Mobile news roundup: Ouya details, iOS 6.1 issues and more

feast or famine

Feast or Famine arrives on iOS — X4 Games’ new action-platformer Feast or Famine launched on iOS this week. The game is set in the Netolithic era and has players hunting animals, while designed to look like a cave painting. An Android version of the game is expected to launch soon.

appgratis

AppGratis surpasses 10 million users — App discovery firm AppGratis announced this week it’s secured over 10 million users worldwide, 3 million of which connect every day. The service regularly drives apps to receive between 500,000 and 1 million downloads, often sending apps into the top five positions on the iTunes App Store.

where'smywater

Disney Mobile gets in on the Valentine’s Day spirit — Disney Mobile is feeling the love, adding Valentine’s Day content to Where’s My Holiday? The free update gives players 12 limited-time levels filled with hearts to play.

Glu-Mobile-logo1

Glu launches Dragon Storm – Mobile game developer Glu launched Dragon Storm for iOS, an MMO-style strategy game developed by Griptonite Games. In the game players build up their kingdoms, join up with or battle other players and play across multiple devices utilizing iCloud. You can find the game on the iTunes App Store here.

Ouya

Ouya at Best Buy, Target, Amazon, GameStop for $99.99 in June – Ouya CEO Julie Uhrman told the Wall Street Journal that the people who funded the Android-based open console on Kickstarter will receive their units in March. Orders from Ouya’s official site will ship out in April, and the retail version will go on sale in June.

animoca

Animoca launches Robo5 exclusively through the Amazon Appstore – Cross-platform app publisher Animoca announced its previously released iOS game Robo5 is coming to Android, exclusively through Amazon’s Appstore. In the 3D-Action-Puzzle game, players control a tiny robot climbing from the bottom of a mountain of boxes all the way to the top. You can find the game here.

sega-logo

Sega launches After Burner Climax – Sega Europe announced that its bringing the classic arcade game After Burner to iOS. The action fighter jet game features 20 levels, a selection of aircraft and leaderboards. The game is a universal app, available from the iTunes App Store for $2.99.

GREE

Eros resmini joins Peter Relan in new stealth project – Former OpenFeint and GREE executive Eros Resmini is joining YouWeb founder Peter Relan as an “entrepreneur in residence,” working on an “undisclosed project that will reshape the startup growth landscape.” Details on the special project will emerge in the coming months.

EA

Electronic Arts announces TMi Trivia for iOS — Games developer and publisher Electronic Arts announced that it will release a new trivia game for iOS, TMi Trivia, later this spring. Players will be invited to answer questions about themselves and their friends. TMi will then use that information to provide the player with question based on his interest. In addition, EA is partnering with Variety, SPIN, Celebuzz, and Fanhattan so the questions are also based on what’s trending on the web at the time.

apple-logo

Users report overheating and connectivity issues caused by iOS 6.1 – Several users in the discussion forums on Apple’s official website are reporting shorter battery life and overheating after they upgraded to iOS 6.1, which apple released in Jan. 28. As reported by MacRumors, UK carrier Vodafone has gone as far as to send texts to their users, warning them not to upgrade to the latest version of iOS if they have an iPhone 4 due to 3G performance issues.

Amazon Coins virtual currency coming in May

Amazon is launching Amazon Coins, a virtual currency to purchase apps and buy in-app goods on the Kindle Fire. Announced this morning, Amazon says they will be available in May.

AmazonCoins250

According to the Amazon Coins FAQ, an Amazon Coin has a one-to-one relationship to an American penny, so developers will receive the same royalty payments as credit card purchases. Users will be able to purchase everything but subscription-based services.

At May’s launch, Amazon promises to give away “tens of millions of dollars worth of Coins” to customers. Amazon is investing significant money in the giveaways, but users will need to purchase a Kindle Fire to redeem their gift or, at the very least, visit the Amazon App Store and risk purchasing more than just what the Amazon Coins are worth.

