Introducing the WPCandy iPhone app, and our reverse-launch deal

Today’s a big day for us. After much planning and work, I’m proud to introduce you to our iPhone app, WPCandy WordPress News, available in the App Store right now.

Now you can, if you wish, take WPCandy with you in your pocket (and who doesn’t love candy on the go?). The app will bring you a bite-sized WPCandy, with tabs for all of our top-level content, with options to reorganize based on your preferences.

The new app brings you the latest posts, our most popular content, WPCandy interview, theme and plugin reviews, tutorials, and our editorial and feature posts.

It’s available right now as part of our reverse launch deal for $5.99.

Handy mobile version of the site

Reading webpages on iPhones and iPods is doable, but hardly ideal. Instead of squinting and pinch-zooming, our app serves up exactly what you’re after (the posts!) nice and big. And in your pocket.


Organized to give you what you care about

Only the most important categories on our site are served up, using tabs to help you find what you’re looking for.


Customizable, tabbed app

Don’t let our app boss you around. Tap “customize” and choose the tabs that you want to show up in the front. It’s your app, after all.


About our reverse launch deal

Typically, when something new launches there is a special deal for early adopters. Usually the new thing is cheaper in the first few days. We like that idea, so we’re doing it.

But we’re doing it in reverse.

Our new app is regularly available for $0.99 in the App Store. For the next two weeks, though, the app will be listed for $5.99 in the App Store.

I’ll say that again: for the next two weeks our app will cost $5.99. At the end of the two weeks it will drop back to its normal price at $0.99.

Why would we do this? We want to give you, the awesome WPCandy readers and community members, the chance to support what we’re doing here. We run an ad-free site, with regular, high quality content containing zero affiliate links. We publish things that are of community interest (tutorials, comprehensive WordPress news, editorials) and we do it every single day. Many have called us crazy for not allowing advertising. They say we can’t make any money without ads. They say a community-driven site just doesn’t work.

We want to prove them wrong.

To show support, to help fund this project, and to make it possible to do even bigger, awesome-er stuff, buy our app for $5.99 in the next two weeks.

Now, for everyone else: if the cost bothers you, please wait and grab it for $0.99. We will still love you the same. The app will still be equally minty in two weeks’ time.

Feedback welcome

Often releasing something marks the beginning of something, and not the end of anything. We’re in this for the long haul, and we have really big plans for this app beyond version 1.0. We’re open to any ideas and your feedback in general!

Be sure to check out the WPCandy iPhone app in the App Store, and let us know what you think!

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T-Mobile Teams Up With YouTube Celebrity Merton For Awesome Branded Viral Video Ad

When we interviewed Merton in song a few months back, one of the things I asked him about was his plans for the future.  With Chatroulette on the decline in terms of traffic and popularity, how would the improv piano singer evolve?  His plan was to try and move from instant-video-chat performances to actual live [...]

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London Restaurant Orders Up Interactive Tables

In London, it’s hard to find a restaurant without a gimmick. And Inamo has probably the biggest gimmick of all. If you’re a hungry, tech-loving nerd, that is.

The restaurant, which just launched a new venue on London’s, tries to do away with almost all waiterly duties, apart from actually carrying plates around. A projector sits above each table and turns the table into a computer-screen (the projector is hooked up to a Windows XP machine). Using a touchpad, you can browse the menu and place your orders, and when you select a dish, a picture of it is projected onto an empty plate already on the table.

Whilst dining, you can choose various “wallpapers” (table-cloths?) to be displayed on the table, and there are even some games, although not any you’d actually play – the folks from UK tech blog Pocket Lint headed over to a pre-launch party and report that one of the games is Battleship. Really?

When you’re done, you can order up the check and call a cab, all from the comfort of your table.

I just hope the bosses at Inamo have some fallback plans. Tech has a way of failing in the catering industry (I was in the game for 15 years), and that’s robust, purpose-built gear. Imagine the poor customer trying to place an order and getting the dreaded Blue Screen of Death. On the other hand, at least a PC can’t come to work drunk.

