Tag: apple

iOS 7 Games and Apps I Downloaded for Christmas – The Good and Bad

I was able to obtain an iPhone 5s last October, which set the stage for a zippy new experience and allowed me to download whatever I wanted with the extra power.  There were definitely a lot of Facebook Ads trying to get me to download their games and apps, and I’ve stuck with some and deleted others.  Here are some of the top Good and Bad Apps I’ve tried since Christmas day.

Lets start with The Bad Apps:

(1)  Any Free Game that adds MicroTransactions and makes Gaming Excellence dependent on spending.

Examples: The Hobbit: Kindgoms of Middle Earth, Star Wars: Tiny Death Star, Warhammer Quest, Pretty Much any Free to Download Game with a good Logo

I’ve noted after putting down quite a bit of money (gifted to me in iTunes gift cards) that there is always someone who is willing to outspend you.  Particularly The Hobbit, which is actually a fun game (as long as you have cash to spend), where I put down tons of money to advance quickly enough that I didn’t get trounced.  At a certain point, I had to decide that I wasn’t going to spend my own money on it, and not on any other game either.  I’d rather pay an app fee and have no more payments after that, than have to outspend everyone else on the internet.  I think this is like gambling but actually more like giving tons of nearly free money to the game company.   And I don’t and will never play Candy Crush! I’m intrigued by Clash of Clans, but again – I don’t want to spend the cash to be top dog.

(2) Snapchat – I just don’t get it.  People send out pictures, I can’t access my photo album, so its all live, there are ticking clocks, and supposedly it isn’t very secure.  I have it installed, but I’m about to completely rid it from my phone.  Still trying to figure out why it is so interesting to so many people.  Maybe someone can give me a tutorial in it sometime, but right now, I’m lost.

(3) Quick Office – I recently thought I would be a hotshot and write an entire article for our local paper on my iPhone.  I ended up failing miserably, because I wasn’t as careful as when I’m on my laptop, partly because of the small atmosphere, but also because the menus and scrolling don’t work as nicely as they could.  I ended up leaving out some quotation marks (ultimately a proofing fault of my own), which caused me to have a somewhat strained conversation about knowing how to attribute others works.  I was incredibly embarrassed and won’t be doing that again.  Back to the old fashioned Word on the Mac until I am able to see clearly and have a bit more clarity on how a .doc is supposed to work on mobile.  


(3) iTunes Radio – I still use Pandora, but iTunes Radio has been getting better and better.  I also think that the ads are more appropriate.  On Pandora I was listening to symphonic video game music, and suddenly people were screaming about condoms.  I was resting a bit and thinking, and it completely jarred me.  iAds seem a bit less invasive and I listen when I decide to.  Tends to be more normal conversation.  Not only that, but the lists are getting better (I really liked the Christmas Pop Charts list, which I used for two youth group Christmas Parties without any mishaps).  The only requirement is that you have internet access, so having wifi is a good thing so you don’t use too much data on your cellular plan, but I think Apple has done this one right.

(2) Flipboard – This is a news aggregate service that pulls in articles from all your social media networks (ex. Facebook, Twitter, LinkdIn, Instagram, Tumblr, etc.) and lets you browse news articles from sources that are already on the web (ex. New York Times, Boston Globe, various magazines) and subscribe to magazines made up of articles read and liked by other Flipboard users.  The upside to this is that it gives you a very streamlined, quick and brilliantly HD way to read news that works well in iOS 7.  There is one downside that I’ve mitigated, however, and that is that it uses an incredible amount of cellular data due to its ability to scan a news stream and download images prior to you flipping down and reading them.  That means that its downloading all the time.  I’ve personally turned off cellular usage on this app, and rely solely on wifi time at coffee shops and at my local church (which has campus wide wifi) to use this app. I have also set up several magazines myself (Geek Fun, Interesting News, What is Money, and a few others) and the Interesting News one now has almost 15,000 followers.  That’s pretty cool.  I highly suggest giving this one a try (and supplement it with “The Economist” digital download ;D)

(1) Games that do not require micro-transactions to enjoy to their completion.  I’ve downloaded three games that I’m currently playing:

(a) Settlers of Catan with Seafarers Expansion – This is a game app based off of my favorite board game – The Settlers of Catan, in which there is an island made up of tiles composing various resources with numbers on them.  It is a dice based game in which players collect resources, build settlements, roads and cities; and they compete among a limited landscape for those resources.  The first person to 10 points wins.  It can seem simple but becomes incredibly relational and strategic and can be intense.  If you like the app, I recommend spending on the German Board Game that it is based on (and it is not written in German, but English in the US!).

