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Microsoft Office Web Apps Get Tech Preview — iPhone Version Coming Later?

excel-1

Now this is something from Microsoft that we’re really excited about — Office Web Apps that take the traditional second pillar of Microsoft’s business and launch it up into the iPhone Safari browser-compatible cloud.

We’d prefer a native Microsoft Office for iPhone at this point, of course, but a free (ad supported, though hopefully not with 15-30 sec. un-skippable commercials…) version online? That’s a great “good enough for now”.

Microsoft has just begun showing off the tech preview, though Techcrunch says the mobile version is still in its infancy:

We mentioned in our original post in July that the ability to use products across the OS, browser, and mobile device is a key part of Microsoft’s strategy. We actually demo’d the Sharepoint-based version of PowerPoint on an iPhone and it was disarmingly sleek. While this functionality has already been established for Sharepoint, the SkyDrive-based apps are still being developed to work on mobile browsers. Microsoft says it will be done by the time the product launches next year.

With Google’s Web Apps really raising the bar (and bringing the competitive pressure), it’s not surprising to see Microsoft pushing back. And, hey, maybe Apple could get in the game and start doing something more interesting with iWork.com as well…

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Microsoft Office Web Apps Get Tech Preview — iPhone Version Coming Later?


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Amazon Remote Wipes Kindle Copies of 1984, Animal Farm — Redefines Irony

iphone-kindle-remote_wipe

According to Engadget, Amazon has remotely wiped copies of George Orwell’s classics, 1984 and Animal Farm from Kindles, refunding the purchase price of affected users.

We’re not yet certain, but users of the iPhone Kindle app are probably similarly effected.

It remains unlikely that Amazon broke into any houses, repossessed any copies of same, and left change on the bureau.

By contrast, when Apple removed NetShare from the App Store, already purchased copies remained — and remain to this day — on the devices of whomever purchased them.

Takes a lot of wrong to make App Store policy seem right these days, so way to go, Amazon. You’ve either redefined ownership in the DRM age, or broken faith with any customers thinking of owning any more Kindle content…

This is a story by the iPhone Blog. This feed is sponsored by The iPhone Blog Store.

Amazon Remote Wipes Kindle Copies of 1984, Animal Farm — Redefines Irony


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Does the iPhone Need a Hardware Keyboard?

iSlider - iPhone Slide Out Keyboard Concept

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone back at Macworld 2007, he prefaced the introduction by saying what was wrong with current not-so-smartphones — the hardware keyboard. They don’t go away when you don’t need them. They don’t change if you switch from text entry to bitmap editing, for example, And if you come up with a great idea later, you can’t go back an add an extra button.

Now it’s 2009 and Apple has released the iPhone 3GS, yet many people, including notable technologists, have called the lack of a physical keyboard a deal-breaker.

Is it? Let’s take a look after the break.

Dieter, in his review for the Palm Pre, had this to say:

I’ve been using QWERTY keyboards on phones for over seven years now and I had no problem adjusting to the Palm Pre. If you’re looking for a comparison, I’ll say that it’s not as good as your standard BlackBerry keyboard, but for 90% of people it’s going to be much better than the iPhone’s on-screen software keyboard. I know the keyboard is a big X factor for a lot of people, so the best I can say is that you not only need to try it for yourself, but you need to give it at least a couple of days of use before you turn in your verdict.

Personally, I’m on record as saying I vastly prefer the iPhone’s virtual keyboard to either the Treo, Windows Mobile, BlackBerrys and G1s I’ve owned or test-driven. My dislike for hardware keyboards and the pain-in-the fingers and arms they’d given me pretty much made me avoid them entirely until the iPhone came along. Zero. Stress. Typing.

Also, as we’ve said before, for those who need to switch frequently from English to Chinese, Hebrew, Arabic, or even other Roman input method, hardware keyboards just can’t compare. (And let’s not forget those who need to out-type netbooks during car races…)

Daring Fireball, in response to Tim Bray saying he’d never use an iPhone sans hardware keyboard, summed up the argument:

(1) that all phone-size keyboards — hardware or software — are poor compared to real honest-to-god full-size put-your-eight-finger-across-the-home-row-keys keyboards; but (2) given a week or two of use and some trust in the auto-correct system, most people can thumb-type just as well, if not better, on an iPhone as they could on a BlackBerry or a slider-style keyboard like the G1’s.

DF also believes Apple will never make an iPhone with a hardware keyboard, and that Apple will not suffer in the market for this (for our part, we’ve suggested the aforementioned Palm Pre could be considered the iPhone with a keyboard, given Jon Rubinstein’s history).

