Thursday, July 30, 2009

Astraware Casino Comes to iPhone, iPod touch

Handmark(R) today announced the release of Astraware Casino - a fun, easy-to-use pack of 11 of the most popular casino games from around the world - on the App Store. Astraware Casino is the first new game release from Handmark to use the iTunes Library Integration feature of iPhone OS 3.0. Users with iPhone OS 3.0 compatible devices can select My iPod Music from the game’s Options menu and choose individual songs from their collection to create the perfect casino-themed playlist!

Handmark will be incorporating iTunes Library integration into a range of their existing and forthcoming iPhone and iPod touch games, allowing players to create their own soundtrack for each game. Updates to existing titles with this great new feature will be rolled out over the summer.

"We are excited to be able to use these new APIs to enhance our games offerings," said Cassidy Lackey, vice president of Handmark Studios. "It's great to be able to design your own playlist to accompany Astraware Casino - there's nothing like a bit of relaxing lounge music when you're enjoying a game of Poker!"

Astraware Casino includes all the usual games you'd expect to find in casinos - Texas Hold 'Em No Limit and Limit Poker, Blackjack, Craps, Roulette and Slots, as well as some more specialist games like Baccarat, 3 Card Poker, Video Derby, and Keno. Astraware Casino gives players $1,000 virtual dollars to begin playing with and also includes a fun trophy system - the Souvenir Suitcase - with awards given for a range of achievements in the game.

Astraware Casino is available at the introductory price of $0.99 for a limited time from the App Store on iPhone and iPod touch or at the iTunes App Store.

You can read my review of Astraware Casino here. In addition to the iPhone/iPod touch edition of Astraware Casino, there is also versions available for the Palm Centro and Windows Mobile-powered Palm Treo smartphones. For more details on other editions of Astraware Casino, please visit the Astraware website.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Read "Comics" on Your iPhone, iPod touch

Iconology Inc., at the San Diego Comic Con, has launch of its Comics by comiXology app on the iTunes App Store. The Comics by comiXology App is a digital comic store, library and reader for iPhone and iPod touch that is launching with over 100 titles available from twenty popular comic publishers and many independent comic writers.

"The stunning display and innovative multi-touch user interface of iPhone and iPod touch have finally made comics appealing in a digital format," said David Steinberger, CEO of Iconology, Inc. "By combining great comics with iPhone OS 3.0's In-App Purchasing and location awareness features we are creating a revolution in the way comics are sold and read which could only happen with iPhone and iPod touch."

Comics by comiXology heralds an entirely new comic book publishing and connected commerce model. Comic book enthusiasts can now not only read their comics in a format designed to preserve the comic book experience on an iPhone or iPod touch, but also locate and connect with local retailers to purchase the printed version of the titles. Through relationships with comic book retailers, Comics by comiXology will increase both digital and print sales of comics and deliver a powerful mobile marketing tool for comic book publishers and retailers.

Comics by comiXology offers a "guided view" that keeps the entire page of a comic intact, unlike other solutions where the page is cut into individual pictures the user browses like a photo application. Comics by comiXology is a reader app that contains all a user's comics and offers its own digital comics store that supports multiple publishers.

Among the twenty publishers that have already signed up to deliver their titles through Comics by comiXology are many well-known industry icons including:

* AdHouse Books
* Arcana Comics
* Asylum Press
* Bluewater Comics
* Com.X
* Creative Impulse Entertainment
* Digital Webbing
* eigoMANGA
* First Salvo
* Image Comics
* Markosia
* Moonstone
* Red 5
* Th3rd World Studios
* Zenescope

Additionally, popular comics writer Robert Kirkman has agreed to deliver his titles exclusively through Comics by comiXology making it the only place to get "Walking Dead" and "Invincible" for iPhone and iPod touch.

The Comics by comiXology App is now available, including over 30 free comics, for $0.99 from the App Store on iPhone and iPod touch or at www.itunes.com/appstore/.

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Palm Releases webOS 1.1.0 Update

On Thursday afternoon, Palm released the webOS 1.1.0 update for the Pre smartphone. There is a laundry list of fixes and enhancements that are delivered in this update, including a patch that "resolves an issue preventing media sync from working with latest version of iTunes (8.2.1)."

