Friday, February 26, 2010

SoShiok.com app is not so shiok

Harry's is going for a new look, according to SoShiok.com

Sometimes, even free is too much to pay. That is the case with SPH's latest iPhone app, SoShiok.com. An iPhone version of the food-focussed website of the same name, this app feels like a hasty collection of  leftovers, warmed up by an indifferent kitchen, and likely to cause indigestion.

On the surface, the app would seem to have everything. It has reviews, a restaurants database, recipes, the ability to find nearby restaurants and a function that will give you a random restaurant when you shake the iPhone. However, once you dig in, the meagre offerings of this app become readily apparent. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Inspire-Tech releases app for housing agents, talks about company

Need further proof that the property market is booming? Inspire-Tech has just released an iPhone app aimed at property agents in Singapore. Called ProxiAgent, it allows housing agents to upload new listings and new photos directly from their iPhone. Agents can email listings easily and they can also remove a listing once it has been sold or leased out. ProxiAgent is the second iPhone app by Inspire-Tech after ProxiHomes, a database of properties available for sale or lease.

Intrigued by their property offerings, iMerlion speaks to Sharon Teo, one of the founders of Inspire-Tech, about the company and the apps.


Can you tell us more about Inspire-Tech? I'm guessing it's an IT company?

Yes, we are an IT company and we are passionate about converting “ideas” to reality. That is why our company is called Inspire-Tech. We love to be inspired to bring ideas to reality.

Inspire-Tech started with an LBS service 10 years back that we called FusionAds. Back then, LBS was new to many people. We were using WAP, SMS and Web technology for multi-channel search. Similarly we were building an eco-system then. Though the initial idea failed, we took our work in SMS technology and developed SMS gateway solutions called EasiSMS which are enterprise-wide messaging solutions for financial institutions and many other industries.

Can you tell us how you came up with the idea of ProxiHomes?

Inspire-Tech has property clients and we’ve provided our SMS solutions to them. Some companies try to use SMS to alert their agents and customers of new property listings but it does have its challenges. While SMS does address some needs, it can be rather costly if the “broadcast group” is very big.

ProxiHomes started with a simple idea of having an empowered real estate agent going around to snap pictures for the houseowner and marketing his property straight from his mobile phone.

In addition, as a home seeker, I imagined taking out my phone to do a simple search around the area I’m looking for and having the option to choose via district. After finding the home, I simply click a button to call the agent. The process is seamless and neat. We also wanted to create an eco-system to allow information to be exchanged easily.

Another challenge we noticed on web portals and forum sites is that the property listings are outdated. Many agents may be eager to post new properties but removing it is the last thing they do because they are too busy. If they have their most commonly carried device (something they can’t do without for a living) and with a simple click of button, they just get their information updated, how efficient and effective would they be? As an end-consumer, I would also enjoy updated data by the agents.

Our eco-system does not just comprise of phones alone. Our vision is to allow property agents to have multiple channels of exposure since consumers always have different preferences and choices. As such, you can see ProxiHomes being used on almost every type of device, from your phones (be it smartphone or simple phones where they can still use SMS to search) to your desktop. And not just browser web pages but also desktop gadgets. We feel that desktop gadgets are coming up and end-users are also adopting more gadgets. If you are a home seeker, it would be great to get regular “news feeds” of new properties posted in the area of your interest on your desktop.




How extensive is your database of available homes in ProxiHomes? Where do you get your information from?

ProxiHomes is a new service but we’ve fostered some partnerships with agencies and their agents for the data while achieving our main objective of allowing agents to self-submit the data on their own phone. In fact, the sign-up rate is quick and the agents are putting up the information on their own now.


How would your system help property agents and how much would they have to pay to get involved?

This platform allows their potential clients to find them easily. These clients can compare prices easily since the platform makes it easier for them to get information, so it also means property agents can get new clients faster. They do have to pay a subscription fee but we have trial accounts available for one month for agents who want to try out the service first.

ERA has also launched an app. How does your ProxiHomes app compare with that of ERA?