(b) Limbo – This is an atmospheric adventure puzzler, in which a small boy is moving through a dark and moody world while incredibly low background noises of the environment get disturbed by violent and sudden death sequences when the boy walks into a trap.  Items like bear traps, giant spiders, and lakes can kill, and so your job is to get the boy safely through the puzzles.  I’ve been playing this a while and have found that it gets my adrenaline moving, but is also strangely beautiful.  I don’t recommend this for anyone younger than 10 years old, due to the nightmare like nature of this one, but adults who played side scrollers like Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog back in the day who are looking for a spin on the genre may find this one enticing.

(c) Civilization Revolution (no add ons) – Another Strategy game based in Sid Meier’s Civilization universe.  It is a turn based world conquest game that centers around starting as a tribe with a village, and you eventually build an empire with multiple cities, tanks, ships, and wonders of the world.  This pared down version of the flagship Civilization games (Civ V being the latest on PC/MAC) is simple enough to beat in an hour or two, but hard enough to be challenged and possibly lose.  You research technology, fight with other civilizations, build roads, phalanx military unites and siege empires.  The maps are randomized, but there are also many scenarios to enjoy.  I’ve played this quite a bit and think its worth the small price.  There are a few add ons, but I’ve read reviews that they can crash the game a bit.  I’ve not downloaded them, but haven’t needed them to enjoy the game thoroughly.  

There are so many other apps that I’ve enjoyed so at the end of this blog I’m listing some of them.  I can’t write about them all but I thought they deserved honorable mention.  I hope you check out some of these apps.  Some of them cost a little but they’re worth it.  On the bad side, I hope you have some gift cards if you’re going to take risks downloading apps.  Its awefully easy to just spend money and I hate waste – so try to download the best and do your research.


App Honor List:

Hootsuite – update all your social networks simultaneously

Pic Stich – Put pictures together into frames 

InstaQuote – Add text to pictures easily

Google Drive, Maps – Two great apps that help with a lot in life

Varage Sale – a local garage sale like app that uses Facebook to connect buyers and sellers

Duolingo – learn a language in a visual and fun way

Papa John’s – Get Pizza and get rewards (free pizzas!)

Star Walk – Point your phone at the sky and see the sky mapped and learn the constellations – more

iTranslate – speak and have it translated, handy for travel

iMovie – easy and fun to create video clips

Sunrise – A Calendar apps that pulls in many social calendars (Facebook, GoogleCal, etc) to organize your calendar (Highly Recommended)

Accuweather – Great weather app

Sketchbook – A drawing app that works well with a rubber stylus for drawing on ipad/iphone

Dropbox – Best Cloud storage service out there


Post “Apple-Pocalypse”: Why You Should Upgrade to iOS 7 (after the servers cool down)

Yesterday we all survived the “Apple-Pocalypse”.  For anyone who owns a recent “i” product from the white fruit company, there was a sudden peer pressure to upgrade to the newest version of operating system.  Namely, “iOS 7”.  Not creative, but the name probably shouldn’t detract from the shiny-ness of the product itself.  

After having used the OS for about a week prior to launch thanks to a “Lifehacker” blog, I was able to test drive some things and see what I liked and potentially didn’t like before the servers exploded on launch day.  If you haven’t downloaded yet, now might be a good time and this is why I think you should:

(1) Everything looks and feels better.  Apple has spent a lot of time fine tuning the Keyboard, making the OS move faster (I’m running an iPhone 4S), and taking away all the fake Bevels and Gradients that clogged the visuals of previous operating systems.  The new look is solid and much more cheerful (bright and airy).  At the same time, the backgrounds are much more detailed and beautiful (honing in on the Desktop Background experiences as Handheld computing becomes more popular).  The fonts have been redone to embolden or recede as necessary in the Phone and Texting Apps, and the icons create a different ethos than was previously had.  Even the notes app is brighter and easier to use.  Going back to iOS 6 would be abrasive visually.

