Posts Tagged $9.99
From Nascar to F1, people of all sorts of tastes and backgrounds can have an affinity for cars. Just look at the size of the crowds an auto show can bring in. Pyrolia is trying to bring that experience home for car lovers everywhere with ROAD inc, their new iPad app.
The app boasts an impressive amount of content featuring dozens of videos and engine sounds, hundreds of photos and pages of car descriptions and 3,000 archival documents like ads and press releases. Most notably though is the effort that went into the 3D renders of classic cars like the 1970 Porsche 917 K or the Rolls Royce Phantom II. Pyrolia spent over a million dollars working with automotive auction houses, factories and restoration specialists in order to bring these cars to life using the software behind Avatar and The Lord of The Rings.
Costing $9.99, ROAD inc may sound a bit pricey. However, considering the alleged amount of detail, one can see the argument that, as with a nice car, it’s a premium price for a premium product.
Released: 2011-10-15 :: Category: Entertainment
As a remake of the original version, Galaxy on Fire 2: HD offers a high definition experience made especially for the iPhone 4S and the iPad 2. With beautiful graphics and unique gameplay, this is a great title that offers hours of good 'ol fashioned space shooting and adventure.
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With the iPhone 4S having recently been released, and sporting a spiffy new A5 chip, Fishlabs has seen fit to take advantage of the new hardware. Galaxy on Fire 2 HD, a universal app for the iPhone 4S and iPad 2, features graphics updated to run on the A5 devices. All the models and textures have been remade for maximum visual fidelity that Fishlabs claims is “console-quality” with new backgrounds, enhanced effects, and other magic used to make the game look as good as it possibly can for the latest and greatest in iOS technology.
Far from just being updated in the graphics department, the game now supports OpenFeint and iCloud for cloud-based saving; the latter can even be used to synchronize progress with the previous iOS release along with the Mac version. CEO of Fishlabs Entertainment, Michael Schaede, says that “this is a truly revolutionary concept, because the gamers of the post-PC era want to be able to play their favourite games anywhere and anytime.” As well, the cloud-based synchronization will work with the upcoming Valkyrie HD add-on set to release in the first quarter of 2012.
Released: 2011-10-08 :: Category: Games
One of the features of Apple’s “Let’s talk iPhone” keynote was that they discussed how the iPad is being applied in different fields. One such usage is with pilots in their cockpits. Instead of carrying around paper versions of documents like flight manuals and charts, pilots are starting to use the iPad to view these documents, replacing heavy books with the far lighter and more portable iPad. But how exactly are these people doing this? One such app that caters to pilots wishing to replace paper documents in the cockpit is Aeronautical Charts.
This app allows for the display of charts in a variety of formats on the iPad; the app is universal, so it will work on the iPhone and iPod touch in case charts need to be viewed on a smaller device. The app claims to support over 50 file formats, from various image file formats, office formats, along with TIFF and PDF files. Charts can either be loaded in through iTunes Connect, or the app can sync up with Dropbox. It only uses Dropbox for downloading files, it will not alter the files on the server in any way.
Now, some of these charts can be very large files, not just in file size but in sheer resolution, due to the detail that these charts need to have. In this case, the app can pre-render files in order to make them easier to view through the app. This can either be done through Aeronautical Charts itself, with support for multitasking for continuing the process in the background while other apps are used, or through a Mac App Store app that can prerender files for use through the app.
For pilots, this app could prove to be invaluable, and can help make those iPads be usable for both Flight Control as well as flight control! Corporate Smalltalk’s web page for Aeronautical Charts features more info and helpful hints for using the app, as well.
Voice-commands for a mobile phone seem like a silly idea, all things considered. I mean, everything is already kind of just there: a GPS, internet browser, email, texting and so on. There are certainly some situations that it would be handy in, though. Driving and walking down the street (no more inadvertently walking into traffic while typing, yay!) come to mind. Voice Actions is intended to be some kind of all-encompassing voice-command app that does all that and more.
Want to call the parents? Just tell the phone. Need to know where that restaurant is? Ask. The software recognizes a shocking amount of spoken dialog accurately. It can translate words and phrases into several different languages, find locations on the GPS, search the device’s library for requested songs and more.
A good many of the questions users might ask will be answered in-app via a computerized Australian woman’s voice, while anything that isn’t readily-available calls up a search in the web browser. It can also access other apps such as the GPS I keep talking about, contacts, YouTube and more. It can certainly be useful in a situation that requires one’s eyes to be somewhere other than the screen, but it can also be a faster way to find information depending on the situation.
