Plants vs. Zombies for iPhone Releasing Late January; Zombies Beware!

Zombies will soon be walking all over our virtual lawns as PopCap Games announced Plants vs. Zombies will be making its way to the iPhone / iPod Touch in late January.
The news came from an unlikely source, namely a follow-up comment on PopCap’s Facebook page. If you still haven’t played PopCap’s addictive, yet simple game, here is your chance to finally snag a copy for the iPhone. When a hot lady finally asks “Is that a zombie in your pocket or are you happy to see me?”, you can happily pull out the game and instantly make her forget about having any kind sex with you, either by how addicted she’ll become with the game, or by how lame she thinks you are.Read More.......

Nokia amps up patent fight with Apple

Nokia is broadening its legal fight with Apple, saying almost all of the company's products violate its patents, not just the iPhone.
Nokia said that it has filed a complaint against Apple with the US International Trade Commission.
The Finnish phone maker says Apple's iPhone, iPods and computers all violate its intellectual property rights.
Nokia has already sued Apple over the massively popular iPhone, claiming it infringes on 10 of its patents related to phone calls and Wi-Fi access.
Apple has countered with its own lawsuit, saying Nokia has copied aspects of the iPhone in its phones.
Apple, which is based in Cupertino, California, did not immediately return a phone call for comment.Read More.....

AT&T site resumes selling iPhone to NYC residents

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - AT&T Inc temporarily stopped selling the iPhone on its website to New York City residents over the weekend, raising fresh concerns about the wireless network's capacity in the Big Apple.
Consumers with Manhattan postal ZIP codes who attempted to purchase the Apple Inc phone through AT&T's website were told that the product was unavailable, according to a report on on Sunday.
Reuters received the same response when logging on with a New York ZIP code on Monday morning, though sales appear to have resumed in the afternoon.
A representative of AT&T would not say whether the company had resumed iPhone sales through the company website, declining to comment beyond a statement issued in an email earlier that said the company periodically modifies its promotions and distribution channels. "The iPhone is available in our New York retail stores and those of our partners."
Sales representatives at Apple retail stores in Manhattan, reached by phone on Monday, said the iPhone was available, and an Apple corporate spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
IPhone owners, who have some of the biggest appetites for mobile Internet use, in particular have criticized AT&T's wireless network as being too slow.
Craig Mathias, a principal at wireless consulting firm Farpoint Group, said that all network carriers are struggling to cope with the rising popularity of wireless data services, which require more network capacity than standard voice calls.
When reports of the lack of iPhones emerged, he had speculated that AT&T may have been trying to ease congestion on its network in the wake of the holidays, when many consumers who received iPhones as gifts would start using the devices at the same time.
Apple's iPhone, a cell phone with computer-like capabilities such as Web browsing and video games, has become one of the most popular smartphones on the market.
"We're expecting our handsets now to do everything we do while in the office or at home," said Mathias.
Mathias had said he expected that AT&T would resume selling iPhones to New Yorkers after the initial burst of post-holiday activity levels off.
"If they're seriously out of gas and can't service any customers in that area, that is a major problem," he said.Read More......

Soldiers in Afghanistan using £19 iPhone app to kill Taliban fighters


Troops use £19 iPhone application to target and shoot terrorists
Soldiers in Afghanistan are using a £19 iPhone "app" created from computer game technology to kill Taliban fighters.
BulletFlight helps sharpshooters work out how the wind and the rotation of the Earth will affect their bullet - and even predicts the wounds the enemy will suffer if it hits him. Snipers are using the ballistics program downloaded on to their iPhones to target the enemy over long distances.
Allied forces already use adapted Xbox 360 video game controllers to pilot robotic vehicles.
They are also making cheap supercomputers using chips from PS3 consoles to develop new kinds of radar. And British experts at BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Airbus and the Williams Formula 1 motor racing team are working on a joint project using computer games consoles to test new gadgets.Stuart McDougall of BAE, which is developing 3D graphics technology from the PS2 to power the next wave of military engineering designs, said: "Historically the military have invested in developing technology to meet their specific requirements.
"This technology has then filtered down to everyone else.
"But, increasingly, modern consumer gadgets are so powerful and so highly competitive that they're often ahead of the game - and much cheaper to buy in and adapt." Anyone can download BulletFlight, which was developed from games software for military use. It costs £2.49 for a basic version or £18.78 for the full program.
It is one of dozens of iPod Touch and iPhone "apps" - or software applications - endorsed by the US military for use in Iraq and Afghanistan, including maps, survival books and tactics guides.
Read More....

