All Posts By Arron Hirst
Those out there who are familiar with Apple’s movements around this time of year will know that we’re just a few days out from Apple’s annual one-day only Black Friday shopping event. Set to kick-off this Friday, November 29, the day will mark one of the only times in the year that Apple offers significant discounts on its many hardware products – both online and through its physical retail stores.
While specifics on what hardware we might expect to be discounted come this Friday are still a little sketchy, we can take a quick look at the company’s Black Friday events held in previous years for clues as to what type of discounts shoppers should expect to see emerge towards the end of this week.
Last year for example, we saw the firm drop its iPad with Retina Display by a cool $41. Meanwhile, the iPod touch 4th Generation was slashed by $21, the iPad 2 saw an average drop of $31, and the MacBook Pro with Retina Display was available for $101 less than its usual retail price.
As significant as some of the above discounts may sound though, Apple is almost always beaten in its online holiday discounts by third-party vendors. One of those third-party vendors is Target, who will be offering shoppers a free $75 gift card with any purchase of Apple’s iPad mini ($279), and the chance to bag themselves a free $100 gift card with the purchase of any iPad, (including the iPad 2 – which starts at $399), when doors finally open this Thursday. The retailer will also be offering $30 gift cards for those who purchase the iPhone 5S (staring at $180) with a 2 year contract.
Retailer Walmart will be running a similar promotion, seeing all shoppers receive a free $75 gift card with the purchase of either an iPhone 5C ($45, with a 2 year contract) or iPhone 5S ($189, with a 2 year contract). Meanwhile, if you opt to buy Apple’s original iPad mini (without “Retina” display), you could even grab yourself a free $100 gift card.
The last of the biggest retailers – Best Buy – will be offering Apple’s iPhone 5C for the lowest upfront cost we’ve been able to find at just $48 (a $51.99 savings). The firm will also be slashing the cost of Apple’s just-launched 16 GB iPad Air to $450, providing a super-neat saving of $50.
Other smaller retailers, such as RadioShack, will open their doors at 8AM. The purchase of Apple’s iPhone 5S, (starting at $200 with a 2 year contract), will see you receive a free $50 gift card, while opting for the iPhone 5C – (starting at $50 with a 2 year contract) – will also see you receive a free $50 gift card. Pick up an Apple TV for $100 on your way and you’ll get a free $20 gift card. Plus, those looking for some extra in-store credit to spend on even more Black Friday deals will probably appreciate the chance to bag a $10 RadioShack gift card with the purchase of any $50 iTunes Card. Those looking for some added protection to add to their iOS devices might also be pleased to hear that RadioShack will be offering 30% off all Zagg Screen Protectors, and a further 10% off all Otterbox cases.
Sam’s Club will be opening its doors for black Friday super-early, this year. 7 AM to be exact. If you get down there quick though, you might just be able to bag yourself a few $100 iTunes Cards for $79.88 each.
The lowest prices for iOS devices available for Black Friday 2013 are listed below.
Easy Annotate, just like its name suggests, provides a clean and easy-to-understand user interface that allows the annotating of up to two documents simultaneously. But it could do with more ways to share the documents one edits.
Read The Full Review »
Despite issues with the company’s live recording equipment back in September, reportedly preventing the firm from being able to provide a true live-stream of its iPhone-focused media event to its iOS customers, Apple has today announced that its October 22 event will be streamed live around the world.
The stream will be available for those who own an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, as well as through a web browser on your Mac and for those who own an Apple TV. This will notably be the the first live-stream that the company has provided for its special media events held throughout this year.
Set to showcase all of the announcements we can expect to see when executives from the company take to the stage later today, for those devices which support web browsing the stream will be accessible around 10AM Pacific, 1PM Eastern, through a specially-designed page which went live on the company’s website just a few hours ago.
To access this exclusive live-stream from your chosen iOS device, all you need to do is ensure that your Wi-Fi setting is ‘On’ (Settings > Wi-Fi > ON), open Safari, and head over to this page. The stream will take advantage of Apple’s QuickTime video technology, so it’s worth noting that in order to view the stream from your Mac, you’ll first need to have Safari 4 (or later) installed, and ensure that your system is running on OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard (or later).
Alternatively, if you’re planning on tuning-in to the event from your iPhone, or iPad – which we imagine most of you might be – you’ll need to be running iOS 4.2 (or later). Streaming the event to your big-screen via the Apple TV will require either a second or third-generation Apple TV, and the TV-connected device must also be running software 5.0.2 (or later).
The iPad-focused media event is expected to focus on what’s next for the company’s 9.7-inch tablet, alongside the firm’s smaller and more compact 7.9-inch option – the iPad mini. In recent weeks, the web has been positively alight with reports surrounding both the form-factor and functionality that the next iteration of these products could bring to consumers.
Here’s my take on what we could see happen at the event:
It’s pretty much a given from the amount of reports we’ve seen relating to Apple’s next-generation iPads over the last several weeks, and Apple’s recent switch to a fall timeframe for announcements relating to its iPad product line, that we’re almost certainly in for some new tablets.
