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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Best Apps for Your New iPhone

So you’ve gotten a new iPhone on Verizon’s network. Mazel tov. For those new to the iPhone ecosystem, you may want to check out our many guides to the various apps available for your new smartphone.

We have dueling iPhone app choices from technology columnist David Pogue and App Smart columnist Bob Tedeschi’s favorite apps, picks from former tech reporter and longtime Apple watcher John Markoff and selections from media columnist David Carr.

Check back often, as our Apps Index is continually updated with apps coverage from all corners of nytimes.com.

For example, Mr. Tedeschi likes:

SOUNDHOUND (FREE AND $5) You’ve probably heard of Shazam, the app that identifies songs. SoundHound is faster, and it offers a broader range of ancillary features. You can hum a tune into the phone and it’ll find the song, look up lyrics and run YouTube videos of song performances. The $5 version lets you identify an unlimited number of songs. Users of the free version get five tags monthly.

HIPSTAMATIC ($2) Scores of photography titles are in the App Store. Many are terrific, but not one matches Hipstamatic’s blend of simplicity, serendipity and art. At heart, the app is a filter that will unpredictably saturate, blur or discolor your images, among other things. The results are always surprising and often stunning. Add packs of lenses and film effects for $1 apiece.

EVERNOTE (FREE) The company advertises this as a personal digital assistant, and it’s an apt description. Evernote is a traveling notepad that synchronizes with desktop and browser software (also free). Use your iPhone to copy an image, take a photo, record a voice memo or jot down a note, and it appears on your computer (and vice versa). It also recognizes your written text, within limits. The free version stores a fair amount of information, but for $45 a year, you needn’t sweat the data limits.

ANGRY BIRDS ($1) A runaway favorite among the iPhone crowd, the app tests your ability to break down the barricades that protect green pigs. The weapon: flightless birds, launched by catapult. No wonder they’re angry. The game is easy to learn, yet challenging to play, with witty touches throughout. You can try a limited free version, but if you do, good luck resisting the paid version, with more than 800 possible scenes.


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South Korean Film Director Makes Movie on iPhone

Moho FilmThe poster of the movie ‘Paranmanjang’

Park Chan-wook, one of South Korea’s best directors, gets lots of attention when he introduces a new movie. About 100 reporters showed up Monday morning for a screening of his latest work, a 30-minute short called “Paranmanjang,” which is Korean for “Ups and Downs.”

Some were there because of the way Mr. Park made the movie: shooting it entirely on the latest version of Apple Inc.’s iPhone.

“From hunting for a film location, shooting auditions, to doing a documentary on the filming process, everything was shot with the iPhone 4,” Mr. Park said after the screening. “We went through all the same film-making processes except that the camera was small.”

He became famous in 2000 with “JSA (Joint Security Area),” an intricate story that captured the tragic reality of the divided Koreas. Then, in 2004, he won the Grand Prix award at the Cannes Film Festival with “Old Boy,” the second of a three movies in what he called his revenge trilogy. And then in 2009, his movie “Thirst” won the Jury Prize at Cannes.

For the short, he teamed up with his younger brother Park Chan-kyong, a media artist, and KT Corp., the wireless operator that is the exclusive distributor of iPhone in South Korea. KT paid for a portion of the $130,000 in production costs.

Pyo Hyun-myung, president of KT’s mobile business group, called the movie “the product of the state-of-the-art technology meets art.” The company has sold 1.84 million units of iPhone since it became available in the market in November 2009.

Moho FilmA scene from the movie, Paranmanjang

The short is a fantastical tale that begins with a middle-aged man fishing one afternoon and then, hours later at night, catches the body of a woman. The panicked man tries to undo the intertwined fishing line, but he gets more and more entangled. He faints, then wakes up to find himself in the white clothes that the woman was wearing. The movie’s point of view then shifts to the woman and it becomes a tale of life and death from a traditional Korean point of view.

The quality of the cinematography is quite good, except for a little shakiness in the beginning. And the fact that the screen is coarse works to the film’s advantage, especially on the night scenes given its life-and-death theme.

KT began promoting the movie in October with an ad that was also shot with the smartphone. In the ad, Mr. Park asks himself, “Is there anything I can do that greatest directors haven’t done yet?” After stroking his chin, he exclaims, “Ah! Making a film with the iPhone!”

Mr. Park was not the first South Korean moviemaker to experiment this way. Last October, KT sponsored a film festival with 12 short movies also made with the iPhone 4. Mr. Park’s new work will be screened at nine cinemas nationwide later this month.