The second face of Social Networking Websites

Time and again we hear people emphasize the importance of social networking in achieving new contacts thereby leading to success in their jobs. But in reality this is only the excuse the new generation recruits and employees give for wasting both their and the company’s valuable time and assets.
As an example we can go to any of the firms and just log on the the internet and check the computers history, we will find Social Networking Sites like Facebook, Orkut, Myspace etc and either the home page or most visited site. This itself proves the lack of commitment of the employees to their job and is reflected in poor overall or decrease in the level of efficiency of most firms. Only comment that can be passed on this case is that , this is NOT a necessary evil that can’t be avoided, and this evil must be overcome if the companies want to earn more profit and be more successful.Read More.....

First mobile version of Firefox 'days' away from launch

The popular browser, which accounts for 24.7 per cent of the global browser market – according to Net Applications’ December figures - is almost ready to make its debut on mobile.
Jay Sullivan, who is heading up the project – codenamed Fennec - told the BBC that it is currently going through testing and could be released before the end of the year.
It will be able to synchronise with the desktop version of the browser – meaning any pages open on a Firefox user’s desktop will automatically open in the mobile version of the browser.
"At the end of the working day you can walk away from your computer and keep on going on your phone," Mr Sullivan told the BBC.
"It encrypts all of the information and sends it back through the cloud between your desktop and mobile."
If all goes to plan, before the end of the year he hopes N900 users will be able to download Firefox in Nokia’s Ovi store.
Mozilla, the parent company of Firefox, is also working on versions for Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows respective operating systems.
However, iPhone owners who like using Firefox on their desktop, will have to keep waiting to be able to sync their desktop and mobile browser experiences as Mr Sullivan told the BBC that Apple was a “pretty closed platform” so he didn’t see it happening soon.
Opera is the most popular mobile browser at the moment – as it is well optimised for the platform and comes pre-programmed into many mobile handsets. Read More.......

Fastest 3G Network Confirmed by AT&T in Twelve Cities

You know Verizon commercials that talk about how they have a map for that? You know how Verizon says that it has far better 3G coverage than AT&T? That may be true, but it seems that AT&T still has a huge claim to fame and this claim has been unofficially confirmed by the guys at the Giz.
If you follow some of the marketing materials from AT&T, then you’ve probably heard about big blue flaunting the claim that it has the fastest 3G network in the nation. If you want to have some crazy speeds on your smartphones and Internet sticks, then AT&T would be the way to go, right?
Well, according to the Gizmodo tests in twelve cities across teh country, AT&T was pretty close with Verizon in terms of download bandwidth, but “more often than not came out on top.” In terms of uploads, AT&T “handily defeated all of the competitors across markets.”
The twelve cities as part of the test were Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Tampa, and Maui. AT&T may be the fastest according to these tests, but your mileage may vary. There are also very common complaints about dropped calls, so as always, shop around and do your research.Read More.....

Thanks to Economic Slump, Americans Delay Cell Phone Upgrades

It's no surprise that economic slumps tend to be good news for sustainability. People do more with less - consume less stuff, make what they have last longer, buy recycled and used... And such is the case with cell phones, according to the latest survey of recycled phones from ReCellular. While the usual statistic is that Americans upgrade to a new cell phone every 14 to 18 months, it seems we're (finally) waiting longer.
Photo via rhonogle
Live Science reports, "ReCellular, one of the world's largest cell phone recyclers, collected about 5 million cell phones from consumers in the United States and Canada in 2009.
That is about 1 million fewer than last year, said ReCellular spokesperson Michael Newman."
Newman attributes this drop to the economic slump, guessing that people are electing to save money and wait longer to upgrade to new phones. However, if we're taking guesses, we could also guess that perhaps more people are electing to sell their own phones, or give them to charities, rather than send them in to Recellular. However, when the number is lower by 1 million phones, chances are Newman is right - people are simply keeping their phones a bit longer.
At least, we really hope this is the case, since one other possible explanation is (gulp) that people aren't recycling them as much as they were before. We just heard that consumers want rewards for recycling their cell phones, or they tend to skip it, so we really hope this isn't the case.
Considering the emphasis put on recycling and reusing cell phones that we've seen this year, from sites like Last Year's Model to new (and very neat) kiosks going up in electronics stores, we're guessing that it's not recycling rates that are dropping.
It was around this time last year that we saw cell phone sales slump. And while there are a lot of tempting phones coming out now and in the very near future, we suspect - and greatly hope - that the consumer trend of keeping current cell phones longer than 2 years will hold out.
But more good news from ReCelluar's survey is this, "ReCellular resells about 60 percent of the phones they receive and recycle the rest for their metals. Many of the recycled cell phones from North America find their way to developing countries around the world." Reusing is greener than recycling, and with the myriad mobile phone projects globally, seeing perfectly good cell phones put to use is encouraging.Read More......

