Zephyrus of the Anemoi

.the ramblings of a radman.

Category: iPhone/iPad (page 2 of 12)

My world in slow motion

I picked up the iPhone 5S the other day and I took the time to play with the slow-mo features today. This is the result.

One frustrating issue I’ve had is that it seems impossible to actually export the slow motion clips unless you either email them or upload them to one of the sharing services. Even sending as an iMessage only sends the full-speed clip. I had to import these videos to iMovie and then re-adjust the speed there, even though I’d already trimmed them to a shorter clip entirely in slow motion on my iPhone. iMovie on the iPhone also doesn’t seem to recognize the slow motion settings, though it also has not been updated since the iPhone 5S was released.

All that said, it’s still pretty awesome and I hope to get some cooler clips over time. I’ll post the best ones here.

To watch the above video in 720p, either click the HD button on the video or just go here.

Infinity Blade III: Infinity Harder!

Infinity Blade III

Soon, Chair Entertainment will release Infinity Blade III upon the world and it will never be the same. The (presumably) final chapter in the Infinity Blade story, Infinity Blade III builds upon its predecessors to become one of the most robust and most anticipated games ever developed for iPhone and iPad. The Infinity Blade story is one of a lone warrior facing off against a number of foul beasts in a quest to slay the God King, murderer of the young man’s father. Only all is not as it seems and soon the player is thrust into a world of immortal beings, ancient civilizations lost to the ravages of time, and truths and secrets long forgotten.

In its initial release, Infinity Blade’s story was very minimal. Players faced off against the God King, died, and their descendant took up his father’s arms to face the God King once more. Eventually, when the player became powerful enough to defeat the God King, the loop began again, leading many players to assume that you simply became the God King and your own son came to destroy you, now corrupted by the power of the Infinity Blade. But the truth of the matter goes much deeper. As Chair released updates to the game adding cells beneath the tower containing imprisoned immortals that reveal much more about your character and the world he inhabits.

Eventually, Infinity Blade II (as well as Infinity Blade: Awakening, a short novella that summarized the first game and bridges the gap between it and the second) gave us many of the answers we had hoped to find in the first title. Your character’s name is Siris and his quest to defeat the God King once and for all has led him to seek out the Worker of Secrets, the creator of the Infinity Blade and an immortal every bit as dangerous as the God King. But will the truths that Siris discovers about himself be too much for him to handle? Will he succumb to the corrupting influence of the world he inhabits? Of course not. At least, not in this game.

We’ve already got a nice taste of whats to come with Infinity Blade: Redemption, another novella bridging the second and third games and revealing a great deal of history in the world these characters inhabit. But it’s a mere morsel compared to what Chair has in store for us tomorrow. Infinity Blade III will soon arrive, giving players the opportunity to conclude the story. At the end of Infinity Blade II, Siris had managed to get himself into a rather dire situation. Can his companion, Isa, rescue him? And once she does, can the two of them manage to bring down the immortals that have plagued this world for so long, or will they become the very things they wish to destroy? Will Chair give us the answers we seek immediately upon release of the game, or will we have to wait for the inevitable content updates to finally reveal all the critical pieces of the puzzle?

I can’t wait to find out. If you’re interested, start with the original title, or just download everything and power through. You won’t be disappointed.

Apple’s pending point-of-sale revolution

This morning, while I was getting gas, I noticed that the price had dropped since the day before. Sweet! I thought. Free dollar! Okay, I didn’t exactly think that, but it sounded cooler than, Huh. Nice.

Anyway, as I was sitting there waiting for the inexorably slow pump to fill my car, I started thinking about services like GasBuddy. If you’ve not heard of GasBuddy, it’s a website and corresponding mobile app that lets you search for the lowest price in gas near your location before filling up. It’s pretty handy, especially on road trips since it can help you determine which cities are the best to stop for gas before moving on, saving you money on the trip and ensuring you don’t run out of gas before you reach the next waypoint.

The problem with GasBuddy is that it requires a real-life human being to observe the price, check the GasBuddy app or website to determine if it has changed, and then update it. It’s a less-than-ideal situation that requires someone to be passionate about the app to make sure it’s up-to-date. Whomever you are out there updating this database for me, I thank you.

However, Apple could change all that very, very soon. With Touch ID on the iPhone 5s, Apple is positioning itself to become the ideal point-of-sale for businesses. Using Bluetooth 4.0 LE, your iPhone could automatically pair with the payment system at the pump, prompt you to provide authentication with your fingerprint, then bill your card on file in iTunes, all without ever taking your wallet out of your pocket or purse. But this can go even a step further. Imagine that when I pay at the pump, Apple takes information like the location of the store and the price-per-gallon and automatically updates an online database, allowing iOS users to quickly find the cheapest gas in their area and know that it’s almost certainly going to be accurate. Going a step further, Apple could also find out how quickly customers get in and out of the pump area, so you know how busy the station is. Your morning commute might be less frustrating if you can find the fastest gas station, assuming you don’t mind paying a little extra for your gas.

