Major new app store to take on Apple, others

AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and others to create app store to rival Apple’s
Store was announced Monday at the GSM World conference in Barcelona, Spain
Store would sell apps for iPhones and for smartphones like BlackBerry, Google Android
Until now, Apple has had control of all apps that go on the iPhone
(CNN) — Some of the world’s largest telecommunications companies have teamed up to create an apps store of sorts that they say will rival Apple’s and those of other smartphone makers.

AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and 24 other companies have formed what they’re calling the Wholesale Applications Community, they announced Monday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

The store will be designed to encourage developers to create mobile and online applications for all smartphones and operating systems, according to a written release from the GSM (Global System for Mobile) Association, which hosts the conference.

The group aims to create an open platform.

“For customers this means a broader choice of innovative applications and services available on a wider choice of devices than ever before,” the group said on its Web site, which was online Monday morning.

Samsung, Sony Ericsson and LG Electronics also are part of the group.

The groups said their site will give app developers a simple route to publishing and marketing, and will offer smartphone customers new apps quicker and a wider selection than anyone else.

“This is tremendously exciting news for our industry and will serve to catalyse the development of a range of innovative, cross-device, cross-operator applications,” said Rob Conway, CEO of the GSM Association.

As of now, Apple has had control over all apps that officially run on its iPhones, offering them through the company’s official online store. Users with the ability are able to “jailbreak” the phones to run other apps, but the overwhelming majority of them come through Apple’s store.

By creating a new platform, the Wholesale Applications Community would theoretically let developers write programs that would be usable on multiple smartphones instead of just one.

Currently, Apple apps must be written specically for the iPhone, making them unusable by other phones.

Many application developers have complained that Apple is sometimes slow to approve their work and has rejected apps for what they call arbitrary and confusing reasons.

Systems like Google’s Android have been more open, but the project by the mobile companies will be the biggest push yet to lure developers away from official outlets to a third-party distributor of apps.

Other global companies in the group include China Mobile, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Vodafone and Wind.

The group says that combined, the companies have access to more than 3 billion customers worldwide.

There was no word Monday on how long it will be before applications become available from the consortium. But it’s expected to take a while.

Source: CNN

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PwnageTool for iPhone 3.1.3

While the list of tweaks is absurdly small in the latest iPhone OS update, we know that some of you simply have to run the latest and greatest OS at all times regardless of risk. Fortunately for you, the Dev-Team has stepped to with a new version of PwnageTool (v3.1.5 for Mac OS X) that handles the update to iPhone OS 3.1.3 with aplomb while preserving your device’s ultrasn0w unlock and jailbroken state. As usual, there’s a litany of precautions depending upon the device you own so hit the source link and read the dev-team’s words carefully before proceeding. With a little luck, patience, and undue stress, improved accuracy of your device’s reported battery level can be yours — Huzzah?

Craigslist App for Blackberry

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craigslistmobile app for BlackBerry
craigslistmobile app for BlackBerry

If you’re a hardcore Craiglist user and a BlackBerry fan you’ll be happy to know that the craiglist mobile app for BlackBerry was finally approved into App World today (we first caught a glimpse of it back in November – check out that post for video). This full-featured app is the “official craigslist app” and was built for craigslist by Movela/Pyxis Mobile. That being the case, the bad news here is that the app carries a price tag of $4.99. It definitely provides a smoother and faster experience than running the mobile website, that’s for sure, but may not be worth the $ for those who just check out craiglist from time to time.

This Week’s Best iPhone Apps

In this week’s world dominating iPhone app roundup: Your every whim, robotically indulged! Radio champagne, poured generously! Football stuff, assimilated! Your computers, turned into wirelessly controlled zombies! Death foods, avoided! And more..

Siri: Speech recognition apps recognize speech. Search apps search. Concierge apps consolidate services. Siri does all of the above:

To use the iPhone app, you just have to say aloud a command like “Book a table for six at 7pm at McDonalds” (I’m sure you’re classier than that, but let’s stick with it for now), and then using speech-recognition technology and the iPhone’s GPS capabilities, your command is translated and processed by the app, responding with confirmation of booking-or lack of availability.

The app is paired with OpenTable, MovieTickets, StubHub, CitySearch and TaxiMagic, and recognizes a respectable number of commands with surprising accuracy. Success seem to vary voice to voice, and some types of requests seem to have a higher success rate than others, but really, just find out for yourself—it’s free, and very impressive.