Hands-on: B&N nook updated to version 1.1.0

We heard that there may have been a B&N nook update coming last weekend, but that never happened. We then heard from Engadget this weekend that an update would be coming this Tuesday, 22 December. I turned on my nook this morning and after selecting Check for new B&N content the update automatically started downloading and now my nook is at software version 1.1.0. Barnes & Noble has now posted details on their support page.
I have been one of those people who have been very happy with my nook thanks to the fabulous clarity and contrast of the eInk display that is better than the Kindle 2 (darker, bolder fonts and higher contrast background) and on par with the Sony PRS-505 and the plethora of content sources from where I can load up my nook (Fictionwise, Sony eReader store, Shortcovers/Kobo, local library, etc.). I haven’t had any stability issues or anything with my nook either. The page refreshes could indeed be faster, but I have adapted to tapping the page button as I get to the last line of the page and it hasn’t been much of an issue.
According to Engadget’s post, I understand this update was believed to include the following:
* Page turning and formatting of downloaded e-books has been improved. * Start-up time for My Library, The Daily, and Setting has been improved. * Barnes & Noble in-store content and promotions roll-out is fully supported. * Launches reader immediately on Select from The Daily and My Library for books and subscriptions that have already been downloaded. * Reading Now takes customer straight into the last book page read without reformatting the content. * Displays the correct time on the status bar. * No longer unprompted to the home screen when pressing the arrow or the select button. * Displays correct error-message for pre-ordering books that are not yet available.
My update downloaded flawlessly, then the device reset itself and the update status appeared on the lower display. All of my local downloaded content was not appearing in the My Documents view on the nook so I connected my nook to the PC and found that the ebooks were still there. I had them in my own folders before that appeared fine on the nook, but found they now need to be located within folders in My Documents. You can still have custom folders inside there though.
After the update I can confirm the following:
* Page turns are faster (will record a video of this later) * Formatting appears for a shorter time period than before * There is now a progress status in the bottom display * When I select to read a book, I no longer have to indeed confirm I want to read it. There is an option to View Item Details & Options instead if you want to check that out rather than making this a required step. * My time has always been correct so this wasn’t an issue before * Everything seems a bit snappier so now my nook is even better than before
I will be visiting a physical Barnes & Noble store tonight to check out what works in the physical store and report my findings here later.Read More......

T-Mobile USA to offer HTC HD2 in March 2010?

According to a leaked ROM for the US version of the HTC HD2, it looks like T-Mobile USA have clinched the deal to offer the Snapdragon-based Windows Phone come Q1 2010. Unsurprisingly there’s no confirmation from the carrier themselves, but a still-in-testing ROM leaked to WMExperts contains various T-Mobile content.

Going by the contents of the External Packages folder, the US HD2 will run the Leo ROM 2.01 and Windows Mobile 6.5 build 21869. It will have Opera and Teeter 2.0, along with the TMOUS_Manila_Core 2.5.1921401. Obviously there’s all the regular HD2 goodness onboard, including HSDPA/HSUPA, WiFi b/g, Bluetooth, GPS and a 4.2-inch WVGA capacitive touchscreen with multitouch support.
WMExperts tipsters are whispering about a March 2010 launch, right at the end of that Q1 window. Not sure what all the HD2 fuss is about? Check out our review of the Windows Mobile 6.5 device here.Read More.....

Rumors of Verizon iPhone on the 2010 Horizon

Reports and rumors that Apple's iPhone is coming to Verizon in 2010 are looking good.
We weren’t sure whether to report this or not, because we don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up—including our own. BusinessWeek reported that Verizon Wireless’ chief technology officer, Anthony Melone, says the company is “prepared” to support the iPhone if Apple decides to end its exclusivity with AT&T. Verizon, the largest wireless provider in the U.S., is reportedly investing in its network to make it capable of handling extra traffic from Apple’s iPhone.
“We have put things in place already,” Melone says. “We are prepared to support that traffic.” Melone did not make any comment directly admitting that the iPhone would become available on Verizon in 2010, but several reports of Apple’s recent behavior have some analyst this new communion may be the case for the coming year. There have been a couple reports that Apple is working with chip-maker Qualcomm for a CDMA-capable iPhone that could run on the Verizon network.
Is this really all so far-fetched? Apple did allow Microsoft to put its Bing application on the iPhone, so maybe because it’s the holidays Steve Jobs is feeling chipper and cheery and willing to share the mobile wealth. We’ve all seen A Christmas Carol, we know change can happen. Actually, some analyst believe that Verizon launching the iPhone could be a very likely situation, especially since AT&T has taken so many hits this past year—none of which Luke Wilson could fix—for poor service coverage.Read More...

