iOS devices have fast become an essential tool for regular travellers who need to be able to work while on the move. Such devices also come in handy when in need of a way to organize future trips. One newly updated app to help people along the way is WorldMate.
WorldMate does pretty much everything anyone could need when it comes to planning a trip. There’s an itinerary manager which covers flights, hotels, hire cars and meetings. It’s possible to search flight schedules, book hotels (on the iPhone version), search via Yelp, view maps and directions for all itinerary items and check out the local forecast. It’s also possible to check out whether LinkedIn contacts are located nearby, ideal for conferences.
The app is free but regular users can opt to upgrade to WorldMate Gold which offers pushed flight alerts, real-time flight statuses integrated into the itinerary and the ability to sync the calendar.
To celebrate the new update, WorldMate Gold is available for $2.99 for a limited time and normally priced at $9.99.
FaceTime is great for casual video conferencing use but for more professional purposes, a dedicated solution is a better idea. That’s precisely where Fuze Meeting HD enters the equation.
Initially free, Fuze Meeting HD offers online meetings and audio conferencing between two participants. In-app purchases priced at $29.99 or $69.99 then unlocks the ability to communicate with more participants at once.
With the iPad 2, live video can be sent during a video conference with everything viewable in HD. PowerPoint and Keynote presentations can be added, along with Word documents, PDFs and images all possible to add to the Fuze Meeting content library. Meetings can all be simply arranged via the iPad address book for further useful functionality.
When in a call, it’s easy to zoom and pan in, and it’s especially handy to be able to close the app and open other apps without ending the meeting.
It’s a simple yet effective solution for business people in need of regular collaboration while on the move. Fuze Meeting HD is out now.
Graphic novels appear to be going through a bit of a renaissance period in recent times with increasing numbers of people intrigued by the very notion. So it’s pretty cool to see a cumulative effort between a BAFTA (the equivalent of the Emmys in the UK) nominated screenwriter, a BAFTA winning executive producer and an award-winning graphic artist come together in the form of a new iPhone based graphic novel.
The novel entitled Exodus169 is all about an epic journey through space to the Planet Lumina, where humans hope to establish their first colony beyond Earth. Obviously things are bound to not quite go according to plan and it all makes for a gripping novel.
The novel is accompanied by stunning artwork and an original and fully-voiced soundtrack which all add a touch of class to proceedings. Depth is provided through a number of extras such as videos, character profiles, character blogs and even an on-board newspaper with new content uploaded weekly.
It’s interesting stuff and at a decent price too. The app along with Episode 1 and the regularly updated extras are free while Episode 2 and future instalments are only $0.99. Well worth a look for any graphic novel fan.
Game titles nowadays are often just so ambiguous. Boss Battles from Backflip Studios doesn’t muck around with any kind of ambiguity in its title. This is a shoot ‘em up that is pretty much all about the boss battles. There are eight different bosses to take on, each with different attacks and weak spots. When a boss is defeated, the player nets a bounty of gems for the conquest, which can be spent on ship upgrades such as support weapons. Repeat battles get more challenging, but also more lucrative. Defeat will come to the player often, so thankfully each boss fight begins with a wave of normal enemies that are just there for collecting gems, which go toward upgrades. The game is free to play, supported by ads and in-app purchases of additional gems. This all goes without mentioning that the protagonist is a squirrel with a commanding officer who is a bear. Why? Well, why not?
Back when the App Store was a new and shiny invention, I remember being able to browse the entire contents of the store within the space of an hour at most. These days however, it would take so long to browse the store that more apps would have been added by the time anyone got to the end. While we at 148apps can help iOS owners keep up to date with all the best and most interesting apps out there, even we can miss out on a hidden gem or forgotten bargain. This is precisely where AppZapp enters the picture.
AppZapp promises to be the Bargain Guide for the App Store and a quick glance will confirm that for all. AppZapp keeps track of all the price drops going on at any one time then lists them in appropriately organised lists for easy consultation.
