Monday, November 30, 2009

New App Tracks SMRT Bus Arrival Times

People will pay for a better mousetrap even if there are free mousetraps out there. At least, that's the bet that developer Lian Yaogang is making.

Even though there are three free apps in the App Store that can tell you what time your bus will arrive at the bus stop, Yaogang has gone on to develop a fourth app. On top of that, he is charging for it. Yaogang's Bus@sg can be yours for just US$0.99.

"I am aware of a few free alternatives out there, most notably, tranSGuide," said Yaogang. "However, in terms of integrating bus stop information with real-time predictions, I am not completely satisfied with tranSGuide and other apps. That's why I created my own."

There are some features in bus@sg that make it very useful. Bus@sg is the first app to track the arrival times of SMRT buses, though this is only for the 166 bus stops in the western part of Singapore covered by LTA's Real Time SMS Bus Arrival Information. this is only at some 200 or so bus stops. Of these, 166 are in the western part of Singapore covered by the LTA's Real-Time SMS Bus Arrival Information system. Another 50 bus stops are those in the heart of town which have the Real-Time Bus Arrival Information Display Panels installed.

Bus@sg also gives the arrival times of SMRT buses for some bus stops in town, like this one outside Lucky Plaza. Bus 106, for example, in an SMRT service.

In addition, bus@sg is fast. It starts up quickly and it locates bus stops near by almost instantaneously. The integration between bus routes and bus arrival times is good, though not unique. SG Buses also has this feature.

One nice thing about bus@sg is that adding a bus stop to a list of favourites is easy to do.

Overall, I found bus@sg to be stable, fast and easy-to-use. If you rely on an SMRT service at any of the 166 216 bus stops covered, this app is your only choice, at least for now.

You can download bus@sg here.

GameAxis Has iPhone App

Local gaming magazine GameAxis now has an iPhone app that allows you to follow its coverage on your iPhone.

Apart from news and blog posts, you can watch videos produced by GameAxis. In addition, you can also post your comments to stories.

The app was developed by local development house 2359 Media using its MobDis content publishing platform. Mobile Reader is free. Download it here

Friday, November 27, 2009

Air Kill Free Till Saturday Noon

Sasmito Adibowo, the developer behind Fund Watch, is making his game Air Kill free till noon on Saturday (Singapore time).

Air Kill is a cute game that consists of roasting birds that fly into your airliner's jet engine.

Click here to watch a video of Air Kill or download the app here.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Chordica Touch Demos Rhythm

Joash Chee has just posted a new video showing how his upcoming app, Chordica Touch, handles rhythm. It looks like something even I could play and given my lack of musical ability, that's saying a lot.

Chordica Touch looks very promising. See for yourself here.

New MRT Guide In App Store

Developer Thumb Country has produced a quick and dirty subway guide for Singapore's MRT system.

Aimed at tourists, Metro Singapore tells you the stations on each of the different MRT lines and locates them on a map of the MRT system. It is one of many similar guides produced by the developer.

Metro Singapore costs US$0.99. Download it here.

Park-a-lot Lite {SG} Updated

Tis the season for updating parking apps apparently. Park-a-Lot Lite {SG}, an app that tells you parking rates for car parks in Singapore, now sports push notification and advanced search capability.

The app currently has ION Orchard is its database, though not Orchard Central (which is understandable since the app's source for parking rates, ONE Motoring's website, also does not have the rates for Orchard Central yet).

Park-a-Lot Lite is free and is available here. (Strangely, despite its name, there is no non-lite version of this app.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

SG Malls Singapore, Carpark@SG updated

Two local apps have recently been updated, just in time for Christmas.

SG Malls Singapore, a free app that gives you the store directory of different malls in Singapore, now has information about sales in those malls as well.

And while you're driving to the mall to do your Christmas shopping, remember to update your copy of Carpark@SG, a free app that tells you parking rates around town. The app now has the ability to update its database. It also allows users to submit carpark entries.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Malicious Worm Targets Jailbroken iPhones

If you have a jailbroken iPhone and you've installed SSH and you haven't changed the default password, perhaps you should. Bad things could happen. (Note: You would need to have done all three to be vulnerable.)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Rednano's Directory Service Now Available As An App

Rednano, the directory and search engine by Singapore Press Holdings, has just released its native iPhone app, Rednano LOCATE.

