Mobile app news roundup: Nexus 7 sales, iOS Maps patents and games for Windows Phone 8

Nexus 7 sales near 1 million a month – Asus has revealed that it is selling nearly 1 million Nexus 7 Android tablets a month. Reported first by the Wall Street Journal, Asus revealed the information in its third quarter earnings call, reporting sales have grown steadily, climbing from about 500,000 units a month at launch.

Apple patents iOS maps interface — Apple has been awarded a patent for the graphical user interface (GUI) for the iOS Maps app according to Apple Insider. U.S. Patent No. 8,302,033 is for a “touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for providing maps, directions, and location-based information.”

Gameloft supports Nexus 10, Windows Phone 8 — Gameloft has wasted no time in preparing apps to run on Google’s brand-new Nexus 10 tablet and Microsoft’s line of Windows 8 smartphones. The company announced this week that 10 of its games were compatible with the the Nexus 10:

  • The Dark Knight Rises
  • The Amazing Spiderman
  • Monster Life
  • The Oregon Trail American Settlers
  • N.O.V.A. 3 : Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance
  • Dungeon Hunter 3
  • Kingdoms and Lords
  • Asphalt 7 : Heat
  • Ice Age Village
  • Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation

Meanwhile the company announced it would be bringing the following 12 titles to Windows Phone 8 devices:

  • Ice Age Village
  • N.O.V.A. 3: Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance
  • Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour
  • Shark Dash
  • Asphalt 7: Heat
  • The Dark Knight Rises
  • UNO™ & Friends
  • Order & Chaos Online
  • The Amazing Spider-Man
  • Fashion Icon
  • Poker for Prizes
  • Real Soccer 2013

Playfirst expands to Android – Playfirst has made the jump to Android, bringing its popular Diner Dash franchise to the Kindle Fire.

Punchbox makes bank with Fishing Joy – Chinese developer Punchbox is earning more than $420,000 a month in China from its ultra-popular game Fishing Joy reports Pocket Gamer.

40,000 new users per day for Pulse — Newreader app Pulse is signing up 40,000 new readers a day, reports VentureBeat. Between them, the app’s userbase reads over 10 million news stories a day.

Fortumo Launches in-app payments for Windows 8 – Mobile payments company Fortumo now supports Windows 8, allowing developers to add mobile payments to apps running on Microsoft Surface tablets. The service is available in more than 80 countries.

Millennial Media and AppStori partner — Millennial Media has partnered with app-exclusive crowdfunding service AppStori. Eligible project will receive $500 in cash funding from Millennial and a $500 advertising credit.

[Launch] Gameloft debuts World at Arms — Gameloft’s latest title is military strategy game World at Arms. The free-to-play mid-core title challenges players to construct a military base, allying with friends to battle the evil KRA.

[Funding] It’sOn nets $15.5 million from Andreessen Horowitz — Stealth mobile data startup It’sOn has raised another $15.5 million in funding from Andreessen Horowitz, SV Angel and others reports VentureBeat. The company, which has raised a total of $24.4 million in venture capital plans to improve wireless data access.

Agawi reveals GameZen app for Windows 8 devices

Cloud gaming service Agawi announced today its new Windows 8 GameZen app that offers developers and publishers the ability to bring their social games, web-based games and more to Windows 8 computers and x86 tablets. GameZen will allow developers to bring their games to Microsoft’s new Surface devices “soon.”

“What GameZen allows publishers and developers to do is literally take their existing games such as Facebook social games, web-based MMOs, pretty much all categories of games, and instantly make them available in a market that comprises potentially of hundreds of millions of users,” Agawi CEO and co-founder Rajat Gupta told Inside Mobile Apps.

He added that “Practically any Facebook game for example, should be available on GameZen. Think about even larger titles like Empires and Allies to small titles that are more niche.”

