Some iOS apps still seem like magic. Case in point: PhotoMath. Here's how it works. You point your camera at a math problem and PhotoMath shows the answer. It'll even give you a step-by-step explanation and solution.
Alto's Adventure just came out this morning and is definitely my go-to iOS game for the foreseeable future. The game is a cross between something like Monument Valley (the audio and visuals are beautiful) and Ski Safari, which is still one of my all-time favorites.
Earth Primer is an upcoming iOS app that bills itself as "A Science Book for Playful People". It looks amazing:
Earth Primer is a science book for playful people. Discover how Earth works through play-on your iPad. Join a guided tour of how Earth works, with the forces of nature at your fingertips. Visit volcanoes, glaciers, sand dunes. Play with them, look inside, and see how they work.
Earth Primer defies existing genres, combining aspects of science books, toys, simulations, and games. It is a new kind of interactive experience which joins the guided quality of a book with open ended simulation play.
Ok, so New App Friday isn't a thing, but it is today! Three apps from pals launched yesterday:
From the crew at Tinybop comes Homes, an app for kids that lets them explore houses from around the world. Their previous apps, Plants and The Human Body, are favorites in our home.
Neven Mrgan and Matt Comi have been working on Space Age for several years and it shows...this game is immaculate. The soundtrack, by Cabel Sasser, is worth a listen on its own.
Wildcard is billed as a better and faster way to use the Web for on your phone. I haven't played with it too much yet, but it seems a lot like RSS for mobile (if that makes any sense). UX was done by Khoi Vinh.
Seeing so many people I know really knocking it out of the iOS park makes me think I should build an app of my own.
Birds Near Me is a bird guide for everybody anywhere in the world. Find what birds are near you anywhere in the world or find pictures, songs, locations and information about any bird in the world.
Powered by eBird to provide an accurate list of birds that have beeen recently spotted in your exact area.
It is also "designed and programmed by a birder, for birders". eBird looks like a wonderful resource as well. Pair this app with DIY's Ornithologist skill for a good weekend activity w/ the kids. (via @bradleyland)
I don't quite know how it happened, but I'm presently addicted to DaisyPop on my iPhone. The gameplay is pretty simple: various flowers and bugs float around the screen and you tap on things to pop them. Popping many things at once increases your score. Taps are limited but you get more the better you play. Unlike many other iOS games where frenetic tapping is rewarded, DaisyPop is a game of patience...waiting for several items to float close enough for the big scores can sometimes take a minute or two.
The best chess player in history, 23-year-old Norwegian Magnus Carlsen, has released an iOS app where you can play simulated games against Carlsen at various stages of his career, from age 5 up to the present. The Telegraph has the details.
Anyone who wants to find out more about his playing style can do so with Mr Carlsen's new app, which allows users to play him at the different levels he has achieved since the age of five.
The app is built on hundreds of thousands of different positions from Mr Carlsen's games, be they classical, rapid or blitz, to determine what moves he would make at those ages.
The aim is to promote chess among as many people as possible to make the sport more popular and accessible.
"The good thing is that you can play me at any age. At age five, anyone has a chance to beat me," Mr Carlsen said.
So what is it like for Mr Carlsen to play against his younger self?
"He is really tricky," the champion said. "Even Magnus at 11 years old was a very gifted tactician. A while ago I played as a test Magnus [aged] 14. I outplayed him at some point positionally. And just boom, boom, he tricked me tactically.
"But he makes mistakes as well, so I just have to be patient."
Update: Unsurprisingly, Greg had gotten quite a bit of a negative response to Romantimatic. I love his response.
I knew there would be some have-we-come-to-this tut-tutting. I mean, I'm not that oblivious. You attach software to the expression of romantic love, and some people are going to see it as cynical. We've wrapped code around almost everything in our lives, but deeply felt emotion is still supposed to be start-to-finish analog. You don't put your anniversary on a calendar, because it means you're a bad person who doesn't care.
Except it doesn't. It means you want to remember it. Your calendar is a tool and it helps you do the things you want to do. I see Romantimatic in the same light. If you're not good at something and want to get better at it, a tool can help. Tools make things faster and easier and more reliable.