(2) There has been much more added functionality (and accessibility).  The number one improvement I like is that you can go into your “Cellular” settings and choose which apps are allowed to use Cellular data.  If you want to cut off a data hog thats not always necessary, you now have the precision tool to do it.  New Menus are also accessible by thumb swipes giving easy grap of the new built in Flashlight button, music controls, bluetooth, wifi, sleep, airplane mode, and especially at Brightness slider – all in one spot.  Some utilities like Camera, Calculator, and time are also there for quick picks.  Lastly, the Folders now can slide and have multiple pages – not sure if I need it, but its nice to know its there).

(3) The movement is more bouncy, and feels fun.  Texts bounce up and down when stopping (though only slightly), notes are similar when going up and down, the apps fly on and off screen when locking/unlocking the phone, and the folders grow and retract more smoothly than I remember.  The background creates depth by moving in the background, so my chosen image of stars and clouds tilt as I tilt the phone.  Its fun to show others and to do when I’m bored in meetings while checking the time.

Other things: The basic app selection on the phone doesn’t seem to have changed much.  Facetime seems to appear more prominently, with the same green icon as Phone and Messages, but apps like Passbook are growing in utility as apps come out that allow you to collect plane tickets, gift cards and movie stubs.  I hope this continues to develop.  The Maps app still isn’t as good at Google Maps, Gmail (for Gmail users) is still more precise search-wise with Google’s app than Apple’s.  The camera is more robust now with different modes and filters on live images which is fun (having instagram like abilities from the get go.  All the apps still work too – so its not like you’re going to miss much, and the new things will take some time to play with, but will soon become useful.

In conclusion, pick up the new iOS as soon as you can.  There really isn’t a downside and it seems like there is a lot of upside.  Its fun, pretty, and functional (and continuing to get better with each revision).  For Apple fans, just do it.


(Photo Credit: http://www.maximumpc.com/files/u154082/ios7_cover_photo_2.png)

We Made An iOS Game!!! And its fun. Check it out.

6 AM Comics Logo

I’m so proud of my good friend Mark Marianelli, who is the other major part of an entity called Six AM Comics.  We’ve been working on creative projects together since High School, and lately its been on my mind to learn how to get Mark’s Flash editing abilities out there to have an actual game.  Today that happened.

Mark converted his flash game Pro Rock Paper Scissors into an incredibly fun iOS game, which you can immediately download here

To Download Pro Rock Paper Scissors

(click)!  Do it.  Do it Now.

Rock Paper Scissors 11Rock Paper Scissors 10 Rock Paper Scissors 9 Rock Paper Scissors 8 Rock Paper Scissors 7 Rock Paper Scissors 6 Rock Paper Scissors 5 Rock Paper Scissors 4 Rock Paper Scissors 3 Rock Paper Scissors 2 Rock Paper Scissors 1

I downloaded iOS 6 – My Thoughts and First Impressions

Thanks to various tech sites, I was able to determine that Sept 19th would be the download date for iOS 6, the newest Apple iPhone operating system.  Each upgrade makes upgrades, and this one claimed to make 200 tweaks, so I was ready.

The first snag was that I needed 2.5 gb free to do the upgrade.  I had to delete some HD videos on my phone, but was able to make the space free.  As I waited for the download, I read at Gizmodo.com about what was supposed to be in the package.  I was excited about Passbook, interested in the Phone app upgrade, and was not excited to lost Google maps – I use that quite frequently.  Now, I’ve used it for two days now, so this is my first impressions.

I’ll start with the bad:

(1) Apple’s Maps, powered by TomTom and their own in house mappers, is not ready for solid use.  I will be using Google Maps mobile application until the Apple Maps app matures a bit.  I’ve read a lot about how it took Google Maps to get as good as it is now.  Well, I need it good now, so I’ll have a button added for G.Maps through html until that day.

