Archive for May, 2011

Apple Updates iWork Apps with iPhone Compatibility

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Apple has announced updates to its iWork suite of iOS apps that bring compatibility with the iPhone and iPod touch. Pages, Keynote, and Numbers, which were previously available for the iPad only, are now universal apps each at version number 1.4.

The iWork suite of apps was first announced at the same time as the first iPad in January 2010 and debuted in the App Store with its release in April 2010. Since then, they have received several updates with the most recent update bringing multi-tasking and AirPrint compatibility in November.

Now you can use Keynote, Pages and Numbers on iPhone and iPod touch to create amazing presentations, documents and spreadsheets right in the palm of your hand,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “The incredible Retina display, revolutionary Multi-Touch interface and our powerful software make it easy to create, edit, organize and share all of your documents from iPhone 4 or iPod touch.

The updated Keynote, Pages, and Numbers will work on the iPad and iPad 2, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and 3rd and 4th-generation iPod touch models.

The updates are free to those who already own the apps while the price of each app to new users has remained the same at $9.99.

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Apple to Unveil iOS 5 and iCloud at WWDC

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Here’s something new: Apple has issued a press release announcing that the company will unveil iOS 5, a new cloud service called iCloud and Mac OS X Lion at the keynote for its Worldwide Developers Conference next week. The press release states that the keynote will be presented by Steve Jobs and other Apple executives starting at 10:00 a.m. Pacific time on June 6.

Apple® CEO Steve Jobs and a team of Apple executives will kick off the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) with a keynote address on Monday, June 6 at 10:00 a.m. At the keynote, Apple will unveil its next generation software – Lion, the eighth major release of Mac OS® X; iOS 5, the next version of Apple’s advanced mobile operating system which powers the iPad®, iPhone® and iPod touch®; and iCloud®, Apple’s upcoming cloud services offering.

The press release doesn’t provide specifics on what new features will be in iOS 5 or what the new iCloud will offer so there’s still plenty of room for rumors. Hopefully notifications will see a major overhaul in iOS 5 and that Apple’s new iCloud will make it easier to access documents and media from anywhere. Bring it on, Apple.

AT&T’s ‘Mark the Spot’ Adds Spam SMS Reporting

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

AT&T’s Mark the Spot app, which allows subscribers to report problems with AT&T’s cellular network, was updated this week to add the ability to report spam SMS messages.

Mark the Spot first debuted in the App Store in December 2009 when AT&T was the sole carrier for the iPhone in the U.S. Since then it’s seen several updates and the most recent update is a welcome one for those of us who receive spam text messages.

While the reporting process for a spam text message is a little awkward (you’ll need to start the submission as you would for a poor data connection or other issue), you’ll see further instructions asking you to forward the spam message to SPAM (7726). Once you forward the spam SMS, you’ll receive a reply from AT&T asking you to reply with the phone number of the spam text’s sender.

While the app doesn’t say what will happen once you forward a message, we presume AT&T will save and track the phone numbers submitted that sent spam text messages and then move to block messages from these numbers once the spamming has been verified. It may not be ideal to ensure you never receive another spam text message again but it’s a welcome step in the right direction.

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‘PSN Status’ Tells You if PlayStation Network Is Up or Down

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Following a major hacker attack last month, Sony’s PlayStation Network is still not up and running for users in some regions. To help out PlayStation gamers who own iOS devices, developer Logicswarm has released the PSN Status app to instantly let you know if the service is up or not.

All you need to do is open the app and you’ll see the network’s current status:

PSN Status is free and we thought it was a clever and relatively timely release by Logicswarm worthy of flagging for our PlayStation-owning readers.

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‘Nike+ GPS’ Gets Major Update, Goes Free for a Limited Time

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Nike has updated its Nike+ GPS app with several new features, adding more Voiceover feedback control, improved GPS and accelerometer performance and more. Also, in celebration of the 5th year of Nike+, Nike+ GPS is free for a limited time down from its regular price of $1.99. Nike+ is a free service that tracks users’ running stats and offers the ability to set goals, join challenges, and connect with a large online community.

The full list of the app’s new features is as follows:

  • Control whether incoming calls will pause your run.
  • Select your preferences for Voiceover feedback, or turn it off all together.
  • End or pause your run without pulling the plug on your music.
  • Register or sign-in to Nike+ GPS with your Facebook or Twitter account.
  • Experience a boosted engine with improved accelerometer and GPS accuracy.
  • Challenge your friends to a new Nike+ Tag Game: Last to Run, where the last person to sync a run is IT.
  • Easily find friends to play Nike+ Tag by searching for their usernames.

Note that Nike+ GPS requires iOS 4 or higher on an iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 or 2nd-generation or later iPod touch.

This is the first time that Nike+ GPS has gone free since it was released last September, so definitely jump on this if it’s been on your Wish List. I’ve tried a few running apps and Nike+ GPS has been my favorite so far because of its ease of use and Voiceover feedback (I have it update me on my workout time and pace every 1 minute, which helps keep me focused and motivated).

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Fidelity Investments Adds Check Deposit Capability to iPhone App

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Fidelity Investments, one of the largest financial services companies in the world, has released an update to its iPhone app adding the ability to deposit checks using the device’s camera. The update to the free app hit the App Store this morning and requires iOS 3.1 or higher on an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad.