I believe you have downloaded and tried the application, so you can certainly judge the difference in terms of the user interactivity and the way information is being displayed.

Besides, being an independent platform player, our intention is to provide good listings across all agencies. As their app name suggests, it is only providing information from their agency's database.


(Note: The interview above is an edited version of an email interview conducted with Sharon Teo.)

iPhone SDK Beta 3 now available

Apple has just released beta 3 of the iPhone SDK. As usual, if you have problems downloading the SDK, check out our older story for alternative methods of getting it.






Friday, February 19, 2010

3G download cap upped to 20MB


Apple has apparently increased the over-air download limit from 10MB to 20MB. Attempts to download large files now have a new alert message saying that the app is over 20MB.

This means that as long as the app is under 20MB, you can download it on your iPhone over the 3G network. If it is over 20MB, you will have to download it over Wifi.

This new change will be a boon to developers and users. Users will now be able to download larger files easily, while developers now have more leeway in building apps that are easy to download.

.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Betting on novelty: Behind the scenes with the makers of Live4D


Ah yes, the good old days. When Hokkien and Cantonese radio programmes dominated the airwaves, when you could enjoy a hearty meal for just 50 cents, and when cholera stalked the land.

One group of developers has decided to bring back those happy times, the Hokkien radio that is, not the cholera. Live4D is an iPhone app has a text-to-speech engine that reads out the 4D results in Hokkien, as well as English and Mandarin. However, this app has more going for it than just nostalgia. It also promises to deliver 4D results faster than anyone else (by 6.33pm).

iMerlion speaks to Chin Kwek Loong of Live4D to learn more about the origins of the app and their plans for the future.

Why did you guys decide to do Live4D?

We did Live4D as a service to the community who would like to know the 4D results live at 6:33pm instead of the usual 7:30~8pm.

How did you come up with the idea of offering the results in Hokkien?

During our younger days, we used to hear results in Hokkien on Reddifussion. Brings back memories doesn't it?

Do you have any idea who listens to the Hokkien results?

No idea but maybe it would appeal to the older generation

What are your plans for Live4D? What features are you planning to add?

Features we would like to include are an alarm to alert users when it is 6:33pm or 6:32pm and a winnings calculator.

The Toto result currently is just scrolling at our info box. We want to have something like the 4D result where it will show when each number arrives. This would make it much easier for users to read as well.

The killer feature, however, would be to able to announce the result at 5:33pm, 1 hour before Singapore Pools.

Location:St Andrew's Rd,City,Singapore

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Lunar New Year!

Due to the upcoming Lunar New Year, iMerlion will only be updated sporadically between today and Tuesday. We will resume our normal updates on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, to all those celebrating the Lunar New Year, our best wishes to you for the year ahead!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Improve your leverage when buying a car in Singapore

Someday I'll own a car. That day will come after I actually get my driving license. And actually make enough to afford a car. Until that day though, I will be content with public transport. But a man can dream right?

Except that that dream could turn into a nightmare. When you buy a car in Singapore, the price you pay consists of the actual price of the car, plus a whole bunch of taxes that I barely understand. I'm pretty sure that whenever I walk into a car showroom, car salesmen see the big red sign on my forehead that says "SUCKER".

Fortunately, one brave soul has developed an app to work out what kind of margins the car dealer is making, thus giving you some leverage when you talk to the sales guy. When you learn that he is making over $8,000 per car, asking for freebies becomes much easier.

SGCarPrice costs US$0.99 but that's a bargain considering how much cars cost in Singapore.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Local developer half-way through public coding effort

It's been said, if you like sausages, don't visit a sausage factory. That's because the process of making something is usually messy and unpleasant, and occasionally, even bloody. That's also why many creative people actually don't like working in public, where everyone can see the mistakes made along the way.

One local developer however has decided to invite public scrutiny. Sahil Lavingia, 17, has committed himself to creating an app within a week, and he is blogging and screencasting his efforts along the way.

