At Tuesday's iPhone OS 3.0 preview event, Apple unveiled several new features of the iPhone operating system, including the capability to create applications specifically for interfacing with third-party hardware. Examples given included a five-band EQ interface for speaker docks, or an FM transmitter control that allows you to select broadcast frequencies based on signal strength.
This may sound like a benign little announcement to most people, but as someone who closely monitors trends in iPod accessories, I expect that this will be huge for the industry. What company isn't going to want to differentiate its products with a slick app?
I expect that everything from battery chargers to stereo Bluetooth headsets will (for better or worse) be given the app treatment. The products won't necessarily be any better for it, but the gee-whiz appeal alone will probably carry manufacturers and consumers through to the end of the year.
The nightmare for me is going to be all the apps I'll need to download for each iPod and iPhone accessory I review. Every speaker and every dock will likely require an app download to get the full picture of the product. Version updates for apps will also be a pain. If Altec Lansing hypothetically updates the EQ control on the app for its latest line of speakers, suddenly, I'll need to add a note to all its product pages.
But there are some potentially cool things to come out of hardware-specific applications. Here's what I'm looking forward to seeing:
Buttonless products. Call it the "Shuffle Effect," but if you can migrate all of a product's controls to the iPhone's touch-screen interface, then why have buttons? I'm not saying it's a good idea, necessarily, but the potential makes it inevitable that we'll see a product like this sooner or later.… Read more
AUSTIN, Texas--So the real star of the South by Southwest Interactive Festival has been Apple's iPhone. For better or for worse.
Facebook's big announcement at the annual geekstravaganza, for example, was that its Facebook Connect log-in product would be coming to the iPhone. Most of the products debuting in conjunction with the festival, including location-based mobile apps like Whrrl and FourSquare, are partially or entirely iPhone-centric. And if you happen to be a poor, unfortunate BlackBerry or Treo user, you may get some disapproving looks when you whip your handset out of your pocket around some judgmental SXSWi-goers.… Read more
You learned recently that the iPhone and iPod Touch are not as secure as we would like them to be.
Luckily for iPhone and iPod Touch users, third-party vendors are supplying applications that help fill some security holes. Acrylic Software makes software that fills some of these chinks. Its Mac software, Wallet 3, costs $20 CDN ($15.62 US); upgrades are priced at $5 CDN ($3.91 US) and requires Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard--sadly, there is no Windows version. A version of Wallet for the iPhone and iPod Touch (iTunes Link) costs $3.99 US.
Wallet for iPhone … Read more
Reports of non-Apple-sponsored app stores have hinted at threats to Apple's own iPhone's iTunes App Store. Now, another front in the war against the iTunes App Store may be developing: a new application, currently under development, will allow users to install iPhone and iPod Touch applications onto their jailbroken devices using a USB connection.
The app, called Installer, has been around for awhile and was originally created to install applications directly from your jailbroken iPhone or iPod Touch desktop. Rip Dev recently upgraded that application, long popular, to version 4.1. However, a new version for the desktop … Read more
This week Apple made a very small, but important tweak to the user rating system on its iTunes app store. It now shows which version of an application the user was running when they wrote the review. This has been applied retroactively, so that reviews written before the change will show which version the users had installed at the time they wrote it.
This is important on two levels, with the first being how transparent user reviews are. No longer do you have to wonder what version a user had installed when they said there was a problem, or broken … Read more
The Oregon Trail, an Apple II classic, is coming to the iPhone and iTouch. The original Oregon Trail computer game was developed in 1971 by Don Rawitsch, Bill Heinemann, and Paul Dillenberger. The game taught school children about the realities of 19th century pioneer life. The player assumed the role of a wagon leader guiding his party of settlers from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon's Willamette Valley along the Oregon Trail via a Conestoga wagon in 1848.
This old-school, side-scrolling voyage was entirely remade to take advantage of the multitouch display on the iPhone or the iPod Touch. The game … Read more
Sometimes computing feels like a dog and pony show, a long parade of glitzy apps with glossy coats, that do it all. However, the time and place for that level of pedigree is balanced by moments that call for the sometimes scruffy, often free, one-trick ponies of the app world that perform a single function very well. We rounded up nine no-frills applications that consistently perform. If your favorite single-minded apps aren't on this list, feel free to shout them out in the comments.
A server bug kept some Google Apps users from accessing their Google-hosted Web mail on Tuesday. The problem has since been fixed, but for a small segment of users the outage lasted for close to 22 hours.
A Google spokesperson told CNET News that the outage began sometime around 2 a.m. PST on Tuesday, and that service was restored for "nearly all affected users" within 30 minutes. For remaining accounts, the issue appeared to have been sorted out shortly after 12 a.m. PST on Wednesday.
Google has not gotten into specifics about what went wrong, but … Read more
Microsoft on Wednesday is offering up more details on its would-be rival to the iPhone's app store.
The software maker said it will charge developers $99 a year, plus $99 for each application they submit to get an app into the Windows Marketplace store. Through the end of this year, though, developers who register will be able to submit five applications at no additional charge.
The software maker defended the charge: "Microsoft will run a rigorous certification process to ensure that the end user's experience is optimal, and that the device and network resources aren't used … Read more