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iOS 4.2 Brings New Features to Mobile Safari

iOS device users gained access to some pretty awesome perks yesterday when iOS 4.2 became available for download. iPad owners were finally rewarded by Apple for their patience with AirPlay, Wireless Printing and of course, multitasking. If you’re an iPhone user, you may have noticed a few new perks as well. However, it would appear that Apple also threw in a whole bag of awesome that they’ve kept on the down low.

As part of the testing of Safari and JavaScript he’d been doing for an upcoming project, mobile web development guru Maximilano Fritman found that Apple has baked a few new tricks into Mobile Safari, including accelerometer and gyroscope support, updated HTML 5 form support, the ability to support new JavaScript data types and enhanced SVG/Canvas support. What does it all mean? In simple english, how iOS device users interact with the internet is about to get a whole lot closer to what they experience when browsing the web from their computers. Better still, thanks to the accelerometer and gyroscope built in to late model iOS devices, you’ll be able to interact with mobile Safari simply by changing your device’s orientation.

That’s pretty sweet.


Follow this article’s author, Seamus Bellamy on Twitter


Video: SlingPlayer Mobile for iPad Gets Teased

SlingPlayer Mobile for iPad
(Image & video courtesy of Engadget)

It’s hard not to love Slingbox, the home theatre hardware capable of throwing any video plugged into it to whatever compatible device you might have. The iPhone has had SlingPlayer Mobile for some time now, but what’s been missing has been a version optimized for the iPad — which is finally coming soon.

Engadget is reporting that an iPad version of SlingPlayer Mobile is on the way, and you can get a preview look at how it works with the embedded video below. Sling is on a roll lately, having just launched on the new Windows Phone 7 platform, and promises the iPad version will be “better than any mobile app we’ve ever done.”

In particular, the video streaming quality gets a boost on the iPad thanks to Apple’s own H.264 Live Streaming. “The UI looks nicely responsive and unobtrusive, and the video does indeed look pretty great in the middle of a 360p YouTube video,” according to Engadget.

Apparently, SlingPlayer Mobile for iPad is done and ready to go, but the company is waiting for Apple to release iOS 4.2 before they make it available to all. (Speaking of which, where is that iOS 4.2…?)

Given that the iPad already has Netflix, Hulu Plus, ABC and any number of other ways to consume content, it will be interesting to see how SlingPlayer Mobile stacks up against the onslaught of competition — particularly with so many people cutting the cords on their cable and satellite television these days.

To be notified when SlingPlayer Mobile for iPad is available, head to the Sling website and drop them your e-mail address.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter


Apple Leapfrogs RIM as Fourth Largest Mobile Phone Vendor Worldwide

IDC Q3 2010 market share
(Image courtesy of AppleInsider)

The news just keeps getting worse for Apple’s competitors in the mobile phone market: A new report shows that Cupertino pushed past Blackberry maker Research in Motion in the third quarter to become the fourth largest mobile phone company in the world.

AppleInsider is reporting that IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker report is out for the third quarter of 2010, and it’s got some grim news for Blackberry maker Research in Motion (RIM) — Apple has now stolen the number four spot in worldwide mobile phone sales from the Canadian firm. This is the first time that Apple has cracked the top five on IDC’s list of global cell phone companies, which is topped by Nokia, Samsung and LG in the first three spots.

“The entrance of Apple to the top 5 vendor ranking underscores the increased importance of smartphones to the overall market.” said IDC senior research analyst Kevin Restivo. “Moreover, the mobile phone makers that are delivering popular smartphone models are among the fastest growing firms.”

With RIM being pushed to number five with 12.4 million units shipped compared to Apple’s 14.1 million, it was Sony Ericsson who was toppled from the top five — a first since the inception of the IDC Mobile Phone Tracker report in 2004.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the report is the year-over-year change for most of the companies. Number one Nokia grew a mere 1.8 percent, while number two Samsung fared better at 18.6 percent. LG actually lost ground with -10.1 percent, while Apple was up a whopping 90.5 percent from the previous year, largely due to launching the iPhone 4 in 17 new countries in the third quarter.

