Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New location-based app in offing

Singapore-based software developer Xsago is working on an app for the iPhone that combines location-based services with social networking.

Called Foyage, this app will be able to tell you what shops, restaurants and ATMs are around you. It will also tell you if your friends are in the vicinity. In addition, Foyage will allow users to post comments from within the application that are simultaneously posted to Twitter as well.

The company has been working on Foyage since August 2008, according to company founder Willson Cuaca. He is hopeful Foyage will be ready by early 2009.

Willson’s background is in network security and his developers are new to Objective-C, but this has not deterred them from exploring the iPhone. “I’ve learned that you have to be in front of the wave,” says Willson. “If you wait too long, you lose first-mover advantage.”

Xsago is hoping that Foyage will generate revenue from mobile marketing, especially those tied to proximity. “We hope Foyage will enable impulse transactions,” says Willson.

Foyage certainly sounds promising. Let’s hope it gets off the ground soon.

Large Form iPod Touch To Launch in Fall ‘09

More for you to file in the rumour department: Tech Crunch cites three independent sources for a large form iPod touch.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Fund Watch - free for 1 day only

To ring in the new year, Fund Watch, the local iPhone app that monitors the performance of your mutual fund/unit trust, will be free for one day only on January 1, 2009. It normally retails for US$7.99.

Fund Watch charts the prices of funds from Fundsupermart Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia. 

The developer of Fund Watch, Sasmito Adibowo, is also making his other two apps, Instant Motivator and Speech Timer, free on New Year's Day too.

Thanks Sasmito! Great way to ring in the New Year.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Free SG Trains leaving station soon

SG Trains will only be free for a short while more so pick it up while you can. Hon Cheng is continuing to work on the application so you can probably expect a new version very soon. One new feature in the works is a map that shows you where the destination station is in relation to your existing location. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

iPhone users like Hoiio

Users of the iPhone are rapidly taking to the Hoiio callback service. According to Teliwave, the Singapore company behind Hoiio, iPhone users are the third largest group of users making calls using the service. In terms of using SMS, the iPhone is ahead of all other mobile phone platforms. 

From Nov 1 to Dec 23, the iPhone platform was responsible for 9.1 percent of calls on Hoiio, behind the Symbian S60 (33.6 percent) and Jave J2ME (14.4 percent), according to Teliwave spokeman Made Adi.

During the same period, about 24 percent of Hoiio’s SMS users used an iPhone. This puts the iPhone ahead of all other mobile platforms, and makes it second only to the web (35.7 percent).

This achievement is even more striking when you consider that Hoiio’s iPhone app has only been available from November 13 (it has been downloaded about 1,200 times since). This means that the other platforms had an additional 12 days of usage over the iPhone during the period in question. 

Usage of Hoiio (phone calls)
Platform Percentage %
Symbian S60 33.63
Java J2ME 14.36
iPhone 9.11
Windows Mobile 7.65
Web 7.27
Blackberry 0.05
Others 27.92

Usage of Hoiio   (SMS)
Platform Percentage %
Web 35.67
iPhone 24.22
Symbian S60 13.97
Java J2ME 12.20
Windows Mobile 4.02
BlackBerry 0.02
Others 9.90

According to Made, the adoption rate by iPhone users has been faster compared to the other platforms that Hoiio supports. Made attributes the rapid penetration of the iPhone to three factors — the iPhone’s data capability, Apple’s App Store and the Hoiio interface.

“Data (GPRS) is not a fear factor for iPhone users. If I do a sales pitch to non-iPhone users, some people are turned off by the fact that Hoiio uses GPRS to initiate the call. I have to explain that we don't use a lot of data, only 2kb. However, as iPhones comes with a data plan and seamless transition from GPRS to WiFi, iPhone users are not so concerned about 2kb of data used to initiate a call.

Apple’s App Store also makes a big difference, he says. “Unlike other platforms which do not have such a dedicated channel, when we put our application in the Singapore App Store, we know that we are going to have access to more than 30,000 people to download our application. The App Store also allows users to easily install the application to their iPhone.”

It also helps that the interface for Hoiio’s app is the same as the native phone application on the iPhone. “Our iPhone users love Hoiio because they don't need to change the way they make calls, yet they can save on their communications cost.”

Hoiio's app is free on the App Store, but users have to register to use the service. They buy credits which are then drawn down as they are used.

Teliwave, the company behind the callback service, is a start-up based in Singapore. It is among the 200 finalists being considered for the Red Herring 100 Asia awards. Hoiio has about 8,500 registered users so far. Currently, Hoiio is only available in Singapore but the company is planning to offer the service to other markets next year. Hoiio’s mobile development lead is local iPhone developer Ong Jun Da, who is responsible for SG 4D, SG Pools and SG Toto. (See interview with Jun Da here.)

SG Trains free for 24 hours

The developer of SG Trains is making his application free for 24 hours. This app is usually sold for US$1.99 so grab this while you can.

At this precise moment, the App Store is still showing the regular price. The special Christmas offer is expected to kick in an hour or two. 

SG Trains is a nice little app that tells you how long it takes to get from point A to point B via MRT. It is also location aware so you get updated travel times as you move from station to station. See earlier story here.

Update: App Store now shows 'free' pricing.

Latest version of buUuk now on App Store

Download it here. For a list of new features, click here

More iPhone Nano Case Design Photos

Case manufacturer XSKN has posted pictures of its iPhone Nano cases, thus fanning the flames of rumour even more. See story on MacRumors.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Developers struggling to find revenue model for local iPhone apps

The bus guide SG Buses is a very popular Singapore-specific iPhone app, with about 27,000 downloads so far since its release in September. Today, it gets about 200 downloads a day. This useful bus guide, which is free but ad supported, serves about 10,000 page views a day or 300,000 page views a month.

However, while this might sound like a lot, the ad revenue from SG Buses is very low, according to Muh Hon Cheng, the developer. He does not want to reveal figures but speaking from his experience, says: “The market here is too small to generate substantial revenue from ads (through ad networks) such as AdMob.” 

iPhone Nano rumours burning up intertubes

A casemaker has added a new category called iPhone Nano that has sparked off a new series of rumours about a smaller iPhone model. XSKN is the same company whose cases/designs preceded the iPhone 3G and the fourth generation iPod Nanos. See MacRumors for the details and iPhone Alley for concept pictures.

ChangeWave: Apple iPhone’s ‘very satisfied’ rating more than double that of RIM’s BlackBerry Storm

See also the market share chart plotting the rise of the iPhone, Palm's decline and BlackBerry's plateau. Via MacDailyNews.

"Holy f--king sh-t - I was just in a plane crash!”

Citizen journalism at work. Man survives plane crash and uses his iPhone to tweet about his experience minutes after getting out of the plane. Via iPhone Savior.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Bus guide category gets crowded with addition of SG Transport

Public transport is obviously a popular category for local iPhone developers. Although the field is already crowded with entries, a new app called SG Transport has just made an appearance.

SG Transport is billed as a bus guide cum MRT guide. In reality, it is an above average bus guide but its MRT component needs work.

