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Posts from the ‘iPhone Apps’ Category

Silk: Surreal Abstraction in a Browser


New web technologies give us the ability to create outstanding, beautiful artwork in our browser window without Flash. Silk is an app unlike anything we’ve seen before. We had trouble nailing down how to describe it since we couldn’t compare it. It’s not a tool or a game.

Visit Silk, and click-and-drag a line across your browser. Once you let go, an organic shape will begin to form and glide across your screen. The design looks like waving fabric, or arcs of lightning, or smoke from a cigarette, all depending on what your draw. The shape cycles through colors as it grows, giving you a piece that you’ll want to save and share with friends. Hold down your Shift-key and move your mouse to control the wind.

What surprised us about Silk is that there is a business model behind the tool. The website previews upcoming iPhone and iPad apps. After all, with an app like this one, why would you want to be limited to your browser? We don’t have any other details at this point. But, once they are released in the App Store, we’re willing to bet they will become instant classics.

Seeking Funding: MixAR, Tagli.us

Mini Sprout focuses on helping young websites grow. Seeking Funding is a category dedicated to promoting new business concepts. Websites featured in this section are in the process of seeking seed funding and backers.

MixAR: Seeking $5,000 before January 28, 2011
noresizeMixAR looks to be the world’s first augmented reality editor on the iPhone. At the moment, some apps allow you to view AR content, but MixAR will allow you to make and capture your own. The app comes from Halolabs, which has already launched an AR app on the iPhone for a music group. MixAR builds on their existing code library and opens the technology up for anyone.

Tagli.us: Seeking $5,820 before February 1, 2011
noresizeDelicious may be the social bookmarking heavyweight, but its future is uncertain, and its feature set is growing dated. Tagli.us seeks to become a modern social bookmarking site. While it will offer all of the features of Delicious, there’s more emphasis on the people behind each profile and their friends. Tagli.us also pulls in any URLs you may Tweet or post across your profiles, making it a true bookmarking service for social media.

Springpad: Fun & Intelligent Notes


Springpad is a free web and mobile app that serves as a destination for all thoughts, tasks and things. It’s available anywhere through the web and is as refined as a Mac desktop app. Add notes, tasks or items, such as products, places, movies, restaurants, recipes and wines. Springpad supports plenty of different items, giving depth to their service.

Type in tasks to have them appear, or look up items across external services like Amazon and IMDB. You’re not limited to a text field either; if you want to save a book while browsing in a bookstore, just snap the ISBN barcode using your phone’s camera. You can also attach notes and files to anything you save.

Items that you save are already grouped by type, so things like recipes, movies and events stay separate. But if you tag your posts, Springpad will group items into specific projects. This way, you can group albums, recipes and gifts together when planning a holiday party, or wines, locations and to-dos when planning a trip. Each notebook includes a board, which works like a light board or scrapbook and lets you arrange items on your screen.

Springpad works in web browsers, and they built sophisticated iPhone, iPad and Android apps to complement. A web browser extension drops Springpad into your toolbar, allowing you to save items on your current webpage without interrupting your browsing session.

Alerts show your tasks and also recommend deals based on your saved items. Springpad likely earns a commission off these sales, but they appear unobtrusive and targeted, so we have no concerns.

Viber: Free Calls Via Your Data Network

Forget about cellular minutes. Viber replaces your mobile’s phone app by providing free calling between other Viber users. International calls come across just as well as local calls, and there’s no charge for crossing continents. Viber pulls in all of your contacts from your address book. Friends who also use the app see the Viber badge adjacent to their name. Tap their name to connect.

What helps distinguish Viber from other services is how it transmits calls. The app runs off your data network, so users can place calls using 3G or wifi. Comparable services, like Google Voice, rely on your phone’s cellular network, which means using minutes and paying for long distance calls. If a friend does not use Viber yet, you can still call using your cellular network or send an invitation to join.

The service supports features you’d expect from a phone app, like recent and missed calls. You can also view missed calls from people who tried reaching you while your phone was off or out of signal range. Push notifications are supported too, so you don’t need to keep the app open to receive calls. SMS is coming soon.

The only thing we see missing from Viber is the ability to leave voice mails. It seems like a highly demanded feature we hope will be added as the service expands.

At the moment, Viber is available as a free download on the iPhone App Store. Android and Blackberry versions are on their way.

