Son makes over $5,600 in app purchases, policeman father reports him for fraud


A U.K. policeman has reported his own 13-year-old son for fraud after the young man racked up a £3,700 charge for in-app purchases on his iPad that Apple refused to refund. The officer, Doug Crossan, says that his son was not aware that he was being charged for these downloads, and that he wants Apple to cancel the charge. Apple has refused to do so, so in order to get his money back, he reported the purchases as fraudulent.

via Son makes £3,700 in app purchases, policeman father reports him for fraud | iMore.com.

I’m calling Bull-Pucky on this! Not the story, it’s apparently true, but the son claiming that he was unaware that his in-app purchases were free!

Each and every in-app purchase clearly states the value of the purchase. We’re not talking a 5 year old here like a previous case, no we are talking a 13 year old.

This is a clear case where the parents failed to do their jobs as parents and are trying to blame someone else instead of taking responsibility.

You should see the sad faced photo’s of the father/son. Surely folks like these shouldn’t be responsible for the sad looking 13 year old’s actions! After all, they clearly are not trying to defraud Apple and the developers of the software that his son IAP’ed.

Since the father has contacted the National Action Fraud helpline to report his son in an attempt to recover the money his son charged, it’s possible that his son could be charged for the crime. I say the father should be the one charged with fraud and sentenced to time in prison, or at least let go from the police force he works for. I mean really, a policeman pulling a stunt like this.

It’s not like the father had no way to block IAP’s in iOS. iOS has very easy to use Parental Controls for making sure things like this don’t happen.

Apple App Store Has Lost $450 Million To Piracy


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If the headline is a true statement, then Apple needs to get off it’s backside and work out a way to protect applications from being pirated.

Via: 24/7 Wall St.
Apple and the companies that sell software for the iPhone and iPod touch at the App Store have lost over $450 million to piracy since the store opened in July 2008 according to an analysis by 24/7 Wall St. There have been over 3 billion applications downloaded since the App program began. Bernstein analyst, Toni Sacconaghi, estimated that between 13% and 21% of those downloads are from paid applications. According to this analysis, the average price of an application purchased at the App Store is $3. Sacconaghi estimated that Apple’s revenue from the App Store is between $60 million and $110 million per quarter. That amount has certainly increased since this research report was published because of the rapid growth of the number of applications.

If what that article is saying is true, then it’s clearly up to Apple to solve the problem. If for no other reason than to save the $135,000,000 that Apple is losing per 18 months.

There are folks out there that question the $450 million number and I must say that I have to wonder a bit too. The only way people can pirate iPhone/iPod touch apps is to jailbreak their iDevice. There are those that are doing this. In fact, some say that 10% of the iDevices out there are jailbroken. That comes to about 7.5 million jailbroken devices. Now, are we saying that, on average, each jailbreaker pirates $60 of software every 18 months? That sounds like a doable number. However, I really doubt that every jailbreaker is also a pirate. Now, what percentage of jailbreakers are pirates needs to be figured out.

The article states that 40% pirate, so now we are talking about 3 million jailbroken pirates would need to be stealing $150 worth of apps per 18 months. This still sounds like a doable figure. I mean we are talking less than 1 $0.99 app per month per jailbroken iPhone/iPod touch pirate. Assuming all the numbers are close to accurate.

If this is all true, then Apple is loosing way too much money to be sitting back and letting it happen. They must be working on something. If Microsoft can put together a system to prevent Xbox 360 pirating, then Apple can sure do something.

Apple Approves App With Image Of iPhone In Icon


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Yep, that’s right. Furry Scurry and Furry Scurry Lite both have icons with the image of an iPhone in them. Is this a sign of a new Apple and AppStore approval policy? Or is it just another example of Apple’s reviewers messing up.

It was just under 2 months ago that Apple rejected an update to RSS Player Podcast Client due to the image of an iPhone in the splash screen that RSS Player used. The image was of the logo of a podcast in a montage of many podcast logos.

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RSS Player was forced to change the splash screen to remove the “offending” podcast logo and resubmit the application. One month later, the application finally made it back into the AppStore.

Now all of a sudden, Apple is approving an application that clearly has the image of an iPhone in the apps icon. This is the kind of mixed signals that has been messing with developers minds for the past year and a half.

There have been other examples of Apple rejecting apps due to images of Apple products other than RSS Player. A recent update to Airfoil Speaker Touch by Rogue Amoeba was also rejected for displaying images of Macintosh hardware to indicate where Airfoil Speaker Touch was getting it’s sound from. Later, after Rogue Amoeba decided to stop development of iPhone/iPod touch software did Apple change it’s mind and allow the images to be displayed.

