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Bryan M. Wolfe
| July 18, 2011
Top AppAdvice News & Apps Of The Past Week
This week, Spotify USA debuted as did iOS 5 Beta 3. Plus, Netflix upset a lot of customers. Read on, and find out more. All About Spotify USA The Spotify App – What You Need To Know Today, we continue our look at the Spotify music service, as it comes to America. While yesterday’s report focused on the various packages available and on the Spotify application itself, today we turn our attention to the Spotify app for iPhone/iPod touch. App Abilities By Package The free Spotify app works regardless of whether you are a Spotify Free, Unlimited, or Premium member. Naturally, the better your package, the more bells and whistles you receive. For Premium users, the app allows you to wireless sync all your favorite Spotify Playlists to your phone and listen offline. In other words, once you download the music to your iPhone, you can play the songs without a Wi-Fi or 3G connection. In addition, you can go online and stream any of the 15 million tracks available. First Look: Spotify USA, 12 Hours In Spotify USA has arrived and after using the service for 12 hours, I’m prepared to give my early assessment of the music sharing streaming that took Europe by storm and finally hit our shores today. First, let it be said that I will concentrate my review on what I found using the Spotify Premium service, although I will also touch on the Free and Unlimited plans as well. Also, it’s important to know that I went into using Spotify having never used the service elsewhere. In other words, I will not address the subtle differences between what we are getting here in the U.S. versus what is available in Europe. Introduction So, what makes Spotify special? In a word, Spotify brings flexibility to music streaming. Meaning, if you like listening to streaming music from your desktop, Spotify Free is the package for you. Want to listen to your music regardless of an Internet connection and on your iPhone/iPod touch or iPad? Spotify has that covered with its Premium package. Finally, if you dislike the occasional ad but have no use for music streaming on your iDevice, then Spotify Unlimited is likely the package for you. Spotify understands that people listen to music very differently. As such, it has attempted to address everyone’s needs by making available three separate packages, all at what I consider reasonable prices. Other News Netflix's Makes Its Video Content More Expensive Those sounds you’re hearing are millions of Netflix customers going online to cancel their service. This comes after the online giant announced plans to decouple its DVD by mail and streaming video plans, and making them more expensive. According to Netflix, these changes are actually for the benefit of its customers (surprise, surprise), because they are now offering their “lowest prices ever for unlimited DVDs.” While this is technically correct, Netflix is doing so without letting people also stream content at the same or slightly higher price. iOS 4.3.4 Gets Its First Tethered Jailbreak It took Apple almost two weeks to release iOS 4.3.4 and close the PDF exploit that allowed the jailbreakme.com jailbreak. The jailbreakers have shown much more efficiency than Apple and just hours after the 4.3.4 release, have already broken it on all devices except the iPad 2. Indeed, iOS 4.3.4 can now be jailbroken on almost any device using an updated version of Redsn0w (available on the Dev-Team's blog). The exploits the Dev-Team discovered a while ago should always allow this on current hardware. Unfortunately, all this gets you is a tethered jailbreak. Therefore, you'll need a computer to boot your device every time if you want to have access to all the features. Also, since iOS 4.3.4's only reason to be is to prevent the jailbreak loophole, you're much better off staying on 4.3.3 for now. For those concerned by the security risk, note that there is a Cydia tweak that takes care of it. Either way, you can now find the iOS 4.3.4 jailbreak right on the Dev-Team blog, free of charge. If you get to try it, make sure to tell us how it went in the comments! Apple Releases iOS 4.3.4 To Patch The Jailbreakme.com PDF Exploit Just moments ago, Apple released a new version of its mobile operating system iOS to the general public. Mainly a security update, iOS 4.3.4 (or 4.2.9 for CDMA iPhone owners), is here to close the bug that allowed the recent jailbreak. While the main victims of this update are indeed jailbreakers, note that the PDF exploit the latest jailbreak used posed a very important security threat, and could have been exploited for