Laurel DevotoMarketing Specialist at Zco Corporation
For the first time, a game on Facebook allows players to use real money, instead of credits, to play a game.
It’s called Bingo and Slots Friendzy and it’s an extension of a Gamesys franchise called Jackpotjoy.com. The game is only available to UK Facebook users over the age of 18.
Facebook allows game creators to offer apps that Facebook itself hasn’t created. Games like FarmVille, Hobo Wars and more have entertained Facebook users since before 2010, but none have allowed players to use real money in-game. Instead, players could purchase credits that could be exchanged for in-app purchases.
Facebook credits are available online, through Paypal, on the Facebook app or at certain retailers. Credit packages range from 50 credits for $5 to 2,360 credits for $200. The credits platform has been available since 2009, but wasn’t more widely used until after it was rolled out to 14 applications in January of 2010. At that time, credits could be used for applications like Birthday Calendar, to purchase e-gifts for friends; (fluff)Friends, where items could be purchased for a virtual pet; and Happy Aquarium, where upgrades were available with credits.
Players must provide access to a valid credit card before playing Bingo Friendzy. Once they do, they can wager money in gambling-based games. Players who win will receive real cash prizes. Gamesys has reported that it is in compliance with gambling regulations and will give players access to resources to help them limit their access and spending in the app.
Of course, the new cash-wagering game is only the first of what may be many. Facebook representatives have said that similar games will be released soon. Zynga has also announced plans to launch its own slot machine and bingo applications in the UK.
Many countries, including the United States, have laws restricting games of chance.
A new study from PopCapGames shows that about half of all gamers in the United States and United Kingdom prefer mobile devices as their primary gaming device.
Solutions Group, an independent research firm, performed the study on behalf of PopCapGames, which is owned by Electronic Arts. More than 2300 gamers from the U.S. and U.K. were surveyed. Of those, 50 percent said they prefer gaming with a smartphone at home. Tablet owners had an even stronger preference for gaming at home, with 74 percent of respondents saying they preferred playing at home.
Dennis Ryan, the Vice President of Worldwide Publishing at PopCapGames said that many people are getting into gaming for the first time via mobile devices. He continued to say that “mobile gaming is invading the last bastion of video game consoles and personal computers: the home.” In the past, the primary home gaming platform was console or PC-based, not mobile. Responses to the study show a shift in the preferences of gamers.
69 percent of survey respondents said they preferred playing mobile games at home on the couch, with on a bus or train coming in second at 63 percent. 57 percent preferred playing while laying in bed and 41 percent like to play while watching TV. Tablet users had an even higher preference for playing on the couch and while watching TV, with positive response rates of 78 percent and 52 percent respectively.
According to John Gaudiosi of GamerLive, gamers with smartphones are more likely to play in situations like waiting rooms, restaurants before going to the table or in line at stores.
A smaller number of gamers admitted to playing in situations where gaming may have been frowned upon, according to DigitalMediaWire. Two percent said they’ve played during a movie at a theater. Six percent admitted to playing during work, while eight percent said they’ve played mobile games during class.
The survey also revealed that mobile gamers are largely male, at 60 percent of users. 69 percent were under the age of 35 and 78 percent play mobile games every day.
In the second quarter of 2012, Apple’s iPhone represented 73 percent of smartphone activations through AT&T.
The new activations come at a time when AT&T, like Verizon, is changing its pricing structures to account for mobile device data usage. Both companies are offering customers plans with unlimited text messages and calls. The price difference depends on the amount of data a user purchases. Verizon and AT&T are both charging a flat rate for a certain data level; consumers pay extra per line that will share the data.
AT&T’s quarterly financial statement reveals that 5.1 million phones were activated in April, May and June of 2012, according to TechCrunch. Of these activations, the iPhone accounted for 3.7 million. 33 percent of iPhones activated were new subscriptions. AT&T’s financial statement also revealed that 88 percent of postpaid customers are on FamilyTalk or business plans; one-third of postpaid AT&T customers use a 4G capable device.
Smartphones were 77 percent of postpaid sales growth and AT&T has about 43 million smartphones subscriptions, according to PC Mag. The same article pointed out that more Android devices than iPhones were activated on Verizon in the first quarter of 2011.
AT&T sales of the iPhone were even higher in the previous quarter, with 4.3 million units sold in January, February and March of 2012. 7.6 million iPhones were activated on AT&T in the last quarter of 2011. As TechCrunch points out, the iPhone 4S has been out for about nine months now, but many units are still sold. The Huffington Post reports that the best-selling smartphones of 2011 were Apple’s iPhone 4, iPhone 3 GS and iPhone 4S.
Rumors say the iPhone 5 will launch in September with a slimmer design, new materials and a 19-pin dock pin connector, said an article in the Examiner.
A June report from Localytics reveals smartphone owners are becoming more loyal to their apps.