As a bus guide, SG Transport allows you to search by bus service or road name. What's nice about it is that you can see all the arrival times of all the services at a particular bus stop. This is something that other bus guides don't offer. Unfortunately, this feature does not work well and I am often presented with the message "Internet Error. Do you want to use SMS?" 

A feature I liked is the favourites. You can store your most commonly used bus stops in a favourites menu so that you can easily check bus arrivals at the bus stops you actually use most of the time. Of course, this feature would be better if the arrival times aspect worked more often.

This app has in-app maps so you don't have to leave the app to go to Google Maps to see where a particular bus stop is. Unfortunately, the app leaves you guessing where exactly the bus stop is on the map.

The MRT aspect of SG Transport is somewhat lacking. It consists largely of a map of the system. Tapping on "Journey Time" does not actually tell you how long it takes to get from one station to another. You just have to work it out yourself by looking at a low res gif representing the different stops on each line. In this respect, MobiGuide (see review) is actually better.

SG Transport is free so give it a whirl. However, if the app fails to improve how it handles bus arrival times, try the web app Next Bus. It's never failed me yet.

New MRT app hits App Store

A new app aimed at users of the MRT has hit the Singapore App Store. MobiGuide, by developer Mobiquest, allows you to find out how long it will take to get from one station to another, and how many stops it will make along the way.

Unfortunately, this app suffers from a number of problems. MobiGuide (US$1.99) uses an odd interface that makes it unneccessarily hard to use.  In addition, its limited feature set disappointing, given how an older app on the App Store already does almost everything MobiGuide does.

When you start it up, you are presented with a map of the MRT system. To select a station, you tap on the map and then tap on a button that says “Show/Zoom it!” It is not clear why the developer should choose this method over the multi-touch "reverse pinch" to zoom in. In fact, it seems to a step backwards because to select a station, you have to move a tiny little box (2mm by 2mm) to the spot you want to zoom in to.

I found this app to be buggy. Sometimes, when you are asked to select your destination, you only get one option, which is the same as your starting point. Unfortunately, the app also crashes regularly as well.

The limited functionality means that this app can’t be recommended, especially since an older competing app, SG Trains, does much the same thing, and does it much better.

Safari Plug-In Brings Flash To Jailbroken iPhones

Flash support, apparently buggy, thanks to iMobileCinema, a third party plug-in for Mobile Safari. Only available for jailbroken iPhones. See iPhone Alley for details.

How to Re-Enable Unlock and Jailbreak in Mac OS X 10.5.6

The latest version of Leopard broke pwnage, the jailbreaking tool. If you need to fix the problem, Gizmodo has the details.

iPhone thief thwarted by MobileMe sync

Great story via The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW). See? MobileMe is good for something.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ocarina developers made $1m in sales

Newsweek has an interesting story on successful iPhone developers. I still can't play Stairway to Heaven though.

Games taking off

Seems like it is the funnest device ever. Katamari Damancy and Sim City are now on the iPhone while Metal Gear Solid is coming. See Ars Technica for roundup.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Workarounds for jailbroken iPhones and latest Leopard update

If you plan to update your version of Leopard (to 10.5.6) and to use a jailbroken iPhone, the iPhone dev-team have some suggestions on how to get around the device firmware update (DFU) mode problem.

Jobs no-show at Macworld Expo plus Apple pullout - what it means

The iPhone Blog has an excellent roundup of reactions from the major Mac sites. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Review or add restaurants with new version of buUuk

The hardworking developers behind buUuk have been working overtime to deliver new features for Singapore's first iPhone restaurant guide.

The latest version of buUuk will allow you to add new restaurants that are not in the database. In addition, you will also be able to add your own review in the buUrp page (I love the name buUrp btw).

They have also tweaked the interface. There is a 'New' button that will allow you to see new restaurants that have been added while the 'Top Rated' button has been moved off the main selection bar at the bottom of the screen. (Does this mean that users prefer novelty to eating at top rated restaurants?)

I'm glad to see so many new features added to this already excellent app. I am also happy to report that there are a healthy number of offers on buUuk at the moment. Some of the better ones include:
  • 25% off your bill on Friday after 10pm at Muddy Murphy's
  • One-for-one Martinis on Saturday and Sunday at Ballymoons
  • Free beer or Martini at BQ Bar
Pretty good deals, especially seeing that buUuk is free. The latest version (2.0) has just been submitted to the App Store. Watch out for it.

10.5.6 update disables direct iPhone Pwnage jailbreak

The Leopard update released by Apple today will prevent your Mac from recognising your iPhone or iPod in DFU (device firmware update) mode. From iPhone Alley: "If you intend to jailbreak or unlock your iPhone or iPod touch, we suggest waiting on the update until the Dev Team comes up with a solution."

The story was broken by iPhone Alley while Ars Technica has an analysis.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Use Seadragon to see Singapore on the map

I've had a chance to muck around with Microsoft's Seadragon Mobile app and I have to say it's pretty cool. You can start with a map of the world, and work your way through various satellite photographs to the point where you can the street you live on (a handy red tack--a little red dot, ha ha ha--tells you where you are). Zooming in is fast and smooth, the level of detail is amazing and it hasn't crashed (yet). Try it for yourself. Seadragon Mobile is on the App Store and it's free.

Excellent 3G reception on the NE line

As a regular commuter on the North-South and East-West lines, I've often been frustrated by the 3G signal I get, especially when the train goes underground. Today, I had a chance to ride on the North-East line and the difference is amazing. Full 5 bars from Little India to Harbourfront. The iPhone was fully usable underground, unlike on the N-S and E-W lines, where using the Internet is excruciating. Let's hope that the telcos get the 3G infrastructure up-and-running by next year on the N-S and E-W lines as promised.

Movie times for Golden Village now available

If you like watching movies and you go to Golden Village cineplexes a lot, this iPhone app will come in useful. IGV allows you to look up movie schedules and find out what's showing at different Golden Village cinemas. It also links directly to trailers of the movie.

The really useful thing about iGV (free on the App Store) is that it gives you the timetable for the next three days, so you can plan your movie outing.

Useful as this is though, the web app Cinepura is still the one to beat, especially if you are hankering to watch a particular movie. Cinepura covers all the cinema chains in Singapore and it allows you to see, in one screen, where and when that movie is showing.

Apple adds new genre as PullMyFinger makes it to App Store

Apple had previously given PullMyFinger, an app that makes farting noises, the thumbs down. However, it seems that they have changed their minds and the app is now available on the App Store. This is good news, not because the world needs more applications that fart, but because it signals a greater openness on Apple's part. PullMyFinger is listed under the 'Entertainment', a new category. PullMyFinger is available on the App Store for US$0.99. Via Ars Technica.

Microsoft Labs Seadragon Mobile for iPhone

Microsoft's first app for the iPhone showcases a technology that allows you to quickly view gigapixel images. According to TechFlash, Seadragon "comes with a collection of about 50 sample images, ranging as high as 10 gigapixels, including satellite imagery, art and pictures of space." (Via Silicon Alley Insider.)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Trafficam developer's first app was for 'world peace'

Joseph Wee and his wife Stefanie on holiday in China.

