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This week I was able to get a look at Travian Games’ Epic Arena, and it looks pretty cool. It’s an asynchronous hex-based tactical arena combat game with multiple factions to control and several arenas to fight in. There are also some new gameplay modes that are being added to the current Facebook version, which include a faster Blitz mode (each player has only 60 seconds to decide what to do on their turn, and there are ELO rankings) and solo Challenges (players are given a predetermined scenario and must figure out how to complete it), that will also be available once it releases on iOS.
The core mechanics involve using five actions per turn to make the most of the units you have available while attempting to either decimate the opposition or destroy their artifacts. Different factions (and their units) play differently, of course, and it’s also possible to use special one-off Power Cards that can do all sorts of different things - and come in different rarities.
Epic Arena should be releasing in the US in about a month or so as a freemium title, and will support cross-platform play.
Action RPG KingsRoad has been doing pretty well for itself on Facebook, and now it's on its way to the iPad.
In addition to the touch-centric interface and controls, it will also feature cross-platform play for a total of three different players. With drop-in, drop-out play no less. Weapon enchantment and socketing, guilds, in-game chat, and a constantly updated list of dungeons.
KingsRoad should be hitting the App Store early this summer for free. With no energy timers, either!
A little over a year ago, everything changed. My daughter, Peregrine (Pip, for short), was born, and along with the myriad recalibrations, adjustments, and joyous changes that birth brought with it, I also finally came to terms with the true value of the iPhone camera: baby pictures! Hundreds and hundreds of them (no exaggeration) were taken by me, by friends, and by family, and then scattered over hard drives, social networks, and of course iPhones. The problem then became figuring out how to organize and store them privately and securely. As a devoted Mac user it’s easy enough to keep photos stored on iPhoto, but that’s a local option only, with limited cloud storage and sharing (those 1,000 photos on iCloud? Please!), and god forbid my hard drive crashes without proper backup.
I thought all of my problems with cloud storage for photos were solved when Everpix came along. Here was a fantastic, well-designed app that also had great web-based software and a Mac-based uploader. Best of all, it could load in all of my photos from various social streams, eliminate or hide duplicates, and handle a potentially unlimited number of photos for a reasonable monthly or yearly price.
There was just one big problem though; Everpix went out of business.
Before I get to the heart of this article, there are a few lessons to learn from my Everpix experience.
One: Always keep all of your photos on a local hard drive.
Two: Backup said hard drive as often as humanly possible (something I still don’t do, so do as I say, not as I do).
Three: Never, ever assume that a site, app, or service will exist forever. It won’t; it just won’t. They will all go away at some point. Some will last five years. Some will last a year or two. Some of the very best won’t even make it that long.
So I found myself back at square one, trying to find another good (read, as close to the effortless Everpix as I could get) cloud-based storage solution for my photos. Read on for my look at nine different cloud storage services that work with iOS.
Game of Thrones: Ascent, the strategy-RPG Facebook game, is making its way to iOS in the near future. Pocket Gamer reports that all content from the Facebook version will be available on iOS and that current players can link their accounts for cross-platform play. Players are able to create an army to send on adventures, craft gear and items, and participate in player-to-player actions that can either help or harm their neighbors.
I'm the kind of person who my entire family comes to with any tech or game related question. For my soon-to-be career in the IT world, I've probably already heard every silly computer related question I can think of; such as my parent's worrying I deleted all of their email in their Yahoo! email account when I reformatted their computer to my uncle calling me to tell me how this site he saw on an infomercial cleaned up his PC. Every facepalm, of course to those in the know, was from lack of knowledge of computers and technology.
So when it came to my grandmother - who is old, fragile, and not in the greatest of health - needing an upgrade from her ancient Mac Book this year, I candidly suggested she go to an iPad instead of a new computer. "Why?" my family asked, "How can a tablet replace a computer?" To which I gave them a brief summary of all the reasons I could come up with to justify the purchase of a $500 tablet versus a $1200 MacBook. The iPad's size, weight, cost, and usability were all crucial to my argument for the iPad versus another laptop.
