First iOS 4 Multitasking Aware Apps Appearing in App Store

Posted by: Flirtation Creations  /  Category: Apple Inc, Applications, Developer, iPhone, iPhone OS

Apple has started approving updates for apps that support the new features of iOS 4. The most notable feature that requires explicit support is OS 4 multitasking. One particularly prominent app that now supports the basic iOS 4′s multitasking API is Dropbox, a file sharing/syncing tool.
Apple’s iOS has never supported multitasking in 3rd party applications. Apple has cited issues with performance and battery life as chief concerns with unrestricted multitasking. Instead, Apple has introduced 7 specific background services for IOS 4 apps that will allow them to continue tasks after a user switches away from them. These include:
- Background audio – Allows your app to play audio continuously.
- Voice over IP – Users can now receive VoIP calls and have conversations while using another app.
- Background location – Navigation apps can now continue to guide users who are using other apps
- Push notifications – Receive alerts from your remote servers even when your app isn’t running.
- Local notifications – Your app can now alert users of scheduled events and alarms in the background, no servers required.
- Task finishing – If your app is in mid-task when your customer leaves it, the app can now keep running to finish the task.
- Fast app switching – This will allow users to leave your app and come right back to where they were when they left – no more having to reload the app.
The most noticeable change that should be implemented in every iOS 4 aware app is “Fast app switching” which allows you to switch in and out of an application without restarting the app. Dropbox appears to support this feature. Critics will correctly point out that this isn’t really multitasking, but it’s just a start of the support of the new iOS features. More impressive uses of the multitaking API will include apps such as Pandora Radio and Skype.
Apple will be distributing iOS 4 to the public on June 21st.

Dead Zone Doldrums Test Skills of iPhone Customers

Posted by: Flirtation Creations  /  Category: App Store, Apple Inc, Applications, iPhone, Technology