The Live Stream is of particular interest offering a whole bunch of apps that have had their price adjusted. The difference here is that the Stream keeps track of what other users of AppZapp have been downloading at the current time forming an ideal way of seeing exactly what’s popular at any given time. The Top List offers a similar facility along with the option to view the App Store charts easily without having to delve into the App Store app. Sales and Now Free sections supply apps in order of when the price dropped. There’s even an AppZapp news section that informs users of the best apps out there that have recently gone down in price.
AppZapp has the potential to save its users a heck of a lot of money which is pretty impressive stuff for such an inexpensive app. It’s free for iPhone users while a mere $0.99 for a HD iPad version. Users can choose to pay $1.99 to remove ads if they so wish. There’s also the option to pay $0.99 for a Push Service Notification system.
However readers of 148apps don’t have to worry about this as we have an exclusive code to gain that for free! All users have to do is go to Settings and Coupon Code then simply enter 148apps to gain the service for free!
Surely a perfect reason to give AppZapp a try, right?
Bug Heroes, the dual-stick shooter and tower defense hybrid, went freemium earlier this year, with in-app purchases for additional playable characters, new levels, new weapons, and new enemies to fight. However, developer Foursaken Media has decided that due to what they preceive as animosity toward free to play and freemium games being what they describe as “money suckers,” they have released a new version of Bug Heroes with all in-app purchases included. Bug Heroes Deluxe includes all current in-app purchases at the same price as the total of all in-app purchases in the original version of Bug Heroes, totaling 20 characters, 11 environments, and over 50 enemies. People who purchase Bug Heroes Deluxe will get all future IAP content added to regular Bug Heroes for free.
With the current move toward games supported by in-app purchases, this is an interesting move back toward the traditional model of premium apps by Foursaken Media, though even their IAP model of selling content without any kind of consumable content stands out. This is something rare in this day and age, but could appeal to ‘core’ gamers who have a general disposition to in-app purchase content, and would rather get all content at once.
The potential benefits that iOS devices can present to toddlers and children cannot be stressed enough. Touch based technology lends itself perfectly to children making their way in this technological world. In the case of The Fairy Tale, it combines traditional storytelling elements with the fun of using an iOS device too.
The app sets out to make reading that bit more enjoyable to youngsters by allowing them to create their own tale. Users can create characters and objects that respond to the touch by either moving or making a noise. As well as that illustrations can be moved, expanded, reduced or rotated with a simple touch.
It all makes for an experience that will feel more realistic to a young child than simply reading stagnant pages of texts and looking at pictures. They can finally interact with the tale.
Once a story has been created, users can then share their creations with others and they can store them on a virtual bookshelf for future reference.
The Fairy Tale is a free app with in-app purchases available for Jack and the Beanstalk and Aladdin and The Magic Lamp priced at $2.99 each.
There is a major sea change occurring on the App Store for game publishers and developers. A clear shift is forming from the traditional premium release model to free to play and freemium titles, as the revenue for free games with in-app purchases dramatically increases, and the prices for paid games goes in the opposite direction.
According to a report recently released by Distimo, the average selling price of the 300 most popular premium games (meaning games that cost money to download) has declined from an average of $2.01 in June 2010, to only $1.44 in June 2011. This decline may be precipitated from an increasing number of publishers facilitating fire sales on their games; EA is particularly notable for their holiday sales where they drop the price on many games down to $0.99, a practice that became extremely lucrative for them when they held a variety of the top app positions on both the iPhone and iPad sides of the App Store.
However, just because the average price of games is on the decline, this does not mean that revenue is declining either; on the contrary, the total revenue from the top 200 grossing games increased by 79% from year to year. A big reason for this increase has come from free to play titles’ in-app purchases, a mechanism that has increased in usage over the past year to the point where in June 2010, revenue from free games’ in-app purchases rated as only 8% of total revenue for the top 200 games. As of June 2011, this rates as 52% of total revenue of the top 200 games on the App Store.