I have no idea why Furry Scurry was allowed to have the image of that iPhone in it’s icon. I suspect that the reviewer just missed it during the review. However, this is exactly what the problem is with Apple’s review policies. There are so many “rules” that have to be followed that not every reviewer and/or developer can know every rule.

Yet, so long as there are all the rules that there are, there are going to be mistakes made. CodeSource Solutions is going to find out later, when they try to update their application, that the application is going to be rejected and they will have to change their icon in order to get the app approved again. Until that time, or until someone else at Apple notices the icon, Furry Scurry will be the only application in the AppStore that is allowed to have an image of an iPhone in it.

Welcome Back Mobigame!


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Its been quite some time and I’m sure a huge amount of hell for Mobigame, but Edge by Mobigame [$4.99] and Edge by Mobigame Lite [Free] are both back in the US AppStore!

It appears that one of the concessions to getting back in the AppStore was to change the name from “Edge” to “Edge by Mobigame”. Both apps are updates to the existing versions which claim “bug fixed” as to what was changed in them. No mention of the change in the names, but at least they didn’t have to get rid of the “Edge” part of the name.

Its a real shame that they have been away from the store for so long. The game is truly one of the most original games for the iPhone/iPod touch there was when it first came out. It still really is. Mobigame also offers the music in the game as a free download on their site and as music, it stands up really well and is quite enjoyable to listen to. I have it in my music library to listen to just to listen to it.

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The game is a simple matter of getting your cube to the exit while collecting the small mini-cubes (as seen in the screen shot as that small yellow cube). Completing the level as quickly as possible.

The game currently has 48 levels, and if they stick around this time, hopefully they will be adding more and more levels as time goes on. This was something that they were doing before they had to leave the store.

Here’s hoping that they stick around this time and do very well.

1Password Pro and 1Password


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1Password Pro [$7.99] / 1Password [$4.99]

1Password Pro and 1Password is the iPhone/iPod touch equivalent to the Agile Web Solutions 1Password for the Macintosh. 1Password is by far, the best data encryption software available to the public for the Mac in iPhone/iPod touch. The price listed in this review for the Pro version is currently 50% off. It’s been that price since Aug. 4th, so I don’t know when the price will jump to it’s final $15.99 price, so I suggest grabbing it now while it’s still on sale.

1Password has a great feature list:

  • Securely store your website names and passwords so you never forget them again
  • Save important information like credit cards and membership numbers
  • Jot down other notes too sensitive for stickies or bar napkins
  • Synchronize it all with 1Password for Mac (sold separately, available at http://1password.com)
  • Automatically log into Web sites on iPhone and iPod touch to avoid remembering and typing usernames and passwords
  • Hardware-accelerated AES encryption and Auto-Lock keep your data protected even if your iPhone is lost or stolen
  • All cryptographic operations are performed using standard iPhone libraries to ensure there are no security gaps or backdoors
  • Two-layer defense with Unlock Code and Master Password to combine security and convenience
  • Data Backup & Restore option available on Mac, Windows and Linux.

1Password Pro adds the following list of features:

  • Special easy switching mode allows you to quickly copy-and-paste usernames and passwords to Mobile Safari.
  • Support for copying multiple field values (for example, both username and password) from 1Password to Mobile Safari.
  • Folders for better organization
  • Features coming soon: Favorites, MobileMe/WebDAV syncing, and more.

This app has been a huge life saver. I store information like my wife’s Social Security Number, all my credit card numbers, detailed information about the vehicles we own (VIN numbers, License Plate numbers, etc…), and other sundry items that I would never feel comfortable storing in a standard notes application.

1Password has two security codes. The first is a 4 digit pin number that is used to log into the application. Once in, you can see any information that you have deemed with simple PIN security. The second security code is a password that you enter when first starting up the application. Actually both the 4 digit PIN number and the larger Master Password are prompted for when you first start the application. Attempting to look at an item with the Master Password Proctection flag set will prompt the user for the Master Password before they are allowed to see the item.

[singlepic id=7 w=160 h=120 float=left]A great side feature of 1Password is the ability to help generate secure passwords for any use. In 1Password, you select the Passwords tab and tap the “+” button. A Generate screen appears with a slider that you can slide from 4 characters to 20 characters. You can tell it to allow/disallow Numbers and allow/disallow Special Characters. You can then save the password for a website or just give it a description so you can find it for what ever need you wish.

If you have the Macintosh version of 1Password, you can sync all your information stored on you main computer to your iPhone/iPod touch. This allows you to have super secure passwords for any website you want. Just tap the Logins tab and find the site you want to log into. Tap the address field and you will be taken to that website using the 1Password web browser with the username and password already filled out.

