more engaging advertising by comparison the traditional mobile ads that Steve Jobs seems particularly averse to.
iLounge points to a selection of applications from Avantar that are currently showing spaces for iAd adverts and, at one point, included “iAd integration” in release notes before changing the information to “minor bug fixes”. Whether or not Apple had a hand in this change is unclear although the big space within the app interfaces reading “Test Advertisement” next to the Apple logo would be a dead giveaway if they were going for some secrecy.
Apple already knows more than most about the pain of losing an iPhone and as a result has launched a new app to help you find yours should it go missing.
Unfortunately, you will need to be a subscriber to Apple’s MobileMe service in order to use the application which immediately rules it out to most who are unlikely to want to pay $99 a year for the privilege. A sixty-day trial is available here.
If you happen to be a subscriber it’s worth turning the Find My iPhone service on, however, as this app could help you track down your iPhone or iPad by locating it on a map or sending a message and alarm to the device with your contact details so a kindly stranger can return it. In the worst-case scenario you can also lock or wipe your device to secure your data (and those blackmail-friendly photos).
While the app could be useful, it’s not essential. The Find My iPhone service can be accessed via the web and, therefore, if you have a web connection to download the app, you might as well simply browse to the site instead. On the other hand, with Find My iPhone installed on all of your devices, it may come in handy if you simply mislay your iPhone or iPad somewhere in your home, office or at a friend’s house.
If you loved the madcap adventures of Crash and friends in Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D, you’ll be excited to hear that a sequel is now available that replaces the 3D in the title with a 2. Not only that, but a new adventure awaits players as well as the introduction of some much needed multiplayer action for up to four players, likely timed to coincide with Apple’s upcoming Game Center service.
The sequel to one of the first console-to-iPhone ports asks a pretty steep $9.99 and weighs in at 71.8MB but has so far been receiving positive press. Some reviewers have mentioned a few bugs, however, but these will hopefully be ironed out in the next update.
From what we’ve seen, CBNK2’s graphics look great and all the features of the original are retained with some great new options to boot. With any luck, we’ll be seeing iPad versions of Activision games coming to the App Store soon as well.
We’re still a week away from the official launch of iPads in select countries outside the US but it seems that international iPad App Stores are beginning to switch on already. It is likely that Apple is adding iPad downloads to international App Stores so that all potential issues are ironed out in time for the launch of the iPad in these countries. App Stores in countries like the UK, Germany and Canada don’t currently have the iPad and iPhone buttons on the App Store front page like in the US, so users can’t yet split browsing between the two devices. App Store search results are split into iPad and iPhone categories, however. International users with US-bought iPads have, until now, been unable to access their local App Stores via the device but today should have full access despite some noted teething trouble on some stores.
It’s hard to avoid the daily (sometimes hourly) Twitter updates and Facebook posts informing you that a friend has “checked-in” at Starbucks. Apps and services like Foursquare and Gowalla have taken the mobile market by storm with millions of downloads and as many users sharing their locations in order to earn points and become the virtual “mayor” of a specific spot.
If you’ve never used such a service, it’s easy enough to disregard these ventures as pointless playthings for those with too much time on their hands. However, this appears not to be the case if news from Booyah Inc. is true across the location-based mobile app market. The company has recently closed a $20 million round of financing which sees prominent investor, Jim Breyer, join its Board of Directors.
Booyah is the creator of MyTown, a popular location-based social game where users “virtually” buy their favorite stores and locations. As they do so they earn points, charge rent on owned locations, unlock rewards and earn cash to be spent in real locations. The New York Times said “MyTown Turns the Real World into Monopoly” however it appears that the money to be made by developers in this market is very, very real. MyTown is currently played by over 2 million users and is growing at a rate of 100,000 new users week over week, according to a Booyah Inc. press release. MyTown has also passed 60 million check-ins and 250 million virtual item impressions per month with users spending an average of 70 minutes using the app each day. What DO these people do for a living?
This latest injection of funds is to be spent on igniting and accelerating the company’s “real and digital world offerings” which doesn’t offer much insight. However, with Jim Breyer, the Director of Wal-Mart Stores and Dell on board, we’re willing to bet some significant retail-based features are soon to be available for MyTown players. Breyer is also on the board of companies including Brightcove, Facebook, Etsy and Marvel Entertainment.
“Booyah is at the epicenter of the fastest growing markets today–mobile, social, and interactive gaming,” said Breyer. “Not only are they a next-generation entertainment company, but they are bridging the gap between consumers and businesses. The Booyah management team has both the passion and talent to innovate and create a wholly unique experience.”
If you’re yet to try out MyTown for yourself, it seems like now might be the time to get involved. The app is available for free on the App Store with a number of In App Purchases available.
