With the sex apps removed Apple does not think we need protection any more. And lots more iPad-News.
Show notes (aka my script) after the break.
Prior to the US launch of the iPad on April 3rd, we see that Apple apparently created 20 eBook-related categories that Apple created specifically for the iBook store. Below these there are 150 sub-categories for a great variety of book categories ranging from cookbooks to erotic novels. This was uncovered by Busted Loop a company based in San Francisco who was dissecting data that Apple gives to their enterprise customers. Busted Loop slices and dices this data for their AppSlice project which aims to help customers find good apps better. Well in any case they will gain some publicity from this stunt getting Forbes to report on their findings.
Personally I hope that the iBook-Store will allow for anybody to publish eBooks, this flood of single-book-apps is really something that gets on my nerves. Barnes & Noble has acknowledged that the have plans to create a competing eBook store. They already have a B&N reader app on the app store, but plans are to also make a new iPad-specific app that’s a shop for books, magazines and newspapers.
The new beta 4 version of SDK 3.2 brings some minor changes. The buttons for video chat that previously caused speculation have been removed. Also there are new gestures supported by the new gesture recognizers which will make detecting of certain gestures much easier. Apparently the gesture descriptions are now in plists, possibly to allow your own gestures to be configured in the future. Currently you still have to program your gestures yourself with the touchesBegan, Moved, Ended and Cancelled methods. Having this detection built-in will make gesture implementation really simple.
And actually beta 5 of the SDK 3.2 has been released only 8 days after beta 4, a departure from the previous bi-weekly release schedule that tells us that the final version is getting close. With April 3rd set as first availability date of the iPad that’s probably going to be the most likely release date for the SDK as well.
Shortly after the beginning of iPad preordering in the US, a company claimed to have “cracked the code” of order numbers arriving at an estimate of about 50,000 iPads ordered in the first 2 hours. All they did was basically subtract order numbers. In any case we can assume that many iPhone developers are excited to get an iPad into their fingers. Us Europeans still have to wait a couple of months. Most likely because there is a part shortage that causes a bottleneck for outside of the US. The number was later revised to 91,000 within the first 6 hours. Well, without any information from Apple themselves all these statements are nothing but hot air. It’s stating the obvious that the iPad is flying off the virtual shelves faster than Apple can produce them.
Apple has been criticized for having the batteries of newer devices not user-servicable which causes a minor hassle every few years when you want to get your battery back to it’s original capacity. In the case of the iPad Apple also does something unheard of. For 100 Dollars they will not only replace your iPad’s battery with a new one. Instead you get a brand new iPad within one week. Now that’s cool, so battery replacement does not just recharge you, it fully rejuvenates your device. Naturally there is a clause that this offer expires as soon as you pour liquid over the iPad or have somebody unauthorized open it. But I think that’s a great idea, especially since Steve Jobs keeps telling us that all the latest Apple products are “highly recyclable”.
In an interesting move Apple has banned any kind of protective film from their stores. This includes adhesive films as well as cases that come with a screen protector. As usual we don’t know why, but I guess the reasons are pretty obvious:
- the iPhone’s screen is made of glass which is way more durable than other devices screens. Thus the sale of such films conveys the impression that the screens are in need of protection just like those other devices. An emotion that Apple does not want users to have.
- actually I’ve been using my iPhone 3GS without a film ever since I got it and I never have any problem with smudges because of the oleophobic coating. Instead it feels kind of soft and valuable. Apple being interested in maximizing the user experience on all senses probably just wants to get users to experience the touch interface more fully.
- It’s just like sex where you have much more of an experience if you get rid of the condom. Well, now that the app store is cleaned up, we no longer have to fear that we could catch a Sex App Transmittable Disease.
Speaking of accessories: it appears that accessories for the iPad will be even harder to come by than the iPad itself. People see the availability dates slip quite a bit. Now we can speculate that this means that there are way more iPad accessories being sold than iPads itself, thus outpacing supply. Seems too many people want the keyboard dock, the VGA adapter cable for presentations or the SD-Card reader adapter. This tells me that more people are seeing the iPad as a productivity platform than just an eBook reader or surf pad.
Apple has introduced a new feature in iTunes Connect that allows you to schedule price tier changes as well as availability dates of new or updated apps. So you no longer have to guess when a new price tier will come into effect, but you can actually plan a staged approach with a low price introduction going to a higher price after some time. Very useful stuff!
