Tag Archives | App Store

Neat: New Yorker Cover Painted on iPhone

CV1_TNY_06_01_09.inddWhen you look at this week’s New Yorker cover, you may initially think it was a watercolor. But it’s not — its done digitally, and on top of that, on the iPhone no less.

Artist Jorge Columbo created the New York street scene on a program called Brushes. It is a petite 1.9MB art application available through the App Store.

He stood on 42nd Street creating the scene in about an hour, according to the New York Times.

According to Columbo, he purchased the app after getting his iPhone to keep himself “entertained.” Well, it seems he’s done more than that now that one of his digital works is now gracing one of the country’s most notable arts and entertainment magazines.

Columbo also captured the process of creating the artwork through a special feature within Brushes, which shows his methodical process of creating the scene layer by layer.

(You can see the video at the New Yorker website.)

This cover art will not be the last of the artist’s iPhone artwork. The magazine said it would host a new creation from Columbo each week on its website.


Apple Only Making $20-45m from App Store

Lightspeed Venture Partners‘ managing director Jeremy Liew threw some cold water on Apple Thursday, saying that while the company has indeed sold some one billion apps, it likely has made no more than $45 million in revenue overall from the App Store.

Liew did some research to find that only one paid app is sold for every 15 to 40 free apps. This would infer that between 25 and 60 million of those one billion apps were paid for.

Going forward, he used the mean price for sold iPhone apps of $2.65, as released by O’Reilly. Together that would add up to revenues of $70-160 million, of which Apple only sees 30 percent of. Thus, $20-45 million in profits.

The kneejerk reaction here is to gasp and say, “wow, Apple’s App Store has been a failure from a revenue standpoint.” Not so fast, though. The company has repeatedly said it did not expect much revenue from its service, so this should come as no big surprise.

Add to this the fact that the App Store has a bigger purpose for the company over and above making money. It’s meant to draw people to the platform. While there’s no “killer app” for the iPhone just yet, the broad-based support it gets from services across the industry is a definite draw.

Notice how Microsoft and RIM have been scrambling to develop App Stores of their own? There’s a reason for that.


App Store Approval Now Contingent on OS 3.0 Compatibility

Want your app in the Apple’s App Store? Better quickly make sure that it’s compatible with the latest beta of iPhone OS 3.0 or it won’t get approved. Apple shocked the developer community Thursday with the announcement that it was mandating that all apps henceforth be compatible with iPhone OS 3.0, or they would be rejected.

Here’s what Apple said:

Beginning today, all submissions to the App Store will be reviewed on the latest beta of iPhone OS 3.0. If your app submission is not compatible with iPhone OS 3.0, it will not be approved.

Existing apps in the App Store should already run on iPhone OS 3.0 without modification, but you should test your existing apps with iPhone OS 3.0 to ensure there are no compatibility issues. After iPhone OS 3.0 becomes available to customers, any app that is incompatible with iPhone OS 3.0 may be removed from the App Store.

There are potential issues here. OS 3.0 is still in beta. There’s no saying that Apple may have screwed something up on its own, which breaks an application in the current beta, but may not necessarily in the final release.

It could mean additional work for some developers, which could be a headache. While Apple is certainly right to want developers to start thinking in terms of OS 3.0, testing apps on a beta release just doesn’t seem too foolproof, don’t you think?

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Let’s Get the App Store Approval Process Straight

macmondayApple is once again finding itself at the short end of the PR stick with Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor publicly taking the company to task over what is clearly still a inconsistent process on Apple’s part: its approval process for App Store applications.

As Jared touched on earlier this evening, an update to Reznor’s application, nin:access, was denied by Apple. It appears as if the problem lies in some of NIN’s content, which is readily available through iTunes to anyone.

I can see Apple’s preference to keep profane content out of the App Store, although as I’ll point out later the company is far from consistent in its application of the rules.

Apple’s reasoning is content from The Downward Spiral. Several of the songs on that album, especially “Closer,” may be a bit over the top for sensitive users. For those who’ve never heard it, lyrics from the song include it’s notable chorus:

I wanna [expletive] you like an animal
I wanna feel you from the inside
I wanna [expletive] you like an animal
My whole existence is flawed
You get me closer to God

The video (which may be what caught Apple’s eye) is pretty graphic — such that the TV version included several missing scenes in order to allow it to be shown on MTV — but at the same time, its far less offensive than some other things that have made it past the iTunes censors.

