Apple launches App Store Volume Purchase Program for businesses

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Date: Thursday, July 14th, 2011, 14:43
Category: iOS, News, retail

While iOS from the App Store have proven to be supremely useful, they can prove to be an expensive habit when purchased en masse.

Per Macworld, Apple has announced the App Store Volume Purchase for Business Program, which offers to businesses the same capabilities that the company made available to educational institutions last year.

With the Volume Purchase Program you create a single Apple ID that is specifically used to manage purchases for your organization. Using that account—which needs to be linked to a corporate credit card or purchasing card—organizations can search for apps and then purchase them in bulk. (There’s no discount for purchasing in bulk, however; the prices remain the same as they are in the App Store.)

Once the purchases have been made, Apple issues the company a list of redemption codes for the app. Whoever is managing app distribution for the company can email those codes to employees, allowing them to download the app just by following a link on their Mac, PC, or iOS device. The management interface is updated as users redeem the apps, keeping track of which codes are still available, as well as retaining a full purchase history.

In addition to purchasing apps available on the App Store, the Volume Purchase Program also lets you buy custom business-to-business (B2B) apps that third parties develop for your company. These are distinct from apps that might be developed within a company and distributed to employees, in that they are required to be paid apps (costing at least US$10) and are developed out of house. The app developer, who needs to be a member of the iOS Developer program, also needs to authorize purchasers to allow them to buy the apps, at which point the process is virtually identical to buying apps in bulk from the store.

Both cases allow organizations to use third-party Mobile Device Management (MDM) programs to distribute and manage redemption codes for apps.

To be eligible for the Volume Purchase Program, your organization must have a Dun & Bradstreet (D-U-N-S) number, a valid business address, and business contact information. Though the program is not yet in operation, Apple says that it’s coming soon and that a full guide on volume purchasing is available at Apple’s website.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Analyst: App Store downloads to increase by 61%, prices to jump 14% in calendar year 2011

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Date: Monday, July 11th, 2011, 04:12
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod shuffle, iPod Touch, News

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If you remember your economics class, an old supply and demand chart should pop into your head.

Those charts are applicable.

Per AppleInsider, having recently hit the 15 billion download milestone, a new analysis has found that downloads from Apple’s iOS App Store will increase 61 percent in calendar year 2011, while the average selling price of software will be up 14 percent.

Analyst Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray published on Monday his latest App Store model, including average selling prices, for the official iOS digital download destination. The new numbers reflect Apple’s announcement from last week that more than 15 billion applications have been downloaded by more than 200 million iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users.

Munster estimates that the average iOS user will download 83 applications in calendar year 2011, up from 51 in calendar year 2010. That’s an increase of 61 percent year over year.

“We believe this trend points to the increasing importance of an app store with a broad selection of tested apps to drive device sales,” Munster wrote. “Smartphone users are showing an increasing appetite to use apps to add features to their phones, and iOS has the leading app ecosystem.”

Piper Jaffray’s App Store model also indicates that paid application average selling prices are on the rise in 2011. Munster said the data shows prices up 14 percent year-over-year in calendar year 2011, compared to the 18 percent decline seen by paid applications in 2010.

“After the initial race to the bottom in App Store pricing, we are seeing users pay up to add features and games to their iOS devices,” he said.

Using Apple’s announced figures, the App Store model suggests that 82 percent of applications on the iOS App Store are free, while 18 percent are paid. Those paid applications have an average selling price of US$1.44.

Munster attributed the increase in 2011 at least partially to more expensive iPad applications that are gaining share among App Store downloads. The average selling price of the top 10 iPad applications is US$6.32, up 36 percent from US$4.66 a year ago. Meanwhile, the top 50 iPhone applications have an average price of US$1.61.

The App Store model also shows that iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users are now downloading more than 32.3 million applications per day. That’s nearly triple the 11.9 million-per-day rate of tracks downloaded from Apple’s iTunes Music Store.

Apple does not profit greatly from its iOS App Store, and Piper Jaffray estimates that the company’s 30 percent share of all sales amounts to just 1 percent of its total revenue. More importantly for Apple, though, the App Store drives sales of iOS devices — something that Munster admitted is hard to quantify.