To Tien Wang, McKinlay's OkCupid hacking is a funny story to tell. But all the math and coding is merely prologue to their story together. The real hacking in a relationship comes after you meet. "People are much more complicated than their profiles," she says. "So the way we met was kind of superficial, but everything that happened after is not superficial at all. It's been cultivated through a lot of work."
"It's not like, we matched and therefore we have a great relationship," McKinlay agrees. "It was just a mechanism to put us in the same room. I was able to use OkCupid to find someone."
So how do we find content for these magazines? It's a question we wracked our brains on long and hard before deciding that the most valuable service for our readers would be to craft issues around individual subjects -- think barbecue, pizza, or pies -- by combining the most popular recipes and features in our archives into single, elegant collections.
My friends at Tinybop have released their first app, The Human Body, in which "curious kids ages 4+ can see what we're made of and how we work, from the beating heart to gurgling guts". Kelli Anderson did the illustrations for the app and they look amazing. Can't wait to try this out with Ollie and Minna.
I have not had a chance to check it out yet1, but any iOS app built by a team of John Gruber, Brent Simmons, and Dave Wiskus has to be worth a look. They released Vesper yesterday:
Vesper is a simple and elegant tool for collecting notes, ideas, things to do — anything you want to remember. Use tags to group related items into playlist-like collections. Vesper imposes no system; organize and curate your notes whatever way comes naturally to you. Eschewing complications, Vesper's focus is on how it feels to use it.
Since then, we've been on a path to create what (after, truth be told, some reticence on my part) is called Maura Magazine, a weekly periodical telling stories about the culture around us -- whether they're about music, food, technology, TV, movies, books, or anything else. I'm leaving its purview deliberately open-ended because I want to see where we-the writers, the readers, and me-can take this deceptively simple concept.
Delighted to see Maura continuing to tackle new frontiers.
We know that some of your best photo moments happen on the fly, so we've made it easier to get the perfect shot when inspiration hits. Once you get the shot, there's a built-in editor to quickly correct, crop, or enhance it with one of the new high res filters.
I haven't had a chance to check it out in detail yet, but from everything I'm hearing, people are jazzed about it.
I only downloaded Letterpress about 10 minutes ago but I am already hopelessly hooked. The game is a combination of Boggle and Go and was made by Loren Brichter, who made Tweetie back in the day. This is the sort of app that makes me weep because it's so simple and polished yet endless. Brichter is some sort of iOS wizard and we should have him burned at the stake for his wonderfully addictive magic.
The best part of my job is randomly stumbling across a game no one knows about, by a developer no one has heard of, and have it absolutely blow my mind. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it results in drained batteries and dropping everything to get something on the site about it while I wait for my iPhone to charge only to return to the fray.
It just didn't look that fun. But I did try it. Once, twice, three times. And it didn't grab me. Then I picked it up last night and ended up playing for two hours straight. It's taking all my self-control right now not to play it all day. In conclusion, you should totally not download this game because it will completely disrupt your entire life.
I am pleased to introduce the NextDraft App that will make your iPhone vibrate with awesomeness. You can read this very issue on your iPhone if you install the app now. Be sure to turn notifications on. And let me know what you think. Get the iPhone app here.
Using just the camera on your iPhone, the Cardiio app can accurately measure your heart rate. Here's how it works:
Every time your heart beats, more blood is pumped into your face. This slight increase in blood volume causes more light to be absorbed, and hence less light is reflected from your face. Using sophisticated software, your iPhone's front camera can track these tiny changes in reflected light that are not visible to the human eye and calculate your heart beat!
This video shows this process in action (with a short explanatory intro of the mathematical technique):
Burner is a new iPhone app that will give you a disposable, short term cell phone number to give to randos at the bar, weirdos on Craigslist, and Marlos on the corner.
Disposable cell numbers certainly seem like they might be used for nefarious activities, but founder & CEO Greg Cohn said these numbers can be used for any number of purposes in the era when a cell number is so closely tied a person's identity.
