More iPhone Hype! But Now I Too Have Fallen for It

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The killer app for the iPhone is actually the iTunes App Store.

Five months after Apple launched its online emporium, I believe it even more, my friends nd colleagues having downloaded a gaggle of programs, including some that transform the iPhone 3G into a harmonica, metric system converter and level.

There are now more than 10,000 of these applications for the original iPhone, its 3G successor and in most cases, for the iPod Touch. Many are free.

Because of the drain on the battery, Apple still won’t let developers produce apps that run in the background. So forget about listening to Internet radio while checking e-mail for now. The market is also waiting on an app that will let you shoot video.

That said, exploring the App Store on your handheld or via computer is a delight, and you can rely on fellow users for reviews. Some of my favorites:

Listening to radio. There’s a reason Pandora has emerged as the most popular free iPhone application. Type a song or artist’s name, and Pandora creates an instant radio station inspired by your selection, same as on a PC or Mac. Fine-tune stations by indicating whether you like what’s being played. In some cases, you can buy the music you hear through iTunes.

The iPhone, of course, functions as an iPod. But your storage is limited. If you have gobs of music on your computer, consider Simplify Media. The $3.99 program lets you stream (most of) your music collection and that of up to 30 friends.

Setup is simple, and though music sometimes is slow to start up, it sounds good. (It works on Wi-Fi, 3G or pokier Edge networks.) You can view song lyrics and artist bios. But Simplify can’t remotely play iTunes purchases that are DRM or copy protected.

How often have you heard a song on the radio or in a club but didn’t know its name? Hold the iPhone up to the radio, and let the free Shazam app identify the tune, usually within 20 seconds. Shazam doesn’t get it right every time. But it correctly tagged material as varied as Come On Over from Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan and Corcovado from Astrud Gilberto.

Making music. Smule’s addictive 99-cent Ocarina turns the iPhone into the ancient flute-like instrument. You softly blow into the iPhone’s microphone and play notes by pressing and holding your fingers over any of four virtual on-screen holes. There are 16 possible combinations, and you can alter the sound by tilting the phone. There’s even “sheet music” on Smule’s website to play anything from Over the Rainbow to If I Were a Rich Man. Ocarina is social. Tap a globe icon to rate performances from users around the world. They, in turn, can show you the love.

Or try developer Benjamin McDowell’s Harmonica app, also 99 cents. Sure, it’s odd putting your mouth on the screen. Fortunately, you can also play with fingers.

Diversions. Many have enjoyed racing games that take advantage of the iPhone motion sensor, including Vivendi’s Crash BandicootNitro Kart 3D ($5.99) and Pangea’s Cro-Mag Rally ($1.99). Glu Mobile’s recent release of a 3D marble puzzle called Bonsai Blast ($3.99) is also good.

But as a casual gamer, I gravitate to titles such as Brain Toot (99 cents), which serves up vision, memory and other mind exercises. In one, while being timed, you must pick out the highest or lowest numbers from a series of numbers shown.

Semi Secret Software’s $1.99 Wurdle is a wordsmith’s addiction, kind of like Boggle on the iPhone. Against the clock, trace your finger across a letter-filled board to spot as many words as possible.

Handy to have around. Want to convert kilometers to miles? Celsius to Fahrenheit? Fetch currency rates? Western ITS Limited’s simple a2z Pro Unit Converter is free and a boon to folks who travel overseas.

The iPhone lacks a voice recorder. The 99-cent Retronyms Recorder adds the capability. There are a few ways to save recordings to a PC or Mac. You can e-mail a link or sync up recordings via Wi-Fi to listen in iTunes or another player.

Worried about adverse reactions? The free Epocrates Rx database can clue you in. You’ll grapple with medical jargon, since Epocrates is aimed at health care pros. But the app can enlighten you about the drugs family members swallow. And if you’ve got a loose pill lying around, you might be able to identify it by entering its color, shape and other characteristics.

Looking for a new place to eat? Urbanspoon helps find restaurants near your GPS location. Shake the phone to spin three wheels, one representing neighborhood, the second, a food type, and the third, price. When the wheels stop, you’ve landed on a random listing with an eatery’s phone number, address and reviews. The app is free.

Rather dine at home? The 99-cent Grocery IQ shopping list might help you bag the right ingredients. It has a 130,000-item database, right down to brand-name peanut butter, pretzels and pasta. You can choose quantities and sizes, and check everything off as you patrol the supermarket aisles. Or e-mail your list to whoever is shopping for you.
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The free Google Mobile App has direct links to popular Google programs, including your Docs, News, Maps and location-aware search. Google also can search your phone’s contacts, calendars and so on. The gee-whiz feature is Voice Search. Hold the phone up to your ear and bark out a query. Results aren’t perfect. Google recognized a search for “child-friendly restaurants” as “cadence-friendly.”

