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Kyle Flanigan

Senior Writer with the 148Apps Network since April 30, 2009

Student of Finance at Queen's University, author of Zealous Christian. Secret geek who likes karting and starbucks'ing!

Kyle is not currently writing for the 148Apps Network.
Personal site :: http://www.kylef.net

Introducing HDvision

From the developers of the Musée du Louvre application, one of the most downloaded educational applications in the App Store’s history, comes a new project: HDvision. The iPad-only magazine, second of its kind only to Virgin’s Project, immediately shot to the number one downloaded News application (and number seven overall) in its premiere in the French App Store. Now it’s available in the US and a number of different App Stores across the world.

HDvision is devoted to high definition media and technology. “Get the best of Cinema, Blu-ray, TV Shows, Video Games, VOD, Multichannel Sound and Technology on your iPad with the HDvision magazine” reads the official blurb, all through an interactive app that includes embedded HD video trailers, HD picture galleries and interactive slideshows. The first issue of HDvision is free to download. This month’s magazine weighs in at 619MB, heavy even for magazine standards but to be expected given HDvision’s focus on high definition content.

I spoke to David Fakrikian of HDvision earlier this week, asking him about the inspiration and development of the popular magazine. “The [printed] project was refused by every publishing company around for both costs reasons, and political reasons … until the iPad came about, and Mastery Pictures International offered to team up with us” he writes. “The idea was irresistible: iPad offered the possibility to blend both contents of the original magazine (features articles + video) into one package, and make an international (english) edition, offering us for the first time the possibility to be read worlwide, as well as by most directors and actors we interview.” The pricing strategy behind the magazine application is yet to be determined, given its early stages.

The magazine’s inception stems from DVDvision, a print magazine that Fakrikian created and edited between 1999 and 2003. You can download the first edition of its new counterpart, HDvision, for free. Just check out the link below the YouTube teaser.

FREE!
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2011-01-04 :: Category: News

This Week at 148Apps: February 13-20

This week, February 13-20, Apple launched subscription services for applications, meaning that developers must offer an in-app purchase option if they offer an outside-app purchase option, like a newspaper does through its website. For example, if Company A offers a monthly service charge of $10 for its articles, and it has an application on the App Store, it must now offer that same deal for the same price ($10) or less through its iOS application. Here’s the catch – that $10 is subject to Apple’s 30% commission policy.

“Apple feels as though they are providing lots of new users for these services and Apple wants to be compensated for that. That makes sense. They are providing a service and bringing users to these subscription services, they should be compensated” writes Jeff Scott, Founder of 148Apps. However, he warns that “in the end, it’s going to backfire and we the users are going to lose out” – outlining a number of possible scenarios, one of which is shifting the extra cost of paying commission onto the consumer. So that $10 service would need to rise to $13.33 (30% of $10, plus the original $10) in order for the developer to remain no better or no worse off. And that’s not good for consumers.

In other news, the all-time favourite Angry Birds has reached a new App Store peak: 250 non-consecutive days at the number one spot on the biggest application store the world has ever known. The iOS favourite was launched on December 11 2009 and, in less than six months after its conception, reached the number one spot in Apple’s App Store on April 27 2010. Bonnie Eisenman’s been hard at work, collaborating a myriad of data to produce a pictorial review of its massive success. You can see (and read) all about it right here.

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-12-11 :: Category: Games

In other news, this week 148Apps awarded NBA Jam Review 4.5 stars as well as the Editor’s Choice badge for its excellent gameplay and 5 star graphics. “EA has managed to perfectly recreate the NBA Jam experience on a device that was never designed to handle that volume of visual insanity” writes Blake Grundman. “Every dunk, jumpshot and alley-oop runs smoothly and flawlessly, once again raising the bar for gaming on the platform. There is really no amount of praise that can do this game enough justice. It is simply outstanding.”

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2011-02-10 :: Category: Games

But there are many who just don’t find touch screen gaming an equal substitute. “When it comes to iOS gaming, the biggest complaint that continues to come up is the lack of physical controls. While veteran iOS gamers have gotten used to virtual controls, games still often suffer from not having actual physical buttons and joysticks to use” writes Carter Dotson, who goes on to outline a number of solution for hand-using gamers, such as the Fling, JOYSTICK-IT, iCade and iControlPad.

And to wrap up this week, we’ve brought back the much-loved Favorite 4 column. This week, Favorite 4 examines “the finest examples of established gaming franchises making appearances on iOS” – Street Fighter IV, Space Invaders Infinity Gene, NBA Jam and PAC-MAN. Episode 72 of The Portable Podcast is also available to download, featuring your host Carter Dotson and special guest Brett Nolan from AppAddict.

I’ll leave you this week with a glimpse into the future. It has Telltale Games written all over it.

This Week at 148Apps: February 6-13

This week, the App Hall of Fame announced the twelve applications to be featured for the month of February, including Street Figher IV, currently #1 on the App Store (more on this later). The list is voted for by way of a specially created, independent committee, which seeks out the best applications out there and available to download now. You can see this month’s list, as well as all the other’s since its inception last October, right here.

The App Hall of Fame is an initiative launched by 148Apps, whereby an independent committee collectively votes for twelve applications to be featured in the Hall of Fame each month. The committee is comprised of over forty members from app-related sites across the globe.

“We’ve got a new champion” writes Jeff Scott, Founder of 148Apps, in relation to Street Fighter IV‘s phenomenal sales. “Capcom has taken over the much coveted number one overall app spot [from Angry Birds]” – though for how long it is anyone’s guess. The position is certainly a feat and an achievement, with the number one spot potentially requiring over $60 000 worth of sales. Per day. The game was awarded 4.5 stars by 148Apps last year, with reviewer Jason Fanguy writing “it is money well spent. I highly recommend this game to any/all lovers of the Street Fighter franchise or anyone who enjoys a quality 2-D fighter.”

