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Kevin Dent on P4RC and Their Plan for User Engagement Through Rewards

Posted by Jeff Scott on January 25th, 2013
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Kevin Dent is the newly announced COO of P4RC. A company that you may not of heard of, yet. But if our conversation below with Kevin is any indication, P4RC may just be about to crack a nut no one else has been able to thus far.

148Apps: Kevin, tell us a little about yourself and your background in games.

Kevin Dent: I started my gaming career making mobile games in Dublin, Ireland in 1998 by conning my boss. I was group head of sales at the time and I had a budget to hire 13 additional sales people and instead I hired 3 sales people and 15 developers –I actually forced them to wear suits, they loved that; no really- one day my CEO came in and said “have you ever heard of mobile games?”, he showed me one of my games and I knew I was caught, so I confessed. Yeah, so he had no clue and I basically “outted” myself.

He asked were the games making money, I said “about 2M pounds –old Irish currency- per month”, he called me a bunch of names, calmed down and said “ok fuck it, keep doing it”. I was ecstatic. The company was sold soon after that and as I was an early employee I did pretty great out of it. So I moved to Slovenia, started a studio, sold it, started another, folded it, started another and sold it.

At that point, I joined Hands-On Mobile.

I was kind of scarred from that experience, I had signed a golden handcuff contract; so I could not leave until I was with the firm for 365 days. Wada San the President of Square Enix reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in making a Final Fantasy game on feature phones –there was no iPhone back then- I said that I need to clear it, but I gave him a soft “yes”. Can you imagine? I went into my bosses office and said “Mr X, I have been offered Final Fantasy and it is a great deal, lets do this.” The response was “GREAT, is that a video game?”, I resisted the urge to face slam the guy into his desk.

148Apps: Before this, you lived the sweet life of an indie. Why chain yourself to a single company?

Kevin Dent: So all this basically happened because of a kid I had been working to help. It was a surreal experience, he had a golf ball size tumor removed from his head and he just about broke my heart. He will have chemotherapy from now until the end of the year. All I could think of was unless I am creating something huge that benefits both my peers and gamers, I would not be about to do sometime huge.

To be clear, games are never huge; it is the community that back them that are huge. So I went through this period of self-inspection to figure out how I could actually do something great for everyone with an amazing team. I spent a lot of nights doing crunch and one night I just did an emotional crunch and figured out if I was ever going to be able to realize my full potential I had to close my business, jump off a cliff and hope gamers and devs catch me.

Unfortunately I am not really that skilled in anything other than making games, I am definitely not smart enough to be a doctor, a civil rights lawyer or anything important in the world of philanthropy.

Then the next day a guy called me and suggested that I close my business and join his firm –which was P4RC- I loved the solution, I did not actually think I would like it at first, but I got into it in a big way. I was making a ton of money and more than one friend told me that I was the dumbest smart guy that they knew –I am not that smart- but I did it anyway. Funny side note, my accountant moved my business to his colleague and refused to talk to me after I closed my business.

I have always been a “right time and right moment” sort of guy, so I just decided to go for it. I am happy that I did.

148Apps: Ok, so then P4RC (pronounced "park") had the goods to pull you in, what exactly what does P4RC do?

Kevin Dent: So right now gamers on mobile can engage in different rewards platforms, most of these firms reward gamers for having “moments” I am not making this up. Once you hit that “moment” you get a bag of Pop Chips etc. Now I am sure there are people that enjoy Popchips! P4RC is different in that we go in altogether different direction. We created a platform where gamers accumulate points regardless of whether they have their “moment” or not. With those points they can spend them on whatever they want, we are empowering the rewards business.

They are your points, it’s your choice and they are your rewards.

Also we do not cap the points so you can go big, medium or small; they are your points.

148Apps: So users gather points by playing games and redeem them for real world prizes. We've seen things similar in the past, but none have really gained a foothold. What does P4RC have that others don't, and will that make it successful?

Kevin Dent: Similar yes, but there is always a catch, a deadline or an expiration in terms of the points. Not so with P4RC, your points accumulate so if you don’t like what is in the store, you don’t have to settle. This is key for me personally as I don’t want gamers to settle, as a game developer myself, I never want gamers to have to settle ever. The data supports this argument, we currently have 1.7M users who are racking up points, we are giving away mid five figures in prizes weekly. We have investors, it is their money so hey that makes me pretty happy. We want to give away 100X that figure daily.