Eventually I won out in this discussion, thus beginning a sort of experiment to see if my dad's mother could adopt to a mobile touch screen device. To many in our age group, the idea that someone may have trouble with an iPad sounds almost absurd. But keep in mind this was part of a family that I had to verbally instruct over the phone as to how to launch Skype on their MacBook.
The first baby steps of this experiment were to introduce her to popular apps, such as the iPad email interface, Safari, and Facebook. Facebook took great strides in 2013 to make their mobile app to have nearly all the functionality of the browser based version. I was even able to help her figure out how to hide the posts from a distant relative who'd post quite frequently about Justin Bieber and how much she'd spent on clothes. My grandma is cool like that.
Next up was showing her various forms of entertainment on the device. Now again, this amazing lady still owns two SD TV's, so an iPad with it's Retina display is by far the best visually striking screen in her house. I showed her various video apps; such as YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and even lesser known ones such as VUDU. Because I also deal with iOS games on a consistent basis, I introduced some simple but really fun games I thought she might be interested in trying. Two of them, which appeared to catch on with her, were games I considered to be some of the best but most overlooked games of 2013: 4 Thrones and FlowDoku.
There have been a couple of challenges in this adventure however, as anyone going from the familiar to the unknown can be a little daunted. My grandmother had issues figuring out her email, having been used to browser based clients. However, I was able to introduce her to the wide array of Google apps available on iOS, merging the Google and Apple worlds into one. She found the Google Mail client pretty useful for her needs, as well as Google Drive, so I could send her stuff such as wedding photos from the event that occurred some 3 years ago. Additionally, I was able to set her up with Skype on iOS so she could watch my sister's wedding, as well as the TED Talks app so she could see the various topics discussed.
There was also a little trouble getting my elderly grandmother adept at using the on-screen keyboard. Luckily the keyboard on an iPad is relatively big with easy to read buttons, especially in comparison to any Android device. It also responds perfectly to touch, with little to no issues responding appropriately. Once she learned to adapt to using a touch screen to not only replace the mouse but the physical keyboard as well, things seemed to go much easier.
My grandmother means the world to me, and it's absolutely devastating knowing she is nearing her final days on this Earth. But the notion that I could help simplify her life a little bit makes me feel a tad better. From helping her get a device that her frail body will be able to manage to setting her up with and showing her how to use some apps that were similar to what she was using on a MacBook, I feel as though my grandma has a great computing device, an awesome means of communicating with the outside world, and something that will help improve her life overall; regardless of how long or short that may be. Technology has many uses beyond business, entertainment, or whatever else. Sometimes it's just as simple as using it to aid the ones you love.
Writing has always been a passion of mine because it allows me to express myself. Although while writing is something that I'm passionate about, I also enjoy expressing myself through various other forms like drawing, scrapbooking, and graphic designing. Recently, one area of interest in particular has caught my eye: embroidery. Not just the process of actually embroidering items, but creating digital embroidery designs for others to stitch out with their machines.
Since I own virtually everything Apple, iOS apps have become a major part of my life. There are many apps that I use for my own personal amusement, but most of the apps that reside on the home screen on my iPhone and iPad are there to help me run my small business online. Not only have these apps helped me to get started in doing what I love, they continue to help my business to grow larger.
My main go-to app is Etsy. I set up an Etsy shop a little over a year ago, and it has helped me to achieve more than I could imagine. Most use the Etsy app to browse for unique and handmade items to buy, but there’s another side to Etsy that few know about. With Etsy, I am able to view the essentials about my shop such as orders, revenue, and views, and I can also communicate with buyers through conversations directly on my iPhone. I receive notifications instantly, which ensures that my customers are always getting quick responses. Etsy even allows me to add new items to my shop, change its appearance, and do virtually everything the website offers. My favorite feature is that the app makes a “cha-ching” sound with each sale that I make, which always brightens my day.
For the past two years I've been recording my life with photographs. Every day, I've taken a photograph with my iPhone before sharing it via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. For the most part it's fun to do, for a multitude of reasons.