In addition to correcting the iTunes, um "issue," Palm has also baked in updates for calendar, camera, clock, contacts, email, messaging, phone, system, web, and YouTube. As with all Palm webOS updates, the package can be downloaded and installed to the Pre, over the air, by using the Updates application. The webOS 1.1.0 update runs just under 90MB and will take a few minutes to download and verify before the update can be installed on your phone.

I installed this update first thing on Friday morning and I did notice some improvement in cellular coverage while I was at the office. I'm not sure if that just happened to be a coincidence or due to the software update. I'll have to keep and eye on the phone over the next few days to see for sure.

I'm also excited to see that Palm has restored the ability to sync the Pre with iTunes. I know that doubleTwist is a great free option for doing the exact same thing as the Media Sync feature with iTunes, however, I'd rather sync my Pre to my Mac without having to install any extra software. This situation is probably temporary as I'm sure Apple will try to counter Palm's counter move. So I'll be sure to enjoy it while it lasts. And when Apple does finally pull the plug on Palm's iTunes sync ambitions for good, I'll make the jump to doubleTwist.

To read all the details about Palm webOS 1.1.0, check out the Pre webOS update page.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

How Many Times Have You Used Your Slider?

I was talking to a fellow Palm gearhead the other day and we were talking about how well the slider on my Palm Pre was holding up. The answer was "very well." The next question, as you can probably guess, was: "How often to you use it?"

I didn't know. So I started searching the Internet for an answer to this question. I didn't have to wait long as PreCentral.net forum member furreverdad posted a way to find the answer.

Open the Device Info application on your Pre and tap the More Info button at the bottom of the page. Once you do, tap the Preferences pull down menu, and select Interactive Tests. Run the Hardware buttons test. Skip the keyboard test. The next test, Keyboard Slider, will show you how many times the slider has been cycled, or opened and closed. At this point, you can press the center button and dismiss the Device Info application.

So, how many times have you used your Pre's keyboard slider?

UPDATE: the Hall sensor refers to the number of times the slider was fully extended and closed. The Optical sensor refers to the times the slider was not opened fully.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Apple Blocks Pre's Media Sync Feature

Apple, with the release of iTunes 8.2.1 earlier today, has blocked the Media Sync feature in Palm webOS on the Pre from syncing with the popular jukebox software.

Dieter Bohn writes for PreCentral.net:
"According to Apple's surprisingly forthcoming release notes:

iTunes 8.2.1 provides a number of important bug fixes and addresses an issue with verification of Apple Devices.

We were wondering if this day would come after the back and forth between Apple and Palm on the issue. It's as-yet unclear exactly what method Apple is using to block Pre sync, but we suspect is wasn't easy. ...Which means we also suspect it might not be easy for Palm to turn it back on."

As a long time Apple fan and customer (I received my first Apple computer, the Apple //e, back in 1984) I'm really put off by this move. Just last night I was purchasing more iTunes Plus music (new tracks and upgrades from previously purchased Fairplay DRM tracks) so that I can put more content on my Pre. I'll also mention that I'm not clueless to what is going on either: Apple makes little to no money from music sales. The really money made from the iTunes music store is the sale of iPhones and iPods. I get it, really I do. But I've purchased three iPods already. I really don't need a new iPod and I really don't want an iPhone, because, unlike what Mr. Jobs said at the iPhone announcement, I really do want a physical keyboard on my device. Soft keyboards are terrible in my opinion.

So now the stand off starts. How long can I hold back on the previous version of iTunes before I'm forced to upgrade to a newer release that prevents my Pre from syncing? I do purchase a lot of TV shows from the iTunes store to watch on my iPod touch, my MacBook, and my Apple TV. I may be forced to upgrade iTunes on my Mac, but I'll be disabling the Apple Software Update feature on my Windows Vista Ultimate box.

Pre users, what are you planning on doing? Are you going to hang back with me, or are you going to upgrade and use one of the third-party solutions to sync iTunes to your Pre such as doubleTwist or the Missing Sync for the Pre?

Click the comments link below and let your voices be heard!

[Via PreCentral.net...]

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Rumor: Palm Preparing webOS 1.1 Update

PreCentral.net is reporting that Palm is working on the next update to the Pre's operating system which will bring webOS to version 1.1. The updates to webOS that Palm has released today have been bug fixes and security updates targetted at fixing specific issues leading up and immediately following the commercial release of the Pre in the United States on June 6th.