The second thing we have is that we have all made games at some point, personally I have made a little over 300 titles on various platforms; some were well received and others not so much –hello Ironman on feature phones- my point is, is that we are uniquely positioned to know what developers and gamers like. We have lived the nightmare that is crunch, we have lived the horror show that is looking at your game and thinking to yourself “wow this is a total piece of crap”. Perspective is incredibly important. Since we came out of private beta we have signed up 65 games and we will be announcing those as they go live if the developer wants us to and this leads me nicely into my final point, every other rewards program seems to be want to be the star. It is a fool’s errand, I want the in game experience to be the star. With P4RC you do not even have to leave the game and even when you finish playing there is nothing to do, you bank your points without doing anything.

Signup is easy, I was at a bus stop the other day and I paid an old guy $10 to sign up to P4RC just so I could witness someone go through the process. It took him 37 seconds.

Hit the jump for the rest of our talk with Kevin Dent.

Disney Mobile on Their Holiday App Plans

Posted by Jeff Scott on December 13th, 2012

148Apps got a chance earlier this week to talk with Bart Decrem, SVP of Disney Mobile, and their plans for the holiday app push. Disney has some big plans in the coming two weeks.

Mr. Decrem shared with us some great growth numbers, showing that daily users of Disney Mobile games has grown six fold over the same period last year, up to over six million daily active users. In addition, Where's My Water? has now seen over 100 million downloads shared between it's free and paid versions.

But the really exciting stuff comes from the app updates and new releases planned over the next couple weeks. Here's a quick rundown.

New Title: Monster’s Inc. Run has been created in partnership with Get Set, makers of the great Mega Run. It'a a level based runner this time featuring characters from the Monster's Inc. movie. This is out today!

New Title: Nemo’s Reef This one, is odd. But a city builder with Nemo as the central character is sure to grab fans. This will be out on December 20th.

Where’s My Holiday? is a new release, based on the Where's My? franchise and includes characters from both Where's My Water? and Where's My Perry?. This free holiday-themed app is expected on the 20th as well.

Where’s My Perry? update launching 40 new levels featuring Dr. Doofenschmirtz. These new levels will be available as an in-app purchase for $0.99. We'll also see 20 new free levels. These are available in the update that goes live today.

Temple Run: Brave King Fergus (Merida’s Father) is added to the game and can be unlocked with 500,000 coins.

And finally, Avengers Initiative updated with a second episode with Captain America as the playable character available now.

The Big List: Black Friday and Cyber Monday iPhone and iPad App and Games Sales

Posted by Jeff Scott on November 20th, 2012

Black Friday is the biggest sale day of the year for the big box stores. And the same is true for the App Store. But the good thing about the App Store is there's virtually 0% chance of getting trampled while trying to get that $39 laptop everyone is racing for.

This week and into Monday we'll likely see hundreds of iOS games and apps on sale at some really great prices. We'll be updating this post frequently through Monday with the best of the sale apps and games. You can head also over to our Price Drops page for the full list.

In general most of the following apps and games are on sale in the US App Store. But many will be on sale in all stores all over the world. Have an app on sale that's not in our list? Send a quick email to editor at this domain and we'll take a look.

Update History:

2012-11-21 - Looks like it's going to be a big year. To keep things more reasonable, we've split up our list into three parts, Games, Apps, and Educational. See below for the three links.
2012-11-20 - Initial version, some of the app and game sales that have gone live early so we've gone live with our list for your app shopping pleasure.

We have 113 top sale apps and games in total. Click below to go to the appropriate post for the sale type you are interested in:

» Black Friday and Cyber Monday iPhone and iPad Games on Sale

» Black Friday and Cyber Monday iPhone and iPad Apps on Sale

» Black Friday and Cyber Monday iPhone and iPad Educational and Kids Apps on Sale

App Store Changes in iOS 6 Lead to Developer Concern

Posted by Jeff Scott on September 20th, 2012

Many of the changes to the App Store on iOS devices has updated the visual look of the apps, better exposing a wider variety of apps to the user. While the changes taken individually seem small, taken together they represent a possible big change in how we will find apps in the App Store.

Take exposing the top paid, free, and grossing apps at the same time on the landing page of the Top Apps list, for instance. It seems like a small change, but it promotes free apps to the front of the page and lowers the exposure of the top paid apps past the first three. Michael Zaletel of i4software notes, "This gives MUCH MORE prominence to the Top Free Apps and so I predict Free apps and Freemium apps will see a big boost after today."