As part of its free app, Amazon is experimenting with an interesting feature called Amazon Remembers. You snap a picture of a product with the iPhone camera; photos are stored at the Amazon site. Amazon will try to find a similar product for sale on the Web, even at rival sites.

Need help hanging a picture? PosiMotion’s 99-cent A Level utility works in landscape, portrait or face-up mode. As with a real spirit level, you try to position the iPhone so the bubble is aligned in the center of the screen.

Talk about not being on the level. You’re on a blind date that’s soured and are dying for an excuse to bolt. The aptly named 99-cent Fake Calls app from Magic Tap is your ticket outta there. You can select the time a fake call will come in, customize the “caller’s” picture and choose a ring tone. You’ll have to devise your own excuse for making an exit.

I heard that soon there will be a US$99 version!
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Look Out iTunes, MySpace Music Launches

Sony Pictures, McDonald’s, State Farm and Toyota have signed on as platinum sponsors of MySpace Music.
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The e-commerce venue is slated to launch in the next few weeks. It will be integrated with MySpace proper for some functionality, but can also be used as a standalone resource by those who are not members of the News Corp.-owned social network.
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I believe that MySpace Music will succeed because of the social filter on top of it, making the service more like an online community than simply a source for music.

Jeff Berman, president of sales and marketing drew a distinction between the site’s relationship with the music labels Sony BMG, Universal and Warner and the new sponsors. “We haven’t made just a commercial deal with the labels, but a joint venture, so they are invested in our success,”

Berman said. Platinum sponsor brands, on the other hand, will be integrated into various MySpace Music programs. For example, McDonald’s will sponsor free music downloads and have a presence among the customized tools on the MySpace Personal Music Player.

The site will accommodate ad-sponsored unlimited live streaming of content, but downloading material to another device would typically require a fee.

State Farm’s brand will be visible throughout the site, gracing the music player and various playlists. The insurer will probably integrate its MySpace Music affiliation with its own content offering, NowWhat.com.

Toyota plans to sponsor “Toyota Tuesdays,” supporting free music downloads and rotating its ads on the music player for the next year.

Sony Pictures is launching a campaign for the Oct. 3 release Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Whereas MySpace users can now only add a single song to their profiles for sharing, MySpace Music will allow them to create and post entire playlists. Sony will exploit that feature by skinning user lists with messages related to the movie. A MySpace Music homepage roadblock for the film is also planned.

MySpace Music will be marketed via the MySpace network of 76 million domestic and 122 million worldwide users and through some offline marketing as well.
News Corp

Pictures From Africa Mission Concert in Yokohama

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The concert was a huge success and all the photos from the show are on the link below.
http://ent2.excite.co.jp/music/africamission2008/livereport.html?no=65#main_top

Manga Meets iTunes

http://www.sh shinzou.jp
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Music Meets Manga with “shinzou.jp” Shinzou Sound, a group of artists and musicians launched “Synesthesia” the interactive online manga on 12th of August 2006. “Shinzou Sound” is a group of creative collaborators sp specializing in manga, music, web design, and sub-culture.

They joined forces with the simple concept of merging their talents in an effort to deliver the new entertainment of music and manga in an innovative way.

Exclusive songs, inspired by the manga story have been commissioned for “Synesthesia” as well as playlist from international and Japanese DJ’s. The music, podcasts and playlists are available from iTunes Music Store Japan.

Project members include leader Nick Wood, Simon Le Bon, Tatsuya Oe, DJ Sugiurumn, Alex Paterson, Detroit 7, manga artist Enka Sugihara and web designer Hideki Owa, with more names being added as each new episode is released.

“Synesthesia*” has three main characters: Shinzou (main character), his sister Tamako, and DJ Karita (who they met when they accidentally swapped iPods on the train). These se 3 individuals form a band and begin a journey of musical inspiration.

*Synesthesia is a neurological condition which causes ones sense to influence another sense, for example, people with synesthesia may see shapes or colors when they hear sound, or see colors or shapes, they might hear sounds.

Some of the world’s most notable artist from Jimmy Hendrix to Mozart have been gifted with sy synesthesia, which could be one reason why they were able to erase boundaries between the senses and open perception to new possibilities.

The story is split into 10 episodes with one new episode release every 2 weeks. Each new episode co comes with an original new song, which can be downloaded free, from iTunes. Users can also so download Podcasts showing behind the scenes, interviews and more.

Shinzou sounds are also planning a live event to merge the manga st storyline with an actual live event. They plan to invite artist who’ve contributed to the project to participate in bringing Shinzou’s world to the stage.

Shinzou sounds plan to publish a physical manga book at the end of the “Synesthesia” series along with a full-length digital album featuring the entire soundtrack, this will be a true co collectors edition.