UK website Palm webOS Blog is also reporting that they have looked at a Pre running web OS 1.1, further confirming that Palm is currently working on this update.

What is not entirely know, aside from the information about Microsoft Exchange specific information in the slide that was obtained by PreCentral is what, if any, other software updates will be included in the webOS 1.1 update.

We'll have to wait until this update gets official to see what other goodies Palm might add to the update.

[Via PreCentral.net...]

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Seidio Pre Screen Guards

At some point this week, smartphone accessory maker, Seidio will begin selling a 2-pack version of their Ultimate Screen Guard for the Palm Pre.

Our Ultimate Screen Guard is usually a one time purchase for many of our customers. Because of its quality, most people find themselves replacing their device before their screen protector.


  • Designed precisely for your device for a perfect fit
  • Made from high quality materials that won't scratch or tear easily
  • Protects the screen without hindering touchscreen capability
  • Very clear and barely noticeable once applied to your phone
  • Simple peel and stick installation - no messy liquids or glue required
  • Two pack for backups, or share with a friend!

I'll be ordering the screen guards for my Pre later this week. If you want to order a set for yourself, check out the Seidio website for more details. In the past, I have used Seidio's OEM-sized extended batteries and screen protectors with my Treo 700p and 755p and I have been very happy with their performance over the years. I'm expecting the same high quality products for my Pre.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Astraware Releases Phaze Lite

Astraware, the Handmark games unit, today released Phaze "Lite". Phaze, a unique game available only on the iPhone and iPod touch, is an exciting new futuristic racing game that offers players an exhilarating race experience as they select their ship and race around rollercoaster-like tracks with stomach-flipping twists and turns, and velocity-increasing boost pads, while collecting powerups and avoiding their competitors' weapons!

The Lite version, available now, includes one race craft, one location and two difficulty levels so players get a chance to try out Phaze for FREE! If they enjoy the game, the full version additionally includes Championship mode, a total of four difficulty levels, 15 more locations (with 64 tracks across all difficulties), and a total of 10 race craft (some are unlockable).

You can download Phaze from the Apple iTunes App Store.

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

PUGcast the Blog Updates Their News Feed

Clemens Schuchert, the host of "PUGcast Sync Your Ears" and editor of the blog by the same name, has written me to let the Smartphone Fanatics out there that he has upgraded the PUGcast news feed service. The new feed, called News Roll, aggregates news for our favorite smartphones, including the iPhone, BlackBerry, Palm, and Symbian.

You can check out the News Roll over at the PUGcast website.

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SplashData File Magic 2.0 Review

Have you ever felt constrained by the types of data you can sync to your iPhone or iPod touch? Apple’s iPhone 3.0 software can read Microsoft Office files and Adobe Acrobat documents that have been sent as email attachments, but there is no easy way to get commonly used documents on to your device. Wouldn’t it be cool if all it took to sync documents with your iPhone was to simply drag and drop the files into a window? If that seems like something you want, then you need SplashData’s File Magic!



File Magic is a two-piece solution. File Magic, the desktop application, is a drag-and-drop file transfer tool. The desktop application looks for the File Magic application on your iPhone and then establishes a Wi-Fi link between the two. With File Magic it easy to quickly load documents on your iPhone so you don’t have to waste anymore time emailing documents to yourself. In addition to Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat files that I have already mentioned, File Magic also supports: plain text files (.txt), web pages (.htm, .html), non-DRM music files (.mp3, .aac, .wav), images (.jpg, .gif, .png, .tif) and MPEG-4 videos (.m4v).



File Magic is easy to learn. After playing with the software for a few minutes I felt that I had a handle on all of the features. To help you get up and running quickly, SplashData has included a Quick Start Guide that is accessible right from the mobile application. If you want to see what File Magic is capable of before you purchase the software, or if you are the inquisitive type and want some additional information, SplashData also has a user’s guide available on their website. For most people, the on device guide will be all they will need to read.