Furthermore, we can imagine future Amazon gift cards not being redeemable in the entire Amazon marketplace, but tailored, via the Amazon Coin, to be redeemed just within the Amazon App Store.  The Amazon Coin is another serious run to lock users into the Amazon ecosystem, specifically the Kindle Fire one.

Amazon has certainly been looking at Facebook’s issue with its own Credits system. As Inside Facebook reported in 2011, Facebook eventually let developers use their own in-app currency systems because the translation between currencies was too confusing.

To be involved in the launch, app developers must sign up for Amazon Coins by April 25. Amazon Coins will only be available in America at launch.

Amazon introduces in-app purchasing API using Amazon accounts

Amazon announced today that consumers can now use their Amazon accounts to purchase virtual goods and currencies in PC, Mac and Web based games, as well as games in the official Amazon app stores for Kindle and Android.

As the world’s largest online retailer Amazon already has an enormous amount of users’ payment information. Developers are likely to see benefits as consumers within Amazon’s ecosystem will be able to make in-app purchases with little friction, much like markets in Japan and Korea where carrier billing is the norm.

The new in-app purchasing API for PC, Mac and web based games uses the same revenue formula as Amazon’s Kindle Fire store and the Amazon Appstore for Android. Developers earn 70 percent of list price on each paid app as well as on each in-app purchase. Amazon did not specify the revenue share on PC and Mac. The fee for distributing apps through Amazon’s Mobile App Distribution Program is $99 per year, though Amazon is currently waiving that fee.

Another interesting benefit of the API is that the in-apps items will also automatically be available on Amazon.com so that they could possible appear on best seller lists. This could potentially greatly increase an app’s visibility and help increase discoverability and user engagement.

Developers who are interested in Amazon’s in app-purchasing API can get started here.

Mobile news roundup: Samsung, Windows 8 and Applicasa

Applicasa raises $1M in seed funding — The Israeli mobile backend service provider turned mobile game management platform secured $1 million in seed funding from the founders of casino gaming company 888.com.

Samsung to “wait” on a Windows RT device in the U.S. — Samsung’s senior vice president Mike Abary told CNET at CES 2013 that the Korean electronics manufacturer will not be releasing its Qualcomm-powered RT device in the U.S. quite yet, saying the company does not see enough demand for the device. Abray did not rule out releasing a different Windows RT device in the future.

Groupon Payments now available on Android — Daily deal company Groupon has added its mobile payment and Square competitor Groupon Payments to its Android Groupon Merchants apps. Groupon Payments, which was already available on iOS,  uses a credit card reader attachment to allow merchants to charge their customers on their mobile devices.

Amazon introduces availability badges — Amazon announced new badges with which developers can identify the availability of their apps. The badges, which are available in German, Spanish, Italian, French, Japanese and English make clear whether an app is “Available at Amazon” or “Available on Kindle Fire.” Developers can find out more on how to use these badges to promote their apps here.

Hothead Games launches Big Win Basketball — Game developer Hothead Games announced the launch of its latest mobile game Big Win Basketball, the latest in its lineup of Big Win sports games, available now on the iTunes App Store and Google Play.

eBay iOS app update streamlines selling, buying — The significant update to eBay’s iOS app will now assist sellers in choosing the right category and price for their items. The app also offers better photo editing tools, speedier checkout, search enhancements and more. You can download the app here.

Fitocracy now running on Android — Fitness app Fitocracy which tracks your workouts, shares your results and more is now available on Android via Google Play.

Aeria Games launches Immortalis — Browser and mobile game developer Aeria Games announced the launch of its role-playing and card collecting mobile title Immortalis. The game is a licensed and localized from developer Pokelabo’s (recently purchased by GREE) Japanese Guardian Battles which has been a top 20 grossing game since it launched in late November.

Samsung and HTC Windows 8 devices coming this summer — Microsoft announced that U.S. carrier Sprint will sell Windows 8 Devices from manufacturers Samsung and HTC.