But get this: you can’t get The Downward Spiral directly from the application. It’s only in the band’s podcast.

Consider the “Baby Shaker” application, which would have probably still been in the store if it hadn’t been for the amount of negative coverage Apple got for leaving it through. This app was probably the most egregious example of Cupertino’s approval issues, but there’s a lot less severe ones, either in bad taste or just questionable altogether.

How about an App that tracked menstrual cycles of your girlfriend? Or the multitude of fart apps, including one that actually showed a person’s backside? Or an app that cost $1,000, yet didn’t do a single thing?

So let’s go back to the clause in the iPhone Developer Agreement that Apple’s using to explain it’s reasoning for rejecting Reznor’s update:

Applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.), or other content or materials that in Apple’s reasonable judgement may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users.

Hmm. Baby Shaker wasn’t offensive? Or the menstrual cycle tracking applications, which could easily be obtained by those possibly too young (in their parent’s judgement) to be having sex? I’m not sure about the $1,000 application, but when there’s no value to an application, why is it allowed to be sold?

This inconsistent application of the rules just makes Apple look bad. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s good the company is gatekeeping a little bit. It results in better and safer applications. But why are some of these applications making it through?

Apple won’t talk and explain itself. All we’ve seen from them is the pulldown of the app, and then an apology if we’re lucky. Every time they’re asked how they’re picking applications, they’ll either defer or not comment at all.

So, we’re sit here leaving to wonder why stuff like what I’ve listed gets through, and other applications which don’t even really seem to meet the criteria listed above get rejected.

I don’t think that NIN really should have had their application rejected. What really changed between the first and second versions of this thing, and didn’t the first reviewer did any research on the band’s work?

Guess not.


Just How Easy is it to Get Pirated iPhone Software?

app_storeYou might remember Brian Chen at Wired’s reporting on iPhone App Store piracy. That got us to thinking, is it really an issue, or just an exaggeration of a minor problem? To test our theories, we decided to attempt to install a pirated app on one of our own iPhone 3G’s here at Technologizer.

We’d like to apologize ahead of time to the developer whose apps we have used in this experiment. Your app wasn’t singled out or anything, it was merely selected to show the process. It has since been deleted: Technologizer has no interest in participating in this activity.

Anyways, back to our test. The first step in the process was to use the website Mr. Chen sourced, The Monkey’s Ball. We found that from a perspective of actually searching for sources say via Google and the like, easy-to-use sources for average Joe Pirater are not readily found. Yes, the searches will uncover places to download apps, but you’re pretty much on your own to figure out how to use them.

We surfed around TMB and found that there wasn’t any download links to use when looking through the applications, so we moved on to Appulo.us. Success. Within minutes I had surfed to find MLB At Bat 2009.

The next part absolutely floored me. I clicked on one of the apps and Firefox detected the .ipa extension as executable by the iTunes app. Fair enough, I selected “open.” Within moments, the full version of At Bat 2009 was in my list of Applications. That’s scarily easy.

We hit a road block however — MLB could not be installed because iTunes could not verify them. So we moved on to Capcom’s Mega Man II. Same error. So we did some searching, and found out why. To install cracked apps you need to have a jailbroken phone, and the application IPA Prep installed.

So, for the most part, developers can breathe easy because a majority of us are running non-jailbroken phones. But for those who have jailbroken phones, all you need is an app and a web browser, and just about any application you can imagine is well within your reach.

Apple has just made it too darn easy.

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Study Finds 25% of App Store Apps Pirated

app_storeiPhone developer analytics company Medialets studied piracy on the iPhone, and found a surprising number of applications on the App Store have likely been pirated. Of the 25,000 or so on the service, approximated 5,000 of them have been cracked, allowing users to use them for free.

Some applications are being pirated at as much as a 100-to-1 ratio. Obviously, that developer is losing a ton of money. Apple is not commenting on the situation, and its also not clear exactly how much piracy is going on in the App Store.

Personally, this is the first time I’m even hearing you could pirate these apps, and I’m sure it is for quite a few other individuals. But apparently its on BitTorrent. If you see a file called “X-Mas iBrain Pack,” it contains 808 cracked apps in a 5GB+ file. Sites have also cropped up across the Web hosting as many as several thousand pirated apps for download.

While some are seeing their profits decimated by piracy, others are saying its such an insignificant problem that they’re not concerned with it. I’m going to take a lucky guess and say the most overpriced apps are likely the most pirated.