In the amount of time I have spent playing Kingdom Rush on the iPad, I could have completed a second or even third college degree. So it is with some relutance that I have been made aware of the iPhone version of Kingdom Rush, out today. It's the same game, optimized for the smaller screen on the iPhone and only 99 cents. Maybe the reason the whole "can't use the iPad/iPhone for creation" thing persists is that everyone is using the damn things to play tower defense games instead.
Makego is an interesting iPhone app...it turns your phone into a toy vehicle. This short video explains:
Makego turns your iPhone / iPod Touch into a toy vehicle. It encourages fun, open ended collaborative play between parent and child. Combining creativity and imagination with the virtual world on screen. Select your vehicle within Makego, then interact with the drivers and their world through animations and sound. This release has 3 vehicles to play with: a race car, ice-cream truck, and river boat.
I could easily see building a neat case out of paper and having Ollie and Minna playing with it. I could also see Ollie taking the race car over a big jump and smashing it into another car and oh shit the screen is cracked. The Lego case option is cool though...just slap some wheels on it and away you go.
Details are finally starting to trickle out about how various iOS apps use the address book data on your phone. The Verge and Venture Beat both have good article on the subject. What they're finding is nowhere near the 13/15 ratio that Dustin Curtis reported last week but Curtis has also said:
Second, for obvious reasons, I promised the developers I reached out to that I would never reveal who they are. Many of them have, since last week, changed their practices.
What I like about The Verge and VB articles is that they both end with Apple's role in all this. In a future release, Apple should make sure that rogue parties can't do stuff like this. If you're going to have a store where every app has to be approved for the good of the end users and the integrity of the system, this is *exactly* the type of thing they should be concerned with.
It's not really a secret, per se, but there's a quiet understanding among many iOS app developers that it is acceptable to send a user's entire address book, without their permission, to remote servers and then store it for future reference. It's common practice, and many companies likely have your address book stored in their database. Obviously, there are lots of awesome things apps can do with this data to vastly improve user experience. But it is also a breach of trust and an invasion of privacy.
I did a quick survey of 15 developers of popular iOS apps, and 13 of them told me they have a contacts database with millons of records. One company's database has Mark Zuckerberg's cell phone number, Larry Ellison's home phone number and Bill Gates' cell phone number. This data is not meant to be public, and people have an expectation of privacy with respect to their contacts.
13 out of 15! Zuckerberg's cell phone number! Maybe I'm being old-fashioned here, but this seems unequivocally wrong. Any app, from Angry Birds to Fart App 3000, can just grab the information in your address book without asking? Hell. No. And Curtis is right in calling Apple out about this...apps should not have access to address book information without explicitly asking. But now that the horse is out of the barn, this "quiet understanding" needs to be met with some noisy investigation. What happened to Path needs to happen to all the other apps that are storing our data. There's an opportunity here for some enterprising data journalist to follow Thampi's lead: investigate what other apps are grabbing address book data and then ask the responsible developers the same questions that were put to Path.
Update: I am aware of this very confusing display of data from the Wall Street Journal. It indicates that of the ~50 iPhone apps surveyed, only three (Angry Birds, Facebook, and TextPlus 4) transmit address book data to a server. That's not exactly the widespread problem that Curtis describes (the data sets are likely different)...it would be nice to see the net cast a bit wider.
Predicting the weather is really hard...butterfly wings flapping and all that. But often we only care about the very short term weather: Do I need to take an umbrella to the store? When's this rain gonna stop? Is it going to start snowing before I get home? Enter Dark Sky, an iOS app currently in development.
Dark Sky is an app for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch that predicts the weather.
Using your precise location, it tells you when it will precipitate and for how long. For example: It might tell you that it will start raining in 8 minutes, with the rain lasting for 15 minutes followed by a 25 minute break.
How is it possible predict the weather down to the minute? What's the catch?
Well, the catch is that it only works over a short period of time: a half hour to an hour in the future. But, as it turns out, this timespan is crucially important. Our lives are filled with short-term outdoor activities: Travelling to and from work, walking the dog, lunch with friends, outdoor sports, etc.
