Friday, January 29, 2010

Why is Maps missing from the iPad page on Apple Singapore?

It's true. For some mysterious reason, Maps is missing from the iPad features page on Apple Singapore's website.

If you compare the features page of the US site with the Singapore site, you will find that the US page has three extra elements: iTunes, iBooks and Maps.

Now it makes sense that the Singapore page would not have iTunes or iBooks because these would not be available here but why is Maps missing?

It's not a worldwide issue though. I did a quick check and Maps is present on the iPad features page of the UK, Canada, Australia, France, Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong sites. Maps, however, is also missing from the features page of Apple China's site. A quick look at the HTML for the Singapore page shows that the copy and image for Maps has been commented out.

Is it likely that a sloppy designer accidentally commented out Maps in both China and Singapore? It's possible I guess. Given that it's 9pm on a Friday evening, I doubt we'll find the answer soon but if we do, you'll be the first to know.

Local e-book developer is excited about the iPad

A rendition of a classic fairy tale in StoryBoy

Many developers are giving the iPad a lukewarm reception but at least one local developer is thrilled -- SkyVu Pictures, which makes interactive e-books for kids based on its own StoryBoy e-book application.

"SkyVu Pictures is very excited about the iPad," says Anthea Chuah, the creative director of the studio. "The larger iPad format will be great for StoryBoy books because it allows our readers to enjoy our animated illustrated books at its full potential and will really bring our books to life.

"In fact, when our founders first came up with the idea of StoryBoy a year ago, it was with the Apple tablet in mind. Back then, it was just a myth but now it has become a reality."

The larger format means more room to add extra content and menu options. "This was limited before because of space considerations but the new size (480x320 versus 1024x768) makes it easier to allow for pop-ups and additional functions," says Anthea.

StoryBoy's development team has already begun work on an entire slate of content for the device, she says.

StoryBoy is an e-book reader/library application that was created in Singapore with the support of the Media Development Authority. StoryBoy Kids Books is free and comes with two books pre-loaded on it. If parents are interested, they can buy additional books in-app. In addition, the app also has content aimed at parents. The company currently has 18 books in its library.

While StoryBoy was developed in Singapore, the company itself, SkyVu Pictures, is headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska. Singapore is one of the company's two studios in Asia, the other being in Vietnam. 

According to Anthea, the Singapore studio manages and produces all content for the StoryBoy app with minimal support from our US and Vietnam studio. You can download StoryBoy Kids Books here.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Who will buy Apple's iPad? Me

Given the hype surrounding the iPad, it's not surprising that many people were disappointed when Jobs unveiled it earlier today. Apparently, the iPad does not cure cancer, does not alleviate poverty and will not rebuild Haiti. Ergo, epic fail.

And, let's also be honest, this device does not inspire techno-lust. I don't know about you but watching Apple's video left me underwhelmed. The best browser? The best email client? Nice way to access your pictures? Really? I'm glad I didn't stay up to follow the live blogs.

Yet even though I don't have the urge to throw money at Steve Jobs to get the iPad, I'm very tempted to buy it because it's an interesting solution to my computing needs.

This is how I foresee using the iPad. I see it as the device I will use for watching videos or reading while I'm on the bus or train. I've seen the iPad being dismissed as the iPod touch for seniors but you know what? I think that's a great way to put it. At some point soon, we'll all suffer from failing eyesight (some of us sooner rather than later) and the iPad, with its bigger screen and larger fonts, is a much better solution for reading than the iPhone.

I also see the iPad (with bluetooth keyboard) and with Pages and Numbers as being my main portable computing solution. My current 15" MacBook Pro is overkill most of the time. I use it mainly for word processing, for browsing the web, for watching videos, for managing my photos and the occasional spreadsheet. I'm pretty sure this is what many people use their main computers for. Sure the MacBook Pro can also be used for editing movies or running Photoshop, but since I don't do these things very often, I'm willing to trade in those features for something lighter (2.5kg vs 1kg) with better battery life.

I'm also cheap and that's where the iPad is very interesting. The iPad will cost between US$499 to US$829 (S$699.40 to $1,162). An entry-level MacBook starts at S$1,588, more than double the cost of the cheapest iPad.