$4.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-03-10 :: Category: Games

In other news, Japanese corporation Namco, creator of the best-selling arcade game in human history, Pac-Man, has announced that its popular racing title Ridge Racer will drive its way into the iPad App Store sometime this month, to compliment its iPhone counterpart released last year. “The interesting thing about Ridge Racer Accelerated for the iPad is that it will be released as a freemium app” writes Carter Dotson, referring to an application type whereby users pay to unlock new features as they go along. “It will be free to download, include 3 cars, one course, with Time Attack and Game Center ranking modes available for free, and will cost $9.99 in-app to unlock the full app.”

If you’re after something a bit sooner, or rather available now, earlier this week the Editor’s Choice badge was awarded to Pocket Universe HD, the iPad-exclusive version of one of the most impressive space applications currently available. When Kyle Flanigan reviewed the application earlier this week, he was blown away by its precision and performance. “Pocket Universe HD is a ‘wow’ application. You don’t just have the whole earth in your hands, but the known universe.” It costs $3.99.

FREE!
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2010-04-01 :: Category: Education

And with a number of applications offering Valentine’s Day discounts, developers are also marking down the price of their applications due to Verizon’s launch of the iPhone 4. Jeff Scott has been keeping track of all the latest price drops, available here. “There’s no real defined end point for this sale, so grab them now as they could go up anytime.” Remember, you can keep track of all price drops through 148Apps’ own Twitter and RSS feeds, which do all the hard work for you.

In case you missed it, Apple updated the iPad App Store application to include a much more efficient and customizable Search, and Episode 71 of The Portable Podcast is available to download now, featuring guest speaker Blake Grundman. The final word for this week is by way of a competition available to all our readers: until February 20, you have a daily chance to win a Verizon-designed Speck iPhone 4 case.

That’s all for this week – thanks for reading and have a great week.

Chillingo, a division of Electronic Arts most recognized for its creation of Angry Birds, which sits almost always as the #1 paid application in App Stores across the world, announced today that Cut the Rope will receive a special update for Valentine’s Day, February 14.

“The new Cut the Rope 1.2 update marks the annual celebration of love and affection with adorable Om Nom as cupid in a special Valentine’s Box filled with 25 gorgeous levels. A romantic and fun, “split-candy” gameplay is also introduced to challenge players as they strive to slice the right ropes to feed the insatiable green creature. Brand new artwork and a distinctive Valentine’s icon make Cut the Rope the perfect gift for your special someone” reads the official release.

“This 1.2 update is our gift to you this Valentine’s Day for being the greatest fans out there; we hope players love the new box, levels and features just as much as we enjoyed creating it,” states Efim Voinov, CTO of Zeptolab. “Thank you for the continued support, we are already working closely with Chillingo to enhance the game and think fans will be extremely delighted!”

Such holiday updates are becoming more and more popular, even within Cut the Rope’s own development. In December of last year, 148Apps reviewer Brad Hilderbrand announced the Christmas update of the popular application, which to date has now sold more than six million copies. Conservatively, that means Cut the Rope has generated over $4 million in revenue (after Apple’s 30% commission), not taking into account the price difference between the iPad and iPhone version of the immensely popular game. It stood as the sixth most popular paid-for iPhone game in 2010.

When 148Apps reviewed the game last year, writer Carter Dotson awarded it 4 stars. “Cut the Rope is ingenious, following a similar formula to Angry Birds – charming graphics, simple gameplay that gets complexity steadily layered on top of it in a way that feels natural, almost without even feeling like it’s getting more difficult” he writes. “That is just brilliant game design, and with more levels promised, Cut the Rope has an exciting future, but is still great with even just the core game content.”

Available for $0.99 on iPhone and $1.99 for iPad, a free lite version is also available to download, allowing you to try-before-you-buy. A sneak peak video of the update is available below:

$4.99
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2010-10-07 :: Category: Games

$2.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-10-05 :: Category: Games

Pocket Universe HD Review

iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Pocket Universe HD is an iPad-optimized version of the most popular space education application. With its virtual sky capability, you can hold up your iPad to the heavens and pinpoint exactly what you're object you're seeing or what you're looking for.

Read The Full Review »
Notes Plus Review

Notes Plus Review

iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Notes Plus offers much more than what Apple's Notes application offers, such as handwriting, drawing and shape detection, but it's not quite a substitute for the pen.

Read The Full Review »

iPad users will notice something a little different when they open the App Store on their device and open up search. The App Store application, which itself does not require updating, has been refreshed and includes new (and frankly, necessary) features that make it much easier to discover apps that you’re looking for, as well as pinpointing applications that you’ve downloaded before but no longer have installed – perhaps due a fresh iOS install.

The refined search now allows you to show results from a specific category and subcategory (eg. Games or Action Games or Utilities); apps released within the past 7 / 14 / 31 days; free or paid (no specific price brackets); iPad, iPhone or universally built; and apps that have received a certain overall consumer rating (eg. 2+, 3+, 4+ or 5 stars). These filters are inter-compatible, meaning you can search for an app and then limit results by, for example: games only, iPad only, 4+ stars. With over 330,000 applications currently available to download, such filters are a welcome addition.

