Just in time for this holiday season Discovery Bay Games’ has introduced its newest iPad accessory, Duo ($40). By using physical game pieces in conjunction with the virtual interface of the iPad, Duo takes us one more step towards the Tron world of the tomorrow. To be anything more than a paper weight though Duo must be paired up with one of Discovery Bay Games’ specially made apps which currently only includes Yoomi, but more are promised to be coming soon.
Yoomi is a game where players take turns secretly answering questions like “would you prefer to fly to the moon or dive to the bottom of the ocean?” Once answered the other players attempt to guess which response the first chose. It’s a game very reminiscent of Apples to Apples but with a new and fresh feel that the whole family can enjoy. Explaining in writing how the pair works together would be an nightmare, so I’ve included a much more colorful video below to help keep everyone’s attention…you’re welcome. If you’re interested though Yoomi is currently free on the App Store while Duo is being sold exclusively through Toys “R” Us.
Apple strikes with a roundhouse kick the gut! But wait, Google fights right back with an eye gouge and a slap to the face! Apple is stunned but isn’t going to give up that easily. What a fight, what a battle; who is going to win, folks? This is the picture much of the media has painted for us, isn’t it? That Google and Apple have locked horns and are doomed to a winless war for all eternity. That’s not really the case though. Truth is, the war is fought mainly with the media and loyal fans who follow the gossip like it’s a WWE match. Yes, the two companies compete with each other on a couple of levels, but at the same time they work incredibly well and profitably together. Based on some recent news, I believe the two have secretly teamed up again in an effort to bring FaceTime to the mainstream for good.
Ok, here’s what we know:
1) Apple is hosting an event on Wednesday and at the very least they’re probably going to announce a new iPod touch with a front facing camera.
2) iOS 4.1 beta has been out for several weeks and contains an option to make FaceTime calls via e-mail address.
3) Apple from the start has said it plans to make FaceTime an open industry standard, potentially allowing communication with other devices.
4) Google just announced last week the ability to use their Gchat feature for video chats. Gchat, if you’re not familiar with it, runs directly through Gmail and uses other user’s Gmail address to authorize chats.
When you combine the first three together along with the timing of Google’s announcement, it seems just too convent to be just a coincidence. I certainly could be wrong but to me the picture is pretty clear, Apple and Google are going to walk us right into the future and by this time next year, iPhone users and Andriod users will be FaceTiming each other everywhere. Finally the world will be at peace and harmony.
So the rumored “One More Thing…iSight in the iPad” turned out to be another case of wishful thinking by us fanboys…it happens. I can’t say I’m disappointed in my iPad, quite the opposite actually, I love the darn thing, but not having a camera is a little depressing. Fortunately though, the dev community has come to the rescue where Apple has fallen short by giving us apps that add camera functionality, assuming you have an iPhone, that is.
This amazing feat is done by streaming an iPhone’s camera feed directly to the iPad via wifi or Bluetooth and using the iPad as a remote to take and store photos. As of now the 2 apps I’ve found using this concept, Camera for iPad or Camera A, are limited to taking stills but it’s certainly better than nothing. While both apps ultimately perform the same function, there are some key differences between them, grab more details after the break. Continue reading Add a Camera to your iPad, No Duct-Tape Necessary »
For those who have been living under a technology rock, the iPad went on pre-order today and is set for a release date of April 3rd. With a hard launch date finally in place new details have come to light about the yet to be held device. The most talked about addition thus far is the addition of a Screen Orientation Lock switch on the side which replaces the formerly announced mute switch. Personally this is a feature I wish they would build into the iPhone as well. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been texting while laying in bed and my phone can’t decide if it wants to stay in landscape mode or not. Please Apple, even if you don’t add a hard switch to the next iPhone, make a software option to turn off the accelerometer in the settings menu.