What's also nice is that all the apps I've bought for my iPhone will also run on the iPad, so off the bat, the device will be chock full of apps.

Pretty compelling reasons to buy the iPad. In addition, the grouses people have about the iPad aren't deal breakers for me. Let's look at the common complaints: lack of Flash support, lack of a camera and lack of multi-tasking.

Let's take the lack of Flash. It might be nice to have Flash but I don't miss it on my iPhone and I don't think I'll miss it on the iPad. YouTube already uses H.264 for most videos so I don't need it for watching stuff. I don't play Flash games so I could care less about losing that. Which leaves crappy, unnecessary animation on websites as the main remaining reason for having Flash. If dropping Flash in the iPad will force web designers to avoid unnecessary Flash elements, then sign me up.

A lot of people are complaining about the lack of a camera. A camera is useful on a phone but less useful on a device this large. And I rarely use the camera on my MacBook anyway, even during iChat, so not a big loss for me.

Multi-tasking, however, is a big loss. It would be nice to have multiple apps running, especially if you use it as a laptop replacement. But this is a software issue more than a hardware issue, especially given the 1Ghz processor. Apple could enable multi-tasking with an OS upgrade and I'm guessing they will at some point.

Given all this, the iPad looks like a winner to me. It won't give us world peace but for now, but I'll settle for something that's eminently useful and attractively priced.

(What do you think about the iPad? Would you buy it? Let us know in the comments!)

Apple's iPad: Local developers give their take

The dust is still settling on Apple's iPad announcement but that hasn't stopped people from forming strong opinions about the device. iMerlion polled some prominent local iPhone developers to get their take on the iPad.

Mugunth Kumar (iCash SG, StationAlarm SG)

"I think iPad will revolutionize the enterprise interest in porting windows apps to the iPad, meaning that big MNCs like Oracle or SAP will provide their data analysis and other business software for iPad because they really make sense on a tablet device.

"Pity that it doesn't have a camera. :-( otherwise Skype and conference apps like, Crossover and other business collaboration software would have skyrocketted.

"At the same time, I wouldn't be in for Apple approving every app and update. Another 100,000 apps will be available soon, and who will approve them all?

"On using the device as a iBook, I don't think it's gonna be successful. A glossy screen may be great for videos and multimedia, but it is just a pain when you read books. So yeah, even if iBook store isn't available, I will really not bother."

Muh Hon Cheng (SG Buses, buUuk, SG Trains, SG ERP)

"I stayed up late to watch the live streaming via ustream. Love it, and I'll get it. Of course, I will make apps for it. But I wonder if my iPhone will just be used as a phone after getting an iPad. Not sure if I need it, but I'll find a use for it :p

"I'm disappointed that it uses a micro SIM card. I can't just put in my extra SIM card I have with my multi-sim plan. Though the the device is unlocked, it is as good as a locked device with micro SIM. Telcos can charge anything here and we'll have no choice at all.

"I'm still trying to download the SDK to have a look. But as usual, Singapore developers have the same problem everytime a new SDK is released. Been trying for hours."

Zhou Wenhan, 2359 Media (SG Malls, iHealth SG, iMerlion)

"I think the iPad is disappointing in terms of what it can do. The novel feature here is the iBook Store. For its cost, I think the iPad will be a household shared device for magazines, newspapers and books.

"I think it will be great for the elderly who have never fully caught on to computers. The iPad will easily lead them into the information age.

"On the applications side, a new type of apps will probably be made popular. I think apps that target the household will be popular with the iPad."

Lim Thye Chean (Space War, Doodle War)

"I am amazed. This is the correct strategy, price first, and features later.

"You know, my father-in-law loves computer, even though he is over 70. He uses it to surf the web, arrange photos, play iTunes music, play games (primary Chinese chess, etc). We bought him an iBook, then a MacBook.

"This would be THE PERFECT DEVICE for him. Especially because it has Chinese and handwriting recognition for Chinese!

"The iPhone OS is a much better OS for everybody else. There is no file system, just open the app, and use it. This is how PERSONAL computers should have been, and it has taken so long to reach here. The future does not belong to cloud computing, cloud computing is just ONE of the applications (using Safari). For everything else, especially for simplicity, the iPhone OS way, is much better. I finally don't have to give a Mac OS structure lecture (why multiple libraries? what is a home account? where are my applications) to new Mac users.

