Archive for July, 2012

Apple Adds ‘Food & Drink’ Category to App Store

Monday, July 16th, 2012


Apple has added a new Food & Drink category to the iOS App Store. Apple told MacStories earlier this month that this category is for apps that had previously been in the Lifestyle category and is now home to “apps that help users cook and bake, mix drinks, manage recipes, find new restaurants and bars, and learn what their friends like to eat and drink”.

Food & Drink is home to the free Starbucks app, which is one of my most-used apps, as well as offerings from the Food Network, restaurants like Chipotle, Domino’s Pizza and many others, as you’d expect.

The new Food & Drink category is now available here on AppShopper in the category drop-down menu so you can browse it to your heart’s content. Or, you can browse this category right in iTunes through this link. At the time of this post, there are more than 2,800 iPhone apps and 1,200 iPad apps in this category.

The BBC and NBC Bring the 2012 Summer Olympics to your iPhone and iPad

Friday, July 13th, 2012

The 2012 Summer Olympic Games, which will be held in London, are set to start on July 27 and the networks providing television coverage of the events are already getting their ducks in a row with respect to mobile devices.

The London-based BBC has released the free BBC Olympics app for the iPhone, which debuted in the App Store yesterday. BBC Olympics offers news about the competing teams from your country based on your location, event schedules, top stories, and more.

If you’re in the UK, you have access to a different version of the free BBC Olympics app that will provide up to 24 live streams of events as they occur as well as the event schedule, headlines, and other information also available in versions of the app offered in the US and other countries.

(In case you’re wondering, the BBC only has the rights to stream its Olympics coverage in the UK so you won’t be able to get this functionality if you’re not in the UK.)

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In the US, NBC has exclusive rights to broadcast Olympic games coverage and has released two universal apps to let US viewers stay on top of the action. The free NBC Olympics app will provide news, highlight videos, results, schedules, and more. The free NBC Olympics Live Extra app will offer live streaming video of events as they occur, though to access this you must subscribe to cable or satellite TV service through an eligible provider and log in using the credentials for that television service account. At the time of this post there are over 100 providers on this list – you can find the complete list by downloading the app, tapping on the settings link in the top right corner and then the Sign In link.

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If you’re lucky enough to be attending any of the games in person, you may want to check out the official London 2012: Official Join In App for the Olympic and Paralympic Games for the iPhone. This free app is intended to be a pocket guide with complete schedules for the games, cultural events, and local activities plus interactive maps and more. And another official offering is the London 2012: Official Results App for the Olympic and Paralympic Games for the iPhone and iPad that will provide detailed schedule and results information as the games progress.

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Photography buffs can check out the Reuters Olympics London 2012 app for the iPhone and iPad that will offer images captured by the international news agency’s photographers throughout the games.

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If none of these apps quite do it for you, there’s an official YouTube channel for the London games that you can access through any web browser or the YouTube app on your iPhone or iPad.

I’ve already set up the NBC Live Extra app on my iPad and tagged some of the indoor volleyball games on the schedule to watch as they happen and the app will give me a push notification 15 minutes before the start of each to remind me. On my iPhone, I’ve got the BBC Olympics app loaded in order to do quick checks of the headlines once the games begin.

As we get closer to the games, we’ll highlight other apps we come across that could be useful if you want to stay up to date while on the go.

Tiny Wings 2.0 and Rovio’s Amazing Alex Released for iPhone and iPad

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

As hinted by developer Andreas Illiger last week, Tiny Wings 2.0 is now available in the App Store. Instead of debuting as a new app for the iPhone, Tiny Wings 2.0 is a major update to the original version, which wasn’t entirely clear in the teaser video Illiger released last week. Illiger told our sister site TouchArcade that the desire was to make the release a nice surprise for fans:

I [never] clarified if it will be an update or an seperate app before the release because then my fans will be happy on the release day when they see that the sequel isn’t a seperate app and they will get it for free. I worked on the 2.0 version for the last 12 months annd everyone told me I should make a seperate app out of it and sell it again (because it is almost a new game and I would earn a lot more money). It was a heavy decision for me to give away this new version for free but it feels right (most people I talked about this subject don’t understand it .

