Monday, May 30, 2011

SBS to WP 7 developer: Yes to bus times but don't overload our servers

SBS Transit has begun giving local developers in-principle approval to use the bus arrival times data, but only on condition that the developers do not overload SBS’s servers.

Windows Phone 7 developer Adi, who developed the app BusGuide, met with SBS last Friday and after explaining his app, received approval to use the necessary APIs (application programming interfaces) for free.

However, the access is only for a year; after that, the permission has to be renewed. One of the conditions for the renewal is that it does not add to their server load.

Adi, naturally, is pleased with the outcome. “Having the bus timing information is what makes taking the public transport a bit more convenient,” he said. “I do agree that they have to control the amount of traffic coming into their servers but keeping the data to themselves sure makes it inconvenient for smartphone users. Working together with developers to ensure a fair usage of the data should be the way to go.”

Adi expects to sign the contract next week. SG Buses and SG NextBus developer Muh Hon Cheng will be meeting SBS Transit tomorrow (Tuesday). Hopefully, his meeting will also go well.

Below is an edited version of the email interview with Adi.

Can you tell us more about your app?
I'm the developer of BusGuide. It’s the only bus guide app that will run on windows mobile 6.0 and older (ppc 2005, ppc 2003 etc..) I also ported the app to the Windows Phone 7, and this app was the first local app available in the WP7 marketplace. Released on 8th Oct, BusGuide for WP7 has close to 4,000 downloads.

When can you start using data?
I don’t have a date yet but I expect it will be as soon as I sign the official terms and conditions next week, if everything goes well. I hope they won't change their mind. I was told there are about seven APIs in all. Apart form the bus timing data, the GPS coordinate of each stop was mentioned too.

On what basis will the permission be renewed?
They mentioned that the APIs will be available for my use for a period of one year. It can be renewed upon expiry, but they will need to review the traffic usage coming from my apps, to make sure it’s not causing their servers to (be) overloaded. They mentioned that the reason they have blocked the data is due to many apps using proxy servers to poll for their data, which adds up to the server’s load. My apps do not use any proxy servers and pulls data directly from IRIS so it’s differently implemented from other apps available now.

Are you restricted to only using the data on the Windows Phone 7 platform or can you use it on other platforms?
I believe they mentioned I can use it on other platforms. I will be given an ID, or some sort of unique key which will identify me every time I make a request to their servers. This makes it easier for them to track who actually is using their data and how much traffic my apps are generating.

Will you have to pay for access? Run ads for SBS Transit?
Access will be given to me for free, and there was no mention that I have to run any ads. They did say though that I will have to include in my app a disclaimer which will state that the timing provided may not always be accurate due to traffic conditions.

How you feel about the situation?
I'm quite happy that they are open to the idea of providing developers access to their bus timing APIs. Having the bus timing information is what makes taking the public transport a bit more convenient. I do agree that they have to control the amount of traffic coming into their servers but keeping the data to themselves sure makes it inconvenient for smartphone users. Working together with developers to ensure a fair usage of the data should be the way to go.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I'm a web developer who started out with PHP development. Moved on to dot net development and started doing windows mobile apps in Feb 2010. Since then, I've released multiple apps for windows mobile and windows phone 7. You can fid out more about some of my apps here.

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iPad 2: The iMerlion review

How do you improve on a product that overturned the tablet industry overnight, that dominates the market and that has become the poster boy for the post-PC era? Answer: very carefully.

Apple’s iPad 2, as many people have noted, is an evolutionary improvement rather than a revolutionary one. Apple markets the iPad 2 as “Thinner. Lighter. Faster. FaceTime. Smart Covers. 10-hour battery.” And in short, that is exactly what the iPad 2 delivers.

Friday, May 27, 2011

SBS Transit calls for meeting with SG Buses developer

Daily downloads of SG Buses have doubled thanks to SBS Transit
SBS Transit has called for a meeting with SG Buses developer Muh Hon Cheng next Tuesday to learn more about his apps, SG Buses and SG NextBus, after initially rejecting his application to access their bus arrival times data.

Hon Cheng said he hopes to get approval to "use the SBS IRIS data for my apps in all three platforms (iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7), not just in platforms that they do not currently support."