There’s no cost for developers and publishers to get their games on Agawi. Also, developers and publishers don’t need to do anything at all in regards to adding touch controls to their games for GameZen on mobile, it’s all handled by Agawi’s automated real-time gesture virtualization, which ads multi-touch gestures to games where it wasn’t present.GameZen Windows 8 app

Started in February 2010 as a YouWeb incubated company called iSwifter that streamed flash-based social games to the iPad, the company renamed itself to Agawi in August 2012 and pivoted its business to focus on mid-core and hardcore games.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced Tuesday at its Build conference that Windows 8 sold four million copies since launch and that there are currently 670 million PCs running Windows 7. Using Ballmer’s figures to make his point, Gupta says the potential for Windows 8 is huge and believes consumers will eventually convert over from Windows 7 to Windows 8. He adds that GameZen is an effective way for game developers and publishers to reach the large Windows audience.

“For a publisher to take their existing web-based game, and instantly without having to invest any incremental dollars into it, make it available on a new platform is huge value add.”

The Menlo Park, Calif,-based game streaming startup announced back in September its partnership with Microsoft to bring its game streaming service to Windows 8 devices, which will utilize Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud platform to stream games to Windows 8 devices including computers, tablets and eventually smartphones. Some of Agawi’s cloud gaming service competitors include OnLive and Sony’s Gaikai.

In an effort to attract more mid-core and massively multiplayer online (MMO) developers to bring their games to Windows 8, the company set up the Agawi Game Partner (AGP Gold) Program. Agawi rewarded developers who signed up early by featuring their games in GameZen. Gupta couldn’t mention any games, developers or publishers for GameZen at this time.

GameZen is available for free in the Windows 8 Store starting today. As of right now, the app doesn’t monetize, but Gupta says Agawi will work with their development and publishing partners to figure out the appropriate way to monetize.

Agawi has only received a “very small” seed round of funding from unnamed Silicon Valley angel investors and funding from YouWeb Incubator, according to Gupta. The rest of Agawi’s funding has come from its own revenue to finance itself up to this point.

Microsoft unveils Windows Phone 8 operating system features and devices

Microsoft announced today the operating system details and hardware options for the upcoming Windows Phone 8.

Microsoft manager of the Windows Phone program Joe Belfiore today revealed the new operating features coming to Windows Phone 8 including a new lock screen powered by Live Apps, Data Sense, Kid’s Corner and Rooms.

During the Microsoft event in San Francisco Belifore revealed that the Windows Store now has more than 120,000 apps. He added that 46 of the top 50 most popular apps on other platforms will now be on the Windows Phone. Some of those top 50 apps include Temple Run, Urban Spoon, Angry Birds Star Wars and Where’s My Water? Pandora, in particular will hit the Windows Store in 2013 with a whole year of free music and no advertisements. Other new apps coming to Windows Phone 8 include Words with Friends, Chase, PayPal, Draw Something and more. Belifore also revealed that Microsoft has doubled the language support for the Windows Phone to 50 languages and Windows Phone apps are now available in 191 countries.Windows Phone 8 Lock Screen

In an effort to put people at the center of the mobile experience Microsoft revamped its Live Tiles and Live Apps so users can see the things they care about from other people including their latest photos, tweets and more. Users can now rearrange and resize Live Tiles however they see fit. A new lock screen powered by Live Apps allows users to see content, pictures and notifications from apps at a glance. Microsoft has also partnered with Facebook to bolster this feature by allowing Facebook photos to show up in the lock screen.

Windows Phone 8’s new Data Sense feature aims to help users get the most out of their data plan. Users can surf the web more and use less data through Data Sense’s software that compresses every web page. Microsoft says users can increase mobile browsing by 45 percent on the same data plan versus another handset without Data Sense. This new feature also helps users find nearby Wi-Fi hotspots on a map and helps users manage their data usage. Additionally, Data Sense can adjust appropriately as users approach the limit of their data plans.Windows Phone 8 Data Sense

Kid’s Corner allows parents to create a separate environment for kids using a Windows Phone 8. Parents can grant access to apps, music, games and more by simply checking boxes next to a list of apps.

Rooms, a new addition to Windows Phone’s People hub, lets users create particular sets of people from the main contact list with which they can share messages, photos and notes. The feature is similar concept to Google’s Circles feature. For example, a grocery list can be shared between a standard Family Room. Users of other phone devices like iPhones and Anroids can get part of the Rooms experience such as shared calendars.

