For many developers it appears as though the iPhone is simply an excuse to sneak advertisements further within your sight pattern. This is directly in line with many of the more recent trends that are attempting to raise the pervasive nature of technology by blurring the lines of art or entertainment and advertising. This is not to say that all of these are bad, however.
Throughout the last several generations one of the only tolerable advertisements seems to be movie trailers. It is a common feature to see hordes of crowds hurrying to the theater far before the feature begins just so they can see the previews once the curtain gets pulled away. Now with the iPhone app, Trailers, we can get a little bit of that joy streaming behind our touch screen.
The Google power and mammoth control of the information Zeitgeist is hard to deny, or compete with. Since the beginning of the iPhone, this company has been infecting the technology with specially designed applications that try to bring the appeal of Google to a format specific type of application. Apple has been very receptive to this, even including a Google application as part of their irremovable inventory. Now the next step in Google globalization is ripe on your touch dependence and is going to give you something you have never seen. Google Earth is simultaneously one of the best and more bizarrely frightening applications that have ever been on the iPhone.
The application leads to space with an image of the Earth in the dead center. Using the same principle for enlarging images that you have discovered throughout the “i” use, and you just stretch the screen to go in deeper. Once you begin enlarging the image you begin seeing that objects on the Earth start coming clearer. Continue farther, and you will see countries clearly, with borders and cities being represented perfectly. If you continue farther you begin seeing into the cities, with streets, buildings, and parks being evident. These are not just graphical representations of those objects, but images of the actual things themselves.
The Google Maps feature works in conjunction with this as it ends up being the most comprehensive global imaging service consumers have ever scene. You are able to rotate the planet just like a globe, zooming in to everywhere on Earth in almost real time. There are some expected load times, but there is no way that anyone could reasonably assume that you could zoom strait in from a small image of the planet directly to your front porch. Very close images can only get so clear, and you are never going to get a picturesque photo of your house. You are still going to be able to monitor neighborhoods and streets, but again you are not going to get consistent real time images no matter how often Google Earth Reloads.
The program itself becomes incredibly useful when you are able to hit the search button in the upper left hand corner to find specific addresses. You can use the GPS feature to find your exact location, which is eerie when watched in real time.
This Orwellian feature takes comfort and usability as the primary attraction over security and privacy. The arguments for and against an application are philosophical ones, but since it is now available it seems that anyone not utilizing it is simply putting themselves at a disadvantage to those that are. No matter how you apply judgments, this is possibly the most powerful and revolutionizing feature on the iPhone. This will change the way that people interact on a world wide scale, especially when moving across the real map.
Today, Apple confirms the features in iPhone 3.0 and the list includes some surprises and even a few disappointments. The press conference began with some amazing numbers, then went into the new features. And then came the worst news of all, we have to wait until summer to get the new features. Oh well.
iPhone 3.0 will finally have cut-and-paste. Glory be. It will also feature global search using Spotlight. Landscape mode will be available in all Apple native apps, which means a wider keyboard for Mail and SMS. And Safari gets an autofill feature so typing should be easier all around.
This update also includes support for MMS, home screen changes, and usability improvements that will give the iPhone a better “feel” when you use it.
However, the new OS will not have video recording. Nor will it have tethering, advanced Bluetooth features, or Adobe Flash.
Although we don’t get to play with the new features yet, iPhone developers will get their hands on the new SDK immediately. This will give developers time to have apps ready focus that take advantage of all the new functionality by the time we get the new OS this summer. Read on to see the incredible growth numbers reported by Apple today, and how some of the new features could create new kinds of apps and games.
Here are a few stats from Apple:
13.7 million iPhones sold in ‘08.
25,000 apps available in the App Store.
Apps have been downloaded over 800 million times. That is not a typo, eight hundred million!
Not surprisingly, the most popular apps are games which has already created a gold rush for developers getting new games into the App Store. Today, Apple announces two new features in iPhone 3.0 that will push the platform even further. The first feature supports peer-to-peer Wi-Fi connectivity which means two iPhones can pass data between them, without needing to be connected to a Wi-Fi network. Bluetooth makes the handshake between the devices which then make a network connection. This is ideal for file and music sharing, as well as head-to-head multiplayer gaming.
The other great new iPhone feature for gamers is the support for downloadable content, otherwise known as DLC. This means game apps can get updated with new content like new levels, new characters, new music, almost anything. DLC creates games that have long shelf lives and have high replay value. It’s great for gamers, and profitable for the developers.
The new OS also adds 1,000 new APIs so that apps can tap into the iPhone’s features in new, interesting ways. Maps and audio can now be used inside any iPhone app which means GPS with turn-by-turn directions is finally achievable. Push notifications will arrive as well, giving apps the ability to send messages to you when the app is not even running.
All in all, we like the list of features that were announced today and can’t wait to see the new apps that show up this summer, especially the games.