Inamo hi-tech restaurant hands on [Pocket Lint]
Photos: Paul Lamkin / Pocket Lint

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Competition Rules: UK iPads From £200, 15GB Per Month

Over in the UK, something is happening that will bring cheer to the miserable, heavily-drinking denizens of that gray, cold land: Competition. To be precise, competition in iPad plans.

3G operator “3″ has entered the iPad subsidy game, going squarely up against Orange, which announced its own plans earlier this week. The prices for the iPad itself are the same as Orange is asking – £200, £250 and £350 for the 16, 32 and 64GB models. The difference is in the data plans. 3 offers a massive 15GB per month, or around 500MB per day. To get these prices, you’ll need to sign a two-year contract.

When I’m not trapped in my elevator-free apartment by a broken leg, my iPad is in constant use on my own 3G data plan. Even then, I have never come close to hitting the 2GB cap. So unless you watch a lot of streamed video, 15GB may as well be unlimited.

This is what happens when you have a lot of equally good operators all chasing the same customers. In the US, a Verizon iPhone can’t come fast enough.

iPad Plans on 3 [3 via Pocket Lint]

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How BlackBerry Could Benefit From a Swedish Redesign

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Research in Motion announced this morning that it acquired Swedish interface design firm TAT, whose initials stand for The Astonishing Tribe.

RIM clearly plans to use the Swedes’ talent to beef up future versions of the BlackBerry user interface, which despite the addition of touchscreen tech in the last year still seems clunky and quaint compared to iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7. That could make future BlackBerry phones — not to mention the upcoming Playbook tablet — a whole lot more exciting.

That got us wondering: What might the future, TAT-enhanced BlackBerry UI look like?

We have no idea, but if these concept videos produced by TAT are any indication, we’re guessing your next BlackBerry might have:

  • A touch- and motion-sensitive UI that reponds to your body’s movement as well as your fingers on the screen
  • Eye-tracking technology to provide enhanced 3-D effects
  • A slicker, easier-to-manage interface for switching between multiple apps
  • Eye-popping 2-D and 3-D visuals

What do you think the future holds for BlackBerry? Let us know in the comments.

This page: TAT’s vision of the “Future of Screen Technology” video (also embedded below) includes some pretty eye-popping examples of touchscreens embedded into every aspect of daily life. A man wakes up and checks the news on a stretchable screen that starts out iPhone-sized, but which he pulls on to make it nearly iPad-sized. A woman brushes her teeth while reading headlines and checking her calendar on a touchscreen mirror. A man composes a sport publication on a translucent touchscreen display whose images he can flip around, so coworkers on the other side of the screen can see them. Cool stuff!

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Apple Has Already Won the Flash-HTML5 War

A majority of web video is now HTML5-ready, according to new research from MeFeedia, showing that web standards — and Apple — are winning the day when it comes to how video is delivered and viewed online. The research shows that the amount of video viewable in an HTML5 video player has doubled in the last five months and now accounts for 54 percent of all video content online.

It’s important to note that HTML5 video is not replacing Flash video on the web, but augmenting it; most HTML5 videos today are available through a universal embed code that auto-detects the device requesting the video and serves up the appropriate version. That means for most of these videos, there are at least two versions — one Flash and one HTML5  – stored online.

It’s not only HTML5-ready web browsers that are pushing the envelope; it’s a multitude of mobile devices, which have caused publishers to rethink the formats for delivering online videos. The biggest proponent in the move to HTML5 video has been Apple, which refused to support Adobe’s Flash on its iOS devices — including the iPhone and iPad — meaning that publishers that wanted to have videos on those devices would have to turn to standards-based, in-browser delivery.

The launch of the iPad, in particular, has been instrumental in leading this change. Despite the iPhone being HTML5-only for years, the amount of video available through the nascent web standard in January was just 10 percent. But owing to the iPad’s larger screen real estate and its propensity to be used as a video consumption device, many more publishers were forced to jump on board. At the time it was launched, just one-quarter of web video was available in an HTML5 video player. Now it’s up to more than half of all web videos.

