Friday, October 31, 2008

S$10m for start-ups in Interactive Digital Media sector

From Channel News Asia. I'm pretty sure most of the independent iPhone developers in Singapore have a shot at this. Individual projects can get grants of up to $50,000. 

Get 4D results on your iPhone

I’m betting that this app will do well. Ong Jun Da has just released SG 4D. This app will allow you to:
  • Check previous results (going back to 2005)
  • Find out when a number last won anything
Free but ad-supported. Download app here.

Jun Da also wrote SG Pools, a free app that delivers football odds from Singapore Pools. Read an interview with Jun Da here.

NextBus updated

NextBus tells you when all the buses at a bus stop are slated to arrive. This update delivers new functionality.
  • You can choose to update the timing for just one service on the page or refresh the whole page to get an update on all the services.
  • Also provides times for SMRT buses from the 213 bus stops that PublicTransport@SG supports. 
Interestingly, iPhone users make up 18.34 percent of total users of NextBus, just behind the leader, Internet Explorer on Windows at 34.85 percent. 

A great app made better. Thanks Deepak!

Read Deepak’s detailed description of the update here or click here for NextBus.

See also BuzzCity’s SBSTransit, a well made iPhone web to access mobile Iris.

(Update: According to Deepak, the proportion of iPhone users of NextBus is probably "way higher" than 18.34 percent because many iPhone users use NextBus through Jon Petersen's excellent iSinGeo web app, and their numbers are not captured.)

8 Things to Expect in the Next iPhone Update

Well, maybe not eight. But still an excellent summary from Wired’s Gadget Lab about what to expect from next iPhone update (with screenshots).

Apple won’t allow Opera for iPhone

Says Opera CEO in the New York Times.

iPhone adoption rates highest among low-income

A new study from comScore shows that the iPhone adoption has risen highest among households earning less than US$100,000 a year (over the months of June, July and August 2008).

  • Under US$25,000, increase is 16 percent
  • US$25,000 to US$50,000 per year, increase is 48 percent 
  • US$50,000 to US$75,000, increase is 46 percent
  • US$75,000 to S$100,000, increase is 3 percent
  • Above US$100,000, increase is 16 percent

MobileMe upgraded

Ars Technica uncovers Apple support document that outlines MobileMe fixes.

Apple overtakes RIM to become the world’s 6th largest handset vendor

According to Strategy Analytics, via MacDailyNews.

No GPhones from Motorola till Christmas ‘09

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Motorola to bet on Android, says WSJ

Citing "people familiar with the matter", the WSJ says Motorola will focus on Android and announce "thousands of layoffs" on Thursday. 

Create jigsaws with your iPhone's camera

Sometimes, incompetence is its own reward. Here's a picture I took with my iPhone from inside the carriage at Buona Vista MRT station. I snapped the picture after the train stopped and rushed out of the train before the door closed. When I looked at the picture, this is what I got. Must have happened because I moved the camera too soon.

Download podcasts straight to your iPhone?

TUAW has a screenshot of the iPod app showing the option to download more podcasts. This is purportedly from an iPhone running the 2.2 beta 2 firmware. See story and screenshots here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Move money easily with OCBC's iPhone app. Too easily

This afternoon, while standing in front of the new arrivals bookshelf at Borders in Orchard Road, I transferred a low four-figure sum from one bank account to another using OCBC's mobile banking app for the iPhone. I do lots of  Internet banking but this was my first time using mobile banking seriously (as opposed to just trying it out). 

It was a simple but scary experience. Simple because the OCBC app is well designed and fast. Scary because you can move large sums of money quickly just using your mobile phone. It made me realise that I need to activate the passcode on my iPhone because if I lose it, and mobile phones are ridiculously easy to lose, it'll be a serious 'bag of hurt' as Steve would say. Time to stop being so stupidly complacent.

Monday, October 27, 2008

iPhone still reigns supreme on Flickr

From Edible Apple, via Digg. Great chart showing that the iPhone is far and away the most popular cameraphone for uploading pictures onto Flickr. 

Check bus arrivals, plan bus journeys on your iPhone

BuzzCity's SBS Transit web app hides the Safari wrapper.

Thanks to reader papadam, I've just found out about a web app version of Iris which was developed by BuzzCity.

