Trapit for iPad is a unique news discovery app

Author: ally keer  //  Category: Apple, iPhone

I have found several news apps I really like over the last couple of years, like Zite, Flipboard and Pulse News. Still, there’s always room for something new, and Trapit is different and useful. Trapit for iPad was born out of an artificial intelligence project completed by DARPA and SRI, and has some of the same DNA as Siri.

You sign up for a free subscription, and start selecting some topics you are interested in. By having an account you can also sign in from a web browser. Unlike Zite, subjects are completely open. You can type anything and get hits from the more than 100,00 sources that are currently available.

Even better, like Zite, the app learns from your selections and fine tunes your topics over time. There are also a great many pre-selected subjects, like the White House race, daytime TV or the British open. You can also share your discoveries to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. Email sharing is also supported.

So how does it work? Frankly, I didn’t find the setup particularly intuitive, and I was surprised to find absolutely no detailed help built into the app. The app is not impossible to set up, but I just found it a bit clunky. Topics are in alphabetical order. I’d prefer to arrange them myself. With all the articles available, Trapit has a nice feature that shows brand new items on the right side of the screen so you don’t miss them.

Results were good, both in the pre-selected subjects, and some really obscure topics I created. The search algorithm seems quite sophisticated, and if there are mistakes you can find tune them, and eliminate topics that you no longer want to search for. Mailing articles was flawless. I think the biggest advantage of this app is the freedom of topic selection, and the ability to learn as you seed more and more topics. I wouldn’t replace any of the news discovery apps I have now, but I certainly think Trapit is worth a look, especially for free.

Gallery: Trapit for iPad

Trapit for iPad is a unique news discovery app originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Thu, 19 Jul 2012 14:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Cocos2D 2.0 available now

Author: ally keer  //  Category: Apple, iPhone

After months of testing, the team behind the latest version of the extremely popular Cocos2D game engine for iOS has released version 2.0 of the framework, and it’s available for download right now. The framework isn’t completely compatible with version 1.0, so devs currently using the previous version on a big project might not want to upgrade in the current build. But the new version is quite fast, includes support for OpenGL ES 2.0, and much simpler code for setting up and maintaining lots and lots of on-screen sprites.

Cocos2D is probably the number one open source engine for iOS game development. It sits inside Apple’s Xcode software and allows developers to easily and quickly prototype and develop 2D games and apps. This new version of the software should allow for even easier and more powerful development, leading to even better games and apps for end-users.

Cocos2D 2.0 available now originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Mon, 09 Jul 2012 22:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Andreas Illiger announces Tiny Wings 2, coming next week

Author: ally keer  //  Category: Apple, iPhone

Andreas Illiger, creator of the iPhone hit Tiny Wings, told us he had a new app coming very soon, and now we know exactly when: July 12. That’s when Tiny Wings 2 is set to arrive, according to this extremely adorable handmade trailer video, which you can watch below. There’s no information at all on new features or gameplay, but you can probably expect that it’ll be more of that cute little bird trying to jump from hill to valley to hill, and going for as long as possible.

Illiger had originally promised something completely new back in May, but a recent tweet says that he’s not working on a new game at all any more, so if he had something else planned, it might have been canceled. And it’s not completely clear yet whether Tiny Wings 2 is an update to the current game, or a brand new app from the popular (and rather shy) developer. Either way, we’ll know very soon. The update (or sequel) is expected out next week.

Andreas Illiger announces Tiny Wings 2, coming next week originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Fri, 06 Jul 2012 19:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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GameDock would turn your iPhone into a retro gaming station

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: Apple, iPhone

Gaming is obviously a big deal on iOS, but traditional gamers generally want something that the iPhone and the iPad don’t provide: Buttons. Gaming on a touchscreen works in many cases, but for some games and some genres, you need a d-pad and some buttons to press. We’ve already seen some popular third party solutions to that problem (including the uber popular iCade), and here comes another one, in the form of a Kickstarter project called the GameDock.

