TouchMyApps » Editorial http://www.touchmyapps.com All Things iPhone and iPad for those who like to Touch. iOS App reviews, News, New Apps, Price Drops and App Gone Free Mon, 14 Apr 2014 11:45:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.7.3 “Murder in the living room”, a short note on Apple’s upcoming launch and its unicorn products http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/03/06/murder-in-the-living-room-a-short-note-on-apples-upcoming-launch-and-its-unicorn-products/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/03/06/murder-in-the-living-room-a-short-note-on-apples-upcoming-launch-and-its-unicorn-products/#comments Tue, 06 Mar 2012 22:39:44 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=66968 While the best of us are busy scrutinizing Apple’s Event invitation for cabalistic symbols and hints on the nature of iPad 3, I’m more interested in what will become of Apple TV and what can happen if Apple gets serious about its hobby. Steve Jobs’ legacy is undeniable – both in innovative products and a … Read more]]>

While the best of us are busy scrutinizing Apple’s Event invitation for cabalistic symbols and hints on the nature of iPad 3, I’m more interested in what will become of Apple TV and what can happen if Apple gets serious about its hobby.

Steve Jobs’ legacy is undeniable – both in innovative products and a company that thinks differently. Apart from thinking, Apple is also good at selling; it’s already the world biggest computer and smartphone manufacturer, and the company is growing quickly. What kind of innovation does it have to bring now to sustain such growth?

Living room

When we’re not sleeping, we’re usually in front of our computer – both for work and leisure, and most modern PCs work well for this. After staring at a laptop’s screen all day, people would put it on the kitchen table for the evening and then take it to bed.

When I got an iPad, I thought I would be mostly carrying it around, while relying on my MacBook at home. Instead, the vast amount of time with my iPad is spent in the kitchen watching tv series, or on the couch, reading articles and surfing. It’s just so much more comfortable for those tasks.

It’s ideal for leisure, and even works as a psychological divide for some – work while you’re at your computer, rest with an iPad.

It’s probable that Apple decides to turn the iPad into a mega remote control for the new Apple TV and let live television be the main selling point for the new device. But what if didn’t end there?

The Apple TV connected to a bigger screen, with or without an iPad or iPhone, can be the ultimate entertainment system – should apple want to make it into one.

Autonomy

Such a device should be able to work on its own, and be a possible “first product”, just like  iPad or a Mac is today.  The App Store should enable it to run a range of apps, even storing the apps’ data on its own memory.

Media management

This is a huge opportunity, and Apple clearly sees it, but the tools they offer now are far from being ideal. Photostream does not live up to the expectations and only works on a Mac with iPhoto or Aperture, and videos still have to be imported using a cable, etc. “iBox” (it clearly wouldn’t be a TV set) could read the photos and videos from memory cards or usb, and suck the rest from the cloud, always in sync and with non-desctructive edits.

Music and video content

App Store on the device would enable it to run pandora, spotify, hulu, or whatever other streaming service you can think of. iTunes Store video content, including iTunes University, could remember playing position across all devices.

Remote control and voice input

Maybe shouting commands across the room would be strange, but what if iPhone could tell the iBox what to do? You could ask Siri to play your favorite song on large speakers, or switch the movie to a bigger screen.

One could argue that you can achieve almost all of it by slapping boxee software on a Mac mini, but that’s not so. Controlled user experience has always been Apple’s strength, and managing media centers with full-size keyboard and torrent downloaders is not elegant, and not something you can easily control.

Live TV, all your media, and the App Store on an easy to use living room device could be another thing Steve Jobs finally “cracked”, and I would be the first to buy one.

 

This article was brought to you by TouchMyApps guest author Eugene Shimalsky, Head of Products and Technologies of D2N8, founder of Treebune srl. You can find Eugene on his Tumble profile right here.


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Eight apps for a broken arm http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/06/15/eight-apps-for-a-broken-arm/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/06/15/eight-apps-for-a-broken-arm/#comments Wed, 15 Jun 2011 11:40:23 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=53484 After breaking my arm a couple of months ago, I learned a bit of biology. Bones are serious buggers, you know; they don’t just Lego into place after snapping. But even at 31 and five fingers down, I applied myself very fastidiously to apps that I could use one-handed. At first, they may seem eclectic, … Read more]]>

After breaking my arm a couple of months ago, I learned a bit of biology. Bones are serious buggers, you know; they don’t just Lego into place after snapping. But even at 31 and five fingers down, I applied myself very fastidiously to apps that I could use one-handed. At first, they may seem eclectic, but I assure you that they were the best medicine. If you’re intent on joining my club, send in your resumes, apply something heavy/swift to your long bones, and then follow the gap!

Stanza

After being unimpressed by Apple’s fancy with superfluous effects, poor typography, and piss-poor real book emulation, I quickly opted for simpler alternatives. Stanza still remains my favourite reading app. It is easy to use, backed by tens of thousands of free books, and boasts good text effects and resizing options for reading both indoors and outdoors. For member of my club, its button placement and navigation is great, but you don’t have to break an arm to enjoy it. The best part? It’s free.

Stanza Lexcycle, Stanza, 10.01MB – Free

Need help with Stanza? Try TMA’s how to transfer article.

WordBook

If breaking an arm wasn’t hard enough, my favourite reference, Enfour’s Oxford Deluxe English Dictionary, went on the fritz with a new update, deciding not to boot on my iPod touch 4G. Bugger. In the meantime, the already excellent WordBook kept hitting with good updates, good interface, and a much better save and export engine. Oxford has the upper hand as a reference, but now comes 2nd when I just want to dig into definitions, synonyms, and save and print my bookmarks. For the price and convenience, there is no better English dictionary. If you’re shy an arm or a couple of fingers, WordBook plays nice. You can annotate, bookmark, flip through daily vocab, and have a jolly good time with just one hand.

WordBook English Dictionary & Thesaurus TranCreative Software, WordBook English Dictionary & Thesaurus (TMA Review), 19.99MB – $1.99

WritingTips

Written by bestselling author, Alice Kuipers, WritingTips is nothing more than a collection and exercises of tips in any of eight categories. Its design isn’t great, and some of the tips are doubtless oldies, but it’s compact; everything comes under one, pithy roof. If you can get over the poor typesetting, constantly changing text sizes, and strange framing, there is a lot to enjoy about WritingTips. Because WritingTips sports such a simple interface, it is easy to pick up and put down without ever lifting another arm.

Writing Tips Rich Lowenberg, Writing Tips, 2.82MB – $0.99

Pages

Well, there are a lot of great writing apps out there, but Pages is the one I turn to most. Why? Compatibility and overall polish. I don’t like Apple’s strange insistence on the emulation of analogue items in a digital app, but otherwise, pages responds faster, and is easier to use than many other productivity apps, especially if you plan to add photos or other media. There are myriad small user-interface issues, but each iteration gets better. On my iPad, Pages can relax with me next to my pillow in any screen orientation I see fit, and operates wonderfully one-handed. Writing is slow – that can’t be helped when half of your team plays hooky – but it is much easier than dragging a mouse or touchpad and jumping to the keyboard.

Pages Apple®, Pages, 87.90MB – $9.99

Instagram


While not as sexy as a real polaroid, Instagram sure sets the barn on fire by emulating great photo frames, and allowing you to share with all your friends on your favourite social networks. I love this app. For the broken handed, Instagram’s thumb-driven interface is simple genius. Even adding a couple of effects or frames can be done easily with just a lap and a thumb.
Instagram Burbn, Inc., Instagram, 6.77MB – Free

Photogene

This app is a life-saver. Strapped into my upper-arm-down cast, even sitting up hurt. Forget Lightroom and Photoshop. Forget Photomatrix Pro. Photogene has gotten better and better each iteration. Today, it can export my photos in full resolution, has a rudimentary layer design for dodge and burn effects, interfaces seamlessly with my photo library, and does most of what Lightroom does, but for a small fraction of the price. Caveats? The vignettes are pretty poor, there aren’t real layers yet, and sadly there is no universal binary. But this 2,99$ app is worth it for both the iPod/iPhone and iPad. Prop your iPad up in its nifty sleeve and enjoy full-featured, one-handed editing. If you’re interested in seeing what PhotoGene can do, check out my Flickr stream; most of my photos go from D200 to iPad through small Photogene adjustments and onto Photoshop.

