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Dr. Touch #004 – "Revolution"

Our favorite company gives in, it’s revolutionary!

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My script (aka “Show Notes”) after the fold below.

News

Apple rejected an app named iDroid. There was speculation that this happened because the name might be seen as a not-so-hidden advertisement for Google’s Droid platform. But the truth is much simpler: ”Droid” is a Trademark held by George Lucas and thus Apple cannot permit the app unless the maker shows that he has written permission to use the TM. Apple had gotten into legal trouble in the past year for other apps that would infringe a third party’s rights. One example are apps that contain Chuck Norris references. Cuck Norris successfully sued and continues to sue anybody who claims to have “facts about the greatest human on earth”. Nothing to do with phones of the droid OS persuasion. Apple just does not want the legal trouble.

Apple is hiring. This time they are looking for a software engineer to optimize the existing Maps application as well as add “new and innovative features”. So it is a safe bet that we will be seeing significant new features in the next big OS release. The maps application on Google phones has gotten new features lately that left the iPhone lagging behind: Google Latitude to broadcast your location or lately built in turn-by-turn navigation that comes with all latest generation Android phones. Developers might also see great new features added to MapKit which allows us to implement map views in our own apps. But so far there is no standard method to overlay paths or orient the map according to the compass. We’re keeping our fingers crossed here.

People who are creating content for the music side of iTunes get more to do with the release of the development kit for iTunes Extras and iTunes LP. It’s called “TuneKit” and enables the creation of extra features for iTunes music and movies. Apple published extensive templates and programming guides on their site. Not strictly development, because you throw around XML-based files and need to program very little. But still it’s complicated enough that an ordinary graphic designer will be overwhelmed as long as there is no easy to use GUI tool to click the xml together. So there might be a chance for iphone developers to broaden their horizon in this direction. It’s also possible that iTunes extras will eventually make it onto the iPhone are a future mobile device with a bigger screen.

You can now choose which currency Apple will make app store payments to you. If you would like to change the currency, go to the iTunes Connect Contact Us module and select “Banking/Payments”, “Payment Requirements” and finally “Wrong bank account currency on iTunes Connect”. You get a big text box where you can enter your wishes. Though I don’t know what this will gain you as your bank will be doing the conversion to your account currency anyway.

Also, Apple makes a specific point that you can build your apps with a 3.x version SDK, but set the deployment target to 2.x to have the widest possible audience. Doing so will soft-link the 3.x frameworks used and you can then during run time check if the framework is available. This way you could for example send e-mail via in-app-email if available or via the e-mail app if not. Apparently too few developers are actually aware of this possibility and so Apple felt that such a wake up call is necessary.

VIEDA, the German iPhone Developer’s Association has started their Christmas marketing campaign with the release of the website appsforssale.de and the free advent calendar app. At first it was only available for German iPhone users, but I intervened and now the app and included savings are available to the whole globe. In the free app you see a gift for every day until christmas and if you open the gift you get a sweet animation where the icon of a promoted app flies out and a tag shows the price reduction. In fact even if you don’t purchase the offered app, you still feel like somebody gave you a present. This app plus two others are featured on the appsforsale.de website on every day. Have a look, even if you are from outside the German language area of Earth, it’s really well done and a good example of how iPhone developers can work together.

HTML5 to the win. The next major revision of the HTML standard will include several technologies for which currently only closed source workarounds exist. Apple has been way ahead by denying Adobe system-level access for their Flash plugin. Their event-based vector drawing and video decoding are currently widely used but more and users choose to block flash and instead use tools like “click-to-flash” to get around the plugin and directly to the video content. embedded video and Flash-like vector graphics are said to be a part of the HTML Version 5 spec. Now also Google has told the L.A. Times, “We are excited that much of the technology in Gears, including offline support and geolocation APIs, are being incorporated into the HTML5 spec as an open standard supported across browsers, and see that as the logical next step for developers looking to include these features in their websites.”

We are not just excited for website getting cool features to play with, but we also anticipate that more mobile content will be fully functioning on the iPhone. To give one current example: the mobile iPhone version of Google Wave is lacking in several areas that maybe can be remedied when using HTML5 features. Another major benefit would be that video would no longer need to hide behind flash, but this opens the possibility for iPhone apps (be it Safari or third party apps) to stream those videos on the iPhone.

AdMob to provide a report downloading API. I twittered them and asked for a public API to download my advertisement statistics, coupled with a half-joking thread to use scraping if they refuse to comply. Well AdMob was very responsive and answered, quote “we’re definitely working on it, stay tuned! In the meantime, be nice to our web servers :)” It will be great to be able to download this data as it comprises a substantial app-related income for many developers. To give one example: LuckyWheel is making ten dollars a day for me, the Lite Version makes the same in Ad revenue. So I would definitely want to have this as part of my overall income report. Once such an API is available developers like myself or the guy who makes the famous AppViz can quickly integrate such functionality.

And the best news come at the end …

In an unprecedented move the Head of Apple reverses rejection of video streaming app. Pointy Heads software first got a rejection for the live video streaming app which allows to send live video from one iPhone to another. Problem was, they used an undocumented API to achieve this, which naturally led to a rejection. They did not want to put this to rest and wrote a very persuasive e-mail to Steve Jobs himself. We don’t know the contents of this e-mail but it may have involved the soul of a firstborn being offered in bloody sacrifice. Anyway a high ranking anonymous executive called and informed them that God has ordered them to permit the app.

Previously I reported on Rogue Amoeba’s Airfoil app getting approved with reasonable use of Apple trademarked images. Now this. We might be seeing a trend going towards a brighter and more relaxed future for us iPhone developers. Though one now might argue that this decision is unfair to Qik and UStream who had to omit live streaming from their respective apps. There is speculation that soon Apple will make the previously undocumented API public so that we will be going to be able to develop our own video streaming apps.

The Knocking Live Video app is now available for free on the app store. Video streaming works to another iPhone with the app installed and via 3G or WIFI. I’ve already downloaded it and I’m going to install it on my own and my wife’s iPhone so that in the future she can show me live important stuff, like for example which wool she has chosen for my next hand-knit sweater.

Fun

You might have heard, Microsoft released a new Operating System for gaming, it’s called Windows 7 even though there where no 6 Windows open before it. Though I can tell you from my own experience that it runs well on my Summer 2009 MacBook Pro. I use it to play the Tales of Monkey Island Adventures while it’s connected to my big screen TV. So it’s an acceptable OS to put on your Bootcamp partion if you want to play games. Here’s a parody song that mocks Windows 7, have a listen on YouTube.

iPhone Tip of the Week

According to feedburner this podcast already has 47 subscribers. That’s great, way more than I aver managed to get together with my other German-language podcast. Now my usage tip today revolves around Podcasts. You know you can subscribe to Podcasts on iTunes and then the latest episode will always be downloaded for you. And then it will be automatically synched to your iPhone if you plug it in. But what happens if you are on the road and forgot to sync your favorite onto your device?

You can go into the podcast in the music player app and at the bottom tap on “Get more episodes”, this is a shortcut to the podcast’s page on iTunes. Now it depends what kind of network you are on. If you are on WiFi then you can simply tap the free button next to the episode you want and it will be downloaded for you, over cellular this only works up to 10 MB. Unfortunately the Dr. Touch Episodes are double that usually.

But here’s my tip for you. If you don’t tap the green button, but the row itself,  then the episode is being played right way, streaming to you. That’s very practical. Now you no longer have an excuse that you did not remember to put my podcast onto your iPhone. You can listen to it everywhere and every time.


Categories: Podcast

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