He also hopes that SBS Transit will open the data to developers without licensing fees, and without serving advertisements for SBS. "Some kind of branding for SBS is probably acceptable in return. After all, developers are giving them free service."

SBS Transit is currently facing a deluge of bad publicity both online and in the mainstream media following the company's decision to block independent developers from accessing the necessary data.

It has resulted in a number of letters to the Straits Times forum page and inspired the Twitter hash tag #sbstranshit. SBS Transit's decision was also criticised by the chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport.

People are also taking out their anger on the company's iPhone app. To date, some 257 out of 312 users have given the app a one-star rating on the Apple App Store.

Ironically, while the company's decision to bar independent developers from accessing the data has affected a number of apps, this has been good for Hon Cheng's own apps. This is because he has found a way to get around the barrier put up by SBS Transit. As such, his apps SG Buses and SG NextBus are among the few apps that still deliver bus arrival times. In fact, after SBS Transit began blocking access, the number of daily downloads of SG NextBus doubled as a result.

One argument for making the data freely available to developers is that developers can then release innovative services using the data. Just today, Hon Cheng demonstrated this by developing a way for people to get bus arrival times using Twitter. All you have to do is send a tweet to @sgnextbus with the the bus stop number and the bus service number.

Another argument for making the data freely accessible is that SBS Transit has been slow to create native apps. Hon Cheng's SG Buses has been in the Apple App Store since June 2008 while the official app, SBS Transit Iris, has only been available since April this year. Since July last year, people have made almost 290 million requests for bus arrival times through SG Buses alone.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The full ST interview with SG Buses developer Muh Hon Cheng

Muh Hon Cheng, the developer of SG NextBus and SG Buses was interviewed by ST over email. ST did not use most of his answers so as a service to the community, we are putting up a slightly edited version of his responses. We have only redacted the email addresses of other developers.

Do note that SBS has since contacted Hon Cheng to say they will reconsider his request to access their data.

When did you develop the SG Buses and SG Nextbus apps?
My first Singapore bus application, Transit was made in January 2008. That was before Apple announced the App Store and users have to jailbreak their phones to install 3rd party applications. It was the first mobile bus application for iPhone. When the App Store came out in July 2008, I submitted the application as SG Buses. In early 2009 when the Android Market becomes available in Singapore, I submitted SG Buses for Android. It is the first Singapore bus application for Android. SG NextBus for iOS was made early last year, and SG Buses for Windows Phone 7 at the end of last year.

How many users did your apps have? What was the business model (selling ad space) - or are these not-for-profit?
SG Buses and SG NextBus in iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7 has been downloaded to 800,000 unique devices in Singapore. These are unique downloads and excludes upgrades. It is also one of the All-Time Top 10 Free iPhone Apps

There's is no business model. I did not make this app for profit. It started off as an application that I use to learn about making mobile applications. I try new things in this application before putting it up in other applications. I think a lot of developers started off making a bus application as well. After 3 years, it becomes a passion.

The application is FREE. However, as more users started using the application, server cost started to go up and I have put in advertisements so I don't have to spend my own money to maintain an application I want to keep free.

What platforms did they run on (iPhone, android - this is important as I think the SBS Iris proprietary app runs only on iPhones)

- iOS - has native support for both iPhone and iPad (different UI for iPad)
- Android
- Windows Phone 7

When did you notice that SBS Transit had added a captcha? What did you think? Now that the captcha system is in place are your apps totally unworkable?

SBS started adding captcha about 2 weeks ago. A lot of bus applications are affected, for iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7.

My application still works because I have found other source of information. In fact, I have just submitted an update for SG NextBus that will have islandwide SMRT scheduled arrival time as well. It's scheduled arrival time rather than real-time arrival, but it's still useful.

Here's what I think:
Many government organizations in Singapore are trying to encourage mobile development in Singapore. ComfortDelgro is doing the opposite. They are stifling mobile developers. New mobile developers learn by making simple applications. A bus guide is one of them. In fact, I have frequently received emails from students in local university/polytechnics asking for information about how they can start making a bus guide for their school projects. They want data to build their application. Project Nimbus is one good example of an initiative to bring data sets to developers to encourage innovation. They have data from LTA, NEA etc, but they do not have bus arrival time.