If it wasn’t for PMS, the developer of Locacity and Trafficam SG might never have written an iPhone app. 

Inspired by the potential of the iPhone, Joseph Wee, a program manager at a local software house, decided to learn Objective-C. “I started about two or three months ago. Coming from a .net and Visual Studio world, everything was ridiculously foreign to me, so I promptly gave up. Then one morning, I had an idea for uPMS, which was such a simple project yet interesting enough that I was really inspired and finished it in an afternoon, and basically that was my tipping point.” 

Cut and paste. Sort of.

How embarrassing that it has to be done this way, but at the same time, how ingenious. Still in beta but you can see how it's done from the video.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Caught in the Wild: Super-Mini Edition iPhone

Great pictures of the mini iPhone that is just a little bit larger than a credit card. Everybody will want one.

Korean smartphone market opens

Old platform to be retired on Apr 1, next year. The Korea Times has the details.

Whither iPhone sales?

A Morgan Stanley analyst says 'extreme' interest down to 5% from 7% in February 2007 despite $400 price drop. She's cutting 2009 iPhone shipments to 14 million from 19 million. However, Kaufman analyst Shaw Wu says Apple could sell up to 1 million iPhone gift cards, which would boost sales.

Music video shot on iPhone

Using Cycorder and a jailbroken iPhone. See the video here.

Microsoft: To Unveil Zune/Danger Device At CES Keynote?

According to one analyst reported in a blog on Barrons:
Trip Chowdhry, of Global Equities Research, today asserts that the company will unveil a new device combining the features of the company’s Zune music player and its Danger Sidekick handhelds, combined with what he describes as “some motion enhancement features” using an accelerometer, like the Apple (AAPL) iPhone.

Citrix to extend desktop virtualization to the iPhone

Slated to arrived next year (via Macworld).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

iPhone more popular than Mas Selamat

Somewhat remarkably, Singapore's Google users looked up '3g iphone' more than they did 'mas selamat' this year. On Google's list of search trends for 2008, '3g iphone' was number 5 on the list of local searches in Google News. Escaped fugitive Mas Selamat only managed 9th position, ahead of paddler Feng Tianwei, though to be fair, 'singapore terrorist' was number 3 on that list. The top search term on Google News from Singapore was 'singapore olympics'. 

In other fascinating but non-iPhone related discoveries, Maxwell hawker centre was the top hawker centre looked up, beating Newton, while chicken rice grabbed pole position on the local food list, ahead of 'punggol crab noodle'.

The most popular search term from Singapore was 'lyrics' (why??) while Hong Kong actor 'Edison Chen' was the fastest rising search term after his sex photos hit the web. (Update: the iPhone was number 4 on the fastest rising list).

Click here for Google's full list.

iPhone Doom with TV-out: Try it yourself

Instructions via Ars Technica.

In Egypt: No GPS for you!

Walking like an Egyptian means forgoing GPS because Apple has disabled the technology on iPhones sold in Egypt. The Egyptian government argues that GPS is a military prerogative. Via the New York Times. See also Apple's support document on this topic.

Report: Apple To Open Store Near France’s Louvre

Likely to open in Fall 2009. Via Cult of Mac.

Munster: Walmart Could Sell 4.5M iPhones

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster estimates that Walmart, with 3,000 stores, can sell 4.5 million iPhones in 2009. Via Cult of Mac.

New AdWords options for iPhone and G1

AdWords advertisers can now target iPhone and G1 users. See Google Mobile Blog for details.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Yes to WalMart iPhone. Probably no to 4GB version

At least according to the grapevine. Bloomberg spoke to several WalMart employees who confirmed that their stores would be selling the iPhone. However, no evidence anywhere of a 4GB version. MacRumors has a photo of WalMart advertising which shows an 8GB version going for US$197, with no sign of anything cheaper. Looks like if you're holding off for a cheaper 4GB iPhone, it isn't going to happen.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

More on WalMart's iPhone

The San Jose Mercury News speaks to Walmart employees and confirms that WalMart will be selling the iPhone. The price has not yet been confirmed though one person interviewed did mention a 4GB version.

Trafficam SG now available

Avoid traffic james with Trafficam SG. I haven't tried it but it looks pretty useful. It has 46 webcams updated every 10 minutes.  It also allows you to compile a list of your favourite ones. Free from the App Store.

MotoChaser on TV

Ars Technica persuaded Freeverse to rework MotoChaser to run on the TV, using an undocumented TV-out feature in the SDK. After three hours of work, the Freeverse guys have the demo ready. Using a new iPod touch (with the faster processor) as the controller, they get about 20 fps, described as "nearly playable". Don't miss the very cool video.

App Store: 10,000 apps, 300m downloads

An amazing achievement. See stories here and here. However, Silicon Alley Insider says growth is flat.

More pullouts from Macworld Expo

Apart from Adobe, AppleInsider is reporting that Creative Labs and Belkin have also dropped out, while Marware has scaled back.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Rumor: US$99 iPhone to be sold at WalMart

A 4GB version. Source: Boy Genius Report

Gartner: Apple overtakes Microsoft as world’s #3 smartphone OS vendor in 3Q08

Gartner 3Q08 smartphone report highlights

By vendor, the iPhone has:

- 12.9% market share (vs 15.9% for RIM and 42.4% for Nokia)
- 327.5% sales growth over 3Q07 (vs 81.7% for RIM and -3.1% for Nokia)

By operating system, the iPhone has:

- 12.9% market share (vs 15.9% for RIM, 49.8% for Symbian and 11.1% for Windows Mobile)
- 327.5% sales growth over 3Q07 (vs 81.7% for RIM, -12% for Symbian and -3% for Windows Mobile)

Adobe cuts 600 jobs, skips Macworld exhibition

Adobe says it will deliver below expectations in Q4 and cites weaker-than-expected demand for CS4 (see press release here), hence the job cuts. It was also previously reported that Adobe would not be exhibiting at Macworld in January, though it would hold classes.

Flickr video now viewable on the iPhone

Only new video uploaded from today though. See Flickr post here.

Readers React to David Pogue’s Review of the BlackBerry Storm

Mac users aren't the only rabid fans around, if reactions to David Pogue's review of the BlackBerry Storm is any indication.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

PhoneBAK for iPhone (lite) awaiting approval

BAK2u CEO Paddy Tan has confirmed that a lite version of PhoneBAK for iPhone has been sent to Apple for approval. The original PhoneBAK for iPhone app, which was not approved by Apple, was designed to thwart iPhone theft. The app was able to detect the insertion of a new SIM card, and would secretly send out an sms and an email to a predetermined number and email address respectively. The email would also contain the location of the iPhone to help people track their lost or stolen phones. 

Paddy confirmed that the original version of the app did go around the iPhone's documented APIs in order to identify the SIM card used in the iPhone (the SDK currently does not offer any way to do this). In addition, the sending out of a secret SMS or email would require the running of a background application, which is strictly forbidden by the SDK. Apple did not say why the original app was not approved (contrary to what was reported previously), but these are two likely reasons the app might have been given the thumbs down. 