Photogene Omer Shoor, Photogene (TMA Review), 4.10MB – $1.99

Photogene for iPad Omer Shoor, Photogene for iPad, 6.38MB – $2.99

Home Design 3D by LiveCad for iPad

There is no such thing as a cheap do-it-all portable alternative for true workstation CAD suites. Nevertheless Home Design 3D is killer. It’s square-based level designer isn’t the easiest to wrap your head around, but when you do, it’s intuitive and quick. LiveCad have added dozens of house add ons such as doors, windows, bathroom fixtures, and more. For a home interior designer, it’s got pretty much all you need. Adding other floors, basements, etc., is really sometimes foul, but overall, this app is killer. No matter the time of year, it comes at the top of my must-have list. The only thing that can be tricky to operate is the 3D view (yes, it has a 3D walkthrough of your house); all other features work great if you’ve only five fingers.

Home Design 3D By LiveCad - For iPad Anuman, Home Design 3D By LiveCad – For iPad, 46.22MB – $5.99

Home Design 3D By LiveCad - For iPhone Anuman, Home Design 3D By LiveCad – For iPhone, 52.89MB – $4.99

Infinity Blade

What’s a recommended app-list without a game? I’m not a big gamer, but I enjoy a good hack and slash now and then. Infinity Blade’s excellent (and easy) navigation and fighting interface is violent, yet incredibly easy to navigate. No matter how invalid you are, you can kill baddies with a single hand and look as bad as Boba Fett while doing it.

Infinity Blade Chair Entertainment Group, LLC, Infinity Blade (TMA Review), 583.93MB – $5.99

As much as I’ve enjoyed my break (get it, get it?), I’m enjoying getting back in the saddle even more. Instagram, as much as I love you, I do prefer to take time with an my Nikon FM2 or my D200. But, when I finally upgrade to an iPhone, I’ll be playing instantly with the likes of  Photogene and Instragram without the annoyance of a PC interface.

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Wrapping up on Apple’s iOS 5 and iCloud announcement http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/06/10/wrapping-up-on-apples-ios-5-and-icloud-announcement/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/06/10/wrapping-up-on-apples-ios-5-and-icloud-announcement/#comments Fri, 10 Jun 2011 20:33:35 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=53379 The WWDC keynote has come and gone and while there was no announcement of the iPhone 5, there was still plenty of Mac OS X and iOS news to digest, including the upcoming iOS update and long rumored iCloud service. Let’s take a closer look at some of the things we learned about iOS 5 … Read more]]>

The WWDC keynote has come and gone and while there was no announcement of the iPhone 5, there was still plenty of Mac OS X and iOS news to digest, including the upcoming iOS update and long rumored iCloud service. Let’s take a closer look at some of the things we learned about iOS 5 and iCloud, both of which can’t come a day too soon if you’re an owner of an iDevice.

Closest to the topic of TMA we’ll of course start with the iOS 5 and the new features, big and small.

1. Notification Center

Hallelujah! Notifications have probably been the most frustrating part of the iOS since the inception of the original iPhone. And with the implementation of Push a couple of years ago they have completely gone down the drain, making it almost impossible to get any sense from the flood of information streaming to your iDevice.

Well, better late than never Apple has finally completely revamped the system, turning the show-stopper modal alerts into non-intrusive banners, which disappear automatically after a few seconds. What’s more, at any moment and from anywhere in the system, with a simple swipe down from the top of the iDevice you can access the Notification Center. It provides convenient access to all of the messages received, grouped chronologically or by the originating app. And on the iPhone and iPod Touch this Notification Center additionally shows the weather and stocks as well.

Also, the lock screen is finally more than just wasted space, with the Notification Center being displayed there as well. And if you’re looking to get right into the offending app, you can do so with a simple tap ‘n swipe on the notification entry.

Probably my only gripe with the Notification Center is the absence of an option to show the calendar entries along with stocks and weather, which is how I currently use my Lock Screen.

2. NewsStand

Essentially the iBooks for magazines, NewsStand is a slap in the face for the dozens of dedicated magazine apps that have flooded the App Store since the iPad went live. It still remains to be seen how much interactivity it allows, but the notion of keeping all my magazine and newspaper subscriptions in one place certainly appeals to me. Not to mention that as new issues become available, they’re automatically updated in the the background. Now if they only arrange deals for publisher outside the US as well, consider my paper magazines dead.

3. Twitter

Ok, here I got caught completely off guard. While rumors of having Facebook support being built directly in the iOS have been circulating for quite some time, having it for Twitter was completely out of the blue for me. At the same time, the way Apple has implemented it, providing seamless integration with everything, from Safari to Photos, certainly deserves attention and respect. And while I’m personally not a big fan of Twitter and feel the craze will pass in a couple of years, if more OS developers embrace the platform as deeply as Apple, it may raise Twitter to a whole new level. Guess it’s finally time to start thinking about that IPO.

4. Safari

The best mobile browser out there has also been awarded with a couple of nifty upgrades. The most noteworthy is certainly the Safari Reader functionality (another slap in the face, this time for Instapaper (TMA Review). This magic button will strip away all of the excess stuff from the article webpage, like ads, widgets, etc., leaving only conveniently formatted text and related images. It will even pull up the whole content of a multipage article and condense it in one single intuitively scrolling page. Oh yeah, you can even save the page offline for later reading as well.

In addition to this huge new feature, owners of an iPad finally will be able to use tabbed browsing, instead of the tiled overview many are already used to. And if you have something to hide, Safari now has a Private browsing mode, with no history kept and no cookies sent (probably inspired by the Jailbreak tweak Covert, since it even turns the interface similarly black).

5. Reminders

The death of about 90% of the ToDo apps on the App Store, Reminders finally brings the functionality that should probably have been shipped with the original iPhone. Personally this is the holy grail for me because Reminders syncs not only with iCal, but… Wait for it… Microsoft Outlook and Exchange! Out of the box! If you read my review of Pocket Informant (Calendar & Tasks) (TMA Review) you might remember the horrible workaround I had to use to sync with my desktop. Well, no more! As with Contacts, Calendars and Mail I will finally be able to sync the Tasks seamlessly with my corporate Exchange server.

As a bonus, in addition to alerting you of a task due based on date, Reminders will be able to do so based on location, i.e. remind you to call your wife when leaving the office, or pick up the mail as you drive by a post office. Not sure how useful this will be in reality, by the feature certainly sounds nice.

6. Camera

After rejecting a previous update of Camera+ (TMA Review) that included this very feature, Apple has added the option of taking pictures using the Volume Up button. Additionally grid lines are now available to overlay on the viewfinder to make it easier to compose the picture, along with the support for pinch-to-zoom and Auto Exposure / Auto Focus lock. But Apple didn’t stop here and added some post-processing options as well in the form of rotating, cropping, red-eye reduction and one-touch image enhancing. Yep, half of the camera apps are now obsolete as well.

7. Mail

The Mail app has also seen a few nice upgrades including swipe to add inbox, full text searching, rich text formatting and… (drum roll)… flagging items, which hopefully also synchronizes with Exchange and Reminders as well. Finally support for S/MIME enterprise functionality has been added too, which should be a welcome addition for all Enterprise features.

8. PC Free

While I don’t quite share the massive excitement about going completely PC Free for the iOS device, what does get me excited is the addition of over-the-air incremental iOS updates. Of course the ability to set-up and activate your brand new iDevice without iTunes might be nice for people without a PC or those purchasing their new device while on the road and without access to the internet.

9. Game Center

One of the most minor updates in my opinion, I was a bit surprised it got mentioned in a separate section. Fans of going social can finally expect to be able to show themselves in full glory with a profile picture and brag about their achievement with overall scores across all games. Finally support for turn-based games has been implemented right into the iOS, simplifying the development of games like Chess or Scrabble.

10. iMessages

Apple’s answer to the Blackburry Messaging Service – iMessages, a built in IM client for all iOS devices including support for features like delivery and read reports and typing notifications. Far from being the SMS killer many immediately started calling it, iMessages may still gain traction if Apple goes cross-platform with it and releases clients for other mobile OSs. Otherwise, users could very well stick with messaging apps like WhatsApp Messenger (TMA Review).

