iPhone 4G Prelaunch Review: The Good and the Not So Good!
There were some iPhone 4G pre launch speculations about the features available on this amazing new gadget. But despite all the rumors, Apple managed to keep most of its ideas secret till the launch date.
The new iPhone 4G is so smart and energy efficient that as you lift it to your ears to accept a call, it automatically turns off the display to save power and to avoid unintentional dialing.
Apple is giving you some FaceTime!
Sci-fi freaks, nerds and your regular movie buffs aren’t the only people day dreaming about video calling. With iPhone, video calling has become a reality. Yet with the new iPhone 4, anyone can now share stories, ideas and smiles across the world using FaceTime.
FaceTime is a revolutionary new software application which has been incorporated into the iPhone 4G. The best part is that you won’t need to register or have a username or password to access the iPhone Video Calling services. Just find your friends on the Contacts menu, and tap the FaceTime button. Simple, isn’t it? You can even transfer to video calling from voice calls without dropping the line. The service is perfectly seamless and so futuristic that you won’t believe how easy it is to use!
Crisp, Clear and… Wonderful!
The new Apple iPhone 4G has a 960×640 screen. The pixel density is a whopping 326 pixels per inch. You ask what is so amazing about that?
Well these pixels are tiny, really tiny! Each pixel is only 78 micrometers wide. This makes everything on your iPhone 4G screen look crisp and sharp. Though it is a small screen at 9.5 inch x 3.5 inch, the reading is quite easy.
The contrast ratio is also 4 times better than the previous iPhone at 800:1.
Retina Display: You used to see ‘em, but now you don’t!
It’s Apple’s new Retina Display Technology that makes everything on the iPhone 4G screen look so stunning! Whether you are reading from web pages, text books or even your emails, or just looking at pictures and watching movies, your iPhone 4G experience is bound to be spectacular!
The iPhone 4G Retina Display technology is so amazing because it displays some where around 320 pixels per inch. This is beyond the point at which any pixels are visible at all. So, nothing on your iPhone 4G display will pixelate, and all you get is good picture quality every time!
At its launch party, Apple’s CEO Jobs demonstrated through a video the strength of the iPhone display screen. The iPhone 4G Retina display glass is made of the same material used in high speed trains and helicopters. This means that your new iPhone screen is more scratch-resistant, long-lasting and tougher than ever!
Well, there aren’t many to tell you the truth! But here are those very little disadvantages that come with keeping an iPhone 4G.
Still no Flash support
Like previous iPhone models and of course the iPad, you won’t be able to interact with websites containing Flash elements. This can greatly restrict your browsing capabilities, especially if you are fan of flash animations, games and software.
A Micro SIM Dilemma!
Always ahead of the pack, Steve Jobs has yet taken another step towards innovation. The iPhone 4G pre-launch rumors were correct when bloggers had anticipated a phone with Micro-SIM instead of a regular one. So just be ready to pester your network providers till you get a Micro-SIM for your new iPhone.
Oh Dear, look at the price!
Ok, so money might not be an object for iPhone buffs. But, man, the phone’s expensive!
At $299 for a 32 GB model, the 4th generation of iPhone is very pricey.
Plus, it doesn’t help that other mobile phone manufacturers offer the same functionality and features for a very reasonable price. For example the Nokia N8 is even better than the iPhone 4G in some ways and still costs less.
If you aren’t living in USA or UK, you are sadly out of luck! The iPhone will start selling in France, Germany, Japan as well as the UK and USA in the first week of July.
By August and September, Apple hopes to take iPhone 4G international. So you have got a lot of waiting to do!
Friday was the release date for two Google phones, called Droids, with Verizon Wireless. Both phones run Google’s Android Operating System and both look like they’re the start of some exciting mobile options for Verizon customers. Both phones, the Droid Eris by HTC and the Droid by Motorola, are both phones similar looking to an iPhone with large touch screen interfaces.
This is not surprising, as Apple’s iPhone is likely going to be the main competition for this new deal between Verizon and Google. The initial buzz surrounding these new Droids is positive. They’re powerful phones, with plenty of hard drive space and a good camera. They feature
QWERTY keyboards, WiFi, Flash, all the standard social application abilities, and a growing app library called Android Market. Predictably, the phones all include a full suite of Google features, such as Latitude, Gmail, Search and YouTube and Picasa. The Droid is supposedly the world’s thinnest QWERTY slider.
Presumably these are the first in a line of phones released for Verizon that will feature Google’s Android OS. Their main rival would appear to be the iPhone, and their first strike appears to be a good one. Apple has a head start, something that is very helpful in terms of available apps for download, but with the huge amount of Verizon customers now potential customers, I’m sure the Android Market will be growing fast. Couple this with the better coverage area and reception Verizon offers compared to AT&T and Apple could be in trouble.