Now let’s go out even further. Retailers supporting iPhones for payment would likely send itemized receipts to customers through Apple’s payment system. This gives Apple information on the prices of every product you purchase, which could again be dumped into a searchable database, allowing you to find the best price on any item you wanted to buy. Got some grocery shopping to do? Make your grocery list and let Apple tell you which store is going to cost you the least. Or hell, it could even split up the list between multiple stores and tell you if it would be cheaper to drive to each one (based on current gas prices in your area) and how long it will take. With Apple’s mapping service, your iPhone could even tell you if you’re likely to hit traffic and to recommend the best time of day to make your shopping excursion (maybe even give you an alert if a sudden rush of customers hits a specific store, letting you know that maybe you should just wait until tomorrow).

A lot of people are terrified of sharing this kind of data, and in many cases you should be. Something like this should be dependent on anonymized information, preventing any purchase data from being tied to an individual user (except in the case of itemized, digital receipts, which should be opt-in only). But imagine the possibilities.’

I don’t expect to see this come this year in iOS 7, but I believe with iBeacons and Touch ID, Apple is laying the groundwork. We’ll see a few retailers try to implement their own systems with these existing tools while Apple continues to look for the best way to take the whole pie in one swoop. I’ll be very keenly interested in what will be possible when Touch ID has trickled down to the “free” iPhone.

Worms 3 for iPad on sale!

I love Worms. No, not lumbricus terrestris, but the digital kind that blow each other up for your entertainment. I’m talking about Team17’s series of artillery-based combat using smart-mouthed worms as stand-ins for your friends and enemies. The latest entry for iPad has been very well-received and is currently on sale for $0.99. If you like the series, or are just looking for a great game to play with friends locally or even online against friends and strangers, this game is for you.

I mean, it’s got a Holy Hand Grenade as a weapon. What more do you need? Go download Worms 3 today.

A Call of Duty game built from the ground up for iOS?

Call of Duty Strike Team FPS

Okay, maybe not from the ground up, but it’s not a port. Activision managed to sneak Call of Duty: Strike Team onto the App Store without anyone even knowing it was in development. And, it’s not a tie-in or cheap port of an existing Call of Duty game. It’s a self-contained campaign built specifically for mobile devices.

Now, I’m not a fan of the Call of Duty series. I enjoyed Modern Warfare and played the coop parts of its sequel, but never spent much time in any other version of the games. But, this game certainly piques my interest. Most noticeably because it does not require you to play through the game as an FPS. Strike Team has a really cool 3rd-person tactical display that lets you issue commands to the entire squad and play the game like a squad-based, real-time strategy game. And, from what I’ve read about the game so far, it never forces you to play in one view mode or the other.

Call of Duty Strike Team Tac

Honestly, this is a really smart move for a mobile game. FPS controls on touchscreen devices are never as good as consoles or PCs, but by being able to switch viewpoints to try different tactics, players don’t have to get frustrated with on-screen controls. Plus, tactical strategy games play really, really well on iOS devices, especially the iPad.

Anyway, if you’re a CoD fan, or just want to see how well a hybrid squad-based tactical strategy FPS can work, be sure and download it here.

Star Wars Pinball for iOS is free until the 9th: May the Force be with you!

I snatched up Star Wars Pinball for iPhone and iPad a couple days ago, but didn’t realize until today that it was still free. Not only is it still free, it’s free for 5 more days. So, seriously, if you like Star Wars or pinball or are part of a Venn diagram in which those things overlap and your sexy bits begin to tingle, then go download this. Right. Now.

The first table is included in the download and two additional tables can be purchased for $1 each. Unlocking the extra tables is actually key to one of the other cool features of the game: the ability to team up with your friends on either the Light Side or Dark Side and compete against the world.

Basically, every player has a “Force Score” which is based on your score, the number of tables you have played on, and how many friends you have playing via Game Center. Then, all of your points are used in support of either the Light Side or the Dark Side. The entire app’s interface is used to show which side is currently winning, by splitting it into blue on the left and red on the right. The percentage of the screen covered by each color indicates the current winning side.

Currently, I’m on the Light Side, but I’ve always loved an underdog, so it seems likely that I’ll eventually let my hatred consume me and fall. Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy as blogger and reader!

If we’re not Game Center friends already, send me an invite. My name is Zepfhyr. Be sure to include that you read the blog so I know to approve you.