Given the over 40 million iPhone and iPod touch software keyboard devices already sold, and the 1 million iPhone 3GS’s sold opening weekend alone, it’s hard to argue that point. While there certainly is a niche that will never forgo the lack of a hardware keyboard, Apple seems to have proven there’s a far bigger market of those that will embrace, or at least tolerate and adapt to it.

What’s your take? Is the lack of a hardware keyboard holding the iPhone back? Is it just old-school hardware keyboarders that miss the action? Is it a deal-breaker for you? Or do you think Steve Jobs was right, a next generation smartphone needed a next generation keyboard?

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Does the iPhone Need a Hardware Keyboard?


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Eucalyptus E-Book Reader Now Approved, Available in App Store

Eucalyptus e-book reader

This time, same as the last time, the initial, stupefying rejection of e-book reader Eucalyptus has been followed up by web outrage and now App Store acceptance. (Can we officially call these the 4 stages of App Store grief’ing now?) From developer Montgomerie’s blog (via Macworld):

Earlier today I received a phone call from an Apple representative. He was very complimentary about Eucalyptus. We talked about the confusion surrounding its App Store rejections, which I am happy to say is now fully resolved. He invited me to re-build and submit a version of Eucalyptus with no filters for immediate approval, and that full version is now available on the iPhone App Store. [$9.99 – iTunes link]

Eucalyptus provides a pretty amazing UI through which to access all the free content at Project Gutenberg. If you enjoy classic literature and drop-dead gorgeous iPhone interaction, check it out and let us know what you think!

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Eucalyptus E-Book Reader Now Approved, Available in App Store


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App Review: FLIP

flip_4

FLIP Forum Review by llofte. For more Forum Reviews, see the TiPb iPhone App Store Forum Review Index!

If Tetris and Bejeweled were to have a child, they would give birth to FLIP. This is a puzzle game of flipping and tilting your iPhone around to manipulate gems. There are 3 very distinct game modes: standard, puzzle, and speed.

Standard Mode

In standard mode, gems fall one at a time from the top and the objective is to mach like-colored gems by having them touch. Tilting the iPhone left and right moves the falling gems appropriately. These controls are fairly sensitive and it’s easy to move a gem farther than intended. I found that the more vertical I hold the iPhone, the less sensitive the controls tend to be. If you flip the iPhone 90 degrees, all the gems will fall to the new bottom. This is what makes standard mode a true puzzle in my opinion. For example, in the above screenshot, it initially looks like there’s no way to match 4 gems. But if I flip to the right, I will get 4 red gems to match up. This makes the dynamics of the game interesting and challenging. As you progress, the falling speed and the amount of gems you need to match increases. You get bonus points for multiple matches at once called “link combos” and for matching more gems than required for that level. The game ends when a gem is unable to enter the game because the stack is too high.

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Puzzle Mode

In this mode, you play through a series of what eBattalion calls “think-puzzles”. Each level begins with multiple distinctly colored gems in a specific location. On the grid, there is a colored square for each gem. The goal is to get the gems to their matching square. When you get a match, the square eats up the gem and turns white like the rest of the grid. You’re given a certain number of allowed flips to complete each level. If you finish without using all the allotted flips, you earn extra points. If you do not complete the puzzle with the allowed flips, you lose a life. The game ends when you lose all your lives. You are also given a certain amount of continues. Using a continue lets you continue from the current level, but erases your points.

flip_2

To control the gems, you must (of course) flip your iPhone around. Moving gems square by square is not an option; they all fall in the direction that you tilt your iPhone. Again, the controls are pretty sensitive and it’s easy to accidently make unintended moves. I found it easiest to play this mode with my iPhone as flat as possible looking down on it.

Speed Mode

The object of this mode is to match up all the like-colored gems in each level before you run out of time. What makes this mode challenging is that you must have all the gems of one color matched up before they clear. The controls and layout is exactly like puzzle mode. The quicker you complete the level, the more points you get. The game is over if you do not complete the puzzle in time. Unlike puzzle mode, you do not have any lives. You can use continues, however, but this erases your points.

flip_1

Other Features

  • If you exit the application while in the middle of game, FLIP returns to exactly where you left off when you relaunch.
  • Can disable the music and listen to your own
  • Easy directions to include your scores on the global scoreboard (must visit their website)

Conclusion

FLIP is a great little game (actually, three games), especially at only $0.99. I find myself playing when I have a few minutes to kill as well as when I have time to obsess over it for awhile. I would love it if a future update had an option to adjust the sensitivity of the controls. I often find myself losing a life or game because the game reacts when I barely move. I was initially disappointed that there wasn’t an option to disable the accelerometer and have gesture controls, but it didn’t take long to realize that the game wouldn’t be the same with gestures… besides, its name is FLIP for a reason!