While Paddy would not say how the lite version is different from the original one, presumably it does not use undocumented calls nor does it run in the background. 

(Thanks to reader Gerard for flagging the original piece that led to this, hopefully clearer, story.)

RIM Blows Q3, But 'Strong' Demand For New BlackBerries

Research in Motion will come in below estimates for Q3 but says that it is seeing "exceptional demand" for the BlackBerry Storm and Bold. See story from Silicon Alley Insider here.

Use anti-virus software, says Apple. In June 2007

Making the rounds is news that Apple is now asking Mac users to use anti-virus software, suggesting that Apple now thinks the Mac platform is vulnerable. However, MacDailyNews points out this the source of this information is an Apple Support document that had originally been published in June 2007. The latest version merely updates the old document with new names and versions of the anti-virus software available for the Mac. Full story here.

Update: Apple has removed the support document from its web site (via Macworld).

Safari and Mac market share up in November '08

Figures from Internet tracking firm Net Applications show that Safari is gaining market share in terms of web usage. Explorer's market share, on the other hand, has dropped below 70 percent. Ars Technica has nice charts showing how Safari and Apple are doing. Net Applications has a chart that plots Safari's market share since January.

iPhone: 16.6% of worldwide smartphone market, 30% of US market

The iPhone is grabbing tremendous market share according to Needham analyst Charlie Wolf. Nokia's marketshare, on the other hand, dropped from 63.3 percent a year ago to 43.6 percent. Full story with charts at Electronista.

New Apple headphones only partially compatible with iPhone

The new in-ear headphones won't do volume control on the iPhone or the iPhone 3G (via iLounge).

Developers Now Allowed 50 Free "Promotional" Copies Of Apps

Only in the US App Store though (via iPhone Alley)

Palm: Fall Sales Horrible, Slashing Costs

Sales for the quarter ending Nov 28 will be 40 percent lower than Wall Street estimates (via Silicon Alley Insider).

(Note: Updated to fix typo because November, oddly enough, does not have 38 days.)

Nokia unveils N97

See stories by CNET and Gizmodo. Silicon Alley Insider has a roundup. Engadget has pictures.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Rumor: 32GB iPhone at Macworld

There is speculation that Apple will introduce an iPhone with a bigger capacity in January at Macworld San Francisco. The iPod touch already has a 32GB version but the iPhone doesn't have the space for two 16GB NAND Flash chips, says Mac Rumors. However, a single 32GB chip may be going into mass production. Read the analysis on Mac Rumors.

Apple Releases iPhone Configuration Utility 1.1

If you deploy iPhones in the enterprise, this will come in useful. Both Mac and Windows versions available. 

From the description:
iPhone Configuration Utility lets you easily create, maintain, and sign configuration profiles, track and install provisioning profiles and authorized applications, and capture device information including console logs. 

Configuration profiles are XML files that contain device security policies, VPN configuration information, Wi-Fi settings, APN settings, Exchange account settings, mail settings, and certificates that permit iPhone and iPod touch to work with your enterprise systems. 

WTF? A guide for the uninitiated

Michael Tan of Tangent Software has released a new app called Net Acronyms that is exactly as its name implies. This is a database of acronyms and abbreviations used online and in SMS. I'm obviously an old fogey because there's a bunch of stuff I don't recognise. Apparently 1337 means 'elite' while GSYJDWURMNKH means 'good seeing you, just don't wear your monkey hat'. Who knew? Available for free on the App Store.

Michael is the guy behind the very useful Upcoming Events (US$1.99) on the App Store. See an interview with Michael that was run previously here.

Battery problems with 2.2? Some possible fixes

From iPhone Atlas. Suggestions include deleting push-mail accounts and discharging battery fully.

Analysis of App Store apps

Interesting analysis clearly presented in various charts. Did you know that 77 percent of apps on the App Store are paid? Me neither.

Welcome to Macintosh - now available for pre-order

Welcome to Macintosh, the DVD for Macheads, is now available for pre-order at US$19.84 (gotta love that).

See another trailer here.

The Simpsons at the Mapple Store

Mildly funny with some nice in-jokes. Watch it on YouTube here.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Unlocking iPhone 3Gs--the Vietnamese way

Interesting story (with pictures) from CNET on how iPhones are unlocked in a shop in Hanoi. 

Linux now on the iPhone

The Linux 2.6 kernel has been ported to the iPhone. Get details here. The page has links to video and instructions.

Rumor: 2.2.1 To Add Push Notifications, OTA Notes Syncing?

According to They also have screenshots. However, Apple has yet to seed 2.2.1 to developers so take this with a pinch of salt (via iPhone Alley).

Saturday, November 29, 2008

BuUuk's authors eyeing sequel

Useful information, not spam. That is the vision of buUuk, a new local iPhone development shop that has developed a restaurant guide (also known as buUuk) with a database of over 4,000 restaurants and bars in Singapore.

According to Jon Petersen, one of company’s founders, the aim is not to make a quick buck from selling banner ads, though they would undoubtedly be able to do so given how much Singaporeans love to eat.

Friday, November 28, 2008

PhoneBAK for iPhone officially rejected

Local developer BAK2u is now retooling its app, PhoneBAK for iPhone, after the app was rejected by Apple.

According to CEO Paddy Tan, the app got the thumbs down because PhoneBAK for iPhone sends out a hidden SMS alert when someone puts in an unauthorised SIM card in the iPhone.

BAK is now removing some features from the original app to conform to Apple's SDK restrictions. However, they are planning release this version as a  freeware app rather than charge for it. Says Paddy: "It is not easy being a little start-up company, but we are realistic people who strongly believe customers should only pay for a worthy product." 

It's a shame that Apple will not allow the secret SMS alert feature because that is precisely what makes this app useful.

iCodeRed now available

Local developer BAK2u has a new app available that will call a predetermined number and send the location of the iPhone to a previously configured email address. Sounds like it might be useful in an emergency. ICodeRed is available on the App Store for US$1.99.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Qik not at App Store yet

From Ars Technica
When Ars Technica asked Bhaskar Roy, Qik's co-founder, about the progress of its native iPhone client, he said that they're still waiting "to build a few things in our product prior to submitting it."
Looks like video on non-jailbroken iPhones will still have to wait.

Reports: 3G slowdowns, battery problems with iPhone 2.2

People are reporting problems on Apple's discussion boards with the 2.2 Firmware regarding 3G network speeds and battery life. iLounge has the story.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Street View hack for iPod touch

If you have an iPod touch, you would have found out by now that Street View for Google Maps has been disabled for the iPod touch in the 2.2 Firmware. If you desperately want this feature on your Touch, help is at hand. However, doing so requires that you to edit the N45AP.plist list on your iPod touch.

Full details are on the iPod Touch Fans website. Note that I am not recommending, endorsing or even suggesting that you do this. I can't even vouch that the method works very well. Read through the forum and decide for yourself. Good luck.

Shields Up! Twelve Security Holes Fixed by New iPhone/iPod touch Firmware

Excellent description of security holes patched by the 2.2 firmware update, from The Apple Blog.