And that’s not all. Conveniently, applications that have been bought but are not currently installed on your device will now show up in the App Store as “Install” rather than “Free” or “Buy Now” – meaning you can be sure that what you’re downloading is what you’ve bought. Beforehand, consumers had to manually check their iTunes receipts to confirm that the application had been bought, and then hit “Buy Now” despite having already bought it. Only after the iTunes password was entered – which meant your account could then be charged if you didn’t own the app – did a notification arise stating that you’ve already bought the application and that you’d be able to download it without charge. The update, that will already be installed on all iPads, fixes all of that. In addition, any apps that require updating will read “Update” in the App Store rather than “Free” or “Install”. Presently, the update is iPad only, meaning iPhone users are still relegated to the old search.

On a related note, 148Apps has updated its search engine – making it easier than ever to find the apps or blog posts you’re looking for. Go ahead and try it out!

Filterstorm

Filterstorm

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Filterstorm is an on-the-go photo editing application that allows you to apply a myriad of different filters to photos saved in the Photos apps or copied to your clipboard. With a bit of practice and trial and error, the power of Filterstorm shines through with your results.

Read The Full Review »

The year is 1983, and Midway Games, developer and publisher of Ms. Pac-Man, Spy Hunter and Tron are preparing to launch what is later to become a world classic: Tapper. The objective is simple, the gameplay challenging: serve fresh beer whilst collecting old mugs (and hopefully a few tips too) successfully. Its originality proves that games don’t need to have the best graphics to make it into the history charts.

Fast forward 28 years to 2011 and history seems to be repeating itself, albeit with a more modern touch. Yep – you guessed it – Tapper is coming to the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch in the Spring of 2011, courtesy of Warner Bros Digital Distribution.

Working with animator Don Bluth, alongside developer Square One, Tapper World Tour for iPad will feature all-new bars from all across the world, with new graphics, advanced gameplay and a taste of originality. The developers plan to include multiple game modes, difficulty settings and a ton of locations to meet your customers’ need for thirst quenching beverages.

You’ll be faced with at least three counter tops and an exponentially increasing number of customers, each of which will want their own drink of choice. As things get busier, customers arrive more frequently, drink faster and gradually all will get closer to the bar. You’re going to want to be on top serving form, as all customers must be satisfied before you can move on to the next level. So there’s no slacking in iPad games either.

There’s no word on pricing yet, but this is one game you’re not going to want to miss. Check below for some actual in-game screenshots for both iPhone and iPad. It looks the game will be optimized for iPhone 4 too. If it’s anything like the original, then there’s much to look forward to.

We’ll continue to post details as we know them, but until them, check out the official Facebook page here.

In celebration of last week’s announcement of the winners of the 2010 Best App Ever Awards, 148Apps is giving away hundreds of promotional codes to some lucky contest winners To be in for a chance of winning any of these codes, head over to our contest page and read the details. We tallied almost five hundred thousand votes in the 2010 Best App Ever Awards – this is both the developers’ way and our way of saying thanks.

The main news this week came from News Corporation Chairman & CEO Rupert Murdoch, in conjunction with Apple’s Vice President of Internet Services, Eddy Cue, with the announcement of the launch of the highly-anticipated iPad only newspaper called The Daily. Available now on the iTunes App Store, the free-to-download application will provide new content each and every day. “The app will be free, with a subscription available for $0.99 per day, or $39.99 per year. The first two weeks will also be free, thanks to sponsors like Verizon and Virgin Atlantic. It has Twitter and Facebook integration as well as ways to make audio notes on the content” writes Rob LeFebvre.

FREE!
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2011-02-02 :: Category: News

In other news, Blake Grundman reported earlier this week on the pending arrival of the next instalment of Angry Birds, Rio, due in March 2011. “The game will be getting a newly christened graphical upgrade, forty-five new stages with the promise for more via update, and several new wrinkles to the game mechanics” writes Blake. “Developers have pared up with 20th Century Fox to help complement the launch of their upcoming animated film, Rio. Entitled the very original, Angry Birds Rio, the game will focus on melding the two worlds together in a way that will hopefully pass along little bit of Rovio’s secret sauce onto the cinematic release.”

And that’s not all on the gaming front. Earlier this week, Gameloft launched Secret Odyseey: Rise of Ayden for iPhone and iPod Touch, a fantasy / RPG game that is free to download, but will cost $6.99 to unlock the full game. “This is a curious gambit from Gameloft” writes Carter Dotson, “and it will be interesting to see how users react to it, and if future releases adopt a similar pricing model or not.”

FREE!
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2011-02-03 :: Category: Games

Dotson also posted about iOS Gaming on Your TV, through the Apple VGA cable. “The iPad may have a big and beautiful screen, but sometimes, you want to play those games on an even bigger screen, like your TV. Thankfully, there are a selection of iOS games that allow you to hook up your iPad and/or iPhone/iPod touch to the TV using the VGA adapter.” Click the link to see some of the apps that support this integration.

148Apps also awarded two applications five-star reviews, as well as the Editor’s Choice badge, earlier this week. First up, PoweryBase’s Bills ~ On Your Table HD, the iPad-only version of the popular iPhone application. “Bills does just about everything except pay the bills, in a beautiful, wooden interface” I wrote. “I’m thoroughly impressed with Bills ~ On Your Table HD. Cataloguing bills is refreshingly simple yet advanced where it needs to be. If only paying them was as painless.”

Version 2.0 of Camera+ by tap tap tap stands at the same position also. “It’s probably the best camera replacement app on the App Store” writes Carter Dotson. “The great thing about Camera+ is just the sheer number of options you have … If you need a camera replacement app, Camera+ is a fine selection, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better feature-packed alternative to the default camera app.”

$0.99
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2011-01-14 :: Category: Finance

$2.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-06-07 :: Category: Photography

To keep up to date with the top apps out there, 148Apps releases an updated-daily list for a number of different categories, including All Time Top iPhone Apps, Top Games and most-downloaded iPhone Apps. You can subscribe to each list via RSS, or follow our twitter feed if social networking’s more your thing.

