Archive for ios
Google has found themselves in Apple’s App Store once more by porting their popular Photo Sphere app to iOS. Having debuted on Android last year, Photo Sphere invites you to “look up, down, and all around to revisit the amazing places you’ve encountered.”
Even if you aren’t interested in creating your own Spheres (described as being a series of photographs that, when combined, give you a 360-degree view of your surroundings), consider taking a look at a few that others have shared. While you may have seen many landmarks and locations in movies already, this feels different because they are recorded by real people not unlike you or me. It’s the ultimate form of ‘wish you were here’ to share with your friends and family when you find yourself someplace special.
Of course, it isn’t a coincidence that a huge function of Photo Sphere is the ability to share your creations with Google Maps –basically making you into a content contributor, adding value to their system. When you consider the price of the app (free), it is definitely a win-win scenario.
If you would like to try your hand at taking beautiful, 360-degree images, download Photo Sphere Camera for your iOS devices.
Nintendo has been threatening to target mobile devices with ports of their successful titles, and soon you will be able to catch ‘em all on your iPad: it has been confirmed that Pokemon Trading Card Game Online will be available for iOS later this year.
There are many reasons for Nintendo to start playing in the mobile game marketplace, not the least of which is to increase interest in the game franchises that may bring consumers to their console products. If that doesn’t result in success, at a minimum they will have their hands in mobile gaming and could always build on that as a next-generation plan.
The Pokemon Trading Card Game for iPad is basically a port of the free game already available on the Pokemon website, but it’s a step in the right direction.
With the wide range of devices and active versions of the Android operating system out there, complaints that the platform is severely fragmented are justified. Fortunately, KitKat is starting to gain some ground and now enjoys an install rate of over 20% –this is a good thing. July of this year was sitting at a 17.9% adoption rate, which was a jump over June at 14.9%.
Slow and steady wins the race, so they say, and this kind of continual improvement is a more significant sign than the number itself. Understandably, older Android releases are declining, with releases like Ice Cream Sandwich falling nearly to the single digits for percentage of installs.
Which version of Android a device is running becomes significant when discussing operating fundamentals like security, it is difficult to speak about the platform as a whole when there are so many varieties running with so many patch levels. It is also important to developers trying to create apps: each version of Android supports a particular set of tools and capabilities.
By comparison, Apple boasts that nearly 90% of all devices are running their latest operating system (iOS 7).
The biggest news out of the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference this year revolved around the next version of their mobile operating system: iOS 8. Much anticipated, iOS 8 favours function over form by focusing on features instead of upgrades to the look and feel.
As a developer, I have had the chance to test drive the beta version of iOS 8 since early June… for the rest of you still waiting to give it a try, here are a few of the things you can most look forward to:
Double-tap the home button and you will be greeted with a scrolling list of the contacts you have most recently been in touch with –this is extremely handy when you want to call or message these folks quickly and easily (instead of scrolling through lists, or trying to find an existing message to reply to).
With a tap inside the Messages app, you can send voice content quickly and easily. No more pre-recording and then attaching after the fact!
Of course, my favourite feature is the ability to ‘Share My Location’ and ‘Send My Current Location’ within an iMessage. No more trying to describe exactly where you are waiting, with a couple of taps you can send your contact an actual map!
Keyboards, Keyboards, Keyboards
Custom keyboards. A crazy elaborate Emoji keyboard. A QuickType predictive text feature for your keyboards. Keyboards are the name of the game in iOS 8 –you can finally customize them good and proper, and you will be delighted. I promise.
There are a few interface changes when it comes to the way photos are stored on your iOS device, but the one I am most excited about is the addition of a ‘Recently Deleted’ album. While it may seem unnecessary and redundant at first, anybody who has regretted deleting a photo will rejoice. Think of it like the familiar trash can (or recycle bin for those of you who still use Microsoft Windows) –it’s a holding place for deleted photos. Any photos that find their way there will be removed automatically after 30 days, unless you empty it manually before then.
I have heard more complaints about smartphone battery life than any other shortcoming. We expect our smartphones to do a whole lot, it stands to reason that will take power to accomplish those things. Thanks to the Battery Usage summary now found under Settings, we can evaluate the features we need the most vs. the battery power it takes to make them happen. It may surprise you to learn exactly which apps are drinking your battery; in my case, Messages is the biggest culprit.
Best thought of as a portal more so than an app, HealthKit gives you a single place to track anything and everything that pertains to your health and well being, including: body measurements, fitness, nutrition, sleep, and vitals.
Most valuable is the ability to create a Medical ID that is accessible even when your phone is locked. How much information you provide is left entirely up to you, but I recommend taking good advantage. My Medical ID contains a list of allergies and reactions, current medications, my emergency contact person along with their relevant details, my full name and date of birth, confirmation that I would like to be an organ donor, and my blood type. While you may initially be concerned about sharing these kinds of details in front of your passcode, the first time it saves your life those worries will vanish.