If you haven’t paid a visit to the App Store lately, now is the time. Apple is running a contest with some very cool prizes like a fully loaded MacBook Pro, a 32GB iPod touch, a $10,000 iTunes card, and more. For a chance to win, all you need to do is head over to the App Store and download an app, free or paid, it doesn’t matter. Each app you download is a ticket in the hat, the more tickets you have, the better your chances of winning. You can get up to 25 entries per day, no purchase necessary. The contest ends after the one billionth download. As of this writing, the download count is just north of 950 million, so don’t wait. Go get some apps and get your chance to win a killer prize from Apple. Good luck!
You may have already read our coverage of Tripit here on Touchtip, but in case you haven’t here’s a quick summary of this fantastic service. In a nutshell, Tripit is a travel planning app that builds interactive itineraries for you that go way beyond the simple chronological action lists provided by similar services. Tripit’s itineraries are filled with extra goodies like integrated maps and driving directions, weather, local sightseeing spots, recommended restaurants, and so on. All of this is contained into a single master itinerary that can be easily accessed from web or mobile, and shared with your network of friends.
The free Skype app isn’t the first VoIP iPhone app to offer this functionality, but it is without a doubt the very best of breed. The interface is responsive and intuitive. The icons are sharp. The audio quality is superb.
Best of all, everything just plain works as expected. No bugs, no frustration, just pure simplicity. Skype works on all iPhones and even second generation iPod touches using the earbud accessory with the built-in microphone.
Current Skype users will appreciate the fact that this is not a crippled version of Skype’s desktop application. Instead, this iPhone app is an almost duplicate, feature-to-feature adaptation of the desktop version. Skype is a solid app and one of the must-have communication utilities every iPhone and iPod touch owner should add to their home screen.
The Skype iPhone app allows various kinds of calls and messaging across it’s robust VoIP platform. This includes calling landlines as well as other Skype users. Skype-to-Skype calls are absolutely free of charge, but do require that both the calling party and the receiving party are using the Skype app. And even though Skype will charge you to call landlines (and mobile in some countries), the cost savings per minute is much less than your carrier’s calling plan. Either way, you can’t lose with Skype. It’s a free app that saves you money.
In addition to phone calls, Skype also supports instant messaging across 3G, WiFi, GPRS, and Edge. You can see who’s online at anytime then instant message them. This also requires both parties to be running Skype. In our tests, instant messaging works great unless you’re trying to chat to more than one person at a time which means constant toggling between them.
The current version of the Skype iPhone app only works on WiFi for phone calls, although some iPhone developers with the latest SDK are reporting that Skype running on iPhone 3.0 works well on 3G. Hopefully this won’t change when iPhoen 3.0 is officially released this summer, although it’s easy to see how this might not be included given Apple’s relationship with AT&T.
Currently, the biggest drawback to using Skype has to do with the limitation in the iPhone that prevents apps from running in the background. This means you can’t get alerts when others want to contact you unless you have Skype open. This may be addressed for the iPhone 3.0 release this summer which is reported to support background processes and alerts.
Jailbreakers beware that the latest version of Skype will not run on jailbroken devices. If you do try to run this app on a jailbroken iPhone or iPod touch, it will crash your device. Skype chose not to address this issue for jailbreakers and instead they added a disclaimer to the app stating that it is only supported on an unmodified iPhone OS.
Some Skype users seem upset that this iPhone app, unlike it’s desktop sibling, does not support video chat. We’re not sure why this is an issue for some users because even if the app did support video, the iPhone’s camera is on the wrong side of the hardware. This makes video chat utterly pointless on the iPhone, and completely useless for iPod touch users.
All these little nits aside, the Skype app is an awesome addition to your iPhone or iPod touch. You’ll find it extremely useful if you spend a fair amount of time on Wi-fi networks, saving you money with free Skype-to-Skype calls and cheap calls to land lines. The upcoming release of iPhone 3.0 could also mean even more Skype usage over 3G and the ability to keep it running all the time. And if Apple eventually puts a camera on the other side of the iPhone, Skype could dominate our calling habits by enabling real-time, mobile video chat.
Over half a million iPhone photographers have long sung the praises of Snapture, an iPhone app that helps you take better pictures with your iPhone camera. The iPhone’s built-in camera app is so basic that it seems like an afterthought. Snapture, however, seeks to improve the quality of mobile photography by turning the iPhone into a true digital camera by adding features not found in the camera app.
Up until today, the only way to enjoy the features of Snapture was to jailbreak your iPhone. Previously, Apple was forcing developers to use the SDK’s camera framework which was too limiting to enable the advanced features found in Snapture. Now, at a last, all iPhone owners can enjoy the benefits of Snapture which has just been added to the App Store. If you take any still photos with your iPhone, then this app is for you.