Unravelling the mysteries of Google's Nexus One phone

The rumours about a new phone from Google seem tailor-made to generate excitement and speculation. But what do we actually know about it?Over the weekend, a series of stories broke about a new phone (the Nexus One) that Google was trialling - and even planning to sell itself. We covered them, too.
A story like that ticks a lot of boxes and draws out an almost Pavlovian response in gadget-watchers everywhere. Google? Yep. Phone? Yes. Bypassing phone networks? You bet.
Now, however, there are so many pieces of the story floating around that it's becoming difficult to separate the things that we know from the things we don't. The latest slew of suggestions include a potential lawsuit from the estate of Philip K Dick (because the name "Nexus One" is an homage to the replicants in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?); and that Apple is actually behind the 'Googlephone' rumour.
Google, beyond its statement about dogfooding the other day, remains tight-lipped.
So what do we actually know?
- that Google employees are trialling an experimental new handset- that it's called Nexus One, and it's made by HTC- that it's been approved by US regulators with support for GSM and T-Mobile's 3G network- that Google has registered Nexus One as a trademark in relation to phones- that Google has plans to sell it, unlocked, directly on the web
And that's about it, I think.
Other things are either speculation, not true or don't appear likely (the Dick estate doesn't own a Nexus One trademark of any sort, for example).
The thing about this swirl of ideas is that most of the elements of this are actually a case of business as usual. After all, there have been Google-branded handsets before, and the company is pushing its operating system, Android, like crazy. It's actually been heavily involved in the design of many Android handsets so far, and selling an unlocked handset is no big deal in Britain or Europe.
But it's the combination of all of these parts, in one big old juicy package, that's got everybody salivating.Read More......

AndroLib: Google’s Android App Market set for ‘explosive’ growth next year

As per the most recent statistics by the portal and applications tracker AndroLib, Google's Android Market, which has increased almost two-fold over the past five months, has crossed the 20,000 applications mark, with the distribution of more than 20,140 applications, as on Tuesday!
AndroLib specified that while nearly 62 percent of those applications were 'free', 38 percent were 'paid.'
Even though the 20,000-apps achievement still has the Android Market lagging notably behind the dominant Apple App Store, which crossed the 100,000-apps mark last month, its steady progress is a clear indicator that it is set for an 'explosive' growth in the coming year.
Going by the estimated projections for the next year, the number of Apple iPhone apps would likely increase to 300,000; while the Android Market will probably count close to 50,000.
With 12 Android-based devices currently available in 26 countries on 32 carriers, AndroLib noted that, during November, Google's Android Market witnessed the maximum addition of software added, especially around the time when Motorola's Droid smartphone was released.
The AndroLib figures clearly corroborate an earlier-this-year statement by the Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who had predicted the Android's growth would be substantial - with the 'hottest' smartphones running on the Android mobile operating system by fall.
Furthermore, at Google's last earnings conference call, Schmidt said: "Android adoption is about to explode. You have all the necessary conditions." Read More.......

Star 6 beat-box app for iPhone improved

Star 6 is a fun beat-making iPhone and iPod Touch app from Agile Partners--makers of the incredibly useful Guitar Toolkit and Tab Toolkit for guitarists. First introduced last August, Star 6 offers five families of electronic drum beats in categories like Drum and Bass and Electro. You can also download many more free beats from the Star 6 Web site, or upload your own through your Web browser. (Your device has to be on the same wireless network as the computer you're uploading through.)
Once you've picked a family of beats, you can switch among six individual beats, control the speed, and add wacked-out effects like delay and reverse by touching various icons on the screen. It also lets you manipulate tonal qualities such as pitch and gate by tilting the device backward and forward--it uses the iPhone's built-in accelerometer. (The "speed" setting controls the playback speed of the individual sample, not the beats per minute, or BPM, of the entire track.) You can create and name sessions to recall later, and all sessions are automatically saved in the state you left them.
It's a lot of fun to play with, and could be useful in certain professional situations: you could plug your device into an amp or a PA and use it as a simple drum machine, or to fill the gaps between songs in a live or DJ gig, or simply as an audio backdrop for a party.
Version 1.1. of the app, which became available last Friday in the iTunes App Store, adds a number of important usability improvements. First and foremost is something called "quantizing," which helps you switch between rhythms directly on the beat. Before, you had to hit the button at the exact right time, which could be pretty hard when playing a rave track at 170 BPM, otherwise you'd get an awkward transition. The BPM controller is now on the main screen, and has a new feature that lets you slide the rate quickly up and down. You can also have the BPM affect the pitch, in case you want your samples to sound like they've been inhaling helium as you increase the speed of the track.
It's currently available for an introductory price of $6.99, but will go up to $9.99 on January 18, 2010. So if you're interested, jump on it now. For what it's worth, I get a lot of iPhone apps to test out, and this is one of the few that I'll be keeping. Read More......