First, let’s talk about the full-size 9.7-inch iPad. Originally introduced in January 2010, Apple’s iPad has – over the last several years – systematically found its way into nearly every sector of our society. Revamped with a completely new design in March 2011, and gaining a quad-core graphics processor and Apple’s signature super-high resolution Retina display along the way, the latest iteration of Apple’s iPad is a powerhouse and features Apple’s internally developed system-on-a-chip A6X processor as well as the company’s new Lightning Connector.
As for what we can expect see in the next iteration of the iPad? Well, the jury’s out on that one. Considering we haven’t seen a hardware design refresh since the second generation, I’m expecting that Apple will show a change in appearance for the device on Tuesday, possibly in an effort to match the same style as the iPhone 5S. The device will likely be available in the same 16, 32, 64, and 128GB storage capacity options, and there’s a good chance we will also see the device include the new 64-bit compatible A7 processor chip – now also found in the iPhone 5S.
(credit: Unbox Therapy)
And then, of course, we have to address the recent chatter about the iPad mini. Introduced as the company’s more affordable iPad, the iPad mini first saw its public introduction in November of last year. The device is capable of pretty much everything Apple’s current-generation full-sized iPad is capable of achieving, with the added benefit being that the device is more portable. In addition, compared to the iPad’s starting price of $499, the iPad mini arrived starting at just $329.
In terms of what we could expect to see if Apple where to choose to reveal a new iPad mini at the event, the device could see a complete revamp to its hardware design. Personally, I’m expecting that we will see the device gain both Apple’s new Gold and Slate Grey color options – although it’s worth noting that a recent report by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggests this won’t be the case. Apple’s second-generation iPad mini could also arrive featuring a Retina display. This is an aspect of the rumored device which has been speculated about quite heavily over the last year, with the main focus of discussion being on whether Apple can actually afford to keep the iPad mini at its tantalizing price point and offer expensive upgrades such as the jump to a 326-pixels per inch display.
This argument also extends to other recently introduced upgrades such as Touch ID, which again would make sense for Apple to include in the next-generation iPad mini, but whether or not the company would be able to keep the same price point if it did so is unclear. Granted, there’s always the chance that Apple could position the next iPad mini as its “high-end” offering, and leave the existing generation of the tablet to serve as its entry offering as it does currently.
As for other internal upgrades, the question has to be asked as to whether Apple can afford to keep the iPad mini’s dual-core A5 processor for another year, taking into account the new graphical requirements of its iOS 7 operating system. Personally, I’m going to wager that Apple will have no choice but to upgrade the processor on the iPad mini this year – perhaps (at least) to the A6, or A6X.
Things We’re Not Expecting
With all that said, there are some things we’re not expecting to see at Apple’s media event. For instance, Apple’s long speculated about ‘wearable’ product is likely only to see its public introduction (at the earliest) sometime next year. Likewise, Apple’s ‘television’ product is highly doubtful to see its introduction at this event, simply due to reports in recent weeks suggesting the product’s development is a long way off from being final.
Apple’s media event on Tuesday will take place at the Yerba Buena Center of the Arts, in San Francisco, and is set to begin at 10am (Pacific), 1pm (Atlantic). We’ll be sure to bring you full coverage regarding any products that may be announced at the event. Stay tuned!
(editor note: GodFinger is not available in the US App Store yet, but ngmoco:) says that it is coming soon!)
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of playing Bolt Creative’s Pocket God, you’ll probably understand how much fun it can be acting as ‘God’ over a group of (admittedly adorable) virtual characters. Within the game, players get to control almost every aspect of every day life for the islands small inhabitants, the pygmies. While good in its own right, Pocket God only focuses its attention on one small, virtually insignificant island. Released today, GodFinger by ngmoco takes this genius concept and multiples its size by … a lot.
In GodFinger, you don’t just get to control an island … you get to control a planet. Your planet. To do with whatever you please. Your planets inhabitants are called denizens and you get control them in any which way that you please! In order to play the game you’ll first need a Plus+ account. If you’re not familar with the service, Plus+ is ngmoco:)’s own social network which allows you to interact with other players of certain ngmoco-owned games, store achievements and game progress. If you already have an account, simply login and you’re ready to roll!
Starting out the game will take you on an interactive tutorial in which you complete a number of task to make you familiar with the game and its working. As you act as God, most of the in-game elements are “power” related. For example one of your first tasks is to find and guide your followers to your shrine. Your shrine is the global source of your godly power. Having your followers worship you around this totem-like statute will generate Mana. There are three types of currency you will come into contact with and use in GodFinger. These include; Mana, Awe and Gold. Mana is the “currency” of your powers, and while you have Mana you can perform various different wonders. Wonders are events like triggering a rain shower from a cloud, commanding lightening bolts, or lighting up your planet with sunshine. Your Mana regenerates over time, but you can speed this up by forcing your followers to worship you. If you need a quick fix of Mana you can trade Awe for Mana in the Awe store.