Read this in Korean


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General Electric Goes Mobile with iPad and iPhone

GE may have started with a single bright idea. But its current influence extends far beyond light bulbs and home appliances. GE is one of the world’s largest technology companies, with business units devoted to aviation, clean energy, financial services, media, and health care technology, to name a few. As the company imagines, develops, and builds technologies that transform the way we live, it’s channeling the equally transformative power of iPad, iPhone, and in-house apps to generate new business possibilities.

“Innovating for the future is who we are,” says Linda Boff, GE’s Global Director of Marketing Communications. “We’re always thinking about what’s next. How can technology make lives better and help our customers be more efficient? iPad and iPhone are wonderful ways to inspire us and help us get GE there.”

When iPhone was released, GE quickly recognized the business value of enabling its workforce with fast, mobile data access via an easy-to-use interface.

“We were early adopters of mobile technology,” says Dayan Anandappa, Director of Digital Technologies and Collaboration. “Not just for email, but for scheduling, productivity, and getting content anywhere. Before iPhone, travel and meetings always required a laptop. Now you’re no longer tethered to your location — and you’re still productive.”

The introduction of iPad created further opportunities for mobile productivity at GE. “iPad gives me access to email, contacts, PDFs, and PowerPoint presentations,” says Chief Information Officer Vic Bhagat. “I can even get GE-specific data and applications. It’s made things much easier, and a lot more mobile.”

For GE’s sales and marketing staff, the large iPad display makes it a useful interface for sharing business information and presentations, bringing greater immediacy to interactions with customers and colleagues.

“You can use it sitting across from somebody,” says Boff. “It’s not just a more portable laptop — it’s a different technology, and we use it differently. You have this beautiful device, and yet it quickly becomes our device. The apps and data are on iPad, yet it’s very much about GE and the GE brand.”

To maximize its mobile capabilities, GE has established the GE Mobile Center of Excellence, an internal group that develops tools and strategies to make mobile devices more useful for its many business units. The group has already built dozens of apps for in-house use on iPhone and iPad, and has created its own web portal, the GE Mobile App Store, to make it simple for users to find and download apps.

The apps range from industry-specific monitoring and diagnostic tools to business intelligence resources. For example, the company’s Transformer Monitoring app helps manage gas turbine inventory and electric transformers throughout the world, while PDS Movement Planner lets service personnel monitor railway tracks and get diagnostic information on locomotives.

In combination with the unique capabilities of the devices themselves, GE’s custom apps help the company’s core clients accomplish their business goals faster and better.

“The easy flow of information, the ability to flick through pages, the ability to zoom in from a global map to a specific transformer and read all the key performance indicators — these are some of the ‘wow’ moments we get when we launch these apps,” Bhagat says. “Could you do that on a terminal? I don’t think so.”

“GE has some of the best technologies in the world, and now we have the mobile platform to do something different,” Anandappa adds. “The iPhone SDK allows us to seamlessly translate our creative ideas into the technology itself. We can make something easy to use, but the back end can be extremely powerful. The possibilities are endless.”

Founded by Thomas Edison in 1878Headquarters in Fairfield, Connecticut300,000 employees in more than 100 countriesA Dow Jones “sustainability leader” for six straight yearshttp://www.generalelectric.com/

“GE has some of the best technologies in the world, and now we have the mobile platform to do something different.”

Dayan Anandappa, Director of Digital Technologies and Collaboration, GE

“Innovating for the future is who we are. iPad and iPhone are wonderful ways to inspire us and help us get GE there.”

Linda Boff, Global Director of Marketing Communications, GE


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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tech Behind Hit Games Comes to iPhone

The technology behind hit videogames such as “Batman: Arkham Asylum” and “Gears of War 3? is coming to iPhone and iPad game developers this week, in another sign that mobile gaming is booming on Apple’s platforms.

Chair Entertainment“Infinity Blade”

Epic Games is planning to release an updated version of its game-development tools, known as the Unreal Development Kit, to the public Thursday. The kit, which is free to download, will include new tools to create high-quality graphics and animations on iOS, effectively simplifying and speeding up the development processes for games. Epic doesn’t charge license fees to tinker with the kit nor to make free games. But, if developers want to sell their apps, they have to pay a $99 licensing fee and 25% royalties after the first $5,000 in sales.