And finally, we’re pleased to have launched an all-new, updated search to 148Apps. Now it’s easier than ever before to find what you’re looking for, whether it be app results or blog posts. Go ahead and try it out!

Thanks for reading, and be sure to check back the same time next week for a summary of the most eventful happenings.

The New Guardian

“The App Store has come a long way over the last 12 months and now forms a major part of the way we deliver content to our mobile audience, whose expectations are, rightly, rising” writes Jonathon Moore, who first introduced The Guardian application in December 2009. “We can’t stand still. With the new app we’ll be launching more frequent updates, offering a broader range of content and bringing you a better experience.” The new Guardian app is now available to download from the iTunes App Store for free in the US, ad-supported. What’s new? From automatic updates to video playback over 3G, a new front-end design to a new back-end search, the list is extensive, so here’s a summary rundown along with some personal screenshots and thoughts.

Live updating is the big one for me, particularly given how fast the flow of news is today. An article can be outdated five seconds after it is published, but live updating changes all of this. As soon as new information is available, the Guardian team send updates live to the app, meaning you can be in-the-know immediately. For example, as I write this article there are ongoing riots in Egypt, protestors demanding that President Mubarak relieves himself of his position. Three live updates have already occurred in the past half hour and show no signs of slowing, providing up-to-date, relevant information on the situation at hand.

The new app also includes Guardian video, an omission in the previous app that left it trailing behind its 21st century competitors. Now, video is available on-demand and works over both Wi-Fi and 3G, the quality of which in the latter is respectable, albeit not spectacular. For soccer fans, the app now offers free goal alerts (specific teams and matches) for “the main UK leagues and European competitions” – meaning even if you’re out and about, unable to watch the match, you’ll be notified of goals as soon as they happen. No more manual checking required.

There’re a few structural design changes to be found too, ensuring new features like video are integrated correctly. Gone are the old “Audio” and “Galleries” tabs, both have been replaced with a new “Multimedia carousel” to encompass all forms of multimedia in one section. The search is improved significantly, allowing you to search for content in every seam of the site. And to top it all off, landscape mode is now a go-ahead.

UK users can get all of these benefits on a slightly different pricing model. There are no ads in the UK version, instead the Guardian have implemented a subscription-based model: £2.99 for 6 months unlimited access, £3.99 for 12 months (as opposed to the initial £2.39 under the old app). To give users a chance to switch over, the Guardian are continuing access of the old app for a further six months, meaning there’s plenty of time to adjust to the change. Why the differentiation between US and UK markets? Jonathon Moore writes “we aim to increase our reach [in the US] (only 8% of downloads to date have come from this huge audience), we’ve taken the decision to integrate advertising and offer the new app as a free download.”

Available now, see our screenshots for a pictorial summary of what you can expect. You can read a review of The Guardian (original version) here.

Author’s note: on my iPhone 3G, I found the application concerningly slow to run. Let us know if you experience the same problems

FREE!
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2011-01-12 :: Category: News

Bills ~ On Your Table HD Review

iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Bills is an application that allows you to record all your outgoing payments, through a beautiful, slick, secure interface.

Read The Full Review »

This week, January 22 to 29, 148Apps tallied up over 500,000 votes, for 609 final nominees, to determine the winners of the 2010 Best App Ever Awards. It’s a once a year celebration that reveals what you think are the best apps out there on the App Store. 2010 saw a record number of votes, and 148Apps was proud to announce the winners last Thursday on stage, live, at the MacWorld Expo. You can read the selected highlights below, or see the full results here.

Angry Birds took the top of the charts this year, winning the Best App Ever Category, followed by Pocket Legends (3D MMO) in second and Pocket Frogs in third. For the most innovative apps, you voted Word Lens as number one for iPhone and Flipboard for iPad. Moving onto games, and Angry Birds once again took the number one spot, this time for the Most Innovative Game for the iPhone. Its iPad counterpart was Osmos. Real Racing leads the way for Best Game Graphics on iPhone, with Zen Bound and its abstract thinking coming in top of the iPad charts. If strategy’s more your thing, Plants vs Zombies took the top space in Best Strategy Game for iPhone, along with Sentinel 3 for iPad.

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-12-11 :: Category: Games

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2010-04-08 :: Category: Games

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2010-09-15 :: Category: Games

In other news, Electronic Arts’ Dead Space for iPhone received the Editor’s Choice award for its stunning gameplay and graphics. “To say that Dead Space is one of the best games that we have seen in 2011 doesn’t do it justice” writes Blake Grundman, who awarded the application 4.5 stars earlier this week. “It isn’t merely a game, it is an experience that all iOS gamers should partake in.”

$4.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2011-01-25 :: Category: Games

We also had a sit down with Ideaworks’ Vice President of Business Development, Phil Waymouth, discussing the work in porting over Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light and what the future holds for iOS gaming. “For something like iOS you’re not actually writing a game for a console but you’re also not writing for a phone (since the iPod Touch isn’t one)” says Phil, noting that “we wanted to keep the gameplay as similar as possible and I think we’ve succeeded in doing that.”

$2.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-12-16 :: Category: Games

Bonnie Eisenman discovered a hidden gem in the App Store, under the name Instant Queue. “Sometimes I like the current song, but not the one I know is coming next; I want to finish this song while being able to pick the next one” and, “with Instant Queue, you can select one or more songs to be played next.” The application runs in the background, meaning you can work away on other apps without having to worry about changing songs over. The application features something that Apple’s iPod app has been lacking since its inception on June 11, 2007, with the release of the original iPhone.