Not only are free to play games now becoming the biggest source of revenue for games on the App Store, they’re also potentially more open for competition. The top 10 publishers of free games account for 27% of the total downloads of the top 300 free games, versus the top 10 publishers of the top 300 paid games generating 54% of those downloads, and one of those publishers is one-man developer Andreas Illiger of Tiny Wings fame. According to Distimo, Tiny Wings generated more downloads than Gameloft’s numerous releases!
As other studies have shown, players who spend money in free to play titles spend more than on premium titles – Flurry notes that the average transaction in a free to play title is $14, a price point that only a few games (approximately 130 of 66,130 total games) have even reached, and a number that includes few notable titles outside of several Square Enix games released around that price point. Games that are shifting to a consumable in-app purchase model are finding that there is real money to be made there from the limited amount of players that do spend money in free to play titles, which appears to average about 3% of users that do spend money on in-app purchases, with some users that spend great amounts of money in these games.
The traditional way of selling games on the App Store is definitely changing, and this data shows that the rush to the bottom continues, as more games reach not just the $0.99 point of entry, but also by letting players download initially for free. However, revenue is still increasing; iOS devices are still being sold. There is still room to make money on the App Store, it’s just that the ways for doing so have dramatically shifted in the last year.
When one thinks of zombies, one might not necessarily think of them as proper pets. After all, their desire for brains and tenaciousness in attempts to acquire them makes them difficult to maintain as pets. Brains aren’t easy to acquire, and they don’t care if they eat the brains of the caretaker; they’re zombies, all they want are brains! My Pet Zombie from Riptide Games is out to shatter the hurtful stereotypes about pet zombies that I have just espoused.
My Pet Zombie is a free-to-play app where the player can decorate a zombie of their very own with their choice of hairstyles and clothes. The player must keep the zombie energized, fed, and happy, because a disgruntled, hungry, and unenergized zombie will try to eat brains. The player can play minigames with their zombies to help energize them and earn experience. Zombie Director is a memory game, where the player must repeat back the zombie’s actions through a series of gestures. Zombie Talkback allows the zombie to repeat back whatever the player records. It’s also possible to take a picture with the zombie in it, so the pet zombie can show up in real-world locations.
Players can buy bones through in-app purchases that can go toward items used to feed the zombie, or decorate him or her in new fashions, along with acquiring new scenery for the zombie to inhabit. If the player ignores their zombie, they return to the cold, dirt comfort of their grave, though reviving them…or at least making them rise from their grave and become undead again is easy. I have to imagine being constantly reanimated is a traumatic experience, though, so players of My Pet Zombie shouldn’t let it happen a lot, lest they seek to torture their pet zombie. My Pet Zombie is available as a free universal app from the App Store.
Everyone loves trivia, right? I mean, who can resist the warm sense of satisfaction in knowing the correct answers to a subject they’re interested in? While movie fans have a whole range of fun ways of answering film trivia, music fans are still in need of that amazing hit. TriviaTunes sets out to do exactly that.
It’s essentially a game of name that tune. Music is streamed from the TriviaTunes servers quickly and efficiently, and players must simply guess what the track is. Options wise, there’s a bit more to it than that though.
For one thing, TriviaTunes offers a bunch of songs included in the free package. However for the inexpensive price of $1.99, players can pick up song packs ranging from TV Show theme tunes, 1980s, Movie soundtracks, Country, Rock or numerous other decades. Chugulu Games offers regular updates so there should be plenty of new music to check out for a small fee.
As well as that, there are numerous different modes to play. Besides playing simply alone, up to 4 players can join in. There’s a buzzer mode whereby the first one to buzz in with the correct answer wins. The MCQ mode offers multiple choice answers with incorrect answers gradually disappearing as time goes on. Plus, there’s the intimidating Expert mode which allows players to enter answers directly from the keyboard rather than guessing from a selection of answers.
TriviaTunes looks to be a pretty well planned out game, covering all the necessary bases to make for an entertaining trivia game. Hopefully it’ll be fun for all the family with genres stemming back as far as the 1970s although grandparents might wish for some older decades to be available.