“Apple’s App Store is the most vibrant market for mobile gaming,” said Epic co-founder Mark Rein. “If you’re going to make a game for a mobile device, and you want to make the most money, you’re nuts not to make it for iOS.”

Over the past few years, Apple has added technologies to improve the visual capabilities of the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. It also has marketed games heavily in both advertising campaigns and in its stores. The Cupertino, Calif.-based electronics maker also hired prominent videogame maker Graeme Devine last year to help manage relationships with top game makers, such as Epic. Devine recently left Apple to create his own games for the company’s mobile devices.

Apple has sold more than 125 million devices using its iOS operating system, strongly competing against the Nintendo DS, which has shipped roughly 135 million units, and the PlayStation Portable, which has sold more than 62 million units.

The results of building on the Apple platform have been good so far for Epic, too.

The company recently released “Infinity Blade,” a fighting game that Mr. Rein said could help usher more games with high-end graphics to iOS. Industry pundits have already pegged Infinity Blade’s sales at more than $1.5 million in its first four days on the market. Apple’s Game Center social network lists more than 300,000 users playing the game at $5.99 a pop.

So, what about Google’s Android operating system?

Mr. Rein said he largely agrees with id Software’s John Carmack, who recently outlined his concerns about the Android platform in an interview with Ars Technica. Among them: the wide variety of Android phones available on the market makes writing applications that can work across the board challenging, and Google’s Android Marketplace doesn’t allow for applications above a certain file size, a definite problem for both Infinity Blade and id Software’s “RAGE,” which are rather large downloads.

But, Mr. Rein said, he expects Google will come up with solutions to those problems over time.

UPDATE: This post has been updated to say that Mr. Rein is the co-founder of Epic. An earlier version incorrectly said he was the chief executive.


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Apple Reports First Quarter Results

Data Summary

CUPERTINO, California—January 18, 2011—Apple® today announced financial results for its fiscal 2011 first quarter ended December 25, 2010. The Company posted record revenue of $26.74 billion and record net quarterly profit of $6 billion, or $6.43 per diluted share. These results compare to revenue of $15.68 billion and net quarterly profit of $3.38 billion, or $3.67 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Gross margin was 38.5 percent compared to 40.9 percent in the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 62 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

Apple sold 4.13 million Macs during the quarter, a 23 percent unit increase over the year-ago quarter. The Company sold 16.24 million iPhones in the quarter, representing 86 percent unit growth over the year-ago quarter. Apple sold 19.45 million iPods during the quarter, representing a seven percent unit decline from the year-ago quarter. The Company also sold 7.33 million iPads during the quarter.

“We had a phenomenal holiday quarter with record Mac, iPhone and iPad sales,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We are firing on all cylinders and we’ve got some exciting things in the pipeline for this year including iPhone 4 on Verizon which customers can’t wait to get their hands on.”

“We couldn’t be happier with the performance of our business, generating $9.8 billion in cash flow from operations during the December quarter,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO. “Looking ahead to the second fiscal quarter of 2011, we expect revenue of about $22 billion and we expect diluted earnings per share of about $4.90.”

Apple will provide live streaming of its Q1 2011 financial results conference call beginning at 2:00 p.m. PST on January 18, 2011 at www.apple.com/quicktime/qtv/earningsq111. This webcast will also be available for replay for approximately two weeks thereafter.

This press release contains forward-looking statements including without limitation those about the Company’s estimated revenue and earnings per share. These statements involve risks and uncertainties, and actual results may differ. Risks and uncertainties include without limitation the effect of competitive and economic factors, and the Company’s reaction to those factors, on consumer and business buying decisions with respect to the Company’s products; continued competitive pressures in the marketplace; the ability of the Company to deliver to the marketplace and stimulate customer demand for new programs, products, and technological innovations on a timely basis; the effect that product introductions and transitions, changes in product pricing or mix, and/or increases in component costs could have on the Company’s gross margin; the inventory risk associated with the Company’s need to order or commit to order product components in advance of customer orders; the continued availability on acceptable terms, or at all, of certain components and services essential to the Company’s business currently obtained by the Company from sole or limited sources; the effect that the Company’s dependency on manufacturing and logistics services provided by third parties may have on the quality, quantity or cost of products manufactured or services rendered; risks associated with the Company’s international operations; the Company’s reliance on third-party intellectual property and digital content; the potential impact of a finding that the Company has infringed on the intellectual property rights of others; the Company’s dependency on the performance of distributors, carriers and other resellers of the Company’s products; the effect that product and service quality problems could have on the Company’s sales and operating profits; the continued service and availability of key executives and employees; war, terrorism, public health issues, natural disasters, and other circumstances that could disrupt supply, delivery, or demand of products; and unfavorable results of other legal proceedings. More information on potential factors that could affect the Company’s financial results is included from time to time in the Company’s public reports filed with the SEC, including the Company’s Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended September 25, 2010 and its Form 10-Q for the quarter ended December 25, 2010 to be filed with the SEC. The Company assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements or information, which speak as of their respective dates.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork, and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple is reinventing the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and has recently introduced its magical iPad which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices.