Sahil, who developed Twizzle, Taxi Lah! and Color Stream Lite, is documenting his app making efforts on  a blog he created for this project. Sahil, an international school student, says he's doing the app because "I think it'll be fun and informative, for both my and my (Twitter) followers." Also, he admits honestly, he hopes to enhance his reputation.

Sahil started on Sunday with little more than an idea and he now has a working prototype that is being beta-tested by people. Called Dayta, it allows you to capture simple data and chart it.

Along the way, he shares coding tips and fixes mistakes that he makes along the way.

On his experience so far: "It's crazy. It's awesome to be able to bounce ideas off of people. Before, I would release an app and then tweak it to the public's liking. Now, I can tweak while I code.

"I do spend a lot of time writing and reading though, which I could have spent coding. It's a trade-off."

He believes that if all goes well, he can make his deadline to complete his app in a week, but as he says: "There's still a lot I have to do."

You can follow Sahil's progress on his blog or on Twitter.

STOMP app now available on the iPhone

Is there an ill-mannered lout pretending to be asleep while a pregnant woman stands in front of him in a crowded bus? Now's your chance to take his picture and upload it to STOMP, the citizen journalism effort of The Straits Times.

The app, The Straits Times STOMP, is now in the app store. With the app, you can read stories submitted by people as well as contribute your own.

STOMP is free. You can download it here.

(Tip of the hat to iMerlion reader Roy Ong.)
.

DBS Indulge UK renamed

In case you were wondering what happened to DBS Indulge UK, wonder no more. The app is now known by its rightful name DBS Indulge Singapore. Everyone can now heave a sigh of relief. All is right with the world again.
.

Never get lost in NUS again

Amateur magician and Toto addict Justin Yong has just unveiled his latest app, a detailed map of the National University of Singapore.

Called naviNUS, this app locates points of interest dear to the hearts of undergraduates, namely places to eat as well as ATMs. The app is also useful if you need to find a lecture theatre or a library to sleep in.

According to Justin, more points of interest will be added in future.

I think naviNUS is a great idea. I hope he does a similar app for the Nanyang Technological University, which seems to be three times larger and far more confusing.    

NaviNUS is free. You can download it here.
.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

How the new Wireless@SG Connect apps work

I've had a chance to use the Wireless@SG connect app and it works.

I downloaded the SingTel version but I don't think it matters which of the three apps you download.

When you run the app, you have to fill in all the relevant details (provider, domain, username and password). The app then fetches a new configuration profile that you have to install on your iPhone.

You are then prompted to input your password again. And that's it. With this new profile, each time you enter a Wireless@SGx network, you will be logged in automatically.

Note that the profile will only log you in to a Wireless@SGx network. The additional 'x' signifies that the network supports Seamless and Secure Access.

I tested this by logging on to one Wireless@SGx network at my office. I then walked over to the nearby mall. My iPhone detected the new Wireless@SGx in the mall and automatically connected me. Pretty sweet. Looking forward to September when all hotspots will be enabled.




An automagical connection to Wireless@SG? Not just yet.

Remember the rash of Wireless@SG apps that appeared on the App Store a few days ago? Now it all becomes clear. These apps are part of a new initiative by the Infocomms Development Authority  to allow people to seamlessly log-on to their Wireless@SG accounts.

The promise is that these apps will auto-magically log you into the network when you enter a Wireless@SG hotspot. No more fiddling about with tiny log-in screens. You should just need to use the relevant app once to log-in, and you never have to bother with logging-in ever again.

That, of course, is the theory. In practice, this feature, called Seamless and Secure Access, is not available at all Wireless@SG hotspots yet. In a press release today, the IDA said that the full rollout is expected to be completed by September.

As such, don't throw away the other apps that simplify the Wireless@SG log-in process just yet.
.

App enables you to manage your SingTel account

SingTel has finally released an app that will allow subscribers to manage their SingTel account. Imaginatively called My SingTel Account, this free app will allow you to view a copy of your monthly SingTel bills, manage your value-added services and monitor your data usage.

