Monthly Archives: July 2011

AT&T Preparing for September Launch of iPhone 5?

When it comes to iPhone 5, Apple is in a great position. Many folks have already planned to pick the device up as soon as it hits the market. Even Apple partners expected the company to bring its next generation smartphone to the market in the summer. According to a new report, AT&T is now preparing for a mid-September launch of iPhone 5. BGR’s sources have indicated that AT&T has started to get the ball rolling by informing employees across the company to finalize their preparations.

Many now expect iPhone 5 to be introduced by the end of August. That could explain why Apple itself is bringing back former employees on a part-time basis in September. AT&T and Verizon certainly can’t wait for this device to hit the market:

We are probably what I would view as maybe a quarter behind what we had talked about in January. We expect that probably sometime in the fall, and I think you will see a significant jump there when we get to that point.

said Verizon Communication’s new CEO, Lowell McAdam. Verizon and AT&T should not have any issues selling a ton of iPhones as long as they do not tweak their plans yet again.

A recent survey by PriceGrabber indicates that 35% of consumers can’t wait to get their hands on iPhone 5 as soon as it hits the market. Most of these folks look for iPhone 5 to have a better battery life. A good number of those who were surveyed wanted reduced prices and 4G support in iPhone 5. This new phone is expected to have a larger screen and better cameras though.

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App Store Data Mining Techniques Revealed – Part 2: Scripting App Store XML Downloads

Welcome back. The first article in this series introduced App Store data mining fundamentals, principally that iTunes works essentially like a browser, except that instead of rendering HTML iTunes uses XML data to generate its views.

In part one, we used a proxy as a man in the middle to save a copy of some interesting data from an iTunes session to disk. Using a proxy is handy for ad-hoc data mining tasks. However, for recurring tasks, it’s handier to leave the proxy and iTunes behind and grab the XML directly. This article will show you how.

We’ll modify our earlier calculate the average selling price of the top-grossing apps example to automatically pull down the XML data it needs:


As was the case before, I’ll be using the Charles Proxy to aid my exploration. As you did in part-1, with the proxy running, open up iTunes and navigate to the full list of the Top Grossing apps.

Previously, I used Charles’ search capabilities to to find the HTTP request that resulted in the XML for the Top Grossing apps. That’d work here too, but this time I’ll take a different tact:

Charles’ lets you interact with a browsing session by looking at requests in either a directory structure like way — showing folders, sub-folders and files in a Finder like hierarchy — and in an ordered sequence.

Using the Sequence view and a bit of filtering will quickly get us to the data we’re after. The XML requests to iTunes are served by URLs that contain WebObjects in their paths. Filter on WebObjects and then hunt for the most recent relatively large request and you’ll find the URL is:

User Agent

Paste that URL into a browser or fetch it with Curl and you’ll get a web page back. The iTunes HTTP servers match the request’s User Agent and return HTML unless the requestor appears to originate from iTunes. This is what makes it possible to email iTunes URLs (e.g., to your app) not leave users stranded with a browser trying to render unfamiliar XML.

So, we need include a User-Agent header identifying ourselves as iTunes. According to Charles, the User-Agent provided by iTunes was:

iTunes/9.0.2 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10.6.2) AppleWebKit/531.21.8 

We’ll include that in our request.

Putting It All Together

Starting with the code from the previous article in this series, I’ve modified it to make the HTTP request with the correct User-Agent header and run the resulting XML through the parser to pluck out the prices and calculate the ASP. Here’s the result:

#!/usr/bin/env ruby require 'rubygems' require 'hpricot' require 'net/http' Net::HTTP.start( '', 80 ) do |http| doc = Hpricot(http.get('/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewTopLegacy?id=25204&popId=38&genreId=36', "User-Agent" => "iTunes/9.0.2 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10.6.2) AppleWebKit/531.21.8" ).body) total = 0.0;"//textview[@styleset=\"basic11\"]/setfontstyle/b").each do |i| total += i.inner_text[1..-1].to_f end puts "Top Grossing Apps' ASP: $#{total / 100.0}" end 

Of note to a few: iTunes’ servers used always serve the content up gzipped, requiring an additional step to gunzip it before it could be used. I forgot to include the gunzip code and, when I stopped to think about it, was surprised to see that it worked without it.

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iOS 5 Demo and Preview


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App Store Data Mining Techniques Revealed – Part 1

The App Store is a treasure trove of data. App Store data can help you pick a category/segment, track trends, find the right price point, chart the total number of apps, track the rate of app approval and much more.