We scrubbed their website and privacy policy, and we cannot find any indication of how the service plans to generate revenue. Google Voice and Skype sell credits to connect over a cellular network. Viber may also follow this plan in the future, especially since it wouldn’t diminish any of their current offerings. It’s just that we don’t have any reason to believe so. Until then, enjoy the free calls.

Path: Separate Friends From Frienemies

When Facebook announced email yesterday, it gave us a chance to remember how the social graph has changed relationships. If anything, Facebook has changed the definition of a friend. We no longer use the word acquaintance. Instead, we have friends, frienemies and BFFs. On Facebook, we may have thousands of “friends.”

Path launched yesterday as a new social network in an iPhone app. But what distinguishes Path from all other networks is that a user cannot have more than fifty people in their personal network. Choose your friends carefully.

The service focuses on what’s happening right now. At the moment, the only way to communicate through Path is by taking and uploading photos. It knows that a close group of friends share experiences, values and inside jokes. So when you share a photo with your closest friends, you may not necessarily need to post separately as text.

Path is watching how people use the service closely, and it will almost certainly add more features (like the ability to share text). Don’t look at this as an iPhone network either, since the service is working on apps for more devices. Even with improvements, it has committed to retaining its friend limits per profile.

appbackr: Funding iPhone App Developers

Let’s be realistic. An awful lot of people can pick-up a book on iPhone app development and throw together an app. They may even go for gold and submit it to the App Store. Like all marketplaces, however, listing a product does not guarantee it will sell any copies. Not even one.

appbackr lets developers gather funding from supporters before investing the effort into creating and listing an app. Once the app is listed, all investors share in the profits.

Appbackr helps eliminate much of the risk developers face. First, for some, it helps alleviateĀ the process of finding funding. The service gathers an audience of people who understand the iPhone app industry and can spot great ideas easier than those who may not have the background. Additionally, backers have an incentive to drive promotions for the app. The better the app performs in the store, the more money they can potentially earn. Suddenly, promotional tactics are not just limited to the developer’s efforts. Investors have the motivation to launch a word-of-mouth campaign.

Just like any modern fundraising website, developers have to submit an application prior to listing their app on the site. Visit appbackr if searching for a way to build an iPhone app while mitigating risks.

TapZilla: Paid iPhone Apps For Free

It seems like there is a world of difference between convincing a person to download a free iPhone app and convincing a user to pay for an iPhone app. TapZilla, which gives away paid iPhone apps for free, may have finally cracked the code.

Sometimes, when developers want their apps to hit the tipping point for success, they just need to get their apps into enough hands for word to spread. TapZilla recruits an audience of eager iPhone users and actually gives away redemption codes for app downloads. A user clicks the “Get App Now” button on the website, visits the App Store on iTunes to buy the app, and then enters the code within the app to be reimbursed for the amount (either by PayPal or an iTunes gift card). For most downloads, it doesn’t cost users any money. If anything, developers are taking a hit, since they will be reimbursing users with their revenue plus the revenue Apple automatically collects.

TapZilla’s website is set up like Woot, with a “Today’s Deal” on the main page for people to explore. As of writing, the site has already pushed a little more than 12,000 app downloads, which means some developers somewhere have been writing a lot of checks.

We’re interested to see the results of this website. Are developers seeing an ROI from TapZilla? At this point, however, we can say that users are seeing a strong benefit from the service, and it’s hard to argue with that.

CheckPoints: Earn Points While Shopping

Reward points are no longer limited to flights and credit cards. The new service and mobile app CheckPoints looks to introduce incentivized points to shopping, and no purchase is required.

After signing up and downloading the iPhone app, users can receive points just for entering stores. Visit a store listed in the app, and you receive points towards gift cards, gadgets and flights. Once inside a participating store, users can see if they can earn additional points by checking out products. The app may list a product, and users find it in the store and scan the barcode using their phone’s camera. That’s it; CheckPoints credits the user’s account, and they can continue shopping or earn even more points.

Once you begin to accumulate points, you’re able to cash them in for prizes. Checking in to a store or scanning a product may earn you 20 points, and Amazon gift cards are available beginning for 1,500 points.

It doesn’t cost anything to become involved. From what we can tell, marketers are paying CheckPoint to list their products. After all, if you place a new product in front of consumers, they may just be interested enough to purchase it on their own.