For example, it’s possible to open up the weather app, mess around with some menus and figure out what the weather is like in West Haven, Connecticut. Or there’s the option to simply ask Voice Actions and have it tell me. The same goes for finding locations on a map or videos. Then, of course, there’s the translation. The app seems to be able to accurately translate a whole heck of a lot into a whole heck of a lot of different languages, and it provides computerized pronunciations.
Voice Actions is available in the App Store right now for $9.99.
There’s one disadvantage to real golf as compared to video game golf, besides the latter being a thousand times easier. Virtual golf makes it easy to know how far a shot went. Why, if we wanted to do that in real life, we’d all have to carry around pocket-sized screens with chips that could tell us our current location by connecting to satellites. Then, the device would have to be programmed with an application that could determine the distance between where the shot was taken from and where it landed. As far as I know, no such technology and no such application exist. Such a shame.
Wait a second. What about these new-fangled iPhones people have? Surely they could be capable of something like this. But what about the application? Well, there’s now an application called Caddy Track Pro that allows users to tap when they take a shot, and tap when they reach its landing point to determine how far it went. It can track data for a golfer’s individual club, track stats for average distance and longest drives, and send a spreadsheet of that data via email. This app is apparently available on the App Store right now!
What a world!
Japanese is an extraordinarily impressive English to Japanese / Japanese to English dictionary. With an extensive dictionary database, flashcards, many ways of looking up kanji, and more, this app delivers everything one could want from a dictionary app.
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It is pretty safe to say that World War II was one of the most influential conflicts in the history of humanity. One area of the conflict that was especially brutal throughout the war was the Pacific front. This was brought to a head when the United States dropped nuclear bombs on both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But the war wasn’t just about two bright flashes of light on the western horizon, it was far more than that.
Of all developers, who do you think would be bringing the story of this conflict to life? If you guessed Gameloft, then you would be correct, but at the same time, you should also question your sanity. In a huge departure from what they have traditionally developed, the influential iPhone developer has decided to branch off into the realm of eBooks. Here is how they describe, War in the Pacific, their newest foray into the iOS space:
War in the Pacific by Richard Overy is a beautiful 56-page book filled with hundreds of outstanding photographs, works of art and maps, providing a unique interactive experience on the iPad that brings the past to life. It takes Book Applications to a whole new level.
This interactive experience brings the era and events to life as never before: Turn some of the darkest pages of history, zoom-in on high-quality photographs, watch animated maps and archive videos retrace events and interact with carefully selected documents of the time.
What sets this eBook apart from others in the medium is the extensive use of interactivity and multimedia to help the reader gain a better grasp of the scenarios surrounding the war. This is the kind of specialized content that the iPad was designed to consume. If you don’t believe us, check out Gameloft’s debut trailer for the app and see if that doesn’t convince you.
As long as they can get past the hefty $9.99 pricetag, readers will be in for a historically inspired treat. If nothing else, let’s hope that it will act as a reminder to everyone of the tragic cost of war throughout history and the sacrifices made by soldiers, all in the name of their homeland.
Real Racing 2, possibly the most ambitious app to hit the App Store launched today. It’s a new version of one of the best racing games ever seen on a mobile device, and better than many seen on consoles. Firemint, based in Australia, has a lot riding on this game with a reported 2 million dollars spent on it’s development. We fired off a few questions to the fine folks down under to get some of their thoughts on the iOS platform and development of Real Racing 2.
Q: Real Racing 2 integrates Game Center for multiplayer, leaderboards, and achievements. How have you seen the performance of the Game Center multiplayer system? You’ve been able to do something others haven’t by bringing 16 player multiplayer to iOS.
Game Center has been great for us and we are big supporters of it. Beyond just leaderboards and achievements, we can use your Game Center ID to locate your save games and link to other services like Youtube uploads etc. The awesome thing about Game Center is that it provides an easy way to create peer to peer multiplayer connections with up to four players at once. We have supported this in Flight Control, Real Racing, Flight Control HD and Real Racing HD.
For Real Racing 2 we have implemented a hosted solution because we wanted to support our 16 car single player grid in multiplayer games as well. We also wanted to make it really simple to find and play multiplayer games, on every device. This is something we have been working on for a long time. It is more difficult for us to do things that way, but it means we are able to support all devices.
Q: A few months ago you released a story about how you had tuned the AI in your bots to such an extent that they were cheating. Are you sure they aren’t still cheating? Some of the AI race drivers seem awful good! Tell us more about the AI in the game for the computer drivers.