The New Yorker took their awesome Goings On magazine section and crammed it into an iPhone (and Android) app. More details here.
In addition to collecting the magazine's listings for theatre, art, night life, classical music, dance, movies, restaurants, and more, the app has exclusive new features. More than a dozen of the magazine's artists and writers have contributed entries to the My New York section, which showcases their personal cultural enthusiasms: Alex Ross introduces readers to Max Neuhaus's Electronic Sound Installation in midtown; Susan Orlean revisits the Temple of Dendur, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and Roz Chast drops by the Tiny Doll House, a unique Upper West Side shop. Critics also lead readers on audio tours created specifically for the app: Peter Schjeldahl tours the Frick Collection; Paul Goldberger walks the High Line; Calvin Trillin shares his favorite downtown food; and Patricia Marx goes in search of vintage clothing.
Atari's Greatest Hits is a free iOS game that come bundled with Pong and the option to purchase 99 more classic arcade and 2600 games. Available games include Tempest, Missle Command, Crystal Castles, Centipede, and Asteroids, some of which are multiplayer over Bluetooth. (via df)
Nomis is an iOS app that looks at the artists in your iPhone or iPod's music library and shows you their latest and upcoming releases. Showed me a couple things I was unaware of: the new Cut Copy and an Underworld album from September that I'd missed. The only bummer is that it's kind of absurdly slow in looking through your library. (thx, brandon)
Precorder is an iPhone app that constantly buffers video and only saves the last few seconds when you press the record button.
By constantly saving the previous few seconds of video before you hit record, Precorder lets you wait until something interesting happens to start recording, and you'll never miss a precious moment or get stuck with hours of boring video to painstakingly edit down.
8mm is an iPhone app that shoots videos that look like stuttery 8mm films.
8mm Vintage Camera brings your iPhone and iPod Touch back in time to capture the beauty and magic of old school vintage movies. By mixing and matching films and lenses, you can recreate the atmosphere of those bygone eras with 25 timeless retro looks. Dust & scratches, retro colors, flickering, light leaks, frame jitters -- all can be instantly added with the swapping of a finger.
The vast majority of color blind people are in fact what are known as anomalous trichromats. They still have three photoreceptors, but the 'green' receptor is shifted a bit towards red. The effect is subtle: Certain reds might look like they were green, and certain greens might look like they were red.
Thus the question: Was it possible to convert all reds to a one true red, and all greens to a one true green?
The Inception iPhone app takes the music from the movie and remixes it with the sounds around you (office chatter, street noise, etc.).
Inception The App transports Inception The Movie straight into your life. New dreams can be unlocked in many ways, for example by walking, being in a quiet room, while traveling or when the sun shines. You will get realtime musical experiences, featuring new and exclusive music from the Inception soundtrack composed by Hans Zimmer.
Bad: I can hear the people in the office talking, which is the precise thing I'm attempting to prevent by wearing headphones.
The Japanese no-brand retailer Muji is taking an interesting approach to their iPhone and iPad apps. Instead of just having a product catalog/store app (although they have that too), they're also offering apps that are very much like the products they offer in their real-world stores. There's a simple calendaring app that syncs with Google Calendar, a notebook app for sketching and note-taking, and an app called Muji to Go that combines a bunch of different functions that travellers might need (weather, currency exchange, power socket guide).
A little Friday fun: Clock Blocks. It took me a bit to figure out how to play, but basically you clear a grid of clocks by shooting from clock to clock at the angle of each clock's rapidly spinning second hand. Ok, maybe not so basically, but you'll get the gist after playing for a few seconds. There is also an iPhone version.
The only reason I ever go to MoMA anymore is so that my son can see the helicopter and whatever motor vehicles are on display in the design collection, but if I get a chance to sneak away soon, I'm definitely making use of the MoMA's new iPhone app: tours, a catalog of thousands of works, events calendar, etc.
If you're travelling abroad with the iPhone and understandably wish to avoid AT&T's ridiculously high data roaming charges when trying to find the train station in a new city, I would highly recommend OffMaps.