FREE!
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-11-11 :: Category: Music

Finally, you can keep track with some of the best free games through Chris Nitz’ FrEEday column, and episode 69 of The Portable Podcast is now available to download, featuring an interview with the developer of the popular puzzle game, Trainyard. The app won third place in the Best Puzzle Game category for iPhone.

And that’s us for this week! Be sure to check back on Monday for a massive promotional code giveaway in celebration of the 2010 Best App Ever Awards. You won’t want to miss it.

Earlier this month, I had a sit down with the Vice President of Business Development at Ideaworks Game Studio, Phil Waymouth. Ideaworks has developed some of the App Store’s most popular applications, for some of the most recognized names (EA and Activision to name two) in the industry. I asked Phil about Ideaworks and its latest port, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light.

Hi Phil, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us! You work for Ideaworks Game Studio, the highly successful video game development company that’s created some of the world’s most recognized titles for mobile devices, including Need for Speed: Most Wanted and Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies. What do you specialize as within the company?

I head up business development at Ideaworks Game Studio. So, day-to-day it’s my job to work directly with our customers & publishing partners, identifying new game opportunities and planning our portfolio of work. This encompasses everything from sourcing new projects, negotiating contracts & release schedules, and then working closely with the rest of the Studio team both during development and after release to support our titles.

So, for the games you mention above it would be my responsibility to work with the EA & Activision/Treyarch teams respectively to deliver mobile versions of their premium titles.

The cross platform development area of Ideaworks focuses on porting games from different sources into an SDK called Airplay (not to be confused with Apple’s Airplay). Can you elaborate on what Airplay is and how it works?

Certainly. Airplay SDK is a flexible, multi-platform development solution created by our sister company Ideaworks Labs. Airplay SDK allows us to create high performance applications for multiple mobile platforms at the same time, and we’ve used it for all our games to-date, including Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, Call of Duty, Backbreaker Football, Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid, and many others.

Basically, Airplay SDK allows a developer to compile a single codebase and deploy easily to iOS, Android, bada, Symbian, Windows Mobile, and webOS devices. It’s worked fantastically well for us as a development team and is now being used by thousands of developers & publishers around the world to develop their own titles.

“Airplay SDK allows a developer to compile a single codebase and deploy easily to iOS, Android, bada, Symbian, Windows Mobile, and webOS devices.”

Your latest port, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, continues work that you began back in 2003 with an initial port of Tomb Raider onto the N-Gage and Windows Mobile. How challenging was it to port GoL onto the iPad, which operates under a much less graphically powerful framework in comparison to the Playstation 3, Xbox 360 or PC (where GoL was initially launched)? The game was only released in August for these platforms – and then last week for iOS – is three to four months a good turnaround time for a game of this size?

It’s a huge challenge! Lara Croft and The Guardian of Light is a massive mobile game that actually includes most of the levels, weapons, enemies & puzzles you’d find in the console & PC versions of the game.

To be strict, our version isn’t a port of the console game: we re-wrote the codebase specifically for mobile devices and re-created most of the art assets too, so we were very fortunate to work closely with both the Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics teams who offered support and reference materials for the game. We actually used the beta version of the XBLA title as our design document, playing & recording every level, character, weapon and puzzle. In the end, the game’s scale wasn’t identical but the level designs themselves were taken directly from the console game.

This is often the way we work. In most cases we believe it delivers the finest quality result for a premium brand like Lara Croft. Remember, for something like iOS you’re not actually writing a game for a console (since you get interruptions such as phone calls & low-battery warnings) but you’re also not writing for a phone (since the iPod Touch isn’t one), and we’ve found that using previous experience and working closely with your partners help create games that get the best out of these devices.

“For something like iOS you’re not actually writing a game for a console but you’re also not writing for a phone (since the iPod Touch isn’t one.”

The game did take us a little longer than 3-4 months to make (it’s a large game with lots of complexity) but we’re very proud of the outcome. One issue a game like GoL does highlight is the pace at which mobile platforms moves – a lot of our team come from console backgrounds, and the rate at which new devices and new OS features comes out is both fantastic but a real challenge – especially when you’re deciding what features a flagship game should target in advance!

When porting GoL, what goals did you have in mind? Did you want to maintain it as authentic as possible to the original, or take your own angle to suit the iPad directly?

When we first spoke to Square Enix about the opportunity to bring GoL to iOS, we started from the position of “why don’t we re-make the game as-is?”. We could see the title was shaping up to be a great game on console and PC, and of course we didn’t want to throw away all the design work that Crystal Dynamics had done on the title to date.

Our goals were to keep the mobile version as authentic as possible, especially in the areas of cooperative multiplayer and high production-quality. Of course, there are always considerations you need to make for a new form factor (for example, around controls, cameras, etc.), but we wanted to keep the gameplay as similar as possible and I think we’ve succeeded in doing that.

Our game shares the showcase features that Square Enix advertise for the console & PC versions (high quality gaming, co-operative multiplayer, the ability to drop-in to running games, voicechat between players, leaderboards & achievements, etc.)

What do you think the future holds for cross-platform games? Could we ever see games like Half-Life 2 or Portal being played on a future generation iPad? If you look at the technological progress between the first iPhone and the iPhone 4, the gap is significant. We can do things now that we just didn’t have the technology to do then, at least not within the iPhone’s size. Have you been surprised at the power of iOS, now that we’re playing titles like GoL?

It’s certainly feasible that experiences such as Half-Life 2 or Portal could be delivered on mobile devices, and FPS’s have already been extremely successful – our work with Activision on Call of Duty is an example. You’re absolutely right about the technology too: the rate of progress is startling, and the latest generation of mobile chips with 1GHz, dual-core chips & fast graphics are unbelievably powerful considering their size.

