At the end of the year Apple digs into its archive of music, movies, TV shows, apps, books, and podcasts to share with its customers its top-selling content. Since the iTunes Store and the App Store are so prolific these days, I deem it appropriate to take a look at what we bought up from Apple’s widespread ecosystem in 2012.
In the music department, Apple lists the 20 top-selling songs and 25 top-selling albums of the year. Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” lands at #1 on the song list and rounding out the top 5 are Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know,” Fun.’s “We Are Young,” Maroon 5′s “Payphone,” and Nicki Minaj’s “Starships.” Maroon 5 managed to land on this chart twice; “One More Night” comes in at #17. Also, Flo Rida’s hit singles “Whistle” and “Wild Ones” show their staying power securing the #9 and #10 slots, respectively. For the second consecutive year in a row, Adele’s 21 sits high as the most purchased album of the year; what follows is Taylor Swift’s Red, Mumford & Sons’ Babel, One Direction’s debut Up All Night, and Fun.’s Some Nights. The only artist to show up twice on this chart is Mumford & Sons; their 2010 effort Sigh No More keeps selling and fell in the #6 position.
In addition to these charts, Apple handpicks their own selections in a section they call “Editor’s Choice.” They named Frank Ocean Best New Artist and they had this to say about his much buzzed about release Channel ORANGE: “Deftly original, the brooding R&B outcast and Odd Future cohort spilled a can of stinging venom and vulnerability that spread worldwide.” Grizzly Bear’s Shields was awarded Best Album, Fun.’s infectious single “We Are Young” nabbed Best Song, and they enjoyed the fusion of country and gospel from The Lumineers so much to label their self-titled debut release Breakthrough Album.
The Hunger Games, Downton Abbey, Fifty Shades of Grey, Angry Birds Space, and YouTube dominated the other content categories. Click here to browse Apple’s Best of 2012 charts (the link opens in iTunes).
Today Apple updated their homepage to celebrate another major milestone in the company’s relatively short history in the app domain. As of today, March 3, 2011, 25 billion apps have been downloaded in the company’s App Store. The lucky individual who downloaded the 25th billion app has been awarded a $10,000 gift card that can be applied to the App Store. Since you probably didn’t win, take solace in the fact that you were still likely part of it all by helping Apple reach this wildly impressive achievement.
Mac OS X and iPad users have been creating sick beats and rocking out with Apple’s music creation app for quite some time now. Today the company released a new version that can be downloaded and installed on iPhones and iPod touches. The official press release announcing the news (posted in full after the break) describes the app’s prominent features:
You can plug your electric guitar into iPad, iPhone or iPod touch to play and record through classic amps and stompbox effects, or record your voice or any acoustic sound using the built-in microphone. GarageBand allows you to record and mix up to eight tracks and then share your finished song with friends or send it to your Mac to keep working on it in GarageBand or Logic Pro.
GarageBand for iPhone (3GS, 4, 4S) and iPod touch (3rd and 4th generation) is now available in the App Store for $4.99. If you already purchased it for the iPad, it’s totally free to port it to your other iOS devices.
When Google pushed out their new social service Google+ they simultaneously gave Android users a way to access their accounts on their phones in a handy dandy app. Up until now, iPhone users have been forced to login and check their accounts inside the Safari browser. Today, thankfully, Google has pushed out a native Google+ app for iPhone users. The app’s homescreen includes Stream, Huddle, Photos, Profile, Circles, and a Notifications tray. In Stream you can view new posts from your Circle mates, those that are Nearby (if you allow the app to tag your location), and Incoming posts; you can also check-in at places and obviously send out posts and attach pictures to them. In Photos you can view pictures that have been uploaded by your Circle mates, photos of you, from your albums, and from your phone. In Profile you can view (but cannot edit) your About page, your Posts and Photos. In Circles, you can see all of your Circle mates, tap them to view their profiles, and from there you can move and/or remove them from Circles; you can also create new Circles. And lastly there’s Huddle, the one feature that has been exclusive to Android users until now. With Huddle you can initiate a group messaging experience that gathers together selected friends or circles so you can chat together in one space; users can be searched by name, email, and circle.
And that about covers the Google+ app for iPhone. Download it today for free from the App Store. Note that it is only compatible with iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, and iPhone 3G; Google has not specified when (or if) the app will make its way to other iOS devices (i.e. the iPad and iPod touch).