Additionally more information about the data plan for 3G users has also come up. It’s confirmed that any user subscribing to the 250MB plan per month ($15) will receive three separate warning notifications when the iPad is approaching it’s limit, popping up respectively at 20%, 10%, and 0% remaining. At any point a customer can chose to upgrade to the unlimited plan for $30. All can be done straight from the iPad itself with a credit card, no need to go into any store or call anyone, you can do it straight on the go. Combined with the ability to cancel it at any time I think it’s safe to say the 3G model is the one to buy. As an added bonus, just like the iPhone, AT&T is throwing in its access to over 20,000 hotspots, what’s not to love? Continue reading iPad Pre-Orders Available ~ New Device Details Emerge »
For as long as I can remember cell phones being around I can remember people questioning whether or not they’re safe. The argument has always seemed to center around cell phone radiation, and more recently bluetooth & Wifi waves. The bluetooth and Wifi scares have pretty much dissolved by being labeled as pure conspiracy theories, but the radiation concerns continue to surface every few months. With each study that comes out though it becomes more obvious that we just don’t know the long term risks of RF radiation exposure This article gives a little more insight into the potential jeopardy we’re in while at the same time the FDA is stating that “the available scientific evidence does not demonstrate any adverse health effects associated with the use of mobile phones.” With all of these mixed signals and unknown effects I wonder if the theoretical brain tumors and Alzheimer’s we could contract 20 years down the line is really the number one thing we should be worried about? Continue reading Radiation vs. Germs ~ Which Should Worry You More? »
A stylus? Psh, get rid of it. A physical keyboard? Nah, no need for that either. Tactile feedback is a thing of the past, all we need is a big glass touch screen…right? Well that’s what Apple would have you believe anyway, a theory that is further being cemented with their upcoming release of the iPad. On a basic level it seems to be very true, we’re able to text, surf the web, take photos, all without any physical buttons or keys. What about high level gaming though, is that a different story? If you’d asked me 3 years ago I would’ve said “there’s no way for it to be done. We’re humans, touch is one of our basic senses, we need it.” Over the past several months though with games like N.O.V.A and Need For Speed Shift, or even classic ports like Wolfenstein, I’ve become more of a believer in the future. Not everyone is so ready to give up on game controllers, one such company being iControlPad.
The iControlPad has been in beta testing and undergoing redesigns since last May but as of February 18th the company has stated mass production has begun. The iControlPad can already be used with classic game emulators and the company is seeding a SDK to anyone interested in supporting the device. Two models are to be made, one with a built-in battery pack, one without. Based on early videos and screen shots the controls appear to work flawlessly with no lag at all. Here’s the catch, and it’s a big one, the iControlPad only works on phones that are Jailbroken. I’m not sure exactly why that is since we know iPhone 3.0 does support accessory plugin’s but it’s very clear that it must be Jailbroken. There are a couple of hints on the site that indicate they may be working on standard OS supported version but there certainly aren’t any promises made. All hope is not lost though for those who wish to keep their iPhones pure and sacred, the Game Bone Pro is coming. Continue reading iControlPad Adds Joysticks to Your iPhone…If it’s Jailborken »
Wireless charging stations have been creating a lot of waves over the past few months and were certainly a big focus at CES, but will they ever really take off? Certainly the market is becoming pretty competitive; I can think of 3 companies selling them off the top of my head (Powermat, WildCharge, and CaseMate). While the concept is theoretically very useful and has a cool, futuristic feel to it, they’re all currently hindered by one major factor, they all require a special case. One of the major sell points for these platforms is the idea of reducing the cables needed to charge multiple devices, but is adding a special case any better? First off, each case is an added expense and more than likely all of the devices you own won’t have a case designed for them, i.e. iPod nano, digital camera, extra battery pack, etc. Instead one company, blueLounge, has taken a slightly more practical approach to the cable management situation.