The iPad has been the biggest driver of HTML5 video, but all mobile devices should benefit from the change. Despite the fact that newer Android-based devices come with Flash pre-installed, theoretically giving them access to all the web’s video, our own tests have shown that it’s not always a great experience. In fact, sometimes it’s shockingly bad.

While launching the video in a separate Flash player might help, Flash is still a processor hog and mobile devices don’t really have the gigahertz, nor the spare battery power, to keep Flash happy. HTML5, which delivers video natively (without extra software) is leaner. That’s bad news for Adobe, which has been banking on embedding the Flash player into mobile and connected TV devices. But if a native HTML5 implementation is available for most videos online, it might be smarter for those videos to be delivered in HTML5 than in Flash. Why waste cycles and power if a device doesn’t need to?

It seems that even Adobe has conceded this point, recently rolling out an HTML5 video player widget that serves up standards-based video to devices that don’t support Flash. The widget works by trying to serve up HTML5 video, but defaults to Flash when the standard isn’t supported. With mobile viewing growing in importance, that delivery scenario may be the future for most web video, which leaves Adobe Flash hanging on by its fingernails (or rather, a widget).

To learn more about Adobe’s plans for HTML5, come see CTO Kevin Lynch at this year’s NewTeeVee Live on Nov. 10 in San Francisco.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Cameron Russell.

Related content on GigaOM Pro: (subscription required)

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Skype Debuts Its Half, Now It’s Facebook’s Turn to Integrate

We were excited last month to find out about the integration of Skype and Facebook. This morning, the feature is going live for all to see with the release of Skype 5.0.

The latest version comes with some cleaned up design features, built-in Facebook integration and the group video chat we’ve watched develop in the beta releases. For Skype, it’s improvement all around and all we can say now is that the ball is surely in Facebook’s court.

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Group Video Chat Goes Live

We got a quick tour of Skype 5.0 and the first thing Rick Osterloh, head of consumer product management, showed off was the group video chat feature. Allowing up to 10 people at once, the chat takes advantage of Skype’s high-quality audio and video. It offers some nifty features, like “dynamic view”, which highlights the person speaking by enlarging their video feed and shrinking everyone else. While group voice and text chat will be available for free, Skype plans on charging for group video chat in the near future.

A Clean-Cut Interface

The next big feature was the new “Skype Home”, which features a cleaned-up contacts list, recent contacts, and the Facebook integration.

skype-50-home.JPG

As Osterloh called it, it’s a “nice central place for users to go.” The contacts list now shows users’ avatars next to their names and the recent contacts list shows just that, along with recent Skype transactions.

Here Comes Facebook

Now for the Facebook integration – it’s basically your Facebook feed pulled directly into Skype. You can "like" things and post comments, but anything beyond that – like viewing profiles, photos or events – opens separately in your browser.

skype-50-fb-integration-screenshot.JPG

Viewing your Facebook feed in Skype offers another advantage – for friends who include their phone number in their Facebook profile, you will see two buttons. One lets you call either their Skype number or their home/mobile phone, while the other allows you to send an SMS. If they have a Skype account linked to their Facebook account, a “+” will appear, letting you add them as a Skype contact.

Even better than the Facebook feed – because we really don’t see ourselves browsing Facebook in Skype – is the importing of your Facebook Phonebook. Suddenly, everyone you know on Facebook that lists a phone number will be easily contactable via Skype.

The Ball’s In Facebook’s Court

We were really hoping to see Skype integration on the Facebook website. Osterloh told us that they don’t have anything to announce there today, but we’re hoping to see the vice-versa integration in the near future.