App Store – Family Purchases
If you question whether the new Family Sharing feature in iOS 8 is worthwhile, you clearly do not have children with smartphones or tablets. Now, up to six people in your family can share purchases made through iTunes… but better than that, your kids can have their own accounts! When they want to make a purchases (using your credit card of course), you can approve their spending from your own device (and not have to log in to theirs). Other family-friendly features are present as well, including photo sharing and a family calendar –all things that show Apple understands how the modern family functions.
There are so many odds and sods updated and added in iOS 8 that a comprehensive list would be nearly impossible –some are less significant: the Podcasts app is native now, the Weather app is powered by The Weather Channel instead of Yahoo, settings for Messages allows you to keep audio/video messages where previously they would be auto-deleted, Control Centre has a new look, a Tips app is installed by default and offers weekly tips on using the new operating system… and on and on.
Excited? Wondering when you can get your hands on iOS 8 and actually see these things in action? A specific release date hasn’t been announced, but with an expected Apple event in early September, it seems safe to assume things will start rolling out officially later that month.
If the idea of playing a courtroom adventure game on your Apple device sounds appealing, stay tuned: Capcom Unity has released Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies into the Japanese App Store –and all expectations are that it will be delivered to North America and Europe very soon (and in full HD)!
Originally released in the Nintendo eShop for their 3DS gaming system, Dual Destinies carries the zany tone and fun feel that Manga is famous for. Set primarily in the courthouse and detention centre, the game is packed full of goofy characters and villainous suspects. Led by familiar characters like Phoenix Wright and Apollo Justice, each one adds a special quirk and twist that add interest and whimsy to the gameplay. While playing this game, you will be challenged to perform tasks like looking for discrepancies in behaviour (such as being happy when a bomb explodes) while trying to maintain a very dramatic feel.
There are very few details right now, so we don’t know an exact release date or price –but we are expecting the initial download to include 5 cases, with an additional case available to buy separately.
Strategy Analytics has shared their research on global smartphone shipments in the second quarter of 2014, and the news is good for Android (but not so much for Apple). While overall shipments of smartphones grew by 27% (moving from 233M units in Q2 2013 to 295.2M units in Q2 2014), Android now enjoys having 85% of the total market share.
Of course, it could be worse… Microsoft dropped down to only 8% of the smartphone market share while BlackBerry circles the drain at 1.9%.
Details in the report also indicate that overall, fewer smartphones are being sold, regardless of platform. There are several speculations as to the reason, ranging from less disposable income to market saturation.
Whatever the reason, the next quarter report should be interesting. Microsoft has moved to make Windows Phone free to license, Android One should push low cost Android phones in massive quantities, and Apple is expected to release a much-anticipated iPhone 6.
Everyone is concerned about security these days, especially when our smartphones and tablets are so vulnerable (due in large part to their multitasking abilities and portability). You can put a passcode on your device to make it more difficult for the bad guys to gain access and you can transfer documents securely using encrypted apps, but how do you protect phone calls? Open Whisper Systems has an answer with their new app, Signal.
Using Signal is simple, beginning with adding a phone number and then confirming it with a six-digit confirmation code (sent by SMS or phone call). When a phone call is initiated between two participating users, a pair of words is shown (one on each caller’s screen). From there, the security words are exchanged and a secure connection is in effect.
During an interview with Wired magazine, Open Whisper Systems founder Moxie Marlinspike noted:
“We’re trying to make private communications as available and accessible as any normal phone call,” says Moxie Marlinspike, the hacker security researcher who founded the nonprofit software group. Later this summer, he adds, encrypted text messaging will be integrated into Signal, too, to create what he describes as a “single, unified app for free, easy, open source, private voice and text messaging.”
Initial tests conducted by media and beta testers unveiled a few bugs, but overall Signal performed as advertised.
Secure phone calls may be overkill for most applications –but it is easy to consider situations where it may be advisable, such as: calls between doctors and their patients, or lawyers and their clients.
Ready to start making secure phone calls? Download Signal – Private Messenger from the Apple App Store for free. Existing users of the Android RedPhone app can also take advantage of this secure calling technology.
When the Internet really started to take off and companies were making e-commerce profits hand over fist, all it took to make money was an idea and just enough technical skill to hang a web-shingle. Many years later, in much the same way, app developers are popping up everywhere –every day there are hundreds of new titles fighting for our attention. Some are worth it, but according to VisionMobile’s latest Developer Economics report, many are not.