The Refresh ($89.95) charging station was designed to be a catch-all for personal mobile electronics. Constructed with both functionality and style in mind the Refresh comes in 3 different stylish colors (white, pink, and black) with a very modern feel. The rubberized lid prevents devices from sliding around and is large enough to accommodate 3 or more items depending on their size. Concealed below the lid are 6 built in connectors, 2 iPod/iPhone connectors, both a Mini & Micro USB cable, and 2 empty USB sockets to be used as needed. Additional connectors for specific devices can also be bought for $5.95 directly from their site. Each of the cables can reach up around the lower lip of the lid to start charging any of the up to 6 devices. The Refresh is a great addition to any home with numerous mobile devices and cables. Continue reading Wired vs. Wireless Charging »
Choosing a case is one of those important first steps that you take after buying an iPhone. It’s a decision that shouldn’t be taken too lightly or made too hastily. I’ve seen far too many anxious people run over to the case wall at the Apple Store, get drawn in by the bright colors and cool textures, find the perfect match, and returning it weeks later because they didn’t pay attention to the little things. What are those little things? Well, much like buying a vehicle to drive around small children, safety should be your first priority.
Hard vs. Soft Cases
Every great case debate begins with the topic of Hard vs. Soft and which one provides better protection? While there’s no simple answer and it really needs to be taken on a case by case (no pun intended) basis, some conclusions have been reached by the iPhone community. The whole argument behind using a rubber or silicon case for protection comes from the idea of lengthening the time of impact, similar to crumple zones on cars. This was once a valid point when iPod Classics (with mechanical hard drives) ruled the iPod world. Nowadays though the solid-state memory of the iPhone/iPod Touch makes them far more durable and only really susceptible to outer case or screen damage, leaving case debates to the topics of aesthetics, longevity, features, etc.
3D TV is being pushed from all angles and today Sony has pulled the cloth off of its first Blue-ray players officially being labeled as 3D capable. The BDP-S470 player is expected to have a firmware update by mid summer which will support 1080p playback and should be shipping “on or around March 18th” for only $200. iPhone users get an extra bonus as this player can be controlled by the new BD Remote App developed by SONORAN BLUE. The app sports both a simple or full remote view plus a soft keyboard and provides additional disc information. The S470 is just the first of many new devices said to support this remote option including the new BDV-E770W & E570 Home Theatre Systems.
No official word has come down from SONORAN yet but many fans are begging for them to build in PS3 support. If this was done, an iPhone user could pair up with a product like the L5 remote and have a true universal remote capable of competing with a Logitech Harmony.
Years ago with the introduction of the iPod Photo (the first color screen iPod) came a great idea, the ability to add photos directly onto an iPod while on the go. Since SD cards were so expensive for a very small amount of storage space this was huge break through for casual and professional photographers alike. Apple was the first to add support with it’s own SD Card Dock Connector followed by a few 3rd party makers. Slowly the need for the adapter died off as SD Cards became drastically cheaper. zoomMediaPlus has given the concept a rebirth with the release of it’s new product zoomIt for the iPhone/iPod Touch. Paired with it’s free app, also named zoomIt, the SD reader adds new features the vintage versions never could.
The zoomIt app, essentially a file manger, allows you to copy photos and other supported file types, music, movies, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF’s, etc., both to and from an SD card. Any of these can be viewed/listened to through the zoomIt app only photos have the ability to interface with another native app (the camera roll). zoomIt also includes built in support for sharing files via e-mail, Facebook and Flickr and the newest update has added the ability to read write protected SD cards. The reader will be shipping in April for $59.95 but pre-orders are being taken now with a $10 discount.
It’s worth noting though that Apple also announced a similar dock adapter which includes usb support for the iPad at only $30. Currently there’s no telling whether this will work on an iPhone or if the zoomIt will work on the iPad so it may be worth holding out until March when more details will surface before taking the $60 plunge.
Dual Electronics has updated their site promising that the XGPS300 Navigation Cradle for the iPod Touch, originally expected in November ’09, will be shipping later this February. The cradle offers GPS support for all models of the iPod Touch and comes bundled with a Windshield Mount kit and the NavAtlas App all for the price of $179.99. While some critics have taken aim at the price point claiming it to be too steep for a consumer who might as well buy a dedicated standalone GPS unit, there are some features of this that might make the expense a little easier to swallow.
