Archive for ios
It was only a matter of time before social media found another use beyond sharing cute pictures of kittens and the grandkids along-side 140-character pearls of wisdom: cue Wakie. We all accept that alarm clocks are a necessary evil, with most of us using our smartphones to interrupt our peaceful slumber. What if I told you that a perfect stranger could take care of this for you by placing a phone call at a pre-arranged time? Wakie can and will.
My fascination with this app started as amusement (with terms to describe users like ‘sleepies’ to identify people waiting on a call to wake them up), and progressed quickly to some kind of strange addiction. Using the service is free, and your account makes it possible for Wakie to match you with people ready to place the call.
The service is as anonymous as you let it be (so be careful)… you input your mobile phone number (but the app uses this information behind the scenes to patch users together without divulging the real details for anybody on the call), you get to choose a username (which should ideally be easy to pronounce, even for those whose English may not be as good as yours) and shouldn’t include your last name. If you happen to miss their call (or sleep through it somehow), be careful that your voicemail message doesn’t divulge anything you wouldn’t want a stranger to know.
Once setup is complete, you set an alarm just like you would in any other smartphone app (complete with a backup if you choose). At the designated time, your phone will ring.
Prefer to make the calls rather than receive them? Choose to wake sleepies and the app will alert you when somebody is ready for you. What you say is up to you, but Wakie encourages you to be respectful and enforces a 60-second time limit (so no awkward goodbyes).
If somehow there isn’t anybody available to make the call to wake you up, the automated system will pick up any slack (though my experience is that there is never a shortage of people willing to interrupt your sleep).
Wakie has been available for Android since earlier this fall, but iPhone users only got access this week.
So far Wakie has delivered over 30 million wake up calls to 1.5 million users –you should be one of them!
There isn’t an iOS user out there who hasn’t been attacked by an Android fanatic. It is unrestricted, they say. It is free, they say. It is so open, they say. It doesn’t come with the same strict (and unreasonable) rules that iOS does, they say. As it turns out, rising popularity has changed the game significantly… with an Android device now in novice hands more often than not. This reality has forced Google to realize that a little control over their operating system isn’t a bad thing, beginning with a tighter rein on the Play Store (making it look an awful lot more like Apple’s App Store).
Some of the recent changes are fairly harmless, like adding a page for your account that lists every app you have ever bought. Other are slightly more intrusive, like removing a selection of piracy-related apps (including: The Pirate Bay Premium, The Pirate Bay Proxy, The Pirate Bay Mirror, and the PirateApp) from the Play Store by citing violations of their content policy for intellectual property provisions. It gets worse: the developers responsible for those apps also received a policy strike that readies their accounts for suspension if there are repeated violations.
Of course, this attack against piracy shouldn’t really be much of a surprise. Earlier this year, Google added a content suggestion box to their search functionality that lets users easily buy or rent content found in their results. Around the same time, Google also made some adjustments that saw piracy sites losing rank –a move that hurt popular sites, but benefited those that were lesser-known.
Die-hards will still scream from the mountain-tops about how these changes aren’t a big deal if you are willing to jailbreak your device (or side load apps)… but many of the same things could be said for hacked iOS devices too. If you ask me, the real news is more about Google’s changing philosophy than it is about operating system capabilities.
What you won’t hear from those same people, is how Google pretty much rules the targeted ad game: selling your private information to make a little money (some of which goes to pay for patent licenses and other technologies that are required by their ‘free’ operating system).
So what bothers Android evangelists more: seeing Google implement screening processes for apps in their store, or realizing that Google being a little bit more like Apple is a necessary (and functional) evil?
According to the latest comScore metrics, Android is in the lead as the dominant smartphone platform in the mobile marketplace. With 52.1% of the market share, Android is a fair step ahead of Apple who is lagging behind at 41.7% (third place went to Microsoft at a pitiful 3.6%, with fourth landing in BlackBerry’s lap at 2.3%).
Android didn’t lead every statistic, however… with Apple leading the pack as the top smartphone manufacturer (based on 174 million people with U.S.-owned devices), securing 41.7% of that market share as well. By comparison, Samsung is next in line with only 29.0% –leaving LG to secure third place with 6.9%.
While it may seem a little difficult to understand how Android can lead in the platform category while lagging in the hardware division –it’s due to the range of OEM manufacturers. Samsung may be making the most sales, but others like LG, Motorola, and HTC are also delivering a large number of units that contribute to the overall total number of smartphones.