Firemint has launched an update to its popular Flight Control game for iPhone. The update, available now, includes a new map, updated graphics, safe fast-forward plus new sound and music settings.
Flight Control is a highly addictive strategy game in which users take control of a selection of airstrips and must guide different planes and helicopters to their destination. While things start off easy, you’re quickly swamped by jets and light aircraft that need to be designated a runway before they crash into others.
First things first, the new map. Windy Airfield brings a new dimension to the already frantic action with runways opening and closing at timed intervals. Users will need to keep an eye on a windsock in the middle of the level that moves around to denote a change in wind direction. The direction of the wind affects which runways are open. Aircraft already on approach will still land but you’ll have to find an alternate runway for the rest.
So far, the new map is generating excitement among players with many uploading their score to the online leader board. A Google map is currently displaying where the high scores are coming from around the world. Check it out here
Flight Control’s graphics also receive a boost in this update with much brighter colors to help you spot those incoming planes quickly.
Another big addition to Flight Control is the safe fast-forward option that was launched in Flight Control HD for iPad. There are now three speed settings from “Off” through “Locked Fast Forward”. “Safe Fast Forward” speeds up the game but alerts players when a collision is imminent and slows the game back down to normal speed so you can avert disaster. Fast forward is sometimes required during the game to speed up the action and get on to higher scores but, use it carefully or you could cause an aeronautical pile up.
As far as settings go, Flight Control will now remember a user’s sound and music settings which can be altered in the app’s Pause Menu so you don’t have to change them each time you play the game.
As an added bonus to celebrate the update, Firemint has also released a free Flight Control wallpaper for iPhone users which can be downloaded from the Firemint site here.
iPad and desktop wallpaper is also available.
This is a great update from Firemint and we look forward to many more soon as well as tweaks to the iPad app. Check it out today by heading to the updates section of the App Store via your iPhone or in iTunes and, if you haven’t downloaded the game already, do it now!
If you know your Latin then you’ll understand that Fortis means strong, courageous and heroic. That’s apparently what it takes to beat this new game from Encore due on the App Store this month. From the previews we’ve seen this looks much like a spruced up version of the old Asteroids games with some beautiful backgrounds and fluid gameplay.
Compatible with iPhone and iPod touch, Fortis will offer 36 levels split over 3 stages with a bonus level at the end of each stage. As with all games of this type, powerups are the key to success and there are four different weapons available in Fortis, all of which can be upgraded as you progress through the game. As well as weapons there are other items to collect including energy, shields, points, money and extra lives.
It’s exciting to see some of the classic games of the past making a comeback on the App Store and Encore looks to have done a great job resurrecting this genre with Fortis which will likely pickup fans of existing games like Geometry Wars.
Encore will be offering a promotional starting price for Fortis so make sure you check the App Store and this site regularly for news of its release which could be any day now.
Why isn’t there a native Facebook app for iPad yet? It’s not like the company hasn’t had the time or lacks the resources to update its existing iPhone app. For the time being, iPad users have to choose between blowing up the iPhone app to almost unusable dimensions for the larger screen or use the web app which, to be fair, is acceptable.
That said, it does seem strange that such an obvious iPad app hasn’t yet made its way to the App Store. Thank heavens then for the guys at sobees who have taken it upon themselves to put together a Facebook client for the iPad and, from our initial inspection, have done a brilliant job!
Blurring the lines between an RSS reader and Twitter client, sobees for Facebook manages all of the most commonly used sections of a Facebook account such as Status updates, links, images and video.
The interface is mapped out like the newspaper apps we’ve become accustomed to on the iPad with each section dedicated its own scrollable space. One cool feature is the Breaking News section that grabs a recent wall post or status update and positions it as a breaking news headline for your friend group. The Latest Hot Images section shows recently posted images and lets you swipe through them direct from the front page of the app.
While it takes a little time to load, the People section serves as an attractive who’s who of your Facebook friends, using their profile images as a wall of pictures. The Photos section takes a cue from the iPad’s own Photos app, grouping albums into Event-like galleries. Sadly, the pinch features in Apple’s native Photos app doesn’t feature here.
Events is one of the most handy of sobees for Facebook’s features, a simple calendar interface with small icons on each day to denote a birthday or other event. In most instances throughout the app, clicking on a friend’s profile picture brings up a neat contextual menu that offers a route direct to their profile.
Of course, sobees for Facebook isn’t just for consumption, it also allows you to update your Status, comment on videos and images and post on your friends walls. At the moment it seems you have to manually update via a small refresh button with no obvious option we’ve found to auto-refresh. That, however, is a small price to pay for an excellent app that, for the time being, is free and provides a beautiful alternative to Facebook’s web app on your iPad.
The next time you hear of a cool app and jump straight on to the App Store to get it, make sure you know exactly what you’re looking for and check where it’s coming from.