PayPal has released version 2 of their app. It now includes Bump technology to bump money between two PayPal users via bumping together their iPhones. This is interesting for us developers because there is an API by Bump to allow you to add bumping to your apps as well. They claim it’s just 10 lines of code to establish a secure channel between two devices. You know, to have two devices communicate you have multiple possibilities: peer-to-peer bluetooth (if both have bluetooth enabled), WiFi (if both are on the same network) and now Bump. Because Bump goes via any Internet connection you have they can match up two devices regardless of the state of WiFi or Bluetooth. So it’s not just more convenient for users, it’s also a cool method. Have a look at their API if you would like to use Bumping in your apps as well.
Right when the preordering for the iPad started Apple updated the iPad product page with some additional details which we did not know about previously.
- The previously unidentified small button on the right side above the volume control has become a screen rotation lock button. That’s great if you want to read something in bed on your side.
- The iBooks app which will be downloadable from the app store will support the widely used ePub format. You can create such eBooks with tools like Adobe Illustrator. Also you will be able to download any ePub file, put it into iTunes and then synch it to your iPad for reading there.
- The iPad will work with ANY bluetooth keyboard. So if you think that the keyboard dock looks weird then you just put a regular Apple bluetooth keyboard in your backpack. Then you won’t just have a full-size keyboard on screen. You’ll actually HAVE a full-size keyboard with you.
- The iPad will support file-sharing and file associations. You will be able to associate specific apps with their file extensions and if you get an e-mail with such a file you will be able to open the app for it. Also it appears that each app has sort of a public folder that you can see in your Finder as long as the iPad is docked.
- The 3G iPad will indeed have built-in GPS. CoreLocation will work on both the WiFi and 3G models, but for the WiFi ones it will only use the SkyHook service to locate the user. So you still get to use location-based services if you never leave the home with your WiFi iPad.
- Assistance technology VoiceOver on the iPad will be able to read to you any page, apparently in all 21 supported languages. So this could also turn any eBook into an AudioBook.
- Besides of H.264 and Quicktime, the iPad will also natively play motion JPEG files in AVI containers up to 720p. This is probably necessary because it’s still a video format widely used by still cameras. This container is basically just regular individually compressed JPEG files and uncompressed PCM audio.
- Safari on iPad will allow you to play HTML5 video in full screen mode via double-tap.
- Webviews now support auto-recognition of addresses. Previously they could only recognize URLs and phone numbers, not addresses as well which apparently open the Maps app when tapped.
- We now know how the optional SD-Card reader looks like. It’s a small white donge, a little larger than an SD-Card and it goes into the dock connector. There is also a second adapter that can act as an intermediary between the iPad and Photo cameras which have USB.
- Apple has reaffirmed their claim that you will be able to watch 10 hours of Video on one battery charge.
- The mobile iTunes store now also will support browsing, buy and renting movies “on the go”. You will be able to watch trailers and when you are ready to rent you will be able to. Also what you downloaded which away from home you can synch back to your iTunes when you get home. Ah and of course the iPad has a “powerful speaker” built in, so the updated product page tells us.
- The app store will have a special section for apps that support the iPad natively.
- The maps app has a new “terrain” mode. Don’t know how it his fundamentally different from map mode.
- The calendar now supports setting birthday reminders, something that people have long requested.
- The iBooks app has a built-in dictionary. If you don’t know a word in a book you can search for it in the dictionary, in Wikipedia or on the internet.
A developer by the name of Tommy Refene hates the app store and thus thought it would be an interesting experiment to keep raising the price for his app Zits & Pimples, where you pop pimples. Refenes five months ago raised the app price to $15, leading to three purchases on the same day. Bringing the price up to $50 allegedly resulted in four sales, while fourteen people are said to have bought the game when the price escalated to $299. One person even bought the game for $400 on the same day it was removed. If you do the math that’s 4831 Dollars in 5 months.
But Apple would not idly watch. Probably somebody complained to the App store team, as should you if you see another developer trying to trick the system. The mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org and is good for all kind of abuse. Now apple has finally reacted and pulled the app. Mr. Refene claims that the real reason was that he used swear words describing the app store when he was standing on the stage of the Game Developer’s Conference.
But wouldn’t Apple have pulled ALL his apps if this where the case? I think so. Apple treats everybody the same, but if you try to be a smartass and beat them with their own system then this will happen.
Finally Apple has announced that you can now submit iPad Apps which where made with BETA 5 of the 3.2 SDK. You will get pre-reviewed and receive instructions on what to do to get into the illustrious group of launch titles to be released together with the WiFi iPad on April 3rd.
Do you have any iPad app in the works or adding iPad support to an existing app? If so, why don’t you mail me? I would like to make a blog post mentioning a couple of apps getting ready. For the post I need from you:
- a nice photo so that my readers can associate a face with the app
- one paragraph describing your app
- a screenshot showing the iPad interface in action
- one paragraph describing what you felt was the challenge in getting ready for the iPad