A gadget for the car that's music to my ears

Over the years I've been experimenting with various iPod and iPhone accessories designed to allow portable music to be played through the car stereo without the need to subject the car to invasive surgery.
All previous attempts involved hooking up to FM transmitter-based devices, which purport to allow you to stream your music wirelessly into your car's hi-fi system.
But I've come to the conclusion that most of these devices are woefully unsuitable for uninterrupted, interference-free listening. And no amount of fiddling, tweaking and shifting frequencies is going to change that.
There just isn't enough free space on the FM radio spectrum to ensure a satisfactory listener experience.
A French Richard Branson
All of which is a long-winded introduction to a Frenchman named Henri Seydoux, a man whose CV makes him out to be a cross between James Dyson (funky device designer) and Richard Branson (serial entrepreneur).
A former journalist, Seydoux is the founder of Parrot, a maker of Bluetooth and wireless tech gear. He is also the founder and a director of the luxury shoe company Christian Louboutin.
Parrot which specialises in hands-free systems for cars and motorcycles, recently branched out into designer accessories such as the Philippe Starck-designed Zikmu iPhone speakers, which won a “Best of Show” award at last year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Meanwhile, back to the car and the quest for a device that will allow me to pump up the volume and blast out the Best of Nana Mouskouri in a way it was intended to be played.
Look, no hands
Enter the Parrot MKi 9200 - a hands-free mobile car kit with a very uncatchy name and an excellent pedigree.
While it's designed to work with a number of mobile phones, like all phone accessory makers, the current focus is on the iPhone. (At least give them credit for not calling it the i-Parrot.)
Did I mention it's also a hands-free mobile car kit? Solution overkill, if you're just looking for a better in-car iPod music experience but worth the extra cost if you (a) take and make a lot of calls in the car and (b) happen to be driving south of the Murray River this holiday season.
New road rules that came into effect in Victoria last month are among the strictest in the land regarding a driver's use of mobile phones. Basically, unless it's in a cradle and you're using a hands-free device, you face a hefty fine and a loss of demerit points.
And those changes to the road rules were agreed to by all state and territory transport ministers meaning that sooner or later, the same laws will apply nationally.
Better than FM
The MKi 9200 syncs with your iPhone via Bluetooth when you start up the engine. The small screen - which you stick on to your dashboard - lights up and tells you you're connected.
You can dial using the voice commands (not always 100 per cent accurate); by scrolling through your iPhone contact lists; or by dialling using the jog button on the device's volume control (not recommended).
(With the voice commands, if the name is not recognised, you'll be prompted for confirmation. But if it is, then the device will immediately launch into the call without a double check. Once, when I asked for "Kate", the Parrot must have heard "White" and started dialling the wrong number. When I tried again, it started dialling "Katie". On the third attempt, my call went through to the right person.)
Everyone in the car, of course, gets to listen in to your calls because it's all routed through the stereo system. But it's hands-free and it's loud and clear.
You can also play your music this way, although you will have to set it up before you get under way and, once the playlist is in action, there's no way to change playlists or skip tracks without having to fiddle with the iPhone.
And if you receive a call when you're listening to music, you get put back again once you hang up. Although this is only a partially tethered solution (the Parrot box is connected to the stereo), the quality of the Bluetooth stream is head and shoulders above FM.
The other way is to use the fully tethered method and dock your iPhone to the connector wire. Although it's almost impossible to tell the difference in sound quality, this method of hooking up your phone has two distinct advantages:
1. You charge your phone at the same time.
2. You can use the Parrot controller - a two-button, one-knob device - to skip through tracks.
All of which goes to prove that in an age of ubiquitous wirelessness, you still can't go past a tethered solution when it comes to in-car music. Read More....
Parrot MKi 9200
Hands-free mobile car kit
RRP: $479
Rating: 4/5

Nokia N900: an Overview

Nokia launched the N900 that is considered to be the successor of the N97. The device comes with 32GB storage and a 5MP camera.
The N900 is well built and it ha s a solid screen slide. But when it comes to angle the screen for video viewing it becomes frail and does not have enough balance.
The touchscreen requires a firm finger press but it works well, it is fact and responsive. The resolution of the device is 800×480 pixels, due to which the screen is able to display bright, colourful and pin-sharp images.
The device is equipped with the QWERTY keypad that includes domed keys facilitating in its usage.
The browser is good but you will have to get accustomed to its idiosyncrasies. On the bootom right you will find options by means of tapping. But if you need to use zooming you will have to push the volume key.
Despite the fact that the browser is able to work in landscape mode, it can demonstrate Flash animation.
The N900 has multiple home screens that are easy to change by means of the finger. Also the handset is able to manage various tasks, i.e. it is possibility, for instance, to launch Facebook, then minimize it by means of tapping the icon that includes two folders and then Facebook will diminish into a list view, due to which a user is able to swipe over Ovi Maps.Read More......

