Apple Owners Rejoice! Free Apps Are on the Way

Since spearheading the Android App Market and launching the Kindle Fire, Amazon has seemingly been on a mission to promote themselves as the kinder, gentler Apple alternative. While stopping shy of ever viciously calling out their rival, the message is clear that they believe themselves to be more of a service “of the people” than their counterpart. One of the ways they have done this is by offering a Free App of the Day service that allows its users to snag a free download of an app selected by Amazon. Ranging from games to useful services, it’s a must have feature that, until now, has provided Android owners with another feature to rub in the face of the iMasses.

I say “until now” because it looks like the empire has caught on to the rebel plans.

Yes, its happy days again Apple owners. Apple is now offering its own free app service, only this one will be a free app of the week and not of the day. The good news is that the first app of this service is the brilliant and addictive “Cut The Rope: Experiments“ game, which went from “should be essential” to “no conceivable reason not to download” courtesy of the new promotion. Not content to just borrow from one rival, though, Apple has also introduced an “Editor’s Choice” feature (seemingly a replacement for their staff picks and game of the week features) that highlights the newest and best apps for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The initial showcases are Facebook Camera, “Extreme Skater,” “Air Mail” and Sketchbook Ink.

Of course, all jokes about theft are actually jokes. Developers have been running their own free app promotions since the start of the market, and independent sites have been offering the same, as well as highlighting the best new apps for the same period of time. In truth it is refreshing to see Apple offer these services on their own, and considering that the Apple app market is richer and fuller than that of its rivals, even an app a week instead of one a day is an astoundingly good deal that should produce something of must have quality each outing.

Although it should be noted that the “App of the Week” feature hasn’t officially been confirmed as a permanent addition. However since they’ve launched a new Twitter tag for it, not to mention those large banners for the service on their site, things look good. It’s going to be interesting to see if Apple looks at the success of this initial offering to judge if it will continue in the future. It’ll be interesting because we can’t know if Apple will look at giving away lots of free merchandise as a positive marketing ploy, or the root of all known evil.

Again, joking.

Verizon iPhone could cause Android and Blackberry exodus

Verizon iPhone.

We’re just three days from the official Verizon iPhone launch. This could be the biggest tech day of the year, but not just because it’s a Verizon iPhone. According to a recent survey, the release could mean millions of users abandoning the Android and Blackberry platforms.

According to uSamp, a research firm in LA, 66 percent of RIM customers labeled themselves either ‘very likely’ or ‘somewhat likely’ to switch to the iPhone. For Android customers, it was 44 percent for either somewhat or very likely. Granted, those aren’t a guaranteed switch, but it’s certainly more people than I expected. Those kind of numbers would mark huge losses for both Google and RIM, though I’d guess RIM would come away in worse shape than Google.

Source: CNN

I hate platform wars

Hulu Plus on Roku.I hate them. Hate them hate them hate them. News broke this week that Hulu would be launching on Roku streaming devices, as well as TiVo premiere. It’s only Hulu Plus, for now, but the whole world is crying out against AppleTV as a result.

I think they’re right, too. AppleTV doesn’t have nearly enough options to merit spending money on. It’s a gamble right now, and unless you’re confident in your cracking skills and have a lot of your own video to stream, AppleTV just doesn’t make sense. EXCEPT…

That it’s the best looking software out there and the growth potential is huge. Unfortunately, Apple could pull together the support for launch, mostly because networks didn’t want to go down to $.99 rentals (but most networks show for free online – seriously, just give me free streaming already). Apple launched, thinking success would change some opinions, but with the market the way it is, there might not be massive support behind Apple, which means we get to watch the streaming marketplace splinter, just like Blu-ray/HD-DVD, and hope that whoever we picked wins out in the end. I realize this is kinda the point of capitalism, but I want to make my choice based on how good the product is, not who managed to buddy up with the owner of Hulu over the weekend.

Did Steve Jobs screw up with the “leave us alone” email exchange?

Steve Jobs and Chelsea Isaacs.Over the weekend, news broke that a college journalism student had a little pissing match with Steve Jobs via email. The student, Chelsea Isaacs, emailed Jobs after Apple’s Media Relations department failed to return a phone call Isaacs made, essentially requesting an interview for a course paper. Jobs was curt with Isaacs, responding, “Our goals do not include helping you get a good grade. Sorry,” and ending the conversation with, “Please leave us alone.”

So was Steve in the wrong? A lot of people are calling it some sort of PR tragedy, calling Jobs a dick (which he’s notorious for, anyway), and raising all sorts of hell. I know this won’t surprise you, but I’m with Steve.

First off, it’s called a “Media Relations” department for a reason. As a college student at Long Island University, Isaacs, you aren’t media. You’re just one of thousands of people calling Apple every single day with stupid questions that hold no bearing on the company’s ability to make money. Secondly, as a journalism student, you should know people won’t always call you back. In fact, people will rarely call you back, and though in this case it’s gotten a lot of press coverage, your name just made the “annoying bitches I shouldn’t talk to” list. Good luck getting those future phone calls returned. You can only write so many stories about how such-and-such company sucks because they wouldn’t call you back for your story. Your job is to get the story. You don’t get the story, you’re failing at your job. It’s pretty simple.