Now, to be fair here, the Pro feature that allows the user the ability to use folders seems a little “lite” considering the price difference between the Pro version and the standard version.

The “special easy switching mode” is really nothing more than a bookmarklet that is added to the iPhone/iPod touch’s bookmarks. Once on a page that needs a password, you use the bookmarklet, which launches 1Password Pro so that you can use the Login item stored in it’s database to grab the password. Not the most efficient way to get the info, but really the only way since applications can’t talk to each other on the iPhone/iPod touch.

The only real useful features of the Pro version are the ones that are “coming soon”. Favorites and MobileMe/WebDAV syncing will be a huge plus with 1Password and the iPhone/iPod touch.

So, I have to say that the Pro version is probably not work $15.99 right now, but I would say that it’s worth the $7.99 being asked right now. Otherwise, $4.99 for piece of mind when it comes to credit card, social security, and other very sensitive numbers is well worth it.

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AppStore Review Process Getting Worse Not Better


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A while back, Apple told a developer to either take out some offensive words from their dictionary application (Ninjawords) or be removed from the AppStore. This prompted Apple’s Phil Schiller to write to John Gruber at Daring Fireball to respond to the accusation that Apple was censoring the dictionary app.

I felt that Apple finally had an idea that they needed to take a good long look at their process and make some changes.

Well, I’m afraid that either they are still taking that “long look” or they decided that nothing was wrong with their process because sure enough, developers seem to be getting shafted more and more since.

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Case in point: iStat from Bjango. Originally, iStat had a great feature that allowed its users to “Free Memory” on their device so that they could play a game or run an application that might otherwise crash to the SpringBoard due to memory issues. Apple sent Bjango a letter stating that their software was causing confusion with it’s iPhone/iPod touch users and that they needed to remove the Free Memory feature from the software or have their iStat program removed from the AppStore.

Bjango capitulated and has since been updated with new features like a battery status display and process list.

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Now Apple has sent a letter to the folks over at Vanilla Breeze telling them to remove the “Broken LCD animation” from their iSurprise application or be removed from the AppStore. When asked why, Apple responded saying that they were getting too many phone calls from their customers telling them their devices have become broken by using iSurprise.

Now, I understand that the iPhone is a great device and that its designed so that even a small child can use all the features of a cell phone without having to dig into it’s manuals. However, this is getting ridiculous. Apple is actually saying that their users are so stupid that they can’t tell the difference between an application bringing up a picture of a broken screen and an actual broken screen?

Are these users so stupid that as soon as the screen appears broken, they pick up their landline and call Apple claiming that the application iSurprise broke their phone? They don’t notice that the “glass” is broken only to the edge of where the display is and not to the upper and lower edges of the phone? That pressing the Home button “fixes” the break and then tapping the iSurprise icon then tapping the screen again causes the screen to break again?

Seriously?

Are they saying that they get calls when someone’s iPhone shows a broken screen but when they have a similar application running on their iMac and the iMac’s screen shows a graphic of a broken screen that they are not confused by this, but are by the iPhone app?

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Something has to be going on at Apple above and beyond confusion by 0.001% of Apple’s iPhone/iPod touch users (assuming 400 people are calling complaining about this application, and that is being generous). It would take 400,000 users calling complaining about this problem for it to even show as 1% of their user base. What that something is, I just can’t even speculate on. It’s just too damn strange for me to figure out.

Apple needs to fix this AppStore problem, or they are going to have absolutely no developers for their precious phone/ipod as all the developers move to other platforms that don’t act like dictators.

Bulk Apps: Apple Created The Problem Themselves


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“Bulk Apps” or Mass Produced Applications have been an increasing problem with Apple’s AppStore for quite some time now. More and more developers are finding that they can “bulk up” their application catalog or portfolio by simply taking a simple template app, applying different data and publishing the application as a totally separate app.

They started out simply as e-books published to the AppStore one book as one application. Usually a book that is in the public domain. Then, actual book publishers saw that iPhone e-books were becoming popular and decided that they would join in and publish their books as e-books. At the time there were a couple of pretty good e-book reader apps out there for publishers to attach to and before you knew it, there were hundreds of e-books in the AppStore.

e-books have become a huge segment of the AppStore comprising over 9,500 titles ranging in price from Free to $20 and more. e-books are an acceptable “bulk” app because Apple gave developers little choice when it came to applications. Sure, you could put 10, 100, even 10,000 books in a single application. However, a book publisher wouldn’t want to because they would have to sell the application for hundreds if not the maximum $999.99.

