How Google wants to own the iPhone and how Apple is trying to stop it

A Google Zombie iPhone?

With Android now on 75 percent of all smartphones sold, and Apple and Samsung battling in and out of court for the top vendor position, the smartphone wars usually come down to units sold. Apple vs. Samsung. Android vs. iOS. Less of a focus has been Google’s steady invasion of iOS, providing users with an alternative universe to most of the core features of Apple’s mobile operating system. The importance of Google’s ecosystem of iOS apps has never been more apparent than following the recent controversy over the removal of YouTube and Google Maps as default features of iOS. Apple realized the necessity of controlling key experiences on iOS, such as Maps, but it is running into a backlash from users in the process. It is not just facing competition from Android vendors; it is also now engaged in a struggle to keep Google from creating its own layer on top of iOS.

Google’s iOS apps are not just driving iPhone and iPad users to use Google services instead of Apple’s; they are increasingly an important aspect of the iOS experience for a large amount of users. Sixty-one percent of iOS users in our own polls said they were hesitant to even update to iOS 6 because of Apple’s new Maps app, many of which are still waiting for a standalone Google Maps app that Apple has yet to approve. Some say the Maps fiasco coupled with Siri might have even led to the departure of long-time iOS chief Scott Forstall, which many think could result in a new direction for iOS. What this means for Google’s presence on iOS going forward remains to be seen, but Apple does not appear to be ignoring the control Google’s apps have over its users.

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Apps & updates: Sparrow, Spotify, The New Yorker, Cloud, Bank of America, more

Other than the notable apps and updates below, developers of Shazam, the “9th most downloaded app of all time,” announced today its song recognition service has been used to identify over 5 billion songs. The five billionth tagged song on Shazam was “Blow Me One Last Kiss” by Pink. Head below for our full list of new apps and updates hitting the App Store today:

Sparrow for Mac version 1.6.3: Sparrow’s Mac App Store app was updated today with a number of performance enhancements and fixes. A full list of what’s new in version 1.6.3 is below:

- improved performance when loading huge conversations
– URL in subject can be clicked
– date and subject in headers can be selected
– improved avatar in message cells
– improved IMAP compatibility
– brazilian localization
– fixed progress indicator in message view
– fixed crash when loading some HTML messages
– fixed crash with POP accounts fixed

Spotify version 0.5.4: Spotify received a decent update today that brings the ability to show more stations for iPad users, fixes login issues for Facebook users, and adds stability improvements.

The New Yorker Magazine: Previously only available as an iPad app, The New Yorker is now bringing all of its magazine content to the iPhone with a new universal app available on the App Store now. To celebrate the release of the iPhone version, you will be able to get the Aug. 13 and Aug. 20 issues completely free (old issues are not accessible on the iPhone app). Read more

Apps & updates: Sparrow update/sale, Spotify radio, Bento 4 for iPad, Square reward cards, more

Below is our usual list of the most notable app-related news from today, including, among others: new web radio features for Spotify, the release of Bento 4 for iPad, and updates to both the Square Register and Pay With Square iOS apps.

Spotify Version 0.5.2: First, we have an update to the Spotify iOS app that brings a new radio experience to the service. A report from AllThingsD detailed the new web radio service and described it as “more or less mirrors Pandora’s core radio service.” The service would include advertising and offers users the ability to listen free on mobile devices, and it would initially launch for iPad and iPhone with an Android version in development. The iTunes page explained users could now start radio stations based on genres, artists, playlists, and albums, as well as customize their stations “by voting tracks up or down.”

Square Register & Pay with Square: Square updated two of its main iOS app today with new features. The Square Register app now allows merchants to offer reward cards including punch cards for repeat customers and “Visit specials” to attract new customers. On the customer’s side of things, the Pay with Square app was updated with an interface to view and manage the rewards, specials, and punch cards. FastCompany has a nice breakdown of all the new features.

Bento 4 for iPad: Filemaker released Bento 4 for iPad today for the introductory price of $4.99 (goes up to $10 on July 31). It also included a ton of new features, such as: new drag and drop tools, 40 new themes, “Direct Access to the Bento Template Exchange,” and “Form view, Table view, Split view and Full Screen view.” As noted by The Loop, Apple posted Bento 4 as a new app on the App Store, which means owners of previous Bento apps will have to pay for the upgrade.

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Sparrow to charge for push notifications with yearly subscriptions

The last we heard, iOS email client Sparrow said push notifications were coming “with or without” Apple. Apple has decided not to extend the privilege of VOIP apps to Sparrow, which, due to latency issues, are allowed to keep an open network connection in the background for processes like notifications. The alternative forces non-VOIP, third-party apps—such as Sparrow– to send push notifications from its own servers. The company initially said it would not implement push notifications due to security and cost concerns, but confirmed in a blog post today, while announcing Sparrow v1.2, that it will soon offer push through a yearly subscription:

 
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Sparrow for iOS updated: Push coming with or without Apple in upcoming version

The Sparrow team just announced version 1.1 for “Sparrow for iPhone” on its official blog, while also revealing Push API is coming to the iOS app’s next version:

Thanks to your amazing support, we feel confident that Apple might revise its position on the Push API. We’ll submit a first version of Sparrow 1.2 including it. This might delay Sparrow 1.2 validation but we’re already working with some partners to include Push in future versions of Sparrow without needing Apple clearance.

Push is coming. With or without Apple.

The team also said version 1.2 will include localization in nine languages, landscape mode when composing, and swipe up and down gestures to move between messages.

A screenshot gallery and version 1.1 updates are below. 

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Cydia utility adds push notifications to Sparrow on Jailbroken iPhones

Sparrow [iTunes $2.99] is proving to be a very popular email client for the iPhone save for one very important piece. Apple rescinded the app’s push notification ability before its public release, meaning it is effectively neutered for real time messaging. That is a bummer for the otherwise impressive mail client. Not all hope is lost, however.

If Sparrow lovers were looking for a reason to jailbreak, you now have one. IpuIpu has your Sparrow Push notifications here:

iPhone Jailbreak tweak for the popular iPhone app Sparrow, which enables eMail push notification when the app is in the background making Sparrow a real replacement for the stock Mail application.

It also makes an effort to not drain your battery:

Sparrow Push uses a very efficient implementation using the same APIs that VoIP apps like Skype use. Since there is an additional, permanent internet connection and Sparrow becomes active everytime there is activity in the email account, there will be a higher battery usage, but it should be comparable to what Apple Mail’s exchange push implementation is.

Update: The tweak’s developer noted in the comments that Sparrow Push is $3.99 actually free and will be live on the Cydia App Store soon.

Update 2: It is live on Big Boss!

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Fluent is a Sparrow-like UI for Gmail making the ‘future of email’

Fluent is a web-based workflow stream that works with existing Gmail accounts to bring a Sparrow-like user interface to email.

Users can stream email threads and replies, preview aggregated attachments in a tab, quickly reply or compose inline, archive messages, and even add a to-do list with the new design concept that claims to run on any web browser.

Sparrow is a great success as a Mac-only application, and now Fluent hopes to balance the playing field and snag users whom are in dire need of a new Gmail look and functionality. Fluent’s website specifically praises its workflow ability, multiple accounts options, and “blazing” fast search-as-you-type filter.

The streaming email UI is the work of three former Googlers who quit the Mountain View, Calif.-based Company. BusinessInsider said Cameron Adams, Dhanji Prasanna, and Jochen Bekmann left because designers were “less valuable” than engineers at Google, and they felt disconnected from Google’s culture while operating from across the world in Sydney, Australia…

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