The study found that iOS users – those who downloaded apps to an iPad, iPod or iPhone – were more loyal to their apps than Android users. Android users only open 23 percent of their apps 11 or more times, while iOS users open 35 percent of their apps 11 or more times. The Chief Executive of Localytics, Raj Aggarwal, explained that the disparity might exist because more apps are developed for iOS first, then ported to Android. Aggarwal said that iOS apps are “a bit more polished and mature.”
The study considered apps opened more than 11 times the high-end metric. App publishers see users as loyal and expect them to return to the app once it has been used 11 or more times. It did not distinguish between free and paid apps.
The study also found that news apps like those released by the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have the highest retention rate of any type of app. 44 percent of users opened news apps 11 or more times. Gaming, entertainment and sports apps had retention rates between 33 and 36 percent. Lifestyle apps had the lowest retention rate at 15 percent. 30 percent of users only opened lifestyle apps once.
In all, the app retention rate was 31 percent in the third quarter of 2011. That represented a 19 percent increase over the third quarter 2010, with a 26 percent retention rate.
The Wall Street Journal reports that more than 30 billion apps have been downloaded from the iTunes store, which has more than 650,000 apps available to users. Android users have downloaded more than 15 billion apps from the 500,000 available in Google’s Play store.
Aggarwal said that people opening an app multiple times is important because the more an app is opened, the more people are going to spend on in-app purchases. Aggarwal also explained that the retention rate of an app is often overlooked as a measure of success, but is just as important as the number of downloads an app has.
The Future of Privacy Forum has released the results of a study that looked at privacy policies in mobile apps. FPF, along with the Center for Democracy and Technology, recently shared a list of best practices for privacy policies within mobile applications. Justin Brookman, the director of the CDT, explained that the organizations are interested in helping developers learn to protect and respect the sensitive customer data received through their apps without stifling their innovation and creativity.
The FPF released the study days before a government committee met to discuss consumer privacy laws.
BMW has announced an update to its iDrive system that integrates a 3D city mode to model buildings. When a turn is approaching, the view automatically switches to show a birds-eye view, than a view from directly overhead that shows which lane is best and where the turn will be. The update will also allow the iDrive system to support a 4G LTE data connection, rather than a 3G one.
The announcement comes in the wake of 3D mapping software being enhanced by Google and introduced by Apple early this summer. The new 3D views are similar to those offered by portable handheld GPS devices, but do not require expensive new hardware or a separate device to carry around. The new functionality, as TechHunter points out, also allows for more user customization than would be found on a portable GPS.
Google announced its 3D updates at a Google Maps event, demonstrating new features like upgraded 3D textures, offline Google Maps access and Street View Trekker initiative. Google said it would have 3D coverage on major metropolitan areas with more than 3 million residents by the end of the 2012. The updates will be created using a new image rendering technique that allows it to display 3D representations of cities, including buildings, terrain and landscaping. It will be presented at a 45-degree angle.
Apple displayed its 3D mapping software at WWDC 2012. The Flyover feature allows users to navigate a 3D map to any point in a city and move there from a birds-eye perspective. The map can be manipulated with a fingertip, displaying the location from all angles. Users can access the feature via a 3D button located on the maps screen and can move from birds-eye view to a higher, satellite view.
Reports say that Amazon is also entering the 3D mapping game. The Kindle producer recently acquired UpNext, a 3D mapping startup. If Kindle users want to use mapping software currently, third party apps must be downloaded to the device. Amazon’s new acquisition may signal a new mapping functionality in the Kindle or the rumored Amazon smartphone, according to GigaOM.
As a judge ruled in favor of HTC against an Apple patent in the UK, a US court judge agreed to issue an injunction against two Samsung devices during a hearing for another patent.
Apple faced HTC in a UK court, alleging that HTC’s use of the “slide to unlock” feature on its phones infringed on an Apple patent. The judge ruled in favor of HTC, declaring Apple’s patent invalid. Three other patents were declared invalid in the same hearing. HTC is currently meeting Apple in several courtrooms around the world, including the UK, Holland, and the US. A piece about the UK ruling on TG Daily says that the court in Munich, scheduled to hear the same patent argument later, will be even less likely to rule in favor of Apple now. It also says Apple is expected to appeal the UK decision.
In the US, however, Apple found preliminary success in the courtroom. Apple is suing Samsung for infringing on several patents, including the “slide to unlock” feature, predictive text, universal search, and action selection when tapping on text. Judge Lucy Koh issued an injunction against two Samsung devices, the Galaxy Nexus phone and the Galaxy Tab 10.1. The injunction says that Apple will suffer irreparable harm if the devices are allowed to be sold to consumers during the trial.
The Galaxy Nexus is currently Google’s lead Android device.
Apple must post a $96 million bond to the court for the injunction to proceed. If Samsung is found not guilty of patent infringement, it receives the money from Apple to make up for the lost sales. An article on Time.com indicated that Apple is likely to win the case. Koh has released a statement saying, “Apple has established a strong case on the merits.” She also stated that Samsung has a right to compete, but not to compete unfairly.