You need to be pragmatic about hardware differences though: despite being 5 years old the Xbox 360 probably has 5 times the CPU power of a high-end smartphone, and perhaps the same on the graphics side. So, will the graphics be quite as rich? No. Will the physics be as explosive? Perhaps not. Does the touchscreen mean controls will be a little different? Yes. Will it feel like the same game, though? Definitely: smartphones are powerful enough to support modern game design.

The challenge remains over finding gameplay that’s best suited to a mobile device: you can’t assume that just because we can take a successful console game to mobile that it’ll be a hit. As an example, we see a lot of players playing our games for either ~6 minutes (say, if they’re commuting) or for ~60 minutes (say, if they’re playing at home). Designing a game that allows that menu of experiences is a real challenge, and we’re fortunate to have a history of mobile game development experience we can draw on. The trick is to design a game that feels like the original while being sympathetic to the way the gamer uses the device.

Finally, regardless of technology I think customers appreciate high production quality, and that’s a big focus for our development. A benefit of our long history is that our technology base allows us to concentrate on making the game, rather than fiddle with every last setting of the hardware.

“We see a lot of players playing our games for either ~6 minutes (say, if they’re commuting) or for ~60 minutes (say, if they’re playing at home).”

And finally, do you see iOS as the new leader of portable gaming? In Steve Jobs’ iOS4 presentation, he announced that the iPod Touch alone outsold Nintendo and Sony sales combined – creators of the DS and PSP respectively. Will iOS play a key component in the porting side of Ideaworks?

Well, it’s pretty apparent that iOS has done amazingly well in pushing forward high quality mobile gaming. I can’t comment on sales figures for the devices – we only get the same Internet reports as you guys! – but the market they’ve created for top-tier gaming is remarkable. Apple have done a fantastic job by combining an intuitive UI, high-quality devices, and a simple-as-pie billing & delivery mechanism (both for purchases and updates).

So, in that regard, iOS will continue to play a key role in our work. Having said that, there are a huge number of Android devices being shipped, and platforms such as Samsung’s bada & HP/Palm’s webOS all offer high-quality devices and rich marketplaces for us to release games. For those markets, we’ll certainly continue to use Airplay SDK to target as many different platforms as possible.

One last mention should go to Windows Phone 7 too which, although a little later to the party, appears to have a strong push behind it from Microsoft, and has attractive Xbox Live integration which I think people will enjoy.

Thanks Phil for answering our questions! All of us here at 148Apps wish you well for 2011!

Thank you!


$2.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-12-16 :: Category: Games

This Week at 148Apps: January 14-21

This week, January 14 to 21, Apple announced above-expectations of $20.34 billion in revenue and $4.31 billion in profit, while CEO Steve Jobs once again took to the sidelines on grounds of medical leave, handing over day-to-day business to COO Steve Cook for the second time in the past year.

Nonetheless, the news for iOS this week remains as busy as ever, with several major names like TiVo and CBS adding / releasing major updates to applications, as well as the countdown to ten billion application downloads approaching ever closer.

“It’s absolutely absurd” writes blogger Joey Davidson, “to consider that in the span of only two and a half years there are more application downloads in a single marketplace than there are people on Earth.” It’s a technologically wonderful thought, one that will be achieved in the next coming days, as Apple gives a $10,000 iTunes Gift Card to the person who downloads the 10 billionth application (or submits the first online free entry after 9,999,999,999 downloads). You can enter by downloading an application or filling out this form, up to 25 times a day.

In other news, TiVo, the popular digital video recorder, released its exclusive-to-iPad Remote application this week, offering “the world’s most amazing remote control” for free. Users will be able to browse listings, set and manage recordings, and even comment on Twitter and Facebook, all without changing the channel.

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-01-18 :: Category: Entertainment

CBS Sports Football took some of the spotlight this week too, unveiling a new update that brings you all the information you’ll need regarding the playoffs, from updating stats to news to videos. Like the newly unveiled TiVo application, CBS Sports Football is free to download, meaning you can enjoy this updated goodness for free.

FREE!
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2010-09-09 :: Category: Sports

In slightly more quirky news, earlier this week Blake Grundman reported on the $0.99 Sleep Talk Recorder application that – as the name suggests – records what you talk in your sleep so that you can hear what otherwise goes unheard, at least to you (your partners probably won’t need to hear it). It’s pretty cool sounding, I just wish there was a way to use it and Sleep Cycle together. Head over to the Sleep Talk Recorder developer’s website to hear the top ten ranked audio snippets. Although I’m sure some of us would prefer not to hear what noises we’re making in our supposed quiet-time.

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-09-19 :: Category: Utilities

To round up this week, we’d like to inform readers of our Now Free service, available on the website and through Twitter. Every day, hundreds of developers offer their applications for free, usually for a limited time only. You can keep track of every discounted application here, or more specifically every application that has been discounted to a free download here. Finally, you can catch up on all the reviews you might have missed throughout the week right here. If podcasts are more your thing, episode 68 of The Portable Podcast is also available for download.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to check back the same time next week for the latest news and happenings in the world of iOS.

TabToolkit Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
TabToolkit is "an incredibly powerful music notation viewer with multi-track audio playback" allowing you to follow and play in real time and add your own music, in text / PDF / Guitar Pro / PowerTab files.

Read The Full Review »
MONOPOLY for iPad Review

MONOPOLY for iPad Review

iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
The classic board game makes it onto the modern device, with focus on graphics and animation as much as gameplay.

