Samsung is poised to release its own free mobile messaging service.
ChatON is designed to simplify mobile communication by connecting users on all major smartphones. It will support Bada, Android, BlackBerry, iOS and PCs.
“The idea is to enable users to communicate instantly with each other using any mobile phone, along with sharing hand-written notes, images, and video,” reports Digital Trends.
“Samsung has vastly simplified mobile communication by allowing users to connect to our upcoming feature phones and all major smartphones in the market,”said Samsung’s media solution center chief Ho Soo Lee. “Users around the world can now enjoy easier and richer interactivity with whoever they want, in the format they want — this is mobile communication reinvented and democratized.”
ChatOn will have an aggressive launch, initially available in more than 120 countries in 62 languages. Digital Trends reports that it will boast a wide range of social services including interaction with Facebook and support for conversation windows, photos and videos.
MagAppZine is a DIY app-publishing platform designed to lower the cost for publishers looking to create an application for the Apple App Store.
Starting next month, the 2.0 version will offer PDF uploads, website viewing and in-app sales of multiple issues (at a significant price drop).
“Co-founder Paul Canetti spent three years at Apple before leaving to launch a series of iOS training and development businesses,” reports ReadWriteWeb. “Then he started MagAppZine last July. It’s a simple looking publishing platform that democratizes access to publishing online — a little like blogging but for an App Store world.”
“Our most basic app package launched in April of this year,” explains Canetti, “but in September we are re-launching MagAppZine 2.0, which will include the new links and multimedia, an InDesign tool, and integration with Apple’s upcoming Newsstand feature. We’re also rolling out a new tiered monthly pricing structure that has plans starting at $99 a month.”
Based on Q2 statistics, Android has extended its dominance as the most popular smartphone operating system in the U.S., while Apple’s iOS also continues to gain traction.
According to NPD, 52 percent of smartphones shipped in the U.S. during the second quarter were running Android (up 19 percent from the previous year). Apple’s iOS earned a 29 percent share, up seven percent from Q2 2010.
NPD reports that these figures may have an impact on the potential revitalization of Motorola. “Google’s acquisition of Motorola shifts the balance of power in the handset-patent conflict between Google and its operating system competitors,” said Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD. “Android’s momentum has made for a large pie that is attractive to Motorola’s Android rivals, even if they must compete with their operating system developer.”
Market gains for Android and iOS have negatively impacted the competition. Market share for Research In Motion’s BlackBerry OS dropped significantly from 28 percent in the second quarter of 2010 to 11 percent this year. Microsoft’s Windows Mobile also suffered, falling from 10 percent in Q2 2010 to four percent in Q2 2011.
Prepaid smartphone numbers are on the rise, which may also impact Motorola (8 percent of prepaid phones were smartphones in Q2 2010, a figure that jumped to 22 percent this year). “Android is also leading the charge in the rapidly growing prepaid smartphone market,” Rubin said. “This was once a key segment for Motorola that the company has an opportunity to reclaim as prepaid carriers build their smartphone portfolios.”
Facebook has announced a new iOS and Android messaging app named Messenger that will allow users to send and view messages to Facebook friends across the two most popular phone platforms.
The app will also include a group messaging feature that will enable users to message multiple people for a single large conversation. Additionally, Messenger will help with coordinating group events by allowing users to include their current location in messages.
“Now Facebook’s vision when buying app maker Beluga is becoming clear,” reports Digital Trends. “The company has taken Beluga’s group messaging app and married it with Facebook contacts and messages.”
Messenger joins other emerging messaging services such as Apple’s iMessage and Google’s Huddle, but Facebook has the advantage of its 750 million member user base.
Will Facebook’s Messenger have an impact on RIM’s BlackBerry?
Apple’s Mac operating system has reportedly edged past Linux in popularity amongst developers in North America.
Windows OS remains the clear frontrunner for development with 80 percent of developers. However, while 5.6 percent of developers said they prefer Linux, Mac OS has taken second place with 7.9 percent.
“Apple has made tremendous strides in the last few years with innovative products and technologies. [As such], it’s quite reasonable to see developers adopting the Mac and its OS as a development environment,” explains Evans Data CEO Janel Garvin. “Linux has lost some of its luster after years of only single digit adoption.”
Mac OS X is based on the Unix operating system. The latest iteration — Mac OS X Lion version 10.7 — features a redesigned UI to help bridge Apple’s iOS for mobile devices and Mac OS for desktop computers.
Rdio has released a free iPad version of its streaming music app. According to the Gizmodo review: “Spotify may be stealing all the hype and pub for streaming music services but let’s not kid around here, Rdio still makes the best music apps across any platform.”
The review raves about the app based largely on its selection, album art, social aspects and quality music player.
Users can listen via their iPad headphones or through other devices thanks to AirPlay support — a feature that particularly appeals to the staff at Gizmodo: “I always thought it was funny to use the iPad as your music player but when you think about it, Rdio + AirPlay + Big Honking Screen gives you the biggest remote control in the house for the best audio system in your house with all the streaming music not in your house.”
For a better look at the interface, the post includes a brief video demo.
Apple is rumored to be securing the rights to allow downloading of TV shows and movies in addition to previously announced music in a new service called iTunes Replay.
The service will allow users to access movies they purchased since January 1, 2009. Some content will only be available for download five times.
Streaming will be to Apple TV and most likely iOS mobile devices.
AppAdvice reports: “The name, iTunes Replay is currently being used internally, and is planned to be kept when Apple makes this public. You should expect this to go public in the coming weeks, as the necessary changes are being pushed to Apple’s servers at the moment.”
