Bart Decrem, perhaps best known as the founder and CEO of Flock, the social fork of the Firefox web browser, talked to us earlier today about Tapulous — a wholly new company that's building iPhone and iPod Touch applications. He's showing off the first three applications from Tapulous: Friend Book; Tap Tap Revenge; and Twinkle.
Friend Book is an application that adds much-needed functionality to the default iPhone address book. Decrem called it a sort of "super Address Book" which adds visual "face dialer" that lets you call by clicking from a gallery of contact images, check for duplicate contacts, and more easily manage deletion and addition of contacts right on the phone.
The coolest feature without a doubt is the new "Handshake": put two iPhones running Friend Book together, shake them up and down, and the personal contact information of the phones' owners will be beamed through the net to the paired phones. Handshake doesn't work through a device-to-device connection, but instead passes location data back to Tapulous' servers — two shaking phones in the same location means it's time to swap information.
Tap Tap Revenge
A popular game on jailbroken iPhones has been Tap Tap Revolution by Nate True, with over 700,000 downloads via Installer.app. Tapulous has hired True as a contractor to revamp TTR as "Tap Tap Revenge," an updated version of the rhythm game. It's got a refreshed interface, custom high-score leaderboards (that can update to Twitter via Twinkle), and an all new two-player simultaneous mode.
It addition to the previous three-pronged tap interface, Tap Tap Revenge now also monitors the iPhone for shaking, adding an additional input for rhythm gaming.
Twinkle made a name for itself as the Twitter client that also captured location data as it passed along tweets. Now Tapulous will be selling the latest version of Twinkle via the App Store.
Here's the most interesting thing, though: You can use Twinkle without a Twitter account. It seems Twinkle is just one of many Tapulous applications that will be connected via Tapulous's account servers; it sounds like they're making a play to do some social networking on the iPhone using their apps as a foot-in-the-door. I don't know how much success they'll have, especially in light of the soon-to-be dozens of other location-aware social networking applications to hit the iPhone this Friday, but even if it only remains a nice way to pass data around within Tapulous-branded apps it could be a useful addition.
The first three Tapulous applications will be available Friday with the launch of the App Store and the iPhone 2.0 firmware. Decrem says we should expect many more from Tapulous soon — over
thirty half-a-dozen* are in the pipe already.
On price: "The apps will be available for free on launch," says Decrem, "with premium editions and exclusive content for sale in the not too distant future."
* I misheard that when talking to Decrem earlier. While there were about thirty-or-so apps from the Tapulous family of programmers on Installer.app before, not all of them are being polished up for release.
Update: Mike Lee, Chief Architect at Tapulous, has a cheerful post about shipping their first three apps. Apparently the current version of the iPhone SDK doesn't allow access to the iTunes song library on the phone.