The comScore report also identified the most downloaded smartphone apps (for U.S. smartphone mobile media users, aged 18+ on both iOS and Android platforms): placing Facebook on top, followed by YouTube in a distant second place.
Boasting themselves as a leading Internet technology company, comScore “measures what people do as they navigate the digital world – and turns that information into insights and actions for our clients to maximize the value of their digital investments.”
A report released by J.D Power and IDC, indicates that Apple is starting to lose tablet market share again (despite remaining at the top of the list of those device manufacturers). The survey also showed that Apple has slipped into the number two slot for customer satisfaction, right behind Amazon (and their line of inexpensive Fire tablets).
Of course, if the survey is to be believed, there is no satisfying these consumers. On one hand they state that Apple isn’t innovating fast enough, but then they say that even with upgraded iPads launched this fall, users are upgrading more slowly.
It is my opinion that Apple doesn’t really care whether people are upgrading their old iPads… not really, anyway. Sure they want users to have iPads (and other iOS devices), and sure they want those users to keep them reasonably current (so they can run the latest operating system version), but hardware isn’t where they make there money. It isn’t where any of these manufacturers make their money. Profit is realized within the app ecosystem –with Apple taking a sizeable portion of the monies charged for apps and their now-famed in-app purchases.
Add to this the fact that market share does not equate to profit share. It’s easy to take a huge number of inexpensive tablets and drop them in the laps of consumers who wouldn’t be Apple customers anyway. That isn’t a loss for Apple.
With the new iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 shipping and the 2014 holiday season just getting started, the results from the next quarter could tell us a little more than these numbers do –which tablets are being wrapped and put under our trees? Which app store sees the most traffic in the early part of the new year?
If you like games that are equal parts book, movie, and game… The Longest Journey is something to be excited about. Described as being an interactive and beautifully created universe, The Longest Journey is told from the perspective of a young art student named April Ryan who possesses the power to pass between worlds (like others are able to pass between being awake and asleep).
Feel free to get yourself addicted to this franchise. Developed by Ragnar Tornquist and his team at development house, Red Thread Games, The Longest Journey: Dreamfall Chapters sequel was recently brought to computer and console gaming platforms by way of a tremendously successful Kickstarter campaign (they set out to raise $850,000, and ended up with over $1.5 million) –so chances are good that mobile games won’t have seen the last of these characters!
The Longest Journey Remastered has already been available for iOS users in New Zealand with an $8.99 price-tag, but there are plans for a North American release very soon. If you are ready for a real iOS gaming adventure, prepare to purchase and download The Longest Journey Remastered from the Apple App Store.
Following a swirl of Internet discussion that is trying desperately to suggest that the iPad is circling the drain (so to speak), Fast Company charted the growth of iOS and iPad apps between June 2010 and October 2014. The results of their research makes one thing clear: whether the iPad succeeds or not, the iOS app marketplace is growing steadily.
So why is it that iPad year-over-year sales have declined during the last three quarters? \Apple CEO Tim Cook suggests that existing users are upgrading more slowly, and other products (such as the iPhone and Mac) are cannibalizing the iPad. Those reasons certainly seem more likely than the reason being offered up by anecdotal bloggers telling us that nearly 675,000 tablet-optimized apps are disappointing to would-be iPad owners (not to mention the overwhelming evidence to the contrary showing that people using tablets are doing so in very limited ways: games, social media, surfing the web, and streaming media).
It is just as likely that the tablet market is becoming saturated, or that the larger 5.5″ iPhone 6 Plus (nicknamed the phablet) is blurring the lines between smartphones and tablets enough that users don’t want both… regardless of the reason, news that the app marketplace is thriving is good news. Oh, and as everybody tries to speculate that Apple is going to be in some kind of financial trouble because they are selling fewer tablets, should remember that the 30% they are making off each iOS app purchase is a much larger margin than they typically make on hardware.
Smartphone gamers are going to have to wait a little longer for the popular Hearthstone card game developed by Blizzard. While the PC and iPad editions have been out for a while now, the acclaimed game creators need more time to best accommodate smaller screens (but don’t worry, this delay doesn’t include Android tablets –that version is still on track to be released by the end of 2014).
According to Blizzard, as noted on their official Hearthstone blog:
“Throughout the past year, many of you have been asking about the release date for Hearthstone on Android. The team has been hard at work to bring Hearthstone to that platform, and is making great progress. We’re taking things one step at a time and we’ve got our sights set on a release for Android tablets, our next new platform, before the end of the year. We’re also close to having Hearthstone out to our iPhone and Android phone users, but it’s become clear that we need a little more time to get that version right. While we have a build up and running internally, it needs a bit more work, and we don’t feel like we’ll be ready to share it with you until early next year.”