My SingTel Account can be downloaded here.

Finding a taxi stand becomes easier with new app

Things are looking up for those of you who depend on taxis to get around our fair city. First, Comfort-Delgro rolled out an app to help you book a Comfort or CityCab taxi. Booking a taxi, however, costs S$2.50. If you would rather save that money, then you need to download FindIt-Singapore, an app that will help you locate taxi stands around Singapore.

Apart from taxi stands, the app will also help you locate Wireless@SG hotspots in the city. The developer, Equantech, promises to add more points of interest in future updates.

.

App now helps you find available parking

Park-a-Lot Lite { SG } has just been updated with a killer new feature -- it can now tell you parking lot availability in the city.

The data is derived from LTA's Parking Guidance System, which powers the LED boards you see around town. The system covers major parking lots in Orchard Road, Marina Centre and HarbourFront.

Kudos to the developer for adding this feature and updating the database of carparks.

Park-a-Lot Lite { SG } is free. It can be downloaded here.

(Note: The car park availability feature was did not work last week but has since been fixed.)

.

New iPhone SDK out

Apple has just released a new beta of the iPhone SDK 3.2. If you have problems downloading it, see our older story for alternative methods of getting the SDK.

If you are able to download the SDK without using the methods outlined in the older story, do let us know. We are still getting reports of people who have trouble downloading the SDK even with the alternative methods, so the more download options we publicise, the better.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

iPhone/iPad radio panel to be re-broadcast later today

If you missed the lads -- Mugunth Kumar, Muh Hon Cheng and Joash Chee -- on the radio earlier today, don't be too desolate. You can catch the encore performance (I love how this is now a synonym for re-run) at 11pm today on 938Live.
.

NAVFone SG is US$0.99 till end of February

If you are looking for a good journey planner, now is the time to consider NAVFone SG. This app, which normally retails for US$9.99, is now selling for just US$0.99 on the App Store. The promotion will run until the end of February. Presumably it will return to its original price of US$9.99 after that.

NAVFone SG has a nice journey planner that integrates the bus and the MRT. What's also nice is that it shows you multiple options so you can make an intelligent decision about how to get from A to B.

There are other journey planners out there, such as Google Maps and Gothere.sg. Google Maps is on your iPhone and it's free. However, it only offers one way to get to your destination. It also shows multiple routes. Just tap on the clock icon on the top. Locally developed web app Gothere.sg is an improvement over Google Maps because the web app allows you to pick either a bus-only route or a mixed bus-MRT route. However, it will only give you one of each. Muh Hon Cheng's SG Buses will do journey planning, but will only handle journeys by bus.

(Note: Story corrected to show that Google Maps does offer multiple routes. Thanks to @mugunthkumar and @Bayle for pointing this out!)
.

Catch your favourite iPhone developers on 938Live today

For an hour of compelling radio, tune in at 11am today to 938Live to catch local iPhone developers Mugunth Kumar, Muh Hon Cheng and Joash Chee. They will be taking part in a live panel discussion on iPod and iPhone development on The Living Room, hosted by senior producer-presenter Pamela Ho.

Mugunth is the developer behind iCash SG and StationAlarm SG while Hon Cheng is responsible for SG Buses, SG ERP and many, many others. Joash is a musician and developer who came up up Chordica.

Their segment will be on between 11am and noon.




Monday, February 8, 2010

Chlkboard promises to lower your shopping bills with location-based promotions



The idea of paying as little as possible is deeply engrained in the Singapore psyche. One local start-up is hoping to capitalise on that.

The company has created a web app called Chlkboard that offers location-based promotions. When you go to chlkboard.com/m/ on your iPhone, you can find out which retailers around you have special promotions.

The company, which is also called Chlkboard, was started by well-known entrepreneur and venture capitalist Bernard Leong, together with Saumil Nanavati, the founder and former president of digital media company Sydus. In an interview with iMerlion, Bernard explains why he thinks Singapore users should use the app, why Singapore retailers should come on board, and why local iPhone developers should also work with them.