More choice is better for users. Prior to SBS's blocking, there was a healthy competition among developers to improve their applications to get more users. Developers think hard to improve their apps to better other apps. Now most of the apps have been removed from the App Store because they are no longer working.

Ethics? Developers work hard on their app for years as a free service for public transport users in Singapore, long before SBS notices the demands for it. Then they decided to make their own application and shut off other developers.

SBS is not the only company providing bus service in Singapore. They will want to protect their own interest, but their interest may not be aligned with public transport users. SBS is only providing arrival time for SBS buses, not SMRT. 3rd party developers have been providing integrated solution with SBS and SMRT arrival time. By blocking access, they are forcing their own customers to download their own IRIS iphone application, that has so far been receiving bad reviews by users in the App Store.

Having been working on bus application for 3 years now, I am well aware that SBS bus arrival time server is not able to handle existing traffic from mobile applications for a very long time now. I am surprised that a big organization like SBS is so slow to react, to allocate more resources to keep up with their customer usage. If SBS is blocking access to ease server traffic, they are only depriving their own users from using the service. Whether it is their own IRIS apps, or other 3rd party apps, the demand from users remain the same.

Bus arrival time information is very popular among mobile users in Singapore. SBS could position itself as one of the main supporter for Singapore mobile developer scene by providing free access and organizing competition to encourage creative ways to improve public transport in Singapore. It is very unfortunate that SBS has decided to take their current stance. Hopefully, LTA can provide these information in Project Nimbus. LTA has already provided many information through Project Nimbus.

It is unfortunate that this happens just before code::Xtreme:Apps 2011, a 24 hours competition organized by ITSC (Information Technology Standards Committee) and supported by IDA Singapore and SPRING Singapore to encourage mobile developer scene in Singapore. Ironically, the theme this year is 'Personalized Transportation'.

Lucian Teo has a nice writeup about this. He heads websg meetup in Singapore. He will be a good source of information if you want to quote someone.

You can also find users complaining about this in Twitter.

I understand you asked SBS Transit and ComfortDelgro if you could get approval to use bus-time data. What did they say? Would you be able to forward me the correspondence? Have you had any updates from SBS Transit or ComfortDelgro yet?

ComfortDelgro rejected my request without any reason. I have responded to clarify the requirements, and asked for reconsideration. There has been no respond to that.

(Update: Comfort Delgro has since emailed Hon Cheng to tell him that they would reconsider his application.)

I have not heard of any developers that have received approval yet, even though ComfortDelgro said they have received overwhelming requests from developers. That can't be true because there are probably only around 20 bus guide applications in Singapore, and that number should not be beyond their capacity to handle.

I will forward the email to you separately.

Which other apps do you know of that were using this data from SBS? (I am in touch with the creator of sbsnextbus - Deepak from - and the team so far. Did ShowNearby, Singeo, and tranSGuide use the same data as well? Are there any others you know of?)

I'm not sure about ShowNearby, other affected applications are
- Singeo - because it users deepak's
- transGuide for iOS
- Singapore Bus Guide for iOS
- bus@sg for iOS
- SG Transport for iOS

There are many other iOS applications, but they are been removed from the App Store. Most likely there were removed by the developer because the app no longer works

- SBS NextBus from Android (Denis Solonenko)
- Singapore Bus Guide for Android (Huy Phan)
- SBS Next Bus for Android (Megapixel Solution)
- SG Bus Arrival Time for Android (gwofoundry)
- SG Bus Timing for Android (Uandroid)
- Bus@sg for Android (Ferry Tanu)
- SG Transport for Windows Phone 7
- BusGuide for Windows Phone 7
... and many more

I have contacted IDA, because I feel SBS's action is stifling developer in Singapore
I contacted a Microsoft Evangelist that is concerned about this issue because it affects application for Windows Phone 7
I contacted and found that Project Nimbus where IDA and Microsoft is involved in, is also trying to get bus arrival time data for developers
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Straits Times picks up story on bus arrival times roadblock

The Straits Times, 24 May 2011
Looks like The Straits Times has picked up the story of Comfort Delgro blocking access to bus arrival times (naturally without crediting iMerlion for breaking the story...)