So does this embody the endless potential we wrote about last month? Not really, but it’s a decent first step. What we’re really hoping to see from this partnership are Skype buttons on Facebook that launch Skype calls and SMS capabilities. Even more, we would love to see a Skype integration in the iPhone and Android apps. Imagine using Skype’s background capabilities for ever-present chat and free, quick Skype-to-Skype phone calls connected directly to your Facebook account. What about quick connections from Facebook to businesses as a part of its fledgling Places product?

While the Facebook integration in Skype is nice, it’s the other way around that we’re really excited to see…so what do you say, Facebook? Will we see on-site voice and video calling? SMS integration?

It would be pretty neat, is all we’re saying…

The latest version of Skype is now available for download.

Discuss

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Free apps dominate Android Market, but at what cost?

Jason Akeny

Android keeps growing, and so does the number of free applications in Google’s Android Market–free apps now make up 60 percent of the digital storefront’s inventory, up 3 percent since May, according to new data issued by app store analytics firm Distimo. By comparison, Microsoft’s Windows Marketplace for Mobile boasts the smallest percentage of free apps at 22 percent, with free apps making up 26 percent of both Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) App Store for the iPad and Research In Motion’s (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry App World. Distimo offers multiple theories to explain the scarcity of premium Android apps: For one, developers in only nine countries are presently able to distribute paid applications via Android Market–moreover, paid apps are available in only 14 of the 46 countries that Android Market serves. Distimo adds that consumers must register for a Google Checkout account in order to download paid applications, except in locations where operator billing is available.

The challenges inherent in distributing and selling premium applications via Android Market have no doubt slowed developer interest in the platform. But Bloomberg reports that with consumer interest in Android exploding, an increasing number of developers are writing apps for the OS anyway, confident a major payday looms in the future. PopCap Games, creator of titles like Bejeweled and Plants vs. Zombies, plans to introduce its first Android games later this year: “Even though we are not making any money on Android right now, we have pretty high hopes for it,” PopCap’s director of mobile business development Andrew Stein said. “There’s really no reason why users shouldn’t consume and buy content to the same extent on an Android phone as they are on an iPhone.”

Even so, developer frustration with Android is at an all-time high–in recent weeks, a series of prominent developers have publicly vented their problems with the platform. The most scathing comments originated via mobile software engineer Joe Hewitt, the developer responsible for social networking giant Facebook’s wildly popular iPhone application: “Android tools are horrendous, OS is hideous, but the absence of big brother telling me what to do gives it a slight edge,” he recently wrote on Twitter. Hewitt’s previous tweets include comments like “The more I work with Android the more it reminds me of Windows… as in, it’s really flexible, agnostic, and developer-friendly, but also really sloppily designed,” “Android fragmentation will hopefully stabilize within 2 years, and if not, at least people upgrade phones much more often than computers” and “Once a day or so it hits me that I am writing Java, and I cry a little.”

eBay Mobile product manager David Beach is a bit more complimentary, writing on his blog that “Creating an open source mobile platform was one of the smarter things Google has done. It’s too bad that they haven’t done that great of a job doing it. Android has succeeded despite Google. In fact it’s safe to say that Android is successful for one primary reason. The iPhone is only available on AT&T. If the iPhone was on Verizon a year ago, Android would be nowhere near as popular. But since this has yet to happen, Android has become a huge market that isn’t going away.” Beach concedes that it’s time for iPhone developers to begin writing for Android as well, but adds a number of caveats, among them the absence of human interface guidelines, a surplus of OS versions and handset models and Android Market’s clunky consumer experience. “There are some good things,” Beach adds. “Don’t get me wrong. In fact over the past nine months, I’ve sort of fallen in love with Android and all its quirks. It’s a tough love, but love nonetheless.”

