All posts in Store

Valve Releases Mann-conomy Store for Hardcore Team Fortress 2 Players

Calling all Team Fortress 2 players! And we know there’s plenty of you out there because you’ve managed to kick our butts–repeatedly–in Frag the Editor Fridays quite a few times now. Valve has released a new online store, caleed Mann-conomy, that will allow players to buy, trade and customize a ton of inventory items in the game’s history, using their Steam Wallets. The Steam Wallets will be accounts that players can add money to–sort of like a gift card.

The first update comes chock full with 65 new items that introduce five new class weapon kits, 18 new hats, and the ability to duel with pistols. The Mann-Conomy will allow BLU and RED mercenaries to finally trade these items with each other, which should add a bit more playability to the game. Players will also be able to duel, which could really increase hostility during matches. We say, bring it on!

There’s a nifty FAQ page if you’re just not entirely sure what we’re talking about here. The Mann-conomy will accept US Dollars, British Pounds and European Euros!

Follow this article’s author, Florence Ion, 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


Remote 2.0 Now Available in App Store

We can’t think of a better way to start our morning than by hearing the news that a much needed and much anticipated update to Apple’s free Remote app for iOS has finally been made available in the App Store. You may recall that a while back, we let you in on the fact that the first iteration of Remote was built by a single developer, which may well have attributed to why it’s taken so darn long for an update to crop up. No matter whether the 2.0 version of the application was built by the same fellow or a million-strong code monkey army, we couldn’t be happier to see this update make the scene.

It appears that no matter what iOS device you choose to install it on–iPad, iPhone or iPod touch–Remote 2.0’s got something new that you’re going to dig. With the update to the software, we’re not only reciving support for the iPhone and iPod touch’s high resolution displays, but also the ability to run the app on an iPad utilizing all of the tablet’s screen real estate. A clean, crisp user interface! Yes! More than this, Remote 2.0 offers the ability to access any Shared Libraries you may have added to iTunes, as well as total control over an AppleTV, allowing users to tweak features like AirPlay with a few taps and swipes.

If you’re interested, Remote 2.0 can be accessed via the iTunes Store by following this handy link.

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



U.S. Kindle Store Offers 700,000 E-books

Amazon just hit the Android digital shelves with an update to the app for that platform. Apart from adding voice search and Wikipedia, there was also a nice big fat number hidden in their release documents. 700,000 to be exact.

Straight from TechCrunch, we find that Amazon has been cranking out the ebook titles, adding 30,000 in the last three weeks alone. The current figure is 200,000 more titles than than the Kindle store sported in April, with no end to growth in sight.


If there is any edge that Amazon has over its competitors (apart from the easy reading in direct sunlight that it has over the iPad), it’s numbers. As in a deep well of titles and how many Kindles are out there in the market. Sure, Barnes & Noble claims over 1 million titles, but Nooks aren’t in as many hands. iPads are flying off the shelves, but it’s almost de rigeur to add the Kindle app to your device. Kindle also shows up on Mac and Windows laptops and desktops.

If there’s any long-term hope for Amazon’s Kindle, it’s to keep itself on as many platforms as possible and to keep up this kind of growth. The device itself may eventually die, but as we all know, the device isn’t where the ebook profits are; it’s the title sales. Especially with e-books overtaking paper book sales.


Job Posting Suggests Microsoft Might Be Planning an App Store for Office

This is the generation that will never know life without an app store. These days, every tiny device imaginable has its own app store to tout; even the seemingly useless Peek email reading device has apps for social networking.

Now, Microsoft allegedly wants to jump onto this bandwagon with their own app store of sorts for the next next iteration of Office, most likely the version slated for release in 2013.  The idea that they’re considering this comes from a job posting on Microsoft that says they’re looking for someone who specializes in marketing to run their Office Managed group. Part of the job responsibilities include the description that “You will drive the innovation agenda that excites our partners in areas like ‘Office App Store’.” Oh yeah. You know, that Office app store that’s filled with Fart apps for Microsoft Word.