Where Is My Phone: While this app’s name implies that it has some kind of phone-finding capability, Kyle discovered very quickly that this app is fundamentally about farts. And other noises! But mostly farts:

Turning your iPhone into a remote controlled whoopee cushion is what I had in mind. Little Worlds, the makers of the app, apparently also had it in mind, including more than one variety of fart among the dozen or so sound effects included with the download.

Here’s what’s going on: “Where is my Phone” listens for your whistle and then plays the sound effect of your choice (or your own recorded soundbite) when it hears it. The makers claim it can recognize you Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah-ing from up to 30 meters away, and I had no trouble in activating sirens, explosions and the rest just by whistling on the other side of the room.

Not bad for a buck, athough you’ll have to get comfortable with the prospect of planting your iPhone, which is not cheap, in various risky places for sound gags, which decidedly are. Anyway, far be it from me to put a price tag on a good fart joke.

MotionX GPS Drive: Once upon a time, a homely little app called MotionX GPS was described on this site as “Hands Down the Best Value In GPS Apps”. Now, our biggest complaints about the app—its somewhat clunky UI and lack of landscape mode—have been remedied. Says Wilson:

All in all, it’s a palpable improvement for a worthwhile product, especially one so durned cheap. That’s right, it’s still just $1, with $3/month or $25/year turn-by-turn voice service. You may hate GPS navigators, you may even hate GPS apps, but if you are on vacation and you don’t have this app-at the very minimum, that is-you are just crazy.

See, in the App Store, three bucks buys you a decent novelty soundboard, or, you know, that cross-country road trip you’ve been aching to take your whole life.

Logitech Touch Mouse: Air Mouse Pro is one of the coolest apps in the App Store. With it, you can control your computer’s mouse, enter text via the iPhone keyboard, run apps, control media—it basically turns your iPhone into a wireless control center for your laptop or desktop, without the awkward experience of using a full VNC client. Logitech Touch Mouse is that, except with just the mouse and the keyboard. So, 75% of the functionality, for 0% of the price.

NewEgg: To have built a PC in the last decade is to love NewEgg. Now they have a free app, which, if downloaded, raises your risk of impulse-buying a new Mini ITX power supply buy roughly 400%.

Don’t Eat That: There’s a tremendous concept here that’s not fully realized. What Don’t Eat That can do now is tell you what pretty much any listed ingredient on a food label is, and perhaps whether or not it coincides with some allergenic, philosophical or preferential objection you have. It also introduces you to new reasons not to eat specific ingredients. (They’re carcinogenic, bad for kids, etc.)

What it can’t do, though, is take a single food item and break it down for you, which is what it feels like this app is reaching for. If you have the patience to enter ingredients individually, and don’t mind an app that errs (way) on the side of caution with some of its recommendations, you’ll get a lot of use out of this thing.

This American Life: This American Life is the best thing on the radio right now. (ATTENTION RADIOLAB FANS: You will have failed if this statement nets me less than 20 hate mail letters.) So when I say that the TAL iPhone app does nothing but play you lots and lots of WBEZ’s flagship show, I mean that in the best way possible. Half of what you’re paying for here is utility: you can access any and all TAL shows whenever you want, as well as live streams. The other half of what you’re paying for here is the show itself: anyone who’s listened to their podcast over the last few years knows it costs them a lot of money, and this app is intended to help pick of the bandwidth tab, at least a little. To this end, it helps that it’s very, very good. $3.

Assassin’s Creed 2: Takes the franchise into somewhat odd side-scrolling territory, but manages the transition well. If you have trouble with onscreen controls in general, maybe pass on this one. If you don’t, and you’re an AC fan, it’s worth a look. [via TouchArcade]

Super Bowl XLIV Official Program: As many people as watch the Super Bowl, I have my doubts about how many actually purchase a hard copy of the official game program. Programs are for plays, or foreign films, or your daughter’s dance recital! This is football! (This is something a football fan would say, right?)

Anyhow, this is that print program, adapted for the iPhone. It’s five bucks, packed with photos, historical context, stats and fresh editorial content. Warning: there is roughly a 50% chance (feel free to debate that figure in the comments) that you’ll hate this app come Sunday.

This list is in no way definitive. If you’ve spotted a great app that hit the store this week, give us a heads up or, better yet, your firsthand impressions in the comments. And for even more apps: see our previous weekly roundups here, and check out our Favorite iPhone Apps Directory and our original iPhone App Review Marathon. Have a swell weekend everybody.

Source: Gizmodo.com