So I decided to give it away for free as a big “thank you” to all my fans for changing my life. That’s really important for me and the reason why I make this little stupid marketing trick of confusing my fans before the release.

If you’d purchased Tiny Wings previously, version 2.0 is a free update for you. Illiger also released a version of Tiny Wings 2.0 for the iPad, which is available as a separate purchase for $2.99. For those unfamiliar with Tiny Wings, check out TouchArcade’s review if you’re on the fence about purchasing it.

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Another major release comes from Rovio, the makers of the enormously popular Angry Birds franchise. Rovio’s new entry in the App Store is Amazing Alex, a physics puzzle game with a whopping 100 levels to keep you entertained.

Here’s the trailer for Amazing Alex:

If Amazing Alex looks familiar to you, you’re not hallucinating. The first incarnation of this game was called Casey’s Contraptions, which was available in the App Store for the iPad more than a year ago. Rovio acquired the title earlier this year, pulled it from the App Store, and rebranded it as Amazing Alex.

Amazing Alex is available in two versions, one at $.99 for the iPhone and iPod touch and the other at $2.99 for the iPad.

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Tapbots Releases Public Alpha of Tweetbot for Mac

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Tapbots, the maker of the popular Twitter client Tweetbot for the iPhone and iPad, has released a public alpha version of Tweetbot for the Mac. It was just a few weeks ago that designer Mark Jardine of the now 3-man development team had teased Tweetbot for the Mac in a tweet complete with a picture of the app running on his new Retina MacBook Pro.

This alpha version is available for download directly from the Tapbots site for free, where the following is noted in a blog post:

Tweetbot for Mac is finally available! However it may not be quite as you had hoped. Developing for the Mac is no easy task, especially a full-featured Twitter client. However, we’ve gotten to a point where while not complete, it is useable. We’ve decided to release it as a public alpha to a) motivate us to finish faster, and b) get feedback to help us build the best Mac incarnation of Tweetbot we can make. You can love it or hate it, but rest assured it will only get much much better from here.

The post goes on to describe that users who download this alpha version should expect a lot of bugs, missing features, and other issues since it’s not a final product, so please beware if you’re going to try it out and note that no technical support will be provided. Additionally, the alpha requires Mac OS 10.7 (Lion) while the final version to be released in the future will require 10.8 (Mountain Lion) at a minimum. It will be a paid app available through the Mac App Store though Tapbots has not yet determined what the price will be.

Tapbots is asking for feedback on the app to help them improve it and prepare a final release that can be sold – to do this, you can use the Send Feedback link in the app’s Help menu.

I downloaded the alpha and have found that in the short time I’ve been using it, it’s already giving my previous preferred Twitter client, Osfoora, a run for its money. Tweetbot for the Mac offers Tweet Marker support even at this early stage and has an identical look and feel to its iOS counterparts, as you’d expect. It even contains some nice gesture support, such as a 2-finger swipe to the left if you have a trackpad to get to a tweet’s conversation view. So far, Tweetbot for Mac is looking like a definite buy once it hits version 1.0 and is available in the Mac App Store. If you want to wait until Tweetbot is in the Mac App Store, I highly recommend you try out the iPhone or iPad version in the meantime to get a taste of what you’ll see:

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Tiny Wings 2 Teased in Whimsical Video

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Developer Andreas Illiger has released a trailer for the upcoming sequel to Tiny Wings, the incredibly popular iPhone game that debuted in February 2011. Illiger tweeted a link to the video on Friday despite having stated in a tweet in late June that, “There will be no new game by me any time soon…”

Tiny Wings features a bird with wings too small to let it fly that needs your assistance to navigate a world full of colorful, striped hills and catch as much air time as possible. According to the teaser video, Tiny Wings 2 features the same elfin-winged fledgling and will hit the App Store on July 12 though no word on pricing or other specifics is available yet.


If you’re not familiar with Tiny Wings, check out the full review of the first version at our sister site TouchArcade. It’s an adorable game with simple mechanics and charming music and sound effects. At the time of this post, Tiny Wings has over 186,000 ratings with an overall average rating of 4.5 stars.