For those who don't know, Iris is the service developed by SBS Transit to tell you when the next SBS bus will arrive at a bus stop. This web app, called SBS Transit, is a very nice implementation of Iris for the iPhone. Here's why:

1. You can find out when the next bus is arriving. Search by bus stop number or service number;
2. It tells you when the bus is leaving the interchange (helpful when you are at the interchange);
3. There is a journey planner to help you get from A to B via SBS bus;
4. You can save shortcuts so you can go quickly to your favourite bus service or bus stop;
5. It removes the Safari wrapper so there is no location bar at the top of the screen. This makes this web app look like a proper app.

The journey planner on SBS Transit giving directions for getting from Ghim Moh Road to Boon Lay Way.

How is this different from Next Bus? Next Bus has a simple interface and it only does one thing, but it does it really well. If you're at a bus stop and you want to know when all the services at that bus stop will arrive, Next Bus is for you because it consolidates all the arrival times onto one screen. In SBS Transit, you can only view the arrival times of each service one at a time.

SBS Transit has way more features and I appreciate both the journey planner as well as the effort to take advantage of the latest version of the iPhone's firmware to hide the Safari wrapper.

I've only used it briefly but even so, I'm impressed by how polished it is. And it is a darn sight better than SBS Transit's own web app version of mobile Iris (which I uncovered while researching this). Kudos to the good people of BuzzCity for putting in the effort to deliver a version optimised for the iPhone. I'm going to update my list of local iPhone apps to add this.

To use SBS Transit, click here in Safari. When you get to the site, push the '+' sign at the bottom of the screen and choose 'Add to Home Screen'. This puts a button on the home screen of your iPhone. 

Related links

You can use SBS Transit to check the routes of SBS's different services. However, a much better implementation of the bus guide is SG Buses, which has integrated the bus guide with Google Maps. SG Buses is a free but ad-supported app that was developed by Muh Hon Cheng who was interviewed previously. A competing app is Singapore Bus Guide II (US$0.99 at the App Store) which was developed by Shen Weijia.

Google Earth now available for the iPhone

See the post from the official Google Mobile Blog. The post also has a demo of Google Earth. Google Earth is now available on the App Store in the US, but not (yet at least) in Singapore.

550% More Searches For iPhone Than GPhone

Interesting chart via Silicon Alley Insider.

Google Earth brings virtual tourism to iPhone

via CNET. Google Earth is coming to the iPhone, at least, to the US App Store.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Google Street View enabled in latest beta firmware

Macrumors reports that the latest beta of the iPhone's firmware (2.2 beta 2) fully enables Google Street View. 

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ong Jun Da scores with SG Pools

Jun Da at the Teliwave booth showing off Hoiio at the Gitex trade show in Dubai.

It won't come as a surprise to anyone that the developer of SG Pools likes making friendly wagers. That's because SG Pools is a free but ad-supported iPhone app that delivers the latest football betting odds from Singapore Pools.

What is surprising though is that Ong Jun Da doesn't bet on football very much. His last soccer bet was during the Euro 2008 championships in June.

Intel 'corrects' executives who slammed iPhone

via CNET. A few days ago, Intel executives in Taiwan slammed the ARM chip used in the iPhone saying it was underpowered. Obviously, the better choice was Intel's Atom, said these executives. On Thursday, Anand Chandrasekher, the general manager of the group responsible for Intel's ultra-mobility products, published a correction where he "acknowledged that Intel's low-power Atom processor does not yet match the battery life characteristics of the ARM processor in a phone form factor."

See the original post on Intel PR Chip Shots.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Frisco Gives Laid-Back Welcome To Google Phone

From Forbes on the launch of the GPhone.

Murky crystal balls

MacDailyNews has a long list off-target predictions by people who thought Apple would fail with the iPhone.

Some of my favourites:

  • Motorola's then-Chairman and then-CEO Ed Zander said his company was ready for competition from Apple's iPhone, due out the following month. "How do you deal with that?" Zander was asked at the Software 2007 conference. Zander quickly retorted, "How do they deal with us?" - Ed Zander, May 10, 2007
  • "There's an old saying -- stick to your knitting -- and Apple is not a mobile phone manufacturer, that's not their knitting... I think people overreacted to it -- there was not a lot of tremendously new stuff if you think about it." - Greg Winn, Telstra's operations chief, February 15, 2007
  • "We've learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone. PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They're not going to just walk in." - Ed Colligan, Palm CEO, November 16, 2006

Full list here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

OCBC offers iPhone banking

If you have an OCBC account, you're in luck. You can now do your banking with your iPhone. With OCBC's free app, you can check your balance, transaction history, pay bills or transfer funds. I've tried it out and it works as advertised. 