Details in the report indicate that half of iOS developers, and 64% of Android developers are operating below the app poverty line (identified as making $500 per app per month). While it may seem like a reasonable profit for work that is already completed (once an app is released), one needs to see a return on their invested development time –but there is also a need to see revenue to compensate for Apple licensing, hardware, and ongoing support as required. It could be worse of course, 24% of all app developers are making nothing at all (and 23% are bringing in under $100 per month). If your idea is particularly amazing, or you have marketing genius that helps lead consumers to your app, you could find yourself among the 1.6% of development houses responsible for generating the most app store revenue (many making more than $500,000 for each app per month).
At first glance it may seem like these figures shouldn’t be of particular concern to end-users, but consider that if developers are unable to sustain upgrade and support channels for the apps they put out, the app stores will soon be cluttered with junky apps that probably shouldn’t be bothered with. Consequences of those apps seen as disposable will ripple through app stores as users learn not to trust or rely on anything they download and install.
In the early days of the Internet, using Oh Flash was a sign that a website was ahead of the times. It was impressive and sought-after. These days it is akin to a technologically-transmitted-disease –we’ve all heard about Flash content and we all know of websites that feature it, but for the most part we really just hope to avoid it. Thanks to Google, users searching from an Android or iOS device will now receive a warning when a website in their results is built on the Flash platform. From there it becomes your choice: take your chances and try it anyway, or move on to the next result.
Once upon a time, many people chose Android devices because they supported Flash –but that all ended with JellyBean when security and performance concerns outweighed the perceived benefits (something Apple felt strongly about since iOS began). Of course, it doesn’t hurt that technologies like HTML 5 now exist that are equally dynamic and entirely cross-platform.
In order to display this warning, Google has developed an algorithm that aims to detect websites whose content is based mostly in Flash. It’s likely this will result in a few false-positive hits, but that accuracy should improve with time (especially as legacy sites start to die out or face redesigns)… but there is another side-benefit that shouldn’t be overlooked: Flash content is difficult for search engine spiders to crawl –meaning the overall quality and accuracy of your search results should also improve.
As somebody who uses iOS devices as often as I do Android, I can tell you firsthand that it is frustrating to hit a website and only see portions (or nothing at all in some cases). Are any of you as excited as I am to hear this news? Do you see any downsides?
Audiobooks.com, the streaming and downloading audiobook service for fans of the format, announced its new dedicated romance app that will put bestselling steamy titles in one easily found location. This app, available currently only for iOS, will contain thousands of new titles and best sellers, and a large and growing selection of audiobooks to choose from. Authors like Nicholas Sparks, E. L. James, and Maya Banks, just to name a few, are already in their catalog.
“We wanted to create an app that’s tailored to specific tastes so we can really personalize the user experience,” says Sanjay Singhal, CEO of Audiobooks.com, in a press release. “We’ve seen a strong and growing popularity of romance audiobooks through our service and have had great success connecting to readers through romance book bloggers and communities. When we decided to start developing genre-specific extensions of the Audiobooks.com app, it just made sense to start there.”
This app, which will let users stream romance titles over both wifi and 3G connections, will offer the fastest connection times and a streamlined experience for iOS users. While Audiobooks.com does offer an Android app through the Google Play store, the romance-specific app is only available through Apple’s App Store.
“The Romance Audiobooks app is Audiobooks.com’s fastest, most responsive app yet and allows users to stream books anytime, anywhere over Wi-Fi and 3G networks. Specifically designed for iOS devices, the app features an intuitive, user-friendly interface for easy browsing and listening. Listeners can use their accounts to access books on both the Romance Audiobooks app and the original Audiobooks.com app for increased variety and selection. Both apps are available for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad in the Apple App Store.”
Once upon a time, in about 1991 (which may as well be the stone-age as far as modern video games are concerned), a young girl fell in love with a Sonic the Hedgehog game played on a (rather impressive for the time) Sega Genesis gaming console. Fast-forward to E3 2014 and you can imagine how exciting the news is that Sega is releasing an addition to the Sonic franchise with Sonic Jump Fever.
Designed as another simple one-direction platform title, Sonic Jump Fever is based on the 2012 Sonic Jump (all the while collecting rings, getting power-ups, and bopping enemies; only now you can compete directly against your friends). The twist? Twice a week the ladder resets and you will have to beat them once again –making you prove your worth and hone your skill (a fluke run won’t be good enough to hold your title at the top of the leader-board for long)!
The exact launch date is not yet known, but it should be available (for free) sometime this summer.
Fans of the Cloud Strife will be excited to play G-Bike (on Android or iOS), a pleasing mini game straight from the Gold Saucer Amusement Park currently found within the full version of Final Fantasy VII.
Not many details are known regarding the game-play, but the official announcement trailer makes it appear to belong to the endless runner platform-style genre: complete with “chase sequences, obstacle courses and boss encounters.” So far, the only character recruited is Cloud (equipped with his famed Buster Sword), but he can handily take care of enemies like Behemoth from the Midgar location.