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


Why the Verizon App Store Could Save Android Without Hurting iTunes

I’ve been a Verizon customer for ten years now, since before you could purchase a monthly texting plan and unlimited minutes. I was with the company when they switched from black-and-green cell phone displays to color ones, and when Motorola was still considered one of the top tier mobile handset manufacturers. I remember my first phone with a color display–the Motorola T720i–and marveling at the phone’s texting and mobile web capabilities (back then, it only cost a month to get on Mobile Web). But then, as the phones became more colorful, and might I add “smarter”, Verizon introduced its own app store of sorts, called Get It Now. 

This “app store” was chock full of downloadable ringtones and instant messaging software, and games from well-known publishers like EA. It also introduced the idea of paying for specific software for your mobile phone that could enable your little device to do more than you thought it was capable of. At the time, it was a great idea to put this kind of expandability on a phone–the kind of handsets that we would refer to now as “dumb” phones. But as the cell phone market grew–and when Apple stormed the market with its very own app-enabled phone, the iPhone–Verizon had to up the ante a bit. When it introduced Android phones into its handset family late last year, those of us holding out were pleased to hear that our loyalty was honored with an operating system that was open source and an app store that wasn’t as closed as Apple’s.

But we were soon disappointed when we realized that Verizon hasn’t changed its ways. If you’re an avid listener of our weekly podcast, you might already know that I’m an Android user myself, and am smitten with the hardware performance of my HTC Incredible, call quality included. But while the cell service hasn’t let me down, the news that Verizon is planning on force feeding its own app store on its smartphone users rubbed me the wrong way at first. Why does there need to be two app stores on my phone? I’m fine with the Android marketplace and I know how to navigate it so that I stay out of trouble. Why do I have to have this extra icon in my app list when I’m not even going to use this thing? 

What didn’t occur to me is that I’m not really the typical Verizon customer. It’s my job to know these app stores from left to right, but there are a ton of Verizon users out there who are just entering the smart phone market. The minute they step into the Android Market, things get pretty shady. It’s like picking up furniture from off the street–you never know if you’re bringing home bed bugs or some other sort of nasty critters. And then if you place that nasty couch in your home, the bed bugs spread everywhere, and pretty soon you’re writhing on the floor, desperately trying to scratch the itch. In Android’s case, you never know if you’re downloading an app that’s hiding something malicious, and you might even come across something that could actually do some everlasting damage to your phone. 

Let me tell you from firsthand experience, the idea that you may have “bricked” your phone because of software will bring you to tears. I’ve always appreciated the fact that Apple requires you to sync your iPhone with iTunes because if things go bad, you always have a backup waiting for you on your hard drive. But in my case, if my phone goes kaput, all I’ve got are my contacts and recent calls saved in Google’s cloud–my apps are all gone. To add insult to injury, there is no Android Marketplace account that keeps track of the apps you purchase because developers use Google Checkout. So without the iTunes backbone, I am virtually alone in this ever expanding marketplace, and I can’t even tether the thing for free. 

So this is where the Verizon app store could actually save Android because it can offer a regulated marketplace where the transactions are actually accounted for. No longer will Verizon Android users purchase apps from unknown developers. Instead, Verizon will make sure that these apps are fit for the phones they’re selling, and account for the cash passed between developer and consumer. The Verizon app store would only work on handsets stocked with Android 2.2, but it would be a great entry point for new smartphone users who are terribly afraid of contracting a virus on their pricey handsets. I wouldn’t put it past Verizon to overcharge for these applications, anyway, but at least they could be trusted. And like Apple’s App Store, that means that someone would be looking to make sure that the apps in the store aren’t completely a waste of time–if you thought Apple had a problem with Fart apps, you haven’t seen the myriad of lame soundboards and “skins” that are infiltrating the Android Marketplace. By comparison, the Apple apps that are approved are better because there is someone on the other side saying, “We have enough of these silly apps. Let’s try some other kind of silly app from now on.” There’s no one to do that for Android, and I am not at all amused with the variety of Peter Griffin soundboard apps available right now. 

There is one major problem I foresee from a Verizon app store, however. Currently, there’s a Verizon apps section in the Android Market, called Vcast Apps. The page includes suggestions from Verizon of Android apps that you might want to download–like Skype, the official Twitter app, and Layar–and a few of Verizon’s own proprietary applications that were annoyingly installed on my Incredible when I updated to Froyo. One of these apps includes Verizon’s own navigation app, which I’m too afraid to even start up lest I incur an extra charge on my already expensive monthly bill. On the older Verizon phones, navigation was also available, which makes sense if you’re stuck with a sort of “regular” phone (as I like to call it these days) and want to opt in for that feature. But for a platform like Android that already comes with a very powerful navigation system (with turn-by-turn directions, even), why bothering offering another?