There are two ways to get documents into your iPhone. The first is to synchronize File Magic running on your iPhone with your computer. The computer and the iPhone or iPod touch must both be on the same Wi-Fi network for this to work. You can also send or receive files directly into or out of your device when the person you want to share your document with is on the same Wi-Fi network and has a copy of File Magic installed. Since SplashData has their own application for managing the files you load on your device, you can send a document from the SplashData data store to anyone else by attaching the document to an email message and sending it to any valid email address.

File Magic makes the document transfer process so easy, that you have to wonder why Apple didn’t include this feature in their software from the get go.

There are two things that I did find annoying about the installation and use of File Magic. The ah-hoc networking between the iPhone and desktop application uses a networking service called Bonjour. If you are using a Mac, Bonjour is all ready installed on your computer. PC users, on the other hand, will have to install it. The thing that I didn’t like was that the File Magic installer couldn’t figure out if Bonjour was already installed on my Windows Vista PC. (SplashData does tell you how to manually check to see if Bonjour is already installed.) The other thing that I found annoying was in the photo browser; you can’t use the iPhone OS gestures to flick to the next or previous photos. To move forward and backward in the deck of photos that have been loaded into File Magic you must use the left and right arrow navigation buttons at the top right of the screen. Both of these issues can be addressed as software updates and shouldn’t cause any serious problems in the long run.

All-in-all, I thought that File Magic is the must have application for those people who like to take their important documents with them. The software is easy to use and the document transfer between the desktop computer and an iPhone or iPod touch worked without any issues during my testing.

File Magic will work with any iPhone or iPod touch that has iPhone OS 2.1 or later installed. The desktop application works with Mac OS X 10.4.11 and later, Windows Vista, and Windows XP. You can purchase File Magic for iPhone and iPod touch for $4.99 from the Apple iTunes App Store. For more information, or to download the free desktop application, please visit the SplashData website.

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Mobile Apps 360: FlightControl













Mobile Apps 360 takes a look at great mobile software for your iPhone, iPod touch, BlackBerry, and Windows Mobile smartphones that will help keep your favorite mobile gear fresh with new software.

FlightControl is an original, super addictive game from FireMint, that puts you in the critical role of an air traffic controller. It is up to you to safely land airplanes, jets, jumbo jets, and helicopters. You can learn how to play this action/strategy game in minutes and will have you coming back for more.

You control the aircraft on the screen by tapping them, and then dragging it to the run way. Sure, it sounds easy, until you start playing. The game starts off slow, but before long, you will find yourself trying to manage a sky full of plans and helicopters. You will need to keep an eye on both planes that are coming in for a landing and new aircraft arriving into your air space, one mid-air collision will end your game!

FlightControl features three different locations for you to play: a land locked air field, an airport in Hawaii with island and water runways, and a military aircraft carrier.

Game play is super addictive. I lost an hour immediately following the installation of this game on my iPod touch. The graphics, background music, and sound effects are well done. If your iPhone 3G, 3GS or second generation iPod touch has iPhone OS 3.0 or later installed, you can go head-to-head with your friend and you can also post your high scores to the FilghtControl leader board which has a cool Google Maps and Twitter integration so you can see who else is playing near you. Original iPhone and iPod touch owners can still play, however, they won't be able to use the multi-player feature.

FlightControl is normally $2.99, but is on sale for a limited time for $0.99. For more details, checkout the FlightControl website, or head over to the iTunes App Store if you're ready to buy.

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Happy Independence Day!














The 4th of July marks the birth of the United States, and Smartphone Fanatics wishes all of our readers a Happy Independence day!

To help celebrate the day, our friends at Astraware, Handmark's games division, has once again posted their free Handmark Fireworks application!

Handmark Fireworks features a selection of patriotic backgrounds including the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore and the Stars and Stripes, and offers a choice of stirring tunes including the Star Spangled Banner and Stars and Stripes Forever!

Handmark Fireworks is available for Windows Mobile and BlackBerry smartphones and for iPhone and iPod touch. (Sorry BlackBerry owners - this time round you'll have to hum your own marches! This edition of Fireworks for BlackBerry does not include music.)

What better way to celebrate 4th of July than with some Fireworks? Download your copy today - it's available for a limited time only!

Download your free copy of Fireworks by using one of the links below:

Apple iPhone and iPod touch
BlackBerry Smartphones (non-touchscreen, touch screen)
Windows Mobile Professional (touchscreen)
Windows Mobile Smartphone (non-touchscreen)

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