The new IDC data would appear to back up Steve Jobs’ claims this month that Apple has passed competitor RIM during the company’s quarterly conference call. “I don’t see them catching up with us in the foreseeable future,” Jobs boasted. “It will be a challenge for them to create a mobile software platform and convince developers to support a third platform,” a reference to iOS and Android being the dominant players in the smartphone market now.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter


PlayOn Mobile for iPhone Lands in App Store

PlayOn Mobile

September was a landmark month for the App Store, which saw Apple loosen many of their previous restrictions and allow apps that might have otherwise been kicked to the curb in the past. This week, PlayOn Mobile joined the ranks.

TUAW is reporting that PlayOn Mobile for iPhone has been approved and is now available as a free download. Many Mac users may not have heard of PlayOn, since the software is (for now, at least) Windows-based, but it does a great job of pulling video from various websites and streaming it to your HDTV — including TV network sites like, who stubbornly remain devoted to Adobe Flash and don’t offer full episodes via iOS devices.

“PlayOn Mobile lets you watch Internet TV on your iPhone,” the app description reads. “You can connect via Wi-Fi or 3G and as long as PlayOn is running on your PC, you can access all PlayOn features.” Prior to the app being approved, the company provided an HTML5 workaround via Mobile Safari to stream content, but that’s no longer necessary with a native app.

While the PlayOn Mobile app is free, the Windows-based software that drives the streaming is not — you’ll have to pay .99 for the first year and .99 for each additional year, or you have the option of plunking down .99 for a lifetime subscription.

So what makes PlayOn so great? The long list of content providers, many of which otherwise aren’t available on iOS devices, such as Comedy Central and the aforementioned CBS. You’ll also get one-stop access to, Netflix, Hulu and many others as well, which makes PlayOn Mobile an attractive option.

PlayOn Mobile is available now as a free download from the App Store and requires iOS 3.0 or later. It’s compatible with the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, although the app is not yet universal for optimal playback on the iPad.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter


Tango Dances Its Way Into App Store with Mobile Video Calling

Tango website

If you don’t have any friends with a FaceTime-equipped device but still want to enjoy mobile video calling, there’s a new option that’s just hit the App Store in the form of Tango, available for both iOS as well as Android.

All Things Digital’s Walt Mossberg devoted this week’s Personal Technology column to the just-released Tango app, which provides free video calling between iOS and Android devices in the same style as Apple’s own FaceTime.

After installing the Tango app, a simple registration is required (involving only your cell phone number, name and e-mail address) and once you allow the app to search your address book, it will find any friends who are already registered for the service and add them to your Tango Contacts. Given that the service is so new, you’ll likely come up with a blank Contacts list to start, but once you tap on the Invite tab, you can quickly invite others to join the party via e-mail or SMS.

So how does it work? “In my tests, Tango worked as promised, and was simple to use,” Mossberg reveals. “But the quality of its video calls was uneven, and only a few of my calls matched my best experiences with FaceTime, which, while hardly perfect, was better. Video froze or stuttered too often for my taste, and will have to become more reliable for me to recommend the service for important or frequent use.”

Mossberg is quick to note that despite its quirks, Tango is worth giving a try, since unlike FaceTime, the service is cross-platform (iOS and Android), works over both Wi-Fi and 3G and even runs on the older iPhone 3GS, which Apple’s own solution certainly does not. The tech guru also found the service easier to use than competitors like fring or Qik, particularly since Tango uses your mobile number to connect with other users rather than some arcane login name that you friends and family may not know.

While Mossberg previewed the Tango app on Wednesday, it became available to the public on Thursday and the free 5.4MB download is now live on the App Store. Tango requires iOS 4.0 or later and is compatible only with the iPhone at this time.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter


FOKUS Working Towards Cross-Platform Mobile App Environment

The world of smartphone app development is a frustrating, constantly changing place. To get a feel for what developers have to put up with, you needn’t look any further than the iTunes App Store. For the longest time, developers were allowed to churn out their creations using third-party software… until they weren’t. Out of the blue a little while back, they were once again. Should they be victorious in the long uphill battle to complete an application, that app has to go through a stringent approval process, where it could very well be disallowed, forcing the developer to either scrap her project or tweak it to Apple’s satisfaction. Throughout this process, developers make no money from the sweat of their brows. Worst of all, should the developer want to deploy his wares to a number of App Stores, she’ll be forced to jump through a number of similar hoops once again. With such a development environment, nobody wins. Innovation is stifled by strict and oft-times frustrating App Store rules, meaning that consumer yearning for an application available on one platform to come to another often goes unsated as developers spend so much time fighting through red tape that they’re too busy to transfer their work to a different OS ecosystem. Fortunately, things may be looking for individuals interested in cross-platform mobile application development, as a number of players in the mobile telecommunications game have banded together to sort out a universal web-based approach to application development. Their solution is one that will seem very familiar to long-time iPod touch or iPhone users: Web Apps.