11. “One more thing” times dozen

In addition to the major highlights, iOS 5 has over 200 new user features and here are some of the more notable ones:

  • A separate Music app on the iPod
  • Smart playlist syncing from iTunes
  • Option to speak text selection (Text-to-Speech)
  • Built-in dictionary across the iOS
  • Emoji emoticons
  • Personal dictionary (sounded like something Textexpander-like)
  • Alternate routes in Maps
  • Improved FaceTime video quality
  • Wi-Fi sync to iTunes
  • AirPlay mirroring to the AppleTV (in Full HD nonetheless)
  • Multitouch gestures to control multitasking on the iPad
  • Custom vibration patterns for different contacts
  • LED alarms for incoming calls and messages
  • FaceTime over 3G
  • Airport/Time Capsule set-up and configuration right from the iOS device
  • Custom user-defined gestures
  • Split keyboard for the iPad

Now onto the announcement that has been rumored ever since Apple bought LaLa and started building that huge Datacenter in North Carolina – the iCloud.

Let’s face it, MobileMe is and always was a piece of crap. Trying to sell for $99 per year what Google Sync and Dropbox do for free is definitely not a good business model. Finally Steve Jobs made Apple come to their senses and cut the price down to FREE. But wait, there’s more… Much more in fact!

In addition to the traditional Mail, Calendar and Contacts, Apple has added 6 more apps to the suite. Plus a cherry on top. Let’s take a look at them:

1. Photostream

With the iPhone 4 almost going through the roof as one of the most popular ways to take Photos, Apple has done the next logical step and offered storage and syncing Photos over the air. The iCloud will store photos from the last 30 days and automatically and seamelessly distribute them across all devices connected to the same AppleID, including iOS devices, Macs and PCs. The iOS devices will cache the last 1000 photos with the ability to save them permanently by moving to a local album, while the desktops will store all of them. My only concern is that 1000 photos for an iDevice is still quite significant and might take up to 2 Gb of space, which is not that little on a 16 Gb device, so an option to change this value would be most welcome.

2. Documents in the cloud

A significant upgrade of the iDisk functionality, now the files are not only stored in the cloud, but pushed in the background to all connected devices over the air. But what gets me more excited is the availability of these APIs to the developers, which theoretically could use this functionality to implement real-time syncing of save game and app data across all your devices, finally putting an end to the issue that has been nagging at me ever since the iPad has been released.

3. Backups in the cloud

In the theme of going completely PC Free — in addition to stuff like Wi-Fi syncing to iTunes — Apple is also offering the option to backup your device to the cloud as well. Designed to work when the iDevice is plugged into a power source overnight, this should free many people from the necessity of getting a PC/Mac just to back up your iDevice. I am a bit concerned however about how my iPhone with about 10 Gb of apps will handle the syncing, with my backup on the PC taking up to 2Gb.

4. iTunes in the cloud

A feature long overdue IMHO, you can now browse all of your purchased apps and download them via a handy interface. You always could re-download apps free of charge, but there was never an easy way to understand if you own them already. Now it’s as easy as 1-2-3 and you can even download previously purchased apps that are no longer available on the App Store.

In addition the re-download feature has been extended to iBooks and Music as well, thanks to some hush hush deals that Apple has made behind the scenes.

And last but certainly not least, there’s the revolutionary iTunes Match service. For a meager sum of $25 per year you will be able to scan and match all of your existing music library, not limited to the stuff you purchased through iTunes, and validate it for access through any iDevice. Here’s how it works according to Apple:

iTunes determines which songs in your collection are available in the iTunes Store. Any music with a match is automatically added to your iCloud library for you to listen to anytime, on any device. Since there are more than 18 million songs in the iTunes Store, most of your music is probably already in iCloud. All you have to upload is what iTunes can’t match. Which is much faster than starting from scratch. And all the music iTunes matches plays back at 256-Kbps iTunes Plus quality — even if your original copy was of lower quality.

A few parting thoughts I wanted to share from watching the Keynote. iOS 5 is certainly the most significant upgrade ever, with the word “seamless” coming to mind, even if not spoken out loud when looking at almost all of the new features. Apple has shown that it is not afraid to step on a few toes, killing a handful of apps outright with new built-in functionality and borrowing features from a bunch of Cydia apps. And the theme of downgrading the PC to “just another device” rather than the hub for all your interaction is interesting and in tune with the times. We’ll have to see if Apple has the muscle to pull off this little revolution in the IT market.

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TouchMyApps’ Staff picks for 2010 – Top of the top, cream of the crop! http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/12/31/touchmyapps-staff-picks-for-2010-top-of-the-top-cream-of-the-crop/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/12/31/touchmyapps-staff-picks-for-2010-top-of-the-top-cream-of-the-crop/#comments Fri, 31 Dec 2010 20:44:26 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=45861 It’s New Year’s eve and a lonely editor at TMA headquarters has been shackled to his desk, the key hidden away in a contraption worthy of the famous Leonardo Da Vinci. The only way of getting out is to finally finish his post on the best of the best of 2010. And since, as you … Read more]]>

It’s New Year’s eve and a lonely editor at TMA headquarters has been shackled to his desk, the key hidden away in a contraption worthy of the famous Leonardo Da Vinci. The only way of getting out is to finally finish his post on the best of the best of 2010. And since, as you guessed it, that editor is me and I really want to get home to my wife, here we go.

2010 has been an amazingly fruitful year for all things Apple. First we got hit over our heads with the iPad, which has revolutionized the tablet market and against all odds is selling like hot cakes all around the world. Then the whole Gizmodo-iPhone-leak story, culminating in final release of the completely revolutionary iPhone 4. Then the brand new iPod lineup along with the long awaited re-release of the Apple TV as an iOS device. The releases of RAGE HD and Infinity Blade (TMA Review) set a new bar for graphics on the iDevice and have reasserted the iPhone as the leading mobile gaming platform. And these are only the high-high level announcements, with lots more going on in the Apple arena.

For TMA the year has been fertile as well, with the opening of the forums and several new faces in the editorial crowd. Speaking of which, to give our dues to 2010, we’ve banded together and brainstormed out our favorite games and apps of the year. Whether you’ve had an iDevice for a long time or just got your shiny new iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad for Christmas/ New Year, these are some of the titles you must check out! So, without further ado, presenting TMA’s Staff picks for 2010.

ChiffaN: That’s me, crazy for all things iPhone, especially known for my prowess in adventure and RPG games. Trying to balance TMA and crazy amounts of work as a project manager for a large telecommunications equipment and services company, I’ve gone under a few times this year but each time as the phoenix was reborn in the blaze of writing glory.

Name, iTunes and review links What makes us tick
Games
1112 episode 02 1112 episode 02 The Lost of iDevice adventure games, 1112 combines gorgeous hand-drawn graphics, cunning puzzles and intriguing storyline to create the best originnal adventure on the AppStore.
Broken Sword: Director's Cut Broken Sword: Director’s Cut One the best PC adventure games of all time by the legendary Charles Cecil this year set the bar of how a game should be ported to the Appstore.
Warpgate Warpgate War, espionage, treachery, deceipt, trading and exploration – a universe in the palm of your hand.
Infinity Blade Infinity Blade Simple but ingeniously addictive gameplay wrapped in the best graphics ever seen on a mobile device.
Cut the Rope Cut the Rope They very first game I was able to get my wife hooked on – that’s how good it is!
Apps
Naturespace: Relax Meditate Escape Sleep Naturespace: Relax Meditate Escape Sleep Just close your eyes, put on your headphones and be instantly transported to a beautiful desert island.
VLC Media Player VLC Media Player It only took 3 years to finally get all media files playing on the iDevice.
Air Video - Watch your videos anywhere! Air Video – Watch your videos anywhere! Your whole video library right in the palm of your hand – streaming with live conversion anywhere in the world (just remember to leave your PC on!)

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Eric Pankoke: Eric’s been gaming since the days that video game consoles weren’t even 8 bit and computers ran on 64K of memory. When he’s not busy playing and rating games, he programs for his day job, and hopes to some day use those talents to create the next big game on whatever device is actually popular when he finally gets ’round to it.