A couple of juicy nuggets from the piece:
1) SBS Transit senior vice president of corporate communications, Tammy Tan, defended the company's roadblock saying: "This (unauthorised access to data) could result in wrong information being released to end-users which is something we will not be able to control. The introduction of captcha is to prevent unauthorised re-use of proprietary information."
2) Dr Lim Wee Kiak, MP for Nee Soon GRC and the chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee suggested that dissatisfied commuters should write to the Land Transport Authority or the Public Transport Council.
Dr Lim has suggested that should be one unifying app that can access public-transport information, regardless of transport operator. That's one way to do it. The other way is to simply put the information out there freely and let developers provide services around it.

Before Comfort Delgro put up the roadblock, there were lots of apps providing bus times. Developers then competed with each other to provide the best app, as SG Buses developer Muh Hon Cheng noted in the story.

Perhaps Comfort Delgro and SMRT could take a leaf from New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority, the body that manages the subways and buses in that city. It has a policy that is captured in an ad that the MTA has been running in subway trains since the beginning of the year. The ad copy goes:

"Instead of developing transit apps ourselves, we gave our info to the people who do it best. Search the web for “NY transit apps” to see what we mean."

For those interested in taking up Dr Lim's suggestion, you can leave feedback for the LTA here or send the PTC an email.

(Thanks to iMerlion reader Richard A. for bringing the MTA ad to my notice.)

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Contest: Win Promo Codes for FlightLover Singapore

FlightLover Singapore is a great app for people who like to travel but don't want to spend a lot of money. Basically, this app helps you to find the lowest airfares from budget carriers who fly out of Singapore.

The app only costs US$2.99 but in case even that is too expensive for you, here is your chance to win a free copy of this excellent app. This is all you have to do:

1. Send a tweet to @iMerlion with the following text:

"Hey @iMerlion! I'd like to get FlightLover Singapore for free please!"

2. Do so between now and 2359, Friday, 27 May.

3. Sit back and wait. We'll give out the promo codes at random to five lucky people.

Good luck!

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Singapore's Cabinet Ministers use iPads too

Vivian should probably get a waterproof iPad case for his new Cabinet post.
From the enormous photo on the front page of today's Straits Times, it appears that at least two iPads in the Singapore Cabinet. There is definitely one in front of Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, who will soon be swimming over to the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources. There is probably another iPad on the table in front of Mr Lui Tuck Yew, who will shortly be steering the Transport Ministry. Maybe Mr Lui can be convinced that SBS bus arrival times should be made freely available.

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New apps: FlightLover; 7-Eleven; NTUC Income; NDPOnTheGo; SG Weather

FlightLover Singapore (US$2.99)
A great app to help you find cheap fares on budget airlines. FlightLover covers AirAsia, Cebu Pacific, Lion Air, Jetstar and Tiger Airways. If you spot a great deal, you can booking through the app or via a phone call. Best of all, you can set alerts to inform you of bargains.

7-Eleven@SG (Free)
 Convenience store 7-Eleven has an iPhone app that doubles as a loyalty card. To get a new stamp on the “Gulp loyalty card”, you need to scan a particular code to have that “stamp” appear in the app. Collect five stamps and you can get a free drink.

NTUC Income (Free)
Buy travel insurance from NTUC Income with this app.

NDPOnTheGo (Free)
Get news about the National Day Parade, find out about the main performance, and get details about the photo and video competition. Most importantly, use this app to ballot for your National Day Parade tickets. 

SG Smart Traveller (Free)
This app allows you to by travel insurance underwritten by AXA Insurance.

SG Weather (Free)
With one look, you can see today’s weather forecast, the temperature range, the PSI count, the radiation count, and a map of Singapore showing where it is raining. (Free)
Get prices of new and used cars, read reviews and track COE prices.

Sparklette Dining Guide and Restaurant Reviews (Free)
Reviews from

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

SG Buses developer fails to get approval to use bus times data

The developer of popular iOS apps SG Buses and SG NextBus was told this morning that his application to use the bus arrival times data from SBS Transit had been rejected. No reason was given for the rejection.

Muh Hon Cheng had sent in his application last Thursday, immediately after reading on this blog that SBS Transit was open to allowing external developers access to the data. (Note: Due to an outage on Blogger, this particular story has been lost.)