Two New Samsung Corby Variants in India

Corby Plus B3410 and Corby Pro B5310 launched
Samsung has announced the launch of two new "Corby" branded devices in India. The phones in question are the Corby Plus B3410 and Corby Pro B5310.The Corby Plus is known simply as the Corby B3410 in other markets. In India, Samsung seems to have decided on the "Corby" brand name for the phone, thanks to its popularity. The first "Corby" branded phone, the S3650, has seen a decent amount of sales in the country, so far. The Corby Plus and the Corby Pro, both, boast of slide-out QWERTY keypads and seems to be targeted at the young audience who would like to be in constant touch with their friends through various means. Both the devices come with Facebook, Twitter and MySpace widgets in the TouchWiz sidebar.

On the features front, the slightly higher end Corby Pro boasts of GPS, Wi-Fi, a decent 3.2 megapixel camera and double the amount of memory than in the "original" Corby - 100MB. A 3.5 mm jack too finds its way in. The Corby Pro is priced at Rs. 13,900

As for the Corby Plus, it's slightly down the price ladder and comes sans GPS and Wi-Fi. The camera too has been scaled down to 'just' a 2 megapixel unit. The 3.5mm jack, however, still remains. The Corby plus will set you back by Rs. 10,500.Read More.......

Dragon's Lair on iPhone: Fire-blast from the past

Equipped with a great video player and easy touch controls, the iPhone is fast becoming a spot for Laser Disc arcade games of yore to get a second life on the go. First came Space Ace early this year, but for a roll of quarters, iPhone and iPod Touch users can now reach back into their bowling alley/arcade memories and get Dragon's Lair, which was released this week, on the App Store, too. It's a perfect adaptation of the Don Bluth-animated game that I remember all too well from many, many weekends at Chuck E Cheese.
For those who haven't played, Dragon's Lair amounts to a medieval-themed rescue-the-princess romp through the many rooms of a castle filled with, upon reflection decades later, some pretty strange stuff: robotic horses, taunting lizard-men, and giant rolling balls. All of it is portrayed in film-quality animation, making it visually timeless.
Movement is controlled, like Space Ace, with an onscreen d-pad that lights up with the direction you need to choose before triggering a death sequence. There's also a sword button for fight instances; while the gameplay is basically a reflex-tester, it's the precursor to instant button-pressing fight moments that made a big comeback in PS2 games like God of War.
The animation and audio are as crisp as they could be on the small screen (and considering the original game wasn't in HD, that's more than OK), and it even comes with the iconic trailer that played on endless loop in arcades, inviting you to be Dirk the Daring and rescue Princess Daphne. Produced by EA and Digital Leisure, it costs $4.99--not cheap by any means, but a better bargain than some of the ill-advised Dragon's Lair game adaptations over the years.
Space Ace...Cobra Command...Dragon's Lair. What's next, Mad Dog McCree? Well, yes; according to the "upcoming games" tab, Digital Leisure says that's coming in early 2010.Read More....

Dodgy iPhone developer booted from AppStore

iPhone developer Molinker has been kicked off Apple's AppStore over allegations of dodgy 'user' reviews.
iPhoneography reports that a consumer complaint - and a letter to Apple exec Phil Schiller - has seen the developer removed from the AppStore.
Molinker made over 1000 applications for the iPhone/iPod Touch - and all of them have disappeared.
iPhoneography reported that a user - under the name SCW - had tipped the site off over grammatically-similar rave reviews from users who didn't review anything other than Molinker products.
SCW's letter to Schiller read: "Please investigate for I have just looked at 44 of the reviewers who posted reviews for this Molinker Inc app NightCam Pro & EVERY Review except 2 of the 44+ are ALL FAKE 5 star reviews."
Schiller replied to the letter saying "Yes, this developer's apps have been removed from the App Store and their ratings no longer appear either.Read More......

Latest ‘Square’ Details Include Free Dongles, Craigslist, Alyssa Milano

Twitter creator Jack Dorsey’s Square application, which is like a smartphone PayPal for credit cards, attracted lots of warranted attention for its potential to enable peer-to-peer and merchant credit card transactions in the real world far beyond what’s capable today in most countries.
Since Tuesday’s official announcement, details have emerged to flesh out how this service will look and how it will soon affect how you buy and sell stuff.
Here’s the latest on the disruptive Square P2P payment system, currently in limited beta and set to roll out “to everyone” in early 2010:
Free Dongles
Square wants to give away the credit card-reading dongles away for free to merchants so they can accept credit card payment on their smartphones (or iPod Touches), Dorsey told the LA Times. Free dongles would make people more likely to sign up for seller accounts, especially if they like to sell stuff in public or through classified sites such as…

In addition to local merchants such as the San Francisco coffee vendor Sightglass Coffee featured in Square’s official screen shots (and in which Dorsey is an investor), Square will make it easier for ordinary people to buy stuff from each other. Say you’re buying a sofa for a few hundred dollars through Craigslist. Rather than bringing a stack of cash to a stranger’s apartment, you might bring along a credit card to swipe in the seller’s Square dongle and be done with it. (You still might want to check over the dongle first to make sure it hasn’t been tampered with to record your magnetic strip.)