nefarious purposes. We haven't noticed any other new features. So once again, if you care about jailbreaking stay away from this version for now (and use the jailbreak patch). As for the rest of you, you're good to go! Apple Releases iOS 5 Beta 3 To Registered Developers [Updated] Just minutes ago, Apple released the third beta version of iOS 5 to members of their developer program. This release comes two weeks after the last one, but brings, as far as we've been told, very little in the way of changes. Mostly, this release improves, once again, the stability and performance of the system. Note that this update also arrived as a full-size firmware that had to be downloaded from Apple, and not as a Delta update delivered over-the-air as was recently speculated. The App Store Celebrates Its Third Birthday Today is a very special day in the App Store world, as Graham Spencer of Macstories reminds us. Indeed, exactly three years ago Apple launched the App Store; on July 10, 2008. So what happened in three years? About a half of a million apps happened, according to Appshopper. The bigger story is that Apple has completely revolutionized not only the mobile, but also the software distribution business. In the last three years, people have discovered that it no longer takes heavy investments to be successful making software, and that even includes games. If you're good, you can make it happen. Apple has made people crazy about apps, and it's paying off, as just a few days ago, Apple announced it had sold its 15 billionth third party iOS application, and recently paid out over 2.5 billion dollars to developers. Apple Tweaks The Notification Center Gesture In iOS 5 Beta 3 Apple has tweaked the Notification Center gesture in iOS 5 beta 3. Now, when users are in a full-screen iOS app, a swipe-down from the top of the iPhone's screen will instead reveal a "hook," instead of revealing Notification Center in full. If you want to access Notification Center, simply drag down on the hook once it appears. The news of this improvement was discovered by the Italian blog, iSpazio (Google Translate). As you can see in the above three screenshots, the first and second screens display the hook (at the top, in the center). Pulling down on this reveals Notification Center. App News How One App Developer Scored Big & Still Lost In The App Store Imagine creating an iOS game and seeing it downloaded illegally by thousands of users. Worst still, Apple, through its Game Center, seems to condone the practice. This is what GAMEized is facing, according to a message on their blog. Based in Melbourne, Australia, GAMized is a game development agency that typically creates products for other companies. However, it recently released its own game into the App Store called FingerKicks, a universal soccer arcade game. First released on July 1, the $.99 app quickly amassed 17,000 players, according to Apple’s own Game Center app. Given that Apple pays developers 70 percent of all sales one would think GAMized would have amassed $11,900 in sales. Instead, it has only collected $800. Has Apple Deliberately Delayed The Google+ App? Nearly two weeks after the Google+ social networking service went online, Apple has yet to approve the release of the official iOS app. Now it appears the delay is deliberate on Apple’s part, according to news first reported by Radu Tyrsina of ITProPortal. On July 4, we reported that Google had submitted its Google+ iPhone/iPod touch app to Apple for approval. At the time, we were told Google had submitted the app sometime prior to that date. While the thoroughness of Apple’s app approval process is legendary, in this case, Google is crying foul. “Some Google employees suspect that Apple is delaying the acceptance of the Google+ iPhone app in its virtual store, for some other reasons.” Confirmed: EA Acquires PopCap - Here Are The Details Electronic Arts has officially acquired PopCap Games, the developer of Plants vs. Zombies, Bejewelled 2 + Blitz and many other popular iOS titles. While EA purchased PopCap for $750 million in cash and stock, if the company hits a series of revenue milestones, around $1.3 billion in total could end up being spent on the acquisition. Originally, TechCrunch uncovered certain details of a possible PopCap acquisition, though to begin with, the buyer was unknown. Following this, the website's "sources" stated that the buyer was Electronic Arts: A massive American games developer, who has been involved with almost every gaming platform going for a long time. EA already has a variety of titles in the App Store, though the company doesn't have the small time, indie appeal PopCap Games possesses.