Owners of iPhones know that their love for Steve Jobs’s touch-screen marvel comes at a price. The iPhone’s cellular coverage, provided exclusively by AT&T Wireless (NYSE: T – News), is notoriously spotty. In some parts of New York and San Francisco, it’s impossible to connect.
If you go for a dim sum lunch at Yank Sing restaurant on the edge of the financial district in San Francisco, you are likely to miss calls from the office. Some owners can’t use their iPhones in their own homes. Even AT&T Park, the city’s waterfront stadium, can be a dead zone.
The iPhone service is affected by several factors. First, AT&T’s 3G network doesn’t cover as much ground as Verizon (NYSE: VZ – News), America’s largest carrier. Second, urban areas packed with tall buildings are bad for wireless signals. Skyscrapers can block radio waves, or they can bounce them around to create what’s called multipath interference, where signals from different directions collide and cancel each other out.
But the iPhone’s worst enemy is the iPhone itself. So many Americans use them in the same places and at the same time that they are competing with one another for use of the network. “A hundred cellphones demanding bandwidth per cell site may not be out of the question in congested downtown areas,” said Tim Pozar, a wireless engineer who installs custom repeater systems to improve cellphone coverage at offices in the San Francisco area. IPhone owners have proved to be heavy consumers of network capacity.
What to do? There is no single magic bullet to improve iPhone service. You can spend hours trying to persuade AT&T to let you out of your contract. The time you spend doing that will cost more than the contract termination fee.
Knowing a few tricks might get you a connection. If your touch screen says “No Service,” the easiest fix is to hold the phone completely vertical, rather than slanted across your cheek. The iPhone’s antenna is meant to reach furthest if it is held straight up and down. If that doesn’t work, move. Indoors, walk to a window. Outdoors, cross the street.
For the newer 3G-capable iPhones, turning off the 3G in favor of AT&T’s older Edge network is sometimes effective. Go to the iPhone’s Settings icon. Tap General, then Network. Slide the Enable 3G toggle from On to Off. But you can’t talk and browse the Web at the same time on Edge.
Another alternative is to use a Wi-Fi hot spot to make calls. Skype, the popular Internet phone service, will make and take calls as long as you leave the app running and signed in. (Until an iPhone can multitask, that means you have to have the Skype app on all the time.) Calls with other Skype users are free, but calls to and from phones cost about two cents a minute. The app is available in the iPhone App Store.
Skype call quality varied in our tests from clear to sputtery, with a delay from one half-second to three or four seconds. Also, the app works only over Wi-Fi, so you will need to juggle between Skype and AT&T, depending on where you are.
Or, for $15 a month, you can subscribe to the Line2 app that mimics Apple’s phone in look and feel, but switches calls to a Wi-Fi network whenever the iPhone connects to one.
Line2 can start a call on AT&T’s 3G network and then transfer to Wi-Fi, whereas Apple won’t allow Skype to handle calls via AT&T. If left running, it will also receive inbound calls over Wi-Fi. (If Apple were to add a Wi-Fi option to the built-in Phone app, this wouldn’t be a problem.)
But for reliable service, there is no substitute for hardware that increases range. That is why AT&T has begun offering home 3G base stations that look like Wi-Fi routers, but send and receive 3G radio signals instead. These microcells, as AT&T calls them, connect to the Internet and offer wireless coverage of up to 40 feet in any direction. They work with any 3G AT&T phone, but not with Apple’s older non-3G model of iPhone.
The catch is that you will have to pay AT&T for the boost. There are two payment plans: If you buy the microcell for $150, AT&T will charge your voice calls made using the device against the minutes on your monthly wireless plan. Or you can sign up for unlimited calling for a $20 a month fee, and get the microcell free.
Many people consider it outrageous that AT&T isn’t handing out microcells to solve what they see as a problem that AT&T created. But you do get your own personal cellphone tower without needing the approval of your neighborhood’s opposition watchdog group.
AT&T’s microcell is built by Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO – News), a company with a reputation for solid network gear. Setup isn’t exactly plug-and-play, but it doesn’t require you to be a technician. You log in to attwireless.com — you’ll need to create an account if you haven’t already — and open a URL clearly labeled on a sticker that covers the microcell’s cable ports. Enter the microcell’s serial number and the 10-digit phone numbers of the iPhones you want it to serve. Then, as the instructions warn, you must wait up to 90 minutes while the microcell configures itself.
Call quality over the microcell was almost shockingly clear, ungarbled and free of the underwater sound that plagues many cellphone calls. You also might be less likely to experience the common many-second delays between your saying something and the other party’s hearing it. Cellular experts warn that delays and stuttering calls are still possible because these are caused by Internet traffic jams rather than the microcell.
If you make a call from inside the house and then walk outside, you can expect the microcell to reliably hand off the call to a local tower. Calls made outside, though, don’t transfer to the microcell when you get home. The only annoyance you may find with the AT&T unit is that whenever it is rebooted, as home networks sometimes are, it may take about 20 minutes to come back online.
AT&T’s solution will work for homes and small offices. But the company is clear that you can’t take it with you. It may not connect if plugged in somewhere else. So how to solve the restaurant dead-zone problem?
Mr. Pozar says the best fix is for the location to install its own repeater. For $1,000 to $5,000 in parts and labor, a hot dim sum spot could route calls through an outside antenna that connects to an inside amplifier.
That’s not cheap. But instead of a Free Wi-Fi sign, what better way to attract big spenders than one that says iPhone Hot Spot?

Adobe Dropping iPhone App Development Technology After CS5

Posted by: Flirtation Creations  /  Category: Adobe, Apple Inc, Developer

Thanks to a change in Apple’s iPhone Developer Program License Agreement, Adobe has decided to abandon the iPhone app building technology included in Flash CS5.
Adobe says it’s not planning on “any additional investments in that feature” after CS5 because of section 3.3.1 of Apple’s iPhone Developer Program License Agreement:
Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs. Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).
This section indicates that tools such as that in Flash CS5 are forbidden when developing apps for the iPhone and it appears to make it pointless for Adobe to provide the feature according to Adobe’s Mike Chambers:
While it appears that Apple may selectively enforce the terms, it is our belief that Apple will enforce those terms as they apply to content created with Flash CS5. Developers should be prepared for Apple to remove existing content and applications (100+ on the store today) created with Flash CS5 from the iTunes store.
The feature will still ship with Flash CS5, but is there much of a point in using it?

