RealTime IT News

More Sillyware for the iPhone

App Store

This week, Apple announced its iPhone App store has had more than a whopping 200 million downloads in less than four months of operation. That's a staggering number even if the majority of those are for free-to-almost free (99 cents) programs.

A big driver is clearly the fun factor and a startup called Smule is one of many looking to leverage the levity the iPhone enables with some innovative twists.

Last month, Smule released Sonic Lighter, a 99 cent iPhone app that lets you literally blow out a virtual flame on the iPhone or just blow it around as if it was the proverbial candle in the wind. You can also push the lifelike flame around with your finger without fear of getting burned.

Now Smule is out with another neat party trick, Sonic Vox, a kind of whacky microphone app that lets you change your voice on the fly. A video demo is available that shows how at the swipe of a finger on the iPhone's touch screen you can scale your voice through a number of changes from a kind of laughing gas high pitch to a dead on Darth Vadar effect.

Practical applications? Well it does arrive in time for Halloween so you can put an extra scare or chuckle into the neighborhood kids.

"It's good for any applications where you need to transform or mask your voice," Dr. Ge Wang, founder and chief technology officer of Smule, told InternetNews.com. Asked how big the market is for kidnappers demanding ransoms over the phone, Wang chuckled and said there are other potential uses.

"For example, you can plug the iPhone into a sound system and use this like a PA system to transform your voice in real time when you need to get everyone's attention for an announcement," he said.

But mainly, he concedes, Sonic Vox is about fun. "It's mostly an expressive kind of thing designed to engage people's creativity," he said.

The growing app store movement

Sonic Vox joins a growing list of entertainment titles for the iPhone, authorized for distribution by Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) via the App Store. The model has worked so well, other mobile players are moving quickly to match it.

Earlier this week RIM announced plans to launch an app store for its BlackBerry Line and T-Mobile and the Google-led Open Handset Alliance has launched an online "Android market" for mobile applications designed for phones like T-Mobile's just-released G1.

While thousands of applications have already been approved for Apple's App Store, the company has a more rigorous, some would say arbitrary qualification process than Android. For those curious to know the higher profile apps not to make Apple's, cut, there's the iPhone Application Graveyard, which for iPhone developers is a lot scarier than Darth Vadar's voice.