Well the Real Racing 1 AI weren’t cheating as such, it was more that they were finding exploits in the physics engine, the same exploits that human players could find. An example of that was that the AI found if they hit a certain corner at exactly the right angle, they would explode down the track faster than any car could drive. Needless to say, we fixed that bug before release!
In Real Racing 2, we have gone to great lengths to make sure the AI are competitive without cheating. Some games allow their AI to have faster or more responsive cars, or add catchup code so that they are competitive. On release, our game has none of this, the opponents never drive a car that out performs the ones the player can drive in the game. However, they may take you to the cleaners if you enter a hard career race under-spec’d. So choose a car with as high a performance rating as possible and ideally well suited to the particular track, for example top speed is pretty critical on an oval but it’s not so helpful on a winding track. If the AI is driving a car that you know has a higher top speed than yours, then you can be pretty sure that they won’t be so good on the corners.
The AI have been written to use the same inputs that the player has, accelerate, brake and steer. The down side of this as developers, we have to make our AI really smart to keep up with a human player.
One advantage that the AI do have is that they are precision drivers, the best AI can hit a precise racing line every time, so while it may seem like they are cheating, they actually take great lines through the corners and may come out of them faster than you if you make a small mistake. So just like when you are down at the track, winning at the high levels in Real Racing takes precise driving.
Even with all our effort into improving the AI, we would still rather take on the fastest AI we have than try to compete with a top ranked Real Racing player!
Q: What can we expect in the future for Real Racing 2? Any planned updates? An iPad version perhaps? Voice chat like we’ve seen you recently add with Flight Control?
You can be pretty certain that we will do an iPad version and we want to do something special, but definitely not until next year. We also have the online save game system now so that we can share your progress across versions of the game including from iPhone to iPad.
We do have all sorts of ideas and plans for Real Racing 2, however they are just ideas at this stage. Announcing things is easy, but delivering is hard, so we are cautious about announcing too much at this stage. Hopefully then, when we do deliver something, we will have over-delivered
Q: You’ve developed your own 3D engine for Real Racing 2, Mint 3D. Can you tell us a little more about it and what are the advantages of a custom engine over a pre-built one?
Mint3D is a powerful and highly optimized rendering engine designed to get great performance out of the current iOS platforms, particularly iPhone 4 and iPod Touch 4. It supports standout visual effects like shadow mapping, depth of field, motion blur, detail textures, reflections, level of detail, specular highlights, glints, flares, particle effects, animation and even some improved real time shadows, whilst being able to push large quantities of polygons and models through the hardware each frame. The cool thing is, we have a very optimized legacy engine within Mint3D that was developed along with Real Racing, which is how we are able to continue to support earlier devices, albeit without the same high level of effects possible on the newer hardware.
We have to render a 3 mile track being traversed at high speed, from any angle with 16 cars, sometimes all on the screen at once, all with unique textures, see through windows, reflections, shadows, damage etc. It all has to look great regardless of what the player is doing with their car or with the camera or where they are driving. Everything moves by very quickly so dealing with a large object count is very important to a racer, and when you have 16 cars with physics and AI on top of that, there is a lot of variety to deal with. Mint3D is designed to handle this and to do a large variety of things well and at consistent framerates.
The choice of going with a custom engine over something pre-built is something that should be made for each game and each developer individually. It is not just an economic choice, sometimes a pre-built engine is the right choice for creative reasons. In our case, we design the game first and the engine has to keep up with that. By using our own engine we have the freedom to do whatever it takes to make it deliver for our particular needs. It feels like that is the best way for us to build signature titles and make them stand apart.
Q: How about some racing tips? Do you have any tips our readers for getting the best times on the Real Racing 2 tracks?
Generally, the fastest race times can be achieved by turning and braking as minimally as possible: a good race line with the goal of taking straight lines through corners, sufficient but minimal braking (losing traction washes off a lot of speed) and trying to maintain a high, constant speed throughout the race will hold you in good stead.
Every car handles differently, and braking and acceleration in and out of corners can count for a lot. Learn to exploit the varying performance attributes of each car and practice the techniques listed above. Driving with assists can be a very helpful way to learn to get your braking and racing line right.
Thanks to the folks at Firemint for answering our questions. Real Racing 2 is out now, and I strongly suggest you grab it if you enjoy a good race. Feel free to add me in Game Center, I’m jeff148apps — I’ll see you on the track.