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Wednesday, January 07, 2009, 01:00 pm PT (04:00 pm ET)

Briefly: A look at the Macworld App Store announcements

While no one app demonstrated at this week's Macworld is dominating coverage, several do offer VoIP calling, TV watching, and more. Here's a brief rundown of some of those offerings, including SlingPlayer, Truphone, Fring, StarPlayr, and Eye-Fi.

SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone

SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone is slated for release by March.  The app will enable live television from a home TV setup, streaming from a Slingbox over WiFi or 3G.  A built-in remote control will let you change channels and mange your DVR.

"SlingPlayer Mobile is ideally suited for the iPhone's large touch screen display and I know iPhone users are eagerly anticipating the application's availability," said Sling Media chief executive Blake Krikorian.  "...Sling Media is committed to delivering great solutions for Mac users."

The price has not yet been announced.  (SlingPlayer Mobile for Windows Mobile, Palm OS, BlackBerry and Symbian have cost $29.95.) The app will also work on the iPod touch.  Sling is targeting late first quarter to send the app to Apple for approval.

App Store




Truphone

Truphone will now have the ability to make and receive Skype calls and instant messages.  As long as you're near WiFi, it can effectively turn the iPod touch into a phone, with a second generation model and compatible microphone required.  Users can bring their MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, and Google Talk contacts to the calling party as well.

App Store


Calls are free over WiFi.  Calls to other mobile phones and landlines are billed at low rates, while calls - even international ones - between two Truphone users are free.  Pending Apple approval, the updated versions of Truphone for both iPhone and iPod touch should appear in the App Store as free downloads next week.

Fring

Aimed at a similar consumer as Truphone, Fring for iPhone serves as a unified home for all of your contacts across multiple chat clients.  While it's not the first app to do so, its addition of VoIP gives it a heftier feature set than some of its competitors.  

App Store


Fring supports Skype, MSN Messenger, ICQ, Twitter, Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger, and AIM.  Plus, it has SIP support for a number of VoIP providers.  If your client of choice isn't supported, the developers have been known to release updates in response to customer feedback.

Fring requires a WiFi signal to make calls; it will not work over Edge or 3G.  It's available now, also as a free download, at the App Store.

uSirius StarPlayr

Already in beta, uSirius StarPlayr lets you listen to satellite radio on your iPhone, and unlike some of its competitors, you don't need another computer running to accomplish that goal. Fire up the app to enjoy streaming Sirius-XM satellite radio, provided you have a paid subscription, of course.

Album art for whatever's playing is displayed prominently in the middle of the screen, with a button beside to call up the lyrics and another that sends you off to Amazon or iTunes if you want to purchase the song. The app is expected to land in the App Store sometime this month.

StarPlayr


When streaming over cellular, the quality is capped at a lower bitrate. As you might expect, listening over WiFi gives you full quality.

Eye-Fi

Eye-Fi wireless cards already enable wireless transfer of photos from a digital camera to your computer or to any of 25 online photo sharing sites.  At Macworld this week, Eye-Fi is previewing a new iPhone app to bring the popular touchscreen device into the loop.  

StarPlayr


Still in development, the app will let Eye-Fi card owners send photos taken on an iPhone directly to their computer and to the Web.  Once released in the App Store it will be a free download.  If you're attending Macworld, you can see how it works at booth #3315 in the North Hall, according to the company.