I suppose I ought to be careful about spreading rumors, but this is such a great idea that if indeed Apple isn't planning to do this, it should. The rumor is that next year not only will Verizon be offering an iPhone but that the phone will be able to work on both CDMA and GSM networks. Plus, it would have all the necessary 3G bands, such that you could take the phone virtually anyplace in the world and have both cellular and high-speed data capability. You can read more on CNet. The rumor also is saying that this new phone will have a 2.8-inch screen, compared to the current 3.6-inch screen.
I continue to be astonished by all the different ways the iPhone is being used, including as an extension of your senses. I've already written about the Eye Glasses app ($2.99), which lets you use your iPhone to magnify small print. And you can also use your iPhone as a hearing aid. SoundAMP ($9.99) is an app that uses your iPhone to amplify ambient sound. Your iPhone picks up the sound via the built-in microphone or via a microphone on an external headset. And in both cases you listen to the amplified sound via earbuds or the headset.
Orb sounds pretty neat, though I haven't yet tried it. They just released their software for the Mac yesterday, having been available for Windows for some time. According to their press release, the free Orb application and service enable the streaming of any media type from computers running Windows or the Mac OS, to any other internet-connected device including laptops, mobile phones, and even TVs connected to a game console. You're able to access all your music, photos, and video anywhere, anytime, without first having to download content to your iPhone or iPod touch.
The iLounge website has just announced their 2010 iPod + iPhone Buyers' Guide, a 200-page PDF that you can download for free. It has great iPhone content, including the 100 best iPhone and iPod touch games, 100 essential iPhone and iPod touch apps, accessory guides, best-of-year awards, iPhone and iPod history and glossary, and much more.
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.