Archive for December, 2010

AppShopper Picks: 2010 Apps of the Year

Friday, December 31st, 2010

2010 has been an incredibly busy year for the App Store. Thousands of new apps were released, several of which caught our eye and provided amazing utility, entertainment, and a fair share of pure delight. We’ve compiled a list of the most unique and ground-breaking apps in 2010 to close out the year that saw the release of the magical iPad, the svelte iPhone 4, and the camera-laden fourth-generation iPod touch.

For the iPhone/iPod touch

Despite the number of apps in the App Store, true innovation in an app to do something that’s never been done before is rare. Developer essency impressed us with its Awareness! app that lets you listen to your music and still hear what’s going on around you at the same time, using the iPhone’s mic to “listen” for noises above a defined threshold and pipe it through your headphones. We reviewed Awareness! and found it to do exactly as it promises.

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Though developer tap tap tap has seen its share of controversy this year with its flagship Camera+ app removed from the App Store by Apple over a prohibited hidden feature, Camera+ recently returned to the App Store and is better than ever. With some tools to help you capture better pictures plus several scene and color effects and borders to edit captured images, it’s one of our favorite alternate camera apps for the iPhone.

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The iPhone 4 finally brought the ability to make video calls a reality with its front-facing camera but Apple’s Facetime technology limits users to Wi-Fi only. Tango was the first app to enable video calls over 3G and to users with the older iPhone 3GS as well. Fourth-generation iPod touch users can also use Tango to make video calls when connected to a Wi-Fi network. Going even further, Tango is also available for the Android OS, making cross-platform video calls between iOS and Android devices possible too.

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For the iPad

If you have a laptop or desktop computer with a small display and an iPad, Avatron’s Air Display lets you use the iPad as a secondary monitor to get your computing groove on. We took a look at Air Display when it was released and found it to be a snap to set up and use. Initially only compatible with Macs, Air Display gained Windows compatibility a couple of months ago.

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With its large multi-touch display and multimedia capabilities, the iPad has the potential to be the ideal device to support the evolution of traditional print media like magazines and newspapers. Wired Magazine was the first to put out an app featuring its magazine with embedded multimedia content. While it’s a bit pricey at $3.99 per issue compared to the cost of the print version with a subscription, Wired Magazine on the iPad is a slick preview of what the digital future may hold.

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iOS 4.2 brought several new features to the iPad and provided even more tools for developers to use to create apps. Algoriddim, the maker of the djay application for the Mac, took advantage of some of the new audio features in iOS 4.2, releasing djay, a full-featured djaying app with virtual turntables and some incredible mixing and transitioning features. Putting together a traditional DJ equipment set-up can be costly and cumbersome and the ability to be able to mix jams and rule the party with an iPad and djay instead is amazing.

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For the iPhone/iPod touch and iPad

One of the most talked-about limitations of iOS is its inability to display Flash content on the web. To get around this limitation, a small California start-up developed Skyfire, which will find and convert Flash video on web pages and convert it to a format viewable on the iPhone or iPad. While it’s not compatible with every single site out there, we found that it works well enough to make it a worthy purchase and can eliminate those little blue Flash error boxes you’d otherwise see on some sites.

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While we normally leave iOS game coverage to the experts at our sister site,, we can’t help but mention Fruit Ninja as a stand-out casual game in 2010. In Fruit Ninja, which is available for both the iPhone and iPad, your goal is to slice as much virtual fruit tossed into the air as possible, often while avoiding bombs (in Arcade or Classic mode) or the fruit reserved for your opponent (in online multiplayer mode). It may sound a little silly but it’s incredibly fun and addictive and deserves a spot on our list.

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We’d be remiss in not mentioning our own app that debuted just a few months ago. As a universal app, it will be at home on an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad and offers you quick access to the most popular apps in the App Store plus it lets you know via push notifications about updates to apps you own or on your Wish List. The official AppShopper app is free and ad-supported (ads can be removed with a $.99 in-app purchase). Free importer applications for Macintosh and Windows computers are also available to help update your free account – see this blog post for more information about the importer.

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If you’re curious to see what apps were the most popular and those most frequently appearing on the Wish Lists of other AppShopper readers in 2010, check out this article.

Happy New Year to all of our readers!

Most Popular and Wanted Apps in 2010

Friday, December 31st, 2010

At the end of the year, we thought it was a good idea to dive into our database of App Store apps and present some interesting lists of the most popular apps in 2010.

The following two lists show the most popular apps based on the top 100 lists. These lists for both iPhone and iPad were generated based on the rank and length of time each app had in the bestsellers lists.

Top iPhone Apps 2010

1. Angry Birds
2. Doodle Jump
3. Skee Ball
4. Fruit Ninja
5. Gamebox 1
6 Bejeweled 2
8. Plants vs. Zombies
9. Moron Test
10. Pocket God

Top iPad Apps 2010

1. Pages
2. Angry Birds HD
3. GoodReader for iPad
4. SCRABBLE for iPad
5. Friendly Plus for Facebook
6. Numbers
7. Keynote
8. Star Walk for iPad
9. Pinball HD
10. Penultimate

Next we looked at our user’s Wish List apps to see what the most wanted apps were for 2010. As you might expect, the list only represents paid apps, since no one bothers wish-listing free apps. But one surprise was that a large number of users have wish-listed the $0.99 app Angry Birds, in the hopes it will drop to free at some point.