HTC reports 91 percent drop in income year-over-year in Q4 2012 — The Chinese phone manufacturer reported an unaudited net income of $34 million for Q4 2012, its lowest profit in almost a decade.

Mobile news roundup: An Angry Birds Christmas, Ubuntu for mobile and a Ouya competitor

30 million Angry Birds titles downloaded over Christmas – Mobile game developer Rovio reported that 30 million Angry Birds titles were downloaded between Dec. 22 – 29, with 8 million downloads on Christmas day alone. At this time Angry Birds Star Wars is also the No.1 paid app on iPhone according to AppData.

Ubuntu comes to mobile — Canonical announced the mobile version of its popular linux-based operating system Ubuntu. Canonical touted that Ubuntu’s user interface which uses all four edges of the phone to quickly switch between apps, and the ability to connect to a screen, keyboard and mouse for a full PC experience. You can read more details about Ubuntu for phones here.

PlayJam funds Ouya competitor with Kickstarter — Smart TV game platform and SDK provider PlayJam has successfully Kickstarted GameStick, an Android-based games console very similar to the Ouya, the most funded Kickstarter project to date. GameStick is composed of a USB stick which connects to a television and a small gamepad. At this time the project is well over its pledge goal of $100,000 with over $170,000. You can find out more about the project here.

Chilingo launches Swing King and Catch the Ark — Mobile games publisher Chilingo today announced it launched two new games on the Apple App Store, Swing King and Catch the Ark. Swing King, which is priced at $0.99, is a physics-based puzzle game developed by Zoink!. Catch the Ark, also priced at $0.99, is an endless runner in which animals attempt to catch up with Noah’s Ark during the great flood.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) adds tablet, Android support — Amazon announced several improvements to its cloud computing service AWS which make it easier to manage on mobile. The Management Console has been optimized for tablets with a new, “simple and intuitive” web-based user interface (still no tablet specific app). Amazon also announced an AWS Console app for Android phones which you can download now from Google Play.

NPD: 21 percent of smartphones users shopping with mobile apps on Black Friday, Amazon top mobile app and website

Mobile shopping app and website use rose on Black Friday last week, with more than 21 percent of smartphone users comparing prices on apps and 40 percent on websites, according to a blog post today from NPD.

The top app used by consumers was Amazon at nearly 10 percent, with 10 percent from Android users and 12 percent from iPhone users. eBay was the second most used app, with seven percent of users browsing through the online auction and shopping company’s app.NPD top shopping apps and websites

Mobile web was even stronger than native app usage, with 39.5 percent of Android users accessing shopping sites. Amazon was the leading mobile web destination for users, with 13 percent. Big-box stores including Walmart and Best Buy faired well, with mobile web usage of 6.3 percent and 2.5 percent respectively.

Men were more likely to use native apps on both Android and iPhone devices, while women were more likely to use mobile web at 45 percent versus 33 percent of men. Overall, the iPhone was used more as a shopping tool compared to Android at 28 percent against Android’s 21 percent.NPD shopping apps by time of day

Throughout the day on Black Friday, midnight to 4 a.m. saw the least amount of shopping activity, but activity spiked soon after and continued to rise throughout the day.

According to our traffic tracking service AppData, Amazon Mobile cracked into the top 25 in the top free apps category on iOS last Saturday and reached the No. 32 spot today in the top free apps category for Android.Amazon Mobile iOS vs Android AppData

Amazon Game Studios releases first mobile game, Air Patriots

Amazon Game Studios today launched Air Patriots, the developer’s first mobile title for Kindle, Android and iOS.

Air Patriots is a tower defense game where players use planes to fend off an invasion of tanks. Users draw the paths for planes to follow and attack hostile units, changing their patterns to meet different waves of enemies. This sounds like it’s similar to the flight path mechanics used in Harebrained Schemes’ recent defense title Strikefleet Omega. The game’s graphics are also designed to take advantage of HD displays on mobile devices.