The real problem started with a new type of application. Location-based apps as well as fan apps. Location-based applications pull data from RSS feeds, flickr, and other sources to create an application that doesn’t require an internet connection to get to the data. A developer pulls the data for a specific region together, creates an application for the AppStore, and published it. Before long, that developer has 100+ apps all using the same code base.

There are currently 71,617 published applications in the AppStore. This number is based on AppShopper.com’s tally. Games comprise the bulk of that number at nearly 20%. e-books take a good 13% and Entertainment another 13%. The rest of the AppStore categories are less than 10% each, the biggest of which is over 7% in the Travel category.

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Interestingly, one developer holds just over 13% (that’s equal to all the e-books that are published!) of the 71,617 published applications with a whopping 9,500+ applications. One developer! Brighthouse Labs currently holds the record for the largest collection of applications in the AppStore. Clearly, this is a lucrative business for Brighthouse Labs. It’s probably safe to say that there is more than one person behind this developer. I would even venture to guess that we are talking between 50 to 100 people work for Brighthouse Labs.

Update: Whoops, I don’t know where I came up with 9,500 apps for Brighthouse, that number should be 2,280 which is 3.2% of all the apps published, still an impressive number. 2,280 comes out to about 6 apps a day since the store was opened. Not inconceivable for a one or two developer shop to produce. However, from information garnered from other bulk application developers, it’s probable that Brighthouse employees around 20 or so people to turn out the apps that they do. Consider that Brighthouse didn’t start creating their apps back on July of last year. they have probably been punching out apps for about 8 months which equates to about 10 apps a day, 7 days a week, for 8 months.

Thanks Frank for pointing out my mistake there. I don’t know where the 9,500 came from unless I read the number of e-books as being the number from Brighthouse. I’m leaving the old text in but crossed out to show that I had made the mistake and corrected it.

I would also venture to guess that 95% or more are minimum wage or possibly even “sweat shop” labor that do the bulk of the work, no pun intended. In order for Brighthouse labs to have 9,500+ applications in the store, they would have had to submit to Apple, 24 applications a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year! That’s assuming they started submitting apps the day the AppStore opened!

Brighthouse Labs isn’t the only developer out there creating Bulk apps either. One such developer, Khalid Shaikh, was booted from the AppStore and their privileges to the iPhone development program revoked. At the time, he was the 3rd most prolific developer with over 900 applications published. Apple pulled the developer, not because he was a bulk developer, but because he was publishing copyrighted material in his apps.

Apple made a change to the way developers could sell their wares when they released OS 3.0 not long ago. A new feature called In-App Purchasing allows developers to combine their content into one application and still make money for their separate content. Comixology is taking advantage of this feature with their application “Comics“. Comics is a $0.99 application that allows you to download comics to your iPhone. They have a large collection of comics from 15+ publishers as well as creater-owned titles. There are several comics that are free, but the bulk of the titles cost $0.99. You don’t have to find these titles in the AppStore, you go into the Comics application, find a title you want, and tap a Buy button. You are charged through Apple for the purchase, but no new applications are downloaded to your iPhone/iPod touch. Its downloaded into the Comics application where you can read it at your leisure.

Game developers are taking advantage of this feature to offer new downloadable content for their games like the PS3 and XBOX-360 have done for years. Developers as well as patrons benefit from this since patrons don’t have to buy whole new applications for 3-5 times the price and the new content doesn’t take up extra space on their device. Developers benefit since they don’t have to charge 3-5 times the price which makes the content that more appealing to patrons.

The problem though, and the reason for the headline to this article, is that Apple should have thought of this before opening up the AppStore to developers back in 2008. Now, to be fair, no one predicted the rise of bulk apps back in 2008, so it’s hardly fair to blame Apple for this. However, if Apple had given developers the ability for In-App purchasing back in 2008, would we be seeing the Bulk application problem we are seeing today?

WTF Apple! Bjango Being Blackmailed Into Removing A Feature


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OK, what the hell is the matter with you Apple! This blackmail tactic of threatening to remove an application from the AppStore because you don’t like a feature is really getting very very old!

I just learned that Apple is threatening to remove iStat from Bjango if they don’t remove a feature in the application that attempts to free up memory that is otherwise not being used.

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As you can see from the screen shot to the right, the first section of the applications data is a pie chart of memory usage. Wired and Active is memory that is currently being used by applications, Inactive and Free is memory that is not being used. The “FREE MEMORY” button to the right of the pie chart allows the user to attempt to free up memory that is not being used at the time.