Apple recently announced that over 15 billion apps have been downloaded from its App Store by the more than 200 million iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users worldwide. Wowzers is the reaction you’re looking for. Apple’s tallied ‘em up, and currently the App Store is now home to over 425,000 apps; additionally 100,000 native iPad apps exist. Thanks to Apple’s generosity the people who make the apps are getting paid, too; Apple has paid developers over $2.5 billion to date (there’s a 70/30 split, the devs receive the smaller sampling, naturally).
Says Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing: ”In just three years, the revolutionary App Store has grown to become the most exciting and successful software marketplace the world has ever seen. Thank you to all of our amazing developers who have filled it with over 425,000 of the coolest apps and to our over 200 million iOS users for surpassing 15 billion downloads.”
Jump after the break to read the official PR which contains more quotes from excitable Apple employees.
It’s mid-June which means it’s finals time for students in middle and high school. It’s proven that making flashcards is a great way to study for a test. If you use this method and happen to own an iPad, you’ll want to learn more about Evernote Peek. The folks at Evernote have designed a new app around the iPad 2′s smart cover accessory. So you know how the smart cover works, right? When you attach the accessory to the iPad, it automatically aligns to the screen (magnets). The cover instantly wakes up and puts to sleep the iPad when it’s applied and removed thanks to the built-in ambient light sensor. Evernote figured out a way to take advantage of this simple yet intriguing behavior.
You have a vocabulary test coming up. Goodbye flashcards, hello iPad. Lift up the smart cover flap to peek at a definition. Close it and think about what the word might be. Lift the cover again and you’ll be presented with the correct answer. The app will track which definitions you remember; the ones you get wrong will be saved so you can study them again later. Designing your own study guides using Evernote Peek is easy. All you have to do is create a free Evernote account and connect it to the app. Text and visual clues can be used to help you study. See it in action in the video above.
All in all Peek gives students yet another way to study for tests, albeit one that brings them one tap closer to accessing distractions like Facebook and Angry Birds. But it’s not like flashcard studying doesn’t take place in front of the computer screen. Download Evernote Peek for free in the App Store today.
This Monday, June 6 Steve Jobs and company will take the stage at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference. It had previously been hinted that Apple would be diving into the worlds of iOS and Mac OS at the event, but now thanks to a brief but promising press release we know this: Apple will be unveiling the eighth major release of Mac OS X called Lion, the next version of their mobile operating system dubbed iOS 5, and iCloud, “Apple’s upcoming cloud services offering.” All signs point to the company demonstrating a music locker service similar to Google and Amazon’s recent offerings, but this is Apple and you know Jobs has something magical up his sleeve. Per usual, keep it here for the breaking news come Monday. Though it might not feature the next iPhone, this keynote looks like it’ll be a memorable one. Apple–to the cloud! Full PR after the break.
In related Apple news, the iWork suite is now available for all iOS devices. Pages, Keynote, and Numbers can now be installed and run on iPhones and iPod touches, in addition to the iPad. Specifically they are universal apps that run on iPad and iPad 2, iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4, and iPod touch (3rd & 4th generation). They sell for $9.99 in the App Store, and if you currently own one or more of the apps on your iPad you can port them over to your other iOS device(s) for free. PR goodness after the break.
i3D is now available in the App Store! But what is it? It’s a simple app that takes advantage of the Head-Coupled Perspective, or HCP, to track the face of a user in real time. The app makes your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch’s front-facing camera lock into your face and updates the perspective of a 3D scene accordingly. The app relies solely on head-tracking; the built-in accelerometer and gyroscope are not utilized. The developers note that HCP “does not create a stereoscopic display. It provides a kind of monocular 3D display: the same picture is seen by both eyes. In the future, it might be combined with a stereoscopic display for a better 3D effect.” The app comes preloaded with several 3D scenes for you to experiment with. It’s free, so there’s no reason not to try it out. Sure, i3D is a glorified demo of sorts but hopefully such experimentation will one day lead to full-fledged games that take advantage of the 3D illusion.