Shake that buUuk

Each time you start up the restaurant guide buUuk, it will show you a recommended restaurant near-ish your current location. If you don't like the recommendation, shake your iPhone and buUuk will give you a new recommendation. Cool stuff. 

The app is free and currently comes with a coupon for a free beer or martini from BQ bar.

How To: Jailbreak iPhone 2.2 (Preserving Baseband) - Mac OS X Edition

Very clear, step-by-step instructions with screenshots to help you from The iPhone Blog. Note that is only relevant if you have a carrier locked iPhone and you want to be able to unlock sometime in the future. If you've bought your phone from SingTel, these steps are not necessary because your iPhone is already unlocked.

Putting emoticons on your iPhone

If you absolutely must have it, Gizmodo describes the process for enabling it on your iPhone if you are running the 2.2 firmware. Jailbreaking not necessary, but would make things easier.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

SwirlyMMS update needed for 2.2

If your life depends on SwirlyMMS, oops. As SwirlyMats, the site admin on Swirly Space notes: "SwirlyMMS 1.2.9 does NOT run out of the box on 2.2." However, they have already submitted version 1.2.10 to the Cydia repository, so it's just a matter of time. In the meantime, maybe try using email to send your pictures?

See the discussion on SwirlySpace.

Update: SwirlyMMS 1.2.10 now available on Cydia

Update available to jailbreak latest firmware

The ingenious people at iPhone DevTeam have released QuickPwn and Pwnage Tool to jailbreak the latest version of the firmware (2.2). How should you jailbreak your iPhone? It depends.

SingTel's iPhones

If you bought your iPhone from SingTel, jailbreaking is straightforward. This is because your iPhone is already unlocked, ie, you can put any SIM card into the phone and it will work. To upgrade, they say, simply "upgrade to 2.2 using iTunes and then use QuickPwn to Pwn and Jailbreak. This will add Cydia and Installer too."

Grey market iPhone 2Gs

If you have a grey market iPhone 2G (the original ones), also no problem. According to the blog post, just "Update or Restore your iPhone 2G with iTunes then run QuickPwn to do the magic, ‘nuff said, you don’t need to worry about anything."

Locked iPhone 3G

Things get complicated if you have a locked iPhone 3G, meaning it can only be used on one carrier. This happens in markets where Apple has an exclusive deal with the carrier and the regulator allows locked sets. (In Singapore, SingTel has exclusive distribution but the regulator does not allow locked sets). 

If you don't care about using the iPhone on another carrier, then, it's pretty easy. "Just restore or upgrade to 2.2 using iTunes and use QuickPwn to Jailbreak and add Cydia and Installer."

If you do want to unlock your iPhone (i.e. use it on another carrier) at some point, they say:
 "you need to create a custom .ipsw with PwnageTool. This custom .ipsw will not contain the baseband update but of course will still allow all the cool new stuff from 2.2.

"There are plenty of tutorials about this process on the web, but PwnageTool contains intuitive graphics and easy to follow prompts that should have you up and running in no time at all. Please note: PwnageTool is only available for Mac OS X."
I have to confess I barely understand this and I'm certainly not recommending a jailbreak to anyone. This information is provided for people who might need it.

Please read the full post on the blog first. Links to the relevant bit-torrents are available at the end of the blog post.

Free beer with your app

Download an app, get a free beer. I can hear the stampede already. 

A new local restaurant guide, buUuk, comes with an e-coupon for free beer at BQ Bar. There are two catches. The first is that you can only use the coupon once. The second is that you have to use the coupon before it expires, and it is currently not clear when the offer expires.

The free iPhone app has over 4,000 restaurants and bars around Singapore in its massive database. You can look for restaurants by food type, you can look up top rated restaurants, or if you're not so fussy, you can look for restaurants near where you are. You can also use the search function to find restaurants in a particular area, say Holland Village, or if you like, restaurants that serve pizza in Holland Village. Impressive.

After you select a restaurant, you can read reviews and blog posts about the place. There's also a handy map to help you locate the restaurant. The map gives you both your current location (indicated by the letter 'U') and the restaurant's location. If you don't know how to get there, tap on Directions and you will be sent to Google Maps and you can get either walking or driving directions.

I've been playing around with the beta version for a while and it is pretty solid. In food-mad Singapore, I'm pretty sure this will take off. The free beer will certainly help.

Download this free app here.

New location-based search app available

A new free app called Locacity has been released on the App Store that helps you to locate four specific types of places around Singapore:

- 7-Eleven outlets
- Singapore Pools branches
- Petrol stations

Tapping on an address will bring you to a map. 

The app has rough edges but might still be useful to some people. 

Download it here.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Don't upgrade your jailbroken iPhones yet

If you want to keep your non-App Store apps, don't upgrade to 2.2 yet, say the good people behind the iphone-dev team. As they warn: "If you apply this update and you have third-party (non AppStore) applications that you rely on they will stop working" (emphasis theirs).

If you want the new features of 2.2 AND you want to be able to soft-unlock in future, you will have to update to 2.2 using an updated Pwnage Tool which will be released "sometime soon".

The dev-team are "creating the modifications right now and we need to put the new software through the usual testing process."

Read the full post here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Early notes on 2.2

Safari seems snappier. Tapping on the address bar pulls it up almost instantly now. Streetview is fast and extremely cool (but I have to say that 1 Infinite Loop looks exceedingly dull. Note that there's no Streetview for Singapore yet). You can now turn off auto-correct and auto-capitalisation (can't remember if you could do the latter before). And hitting the home button if you are on one of your many other home pages takes you to the first page. Nice.

Remember not to update if you've got a jailbroken iPhone. Otherwise, have fun.

Update: Jon Petersen of iSinGeo points out that you can now search by postal code. Type in Singapore followed by the six-digit code and Maps will locate the place. Much faster than typing the full address. Thanks for that note Jon.

Maps related update: Jon's SinGeo website has a cool map of Singapore showing the ability of do reverse geocoding on Google Maps. Click anywhere on the map and it it will actually pull up the address of the spot. Quite uncanny.

Apple releases iPhone 2.2 update

See this story from Macworld for a quick roundup of what 2.2 has, mainly improvements to Maps, Mail, Safari, fewer calldrops, ability to turn off autocorrect and ability to download podcasts.

BlackBerry Still Dominating, But iPhone Catching On With Businesses

Small-to-medium-sized companies are increasingly interested in buying Apple's (AAPL) iPhone as a business tool, according to a new ChangeWave Research survey. But BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIMM) continues to dominate. Some 22% of future corporate smartphone buyers told ChangeWave they planned to buy iPhones, up from 17% in August and 14% a year ago. Meanwhile, 78% of would-be buyers said they planned to buy BlackBerry phones, down from 79% in August and 82% in May. ChangeWave notes that RIM's share is concentrated amoung bigger companies, while Apple's is among small-to-medium-sized companies. 

Thursday, November 20, 2008

No perfect Storm

The clickable screen on RIM's Storm is drawing negative comments.

