Tag Archives: Apple

Infinity Blade iPhone Game Sells $1.6 Million in Five Days

Just last week the much-anticipated Infinity Blade iPhone game from Epic Games was released. The first to use the new iOS port of the Unreal Engine, it’s stunning graphics have been a major selling point for the game.

The big news is just how amazingly successful the game has been thus far. In its first five days, it earned a stunning $1.64 million. Quite an achievement, breaking Cut the Rope’s record of $1 million in its first ten days to boot.

At $5.99 per copy, the sword-fighting app will thus have mustered over $1.64 million in sales for publisher Epic, whose studio Chair Entertainment created what is widely-hailed as one of the most technically impressive iOS titles to date.

According to GamesIndustry.biz, at least 274,000 copies of the app were sold to produce that figure.

This really shows how viable a platform iOS and the App Store are. There is a lot of money to be made, and the barrier for entry is very low in comparison to most other gaming platforms. At last, indie developers are finally on a fairly even playing field with the larger game companies.

Envato Expands AppStorm Blog Network

Envato has just opened up two new blogs in their AppStorm network. Adding to the existing Mac, iPhone and Web app blogs, the new Windows and Android sites deviate the most from the network’s current audience. Some readers have  voiced concerns that the new sites betray the audience and make the network too generic. (Personally, I just say they should subscribe to the individual AppStorm blogs that interest them and leave the Windows one to the unenlightened.)

Also, the AppStorm main page has received a redesign. It’s simple, matches the rest of the site, and I like the icons along the top.

Reeder for Mac Beta

One of the premier RSS reader apps for the iPhone and iPad is Reeder. It syncs fast, it has a great interface, and it uses Google Reader as a backend (which means you can keep it synchronized with all of your devices).

The much-anticipated Mac version of Reeder is now available in public beta. While some of its features are still being implemented, you can get a good look at what the final application will be like.

The interface looks amazing. I think some of the keyboard shortcuts could use some work, but overall its very usable. I like the narrow column of icons representing the individual feeds. One minor change that would be welcome would be for them to automatically sort by the number of unread items, which I have found makes going through large numbers of items easier in other readers.

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Designing for iPhone 4 Retina Display

With the iPhone 4, and later the fourth-generation iPod Touch, Apple introduced a much higher density of screen for their mobile devices. The Retina Display, has the same dimensions as its predecessors, but there are twice as many pixels per inch. This makes for sharp text, crisp images, and an overall better user experience. Looking at two iPhones, the new and the old, side-by-side, you can really see the difference.

But this change presents a new challenge for designers of iOS apps. Now you need to have two versions of each image. You need to have a higher-resolution version for the newer devices, and a lower-resolution one for older models.

Smashing Magazine has a great new article on designing for the Retina Display. It covers the basics, such as how you need two images, one at 163 ppi and one at 326 ppi. (The higher resolution one is saved as MyImage@2x.png instead of MyImage.png and iOS chooses which one to used based on device compatibility.) You can find out about that anywhere online, though. The best part of the article is that it gives you some design advice for retina graphics. It suggests drawing with vectors and layer styles instead of plain bitmaps when you can, and the like.

I usually draw simple elements directly in Photoshop using the Rectangle or Rounded Rectangle Tool. Draw circles using the Rounded Rectangle Tool with a large corner radius, because the ellipse tool can’t snap to pixel. Layer groups can have vector masks too, which is handy for complex compositing (option-drag a mask from another layer to create a group mask).

More complex objects get drawn in Adobe Illustrator to the exact pixel size, and then pasted into Photoshop as a shape layer.

I have an additional tip while we’re on the topic. When I create graphics for iOS, I design for the Retina Display first. Then I scale the image down for the older devices. It’s quick, it’s easy, and I can use all the bitmaps I want.

Designing for iPhone 4 Retina Display: Techniques and Workflow [Smashing Magazine]

The iPad is the New iPod

Remember when every company developing a portable music player called it “The iPod Killer?” There were plenty of media players, but all the general public wanted was the iPod. The one device made the MP3 player market, previously a “geeky” thing, mainstream. There were digital music players well before the iPod existed, but they weren’t something that most people would think about buying. Just early adopters.

I’ve noticed that history seems to be repeating itself with the iPad. There have been tablet PCs for years, but they were sort of clunky and impractical for most users. Apple took the concept and shaped it into something with a much more usable UI, creating something that the public actually wanted. So far it has been a big success, selling 7.5 million units as of September.

Apple is selling millions of iPads, and there isn’t another product that is even in the running to be an actual competitor. While everyone else is scrambling to build a product to compete with the iPad, Apple is already gearing up for version two. Even if someone manages to release something in the same league as the iPad, they will have a hell of a time convincing the average consumer to buy it over the iPad. Apple won the battle before it even got started.

It’s the iPod all over again.