The data on bus arrival times had previously been easily accessible on the web but SBS Transit recently put up barriers to prevent automated scripts from grabbing the data. As a result, a number of iOS and Android apps have been affected.

Hon Cheng said that he has sent an email asking Comfort Delgro, the parent company of SBS Transit, to reconsider its decision. As for his plans regarding SG Buses and SG NextBus, both of which still work, Hon Cheng said: "I will continue to treat bus arrival data as free and public information, and improve the applications as long as they are not completely blocked."

SG Buses is a bus guide that incorporates bus arrival times and has over half a million users in Singapore. It was listed as one of the top 10 most downloaded apps of all time in Singapore. SG NextBus delivers bus arrival times and has a little under a quarter of a million users. Both apps are free.

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M1 sells iPad 2 from tomorrow

M1 will start selling the iPad 2 with two-year contract from tomorrow at all M1 shops.

The carrier is selling the iPad 2 bundled with unlimited data, and a promised 7.2Mbps upload speed. The prices are as follows:

16GB iPad 2: S$399
32GB iPad 2: S$499
64GB iPad 2: S$599

M1 is also selling the iPad 2 without a two-year contract at recommended retail prices. Under this option, people can simply sign up for a data plan. There are two plans available. The unlimited data plan costs S$36.38 while the 3GB a month plan costs S$21.40. Data charges for the latter plan is capped at S$51.36.

M1's prices plans are here.

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Limited supply so SingTel drops a couple of iPad 2 plans

SingTel said it dropped the bundled Home Broadband and Fibre Broadband price plan options for people who wish to buy the iPad 2 on contract because of limited supplies of the device.

Said a SingTel spokesman: "Due to the limited supply of iPad 2, we have decided to offer only the Mobile Broadband and Mobile MultiSIM plans at launch. We apologise to customers who may have been interested in the fixed broadband bundle. We encourage them to consider our Mobile Broadband and Mobile MultiSIM offers."

It's a shame that SingTel pulled those plans because they were pretty good deals. Under its pulled Home Broadband plan, a 16GB iPad 2 would essentially cost S$530.40, lower than Apple's recommended retail price of S$848.

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

SingTel pulls bundled Home Broadband and Fibre Broadband price plans for iPad 2

SingTel has apparently  pulled two of the four iPad 2 price plans it had offered previously.

The SingTel website no longer has the price plans that offer an iPad 2 with bundled Home Broadband or Fibre Broadband.

Currently, the only price plans left are the Mobile Broadband and Mobile MultiSim plans.

The change is odd given that the Home Broadband plans and the Fibre Broadband plans were available on the website only this morning.

We have contacted SingTel and we will update this story if they get back to us.

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SBS Transit puts roadblock in front of app developers

SBS Transit is blocking local app developers from grabbing information about bus arrival times from the SBS Transit website thus crippling popular local apps.

These include apps such as tranSGuide and Among the apps that are still work are the newer versions of SG NextBus, SG Buses V3 and of course, SBS Transit Iris.

SBS Transit is blocking developers by requiring all queries sent via the web interface to pass a Captcha challenge-response test. The test requires that the person key in the validation number presented on the page. Humans using the service can easily pass the test and get the necessary data. However, automated scripts will have difficulty passing this test and will thus be denied access.

This roadblock also affects Android and Windows Phone 7 apps that rely on SBS Transit's data.

We have contacted SBS Transit and will update this story if they respond.

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SingTel's iPad 2 price plans

NOTE: SingTel has pulled two of its offerings since this story was published. Please see update here.

SingTel will sell the iPad 2 on contract from May 14. The carrier is offering four basic options, buying the iPad 2 with Home Broadband, Fibre Broadband, with Mobile Broadband or with MultiSim (for customers who already have a phone with a data plan with SingTel). Those interested will have to sign up here first.