Users can access documents and photos from a Windows 8 PC, tablet, phone and even Xbox with Microsoft’s SkyDrive cloud service. SkyDrive is the first cloud service that fully intergrates Office documents from any Windows 8 device. SkyDrive offers 7GB of free storage, with the option to add more storage. Music can now be synced from a Mac, Windows Phone 7 or Windows Windows Phone 8 via a companion app. So users can now have their entire iTunes music library on their Windows Phone 8.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer ended the conference by showing off multiple upcoming Windows Phone 8 handsets including the Nokia Lumia 920, Samsung ATIV S and HTC 8X. Nokia, who’s exclusively focused on Windows Phone development and is selling the most Windows Phones on the market, will be releasing its new Lumia 920 which features optical image stabilization and wireless charging capablilty. Samsung’s ATIV S features a 4.8 inch screen and long batter life. Lastly, the HTC 8X sports a built-in amp, Beats Audio and a wide-angle lens on the back-facing camera. All three devices from Nokia, HTC and Samsung feature Qualcomm Snapdragon processors that are made to optimize the Windows Phone 8 experience.

Developers can get their hands on the Windows Phone 8 SDK for free starting tomorrow.

Microsoft first took the wraps off its Windows Phone 8 operating system back in June, revealing a mobile operating system that will share the same file system and drivers as the Windows 8 desktop operating system.

Windows Phone 8 devices will begin going on sale in Europe this weekend and the rest of the world in November, with such devices including the Nokia Lumia 920, HTC 8X and Samsung ATIV S. AT&T will be getting the HTC 8X, Nokia Lumia 820 and exclusive Lumia 920 on November 14. Verizon will be carrying the HTC 8X and exclusive Nokia Lumia 822 by Thanksgiving. T-Mobile will be receiving the Nokia Lumia 810 and HTC 8X on November 14. Lastly, Canadian mobile network Rogers will have the Nokia Lumia 920 on sale beginning tomorrow.

Mobile app news roundup: Google, Nokia and Microsoft

Google’s mobile business worth $8 billion a year — Google earns more than $8 billion a year from its mobile advertising business and the Google Play store. CEO Larry Page revealed the new figure during the company’s Q3 earnings call earlier this week. Last year Google reported its mobile run rate was $2.5 billion a year, but that figure did not include revenues from Google Play.

Lumia sales drop, Nokia’s smartphone sales down 63% year-over-year – Nokia has reported a rough third quarter. The company’s smartphone sales declined 63 percent year-on-year. Lumia sales also fell to 2.9 million, down from four million in Q2. The company also reported a €576 million operating loss, and net sales of €7.239 billion.

Surface tablets get a price – Microsoft has announced how much its line of Surface tablets will cost. Surface with Windows RT will initially be available at three pricepoints: a 32GB version priced at US$499, a 32GB version bundled with a black Touch Cover priced at US$599, and a 64GB version bundled with a black Touch Cover priced at US$699.


Infinity Blade Dungeons delayed – Epic Games has delayed the release of Infinity Blade Dungeons to 2013, according to an interview with AllThingsD. The news is likely a big blow to Epic. Missing the holiday season means missing a large portion of new iOS users and sales. The previous title in the series, Infinity Blade 2, was able to break iOS sales records after its Dec. 2011 release, earning more than $5 million in a single month, a figure that became a high water mark for iOS earnings for the next several months.

Softbank acquires Sprint — Japanese telecom company Softbank has moved into the U.S. market with a $20 billion acquisition of Sprint, reports Tech in Asia. The move means Softbank is now the third largest telecom company in the world, behind only China Mobile and Verizon.

GREE has a busy week — Japanese gaming giant GREE has been busy this week. The company launched an open-source tool for creating Unity and HTML5-based smartphone apps called Lightweight SWF. The company has also added support for 12 new languages in its global gaming platform, and revealed it had bought a minority stake in Dutch online chat startup eBuddy.

Car Town going mobile — Cie Games has brought its popular Facebook game Car Town to mobile as Car Town Streets. The game will be a free-to-play iOS title. Note: A representative for Cie Games has changed the release date to “coming soon.”