Name, iTunes and review links What makes us tick
Games
Kung Fu Santa Kung Fu Santa I’ve been addicted ever since I loaded it on my machine.  It’s simple, fun, and the whole idea of a Fu Manchu Santa and martial arts elves is just really amusing.
mScribble: make music with your finger! mScribble: make music with your finger! Because there is no score or achievements to earn, this “game” is really about relaxing and just having fun.  Plus, I love the fact that it allows non-musical types to make cool songs.
Thumpies Thumpies Thumpies made me believe it was actually okay to play rhythm based action games.  It’s the only rhythm game I’ve completed, and one of the few iPhone games as a whole that I’ve taken the time to beat.
Monster Dash Monster Dash As I get older I find that my desire tends to gravitate towards quick, simple games, and running games certainly meet those criteria.  There have been plenty this year, but the fact that Monster Dash added monster hunting into the mix pretty much sealed it for me.
AirAttack AirAttack Air Attack is the best scrolling shooter I’ve played on the iDevice to date.  Its old school play mechanics combined with great 3D visuals and the fact that you get to attack a castle put this game squarely on top of its genre for me.

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Ray Gans: Ray’s an appaholic who lives in the SF Bay Area. Besides researching and writing about productivity apps on his Apple devices, his passions are wine, audiobooks and boardgames. If you missed it earlier, be sure to check out his helpful Taking Notes on an iPad article.

Name, iTunes and review links What makes us tick
Games
Nonograms Nonograms A great set of challenging (but do-able) puzzles that can be chosen for whatever time is available
Tesla Wars Tesla Wars Shows what you can do with a touch screen interface; zap the invader hordes with powerful blasts from your tower
Roll Through the Ages Roll Through the Ages Good solitary dice-rolling game for city-building lovers with plenty of strategies,risks and rewards
RAGE HD RAGE HD Graphics and action are just awesome — I was blown away within the first few seconds
Reiner Knizia Reiner Knizia Any Reiner Knizia boardgame port – the developers have generally done a great job making these fun games come to life digitally
Apps
OmniFocus OmniFocus, OF for iPad When paired with its Mac counterpart, this app helps me get things done better than anything else out there
WhiteNote WhiteNote Of all the 30+ note taking apps I’ve tried, this one is still the most fully featured (and usable) one I’ve found
Word Lens Word Lens Translate Spanish words from camera view on screen in real time; the best jaw dropping iPhone demo available — plus it actually works

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Enuh Iglesias: Certainly the most beautiful member of TMA’s staff, Enuh loves walks on the beach with her iDevice in hand, enjoying a bit of time management or a good session of Tower Defence. Founder, editor-in-chief and Girl-Friday of AppSIZED, Enuh still finds the time and a place in heart for us poor sods at TMA, for which we will be eternally grateful.

Name, iTunes and review links What makes us tick
iPad Games
Plants vs. Zombies HD Plants vs. Zombies HD The very first app I installed on my iPad and for good reason, too – this hilarious and addictive tower defense game is a must-have across platforms and the one game your iPad can’t live without.
Midnight Mysteries: Salem Witch Trials Midnight Mysteries: Salem Witch Trials Gorgeous, eerie, and memorable, this hidden object/point-and-click adventure game is the standard to which similar games must aspire to.
Heroes of Kalevala HD Heroes of Kalevala HD By far my favorite match three game with a nice sim building element thrown in, with an amazing musical soundtrack and unique gameplay spanning more than a hundred levels.
Ranch Rush 2 HD Ranch Rush 2 HD As a huge fan of time management games, it was difficult to choose just one. With its gorgeous graphics, sounds and iPad-optimized gameplay Ranch Rush 2 HD is polished to time management perfection.
Say What You See: The Collection HD Say What You See: The Collection HD A unique trivia and puzzle game that features a gorgeous digital canvas teeming with visual puns and clever wordplay, this is a game that offers an engaging and cerebral experience.
iPhone Games
Super Fly Super Fly You play a cute fly fighting bugs and other nasties to stay alive, while poop transforms you into a badass super hero. With an upbeat soundtrack and a constantly evolving store that offers gear, weapons and power ups, ranging from a luxurious ‘do to some fierce shurikens, this is a hidden gem that everyone should know about.
Pik’s Revenge (Currently not available on iTunes) Oddly compelling RPG that sci-fi geeks will surely love, this game boasts of a compelling storyline, quests and mysteries to keep you occupied.
Battle of Puppets Battle of Puppets A beautifully drawn castle defense game that makes opera cool, challenging and exciting, do not underestimate the strategy required to beat this game.
The Horrible Vikings The Horrible Vikings Long before Angry Birds came along, this gorgeous physics-based catapult puzzler plays like Doodle Jump and oozes with humor.
Leave Devil alone Leave Devil alone If you’re looking for an alternative to PvZ, you’ve come to the right place. This endearing PvZ-inspired tower defense game with a twist offers spell-casting, ramped up difficulty levels and a more nuanced strategic gameplay.
Apps
SYSTEM Manager for iPad SYSTEM Manager for iPad Manages your RAM by allowing you to free up memory with just a single tap, helps you maintain your battery life and gives you valuable insight into what makes your iPad tick, this is an absolute iPad app essential.
Pocket Informant HD (Calendar & Tasks) Pocket Informant HD A gorgeous app that turns your iPad into a Filofax on steroids, this digital organizer and task manager is the most comprehensive and most powerful one out there.
GoodReader for iPad GoodReader for iPad Offers seamless file management and sharing, this PDF reader is a powerful app that makes work on the iPad a relatively painless and fun experience.

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Steve Nakashima: Also known as SteveNaka here at TMA, this proud Canadian loves his iPhone 4 and iPad nearly as much as he does his wife (or is it the other way around?). Steve also released his very first app recently for the iDevice - Your140 -  a twitter client that makes sending tweets a breeze.

Name, iTunes and review links What makes us tick
Games
2K Sports NHL 2K11 2K Sports NHL 2K11 The annual update of 2k’s NHL game now on iPhone. This version came packed with enhancements like better gameplay, improved graphics and updated rosters. Being Canadian of course this game is a must on my top list.
Master of Alchemy HD Master of Alchemy HD An insanely addictive and visually jawdropping game for the iPad. Crystal clear graphics and amazing color depth.
Tilt to Live HD Tilt to Live HD iPad version of the hugely popular iPhone game. Full of bright colors and a truely perfect “pick up and play” title. If you know me, that’s my kind of game…
Apps
ReaddleDocs for iPad (PDF viewer/attachments saver/file manager) ReaddleDocs for iPad Amazing for documents, PDFs, and more on your iPad. Can even access FTP storage and email attachments.
FileMaker Go FileMaker Go A great utility for managing your data adds on the go. With both iPhone/ipt AND iPad releases there is a flavor for everyone.
HiFutureSelf ~ Send quick messages & reminders to your future self HiFutureSelf Never forget any tasks again. This app will remind you with a handy little push message. Can run once or repeatedly (ie daily/weekly/etc)
Skyfire Web Browser Skyfire Web Browser An off device solution to access many of the webs popular flash video sites that are still not iOS friendly.
Air Display Air Display One of the first iPad apps I used. Allows you to extend your desktop onto your iPad, creating more available workspace.

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Paul Close: A recent recruit and part-time TMA contributor, Paul hails from Minneapolis (aka the Mini-apple) and works as in Enterprise software design. He also loves boardgames and is rarely seen without his trusty iPhone 4.

Name, iTunes and review links What makes us tick
Games
LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4


Charming gameplay, great use of the touch screen, and top-notch graphics and music. A real value giving 10-20 hours of gameplay. Bravo!
Plants vs. Zombies Plants vs. Zombies Perfect game for a mobile touch device, great production values and a nicely ramped difficulty curve.  Can’t stop playing!
Heroes of Kalevala Heroes of Kalevala The best match-3 out there! Great graphics and music plus lots of diversions including city building and heroes. What’s not to like?
Solomon's Keep Solomon’s Keep Wonderful controls for a two-stick shooter, nice addition of RPG elements.  Love the special effects!
Piczle Lines Piczle Lines Addictive puzzle gameplay with a lot of content for free.  Nice shareware approach from a small developer.
Apps
Pocket Informant (Calendar & Tasks) Pocket Informant Finally, a calendar program to rival DateBk+ on Palm!  Monthly calendar plus icons for the win!
HanDBase Database Manager HanDBase Database Manager Great app for tracking all kinds of list data.  Nice flexible database app with good cross-platform support including Mac and PC desktop applications.
Use Your Handwriting Use Your Handwriting Great program for jotting quick notes by just drawing on the screen.  Why didn’t Apple think of this?