This is Amazon Game Studios’ second title, following the social game Living Classics (which launched in August). Since Living Classics came out on Facebook, the game has yet to really take off on the social network, as our AppData traffic-tracking service shows the game is currently at 10,000 daily active users and 140,000 monthly active users.

Air Patriots is free to download on the Amazon Appstore for Android, Google Play and the Apple App Store.

Mobile app news roundup: OMGPOP, Windows 8 devices and Apcelerator

OMGPOP costs Zynga $85 to $90 million — Zynga may have overpaid for Draw Something developer OMG. The company revealed yesterday it will write down between $85 to $90 million of its initial $180 million purchase price. As The Next Web points out, that’s almost $500,000 a day in losses since Zynga announced the acquisition on March 21.

More Windows 8 devices arriving soon — With the imminent release of the Windows 8 OS, more details are emerging about mobile devices running the OS. According to AT&T, Nokia’s Windows 8-based Lumia 920 and 820 will be available in November. Microsoft has also begun inviting the press to an Oct. 26 midnight launch party for its Surface line of tablets.

Treater debuts mobile apps — Gift giving service Treater has made the jump to mobile with native iOS and Android apps. The service allows its users to instantly send real-life gifts such as spa visits or even a round of drinks at a bar. Gifts bought through the service are delivered as virtual gift cards through email, SMS or Facebook posts.

Appcelerator launches Innovation Fund — Mobile app development platform provider Appcelerator has created the Appcelerator Innovation Fund to help startups building apps on its platform, reports TechCrunch.

Amazon Appstore opens doors to Japan – The Amazon Appstore is now allowing developers to submit their apps for distribution in Japan when the service launches in that country later this year.

Pocket Change integrates with GameMaker: Studio – Universal loyalty currency provider Pocket Change has partnered with YoYo Games to have its product directly integrated into YoYo’s GameMaker: Studio.

We Heart Pics wins Facebook hack award – Mobile photo sharing app We Heart Pic was named a winner at the Oct. 1 Facebook developers hack in Moscow. The app received first prize in the Best Mobile Application category. The company plans to integrate the new functionality it created at the hack into its app soon.

Kiip coming to Passbook — Real-life rewards network Kiip will soon be integrated directly into iOS 6’ Passbook. Consumers will be able to redeem coupons for Kiip rewards directly from notifications, emails and Kiip’s app.

[RUMOR] iPad mini in production — Apple has already started production on a 7.85 inch “iPad Mini”, according to the Wall Street Journal.

[Funding] Contacts+ raises $1 million seed round — Contact aggregator Contacts+ has raised $1 million in seed funding, reports TechCrunch. The funding comes from TriplePoint Ventures, Tencent, TMT Ventures and others.

Mobile app roundup: DeNA, HTC’s Windows 8 phones, Apple and more

DeNA, Gloops partner for international expansion — DeNA has entered into a comprehensive business alliance with Japanese mobile-social game developer Gloops that will see 10 Gloops games land on the Mobage network, five in 2012 and five in 2013. Unlike previous games Gloops has made for Mobage, all 10 titles will be targeted for North American and European markets. One of the titles will be based on what DeNA refers to as a “popular American franchise.”

15 percent of iOS devices upgraded to iOS 6 after 24 hours — Map woes aside, iOS device owners appear to be enthusiastic about iOS 6. Mobile cross-promotion network Chartboost reports 15 percent of all iOS devices were running the operating system within 24 hours of its launch.

HTC unveils two Windows 8 handsets — HTC has revealed what its two Widows 8-based handsets, the 8X and the 8S will look like. The midrange targeted 8S comes in four colours and features a 4” touch screen, 5 megapixel camera, 720p video recording, 4GB of storage, 512 MB of RAM and a Qualcomm S4 1GHz dual core processor. HTC’s flagship 8X phone is also comes in four colors, but has a 4.3” touch screen, a Qualcomm S4 1.5GHz dual core processor, 1 GB of RAM, an 8 megapixel camera capable of recording 1080p video, a 2.1 megapixel front-facing camera and 16GB of storage.