USAA was the first bank to offer check deposits through an iPhone app in 2009. Last year, Chase Manhattan Bank followed suit and there are now several other financial institutions that offer this capability for iOS devices, including J.P. Morgan, Schwab (EDIT: check deposits coming in a future update), PNC Bank, Affinity Bank and many more.

An FAQ accessible through the app indicates that it will take 4 to 6 business days for checks deposited via the app to posted to an account. Note that the check deposit feature is currently only available through the Fidelity’s iPhone/iPod touch app and is not yet a feature of the company’s iPad-specific app.

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‘Opera Mini Web Browser’ Gets iPad Compatibility

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Opera Software, the developer of browser software for a variety of platforms, announced the availability of Opera Mini 6 for iOS today. The latest version of the app features a redesigned interface, compatibility with the iPad and the iPhone 4’s retina display, social network sharing features and more.

I would compare it to walking onto the stage and hearing the roar of the crowd,” said Opera’s, CEO Lars Boilesen, when describing the feeling of letting the Opera Mini 6 browser out on stage in the App Store. “We have put in a lot of rehearsal and clever thought behind the new experience. The Opera Mini browser has always kicked up the tempo when downloading pages; now the browsing flows along to a smooth, easy beat.

Opera Mini promises a faster and less expensive web browsing experience on mobile devices with requested web pages processed on their servers and sent to the mobile device in a compressed format that results in less data usage, resulting in lower costs for those on metered data plans.

Opera Software has posted a video highlighting the new features of Opera Mini 6:

Opera Mini first debuted for iOS a little over a year ago and racked up over 1 million downloads in its first 24 hours in the App Store. Since then, it has remained a regular in the Top 200 Free Productivity apps.

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Apple Defends App Developers Against Lodsys Patent Infringement Claims

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Earlier this month, patent holding firm Lodsys sent letters to several iOS developers threatening legal action over the infringement of a patent purportedly violated by in-app upgrade functionality within apps. The patent, which was filed in 2003, covers “methods and systems for gathering information from units of a commodity across a network ” and does not explicitly refer to mobile smartphone apps or Apple in any way.

Several developers publicly expressed concern over the notification from Lodsys including James Thomson, the developer of PCalc Lite, via his Twitter account. Other developers also revealed that they had received similar notifications from Lodsys, including Iconfactory, the maker of Twitterific, Take Five and others.

The backlash against Lodsys was strong, prompting the company to publish an FAQ defending its actions in its blog and define that the company was seeking 0.575% of U.S. revenue as a licensing fee for the patent.

Apple had remained silent in the matter until today, responding to Lodsys by letter as reported by Macworld.

The letter, which has been published in full by Macworld here, bluntly states that there is “no basis for Lodsys’ infringement allegations” against app developers and notes that Apple has licensed the patents in question and is “fully prepared to defend” its license rights. In short, Apple states that its license of the patent in question extends to developers since the use of the in-app purchase system uses Apple’s own systems, APIs, software, etc. The letter closes by asking Lodsys to cease pursuing its claims of patent infringement.

While Lodsys isn’t seeking a particularly large amount of money from developers to license its patent, its actions could have a chilling effect on the App Store ecosystem, preventing developers from offering free apps with in-app upgrades to avoid paying the licensing fee. This could result in fewer developers bothering to create apps or that more apps would be paid apps instead of free ones. Additionally, Lodsys’s actions could pave the way for other similar claims against developers in the future. It’s good to see Apple stepping up to defend developers here.

Ashton Kutcher Releases Self-Branded Twitter App for Mac

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

As reported by TechCrunch today, Ashton Kutcher, the actor and former fashion model with over 6 million Twitter followers, has released his own Twitter app for the Mac and Windows. was developed in partnership with UberMedia and uses Adobe AIR, a cross-platform runtime environment, which makes it ineligible for distribution via the Mac App Store. The app is available is available to download free here. features “channels” selected by Kutcher as well as standard features available in other Twitter clients including the ability to view your own timeline, mentions, and direct messages. A large pane on the right acts as a browser so it’s not necessary to leave the app to view linked items.

While I found Kutcher to be particularly entertaining in That 70’s Show, I’m not nearly enough of a fan of him or Adobe AIR to use as my desktop Twitter app. If you’re looking for something a little less flashy and untainted by celebrities married to Demi Moore, the free official Twitter app and Kiwi are good options.

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‘Apple Store’ App Updated with Custom Mac Configuration, In-Store Help

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

In conjunction with changes made at its retail stores yesterday seeing iPads used as interactive product displays, Apple has updated its Apple Store app with new features. Apple Store now lets users define custom configurations for new Macs and offers a special in-store mode to facilitate getting support. Version 1.3 of the free iOS app hit the App Store yesterday.

While in an Apple retail store, customers can now view the length of and join a queue for retail or technical support and see the next workshop on the store’s event calendar.

Users can now order Macs with custom configurations within the app as well.

Interestingly, the Apple Store app is still not universal with an optimized interface for the iPad despite the tablet’s new prominence in the company’s retail stores and the emphasis in Apple’s marketing messages on the iPad’s portability and utility in a wide variety of situations.

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