Top 25 - iOS 5 (left) vs. iOS 6 (right)

Another big change has been the app detail page. That page places much greater emphasis on the first screenshot and reduces the importance of the description. When landing on an app, the user will see a larger icon than before, the rating, and the first screen shot. Scrolling down they will see the truncated description and a few more details. Previously they user would see a small icon, the rating, and the top section of the description.

These changes on the whole place much greater emphasis on the icon and the name of the app. These must be compelling as they are--in most areas of the App Store--the only thing the user will see. Ratings, developer name, and description have all been hidden from initial view in multiple places in the store.

What this will mean to app sales, we'll have to wait to see. While it seems as though the changes are all for the better for the user, developers may need to prioritize their icon, name, and first screenshot much more than in the past.

Phoenix Guild, Jason Citron's Core Gaming for Tablets Startup Gets Funding

Posted by Jeff Scott on July 10th, 2012

Jason Citron is the gaming lover and developer behind OpenFeint. Started as the social gaming network of a few games he helped co-create at Aurora Feint, the system opened up and now has grown to hundreds of millions of users. It's that system that caught the eye of GREE, the Asia-based games company with hopes to reach into the US. Last year, they purchased OpenFeint for somewhere just north of $100 million dollars. Shortly after that acquisition, Jason left to do what he loves, make video games.

Earlier this year, Jason Citron announced his new gaming company Phoenix Guild with a goal to bring the core gaming experience to tablet devices. As a gamer himself, he started young with the NES, he wants to mature the gaming ecosystem we currently see on the iPad.

"It’s obvious to me that fantastic, engaging games need to be built for these devices but instead everyone’s building these lame F2P sims, a direction (to which) I believe we will see more and more developers head," commented Citron. "Core gamers are getting tablets and they want to play real games on them. The playtimes we see on tablets is indicative of this with people playing for much longer sessions on tablets than they do on mobile phones."

Today it was announced that his startup received its first round of funding and is going full steam ahead in developing its first game. While we can't say anything about the game, the amazing graphic below from their artist should give you an indication of the quality we can expect.

Phoenix Guild is currently staffing up (HINT: yes, they are hiring) and we should see their first game around the end of the year. We'll keep you informed.

Microsoft Enters the Tablet Space and Impresses with Surface

Posted by Jeff Scott on June 19th, 2012

Microsoft's Surface technology is not new. It's an interface that Microsoft first showed off in table top form in 2007. But this iteration of Surface is new. It's a tablet, or more accurately a tablet platform. Monday Microsoft announced two new innovative tablets and a series of great accessories. A home run from Microsoft, a company that hasn't had many of those lately.

There are a few interesting things about the Surface announcement. For one, Microsoft went back to their roots and developed some hardware on their own. They didn't go through a partner, they developed it internally, and very quietly. And by all initial reports, it's a gem.

Another interesting thing is that it runs Windows 8. Say what you will about Windows but it is the number one operating system. It's a major force and it will be a big draw for the Surface tablet. And with Windows 8, the ability to run the same apps on your desktop, laptop, tablet, and maybe even phone, can not be easily dismissed. This is one big advantage, and one that Apple does not have in the immediate future.

Microsoft also introduced a series of very interesting accessories. Their version of the iPad Smart Cover for the Surface is the Touch Cover. It's a Smart Cover plus a keyboard and touchpad. Magnetic binding, bright colors, everything you'd expect but with the addition of a keyboard and a touchpad. And still only slightly thicker than a Smart Cover. Where the touch-only interface makes sense for the iOS devices, for users coming from a Windows world, they keyboard makes sense.

In the one misstep of the day. Microsoft took what is a brilliant platform, brilliant hardware, and made a confusing copy of it. There are two different versions of Windows 8, so there are two different tablets, both called Surface but with different specs, pricing, etc.. The old Microsoft rears it's ugly head and their goal seem to be keeping consumers confused again.

Take a look at the video below for some more info.

Microsoft has done something Google and HP/Palm failed to do. They created buzz, they created a killer hardware product, and a great operating system. This puts them square in the crosshairs of Apple as they are now the underdog to watch. Without even releasing the product, just announcing it, they have already leapfrogged Android in the tablet space.

Indie Game Forum Roundup GDC 2012

Posted by Rob LeFebvre on March 13th, 2012

Lots of independent games get shown off at the Games Developer Conference each year. Some of them are entered in the Independent Games Forum, a special competition for indie games releasing on console, Mac/PC, or iOS. We were able to visit a few of these, listed below, and wanted to tell you all about them.


