Saturday, February 28, 2009

iPhone helps SingTel gain marketshare


SingTel has the iPhone to thank for growing its marketshare in a challenging period. In the first six months since full number portability arrived in Singapore, SingTel's post-paid marketshare in Singapore eked a 0.8 percent increase to 45.6 percent. The is good news because analysts had expected SingTel to lose marketshare to its two smaller rivals once people could easily switch carriers without changing their phone numbers. Analysts say that SingTel's iPhone monopoly helped the telco record a net gain instead. Via The Straits Times.

A sign of the iPhone's popularity in Singapore


How popular is the iPhone in Singapore? Pretty popular, it seems.

I am waiting for my son to finish his gymnastics class at Prime Gym at Toa Payoh Lorong 7. I am not alone of course. There's a whole bunch of other parents here as well, mostly reading the papers, or using their laptops. Some parents are actually watching their kids tumbling about (caring parents. Imagine that). 

Interestingly enough, there seems to be an abundance of iPhones among parents here. Earlier, the man on the table on my right had an iPhone while at my own table, the woman sitting opposite me was busy reading the paper and typing/tapping into her iPhone. 

So in a two-metre radius of me, there are three strangers, united by nothing more than an over-developed sense of parental duty, all of whom have iPhones. (All of us happen to be Macbook users as well, I noticed.)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Does Hon Cheng dream of electric sheep?

Muh Hon Cheng, one of Singapore’s most prolific iPhone developers has just ported SG Buses over to the Android platform. Has he gone over to the dark side? We find out.

Why did you decide to port SG Buses to Android?
SG Buses is a very simple app. So it's a good app to start with if I want to enter the Android market.

What is it like developing for Android?
After coding for Android, I can better appreciate Apple's effort to make development easy to anyone. Android is probably still an easy platform. It took me three days to do SG Buses for Android.

I think I'm probably learning about how to code on these platforms rather than learning the language itself. My Java is a bit rusty, but it does help to speed up development.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A new chapter for buUuk

If you find yourself in an unexpected stopover in Jakarta, say because your plane landed without its landing gear and you need to recover from the incident, at least you won’t go hungry; the latest version of buUuk (version 2.3) now comes with a Jakarta restaurant guide.

The developers of buUuk have decided to have on a one app to rule them all approach instead of having city-specific restaurant guides. Jakarta is the first city to be added to buUuk (after Singapore) and the developers hope to include other Southeast Asian cities in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Chordica developer presses on

Revolutions aren’t easy. Just ask developer Joash Chee.

Joash developed an app called Chordica (iTunes link) that allows musicians to use the iPhone as a useable piano substitute focusing on chords.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Locate carparks, ERP gantries, get rates


A nice web app called i-Roadmate now allows you to locate carparks and ERP gantries on the map. Tap on the little bubble and it pulls up both carpark and ERP rates. 

Carpark rates come via sgcarmart.com. ERP rates are from the LTA. 

Nice interface. The web app is by the same person who gave us i-Movies, which I use whenever I need to check out movie times.

i-Roadmate is a web app, which means you can't get it at the App Store. Instead, call up Mobile Safari on your iPhone, and go to http://i.sh2sg.com/roadmate.html 

To add this to your home screen, tap the '+' sign in the dock and choose the option 'Add to Home Screen'.

Log in anytime


A local developer has just started selling an app called iLogin (iTunes link) that will allow you to save your log-in name and password for popular sites like Facebook, Flickr, Friendster, Yahoo Mail and YouTube.

The app also supports Wireless@SG (which free app SG Wireless also supports).

iLogin is being sold for $0.99. 

The developer, Hartanto Andreas, is the man behind the excellent SG Transport (iTunes link). I use SG Transport to bookmark all bus stops that I regularly. Whenever I am at that bus stop, I call up SG Transport to see bus arrival times. No need to type in obscure five digit codes anymore. In the very beginning, the app used to give me problems, but now it works flawlessly for me.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Local developer fights piracy by thinking different


When life gives you lemons, make lemonade -- that’s the philosophy of local iPhone developer Michael Tan. When he discovered that his countdown app, Upcoming Events, had been cracked, he decided to turn it into an opportunity. Instead of treating the users of the cracked version as crooks, he decided it would be more helpful to treat them as users of time-limited trial software.

If you use the latest cracked version of Upcoming Events (version 4.0) often enough, you will get a note telling you that the trial version of the software is expiring soon. Continue using it and the app will not display your data. The data is still there, but you will not be able to see it. 

To access this data again, users have to buy and install a legitimate copy of Upcoming Events on their device. “As long as the cracked version has not been deleted from the iPhone, the legitimate version will be able to access the old data,” says Michael. 

Michael’s approach is a clever way to get around Apple’s App Store policy of not allowing trial software. Legitimate users pay for a fully functioning app while users of cracked versions get to use the app for free, but for a limited time only. If people like it and find it useful, they would be happy to buy the legitimate version, which is being sold at an affordable US$5.99 (currently on sale for US$4.99).

Upcoming Events is like a contacts database which stores dates like birthdays and anniversaries. When you start it up, it will tell you how many more days to the events in your database. The latest version of the app allows you to add a photo to the contact, making it much easier to use.



Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Discuss your fav restaurants with buUuk


The latest version (2.2) of local iPhone restaurant guide buUuk is now available for download. New features include a forum, the ability to tag restaurants as halal or non-halal (over 500 tagged so far), and pricing. 

The pricing function relies on crowd sourcing.  "Users get a slider when they write a buUrp (review) about a restaurant and can use it it provide their estimate of price. We then average the inputs," says Jon Petersen, one of the founders of buUuk.