Unlike the version you use in Safari, Rednano LOCATE is only a business directory. The search engine functionality is missing from the app. LOCATE also has restaurant listings so you can find restaurants around you but the interface needs work.

Rednano LOCATE is free. It can be downloaded here.


SingTel's AMP Music Service Now Supports iPhone

If you want to download music using SingTel's AMP service, there's now an iPhone app for that.

For $9.90 a month, you can sign up for Broadband on Mobile AMP, a value-added service by SingTel Mobile that allows subscribers to download music. There are no data charges for downloading the music and users can keep up to 15 tracks a month.

SingTel AMPed is free, but you need to be a subscriber to the AMP service to use this app. It can be downloaded here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Maps For iPhone Now Has Traffic Data

This is cool. If you open the Maps application on your iPhone, you can now see what seems to be current traffic speeds on Singapore roads.

There are green lines, presumably for roads with fast-moving traffic, light brown lines for normal traffic and red lines for congested roads.

The coloured lines are throbbing, which is what leads me to suspect the data is live.

In addition to traffic data on the Maps app, now has traffic incident data and ERP information from the LTA.

Google and the LTA have a press announcement today which will no doubt reveal all. Stay tuned. (Hat tip to @Singeo.)

Update at 6.40pm (19 Nov):

The full press release from the LTA can now be found here.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

TotoPal Helps You See If You've Won

If you enjoy playing Toto, this app is for you.

With this app, you no longer have to painstakingly compare your numbers against the winning set. TotoPal will do it for you.

Just input the numbers you've bought and the app will automatically check them against the winning numbers drawn for that date. If you get lucky and your numbers match, the app will inform you.

TotoPal will also tell you when the next draw date is.

TotoPal was developed by Justin Yong of illuCoin fame. You can download TotoPal here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Stung By Plea, Developer Makes Music App For The Sight-Impaired

A screenshot of the Chordica Touch prototype.

The developer responsible for the music app Chordica is now working on a version of the app called Chordica Touch, which was designed specifically for people who are sight-impaired.

Chordica Touch uses the same principles as Chordica but adopts a simplified interface, one that resembles the numeric keypad. Developer Joash Chee said he was inspired to work on Chordica Touch after reading the plea written by blind iPhone user Alvin Ng on the iMerlion blog. In the message, Alvin asked local developers to make their apps accessible to the blind by leveraging on existing Apple technology on the iPhone.

"When I read that note, I realised that I had totally overlooked this aspect,” said Joash. “I didn't even check how VoiceOver (Apple's assistive technology) worked in Chordica."

On examination, Joash realised that his existing app was too hard for the visually impaired to use and wanted to do something about it. A few weeks later, he had an epiphany that led to what he calls Chordica Touch.

He did a prototype in just half a day using GameSalad, a rapid prototyping tool. Last week, he took the app to the Singapore Association for the Visually Handicapped to get feedback. He got a good response from the association and he is now refining the concept. He now hopes to submit a working version by November 19.

Given the small size of the market, it is obvious that Joash is not doing this for the money but because he is driven by a higher mission. “It’s the way I was brought up,” said Joash. Both his parents were, at one point in their lives, full-time church workers and Joash himself went into the ministry for a few years after completing National Service.

He is now committed to using the Chordica label for his apps that are accessible because he wants them to live up to his tagline — Now Everyone Can Make Music. “Anything with the Chordica label will be accessible to the visually impaired,” said Joash. As a result, he is planning to rework his existing app to make it more accessible. In addition, his upcoming ‘pro-sumer’ version of Chordica will not bear the Chordica label because it will be too complex to be made accessible.

How Chordica Touch Works 

Chordica Touch employs an enhanced audio feedback system called Vocal Coach that is similar to Apple's VoiceOver. When Vocal Coach is turned on, a voice will describe whatever is touched. Vocal Coach comes with additional features like being able to explain more about what is being touched. Said Joash: “It's like having a personal coach watch your every move and tutor you as you go along.”

There's also a Vocal Coach Mixed Mode as well. When this is enabled, a coach tells you what you've touched (in one ear) but in the other ear, you hear the effect of what you touched. “These varieties of Vocal Coach modes will make a much richer experience for the visually handicapped and will also serve people with sight well,” said Joash.

To reduce the margin of error for the visually handicapped, Joash made a simple Tactile Overlay using a stencil he cut out. This can be used as a tactile guide over the iPhone's glass screen.