"Then I think, what do I personally do? I surf the web, arrange photos, play iTunes music, play games AND do programming. And something strikes me - it will be perfect for me to do programming on a desktop like the iMac. It will be perfect for me to do EVERYTHING ELSE on the iPad. Especially IF I can do my presentation, and do some writing, on this device.

"I am probably going to go from iMac/MacBook combo to an iMac/iPad combo."

Winners of SmartMeter promo codes

Congrats to the following people who were the first 10 to respond to the contest. We'll be emailing you shortly with your promo code. For the rest of you, better luck next time. To make sure you're among the first to hear about the contest, follow us on Twitter!

Once again, many thanks to Richard for giving away the promo codes. If you can, do leave a review on the App Store.

1. Cheah Chu Yeow
2. Anand
3. Grant Low
4. Bozo88email
5. Benjamin S.
6. Lim Kim Yong
7. Kenny Go
8. Roy Pwee
9. Eric Lim
10. JB Cheong

No iBooks for Singapore users?

The iPad may be a new and better way to read books but that's something only US users will appreciate. The small print on Apple's iPad Features page indicates that iBooks is only available in the US. This is likely because of licensing rights, the same reason why Singapore users don't have an iTunes store. Bummer.

Apple's iPad: details, video, first hand impressions

Macrumors has a quick rundown of the event and details of the iPad. A good place to start.

Apple has released a video of the keynote. Click here to watch or go here to Apple's iPad page to learn more.

Engadget and Gizmodo have first-hand impressions of the device.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Get your free copy of SmartMeter while stocks last!

We are giving away 10 promo codes to Richard Yip's SmartMeter, a cool app that will help you save money on your utilities bills.

SmartMeter (US$0.99) aims to help you keep track of your usage of electricity, power and gas. Input the readings and find out how much you've spent for the month so far and get a projection of how much you're likely to spend for the whole month. (Find out more about Richard and SmartMeter here.)

As usual, the promo codes will be given out on a first come, first served basis.

All you have to do is email us at (note: replace the word "spam" with "iphone").

Important note: You must have an account with the US iTunes store to redeem the promo code. This is because Apple is still only allowing promo codes to be redeemed in the US store, despite having a redeem option in the Singapore store.

If you don't have an account with the US iTunes Store, but you would like to get one, I'm told that there are resources online that can help you with that.

(Many thanks to Richard Yip for making this giveaway possible.)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Latest turn-by-turn GPS app uses MalFreeMaps for S'pore and Malaysia roads

PAPAGO Singapore + Malaysia is a new entrant in the increasingly crowded field of turn-by-turn GPS apps. PAPAGO, which exists as a pro version and a lite version, offers intelligent search, road elevation displays, and portrait and landscape mode. The pro version also offers 3D landmarks, 3D buildings and junction views.

The app uses MalFreeMaps, which is a free map provided by volunteers dedicated to doing GPS mapping in Singapore and Malaysia. Unfortunately, at this time, searching by postal code does not seem to be available.

PAPAGO Singapore + Malaysia (PRO) costs US$29.99. You can buy it here.

The lite version costs US$9.99. You can buy it here.

PAPAGO is one of four turn-by-turn GPS apps that cover Singapore and Malaysia. The other three are NDrive Malaysia and Singapore (US$39.99), Sygic's Mobile Maps Southeast Asia (US$59.99) and Tom Tom Malaysia & Singapore (US$59.99).

While PAPAGO is the cheapest of the four, it is the only one not to offer voice guidance.

Details of next iPhone OS, Quattro, AsiaPac figures and more in Apple's earnings call

Macworld's live blog of the earnings call has lots of juicy details. Here are some highlights:

On Quattro acquisition:

Peter Oppenheimer, Apple CFO says: "In terms of Quattro and Lala acquistions. We acquired Quattro to give developers a seamless way to make money off their apps, especially free apps."