That’s the advice of Marco Arment, developer of Instapaper for iPhone and iPad.
Writing on his personal blog, Marco notes the staggering number of applications playing on the name of successful apps or using similar keywords in order to con unwitting App Store customers into buying them.
Popular bird-launching game, Angry Birds, is one such successful application plagued by a host of pretenders that are found when searching the App Store for its title. Of the top ten search results, only four apps appear legitimate with the actual Angry Birds game and its Lite version making up two of these. Six of the top ten search results are made up of cheat apps and walkthroughs.
ESCAPP’s Angry Birds Cheats, for example, appears in the top five searches and uses a lookalike icon. At $0.99 (the same price as the full Angry Birds app) the application’s description reads “Wonderful and addictive cheats. Accept No Imitations”.
That should be no imitations other than the imitation of affiliation with an actual application and/or developer.
We’ve not downloaded Angry Birds Cheats, but with 432 one star reviews out of 487 and reviews entitled “Absolute Rubbish!!” and “Waste of time money and effort” we’re willing to gamble our reputation on this being a pretty poor app. Add to this that the developer, ESCAPP, doesn’t have a working website but a GoDaddy holding page instead, and the fraud is complete.
InTekOne, LLC is another app publisher working in a similar way but this time using a modified version of the Angry Birds icon for its Angry Birds Walkthrough app. Once again, its site does not appear when clicked in iTunes and it’s left up to the poor developer, who was presumably commissioned to create the app, to shoulder the blame.
Chillingo, the publisher of Angry Birds, is equally unhappy with these apps: “We are going to send a formal copyright infringement request to Apple about these apps soon,” said Joe Wee, Director of Chillingo.
Chillingo prefers to reward loyal gamers with hints and tips at no cost by providing walkthrough trailers on its Developers’ YouTube channels. That way, they get free, valid information directly from the source. Angry Birds’ developer Rovio provides official suggestions for Angry Birds here
So what can you do to avoid inadvertently downloading fake apps or “squatters” who use successful apps as a marketing tool? Unfortunately, not a lot. Of course, you’re free to contact Apple and let them know your thoughts and Marco Arment also lists ways developers can protect their intellectual property from such apps on his site here.
For the average consumer, however, it appears that vigilance is your only weapon. Find out the name of the developer, check their website and, most importantly, read the app’s reviews for consumer feedback before buying.
Neither ESCAPP nor InTekOne, LLC have responded to our contact regarding their applications at time of writing.
Last year we brought you news that Best Buy had a great, but short sale on iTunes gift cards. These sale cards are a great way to get all of your app purchase on the app store at a discount. As a matter of fact, it’s the only way to get a discount on the App Store. These iTunes gift card sales come few and far between. But for those of you in the US, there’s a new sale you can take advantage of.
Now through April 2nd, Costco has $60 iTunes Gift Card packages on sale for $48.99, a nearly 20% savings. There is not tax on the cards at Costco — at least not here in California, your local laws may vary. Also, Apple may or may not charge tax on the purchase, again depending on where you live.
There was an sign on the display at Costco that said limit 2 per member, but I bought 6 and got the full discount on each. Again, your local rules may vary.
With the iPad quickly approaching, this is a great way to add virtual money to your iTunes account to be ready to get all those new iPad apps. This also works for those of you without a credit card — just use cash at Costco to get the cards.
If you head to Costco to get this deal, what was it like at your local Costco? Were they out of stock? Did they limit you to 2? Let us know in the comments.
There has been very little information available about what we can expect to see for iPad app prices and their method of publishing. With the increased size of the screen, many are calling for greatly increased prices noting that the iPad is more like a laptop computer than it is a mobile device. Others believe that since the operating system and development environment are pretty much duplicates of the iPhone that app prices will fall in a similar range. We did a quick survey of some developers to see what their plans are for how they are going to release their iPad apps and what we can expect in iPad app prices.
In addition to the price question, how will applications be released? Apple has made available to developers two different ways to create applications for the iPad. In addition there are various forms of those two methods developers are looking to use as well.
Univeral or HD/XL?
The first method of iPad app creation is to create a unique application, an app with a new name and a unique bundle id. These iPad only apps, while they may share the same functions of their iPhone versions, will be unique and require customers to purchase the iPad version even if they have already purchased the iPhone version. We will also likely see some applications as iPad only that are unique to the iPad in that they just wouldn’t work on the iPhone with a small screen.
The second method to create an iPad application is to release what is designated by Apple as a Universal build app. These are apps that work both on the iPhone and the iPad. The apps have functionality built in that will recognize if they are running on an iPad and show the proper iPad controls and display full screen on the device. For the customer, this is the obvious preference. If you have already bought the iPhone version, the iPad version is just an update away, at no additional cost.