While our reviewer enjoyed the look of this game, she also said it felt kind of short. When I mentioned this to the developer at the demo kiosk, he agreed. He then went on to show me how they put this game together, with hand built sets and hand-held cameras panning through each level to give it the unique visual style it has. In addition, the planned additional levels look nothing short of brilliant and expansive, so this should be one to keep an eye on.

Pugs Luv Beats / Pug Synth

File this one under adorable, right next to hilarious. As a pug owner and fan myself, Pugs Luv Beats took my heart away. Each pug in the game represents a specific beat or musical motif, and adding hats and costumes changes the music and allows the pug to go farther and faster towards its goal. The game may be more about music performance with gaming elements, but it's still a ton of fun to mess around with. Add the spin-off music app, Pug Synth, and I am sold.


One thing missing from modern games, say the developers of Fingle, is touching. And not in a weird way, either. Fingle tasks two players to place their fingers onto an iPad at the same time, and solve puzzles by cooperating and, yes, touching fingers. It's a unique and real-life-inspired game that's making lots of waves. Imagine taking this to a party where that cute boy or girl you want to meet is hanging out. Oh, yeah.

Ridiculous Fishing

Developer Vlambeer (Super Crate Box) teamed up with Zach Gage (Bit Pilot) and artist Greg Wohlwend (Solipskier) to create this funky game where the goal is to avoid fish on the way down, and hook as many as possible on the way up, then shoot them all out of the sky. Yeah, it's wacky. But super fun to play, of course. The couple of minutes I had to check it out made me glad I'd been able to stop by and play this all-star creation.


I have to say that I wasn't expecting to be emotionally invested in a game that looks like this, but the music and the loneliness of that poor star affected me in a fairly intense way. From Steph Thiron, the developer behind indie-darling Eliss, Faraway is a one-touch controlled, procedurally created game that puts players in the role of a lonely star in an empty universe, holding out hope that its quest will have meaning, in the end. Fantastic score, simple, elegant graphics define this one, and I can't wait to play the whole thing.


This one caught my eye as I walked by its kiosk at GDC. I was attracted to the clean lines, the happy little faces, and the puzzle look right from the start. Created by Powerhead Games, ASYNC Corp starts off a simple brain teaser, asking players to switch out and connect colored squares to create larger and larger rectangles. The conceit of the shipping center is a good one, and helps get the game idea across to the player fairly quickly.

Waking Mars
What's left to be said about this beautiful game from the makers of award-winning Spider, The Secret of Bryce Manor? Quite a bit, apparently, as I stood and talked with the lead art designer for the game. He made sure I knew that he created the concepts behind the art, but the actual paintings were done by "real artists." Whatever, dude, the game is gorgeous. Also? this is the first time I've heard the term "action-gardening adventure."

Beat Sneak Bandit - Winner of Best Mobile Game

Rhythm games are super fun. Stealth games are, too. Put them together, and you've got Beat Sneak Bandit, from Simogo. Our reviewer dug this one, so I gave it a quick try at the conference. Whoo, boy it IS fun. The artwork is stylish and cute, and the music is, obviously, beat heavy and catchy. Tapping to the beat to move my little guy to the clocks in the level was enjoyable and had me feeling pretty talented, two great ways to keep me playing a game.

Two other games that I did NOT have a chance to play (I didn't see them on the expo floor, really) are English Country Tune and Storyteller, the winner of the Nuovo prize. For more details on all the games entered into the contest, including the finalists and winners, see the main page here.

GDC 2012: A Few Minutes with Adam Atomic and Hundreds

Posted by Rob LeFebvre on March 12th, 2012

We had the chance to sit down with Adam Saltsman last week at GDC to ostensibly talk about The Hunger Games, the upcoming movie tie in game from Semi Secret Software`, the folks that brought us indie darling and commercial hit, Canabalt as well as Gravity Hook.

It didn't quite work out that way.

Lucky for us, Adam may be the nicest crazy-smart person around. He seemed genuinely upset that he wasn't able to talk The Hunger Games (maybe next week, he promised us), but also equally enthusiastic about the game he's currently developing with Greg Wohlwend, the developer behind Solipskier, another critical darling of the iOS gaming scene.

Currently named Hundreds, the game app is a mathematical, physics, puzzle...er...thing. It's beautifully designed with lots of red and white, with levels chosen by swiping a finger across a matrix of white dots.