App Store data mining isn’t magic. It’s about finding data that’s exposed in iTunes, extracting it in a machine parse-able format, and doing something with it. This article will demonstrate each of those steps; further articles will expand on this topic.

As is almost always the case, this is best explained with an example. I’ll use a straightforward example to: let’s calculate the average selling price (ASP) for the top grossing apps.


The App Store in iTunes contains, in its various views, the superset of the available data. The first step is to find places inside the iTunes App Store that expose the data you want to crunch.

Finding a place in iTunes that presents data that we’ll use to calculate the ASP for the top grossing apps is straightforward:

From the App Store home screen, click See All in the Top Grossing segment of the Top Charts panel shows the full list of top grossing apps and their prices.


The iTunes store works like a browser. It uses HTTP like a browser, but instead of parsing HTML it consumes XML.

When iTunes shows the page of Top Grossing apps each app is represented by a block of XML that contains the title, price, update-date, a link to an icon, etc.

We’ll use this XML to calculate the ASP for the Top Grossing apps, but first we need to grab the XML and write it to disk:


The easiest way to get iTunes XML data is to use a proxy as a man in the middle. Put a proxy in that can also write what it sees to disk and you’ll be in business.

I highly recommend, and for this article will be using, Karl von Randow’s Charles Proxy. Charles is designed for exactly this kind of task: as you use iTunes (or a browser) it records all of the headers and content that pass through it and provides you with tools to manipulate, search, filter, display and export the data.

The alternative to using the Charles proxy is to roll your own. Before becoming a Charles convert I wrote a proxy in Ruby. I was only interested in the XML data, so I wrote code to filter on content type. Then I needed to decompress the gzipped content, so I wrote code for that. Then I wrote code to name the files in a useful way. Etc.

Charles is $50. Easily worth it vs. the code you’ll have to write to do this yourself, especially when you’re in the exploring phase where Charles let’s you quickly pin down exactly where the data you’re looking for came across the wire. Needless to say, I’ve no commercial interest in Charles, I’m recommending it on it’s merits. You can see for yourself with a free, 30 day trial.

Locating And Saving The Data

Fire up your proxy and open iTunes. Charles automatically configures OS-X to place itself inline as a proxy after you grant it permission to do so.

In iTunes click the iTunes Store item in the left column, select the App Store from the iTunes Store’s top menu bar and click See All in the Top Grossing segment of the Top Charts panel.

Take a look at what’s crossed the wire: iTunes makes HTTP requests to a number of different hosts. The two that’ll likely be of most interest are: and The former serves app icon images and the latter serves what we’re after: XML data.

We’re interested in the XML data that iTunes used to render the Top Grossing screen. Finding the right file amongst the lot of them is easiest accomplished by searching for some bit of text that’ll only show up in the file we’re after.

Best bet here is to pick the title of one of the apps at the tail end of the list — those aren’t likely to be featured and won’t show up in top-10 list that’s in the App Store’s top level page. Charles makes quick work of searching: Command-F to bring up the search dialog, enter the text to find, search across all the files by choosing the Session scope and click Find.

If you picked your search term wisely it’ll show up several times in one file. Double click any row in the search results to view the item. Right-click or Control-click inside the content pane, choose Save Response… and store the results to disk.

Manipulating The Data

The XML data is large — 22,000 lines for our sample — and hard to comprehend.

Rather than trying to fully understand its format, simplify things by searching for prices.

Prices show up in a number of places, e.g., in the alt-attributes for some images. Parsing it out of those isn’t ideal. However, prices show up almost unadorned nested in this structure:

<TextView topInset="0" truncation="right" leftInset="0" styleSet="basic11" textJust="left" maxLines="1"> <SetFontStyle normalStyle="matrixTextFontStyle"> <b>$9.99</b> </SetFontStyle> </TextView>

XPath exists to make it easy to pluck out values from structures in XML. This XPath search will pluck out the prices our document:


Using Ruby’s Hpricot library, this 14 line script does the work of grab each of price, removing the leading dollar-sign and then calculating the average price:

#!/usr/bin/env ruby require 'rubygems' require 'hpricot' doc = Hpricot("topgrossing.xml")) total = 0.0;"//textview[@styleset=\"basic11\"]/setfontstyle/b").each do |i| total += i.inner_text[1..-1].to_f end puts "Top Grossing Apps' ASP: $#{total / 100.0}" 

And we’ve arrived at our goal!