On Asia Pacific numbers:

Tim Cook, Apple COO says: "In Japan what's going on is that iPhone is a runaway hit. Up over 400% year on year during the quarter, so that's driving revenue growth in Japan. Mac growth is above market, but believe we can do better in that area. In Asia/Pacific, doing incredible job, Mac growing 54%; highest performing region in terms of growth. iPhone up over 500% in Asia/Pacific. Talked about China, but also added Korea during quarter and several other countries throughout the year after Q1 of last year."

On next version of the iPhone OS:

Tim Cook: "Have implemented tons of features in latest OS for iPhone that several of our enterprise customers have desired."

Much more in the live blog of the earnings call.

Apple: US$15.7b in revenue, US$3.4b in profit, 8.7m iPhones sold

Apple has released its latest quarterly results and they are pretty impressive.

* US$15.7 billion in revenue vs US$11.9 billion a year ago.
* US$3.4 billion in profit vs US$2.3 billion
* 40.9% gross margin vs 37.9%
* International sales were 58% of revenue

iPhone-wise, here are the numbers:

* 8.7 million iPhones sold, a 100 percent increase;
* iPod touch sales up 50 percent;

Says Apple CEO Steve Jobs in a statement: “The new products we are planning to release this year are very strong, starting this week with a major new product that we’re really excited about.”

(Click here for charts by Ars Technica that illustrate Apple's numbers nicely. You can find Apple's press release here and MacWorld's live blog of the earnings call here.)

Monday, January 25, 2010

App helps DBS card holders find restaurants with promos

Great news for DBS credit cardholders with a yen for food. A new free app, DBS Indulge UK, let's you find eating places around you where you can get a discount if you use your card. Even though it has UK in the name, it works perfectly well in Singapore.

Use this app to find restaurant promotions, as well as deals on special festivals, birthdays and weddings.

DBS Indulge UK can be downloaded here.

Now if only DBS would enable Internet banking with the iPhone....

(Tip of the hat to eagle-eyed iMerlion reader Alvin Tan).

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Dumpling Dimension looking to bee big with spelling game

With Pocket God becoming the first paid app to reach two million downloads and Doodle Jump being close to being the first paid app to reach one million downloads in a single month, it's no surprise that developers are eyeing the casual games market. With the right hit, a small, independent games publisher could rake in a fair bit of loose change.

Developers in Singapore are also jumping on the casual games bandwagon, the latest being the quirkily named The Dumpling Dimension, who have released a cute game that tests your spelling called Bee Spelled (US$0.99), featuring a benign looking bee with a big bite.

The Dumpling Dimension, which was formed in June last year, may be a small company (three full-time employees) but it's got big plans. iMerlion speaks to Fu Huali, artist and marketing Dumpling about the company and its plans.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Learn to play music "scorelessly", use Chordica with new app

Joash Chee, the man behind the music app Chordica, has just released a new app to help Chordica users learn to play music.

The free Scoreless Music Hub was approved today, exactly a year after Apple first approved Chordica.  The app brings together a songs database and lesson modules to help Chordica users and students of Joash who are learning music using a technique he developed called the Scoreless Music Method.

In an interview with iMerlion, Joash talk about this new app, his plans for Chordica and alludes to a mysterious co-branded version of Chordica that is waiting in the wings.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Free app offers TV schedules

Despite its name, the app TV@SG Free! does not provide local TV on the iPhone. Instead, it provides a TV guide so you won't miss your favourite show.

TV@SG also has push notification to remind you that your favourite show is coming up.

An older version without push notification was previously known as TV Guide@SG. That version was US$0.99. This latest version is free.

You can download TV@SG Free! here.

(Many thanks to readers Novatliz and Shiun Han for the tip-off!)

New app helps save heart attack victims

If you have a heart attack, your best chance of survival is to revive your heart quickly with an automated external defibrillator or AED for short. According to Dr Dana Elliot Srither, the president of First Aid Corps (Singapore), time is critical. The heart has to be revived under five minutes to ensure the best chance of recovery.

Thankfully, an increasing number of places in Singapore now have AEDs on the premises in case anyone needs it. The only problem is locating these AEDs. Fortunately, there's now an app for that.

Open AED Nearby, an app developed by buUuk for First Aid Corp, and the app will pull up a list of places around you with an AED. With luck, you'll be close to an AED when it strikes.