TriviaTunes is out now and is compatible with all iOS devices. It’s a free app with a string of in-app purchases available.
Budding music creators looking to create for multitrack recording on the go have a new option to turn to: studio.M. This app, designed primarily for electronic music composition, and working with loops. The app allows for recording of audio through the microphone, to record vocals, beatboxing, or any other interesting sounds users may generate coming out of their mouth. These vocal tracks can then be looped, cropped, pasted, or edited however across the app’s multitrack interface, with the ability to apply multiple filters to the music. Loops downloaded from the app’s loops store can then be added to any mixes. There are a variety of free loops, along with packs of paid loops available as well at a variety of BPM rates. The app is a free download, supporting four track recording with support for any beats acquired from the in-app store. Users wanting to import their own audio can do so from apps supporting Audio Copy & Paste. By upgrading to studio.MX in the app for $4.99, users can get eight-track recording, additional effects, and 130 additional loops. Audio can be exported via iTunes in 16-bit/44.1 kHz WAV format. Want to hear what can be done with the app? Check out this miniature musical masterpiece* below.
The newest photo sharing service has hit iOS, Photogram. This app isn’t meant to just share single photos with some filter added to them that gets blasted out to social media services; Photogram tries to do something a bit more personal. Users pick from 1-4 photos either taken with the camera inside the app or from their Camera Roll, add an optional message to send along with the photos, add a theme, and send it out to their friends, family, or whoever they want to receive the photos. The limit of 4 photos is in order to keep Photogram emails from being obnoxious, as the Photogram FAQ states: “Nobody wants to plow through dozens and dozens of photos.”
Photogram allows for users to share photos with their friends via email, Facebook, and even Twitter. It is also possible to create specific user groups so photos can be regularly sent to common recipients. So, it’s easy to create a group for family so they can share their newest photos to them, or for a certain circle of friends to get photos relevant to just them. Users can add designs to their photos with a variety of available themes, created by independent artists. These include basic themes for just simple colors to sports-related themes to even one entitled “Robot Friend.” These themes are available via in-app purchase, with part of the revenue going directly to the artists. For the first week of release, users will get 30 themes for free. Artists interested in submitting their own themes for use in Photogram can get in touch with them through the email address at the bottom of the Photogram FAQ.
Photogram currently only shares to email, Twitter and Facebook; other services may be added in the future if users request them. As well, the app is currently exclusive to iOS; other operating systems may get Photogram later on. Photogram is available from the App Store right now as a free download.
Apple has made a rare flip on their policies, particularly in regard to their subscription rules introduced back in February. The rules (as written then) would require apps that offer subscription services to also sell the subscriptions through the App Store, with Apple to take their customary 30% cut; this would also apply to apps like Kindle and Nook, where the books they sold would have to run through Apple’s system as well. This could have had some very chilling effects on the future of subscription services’ apps on iOS, particularly services that were already operating with low overhead.
However, Apple has largely rescinded these rules, allowing for apps to continue to offer access to media and subscriptions without offering to sell them through the App Store as well. However, Apple has changed a policy to where apps cannot offer a link to buy these subscriptions and media through the app. This means that the Kindle app will likely have to remove its button to open up the Amazon web site to buy books. However, services like Netflix would not have to risk choosing between the sizable iOS user base and starting to give Apple a 30% cut of their subscription fees for subscriptions purchased in the app itself.
For those looking to start using Apple’s in-app subscription model, it appears that Apple has offered them a reprieve as well. Previously, according to Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines rule 11.13, “Apps can read or play approved content (magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, video) that is sold outside of the app, for which Apple will not receive any portion of the revenues, provided that the same content is also offered in the app using IAP at the same price or less than it is offered outside the app. This applies to both purchased content and subscriptions.” This price requirement has been removed, so hypothetically apps could raise their subscription prices on iOS in order to compensate for Apple’s 30% cut.