“Even though our qualitative analysis does not factor in the sale of additional devices, we believe the App Store drives device sales,” he said. “We see a virtuous cycle of Apple’s robust app ecosystem adding features and functionality to the iOS devices, which drives sales, which makes the ecosystem more robust, which encourages more developers to write apps, and the cycle repeats itself.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple working on fixes for posted iOS security holes

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, July 7th, 2011, 10:25
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, security

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This probably won’t make you feel safer about the security on your iOS device…

Per Macworld,

Apple said on Thursday that it is developing a fix for vulnerabilities that affect its iPhone, iPad and some iPod touch models, a problem that the German government warned could be used to steal confidential data.

The vulnerabilities became publicized with a new release on Wednesday of JailbreakMe 3.0, a framework that allows unauthorized applications to be installed in devices such as the iPhone.

Apple prohibits the installation of applications that have not been approved for distribution in its App Store. But hackers have used vulnerabilities in the iOS operating system that allow the phones to be “jailbroken,” allowing applications not vetted by Apple to be used that are obtained through alternative application markets such as Cydia.

Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security, known as BSI, issued an alert on Wednesday about the vulnerabilities, which it said could be exploited if a user opened a specially crafted PDF document. The issue involves how the iOS parses fronts within the mobile version of the Safari browser.

There is also a second vulnerability that circumvents ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization), a security feature which mixes up how programs are loaded into memory and makes it more difficult for an attacker.

BSI noted that it would be possible for an attacker using the flaws to steal passwords, banking data and e-mails as well as have access to built-in cameras, intercept telephone calls and obtain the GPS coordinates of a user.

Apple rarely comments on security issues. But on Thursday, Alan Hely senior director for corporate communications in London, said in a statement that “Apple takes security very seriously, we’re aware of this reported issue and developing a fix that will be available to customers in an upcoming software update.”

The BSI wrote that the devices affected are the iPhone 3G and devices running iOS versions up to 4.3.3. Also affected are both iPad models and iPod Touch models running iOS versions up to 4.3.3.

One of the hackers behind JailbreakMe, Comex, published a fix for the vulnerability called PDF Patcher 2, which is now in the Cydia app store. It will only work if people install JailbreakMe, which Apple discourages.

“Until Apple releases an update, jailbreaking will ironically be the best way to remain secure,” according to a note on the JailbreakMe website.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Adobe releases Flex 4.5, Flash Builder 4.5, updates tools for building iOS apps

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Date: Monday, June 20th, 2011, 05:01
Category: iOS, News, Software

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Sometimes the Hatfields and the McCoys can put their differences aside and get along where the iOS platform is concerned.

Per the company’s official blog, Adobe this week released Flash Builder 4.5 and Flex 4.5, adding the ability to build and distribute iPhone, iPad and iPod touch applications on Apple’s official App Store.

The new functionality was announced on the company’s official blog, where Adobe Product Marketing Manager Puneet Goel revealed that App Store software could be created “using one tool chain, programming language and code base — a first for developers.”

The support for iOS applications comes in addition to the ability to create software for Research in Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, also new features of Flash Builder and Flex 4.5. Initially, application support was only available for Android software.

Flash Platform evangelist Serge Jespers demonstrated the ability of Flash Builder 4.5 and Flex 4.5 to build iOS software in a video accompanying the post. The same stock market tracking application was shown running on an iPad 2 and iPod touch, in addition to an Android-powered HTC smartphone and the BlackBerry PlayBook.

Jespers also showed off the ability of Adobe’s software to allow developers to quickly created tabbed applications, or add features like automatically rotating between portrait and landscape mode. By checking the appropriate boxes, developers can easily export their mobile software for Apple’s iOS alongside BlackBerry Tablet OS and Google Android.

A “Platform Settings” option also allows developers to select their target device when creating iOS software. Through this, software can be created specifically for the smaller screen sizes of the iPhone and iPod touch, the larger 9.7-inch display of the iPad, or both.

“When your application is ready, you don’t actually have to build the application separately for every single platform,” Jespers said. “You can actually do that in one code. It’s pretty amazing.”

Flash 4.5 and Flex 4.5 are offered as standalone products for developers to purchase, or are available through Creative Suite 5.5 Web Premium and Master Collection.