Download OCBC app here.

New MacHeads trailer available

I didn't get an Apple tattoo, but it was close. 

Click here for the MacHeads website and the original trailer.

(How is this iPhone related? The iPhone is featured at the end of the trailer. The movie seems to suggest that the iPhone is giving Macheads a new reason to believe.)

Qik runs on non-jailbroken iPhone

Digg co-founder Kevin Rose demos Qik running on a non-jailbroken iPhone. He says it will be in the App Store soon.

PC says: Buy a cupcake?

Apple addresses Microsoft's new ad campaign with two very funny ads of their own. 

Bake Sale

And Bean Counter:

Apple's future thanks to the iPhone

Interesting analysis of the iPhone's importance to Apple, by John Gruber of Daring Fireball.

Apple sells 6.89m iPhones in Q4

Apple on Tuesday reported a profit of US$1.14 billion on revenues of US$7.9 billion for its fiscal fourth quarter. Apple’s profit increased 26 percent while sales jumped 27 percent over the same quarter last year.

Apple also reported pretty staggering numbers for its iPhone:

  • Apple sold 6.89 million iPhones in this quarter
  • This is more than all the previous quarters combined
  • Apple outsold RIM in this quarter (6.89 million iPhones vs 6.1 million Blackberry devices)
  • The iPhone contributed $4.6 billion in revenue
  • By revenue, Apple is the third largest mobile phone supplier in the world after Nokia ($12.7 billion) and Samsung ($5.9 billion). Sony Ericsson is just behind Apple ($4.2 billion)
  • Apple has already hit its target of selling more than 10 million iPhones in calendar year 2008.
  • By end Sept, Apple had sold 9.3 million iPhones
  • The iPhone is currently 39 percent of Apple’s total business

Macworld has the full report of Apple’s earnings here.

Monday, October 20, 2008

SG Buses upgraded - link to Google Maps added

Muh Hon Cheng has upgraded his excellent app, SG Buses. Click on a bus stop and it shows the location of the bus stop in Google Maps. This is a much better implementation of the idea than the one used in Singapore Bus Guide.

While still free, SG Buses is now ad-supported.

Related links

We previously interviewed Hon Cheng about his programming efforts. We've also interviewed Shen Weijia, who developed the competing Singapore Bus Guide, Michael Tan of Upcoming Events, Harish Mallipeddi of Cinepura and Jon Petersen of iSinGeo and iSinJet.

External links

Download the latest version of SG Buses here.

Check out Hon Cheng's other apps from his website IridianSTUDIO.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

2 new local apps added to App Store

If you're a betting man, SG Pools is for you. This app streams live football odds for Singapore Pools. 

The other app, iCabSG, allows you to dial any of Singapore's taxi companies to book a cab. 

Both are free.

SingTel offers faster Broadband on Mobile plans

SingTel is now offering a raft of Broadband on Mobile plans offering download speeds of up to 7.2Mbps and upload speeds of up to 1.5Mbps. 

Monthy subscriptions range from $3.21 a month to $72.76 a month. Of course, the lower the monthly subscription, the less the amount of free data usage. The lite plan of $3.21 a month only offers 2MB of free data. The most expensive plan offers 50GB of free data usage a month.

What does this mean for iPhone users? Not very much because few iPhone users have actually reported hitting the previous maximum speed of 3.6Mbps anyway. Non-iPhone users will also not get much joy from these new plans. These speeds are only available in the Central Business District and major shopping malls, according to SingTel's website.

iPhone is SingTel's top seller

The Weekend Business Times reported that the iPhone was SingTel's best-selling handset in September. The 8GB iPhone and the two 16GB iPhones were SingTel's top three selling phones. According to the company, it has sold "tens of thousands" of iPhones since Aug 22. 

The newspaper added that Epicentre has also started selling the iPhone.

Friday, October 17, 2008

SingTel offers iFlexi discount

SingTel is now offering a 50 percent discount for three months on the monthly subscription of its iFlexi plans if you sign up before the end of October (you get your discounts on the seventh, eighth and ninth month). 

However, most iPhone users would be much better off with SingTel's low-end Broadband on Mobile plans, which offer much more download capacity (50GB), for the same effective speed as SingTel's iFlexi plans. While the lower-end BBOM plans have a cap on the download speeds, the caps are meaningless because informal tests and anecdotal evidence suggests that few people bump against the cap anyway (see earlier post).

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Michael Learns to Rock the iPhone: An interview with Michael Tan of Upcoming Events

Michael Tan on holiday on Whistler's Mountain in Alberta, Canada.