The company is now setting its sights on new markets. They are hoping to launch buUuk for Jakarta in the first quarter of this year, timed to coincide with the launch of the iPhone in Indonesia. 

BuUuk (iTunes link) is free.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Doodle Kids zooms past 250,000 mark


Highest position reached on the list of Top Free Apps in the US App Store? Number 6. 

Buy GV movie tickets - maybe

The latest version of iGV promises to allow you to buy tickets online. Sadly, it always crashes on me when I try to do so. Anyone else having this problem?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Doodle Kids busts 100,000 mark


Lim Ding Wen is currently Singapore's top iPhone developer, at least by downloads. Since it was released 21 days ago, Ding Wen's free painting app Doodle Kids (iTunes link) has been downloaded an impressive 149,000 times, according to his dad. It is currently number 7 on the US App Store's list of Top Free Apps making Ding Wen the only developer from Singapore to have made it to Apple's top 10 list in the US. Not bad for a 9-year-old. 

Silly love songs


Just in time for Valentine's Day. Joash Chee, the developer of Chordica (iTunes link), is busy rolling out 101 Love Songs for people who use his app. Learn to play Richard Marx's Right Here Waiting or Debbie Gibson's Lost in Your Eyes. Joash hasn't quite reached 101 songs yet but he promises that it's only a matter of time. Download scores here. (Note: You'll have to register first.)

Find that shop with MallmentSG


I hate VivoCity. Not because it's a crappy mall, but because it's so big. I constantly get lost and I end up wandering around because I can't find the store I'm looking for. Developer Zhou Wenhan believes he has a solution though -- MallmentSG.

This is a store directory of all the major malls in Singapore. Every store in the mall is just a phone call away so if you get lost, you only need to call the store itself and ask for directions. The app also has a map of the different malls, though not all malls have this yet.

To get to the mall, you can either search through the alphabetical list, or you can tap the 'nearby' button to find malls near your existing location. Neat.

MallmentSG (iTunes link) is free and is now available on the App Store.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Writing an iPhone app not child's play


After this blog broke the story of Ding Wen's remarkable achievement, the news spread like wildfire around the world.

Let’s get one thing straight — Lim Ding Wen, the 9-year-old boy who wrote an iPhone app, did not download the iPhone SDK one day, learn Objective-C on his own, write Doodle Kids, and then post the app to Apple for approval.

The story is much longer and more complicated than that. It’s a story of a smart kid with an interest and aptitude for programming, a supportive father who is himself a highly skilled programmer, and many, many hours of hard work on the part of the boy to master different programming languages. It also involves, of all things, an Apple IIGS.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Wireless@SG app, others now in App Store


Coincidentally, Apple has approved a bunch of apps from Singapore-based developers on the App Store in the last day or so. Here's a quick look at them:

1. SG Wireless (iTunes link) is a free app that helps you to connect to Wireless@SG. (Developer: Ong Jun Da)

2. Foyage (iTunes link) is a location-based service that tells you what shops, restaurants etc are around you. (Developer: Xsago)

3. MovTrailer (iTunes link) is an RSS reader that tracks the latest trailers available on Apple's movie trailers website. (Developer: Muh Hon Cheng)

4. TubeJunkies Lite (iTunes link) is an RSS reader for YouTube. The free and ad-supported version of TubeJunkies. (Developer: Muh Hon Cheng)


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Free lite version of SG ERP now available


If you've always wanted to own SG ERP but were too cheap to fork out the US$1.99 for it, here's your chance to get it for free. The developer, Muh Hon Cheng has just released a freeware version called SG ERP Lite (iTunes link). 

With SG ERP, you can find out what the current ERP charges are at the different gantries around Singapore.

The main difference between the two is that the lite version is ad-supported and it is not location-aware. This means you can see all ERP gantries listed alphabetically, but not arranged by distance from your current location.

SG ERP Lite is the second lite version of a Singapore-specific app that I've seen on the App Store. Beating SG ERP to the punch was Fund Watch Lite, the free version of the US$7.99 Fund Watch (iTunes link).

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Some guys have all the luck

SG Girls screenshot: Warning -- Dangerous curves ahead

It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. Developer Ong Jun Da spends about 20 minutes each day picking out attractive Singapore women to add to his iPhone slideshow app SG Girls (iTunes link).

As a result of his tireless efforts, SG Girls (US$3.99) now has more than 2,000 pictures of attractive women. More are added each day.

How do pictures make the cut? According to Jun Da, “the pictures must be appropriate, decent and of good quality (in terms of resolution).”

Currently, he gets all the pictures from Flickr but he is looking at getting pictures from other sources as well.

The idea for SG Girls came up during a conversation over MSN Messenger with a friend last November. “Confirm top free app lor. Even top paid,” said his friend.

It is not the top paid ad yet, but it’s not doing too badly. SG Girls is currently occupying the number five slot in the photography category, which is not bad for an app costing US$3.99. (It is no. 76 on the list of top paid apps at the time of writing).

Apple took about two months to approve the app and at one point, Jun Da gave up hope of the app getting the OK from Apple. However, now that it is in the App Store, he is all fired up and has plans to improve it.

“SG Girls was developed quickly in a span of two weeks, and I admit it is raw. The icons for the app was also whipped up in an hour.

“In fact, the ‘Save image’ button was changed in 10 min when Apple rejected the app due to my use of an iPhone image in the button.”

In future, users will be able to swipe left and right to go through the slideshow. They will also be able to change the slideshow’s refresh rate.

SG Girls is the first step in Jun Da’s efforts to build his media empire. Once he’s gotten the new features out, he intends to roll out more slideshow apps along the same lines, starting with VN Girls (spotlighting Vietnamese women). If this takes off, and there is no reason to think it won’t, Jun Da will soon be doing all his development work from his beach villa in Bali.