Well, I’d wager that it’s because Verizon wants to make money off of consumers that don’t know any better. It’s an extra for Verizon’s navigation application to work; Google Maps is free with any data plan. I think Verizon is afraid of losing its monopoly in this open Android market and not being able to profit from it. It’s not necessarily that the app doesn’t work as well or that it is any better than what’s offered for free, it’s that Verizon wants you to pay them so that they can have a little more control over your phone. 

Android is an open platform and I doubt Google will ever bother to fight with carriers because of its open nature. They probably just care about getting their software on as many devices as possible. Great for them, but bad for the average consumer, who may not be aware that based on their carrier they may not be getting a very “open” market place after all. This is why I prefer Apple’s infrastructure. They’ve got a piece of software in iTunes that, even with its flaws, keeps your phone tied to your computer so that your data is never lost. And, their regulated App Store means that I don’t have to sift through pages of crap apps looking for what I want. Apple is smart enough to offer up the right kind of competition by allowing in more than one type of app, so even if there are a variety of flashlight apps to choose from, they all offer something a bit different. With Android, it’s the carriers that have control–essentially, The Man–and with the iPhone, your App Store is run by Jolly Ol’ Father Apple (Um, Steve?). 

Verizon obviously wants the iPhone to steal AT&T customers away, and they know that this is only slightly possible because they, purportedly, have better service (this is all depending on your coverage area, but roll with us here). You can bet that Apple won’t be lenient about letting Verizon tromp over its App S
tore the way it has with Google’s Android Marketplace. Just like with AT&T, Apple will play hardball. But, this is a good thing. It’s not that we can’t expect Verizon will have these exact same apps in the App Store if Apple does release a CDMA iPhone (all of which will undergo their own arduous App Store approval process), but it means that Verizon will have to figure out a way to move away from their old habits and become accustomed to the new reality of app marketplaces.

If Verizon moves away from this model, then it will be easier for the carrier to compete in the smartphone war. After all, who would consider switching to Verizon if it meant that their iPhone was going to be filled with proprietary apps? All they care for are the ones that Apple gives them. If the CDMA iPhone stays the same as its predecessor, then Apple fans will have more of a reason to head to another carrier because it will be just the same as AT&T’s. And Verizon loyalists will jump for joy because finally, their carrier isn’t offering a phone that’s bloated with proprietary apps.

So tell us, readers. How would you feel if Verizon put in their own proprietary apps on your iPhone? Would you still be inclined to switch carriers? Do you still think a CDMA iPhone is even in the cards at this point?

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


IPA God Source Code Available For Sale, Could Enable App Store Piracy

iOS App Store piracy could be right around the corner for non-jailbroken devices if the source code of a new iPhone app falls into the wrong hands. IPA God recently made the news as an application that allows someone with a non-jailbroken iOS device to pirate (download for free) paid applications from the iTunes App Store. Now that the source code for this application is for sale, allowing anyone to purchase and distribute this application to the masses.

App Store piracy has been around for a while, but it is not widely available to people as the device is required to be jailbroken. IPA God works around this by using an exploit the developers found in iOS 4.1 and 4.2.

According to a forum post on iModZone, the developers will be selling their Twitter account, source code, and instructions for using the application. The auction will go until Tuesday at 12PM EST.

According to one of the developers, “our server is located in China…we host a lot of cracked ipas and cracked Cydia apps for years, so we have no problem about copyright since it’s not existing in China!”

This application could be detrimental for many developers that make a living from the iTunes App Store. If the application makes its rounds, this could steal valuable sales from developers. But there is good news in knowing that the application may not work as described as no one has seen the source code. But that isn’t stopping aspiring purchasers as the current auction price is at £20,000 (,242 USD).

The developers did post a video to YouTube showing the application, but we have to question the validity of the app.

You can read more about this application on Read Write Web.


Follow this article’s author, Cory Bohon on Twitter.


