CNet is reporting today that the App Store has reached yet another milestone: 100,000 apps. That's just phenomenal. Well over 20,000 are games. By way of comparison, as of September, Nintendo DS had 3,500 titles and Sony PSP 600. The range of apps is astonishing. Every day I get press releases for apps for very specialized purposes. Just today they've included apps for insurance claim handling, high-risk obstetrics — and translating a baby's cries (Cry Translator).
Yet another site for helping you find useful apps is appSpace, which says it has the world's most powerful recommendation engine. You can create an account and then specify the App Store categories that you tend to favor, your interests, your favorite apps, and your ratings for the apps that you like. Then it makes recommendations. This is an amazing site with a lot of potential, but so far of the recommendations it's given me, there's just one app I was glad to find. You can get a flavor of how this site works without having to register by using their cute gizmo on the front page. But you don't really get any utility unless you spend some time building your profile. The neat thing about this site is that it learns.
I think augmented reality is so cool, with so many potential applications. Imagine pointing your camera at a tree and having text appear atop the image giving you information about what type it is. Or traveling in an unfamiliar city and as you point your camera at historical sites, text appears on the screen giving you background information. So Mosquitoes ($0.99) is a new augmented reality game — which must be one of the first. As you point the camera at your environment, you see mosquitoes in the picture.
Yesterday I posted about a new app, Babelshot, that lets you take a photo of text in a foreign language and then translates it. Today I learned of another: PicTranslator. It has 16 languages, compared to Babelshot's 33. It's cheaper at $0.99, but that only includes one language. You can buy additional languages via in-app purchasing at $0.99 each, or you can buy all languages for $1.99. Five of the languages include audio translation, which is helpful. Again, I think this is a pretty cool use of the built-in camera.
I'm amazed by all the creative uses developers are finding for the iPhone camera. One of the latest is the just-released Babelshot. If you're in a situation where you have a bit of text in a foreign language that you need to translate, such as a restaurant menu, you can simply take a photo of the item, select the portion of the text you want to translate, and Babelshot does the rest. It supports automatic translation between 32 languages. You don't need to do any typing or anything. Babelshot only works for small amounts of text. You can also optionally enter in text manually. The app is $1.99.
Apple's App Store has been a rousing success, given the nearly 100,000 apps. Yet it's also been a headache for developers, and many iPhone users also complain about it. In my opinion, its function is changing. Whereas initially it was a way for consumers to find apps and for developers to get noticed, that function is not scalable. After all, how can you possibly shoehorn 100,000 apps into 20 categories? In my opinion, the App Store is simply a mechanism for buying apps, like a shopping cart. Consumers need to find other ways to locate useful apps, and developers can no longer pin their hopes on making the top 10 or top 100 in a category.
The big news today is the announcement of the Droid, a new smartphone from Motorola and Verizon that uses Google's Android software. As Todd posted yesterday, the iPhone market share is surging ahead. But the Android market really seems to be heating up too. A press release out today from Wirefly says that five of the top 10 most-anticpated smartphones right now are Android phones, with the Droid leading the list. And clearly these devices are going to push the envelope.
We all want voice recognition. What could make things simpler? You just ask your iPhone to call one of your hundreds of contacts, and it does so. No searching, no flipping through the list. That's the promise. The reality is, of course, a bit short of that. Still, there are a number of applications that are trying to make this a reality. Vocalia is among them, and it claims to be the only 100% hands-free speech recognition app for the iPhone that enables speech access to your address book, iTunes library, and Safari bookmarks. Some users, seemingly the more savvy ones, find that it works really well.
Here in Iowa there's a distinct chill in the air. Have you ever tried to use an iPhone wearing gloves? It doesn't work. What you need are gloves that expose just the tip of your thumb and index finger. And the Etre Touchy website offers exactly that. Might make a nice Christmas gift for the iPhone lover in your family. Or for yourself.
Well, you know about rumors: they're sometimes baseless. But this one seems to make sense. After all, both the iPhone and iPod touch already have an FM receiver built in. Why not an app to let you tune in radio stations? According to 9to5Mac, Apple is working on just such an app. So what's the holdup? They're trying to program it so that you can purchase music from within the app. Of course, you can already get streaming radio stations via apps such as Wunder Radio. But the FM app will be over-the-air, such that you can tune in local radio stations.