(2) Facetime is touted as being able to used over 3G/4G cellular data rather than wifi only.  I went to add this feature, and the phone told me that I have to call AT&T to determine if I am eligible.  This was a minor inconvenience, so I thought, until I called and found out that I’d have to hang up, turn off my cell, a signal would be sent to my phone, and then I’d be called back.  The service in my area went out for a few minutes at premium hours, and I received a message after AT&T’s call center hours that they’d tried to reach me and would call back.  They didn’t, and I haven’t either.   I’m sure this will be great – once I figure out how to wrangle AT&T into getting this set up.  It really shouldn’t be this complicated.

That’s all I’ve really disliked, there is much more Good than bad:

(1) Siri is faster and more intelligent.  I noticed right away that the wait times have been cut drastically in waiting for a response, and there is so much more information at Siri’s fingertips.  I never liked Siri before, but I’m going to start using it more and more now – its definitely become more fun with movie info, sports stats and scores, and the ability to determine what I’m looking for and give me a range of info.  I like it much better.

(2) The phone app has been upgraded, and now there are more options when multiple people are calling.  The dialing screen is now more crisp and bright – which makes it easier to put in a number without having to think and stare too much.  I appreciate that.  It seems to manage texts and other simultaneous notifications a bit better now.  There were odd times prior to ios6 where lots of activity would confuse the phone.  The order of operations seems to be a bit more worked out – as far as I can tell.

(3) Facebook integration is wonderful.  I pulled off my contacts and Facebook Friend profile pics, so when someone calls, I see a picture now.  I know that there are privacy concerns since Facebook has access to your contacts, but that’s always been true anyway – most of my friends and contacts are on Facebook.  I also like how Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and ios 6 seem to be so seamless.  I can update one and the others immediately start talking to each other.  Part of this is due to the new timeline robustness, and the ability for other apps to plug in – but I’m completely for more integration, despite the differences of all the platforms – its all the same to me (its internet communication with different modes).

(4) Panoramic Photo – I know this is simple, and really doesn’t need explanation, but the ability to take an incredibly long shot of really beautiful scenes is something I’ve wanted for a long time, also, especially for group shots on big trips.  I’m thankful this new feature has been made standard.

Lastly, the “Meh” stuff that really don’t seem to make a difference but could be developed a bit:

(1) Passbook – This is a great idea, and I would love to have a place where all my gift cards, plane tickets, movie tickets, etc are all in one place – unfortunately, there are only a few apps that actually support this service right now.  The best likely being Fandango, and I plan on trying this out eventually, but the others failed to excite.  I also didn’t expect it to require the downloading of the other apps.  I definitely assumed that it would be a one stop shop.  At the moment you have to have Passport, download Fandango (for example), and then purchase in that app and then it should appear in passbook.  I haven’t tested this but I plan to.

(2) VIP folder in Inbox – Basically you can choose certain VIP contacts in your mail and this creates a super box for your urgent clients. This could be useful, but everyone I allow to have my main email is a VIP.  I don’t see myself using this too often.  If you’re the type with lots more spam – this could be a great thing, but I thought that’s what the Junk Folder was for.

All in All – I like the rebuild.  Biggest gripe is the Maps change, and if you really like that app, don’t upgrade yet.  If you have the iPhone 5, you have the new app anyways.  Its all still sleek and works better than any other phone I’ve played with – so be merry and enjoy your life with a little bit of tech.

Some Next Big Things in Tech and Lifestyle

There are a few things that I see on the horizon for tech and how we use it that will eventually effect most people online.  I thought I would share a few of my projections, since they are on my mind at the moment:

(1) Facebook and Twitter will become more and more important as communication tools. 

I believe that Twitter will be like social glue between your phone, your laptop, and your social networking platform.  Personally I use Twitter to update Facebook and I check my FB later to see what people think.  Twitter is like the free flow of ideas and resources, Facebook is the place people actually talk about it.  Those people who don’t like Timeline don’t realize how important the improvements (and interfunctionality between the two platforms) have been.  I became a developer just to get Timeline early – and the ability to share and get a pulse on what people are thinking or projecting is amazing.  We will see more and more growth here.  900 Million on FB, and 500 Million on Twitter.  And growing.

