This week, we’ve got the lowdown on one of the best Nintendo DS games of 2011 hitting iOS, as well as an equally interesting game about a gorilla jumping up and down on a ski lift. See, this is exactly why we love iOS gaming.
Perhaps 99.9% of iOS won’t care about this in the slightest, but here at Mac|Life, we are the 0.1%. For years, overpriced imitation Magic: The Gathering apps have ruled the roost, but now Wizards of the Coast finally has its own official app. It’s pretty nifty too! The free app contains the entire database of Magic cards, and you can even experiment with different deck styles.
Words With Friends became an unparalleled success in the iOS board gaming space in part due to its great asynchronous multiplayer, which allowed players to take their time in a game and juggle multiple matches at the same time. Now that same kind of functionality is available in the wonderful Ticket to Ride Pocket for iPhone, and we couldn’t be more excited. We can’t wait for asynchronous multiplayer to make its way into every last iOS board game release.
The studio behind Arkham City: Lockdown has declared unequivocally that it is very interested in continuing to develop games for iOS. NetherRealm recently said that they want to continue to diversify their games, rather than relying on their highly popular reboot of the Mortal Kombat series. While we’re thrilled to play just about anything this highly talented developer puts out, we’re definitely most excited for them to continue classing up iOS gaming with well-produced efforts like Arkham City: Lockdown.
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Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
The iOS version (Free, iPhone) of this game kind of came out of nowhere in the past few days, but the original version wowed gamers all of last year. Though it was an under-the-radar hit, it still managed to make several game of the year lists in 2011.
The game stars a character named Sissel who can move between the land of the living where time progresses as normal, and the land of the dead where time stands still. The titular ghost tricks are actions Sissel can take to interact with the living world in small ways (like moving a tray of donuts). The goal, in many cases, is to change the fate of a recently deceased victim.
This is one game in which the title really says it all: it stars a gorilla… on a gondola. Not the type of gondola you’d find in a canal in Venice though. It’s like a big ski-lift. Our apish hero can jump up and down on the gondola to flex the wires and move through the level.
The concept alone makes this game worth mentioning in this column, but we’re curious if the gameplay will impress to the same extent once we dive in. It still looks a little rough around the edges, but there are few concepts in all of iOS gaming that we’re more excited to investigate.
Few games we’ve ever seen have as many sci-fi references packed into a single trailer as Spice Invaders does. There’s the obvious riff on Space Invaders, but the “spice” part is also a reference to cult classic Dune. There’s also subtle nods to Alien and StarCraft.
It’s been a while since we covered a tower defense game in this space, so we thought Spice Invaders would be a good one to get us started again. Apart from its self-aware humor, it also looks like a very capable and expansive tower defense game in the same vein as Fieldrunners.
Avid Studio for iPad launched this week in the App Store, instantly becoming the first real competitor to Apple’s iMovie video editing app. What makes this so interesting is that Avid was king of digital video editing in Hollywood for a long time, and then Apple came out with the far more affordable Final Cut Pro/ Final Cut Studio, and enticed a few big name directors to give their new software a try.
So is Avid getting a little payback here by bringing the video editing battle back to Apple’s home turf? Most definitely, and as good as iMovie is — some of the best mobile software we’ve seen to date — Avid be even better.
Both iMove and Avid Studio can do the basics that you would expect from any video editor. You can insert videos, photos, and music, trim clips, add titles, and export to YouTube. Unfortunately for iMovie, this is where the similarities end.
In iMovie, the only thing you can do with music is insert it as the background of your movie – your entire movie. It’s impossible to take just a clip of the music to place where you wish – you’re stuck with playing the whole song. In Avid Studio, you can trim your music clips and insert them anywhere in your movie. You can also layer up to 3 audio clips at a time.
One of the cool features Avid Studio provides is the ability to insert photos over video in the timeline. Meaning, if you want to have a photo play in the middle of a movie clip, you can do so while still having the audio and elapsed time from the video playing in the background. This is one the features I most like about Avid Studio. The only thing you can do in iMovie is split up the clip and put a photo in the middle. Avid’s way — which Apple does support on the desktop version of iMovie — is much simpler.
I was surprised when I learned that iMovie did not allow me to access videos that I imported onto my iPad with iTunes. The only videos accessible with iMovie are the ones in your camera roll or albums. What a huge disappointment. Avid provides just such access.
Both iMovie and Avid Studio allow you to insert titles for you movie, but iMovie requires that you do it with one of their themes. There is not an option to insert a black slide with text like Avid Studio. This means that all text inserted in iMovie must be overlaid with part of your movie.