Alyssa Milano
Alyssa Milano, set to appear in the ABC comedy series Romantically Challenged next year, joined the Square team as an adviser.
“We added Alyssa to our board of advisers because she has direct and relevant experience in contracts, promotion, distribution, manufacturing, licensing issues, retail, philanthropy, and a deep insight into present and future technologies and social movements around them,” said Dorsey in a statement distributed by Milano’s publicist. “Alyssa brings a clarifying presence to everything we do.”
Milano’s qualifying experience for advising Square, according to the announcement, includes her presidency of the web design firms Celebrity Loop and InterSports, her Touch clothing and jewelery line specializing in creating junior women’s sizes of athletic jerseys, and philanthropic work including with UNICEF and The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Disease Control. (Square donates one cent of each transaction to the charity of the buyer’s choice.)

Square’s Business Model
As a customer, all you need to buy from a Square merchant is a credit, debit or pre-paid card, a finger with which to sign the touchscreen and an e-mail address for the receipt. Giga Om reports that Square might charge sellers $1 for the merchant app, but that would not include transaction fees.
Dorsey wouldn’t tell us how those will compare with traditional credit card merchant accounts, because the company is still experimenting with pricing. “We’re not giving out rate sheets just yet, as they are in flux until we have a general launch,” he said Dorsey in an e-mail. “When we do though, the fees will be completely transparent, simple and upfront.”
Square is targeted partially at small business owners who don’t want to sign up for full-scale credit card merchant accounts through the usual venues. One perk for them: a built-in loyalty program, so that customers don’t need to remember to bring along their stampable card in order to receive a free eleventh coffee, sandwich, bottle of wine, and so on.
That market could present problems for Square, according to Andy Kleitsch, CEO of in-person mobile payment competitor Billing Revolution which lets merchants sell in-person through a mobile site. His take on the service is that “it’s for the bottom of the barrel merchants who have a high risk rate [and] can’t qualify for real merchant accounts.”
Investors do not appear to share Kleitsch’s concern. By TechCrunch’s reckoning, they valued Square at $40 million — even before it launched.Read More.....