Local iPhone developer Michael Tan is a man who sets his sights high. Unlike other developers here who’ve decided to cut their teeth on the Singapore market, Michael, 36, is going straight for the global market with Upcoming Events, a neat app that consolidates all birthdays and anniversaries into one list. It doesn’t just tell you a birthday is coming up, it tells you which birthday (whether it’s the person’s 20th or 45th birthday, for example) as well as how many days are left before the event.

Michael is unusual in other ways. Unlike the other iPhone developers here, Michael is an experienced, full-time developer now running his own start-up, Tangent Software. His previous employers include Singapore Technologies and Flextronics where he worked on the Windows CE and Windows Mobile platforms. (He had a hand in developing the Win CE devices running in taxis in Singapore).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Get more out of your iPhone with the mophie JuicePack

If you use the iPhone's Internet capabilities as much as I do, you start to get the low battery sign about seven hours after you start your day. That's why I'm interested in the mophie JuicePack 3G. A rechargeable lithium polymer battery that integrates neatly with your iPhone, it promises to allow you to get much more out of your iPhone between charges.

It promises to add:

* Standby Time - up to 350 hours

* Talk Time - up to six hours on 3G

* Internet use - up to six hours on 3G/Up to seven hours on Wi-Fi

* Audio Playback - up to 28 hours

* Video Playback - up to 8 hours

Looks pretty good too.

Available in black and green for US$99.95. This product will ship Oct 30.

Learn more here

iPhone-related news from MacBook releases

Almost all of the news today from Apple relates to the new MacBooks and MacBook Pros. Only two pieces of iPhone-related news:

1. Button-less glass trackpad that incorporates multi-touch
2. iPhone headphones will also control iTunes on the new laptops, according to MacWorld.

I was initially excited about the glass trackpad because I really like the smoothness of the glass screen on my iPhone but a report from Ars Technica suggests that new trackpads feel just like the old one. However, it is nice to see that Apple's work on the iPhone also feeds into its other products.

Singapore Subway/MRT Map updated to 1.1

Shen Weijia has updated this app to 1.1, which is largely a bug fix.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Singapore Bus Guide Updated

The Singapore Bus Guide has now been updated to version 2. New features in this version:

1. You can now search for the service number (previously you had to scroll through the list); and 

2. Clicking on a landmark on the route details will take you to, and eventually, a map of that spot.

This update is free for people who've bought version 1. For everyone else, this app is still US$0.99 cents. Buy/download it here (iTunes link).

Nice to see Weijia is updating this app, and adding a feature not found in the free SG Buses. SG Buses (iTunes link), on the other hand, still offers the ability to search by street name, which is not offered by Singapore Bus Guide.

Related links

I previously interviewed Shen Weijia, developer of Singapore Bus Guide. I also spoke to Muh Hon Cheng, developer of the competing SG Buses. If you depend on public transport like I do, don't forget to check out Next Bus.

Leaving on a jet plane? Find out when exactly

Thanks to iSinJet, a new web app from Jon Petersen, you can now get flight information for Changi Airport on your iPhone.

In mobile Safari, go to iSinJet at, type in the flight number, choose the day (yesterday, today or tomorrow only) and whether you're checking arrivals or departures. 

This nifty web app will tell you arrival/departure time, which terminal, arrival/departure status and belt or boarding gate. 

Exists as a web app and also integrated with the excellent iSinGeo.

Very handy. Thanks Jon!

iSinGeo gets ink

The Sunday Times has a story today comparing different restaurant guides available on the mobile phone and iSinGeo was one of four guides examined.

Of course, it would perhaps be better if The Sunday Times had mentioned the URL of iSinGeo in the story (

And it might have also been better if they had correctly identified iSinGeo as a web app that can also be accessed by other mobile browsers, and not just the iPhone (though if you are using mobile Safari, you get to call up the telephone function on your iPhone).

And it might have made Jon a little happier if they had mentioned that iSinGeo wasn't primarily a restaurant guide but a location-based service that goes well beyond restaurants.

Related links

We previously interviewed Jon Petersen, the developer behind iSinGeo.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

More on Panoramic shots on the iPhone

via Kevin Lim's Theory is the Reason blog, using the free app PanoLab, you can stitch together panoramic shots on your iPhone itself. Very cool. See also this Flickr pool.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Apple to offer free session on iPhone development in Singapore

On Nov 4, Apple's engineers will be in Singapore to share iPhone development tips and techniques with developers here. The full-day session is free but you need to be a registered iPhone developer to attend.