Dr Srither suggests that families can use the app to decide where to shop or which restaurants to eat at, depending on whether it has an AED on the premises. "They can even choose which country clubs to purchase their membership based on the availability of AEDs there."

According to the app, if you do have a heart attack, do try to have one at the National University of Singapore, which appears to have the highest concentration of AEDs in Singapore. Orchard Road is also a good place to have a heart attack.

The good thing about this app is that is doesn't just work for Singapore. This app will also tell you where you can find AEDs in other cities around the world.

According to BuUuk co-founder Jon Petersen, the app uses data from a Google MyMap that includes AED devices worldwide. "Every 24 hours, we take the contents of the MyMap and parse it into a database. When a user opens the, app, it checks whether the database has been updated and downloads a new version if it has been."

Locations of AEDs are crowdsourced to volunteers worldwide who regularly add to the list. Based on this system, a new AED that is added to the Google MyMap will be reflected in the AED Nearby app within 24 hours. BuUuk took this project on pro bono. 

AED Nearby is free. You can download it here.

Note 1: Story updated with quotes from Dr Srither.
Note 2: Story updated with quotes from Jon Petersen.

Friday, January 15, 2010

App available to help property buyers

Eyeing a new place now that the economy is picking up? If you are, a neat app called ProxiHomes will help you look for places for sale or rental.

You can search by district, type of home and land tenure type (freehold, 99 years etc).

Thanks to this app, I've spotted a one-bedroom apartment at The Sail that I've set my heart on. It's only going for $2 million. Highway robbery! What a steal!

I only wished this app had the ability to locate available homes near your location. That would make it easier to find a place in a neighbourhood you like. (Note: This app does actually have that ability.)

ProxiHomes is free. Click here to download.

(Thanks to iMerlion reader Alvin Tan for the tip-off!)

The Business Card Case giveaway is over!

Did you want a free copy of Business Card Case? Oops, too bad, the giveaway is over. You snooze, you lose. 

Congratulations to the 20 people who won. For the rest of you, don't jump off a bridge just yet, there will be more giveaways coming up. (By the way, if you want to improve your chance of winning, follow @imerlion on Twitter, which is where we announce all new stories and promos. If you don't use Twitter, check the site daily to make sure you don't miss a promo. Winners for promos are typically chosen on a first come, first served basis, so you all you have to do is read iMerlion regularly.)

As a side note, some readers may be interested to know that we received just over three times as many 3GS entries as we did 3G entries. This suggests that about 25 percent of Singapore's iPhone users are using the iPhone 3G. This nugget of information might be of value to some developers.

Winners of the 3G promo code

1. Ng Zheng Jie
2. Bozo88
3. John Pang
4. Cheah Yujin
5. Peter Lui
6. Kit Y
7. Oliver John Lim
8. Robinson Law
9. Doggielover80
10. Viggorlijah

Winners of the 3GS promo code

1. Loretta Tay
2. Angelyn Tay
3. Eric Lim
4. Lee Kee Hoon
5. Keropok Man
6. Mokfw
7. Romeo Tan
8. Melvin Vu
9. Incredi-Beb
10. Mark Z

We will be contacting all winners shortly with their promo code. 

Once again, thanks for taking part and thanks to Axion Logic for making this promo possible.

Axion did not make it a condition for taking part, but it would be nice of you guys to rate or review the app if you get it. 

If you didn't win, but you still want to buy Business Card Case, they're available on the App Store for the princely sum of US$1.99. Click here for the 3G version and here for the 3GS version. 

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Going Gaga Over Laylio: An interview with Drew Crothers of RADIOactive

Most people know that Laylio is a stylish iPhone app that deliver four Mediacorp radio stations (Class95FM, 987FM, YES 993 and Lush 99.5) to the iPhone. What is less well known is that RADIOactive, the developer of Laylio, is headed by Andrew Crothers, the "Drew" of "Don and Drew" fame. iMerlion speaks to Drew to find out more about RADIOactive, Laylio and life as an entrepreneur. (Note: This interview is an edited and condensed version of an email interview that was conducted with Drew). 