Some developers are charging a bit much for some of their apps in relation to their capabilities.

(Update: We’d like to apologize to Brian Chen at Wired. A link to his piece was not included in our coverage as it should have been. Be sure to take a look at his take.)

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The Price is Right for iPhone: Almost as Good as the Real Thing!

img_0002I’m in absolute heaven, and I don’t know how I missed this. Video game developer Ludia has released The Price is Right for the iPhone, which in my biased TPIR fanboy opinion is one of the best gaming titles I’ve seen on the App Store yet. And at $2.99 for a “limited time,” $2 less than its $4.99 typical price, you can’t go wrong with this one.

The 35 year old game show franchise has made a significant push into interactive media, releasing games for the Nintendo Wii and DS consoles, as well as PC. I guess with the iPhone being one of the preeminent mobile gaming platforms, it was only a matter of time before developers brought the game to the device.

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TWC Mobile for iPhone is a Weather Weenie’s Dream

twcilogo_blueOkay, I have a confession to make. I am a certifiable weather weenie. I have been since I was a wee tot. If it wouldn’t have been for my horrible math and science grades, there’s a good chance I’d be sitting at a desk at the National Weather Service or AccuWeather right now instead of writing this. Alas, that didn’t happen, but I do get to review all the neat weather gadgets!

The Weather Channel has released a free mobile app which has probably set the bar for mobile weather applications. The version I’m discussing here is for the iPhone, however there is an application available for Android as well. It is now available for US customers through the App Store.

TWC Mobile is split into four sections, “Weather,” “Explore Map,” “Video,” and “Severe.” There is also a section titled “More,” although that has nothing in it other than a help file, information about the application, and links to more videos.

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The Latest Victim of the iPhone NDA: Developer Books

While we’ve already discussed Apple’s NDA and the muzzle its put on App Store developers when applications get rejected, its reach apparently extends to another area as well: books. Silicon Alley Insider reported Thursday that at least one publisher–Pragmatic Programmers — has canceled its plans to publish a book on developing apps for the device because of NDA restrictions.

News of the cancellation came by way of the publisher’s official blog. While the publisher thought the NDA would have been lifted following the launch of iPhone 2.0, it never was. “It now appears that Apple does not intend to lift the NDA any time soon. Regrettably, this means we are pulling our iPhone book out of production,” it said.

This is not an isolated issue. Take a look at some Amazon search results, which show Apple’s code of silence is also holding up other books as well. All appear to be on pre-order at the moment. There is at least one that explicitly says the release of the book is directly related to the lifting of the NDA itself.

So what is a developer to do? Let’s remind everyone that while Steve Jobs may have made a big deal out of how easy it is to program for the device, for many it is still completely new. Yes, a fair amount of it drag and drop. However for more advanced features some developers are going to need to brush up on on Macintosh programming–most are probably Windows developers first and foremost.

Books like the ones now being quashed are great references to get developers up to speed quickly. While I’m sure developers will survive without them, the learning curve may be a little steeper. Why frustrate the folks that are essentially the core of your entire platform?

While Apple may see its silence as key to keeping a competitive advantage, I’m seeing way too much negative publicity out of this, and its going to end up hurting the company in the end. I’m not sure how much longer the company is going to be able to maintain its current business practices.

Sooner or later, the walls are going to have to come tumbling down.


Apple Makes Changes to App Store Policies

Stung by criticism, Apple has put a muzzle on applicants to the App Store by including the rejection letters it sends under a non-disclosure agreement. In addition, it has closed a loophole which was allowing rejected developers to find other avenues to serve their applications to users.

The newest rejection letters come complete with a warning to those reading them: “THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS MESSAGE IS UNDER NON-DISCLOSURE.” No doubt this move is in response to high-profile cases of rejection by Apple, where developers in protest published the letters in verbatim.

We’ve covered at least one of these apps in detail, Almerica’s Podcaster, and shared our laments over Apple’s hard-lined stance several days later when another developer got the thumbs-down. Apparently, Apple’s had enough of this kind of coverage and has decided to put the kibosh on any further releases of its rejection notices.

But it doesn’t end with the extension of the NDA. Apple is taking it one step further by closing a loophole which was allowing developers such as Almerica to bypass the App Store completely. Originally intended for education and software testing, it allowed for ad-hoc licenses to be created which would allow the applications to be run on the phone legally. Continue Reading →