California-based developer Selectsoft is offering the fun and exciting educational app Irish Immersion HD on sale this weekend only. Learn to speak Irish Gaelic with fun "find it" games and over 700 words and phrases! Begin by exploring realistic settings such as a supermarket or a restaurant, then see how high you can score by finding the pictures to match the words you hear.
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California-based developer Selectsoft is offering the educational app Kid Science: Physics Experiments on the Mac App Store(SM) on sale July 28 and 29. Kid Science: Physics Experiments has a wealth of information about magnetism, electricity, friction, gravity and many other fascinating topics. Explore the properties of air and water, build your own simple circuits and magnets and more! Experience the thrill of performing fun and interesting science experiments at home.
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California-based developer Selectsoft is offering the fun and exciting educational app Math Fun 1st Grade: Addition and Subtraction on the Mac App Store(SM) on sale this weekend only. Kids can acquire a solid foundation in math and have a great time doing it! A friendly robot guides kids on a math adventure with easy-to-understand lessons and entertaining games. Over 200 exercises cover basic math concepts using puzzle-solving, word problems, pictures and more.
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The mobile developer SmartyShortz LLC, has announced they will be releasing their second educational App this summer: Smarty Potty Training. The app will be available through Apple's iTunes App Store mid summer 2012. The App, available for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, provides children & parents with a fun, interactive way of learning about and becoming comfortable with the potty training process. The App is built around music from the Cris and Lou Project, a popular children's music band.
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During the company’s earnings call on Tuesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook was asked about his plans for adding an e-wallet to the iPhone. In response he mentioned that Passbook is one of the “key features” of the iPhone, but didn’t actually answer the question one way or another. An Apple mobile payments system has been rumored for years, but there hasn’t been any one piece of evidence that individually points to any obvious Apple plans. But looking at the pieces of evidence together, especially in light of Friday’s announcement that Apple intends to acquire AuthenTec, we’re starting to get a picture of what Apple could be up to in this area.
Passbook is not — as of now — a true payments system. And it isn’t available just yet because it’s coming with the iOS 6 update this fall. At least for me, it’s one of the most exciting new features of the software. It’ll keep already purchased digital train, subway and plane tickets in one app on your phone for scanning, and it will also hold payment and rewards cards as well — like a Starbucks or Target rewards cards. It basically approximates the part of your real-life wallet that doesn’t include cash or credit cards.
Now, if you have an iPhone, you can already use digital rewards card apps or payment apps, like LevelUp, which use barcodes for transactions. But having creating a distinct app for rewards and loyalty cards, it’s not hard to imagine that Apple will use Passbook as a way to gather feedback about how comfortable people feel with some wallet-like functionality in their iPhone. It could just be a convenience feature — or it could be a way to train customers for something coming next.
Right now, iTunes is a global marketplace where Apple sells digital goods: music, movies, TV shows, ebooks, apps, games, and newspaper and magazine subscriptions. And to have an account, and enable quick and easy payment (just click to buy and enter your Apple ID password) you have to have a credit card hooked up to it. As a result, Apple already has more than 400 million credit cards on file, perhaps the most of any one company.
ITunes payments are actually not limited to digital goods. You can already use your iPhone to buy physical items: if you have the Apple Store app on your device, you can walk into an Apple Store, and with the Easy Pay feature you can scan the item, enter your password to authenticate the charge to your iTunes account, and you can leave the store with your new earbuds or iPhone case without even talking to a salesperson. Right now, the system only works for items under a certain dollar amount.
NFC, or near-field communication, is a technology that enables contactless payments and other actions like mobile marketing, digital rewards cards and loyalty points. It is already being used in some smartphones for payment transactions with apps like Google Wallet. When you have your credit cards or personal information connected with a mobile device, security is critical. And that’s where AuthenTec potentially enters Apple’s plans.
One of the company’s key products is an NFC chip with on-chip encryption, which is designed specifically for mobile payments. And in keeping with Apple’s penchant for a seamless, touch-oriented user experience, AuthenTec’s expertise is biometric security. The chip requires just a finger swipe to authenticate a transaction — the idea being that a person’s unique fingerprint is even more secure than a password.
To be clear, chips for mobile payments are not the only thing AuthenTec makes — and it’s entirely possible that Apple snagged this company just so it stays out of the hands of a competitor like Google or Amazon. But AuthenTec is considered a leader in the secure mobile payments field.
As far as expertise with NFC technology goes, Apple already hired at least one high-profile employee from NFC chip factory NXP. Since then, it has been rumored to be testing the technology on iPhones. (Though I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for the next version of the iPhone to have NFC capabilities.)
While the signs point to the possibility that Apple is aligning elements of a payment system, the biggest question mark is the actual payment processing. With iTunes, Apple runs one of the largest electronic storefronts on the planet, but paying for stuff in the real world is different — Apple would have to help its customers buy stuff from companies other than itself. To do that, Apple would most likely need to strike deals or partner with credit card companies, payment processors and the makers of point-of-sale terminals that enable contact-less transactions at brick-and-mortar stores.