Hearthstone is a game that is well described as deceptively simple, but insanely fun. Using your customized deck of cards, you can “sling spells, summon minions, and seize control of an ever-shifting battlefield.”
As much as it sucks to wait, releasing a poorly executed version of the game would likely do more harm than delaying it and doing things correctly; especially true when you consider there are already 20 million players, many of which will turn to the smartphone version as well.
According to the latest statistics released by Chitika, the LG user base has exhibited the greatest usage share growth as compared to any of the competing Android brands since June 2014. With a 1.7 percentage point gain and representing over 10% of the total North American smartphone and tablet Web traffic, LG should be counted as a significant player in the mobile market.
Samsung can rest easy for now, sitting comfortably at the top of the heap with 57.4% of the current Android market share –but it would be wise to keep at least one eye on their competition given their less substantial 1% gain since June 2014 (despite the release of an entirely updated line of mobile hardware during this period). Amazon is sitting precariously in the third spot (with a meagre .5% lead on Motorola), likely due in large part to their Fire tablets as opposed to their unremarkable smartphone sales.
Google was down this quarter, falling to just 3.6% –but these numbers should look a little better shortly with the release of the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 devices.
Chitika’s report also indicated that smartphones continue to dominate the mobile Web traffic, with very little growth in this area being observed in the Android tablet space. Some speculation suggests that this is due to Apple’s dominance in the tablet arena, but it may also be due in part to the next-generation phablet type smartphones prompting users to invest in large-screen, smartphones instead of a tablet.
Founded in 2003, Chitika is an online ad network that boasts the delivery of “over four billion strategically targeted ads each month to a network of over 300,000+ sites.” Together with high profile advertising partners like Yahoo!, Chitika has developed proprietary optimization technology that promises to display the right ad, at the right time.
It is with great enthusiasm that Google released their next generation Nexus 6 smartphone yesterday. Being labelled the next in a line of phablets, the Nexus 6 is a very large mobile device that straddles the line between smartphone and tablets. Packed with features, the Nexus 6 promises to stand up proudly against the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus.
Design and Display
It can’t be said that the Nexus 6 is a light smartphone, and coming in at 6.49 ounces (184g) is will feel quite substantial. By comparison, the Galaxy Note 4 is 6.21 ounce (176g) and the iPhone 6 Plus is the lightest at 6.07 ounces (172g). It is also the largest of the three phablets, with a full 6-inch display with a 1440×2560 pixel resolution and 493 ppi density. Also a very attractive feature is that the Nexus 6 is splash resistant (without needing to wrap it in a case) –other Samsung products can boast that, the Galaxy Note 4 isn’t so lucky.
The camera in the Nexus 6 is competitive with a dual LED flash, but only measures 13 megapixels (where the Galaxy Note 4 has 16, and iPhone 6 Plus lags quite a distance behind at 8).
Running the latest Android Lollipop, Google maintains their top spot as the manufacturer with the truest Android smartphone.
Powered by a quad core, 2700 MHz, Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor, the Nexus 6 should still be comparable the 8-core, 1900 MHz ARM processor found in the Galaxy Note 4 –though on paper Apple’s processor seems quite a bit behind both devices by only being dual core and 1400MHz. With that said, many of the performance tests being run are placing Apple’s smartphone performing ahead of Samsung’s, so these specifications on their own don’t carry much real-world weight or meaning. The Nexus 6 comes with 32GB or 64GB of built-in storage, but unlike the Galaxy Note 4, cannot be expanded with additional storage (using microSD, microSDHC, or microSDXC).
Google claims that the Nexus 6 will deliver 24 hours of talk time. They also say you can expect 13.8 days of stand-by time. In other news, pigs can apparently fly. I’ll believe that these batteries perform this well when I experience it for myself, but I do trust that it’s better than most of us are used to… especially if you turn off the Ambient Display.
Unlike any of the competition, the Nexus 6 does lead the pack in the power arena by offering built-in wireless charging… and using Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0, a quick 15 minutes of charging should get you about 6 more hours of use.
You should have no complaints in this arena, with the Nexus 6 offering GSM at 850/900/1800/1900MHz, CDMA band classes 0/1/10, WCDMA bands 1/2/4/5/8, and LTE bands 2/3/4/5/7/12/13/17/25/26/29/41.