Explain Chlkboard to us in your own words.

In 3.5 words, Chlkboard is: Nearby promotions on mobile. From this short 1 minute video, your readers will understand why they should use it.




At its heart, Chlkboard seems like a relatively simple app. It is a location based service that tells you where to get deals around you. Its success or failure will depend on how many retailers you recruit, how often the retailers update their offers and how well you market Chlkboard to end-users. What are you doing to address these issues?

SME retailers have been traditionally left out of marketing primarily due to costs. It is equally important for them, like larger global brands such as Nike, to advertise their offerings.

Till now, there have been very few credible local marketing opportunities that are affordable and simple to execute. We understand this well and are able to respond to those expectations.

With each retailer signed up, we are refining our offering to match their expectations and ability to execute. With this, we are already seeing a groundswell of retailers referring our solutions to their customers and other retailers. For example, one of our advertisers, the Blog Shop on Haji Lane has utilized our platform very well by sending out promotions and update so that the customers are updated with their offerings.



To address these issues, we focus on doing three things well:
(1) We constantly work and update the retailers we recruited into our network and through word of mouth marketing and other channels such as government agencies and retail associations, we will be able to scale up once we create a groundswell and reached the tipping point where the success generated with the early adopters will induce those who are skeptical earlier to sign up;
(2) We also told our retailers that their promotions will expire within seven days from their last one and that will encourage more activity, and
(3) We leverage on the advertisers and various media channels to get our word out to the end users.

One important value proposition we offer to our advertisers to sign up with us is the analytics that enable them to know how many people have viewed their listings and click-thrus. We also have a map on our site that shows all the advertisers who have signed up with us.



According to an interview that Saumil Nanavati gave, you aim to work with iPhone developers in Singapore. Can you tell us what you are offering them and why they should work with you? What will they need to do to incorporate your ads into their apps? What kind of apps do you think would best leverage the Chlkboard ad network?

Basically, we offer a way for these developers to monetize their apps and particularly for some location based services which we believe would best leverage on our ad network, we can deliver relevant location-based ads which are of value to their users. Basically, we help to find the advertisers for them so that they can focus on developing better features and UI for their app.

You've decided to deliver Chlkboard as a web app. From your experience with Chlkboard, what are the advantages and what are the disadvantages of this approach?

Our original approach is to come up with a demo product which we can show to advertisers and subsequently to publishers who we plan to work with. We thought that it would take a longer time if we created a native app on the iPhone. Hence we decide to adopt a similar strategy to what Google has done with Latitude, and leverage on the GPS and HTML5 features in the iPhone to create the web app. 

The advantage of the approach is that the app is easy to load and we have effectively bypassed the iTunes Store legally. The disadvantage of this approach is that the browsers on the other smartphones are not HTML5 enabled, particularly, Symbian and Blackberry phones. However, the disadvantage will be mitigated with more mobile browsers supporting HTML5 like the Android phones and also the Nokia N900 (and our app actually works on Mobile Firefox on Maemo Linux).



Chlkboard CTO Bernard Leong.

You're better known as a venture capitalist. However, it looks like Chlkboard is a company that you're pretty heavily involved in. Can you describe the nature of your involvement in Chlkboard? How you got involved in this?

I prefer to consider myself to be an early stage investor, given my role as a partner in Thymos Capital. Before Thymos, I have built and exited from my first company in the UK. I am probably one of the few investors in Singapore with the real entrepreneurial experience of starting up a company and developing the product and business, generating real value for my customers unlike other investors who are usually from the private equity sector. After seeding and working with a couple of companies (iHipo and Eteract), I begin to feel the desire to go back to being an entrepreneur and to start a new venture again. After some brainstorming and surveying the mobile landscape, Saumil and I come to the conclusion that we should start Chlkboard.