Pros

  • 3 game modes
  • Fun and challenging
  • Time killer

Cons

  • Sensitive controls

TiPb Review Rating

TiPb Forums Review: 4 Star App

FLIP is available for $0.99 from the iTunes App Store.

This is a story by the iPhone Blog. This feed is sponsored by The iPhone Blog Store.

App Review: FLIP


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Appigo Todo, UFC Undisputed, Word2Find, Tweetero, iStat – TiPb Picks of the Week

Every week a few of us from team TiPb, bloggers and forum crew alike, will bring you our current favorite, funnest, most useful App Store apps, WebApps, jailbreak apps, even the occasional accessory, web site, or desktop app if the mood strikes us. As long as they’re iPhone (or iPod touch) related, they’re fair game.

So who’s on deck this week and what are our picks? Find out after the break!

James’ Pick: Appigo Todo

As a heavy Outlook (and therefore Exchange) user, one shortcoming even the highly anticipated 3.0 upgrade does not address is the management and synchronization of tasks. Although I was initially disappointed, Todo by Appigo has filled the void quite nicely. Todo is a robust app that can organize multiple todo lists, projects, and even manage your shopping list. One great feature of Todo is the ability to sync with Toodledo, Remember the Milk and even has a free desktop sync client. For more information, see the uber review as put together by TiPB’s very own Matt Sawyers (msbaylor on the forums). [$9.99 – iTunes link]

Appigo Todo

Jeremy’s Pick: UFC Undisputed 2009.

[Ed: Not an iPhone app, but Xbox 360/PS3 and what’s held Jeremy hostage lo this last week!] I’ve been waiting for this game for a very long time and my patience has paid off. Must have for any gamer who loves mixed martial arts. Anyone out there who thinks they can take me… You know how to contact me. ;)

Leanna’s Pick: Word2Find

This is a quick little game that tests your vocabulary and unscrambling skills. You are given 6 letters and must produce as many words from them within the time limit. There is always at least one word that’ll use all 6 letters. Word2Find is one of those games you can get away with playing while in class or a meeting… not that I would ever do such a thing… [ $0.99 – iTunes link]

word2find

Matt’s Pick: Tweetero

Yes, Tweetero is a Twitter application and while is has all the usual standard Twitter actions, what put this on my radar was that it allows you to save Tweets that you can send later. Of course it doesn’t have all the nifty features of say, Birdhouse, but it is nice to have the
option to save, edit and send later (or even send all saved). The interface is rather simple and the Home layout is reminiscent of Tweetie, best of all this little gem is free! [Free – iTunes link]

Tweetero

Rene’s Pick: iStat

iStat is by Bjango, whom you may know by the name iSlayer on the Mac, makers of the awesome iStat series of widgets of the same name as this app. Confusing? Maybe, but the app itself is as simple as it is awesome. It shows you all kinds of nifty stats and measures about your iPhone (and even lets you free up system precious system stats or email your UDID at the touch of button), but here’s the killer feature — it shows you stats for any Mac you’ve connected to as well. Want to know how hot your MacBook is running in the living room or what your Mac Pro is doing in the office without getting up? iStat makes it easy. If you have an iPhone and a Mac, and any sort of geek-cred, you need iStat. Best of all, it’s at sale price right now!

[$1.99 – iTunes link]

istat

Your Pick?

You’re part of team TiPb too, so what’s your pick? What app was your absolute fav last week? Let us — and everyone — know in the comments!

This is a story by the iPhone Blog. This feed is sponsored by The iPhone Blog Store.

Appigo Todo, UFC Undisputed, Word2Find, Tweetero, iStat – TiPb Picks of the Week


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Do iPhone App Store Reviewers Spend Their Time Searching for Porn?

app_store_church_lady

A while back we mentioned that an update to popular Twitter client, Tweetie was rejected by the iTunes App Store because, at that particular day and time, ****itlist showed up as a popular trend on Twitter. Later that same day Apple reversed the decision. But they haven’t, apparently, reversed the capricious lunacy that led to it.

Latest example: the e-book reader Eucalyptus has been rejected because not once, but twice, an App Store reviewer specifically searched for “the kama sutra of vatsyanya translated fr…” (or at least searching for enough of it to be offered that search term, then selecting it).