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Louis Wong: Founder of TouchMyApps, Louis somehow finds the time to run TMA while moonlighting as a flight attendant for the world’s best airline, Air Canada (sarcasm?). To juggle both jobs, he relies heavily on the Omnifocus apps to help keep his life in order. On a side note, he still hasn’t found the cure yet for his addition to Drop7.

Name, iTunes and review links What makes us tick
Games
Real Racing 2 Real Racing 2 Plenty of quality racers were released in 2010, but RR2 takes the crown with stunning visuals, a massive career mode and online multiplayer. A must have for any racing fan.
Angry Birds Angry Birds What “best of 2010″ roundup would be complete without the infamous Angry Birds? Heck, even my grandma’s played this mindlessly addictive bird slinger. And hands up please if you’ve never heard of the game…
Dark Nebula - Episode Two Dark Nebula – Ep Two Dark Nebula – Episode 2 builds upon the hit first chapter with brand new levels, better visuals and more rolling goodness. This is certainly one of the most addictive and fun accelerometer based “action” games on the iPhone.
Infinity Blade Infinity Blade Easily the most visually impressive title on the platform. And most surprising of all, the gameplay is actually fun and leveling up both your character and weapons should keep you busy for a while.
HECTOR: Badge of Carnage Ep1 HECTOR: Badge of Carnage Ep1 Sure, the game’s short and Inspector Hector’s mouth is filthy like an ashtray, but this point and click adventure is simply hilarious and well worth the money. It was also some of the best 3 hours I spent on my iPhone in 2010
Apps
iBooks iBooks Probably the app I spent most time using on my iDevices. iBooks has become my favorite ebook reader thanks to its ability to sync bookmarks and current page between both my iPhone and iPad.
Reeder for iPad Reeder Having tried most of the RSS apps out there for Google Reader, this is the only one I rely on daily. The beautiful and simplistic design makes it fun to follow up on your favorite blogs and websites.
Evernote Evernote An indispensable app on my iPhone/iPad, Evernote keeps ALL my mental stuff (like audio, image and text notes) close at hand, even when I’m far away from my desktop.

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Happy New Year Everyone!

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Game Developer: One To Watch In 2011 http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/12/30/game-developer-one-to-watch-in-2011/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/12/30/game-developer-one-to-watch-in-2011/#comments Thu, 30 Dec 2010 19:22:54 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=45833 I’ve been reviewing iPhone games since the end of 2008, and there’s no question that the developers and the games keep getting better.  2009 was a good year, this past year was great, and I expect next year to be phenomenal.  We pretty much expect the “big players” to dazzle us (though in a couple … Read more]]>

I’ve been reviewing iPhone games since the end of 2008, and there’s no question that the developers and the games keep getting better.  2009 was a good year, this past year was great, and I expect next year to be phenomenal.  We pretty much expect the “big players” to dazzle us (though in a couple cases for me this didn’t happen), but it’s always much more fun to see a small developer shine.  While there were many examples of this in 2010, the one I’ve chosen to pick on today is Big Bad Brush.

These guys came out of nowhere this year with an interesting “take over the world” concept called BIG BAD Flower (my review here).  Basically you controlled a big flower with an attitude that could capture its assailants by surrounding them with bubbles.  The game sports 3 arenas with 5 levels apiece, each of which can be played in “infinite” mode once beaten.  The enemies were diverse and amusing, the game play mechanics were unique, and best of all it was fun.

Then came Kung Fu Santa.  When I first saw screen shots of this game I honestly wasn’t very impressed.  The characters reminded me of those pencil hugger stuffed animals that kids often buy, and the concept just didn’t seem all that appealing.  Thankfully when it came out I was still running OS 3.1.3 so I couldn’t play the game – that meant I didn’t have to tell the developer I didn’t like it.  Now I have a device running 4.x, I’ve played the game, and I couldn’t have been more wrong in my initial assumptions.  The graphics have grown on me, and the game play is downright addictive.  It’s pretty much the first game I gravitate towards every time I turn my iPod Touch 4G on.  You can check out my review here.

It’s not that often that a startup turns out two games in a row that have dazzled me like Big Bad Brush has.  I imagine there will come a time where I’ll have to face the fact that they made I game that I don’t care for.  Based on what I’ve experienced so far, however, I declare Big Bad Brush “One To Watch In 2011″.

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A lion in the cage, or the future of Apple computers http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/10/29/a-lion-in-the-cage-or-the-future-of-apple-computers/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/10/29/a-lion-in-the-cage-or-the-future-of-apple-computers/#comments Fri, 29 Oct 2010 21:39:19 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=41826 Apple has a great history of computer design, and these two words – computer and design, together with innovation and user experience obsession, are what made Apple and Steve Jobs what they are today. However, in Apple’s world of perfect user experience, there’s always been one major problem – the user. The stupid thing would … Read more]]>

Apple has a great history of computer design, and these two words – computer and design, together with innovation and user experience obsession, are what made Apple and Steve Jobs what they are today.

However, in Apple’s world of perfect user experience, there’s always been one major problem – the user. The stupid thing would constantly alter it – either installing “useful” crap from all over the internet, or just opening too many apps and calling tech support because their computer is suddenly slow.

The perfect user experience has to be one for everybody and controlled from the opening of the box to the moment you turn off your computer and go to sleep. In the recent and extensive John Sculley interview on Steve Jobs, he voices more than once what was the main concern:

“Steve believed that if you opened the system up, people would start to make little changes and those changes would be compromises in the experience.”

This is hard to match with the “think different” spirit and Orwell inspired ads, but let me be clear on this – Apple is not telling you to be the same as everyone in everything you do, they just think there are better than you in what they do. And they are probably right.

I think that iOS for iPhone and now iPad was a major step towards consolidation of user experience, and limiting the negative impact of users’ stupidity.

It turned out, that on mobile, less powerful devices with a smaller screen estate, user experience matters even more. On the go, people care more about performing standard tasks quickly, not customizing the environment for their activities.

The iPad, with its large screen and touch-based interface instead of the older input methods, was a perfect sandbox for the testing of “directed” user experience. The gestures, clipboard management, “multitasking”, common UI elements – these are the reasons why the learning curve for the device is so short, and people who are otherwise computer illiterate, seem to be able to use it comfortably.

On the latest “Back to Mac” event Steve Jobs took the stage to talk about MacOS X Lion, the next big desktop cat, that will jump on our computers next year, and one of the major features announced was Mac App Store – a controlled environment for the software distribution and updates.

I’m pretty sure the Mac App Store will be a hit, especially if Apple will settle on a more modest share than 30% for bigger developers, but what impact will this have on the Mac computers in general?

Together with numerous iPad interface metaphors they’re adopting in Lion, the OS will be one more step further from the computer interfaces as we know them today.

Let’s try to imagine it in a couple of years. File system will probably become inaccessible for the user, just like on the iPad today, the whole device will have a single “sign on”, enabling features and connecting to the cloud services. App switching and external notifications will be standardized, memory and HDD space management will become even more automatic. The App Store will be the only official source for Mac applications.

There will be a myriad of devices, for which the word “computer” will become an anachronism, since even if they do compute, that’s completely irrelevant for the user, that only sees the result – touch, play, listen.

I’m not sure what will become extinct before, desktop computers as we know them, or users that remember what a command line is, but there’s a huge ideology and user experience shift around the corner, and like Jobs said himself, “many people are not gonna be comfortable with it”

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This article was brought to you by TouchMyApps guest contributor Eugene Shimalsky, developer of  pushme.to for the iDevice. You can find Eugene on his Tumble profile right here.