Jumptap considering IPO, sale – Mobile advertising company JumpTap is considering either an IPO or a sale, according to a Reuters report. The company controls approximately 9.5 percent of the mobile advertising market.

Halloween sales hit the iOS App Store, The Dark Meadow is $2.99 – Phosphor Games is promoting the premium version of its first-person horror title The Dark Meadow, dropping the price to $2.99 in celebration of Halloween.

[Funding] textPlus raises $18 million – textPlus, the company behind the popular group text messaging app of the same name has raised $18 million in Series D funding from the Raine Group, reports The Next Web.

[Funding] Appy Couple nets $1.2 million — Wedding app startup Appy Couple has raised  $1.2 million in seed funding. ff Venture Capital’s John Frankel lead the round, according to TechCrunch. The service gives couple the tools to make their own personalized wedding apps.

[Funding] AppsBuilder assembles €1.5 million round of funding – AppBuilder, an Italian startup that provides a cross-platform development solution that lets businesses turn their websites into native apps for iOS, Android and Windows phone has raised €1.5 million from Italian angel investors Massimiliano Magrini and Mario Mariani, with participation from Vertis Venture and Zernike Meta Ventures to expand internationally, reports TechCrunch.

Agawi offers AGP Gold program to bring mid-core games, MMOs to Windows 8

Game streaming startup Agawi is hoping to entice more mid-core and massively multiplayer online (MMO) developers to bring their games to Windows 8 with its new AGP Gold program.

Short for Agawi Game Partner Program, the initiative will be an ongoing effort, but Agawi is sweetening the deal for early sign-ups. Companies that join the program now will have the chance to have their games featured in Agawi’s Windows 8 app, which will launch alongside Window 8 on Oct. 26. According to today’s press release, AGP Gold is open to all developers, although Agawi has said it will favor social mid-core and MMO-type titles when choosing which games to feature.

“It’s a great opportunity for web-based mid-core and MMO game developers to make the leap over to mobile and tablet-based gaming,” said Agawi co-founder Peter Relan in a statement accompanying today’s news.

A Microsoft partner themselves, Agawi uses Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform to stream games to desktops, laptops, mobile devices and tablets running Windows 8, which according to the company eliminates the need to port a game to make it run on the new OS.

Originally a flash-based game streaming service called iSwifter, Agawi renamed itself and pivoted to focus on mid-core and hard-core targeted games in Aug. 2012.

Mobile App Roundup: iPhone 5 sales, AdWords and a Chinese challenger for Android

Analysts predict over 10 million iPhone 5 Sales for Sept. — Topeka Capital Market analyst Brian White has predicted Apple will sell somewhere between 10 and 12 million new iPhone 5s in September reports VentureBeat. With the iPhone launching on Sept. 21, that will mean between 1.1 and 1.3 million iPhones will leave stores every day.

Google adds new app promotion options to AdWords — Google has added new features to its AdWords advertising service designed specifically for app promotion. Advertisers can now bid based on a cost per acquisition basis. Text ads have also been revamped, allowing advertisers to be updated automatically with information from user reviews and rates.

iPhone 5 pre-order sells out in one hour – U.S. pre-orders for the new iPhone 5 sold out in just 60 minutes reports TechCrunch. The iPhone 4S sold out of its pre-order stock in 22 hours.

China’s Alibaba investing challenge Android — Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba has announced it is willing to spend $158 million per year to fund the development of its Linux-based smartphone OS Aliyun. As Tech in Asia reports, the company is largely looking to take OS market share from Android, which it feels handles mobile cloud computing poorly.

Microsoft revamps app store –Microsoft has renamed the Windows Phone Marketplace, changing the service’s name to the Windows Phone Store. The company has also redesigned the store, emphasizing app discovery and improving its search capabilities, reports The AppSide.

Unicom: China will have iPhone 5 in three months – Chinese cellular provider China Unicom has revealed the iPhone 5 will be available on its network within three months, according to The Next Web.