Last but not least, Digital Chocolate founder Trip Hawkins pinpoints arguably the most significant reason why Android Market is so short on premium applications: Google’s commitment to allowing consumers to return a downloaded app within 24 hours for a full refund. Calling the refund policy “senseless and lazy,” Hawkins writes “When so many other things on the app store are already free and everything else is free for 24 hours, why would anyone pay for a game? Google defends this policy because they don’t want to police the store. I could understand this if Google were a new startup with a small staff incurring startup losses. But we are talking about Google! If Apple and others can pay attention to what is in their app store, surely Google can also do so. Google has ignored this problem and may remain in denial until 2011, when the widening deficit in their app quality compared with Facebook and Apple should finally motivate them to fix the problem.” It’s your move, Google. -Jason

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Developer Workshop: Advanced Mobile Protection

Developer Workshop is a series of profiles exploring the current state of the mobile marketplace from the point of view of the software developers mapping out its future. Each profile focuses on a developer with a compelling story to tell, and offers their perspective on what the industry’s doing right, what it’s doing wrong and how to make it better. Check out our previous workshops on Shazam, InfoMedia, Viigo, Meet Now Live, Shortcovers, Pint Sized Mobile, Geodelic, Spark of Blue Software, Tarver Games, People Operating Technology, Booyah, Bolt Creative, Thwapr, Monkeyland Industries, Rocket Racing League and Vlingo.

This week FierceDeveloper profiles security monitoring vendor Advanced Mobile Protection.


Advanced Mobile Protection calls its new iPhone application OnCall Defender “the most important app we hope you never have to use.” OnCall Defender offers smartphone owners 24/7/365 GPS-enabled security monitoring connecting directly to live professionals, local law enforcement and EMS dispatch–marketed for users with existing health conditions, travelers, students and anyone else whose lives, careers or interests put them at risk, the app combines panic alarm and medical alert systems, leveraging both satellite and cellular GPS technologies to quickly identify and track the user’s whereabouts and movements until help arrives. (It also gives users 15 seconds to disarm the app in case an alert is transmitted accidentally.) AMP offers three OnCall Defender service plans: $6.99 per month for the panic alarm, $9.99 a month for the medical alert and $11.99 per month for both services.

Advanced Mobile Protection was founded by the husband and wife duo of Fred and Marsha Newman–the former serves as the startup’s CEO, the latter as its president. The Newmans boast 50 years of combined experience consulting and designing security solutions for clients including Fortune 100 companies, military bases, prisons and telecommunications providers, with OnCall Defender heralding their first foray into the mobile software segment. FierceDeveloper spoke to them about migrating to mobile, navigating the complexities of the iPhone and the importance of communication.


Fred, left, and Marsha NewmanFred Newman on OnCall Defender’s origins: I’m a techno dweeb. Our kids bought me an iPhone, and I thought it was the coolest piece of equipment I’ve ever had in my hands. It hit me that it could be an amazing security platform. 

Marsha Newman: We’ve been watching the growth of smartphones. People don’t leave home without it. We’ve also analyzed the growth of crime. The statistics aren’t good, especially in relation to crimes against women–every two minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted. So we entered the wireless market to develop a service that is truly needed, particularly by women.

Fred Newman on developing for the iPhone: We both have extensive backgrounds in high-tech, high-level security technology development. But when we started working on the iPhone, I was quite surprised. The platform is more intense than we were used to. My experience is with high-tech perimeter defense systems–that’s pretty complex, but not compared to this software. We had to cover a lot of bases–how do you avoid false alarms? How do you improve the ease of operation? How do you adapt to Apple’s protocols? It was very challenging, and very hard work.

The other challenge we faced is that when you’re developing security systems for clients like military bases, you’re designing for a very concise audience–the solutions are very narrowly defined. But when you’re developing an app like this, you’re working to reach a very broad demographic, as well as people who are usually not familiar with security technology.

Fred Newman on consumer privacy: All personal information input is optional, and only sent when an alarm is sent, because that information is critical for first responders. There are only a few mandatory fields, like name, address and phone number, as well as a safe word that must be entered in case of a false alarm. So far, we haven’t seen any false alarm issues. We took great care during development to implement a solution for that.

We hold personal data on our servers, but it’s not ever used. It’s only there for practical purposes, like if the app must be downloaded again. We’re extremely sensitive to user privacy.  

