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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Apple

Apple’s developer website has been down for days, and the company has just confirmed in an email that “an intruder” attempted to access personal information from its registered developers. In the email sent to its developers, Apple writes that “sensitive personal information was encrypted and cannot be accessed.” But despite the claim that no sensitive information was stolen, Apple warns that some developers may have had their names, mailing addresses, and email addresses accessed in the breach. During the downtime, Apple indicated that the site was undergoing maintenance, but did not address malicious activity – leading some developers to question if the site had been hacked. As Neowin reported on Saturday, some developers indicated on Twitter that they had received password reset emails from Apple, fueling speculation that the site had been compromised.

Read the full story at The Verge.

HopStop

Apple agreed to buy online transit-navigation service HopStop.com Inc., people with knowledge of the deal said, seeking to improve mapping tools after a rocky debut for its directions software last year. The people asked not to be identified because the deal isn’t public. AllThingsD reported yesterday that Cupertino, California-based Apple is purchasing Locationary Inc., a Toronto-based company focused on business-location maps. New mapping software Apple debuted in September with the iPhone 5 has been faulted for getting users lost and for its lack of public-transportation directions. HopStop shows users in more than 500 cities the fastest way to travel by foot, bike, subway and car; Locationary deploys real-time data from a variety of sources to help users find featured businesses. Apple, which touted the map features as a key software change in the iPhone 5, built its navigation application amid a growing battle with Google.

Read the full story at Bloomberg.

When it comes to iDevice game apps I have a tendency to divide them into three categories – good games, bad games and games that I am obsessed with. The games in the last category do tend to fall in and out of favor. For a while – like everyone else – I was all about Angry Birds. However despite all the new levels that are continually released I have grown tired of birds and pigs.

One game I have yet to even begin to get bored with though is Fruit Ninja and I am far from alone in that. So when I was asked to try Cut the Buttons, a game developed by Open Name Ltd and available for iPhone and iPad, I was intrigued, as some people had said that it has a similar concept to my beloved Fruit Ninja. So, having grabbed both the iPhone and the iPad versions I set out to find out if they were right…

Graphics and Sound 4/5

Right off the bat I loved the graphics, both on the iPhone and on the iPad. The HD rendering on the iPad is of course exceptionally nice but everything still looks sharp and clear on the iPhone too.

The graphics are not at all complicated – some scissors, buttons attached to material scraps flying all over the screen and the button basket to catch snipped buttons in. However the variations in the cloth scraps are wild and colorful and overall the visuals give the game an almost retro look that is just well, cool.

Sound wise you have a nice little background tune and the snipping sound as you separate the buttons from their cloth and a click as you (hopefully) catch them in your button box. In other words, just enough.

Gameplay 5/5

On the face of things Cut the Buttons might sound like it is the most boring game in the world. Take control of a pair of virtual scissors and snip buttons off pieces of cloth as they fly past you. Then again, slice fruit as it flies past – that does not sound like too much fun either.

But just like Fruit Ninja, Cut the Buttons is so much more than it sounds at first. The fabulous physics involved really boost the gameplay to a level I had not expected. To begin with this is a two handed game – making it easier to play on the larger iPad – but still lots of fun on the iPhone.

With two fingers from one hand you must control the snapping scissors. You should be aware that whatever the speed, angle and direction you attempt to cut the buttons in will affect the way they fall. As you need those buttons to fall into the bucket to score this is very important to remember. Miss just three buttons and your game is over (in Classic mode at least)

Your other hand is needed to move the bucket to catch the buttons. This two handed gameplay took a bit of getting used to at first but after I got the hang of it it was not as complex as it sounds. And by the way, if you happen to be a lefty there is a button in the menu screen that lets you change the scissors from right handed to left handed so your southpaw tendencies are not a handicap in Cut the Buttons.

There is another twist. Some of the buttons that will fly past you are “attached” to their cloth with a metal stud instead of thread. You cannot snip them off and attempting to do so decreases your score and wastes precious time if you happen to be in Arcade mode.

In the iPad version of Cut the Buttons there is also a multiplayer mode, although I do have to say that got a bit frenetic and messy when we tried it out. Call me anti-social if you like but I really do prefer to play this game alone.

After just an hour or so playing Cut the Buttons I was hooked and the game is definitely in my obsession category right now. I still ove Fruit Ninja and will continue my high score quest on it but I am also beginning a campaign to master Cut the Buttons. And i do not think that campaign will be ending any time soon.

Value for Money 4.5/5

Both the iPhone and the iPad versions of Cut the Buttons cost $0.99. The game went free for a week recently so it may still do so again but if I were you I wouldn’t wait. This gams is worth every last cent of its price and then some, which is more than you can say about a lot of games that cost much more.

Summary

Cut the Buttons is a wildly addictive, clever little app that I think a lot of people will love. Its not a mindless game though – it takes thought and concentration to master and a lot of both. despite the comparisons I have drawn with Fruit Ninja this is an original game with a very neat concept. In the end though nothing I tell you will compare to having a go yourself, so I suggest you do that as soon as possible.

As Apple has scheduled an event on March 7, sources from its upstream supply chain pointed out that the company is expected to launch two iPad 3 models – a 16GB version and 32GB version.

In addition to iPad 3, Apple is also expected to unveil an 8GB iPad 2, allowing the tablet PC series to cover different segments and to defend against Windows 8-based tablet PCs, the sources noted.

Since Apple has put high hopes on its new iPad 3 and has been aggressively placing orders, iPad 3 shipments in the first quarter of 2012 are expected to double from original estimates.

The iPad 3 is expected to have a 9.7-inch Full HD QXGA panel with a resolution of 2048 by 1536 (264dpi) and its backlight module will adopt two LED light bars.