Read The Full Review »
iDisplay Review

iDisplay Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
iDisplay turns your iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad into a secondary display for your mac or PC, fully controllable on-screen.

Read The Full Review »
Nebulous Notes Review

Nebulous Notes Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Nebulous Notes is a Dropbox-supporting text inputter that places emphasis on minimalism and provides themes for both writers and coders.

Read The Full Review »
TweetMag Review

TweetMag Review

iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
TweetMag expands the articles and links behind the 140-character limit of Twitter, whether it be from your stream or the outer world.

Read The Full Review »
VLC Media Player Review

VLC Media Player Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
VLC makes its way to the iPad and iPhone, providing much more playback capability in comparison to what Apple's Video application offers.

Read The Full Review »
The Big Picture Review

The Big Picture Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
The Big Picture is The Boston Globe's flagship photo news section, devoted to presenting the latest world happenings in pictorial form.

Read The Full Review »
Popular Science+ Review

Popular Science+ Review

iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Popular Science+ released an iPad edition of its popular print magazine earlier this year. With emphasis on a smart design and a few unique twists along the way, the developers have created an excellent reading experience. To top it all off, the content makes for fascinating reading.

Read The Full Review »

A string of major free updates have landed this week in the App Store, just in time for the beginning of the holiday season that always witnesses fierce competition and price reductions for consumers. This week, Sleep Cycle, Twitter and Boxcar all rolled out significant additions to their already impressive applications, enhancing functionality dramatically.

Developers Maciek Drejak Labs rolled out version 3.0 of Sleep Cycle alarm clock, rated 5 stars by 148Apps and holding the position of #1 top paid application in numerous countries. The $0.99 application tracks your sleeping pattern in an effort to wake you up during your lightest sleeping phase. The free update now allows you to wake up to your own music from the iPod application, or choose not to have an alarm at all but still track your sleeping pattern. In addition, the application now offers full support for iPod Touch and is “up to 5x more sensitive to your movement”. A new intelligent snooze feature has also been integrated, along with a plethora of general improvements that make this application a thorough ‘buy’ recommendation.

In social networking news, a much-anticipated and long overdue update to the official Twitter application for iPhone and iPad brings push notifications for @replies and direct messages, a feature that third party applications such as Boxcar (see below for a twist) offered to satisfy users who were forced to make use of an unofficial alternative.

However, Boxcar, an application that satisfied push notifications for Twitter before the update, have gone one step further still and now offer push notifications from anyone on your timeline, regardless of whether or not the message is a standard tweet, @reply or direct message. This is big news, particularly for twitter feeds dedicated to posting breaking news, where speed is everything. Version 4.1 also provides Foursquare, Gowalla and Reddit push integration.

With the holiday season fast approaching, expect more and more developers to provide added incentives, release significant updates and reduce prices in a bid to ensure that their application remains top of the charts. The best things in the tech life really are free – updates!

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-07-23 :: Category: Healthcare & Fitness

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2009-10-09 :: Category: Social Networking

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2009-07-09 :: Category: Social Networking

Times Eureka Review

Times Eureka Review

iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
The digital version of The Times' monthly science magazine is introduced to the iPad, where the two feel like they were made for each other.

Read The Full Review »

VITO Technology‘s award-winning astronomy application for iPad and iPhone turned two years old yesterday, and to mark its birthday there’s a major update revision on the line as well as a promotional code giveaway right here.

Star Walk, which holds the title of official Apple Design Award (iPad Developer Showcase) 2010 Winner, remains the top-paid application in the Education section of the App Store, based on its ability to show the true workings of the Heavens above through the iPhone and iPad’s in-built GPS in an easy to use interface. View constellations, stars and planets in new ways by holding your device up to the sky. It’s a very impressive application – awarded 4.5 stars by 148Apps – and was marked by Apple in the Best of 2009 Applications.

Version 5 of the application, available soon, offers four new major features and a plethora of updates, including compass calibration and a new “general catalogue” that adds even more deep sky objects, galaxies and nebulae. Augmented Reality becomes a reality in version 5 of Star Walk for the new iPod Touch, as does a new “big screen” feature which allows you to connect your iPad to a second display through VGA, just in case the iPad’s 9.5″ screen wasn’t big enough. In addition, over 150 satellites including the International Space Station can be tracked in live time. Finally, a new feature called Telrad can “help you measure angular distance between nearby stars” in order to gauge the true extent of deceivingly small distances in the universe.

There’s more birthday celebrations, too. Prices for VITO Technology’s entire “Walk” series (Solar Walk, Star Walk and Geo Walk) have been dropped for 24 hours, and some lucky commenters today will receive free promotional codes that allow you to redeem these applications for free. In order to be in for a chance, just make a comment below. We have six codes available – 2 for Star Walk on iPad, 2 for Star Walk on iPhone and 2 for Star Walk (universal, iPhone and iPad compatable natively).

So happy birthday Star Walk!

$0.99
$2.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2008-11-05 :: Category: Education

Instagram: The Pictorial Revolution

Less than a month ago, on October 5 2010, not a single person had used Instagram publicly. It wasn’t even released on the App Store. Today, the iPhone application has had over 750 000 photos uploaded, experiencing growth at a phenomenal rate, even by web standards. Business Insider went as far as to say “it could become this decade’s equivalent of Flickr.” So what is it, and why is everybody hopping on board?

Instagram provides a quick of way of sharing photos, with effects, across an entire spectrum of social networking sites, right from your iPhone. The inspiration, as the team note, came from a cross between old Polaroid cameras and new social sharing ideas. The “instant” feature of a Polaroid camera gave birth to what over 500 000 people now know as Instagram, the photo sharing app of choice.

