The Dirty Little Secret of Apple’s App Store

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Earlier today, the guys from Skyhook Wireless sent me their latest location-aware applications report. The first thing I noticed was a sharp decline in the number of location-aware apps during the months of May and June 2009. Why? Because of something known as Bulk Apps — the dirty little secret of Apple’s (s aapl) App Store. [digg=http://digg.com/apple/The_Dirty_Little_Secret_of_Apple_s_App_Store]

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iPhone App Roundup: Corporate Use

For corporate users, there are many apps within the iTunes App Store that enhance the default iPhone experience. Let’s take a look at the available options and see how you might be able to leverage these apps to improve the use of your iPhone within the Enterprise.
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Email + Calendar

Microsoft (s msft) Exchange ActiveSync
Although this doesn’t fall into the standard “app” category, having this collaboration toolset is fundamental to most users within medium to large enterprises. In the iPhone 2.0 release, Apple (s aapl) added Exchange ActiveSync support, giving every user access to both their corporate email and calendar.
Unfortunately, a limitation of this support is that you can only accept meeting invitations; you cannot send them. Compared to the native Exchange support on Windows Mobile, BlackBerry Enterprise Server or Motorola’s Good Mobile Messaging, this is an oversight on Apple’s part.
For users in environments without Microsoft Exchange, other third-party Mac software vendors have stepped in to provide alternate ways to support ActiveSync. These include Communigate, Notify Technology and Google. Read More about iPhone App Roundup: Corporate Use

Taking Control of AppStore Reporting With AppViz

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Like the majority of Apple (s aapl) products and solutions, Apple’s App Store is sleek in its presentation to the consumer. However, one of the less polished aspects is the developer back end, iTunes Connect. Don’t get me wrong, this is functional, but it’s not targeted at the consumer market and as such it just does the necessary job without any of the usual Apple polish.

While you can get email notification of the availability of official monthly reports, it is up to you to open your browser and log into the web page. There you can view and download daily, weekly and monthly sales reports by using a basic user interface that lets you manually select one file (raw text data files) at a time to download. You can then take this raw data and do any fancy data analysis that you require with software such as Excel or Numbers.

Thus a new market has been created for applications to assist businesses in taking control of their App Store reporting. As a lone independent App Store developer I wanted to find such an application that would provide a ‘one-stop’ place to enable me to appraise the performance of my applications.

AppViz, by ideaswarm, is just such an application. To get the best appreciation of what it has to offer, a glance at the Dashboard tab presented on launch tells the story.
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Preview iPhone Apps With AppTheater

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AppTheater is a new site with an interesting concept — provide videos of iPhone/iPod touch applications allowing you to thoroughly preview before you buy. Hundreds of videos are already available, and the site has a respectably wide coverage of most popular App Store games.

The creators of the site provide a little more background about the idea for the site:

How many times have you bought an app on the App Store only to regret it? AppTheater is the premiere video sharing site devoted to iPhone and iPod Touch games. We’re here to promote games and save you money — preview games before you buy them.

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Weekly App Store Roundup: Jan. 17, 2009

Tim Cook

It’s that magical moment every week, when we all come together to find out what’s been happening in the App Store.

As the TheAppleBlog raced through the past seven days, like an angry rhinoceros in a flak-jacket, we’ve gathered the best news from the jungle of fact, infused this information with our own vital opinion, and hurled it back at you.

The big news this week was that rockstar-cum-demi-god Apple CEO Steve Jobs dismounted from his golden pony, deciding to take some time to focus on his health issues. Stepping in as acting CEO whilst Jobs recuperates will be a gentleman named Tim Cook.

As the Internets rang out with thousands of voices asking who Tim Cook is, TheAppleBlog stepped forward and boldly proclaimed, “We’ll tell you who Tim Cook is and, furthermore, we’ll tell you why he’s fit to stand at the helm of Apple.”

Plus, while the aforementioned was going down on the Cupertino Campus, elsewhere, Dan Lyons (aka Fake Steve Jobs), appeared live on CNBC and managed to rile the folks at the channel.

Meanwhile, over at the App Store this week, I’ve been looking at Mother Camp, QuadCamera and BoomBox.
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Third Party Web Browsers Appearing in the App Store

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Having prevented the listing of any web browser apps in the App Store since it’s launch, the past 24 hours has seen Apple begin to authorize this type of application on a widespread basis. The company has been reluctant to sell any applications competing with those found on the iPhone by default, such as Safari, Mail and the iPod app.

The applications in question would seem to have been submitted several months ago, and the bulk approval today marks a shift in Apple’s policy towards this area. These new applications include:

Edge Browser (Free) – A full screen browser with no intrusive toolbars.