From Engadget:
"Rather than the click making things easier, it actually makes them more difficult. As you press down to engage a "key," you're required to release before moving to another, which means that you can only type so quickly. In our tests, we were constantly frustrated by the staggering, laggy movement when trying to type with any speed. You have to let the click depress before you can strike another character, and that makes for a stuttery input process."
From Gizmodo:
"I hate to say this, but I kind of came to hate typing on it. Pushing the screen in over and over requires so much more effort than simply gliding my fingers around a good touch keyboard. It was tiring."

From PC World:
"Typing on the Storm isn't much fun, either. You have to click the screen keyboard for each keystroke (the keys flash blue under your fingertips as you click), which ends up feeling like a lot of work in a way that typing on a hardware keyboard (or on the iPhone's software keyboard, for that matter) never did."
Storm does, however, have copy and paste...

TeliaSonnera Working On MMS App For iPhone

Swedish carrier TeliaSonnera promises an MMS app for the iPhone in the next few months (See story on iPhone Alley). Do people really need MMS? Maybe it's because I have no friends, am an old fogey, but I don't recall receiving a single MMS message in the last 12 (non-iPhone) months. As a result, I don't feel the loss of not having MMS on the iPhone. I do take lots of pictures with the camera on my iPhone which I send via email though.

Storm getting good reviews

But is it the iPhone killer? Without WiFi or the App Store, probably not. See reviews by here and here.

Hoiio works nicely

I just spent 27 minutes on the phone with someone in Cambodia. Using Hoiio, I paid $7. If I had used the local telcos, it would have cost me about $27. The line was clear (maybe I got lucky). Thumbs up for this great service and the nicely implemented iPhone app. 

Find out more about Hoiio from its website or from an earlier piece I did on the Hoiio iPhone app. The enterprising Ong Jun Da of SG Pools, SG 4D and SG Toto fame is the lead mobile developer at Hoiio. Read about him here.

Update: I forgot to mention that even though callback service such as Hoiio can be cheaper than conventional calls, this is not always the case. Hoiio charges $0.82 a minute to call a New Zealand mobile number. If you use StarHub's 018 service, it will cost you $0.48 a minute (plus 16 cents a minute for the call). The lesson here is to do your research first before deciding which service provider to use. Not always easy because for some strange reason, the IDD operators don't make it easy to find the rates.  

iPhone Now the #1 Device Worldwide on AdMob network

According to the AdMob October 2008 Metrics Report (see press release here), the iPhone has overtaken the Motorola RAZR to be the number 1 device on the AdMob network. (AdMob delivers banner ads and text ads on mobile web pages. On the iPhone, they also do ads in apps.)

Given the superior Internet capabilities of the iPhone, that is not so surprising. What is more surprising to me is that tiny Singapore ranks ninth worldwide on AdMob's iPhone list with 3.1 million requests in the month of October. Germany at number seven had 4.6 million requests, while Italy at number eight had 4.3 million requests (download full PDF report here).

Griffin's Clarifi available in Singapore

Just bought mine from the EpiCentre store at Wheelock Place. There were only two left when I got there so I'm guessing it's very popular. I've tried it out and it works as advertised. 

Griffin's Clarifi is a polycarbonate case with a built-in macro lens that allows you to take shots of barcodes, business cards etc. The results are actually readable. Not cheap though. While it will cost you US$35 from the US Online Apple Store (it's not available on the Singapore Apple Store), epicentre is selling it for S$69. (I managed to get a 10 percent discount because like the sad person that I am, I spend more money than I should at EpiCentre, and as a result, I am a member of some club or other that gets me discounts there).

For more Clarifi, check out Griffin's website. iLounge has an excellent review with lots of photos. See also the Flickr page for shots taken by the macro lens on the Clarifi case.

What I miss without Flash on the iPhone

The great Mac/PC ads that run on websites like the New York Times (the latest is the one on the customer satisfaction survey). On the other hand, as much as I enjoy the ad, I really hate the fact that running Flash on my MacBook invariably causes my fan to start up because the CPU starts to kick in. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Incase unveils the Power Slider battery pack/protective sleeve combo for the iPhone 3G

Another battery pack/case for the iPhone, this time by Incase (via iPhoneFreak). The battery is a rechargeable lithium-ion polymer (1330mAh 4.2V). 

From the website:
Additional battery life provided by Power Slider:

Standby time: up to 330 hours
Audio playback: up to 26 hours
Talk time: up to 5 hours on 3G network and 10 hours on 2G network
Video playback: up to 7 hours
Internet use: up to 5 hours on 3G network and 6 hours on Wi-Fi
Get full details of Power Slider from the Incase website. Available from November 28 for about US$99.

Competition for mophie's Juice Pack 3G. Stats on Juice Pack from mophie's website.
(additional hours):
Standby Time – Up to 350 hours
Talk Time – Up to 6 hours on 3G | Up to 12 hours on 2G
Internet Use – Up to 6 hours on 3G | Up to 7 hours on Wi-Fi
Audio Playback – Up to 28 hours
Video Playback – Up to 8 hours

Qik appears again

Tech journalist Leo Laporte was just given a copy of Qik to run on a non-jailbroken iPhone (check out the video here). Does this mean that Qik will soon make an appearance on the App Store or is the company hoping that publicity will help their case? (Erica Sadun of Ars Techica previously argued that Qik would violate Apple's human interface guidelines.) 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Why Apple Won't Allow Adobe Flash on iPhone

Wired argues that Apple doesn't like to lose control. 

Jailbroken iPhone? Don't upgrade to 2.2 yet

If you have a jailbroken iPhone, don't install the 2.2 Firmware when Apple releases it, according to the hardworking iPhone Dev Team. From their blog
"Installing ‘2.2’ straight away on the iPhone 3G using the iTunes auto-updater could affect your chances of any software unlock in the near future (should one be found and released), so when you see an update in iTunes await our instructions first!"
Jailbreaking allows you to install a bunch of cool apps Apple won't allow (like MMS and video recording). 

Flash on iPhone? Still working on it

Adobe is working to develop Flash for ARM processors (which the iPhone uses). Good analysis on whether Apple will allow this on Ars Technica

Sunday, November 16, 2008

3G network in MRT tunnels

The Straits Times reports that M1, StarHub and SingTel are installing equipment to allow commuters to access the 3G network while travelling underground on the North-East Line. The network should be available by next month. Good news, but what about the North-South Line?

Update: The dead tree version of ST reports that that upgrading on the North-South Line will be completed sometime "next year".

Friday, November 14, 2008

Google to offer iPhone app that does voice recognition

The New York Times is reporting that Google is going to allow iPhone users to Google (i.e. search) by talking to an app on the iPhone, rather than by typing in a keyword into the Google page. Voice recognition software will convert the question "How tall is Mount Everest?" into a query that Google's servers will answer. Google has made it for the iPhone but will bring it to other platforms. Don't hold your breath waiting for this to appear in the Singapore app store, but I am happy to be proven wrong.

SG Toto now available

The Toto pot currently stands at $1.5 million, which must seem pretty attractive given the current economic situation. However, there is a reason that Singapore Pools is able to donate generously to charity every year. Still, no harm in an occasional flutter I suppose. SG Toto, by the very enterprising Ong Jun Da, is available for free on the App Store. Find out the latest winning numbers and look up results from 2005.