The GameDock is still seeking funding, which makes it still just an idea at this point. But it does have a few things going for it, including a nice-looking dock for any iOS devices you happen to have that will plug right into a television, throwing your games and apps right up on the screen. There are also two retro controller ports on the dock, and the controllers will smartly work along with the iCade protocol, so any games compatible with iCade will work on this.

I’m not ready to start singing this product’s praises just yet — let’s wait until they actually make their goal, and then make some devices for real. But it is a good idea, and if you’ve been seeking some solid buttons for your iOS games, it might be worth your backing money.

via The Verge

GameDock would turn your iPhone into a retro gaming station originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Thu, 05 Jul 2012 17:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Daily iPad App: MyScript Memo takes your handwriting and turns it into text

Author: ally keer  //  Category: Apple, iPhone

Handwriting is one of those things that seems like it should be easy on the iPad, but, in reality, it is fairly difficult. Unlike Apple’s legendarily quirky handwriting recognition on the Newton or the Windows tablets of more recent vintage, the iPad is designed primarily for finger-based input, not for longhand wirting with a stylus.

Though it’s not optimized for use with a capacitive pen, several companies including Vision Objects are enthusiastic about the iPad as a writing device and have developed apps that’ll let you scrawl to your heart’s content.

MyScript Memo uses a proprietary algorithm that’ll take your handwriting on the iPad or iPhone and convert it to text. You can use any stylus or even your finger to write some words and then convert to text when you are ready to share it with a friend via email, SMS, Facebook or Twitter. You can also copy the converted text or save it to Evernote for future reference.

The algorithm used to detect the handwriting performed beyond my expectation. Even with my chicken scratch, Memo was able to convert 90 percent of what I had written. One of the most useful features was a movable palm guard that lets you cover the area where your hand sits on the screen. It works really well to block that part of the screen and prevent accidental input from your palm. You can adjust this area to make it bigger or smaller as needed. The app also includes an eraser so you can remove words and a lasso tool to remove blocks of text at a time.

MyScript Memo is a universal app and is available for free from the iOS App Store. The free version will let you convert handwriting to text using MyScript’s server; an in-app purchase of $2.99 will let you convert directly on your device.

Daily iPad App: MyScript Memo takes your handwriting and turns it into text originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Tue, 03 Jul 2012 08:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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The iPhone doesn’t have the power to ruin (or rescue) everything

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: Apple, NDS, iPhone

In five short years, the iPhone has managed to go from being a complete failure with no chance of making a significant impact on the cell phone market to literally ruining our lives.

That final conclusion comes via Kevin Roose in a New York Magazine story with the completely un-linkbaitish headline Happy Birthday, iPhone: You’re Ruining Everything. Now, I’m usually good at word puzzles, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to rearrange the letters “KEVIN ROOSE” to spell “Andy Rooney.”

Kevin seems to be channeling the late, legendarily curmudgeonly 60 Minutes correspondent. His article amounts to little more than the same arguments that have been made about the Internet, television, the telephone, airline travel, and these darn kids with the baggy pants and their rock & roll music. Roose seems to want the iPhone to get off his lawn.

Roose claims that people in his social circle used to read books and had long, meaningful conversations, but now they are “a bunch of panicky, overstimulated, screen-fixated automatons.” This is definitely good news to anyone who considers Roose a friend. It’s not often you get to know the full, unvarnished truth about what someone thinks of you, but Roose thinks his friends are idiots. So that’s nice.

Roose asks, “Has the iPhone made us happier, more productive, and more creative, like Steve Jobs seemed to promise back in 2007?”

You’ll notice that Roose said “seemed to promise” rather than “promised” — probably because he knows that Steve Jobs never promised those things, but he wants to hold Steve Jobs accountable for his own inferences. Apparently Roose has never been exposed to marketing before, so this has taken him completely by surprise. But let’s assume that Steve Jobs had made such a promise, either explicitly or implicitly.