Source

Once T-Mobile unveiled Jump, its program that gives you access to a phone upgrade every six months, AT&T and Verizon answered by announcing their own early upgrade plans. Verizon Edge lets you get a shiny new smartphone every six months, while AT&T Next gives you a new phone once a year. Like T-Mobile Jump, both programs require a trade-in of your old device when you upgrade, but unlike Jump, neither program requires a separate monthly fee. And you’re not eligible to upgrade to a new device until you’ve paid off half the cost of your phone. But that’s not the whole story. T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon build the cost of phone subsidies into their monthly service fees, so with all these plans you’re actually paying for the phone twice. Once, built into your monthly phone bill and again in the installment plan. Next and Edge won’t save you money, so go pick the phone with the features you want, and get another new one for free in two years.

SkyDrive

SkyDrive in Windows 8.1 has a secret weapon no one’s talked very much about. It’s actually pretty amazing, in that small sort of way that doesn’t change much, but still manages to completely alter how you use something. In fact, it might just make SkyDrive the best cloud service around. If you install Dropbox, SkyDrive, or even Google Drive on your desktop today, you’re going to sync the whole of your folder to your drive, at once, and keep all the files there whenever they’re synced. If you don’t have enough space, tough. Delete something you don’t have synced to the cloud, or just stop syncing. SkyDrive has a different solution. Microsoft calls this its “secret sauce”. Basically, SkyDrive makes files and folders you store in the cloud behave as though they’re stored there anyway, without taking up space on your computer. You can browse, inspect, and even preview them, even though the whole file isn’t taking up space on your drive.

Read the full story at Gizmodo.

The new Magicka Wizard Wars currently under development is not expected to launch until next year, but today its developers Paradox North have released the first trailer of gameplay from Magicka Wizard Wars to whet your appetite.

The new Magicka Wizard Wars is a fastpaced action PvP game that utilises the humour and dynamic spellcasting system of Magicka. Watch the video after the jump to see the gameplay of Magicka Wizard Wars in action.

Magicka Wizard Wars

Valve has today announced that Dota 2 has finally arrived on Mac and Linux systems via their Steam Games Network. Dota 2 has been available since July 9th 2013 as a final release and now allows Mac and Linux gamers to enjoy the multiplayer online battle arena.

Dota 2 is the stand-alone sequel to the Defense of the Ancients mod and has been developed by Valve and is exclusively available through Steam.

Dota 2

The company behind mobile event app Applauze has raised $7.2 million from investors including True Ventures, m8 Capital and StubHub co-founder Jeff Fluhr, on the back of quick growth from selling tickets through its app, which launched in March of this year.

Applauze

“The early wave of apps were really hard to monetize,” said True Ventures partner Jon Callaghan, who led the round. “But we’re seeing a new generation of app commerce, led by Uber and eBay and Amazon.”

Though there are many mobile ticketing apps, Callaghan said he was betting on Applauze for the team’s “great product sense” – they have previously built a bunch of well-received apps – and their early numbers that show one of the highest rates of conversion from browsing customer to paying customer that he has ever seen.

(Of course, Applauze founder Kiran Bellubbi declined to provide those numbers, so we’ll have to take their word for it. But early stats are likely unsustainably high, anyway, given that the app has only been out six months.)

The Applauze app, which is only available for iOS, has a nifty accordion-style interface for browsing sports, music and theater tickets, as well as free community events. In some cases, it offers VIP perks associated with tickets, but in general, the attraction is ease of use and upfront pricing, rather than discounts.

Applauze now has tickets for events in 41 U.S. cities and five in Canada, which Bellubbi noted is substantially more than competitors such as YPlan and WillCall, which are both only in two cities.

“This is hard,” Bellubbi said. “There’s no API you can just tie into, or a universal programming language for events that everyone understands.” Lists of tickets are drawn from multiple sources, both the primary sellers and secondary markets like StubHub, and they are purchasable directly in the app.

Applauze is the new direction for a Mountain View, Calif.-based company known as 955 Dreams, which had repeated success with publishing slickly made app titles such as History of Jazz. The company’s biggest hit, Band of the Day, has been downloaded 5.1 million times, and started the push away from publishing.

But Applauze is where Bellubbi and the investors are placing their bets, in the hope that early trends in in-app spending and mobile commerce will continue.

Ultimately, Bellubbi wants Applauze to be less of a ticketing app and more of a “lifestyle and luxury” app, he said. For instance, he wants to add the ability to purchase prix fixe restaurant menus.

To that end, Bellubbi’s team has given much thought to what he called “reducing anxiety around big purchases.” Applauze creates group chat threads for friends attending an event together that combine their comments with alerts about their Applauze ticket purchase information. And, with only 16 people on the team, Applauze is already setting up a call center for customer service in Nashville.

955 Dreams had previously raised a $4.2 million seed round from investors including 500 Startups, m8 Capital and Kapor Capital.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commissioners on Wednesday unanimously voted to propose a set of rules on crowdfunding that would allow smaller investors to buy equity stakes in startups.

sec_logo

It’s a significant move after much delay, but only an intermediate one, given that this is just a proposal. The next step is a 90-day public comment period.

The SEC indicated that it would be looking for hefty disclosures from companies looking to raise funds from the crowd. But it hasn’t posted the full proposal online, and a spokesperson said that was unlikely to happen until tomorrow. (When it arrives, it will be here.) Until then, the folks at crowdfunding portal CircleUp helpfully provided a fact sheet that the SEC distributed about today’s hearing:

SEC crowdfunding fact sheet

Update 10:30 am PT: Well, that was quicker than forecast. Here’s the full proposal:

Www.sec.Gov Rules Proposed 2013-33-9470