Once inside the chosen level, the player must figure out how to grow the number circles to add up to 100, without touching each other, obstacles, or more vicious extra pieces. Each level is a mini-education in itself, as Saltsman spends an inordinate amount of time creating each level so that it can be figured out without a tutorial or instructions. This has got to be difficult, especially when we're talking about the hundred levels or so included in the game.

We played a few levels with Adam looking over our shoulder, and I remain impressed with the advanced level design and brilliant unspoken, unwritten pedagogy built into each one. Saltsman showed us his notebook full of illustrations and written notes about the levels to be included in Hundreds--this is a man who is at the top of his design game, and it shows.

While we learned nothing about The Hunger Games app on our visit, we came away with a new appreciation for game design and this genuine, kind human being with a notebook full of awesome and a new baby. Thanks again, Adam, for a lovely chat.


EA Pulls The Simpsons: Tapped Out From the App Store Due To Server Capacity

Posted by Jeff Scott on March 5th, 2012

It hasn't been a good few weeks for EA Mobile. With the disastrous launch of Battlefield 3: Aftershock and the eventual permanent removal of the game. And now The Simpsons: Tapped Out has disappeared from the App Store.

We have reached out to EA Mobile press relations for a statement on why the game was pulled and when or if it will return, but have yet to hear back. The help page for the game mentions that it was removed due to server capacity issues.

To ensure current players have the best possible experience, we've temporarily removed The Simpsons: Tapped Out from the App Store to limit the game’s server capacity to its current players and address connectivity and lag time issues.

If you’ve downloaded the game, you can continue to play. Actually, your experience should only improve as we work on a solution. As soon as we have resolved these issues to handle greater player capacity, we will return The Simpsons: Tapped Out to the App Store...

EA launching a game with server capacity too low? A problem they traditionally have on console titles, but that's a new one for mobile titles. But, honestly, I don't think that server capacity is the only problem with the game. While not as bad as Battlefield 3: Aftershock, it does have more fundamental problems beyond just server capacity.

For one, The Simpsons relies on EA's frustrating Origin game network to play the game. There's nothing that a game developer can do to be less inviting to a new user than putting them through a frustrating 5 minute account creation procedure at the launch of the game. Origin is EA's attempt to capture more of the "user graph" in the EA gaming universe. But for users it's a painful process totally devoid of any reward. Origin engineers seem to be trying to make the process as difficult as possible. And if you do actually get logged in you are rewarded with a grand total of nothing useful. Game Center works, it's easy, my gaming friends are there, not in Origin. In addition, Game Center doesn't require the user to sign in to every game for it to work. Game Center just works.

The other problem, as Brad detailed in our review of The Simpsons: Tapped Out, the game relentlessly pushes you to spend money. Not because you want to have more fun, but because you are annoyed. A trait that is unfortunately common on a badly designed freemium game from a traditionally core gaming company. How many times have we seen this from other companies like Glu and Gameloft? They all seem to struggle to get the balance between fun and making money. And EA seems to be falling into the same traps. The key that they don't seem to understand is to make people want to pay to make the game more fun, don't annoy the user into paying.

I'm sure we'll see The Simpsons: Tapped Out back in the App Store soon. They will fix the server capacity issues and get things going again. I doubt they will fix the fundamental flaws in the game though.

Very Telling That the 25 Billionth Download Was for a Free Game and in China

Posted by Jeff Scott on March 5th, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

iOS growth has been staggering in China, and yet still has a long way to go. That's why it's not too surprising that the 25 billionth app downloaded from the App Store was announced to be a free game downloaded in China. It really sets the tone for the future.

Apple recently ran a promotion as a countdown to the 25 billionth download on an app on the App Store. That 25 billionth download happened over the weekend. It was announced today that Chunli Fu of Qingdao, China downloaded that 25 billionth download. The app downloaded was Where's My Water? Free. To me, that's very telling of the future of mobile gaming and iOS expansion.

Asia, and particularly China is a huge potential market for iOS in particular and Apple in general. With well over a billion people, the market is huge and growing with iPhones becoming a hot commodity. You may remember that Apple had to halt the sale of the iPhone 4S in China in January due to near riots. The pent up demand is that high there.

Not to mention that App Annie is reporting user growth in China has increased 298% and revenue 187% over the last year. This outstrips growth seen in all other countries and it's not expected to slow down anytime soon.

The fact that the 25 billionth download was for a free game, is not much of a surprise. I've heard from many that users in China are not traditional used to paying for games. Simon Li, Deputy General Manager of Wireless Gaming Products for Tencent recently presented at the Mobile World Congress some information on the games market in China. While Tencent's top mobile game in China makes the equivalent of $3 million per month, that game is free and relies on in app purchase for that income. He reports that freemium is required for that market as users are rarely willing to pay for a game.