Renowned iOS developer Mike Lee announced on Monday a new venture called Appsterdam Legal Defense Team that will band together the small developers to fight against patent trolls.
Ars Technica reports: “The goal, aside from the obvious one of being free from frivolous patent lawsuits, is to become ‘the ants of East Texas, minding their business until someone invades their anthill.'”
Apple has licensed patents from Lodsys, which it says covers third party developers — but the infringement claims against iOS developers are continuing.
The result is uncertainty that could imperil these smaller developers and the developer community generally, not only for Apple but for Android and other platforms.
“This is bigger than just Apple platforms,” explains Lee. “Apple has the luxury and history of moving very slowly — they accepted a 60 day discovery, for example. Dozens of app makers could be destroyed by then. There is also good chance Apple can’t actually sue Lodsys, since Apple is under contract by Intellectual Ventures and IV probably snuck indemnity in there.”
“We’re going after Lodsys for sure, but understand the ultimate target is Intellectual Ventures,” Lee added. “They are the Mordor to these trolls.”
The BBC’s popular iPlayer is an on-demand broadband television and radio service that has been available in Great Britain for four years.
As of last week, the service is now available through an iPad app to 11 countries in western Europe (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland) — with plans to launch in the U.S., Canada and Australia by the end of the year as a pilot program.
The app will allow users to stream programs over 3G and Wi-Fi, with the option to download for later viewing offline. International users will have access to some content for free, while full access will be subscription-based.
Luke Bradley-Jones, managing director of BBC.com, describes iPlayer as a VOD service: “We will have content from the last month, but also the best from the catalog stretching back 50 to 60 years.” He added, “What we’re trying to test in the pilot is the ability to drive exploration and discovery through a programming approach rather than an algorithm-based approach. We’re not trying to compete against a Netflix or a Hulu. This has to be tailored and hand-crafted, so we can create a tone of voice.”
Reports are circulating this week that Apple will reportedly release facial recognition capabilities for iOS 5 as an open API for developers.
The technology was made available as a result of Apple purchasing Swedish facial recognition algorithm specialist Polar Rose in 2010.
Polar Rose is the developer behind Recognizr, which Digital Trends describes as “a social media linking app co-developed with TAT that recognizes users and displays their network profiles on-screen.”
The iOS API can determine where a user’s mouth and eyes are located, and can process images for face detection, which introduces new possibilities for Faces and iPhoto. Since it is an open API, we should expect that third party developers will create more advanced facial recognition applications.
GigaOM reports: “It’s not something Apple is advertising about with the software update yet, but as it develops, it could become one of the most significant additions ever introduced to Apple’s mobile operating system.”
Apple Inc. officially unveiled its newest operating system — OS X 10.7 “Lion” — on Wednesday. The OS introduces many features that mimic functions seen on its popular iPad.
The company also reported record earnings in the third quarter, despite any major new product announcements. Revenue was up 82 percent, and profits more than doubled, as consumers continued to purchase iPhones and iPads in record numbers (Apple computers also continued to sell, although iPod sales declined 20 percent).
Global sales of iPads nearly tripled to 9.25 million during the third quarter. Apple credits some of the success to adoption of the device by businesses such as Alaska Airlines and Nordstrom.
The New York Times reports that Apple’s current market value is 10 times Dell’s and nearly five times Hewlett-Packard’s.
Videogame maker Electronic Arts announced this week it would acquire PopCap Games, maker of games like “Bejeweled,” “Zuma” and “Plants vs. Zombies.”
According to the deal, Electronic Arts is expected to pay $650 million in cash and $100 million in new shares.
EA has long been a dominant player in the console gaming market; this acquisition plans to strengthen its presence in mobile and causal gaming.
Mobile games, like those played on Android and iOS devices, are the fastest-growing segment of the gaming market.
“EA’s global studio and publishing network will help PopCap rapidly expand their business to more digital devices, more countries and more channels,” explained Electronic Arts chief exec John Riccitiello.
“Video Time Machine” is an entertaining and informative 99-cent iOS app from Original Victories, Inc. (compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad).
The app chronicles more than a century of compiled movies, commercials, TV broadcasts, and other moving images (the iTunes Preview description reads: “Watch over 10,000 hand-picked videos from 1860 to 2011”).
A simple interface enables users to select a year and then browse categories, including: news, games, sports clips, ads, movies, TV, and music.
For those more interested in entertainment surfing than a specific year or category, the app features a “random” button.
According to the Engadget post (which includes a video demo), all of the cataloged videos are available via YouTube, but the Video Time Machine “isn’t designed to simply mimic it; rather, the program’s meant to act more as a history lesson, giving us a unique opportunity to witness a slice of life.”
According to a recent Nielsen study, the average iPhone user commits twice the average amount of time to playing mobile games as compared to other mobile gamers, suggesting that iOS may have the most engaged gaming audience.
The study also indicates that 93 percent of app customers have paid for games in the last 30 days.
The average iPhone owner spent 14.7 hours playing games during the month, while the average Android owner spent 9.3 hours (the overall average for smartphone gamers is 7.8 hours/month).
The report explains that consumers are typically more willing to spend money on games than other types of apps.
Nielsen breaks down the leading categories of most popular apps for Q2 2011 in the following order: Games, Weather, Social Networking, Maps/Navigation/Search, Music, News, Entertainment, Banking/Finance, Video/Movies, Shopping/Retail, Dining/Restaurant, Sports.