Win a free copy of Business Card Case

Here's another giveaway for loyal iMerlion readers. If you would like a free copy of Business Card Case, all you have to do is email us at (note: replace the word "spam" with "iphone"). Please indicate if you would like the 3G or 3GS version in the subject line.

We have promo codes to give away to 10 3G users and 10 3GS users. First come, first served.

Important note: You must have an account with the US iTunes store to redeem the promo code. This is because Apple is still only allowing promo codes to be redeemed in the US store, despite having a redeem option in the Singapore store.

If you don't have an account with the US iTunes Store, but you would like to get one, I'm told that there are resources online that can help you with that.

(Many thanks to Axion Logic for making this possible.)


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Manage your Name Cards with Business Card Case

Let's face it, name cards are a problem. We're all drowning in name cards. We have so many cards to manage that trying to find the right card becomes an impossible task. Did you store the card by the person's last name, first name, company name or nickname? Do you even have a system or is everything just chucked into a shoebox (my favourite filing strategy).

According to local company Axion Logic, there is a better way. All you have to do is whip out your iPhone, open Business Card Case and take a picture of the name card you've just received (you can take a picture of the back, as well as front, if you need to). You then tag the name card with the person's name, company and type in any other notes you may want to add. That's it. There's no fancy optical character recognition. Just simple, manual tagging. When you want to locate a particular card, just search for the person's name or company and the relevant card will pop up. Business Card Case allows you to call or send an SMS directly from the app.

Axion Logic founder Lee Lim said he chose not to have OCR capability in the app because he was not impressed with how they worked. "I find that the text recognition is quite slow and sometimes there are mistakes," he said. "Furthermore, there are some name cards with front and back details. Usually the back is the Chinese version which is where the OCR fails. My kiasu-ism tells me that I better still keep the hardcopy of the card just in case the OCR makes mistakes or exclude details which I didn't notice. This defeats the purpose of digitalizing all my name cards!"

Business Card Case is actually a side project for the company, which has received Media Development Authority funding for an Augmented Reality project. Presumably, the company will be spending some of its time on this project as well. In addition, Axion Logic is also exploring going into the business of making iPhone games.

The two co-founders of the company, Lee Lim and Bobby Leong, have high hopes for their company. And if nothing else, they won't be losing the name cards of potential clients or backers.

Business Card Case is available on the App Store for US$1.99. A version exists for the 3G and the 3GS. A lite version exists that only stores five records exists for both.

Note: We will be running a promotion soon and we will be giving away promo codes for the 3G and 3GS version of this app.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Get 4D results on your iPhone. In Hokkien.

It's true. There's now an iPhone app that will give you the option to hear the latest 4D (and Toto) results in Hokkien. (More conventionally, you can also choose to hear the results in Mandarin or English.)

Hokkien, however, is not the only way that SG Live 4D is distinguishing itself from the competition. The app also promises to bring 4D and Toto results almost as soon as they are announced, by 6.33pm on the day of the drawing.

In addition, the app will also give you a history of results, allow you to plug in your favourite number to see how it has performed over the last 10 years and give you predictions based on a mysterious prediction system.

I haven't had a chance to put the app through its paces but App Store reviewers are giving SG Live 4D the thumbs-up. "This is the most tok kong 4D app in the app store", says one reviewer.

According to the developer's website, a version of this app is also available for the Android platform.

SG Live 4D is free. You can download it here.

(Thanks to Alvin Tan for the tip-off!)

Apple Approves iCash SG Update

Apple has finally given the green light to Mugunth Kumar's iCash SG update.

iCash SG 2.0 features the ATMs of all the major banks in Singapore, including those on the ATM5 network.

The latest version has better maps and the ability to update the ATM database easily. This was illustrated when the developer merged the POSB and DBS ATMs together yesterday. He was able to simply push this change out to beta testers as an update to the app.

iCash SG has been climbing up the Top Free Apps chart since it was released earlier this month. It is now in the top 10.

iCash SG is a neat utility that allows you to locate ATMs nearby. It is free but ad supported. You can pay $1.99 to turn off the ads. To download the app, click here.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Join the Singapore iPhone community on Twitter with #imerlion

Over the weekend, a couple of developers came up with a great idea to create a Singapore iPhone community online. Their idea was to have the iMerlion app to host a forum that users can participate in. People would be able to post comments, suggestions and bug reports to developers, who could then respond. The forum could also leverage on Twitter so that people could use the hashtag #imerlion and that would appear as a post in the forum. Forum posts would automatically appear on Twitter too.