Apple Releases iPhone OS 4 Beta 2 and SDK to Developers

Posted by: Flirtation Creations  /  Category: Apple Inc, Applications, Developer, iPhone OS

Apple today released via the iPhone Dev Center its second beta version of iPhone OS 4 and the associated Software Development Kit (SDK) for developers to use in creating and updating applications. The initial versions of iPhone OS 4 and the SDK were released earlier this month alongside Apple’s media event to introduce the features of the next-generation operating system.
iPhone OS 4 will bring a number of new features, including various services supporting multitasking, email enhancements, and greater access for third-party application to built-iPhone functions such as calendars, photos, and camera controls. In all, Apple notes that iPhone OS 4 brings over 1,500 new APIs for developers to use in their applications.
Apple is expected to publicly release iPhone OS 4 to iPhone and iPod touch users “this summer”, although early models of those devices will not be compatible with the new OS and even some newer models will not be able to take advantage of all of the features. iPhone OS 4 will come to the iPad “in the fall”.

Want In Apple’s App Store? Just Win a Pulitzer Prize

Posted by: Flirtation Creations  /  Category: App Store, Apple Inc, Applications, Developer

If you want to get past Apple’s unpredictable App Store censors, it’s simple: Just go win a Pulitzer Prize, and/or inspire an online revolution.
That seems to be the message being sent by Cupertino this week in a very public iPhone app rejection fiasco. Word broke on Thursday that Apple had rejected a cartoon app created by Mark Fiore, a cartoonist who recently made history by becoming the first online-only journalist to win a Pulitzer. Fiore received the award for animations he’d published at the Web site of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Fiore’s iPhone app, however, was reportedly shot down by Apple because it “ridicule[d] public figures” — you know, as most satirical political cartoons tend to do. But the story didn’t end there: The general silliness of a ban on political satire, coupled with Fiore’s high-profile honor for that same genre of work, led to a public outcry over Apple’s actions.
And that public outcry has seemingly now led to Apple rethinking its ban.
Apple’s Pulitzer Rejection Reversal
Fiore, according to an interview published in The Wall Street Journal on Friday, received a call from Apple shortly after his story started receiving widespread attention online. The Apple representative, Fiore says, suggested he resubmit his app.
“I feel kind of guilty,” Fiore tells The Journal. “I’m getting preferential treatment because I got the Pulitzer.”
To be fair to Fiore, it’s probably more directly the public attention than the Pulitzer itself that caught Apple’s eye. But the honor, no doubt, illustrated the validity of satirical work in the eyes of the real world — the eyes, that is, outside of Apple’s carefully guarded walls.
Apple’s App Store and Political Cartoons
This wasn’t Apple’s first clash with politically charged App Store content. The Cupertino team put the kibosh on an app featuring the work of Mad Magazine cartoonist Tom Richmond last fall. Richmond’s app, entitled “Bobble Rep,” featured bobblehead-like caricatures of U.S. senators and representatives. Apple eventually reconsidered its rejection following a similar wave of online outrage.
Other authors have faced struggles, too, ranging from a guy who made a caricature-driven election game to a developer who created a cartoony countdown clock for the end of the Bush administration. But with the advent of the iPad and its focus on redefining the way we receive information, the concept of content-based censorship — particularly when the guidelines are so murky and inconsistent — is more troubling than ever.
“Suddenly Apple’s control freak approach threatens the development of the very technology it is supposed to be innovating, by placing restrictions and outright rejections upon the content that would be consumed via [its] devices,” Richmond writes on his blog. “Apps for publications and newspaper content won’t be very useful if [the iPad] only lets us see stuff that Apple and Steve Jobs thinks we should see.”
For now, it appears satire and politics will remain a wishy-washy, gray area within Apple’s app world. Not to fret, though: Bodily functions are still A-OK.