Has the iPhone made me happier? No. Has the iPhone made me sadder? No. Has the iPhone made me more productive? No. Has the iPhone made me less productive? No. Has the iPhone made me more creative? No. Has the iPhone made me less creative? No.

Know why? Because the iPhone is made of glass and plastic and electronics.

Am I happier because of my iPhone? Actually, yes. Because I had the iPhone, I joined Twitter. Because I was on Twitter, I met some incredibly cool people, some of whom became really good friends. When I got my 3GS, my wife got my original iPhone, and she started on Twitter too, and she met them too. In fact, at a gathering of Twitter friends in 2009, my wife met someone who worked as a veterinary technician, and decided that she wanted to go back to school.

For the past two years, she’s been away from home 4-5 days a week for her studies. We kept in contact on our iPhones (thank you, iMessage). She wrote papers on her iPhone. She has apps for looking up drug combinations and treatment guides. She just graduated, with honors. We iMessaged during the ceremony. I took a video of her getting her diploma on my iPhone. I posted pictures to Tumblr to share with our friends. I emailed them to her mom, who viewed them on her iPad. (Her mom, by the way, has always felt intimidated and overwhelmed by computers, but loves her iPad.)

This weekend I officiated at a wedding of two friends who met through Tumblr. The wedding was held in the backyard of other friends they had met through Twitter and Tumblr. 99% of those in attendance first knew each other through Twitter or Tumblr. There were a few Droid users (including the bride and groom!) but the rest of us were primarily iPhone users.

I put the entire service together on my iPad, and read it off my iPad. The wedding was live-streamed over the Internet via another iPad, which meant that people across the country and indeed the world could watch in real time as their friends got married. Some friends watched on their phones in the car, another watched from an airplane. One watched from her bed because she came down with a fever and didn’t want to risk getting anyone sick, but she didn’t have to miss the ceremony.

Afterwards we had cake, we talked, we danced, we laughed, and yes, sometimes we checked Tumblr and Twitter too. There was a hashtag for wedding related posts. During the reception, I received a text from a friend back in Ohio who told me he had been admitted to the hospital, and was able to exchange a few messages with him. I also heard from some other friends who told us about some weather-related storm damage. I sent off a quick message to my mom (who read it on her iPad) to remind her we were out of town for the weekend so she wouldn’t worry about us being without electricity.

The iPhone is a tool, like a hammer or a car or a paintbrush or a pen and paper. It won’t make you creative. But if you decide that you want to be creative, there are plenty of opportunities be creative with an iPhone. It won’t make you happy, but it can help keep you connected to family and friends. It might even help you meet new ones.

That’s not marketing; that’s reporting, because that’s exactly what it has done for me. Has it made me “more productive”? Well, let’s assume for a minute that we could actually come up with some way to measure that. In the 5 years since I’ve had an iPhone, there have been countless times when I found myself suddenly “waiting” with unexpected minutes to fill.

With my iPhone, I could decide what to do with that time. When talking about the wonderfully awesome Instapaper, Merlin Mann once wrote that when you find yourself with an iPhone and free time, you can “decide to throw birds at pigs” or check Facebook or whatever other fad app is popular. But then he added “Thing is, you could also decide to read. Just for a couple minutes. Maybe more. Maybe less. Who knows. It’s your decision.”

Sometimes when I have those free minutes, I decide to kill zombies with plants. Sometimes I check my email. Sometimes I check Tumblr or Twitter. And sometimes I read Instapaper, or a Kindle book. Each of those options makes me happier than just sitting there waiting for whatever I’m waiting for. reminds me to take medication every day. I know for a fact that without that reminder, I’ll forget to take it. Before I started using, I was taking both my medications at the same time, because I was afraid I’d forget. Turns out that taking them both at the same time caused some bad side effects which are completely mitigated if I take them at least two hours apart. Now I have two reminders which go off each day, and which keep going off until I take my medication. So my iPhone is helping make me healthier as well. (Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of people who have used it to track weight loss and food intake.)

