Saturday, March 14, 2009

iPhone Social Networking fad

March 14, 2009 9:53 AM PDT

Facebook: It's party time for the social Web...on the iPhone

Facebook's Dave Morin gets social with a Flip video camera before his talk.

(Credit: Caroline McCarthy/CNET News)

Updated at 10:12 a.m. PDT.

AUSTIN, Texas--"A joke I always make here is that if your friend did something on the Internet and you didn't hear about it, did it actually happen?" Facebook senior platform manager Dave Morin said as he described the social network's renewed focus on a real-time stream of updates of friends' activities across the Web.

"We're happy to announce today that you have more control over the stream than ever before," Morin said, showing off screenshots of the recently redesigned Facebook homepage, which he said is now live for all members. "You have the ability to add and remove the people whose voices you care about the most."

More importantly? Facebook Connect has come to the iPhone. Read on.

Morin kept things lively, bringing up special guests like Seesmic founder Loic le Meur, who showed off the first-ever desktop client for Facebook, and Wine Library's Gary Vaynerchuk, who talked about using Facebook fan pages for personal branding.

"I wanted more than 5,000 friends," Vaynerchuk said, referring to the friends-list limit for normal Facebook profiles.. "I want to meet every person on Earth, and I want to buy the New York Jets. And a product like this allows me to do this, I think...This is word-of-mouth on steroids."

Morin's talk was Facebook's big SXSWi event. It was a far cry from last year's keynote address, in which famously awkward CEO Mark Zuckerberg was interviewed onstage by BusinessWeek columnist Sarah Lacy and the audience started to heckle when they didn't hear what they wanted to.

This year, the talk was a smaller one--albeit one that packed the room--led by the more extroverted Morin, who took the stage in cowboy boots and a suede jacket and responded to glitches and fluctuations with the room's lighting system by saying, "This is pretty awesome. It's a dance party!"

Morin's discussion, called "The Search for a More Social Web," comes at a time when Facebook has opted to start crawling out of its shell. Unlike many other big social networks, Facebook has traditionally kept its content behind a log-in wall, with only limited information available to search engines and nonmembers. But the Facebook Connect universal log-in service, launched last year, gives third-party sites the ability to let users register with their existing Facebook credentials. What users do on the third-party sites then gets reflected back to their activity stream on Facebook.

And this month, the social network launched not only reconfigured public profiles for brands, companies, and celebrities, but also redesigned versions of its homepage and profile pages that many observers and critics compared with the stream-like feed format of the uber-open Twitter.

"We think that the stream is an important concept that all of us on the Internet are working toward," Morin said, "and we think it's going to be a template for the future."

What's also important is Facebook Connect, Morin explained. He showed off examples from Joost to Xobni to iPhoto that have been souping up their social-networking offerings with the log-in standard.

"We have one more thing," Morin said at the end in an obvious nod to Apple CEO Steve Jobs. "It's all about mobile and the iPhone, so today we're announcing Facebook Connect for the iPhone. For the first time, your iPhone apps can now have friends."

This means an application developer that has created an app for both the iPhone and Facebook can invite players to interact with one another cross-platform.

Launch partners are primarily games: among them are the Social Gaming Network (SGN), Tapulous, Zynga, and Playfish. SGN founder Shervin Pishevar showed off a new game called Agency Wars, in which players can take on the roles as spies and use geolocation to ambush friends in the real world on both Facebook and the iPhone.

"With the Facebook implementation, you can see all of your friends and recruit them to your agency and go on missions with them worldwide," Pishevar said.

"There's no reason why you shouldn't do this," Tapulous founder Andrew Lacy said of Facebook Connect for the iPhone.

But not all the launch partners were games: there was also Urbanspoon, an iPhone app that lets you randomly find restaurants nearby with a slot-machine format. Developer Patrick O'Donnell showed off how Facebook Connect has come to Urbanspoon: "One of the core missions of Urbanspoon is to bring together all the voices that you trust when you're trying to find out where to eat," he said. Photos and reviews can be added from Facebook accounts, and Urbanspoon preferences now show up in Facebook news feeds.

And movie-reviews app Flixster showed off how its iPhone app now lets members find Facebook friends who want to see the same movies and see what movies they've liked.

Morin said that Facebook Connect integration for the iPhone is soon coming from the likes of Slide, Loopt, MTV, EA Sports, Citizen Sports, and Pinger.

For more interested developers, Morin said that a new round of funding has been added to its FBFund developer seed fund specifically for iPhone developers.

"It's not just the search for social anymore, but we now have the social Web that we've all been dreaming of," he concluded.

March 13, 2009 5:36 PM PDT

Bargain apps and zombies attack - iPhone apps of the week

by Jason Parker
iPhone(Credit: CNET)

It's happened to just about everyone who has bought an iPhone app at the iTunes Store: At some point the app you paid $7.99 for goes on sale for $1.99--sometimes it's even free the next day. I've personally had this happen to me many times, but only because it's part of the job to get apps when they're hot off the presses. Fortunately, as part of the job, I don't have to (personally) pay for the apps I review. Most everyone else isn't so lucky.