Developer James Montgomerie blogs about his frustrations, the continued opaqueness of the App Store review policy, and points out the blatant inconsistency of Safari, Google Mobile, and a variety of other built-in and already approved 3rd party apps providing complete internet search access to pretty much any content imaginable. (And some we’d frankly rather not imagine, thanks!)

Needless to say — and regardless of Apple’s statistics saying 98% of all apps are approved within 7 days of submission, 35,000+ apps in the store, and over one billion downloads — that simple, clear, and consistent guidelines, and developer support equal to the customer support Apple touts and prides itself on, are still not available some 10 months since launch, is embarrassing.

The App Store is a phenomenal success, no doubt about it, but doesn’t matter how fine your tuxedo is if you keep walking around with one or more battered, bloody eyes.

Need more absurdity? Forbes profiles the trials and tribulations involved in getting an app approved about US President Obama’s dog in cartoon form…

[via @chokenberry on Twitter, and the Reptile]

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Do iPhone App Store Reviewers Spend Their Time Searching for Porn?


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From the Forums: iPhone on Verizon Soon? Bored of Your iPhone? WWDC and New iPhone?

From the Forums

Once again it is time for another From the Forums. A weekly post in which TiPb takes some of the many good threads from our forums to put into the spotlight. To join in on the forum action be sure to register, it’s a painless process – we promise.

If you are like me, you are sick and tired of hearing rumors about an iPhone coming to Verizon. Well here is yet another rumor that started in the Crackberry forums that has now found it’s way onto our forums thanks to Duvi – iPhone on Verizon Soon? Now I can’t speak for everyone here at TiPb but I can honestly say I do not see this happening anytime in the near future. Thoughts?

This next thread started by KaiZeRKhan, is actually a question that I get asked quite a bit – Do you ever get bored of your iPhone? I’ve had a ton of phones along with my iPhone and the reason the others always end up sold is that I get bored with them, not the iPhone. How about you?

The last thread for today is one that has been spotlighted here before. We figured with WWDC approaching fast why not toss it in one more time – Will Apple reveal the new iPhone at WWDC? Did I mention this one has a poll and so far it’s 38-14 in favor of yes, we will see the new iPhone introduced at WWDC.

See you on the forums!

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From the Forums: iPhone on Verizon Soon? Bored of Your iPhone? WWDC and New iPhone?


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Analyst Expects $700 iPhone-like iTablet in 2010

iPhone Analyst vs. Magic 8 Ball

Perennial Apple guestimator, Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray, is back in the headlines (see above) with his prognostications about an Apple iTablet, which he sees hitting market in 2010 at a price point between $500 and $700 (i.e. between the top level iPod touch and bottom level MacBook).

Apple Insider sums up the specs, which are likewise ranged: screen between 7 and 10 inches, OS between iPhone and Mac. In one interesting aside, Munster wonders if Apple would allow both a higher screen resolution into the App Store to leverage more pixels, but also let several iPhone 320×480 apps run on screen at the same time (like Mac apps do in their windowing environment). Wireless carrier subsidies, like the iPhone enjoys from AT&T are also speculated.

Our favorite line?

“In other words, we expect the end result of the expected product to be launched later but with more dramatic differentiation than the Street is expecting.”

This is a story by the iPhone Blog. This feed is sponsored by The iPhone Blog Store.

Analyst Expects $700 iPhone-like iTablet in 2010


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Wanted: Faster, More Powerful iPhone Processor Architect + Embedded Video Engineer

ipod_touch_faster_iphone_3g

MacRumors has come across an Apple job listing for someone with:

excellent understanding and knowledge of processor architecture, specifically ARM and its vector unit NEON. Additional Intel SSE or PowerPC AltiVec is also very helpful. Being able to use processor micro-architecture to write and deliver fast routines is an essential attribute.

Neon, they remind us, is the brand name for the ARMv7 Cortex, the next-generation of the processor Apple uses in the current iPhone and iPod touch.

What’s not yet clear is whether Apple will tap the multi-core potential of the ARMv7 Cortex to really shift multimedia performance into the mobile stratosphere. However, another tantalizing glimpse into the iPhone’s potential future is revealed in a second job listing, this one for an engineer with:

Experience developing embedded image and video processing solutions. Experience developing embedded image and video analysis solutions. Experience working on real-time media and networking applications (WiFi and cellular networks).

Of course, we won’t keep our fingers crossed too hard for those iTunes Replay, personalized podcast streaming, or remote DVR access patents Apple has teases us with in the past…

This is a story by the iPhone Blog. This feed is sponsored by The iPhone Blog Store.

Wanted: Faster, More Powerful iPhone Processor Architect + Embedded Video Engineer


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iPhone Battery Saving Tips