On Wednesday Apple revealed the next generation iPad. The iPad 2 is very much an evolutionary iterative device. It is faster, lighter, and thinner than its predecessor, packs back and front-facing cameras, and comes preloaded with a new version of iOS. Take my hand and let’s discover everything that makes iPad 2 the next extraordinary tablet, or as Steve Jobs calls it the “third blockbuster post-PC product” joining the iPod and iPhone.
Specs are important to you, hm? Then let’s start there. iPad 2 is faster. It features Apple’s new 1GHz dual-core A5 processor that is up to 2X faster than the A4; it boasts up to 9X faster graphics and somehow still maintains the same low power as the A4. Battery life remains the same at 10 hours with over a month of standby. iPad 2 is lighter and thinner. It is a mere 8.8mm thick, that’s 33% thinner than the original iPad (13.4mm). In fact, it is even thinner than iPhone 4 (9.3mm). It also lost some weight dropping from 1.5 to 1.3 pounds. On the front you’ll find a VGA camera that takes pictures and records video at 30fps; the camera around back shoots video in 720p HD also at 30fps and can do 5x digital zoom. The built-in gyroscope will assist the device in locating itself in space and orientation; higher precision in gaming will result. Last, Apple has hooked up with AT&T and Verizon to bring 3G data to the tablet.
iPad 2 is coming sooner than you think. It will be made available for purchasing March 11 in two color options: black and white (thankfully the latter ships “from day one”, teehee). Pricing remains the same, too; iPad 2 will come in various capacities (16, 32, 64GB) and models (WiFi, WiFi + 3G) starting at $499. After releasing on the 11th in the U.S., the new iPad will make its way to an additional 26 countries (including Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, and the UK) on March 25.
Learn all about iPad 2′s accessories, iOS 4.3, and new apps after the break. (Click here for more…)
Shazam is to music as IntoNow is to television. Get it? Simply hold your compatible device up to your TV and the app will scan the program’s audio to determine what you’re watching. The app can even recognize a show even if it’s airing live for the first time. You’re thinking, how does it work? The embedded “fingerprinting” tech is dubbed SoundPrint and it runs a series of algorithms that can quickly identify a show based on the audio from that program. SoundPrint’s index covers over 140 million minutes of previously aired shows, or 266 years of video. Over 2.6 million airings have been indexed over the past five years and that number is constantly growing.
So the app can tell you what you’re watching, big whoop! The social aspect of IntoNow is what makes it most interesting. In addition to displaying the program being watched, the app will provide all kinds of relevant data about the program including episode and cast information. In turn, this can be shared with your friends over social networks such as Facebook and Twitter (i.e. “Larry is watching “House” can be shared with your friends across networks). What’s more you can create and manage an in-app friends list, see what your friends are watching, receive notifications when your friends are watching the same episode or show as you, and comment on their statuses. The feature list goes on…you also have one-click access to Netflix from the app, so you can add your favorites shows to your Instant Queue right then and there before you forget.
IntoNow is available in the App Store today, it’s free, and it’s compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
A brand new Angry Birds game based on ‘Rio’ animated flick coming soon [Update: Super Bowl embedded code]
App developer Rovio has teamed up with 20th Century Fox to put together a new Angry Birds game for iOS and Android. Following the original Angry Birds and Seasons games, this new installment is inspired by the upcoming Fox animated feature Rio (watch a trailer for it here). Angry Birds Rio will pack 45 new levels, increased graphics performance, and “a few new twists.” Future updates will add more levels. Look out for the app to hit iOS, Android, and Symbian app stores this March, ahead of Rio‘s April 15 theatrical release.
And if you you didn’t know, Team Rovio is currently developing an animated TV series based on the Angry Birds universe. After watching this trailer for the Rio-inspired game I cannot wait to see what they come up with for the show. Who needs dialogue when you’ve got furious birds yelling and slimy green pigs snorting?
Update: It’s been revealed that during the Super Bowl 20th Century Fox will air a 30-second commercial promoting Rio that features an embedded code, the first of its kind. The secret code will be inserted into a single frame of the ad. When it’s entered into the Angry Birds app a new level will be unlocked and it will enter players into a Rio sweepstakes. Winners will attend the animated flick’s world premiere in Rio de Janeiro on March 22. That also happens to be the day Angry Birds Rio hits the App Store, in case you were wondering.