Fred Newman on the App Store approval process: OnCall Defender was approved in a week. The timeline really surprised us. We were told it could have taken weeks and weeks.

Marsha Newman: We were very mindful of the process and respectful of the requirements.

Fred Newman: Now we’re sitting down and exploring the next platform. Google is aggressively pushing applications, but based on the latest data we’ve seen, BlackBerry still occupies the majority of the American market. So that’s the big question we’re facing.  

Fred Newman on advice for aspiring mobile developers: Communication is paramount. We learned many years ago that to develop technology, you need strong communication with everyone involved. You can’t work with people who don’t know how to communicate.

Marsha Newman: You have to do it right the first time. You can’t cut corners. Even if getting it right involves extra time, engineering or coding, you have to be thorough.

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Get Started

Getting started with a multimedia and video package from BoonJack Media is simple and easy, hey it’s not just a slogan that’s how we do it. The real magic happens on our Partner Portal, the first screen shot below is the homepage listing all of the areas in the portal. We’ll start by clicking on the “Place An Order” icon.

The BoonJack Media Partner Portal Homepage

This is step 1 on the ordering screen, you’ll want to select a product or service category first. The default category is our Multimedia packages, we’re going to select the “Marketing Expert” package, hey it says best value… sweet!

Step 1: Select a product or service category type and package

Moving on to step 2, we’re going to select a Domain for our multimedia package. There are three choices, 1) purchase a domain directly from us 2) Transfer a domain you already own to use with your multimedia package 3) Use a domain you own and change the domain nameservers to point to your multimedia account. We going to register a new domain cause that’s how we roll, and hey look – mysupercoolhdvideowebsite.com is available… awesome!

Step 2: Select the type of Domain service

On Step 3 you can configure any options or domain addons for your multimedia package  and the payment terms, then click on “Update Your Cart” to continue.

Step 3: Configure any package options and payment terms

Here’s step 3 (continued), we bought extras for our supercoolhdvideowebsite.com domain. Hey we know it could be considered excessive, but we just can’t help splurging!

Step 3; (cont...) Select any domain extras you might need

On step 4 you can configure your domain extras and set your Nameservers (optional) for your domain. We are going to use the default anonymous Nameservers provided for free, because we dig our privacy. Confirm the order looks OK, then click “Checkout” or you can continue shopping and stuff your cart full of goodies.

Step 4: Configure any domain extras then click checkout

On Step 5 fill in your account details and information. We recommend choosing a strong password and using a security question, better to safe as Mom always says.

Step 5: Complete your account details and registration

Step 5 (continued), use your account details for your domain contact or enter a any new details here. Select your payment service either Authorize.Net or PayPal, both are excellent and accept all major credit and bank debit cards. Add any notes or other information to send to us, most people just type something in here like, “You All Are Awesome!” or similar. Read through our legal stuff, click agree to our terms and conditions, then activate your account!

Step 5: (cont..) Select a payment method and Activate your account!

That’s it you’re ready to deliver HD multimedia and video at unheard of speeds! Go ahead and access your client area dashboard now.

Your complete package details and instructions for your new multimedia website package will be emailed to you. We highly recommend saving this welcome email, but if you don’t it’s no problem. In your client area Dashboard, every email we send to you is saved and archived appropriately under “My Emails”.

Here’s some more screen shots below of the client area called “Your Dashboard” which is the one stop, one access point where you can completely manage every service under your multimedia account. Put quite simply, it rocks!

The client area called "Your Dashboard"

Client area  “Your Dashboard” continued… you’ve complete control with easy one-click logins to access all of your server account administration services.

Client area "Your Dashboard" (continued)

Want more? No problem, just create your free account here and fill in your information, then browse around the Partner Portal with full access! BTW we provide that cool “Your Dashboard” page for free accounts too.

Below are all the screen shots you can click to view larger images, use the >> located at the bottom right to cycle through.

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