If you are an app developer and you aren't addressing the China market, now might be a good time to start.

Your Ultimate Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) App Sale List is Here!

Posted by Jeff Scott on November 23rd, 2011

App sales are nothing new, but the biggest of the year is here, and we'll be tracking the best of the sale apps right here. Expect lots of updates over the weekend. And a reminder, app prices change quickly. We'll try to keep the list below updated, but if you see something you want, grab it when you see it, the price could change next time you see it.

We've got games, educational, navigation, and other apps on the list. Make sure you look through all of the pages for the full list.

- 11/23, 11:45am - added a few EA titles and others of interest.
- 11/23, 10:00pm - A bunch of great new games and apps added. Some really great sales.
- 11/24, 2:00pm - lots more added, tons of games from Disney, Activision, and great apps as well.
- 11/25, 10:00am - as the Thanksgiving meal coma subsides, we found a couple dozen more great apps on sale.
- 11/28, 12:00pm - updated for Cyber Monday app sales

Black Friday: Game Apps on Sale

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Black Friday: Kids and Educational Apps on Sale

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Black Friday: Navigation Apps on Sale

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Black Friday: Other Apps on Sale

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Apple Event Recap and Our Thoughts: iPhone 4S Annouced; iOS 5 and iCloud Release Dates

Posted by Jeff Scott on October 4th, 2011

At 10am, Tim Cook - the fresh new Apple CEO - took the stage to announce what will change everything, again. Not wearing Steve Jobs' usual turtleneck, he instead wore a nice slate colored dress shirt - setting his own style. Tim delivered updates on what's happening in Apple retail, the iPod line, iOS 5, iPad, and the iPhone 4. Want to watch the keynote online? It's up now at Apple.com.

First up we got the usual statistics recap. Stats of course can be spun however the speaker wants, but here are some pretty solid and interesting bits. Apple now has 357 retail stores, has sold 300 million iPods. iPods have has a 70%+ marketshare the entire time they have been available. For reference, Sony took 30 years to sell 230k Walkmen cassette players. Apple sold 300 million iPods in 10 years.

iTunes now contains 20 million songs and in total has seen 16 billion downloads. Apple is reporting 500,000 apps in the app store -- as usual they are a bit premature on that as it's currently about 20,000 shy of that number. But there are well over 125,000 iPad apps available. The App Store has had 18 billion downloads with over $3 billion paid to developers, with 1 billion app downloads per month. That's billions, with a B, right there.

The really big number here, though, is that there are 250 million iOS devices now out there.

Let's skip right to what we are all came for, shall we? The new iPhone:

The new iPhone 4S - looks like the old iPhone

One of the worst kept secrets was that the iPhone 4 was going to get a bump in features to a new model, named the 4S. While there are only minor changes to the hardware case itself, this is a pretty substantial update on the inside. The main processor chip is now the same dual core A5 chip that runs iPad 2, increasing the speed and upping the memory. That means apps will have more resources to use and more apps can be run at the same time. In fact, Apple claims graphics can run at up to 7x the speed of the iPhone 4.

A killer new 8MP camera - the coolest hardware feature of the new iPhone 4S is the new camera. The camera has been upgraded to an 8MP backside illumination f2.4 camera. Meaning? This camera pulls in up to 73% more light per pixel - that means better pictures in just about all situations but especially so in lower light. Really a great camera on paper, better than most small cameras and even some DSLRs. Of course, we'll have to see how it does in real life situations.

The camera also includes 1080P image stabilized video recording, face detection for quick focusing, and quick image capture - 1.1 seconds to first picture, 0.5 seconds for successive images.

Siri - the intelligent assistant to get things done just by asking - The coolest new feature is the Siri assistant. This feature is rather hard to describe, but it truly is an assistant. It will allow users to interact with the phone with only their voice, getting responses via a computer voice. Things like reading your SMS messages, replying to them, setting calendar appointments, playing music, replying to email, and searching Wikipedia can all be done by voice. I think we're seeing just the tip of the iceberg here with Siri. I expect this to continue to expand with future iOS versions.

Take a look at the video below from Apple for more great examples of what you can do with Siri.

Siri launches only on the iPhone 4S. The processing power apparently required apparently is only available on the 4S. [Editor's note: what wasn't mentioned, of course, is the availablity of Siri on the iPad 2, which has the same processing power as this new 4S device]

Now on Sprint The iPhone 4S will be be available on three carriers simultaneously for the first time. AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint - all will launch at the same time.