(2) Apple TV’s (and Roku’s) imminent growth, coupled with Digital over air television, will start to squeeze out cable and dish operators. My wife and I made the split from cable long ago as a cost cutting measure (though we have probably given starbucks our savings over time).  Most of our content is online through laptop or phone, and we get networks over the air on our television.  I can connect my iphone to the television so we can still watch seasons, and our PS3 plays our DVD’s and BluRays – so we can buy whole seasons of shows we like. With Apple TV about to boom – Seriously – and Hulu and Netflix back in the growth seat – as long as bandwidth continues to meet demand, standard cable and dish are going to be in trouble in the near future.  I’m already plotting to buy the $99 Apple TV unit that will run tons of online content through wifi.

Lastly, (3) Faith will begin to find more expression online.  In the past, the internet sphere has been the domain of trolls and those who like to tear things down.  I even recently read a blog about the internet being the church of Atheists, who without churches or community centers, find fellowship and debate online.  With the suburbanization efforts of Twitter and Facebook, the wild west that used be the domain of search engines, is understandable to the ordinary person.  In the last year, I’ve noticed more and more people of different creeds and religions join me in the spheres of talk and influence.  More and more bloggers are showing up and with The Huffington Post and Patheos – there are more people talking and debating than ever.  That means that the easy “Straw Man” of faith is no more.  It is easy to tear people down if they are not in the room.  People of faith are entering the online sphere.  They are trading information, praying for each other, creating content and writing – a lot.  The room is filling up and we’re seeing the awkward transition in culture.  I don’t think News Media outlets in the traditional sense really know how big this is.

So there are three things I see right now.  What do you see happening?

Thoughts on the Life and Work of Steve Jobs

Where did Steve Jobs get his creativity, ambition?

Published Monday, October 24, 2011
The Island Packet
When it was announced that Steve Jobs passed away from pancreatic cancer, I was stunned. I first started using computers in elementary school — Apple computers. All students were required to learn how to code in commands to a little pixilated green turtle. We made it move on the screen, caused it to draw lines and had some fun making patterns. It was good, simple fun, and we learned how to enter the digital age when it was in its infancy.I’m still using Apple products today — from my phone to the MacBook Pro I design and write on.Many, like myself, were captivated by the story of Steve and a friend working on their first computer in a garage. Through lots of perseverance (including being let go as CEO from Apple at one point — though he used that opportunity to invest in a then little-known animation studio called Pixar), Steve brought about products that changed how we create and interact with music, visual media, the arts and each other.

Since Steve’s passing, the iPhone 4S has gone on to sell 4 million units, doubling a previous record Apple made with the previous iPhone 4 model. The company is now one of the most valuable public company in the world — up there with Exxon Mobil.

It is a bit ironic that the pinnacle of Steve’s career as an engineer, as a communicator and as a CEO, came at the very end of his life. I imagine that, as a perfectionist, he liked it this way.

Most people will not remember him in frailty. What they will remember is his strength — standing on stage in an iconic black turtleneck, wearing blue jeans and New Balance sneakers with the simple Apple logo behind him on a large screen.

His passing points to humanity’s ability to imitate the one who created us. God made the elements of the universe and combined them with spirit to make living creatures. Intelligence was given to the first people, and it is recorded in Genesis, that we were given the commission to spread out, rule over creation and to work to cultivate the wild so that we could live well. We started to tame the thorns and weeds, we built buildings and we tamed the animals. We thought through human expansion by building roads, debating forms of government and laying down communication cords across the ocean.

As we enter an era in which our identities become wrapped in the digital world — as we remember Steve and his legacy of bringing the digital media age to so many people’s hands — let us also take some time to remember who created the elements in the electric chips, who placed order in the universe so we could learn laws and master them to further humanity’s growth and lastly. Let’s remember the one who breathed life into an ambitious child named Steve.

Praise be to God for every new possibility, with every new life, even as we revere the lights who went before.

Daniel Griswold is the director of youth at St. Andrew By-the-Sea United Methodist Church. Read his blog at www.danielgriswold.wordpress.com. Follow him on Twitter @dannonhill.

