A few weeks back, Google let it be known that in-app billing was coming to the platform. Now, the Big G is letting developers take a closer look at the system during a closed test. App devs will be able to upload in-app content and set a price for testing the system. Google says it will work for the developers just like it will for users when the service launches.
Android users on AT&T were disappointed earlier this week when it became apparent the Amazon Appstore would not be available on their devices. The problem stems from the fact that AT&T restricts non-Android Market apps from being installed on devices. This is often called side-loading, and it is what the Amazon Appstore relies on. Now we're hearing that AT&T is actively working to resolve the issue.
If it felt like Apple as lightening up on their App Store approval guidelines, think again. According to The New York Times, a recent scuffle with Sony has spurred Apple to clarify that their App Store rules on in0app purchases are going to be more strictly followed. The whole issue came up when Sony's Reader app was rejected from the App Store a few days ago. Apple objected to the Reader having its own eBook store, and no option for Apple's own in-app purchases. This, says Apple, is a violation of their terms of service.
This brings up an uncomfortable dilemma for other apps, like Amazon's Kindle for instance. Both the Kindle app and the Sony app bring up an imbedded web browser to make content purchases, but Apple is now saying that developers must provide that same content for in-app purchases using Apple's system. Not coincidentally, that means Apple would get their 30% cut. "It’s the opposite of what we wanted to bring to the market,” Sony's Steve Haber said. “We always wanted to bring the content to as many devices as possible, not one device to one store."
This does not mean that any content purchased the old way won't be available. Indeed, you can keep doing that. Apple is just asserting their authority to require that users are presented with in-app purchases too. A cunning way to get people more invested in the Apple ecosystem. How does this sit with you?
This is a big week for developers of apps for Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 platform. The time has finally come for Microsoft to start doling out those fat checks for app sales over the last few months. Even developers that had apps ready for the launch of the platform three months ago have bone without pay until now. Microsoft said this was merely a logistical issue, and all back sales are being paid out.
Most developers have been pleased with the rate of early sales. Developers are also pleasantly surprised at the level of engagement with Microsoft both while developing, and after publishing. Although, some game developers take issue with the preferential treatment that Xbox live games get in the Marketplace. Non-Live games are not eligible to be featured titles, and apps must be accepted into the Live system to add the feature.
The missing piece of the puzzle according to developers is the number of handsets. The WP7 user base is still relatively small. It is hoped that the impending release of Windows Phone 7 on CDMA carriers Verizon and Sprint will boost sales.
There is probably an intern somewhere at Google in a spot of trouble today. TechCrunch noted that an official Google latitude app was posted to the Japanese Apple App Store, but it appeared to be the English language version. No sooner did people take note of this surprise launch, Google pulled the app down without a word. Latitude is a location tracking and sharing service, but it requires background GPS use, so it was only viable after iOS 4.0.
That's not to say Google didn't try before. This all goes back to the Google Voice debacle of 2009 when Apple rejected the Google Voice app on iPhone. Google said at the time they were launching an HTML5 web app for Latitude because Apple refused to even look at a Latitude app. Now here we have a very stealthy launch of an approved Latitude app, only to see it immediately removed.
Expect Google to actually make the app available for everyone at some point in the not too distant future. By all accounts, the app was done. Anyone care to take a guess at what's going on here?
Maybe we put too much stock in Microsoft's emphatic insistence that streaming music service Pandora was going to be a launch app for Windows Phone 7. It seemed like a lock, but now Pandora has been backing away from that commitment. Their twitter feed last week said there was no app in the works, and they have no clarified the situation slightly. "I'm not sure if/when we will be available on [Windows Phone 7]. Appreciate everyone’s enthusiastic suggestions. I’m passing the feedback on," a Pandora spokesperson told BGR.
The Pandora app has been wildly popular on other platforms like iOS, Android, and webOS. Many users that are switching will expect the service to be available. It could be that Pandora is waiting for some sort of background audio streaming capability in WP7, but they managed to get along without that on iOS for a few years. Competing services Last.fm and Slacker have already deployed WP7 apps to offers users some choice in streaming audio.
Pandora later clarified they intended to be "everywhere our listeners want us to be". But Pandora PR reiterated they have no plans to announce any Windows Phone 7 plans at this time. Does the lack of Pandora on WP7 make it less attractive to you?
Even though Nokia still has the global smartphone lead, the trend for the Finnish company is moving in the wrong direction. One of the main reasons for this slide is the relative lack of native apps on the Symbian platform. So now Nokia is upping the stakes by offering $10 million in various prizes for their "Calling All Innovators" contest.
The contest will feature 17 different categories: 6 game, and 11 general apps. Nokia will choose 170 finalists , then a panel of AT&T and Nokia judges will dole out the prizes. Winners of individual categories will win $150,000 in cash. Two apps, and two games will win their developers the additional grand prize of $100,000 cash and $1.9 million in marketing.
The process seems a little convoluted, and users apparently won't get a say in the matter. Still, some devs will probably be anxious to be considered. Nokia stresses that winning apps will need to be responsive and attractive. If you're interested in the contest, check out the official page here.
The most recent update to the official Android and Blackberry Google Voice apps offers users a noticeable speed increase when making calls. Previously, whenever a user placed a Google Voice call using the app's functionality, there would be a delay of up to 10 seconds (depending on data signal). This is due to the requirement that a Google server be pinged to connect the call over the phone lines. Now the app stores a special number locally to place the call.
These direct numbers are the obfuscated numbers that Google Voice uses internally to route your calls. Each contact has one of these 406 area code numbers. Now that the apps can call this number directly, there is no wait for a server to respond. This also has the advantage of eliminating the need for a data connection to initiate a call.
Android uses can get the update from the Market. Blackberry users should head over to the Google Voice site to download the update. Any Voice users out there already try this?
That Internet stalwart AOL has moved its mobile strategy ahead today with the release of two new apps, and a mobile HTML5 website. The HTML5 site will be able to deliver richer content to devices with HTML5 compatible browsers. The apps are AOL Portal, and AOL Daily Finance. The finance app has been available on Blackberry and iPhone, but newly developed AOL Portal is an Android exclusive right now.
The Portal app has content similar to what is found on the mobile website, but in a better formatted package. When asked about the rationale for going with Android as the first platform for the app, AOL's David Temkin said, "Momentum is the key reason." A good call considering Android is on track to beat iOS in total activations this year.
The idea that a site would have a mobile formatted site, as well as an app that packages that same content is not a new one. A well written dedicated app can provide a better user experience, but as HTML5 sites move ahead, mobile apps may be less necessary.
Apple is credited for turning the smartphone market on its head with the iPhone and the concomitant App Store. But do you know of a mobile app repository that boasts thousands of free apps across different mobile platforms? GetJar is the largest independent app store and the second largest overall. It has delivered more than 1 billion app downloads since its inception in 2005.
"We look forward to our continued partnership with Accel Partners and this new funding will be instrumental in taking GetJar to the next level in our business strategy for aggressive global expansion and product development," said GetJar founder and chief executive Ilja Laurs.