A Few Resources to Get Started With iPhone App Development

Want to write an iPhone app? Assuming you have a couple of necessary prerequisites, namely a Mac and an iPhone or iPod Touch, it’s not too hard to get started. It is best if you have some programming experience, as even I had a bit of a learning curve with my solid understanding of PHP and JavaScript. Assuming a little bit of programmatical knowledge, here are a few resources to help you get started with iPhone development.

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Apple “Back to the Mac” Keynote Recap

Apple held their “Back to the Mac” keynote yesterday. Despite the online media saturation of all things Apple, some of you were probably unable to sit down and watch the live stream of the event. (You can watch a video of the keynote if you want to see the whole thing.) For the chronologically challenged, here is a quick recap of the keynote.

Apple announced FaceTime for Mac, a beta of which is now available for download. As with the iPod Touch, you initiate the call by choosing an email address from your contacts list.

A new iLife suite is available for purchase. iLife ’11 includes some improvements to the most popular applications in the bundle. iPhoto gets new full-screen modes, nifty social media integration and new slideshows. (iPhoto will now load photos from Facebook and Flickr, and will even import activity and comments for photos you share.) iMovie gains a function to easily make Hollywood-style movie trailers, advanced audio editing and facial recognition. Garageband adds tools for fixing timing issues in recorded instruments, new amp and “stompbox” effects, and improved instrument lessons.

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Will Mac OS X 10.7 Have Integrated Cloud Sync?

Apple has been passing out media invitations for an October 20th “Back to the Mac” event. The invite, featuring a picture of a Lion hiding behind the Apple logo, implies that we will be seeing a new OS X release. After all, each release of OS X (from 10.0 to 10.6) has been nicknamed after a large feline.

The question is: what are the big features going to be? 10.6 was named Snow Leopard because it was mainly under-the-hood improvements, lacking many big flashy new features. A new cat entirely should mean we’ll be seeing some major changes.

The overly-popular tech blogs are all hyping-up their uncreative touchscreen angle, predicting everything from a smaller MacBook Air that exists in the space between a notebook an iPad to the unification of iOS and OS X.

I don’t particularly care for that rumor. I like mine better. There isn’t much evidence to support it, but it’s the perfect next step for Apple.

I think Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion” will have built-in cloud syncing. Leveraging their new North Carolina datacenter, Apple will integrate Dropbox-like functionality into the Finder itself. They already have MobileMe, why not take it to the next step? Your data would be accessible on any device, and you would no longer have to worry about backing it up.

It makes perfect sense. Nobody ever backs up their data, so Apple does it for them. Everyone with an iPhone or iPad wants to be able to access and edit their files on it, so you make it easy for them.

The OS X interface is fine the way it is. It doesn’t need to be touch-enabled. It might be nice if app developers could build-in (non-touch) Mac interfaces so a universal app could run on OS X and the various iOS devices, but cloud syncing would probably be more beneficial to users overall.

Why Are People So Irrational About the Price of iPhone Apps?

Why is it that iPhone/iPod owners can be so picky about the prices of apps after they fork over $300 on an iPod Touch or a few thousand for a 2-year iPhone contract? I see it all the time. People complain about a useful application that they would use every day costing less than half the price of a Big Mac at McDonalds.

I don’t get it.

There is some really great software in the app store, but the developers aren’t making as much money as they probably should be for their efforts. Believe me, software development isn’t easy. It takes a lot of time and frustration to build an amazing application, whether it’s an iPhone app or a web application. It bothers me that developers can barely get away with charging $1.99 for anything but a game. Tweetie, back before Twitter bought it and made it their free official app, was well worth its $2.99 price tag. I might have paid more for if the price had been a little higher. Many users would not have. After all, there was a big “outrage” about 1.0 users having to pay $1.99 for Tweetie 2.

I don’t think most people fully appreciate what it takes to develop software. I imagine the same problem is true for other fields. (Auto mechanics come to mind. Everyone whines about how much it costs to get their car fixed, but the garages have to pay for parts and labor somehow…)

What do you think? Should developers be able to charge more without scaring away customers and/or sending them into an entitlement-fueled rage? Am I too biased? Or should all software be free and GPL’d and all that Stallmanesque craziness?

BuySellAds Coming to OS X Applications

This has been in the works for awhile, but Mac AppStorm is reporting that BuySellAds is finally putting ads in OS X applications. If you have a Cocoa application, you can use an API to inject ad zones into your application. The ad zones appear in the BuySellAds marketplace just like any website, but the ads will be pulled-into your program. Bodega and the Kiwi Twitter client are both using the ads.

This is something that I have been wanting to see for some time. We have already seen a few free internet-connected applications, such as Evernote and Tweetie for Mac, supported by Fusion Ads and The Deck. It’s cool to have BuySellAds, a less exclusive network, offer a similar option to developers.

My big question is: will this work for iPhone apps? Cocoa and CocoaTouch are similar frameworks, and it would be interesting to see BuySellAds as a potential competitor to iAd and AdMob. (iAd is simply perfect for the iPhone, though. Plain banners can’t quite compete in that regard…)