No release date has been communicated, but G-Bike is likely to be available soon. It is also expected that great care will be given to the quality of this app, given a good response would mean good things for a much-desired port of the full Final Fantasy VII game which was previously delayed due to technical limitations (particularly issues with the storage space required, estimated at over 1GB for the game itself).
One of the best parts of having a smartphone or tablet is populating it with the greatest of the great apps. To help you choose your next favourite, take a look at our picks for the top ten iOS apps this week!
The App Store is filled with games that are designed to capture our attention and fill our time (or steal it away), but few games do it better than TwoDots. Made by the same folks who brought out Dots, this app is an awesomely addictive puzzle game. Navigate yourself through 85 levels that start easy and get increasingly more difficult, trying to connect different items: dots, sink anchors, make bombs, extinguish flames and more! Titles like TwoDots make waiting rooms a little more bearable.
Minecraft – Pocket Edition ($6.99 USD)
We all know Minecraft is addictive and fun, just ask the millions of people who have been playing it. With the pocket edition. you can play in survival and creative mode, multi-player and randomly generated worlds, while you craft and create and breed to your heart’s content! When you have a game that is centered around building things by placing blocks, it only seems fitting that you can play it on your mobile devices as you go on non-digital adventures as well (or if you need your kids to sit quietly for a few minutes, either one).
THE GAME OF LIFE Classic Edition ($0.99 USD)
I would be willing to bet that nearly every last one of you played THE GAME OF LIFE when you were children, and now you can also play it on your iOS devices! Some board games do not translate to the digital world very well, but this title does a very nice job –perhaps because it lends itself well to the 3D animations and colourful graphics that perform so well on our smartphones and tablets. Because you can pass and play with up to 6 of your friends, this app may just be the saviour of your next road trip!
I know, I know, I know… you have been meaning to get more exercise –and it is right there on your to-do list, just below the entry that says ‘make a to-do list’. Running and jogging can be fantastic exercise (as well as being a great way to lower stress and clear your head), but it can be very intimidating for those of us who have never tried the sport before. With Couch-to-5K, no experience is necessary. Honestly! It doesn’t matter whether you are doing your routine on a treadmill or sidewalk, you can workout with your own personal trainer and your own music playlist. Actual human audio cues will let you know what you should be doing and when. This program worked for me and it can also work for you!
Tinder is social media done a little differently. If you are looking to meet somebody new (for friends, dating or otherwise), take a flip through this app. With anonymous swipes, let people know if you are interested in them: swipe right to like or left to pass. If the feelings are mutual and you both like each other, it becomes a match and you can use the in-app chat to get to know your choice a little more. Taking your location from the GPS, Tinder can help you to meet new people no matter where you are!
Geocaching ($7.99 USD)
If you haven’t yet joined the world-wide treasure hunt, you shouldn’t waste any more time! Geocaching is a great deal of fun and can be an amazing adventure. Caches are hidden all over the world (by the millions) –in fact, I can almost guarantee you walk by at least one of them each day… you just have to know how and where to find them! Using this app, you can locate geocaches and log your finds; I must warn you though, it can be very addictive!
Shazam is one of those apps that you likely need to discover again for the first time! Included as part of Siri in the next version of iOS, this app lets you identify music and TV almost instantly. Gone are the days where you have no answer to the question ‘what song is this? or ‘who sings this?’, just load of Shazam and in moments you will know (plus you can buy it with one more tap of the screen if you choose).
Watchup: Your Daily News (Free)
There are plenty of ways to read the news on your iOS device, but what if you prefer to watch it? With Watchup, you can tune in to a considerable number of local, national and international news channels and watch their actual newscasts. If you are as forgetful as me, this app will let you schedule a reminder so you receive your newscast at the preferred time and if you want to know more about a particular story just click through to read text articles on the topic you are currently watching.
Whether you travel for business or pleasure, getting a good deal on airfare is something that everybody appreciates. Using Momondo, you can easily search hundreds of airlines for the cheapest flights to any destination. One of the handiest features of the app is the ability to save flights from your past searches so you can monitor whether the prices are going up or down and determine whether the latest deal is really that great. Once you find the flight you want to book, click through the app to make them yours!
It’s almost (the weekend | 5:00 somewhere | the end of the work day | any other time that pleases you), so it is time for a hard-earned glass of wine. Thanks to Wine Reviews & Ratings: Natalie MacLean, you have access to the reviews, prices, ratings, prices, food pairings and recipes for over 150,000 different wines (plus if you live in Canada, current store stock is also available for many locations)! All you need to do is scan the bar code or search the database and you can decide whether the bottle in your hand is the one you should be taking home. I especially love the cellar journal that lets you keep a record of everything you currently have at home –because inevitably I am at the liquor store and cannot for the life of me remember what I still have left.