It’s true that NFC is not new. The technology has been around for years and it has remained on the margins (some would say it’s been far too overhyped, in fact). But that’s often Apple’s sweet spot — the company is almost never the first to use a technology, but it’s really good at figuring out how to make something really easy to use and popularizing it. And for a technology in need of a huge boost, Apple implementing it, as my colleague Ryan Kim wrote recently, would easily make that happen.
Games for the Weekend is a weekly feature aimed at helping you avoid doing something constructive with your downtime. Each Friday we?ll be recommending a game for Mac, iPhone or iPad that we think is awesome. Here is one cool enough to keep you busy until Monday, at least.
Air Wings (free, Universal) is a game of flight where you are in control of a paper airplane engaged in arial dogfights. AirWings is also a game that not only is best played online, it is only played online.
You control your paper airplane using the device’s motion sensors. Holding the device firmly, the controls behave just as if you were taking a photograph. Tilting your device forward will send your plane towards the ground while tilting up will sent it soaring into the sky. Left and right controls are just as natural, just point your device in the direction you want to go. Given the online, real-time nature of the game, it’s nice to have the calibration to zero button front and center. This allows you to reset your controls on the fly without having to exit out to a settings screen. Increasing your plane’s airspeed is accomplished by tapping a button in the screen, giving it a boost of wind. But don’t get too carried away with the wind, as it is a scarce resource that is earned back slowly over time.
True to the theme of paper airplanes, your online battlefield is situated in the most common of surroundings. Tabletops, sandboxes and even the front lawn. Your weapons are also fit for such playful activities as spitting spit balls, shooting rubberbands, and setting off firecrackers. Like the wind, your ammunition is limited, only this time it is replenished by flying around and collecting power ups that are positioned atop flashlights sticking out of the ground all over the battlefield. While flying into a power up will replenish your stock of ammunition, not all planes have the same cargo capacity. Each type of plane can carry a different amount of ammunition. This is key if don’t want to spend all of your time searching for spit ball or rubberband when you have the enemy in your crosshairs. The free version of the game comes with two paper airplanes. You can unlock an additional six planes including a remote-controlled quadrocopter through in-app purchases.
At the heart of the game lies its multiplayer gameplay. To initiate a game, you decide first how many opponents you wish to battle. Each match allows up to four planes, so you can elect to either battle three of your Game Center friends, or auto-match and play against whomever is online looking for a good dogfight. What level you play is determined by the game as well as how many of the 11 different levels you have chosen to unlock via an in-app purchase. Once you choose your plane, just tap to launch, and you’re off. There is a radar that you can use to see where the other challengers are located on the level. But this of course does not indicate elevation, so watch your six-o’clock blind spot. While there is an ample supply of ammunition lying around, you never seem to have just the right type when you need it most. You will find that with the faster planes that carry less ammunition, you are either replenishing your ammunition, or dodging enemy fire.
One of the little touches that Pangea Software has elected to include is a roaming spectator camera that will fly around taking video of the active planes in combat. This video can be projected over AirPlay to a nearby HDTV via an Apple TV. This is particularly fun when there are more players in the room than there are iOS devices to play on. The 3D graphics are smooth even when this option is enabled and the game fully supports Retina displays. It is a great game to use as a means to discover some new Game Center friends online this weekend.
Just 48 hours after being released to the public, Apple’s OS X Mountain Lion is on pace for a faster uptake than 2011′s OS X Lion. As of Friday, Mountain Lion has been installed on 3.2 percent of all Macs, according to Chitika Insights.
Chitika’s data, which is culled from its extensive ad network, showed that Lion remained at 14 percent adoption still three months after it was released last summer. As the chart below shows, the most popular Mac OS X version is the version that came before Lion, OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, which is on 45.5 percent of Macs still.
Two possible reasons why the adoption of Mountain Lion is outpacing Lion: Mountain Lion is a bit cheaper than Lion at $19.99 compared to $29.99. But Lion was also considered a largely evolutionary upgrade and, as Om put it, was a confusing cacophony of new features. Mountain Lion, on the other hand, has been positively reviewed as a much better upgrade, and includes some very important pieces to Apple’s overall product vision, including iCloud.
Shameless but smart.
Update: The $5.9 billion figure I originally mentioned is also operating profit, not net profit. Samsung’s net profit was a still-juicy $4.6 billion.?
My thanks to Atlassian for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote JIRA Mobile Connect, their free open source library for mobile app developers for collecting feedback and communicating with users. JIRA Mobile Connect makes getting feedback from users in iOS apps as easy as texting.
You, the developer, get in-app messaging and automated crash reporting. Users can send feedback, attach audio notes or annotated screenshots, and view your responses within your app. It’s direct engagement with your users.
Check out the short video on their website to learn more and see how it works. Download the free JIRA Mobile Connect SDK today.?
Speaking of quarterly profits, my earlier piece on Amazon’s Q3 profit was wrong; I was bamboozled by Tim Carmody’s reporting of their operating profit ($107 million), as opposed to net profit, which was just $7 million.
Not to worry, though. That still compares well to Apple’s $4 million in (per hour) profit for the same quarter.?