Continue reading GodFinger »
As you probably already know, GDC or the Game Developers Conference in San Fransisco is an annual conference at which game developer get together to share development, tools, tips and technologies. This year, independent development companies Semi Secret and Backflip Studios were quick to share just how successful their dive into the App Store has been. Between the two of them, they have 8 paid applications on the store.
Yesterday, co-founder of Semi Secret, Eric Johnson revealed to Pocket Biz that the company had sold 115,000 copies of their popular side-scroller adventure Canabalt. Whats interesting though is these download statistics he said were based upon Canabalt selling at the $2.99 price point over 5 months. He was also quick to estimate the ball-park piracy rate of Canabalt, which he put at 20 percent over those 5 months.
Similarly, Backflip Studio revealed it had generated $2.5 Million in around nine and a half months of being on the store. The company stated these figure were based on enjoying a staggering 22 Million downloads overall, revealing 17 Million of those came from just one of their App Store titles – Paper Toss. On a side note Backflip also announced mobile advertising is making them a substantial $1 Million in just six months and $379,000 in December last year, alone.
One for the game developers now. Since the iPhone’s launch and the App Store’s debut, we’ve seen a slurry of companies take it upon themselves to create a “social” medium or space in which gamers of all ages and skill levels can communicate and interact with each other on a device to device basis. But so far, supposedly due to the limitations of the iPhone SDK, this has been restricted to three methods of gameplay for us here gamers; iPhone to iPhone. iPhone to iPod touch or iPod touch to iPod touch.
Namco, most famous for its worldwide Pac-Man franchise, have announced at GDC yesterday that they have been working on a new, different method. Unite is a cross-platform gaming technology that will allow users to play against gamers using different types of devices and machines and challenge each other in the same game. Acting very much like a social network, Unites aim is to unite gamers the world over, no matter which device they choose to play on.
“For example, an iPhone gamer could play a game against a PC player in Pool Pro Online 3. Unite will have a single login across all platforms supported by the platform. Gamers have a profile fronted by an avatar and a score, boosted by the accumulation of achievements in Unite-powered games.And having a central web site (and soon, an iPhone app) where you can manage your account should also make it an attractive alternative to developers looking for a social solution for their games.”
Origin8 have today announced that a major update to their hit iPhone and iPod touch tower defense sequel “Sentinel 2: Earth Defense,” Version 1.4 is now in submission. The new update will enable players to have access to a bunch of downloadable content, as well as providing free enhancements to the base game. Expansion Pack One, priced at $0.99 or regional equivalent, will be available as an in-app purchase upon approval.
Here’s just some of what you can expect from this new update:
Free content features:
- One menacing new enemy unit, integrated into all existing campaign maps.
- A new Sentinel ship weapon, the ION bomb, providing a spectacular explosion and damage over time.
- Two new missions based on existing campaign maps.
- New OpenFeint achievements.
- Bug fixes and balance tweaks for existing missions.
Expansion Pack One features:
- Two new maps, Barracks and Overpass, with unique mechanics and challenging layouts.
- A tough new enemy present on DLC maps only.
- Three new missions based on DLC maps.
- OpenFeint leaderboards and achievements for the new maps and missions.
Look out for this update hitting very soon!
Hellemental is a colorful tower defense title set in the times of magic sorcerers and mythical creatures. One with 3D graphics and more spells you can shake a stick it .. for me though, it was missing something I couldn't quite put my finger on.
Read The Full Review »
If you’re like me and have been spending your mornings hoping to see that little yellow sticky note appear on Apple’s website .. this one is for you. In an official press release published by the Cupertino firm on Friday morning, Apple has announced that its latest tablet invention, the iPad, will be available in the US on April 3rd. The device will start at $499 for 16GB, $599 for 32GB and $699 for the 64GB Wi-Fi model. The Wi-Fi + 3G models however will only be available in late April, starting at $629 for 16GB, $729 for 32GB and $829 for the 64GB model. The device will be available to pre-order from Apple.com and Apple resellers from March 12th, and Apple noted it will be offering an in-store collection option.
Alongside the announcement, Apple also revealed its future plans for an international launch, announcing that the iPad Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + 3G models will be available in late April in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK. Its worth noting that this announcement didn’t seem to bring with it any hint of international pricing, something which has evaded Apple product pages since the original announcement. Apple states international pricing will be announced in April. For any countries not mentioned in this initial press announcement, it’s bad news I’m afraid. iPad will ship to those countries later this year.
One other interesting tidbit to come from this announcement though is the US-only launch of iBooks. While Apple.com has stated since the device’s introduction that its iBooks application will be US-centric at launch, we didn’t yet know for sure if iBooks would be available internationally at a later date. According to the press release today, the UK and other countries can expect iBooks “later this year”.
Will iBooks make the UK iPad launch in late April? .. Who knows!