Tag Archives | iPhone App Store

Unpleasant Horse is Too Nasty for Apple

Apple’s iOS App Store policies have claimed another high-profile victim.

This time, it’s Unpleasant Horse, the first game by Popcap’s experimental 4th and Battery publishing label. Popcap is best-known for the Bejeweled series and Plants vs. Zombies, the latter of which was among the most popular paid iPhone apps of 2010.

Popcap spun off 4th and Battery to experiment with games that aren’t warm and fuzzy enough for the Popcap label. Unpleasant Horse looks cute and cuddly, but it’s actually quite sinister. From the game’s description: “Your idea of a good time is bouncing from cloud to cloud and on to the backs of other, cuter flying ponies, who will thus be sent plummeting to a gruesome, bone-chewing demise, thanks to an unfortunately placed series of meat grinders on the ground below.”

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Atari Finally Sets Up Shop in the iPhone App Store

You may now count Atari among the classic video game systems to find a home in the iOS App Store.

Atari Greatest Hits should be available for the iPhone and iPad sometime this evening for U.S. users. The app includes Pong for free, and includes 99 games from the Atari 2600 and arcade system for purchase. Games are sold in bundles of three or four for $1 each, or $15 for the entire collection. A handful of games include local multiplayer over Bluetooth.

Some of the classics include Yars’ Revenge, Super Breakout, Centipede and Missile Command. I’m saddened but not surprised that Activision’s Atari games, such as Pitfall and River Raid, aren’t on the list. No Pac-Man or E.T., either, but that’s probably for the best.

This isn’t Atari’s first endeavor in the iPhone App Store. The publisher has previously launched modern-looking versions of Centipede, Missile Command and Super Breakout, but the games in Greatest Hits are the actual old-school versions. It’s also Atari’s first store within a store, joining Commodore 64 and VH1 Classic Presents: Intellivision in the iPhone’s roster of classic video game emulators.

I wouldn’t expect to see an Android version. As we learned from the Kongregate debacle, in which Google temporarily removed a Flash game portal from the Android Market, stores within stores are one way to run afoul of Market policy. But that shouldn’t be a problem for Android users, who are free to purchase a third-party Atari emulator and play the console’s entire catalog without paying a dime to Atari. Makes sense to me.


MOG Mulls Higher Prices and Other Options as Apple's Subscription Rules Loom

With Apple declaring that subscription-based iOS apps must offer in-app sign-ups and hand over 30 percent of the subscription revenue, streaming music service MOG is considering every option — even a price hike.

MOG costs $10 per month for unlimited mobile access to its on-demand streaming music library, the same price as competitors Rdio, Napster and Rhapsody. After the music labels and publishers get their share, and after MOG pays other fees for things like bandwidth, hosting and reporting of listening data, the company will lose money on every in-app subscription if Apple takes a 30 percent cut.

“We don’t understand why Apple should get more from our business than we get,” MOG’s founder and chief executive David Hyman said in an interview.

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Warner Bros. Stuffs Movies Into iPad/iPhone Apps (Or, the Fanciest DRM Ever)

In a world of Netflix, Redbox and cheap iTunes rentals, Warner Bros. has hatched a new plan to entice you to purchase more movies.

The studio is now selling movies as standalone iOS apps, starting with Inception and The Dark Knight. Both apps are free to download, with the actual movies available as in-app purchases. Buying the film unlocks streaming and downloadable versions, along with bonus features such as games, trivia and soundboards. While watching, you can also send and view status updates on Facebook and Twitter.

If you’re keen on the idea of buying a movie once and owning it for all of your devices, Warner Bros.’ apps are not for you. The in-app movie is completely separate from iTunes (and for Inception, $2 more expensive, at $12 for the full movie), so you’re forever bound to an iPhone or iPad. At least with iTunes, you can watch the movie on a computer or Apple TV.

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Word Lens is Like a Great Google Audition

I’m no business guru, but from the moment Word Lens splashed onto the iPhone App Store, developer Quest Visual seemed like an obvious candidate for a Google acquisition.

Quest Visual’s iPhone app translates text in real time when held in front of the phone’s camera. And Word Lens doesn’t just give you a plain translation, it literally swaps old text for new on your screen, as if the thing you’re looking at was never in a foreign language at all.