Avid Studio also comes preinstalled with fun montages to add to your videos. These are made up of anywhere between 1 and 4 photos and may be static images or mini video clips.
Avid Studio may be iMovie’s newest competitor for video editing on the iPad, but it’s not a fair competition. Avid Studio is the clear winner. iMovie doesn’t offer any significant features that Avid does not, but Avid can do much more than iMovie. Since they both cost $4.99, it’s almost a no-brainer. Right now, the only thing iMovie has going for it over Avid Studio is that iMovie is a universal app and also works on the iPhone.
With iPad 3 on the horizon, I hope Apple has a more feature-rich iMovie 2.0 up its sleeves to help show it off. Either way, I can’t wait to try video editing on a 9.7-inch Retina display.
Ah, Friday: Time to kick up the feet and relax, assuming you don’t have to work the weekend. (Sadly, we do — feeling sorry for us yet?) Despite the weekend being upon us, today was a rather busy day in the tech world, with Apple briefly removing 3G-equipped iOS devices from its online store thanks to a Motorola injunction, RIM baiting Android developers with free BlackBerry PlayBooks and a whole lot more. Read on to find out what’s making news for this Friday, February 3, 2012.
If you live in Germany and have been trying to buy a 3G-equipped iOS device aside from the iPhone 4S in the last day or so, you might have been out of luck. According to AllThingsD, Apple removed all 3G-equipped iOS devices from their online store in that country with the exception of the iPhone 4S in compliance with an injunction granted to Motorola Mobility last December, part of the ongoing patent dispute between the two companies. Even as Apple was moving to comply, they were hard at work on an appeal, and this morning it came through — although it’s only a temporary measure until the matter is resolved, which patent expert Florian Mueller says could take upwards of a year. “Apple appealed this ruling because Motorola repeatedly refuses to license this patent to Apple on reasonable terms, despite having declared it an industry standard patent seven years ago,” an Apple spokeswoman explained to AllThingsD.
iOS developers must surely be getting a good chuckle out of this: BlackBerry PlayBook maker Research in Motion is trying to woo Android developers to their tablet by giving them the necessary hardware for free. According to The New York Times, “all an Android programmer has to do to get one is make a PlayBook app and submit it to RIM’s app store, BlackBerry App World, by Feb. 13.” We’re not even talking about native BlackBerry QNX apps here — RIM wants that Android goodness, presumably in the hopes of expanding its user base the way Amazon has with the Kindle Fire and its own Appstore. However, the report notes that RIM has an ulterior motive here: “Oddly, the PlayBook giveaway could have less to do with the tablet than it does with future BlackBerry smartphones.” Perhaps the idea is to lure Android developers and turn them to the Dark Side, writing QNX apps for the forthcoming BlackBerry 10 (and, presumably, the next PlayBook tablet as well).
While OS X Lion users had to content with a cryptic CUI error after installing Mac OS X 10.7.3 this week (assuming they could successfully open apps at all!), it turns out the seemingly harmless Security Update 2012-001 for Mac OS X 10.6.8 Snow Leopard that Apple pushed out at the same time is also causing some ticks in that big cat’s fur. According to Macworld, Snow Leopard users who install the update are finding they can no longer run PowerPC apps, which require Rosetta to run. “People have reported cursor glitches, printing errors, and crashes when quitting an application,” the report reveals. “The popular financial package Quicken 2007, which requires Rosetta to work on Intel Macs, appears to be a frequent victim.” Thankfully, an enterprising group of system administrators at a Nebraska high school have already come to the rescue with the aptly named RosettaFix, which swaps out the afflicted files for the ones installed prior to applying the Security Update. The only caveat is that the fix may not work for all apps, but it’s worth a try if you find yourself stuck with no other choice.
The creators of the popular Readdle Docs and PDF Expert apps are back, fresh from the recent Macworld/iWorld expo, with their latest work: Remarks, a $4.99 digital notebook app for the iPad. “Write down your thoughts, capture ideas and information, annotate documents and outline notes anywhere from university class to sofa at home,” the app description reads. “To let you write anything you have in mind we included all the tools you might need: pens and highlighters of different colors, floating text boxes, shapes and of course an eraser.” But this isn’t just a simple note-taking app: iPad users can also extensively annotate their notes, which are saved in PDF format and can be easily shared with others, imported to other iPad apps or even saved to the Mac or PC. Judging from early user reviews on the App Store, Ukraine-based Readdle has another winner on its hands with this 17.8MB app, which is now available and ready to purchase.