Now get out there and download the game before it’s too late. Help me, readers! You’re my only hope!

Lock that $#@% up! 1Password for iOS goes on sale

There are a number of apps out there for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android that are capable of securely storing your passwords to all the websites you visit, but there is one that is king of them all. 1Password started life as a Mac app that did basically the same thing that it does today: stored passwords in a secure database. But, as time passed, AgileBits (the developers of 1Password) began to add more features, like Dropbox and iCloud syncing, the ability to store software serial numbers, and the capability to store encrypted notes and credit card information.

But their greatest achievement was to build an iOS version of 1Password that could remain in sync with the Mac version so you had all of your information with you wherever you went. I’ve been a big user of 1Password since its initial version and have upgraded to each subsequent version with glee. Some of my friends and family can’t justify the cost of the software when there are free (albeit vastly inferior) options.

Well, for those of you cheapskates out there, get excited, because 1Password for iOS is currently on sale for $8, and it’s well worth the price (especially if you already have a copy of 1Password for your Mac or Windows computer). Even if you don’t have the desktop counterpart, the iOS app is still a great way to store critical information that you need to have with you at all times, but that you want to keep secure. All the data is encrypted on your device, can be backed up to Dropbox or iCloud (where it is still encrypted), and is secured with a password to prevent someone from accessing it, even if they have access to your iPhone or iPad.

While the new iCloud Keychain in Mavericks and iOS 7 might make some of the features in 1Password redundant, the extra features that 1Password provides more than make up for the cost (especially if you prefer to use Dropbox to iCloud for syncing your data).

If you’re interested in checking it out, then you can get it here. Please leave a comment or drop me a line if you have questions about my 1Password usage or just want to know more.

Chromecast: Polish it all you want, it’s still a piece of…

…okay, that might be a little unfair. I haven’t even played with one yet.

Google announced several new products yesterday, one of which I got really excited about for almost a whole day. Chromecast is a little device that you plug directly into your TV’s HDMI port so that you can stream video to it. At first blush, it sounds an awful lot like an Apple TV, something I feel confident was intentional on Google’s part. And, since they’re only charging $35 for it, versus $99 for the Apple TV, it seems like a really great deal.

At first.

But today, I spent a little more time delving into the details of the device and discovered that it’s not quite as incredible as it appears. I was really hoping that I could use it as an ultraportable AirPlay receiver. Imagine visiting a friend and plugging this device into his TV and streaming photos of your kids from your iPhone or iPad. Or envision being able to connect the Chromecast to a projector and giving a presentation or demoing your latest iOS app wirelessly from anywhere in the room. But, that’s not something it can do out of the box. Or maybe ever.

Okay, maybe not ever. Obviously, dedicated developers should be able to expand the features of the Chromecast, which could (one day) make it a compelling alternative to the Apple TV. A program on your home computer could behave as a web server which could be accessed by your iPhone or Android or iPad and then redirected to the Chromecast locally. And the eventual support of streaming Chrome tabs to the device will open up the content available significantly. But there’s something about the Chromecast that still feels like it’s too much work for the masses. It appeals to the gadget geek in me, and I can definitely see some benefits to it as a cheaper alternative to the Apple TV for those of us that don’t mind doing a little extra work to get our content on the TV. But having to use a phone or a tablet or a computer as your “remote” is daunting for a number of people, and makes this device actually a fair bit more expensive than the $35 for which it retails.

However, all of that aside, the biggest complaint I have with the Chromecast is one that I discovered while writing this article, and is the one thing that keeps the Chromecast from being elegant, even if it is affordable. The device is not powered by HDMI, but rather must be plugged in to a wall outlet or a powered USB port to make it work. Suddenly, the “ultra-portability” I was hoping for is gone, as is my desire to buy the device. I might still pick one up, if only because of the three free months of Netflix that are bundled with it (bringing the total price of the device down to $11, a much more affordable “toy” with which to experiment).

I hope it gets better fast, though. The Apple TV is an amazing device and one I love having in my living room. I can only imagine how much better it or future generations will get if there is real competition in the space.

But so far, this isn’t it.

Best of the best iOS apps free to celebrate App Store’s 5th Anniversary

To celebrate the iOS App Store’s 5th anniversary, several app developers have decided to make their apps free for a short period of time. Now, free apps are pretty common on the App Store, but a couple of the apps on this list have never been free before, and are arguably some of the best in the entire storefront.

Infinity Blade II – I’ve talked before (at length) about the Infinity Blade series. It’s easily one of the best games released for iOS devices, and still remains one of my favorite games of all time, on any system. For the first time since it’s release in December of 2011, it has gone free, and I highly recommend you snap it up at this point. Especially if you have already played the original and want to continue the story. Also, since Infinity Blade: Dungeons has been put on indefinite hold, it may be a while before we get to play another game in the series. Also, the original Infinity Blade is on sale for $2.99, as well.