Apple Rooting Out App Store Squatters

Ask anyone in marketing and they’ll tell you that branding is everything. Finding the right name for your product can mean the difference between raging fiscal success and utter financial failure for developers. There there are few companies on the planet that understand this better than Apple. The Cupertino-based company has one of the most recognizable brands in the world. Don’t believe us? Flash a photo of their iconic fruit logo anywhere in the developed world and watch people’s eyes light up like a pair of iPod nanos.

OK, that was a terrible metaphor simile, but you get the idea.

With the success Apple has enjoyed in getting the name of their products ‘just so,’ not to mention the trials and tribulations the company has undergone to secure the rights to those names, it’s great to see that Apple’s taking a stand against name-squatters in the iTunes App Store.

It seems that a good number of developers with access to iTunes Connect have been scooping up names for iOS applications that they’ve no intention of bringing to market in a meaningful amount of time. Unscrupulous developers are able to do this by completing the application registration process up to the point where Apple asks that you provide a name for your new product. Having entered that name, the developer can opt to leaving the rest of the registration process incomplete, thus suspending the name they’ve chosen for their imaginary product in limbo.

To end this practice, Apple has begun to send out notices to developers warning them that if they don’t upload a binary of their application by a given date, the name the developer chose for their product would become freed up, making it fair game for others to developers to use. This is a move on Apple’s part that developers and consumers alike should be able to get behind, as making great names available for matching up to great products is a win for everyone.

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


VLC Video Player in App Store Soon

If this gets approval and the approval sticks (shed some tears for Google Voice), this might be some of the coolest news about the App Store in a long, long time. Could the sound we heard a few weeks ago be the cracking of the App Store and its over-the-top restrictiveness?

A few weeks back, it was fairly big news that Apple was going to let CineXPlayer for the iPad into the App Store. The app let iPad users play their Xvid-encoded movies without the hassle and wait of re-encoding them to be iPad compatible. Now, according to MacRumors, everyone’s favorite all codex-compatible media player, VLC is joining the fray. If you’ve ever downloaded a video to your hard drive, then found you couldn’t play it, VLC was there, patting you on the back, running that movie no matter how it was encoded. It’s long been our go-to solution when the standard video solutions weren’t cutting it.


Citing French website Mac 4 Ever and the developer Applidium, MacRumors tells us that the VideoLan team has given their blessing to the porting of VLC over to an iPad version. Not only have they given their blessing, but the app is already in submission and now we’re just waiting for approval.

But wait, there’s more. Not only will the app be free, just like your desktop VLC player, but that the developer expects to see the release into the wilds of the App Store as early as next week. At this point, the only rumor we’re hearing is an iPad version, but since we never thought we’d see this day, keep your fingers crossed for iPhone and iPod versions as well. (This commentor claims he’s heard a resounding “YES” from Applidium.)

And if you haven’t nabbed CineXPlayer, and you think someday you might buy an iPad, get it while it’s still there. The App Store gods are capricious and could dump this free app at any moment, without warning.


Google Voice to Become Comeback Kid In App Store

GV Mobile, the unofficial Google Voice application, may actually make it back to the App Store after all. After the GV Mobile application was pulled by Apple almost 2 years ago, along with the Official Google Voice application (which never made it past the approval process), many Google Voice users wondered if they would ever see the Google Voice functionality in an app on their iOS devices. But a recent tweet by GV Mobile application developer, Sean Kovacs, revealed that Apple has finally broken their silence about Google Voice on the App Store.

Good news: I did get confirmation back from Apple that it will most likely get back in once I resubmit,” tweeted Sean Kovacs.

This definitely is good news for the many Google Voice users who patiently await either an official or unofficial solution for dialing numbers through Google Voice. GV Mobile allows you to call contacts in your Google Voice address book or your iPhone address book through your Google Voice number, send and receive text messages through your Google Voice number, and retrieve your voicemail.

There’s no word yet on when (or even if) Apple will approve the app for the App Store, but Kovas remains hopeful that the application may be back on the App Store in a week.

Apple’s change of heart may be linked to the new developer guidelines that were published yesterday, but there’s no word yet on if this is the case.


Follow this article’s author, Cory Bohon on Twitter