The Singapore session will have:

- An introduction to Objective-C and Cocoa Touch
- An overview of the iPhone's development tools and concepts
- A session on developing iPhone applications with UIKit.

This is part of Apple's iPhone Tech Talk World Tour. Other Asia Pacific countries on the tour are Bangalore, Delhi, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Sydney and Melbourne. The tour will also cover various cities in North America and Europe.

More info here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Driven by public transport: An interview with Muh Hon Cheng of SG Buses

Hon Cheng created SG Buses because he wanted a bus guide to carry around on his iPhone.

The developer of the free bus guide SG Buses is Singapore’s most prolific iPhone developer. Apart from SG Buses, Muh Hon Cheng has six other iPhone applications on Apple’s App Store: MnemoSkinn, MnemoSkinn+, NotePadLock, noteskinery, noteskinery+ and PicShare. What's even more remarkable is that he's done all this even though his background isn't in computer science.

“My first introduction to programming when I was in my second year of graduate school,” says Hon Cheng. “I took a Java module. Sad to say, I don't remember how to use it anymore. I can only say that I am good with Python, that's all.”

It seems appropriate that Hon Cheng should be good with Python, the programming language, because he is currently completing a Masters degree in biology at the National University of Singapore.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

New version of S'pore Bus Guide coming soon

A new version of the 99-cent Singapore Bus Guide will be up on the App Store soon. Version 2.0 will be a free update for those of us who bought the earlier version. 

"Version 2.0 will be ready within a week," says developer Shen Weijia. "Hope you guys will like the coming features. Personally, I like it very much."

Since his app is going up against the free app SG Buses, which is mature and feature-rich, Weijia will have a lot of work to do to convince people to part with their money, even if it is only 99 cents.

In addition, he also promises to add more features to his other app Singapore Subway/MRT Map. Currently, this app is simply a map of the MRT system. Which is OK except that it is being sold for 99 cents.

He has promised to keep updating both apps over time but says he can't give a precise timeframe because he's doing this programming part-time.

See the earlier interview with Weijia here.

Google Street View for Maps users in Singapore?

Credit: CNET Asia Crave

Two related pieces of good news. CNET Asia reports that Google is bringing Street View to Singapore. A sharp eyed reader spotted the car with mounted camera on the road and snapped photographic proof. CNET subsequently confirmed it with Google. Street View will allow users of Google Maps to view photos of the location, not just street maps or satellite images. No news on when it will be available.

The second piece of good news is that the next version of the iPhone's OS may have support for Street View. MacRumours has reported that the Maps application in the 2.2 beta firmware will support Street View. It is not certain though, if this functionality will necessarily be available in the actual released version of the 2.2 firmware.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Girls (and boys) just wanna have fund

Where has all my money gone? Long time passing.

This app is for those of us with money to invest. That, sadly, excludes me. Fund Watch is a nifty application that allows you to track your mutual fund portfolio in Singapore, Malaysia or Hong Kong. It gets data from Fundsupermart and draws pretty, or, depending on the state of the market, not-so-pretty graphs.

In today's market, it might be kinda painful to watch your portfolio slowly melt away, but the market's gotta pick up at some point, right? Right??

If I actually had money to sock away in a mutual fund, I would definitely get this app. 

Fund Watch is available for US$7.99 from the App Store.

Lost on the MRT?

Singapore Subway/MRT Map

As simple as Singapore's MRT system is, I must confess I've taken the wrong train more than once. I'll hop on the train and one (or more) stops later, I discover I'm heading in the wrong direction. Recently, I've been guilty of doing this more often, mainly because I'm reading something on my iPhone rather than paying attention to which platform I have to take the train from.

This app, Singapore Subway/MRT Map, might help those of us who are directionally challenged. It's a map of the MRT system. It allows you to zoom in to see the names of the different stations and where the different lines run. OK, its utility is a little dubious, especially because that's all it can do. Plus it costs 99 cents. But you can't blame a guy for trying.

If you're new to Singapore, and you need to get around, this might come in handy. For the rest of us, the MRT system is still pretty simple to navigate, at least for now (though when the Downtown and Circle lines come up, something like this will definitely be useful).

Developed by Shen Weijia, who also gave us the Singapore Bus Guide.

Buy Singapore Subway/MRT Map from the App Store. 

If you missed it, here's an interview with Weijia.

Thursday, October 2, 2008