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Heads Up: Corrupt App Store Downloads Causing Apps to Crash on Launch [UPDATED]

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Instapaper developer Marco Arment pointed out yesterday that there’s been something amiss with some app updates downloaded from the iOS and Mac App Stores for the last couple of days and the problem still persists. According to Arment, app binaries (the bundle of files that make up an app that developers submit to Apple for distribution) are somehow being corrupted on Apple’s end and when users go to open these apps, they will crash on launch and will not open.

Here’s a list of issues directly from Arment’s post that users might experience:

  • The app crashes immediately on launch, every time, even after a delete and reinstall as long as the corrupt file is being served by the App Store.
  • It doesn’t even show the Default.png before crashing. Just a split-second of a partial fade to black, then back to Springboard.
  • It may only affect customers in some regions.
  • If updating from iTunes, some customers might get a dialog citing error 8324 or 8326.
  • Mac apps might show this dialog:“[App] is damaged and can’t be opened. Delete [App] and download it again from the App Store.”
  • The console might show: AppleFairplayTextCrypterSession::fairplayOpen() failed, error -42110

Arment notes that this problem seems to be occurring primarily for app updates and not new apps just released to the App Store, and this may only be affecting users in certain areas. He’s compiled a list of apps affected, which contains more than 70 apps at the time of this post including some prominent ones like his own Instapaper and even Angry Birds Space Free.

If you downloaded an app update recently and are experiencing some of the issues Arment describes, please keep this issue in mind and refrain from writing a negative app review based solely on this experience. From what can be told so far, this is not the fault of any of the developers and I urge you to not take it out on them with a negative review. So far, Apple has not publicly responded to these reports though the company appears to be addressing the problem on an app-by-app basis when alerted. If you’re an app developer, you may wish to heed Arment’s warning to avoid releasing an update for your app until this has been resolved.

UPDATE: Apple told AllThingsD yesterday that this issue has been fixed, saying in a statement to the publication, “We had a temporary issue that began yesterday with a server that generated DRM code for some apps being downloaded.” To remedy any affected apps, users are encouraged to simply re-download the app from the App Store.

Live Wallpaper Offers Current Weather Information and Moving Wallpapers for Your Mac

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

While the Mac operating system has long offered the ability to change your desktop wallpaper to anything image you choose, showing a live wallpaper with other current information on your desktop has taken a bit more effort, at least until now. Developer Squid Melon released Live Wallpaper in the Mac App Store last month and it works well to liven up your desktop with current weather information and more.

Live Wallpaper works its desktop magic through several different themes to show the time, date, and local weather in various styles over preset images. Some of these themes include moving desktop images, like the Polar Clock theme that features a–you guessed it–moving polar clock to tick away the time while the Nebula theme shows a slow-moving view as if you were traveling through an interstellar cloud. With some of the themes, you can opt to use a picture of your choosing as the desktop image behind the live time and weather information.

Here’s a quick 60-second demo of the Polar Clock, Typo, and Nebula themes in action that I recorded on my iMac using Screen Capture Tool:


For the weather information, you can set your location yourself or let the app determine this on its own. The time and date shown are gathered from your Mac’s system settings and you can choose to display the time in 24-hour format if you’d like.

Each theme (there are 11 available at the time of this post) offers a different style and arrangement of the time and weather information. Squid Melon has stated that new themes will be added over time. I have no trouble finding a theme I like among the ones available but I do wish that the location of the elements included in each theme could be customized. For example, I love the Eiffel Tower theme but the weather information display is in the top right corner and is partially obscured by my hard drive’s icon (I know I can move this but I roll old-school with my Macs and like it right where it is). If I had my way, I’d move the weather display in this theme to the top left corner where it wouldn’t get in the way of anything else on my desktop.

If you want to spice up your Mac’s desktop, Live Wallpaper is a very easy way to do it and at just $.99, it’s an inexpensive method as well.

(If you’re more hardcore and game to take a more difficult route to thoroughly customize your desktop, check out the free GeekTool utility app. You can create custom “geeklets” to show just about any information you want on your Mac’s desktop though it requires significantly more effort to create and customize these compared to using Live Wallpaper’s preset offerings.)

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