All this is a lot of work for what is likely to be small returns but Joash is not deterred. “My motivation in life is to enable as many people as possible to play and make music. I achieve this through education, invention, and evangelism. I want it to be clearly shown that Now Anyone Can Make Music. Chordica Touch is still just scratching the surface.”

Note: The word 'Blind' in the title was changed to 'Sight-Impaired' for the sake of accuracy.


Monday, November 16, 2009

StarHub Now Taking Pre-Orders

StarHub is now taking pre-orders for the iPhone. Like M1, no prices have been posted and no dates have been announced.

To reserve your unit with StarHub, click here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

M1 Taking Orders for iPhone Now

A large banner on the M1 home page is now inviting people to reserve their iPhones. To register, users are asked to provide M1 with a phone number and email address.

In doing so, M1 is stealing a march on rival StarHub, whose homepage is still silent on the matter.

However, even though M1 is asking people to put their names down for the iPhone, the telco has yet to reveal its pricing plans for the phone.

To make a reservation, click here.

Track Promotions At Paragon With App

Paragon is a new free app that helps you stay in touch with what's going on at the Paragon Shopping Centre in Orchard Road.

This slickly designed app has a directory of stores at the mall and has information about promotions and events taking place.

Overall, this app is nicely designed and well executed.

Paragon can be downloaded here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

SG BBOM To Make Reappearance

SG BBOM, the free app that enables iPhone users to track their data usage on Singtel's network, will be making a reappearance in the App Store under a new name -- ST BBOM.

In September, developer Mugunth Kumar pulled the app after a disagreement with SingTel. Since then, two other apps have been released on the App Store to enable users to track their data usage, iBBOM and Singtel Data Usage.

Late Wednesday evening, Kumar tweeted that he had just submitted SG BBOM to the App Store for Apple's approval. When queried by iMerlion, Kumar confirmed that the app would be available soon and had been renamed, but he said he was not able to reveal more details. However, he did subsequently tweet that it had been submitted using Singtel's App Zone, suggesting that there has been a rapproachment between Kumar and Singtel.

As soon as we hear more, we will update this story.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Latest Version of SG Buses More Accessible To The Blind

In a boon to the blind and the visually handicapped, SG Buses developer Muh Hon Cheng has added new features to make the free bus guide and bus timing app more accessible.

In the new version of SG Buses, there is now better support for Apple's VoiceOver feature. According to Hon Cheng: "When VoiceOver is turned on, the app reads the tapped item in full sentences rather than in incomplete broken sentences."

He has also added additional support for accessibility in settings. When this is turned on, a pop-up window will ask users what action they want to take. This is meant for users with problems accessing the arrival time button, or difficulty accessing the switch that turns on auto-loading of arrival times.

Hon Cheng added these new features after reading the plea from blind user Alvin Ng that local developers make their apps accessible to the blind. He went on to contact Alvin to find out what could be done quickly to make the existing app more usable. Based on the feedback, Hon Cheng reworked SG Buses. "The improvements I made to SG Buses is actually a response to the post. I hope that it will get the attention of more developers to do the same thing."

This new version of SG Buses is now available on the App Store.


Story was updated to include a quote from Hon Cheng on why he decided to retool SG Buses.

Monday, November 9, 2009

StarHub To Sell iPhones By Year-End

StarHub has announced that it will be selling Apple's iPhone by the end of the year.

Pricing details and availability will be announced later.

Full (and very terse) press release here.

With this announcement, this means that SingTel's monopoly over the iPhone in Singapore will be well and truly over in about two months. Last month, M1 made a similar announcement that it will start selling iPhones by the end of the year. To date, M1 has not revealed any details about tariffs and pricing.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

MKSync Receives Approval, Now in App Store

Mugunth Kumar's MKSync is now available on the App Store. If you have a Syncplicity account, this looks like a no-brainer. MKSync is free to download. To unlock features, you have to purchase them within the app.

Find out more about MKSync from its website or read the iMerlion interview with Kumar here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gary Go Performs Song Using Chordica in Interview

British musician Gary Go continues to be an ambassador for Joash Chee's Chordica.

In this interview with Ross Mathews on The Insider, Gary performs his song Brooklyn, accompanied by Chordica on the iPhone (plugged in to an amp).

Gary actually shows off Chordica at 4:40 and starts singing at 5:30.