Most Wanted Apps of 2010

1. Infinity Blade
2. Angry Birds
3. Awesome Note (+Todo)
4. Street Fighter IV
5. Real Racing 2
6. Angry Birds HD
7. Dungeon Hunter 2
8. Plants vs. Zombies
9. Skyfire Web Browser
10. iMovie

Skype Brings Video Calling to iPhone

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Skype released version 3.0 of its app for iOS late last night, adding long-awaited video calling to the list of features for the popular VOIP app. This feature comes on the heels of a support document discovered last week by Engadget on Skype’s site that hinted at video calling features on the iPhone. Skype first released its free iOS app in early 2009 and added the ability to make calls over 3G in its last major update over the summer.

The full list of new features and changes in version 3.0 is as follows:

• Make Skype to Skype video calls on WiFi and 3G*
• Call Skype desktop users (Mac OS X or Windows) and other iPhone users.
• Two-way video calls supported on iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPod touch 4th gen.
• Receive only video supported on iPad and iPod touch 3rd gen, with no camera.
• Make video calls in portrait and landscape.
• Skype video calling requires iOS 4.0 or above.

Skype offers free calls to other Skype users over Wi-Fi or 3G. Calls to land lines and mobile phones are available at low per minute or monthly subscription rates.

Skype makes the following notes about compatible iOS devices:

• This version works on iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad and iPod touch. Skype requires iPhone OS version 3.0 or above.

• Calling functionality is available on iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad and 2nd generation iPod touch onwards. iPod touch requires a compatible headset with a microphone.

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José Cuervo Will Call a Cab for You on New Year’s Eve

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Jose Cuervo, the popular tequila brand, wants you to celebrate the arrival of 2011 safely and has reminded us of its cab-finding app to assist you with that endeavor. Cue the Cab is a free app that uses the iPhone’s geolocation capabilities to find and contact a local cab company for you.

To use the app, you first need to go through a quick registration process to verify that you’re of legal drinking age and enter your phone number. While we were a bit wary about entering our phone number, we haven’t been bombarded with calls or text messages so José Cuervo doesn’t appear to be up to anything nefarious in gathering this information.

Once you’ve finished with this process, all you need to do is press the virtual gold button and you’ll be brought to the Phone app where a call to the closest local cab company will be initiated automatically. You’ll hear a brief message from José Cuervo thanking you for using the app and then you’ll be connected to the selected cab company. We found Cue the Cab to be a little hit or miss in finding the nearest cab company in the suburbs of Boston but better within the city proper – you’ll probably get the best results if you’re doing your celebrating in a major city.

Cue the Cab isn’t the most comprehensive taxi finding app we’ve seen but we appreciate that a major tequila brand is stepping up to encourage drinkers to be responsible when it comes to getting home after an evening out. And above all, we want all AppShopper readers to celebrate safely on the upcoming holiday weekend and all other times.

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Camera+ Rakes in Over $50,000 on Christmas Day

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

Camera+, the iPhone app by tap tap tap that was at the source of some controversy earlier this year and only just returned to the App Store a few days ago, earned its developer over $50,000 on Christmas day alone according to MacRumors.

Camera+ had been removed from the App Store in August for violating Apple’s development guidelines because of a hidden feature that enabled the use of the iPhone’s volume button to trigger the camera’s shutter. The app finally returned to the App Store on December 22, minus the VolumeSnap feature that was the initial source of trouble.

tap tap tap provided sales information to MacRumors, showing the app peaking at nearly 80,000 downloads on Christmas day. At its current sale price of $.99 and after deducting Apple’s 30% share of revenue for all apps sold, tap tap tap earned over $54,000 from Camera+ sales on that day alone.

At the time of this post, Camera+ is #1 in the Top 200 Paid iPhone Photography apps in the App Store, and #12 in overall in the Top 200 Paid iPhone apps. Camera+ is one of our favorite camera apps for the iPhone and we highly recommend it if you’re looking for an app that offers additional on-screen tools to help you capture better pictures and edit your photos with borders, effects, and more. To celebrate the release of Camera+ 2.0, the app is currently on sale for $.99, down from its previous price of $1.99.

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App Store Back in Operation After Holiday Break

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

With some app updates beginning to show up through iTunes on our computers and here on AppShopper, the App Store is apparently up and running again after a short holiday break a day earlier than expected. Apple had previously communicated to developers that iTunes Connect, the portal through which iOS developers manage their apps in the App Store, would be closed from December 23 through December 28, resuming operation on December 29.

If you are set to receive push notifications of app updates and price changes in our official AppShopper app, you may have already seen a few arrive this afternoon. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on any notable new arrivals in the App Store now that developers are able to release new apps again.