Fortunately, an app made for bargain hunters that had been sitting in Apple's queue for several weeks (deemed by the development team a "pocket rejection") finally made it to the iTunes Store. Nobody knows why Apple was holding out, but now that it's here I think most people will want to download it.

This week's apps include an iPhone app bargain finder program and a zombie-themed tower defense strategy game.


Sort through specific categories or just find the best bargains for all apps

(Credit: CNET)

BargainBin helps you save money on iPhone apps by automatically finding deals on apps as they happen. A lot of iPhone app developers have recognized the advantage of selling their apps for a lower price either initially, or to generate interest in their app for a short time at the iTunes Store. BargainBin scans the iTunes store for these changes in price, helping you find apps that you might have thought were previously too expensive. You can sort by category and then use the buttons at the top of the interface to find bargain prices or apps that have since become free. Nobody wants to spend top dollar for apps if they have a choice and this app is the perfect way to find deals at the iTunes Store.

Zombie Attack Free

As you gain levels, more zombies slowly come at you as you try to defend your simple shack

(Credit: CNET)

Zombie Attack Free is the free version of the full tower defense strategy game, Zombie Attack. Like other real-time strategy games, you need to fight off a horde of baddies with strategically deployed gun turrets. But in Zombie Attack, an endless stream of zombies (punctuated by progressively more difficult levels) rush across a field, trying to reach and attack your humble shack, as you run around on the field (by tilting your device) placing and upgrading gun emplacements. You earn money for every zombie you drop, and the game ends when the zombies destroy your shack. The paid version (gives you several guns to choose from including flamethrowers, sawblades, and more. If you can't get enough of tower defense games (like me) you will like the unique strategy of this game.

What's your favorite new iPhone app? Have you found any bargain basement prices in BargainBin I should know about? What's your favorite tower defense game? Let me know in the comments!


by jfreilly--2008 March 13, 2009 6:55 PM PDT
Perfect timing on this article. Earlier today, I paid $0.99 for AppSniper. How's that for irony?!?
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by likemyiphone March 13, 2009 7:05 PM PDT
Check out this new app for kids or us "more grown up". You blow up a balloon, shake and animated balloon animals do stuff. Then you pop them. "Balloonimals".
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by DeltaVolt March 13, 2009 10:03 PM PDT
I've just tested the BargainBbin App - I am not very impressed. The interface is much nicer than AppSniper's but it fails in comparison when features are concerned. Clicking on an app takes you straight to the AppStore instead of giving you info about it and you can't save an App to any sort of watchlist. I still say (at this point in time) the $.99 for AppSniper is worth it.
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by TeeMendez March 13, 2009 10:46 PM PDT
Hey DeltaVolt, try holding down the cell rather than just tapping it. It will being up a menu which lets you see the App Description, view screenshots, and email someone the app details. I like this WAY WAY better than AppSniper. So much nicer to use and much more elegant. Try the hidden feature, it solves most of your concerns.
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by BeeBeeZee March 13, 2009 10:55 PM PDT
FIELDRUNNERS JUST WENT ON SALE (1/2 price). It just popped up in bargainbin. This app is way cool now I have no excuse to pass up on fieldrunners. Btw, thanks for telling me about holding down the app name to get the details. It shouldn't be so hidden, but I am glad you pointed it out. Both bargainbin and fieldrunners are great downloads!
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by msherer March 14, 2009 5:00 AM PDT
Apple's going to have to do something about the 9 screen limitation on the iPhone. Mine is totally full and I don't really want to give any of them up. Kind of wrecks the thrill of buying new apps when you can't actually use them. I would, however, very much like to be able to organize my apps into categories that make sense for the way I use the iPhone. So, a hierarchical launcher had darn well better be in the 3.0 rev of the iPhone OS or 3rd party development on the iPhone will necessarily stagnate.
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by Momblogger March 14, 2009 5:05 AM PDT
Was happy to find a free browser app - Mobicip- that claims to be a content filtering browser designed for kids. Seems to work well so far.
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by pleasurecube March 14, 2009 8:58 AM PDT
VH1 Watch and Discuss... 99c and an awesome group chat client. I'm loving it!
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by brainbolts March 14, 2009 9:38 AM PDT
The Love Child app for my iPhone is awesome. It rocks to see what the "tweener" of two photos is. Can't wait to upload some photos to see what my celebrity offspring will look like.
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by sdenhartog March 14, 2009 10:35 AM PDT
Zombie Attack is a great find! I also really like the TrueSwitch Sync app for syncing my contacts with my Windows Live and Yahoo accounts. Thanks for great article.
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posted by u2r2h at Saturday, March 14, 2009


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Tuesday, April 7, 2009 at 5:36:00 AM PDT  

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