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Making the iPad “Buy” Decision [for Business] http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/08/03/making-the-ipad-buy-decision-for-business/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/08/03/making-the-ipad-buy-decision-for-business/#comments Tue, 03 Aug 2010 15:30:28 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=36932 Last January when the announcement of the iPad was a few days away, I told my wife, “I really need to have one!” And, like most practical wives who love their husbands but find themselves in situations where it somehow becomes their responsibility to say “OK,” she replied, “Why?”. My reply was an incredulous, “Well… I don’t … Read more]]>

Last January when the announcement of the iPad was a few days away, I told my wife, “I really need to have one!” And, like most practical wives who love their husbands but find themselves in situations where it somehow becomes their responsibility to say “OK,” she replied, “Why?”. My reply was an incredulous, “Well… I don’t know yet, but don’t worry, Steve is going to tell me next week!”

Yeah, that didn’t go over too well. However, after an unexpected but fortuitously well-timed stroke of good fortune, I was able to purchase one last May and have been absolutely delighted ever since. The iPad stands out at presenting almost any kind of media in a very visually appealing and naturally interactive manner. Of course you can read books, watch movies and surf the web on a smartphone or laptop, but the experience absolutely pales in comparison to that on the iPad.

Still, shelling out significant cash for a new device when I already own an iPhone 3GS and a MacBook Pro did give me pause. I worried that since the iPad is not as mobile as a phone and not as functional as a laptop, once the novelty wore off, would it just sit on a shelf full of promises but rarely be used? I didn’t want that. I could tell that an iPad is not a good replacement for a smartphone or laptop, so it had to complement these tools and improve my effectiveness in situations where they are limited.

That was my dilemma. To resolve it, I looked carefully at how I spent my time and tried to determine where the iPad had anything unique to offer. In particular I wanted to find a way I could use it at work. Surprisingly it was fairly obvious – business meetings!

I attend a lot of meetings and find it very annoying and rude when someone clicks away at a laptop or squints into a phone display. An open laptop forms an almost physical barrier between the user and everyone else in the room and staring at small screens or tiny text demands enough attention that any laptop/phone user has effectively exited the meeting.

I usually take a paper notebook into meetings and keep off my phone to not be tempted. There is a downside, however, because a paper notebook doesn’t give me access to the information on my laptop and it can’t get to the web to look things up. I also have to feign attention when the meeting gets boring – unlike the laptop users who pretend to look busy but are actually checking e-mail or surfing the web.

The iPad fits into this situation perfectly! I could enter notes onto the iPad via a notebook app like WhiteNote as well as use the WiFi network to access information needed for the meeting. With VNC apps like iTeleport: Jaadu VNC for iPhone / iPad, I could even look at files and get at whatever I wished from my laptop on my desk via a simple remote connection.

So… after finally justifying the purchase, I had to decide was which one to get. Determining how much storage (16, 32 or 64 GB) and whether to get 3G was difficult when I hadn’t used an iPad before.

Some things I considered were how often WiFi is likely to be available and what I planned to put on the device. For example, since WiFi is present at both my home and at work plus I already own a smartphone for connectivity on the road, I thought I might never use 3G. Likewise, I could load lots of music and audiobooks on an iPad, but why? An iPhone or iPod is much more portable. However, if I ever decided to carry around a lot of movies and photographs, the iPad would be great for displaying such media and I’d need the space.

Then again, if I subscribed to Flicker, Pandora, NetFlix, Hulu plus, and other services, I could always access or stream my pictures, music, movies and TV without using any storage (as long as I had a WiFi connection).

In the end I couldn’t decide and just bought the most iPad I could afford. I also chose 3G – not because I knew I would use it, but because I thought if I ever did need it, I wanted the option.

Once I decided on my iPad model, the next decision was the case. I knew that no matter how careful I tried to be, it would get bumped and maybe even dropped or knocked off a table so I wanted to protect my investment. There are so many options, however, that this decision was more difficult for me than choosing the iPad model! Several styles are available:

  • padded sleeves
  • hard & soft shell cases
  • book-like cases
  • carrying bags & slings

Each of these styles have their plusses and minuses so I was forced to read a lot of reviews. Sleeves and bags were out because they require the iPad to be removed before they can be used and some of the other cases I learned covered up controls or connectors, so they were out too. I settled on a Dodocase, because I wanted a case that would both protect the iPad plus be unobtrusive. Fear of theft is something all iPad owners must contend with and this case, while expertly designed and functional, just looks like a simple Moleskin notebook.

Since the wait on the handmade Dodocase was long, I also bought a clear plastic snap-on protective case from Handheld Items. I found a coupon code for it on Dealmac so it cost less than $20 including shipping.

As far as buying other accessories, I decided to wait and I’d recommend others do the same. I wanted to live with my iPad for a few weeks and learn how to use it the way it was intended. I was determined to only purchase a keyboard, dock or other accessory when I really knew I needed it… and I’m still not feeling the need. Is it working out how I expected? You bet!

It did take some effort before I felt comfortable entering notes on the iPad, but it’s quite convenient to have in a meeting. I find it very easy to keep up with meeting conversations because the iPad’s touch interface and large text don’t demand much attention. There’s also something engaging and collaborative about passing an iPad around to check/show information in a meeting – much more so than having people crowd around a laptop.

Is that all? Well I now use it to search the web or send e-mail instead of doing it all on my laptop (which is sometimes convenient like while watching a webinar). I use Twitter and RSS as part of my work and far prefer the iPad user interfaces of Osfoora HD and Reeder over similar laptop applications to keep me up to date wherever I am. Business travel with the iPad is great too. Its really long battery life, stored books and movies, internet connectivity and note taking ability is often all I need on a trip.

Best of all, with my iPad, I can lean back, relax and it doesn’t feel so much like work!

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iPad and the erosion of HD http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/06/01/ipad-and-the-erosion-of-hd/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/06/01/ipad-and-the-erosion-of-hd/#comments Tue, 01 Jun 2010 08:47:15 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=32716 The App Store is fragmented by Moore’s Law, technological advancements, and good ol’ fashioned nonsense. Older iDevices lack Dr. Who’s assortment of GB’s, and new devices have added MHz’s, GHz’s, gyro thingies, and doohickies to Hell only knows where. Even the tamest of games and apps needs to run some sort of disclaimer, proving that it … Read more]]>

The App Store is fragmented by Moore’s Law, technological advancements, and good ol’ fashioned nonsense. Older iDevices lack Dr. Who’s assortment of GB’s, and new devices have added MHz’s, GHz’s, gyro thingies, and doohickies to Hell only knows where. Even the tamest of games and apps needs to run some sort of disclaimer, proving that it won’t destroy an iPhone 2G. But now, thanks to the iPad, we got something more to contend with: HD – whatever that is.

Firstly, let’s go back a couple of years to the end of the 1990′s when ‘extreme’ was a goldmine. Some marketing genius dropped it at some boring meeting. Some semi-sharp boss picked it up and from there, the future was etched in stone; everything and everyone just had to became extreme.

Extreme has a few real dictionary meanings:

  1. reaching a high or the highest degree; very great
  2. furthest from the center or a given point
  3. either of two abstract things that are as different from each other as possible

In light of those definitions, some extreme advertising makes sense. Most of it, however, wears silly like an Oprah book event. There is nothing extreme about jeeps, nothing extreme about wireless communication, and nothing extreme about poker. Throw in some blood, a civil war and the corroboration of God’s existence, and you might have extreme poker. The same might go for wireless communication, but my internal jury is still out about the jeeps.

HD is just this decade’s extreme. The iPad’s load of new ‘HD’ apps are bogus. The new iDevice has up to 64 gigabytes of space, an untied 3G modem, a speedy A4 processor, better speakers. Most notable, however, is the expansive glass plate, a bit of polished sand that houses the safely nerdy resolution of 768*1024 pixels. The iPad looks great. But, it ain’t HD by any modern definition, and neither is its slew of HD apps.

Until the iPad’s debut, HD referred to TV spec; its roots are in captured motion. It’s a term that’s been misused before and one that’s suffering an evasion of reality now.

It’s supposed to be a standard. There is the issue of pixel spec, a number the iPad doesn’t meet. HD starts with a vertical resolution of 720 pixels – something the iPad has covered. The next bit, the horizontal stripes, however, flummox the iPad. Real HD needs 1280 pixels going the fat way. The iPad doesn’t do that, not by a couple hundred or so blocks.