Skype to Bring Video Calling to iPhone?

Monday, December 27th, 2010

On Christmas Eve, Engadget discovered a help document on Skype’s site that points to video calling capability for the iPhone. Skype, the incredibly popular VOIP calling service, first released its iPhone app in early 2009 and video calling has never been a feature available despite several updates made to the app since the iPhone 4 with its front-facing camera was released earlier this year.

The document referencing video calling on the iPhone, which has since been removed from Skype’s site, was apparently intended to provide guidance on how to use the feature on the iPhone:

For a very brief period in July, competitor Fring offered the ability to make video calls through Skype through its own iPhone app, though an apparent disagreement between the two companies resulted in the removal of this feature from Fring’s app. Though iPhone 4 owners are able to make 2-way video calls using the device’s front-facing camera through Apple’s own Facetime technology, this is limited to use when connected to a Wi-Fi network only. The free Tango app opens up video calls to 3G networks and to the iPhone 3GS also, plus it works across platforms with a corresponding Android OS version as well, so iPhone users are not without some options in the meantime.

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‘ToonCamera’ Brings Unique Animation Effects to Your Pictures and Videos

Monday, December 27th, 2010

Code Organa recently released a major update to its ToonCamera app, adding the ability to record video within the app, edit saved pictures, and more. ToonCamera first became available in late September but it caught our eye after its most recent update. We’ve found it to be a unique app that can create an entirely different look for your videos and pictures.

ToonCamera uses the rotoscoping animation technique to change your videos and photos on the fly. This animation technique will adjust your videos and pictures using cartoon, sketch, or stippled styles. Within each style you can adjust line thickness between three levels, allowing for a total of 9 effects types. Code Organa has created a video demonstrating how ToonCamera works:

You can choose to capture a live video or picture immediately using the iPhone’s camera (on the iPhone 4 you can also switch to the front-facing camera) or import an existing picture from the Camera Roll or any photo album. When capturing video or a still image, there’s an on-screen switch to turn the flash on or off as needed. You can share your masterpieces with others via email, Facebook (still images only), YouTube (video only), or Twitter.

All in all, ToonCamera is easy to use and the developer has promised higher resolution image capture and other features in a future update. ToonCamera is currently on sale for $.99, which is 50% off its regular price, to celebrate the release of version 2.0. Note that you must have an iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, or 4th-generation iPod touch and iOS 4 or higher to use ToonCamera.

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Reminder: iTunes Connect Closed for the Holidays = No New Apps or Updates

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

We just wanted to remind you that iTunes Connect, the portal through which iPhone developers manage their apps in the App Store, is closed for the holidays. Apple had notified developers of this closure last month, announcing that they would be unable to upload new apps or schedule price changes to take place from December 23 through December 28. iTunes connect will re-open on Wednesday, December 29.

If you’ve been keeping track of apps here on AppShopper over the past few days, you’ve probably noticed that there have been no new apps or updates recently – this is a direct result of the holiday closure of iTunes Connect. However, our Popular app list will continue to update during this time and you may continue to make changes your Wish List as much as you’d like as well, of course.

Developer Dilemma: ‘MobileRSS HD’ Looks A Lot Like ‘Reeder’

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Earlier today, TechCrunch pointed out a conflict between two developers of RSS feed reader apps. Silvio Rizzi, the developer of the highly-rated Reeder for iPad, had noticed that NibiruTech Limited’s MobileRSS HD looked a lot like his own app. A lot. He went so far as to create a special web page showing pictures of his app and NibiruTech’s side-by-side, which you can see here.

With a release date of the MobileRSS HD version in question (3.0) several months after Reeder’s, it appeared to Rizzi that NibiruTech had essentially copied the design of his app.

Looking at the screenshots posted by Rizzi, it seems clear that NibiruTech decided that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And Nibirutech really wanted to compliment Rizzi.

TechCrunch reached out to NibiruTech to see what they had to say about this accusation and received the following response:

We are submitting an update to MobileRSS immediately which will include modifications to the UI elements that most mimic Reeder. We respect the work that Reeder has done but are most concerned with serving users and improving MobileRSS for everyone. These improvements include ideas pioneered by Reeder, but we have current and upcoming features which are unique to our app not found in other RSS readers.

But to be clear, we’re taking immediate action to correct this and will remove the similarities to Reeder at once.

MobileRSS developers

NibiruTech’s response admits no guilt but is quick to commit changes to eliminate the similarities. We watch the App Store closely and it pains and disappoints us to see the kind of design theft that appears to have happened here. To boot, Rizzi is an independent developer with only two apps in the App Store at the time of this post and is the David to Nibirutech’s Goliath, a company founded in 2007 with 13 developers on staff and several apps in the App Store.

Nibirutech has decreased the price of MobileRSS HD to $.99, down from $4.99 but we don’t recommend that you buy it. If you’re looking for a solid, well-designed RSS app that syncs with Google Reader for the iPad and want to support Rizzi, check out his Reeder for iPad instead.

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