Below is a summary of the price plans. (SingTel's actual page is here.):

24 month contract and 50GB of data:

16GB 3G + WiFi model + 15Mbps Home Broadband = S$85 p month (S$2,040 over 2 years)
32GB 3G + WiFi model + 15Mbps Home Broadband = S$85 p month + S$100 (S$2,140 over 2 years)
64GB 3G + WiFi model + 15Mbps Home Broadband = S$85 p month +S$200 (S$2,240 over 2 years)

16GB 3G + WiFi model + 100Mbps Fibre Broadband = S$119 p month (S$2,856 over 2 years)

32GB 3G + WiFi model + 100Mbps Home Broadband = S$119 p month + S$100 (S$2,956 over 2 years)
64GB 3G + WiFi model + 100Mbps Home Broadband = S$119 p month +S$200 ($3,056 over 2 years)

16GB 3G + WiFi model = S$40 p month + S$399 (S$1,359 over 2 years)
32GB 3G + WiFi model = S$40 p month + S$499 (S$1,459 over 2 years)
64GB 3G + WiFi model = S$40 p month + S$599 (S$1,559 over 2 years)

SingTel's MultiSim price plan for 2 cards (12 month contract)

16GB 3G + WiFi model + MultiSim = S$10.70 p month + S$818 (S$1,074.80 over 2 years)
32GB 3G + WiFi model + MultiSim = S$10.70 p month + S$948 (S$1,204.80 over 2 years)
64GB 3G + WiFi model + MultiSim = S$10.70 p month + S$1,078 (S$1,334.80 over 2 years)

In comparison, here are Apple's prices for the WiFi + 3G model (excluding data):

16GB = S$848
32GB = S$978
64GB = S$1,108

SingTel also has iPad dataplans for people who have an iPad or an iPad 2 and don't want a one- or two-year contract:

1 month + 50GB of data = S$34.50

3 days + unlimited data = S$12.60
+ 2 day extension = S$10
+ 7 day extension = S$24.50
+ 30 day extension = S$49.50

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Monday, May 9, 2011

M1 and StarHub will sell iPad 2 soon

Both M1 and StarHub announced today that they would be selling the iPad 2. Neither carrier have announced more details. StarHub is asking people to register their interest while M1 simply has an announcement that it would "offer iPad 2 with Wi-Fi + 3G and also dedicated data plans for iPad 2 in the coming weeks."

The announcement by the two carriers marks a new strategy for Apple in Singapore. Carriers in Singapore currently offer data plans for the original iPad but do not, themselves, sell the device. The announcement by M1 and StarHub means that Apple is now using carriers as a distribution channel.

SingTel is expected to join in but it has not made an announcement yet.

Since the iPad 2 was launched in Singapore, the device has been in high demand. It was sold out on the first day and the Singapore online Apple Store will only say that the device is "currently unavailable".

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Even the PM uses an iPhone

PM Lee Hsien Loong taking photos of the media after casting his vote on Saturday. Source: Getty Images
The ruling People's Action Party saw its share of vote declining to 60.14 percent, down from 66.6 percent at the last general elections in 2006.

Bucking the trend though was Ang Mo Kio GRC which is headed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. In Ang Mo Kio, the PAP received 69.33 percent of the vote, well above the average. In fact, the PM actually increased his share of the vote over the last general elections when the PAP received 66.14 percent in that district.

For this, you can thank the personal popularity of the PM, the lack of a Kate Spade-bearing albatross, and the PM's impeccable taste in cellphones.

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Singapore GE passions spills over into App Store reviews

Tensions between pro- and anti-PAP groups have spilled into the Apple App Store with the reviews section of the app, The Online Citizen, becoming a forum for debate.

Argument has broken out over whether the news coverage in this app can be considered "unbiased" as the app's description claims. While many users are lauding the app for its coverage, a minority are describing it as "one sided crap". One reader called it "propaganda for the opposition" and said: "Why not rename this app as the opposition's official app?"

However, countering this are people who are defending the app and its election coverage. "This is unbiased, it's just that the news from the mainstream media have all the truth distorted," retorted a  reviewer.

Overall though, the app has gotten high marks. It has an average grade of 4 stars based on 90 ratings. Of the 90 people who rated the app, 62 people gave it 5 stars.

The other election app, SG Election, has not fared so well. The app, which pulls together election coverage from The Straits Times,  currently has an average rating of 1.5 stars based on votes by 216 users. Of these, 166 users have given the app just one star.