Adding significant value to the deal is the battery pack portion of the cradle which can be switched on and off as necessary. Whether it be to keep the GPS from draining all of the touch’s power or simply as a power boost to keep the it kicking, the XGPS300 is capable of doubling its battery life. Battery pack cases alone usually cost between $60-$100, not to mention that this also means you’re not tethered to your car. Unlike many other standalone GPS units, which get all of their power from the cigarette lighter, this one can be taken hiking, biking, swimming…well maybe not swimming, but you get the idea. Continue reading GPS for an iPod Touch, Coming in February »
Before the smoke has even cleared from the iPad announcement yesterday, some accessory makers are already showing off some new products to go with it. iLuv is amongst the first to unveil a new line of products, full of carrying cases, hard and soft, as well as a few types of screen protectors. Interestingly enough, iLuv has promised these items to be available in February, a bit premature since no one will be able to hold an iPad until March or April, but hey, better early to the game than (insert cliché here). Check out more of their products after the break. Continue reading iLuv Already Showing Off iPad Accessories »
*Update Apple Stores are reported to be currently selling them for $69.95, no word yet on if a price fix is in the works or if this is an exclusive deal
Only 7 months after the original press release Belkin’s new TuneCast Auto Live iPhone FM transmitter, which was originally tagged as being the first iPhone 3.0 accessory, is finally shipping. Physically the transmitter doesn’t look any different then many of the other transmitters on the market currently. It charges through the car’s 12-volt lighter outlet and connects through the dock adapter with a control module in between. What makes this one special though is the app, ClearSacn Live, that goes along with it. Not only can users manually control all of the frequencies from the iPhone interface but the ClearScan function uses the iPhone’s GPS locater (apparently this only works with a 3GS) to automatically find the strongest frequency for the best audio quality. The transmitter is retailing for $79.99 and the app is now on the App Store for free.
As a rule, I try not to review iPhone cases, mainly because they are a dime a dozen and really all depend on your own personal taste. Every once in a while though I come across one that offers a little something extra, a flavor thats been missing, one thats just…special. Today that case is the OtterBox Defender. Unlike most other case makers out there OtterBox is known for designing with quality in mind opposed to flooding the market with cheap pieces of junk. The Defender series for the iPhone 3G/3GS is no different and built with one specific quality in mind, to protect.
In a very DEFCON like mentality, this class of cases come with three lines of defense.
1. A hard polycarbonate skeleton that fully encases the phone.
2. An airtight screen protector that protects all of the glass as well as the sensors on the front of the phone.
3. A soft but rugged silicone skin that surrounds the entire phone.
The hard skeleton shell which surrounds the phone contains three windows, two on the back one on the front. The two on the back are there to provide viewing accesses to the Apple logo and more importantly the camera. To date, this is the only case I’ve come across with a protective window for the camera itself. The window on the front is in fact the actual screen protector which is fully attached and sealed on the skeleton. The skeleton itself is designed to recess the screen by about a 1/4 inch, which is important to reduce the risk of cracking the screen if dropped on its face. The recessed screen and protector raise two of my only concerns with the case. The first being that the gap between your face and the screen makes it slightly uncomfortable to talk on, specifically in a noisy place that you need to press the phone harder to your ear in order to hear. The other being that screen protectors get scratched (that’s what they are supposed to do), but having one that is attached to my case means one of two things. Either I have to buy a screen protector for my screen protector, or I have to buy a new case every time the scratches get too bad. Not the end of the world but depending on how long it takes to get marred up it could quickly turn into an expensive proposition at $50 a case. Continue reading The Defender, a Case Built to Protect »
I’ve personally never really believed it when someone would tell me that the iPhone’s camera isn’t bad for a phone. After all, I would take picture after picture and the majority would come out, usually with a string of words which I won’t repeat, blurry and unrecognizable. As I hustled around CES last week taking pictures and spilling coffee all over myself, it was actually Chris Hall who so graciously pointed out, in between laughs of course, that it was probably my pitifully shaky hands that was the problem and not the camera itself. As it turns out, he was right, for once, and for the past few days I’ve been using the Blur Tripod and have formed a new opinion regarding my camera phone.