I think it's a great idea to create such a community. However, rather than wait for me to set up such a forum, I think we should set it up with just Twitter first and add the forum on later.

So here's the plan. If you want to raise an issue about the iPhone in Singapore, use #imerlion as a tag in your Twitter post. If you want to post a comment about an app, add another hashtag as well. For example, if you want to talk about SG Buses or iCash SG, you can use the hashtag #sgbuses and #icash respectively. Developers really want to hear your comments because they want to improve their apps.

To track this Twitter forum, search for the hastag #imerlion. If you want to see all threads relating to a particular app or issue, search in the timeline for the relevant hashtag.

This is an experiment. I hope it works. Keep it civil!

Book a Comfort taxi? There *was* an app for that. Sort of.

It is a great idea, an app that enables you to book a Comfort taxi from your iPhone. Unfortunately, the app has been pulled from the App Store, presumably because it doesn't work.

Taxi Booking, a free app by Maven Lab, was briefly available in the Singapore App Store last week. Sharp-eyed iMerlion reader Alvin Tan brought it to my attention and I immediately downloaded it to try out.

Unfortunately,  the app failed to allow me to log-in to the Comfort Delgro website (which it needs to do as you need to be a subscriber to Comfort's online booking service first). Each time I tried to log in, I was told that my username/password was incorrect. This is despite the fact that the same username and password allowed me to book a taxi via the web (I checked). Sometime between last Saturday and this morning, the app was pulled.

It's a pity because I think it's a great concept. In my pre-iPhone days, I swore to myself that all my phones would have a speaker mode because I got tired of holding my phone to my ear waiting for the taxi company to allocate a cab to me. This app by Maven Lab had some nice touches too. For example, it would get your location but allow you to modify it in case the location tracking was off.

Hopefully Maven Lab will release a working version or another developer will step up to the plate. I'm pretty sure this is an app that people would pay money for.

Fund Watch giveaway over

We have given away all the promo codes for Fund Watch.

Congratulations to the following people for being the first 10 to respond:

1. Alan Fong
2. Jarrod Chong
3. Benjamin S
4. Thomas Ang
5. Yinjie Soon
6. Chou FS
7. Kelvin Tong
8. Gerald Chua
9. Harry Koh
10. Robinson Law

For those of you who were too late, don't be disheartened, we will be having more giveaways soon!

Thanks to Basil Salad Software once again for the giveaway. And while it's not part of the contest, I'm sure the developer would be happy if you would review Fund Watch on the Singapore App Store.

Friday, January 8, 2010

SJI Student Develops Twitter App for iPhone

Tan E-Liang with his family in Suzhou, China. He is second from left.

Kids these days, I tell you. All they do is sit in front of the computer and play games all day. Well, most kids anyway. Some kids actually do much more than play World of Warcraft for 10 straight hours.

Meet 14-year-old Tan E-Liang. E-Liang is a Secondary 2 student at St Joseph's Institution. While most of his classmates were busy playing games on their Xboxes, E-Liang spent his free time developing a Twitter client for the iPhone. E-Liang, together with two other teenagers, are the guys behind Fluttr for Twitter, a stylish Twitter client for the iPhone. E-Liang is the coding guru while Branden Flasch, 13, handles the PR and John Costa, 17, does the finances for IntelligentMonkey, the name of their group. Of the three, E-Liang is the only one in Singapore. The other two are in the US. 

The remarkable thing about E-Liang is not that he was 13 when he started work on Fluttr; it's that he is completely self-taught.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Get a free copy of Fund Watch via iMerlion!

Update: We've given out all the promo codes! Congrats to those who emailed us quickly and snapped up the codes. For the rest of you, we're sorry you missed the opportunity to snag a free copy of Fund Watch. However, do keep reading iMerlion. We will have more giveaways soon. Thanks once again to Basil Salad Software for making this promotion possible.