Pocket adds text-to-speech Listen feature – Content curation app Pocket now supports text-to-speech through its new Listen feature. Currently only available to Android users, the new feature allows users to have the app reach saved articles to them out loud.

Horn drops to $2.99 — Phosphor Games’ critically acclaimed title Horn is on sale for $2.99 until Sept. 27. The game is also now localized into 11 languages.

Thumb hits 1.2 million users – Social opinion sharing app Thumb now boasts 1.2 million members. According to the company, the average user now spends more than five hours a month using hte service.

Amazon releases its own Maps API — Amazon’s Maps API is now available for interested developers. Currently in beta, the Maps API is designed for developers who are currently using Google’s native Android Maps API, and allows for interactive maps with custom overlays.

Apple shares rise on iPhone 5 — The fast selling iPhone 5 has pushed Apple’s share price above $700 for the first time. At the time of writing, Apple shares were selling for $698.70 in after hours trading.

[Acquisition] Shutterfly grabs up mobile print app developer Penguin Digital — New York-based Shutterfly has acquired Penguin Digital, the developer behind iPhone photo printing app MoPho. MoPho’s technology will be rolled into Shutterfly’s own printing apps, according to TechCrunch.

[Launch] Hotel Transylvania app hits iOS – Playfirst’s latest game, Hotel Transylvania Dash, a licensed game based on the Sony Picture’s animated movie Hotel Transylvania, is now available in the iTunes App Store.

[Launch] The Bard’s Tale hits Android – inXile has brought its classic humorous RPG The Bard’s Tale to Android. The game is available in Google Play, the Amazon Appstore and third-party app store TegraZone for $5.95.

[Launch] Ricky Gervais gets into app market with JustSayin’ – Popular comedian and Office-creator Ricky Gervais is lending his star power to social conversation app JustSayin’. The app allows users to record conversations and post them to their social media profile to enable voice-based communication. The app is available on iOS.

[Funding] Square closes $200 million fourth round — Mobile payments processor square is now valued at an estimated $3.5 billion after closing an enormous $200 million Series D round of funding. Citi Ventures, Rizvi Traverse Management and payments partner Starbucks all participated in the round.

[Funding] Scopely raises $8.5 million in venture funding – LA-based mobile social gaming company has raised an impressive $8.5 million in venture round funding from Anthem Venture Partners, The Chernin Group, Greycroft partners and others reports VentureBeat.

[Funding] GENWI gets $2 million for mobile publishing push – GENWI, the startup aimed at working directly with publishers to create mobile apps, has raised $2 million in additional funding from Floodgate and Elevation Partners.

Amazon brings “Billboard” app features to Appstore

Amazon is giving developers a new way to get noticed in the Amazon Appstore — large format features the company is calling Billboards.

As detailed today on the Amazon developers blog, Billboards are essentially Amazon’s version of the prominent app features Google and Apple use in their own apps stores to  promote apps they find to be particularly interesting or noteworthy. Just like the app features already employed in Google Play and the iTunes App Store, clicking on an Amazon Appstore Billboard will take a user directly to an app’s listing page

Although the impact of receiving such a prominent featured position in an app store varies depending on the store, the type of app being featured, and whether or not the app in question is free or paid, the endorsement almost always results in a significant spike in downloads. In January fitness app RunKeeper saw its downloads boosted by an eye-popping 673 percent after receiving a Billboard-style feature in Google Play.

Much like the app features in Google Play and the iTunes App Store, Amazon itself will select which apps will receive a Billboard feature, but developers can apply for consideration by submitting a 1024 x 500 Billboard-ready image through Amazon’s mobile app distribution portal.

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