Read about Jun Da here.

Singapore Subway/MRT Map now a guide

Shen Weijia has updated his MRT app to include details about the different MRT and LRT stations, as well as a link to Google Maps so you can see where the stations are located. The renamed app, Singapore Subway/MRT Guide (previously Map), is available on the App Store for $0.99.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Storm on the horizon, at US$199

US carrier Verizon Wireless will be selling RIM's BlackBerry Storm for US$199 from November 21. Why does this matter to iPhone users in Singapore? Because competition from the likes of BlackBerry (and the G1) will push Apple to be nicer to its customers. When a company has a monopoly, there is little incentive to innovate or to improve *cough* Microsoft *cough*. (See story on Storm on Silicon Alley Insider.)

Fund Watch on sale for US$1.99

Fund Watch, which helps you monitor your mutual fund, is now on sale for US$1.99 until November 14. Big discount off the usual price of US$7.99. 

Save money on overseas calls with Hoiio

Save money making overseas calls using Hoiio, a callback application by local company Teliwave. The app is free but the calls are not. How cheap is Hoiio? The full rates are here, but as an example, a call to a mobile number to Cambodia is 27.2 cents a minute. Using the cheap IDD services by M1 or StarHub, I normally pay about $1 a minute. Major savings. Have not tried it out yet so I can't vouch for voice quality though. Hoiio is only available in Singapore at the moment. 

Ong Jun Da of SG Pools and SG 4D fame is the lead mobile developer of Hoiio. Check out an interview with Jun Da here.

Apple's iPhone Faces Off With the Game Champs

The Wall Street Journal on the iPhone as a handheld gaming platform.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Singapore through the lens of the iPhone

Chia Aik Beng, talented artist, former Newton owner and old friend, has been taking pictures around Singapore with his first generation iPhone and applying effects to them using apps like Toy Camera and Camera Bag. He has a great eye, as the photos will attest.

He's also selling 4" by 6" prints of his work. Check it out at WORLD THROUGH MY I.

SG Trains now available

Cool new app by the prolific Muh Hon Cheng. Use SG Trains to find out:
  • How long it takes to get to your destination
  • Which route is fastest (if more than one route is available)
  • Get schedules so that you don't miss the last train

Changing at City Hall is obviously the smart option here.

You can set the app to use your current location as the starting point (it defaults to the closest MRT station to you) or manually set your own starting point. As you travel on the MRT, the app will update the time needed to get to the destination based on your location.

The only issue is that the iPhone can't always tell where you are. I was in the train in Changi Airport and SG Trains thought the closest station to me was Eunos. I checked Google Maps and indeed, Google Maps placed me in the Eunos vicinity too. This is a minor problem as I imagine you probably have a fairly good idea where you are most of the time. 

SG Trains is available on the App Store for US$1.99

Read an earlier interview with Hon Cheng here.

Hon Cheng's website is iridianSTUDIO.

Fake MacBook Nano

Hackintosh (OS X running on an MSI U100) with Apple branding. More details from Gizmodo.

Rumour: 2.2 Firmware on Nov 21

According to a rumour now sweeping the blogs and Mac sites like Note: This is only a rumour and it is not clear how reliable the rumour is.

Apple Store Malaysia opens

Online Apple store now open in Malaysia. Very convenient if you live in Malaysia but you're not near a physical store.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

BAK2u CEO on iPhone

Undaunted by the delay of PhoneBAK for iPhone, BAK2u CEO Paddy Tan talks about his company's plans for the iPhone and his take on the iPhone platform.

Bak2u possibly one of Singapore's best known mobile developers. What are your plans for the iPhone? 
We are looking into expanding our existing platforms of mobile security software into the iPhone in terms of anti-theft and at the same time to develop other security related applications too.

The Matrix, if it ran on Windows XP

Meet Clippy and the Blue Screen of Death in the Matrix. Not iPhone related but a very clever and funny video from CollegeHumor

Judge: Papermaster must stop work for Apple immediately

New iPhone and iPod head gets judicially ordered vacation (via iLounge).

Can Tim Cook replace Steve?

Fortune says maybe. From the profile:

Tim cook arrived at Apple in 1998 from Compaq Computer. He was a 16-year computer-industry veteran - he'd worked for IBM (IBM, Fortune 500) for 12 of those years - with a mandate to clean up the atrocious state of Apple's manufacturing, distribution, and supply apparatus. 

One day back then, he convened a meeting with his team, and the discussion turned to a particular problem in Asia."This is really bad," Cook told the group. "Someone should be in China driving this." Thirty minutes into that meeting Cook looked at Sabih Khan, a key operations executive, and abruptly asked, without a trace of emotion, "Why are you still here?"

Khan, who remains one of Cook's top lieutenants to this day, immediately stood up, drove to San Francisco International Airport, and, without a change of clothes, booked a flight to China with no return date, according to people familiar with the episode. The story is vintage Cook: demanding and unemotional.

More in full story here.

iPhone surpasses RAZR as top selling handset

Apple's iPhone is the top selling handset in the US in Q3, beating Motorola's RAZR. That's top selling handset. Not just top selling smartphone (via Macworld).

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ocarina - Day 3

I am getting closer to my dream of performing in the underpass at Orchard MRT station. I am now able to butcher Amazing Grace, Kumbaya and Greensleeves on the iPhone with the Ocarina app (Final Countdown is still regrettably out of my reach). That little white dot in the graphic above must be me! (My wife has pointed out that using the iPhone this way will accumulate spit. However, I am not worried. I will simply buy a new iPhone from the tens of dollars I will earn each year from busking.)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

iPhone Phone Home? No can do

Paddy Tan wants to return your iPhone back to you.

A software development firm in Singapore has developed an app that will help you recover your lost or stolen iPhone, but it may never see the light of day.

BAK2u, a company that develops anti-theft software for mobile phones and laptops, has developed an app called PhoneBAK for iPhone. This app will send out an email if someone keys in the wrong password when using the iPhone. PhoneBAK will use the GPS functionality to extract the location of the iPhone and send the location via email to a preprogrammed address. When that email is received, the recipient can click on a link in the email, and it will call up Google Maps to show the person exactly where the phone is. 

Demo of PhoneBAK for iPhone

Unfortunately, PhoneBAK for iPhone may never find its way to the app store because Apple has been sitting on this app for about two months now. This is much longer than the five days or so it normally takes to approve an app. Paddy Tan, the founder and CEO of BAK2u, does not currently have high hopes of the app being approved. “The wait is a tad too long and from discussions with other developers, (we think) there may be a chance it won’t be approved,” he says.

It would be a shame if BAK2u is never released for the iPhone because versions of this app already exist for other mobile platforms like Windows Mobile and Blackberry. The company has also made versions for Vista and OS X for laptop users.

BAK2u does have other apps on the app store at the moment. iCabSG, a free app that helps you call a taxi, was on the top 10 list of free apps when it was first released. The company also has another free app called iMergency that allows you to store all the emergency numbers in one app. Security software, however, is what the company is best known for. (See this story from CNN about PhoneBAK.)