The modification of these subscription rules will ultimately be good for developers and users; if left in place, they could have made releasing apps on iOS an unprofitable decision, limiting the potential of iOS devices solely because Apple felt like taking a cut from developers. This move is ultimately good for all parties involved, and Apple stepping down on this requirement shows that they are willing to listen to the outrage from their community.
The Lodsys in-app purchase drama has just gotten ugly. Apple roared back last week at Lodsys’ threats to individual developers, claiming that Apple’s license of Lodsys’ technology applied to App Store developers’ products. However, Lodsys remained unflinching in the face of the strong words from Apple, as they have sued 7 developers over the use of in-app purchases in their apps. Notable developers include Quickoffice and their Quickoffice Connect suite Iconfactory, known for Twitteriffic, Ramp Champ, and Astronut, all of which use in-app purchases to unlock features in their apps. The list interestingly includes Illusion Labs, developers of the Labyrinth games for iOS; the Android version of the game is mentioned as well in Lodsys’ suit. This is the second known case of Lodsys pursuing Android developers over in-app purchases, as an anonymous developer was also contacted by Lodsys recently.
Lodsys have posted new blog posts on their site trying to explain their position publicly, reiterating that they believe that Apple’s license does not cover the developers who use in-app purchases in their apps. According to Lodsys’ interpretation of Apple’s agreement with developers, “Apple has specifically absolved itself of any legal responsibility it has with respect to 3rd party patent infringement by Application Developers.” Lodsys has at least been very forthcoming with their position on the matter, even if they have developed a reputation as a patent troll by existing solely as a patent holding firm, and establishing jurisdiction in Marshall, TX — a city that with a court that is very favorable to patent holders.
Lodsys has offered a gesture of goodwill toward the developers they have sued, offering $1000 if it is ruled that developers’ use of in-app purchases does not violate Lodsys’ patents. However, this is largely a token gesture, as according to Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents: “Obviously, $1,000 is not much to gain considering that even an initial analysis of a patent assertion letter by a qualified attorney will typically cost much more than $1,000. And a lawsuit can cost millions.” Lodsys are putting on a public face of being a company that has been wronged by Apple and these developers, although they are just a patent holding firm that are suing developers after Apple already licensed their technology. Like all other cases involving the courts and lawyers, this one may not be resolved any time soon, and the impact of any decisions or settlements may not be known for some time.
Apple claimed that their licensing of Lodsys’ patents extends to developers using in-app purchases in their apps as well, saying that “Because Apple is licensed under Lodsys’ patents to offer such technology to its App Makers, the App Makers are entitled to use this technology free from any infringement claims by Lodsys,” as according to Apple senior vice president and general counsel Bruce Sewell, in a letter sent to Lodsys and the developers who have been contacted by Lodsys. Sewell also claims in the letter that “Apple is undisputedly licensed to these and the Apple App Markers are protected by that license. There is no basis for Lodsys’ infringement allegations against Apple’s App Makers.” Apple has requested that Lodsys cease and desist their claims against developers they have contacted in regards to these patents.
It will be interesting to see where this issue goes from here on out – will Apple provide legal defense for these developers affected? Lodsys is located near a court that is notorious for being friendly to patent holders, so any legal battle could be tricky for Apple and affected developers. Or will Lodsys just back off of their claims, having awoken the big dogs at Apple after trying to nickel and dime individual developers? Dane Baker of Villain, developers of Archetype, who received a patent infringement notice from Lodsys, claims that “We were sent a notice of patent infringement which implies a lawsuit. None of us can operate on the assumption that Apple is going to provide any help here at all, that’s just not smart. In other words it’s not Apple’s problem when Villain are hit with a lawsuit.” Dane also claims that they have spoken to patent attorneys, and that Lodsys will likely sue thousands of developers and “hope for a handful of scared or stupid developers to pay them to go away.” This will likely be an issue settled through a lengthy legal matter, so the impact on individual developers could be unknown for a long time.