Archive for ios
Even if you aren’t familiar with Rovio, you have almost certainly played their games. As the creators of the Angry Bird franchise, Rovio is one of the most successful mobile development stories out there. In addition to the classic title that made them famous, the development house is constantly releasing updates and additional spins on the original physics-based bird-tossing game. This go around, Transformers is the lucky franchise to receive their attention.
What’s interesting about this release, is that the Android version is slotted to follow the iOS version after a full 15-day exclusivity period. News that this was taking place came as a shock to many in the mobile world, especially considering that Android is dominating the smartphone market right now. The reason why this happened isn’t being publicized… it could be a deal struck with Apple, it could be Rovio snubbing Android, or it might just be that the iOS version is ready to go and they don’t want to delay release until the Android version is fully tested. Whatever the reason, it seems silly.
If you are curious what you have to look forward to, the official game play trailer is below. It looks to be a little ‘more of the same’ that we have become used to with other co-branded versions of Angry Birds, but if you are fond of Transformers, the graphics are great and very reminiscent of that franchise.
Are you still addicted to Angry Birds and loving it? Do you wish Rovio would give it up and stop trying to cash in with new versions of their hit game? If not, do you have a theme that you wish they would explore?
Android users have been using Google Play Newsstand instead of the older Currents app for quite some time, but thanks to an update this week, iOS users will get the same pleasure. Advertising itself as a way to “discover more of the news you care about,” Google Play Newsstand is more like a digital magazine and less like a traditional aggregator.
Now featuring the updated look and feel using Google’s new Material Design language, the redesign offers truly elegant navigation –though the interface isn’t always as quick and responsive as it should be (for instance, choosing to delete a category wasn’t executed and confirmed for almost 30 seconds after tapping the on-screen confirmation).
If you haven’t yet created a library of your own, begin by choosing to explore the suggested news feeds assembled by Google. You can add topics broadly for things like Art or Photography, or include individual feeds for more specific content. If you already have a favourite blogger or news site, you can add those individually as well. Once your library is assembled, flip easily through all of the new articles –choosing to read them now, share with your friends, open in a browser, or bookmark to review later.
Google Play Newsstand is trying hard to compete with popular news apps like Flipboard with the functionality of Pocket, and this new version is a good first step. In its current form, I feel that this app is best used for browsing news stories the way you would magazines in a waiting room and less useful for keeping current with your existing blog roll. I read a lot of news every day, and I need to be able to do it quickly –even if it isn’t always beautiful to look at. I also need something that properly syncs between devices and makes it easy to tell what’s already been read at a glance… and Google Play Newsstand just isn’t there yet.
If you already had Currents installed, you will be prompted to upgrade automatically –otherwise, download Google Play Newsstand now to give it a try.
With the arrival of iOS 8, apps are starting to release updates to take advantage of the new features. Instapaper is no exception, adding several new features this week but also moving to a freemium business model. What this means for users is that the universal iOS app can now be downloaded for free –with the old subscription package being renamed to Instapaper Premium.
Reviewing a list of the new key features should persuade you that Instapaper continues to be a productivity app leader:
– Now featuring text-to-speech (using Apple’s text-to-speech synthesizer) will let you listen to saved articles while on the go. Consider this a way of making custom curated podcasts from the news you are interested in knowing but wish you had the time to read.
– Save an article with a single tap (functionality that the Android and web versions of the app have enjoyed previously, but was noticeably absent in the iOS version until now)
– Unified browse brings articles from your favourite editors or friends into a single feed
– Link to your friends’ profiles based on the articles that they like
– View your article saves from today which will now appear in the Notification Center (and read with a single tap)
Once you give Instapaper a try, you will likely agree that a Premium subscription is worth the price of admission (currently listed at $2.99 per month or $29.99 per year). Premium members will enjoy unlimited highlights (free users only get 5 highlights per month) and text-to-speech playlists of saved articles.
If you happen to be an existing subscriber, you will be automatically upgraded to the new premium service at your current rate. If you purchased Instapaper in the past, you will enjoy a free month of premium service as compensation.
If you are feeling equal parts creative and entrepreneurial, Makr by Happy Media could be the app you need to succeed (using only your phone). Using your own visual identity or logo, create custom swag (like t-shirts, tote bags, or temporary tattoos). Once your items are mocked-up and looking just right, you can then sell your merchandise in the built-in online store (letting Makr handle all aspects of production, shipping, and payments).
The whole process is a little like Etsy, minus the handcrafting. Makr wins by capitalizing on your ideas while absorbing all of the risk so you don’t have to (by working with vendors). So what’s in it for you? If somebody buys an item that you designed, $2 goes directly into your pocket!
It may seem like a small profit margin, but consider that you really aren’t doing any of the heavy lifting.
Filled with design and marketing tools, Makr promises professional products that are easy for anybody to create. Need a little help? Try one of their templates, giving you a head-start on: business cards, party invitations, wedding materials, stickers, postcards, stationary, greeting and holiday cards –or maybe you want funny or themed clothing for an event you are hosting.
Makr – a design + print shop is only available for iOS devices currently –download it for free from the App Store now!
Rounding out their business-oriented app offering, Google has launched Slide for iOS (complimenting Google Docs and Google Sheets, which were already available). Slides provides similar functionality to competing apps: Microsoft’s PowerPoint or Apple’s Keynote, allowing users to create, edit, and collaborate with users on presentations.
Google has also released update for both Docs and Sheets, adding support for Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel that will now allow users to open and edit documents in these formats. Becoming more competitive with Microsoft is a wise move and sure to gain market-share, when you consider that in order to use their ‘free’ apps, an Office-365 membership is required.
Discussing these updates, the official update feed from the Google Apps team, stated:
“The new Google Slides mobile app is now available on iOS, making it easier for people to quickly find, edit and create presentations on the go–online or offline. As with the Android version, the Slides iOS app includes support for editing PowerPoint files. Additionally, as announced for Android in June, the Google Docs and Sheets apps for iOS have been updated to allow for seamless editing of Word and Excel files. No need to worry about file compatibility or internet connections anymore with the new Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps on iOS–it all just works.”
According to a recent study conducted by ComScore, nearly two-thirds of US smartphone users aren’t downloading any new apps. Their research uncovered that only 7% of smartphone users accounted for almost half of the new apps being downloaded.
Fortunately for a few app developers, these results cannot be interpreted to mean that we aren’t using apps. Over half of users are turning to a single, favourite app, 42% of the time. In 75% of the remaining time, users were only using 3-4 additional apps regularly.
Whether the user prefers iOS or Android, the results are about the same. Users love social media, with Facebook identified as the most popular choice overall and used more often than any other app. Radio, news and weather related apps topped the charts for iOS users. Android users appear more focused on search and email (but the integration of Google Now may be skewing those results somewhat).
What the study can’t tell us clearly is why we aren’t using more apps, more often. It may be possible that as iOS and Android operating systems advance, more features are built-in and require fewer additional apps. It may also be that HTML 5 apps are starting to dominate the marketplace, requiring users to use a web browser instead of app stores. Yet another theory would suggest that users are overwhelmed by the options presented within app stores so avoid them instead. Whatever the reason, developers should pay careful attention: persuading users to download new apps may mean engaging in new styles of marketing.
Comscore boasts being one of the leading Internet technology companies aimed at measuring “what people do as they navigate the digital world.”
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.