Still, these are the first Droids on the market. They are the version 1.0 of the Google and Verizon deal. Similar to the initial version of C3PO that Anakin Skywalker was working on in Episode One of Star Wars, these are the first thoughts of what a phone equipped with Google and Android can do. As they refine what a phone can, and should, do the Droids will be even more exciting. Much like generation one iPhones still can’t do SMS these Droids are the first step in a long process of development. There will likely be bugs, and quirks, and things that just don’t feel right. My initial thoughts on the bigger Droid were that it looked a little boxy, and not quite as sleek as it could be.
The main thing to note here is that Verizon customers never had an option for an iPhone, or a G1 Google phone. Whether it was contracts, perks, quality or loyalty keeping customers with Verizon, the choices were between a couple of blackberries and a handful of Windows Mobile smartphones. Few of those options compare to an iPhone, or these new Droids. Now Apple may be hurt by keeping the iPhone exclusively with AT&T, when millions more would’ve purchased one given the option with another carrier.
Bowled over! Apple has come up with the third generation of the iPhone OS, climbing up to 3.0 this time. Following the Apple’s iPhone OS 3.0 event, here are the great and new features that Apple has planned for the new OS, which is released this summer.
Copy & Paste
Following all the rumors, no surprises here. Apple has announced that the new OS will support copy and paste, and cut too. This is how it works: You double tap the desired text. The text is selected and movable grab points are shown. You grab the text and choose between cut, copy and paste from a tiny little box that pops up. Copy & Paste works in all major applications and there is ‘shake to undo’ which, as its name implies, brings up an undo and redo option when the iPhone is shaken. It works with photos too, so you can send multiple photos with the Mail app.
This was another rumor being spread by the rumor birdies. Although a great addition to the list, it only comes to the iPhone 3G, leaving the first gen iPhone users in the dark. But it finally relieves us from our SMS sorrows.
iPhone OS 3.0 will feature push notifications, letting you seamlessly sync email and contacts between a desktop and mobile in real time. BlackBerry’s getting competition!
Featuring an enhanced App Store, Apple has unveiled a new feature called In-App purchases. With it, you can purchase additional content for games, magazines and maps for different cities. An example that was given was of purchasing different levels for games. As you finish the included levels, you can buy more levels from the app store.
It allows developers to make more money selling add-on content over the original app, and on the other hand it makes you want to spend more.
Something that was not much talked of by the rumor birdies, peer to peer networking on the iPhone lets you share data wirelessly with other iPhone and iPod touch users over bluetooth, without the need for wifi.
With Bluetooth tethering, you will be able to use your iPhone as a modem, although you will need to use an app to bring that to use.
Maps API and turn by turn directions
Enhancing the already present GPS, developers can now insert maps in their applications using Google Maps. Turn by turn directions are also provided, using the Maps API by Apple.
A new feature called Accessories lets you control external devices using an API. The iPhone can connect to external devices such as a loudspeaker, FM transmitter or blood pressure monitor through a dock connector or bluetooth.
Another late entry into the list of features is bluetooth stereo. Now you can stream music from the iPhone through bluetooth to a pair of compatible headphones or speakers.
More App Store Surprises
Apple also unveiled some new iPhone apps that were no less than a surprise. A new app called Voice Memos lets you record notes and reminders – great for journalists and freelancers. Safari now auto-fills and remembers your login information, and added phishing protection makes you more secure while mobile. A new feature called Spotlight lets you search the iPhone for data. The search works for all the Apple-made apps including Calendar and Mail. The OS 3.0 adds 1000 new APIs to extend the working of apps and give new opportunities to developers.
The landscape keyboard can now be brought up when using applications like Mail and Notes.
New Calendar Type
Two new calendar standards have been added to the iPhone. CalDAV is a protocol that is supported by Google and Yahoo. And you can make subscriptions in the .ics format which is supported by Apple’s iCal.
This will let the iPhone discover other nearby devices using Bluetooth without setting up a wireless network first. It can surely bring life to multiplayer gaming on the iPhone.
What’s Your Verdict On It?
There may be some surprising features, but unsurprisingly, Apple left out Background Processing. We still can’t run two apps simultaneously. Well, that’s a bummer!
With over 25,000 apps in the App Store today and over 30 million iPhone OS units sold, the new iPhone OS 3.0 does rock, whatever the Windows fanboys say!
The iPhone OS 3.0 update will be free for iPhone users but iPod Touch users will have to pay $9.95 for the update.
What’s your take on it? Let us know in the comments!
(images by gizmodo)
Today Derby, England based Strawdog Studios announced their first iPhone title, called Turbo Duck.
Strawdog Studios are the makers of the upcoming XBox Live Arcade title Bounce, which we wrote about earlier in an article about 9 XBLA games to watch for, so we can most likely expect Turbo Duck to be a light-hearted and enjoyable game.
Turbo Duck will be Strawdog’s first foray into the iPhone/iPod touch world. In it, players will control Turbo Duck, a duck that can turbo, not surprisingly. The goal is to guide Turbo Duck through a bathtub obstacle course in a race against time.