I am currently working almost full-time as the chief technology officer of the company. My roles and responsibility include product development of the advertisers platform and the mobile web app. Given my experience as a social media publisher (as the co-founder of SGEntrepreneurs), I am also directing the social media strategy and execution for the company. But in a start-up, you usually do everything else and that includes sales as well.

Who came up with the idea for Chlkboard?

Saumil and I have known each other for a long time and we have been looking forward to a project which we can both work together. Through his experience with his first company Sydus, he saw that SMEs, unlike brands, do not have large marketing budgets to promote their products and services. We surveyed the whole landscape of location based services and realized two things: one, we found that there are difficulties in monetizing most location-based apps on the mobile phone, and two, there is a need for a way that can allow the SMEs to send promotions, market their products/services and put themselves on the map given the anecdotes coming from our friends who runs the retail and F&B businesses. Hence the idea of Chlkboard came about.

Saumil Nanavanti


What was the biggest challenge in getting it from napkin sketch to where it is now? How did you overcome the challenge?

The biggest challenge was to get the platform up ready for the advertisers and users within 21 days. The way we overcome the challenge is to agree on a set of basic features and make sure that we have the discipline to execute the entire operation effectively. The continuous challenge is to quickly make revisions on our solution to narrow the gap of expectation by retailers who sign up with us. We did our second iteration after the first seven days of launch where we allowed an advertiser to send promotions quickly to multiple locations, and they welcomed our response to their feedback. Now we are on the third iteration of our product offerings.

What are your short, medium and long term goals for Chlkboard? Is there an exit strategy for this?

My short term goal is acquire more listings from advertisers and also get more consumers to use Chlkboard. The medium term goal will be working with the iPhone apps publishers to deliver the promotions and the long term goal is to make Chlkboard a sustainable company to deliver real value for consumers as well as advertisers from the SMEs.
.


ERA helps iPhone users find HDB flats for sale

ERA, one of the big names in Singapore real estate, now has a free app that allows you to search for HDB flats for sale.

With ERA Singapore, you can search for flats using criteria like location of HDB estate, flat type (one-room to executive) and model. The app promises that all the flats in these database are exclusive to ERA.

This app also has property news so you can keep track of Singapore's HDB property market.

This is the second property related app to enter the app store, the first being ProxiHomes. This, no doubt, is more evidence that the housing market in Singapore is picking up.

A rash of Wireless@SG apps

Overnight, we have been visited by a plague of free Wireless@SG apps. On Feb 5 and 6, Apple approved three apps, namely Wireless@SG SingTel, Wireless@SG M1 and Wireless@SG iCell.

The last two sport a similar interface and look like they were done by the same developer. Wireless@SG SingTel has a different opening screen but also offers the same basic features, ie. the ability to automatically log-on to a Wireless@SG network, details about that hotspot and locations where you can find other hotspots run by that operator.

These three apps join two older apps that help you log on to the free wireless network, 1-Click Wireless@SG and SG Wireless.

(Tip of the hat to iMerlion reader Izhar for alerting me to this!)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars finally available in Singapore App Store

It took a while but it's finally available for iPhone users in Singapore. Download your copy for a mere US$9.99.

(Tip of the hat to Hafiz Shariff!)

SingTel says App Zone will help iPhone developers

Kevin Costner was wrong. Just because you've built it, there is no assurance that they will come. Sure some developers will get lucky and, with nothing more than word of mouth, will rake in millions. However, for the vast majority of developers, getting noticed amidst the 140,000 apps in Apple's App Store will take some help. SingTel, however, says it has the solution.

Through the SingTel App Zone, SingTel offers developers a platform to promote their apps. With 3.1 million postpaid and prepaid customers in Singapore, SingTel can, in theory, help developers get more visibility. But the App Zone doesn't just have iPhone apps, it has apps from numerous other platforms. In addition, SingTel will also take a cut of the revenue. So what's in it for iPhone developers? Is there a reason to turn to the SingTel App Zone? iMerlion speaks to Mr Lee Kwang Yong, Director, Consumer Marketing, SingTel to find out more.