Apple now world’s #2 smartphone vendor

The iPhone is outselling all Windows Mobile devices combined. From MacDailyNews.

Ocarina - Day 1

Ocarina was finally released on the Singapore app store (US$0.99) yesterday and I snagged a copy immediately. After some practice, I managed to serenade my wife to sleep last night (she might describe it differently) with Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Ocarina is fun and I'm not completely awful at it. It will be a while before you see me at the tunnel at Orchard MRT trying to make a living as a busker, but I can still dream. Amazingly, I am better on the ocarina that I ever was on the recorder.

Two things about the ocarina worth mentioning. One, you need to play in a relatively quiet place because the output is not very loud (possibly a good thing if I recall my days murdering music on the recorder).

The other is that with this app, you can listen to other people around the globe playing the ocarina too. The interface is great because it is a globe that you can spin. Each ocarina player is lit on the globe telling you where they are. The best thing about this? Learning I am not alone as the world's worst ocarina player. Around the world, there are other people that suck as badly as me. Not many to be sure, but there are.

Friday, November 7, 2008

No iPhone from M1 in 2008

First it was StarHub. Now, M1 says that it will not be able to bring in the iPhone this year because "there's been a change in the distribution schedule of the iPhone in Asia", according to this story by CNET Asia.

It's a shame because without competitive pressure, SingTel's rates are not going to go down.

Phone different

In case you hadn't heard, the iPhone is a phenomenon. This presentation provides some interesting statistics on iPhone usage versus other phones, as well as a summary of how quickly the platform has ballooned in the last few months.

Domoarigato Mr Roboto (Mr iPhono?)

Cool video of an iPhone rigged as a robot controlled over Wi-Fi by a Macbook Pro. By the same Japanese guy who gave us the physical keyboard. Check out his blog (in Japanese).

Apple Activates Podcast Downloads in 2.2 Firmware

from via a German blog. It was previously reported that Apple's latest version of the 2.2 beta 2 firmware has the ability to allow users to download podcasts directly. Apple has now activated this option apparently.

Turn Your iPhone into an Ocarina

This is why I love the iPhone. A Stanford professor has released an app that turns your iPhone into an ocarina, an ancient, flute-like instrument (check out the Wikipedia entry on the ocarina here). Watch the video of these guys doing the opening bars of Stairway to Heaven. Amazing. 

Learn more about Ocarina from Smule. (Sadly not currently available on the Singapore app store).

AT&T executive says iPhone 3G tethering coming 'soon'

via Macworld. When this is allowed, you will be able to connect your laptop to your iPhone so that you can use the iPhone as a modem. You then connect to the Internet using the 3G network.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Capturing slices of Singapore with your iPhone

Yes it's a 2 megapixel camera. But it's still cool. And making it cooler are apps like Toy Camera. These pictures are thanks to my old friend Aik Beng. We go back to when we were both members of the Singapore Newton User's Group. Yes, we're that old.

Then, as now, Aik Beng was always the most creative guy in the bunch.

Crashing the iPhone

I can get Safari to quit on my anytime but this sounds like it's something much bigger. The Italian engineer behind the popular jailbreak Ziphone has found a way to badly crash the iPhone. Full story in Forbes.

For people who really, really want a physical keyboard

Personally, I've gotten used to typing on glass. But for all those who hate it, here's a reason to jailbreak your iPhone.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

No iPhone from StarHub in 2008

Says StarHub CEO Terry Clontz. The telco is still continuing "dialogue with Apple". via The Straits Times.

President Obama

In case you didn't know. Read stories by CNN and New York Times.

Apple Hires I.B.M. Veteran as Device Engineer

via the New York Times. Apple is hiring IBM's Mark Papermaster to run the iPod and iPhone hardware engineering groups. IBM is filing suit to prevent Papermaster from joining Apple. Papermaster is replacing Tony Fadell, the senior vice president for the iPod division who is leaving but will serve Apple in an advisory capacity.

Why You Will Not See Opera on Your iPhone

Clarification by the New York Times. According to Opera's CEO, Opera Mini was an internal project that employees had started. It was killed after they looked at the license agreement in Apple's SDK.

Upcoming Events gets feature boost with version 2

Version 2 of Michael Tan's Upcoming Events has been dramatically improved.
  • It now has its own contact database as well, so you can have a list of names separate from the Contacts application (good for birthdays of children etc that you don't want cluttering up your Contacts)
  • Supports partial dates. You no longer need to know the year. Just the date and month will do.
  • Links to email, SMS or phone so you can email, SMS or call the person immediately from Upcoming Events.
Available on the App Store for (US$1.99). This update is free for people who own the older version. 

Read an interview with Michael here.

Get ERP charges on your iPhone

Here's a way to persuade you to take the bus. Find out in advance how much your ERP (Electronic Road Pricing) charges will be before you step into your car. SG ERP (US$1.99), by the prolific Muh Hon Cheng, will tell you what the charges are at each gantry. Sort gantries alphabetically, or by distance (from your current location). Find out more from IridianSTUDIO's website.

Fastmac's beefy iPhone battery extender makes its debut

Fastmac's iV battery for the iPhone 3G

via Ars Technica, a report of a new external battery for the iPhone. Highlights of Fastmac's 3100mAh battery (called the iV):
  • 24 hours of talk time
  • 72 hours of audio playback, and 
  • 20 hours of video playback
  • a flash for your iPhone camera.
Say cheese in the dark.

Cost: US$79.95. Click here for Fastmac's iV page.

Given how I run down my batteries, I'm now a believer in carrying an external battery. Ars has a list of external batteries for the iPhone.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

iPhones as gaming machines

Coincidentally, a bunch of stories today about the iPhone as a gaming platform, this time in the mainstream media. The Los Angeles Times has two stories about the iPhone (IPhone users love their video games, and IPhone users are getting their game on) while Businessweek has a story called Apple: Soon to Be a Mobile Gaming Force.

I must confess I'm pretty lame at gaming. My sons wipe the floor with me on any racing game on the Wii, so I don't even try on the iPhone. However, my iPhone does have Crash Kart and MotoChaser because it keeps them quiet on long taxi rides (that and YouTube). 

Here are some interesting game-related facts regarding the iPhone, culled from the stories:
  • 1 in 4 iPhone owners have downloaded games, compared to 6 percent of all cellphone users
  • There are nearly 1,700 games on the App Store
  • Sony's PSP has 300 games
  • Nintendo DS has 600 games
  • US cellphone users spent less than 3 percent of their time on games
  • Original iPhone users spent 9 percent of their time on games
  • iPhone 3G users spent 6 percent of their time on games
Great quote in the Businessweek story: "I found that my iPhone was never very far away from me. I was constantly checking e-mail, downloading apps, playing games, browsing the Internet. My personal usage was measurably different from any phone or game machine I've ever had before. It led me to think that there was a dramatically new market opportunity for gaming on a unique mobile device." -- Neil Young of Ngmoco:)

And soon perhaps, we will also get Quake.

If the iPhone takes off as a gaming platform, perhaps Marware's Game Grip will take off.
Will Marware's Game Grip catch on?