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EA's iOS Game Sale Comes With Ulterior Motive

Christmas is closing in, so Electronic Arts’s $1 iOS game sale is a big deal. But as GigaOM’s Darrell Etherington argues, it’s also a clever tactic to crowd out iPhone and iPad app charts during the busiest sales period of the year.

The move rubs right up against a glut of new game launches from publishers big and small. NOVA 2, The 7th Guest, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 and a bunch of other games were all released on Thursday. Infinity Blade, published by Epic Games, launched last week. Etherington calls the EA sale a bully tactic that robs other publishers of top billing.

He’s right about sales volume, at least. Looking at the app charts on my iPad, every game in the top 10 paid app chart is published by EA. But the list of top grossing apps proves that EA’s strategy doesn’t spell doom for other publishers.

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mSpot for iPhone: A Cool App I Won’t Be Using

Smartphones aren’t always big enough to hold an entire music library, so mSpot hopes to ease the burden by storing your tunes in the cloud.

The mSpot service, previously available for Android phones, now has an iPhone app as well. You can store up to 2 GB of music for free to mSpot’s servers, and get another 40 GB of storage for $4 per month.

I have no major complaints with the mSpot app or service. Installation was painless, and you can filter uploads by artist or existing playlists, so it’s easy to create a 2 GB playlist in iTunes specifically for mSpot. The app is simple to navigate, and I like how you can swipe your finger to switch tracks (iTunes really needs something driver-friendly like this). There’s also a web app for playing your library from any PC.

Yet, I think the idea behind mSpot has limited appeal.

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Games Dominate iPhone App Charts (But Not iPad)

Take a look at the top iPhone and iPad apps of 2010, as listed by Apple:


  • Free: Facebook, Angry Birds Lite, Words With Friends Free, Skype, Tap Tap Revenge
  • Paid: Angry Birds, Doodle Jump, Skee-Ball, Bejeweled 2 – Blitz, Fruit Ninja
  • Grossing: MLB At Bat 2010, Angry Birds, Call of Duty: Zombies, Bejeweled 2 – Blitz, FriendCaller 3 Pro


  • Free: iBooks, Pandora, Netflix, Google Mobile, Solitaire
  • Paid: Pages, Goodreader, Numbers, Angry Birds HD, Keynote
  • Grossing: Pages, Numbers, Keynote, LogMeIn Ignition, Scrabble

Video games are clearly the killer apps on the iPhone, but productivity and media consumption rule on the iPad. However, I’m not convinced that the year’s top app charts tell the whole story.

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iPhone Radio Station Apps Not Welcome Anymore

Apple’s become more relaxed about the iOS App Store recently, with policy revisions and the notable admission of Google Voice for iPhone, but that’s not stopping Apple from rejecting app categories that it simply doesn’t like.

The latest victims are single-station radio players, according to a developer who builds and submits these apps to order. Jim Barcus, owner of DJB Radio Apps, claims that Apple recently rejected 10 of his radio apps, on the grounds that they’re essentially spam and are no different than generic fart apps. He even appealed to Steve Jobs, who reportedly wrote back, “Sorry, but we’ve made our decision.”

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PayPal’s iPhone Check Deposit: It Works!

PayPal added check deposit capabilities to its iPhone app on Wednesday, and hey, I just got a check in the mail. Let’s see how PayPal handles the job.

Before you start, PayPal hits you with a bunch of disclaimers. You’ve got to keep the check for 15 days, just to make sure nothing goes wrong, and you can’t deposit more than $1,000 per day or $3,000 per month. So if your employer cuts checks instead of offering direct deposit, PayPal might not be able to handle your earnings. PayPal’s deposit feature seems best-suited for those nagging little checks that aren’t worth the effort of going to a bank.

Depositing a check through PayPal is simple enough. Under the “tools” section, you press “Add Money From Checks,” and then snap a photo of the check’s front and back sides. Then, you must enter in the amount of the check. (Or, at least I did. The handwriting on my check was a little messy, so I’m not sure whether PayPal ever tries to guess the amount, like some smart ATMs.)

Deposits take roughly six business days to show up in your account, PayPal says. Unfortunately, there’s no option to automatically pass the check on to your bank account. You’ve got to transfer it yourself, which usually takes another three or four business days.

Ideally, my own bank, Bank of America, would offer check deposits through its iPhone app. Chase and State Farm Bank already do, and USAA supports deposits the iPhone and Android phones. If you’re not a customer of those banks, and you’ve got an iPhone, PayPal provides a decent workaround as long as you don’t need the cash right away.