Roose’s argument basically boils down to not liking the way his friends use their iPhones. The problem is that Roose blames this on the iPhone, rather than on his friends. Even worse, he considers his experience and his friends’ behavior as normative. So if his friends are mindless drones, then everyone with an iPhone is a mindless drone, and the problem is the iPhone.

The end result is pretty much a pile of ridiculous linkbait, which misses the fact that the iPhone has just as much potential to make life better as it does potential to make it worse. The telephone didn’t ruin society, nor did recorded music, or the airplane, or any of the other technological advances that have been made.

I imagine that if Roose had been friends with the first primitive Homo sapiens who tamed fire, he would have complained that “back before we had fire, everyone used to sleep in a giant pile to keep warm at night. Fire is tearing us apart!” Once you stop blaming technology for people’s actions and decisions, you’ll probably be able to see a lot more of the positive possibilities.

Photo by Alex Proimos | flickr cc

The iPhone doesn’t have the power to ruin (or rescue) everything originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Sun, 01 Jul 2012 20:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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iPad app teaches Photoshop CS6 in an engaging manner

Author: ally keer  //  Category: Apple, NDS, iPhone

I’ve been debating jumping to Photoshop CS6 for awhile. I’ve had every version of PS since version 1 way back in the distant past and have really looking for someone to show me what the differences between CS5 and CS6 were in an easily understandable way.

To help solve my dilemma, I grabbed a copy of Learn Photoshop CS6 Quickstart edition for the iPad. It’s a US $5.00 video tutorial with about 2 hours of videos covering Camera Raw, the new Content Aware tools, HDR, black and white conversions, and the new blur and lighting filters.

French landscape photographer Serge Ramelli is an engaging teacher, and I find I learn more from a video that reading a book. Ramelli keeps it simple, although sometimes he assumes a bit more knowledge than a new user might have. In addition to the videos, you can download the files used in the tutorials and try the techniques yourself.

I learned quite a bit in a short time, and the app answered my questions about whether or not I should upgrade (I should). While my new iPad screen has the very sharp Retina display, I found that I really wanted a larger presentation. Apple AirPlay to the rescue! The videos look great on my 46″ LCD screen via the Apple TV.

Ramelli has other video tutorials, including learning HDR, Photoshop CS5, and basic landscape photography. There are also some free previews available to download and sample. I’ve looked at some of these videos, and they are consistently high value in terms of content but they don’t get too technical. It’s pretty easy to walk away with new techniques you might have never discovered.

All these Ramelli tutorials are universal apps, but I think the iPhone screen is just too small for worthwhile viewing. The CS6 Quickstart is a 333 MB download and requires iOS3 or greater.

Gallery: Photoshop CS6 Quickstart

iPad app teaches Photoshop CS6 in an engaging manner originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Thu, 28 Jun 2012 21:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Daily iPhone App: The Act combines great cartoon art with iOS gameplay

Author: ally keer  //  Category: Apple, iPhone

The Act is, I will say, probably one of the most interesting experiments I’ve ever seen show up on the App Store. I don’t know if it’s entirely successful, but even at the current price of $2.99, I can wholeheartedly recommend it. It does some very interesting things with interactive storytelling and animation that have to be seen to be believed.

The Act is a game by React Entertainment, a company that has at least one famous 2D animation vet in its background. As you can probably tell by the screenshot above, it’s a game that’s been entirely hand animated, and the art is just plain beautiful — the characters pop off of the screen like a Disney movie. There’s no dialogue at all, so the story is told strictly through animation and music, and yet it all comes across very well.

The interactive part of the game arrives in certain sections, where you need to swipe to the right or left on the screen to keep “the act” going. This is perhaps the biggest fault of the “game” — all of your cues come from the on-screen animation, so it’s often hard to tell exactly what you’re supposed to be doing and when. But the game does get clearer as it goes on — by the third interactive scene or so, I had a pretty good idea of when I was doing it right and when I was doing something wrong.