OffMaps lets you take your maps offline. It is the ideal companion for any iPhone and iPod Touch user, who wants to access maps when travelling abroad (and avoid data roaming charges) and who wants to have fast access to maps at all times. This app (and the icon) just has to be on the right hand side of Apple's built-in maps app.
OffMaps uses OpenStreetMap that include a lot more information than simple road maps: from ATMs and train stations to restaurants and pubs! You choose which areas to download instead of buying a new app for every city you want to visit.
I used it for a week in Paris and it worked great; the GPS and compass both still work when data is off so locating yourself isn't a problem. Just download the proper maps before you leave for your trip and you're good to go.
FreshDirect is an online grocery store that delivers in the NYC area. I needed to do an order this morning, so I downloaded their iPhone app on my iPad and discovered that grocery shopping is one of those things that the iPad is *perfect* for (an it would be more perfect with a native iPad app). You just take the thing into the kitchen with you, rummage through the cabinets & fridge, and add what you need to your FD shopping cart. Then you take the it with you around the rest of the house (the bathroom, the garage, the pantry in the basement) adding needed supplies as you go. It inverts the usual "wander around the grocery store searching for items" shopping practice; instead you wander about the house looking for what you need.
Obviously the iPhone would work for this as well, but a tablet-sized device is generally better at these sorts of tasks: activities where your attention is shifted back and forth between the screen and something else (or shared between two people). The iPhone is a greedy little thing; it's better for tasks that require your full attention on the screen.
There are likely several "Foursquare for X" apps out there (and many more to come), but I thought Miso was pretty interesting. From Cinematical:
Instead of checking in to a location (though you can do that too, if you link your existing Foursquare account), you check in with what you're watching. Miso keeps track of your check-ins and rewards you with badges relating to specific genres (and sub-genres) of film and television. Link your Twitter or Facebook, and suddenly, you're posting what you're watching with friends and seeing what movies they're watching as well. Genius.
Speakers move air to make sound. Some clever developer has used this fact to make a foosball game that uses small puffs of air from the iPhone's speakers to move a tiny real-life Styrofoam ball around. Video (or it didn't happen):
The best-selling cookbook [...] is soon to be an iPhone app that will help you calculate amounts of ingredients in all the fundamental culinary preparations. When you know a ratio, you don't know a recipe, you know 1,000. And this application does all the calculating for you.
Nice move...an iPhone app is perhaps a better expression of the subject matter than a book.
We hereby announce the debut of the Small Chair, a weekly sampler from all branches of the McSweeney's family. One week you might receive a story from the upcoming Quarterly, the next week an interview from the Believer, the next a short film from a future Wholphin. Occasionally, it might be a song, an art portfolio, who knows. Early contributors will include Spike Jonze, Wells Tower, Chris Ware, and Jonathan Ames. This material will not be available online and is pretty sure to be good stuff.
My iPhone usage has been almost exclusively baby-related for the past few days, but I hope to try this app out soon.
Sonar Ruler is an iPhone app that uses clicking sounds to measure distances.
Basically it uses the iPhone's speaker to send out a short click sound and it then measures how long it takes for that sound to bounce off of something in the environment. It can be quite accurate to within an inch or so when used in the right situations. I'll say right upfront it's not perfect, and cannot measure something small like a person. It works best on a large flat surface that is perpendicular to the iphone (like a large wall.)
You plot your desired weight on a desired date towards the right side, making sure that you've left the correct number of lines in between (one per day). You draw a line from the current weight/date to the desired weight/date. Every morning you weigh yourself and plot the result. If the point is below the line, you eat whatever you want all day. If the point is above the line, you eat nothing but broccoli or some other low-calorie food.
The app takes care of the plot for you and tells you either to "Eat Normal" or "Eat Light" on any particular day. Only $1.99 at the App Store.
Update: The folks behind Bang Bang Diet have cleverly applied the same idea to budgeting with their Simple Budget app...the app tells you to "Spend" or "Don't Spend" based on how much you've already spent for the day.