It enables me to share my life with friends and family that I don't get to see as often as I'd like. It sparks conversations about whatever happened that day. More importantly, it means that at the end of the year I can look back at what I did and savour those memories. It's pretty much a photo diary in that case. Of course, some days it can be tricky. Not every day of the year can be fascinating, meaning that sometimes I have to get creative. And yes, sometimes I succumb to the ease in which I can snap a photo of my pets or my freshly cooked meal. It's a cliche, but it's surprising how many people enjoy looking at food even despite all the cynicism.
I use many different apps for such a purpose. While few (excluding Instagram) are used every day, they're a handy arsenal of tools just waiting for me to improve a photo in some way. I've made myself a rule that I only use iOS apps to adjust photos and it's working out for me well.
Ready to get a little social? Powerslyde is here to help you in your quest. Just take a look at these five top recommended apps this week:
Remember when it was just Facebook and Twitter? No, me either. Anyway, if you don't know what Instagram is, I'm amazed you're reading this article. As for Ban.jo and AroundMe, I'll forgive you for not knowing about these social networks that incorporate happenings, events, and locations nearby a-la Yelp or FourSquare.
An interesting inclusion this week is AppGrooves which, like Powerslyde, recommends other apps to its users. And then there's Kik Messenger, which claims to be the fastest messaging app out there. Is it? I don't know, as there's a glut of messaging apps out there, including Apple's own iMessage.
Ok...deep breath...do you feel properly socialized now? Good. Join us next week for another installment of the ongoing app popularity saga. Thanks to Powerslyde, the app that leverages your friends' app recommendations, for this week's list. What apps do you recommend? Drop us a comment below, or send us a message on Facebook or Twitter. See you next week!
In honor of this week's inevitable new iPhone announcement, five of the top recommended apps are best described as 'App Classics.' Take a look:
Ah, the oldies but goodies! Hard to believe there was a time, not so long ago, when Facebook and Twitter weren't baked into iOS. Still, refreshes to these social networks' apps have made them must-haves for every iPhone and iPad user. And while a sequel and numerous copycats have followed in its footsteps, sometimes nothing beats the original Temple Run for pure, unadulterated endless-running goodness.
Google did a great thing and recently brought a major update to its YouTube app, breathing new life into one of its line of classic apps. And as for Shazam, does anyone else remember when this technology seemed like magic? Strange how quickly an app becomes old hat. For those wanting to know who's performing a song, however, it's still a must-own.
So all you young whippersnapper apps, take heed! You could learn a thing or two from these classics. Thanks to Powerslyde, the app that leverages your friends' app recommendations, for this week's list. What apps do you recommend? Drop us a comment below, or send us a message on Facebook or Twitter. See you next week!
It's been about a month since the app marketing gurus at Fiksu first reported their findings on the legitimacy of all those ads we've grown accustomed to in the Facebook app. As our own Carter Dotson noted, there was an increase of 14.6 million downloads of the top 200 free apps per day throughout the month of May. That's a lot of downloads, and it was pretty much all because of those Facebook ads. Now the numbers for June are in, and it doesn't look like the trend is going away. If anything it seems to be building momentum.
Fiksu's Cost per Loyal User Index, used for measuring the average cost of earning a loyal user (i.e. opens the app three or more times), shows that values have jumped back up to $1.50 for the month of June. What this means is that it's costing advertisers more money on average - about $0.17 more when compared to May - to attract customers, which Fisku believes is due to a recent influx of developers and publishers looking to advertise on the social media platform.
On the other hand their App Store Competitive Index, which tracks the average download volume of the top 200 free U.S. apps each day, is showing a decrease of about 9 million total downloads for the month of June as compared to May. A loss of 9 million downloads in one month definitely sounds like one heck of a drop-off, however it's still a one million download improvement over last year's numbers; which they attribute to the App Store's perpetual state of competition.
So those slightly annoying but easily ignored ads we usually gloss over while letting all our friends know what we're eating for dinner and where, possibly with an accompanying photo, actually serve a purpose. A significant purpose. And it looks like advertisers are going to be fighting over the top spot for some time to come.