For this example, tapping the FREE MEMORY button would probably free up about a quarter of the memory currently being colored in the pie chart. This has been my experience with the app. It probably attempts to fill the device with used memory by allocating as much memory as it’s allowed, then freeing it up. This will force the device to “Page Out” memory, freeing up some memory for other apps.

Typically, the Mail, Phone and iPod apps don’t quit when you press the Home button. So they take up memory that may not be needed if you are not listening to music. You don’t need Mail in memory if you are not reading messages and you don’t need “most” of the Phone app in memory either.

The news hit Twitter just a few hours ago directly from Bjango. Here are the tweets from their Twitter account: http://twitter.com/bjango

We’ve been asked to remove iStat’s free memory feature. This leaves us with two choices. Resubmit with free mem gon (cont) http://tl.gd/dme8

You all know who asked ;) Keep the replies coming. User feedback is a VERY important part of this decision.

Those who want more info: we simply don’t have any. It is exactly what it is.

All the detail we have: iStat will be removed from the store unless the free mem feature goes.

If you don’t update iStat to version 1.1, then yes, you get to keep 1.0 as is, free mem included.

On the plus side: If we remove the free mem feature, we will be able to update iStat with all the features we’ve been wanting to add.

We haven’t made a decision yet but it seems like people would rather have updates even if it means free memory is gone.

Now, there were a lot of folks chiming in with suggestions including myself. I would personally like to keep iStat as is, and purchase a new iStat app that doesn’t have the free memory feature, but has the new features that Bjango is promising. Were not talking a huge amount of money here. If I paid full price for the app, it was $1.99. I would gladly eat that for a way of freeing memory other than turning off my phone, then back on. That is so annoying and is just because there is no memory free to run the application I am attempting to run.

I have seen symptoms in several apps I run. With PandoraBox, I’ll see application entries with all blank data, meaning that there wasn’t enough free memory to load the app description and icon into memory to display. I’ve seen apps shutdown seconds after starting. After I free the memory, the applications work fine.

I have to wonder what in the world Apple doesn’t like about the ability to “Page Out” memory not being used presently by other applications. It’s what a Paged Memory Management system is designed to do. If the “embeded” version of OS X is not capable of PMM, I would have to question Apple’s saying that the iPhone/iPod touch uses an Embeded OS X.

As usual, Apple is not stating way Bjango has to remove the feature from its app. Just that they remove it or the app is removed from the store. I’m actually surprised that Apple actually gave Bjango a warning that they would remove the app if they don’t comply. We have clearly seen examples of Apple pulling the plug on an application and surprising the developers with the news after the fact.

So, come on Apple, get your head out of your collective asses and fix this AppStore problem, or you are not going to be seeing the applications you would like to see in your wonderful AppStore in the future. Just hundreds of thousands of “Bulk” apps that we all enjoy so much right now. (You know what I’m talking about, don’t you Brighthouse Labs?)

New Favorite iPhone Game App: GloBall


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For the longest time, my favorite iPhone game app was Gemmed! [appstore link] by Wasted Pixel. You can play that game for 15 seconds or 5 hours due to the ability to leave and comeback at “any” time. It’s a simple match-3 game, but with a twist of monsters in the game grid eating gems to move toward their color’s exit. There some great power-ups that appear when you match enough of a specific color, etc… Really fun and not overly expensive for $1.99.

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Now there is a new iPhone game I found called GloBall [appstore link]. It’s kind of a BreakOut or Arkanoid game without the paddle. You just tilt the iPhone around to move the ball into boxes in the playfield to gain points. There are bonus blocks to increase your score potential and odd little creature like things that threaten your glowing ball.

The graphics are really wonderful and very pleasant on the eye. Controlling the glowing ball is pretty easy and is not nearly as frustrating as other games I have played that are like this one.

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Another very interesting aspect to the game is it’s high score board. They take your iPhone’s location and compare your score to others in it’s database. It then tells you your overall rank. It also tells you that you have the best score within a specific distance. So far, I haven’t broken over a mile and my current high score is broken just over 1,000 feet away.

If you look at individual levels, you can see the same info for that specific level instead of your total points. I really like this and love the sphere of the Earth with all the blue dots representing other players. I wonder if those are “active” players vrs. ones that have high scores in their database.

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This game is currently going for $0.99 as in “introductory” price. So if you are even remotely interested in the game, I suggest downloading the free version to check it out then, buying the full version before the “introductory” price goes away.

Update: There is a small downside to the game. the 43 levels it has goes very fast. I finished all the levels in about 1 1/2 hours. It’s certainly replayable, and there are high scores to beat, but it would be nice to have more levels.