Samsung has already appealed the ruling, according to CNET. Meanwhile, Google has announced that it will push a software update to the Galaxy Note 2 next week that will circumvent the issues being debated in court, allowing the device to be sold during the proceedings.
The Tennessee Department of Safety installed 72 iPads at kiosks spread across 26 driver service centers in the state. It cost $80,000. According to Mashable, state officials are hoping the iPad option speeds up transactions for everyone at the driver service centers. Services can be paid for at the iPad station with a credit or debit card.
Once the transaction is complete, new driver’s licenses or ID cards are available within minutes.
Knoxville news station WATE explained that iPads were selected because already-existing equipment was reaching the end of its life. The built-in touchscreen, compact size and wireless capabilities of the iPad are other factors that were considered. The wireless signal already in place at service centers can be provided to the iPads without additional hardware or rewiring.
The iPad kiosks are called automatic self-service electronic terminals (ASSETS) and were installed in urban areas of the state, like Nashville. Other uses include changing home addresses or paying reinstatement fees. Though the iPads are a self-service station, proper documentation for reinstatement still has to be presented once the reinstatement charge is paid. The Department of Safety is planning to add more features to the iPads soon, including the ability to schedule a road test.
Tennessee Department of Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons has said that reducing wait time at the driver service centers is one of the department’s top priorities. Drivers wishing to save even more time can renew or replace licenses via the Internet.
No other state has adopted the iPad for driver licensing at this time.
SWURB Reminder is a new app for iPhone and Android operating systems that lets users create location-based reminders and alerts. SWURB utilizes global positioning system technology to register proximity to a location where a reminder should be prompted, such as a grocery store or pharmacy. The app then alerts the user that the location is nearby and displays a reminder to complete the task associated with that location. An example of a location based reminder could be, “You’re a block from the dry cleaners; don’t forget to pick up your clothes while you are nearby.”
Reminders and lists in the app help users keep track of items to buy, people to meet and the purpose for each alert. SWURB Reminder is different from other standard reminders and task lists because the alert is associated with a geographic location either instead of or in addition to a specific date and time.
William Diversi, creator of SWURB Reminder, says, “SWURB is great for any personal and business reminders, appointments, shopping lists, meetings or just for finding a location in any city and much more. It’s fun and easy to use.”
SWURB Reminder features a simple interface with tabs that show which reminders are activated. The “Cities” tab shows every city the user has added to the app; multiple cities in countries all over the world can be added with just a few taps of the screen. Once a city is added, a user can tap the blue pinpoint icon on the navigation bar to view a map of that location. When the location is added, alerts associated with that location can be set. Reminders can be set by date. An alert can also trigger based solely on proximity. The alert function can be turned on and off for each location independent of other locations.
SWURB Reminder can alert users to pick up pot roast while near the grocery store or order new checks when driving by the bank, which eliminates extra driving and missed errands. Lists and itineraries can also be created within the SWURB Reminder app. A reminder set for a grocery store, for example, can include a list of all the items a user needs to purchase. A reminder set for a business can list the name and contact number of the person with whom a user wishes to speak with. Reminders and list items in each location are organized by whether the item is completed or pending.
There are three editions of SWURB Reminder. The free version includes one city and two locations, to give users a look at SWURB Reminder. The Standard version, at $1.99, gives users access to unlimited cities and locations. The Pro version, at $2.99, links directly to a user’s SWURB calendar, allowing SWURB Reminder to alert the user of a set errand or event.
Bright colors, cheerful songs, and interactive learning characterize “Tonji the Musical Ambassador,” a new iPad app for children.
The bright colors and friendly animations delight and entertain your child while they learn. It’s rated for children four and up. Parents can even get involved in the fun, since Tonji comes equipped with parent and child audio recording options. Once the app is downloaded, simply open it and experience the international fun!
Nursery rhymes like “Frere Jaques,” a French song for children, play while an animated, apple-cheeked child grins out from the screen and lyrics run across the bottom.
There are three songs preloaded on the app: “Pulgarcito,” a Portuguese song; “Maua Mazuri,” a Swahili song, and the aforementioned “Frere Jacques.” These, and songs added as the app is updated, are organized according to the continent where they originate. “Maua Mazuri,” for example, is categorized in Africa. Children can learn geography basics as they sing along to cultural favorites.
The locations include Egypt, near the Sphinx; Rome, in the Coliseum; and Brazil, with the famous statue of Jesus perched on a hill. As your child explores the virtual environment and the culture of that area, they’ll experience the world through the iPad screen and learn about differences in cultures that help create who we are.
Children also learn words in Tonji, like “Avion,” the Portuguese word for plane. The app opens up many cultures to your child in a fun, familiar way. They get an age-appropriate overview of basic words, songs and traditions.
You’ll love watching your children dance and sing – as one iTunes reviewer notes – when they’re interacting with the characters on Tonji. The creator of the app, a native Peruvian and mother of two, designed it to capture the interest of children.
Tonji’s name was inspired by the Chinese word Tǒngyī, which means unity. Tonji can be downloaded from the iTunes store for only $2.99.