We have 10 free promo codes for Fund Watch to give away to loyal iMerlion readers! Fund Watch is a neat app that allows users to track the performance of their unit trusts (also known as mutual funds, hence the name). Fund prices come from Fundsupermart.

The developer, Basil Salad Software, is giving away the 10 promo codes to celebrate the fact that the app now has prices from Fundsupermart India.

Fund Watch costs US$9.99 so this is a pretty sweet deal. All you have to do is email us at (note: replace the word "spam" with "iphone"). The first 10 people to do so will get the promo codes. First come, first served.

If you have unit trusts/mutual funds that are sold by Fundsupermart Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong or India, this app is invaluable.

Important note: You must have an account with the US iTunes store to redeem the promo code. This is because Apple is still only allowing promo codes to be redeemed in the US store, despite having a redeem option in the Singapore store.

If you don't have an account with the US iTunes Store, but you would like to get one, I'm told that there are resources online that can help you with that.

(Many thanks to Basil Salad Software for making this possible.)


iCash SG update awaiting approval

True to his word, Mugunth Kumar has submitted an update to iCash SG that includes the locations of DBS, UOB, Citibank and ATM5 ATMs.

I've been playing around with the beta of iCash SG 2.0 and it's pretty impressive. You can now choose to see satellite maps as well as hybrid satellite and normal maps.

iCash SG is free but ad supported. If you don't want to see ads, a US$1.99 in-app purchase will disable ads from the app.

This is a useful app that every Singapore resident should get. If you don't have it yet, download it from the App Store here.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Laylio Brings Local Radio Goodness to Your iPhone

Fans of local MediaCorp radio stations are now spoilt for choice because another local radio app has been released on the iPhone.

Cheekily named Laylio, the free app is preprogrammed to play Class95FM, 987FM, YES 933 and Lush 99.5.

This is a slick app that provides more than just preprogrammed Singapore stations though. It allows you to call-in or email the station from within the app. In addition, it also displays the name of the song playing.

The developers promise to add more radio stations when they are available.

As the app's description goes: "Stand there and wait for what? Christmas ah? You think Laylio will drop from the sky?" It won't of course. If you want Laylio, you have to download it by clicking here.

(Note: Tip of the hat to iMerlion readers Kelvin Tong and Romeo Tan for this!)

Google Will Sell Nexus One in Singapore

Not directly iPhone-related but iMerlion readers may be interested to learn that Singapore is one of just four markets that Google will be selling its recently unveiled Nexus One phone. Apart from Singapore, Google will also take orders from the US, the UK and Hong Kong. The phone is available without service for US$529 (S$739).

The following are the hardware specs for the Nexus One:

  • Display: 3.7" AMOLED 480x800 WVGA display
  • Thinness: 11.5mm; Weight: 130g
  • Processor/Speed: Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 3G QSD8250 chipset, delivering speeds up to 1GHz
  • Camera: 5 megapixel auto focus with flash and geo tagging
  • Onboard memory: 512MB Flash, 512MB RAM
  • Expandable memory: 4GB removable SD Card (expandable to 32GB)
  • Noise Suppression: Dynamic noise suppression from Audience, Inc.
  • Ports: 3.5mm stereo headphone jack with four contacts for inline voice and remote control
  • Battery: Removable 1400 mAh
  • Personalized laser engraving: Up to 50 characters on the back of the phone
  • Trackball: Tri-color notification LED, alerts when new emails, chats, text messages arrive
To buy the phone, go to the Google Store.

Read the full press release here.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Find ATMs With iCash SG

There's never an ATM around when you need one. Or perhaps more accurately, there's probably an ATM around somewhere, but you have no idea where it could be.

Frustrated with having to hunt down OCBC ATMs around Singapore, developer Mugunth Kumar decided to do something about it. Kumar has created iCash SG, an iPhone app that locates OCBC and POSB ATMs around Singapore.

So far, the app covers about 95 percent of all POSB and OCBC ATMs and he is working on adding the remaining 5 percent. In future, he also plans to add DBS and Citibank ATMs as well.

iCash SG is a free app. It is can be downloaded here. (For those keeping score, Apple approved this app in four days.)

To learn more about iCash SG, click here.