Toys ‘R’ Us announced kid friendly tabeo Tablet — The giant toys retailer announced that it will release tablet focused on content for kids and safety features desired by parents. The tablet will be sold for $149.99 starting Oct. 21.

630K+ devices reading The Economist — Popular magazine The Economist has released new figures detailing the reach of its digital footprint. According to the magazine, 631,967 unique devices opened its app in June.

Dwolla, LevelUp payments coming to Shopkeep – iPad POS system ShopKeep will soon take payments from Dwolla and LevelUp customers. Consumers using the services will be able to use their mobile phones to complete purchases with any merchant using ShopKeep.

Free Wi-Fi coming to Android — Google Play is teaming up with Boingo to sponsor free Wi-Fi at airports and New York City subway stations during September reports VentureBeat. The Wi-Fi will only be available for Android-based devices and smartphones.

Wikipad Android gaming tablet coming in October — Android based tablet the Wikipad has revealed it will launch in October and retail for $499. It will be available exclusively at Gamestop.

[Launch] Run Roo Run hops to iPad — 5th Cell’s popular auto-runner Run Roo Run is now available on iPad. The app is also currently being featured as the App Store’s Free App of the Week.

[Launch] DeNA brings Blood Brother to iOS – DeNA’s fantasy RPG Blood Brothers is no longer an Android exclusive. The company announced this week it has brought the title to iOS.

[Launch] DoubleDutch launches Hive — Productivity app maker DoubleDutch has released its latest product, workgroup collaboration app Hive. The mobile CRM app is available on both iOS and Android.

[Launch] FunMobility unveils Mobile Retail Rewards — Mobile marketing firm FunMobility has launched a new product called Mobile Retail Rewards. The solution is designed to help businesses start their own location-based rewards program.

Agawi teams with Microsoft to bring cloud-based gaming to Windows 8

Game streaming startup Agawi, announced today it is partnering with Microsoft to bring its service to Windows 8 devices.

Agawi got its start in 2010 as iSwifter, a YouWeb incubated company that streamed Flash-based social games to mobile devices. At the time, Flash-based games were much more advanced and lucrative than mobile titles, but as mobile gaming evolved many social game developers went into mobile themselves, cutting out the need for middleman services like iSwifter’s.

At the end of August iSwifter rebranded as Agawi, expanding its streaming options to include mid-core games and hardcore games as well as the Flash-based games it originally supported. According to Agawi’s press release users will also be able to play “popular AAA games” through the service in the coming months. The company currently has a userbase of 3 million players, and offers a Flash web browser for iPad owners through the iTunes App Store.

Under the terms of Agawi’s deal with Microsoft, Agawi will use Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud platform to stream games to Windows 8 devices, a category that includes desktop computers, laptops and Microsoft’s upcoming line of Surface tablets. At last week’s Lumia 920 launch event, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer revealed the company plans to produce more than 400 million Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 devices in 2013; if the OS is a hit, Agawi will be well positioned to catch up to its more established competitors in the game streaming market, OnLive and the Sony-owned Gaikai.

Guest Post: For Surface to succeed, app development will be key

Editor’s Note: This guest post comes from Kerry Butters, a contributor for the consumer information site Broadband Genie.  A writer with a passion for all things technology, Butters specializes in security, gadgets and social media.

There’s been much speculation that Microsoft’s upcoming line of Surface tablets could be the devices that will finally pose a challenge to Apple’s dominance of the tablet market. Analytics firm Gartner predicts the iPad will retain a 61.4% share for the whole of 2012, a feat considering the stiff competition being waged by Amazon’s Kindle Fire line of devices and Google’s hyped Nexus 7.

The success of any mobile device really lies within its app store and Apple, Google, and to a lesser extent Amazon, have established rich app store ecosystems. In order for Microsoft to make the Surface devices a success, they will not only have to be great tablets with attractive price points, Surface will need to attract developers. As we have seen with RIM, this isn’t necessarily an easy feat — even their promise of a $10,000 bonus for successful developers wasn’t enough to attract more apps to the flagging Blackberry platform.