Like the iPhone 3GS, it can play back HD content. From Apple’s standpoint, it is a HD-capable device – at least as those two letters represent content playback. But after that, things get extremely sticky.

There are two flavours of iPad apps: native, made-for-iPad applications, and the sort that evolved to the new platform from their iPhone precursors and got a nice price upgrade along the way. The former is being shunted as ‘HD’. This is problematic. Firstly, it suckers users into paying twice for the same app just for pixel perfection. Secondly, those pixels do not mean HD.

They do mean fragmentation, however. It is hard for devs to re-develop an app to fit the new screen, especially as most apps work from pixel-perfect templates that derive their ergonomics from the iPhone. You don’t just wish-wash a wand and get quadruple the resolution, but the new ‘HD’ appended app category would make you think so. At the rate these new ‘HD’ apps are hitting the App Store, it sure seems easy.

Currently, the App Store is tied to the most popular smartphone and the most popular tablet computing device. There is no real competition from a single platform anywhere in the world. Both devices drive the market, drive innovation, and force the hands of the competition.

While geeks and Home theatre buffs know that HD is a TV spec, your granny, your next door neighbour, and Oprah, certainly don’t. To them, HD is whatever they are told it is. The rush of ‘HD’ apps, like the rush on the word ‘extreme’ will only distort the HD reality as in the real world, markets are driven on the ignorance of the consumer.

Today HD could be overrun by an ignorant market. Hardware developers could save a lot if their market expects that ‘HD’ and iPad resolution are synonymous. Because Oprah and everyone will get an iPad and believe two-cent marketing, HD is headed for Palmer Eldritch ubiquity. I envision a friendly future of HD dishwasher, hairnets, and jeeps.

But as the masses hallucinate on iPad HD and developer wuffie, what happens to normal ol’ computers? This current Safari 4 window is 1293*871 pixels. Media be damned, it is HD, at least as envisioned by an iPad-stupified audience. Safari 4 HD. Desktop HD. iTunes HD. Stickies HD. The HD list HD goes HD on HD.

Byword-ing of HD may solve in-the-red businesses, but it is poor form.

While I welcome the iPad, I don’t welcome our new clueless HD overlord.

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Sci-fi guy, Cory Doctorow, prefers punchcard to iPad http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/05/14/sci-fi-guy-cory-doctorow-prefers-punchcard-to-ipad/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/05/14/sci-fi-guy-cory-doctorow-prefers-punchcard-to-ipad/#comments Fri, 14 May 2010 08:04:21 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=32930 And that’s fine. Cory has a load of targets, corporate, and political, that he’ll chow on to further his ideology of bolts, screws, and wood instead of glue, metal and glass. While his books are preachy, at least they aren’t boring. In fact, Doctorow’s stuff got me back into Sci-Fi, and that’s a good thing. … Read more]]>

Apple-iPad

And that’s fine. Cory has a load of targets, corporate, and political, that he’ll chow on to further his ideology of bolts, screws, and wood instead of glue, metal and glass. While his books are preachy, at least they aren’t boring. In fact, Doctorow’s stuff got me back into Sci-Fi, and that’s a good thing.

His reasons for hating the iPad have everything to do with the fact that you need a spatula and a hairdryer to get inside. In a Doctorowian world, you should be able to tear apart an Elmo doll, hot wire a few circuits with your mum’s bathroom mirror and a stolen bin lid; voila! you’d have an iPad. Unfortunately, this world belongs to the corporate and the sleek.

The iPad isn’t meant to be taken apart – it’s meant to be complete, a holistic self that doesn’t require the services of a tinker. Apple will do that for you with iPhone OS 4.0, with the next iteration of the iPad.

In some ways, Cory has a point: new ‘toys’ like the iPad are anything but encouraging to young people with screw drivers and hardware hackers. This ain’t Wozniak’s Apple. Cute, inventive youngsters must join Apple’s hegemony, shooting from the hip in the the App Store Wal-Mart.

He is right. Firstly, iTunes is a mess now. Three years ago when it sold music and movies and let you view and listen to both, it was acceptable. Sure, it was slow as hell on Windows computers, but iTunes played music. Today for some reason, it does that, AND interacts with the iPhone, the iPad, the iPod touch; it sells apps, podcasts, syncs with calendars, photos, movies, rentals – the list goes on and on and so does the churning of your harddisk as you through the adverts and internet connection to get to your music.

Talk about cumbersome. But, beyond that, iTunes dictates what a dev can and cannot do with their own software. In some ways, it’s scary, especially for creative types as yet again, developers must release their stuff to a money-grubbing corporation – their creations aren’t their own anymore.

The iStore lock-in doesn’t make life better for Apple’s customers or Apple’s developers. As an adult, I want to be able to choose whose stuff I buy and whom I trust to evaluate that stuff. I don’t want my universe of apps constrained to the stuff that the Cupertino Politburo decides to allow for its platform. And as a copyright holder and creator, I don’t want a single, Wal-Mart-like channel that controls access to my audience and dictates what is and is not acceptable material for me to create.

In Cory Doctorow’s idea world, books can be bought and they can be downloaded. For free. In fact, he encourages it. He hates DRM, and evidently, so too does Steve Jobs – as it applies to music. The App Store is a freaking gestapo of DRM. Competing distribution methods such as Android Marketplace may be also be knee-deep in DRM, but at least their distribution model is freer.

Sure, Google’s products and the products of its clients are as hardware-locked as Apples. They need spatulas and hairdryers to get into and can’t be assembled from dental floss, leftover freon, and a hamster – no, you’ve got to buy one from stodgy Wal-Martised HTC, Motorolla, and the rest.

But, software creators have a lot more freedom. Doctorow is a prolific writer. His blog, BoingBoing, is the digital hub for armchair activists. A lot of what he says is just hella true. Apple get by with their image – people want the hardware, so devs have gotta focus on that new piece of shiny. But how long will that last? Apple ain’t the same sort of cool they were two years ago. It comes with age, and with market penetration.

Apple haters would have me believe that everyone has an Apple device and because of that, they suck. According to them, Apple products sound like poo and break easily. The whole different thing is hard to nab if everyone has something Apple in their front pocket.

Devs have little choice now, but they may have in the future. And when they do, Apple may have to change its ways. While open-sourcing everything from from software to Berkenstock shoes in Omaha to Oman would be a revolution, but in the end, it would be headed up by humans. And in the end, it would turn corporate. It always has, it always will.

So Cory, enjoy your anythingbutipad, your backpackable Apple II, your preachy, ideal world. I’ll be picking up an iPad in the summer. I’ll read your books on it, and as a none-too dextrous creative consumer, I’ll enjoy enjoy.

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Why HP’s superior Slate will fail http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/04/08/why-hps-superior-slate-will-fail/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/04/08/why-hps-superior-slate-will-fail/#comments Thu, 08 Apr 2010 09:12:41 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=30994 HP’s Slate is a nice-looking product. And at least on paper, its hardware trashes the iPad. Numbers trap naive customers, but they don’t matter 2 months down the line. The Slate and Windows 7 will roll over, exhausting their momentum in a futile battle because neither company ‘get’ it: in the new wave of mobile … Read more]]>

HP’s Slate is a nice-looking product. And at least on paper, its hardware trashes the iPad. Numbers trap naive customers, but they don’t matter 2 months down the line. The Slate and Windows 7 will roll over, exhausting their momentum in a futile battle because neither company ‘get’ it: in the new wave of mobile computing, it’s all about the OS. Feel free to discuss HP’s Slate in our forums.

Personal computers don’t even need 1GHZ for emailing, surfing the web, and thanks to  hardware-decoded video, even the iPhone 3GS can play HD material. In late 2008, I tested this myself, underclocking my 2400 MHz MBP to 600 MHz for two weeks. During that time I did ALL my work including heavy doses of Adobe Illustrator. Sure the 600 MHz MBP was slower thank its 2400 MHz counterpart, but for 90% of general computing even that went unnoticed.