Incognito ($1.99) and Squeaky ($3.99) – ‘Stealthy’ browsers, which doesn’t record any browsing history.

WebMate: Tabbed Browser ($0.99) – The first ‘tabbed’ browser for the iPhone

Shaking Web ($1.99) – Aims to assist in reading web pages through a technology to compensate for the movement of your hand.

This ongoing approval of browser-based apps is likely to continue over the next few days. It’s great news for Apple fans, as a whole new range of functionality can be introduced to your mobile browsing experience. It remains to be seen whether this will encourage mobile browser releases from competing developers such as Firefox and Opera. Whether any of the browsers approved over the past few days offer a real potential replacement to Safari is debatable, but releases from Firefox and Opera could really push Apple to innovate their own mobile browser at a faster pace.

Many hope that this change of policy will carry forward to areas such as email — an area where the iPhone is arguably not making the most of the technology available. Personally, I feel that any extra competition to keep Apple on their toes is a great thing.

What are your thoughts? Are there any other areas for which you’d like to see Apple relax the restrictions placed on developers?

Weekly App Store Roundup: Jan. 3, 2009

Grab a party hat, don your celebratory garb and prepare to get your freak on because, praise be, it’s the first ever Weekly App Store Roundup of 2009.

Indeed, with Macworld drawing near, attendees should immediately check out our very own Conference Schedule — it’ll make sure you’re consistently in the right place at the right time.

In the meantime, those who can’t make it can attend vicariously through TheAppleBlog: we’ll be bringing you the latest Macworld coverage throughout. And, if you can handle even more Apple-happenings being foisted into your giddy brain-box, then read on for my picks from the App Store this week.

This week I’ve been looking at Shoutcast Radio, SledMania, Fnorder and Crayon Physics.
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Rolando: Taking iPhone Gaming to the Next Level

Rolando has arrived, amid murmurs that it may be the best game out for iPhone and touch. And with compelling gameplay, awesome artwork and foot-tappingly funky music, it’s certainly my favorite game of the year.

Alongside being the season for frivolity and festivity, it’s that special time of year when the game industry ramps up the release schedule and hustles all the latest would-be hits out their studio doors and on to our computer and console screens.

Looks as good as it plays (cartoon finger not included)

Looks as good as it plays (cartoon finger not included)

This year, sat next to the DS and PSP, a new contender has joined the handheld race: with the iPhone being touted as a proper platform for gaming, the App Store is bursting at its digital-seams with fresh-faced gaming delights.

One of these bright young things to arrive at the App Store is Rolando, a puzzler-cum-platformer created by London-based game studio HandCircus. The publishers, ngmoco, seem to specialize in releasing weird, wonderful and compulsively fun gaming experiences: the kind of games which play just as good as they look, and they look appetite-whettingly delicious.
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Weekly App Store Roundup: Dec. 27, 2008

This week I pick my 12 favorite apps of the year as we lead 2008 around the back and shoot it’s face off, while gently beckoning a fresh-faced 2009 through the front door.

Just because it’s the holiday season, doesn’t mean Apple news stops happening. Quite the contrary in fact because this week we got all existential with Psystar’s ever-more-fantastical litigation, waxed lyrical with the creators of 12seconds.tv, and even chucked in a special Mac-themed gift — from us to you — for good measure.

Seeing as it’s not just the end of a week but the end of an entire year, I thought a special year-end Roundup was in order. Below I’m bringing together some of the best apps I’ve featured over the year and a few that I didn’t have space to mention. (Note, those looking for my Twitter app recommendation should check out my 12 Twitter Apps article.)

This year, I’ve been looking at Evernote, Harvest, Urbanspoon, Locly, Klick, iPolaroid, Backgammon Online, Cookie Bonus Solitaire, BeatMaker, FourTrack, Stanza and Palringo.

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12seconds.tv Brings Video Recording to the iPhone…Sort Of

12seconds.tv has just launched a new iPhone app ($0.99) in the App Store that allows you to output video files from your iPhone and share them with your friends on the web. It’s just not the video that you had in mind. This clever little app lets you take three photos, or pick them from your photo library, and then add a voice note over a nicely animated slideshow, complete with Ken Burns effects.

The name of the service comes from the maximum length of any video, just 12 seconds, no more (and no less either, at least from the iPhone app). The videos are uploaded to the 12seconds.tv community site where you and your friends can view them, link to them, or embed them in a web page.

The 12seconds iPhone app has a very different feel from staring into a webcam. The ability to select the photos and have some control over the composition of the video before recording the audio creates some distance between the author and the video. The result is something that still feels intimate and personal, but has a stronger sense of telling a story, even in 12 seconds, than you might get from talking into the camera.
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