Even with those issues around feedback (the game definitely could have been a little more designed for accessibility), The Act still respectably takes some bold moves with its gameplay, and again, that animation is just gorgeous. If you’re a fan of games or good old fashioned hand-drawn animation at all, definitely check this one out.

Daily iPhone App: The Act combines great cartoon art with iOS gameplay originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Tue, 26 Jun 2012 16:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Five apps to help you prepare for the non-stop tennis of Wimbledon

Author: ally keer  //  Category: Apple, iPhone, others

It’s the end of June, and for tennis fans that means it’s time for Wimbledon. The UK tennis tournament kicks off Monday, June 25. Whether you’ll be attending in London or watching from afar, we have a list of apps that’ll help you follow the matches from your iPhone and even brush up on your own tennis skills.

Official Wimbledon app (Free)

The official Wimbledon app is for fans who don’t want to miss any of the action. The app lets you keep track of live scores and even listen to matches on one of the three Wimbledon Radio stations. Player profiles, schedules and on-demand video round out this excellent app. If you’re in the UK, you also can download the BBC’s iPlayer app which will have even more coverage.

Tennis Trakker Pro ($12.99)

Tennis Trakker Pro is a statistics app that’ll let you keep track of a tennis player’s performance. You can record the outcome of each point in a tennis match and use this information to identify a player’s strengths and weaknesses. The app has a cloud component that’ll let you upload match information for future reference and also share it with others who can watch the updates in real-time using ScoreTrakker. This cloud feature does require a subscription which is available via an in-app purchase. New users are eligible for a free 90-day trial of the upload service. There’s also a lite version of the app which will let you evaluate it for free.

Flick Tennis: College Wars HD ($3.99)

Flick Tennis: College Wars HD is for those idle moments when you are tired of tennis highlights and want to settle down with an entertaining game. Flick Tennis isn’t a simple back and forth volleying game. It has a storyline that lets you play the role of tennis prodigy Kevin Adams who must fight against the odds to become the best tennis player in the world. There are three modes in the game including story, exhibition and multiplayer. Story and exhibition mode have both single and double matches, while multiplayer mode lets you play head-to-head against a friend on the same device. The game has 11 tennis courts, 10 players and even 35 comic book cut-scenes which add to the plot in story mode.

Tennis Clinic ($4.99)

Tennis Clinic is for the budding tennis star who wants a portable pocket reference. The app is filled with video tutorials from tennis pros who cover the basic strokes, specialty strokes and other tips & tricks that’ll help improve your game. All the tutorial videos are embedded into the app which means you don’t have to worry about finding a fast internet connection when you want to watch a video. Because the lessons are included, the app is a hefty 571 MB.

USTA Mobile (Free)

The USTA app is for US tennis players who want to keep track of United States Tennis Association leagues and tournaments while on the go. You can find tournaments and review the draw. Once you’ve picked a tournament or a league, you can register for them right from your phone. The app also keeps tracks of players so you can view their records and gain a competitive edge before you start your first serve.

Five apps to help you prepare for the non-stop tennis of Wimbledon originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Sat, 23 Jun 2012 13:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Ocarina 2 arrives on iOS

Author: ally keer  //  Category: Apple, iPhone

Smule has released Ocarina 2, a sequel to its immensely popular Ocarina app for iPhone. Like the original, the app allows you to blow into your iPhone’s microphone to create a tone, which can be changed and adjusted depending on where you hold your fingers on the touchscreen. The new version brings features like a dynamic harmony, and the ability to choose songs to be played rather than just playing freestyle (which seems similar to the options in Smule’s Magic Piano app, and means Smule is once again selling extra songs as an in-app purchase). And there’s also a new “Whistle Mode,” and achievements that make the whole thing a little more game-centric.

The last Ocarina created plenty of really wild videos and cover tunes, and odds are this version will do exactly the same. Below, you can see a video of a beta tester playing the Tetris theme on the new app. If you want to start tooting away on your own, you can grab the app right now from the App Store for free.

Ocarina 2 arrives on iOS originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Tue, 19 Jun 2012 15:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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