Press Contacts:
Steve Dowling
Apple
dowling@apple.com
(408) 974-1896

Investor Relations Contacts:
Nancy Paxton
Apple
paxton1@apple.com
(408) 974-5420

Joan Hoover
Apple
hoover1@apple.com
(408) 974-4570

NOTE TO EDITORS: For additional information visit Apple’s PR website, or call Apple's Media Helpline at (408) 974-2042.

Apple, the Apple logo, Mac, Mac OS and Macintosh are trademarks of Apple. Other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners.


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Monday, February 21, 2011

Apple Launches Subscriptions on the App Store

CUPERTINO, California—February 15, 2011—Apple® today announced a new subscription service available to all publishers of content-based apps on the App Store?, including magazines, newspapers, video, music, etc. This is the same innovative digital subscription billing service that Apple recently launched with News Corp.’s “The Daily” app.

Subscriptions purchased from within the App Store will be sold using the same App Store billing system that has been used to buy billions of apps and In-App Purchases. Publishers set the price and length of subscription (weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, bi-yearly or yearly). Then with one-click, customers pick the length of subscription and are automatically charged based on their chosen length of commitment (weekly, monthly, etc.). Customers can review and manage all of their subscriptions from their personal account page, including canceling the automatic renewal of a subscription. Apple processes all payments, keeping the same 30 percent share that it does today for other In-App Purchases.

“Our philosophy is simple—when Apple brings a new subscriber to the app, Apple earns a 30 percent share; when the publisher brings an existing or new subscriber to the app, the publisher keeps 100 percent and Apple earns nothing,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “All we require is that, if a publisher is making a subscription offer outside of the app, the same (or better) offer be made inside the app, so that customers can easily subscribe with one-click right in the app. We believe that this innovative subscription service will provide publishers with a brand new opportunity to expand digital access to their content onto the iPad, iPod touch and iPhone, delighting both new and existing subscribers.”

Publishers who use Apple’s subscription service in their app can also leverage other methods for acquiring digital subscribers outside of the app. For example, publishers can sell digital subscriptions on their web sites, or can choose to provide free access to existing subscribers. Since Apple is not involved in these transactions, there is no revenue sharing or exchange of customer information with Apple. Publishers must provide their own authentication process inside the app for subscribers that have signed up outside of the app. However, Apple does require that if a publisher chooses to sell a digital subscription separately outside of the app, that same subscription offer must be made available, at the same price or less, to customers who wish to subscribe from within the app. In addition, publishers may no longer provide links in their apps (to a web site, for example) which allow the customer to purchase content or subscriptions outside of the app.

Protecting customer privacy is a key feature of all App Store transactions. Customers purchasing a subscription through the App Store will be given the option of providing the publisher with their name, email address and zip code when they subscribe. The use of such information will be governed by the publisher’s privacy policy rather than Apple’s. Publishers may seek additional information from App Store customers provided those customers are given a clear choice, and are informed that any additional information will be handled under the publisher’s privacy policy rather than Apple’s.

The revolutionary App Store offers more than 350,000 apps to consumers in 90 countries, with more than 60,000 native iPad™ apps. Customers of the more than 160 million iOS devices around the world can choose from an incredible range of apps in 20 categories, including games, business, news, sports, health, reference and travel.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork, and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple is reinventing the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and has recently introduced its magical iPad which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices.

Press Contacts:
Trudy Muller
Apple
tmuller@apple.com
(408) 862-7426

Tom Neumayr
Apple
tneumayr@apple.com
(408) 974-1972

NOTE TO EDITORS: For additional information visit Apple’s PR website, or call Apple's Media Helpline at (408) 974-2042.

Apple, the Apple logo, Mac, Mac OS, Macintosh, App Store and iPad are trademarks of Apple. Other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners.


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