Most of the complaints appear to be directed at the content in the app. One of the more polite comments was "This is biased app. Singaporeans deserves something better." A less polite comment described the app as "Useless, biased and full of crap."

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New app: SG GE2011: The Opposition Parties

This app curates news, analysis and video about Singapore's opposition parties.

The news coverage and analysis comes from the likes of The Online Citizen, Temasek Review and sundry blogs.

However, this app is strongest when it comes to video. From one page, you can quickly get links to the rally videos of the different opposition parties.

SG GE2011 costs US$0.99 and can be downloaded here.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Calling all developers: Win a promo code for iKLOC!

iMerlion is working with local developer Mugunth Kumar to give away promo codes for his Mac app iKLOC. iKLOC is a source code line counter for iPhone and Mac app projects.

Apart from just counting lines, iKLOC will also parse your project and export the localisable strings in your app.

In addition, it is able to parse comments and can tell you how many lines are just comments.

You can also set iKLOC to ignore a group of files that you've imported from a third party library.

iKLOC costs US$4.99 on the Apple Mac App Store. However, we are giving away a bunch of promo codes to lucky developers.

All you have to do is to send the following tweet:

"Hey @imerlion, can I get an iKLOC promo code?"

We'll pick the winners at random from the tweets that we get between now and 2359 on Thursday, May 12. Do note that this app will only be useful to you if you're a developer of iPhone and Mac apps.

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iPad 2 and white iPhone 4 not available on Singapore online Apple Store

Remember when we said you could buy an iPad 2 from the Singapore online Apple Store? Not any more. Currently, all iPad 2 models are listed as "Currently unavailable"on the website.

In addition, if you want to buy the white iPhone 4, you will need to try the carriers because the online Apple Store still does not have them in stock. While the black iPhone 4s will ship within 24 hours, Apple will only promise that the white iPhone 4s are "Coming Soon".

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Choose wisely

Very soon, many readers of this blog will have to make an important decision, a watershed decision that will have major consequences for the future. You have to decide whether or not to buy the iPad 2. (Were you thinking of some other decision?)

To help you out, we will be doing an in-depth review of the iPad 2, thanks to a loaner unit from Apple. Doing a proper review will take time but meanwhile here are our first impressions:

- Damn, but the iPad 2 is light;
- FaceTime on the iPad is pretty cool; and
- Smart Covers are magic. (Ok, they're magnets, but they're still magic).

Watch this space for a much fuller review of the iPad 2.

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New iMacs with quad-core processors and Thunderbolt available from S$1,648

Apple has updated its iMacs with quad-core processors, new AMD Radeon HD graphics processors, Thunderbolt I/O technology and a new HD-capable camera. The new iMacs start at S$1,648.

They use quad-core Intel Core i5 processors with an option for customers to choose Core i7 processors up to 3.4 GHz.

The 21.5-inch iMac has a single Thunderbolt port while the 27-inch model has two ports. Thunderbolt offers two bi-directional channels with transfer speeds up to 10Gbps each. Thunderbolt delivers PCI Express directly to external high performance peripherals such as RAID arrays, and can support FireWire and USB consumer devices, and Gigabit Ethernet networks via adapters. Thunderbolt also supports DisplayPort for high resolution displays and works with existing adapters for HDMI, DVI and VGA displays.

The iMacs also come with an SD card slot and a choice of Apple’s Magic Mouse or Magic Trackpad.

The 21.5-inch iMac is available in two configurations: one with a 2.5 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, AMD Radeon HD 6750M and 500GB hard drive for a suggested retail price of S$1,648; while the other has a 2.7 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, AMD Radeon HD 6770M and 1TB hard drive for a suggested retail price of S$2,048.

The new 27-inch iMac is available in two models: one with a 2.7 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, AMD Radeon HD 6770M and 1TB hard drive for a suggested retail price of S$2,348; and one with a 3.1 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, AMD Radeon HD 6970M and 1TB hard drive for a suggested retail price of S$2,748.

Configure-to-order options include faster Intel Core i7 processors up to 3.4 GHz, additional hard drive capacity up to 2TB, a 256GB solid state drive, additional DDR3 memory and AppleCare Protection Plan. Additional technical specifications and configure-to-order options and accessories are available online at

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