More To Come

This example is straightforward. All of the data is in contained as the response to one HTTP request. In a future post I’ll talk about techniques for scripting a series of requests to gather pieces of a complete data set. Stay tuned!

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Facebook for iPad Leaked + How to Get It

Credit: Techcrunch

Facebook has waited too long to introduce an iPad application. The company is expected to officially unveil the app any day now. But thanks to the folks at TechCrunch, we now know more about it. They have discovered that the code for the iPad version of Facebook app was hidden inside the iPhone version. TechCrunch’s MG Siegler has been able to even test the app.

Interestingly enough, this piece of code seems to have been added with the latest Facebook update that was pushed to the app store yesterday. From the pictures we have seen, the interface does look sleek and dynamic. As @AeroEchelon explains, you can easily test this for your own:

It has taken Facebook a long time to develop an iPad version of its app. The one leaked seems pretty decent. We all get to test it before it is officially released which is always nice.

Are you impressed with Facebook for iPad?

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Google+ For iPhone Now Available In The App Store

Apple has finally approved Google’s Google+ iPhone app and is now available in the App Store. Google launched Google+ – its latest social networking project few weeks back to compete with Facebook. It has received a quite a few positive reviews and is already more than 10 million users strong and growing.

Google+ allows users to put their family and friends into Circles and lets them selectively share with specific groups within their personal network, rather than sharing with all their social connections at once.

Here’s the description of the Google+ iPhone app from iTunes:

Google+ for mobile makes sharing the right things with the right people a lot simpler. Huddle lets you send super-fast messages to the people you care about most. And no matter where you are, the stream lets you stay in the loop about what your friends are sharing and where they’re checking in.

It includes the following features:

* Circles let you share the right things with just the right people.

* Stream is where you can get updates from your circles or see what people are saying about things nearby.

* Huddle is super-fast group messaging for everyone in your circles.

Here are some screenshots of the iPhone app:

So if you have jumped onto the Google+ bandwagon then download the iPhone app using this iTunes link and let us know what you think and how it compares with Facebook’s iPhone app.

Update 1:

Please note that it may take a few hours for the iPhone app to be available in your country so try using this direct iTunes link. It would also be great if you can give us a shout out in the comments if it is available in your country for the benefit of fellow readers.

Update 2:

Google has just released a new version of the app as the one that was released initially was a test version (via Google’s Vic Gundotra):

We discovered an issue with the version of the iPhone Google+ App that was on the App Store. When we launched, the App Store started serving a previous test version of the App which didn’t have the stability and fixes that the latest version had. It started serving the correct version a little later. If you downloaded within the first 1 hour 40 mins, you may have downloaded the older test version. 

To check: - Click on the gear icon on the top left of your App’s homescreen and look right above the Help button, the version number of the App should be: - If that is not the version number, then please uninstall and reinstall

We wonder how Google managed to get the update out so fast.

If you’ve already downloaded the older version then you can download the update via the App Store app (Updates tab) or try using this direct iTunes link to download it.

Update 3:

Please note it is not compatible with iOS 5.

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7 UI Design Resources for iPhone Developers

With the great significance of the large screen on the iPhone / iPod Touch, the graphical interfaces of iPhone apps are more important than on other mobile platforms. In this post, we’ve rounded up several tutorials, links, and resources that you can use in your iPhone user interface design process.

iPhone GUI PSD (Photoshop file)


teehan+lax – an interactive user interface design agency – has put together a solid Photoshop file (PSD) containing all of the main iPhone UI widgets. It’s a whopping 6 megabytes and includes everything from scrolling lists to the keyboard, labels, browser bars, play controls, phone keypad, and more.

This file is awesome if you want to put together some mock designs for your app. Even if you’re not an iPhone app developer yourself, you could use this to spec out your app before passing it to a developer.. giving you more control over the result. has an alternative iPhone interface PSD file for download, if you want some variety.

iPhone GUI stencil for Omnigraffle


Patrick Crowley has put together the “ultimate stencil” for people designing iPhone interfaces. It’s not for Photoshop like those above, but for Omnigraffle – a popular layout / mocking app on OS X.

Favorites UI Design Walkthrough


Favorites is an iPhone application by Matt Legend Gemmell that gives you “virtual speed-dial” for calls, SMS and e-mail. He’s put together an article where he details how to designed the user interface for the application.