ABC iPad App Launch Seen as Successful Entry for Television Streaming

Posted by: Flirtation Creations  /  Category: App Store, Apple Inc, Applications, Developer, iPad, Technology

The Wall Street Journal takes a look at ABC’s application for the iPad ten days after the device’s launch, revealing that users have streamed at least part of 650,000 television episodes in what the network deems a very successful launch.
The network said that in the 10 days since the iPad’s debut, its TV-show watching app has been downloaded 205,000 times, giving the Walt Disney Co. unit a presence on nearly half the 450,000 devices that Apple says it has sold. Moreover, users have watched at least part of 650,000 television episodes using the app, generating “several million” ad impressions, according to an ABC spokesman, although the precise number is still being calculated.
The report notes that ABC has been offering on the iPad the same traditional 30-second ads from a host of advertisers that are seen by television audiences. By fall, however, ABC plans to roll out special interactive ads for users of its iPad application. Additional plans involve allowing local affiliates to offer targeted advertising to users based on their location.
Also provided in the report is an interesting look at the development of ABC’s iPad application, which was undertaken by a team of twelve ABC engineers. Development is reported as having occurred “in the five weeks between the Jan. 27 announcement of the iPad and its commercial release on Saturday” despite that fact that that time interval was over nine weeks in length. And somewhat surprisingly given Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ position as the largest individual shareholder of ABC parent company Disney, ABC’s engineers were not provided with a pre-release iPad for development purposes and had to rely on the simulator included in Apple’s development tools for the platform in order to build the application.
Application developers have been able to ride along with strong sales of the iPad, with Apple today announcing that strong U.S. sales of over 500,000 already have forced the company to push back international launch by one month to late May as it struggles to keep up with demand.

Apple Bites the Hand That Feeds it with New App Rules

Posted by: Flirtation Creations  /  Category: Adobe, App Development, App Store, Apple Inc, Applications, Developer, iPad, iPhone, iPhone OS, iPod Touch, Technology

Apple has not been shy about publicizing its culture war with Adobe over the use of Flash on the iPhone or iPad platforms. Yesterday, Apple took the battle to a new level, though, by changing the legalese for the App Store to prohibit any apps not built solely on Apple’s proprietary Objective-C programming language.
Apple has not been shy about publicizing its culture war with Adobe over the use of Flash on the iPhone or iPad platforms. Yesterday, Apple took the battle to a new level, though, by changing the legalese for the App Store to prohibit any apps not built solely on Apple’s proprietary Objective-C programming language.
The new iPhone Developer Program License Agreement includes the following text: “3.3.1–Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs. Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).”
This is essentially checkmate in the chess match between Apple and Adobe (ADBE). However, checkmate comes at the end of a well-played match as a result of superior strategy and tactics. Apple’s move is more equivalent to throwing a tantrum, taking your chess board, and going home.
I understand this strategy. I see it on a regular basis in games between my young children and their friends. All of the kids can be playing with a ball and having fun, but if the other kids won’t play the game that the owner of the ball wants to play, or if the owner of the ball is not winning, that child will simply storm off and take the ball home with them.
It is effective, but there are no real winners. And, I am not sure how well the immature toddler tantrum translates as a business strategy. Ultimately, Apple’s decision to slam the door on alternate development platforms limits the potential capabilities of iPhone and iPad apps, and increases the effort developers need to invest in order to provide the same app across multiple platforms.
By banning Adobe, Apple may be biting the hand that feeds it, though. Apple and Adobe have had a symbiotic relationship that has been mutually beneficial. The Mac computer has always been perceived as a superior platform for graphic arts and design, and Adobe has provided the fuel to drive that engine with products like Photoshop and Illustrator.
Adobe is set to release CS5–its flagship Creative Suite product–next week. One of the key features of the new software is Adobe’s Flash-to-iPhone compiler that enables developers to create an application in Flash, then package it for use on the iPhone–circumventing Apple’s lack of Flash support.
While restricting development to the Objective-C programming language effectively blocks Adobe’s flanking maneuver, and arguably helps Apple maintain the stability and consistency of apps with a minimum of effort, it also hinders what developers can achieve.
Facebook’s Joe Hewitt stated via Twitter “I’m upset because frankly I think Objective-C is mediocre and was excited about using other languages to make iPhone development fun again.”
Setting those considerations aside, Apple’s war with Adobe puts developers in a tough spot as well. Apple has managed to establish itself as the de facto App Store–meaning that it is virtually a requirement to at least create an app for the iPhone and iPad, but it is not the only platform.
Developers want tools that allow them to develop an app once, and repackage or redistribute it across multiple platforms such as Android, Windows Mobile, WebOS, PC, etc. Flash is fairly ubiquitous, so developers could create an app in Flash that would work across most platforms, then use the Flash-to-iPhone compiler to port it to the iPhone and voila!
Unfortunately, those compiled apps won’t ever see the Apple App Store because they violate the new rules. So, developers will have to create one app for the iPhone and iPad, and then develop the same app all over again for other platforms.
The move by Apple seems petty. There may be some benefit to Apple, but Adobe, app developers, and ultimately iPhone and iPad users all suffer as a consequence.