More new iPhone 4S features Some other new features include a single dual mode phone, which can be used on all US carriers. Technically this dual mode feature is a huge deal. But in real life, not so much. Carriers will still have the device locked down so users can't easily switch between them. And even the unlocked phone version of this will apparently not work on the CDMA carriers anymore (Verizon and Sprint). It's a mess - and we can blame the carriers for that.

Barely mentioned in the keynote, the iPhone 4S will do Airplay Mirroring just like the iPad 2 - a feature that lets users see their device screen wirelessly on an Apple TV. Great for games, this sleeper feature will be huge one day, when Apple decides actually back the Apple TV more.

iPhone 4S Available on October 14th - the iPhone 4S will be available on October 14th in the US, Canada, Australia, UK, France, Germany, and Japan. Pre-orders will start on October 7th: this Friday. The price will be $199/$299/$399 on two year contract for 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB versions.

In addition, the iPhone 4 will be available for $99 for an 8GB model while an 8GB 3GS model will be available for free with contract.

New Applecare+ One great new options is the Applecare+. For $99, Apple will extend your warrantee to two years. One great new feature here is that Apple will replace an iPhone up to twice due to accident - dropped, submerged in water, etc. "Coverage for up to two incidents of accidental damage from handling, each subject to a $49 service fee."

Our Take on the iPhone 4S

While internally the iPhone 4S is a pretty decent jump, it still is lacking compared to some of the other devices (Android, Windows Phone 7) being released. Don't get the wrong idea, the iPhone 4S is still the best phone out there, but it may just lack the sexy features the some people will look for. Dual core processors are great, but the screen size is on the very low end these days.

If you have an iPhone 4, I'd say skip this upgrade. Wait for the next one and you should be out of contract and able to switch carriers if you wish. If you don't have an iPhone, it's the best iPhone we've ever seen, I'd say make the jump now.

Overall, this a good device, but there aren't enough compelling or new features to justify the 16+ month wait. We wanted more. A lot more.

iPod touch

The iPod touch didn't get an update at all this year. Oddly it's the same device, just slightly cheaper at around $30 less than last year prices. It is available in white now as well as black. But that's not really an upgrade.

Our Take on the iPod Touch Update - Or lack of update. Apple is now touting the iPod touch as the most used game device. And while it may be, it's not that competitive anymore. Without an A5 processor upgrade, the iPod touch is now quite a bit behind the iPhone 4. Not unexpectedly, as the iPod touch is usually a bit behind the iPhone; it got a retina display a couple months after the iPhone. Overlapping the upgrade of the iPhone with the iPod touch made me hope it would at least get an upgraded processor.

iOS5 Release - October 12

The iOS5 release was officially announced to be October 12th, a little over a week from now. It's a free upgrade. No real new features were mentioned beyond what was announced at WWDC. Refer back to our earlier coverage for more and we'll have a full guide for you on launch day.

Our Take on iOS5 - while we had hoped to see some further updates to some of the core apps and perhaps some new features, iOS 5 is a really solid upgrade. Lots of great new features and much needed improvements. Highly recommended if you have a iPhone 4, iPad 2, or iPod touch 4th gen.

Older devices may not fare so well with this upgrade. So if you have an older device and your device is officially supported, iPhone 3GS, original iPad, and iPod touch 3rd gen, let others try the upgrade first to see how it functions in real life.

iCloud and iTunes Match

As you may remember, iCloud is the name of Apple's new group of cloud based services. The basic level is free, and something everyone should use. For a quick overview, take a look at the video below.

No new features were announced beyond what we heard about at WWDC. But we did find out that iCloud will launch on October 12th with iTunes Match following up in late October. We'll have more on iCloud in a follow up article and expect this to be something that Apple iterates regularly. And let's hope so. Both products seem like they are a little unfinished and missing features - we had hoped for some finishing touches to be announced. We'll just have to keep waiting.

New Apps from Apple

Cards - is a new app from Apple that will allow you to create greeting cards on your device. Those cards will then be printed and mailed to whomever you choose for $3 in the US, $5 internationally. If you ship it to the US you can get a push notification when it's delivered.

Find My Friends -- Hinted at for a while, this is a feature that lets you share your location with your friends. Friends can request where you are and the app gives you some interesting control over how long and when they can get that information.