Last September, Apple revised its policy on third-party development tools for iOS, and decided it would allow developers to use tools like Adobe’s in order to create software made available to download on the App Store. That was a change from an earlier policy, when Apple’s iOS 4 software development kid license banned tools that would port applications from Flash, Java and Mono.

Controversy over Apple’s decision prompted CEO Steve Jobs to pen a letter in which he explained that allowing Flash conversion tools would produce “sub-standard apps” for the iPhone and iPad, hindering the progress of the iOS platform. Jobs said at the time that it was known from “painful experience” that allowing developers to become dependent on third-party tools is restrictive.

“We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers,” Jobs said in April 2010.

Though Flash remains banned on iOS devices, Adobe has continued to expand its support for the iPhone and iPad, and this march released a Flash-to-HTML5 conversion tool. The “experimental” software called “Wallaby” allows for Adobe Flash Professional files with the .fla extension to be converted to an HTML format that can be opened in the Mobile Safari browser on iOS devices.

If you’ve had a chance to play with the new versions of Flash Builder or Flex, let us know what you think in the comments.

Apple Changes Promo Code Terms In App Store

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Date: Friday, June 17th, 2011, 15:06
Category: App Store, Apple, iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Review, Software

This isn’t exactly new information. It was reported as far back as May 3rd by Mac Rumors, but somehow I missed it until now. Apple has changed the functionality of the iOS App Store (unconfirmed whether this affects the Mac App Store) so that if you use a developer promo code to download an app, you will not be able to submit a review for the app; you will be “locked out”. Here is a blurb copied from an exchange with iTunes Store Customer Support:

Thanks for writing back and letting me know your concern. I understand that you are still not able to write a review. I know how disappointing it can be when things don’t work out the way they should. I am sorry to inform that it is no longer possible to rate or review an app if it was downloaded using a developer’s promotional code.

The crackdown is apparently in response to complaints that reviews were being skewed as a result of developers giving codes in exchange for favorable reviews. I’m not sure how widespread this issue is, and I’m sure the ones perpetrating the review stacking will find another way to do it, but for the most part it seems like a good idea. No worries about that here; regardless of how I get ahold of an app, if it’s crap I’ll tell you.

Leaked photos point towards additional voice recognition features in iOS 5

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Date: Monday, June 13th, 2011, 08:30
Category: iOS, iPhone, Rumor

If the rumors don’t make technology interesting, it’s the leaks that do.

Per AppleInsider, Twitter poster Chronic has posted a pair of screenshots of an alleged internal build of iOS 5, displaying settings for “Nuance Dictation” and “Nuance Long Endpoint.” In addition, a “Mic on space key” may provide further evidence of the rumored voice recognition support in iOS 5. The features are reportedly disabled for the developer build of iOS 5.

In May, it was suggested that Apple would deepen its relationship with Nuance, which makes voice recognition technology, in iOS 5. However, Apple neglected to demonstrate voice control features at last week’s Worldwide Developers Conference. After Apple’s keynote, several sources claimed that voice features weren’t ready in time for WWDC.

Apple has been expected to add complex voice command features to iOS since it acquired Siri, the developer of a voice search app that supported open-ended questions, last year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iTunes in the Cloud services allows for re-downloading of removed App Store programs

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Date: Friday, June 10th, 2011, 06:28
Category: iOS, News, Software

Ok, this is weird but interesting.

Per CDFXapps.com, with the new iTunes in the Cloud service, users can re-download all applications that were once purchased, including software that is no longer publicly available on the App Store.

Apparently, software that may have been removed from the App Store because of a variety of reasons can be accessed once again with the newly launched iTunes in the Cloud beta. The software can be found in the “Purchased” section of the “Updates” tab in the App Store.

For example, “Tris,” a Tetris clone that was removed from the App Store years ago, can once again be downloaded. The only requirement is that a user has ownership of the software connected to their iTunes account.

Another application that emulated a DOS prompt on iOS devices, dubbed “iDOS,” can also be once again be accessed, for those who once had the software installed on their device. “iDOS” was removed from the App Store after it was discovered traditional executable files could be loaded into the application and launched in the emulator.

The iTunes in the Cloud beta, the very first feature to be released of Apple’s newly announced iCloud, debuted on Monday. The “Purchased” section of the iOS App store offers a thorough list of all software that has been purchased on the authorized Apple ID signed in on the device.