Tiny Wings & Tiny Wings HD – Tiny Wings might just have the catchiest music in the entire App Store. I’m not kidding. It’s incredible. The gameplay is also incredibly simple. You control a bird whose wings are tiny, but all he wants to do is fly. You are racing against time as your bird will only travel while the sun is up. If the sunset catches you, your game is over. Simply press on the screen to cause the bird to descend and let go to let him fly. Using the hills, gravity, and timing, you can soar farther and farther, moving to new islands with new challenges, each more frustratingly difficult than the last. I highly recommend this game, but be warned: you will lose several hours to this game.

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery – I have been a huge fan of point-and-click adventure games in the past, but never have I found one that found such a remarkable combination of art style, musical direction, and action-oriented gameplay as this one. With a story that is at once both familiar and bizarre and a gameplay mechanic that is affected by the actual lunar cycle, this game is easily my favorite iOS title of all time. I cannot recommend it enough and Capybara Games has marked the Universal edition free for a time. There is no reason you shouldn’t be downloading this game right now.

There are a number of other apps that are currently free, and if any new and noteworthy ones appear, I’ll add them here. Check out the list I found over on Reddit.

Today’s awesome iOS releases: Star Wars: KOTOR and Warhammer Quest (plus a free copy of Magicka!)

I’m going to skip the boring lead-in and jump right to the meat of this post.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is out now for the iPad. If you’ve never played it, then you’re in for a treat. KOTOR was built on the same basic mechanics as Neverwinter Nights and an improved engine, Bioware gave players a chance to finally step into a Star Wars video game like never before. While later forays (like Mass Effect) into the RPG market would prove far more ambitious, KOTOR was notable in that it allowed players to essentially play inside a D&D world that was Star Wars themed. Quest outcomes had an effect on story and sometimes even future quests. Dialogue between players could drastically alter one’s “alignment”, plunging the player’s character into the Dark Side (which affected gameplay mechanics, as well as parts of the story).

This review over at IGN has more details on the game, which they gave an 8.8. The game is available in the App Store for $10.

The second piece of news I have to share is that Warhammer Quest was released for iOS late last night. If you’ve never heard of Warhammer Quest, then spend more time reading my blog. :-p

Warhammer Quest is, in my opinion, the definitive cooperative dungeon crawler hack-and-slash board game. If you like rolling dice to chop things up and loot the bloody entrails, then this game is perfect for you. The only issue with Warhammer Quest that any of my friends and family ever have is that it’s too bloody hard. There are a number of times in the game where a bad dice roll means your character is just gone. Forever.

Of course, house rules often allow players to make some sort of exception to perma-death, as no one wants to spend 10 hours building a character only to have him vanish into the aether because the odds are against them.

The iOS release is brought to you by Rodeo Games, the creators of the Hunters series for iOS. While those games were pretty good, Warhammer Quest is vastly improved over those. Where Hunters focused on building a team of mercenaries to complete tasks, level up, and buy new equipment, Warhammer Quest is focused on venturing forth with a team of adventurers to do battle, level… up, and… buy new… equipment… Okay, so it’s basically the same game with orcs and dwarves and goblins and elves and magic and axes. But trust me, it’s better.

Sadly, a few things were lost in the translation from board game to video game: most notably, multiplayer. While it’s still possible to sit around a single iPad with your friends and take turns controlling individual characters, the game just isn’t designed for that. Further, in becoming a video game, some of the charm of the original is lost. Warhammer Quest for iOS is perfect for those that loved to play WHQ by themselves when no one else was available and they needed a dungeon-looting fix. But for those that want the camaraderie that taking a party on an adventure that was almost certainly going to result in one or more deaths, you won’t find it here.

Still, it’s worth the $5 for the single player features alone. And, if you find you’ve burned through the game with all the starting heroes and want more, you can purchase more from the game’s store (however, the price is a bit high in my opinion).

So go check it out and give it a go. And when you’re done, try and find a copy of the board game on Amazon to play with your friends. The iOS release is available in the App Store.

Lastly, I wanted to share the best deal of the day with you. Magicka for iPad is currently FREE! Magicka feels like Castle Crashers but with a much heavier emphasis on sorcery and team-killing. In fact, one of the best features of the game is being able to cast spells on your friends to hurt help them.

I don’t need to explain this one much because it’s free. If you’re not going to download it purely on my recommendation and it’s $0 price tag, then I weep for you. It’s in the App Store, like all the others.

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