The App Store has started a countdown to the 1 billionth app download, with the figure at about 930 million as I write this and racing upward fast. From now until the 1 billionth download, Apple is offering a contest with lots of prizes. To enter, you simply download an app. Or you can enter without downloading. You can enter up to 25 times a day to increase your odds of winning.
Today is a big day in the iTunes Store, as Apple implemented some changes initially announced a few months ago. Whereas all songs had been 99¢, now some are 69¢ while the latest tunes are now typically more expensive at $1.29. Also Apple has removed the DRM (digital rights management) scheme the limits the number of devices that can play music you purchased. You can now convert purchased music to your preferred format and put it on as many devices and computers as you like.
The free Google Earth for iPhone app already had information specific to particular locations, including Panoramio pictures and Wikipedia articles, giving you an idea what those locations look like and offering more info about them. Now Google Earth for iPhone includes the "Places" layer, which is similar to the desktop version but specifically tailored to the iPhone's screen.
Stanford teaches a course on developing software for the iPhone and is making videos of the lectures and the course materials available for free. You can read more in an article on Yahoo News.
LivingSocial iPhone Apps is an interesting website and, as I understand it, Facebook application that lets you identify your favorite apps, organize them, share them with others — and that gives you recommendations based on your favorites. According to the website, you can link your LivingSocial iPhone Apps account to Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, HI5, and Orkut. Their software places your collection on your profile. They have, amazingly, 19 million users.
i.TV (pronounced eye-dot-TV) has over 2,600 reviews on iTunes so it's certainly gotten a lot of downloads. According to the website, this free app is a TV, movie, and DVD guide for the iPhone and iPod touch that helps you discover, share, and consume media. It gives you access to up-to-date, local TV and movie listings, as well as a catalog of over 100,000 DVD titles. i.TV users can write reviews, rate their favorite shows, and recommend shows to friends via an e-mail alert. You can also view movie trailers and television previews, purchase movie tickets, rent DVDs, manage your Netflix queue, and remotely record your favorite shows to a TiVo DVR.
The news media are reporting that Skype will indeed be released for the iPhone on Tuesday, March 31. An interesting article in the New York Times explains that you won't be able to use Skype via your data connection because AT&T is worried that callers will use Skype rather than their voice minutes, which are more profitable for the carriers. So Apple limits Skype and other IP telephony apps to Wi-Fi. PC World has a detailed overview, including screen shots.
Using iTunes is key to putting content on your iPhone and iPod Touch. But sometimes topics such as syncing podcasts, creating playlists, and importing CDs into iTunes can be a bit daunting for the new user. The website WonderHowTo has 122 short videos explaining how to use iTunes. The one I watched about syncing music to your iPhone and moving songs manually was quite helpful.
CNet is reporting (read, passing along a rumor) that Skype is coming to the iPhone and iPod Touch -- possibly as early as next week. As you likely know, Skype is the most popular application for making free computer-to-computer calls. It also offers very low cost calling plans to regular phones. And it has great instant messaging and file-transfer features.
Walt Mossberg, a technology writer for the Wall Street Journal, recently wrote about his favorite iPhone apps. His picks include some that we've mentioned, such as Amazon's Kindle ebok reader (free) and Google Mobile (free). Others include his favorite Twitter app, Tweetie ($3,) and the official Facebook app (free).