You may recall that the launch of iBooks 2 and the free iBooks Author was somewhat marred by a firestorm of controversy surrounding exactly what users could do with their finished work. According to MacRumors, many took the EULA quite literally, “believing that Apple was claiming rights to all content used in the production of the iBooks Textbooks, perhaps attempting to exclude books from being published in any other form.” Thanks to today’s iBooks Author 1.0.1 update, the licensing terms have now been clarified: Apple is claiming rights only to the .ibooks document format, while authors are free to sell their content in other formats as they please. A subtle change, but one that should send content creators back to the village to snuff out those torches and hang up the pitchforks — at least for now.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter
Rene, Georgia, and Seth talk about Macworld|iWorld 2012, the latest iPad 3 rumors including quad-core and LTE, and what it all means for iPhone 5. Plus, new retail boss John Browett, Steve Jobs quotes, and Jailbreak troubleshooting. This is iPhone iPad Live!
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Two weeks ago, Apple declared its intention to be at the head of the class, with the unveiling of the iBooks 2 for iPad app and the iBooks textbooks that are the first to exploit the app.
I’ve spent time diving into some of these textbooks on the original iPad and the iPad 2. Initial works in algebra, biology and chemistry come from major educational publishers McGraw-Hill and Pearson. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and DK are also early publishing partners (the latter produces books on dinosaurs, insects and mammals).
Though I encountered some unfortunate crashes and bugs — Apple has a software fix coming soon — multitouch digital textbooks, when working smoothly, are engaging in ways that were simply not possible with the textbooks I grew up with. Digital versions promise instant search and easy navigation. They’re rich in interactive animations, pictures and videos. It’s better to see an animated tour of the genome in E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth than just to read about it. The various books let you consult study cards, create bookmarks, drag your finger to highlight passages and add notes. And textbook authors can update material to keep it current.
The other obvious A-plus benefit, true of any e-book but especially comforting to a student schlepping from class to class, is that you can lug the digital equivalents of heavy print textbooks without breaking your back.
Still, Apple and other companies hoping to make a big play in the digital textbook space face arduous tests. There aren’t many available textbooks for iBooks 2 yet, in part because Apple, as usual, kept things close to the vest prior to launch.
And no matter how compelling a digital textbook might be, it is only useful to a student if the teacher or school decides that this is indeed the textbook to use with their class.
To encourage development, Apple launched iBooks Author, a free authoring tool for the Mac that encourages anyone to produce their own iBook textbooks, cookbooks, how-tos and other works. Apple says more than 600,000 copies of the tool have been downloaded since launch. Authors can distribute the books for free. But if they put the iBook textbook up for sale, they must do so through Apple’s iBookstore. (Authors can use the content in other digital and print formats, Apple says.) So the supply of digital textbooks should look a lot better by next school year.
Another question mark is the iPad. Not every parent or school district is likely to buy iPads, which start at $499 each, for every student, even if educational discounts lower the cost a bit.
The first textbook titles concentrate on high school curricula and are priced at $14.99 or less, well below most of their print counterparts. The first two chapters of Wilson’s book are free.
Apple has designs on the rest of the K-12 market, too, but hasn’t said much about the prospects for iBooks on college campuses, though you can bet it will become an area of emphasis. But given how much college textbooks cost — well into three digits in many cases — it’s hard to imagine Apple matching $14.99 pricing for them.
Apple has competition, too. Already, a couple of start-ups, Kno and Inkling, produce slick digital textbooks for the iPad. And I’d expect Amazon.com and Barnes Noble to respond in some way.
Moreover, except for the odd torn page, you never have to worry about technical issues with old-fashioned textbooks. The Wilson book, among others I tested on the original iPad, froze. Performance on the iPad 2 was a bit poky at times, too. That Apple is producing a fix is good: A student who fails to do his assignments would be hard-pressed to say, “The iPad ate my homework.”
Apple has certainly provided authors and publishers with tools that can provide compelling high-tech textbooks. But it’s up to those authors and publishers to deliver the goods. As Wilson writes in Life on Earth, “Although we believe in the power of visual storytelling, we are careful to keep special-effects glamour in its place. Our animations are crafted to achieve high-quality instruction, not box office.”
The bottom line
Apple’s iBooks 2 and iBooks 2 textbooks
Pro. Multitouch books engaging, easy to search and keep current and feature videos, animations, diagrams. First high school books inexpensive.