Priced at $14.95, the Blur Tripod is exactly what you think it is, a tripod for an iPhone. A mini tripod to be precise, which stands about 5.5 inches off the ground or up to 8 inches if you extend the legs all the way. The unit itself comes in two separate parts, the legs and the adapter mount. The legs are made of ultra light weight aluminum wich keeps them portable while still remaining fairly durable. The mount is a simple plastic clip which uses a standard 1/4″ 20 thread camera screw size which makes it usable on most any tripod on the market. An extremely nice feature of this tripod is it’s adjustably, it can truly be manipulated to be able to take photos from nearly any angle you would ever need, however it does become a little unstable when shifted too far to one side. A helpful tip I found though is that while unstable for taking photos shifting the mount all of the way to one side can help in another way by doubling as a steady hand grip for shooting video.
It began with a Disney Store pilot program where staff would ring out customers via an iPod Touch. A system that was so successful Apple rolled the handhelds into all of their retail stores replacing their well weathered Windows CE-based EasyPay system. Recent reports are indicating Apple is even considering opening this up to widespread commercial use. While great for large retail businesses, the EasyPay Touch units are simply too bulky and overpowered to really be useful for all of the small businesses out there.
Thus the Square is born! A company brought to life by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, has created a adapter for reading “payment cards from any device with an audio input jack, including your mobile phone,” as stated on their website. Still in beta testing, the Square is expected to launch sometime in early 2010. They certainly aren’t the only ones eyeing this highly untapped and potentially very profitable market though.
Morphie, the company which has been mainly focused battery packs for the iPhone, is the newest player to the game and they are certainly going to be steep competition. Released today was information on a Credit Card Reader which will be specifically designed for the iPhone/iPod Touch that will be accompanied by its own specially made app to run it. Details are still sketchy right now with more being promised at CES 2010 but based on the mockups alone its already creating a stir in the community. Make sure to check back early and often next week for our coverage of CES and hopefully more info on this guy.
I’m an iPhone purist, I’ll admit it, I love my phone just how it is, stable, fast, non-glitchy. Sure from time to time I’ve wished I could customize my text message tone or set a new wallpaper behind my icons, but in the end it’s not worth it. At least that’s what I tell people most days. I confess however that today, for the first time since 1.1.2, I gave serious consideration to jailbreaking my iPhone. What could lead me down this dark path again? How about controlling a game on my iPhone using a Wii Remote!?! The BTstack project has managed to pull it off!
If you’re not familiar with what the BTstack Project is, it’s an open source project focused on expanding bluetooth device support far beyond what Apple is currently allowing. A lot of the above information comes to us from this article via Zodttd.com which also includes a statement from the developer saying his next target is the PS3 controller. Upon reading, I was almost giddy with anticipation and immediately started spreading the word. But one of my colleagues, being the glass is half empty type that he is, quickly pointed out why I shouldn’t get too excited.
“For one,” he said “theres nothing comfortable about hunching over a table, looking straight down, just to keep your hands free for use on a controller…”
I quickly pointed out that an iBend would be a quick, easy, and cheap solution to that. He conceded this point but continued.
“Secondly and much more importantly [BTstack] is hacking their iPhone to use them, no major developer is ever going to spend the time and money making a game that needs a hack to be used fully.”
I hated to admit it but he had a point, however it may not be a relevant one for much longer as I know of at least one legitimate controller being developed for the iPhone, the GameBone Pro.
The GameBone Pro has amazing potential as 22Moo states it will be fully compatible via bluetooth or dock connector, fully functional D-pad with 4+ action buttons, and a built in speaker/mic, etc. While there is no official price listing or release date yet, we know they are targeting an early 2010 release. Gratefully they are making their developer’s kit free to anyone who wants it.