Both of these apps will launch on the App Store with iOS 5 on October 12th.


It's hard to really get too excited over this announcement. We only saw one really revolutionary thing from Apple, by the name of Siri. I think a lot of people assumed that with the delay in release of a new iPhone we were in for a huge set of announcements. Things like whole new maps app, Facebook integration, a truly new device, and hopefully a lot of things we hadn't even heard of.

Instead we got a really solid, but very safe phone. Some great announcements, but nothing revolutionary, and nothing that changes everything - safe. And nothing that seemed to tie up the loose ends that are iCloud and iTunes Match. They just seem like unfinished products.

The new iPhone 4S will sell well, but perhaps not as well as the iPhone we had hoped for.

The big question for me, and for anyone contemplating an upgrade, is when will the next iPhone come out. Apple has thrown out their usual calendars this year. The usual cadence of a new iPhone every summer is gone. We could see the next, expectantly revolutionary iPhone, anytime from next Spring to two years from now, which makes long term planning and contract scheduling hard. Rest assured, though, that we'll be here to help get the information out as it arises.

Woo Hoo! It's Apple Special Event Day! "Let's Talk iPhone"

Posted by Jeff Scott on October 4th, 2011

It's almost like Christmas and your birthday morning all wrapped up into one! But for this holiday you will be compelled to spends lots of money. Today Apple will make a bunch of announcements around the iPhone. It's pretty much a lock that we will see at least one new iPhone today, final iOS 5 details including some that have been unseen so far, iCloud, and probably a new Apple iOS app, perhaps iPhoto.

While the rumors have been all over the place, the crazy crazy rumor mill have pretty much all settled on the new iPhone to be announced today being an iPhone 4S. An updated version of the iPhone 4 with perhaps a faster processor, more memory, a bigger camera (8 MP), and perhaps a few more features. This isn't the iPhone 5 that we think Apple needs to make a statement, but such is Apple. They take their own paths -- and let's be honest, it usually works out for them.

It's almost assured that we will see some new features in iOS 5 that haven't been seen in the betas. And hopefully more details around iCloud and how it will work.

One area where iCloud is really lacking is photos. We're expecting Apple to announce some new features around that and perhaps even an iPhoto for iOS. With each of the recent hardware releases Apple have released an iOS version of one of their core apps (iMovie, Garage Band, iWork, etc.) -- it follow that they will continue this and I'm hoping we see something photo related today.

And maybe, just maybe, we'll see the death of Ping today.

Tim Cook will be presenting the new information today, his first big presentation gig as new Apple CEO. Break a leg, Tim!

We'll be reporting all of the big announcements as they happen on our Twitter and Facebook streams. Check there for the very latest info. And we'll be posting an analysis of the announcements later in the day.

.Biz Posts: HTML5 Conference Set For Next Week

Posted by Jeff Scott on September 20th, 2011

The first HTML5 Developers Conference is set to launch next week. And just announced they will be hosting a hackathon with a special focus on mobile gaming.

Everyone is talking about HTML5 -- it's the future, right? Developers from all over the world are getting together to learn more about HTML5 and those ubiquitous plans next week in San Francisco.

The HTML5 Developers Conference has already announced some fantastic speakers like Douglas Crockford (discoverer of JSON), Yahoo!, Ben Savage, Sibblingz, Steve Souders, Google, and Jason Hoffman. Take a look at the full lineup of speakers, looks like it's going to be a packed day.

The HTML5 Developers Conference takes place next Tuesday, September 27th at the Westin Hotel in San Francisco. You can register with 10% off using the code HTML5vibe.

And for the full details on the hackathon, hit the jump. For more information on the HTML5 Developer Conference, hit up html5devconf.com.

Read more at 148Apps.biz.

Huge Labor Day Weekend Price Drop Round-Up! [Updated!x2]

Posted by Jeff Scott on September 3rd, 2011

Another holiday weekend in the US means one thing -- apps on sale! This time around we are seeing good, but not best ever sales from Gameloft, EA, Namco, Big Fish, and many many more. Hit up the list below, we'll try to update it a couple times this weekend -- but I've got a grill to attend to as well!

And as always, you can keep track of the latest and greatest app price drops on the Price Drops page and RSS feed.

Update: 9/4, 1pm - Labor Day weekend continues. The grill is hot, the beer is cold. Should be a perfect day. Oh, and here are another 30 great apps that are on sale for super cheap.
Update: 9/5, 11am - More apps, more great sales!

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Hit the jump for the full list of Labor Day weekend price drops.