The Typography Manual has several useful features and resources for designers, including a visual type anatomy glossary, a font size ruler, an em calculator, and a enough content to fill a 60 page book. It has the all the essentials of a desk reference in a regularly updated pocket resource.
Exit Strategy NYC is an iPhone app that tells you where to get on the subway train so as to be in an optimal position when you get off.
Taking the 1 train uptown to 28th street? Get on right behind the middle conductor. Need to transfer to the L at Union Square from the N downtown? Ride in the 1st car. Detailed diagrams eliminate the guesswork and frustration from your ride, making your subway trip easier and faster.
Dennis Crowley is making a successor to Dodgeball called Foursquare. It's an iPhone app that treats nightlife like a video game.
Users rack up points based on how many new places they visit, how many stops they've made in one night and who else has been there. You become a "mayor" of a hot spot if you're there often. [...] "People get kind of competitve about this." There's a "Leaderboard" which lists the most adventurous users with the most points.
Now you can go to the iTunes Store to buy the Kindle app from Amazon that lets you read ebooks made for the Kindle device on the iPhone. Yes, it's that confusing! Maybe they shouldn't have called the app the same name as the device...I thought "Kindle" was the device? A noun and a verb form of the same proper name is ok (e.g. "I googled you on Google" or "Please digg my link on Digg") but two nouns seems like a no-no.
Here's how to use the RJDJ iPhone app. You install the app, plug your headphones in, launch it, and press "Now Playing". A song plays, the app starts to sample the sounds in your environment, and those sounds are remixed in real time and played back to you. It might be the coolest thing ever. Check out this video and this other video for a quick look at how RJDJ works. The first video shows some songs that use the iPhone's accelerometer to modify and scratch the beat. (via waxy)
PS. It might only be the coolest app in theory...it's also flaky as hell. It was working fine for me and then crapped out...there's no music now, only sound sampling and it's really quiet. Maybe you need to use the Apple headphones with the mic?
Yesterday developer Armin Heinrich posted an iPhone app to the App Store called I Am Rich. The program displays a red gem, has no function but to display your wealth to others through ownership, and costs $1000. It has since been removed from the App Store, although no one knows whether Apple or Heinrich pulled it.
I Am Rich isn't the most clever piece of art, but it's not bad either. For some, the iPhone is already an obvious display of wealth and I Am Rich is commenting on that. Plus, buying more than you need as an indication of wealth is practically an American core value for a growing segment of the population. Is paying $5000 for a wristwatch or $50,000 for a car when much cheaper alternatives exist really all that different than paying $1000 for an iPhone app?
When news of the app got out onto the web, the outcry came swiftly. VentureBeat implored Apple to pull it from the App Store, as did several other humorless blogs. Blog commenters were even more harsh in their assessments. What I can't understand is: why should Apple pull I Am Rich from the App Store? They have to approve each app but presumably that's to guard against apps which crash iPhones, misrepresent their function, go against Apple's terms of service, or introduce malicious code to the iPhone.
Excluding I Am Rich would be excluding for taste...because some feel that it costs too much for what it does. (And this isn't the only example. There have been many cries of too many poor quality (but otherwise functional) apps in the store and that Apple should address the problem.) App Store shoppers should get to make the choice of whether or not to buy an iPhone app, not Apple, particularly since the App Store is the only way to legitimately purchase consumer iPhone apps. Imagine if Apple chose which music they stocked in the iTunes store based on the company's taste. No Kanye because Jay-Z is better. No Dylan because it's too whiney. Of course they don't do that; they stock a crapload of different music and let the buyer decide. We should deride Apple for that type of behavior, not cheer them on.
So, what are the cool must-have iPhone Apps? The iTunes Store lists the most popular ones but that's often not a good indicator. Obvious choices thus far: Twitterific (read and post to Twitter), Remote (control iTunes or Apple TV with your iPhone), and AppEngines' individual ebooks (like Pride and Prejudice). Let me know what your favorites are in the comments and I'll compile a list. Bonus points if you actually explain what the app does and why it's worth the effort.