You’ll want a mug of coffee to hand before reading this article, it’s really, really long, but it’s also really good and packed full of screenshots and examples. Favorites is a very polished app and Matt spills the beans on how he got it that way (of course, some people in the comments section disagree, but that’s also worth reading). An essential read unless you’re dead confident about getting the UI just right in your own apps.



Legendary Mac blogger John Gruber has written an essay defining how iPhone applications should be as “iPhone-like” as possible. He brings up some quick and effective tips and tactics you can use to organize your app.

Edward Tufte on iPhone interface design


Edward Tufte (pronounced “tufty”) is almost considered a god in the field of information design and presentation. Quite early on in the iPhone’s life, he put together an interesting video with some thoughts on iPhone interface design. Edward Tufte is well worth paying attention to, because even though his ideas are radical, they work and they’re ultimately quite simple. Show information, not glitz.

iPhone and the Dog Ears User Experience Model

If we can make a user experience where things don’t come to a slamming, smashing, halt but instead move and fade as lyrically as a dancer, we’ve just added something to their life.

Back in the early iPhone days of 2007, Kathy Sierra noted how the iPhone provides the user with a soft, “flowing” experience. She elaborates on why this is useful. You need to make sure you’re using these concepts in your app.
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How To Activate Your iPhone Without Official iPhone Carrier SIM

Sherif Hasim has figured out an easy way to activate iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G without needing the official iPhone carrier SIM.Please note it doesn’t unlock your iPhone but it activates it. But it helps you to hactivate your iPhone without the need to hack your iPhone. Sherif had also discovered an exploit in the baseband (05.12.01) that was bundled with iPhone OS 3.1.3 earlier in the year.

Activating your iPhone means giving it access to the Home screen by telling your iPhone that you are using one of the iPhone’s official carriers. Activating your iPhone is done through iTunes in order to use it with an official iPhone carrier.

Hactivation is the process of activating your iPhone without using an official iPhone carrier SIM. Until now, you needed jailbreaking tools like PwnageTool to hactivate your iPhone. With Hasim’s method, you can hactivate your iPhone using phone book sim card, without actually going through the pains of hacking it.

Sherif Hasim has also posted a video to show you how it activate your iPhone without the official iPhone carrier SIM:

Sherif has provided some useful information about the phone book sim cards:

Use any phonebook sim card, they are there in radioshak, mobile phone shops or any mobile tech moles , any phone book simcard will do the trick, no need for programmable sims, all those phonebook sims used to save ur contacts and transfer them have a universal ICCIDs preprogrammed so they all work.

To all those asking, I use this one Phone book Test card from DITS – Cdma Gsm Forum Mygsmindia. Yet, I used three other types and all work the same.

Please note that the phonebook sim cards will work as is in iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G but you’ll need to convert it into a micro-SIM in case of iPhone 4.

So with this activation solution, iPhone users will be able to use this method to activate (or hacktivate) their iPhone and use tools like Spirit or Redsn0w to jailbreak (which can’t be used for hactivation) their iPhone and then use Ultrasn0w to unlock their iPhone.

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New 2011 MacBook Air – Let’s Configure (Discussion)

Let’s figure out what inside the “new Air” of Apple !

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6 Best Barcode iPhone Applications

We have always been skeptical about the quality of barcode applications that are available in the App Store. There are too many of them around but so many of them are worse than junk. Thankfully, a few developers have gotten it right, so you can scan barcodes properly on your iPhone. These apps make shopping a whole lot more fun. If you are looking for barcode iPhone applications that work, here are 6 apps you should try:

Barcode Scanner: a pretty useful tool for price shopping. Just scan products to get pricing information on them. Supports multi-vendor searching.

RedLaser: one of the best barcode scanners for iPhone. Scans UPC, EAN, and UPC-E barcodes and lets you compare prices using Google Products and Amazon.

FoodScanner: a great tool for those who watch their diet closely. Allows you to scan UPC barcodes on the foods you eat and lets you know how much calorie you are taking in.

Cardstar: a cool free barcode scanner that could come in handy stores. It’s a useful for storing your store cards info and rewards.

Hopscotch QR & Barcode Scanner: scans QR / bar codes and gives you more information on objects scanned.

Barcodas for iPhone: a unique barcode scanner that makes music patterns out of scanned ean and UPC barcodes. It makes shopping for products a whole lot more fun.

There are plenty of other barcode readers available for iPhone. These 6 performed in the most reliable fashion in our tests. What’s your favorite barcode application for iPhone? Please add your suggestions below.

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