Over one million apps have made their way onto the App Store during its five years of existence. A million. That's a pretty miraculous number when you think about it. However it's not the amount of apps we have to pick from that I find so fascinating, but rather just how much things have changed since 2008. Pickings were comparatively slim at first, and many developers were just starting to dip a toe in the waters of Apple's new smartphone.
On top of that, the technology itself has changed tremendously in a relatively small amount of time. It makes me wonder if anyone from 2008 would even recognize current iOS devices, and by extension the App Store. Would a newer Apple initiate have any idea what they were looking at if they somehow managed to take a trip to five years ago? I think it warrants a look at how the hardware, the App Store, and the apps contained within it have evolved.
2008 - The Beginning of the Beginning
The App Store's first year was a rough but promising one. The iPhone 3G rolled out to coincide with Apple’s new software venue and the original iPhone was still viable. The iPod touch was also present and accounted for, while the second generation appeared closer to the end of the year. Even at this point many developers were eager to push these early iOS devices to their limits, to make them more than just a phone or an .mp3 player with a fancy screen.
Handy apps like Pandora Radio, Last.FM, Facebook, and Yelp were to be expected, but that didn't make them any less impressive to have on a handheld platform. Others such as the intuitive personal organizer Evernote, the eerily accurate song-identifying app Shazam, eWallet’s convenient and secure account password management, and MLB At Bat with its extensive baseball coverage further capitalized on the particulars of the hardware and its general portability. Of course there were also some pretty unnecessary options out there, too. Flashlight kind of served a purpose but was also fairly pointless. It wasn't as bad as stuff like More Cowbell!, though.
At the same time, the games available on the App Store were beginning to show people that "mobile" didn't have to equal "mediocre." Sure there were a few simple ports of the odd classic such as Ms. PAC-MAN, Vay, and Scrabble, but there were also some impressive iOS renditions of popular console games like Super Monkey Ball coming out. Potential mobile gamers also had a few really special titles such as Galcon and Fieldrunners to tide them over. When all was said and done there were over 7,500 apps on the App Store by the end of the year, with more being added every day.
2009 - Moving Right Along
The following year saw even more impressive releases as Apple's digital marketplace began to expand. The second generation of iPod Touch was the bright and shiny new toy at the time, but it was followed shortly by the iPhone 3GS in June while the latest and greatest third generation Touch closed out the year in September. It all meant better processors, better CPUs, more advanced operating systems, and so on. All stuff that developers needed to acclimate to, but also stuff that meant they could push their boundaries even further. There was no loss of steam when it came to content, either: the App Store finished off 2009 with well over 100,000 apps available.
Many of the basic smartphone necessities were covered, but there was room for so much more. Especially while the technology was improving. Plenty of people used their iPhones as phones, sure, but with the addition of Skype they were able to enjoy the added functionality of instant messaging and voice chat without cutting into their data plans (so long as a wifi connection was present). Big companies were really starting to take notice as well. That same year Starbucks and many other big businesses threw their virtual hats into the ring with their own apps designed to make life a little bit easier for their iOS-using customers. Practicality was also becoming an even bigger focus. The Kindle app gave iOS users a practical e-reading option, and Dropbox was there being Dropbox. By which I mean "an awesome and super-convenient way to transfer files between multiple platforms." And this same level of refinement could be seen creeping into the games as well.
So many of the App Store's most notable games and franchises came out around this time. It was almost a mobile rennaisence of a sort. This was the year Real Racing first blew mobile gamers' minds, even causing some of them to question the legitimacy of in-game video footage until they were able to see the finished product for themselves. Zenonia was just a fledgling action RPG at the time, and while a lot of people liked it I doubt they knew just how many sequels it would spawn. The same goes for Pocket God, although with updates rather than multiple releases. Flight Control began to eat away at peoples' free time, Angry Birds and Doodle Jump hit it big (like, super big), and Myst and The Sims 3 further displayed the potential for major releases on mobile platforms. Oh, and Canabalt almost single-handedly invented and popularized a genre.