On Sunday Apple proclaimed that it hit the incredible 10 billion mark in terms of number of iOS apps sold. Today the App Store offers more than 350,000 apps to iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users in 90 countries around the world. Says Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing: “With more than 10 billion apps downloaded in just two and a half years–a staggering seven billion apps in the last year alone–the App Store has surpassed our wildest dreams.” Gail Davis of Orpington, Kent, UK downloaded the 10 billionth app (it was Paper Glider) and will now receive a $10,000 iTunes gift card. She should host a party with Louie Sulcer of Woodstock, Georgia; he also received the enormous gift for downloading the 10 billionth song using iTunes.
This really is a remarkable milestone for Apple, and I hope that competitors Android and Windows Phone 7 take this news and use it as fuel to amp up their respective app development following.
Today Skype updated its official iPhone app and version 3.0 brings with it video calling over WiFi and 3G. Two-way Skype-to-Skype video calling can take place between two phones and between phones and computers (Windows, Mac, or Linux) at no charge. In addition to the iPhone 4, the app is also compatible with the iPhone 3GS, the newest iPod touch, the third gen iPod touch, and the iPad all running iOS 4.0 or higher. Since the latter two devices do not feature back and front-facing cameras they are restricted to only receiving video. And note that since the 3GS does not pack a front-facing camera it will only broadcast video from the back-facing camera.
I gave the app a test drive and it worked flawlessly…over WiFi, that is. With that stable connection I was able to successfully connect to a desktop Skype client and video chatting worked as advertised. With the iPhone 4 you have the option to broadcast video from the front-facing camera and switch it to the back one on the fly, as well as options to mute the conversation and switch between portrait and landscape modes. When I disabled WiFi and attempted an iPhone 4-to-desktop video chat the video appeared noticeably more pixelated and laggy until it decided to cut out completely and drop the call. But that’s 3G for you; heck, at least it works.
The free Skype update is available to download now at the App Store. Apple might have had a leg up on the video conferencing competition with FaceTime since iPhone 4′s introduction, but with Mac and Windows support–plus 3G support–plus a giant user base in the millions–Skype is enabling the futuristic functionality for a significantly larger community of iOS users. Press release and (creepy) introductory demonstration video after the break.
This has to be the coolest app made for the iPhone yet. Word Lens uses augmented reality to instantly translate printed words from one language to another. It’s simple: Hold up your phone’s camera to a sign containing foreign words and the app will convert it to your native tongue on-the-fly. This terse explanation doesn’t do the app justice; you’ve gotta watch the demonstration above to get the full effect.
An app so powerful has to have limits, right? Word Lens only supports Spanish-to-English and English-to-Spanish translation for now and it cannot read very stylized fonts, handwriting, or cursive. The demonstration shows the app working quite flawlessly; realistically there will be times when conversions are not 100% accurate so the developer (Quest Visual) allows users to manually type in words to find translations. But here’s a plus: the app does not rely on network or Internet connectivity to make translations happen.
Word Lens is available now as a free download in the App Store; however you must pay $4.99 for an in-app purchase language pack to get things started. It’s compatible with iPhone 4, 3GS, and the latest gen iPod touch.
Today Coca-Cola launched a Tron: Legacy app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch owners. But nevermind the Coke Zero sponsership; this game appears to look awesome in theory. It’s being touted as the “first location-based video game” and the objective is simple: Build a Light Wall as you move about the real world and earn points by forcing other players to crash into it. The app uses the iPhone’s GPS to track your location and show you on a Grid-themed map where other players are located. Coke promises to push out updates to the app surrounding the release of the film it’s based on, and you can expect new single and multi-player modes to come with them. Also, an Android version is on the way. But enough blabbing; get a better idea of how the game works in the video above and download the *free* app right here.
But not so fast! There are two stipulations that must be discussed. First, SlingPlayer for iPad is only compatible with Sling SOLO and Sling PRO-HD boxes; all the rest are left in the dust, unfortunately. According to Engadget Sling will soon offer a $50 voucher for those who are itching to upgrade to a newer box. What’s interesting is that SlingPlayer for iPhone has a wider compatibility range; it works with the aforementioned boxes and the SlingBox PRO. And that brings me to point number two and more bad news. If you already purchased the $29.99 app for iPhone, you’ll have to shell out another thirty bucks to use the iPad version of the same app. Well, it’s not exactly the same app since the iPad version is tailored for a larger screen, but still. Sling assures that users can use the iPhone app to stream content on the iPad in a “Compatibility Mode”, but these users will not experience the “higher quality resolutions” provided in the iPad version. If I may quote Jigsaw from Saw, the choice is yours. Full PR after the break.