The free SDK is an important point I’d like to touch on momentarily. While I’m certain more than one developer has a controller under development, it’s my hope that in some circle somewhere there is a committee working on a set standard of controller code. Without a set basic standard we will end up in a market where a game may work with one joystick but not another. Resulting in another BlueRay vs. HD DVD war, only with more players. A war that would most likely end up with game developers ignoring the idea of external controllers all together simply because of inconvenience.
With a set standard though I can already see what the future may hold for iPhone gamers. I can imagine sitting at an airport with a friend waiting for our redeye flight to arrive and needing something to do. Out of my pockets I pull three things, my iPhone, GameBone Pro, and a Pico Pocket projector. Out of his pocket he grabs his controller and within a minute we are playing Marvel vs. Capcom (not currently released for the iPhone) dreamcast style on a 60″ while being totally portable and wireless…I’m getting giddy again.
Remember the good old days when your dad would want to show off how cute you were. Whenever he could get the chance he’d whip out his wallet and that accordion style photo holder would flop out with a dozen embarrassing photos…well today’s kids have it even worse. Think about it, with an iPhone the parents of today can walk around with over a decade of snap shots in their pocket just waiting to embarrass their 25 year old son with…no, I’m not bitter!
To make matters worse, not only can they whip them out at a moments notice but now they can share a copy of them with anyone on the spot simply via MMS or e-mail. If you’re not familiar with this, it can be easily done from the Photos application. Clicking on the arrow in the lower left corner of the Album View will bring up 3 options. “Share,” “Copy,” and “Delete.” Next you’re able to select up to 5 photos and by tapping on the Share icon you’re can choose either “MMS” or “Email.” Quick, simple and to the point, right? But what if you have 12 or more photos you’d like to share, is your only answer going back and forth creating 3 separate e-mails? Nope, here’s your trick: Copy. By selecting the Copy option instead of the Share your iPhone will allow you to select as many as you like and paste them in a new blank e-mail all at once. This can be a handy little time saver but there are some restrictions. For starters it won’t work for MMS and also the number of photos you can send in a single e-mail is limited by how large of a message your provider will allow you to send. Oh and BTW, this trick does not work with videos either.
Now if you’re a parent, go forth and embarrass away with all of those priceless photos. If you’re the victim…I mean child in this disastrous scenario well then I’m sorry. But do take some comfort in the knowledge that someday you’ll probably be sharing your kid’s holograms via text.
Love it, hate it, or simply not care, iPhone users, at least here in the states, are pretty much bound to AT&T. I won’t speak for everyone, but for me, in the Valley of the Sun, this means dropped calls, loss of signal, and failed MMS messages, all while still showing full bars. Granted a lot of these have gotten better since the recent release of 3.1.2 , or the Chi-Town Update as I like to call it (If you’re from the midwest you understand).
Better doesn’t mean perfect though and I’ve personally gotten sick of doing hard resets (hold down the sleep/wake & the home button for 10 seconds) to get my calls to go through. Reseting Network Settings seemed to do the trick as well but isn’t really any quicker and then you loose all the wifi network information and passwords stored in your phone. What’s the answer? It’s simpler then you might think, Airplane Mode. As it turns out toggling on Airplane mode for 15 seconds and toggling it back off forces the phone to reset it’s cellular calibration and re-lock on to a near by tower. 15 seconds is still a minor annoyance, sure, but it really is minor when considering how much longer the alternatives can take.
*Here’s a bonus tip for this week also, this one goes out to all of the parents with youngsters running around out there. As the world changes and iPhone games start being developed for younger and younger children, kids are going to want to play with Mommy and Daddy’s phone more and more. An obvious concern here are the accidental phone calls a child might make to China while trying to play with Curious George. An easy solution, turn on that Airplane mode again. Sure it won’t stop the most malicious of kids out there trying to make calls but for the innocent ones it poses as an extra level of protection that will work the majority of the time.
**P.S. Wifi can still be turned back on without cellular service being active, important in case the games are online based or if you still need to hear incoming e-mail.