A push to develop a secondary web-based application environment that could be utilized on all mobile phones, no matter what OS they operate under, is being put forward by the German Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems, or FOKUS for short. FOKUS is a group of 22 organizations–including such notables as Sony Ericsson, the World Wide Web Consortium and a number of European telecoms–that have dedicated themselves to the development of a web-based application environment that would be accessible by any web-enabled device. FOKUS calls this one-for-all-and-all-for-one environment Webinos.Webinos would run independantly of a smartphone’s core OS, thus making the point of whether you’re rocking an iPhone, Nokia or Android handset irrelevant. In theory, FOKUS’ endeavor sounds like a great idea, but Webinos could have some difficulty gaining traction, as similar ventures such as Wholesale Applications Community, which launched last February have struggled to gain ground in the hearts and minds of developers or consumers.

So what do you think folks? Is a robust, cross-platform application environment the wave of the future or will we continue to rely heavily upon carrier and hardware manufacturer provided App Stores?

Follow this article’s author, Seamus Bellamy on Twitter.



Mobile iWork Update Brings Exporting and MobileMe Integration to the iPad

Ladies and gents, the powerful iWork suite for iPad has been updated.

To start, Numbers has been updated to enable exporting of spreadsheets to Microsoft Excel (.XLS), copying of spreadsheets between Numbers and your MobileMe iDisk or WebDAV service, and the ability to group and ungroup objects. Keynote has been updated with the same exporting and copying abilities, and support for audio when importing Keynote ’09 presentations. Lastly, everyone’s favorite mobile app, Pages, has been updated with the same ability to copy documents, as well as the option to display the word count and support for opening text (.txt) files from Mail.

The new updates are now available and should pop up within your App Store updates page.

Follow this article’s author, Florence Ion, on Twitter.


Google Announces Google Apps Premier, Mobile Editing, Retina Display Support for Google Earth

This morning, Google announced several updates to its widely used mobile services, including Google Apps, Google Docs, and Google Earth for iOS devices.

Google’s newest update in security may help convince skeptics to store their data in the cloud, after all. The search giant announced Google Apps Premier, Education and Government Edition for users that need that extra bit of heightened security. The Premier package will enable folks to sign in using their password and a one-time verification code that is sent to their mobile phone. The two-step verification process will enable stronger protections to help fend off phishing scams and password reuses. Google is making this feature accessible to organizations both large and small without making it too complicated to set up.

Google has also introduced mobile editing capabilities for Google Docs on the iPad and Android platform. Now, you can edit that expense report or finish writing that paper on the bus ride to work or school. Of course, we don’t suggest doing so if from a tiny-screened Android device, as the experience seems better suited for the iPad.

Lastly, the Google Earth app [iTunes link] has been updated for Retina Display support. The update also includes the new ocean content layer, as well as underwater bathymetry and ocean surface support. The app is free and works on all iOS devices, as well as Android, so download it if you haven’t already.

Follow this article’s author, Florence Ion, on Twitter.


Google Adds Push Notifications to Mobile App

google push

It’s always been a bit of a pain to integrate our beloved Gmail and Google Calendar with our Apple devices. Syncing Google Calendar requires setting up an Exchange account–an extra hoop that makes Google syncing a lot less effortless than something like MobileMe. Thankfully, Google has given all of us loyal users a handy solution–Push notifications for their own mobile app!

Google’s Mobile App has always been a nice way to check Gmail and Google Calendar. It’s well designed and has voice search. But, it never felt all that integrated with our iPhones, since it lacked a notification system. Hopefully Google’s newest update, which adds push notifications, will make the app feel a little more native. Get it here!

Via Gizmodo


Follow this article’s author, Ambika Subramony, on Twitter.




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