Read more: http://www.islandpacket.com/2011/10/24/1839716/where-did-steve-jobs-get-his-creativity.html#ixzz1cfQ8SPze

Apple Rumors Before the Announcement at 1 PM – Iphone 5? Iphone 4S? Both? Here is a Rumor Roundup



Ars Teknia, Live Feed of Apple Event.

THE IPHONE will receive a new iteration today when Apple goes live at 1 pm today in Cupertino.  Rumors and speculation have swirled and it seems that there are some big chunks that have some validity.

Rumor 1: An Iphone 4S will be released, basically a beefed up Iphone 4, with the Ipad 2’s more powerful chip and upgraded software and an 8 MP camera on the back.  (This rumor seems likely.  Apple does need to retain the Iphone 4, and since it doesn’t require a major redesign, they could put some better parts in, have very little R&D costs, and have excitement around a cheaper to mass produce handset with a proven record of popularity to continue to challenge Android.)

Rumor 2: Sprint has paid 20 Billion dollars to buy up inventory and get the Iphone 5 exclusively, basically betting the farm on the cult of Apple.  (Not likely.  While they are dropping some big change, exclusivity for Sprint isn’t going to happen.  Apple needs as wide a swath as possible to continue the proliferation of IOS, and limiting it to the distant 3rd carrier, Sprint, would be a disastrous move, even for 20 Billion bucks, and considering how much cash Apple is sitting on, $20B isn’t really scratching their back that much.  Sprint is merely buying in and ensuring they aren’t left completely behind, for a huge amount of money for them. Also, this rumor came out yesterday – probably just attention seeking with a big “?” for buzz.)

Rumor 3: The Iphone 5 will come out slightly thinner, with curved glass and a wider screen.  It will be more powerful than the Iphone 4 (close to the 4S rumors, probably using Ipad 2 specs and better camera), and will have IOS5 (like the 4S rumors).  (This rumor is not as likely as the 4S, but probable.  It is hard to determine what Apple will do here.  In the past, Apple has released an Iphone, then Iphone 3G, then Iphone 3GS, then the 4.  Whether Apple calls it the 4S or the 5, I believe it will be the same phone.  If Apple follows their track record, they will release it with the name 4S – but that would seem unsynchronized with the IOS5 aesthetically.  If apple decides to make marketing easy, they will release the phone as the Iphone 5 with OS5, thus maintaining a big ol’ “FIVE” on everything they’re pushing.  It certainly would be prettier.)

Rumor 4: Apple will release an Iphone 4S and the Iphone 5 simultaneously.  One for the low end low cost market to combat cheap Android sets, and one to retain the crown of awsome-ness and blow everyone away with the Iphone 5 as a global minded handset for every carrier.  (Not likely but would be cool.  Apple is still doing well selling the 3GS and could just drop the price on that beast of a phone to nothing OR firesale the old Iphone 4’s.  While I would love to see a beefed up yet cheap Iphone 4S and the 5, it doesn’t seem likely – too much retooling for one announcement.)

Other Rumors – Apple will announce their new Voice Command Software, which better be good.  Controlling your device better with your voice would be a godsend for multi-taskers, but watch out for people who don’t know how to turn their phones to silent response – remember NEXTEL’s walki-talkies – we better not get a repeat of that kind of noise pollution in the public space.  ALSO, Apple will talk about their iCloud which they have been prepping pretty hard and opening server farms for.  This is Apple’s future and they will expect to have a positive response. This will simultaneously make lives easier for people who sync laptops, phones, desktops and televisions; AND Apple will be able to worry less about hard drives in their future devices (who needs a 10 Terabyte drive when you can keep most of your junk in the cloud – access only the 32 GB’s you need at a time).  This will keep devices like the Macbook Air and the Ipad/Iphone momentum and smallness on the go.  LASTLY – Apple will talk a lot about Twitter and Social Media integration.  They’re launching an Iphone Texting app similar to Blackberry’s ability to communicate between RIM devices, and word is they have placed Twitter into everything in IOS5.  Will be fun to see.

Looking forward to the Event at 1 PM – be ready for a news deluge – which is sure to be fun.  Woot!