Sketch Nation Shooter iPhone App Lets You Draw Your Own Games

Posted by: Flirtation Creations  /  Category: App Store, Apple Inc, Applications, Developer, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch

Do you remember the OS X game SketchFighter, the shooter made from pencil drawings? Sketch Nation Shooter is certainly very similar, letting you draw your own levels, players, and even enemies. You pretty much design the game yourself!
It’s 99 cents / 59p, and from what I can tell sounds worth every cent. Or penny. It’s compatible with iPhones, iPod Touches and the iPad, and if you’re not feeling too creative then you can download other players’ attempts too. The game is apparently available on Facebook too, meaning you can send your lovingly hand-crafted game to Facebook players as well.
[iTunes Link]

Opera Mini Approved for Inclusion in App Store – Now Available

Posted by: Flirtation Creations  /  Category: App Store, Apple Inc, Applications, Developer, iPhone, iPod Touch

Opera today announced that its Opera Mini browser has been approved for inclusion in Apple’s App Store. Opera Mini is available on the App Store.
Opera Mini, with more than 50 million users worldwide, enables fast mobile Web browsing by compressing data by up to 90 percent before sending content to the device, resulting in significantly improved page loading. Users of the app will notice an uptake in speed, especially on slower networks such as the 2G Edge network. Surfing the Web with the Opera Mini App on iPhone and iPod touch will also help users save money because of its data compression capabilities. This will hold especially true while the user is incurring roaming charges.
Opera submitted its browser to Apple late last month and started a count-up timer to keep track of how long it had been in Apple’s hands for review. Some observers had wondered whether the browser would be accepted by Apple, as it directly competes with the mobile Safari browser application included with the iPhone and iPod touch.
Opera Mini is now available [iTunes link] in the App Store.

ABC Player for IPad Offers Free Full Episode Streaming

Posted by: Flirtation Creations  /  Category: App Store, Apple Inc, Applications, iPad, Technology

Want to catch up on the latest adventures of your favourite ABC program while you’re waiting at the departure terminal? With the ABC Player application for the iPad you’ll be able to do just that. And did we mention that it is entirely free?
We had an inkling that it was coming and that’s been confirmed as ABC has officially unveiled its iPad app on the App Store. ABC Player currently has about 20 of the network’s most popular shows, with the likes of Desperate Housewives, FlashForward, Grey’s Anatomy, Lost, Modern Family, and V making the list.
The app will allow you to browse through the shows and check out the network’s primetime television schedule. You’ll be able to watch full episodes for free, with a sprinkling of advertisements thrown in. However, video streaming is only supported over Wi-Fi. The app will maintain a history of the episodes you’ve watched and allow you to resume watching any of them from the point where you’d left off.
ABC Player is available on the App Store for free and is compatible with any iPad running iPhone OS 3.2 or later.

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