Ripping out the keyboard and adding a finger-friendly capacitive screen to a netbook/laptop isn’t enough to make a successful touch screen computing device. The iPhone OS is ground-up built for lots of touching, and while it has its own frustrating limitations, its smooth, touch-friendly computing experience more than makes up for it. HP’s Slate relies on a desktop OS which is tweaked for touch input, but it isn’t geared for it. Even HP’s press videos show a lot of problems in the OS: tiny buttons, interactive content thrown to screen corners, etc.. It’s like steering a car with chopsticks: given a really sensitive steering system, you can get just about anywhere, but a car, just like the iPhone is meant to be handled hands-on. Windows 7 and non-native browsers and techniques are even more foreign.

The Slate’s extra CPU and RAM overhead will go to feed a more hungry OS: Windows 7, as nice as it is, has a lot more going on than iPhone OS. Power hungry users may opt for Windows 7 and even enjoy whoring for wuffie by getting fragged in Quake 3. But by and large, the extra computing power will disappear in the column of support which keeps Windows 7′s roof up. Of course, no regular computing task needs more power than either platform delivers. And while we are on the subject, there are very few chips which perform megahertz-megahertz exactly the same as the competition. It’s entirely possible that an Atom processor could be 3x the speed of Intel’s top current desktop processors. Now, that is something isn’t it?

The issue of camera, however, is on the side of HP. The machine sports two cameras whereas the iPad must use an expensive Plug’N Play camera addon, or rely on an iPhone to take pictures. The Slate also directly accepts SD cards while the iPad requires a separate SD dongle. The iPad does take a few falls at the hands of Apple’s philosophy of simplicity.

But then, what will the Slate’s forte be? It will join myriad other look-alike PC touch screen computers, each vying for your dollar by footing better specs or cheaper prices. That means different resolution/aspect ratios, graphics cards, and processors. No right-minded company will design internet browsers, games, productivity suites, or apps to work flawlessly on each computer. In order to grab special attention from software developers, a PC slate computer will have to be ubiquitous in its market, meaning that it must first conquer everyone else before it even begins to take a stab at Apple’s market.

Go ahead, try to exit the app

iWorks has been retooled for the iPad and with the App Store and loads of dedicated developers at its back, the iPad, a static platform, will garner hoards of native software. Each app will be designed for the iPad, looking and acting like it should. The Slate on the other hand, needs tweezers and a magnifying glass in order to operate any Microsoft Office derivative. The same is true with web browsing and let’s not even get into gaming.

So why do HP and Microsoft think they have something? The answer is because neither company understand the importance of design. Microsoft understand ubiquity, but they don’t understand that their staid path to success is also their biggest hurdle on the road to success on emerging platforms. Their customers: HP, DELL, Toshiba, Sony, etc., will suffer because they rely on software which is both unfocused and non-native.

HP’s Slate is an excellent piece of hardware, but its potential is capped because its hardware, like a mannequin, relies on a dresser. In this case, Windows 7 just doesn’t put on a good show. And neither will Android or Chrome until either is made FOR a specific hardware platform. It ISN’T about the hardware or a fit-all OS, it’s about the tailored OS and software.

Flames and death and TouchMyApps Editorials:

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This just in: iPad to suck rocks; April’s big news is iTunes 9.1 http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/04/01/this-just-in-ipad-to-suck-rocks-aprils-big-news-is-itunes-9-1/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/04/01/this-just-in-ipad-to-suck-rocks-aprils-big-news-is-itunes-9-1/#comments Thu, 01 Apr 2010 10:13:40 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=30453 The iPad sucks. I’ll admit to having my suspicions about the device; it’s clumsy and half-arsedly pitched between devices: a formula which never, ever works. And, it’s made by the same Newton-designing Apple, a company who just cannot pin interloping gadgets. And TMA isn’t alone in thinking the worst of Apple’s soon-to-be-released device (to read … Read more]]>

The iPad sucks. I’ll admit to having my suspicions about the device; it’s clumsy and half-arsedly pitched between devices: a formula which never, ever works. And, it’s made by the same Newton-designing Apple, a company who just cannot pin interloping gadgets. And TMA isn’t alone in thinking the worst of Apple’s soon-to-be-released device (to read on, follow the gap):

Gizmodo says you should stay away for these 8 11 reasons and TMA has a few things to say:

Not to be outdone by Giz, iPhonedownloadblog reckons that there are 16! unforgivable sins which Apple committed in designing the iPad. Again, TMA stands by them as well, iPad – the name alone brings stinging tears of contempt to my four eyes! To Giz’s list, they add:

There are other things to consider: the iPad’s got metal in it and that ain’t cool. Then, there’s the fact that it won’t be out in Korea till World Cup 2014, but the worst bit is that anything with the name #iPad in it is an immediate attention grabber. Golly I hate that bit, especially as an admin for an iPhone website. I mean hell, we care about a platform with two more letters in it, not a four-letter word!

And while we are never quick to judge, we can say without a doubt that Giz, iPhonedownloadblog, and the myriad others who have mentioned their dislikes so eloquently are spot on. I mean, it is only natural to judge a device which no one has used or seen and which will debut with a different OS, a stupidly high-quality IPS screen. At this point, my imaginings put the iPad at the bottom of the heap of unfounded, untried, not-yet-to-market devices which will be paved by the iPad’s introduction. Bet the iPad ain’t even much of a music player.

In fact, the iPad is just so embarrassing that I think I’ll just throw into the Microsoft miracle of a tablet which trounced the market back in the early part of last decade. Hell, I’m ready to say:

this just in: iPad sucks rocks and that iTunes 9.1 should be this month’s biggest news!

Happy April’s Fool everyone. It is a much better year than last when I suffered at the grimy hands of a pervert app developer… In a few days, we will see what the iPad is and is not and eventually can make our own informed opinions. Early pre-release opinions are silly – Giz and iPhonedownloadblog missed the boat here, but they may have cornered early hormone-prone reader traffic and I say, good on ‘em!

Be sure to follow all TMA’s iPad news/rumours/and silly opinions.

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S. Korea supreme court ruling – Cyber money from online games to burst in offline world http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/01/31/s-korea-supreme-court-ruling-cyber-money-from-online-games-to-burst-in-offline-world/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/01/31/s-korea-supreme-court-ruling-cyber-money-from-online-games-to-burst-in-offline-world/#comments Sun, 31 Jan 2010 09:42:57 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=27068 Gaming internet cafes litter every block of Seoul and gamers litter the populace. Kids, teens, grannies – each could handily beat me at any of the following: Tetris, WOW, Pong, and maybe even Epyx’s amazing shooter, Electrocop, though that one isn’t really multiplayer. Well, now the gaming nation has one more reason to keep its … Read more]]>

Gaming internet cafes litter every block of Seoul and gamers litter the populace. Kids, teens, grannies – each could handily beat me at any of the following: Tetris, WOW, Pong, and maybe even Epyx’s amazing shooter, Electrocop, though that one isn’t really multiplayer. Well, now the gaming nation has one more reason to keep its thumbs in  good shape: the Korean Supreme Court has ruled that online items gotted from online gaming can legally be bartered for cold hard cash.

Right, its been done before, but now that it’s legal, gaming companies, players, and even the law have to put their heads together. It’s good that players can unload their level 56 claymation dolls, but what if that item is stolen? What if it is lost while the player is waylaid? What if the world glitches and thousands of such items are suddenly destroyed? Since items in the offline world can collect real-world cash, players have more at stake. Server companies have more at stake. Software companies have more at stake.

Actually, this bit of news may change gaming, forever – that is if it catches on around the world. Currently limited to South Korea, the ruling is merely another ‘damn thats sweet’ bit of news. But if allowed to spread, ostensibly, second-life scenarios may carry as much weight as their first-life counterparts. ImagineDoctorow-esque sweatshops of game-playing labourers to create and sell wanted items, online millionaires reaping green rewards here on earth; this news is BIG.

What does this mean for iDevice gaming? Nothing yet of course, but MMO games will soon see debut on the platform thanks to developments by companies such as Com2uS (a S. Korean gaming mogul).

Prediction: the next gold rush for iDevice development? In-game crafting, shopping; the creation of virtual companies which will rule, much like their first-world models, the freakin’ bloody internet! Of course, this information comes at a crucial time: when sour economies are turning to alternative methods to generate income for the rising poor.

For information on the ruling, check out the Korea Times

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