From Pocket to Stage, Music in the Key of iPhone

PALO ALTO, Calif. — An expectant hush fell over the audience as the director of the chamber ensemble, Ge Wang, came out and asked them to turn off their cellphones. The seven other musicians, dressed in black, filed in and took their positions in a circle.
The conductor raised his hands. A low droning sound arose, as if the chamber ensemble were tuning. Then the musicians began to swing their arms in wide circles, creating rising and falling waves of electronic sound.
The Stanford Mobile Phone Orchestra’s performance on Thursday used the most unusual of instruments: Apple iPhones amplified by speakers attached to small fingerless gloves.
Sometimes the sounds were otherworldly. Sometimes, they mimicked raindrops, bird songs or freeway traffic. In one piece, two performers blew into their phones to stir virtual wind chimes. In another, the instruments took on personalities based on the pitch, volume and frequency of the notes played — as if the musicians were flirting, teasing and admonishing each other.
And gradually, the audience disobeyed instructions, pulling out their own iPhones and iPods to record the performance.
From the earliest days of the iPhone, applications that mimic musical instruments have topped the download charts. But the Stanford Mobile Phone Orchestra, with its avant-garde compositions and electronic renditions of popular songs like Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” is trying to push the frontiers of the four-decade-old field of computer music.
While computer music composers once spent hours programming giant mainframes to synthesize a single sound, advances in hardware and software have brought powerful and easy-to-use music tools to personal computers and now, to smartphones.
Ge Wang, the assistant professor of music who leads the two-year-old Stanford group, says the iPhone may be the first instrument — electronic or acoustic — that millions of people will carry in their pockets. “I can’t bring my guitar or my piano or my cello wherever I go, but I do have my iPhone at all times,” he said.
Professor Wang said he would like to democratize the process of making music, so that anyone with a cellphone could become a musician. “Part of my philosophy is people are inherently creative,” he said. “It’s not just people who think of themselves as artists.”
To pursue that goal, he co-founded a software company, Smule, which makes applications that turn iPhones into simple musical instruments. Although the consumer apps are less sophisticated than the custom creations of the Stanford orchestra, users have been fascinated by them.
The most popular Smule app, Ocarina, turns the iPhone into a flutelike instrument played by blowing across the microphone, touching virtual finger holes and tilting the phone. Another Smule app mimics a trombone. The two programs, which cost 99 cents each, have been downloaded about two million times.
Other software companies have hopped on the bandwagon. MooCowMusic, for example, makes apps like Pianist, Guitarist, Organist and Bassist, which sound like traditional instruments. With a program called Bloom, created in part by Brian Eno, the musician and producer, users can tap their phones to create drone sounds that loop and become a piece of music.
Stephen Tramontozzi, who teaches at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and plays double bass in the San Francisco Symphony, questions whether iPhone instruments can viscerally affect an audience the same way as the vibrations of traditional instruments in a concert hall.
“The response of traditional instruments is so subtle to the movement and the sensitivities of the being playing it, so it therefore can express much, much more and be more touching than something that produces sound electronically,” he said.
Professor Wang, who still plays the guitar he learned in middle school, acknowledges that “nothing is better than a cello at playing the cello.”
Still, he hopes that his ensemble — which builds the instruments, writes the music and performs it — will invent the instruments of the future.
While the Ocarina app is simple enough that anyone can easily play it, the Stanford orchestra is studying the potential of more complex iPhone instruments and pushing the limits of the type of music that can be made with them.
To play one of the instruments, called the non-gamelan, musicians tilt the phone to create sounds of drums or bells and surround audience members to give them the feeling of being in the middle of a digital-age drum circle. Another instrument takes advantage of the iPhone’s touch screen. The musician taps different parts of the screen to create notes that resemble a piano or the chirps of the R2-D2 robot in “Star Wars.”
Cellphones are appearing in other ensembles across the country. A mobile phone orchestra at the University of Michigan, led by a co-founder of the Stanford group, will perform on Wednesday. And a big-band jazz group called Large Ensemble used smartphones as instruments during a recent performance in New York.
“It is too early to make any judgment on” such ensembles, said Paul Lansky, a composer and professor of music at Princeton who was a pioneering figure in computer music but recently abandoned the field to focus on traditional instruments. “You can make great music with a rubber band and terrible music with a Stradivarius violin.”
In the future, Professor Wang said, a music ensemble could be made up of any group of people playing music together, no matter where they are physically.
Users of Smule’s Ocarina software can already listen to other people, anywhere in the world, who are playing at the same time. Professor Wang has talked to the San Francisco Symphony about a joint performance, with traditional and iPhone instruments, and he hopes to someday host a concert with musicians and amateurs from across the globe playing their iPhones all at once.Read More.....

Adults-only apps market comes to Android

An adult app marketplace for smartphone users has opened up shop online, exploiting the open architecture of a new generation of mobile phone handsets.
MiKandi, which claims to be the world's first adult app store, is only currently servicing devices using Google's Android operating system, but says the wares in its marketplace will be available on other devices soon.
Unlikely to figure among these, though, is Apple's popular iPhone platform. The company keeps a tight rein on all applications, and does not distribute adult content through its iTunes store, meaning many users resort to "jailbreaking" their iPhones so they can download non-Apple-approved content.
In spite of its strict approval process, one app that did slip by the iTunes censors was the "passion" app that uses the phone's built-in accelerometer, microphone and timer to rate a user's sexual performance. High scores can even be uploaded and compared with those of other iPhone users around the world.
The MiKandi market will work in a similar way to the Android app store in that developers will submit their own free and paid apps for others to download without the approval process required from proprietary systems, but it will not be hosted within Google's own Android market.
Instead it is offered as a free download to an Android web browser for users aged 18 years or older.
“We do not place heavy restrictions or try to censor your apps. Our job is to make sure you have all the tools you'll need for success. As long as it's legal, the sky's the limit,” the company said on its website.
While Android users continue to benefit from the openness of the platform, with an ever-increasing number of apps and a variety of handsets on the market, rumours that Google is preparing to launch its own fully branded super-smartphone continue to circulate.
Gizmodo is the latest news blog to report that “trusted sources” have confirmed the Google phone's existence, although many other industry commentators believe the company would never risk alienating its growing legion of hardware partners by launching its own product.
Warren Chaisatien, research director at Telsyte, said the company might succeed with such a venture by executing it in a “non-competitive way” thereby avoiding direct competition with other Android handsets. “That would be a very good outcome for all, but Google would have to communicate clearly to its partners on what it intends to do and how it intends to position it,” he said.
“Google as a company has been very aggressive on the mobility front and we will certainly see an intense fight in 2010 with the company attacking the market on multiple fronts,” he said.Read More.....
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