Isaacs, in all her wisdom, had this to say: “Under no circumstances should a person who runs a company speak to a customer that way. I’m just enraged and I want people to know this was done.” Again, I disagree. A lot of companies make enough money to alienate a few people, and frankly, I wouldn’t want her as a customer. This is exactly the circumstance under which a CEO should be politely telling a person to fuck off – when that person is aggressively trying to waste company time.

Apple Keynote reveals new iPod Touch, Nano, Shuffle, and AppleTV

iPod family.

Apple’s media event today brought a lot of big news, the biggest of which was probably the update to AppleTV. The new iPod Nano looks pretty cool, though, and I’m glad to see the return of physical buttons to the iPod Shuffle. If I were on a more reliable connection, I’d dig up one of those stupid VoiceOver ads, just so you could laugh at it with me.

Instead I’m leaving you with this cute little picture, courtesy of Engadget, of the new iPod family. I’ll have more thoughts and impressions on the full lineup of Apple changes tomorrow (yay home internet connection).

Apple launches a trackpad for desktops

Magic TrackpadAmong Apple’s various hardware updates today, the company launched a trackpad for desktops, officially dubbed the Magic Trackpad. I’m not real sure where the magic is.

Now granted, I tend to prefer the trackpad to the mouse for general browsing, but this is something that seems aimed at power users, not the casual internet browser. Desktops come with a mouse, so people are comfortable using the mouse. Will they really want to drop $69 for a couple gestures, most of which are mimicked by the controls on your everyday mouse today?

My guess is no, but I’m not naive enough about Apple products to think this thing won’t sell. It would definitely be much cooler if it worked like a tablet (yes, there is some third-party software that can help a bit), but as a simple trackpad, I’m just not that impressed.

Did the iPhone 4 prototype case mask reception problems?

iPhone 4 prototype case.The big question surrounding the iPhone 4 reception issue is how did Apple not catch it? They had the phone for months, presumably testing it in the Bay area for months. So why didn’t the Apple techs experience the problem?

Miguel Helft at the NYT Bits Blog had one theory – when the Apple techs were out the field, the iPhone 4 prototype was disguised in a case to look like the 3GS. The case meant a tech’s hands didn’t touch the antennae, so there were no interference issues, so there was nothing to catch.

Apple said Thursday that a case is one way to solve the reception issues.

Two million iPads are in the wild

It took Apple just under two months to move two million iPads. Yes, two million of the tablets are now out in the world, lighting up the their owners’ faces all across the world.

It really was the worldwide launch that seemed to vault sales to what most consider a highly successful figure. Really, two million is pretty great for what could easily be considered the pioneer for an entire product line. An Apple press release announced the, ah, historic figure.

CUPERTINO, Calif., May 31 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Apple® today announced that iPad™ sales have topped two million in less than 60 days since its launch on April 3. Apple began shipping iPad in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK this past weekend. iPad will be available in nine more countries in July and additional countries later this year.
“Customers around the world are experiencing the magic of iPad, and seem to be loving it as much as we do,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We appreciate their patience, and are working hard to build enough iPads for everyone.”

iPad allows users to connect with their apps, content and the Internet in a more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before. Users can browse the web, read and send email, enjoy and share photos, watch HD videos, listen to music, play games, read ebooks and much more, all using iPad’s revolutionary Multi-Touch™ user interface. iPad is 0.5 inches thin and weighs just 1.5 pounds-thinner and lighter than any laptop or netbook-and delivers up to 10 hours of battery life.*

Developers have created over 5,000 exciting new apps for iPad that take advantage of its Multi-Touch user interface, large screen and high-quality graphics. iPad will run almost all of the more than 200,000 apps on the App Store, including apps already purchased for your iPhone® or iPod touch®.
*Battery life depends on device settings, usage and other factors. Actual results vary.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Google buys up a server tech company

Google logo.Hardly a day passes when Google isn’t buying some new startup or a service that has just exploded into mainstream popularity. Late yesterday the news broke that the search giant had just purchased yet another company, but this time it was a name I’d never heard: Agnilux.

After the implicit “who the hell is that,” I dug around to see what I could find. It turns out Agnilux is a server hardware development company, some are guessing a chip developer, that’s packed to the gills with former TiVo and Apple employees. Agnilux was also founded by former employees of P.A. Semi, another chip developer that Apple bought in 2008.

It suffices to say Google is getting a lot of talent in this little-known acquisition. The TiVo ties have raised questions about Google TV, but as far as anyone knows it’s just one guy in Agnilux that came from TiVo. Still, when we don’t much, it seems like anything could be reasonable.

First round of iPads are sold out

iPad.This weekend brought an interesting surprise for anyone attempting to purchase themselves a nifty, new, Wi-Fi iPad. It’s sold out. You can still buy it, of course, but the ship date isn’t April 3rd anymore. It’s April 12th. In-store pickup has been removed as a shipping method as well.

This is a big deal for Apple’s new device. I’m still standing behind the statement that no one really knows what it does. Yes, the promise of apps and the advent of a color ereader are nice, but $500 is a lot for that promise. Will it be that much better than a laptop? We’ll have to see.

Most estimates put the sold-out round of iPads around 500,000. That’s a crapload of units, especially considering that none of them have 3G. I know some people aren’t expecting big 3G sales, but I’d bet the nerds of the world will pick up a 3G unit for the just-in-case insurance. There’s really not a compelling reason to not get one and plenty of reasons for it. Remember, there are no contracts, so you can grab a month of service whenever you need it.

Source: 9to5 Mac