Con. Very few titles. Buggy software. Requires iPad, but not every student can afford.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @EdBaig on Twitter.
8 iOS Apps for Super Bowl Sunday
Here it is, Sunday, SUNday, SUNDAY! And are you ready for the Super Bowl? Here’s a round up of games, information, and some other goodies we found to help augment your weekend experience. Go ahead, knock yourselves out on the virtual gridiron, then chill for the real game.
Get in on a Mac App Store beta but not sure how to install the beta app? There are several apps that have iPhone and/or iPad versions as well as Mac versions these days, and if you’re beta testing the iOS version, you might need to set up the Mac App Store version as well. No worries, as long as you gave them the proper hardware UUID for your Mac, getting the app set up easy to do. In fact, it’s just as easy, and very similar to, the process for installing iOS beta software on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad.
That’s it. If you have any trouble — it’s a beta app, after all — check with the developer. You made need to trash some other, previously installed files, or do some other configuration first. When you do have it working, enjoy.
The Mac App Store isn’t the only way to distribute software on OS X, so many developers may never need to send UUID-locked beta builds. But if the Mac App Store is the only way the developer intends to distribute their software, this may well be the beta road they take.
This week’s games are addictive and packed with cute animals, making them too fun by half. You’ll be fighting your kids to get back your phone just so you can have a crack at these adorable discounted apps. Got a long car trip coming up for the weekend? Well, then, you’re set.
Time for another space journey as you pilot Tappi Bear through the cosmos. Navigate your way through meteors as you fire you donut canon but watch out that the aliens don’t get you! How far can you go? This fast loading universal game is a buck off, making it free for you. Enjoy and good luck!
Oh noooes! The evil space bubbles are set to invade and only you, Kiwi Brown, can save the day. Pop those bubbles through cycles of days and nights (bubbles don’t rest — what can you do?). Power-up for mega burst action in this charming free iPhone only app down from one dollar to just one tap in the App Store.
The classic brick breaking style game gets a few twists in this update on an old favorite. It’s not just you, your ball, and some bricks. Oh no, you’ll be working in the rain, in the snow, against high winds. You’ll be finding portals and all kinds of other hidden gems in this now free iPhone favorite.
Derby’s on an adventure to eat as many jellybeans as he can. You’ll fling him from peg to peg in this free iPhone physics style game. Watch out for thieving enemies who will try to steal your sweet treats. With the right aiming, you can toss this adorable little guy for hours without stop. Down from a dollar, but not forever, so what are you waiting for?
Xappr is a gun accessory for your iPhone that’ll instantly appeal to everyone from fans of the original Duck Hunt on Ninteno to the latest Halo or Call of Duty FPS shooters. Imagine, holding a weapon that looks like something out of a James Cameron sci-fi blockbuster, your iPhone safely mounted on top, your favorite shooting game loaded and ready, the grip tight on your hand, the trigger itching under your finger, your multi-player enemy right in your cross-hairs. How fun does that sound?
The Xappr and Micro-Xappr guns are currently on preorder, but will be available in the EU, Isreal, U.S., and Canada this June. Apps will be required to support it and while there’s only a handful right now, more should be coming soon. A lot more I hope, especially the Modern Combat, N.O.V.A. and other premiere App Store games.
Pre-order price is $30. I’m getting one. Are you?
MetalCompass will reveal smartphone guns at the Nuremberg Toy Fair
MetalCompass will reveal for the first time two models of gaming accessories for smartphones – The Xappr and the Micro-Xappr guns. The models will be revealed in the international toy fair that will take place in Nuremberg, Germany between February 1st and February 6st.
Both the Xappr and the Micro-Xappr allows players to play a variety of augmented reality and shooting games. “The Xappr guns has already more than 10 amazing augmented reality games that will allow the player to intercept alien spaceships, find and eliminate ghosts, fight evil flying robots, hunt a horde of blood thirsty zombies and the most important – engage in battle with other players” says Oren Shtark, MetalCompass’ CDO.
MetalCompass will release this spring the first real world multiplayer first person shooter for smartphones – ATK. ATK will allow players to simulate combat scenarios with different types of weapons – guns, rifles, grenade launchers and powerful pulse weapons. ATK will support three battle modes: Death-match, Last Man Standing and Teams Mode.
The Xappr guns will be available this spring but players from the US, Canada or the EU you can pre-order the Xappr gun now, get a discount and be the first among their friends to get the Xappr gun this spring.