“I think that communicating via images is one of these mediums that you’re going to see take off over the next few years because of a fundamental shift in the enabling technology.“ – Kevin Systrom, CEO Burbn (Instagram)

The free application supports all generations of the iPhone, and can upload photos (or “posts” as they are known) to Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and Facebook. In addition, users can check in to Foursquare whenever a photo is uploaded with a location attached. Photos can be commented on, and everyone has the ability to make use of a Twitter-style “follow” feature, allowing users to follow one another’s photos on-the-go. With over a dozen filters to choose from, even poorer quality photos can turn out semi-decent once uploaded. The application makes it fun, rather than a chore, to upload photos to a plethora of social network sites, for all your friends to see.

The development team are “just getting started” – be sure to keep an eye out for Burbn on the news, both here and on the App Store. I have a feeling that it’s a name we aren’t going to forget any time soon.

[Quote courtesy of TechCrunch, image with thanks to Instagram]

FREE!
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-10-06 :: Category: Photography

iPad, Meet Verizon

Two weeks ago, Apple announced officially that AT&T rival network carrier Verizon would carry the iPad in “over 2,000 Verizon Wireless Stores nationwide” from October 28. That day is finally here.

“This is the perfect pairing for holiday travels,” said John Stratton, chief operating officer for Verizon Wireless. “iPad together with the nation’s largest and most reliable 3G data network allows customers to easily connect on the go wherever they are.” But Stratton makes the process sound more integrated than it actually is – in a bizarre twist to the announcement, Verizon won’t be carrying 3G models of Apple’s rival tablet device. Instead, customers have the option of picking up a Verizon MiFI 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot – a device launched in May 2009 that converts Verizon’s cellular 3G signal into a Wi-Fi connection which your iPad can connect to, just like any other wireless network.

1GB of data through MiFi will cost $20 per month, with additional service options of 3GB ($35/month) and 5GB ($50/month) available to all users, according to Newsi.es. This contrasts with AT&T’s available options of 250MB of data for $14.99/month or 2GB for $25/month, which beforehand were the only legal options iPad owners could choose from. The prices of devices in Verizon stores are as follows:

  • $629.99 for 16GB iPad (Wi-Fi) + MiFi
  • $729.99 for 32GB iPad (Wi-Fi) + MiFi
  • $829.99 for 64GB iPad (Wi-Fi) + MiFi

Note that these prices are $1 extra than Apple’s WiFi + 3G models, but include the MiFi device which would otherwise cost $269 standalone. Verizon will sell all three devices without MiFi, presumably for the same cost as the iPad in your local Apple store. For now, it looks like if you walk into the Apple store seeking an iPad with data, AT&T is the only way forward; but if you take a trip to your local Verizon Wireless store, things will be a little different. Apple noted in their official press release two weeks ago that “customers can sign up for more information on Apple’s iPad together with Verizon Wireless’ MiFi 2200 at www.verizonwireless.com/iPad” – no mention of Apple in-store service.

Verizon stores are apparently opening early to deal with potential high demand, so be sure to get down bright and early if you’re after the AT&T alternative. 

iOrder & The Commercial World

There once was a time when paper and blackberries dominated the commercial world. Now, it’s turning into iPads and iPhones. With more and more businesses seeking not only paperless solutions but also backup solutions, the iPad’s role as a paper replacement is becoming more and more popular, most evident from yesterday’s financial data, released by Apple, announcing that some 4.19 million iPads were sold in Q4 alone.

Of course, the commercial world requires commercial applications. And that’s where iOrder comes in. The application, created by moveinCloud, “can collect orders from your customers in no time at all. iOrder keep archives of your customers and your products on your device, this means that you do not need to be connected to the Internet for work.” The official blurb continues “through an account moveinCloud.com, if you want you can also synchronize your data with the platform and access it from your web browser wherever you are.”

In essence, iOrder is an all-in-one customer utility tool for salesmen and marketers, allowing customer order information to be visible within just a few taps. The application goes further still, with order placement and an entire catalogue of available products right there on screen. It all works through moveinCloud, a web-based online data storage service that removes the need to install applications.

But how far will the iPad branch into the commercial world in the near future with regards to sales? iOrder is certainly a step in the right direction, but I’ve yet to see a salesman bring out an iPad for an order. Even the Apple staff stick to macs when it comes to ordering in-store.

$6.99
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2010-09-02 :: Category: Productivity

WeDoodle is ngmoco’s latest application to be launched on the iTunes App Store, a game based on multiplayer sketching and guessing that’s sure to improve your all-necessary doodling skills.

WeDoodle is free and available for both iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, providing users with a miniature digital canvas to draw on. The application features various “creative crafts” like stencils, brushes, canvas backgrounds and more so that the drawings aren’t so much doodles as they are sketches, making it easier for those who have the task of having to guess exactly what is being drawn. With support for seven languages built in, as well as a multiple game mode that “allows doodlers to challenge the world in live in online play,” the game is sure to shake some heads and provide hours of doodling practice. Who says the iPhone isn’t productive?

On a related note, this is ngmoco’s first release since its now-confirmed acquisition by DeNA, the Japanese gaming company, who are branching out into a world that is already over 250,000 applications strong.

Much is riding on the future health of ngmoco’s releases. Although DeNA put forward $300 million in cash and securities, an additional $100 million is available assuming specific milestones are met by the company throughout next year. With a free application, the right marketing and advertisements are crucial. One thing’s for sure – if ngmoco’s platform of free applications and advertisements is successful, we could well be seeing a glimpse of what the future has to hold. Until then, you’ll just have to doodle about it.

FREE!
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-10-13 :: Category: Games

FREE!
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2010-10-13 :: Category: Games

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