Somehow, someway Skyfire has managed to clear its mobile Skyfire browser–Flash support and all–through the Apple gates and into the App Store. As detailed in early September, Skyfire does not actually run Flash video; instead it trancodes the content using Skyfire’s servers from Flash to HTML5. So if you’ve been looking for a Flash fix on your iOS device here’s your $3 solution.
Note: The Webkit-based browser will not support all Internet Flash content; for example, Flash games and apps are not supported, and Hulu content is blocked. Skyfire promises that “scores of other premium sites are supported”, so stay hopeful! Look after the break for an updated video demonstration.
Update: An app can’t be “sold out”, can it? According to Skyfire: ”The user experience was performing well for the first few hours, but as the surge continued, the peak load on our servers and bandwidth caused the video experience to degrade. Thus we are effectively ‘sold out’ and will temporarily not accept new purchases from the App Store. We are working really hard to increase capacity and will be accepting new purchases from the App Store as soon as we can support it.” Ah, that explains it. Keep tabs on their Facebook and Twitter accounts for updates on the matter.
Update 2 (11/5): In a short blog post Skyfire CEO Jeff Glueck assures iOS users that “we’re working around the clock to add capacity for more users.” And here are the specifics: “We are going to open batches of downloads for new users over the coming days. The first batch will be in a few minutes on the Apple App Store. It will be first come, first serve.” The first batches are coming to the US only, “with additional country support to follow shortly.”
Apple recently updated (and made more explicit) their App Store Review Guidelines. A choice quote: “We have over 250,000 apps in the App Store. We don’t need any more Fart apps.” Developer Conniption Entertainment responded with Fart Studio.
The warring atmosphere between Apple (backer of HTML5) and Adobe (Flash) over the Internet video standard is about to heat up once again. Developer Skyfire submitted to the App Store the first mobile browser capable of running Flash content on Apple mobile devices. The Skyfire browser for Apple devices embeds the Safari browser, meaning that the browser will look and run similarly to the built-in mobile Sarari browser and it will incorporate new features from Skyfire. One major new feature is the ability to run Flash-based content within in the brower. Skyfire has done their homework:
Skyfire for iPhone was built in tight accordance to Apple guidelines, including the use of a WebKit browser core shared with Safari, and h.264 adaptive streaming. Skyfire’s famed cloud-computing technology translates Flash video on the fly from millions of web sites into HTML5 formats, and supports iOS devices via Apple’s HTTP live streaming standard. Skyfire also avoids the concerns raised in Steve Jobs’ recent essay regarding Flash on mobile devices. By optimizing Flash for iPhones and network conditions in the Cloud, Skyfire improves performance and maximizes battery life while playing video. The browser also avoids alternate runtime environments and other security vulnerabilities.
In other words, the Skyfire browser technically does not run Flash content; it “translates” the content in the cloud (it talks to Skyfire’s servers) from Flash to HTML5. And thanks to H.264 adaptive streaming, the browser will compress video data by an average of 75% so as not to create network congestion. Adaptive streaming also promises a reduction in buffer time and enhanced battery life. So cross your fingers and let’s hope Apple doesn’t destroy our dreams of watching more delicious content on our iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches. Check out the video sitting after the break to see an iPhone play an episode of The Daily Show (Flash video) without hiccup. Official PR is there, too.
Netflix on the iPhone and iPod touch is no surprise; the free app was demoed at WWDC back in June and the iPad has been enjoying its company since launch. On August 26 the Netflix app was updated (to version 1.1.0) to support all iOS4 devices. The app will stream movies and TV shows over WiFi and 3G. Within the app you have access to your personal Instant Queue (which is managable right on the device) and you can search and add new content to your queue using a standard search method or viewing content by genre. You also have the ability to resume watching a show or movie right where you left off on your TV or computer. The app itself is free, but remember you must be signed up for a Netflix membership (which starts at $8.99/month) to login and start streaming. Download the app here and happy streaming! Look after the break for a brief video preview of the app in action.