Even if software is removed from the App Store, users are allowed to continue to run the application on their iOS device. But sometimes applications may be deleted without being backed up to a local computer through iTunes.

The fact that software no longer available in the App Store is stored through iTunes in the Cloud suggests that Apple’s backup functionality in iCloud will be very thorough. When introducing iCloud on Monday, the company touted its new half-billion-dollar server farm in North Carolina and how it would be the backbone for Apple’s new far-reaching service.

In a recent WWDC keynote, Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs admitted that the company’s previous MobileMe service was not its “finest hour.” But he also presented iCloud as a new product that would “just work” as promised, without any thought necessary from users.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple revises App Store guidelines to reject apps that focus on DUI checkpoint avoidance

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Date: Thursday, June 9th, 2011, 06:48
Category: iOS, News, Software

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Apparently, there are some apps that just won’t fly on the App Store.

Per Macworld, Apple has quietly updated its App Store Review Guidelines to effectively ban apps that warn drivers of nearby police checkpoints. The move comes after members of Congress had put pressure on both Apple and Google to remove such offerings from their respective mobile app stores.

The update to Apple’s guidelines, which was posted on June 6, and verified by an Apple spokesperson, includes a new entry in Section 22: Legal requirements. The last subitem on that list, number 22.8, now reads as follows:

“Apps which contain DUI checkpoints that are not published by law enforcement agencies, or encourage and enable drunk driving, will be rejected.”

Apple’s change of heart comes more than two months after four U.S. Senators sent a letter to Google and Apple asking that DUI checkpoint apps—which include programs like Buzzed, DUI Dodger, and Fuzz Alert Pro—be removed from the iOS and Android app stores. Congress ratcheted up the pressure even further last month during a hearing on location data. While that hearing ostensibly focused on privacy issues, Senator Charles Schumer of New York used his time on the floor to ask Apple executive Bud Tribble why Apple hadn’t removed or rejected apps that help drives avoid DUI checkpoints.

Tribble, Apple’s vice president of software technology, told Schumer:

“One of the things we found is that some of these apps are actually publishing data on when and where the checkpoints are [using information] published by the police departments. In some cases, the police department actually publishes when and where they’re going to have a checkpoint… They believe that these checkpoints provide a deterrent effect.”

Apple’s updated policy singles out apps that share unpublished DUI checkpoints, but seemingly leaves wiggle-room for Apple to ban apps using public data—when that data is couched in terms of avoiding detection for driving under the influence. It seems likely that existing apps that do not follow these rules will be removed from the App Store as well.

A check of the App Store Wednesday revealed that Fuzz Alert Pro has removed all mention of DUI checkpoints from its marketing, and the app no longer offers DUI data. At this writing, however DUI Dodger and Buzzed both remain in the App Store with their more singular DUI focuses intact.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and above all…drive safe!

Apple releases iBooks 1.3 update

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Date: Wednesday, June 8th, 2011, 05:45
Category: iOS, News, Software

On Tuesday, Apple released version 1.3 of its iBooks e-book and PDF reading app for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

Per Macworld, iBooks 1.3 adds a couple of new features, including a read-aloud feature for some children’s books that isn’t working yet.

iBooks 1.3 requires an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad running iOS 3.2 or later to install and run.

If you’ve played with the new version and have any feedback, let us know.

Appearance: Atlantic City Mac User Group meeting tonight

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 13th, 2011, 10:17
Category: App Store, Apps, iOS, iPad, Meetup, News, User Group

Just a quick heads-up that I’m presenting my favorite iPad apps tonight, Friday, May 13, live in the meatspace at the Atlantic City Mac Users Group (@ACAMUG) at 7:30 p.m. If you’re going to be in the New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware area please stop by.

ACAMUG meets at the Mays Landing, NJ campus of Atlantic Cape Community College located on Route 322, aka the “Black Horse Pike”, about two miles west of the Hamilton Mall (directionscampus map.) Head to Building M, room M129 — across from Careme’s restaurant.

I’ll be giving away retro PowerPage t-shirts and copies of my book, The Droid Pocket Guide (2nd Ed.). I look forward to meeting you there.