Please describe the SingTel App Zone. What is it? Why was it set up? 

SingTel App Zone offers a one-stop online platform to meet the lifestyle needs of SingTel’s 3.1 million postpaid and prepaid customers locally. It is device agnostic, and storefronts are available over the PC (web) and mobile (wap or client) portals. Customers can browse, purchase, and download applications; rate the contents; or recommend apps to friends.

SingTel App Zone was set up to offer developers/partners an easily accessible platform to promote their apps. In this fast-paced market with a barrage of new devices operating on various platforms, and sophisticated, tech-savvy consumers, we see a growing demand for apps.

In collaboration with IDA, IE Singapore and its partners, SingTel has also launched the SingTel Innovation Exchange (SiX), the most comprehensive industry partnership programme to accelerate the full life-cycle development of innovative business and consumer applications. SingTel aims to attract local and global developers, as well as commercialise their applications and promote them to more than 273 million mobile customers and millions of business customers in the region.

Software developers will have access to resources like grid computing and technical consultancy from SingTel and its partners, which help to lower operational costs and shorten time-to-market.

For more info on SiX and SingTel App Zone, please go to http://info.singtel.com/node/2908


Why should developers join the programme? 

Developers can join SingTel App Zone to gain immediate access to SingTel's wide customer base, where they can conduct beta trials of their apps, monetise their apps by commercialising them with SingTel, or showcase their apps. Together with the SingTel Partner Programme (SPP) and SingTel Innovation Exchange (SiX), developers can enjoy faster access to market, tap on SingTel resources and infrastructure, as well as gain market and industry trends insights from SingTel.

Why should iPhone developers use the App Zone instead of just publishing it themselves in the App Store? 

iPhone developers will have a ready market for their applications with SingTel's wide base of customers. SingTel offers developers an opportunity to market their apps directly to our large customer base (mobile and broadband) through joint promotional activities. This provides them with faster market entry.


(Eds note: There are currently 11 iPhone apps in the SingTel App Zone)

I understand that SingTel will take 30 percent of revenue. What will iPhone developers get in return? 

We are unable to share actual revenue share figures. We are keen to collaborate with budding iPhone app developers and are open to discussion with them. All iPhone apps will be featured in SingTel App Zone web and mobile portals.

How will SingTel promote the App Zone? How has it promoted the App Zone in the past? 

As SingTel builds up its applications/developers community, we have started marketing efforts to generate awareness among our customer base of SingTel App Zone. SingTel App Zone has been featured in online networks like Yahoo, MSN, Facebook, Google and other online networks.

We also carry out targeted marketing campaigns where we send out regular updates to customers through SMS and emails. This ensures that customers receive news that is relevant to their lifestyles. We are also collaborating with handset manufacturers to preload SingTel App Zone shortcut icons or mobile widgets that display feeds on New Apps & Top Free/Paid Apps, which are supported on their phone models.

How many apps are there in the App Zone currently? 

SingTel App Zone currently offers over 1,300 innovative applications for a comprehensive range of devices, including Android-enabled handsets. Solutions include educational, multimedia, communications and lifestyle applications. 

Which platforms are currently most popular on the App Zone? 

Java and Symbian applications are still most popular on App Zone due to the wide availability of such handset platforms.     

What are the long term plans for the App Zone? 

Ans: SingTel App Zone will continue to serve as part of the application eco-system between the developers and customers, thus creating a 'win-win' situation, benefitting all parties.

The reason why the taxi booking app didn't work

The Comfort-Delgro Taxi Booking app is a great idea but its back-end needs help. If you tried using the app around 6pm yesterday, you would have found it impossible to use. After you keyed in your pick-up address, you hit a button and waited. And waited. And waited. And then, if you were like me, you gave up and hailed a cab, saving you the $2.50 booking fee.

What happened? The short answer, I believe, is server overload. If you type in your pickup address, say "9 king george ave", the app takes that and sends it to a server that will eventually translate the address into "9 King George's Avenue, Singapore 208581." This, naturally, takes a little time.