Currently, iOS supports more than 700,000 apps for the iPhone and the iPad. Google Play, the official Android market has more than 600,000. Meanwhile, although Windows Phone has just passed the 100,000 app milestone, the RT version of Surface will only run Metro apps and the Windows 8 version will only run existing Windows applications.  Surface devices will need an app ecosystem able to rival Google’s and Apple’s, especially if the RT version of the tablet is to be viable. However, according to a recent report from The Register, it seems that only pre-approved developers will be able to make metro-style apps.

Although the report suggests that this restriction may only apply to Windows smartphones, with Microsoft not releasing more developer information until Sept. 12, the company’s actions seem to be indicating that it is prepared to take its time to establish its app ecosystem. Thus it seems that Microsoft’s attitude might end up being the deciding factor in the fate of its Surface devices.

The open, easy to work with Android platform is the most popular mobile OS in the world for a reason — despite its security issues — and Surface will suffer if Microsoft makes it too difficult for developers to make Metro-style apps, considering there will be new coding standards to get to grips with, even for existing Windows app developers.

All-in-all, it’s difficult to see how Surface is going to make a real difference to the market in the short-term, and only time will tell if Microsoft’s venture will eventually dethrone main rival and market leader Apple.

HitPoint reveals episodic title Adera for Xbox games on Windows 8 launch

Game developer HitPoint Studios revealed today its first title for Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox Games for Windows 8 service.Adera

Published by Microsoft Studios, Adera is an episodic puzzle-adventure game featuring a story-driven narrative that unfolds in rendered cinematics across multiple episodes. A recent title from the studio includes Facebook game Seaside Hideaway.

In Adera, players assume the role of Jane Sinclaire as she’s in the midst of solving mysteries around the world, while at the same time, discovering secrets about her past that put her at the center of the main mystery that she must solve the protect the world.

Adera will be available around the world on October 26 as part of the 40 launch titles for Xbox games for Windows 8.

Players can get their first hands-on with Adera at PAX Prime in Seattle starting today through Sunday. Don’t forget to say “hi” to the Inside Network team on-site at PAX Prime.

Microsoft looks to unite desktop, tablet and mobile with Windows Phone 8

Microsoft has taken the wraps off its upcoming Windows Phone 8 operating system, revealing an OS that looks to blend the functionality of desktop PC and mobile devices

The company announced today at its Windows Phone Summit in San Francisco, Windows Phone 8 will share its NT kernal and core operating system with Windows 8. This means the mobile version of the OS will support the same file system and drivers as the company’s desktop operating system, and allows Windows Phone 8 devices to support multi-core processors and removable MicroSD storage. With the new OS, app developers will be able to create apps that will run on both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, coding in C and C++.

Despite the shift to the NT kernal, existing Windows Phone 7 apps will still be able to run on Windows Phone 8. Microsoft will release a new Windows Phone SDK later this summer that will support development of both Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 8 apps.

Microsoft also revealed Windows Phone 8 will include several features designed for business, a move that could help Microsoft muscle into RIM’s share of the shrinking, but still sizable enterprise market. Windows Phone 8 will support on-device encryption, secure booting and private app distribution, three features aimed squarely at IT professionals looking for greater control over the devices and applications their employees use as more companies elect to let employees bring their own smartphones into the office.

Windows Phone 8 will support three resolutions and scale apps automatically to fit them. Microsoft also unveiled a new mobile wallet feature that will store credit and loyalty card information, support NFC payments and allow developers to offer in-app purchases. Bing Maps will be replaced by Nokia Maps that offer turn-by-turn navigation, ViOP apps like the Microsoft-owned Skype will have deeper OS integration and the OS will come with a new and improved version of Internet Explorer 10.

The biggest surprise of the day was the lack of backwards compatibility with earlier Windows Phone handsets like the new Nokia Lumia 900. According to Microsoft, existing Windows Phone devices will not be able to run Windows Phone 8, and will instead receive an incremental upgrade called Windows Phone 7.8 that will bring some of the new OS’ user interface changes to the older devices.

The first Windows Phone 8 devices will be available in the fall, with Nokia, HTC, Samsung and Huawei lined up to be the first OEMs offering the phones. Microsoft did not reveal an exact date for when the devices would be available or how much they would cost.

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