In our survey of developers, a slight majority (52%) indicated that they will be developing Universal builds for their iPad applications over iPad specific (48%) versions.
Since Apple has indicated that Universal builds that are updates to existing apps should not yet be submitted to the App Store, this leaves the developer of universal builds at a little bit of a disadvantage as it’s likely they will not be available for the device launch on 4/3.
As you probably already know, GDC or the Game Developers Conference in San Fransisco is an annual conference at which game developer get together to share development, tools, tips and technologies. This year, independent development companies Semi Secret and Backflip Studios were quick to share just how successful their dive into the App Store has been. Between the two of them, they have 8 paid applications on the store.
Yesterday, co-founder of Semi Secret, Eric Johnson revealed to Pocket Biz that the company had sold 115,000 copies of their popular side-scroller adventure Canabalt. Whats interesting though is these download statistics he said were based upon Canabalt selling at the $2.99 price point over 5 months. He was also quick to estimate the ball-park piracy rate of Canabalt, which he put at 20 percent over those 5 months.
Similarly, Backflip Studio revealed it had generated $2.5 Million in around nine and a half months of being on the store. The company stated these figure were based on enjoying a staggering 22 Million downloads overall, revealing 17 Million of those came from just one of their App Store titles – Paper Toss. On a side note Backflip also announced mobile advertising is making them a substantial $1 Million in just six months and $379,000 in December last year, alone.
Like most App Store addicts, I browse the Top 100 lists from time to time. The top 10 spots are usually filled with games like Doodle Jump, Pocket God, Bejeweled, and whatever other big-name apps have hit recently. That makes sense. I can even understand things like The Moron Test and SpinArt being popular. The whims of the masses are ever-changing, after all.
But what the heck is up with “60 Mario and friends”?
60 Mario and friends (the poor capitalization is not mine, thank you) from Isayonline is nothing more than a soundboard app—it plays sounds from old Nintendo games. Super Mario Bros, Mario 64, Street Fighter, Zelda, and Donkey Kong game sounds are all present. Now, I consider myself a Nintendo fan, and I love these games. But there’s something wrong with a simple soundboard app claiming the #2 spot on the top paid charts. First of all, this is a blatant case of copyright infringement. We’ve seen excellent, original games like EDGE and Stoneloops of Jurassica pulled from the App Store for supposed infringement, so how did 60 Mario and friends get through? It uses images of Nintendo’s characters and sounds from Nintendo games; it doesn’t get more obvious than this.
Secondly, the app has a two-star rating, and not because people are unsatisfied with the sounds—but because they thought they could have classic Nintendo games on their iPods and iPhones for a buck. Wait. What? The app is called “60 Mario and friends,” and it’s in the Games category, but it’s obvious if you read the description that it’s just a soundboard app. I suppose that literacy is too much to expect these days. If you can’t read a few sentences, I don’t think you should have the right to complain about losing a buck. Besides, Nintendo won’t be releasing their games on the App Store anytime soon, not when the iPhone/iPod family is starting to compete with the DS/DSi.
As I said, I’m a Nintendo fan through and through, and I’m hardly alone. 60 Mario and friends simply milks our nostalgia for some great games. But Isayonline is profiting from something that they didn’t create. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to grab some classic sound clips, but let’s not reward Isayonline for packaging stolen content—or Apple for letting it through.
You may remember towards the end of the year, Apple introduced a new online system which allowed you to preview information for both singles and albums in its current iTunes back catalogue, using its official iTunes URLs, without the need to physically launch iTunes. Then, as we noted, later in the year they also added the ability to actually listen to 30 second audio snippets of these products, effectively moving the iTunes catalogue online. This system became more commonly known as iTunes Preview.
Following on from the music-centric previews added to iTunes Preview, Apple has today quietly activated the same system for all of its App Store URLs associated with its application catalogue. So, what does this mean? Well, this means you can now fully preview applications, including the application’s icon artwork, its accompanying screenshots, pricing information, App Store ratings, customer reviews, release date, seller and more, directly within your browser without ever needing to open iTunes. This, of course, comes alongside a “View in iTunes” button which then takes you directly to the product stated on iTunes. The new page replaces the old page which featured a simple dialogue box which asked if you wished to launch iTunes.
.. And the new year App Store sales just keep coming! Yesterday we got a tip from one of the more prominent iPhone development studios on the store, Glu Mobile, who told us that starting today, Friday, January 8th, they’ll be staging a new year app blowout sale. Running this coming weekend only, the sale will see the studios well-loved hit titles such as Family Guy: Uncensored, Glyder and Bonsai Blast (among others), drop in price to just $0.99 each!
The sale will end the evening of Monday January 11th. Check out the full list of the apps on sale below, along with a short, quick-fire description of each to help you on your way with the decision to buy ..