At 6pm yesterday, i.e. peak hour, the app essentially failed to work because it took forever for the server to translate your address into a format it could use. I'm guessing that it was overwhelmed with requests. However, I can verify that the app works because I tried it both yesterday morning at about 10am and yesterday evening at about 11pm.

Hopefully Comfort-Delgro will beef up the back-end to handle the load. It's a great app with lots of potential.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Problems downloading the SDK in Singapore? Try these workarounds

If you're a developer in Singapore and you can't download the latest SDK because it keeps telling you that your session has expired, here are a few workarounds:

Method 1 (Thanks to @yjsoon for suggesting and @honcheng and @thyechean for testing this.)

1. Go to http://developer.apple.com/iphone and login
2. After logging in, the link is http://developer.apple.com/iphone/index.action
3. Replace http with https in the address bar so it reads https://developer.apple.com/iphone/index.action
4. Click the SDK link when the page is being served from the https server

Note: This has been tested on StarHub Maxonline. It will not work if you are tethering on SingTel's 3G network.


Method 2 (Thanks to @echoz for this suggestion)

1. Use a web proxy server.
2. To change the settings, in Safari, go to Preferences/Advanced/Proxies
3. Change the setting. (On SingNet, it is proxy.singnet.com.sg:8080)

Note: This will also not work if you are tethering on SingTel's 3G network.

Method 3 (Thanks to @burnflare for this suggestion).

1. Use tethering with StarHub BBOM.

Method 4 (Thanks to @ronnieliew for this suggestion)

1. Use the StarHub Mobile's USB modem

*Now* you can book your Comfort taxi using your iPhone

You might remember an app that made its appearance on the App Store in January that promised to allow you to book a taxi. That app didn't work and mysteriously disappeared a few days later. Well, it's back but this time, it works.

Comfort-Delgro Taxi Booking allows you to book a Comfort or City Cab taxi from your iPhone. The app has the ability to pick from your last three pick-up points, to favourite a place you've just booked a taxi from, or to use the GPS chip on your iPhone to get an address.

I tried it today and it worked nicely. If you log-in, it will offer you a choice of your last three locations. This app still works if you don't log in though.

The only drawback with this app is that the interface is a little awkward (you have to refresh the page to see if your booking is successful). However, the convenience of booking with your iPhone makes up for it.

Comfort-Delgro Taxi Booking is free. You can download it here.

(Thanks once again to eagle-eyed iMerlion reader Alvin Tan for spotting this!)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Update to Mediacorp Radio Stations provides access to Class95FM and others

Unfortunately, the cool Internet radio app Laylio is temporarily unavailable for download. However, radio fans who didn't manage to snag Laylio when it was available now have an alternative, Mediacorp Radio Stations.

The updated version of Mediacorp Radio Stations now provides access to Class 95FM, 987FM, Lush 99.5FM and Y.E.S 93.3FM. These have been added to app, which previously only used to provide access to 938Live and Capital 958.

Mediacorp Radio Stations is free.

iPhone OS 3.1.3 released

Apple has just updated the iPhone OS to 3.1.3. Don't forget to update your iPhone or iPod touch. Improvements include a more accurate battery meter and a bunch of security fixes.

By the way, here's a piece of advice for those who are tethering: don't attempt to update the OS if your only Internet connection is via your iPhone. That's because during the update process, iTunes will require an Internet connection. Unfortunately, at that point, your iPhone is in some kind of safe mode and cannot be used as a 3G modem.

Believe me, I speak from painful personal experience.

Uncovered: The reason why Maps is missing from Apple Singapore's iPad page

After some digging around, I've been able to confirm that Maps will indeed be available on the iPad when it is released in Singapore. I've been given to understand that Maps is missing from Apple Singapore's iPad features page because there are issues with promoting Google Maps in Singapore. What are those issues? Your guess is as good as mine.

Still, good news that the iPad will only be slightly crippled when it hits our shores. Now if only Apple would bring in iTunes and iBook store.