Aside from cellular options, Google equipped the Nexus 6 with 802.11ac Wi-Fi using a 2×2 MIMO antenna, Bluetooth 4.1 LE, and NFC.
Before you salivate yourself into needing a fresh shirt, brace yourself for the $649 USD price-tag found on the unlocked model. Not surprisingly, many Android purists are already expressing their outrage at the cost –especially when previous Nexus smartphones only rid our wallets of $349 USD. While this increase is difficult to accept, it’s necessary if Google is going to produce the kind of hardware that will have the chops to compete with the quality options being released by the competition. Of course, the Nexus 6 looks to be worth every penny… but it means that carriers with contract-signing incentives will play a much more significant role in the success of this device (like they already do for the high-end hardware coming from Samsung and Apple).
Pre-order for the Nexus 6 will begin in late October, with full retail availability beginning in November.
I don’t know if you have noticed this, but no two weather apps on your smartphone will ever agree. In fact, even this morning there is a several degree discrepancy between the temperature broadcast by The Weather Network app that runs natively on my iPhone and the old de facto standard from iOS 7 – Yahoo Weather. To this end, you may wish to employ yet another weather app: Google News & Weather.
It is difficult to decide whether to be excited by this app release, with so many other options already available for news and weather reporting. Even though the app comes equipped with coverage from over 65,000 publications, it isn’t full featured enough to truly deliver mass quantities of news –but with that said, if you are a fan of hitting http://news.google.com on a regular basis to see the most recent (and therefore probably most prominent and important) headlines, it may be just what the doctor ordered.
Just like on their website, news can be tailored to your country of choice and tuned to particular categories (with choices like “Hollywood”, “NASA”, or “Fashion”). On the landing page inside the app, a brief summary is displayed for each story with full articles and additional details available with a single on-screen tap.
Whether this is a must-have app or not, it is nice to see Google giving iOS users the option to use the same software available on Android; it certainly isn’t a courtesy that is often returned by Apple.
If you’d like to take advantage of Google News & Weather on your iOS device, download it for free now from the Apple App Store. I can’t promise it is any more accurate than the zillions of other weather apps already available, but it should be of a certain quality given that it comes to us from Google.
Without a word of warning to players or the developer Nimblebit, Star Wars: Tiny Death Star and Star Wars Assault Team were recently pulled by Disney from the Google Play Store as well as the Apple App Store. Both titles were under a year old, with Tiny Death Star reaching us last November and Assault Team launching in March.
Whether the games will be missed or not isn’t exactly the issue –the real problem is how poorly it was handled. In an email conversation with GameSpot, NimbleBit co-founder Ian Marsh noted that their first indication that the games had been removed was a tweet directed their way asking why they could no longer be found.
If you already had the games installed, you are in luck as they are still playable –but how long they can be supported is a mystery. Not only are the developers losing a revenue stream, there is also a feeling that their reputation is now tarnished by Disney’s decision.
A little research suggests that the reason for the removals may be due to a focus on newer Star Wars-themed mobile games (like Star Wars: Commander for Android or the soon to be released Star Wars: Galactic Defense), but no definitive answer has been given.
There are plenty of complaints directed toward iOS 8, but there are plenty of good things too. One of my favourite new features (if we can call it that) is the ability to hide your app store purchases (a term which also applies to free apps) directly from your mobile device.
To remove an app from your list of purchases while on your mobile iOS device: load up the App Store app, select Updates, choose Purchased, swipe right-to-left on any app you’d rather wasn’t visible, and finish by tapping on the large, red ‘HIDE’ button that appears.
Removing an app from the list will not erase history. If you search for the app in the store, you will still see the little cloud beside it that lets you download the title again (which is good, I suppose… because some of these apps may have cost you money, and you don’t want to lose record of that in case you later change your mind about removing it).
Some of you may be wondering why this is an important feature in the first place. Well, some of us who have been using iOS devices for quite some time have likely amassed quite a list of apps that have been taken for a test drive. Some make the cut, some don’t. Those that don’t seem to haunt us forever. Every time we setup a new device that doesn’t start with a backup (like iPads for your children) means flipping through an endless list of apps, many of which you hoped to never lay eyes on again. Flash forward another few years and this list might become quite difficult to manage.
Sure you could do this from your computer using iTunes already, but these days I am delighted by any feature that means I can boot that thing up a little less… Besides, I install my apps directly on my mobile device and I back-up to the cloud –so this next stage of independence is a good thing.