Of course, Turbo Duck will make use of the iPhone’s unique accelerometer and touch screen controls, allowing players to navigate Turbo Duck into flags, which give you extra time, and around hazards like toy boats and mines, all by tilting and touching the iPhone.
According to the Strawdog press release, Turbo Duck will include:
20 Levels of bath-time fun
Submerging (and surfacing) submarines
Bonus Bread (Ducks like bread!)
Overall, Turbo Duck sounds like it is going to be a silly and fun game that is perfect for the iPhone, giving players a light and entertaining game with simple but fun mechanics.
After Turbo Duck is released, iPhone gamers can likely expect more Strawdog games on the Apple hardware. According to Dan Marchant of Strawdog Studios, “The guys in the office think the iPhone is a great piece of technology and a fun platform to develop games on. Turbo Duck is our first dip in the iPhone pool but certainly won’t be our last.”
Turbo Duck will be available in English, French, Italian, German & Spanish for Apple iPhone and iPod Touch. It will be out at the end of March 2009 priced at $1.99 / £1.19/ ¢â€šÂ¬1,59.
The way we listen to and access our music has changed over the years, but nothing in the music industry has steam-rolled quite as fast as what has transpired in the first decade of the 21st Century.
As the Beatles’ rock anthem of the late 60s reminded a nation:
You say you want a revolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution…
And as we all know, the one constant in life is change. Just when we were all starting to feel real comfortable gravitating from tapes and CDs to online music downloads, a new revolution of options is beginning to unfold.
Strangely enough, Apple has approved an iPhone application that actually might replace its iTunes music download model. Even odder is the fact the new app was created by David Dederer who’s in the process of reinventing himself. Previously the lead singer for The Presidents of the United States of America, a 90s alternative rock band, David is transitioning from his old job into his new role as VP business development for Melodeo,a music technology firm. Here, he has developed the PUSA app that will let users stream his band’s entire catalog of music over a cellular connection for less than the cost of a Big Mac.
Fans who buy the app will also get access to the band’s original 10-song demo tape Froggystyle, four albums, “lost” recordings, demos, and whatever else they can throw into the mix including live recordings updated regularly and links to the PUSA blog.
The sticky point for other bands and musical artists to follow suit is the copyright issues. One has to own all of the copyrights to a piece of music in order to distribute it this manner. Otherwise agreements and sign-offs would make it prohibitive. However if all the rights are owned outright, artists can sell their music in this new distribution channel.
Based on this innovative format, one could imagine the source of new-found wealth for artists that are sitting on publishing rights for bands that no longer perform. While there is still conjecture whether or not Michael Jackson owns the Beatles library of music outright, let’s assume for arguments’ sake he does. In this case, Michael, whose appeal has waned over the last decade, might be sitting on a small gold mine! If he could produce a Beatles app that contained over 150 songs, his financial and health worries might be over!
So while Dederer and the PUSA app are gaining traction off the fact they were the first to rock ‘n roll with this new technology, the popularity of The Presidents of the United States of America pales in comparison to the Beatles. Where the PUSA app will sell nicely at $2.99 each, one can only imagine how much Mr. Jackson might be able to hit us up for a Beatles app. Can you say Cha-Ching? Sorry Paul, but don’t think you were planning an Ebony & Ivory reunion any time soon, anyways!
In tandem with the PUSA model, iPhone is in the process of rolling out an “unlimited access” option where customers would have the opportunity to either pay a one-time lifetime access price to the iTunes’ music library, or a monthly subscription fee. What Apple will charge users for this service is still being ironed out, but recent sources have speculated a $100 fee for unlimited access to the complete iTunes library for the lifetime of their device, whether it be an iPhone or iPod. How that fee will shake down between owners, artists and Apple is still undecided and will probably take an army of lawyers to figure out.
In the meantime, be on the look out for the PUSA app. While it might not be the type of band that floats your boat, it’s currently the only one out there selling their entire body of past, present and future work for less than three bucks!
According to Ian Paul, a journalist for PC World: “Artists will always need labels to promote their music effectively….The music retailer, however, is not so important–a lesson that Tower Records discovered,” when they incurred the recent online download evolution of the industry.
So while currently the iTunes model enjoys success by basically replacing the physical record shop for the digital world, in the end, iTunes is still selling copies of music just like Tower Records did back in the day. However, the real revolution will occur if and when major artists feel they no longer need the middleman and can sell direct to the consumer. At that juncture, Apple may have to take a major step back to rethink the way it does business. And in a completely wireless world, this could become a reality sooner then we think.
So while we inch up to the end of the first decade of this new century, and music continues to soothe the savage beast, keep your ears open to the ever-changin’ music revolution that will continue to rock on, even beyond what we discussed here!
Probably best known for Passage, a game about the inevitability of death, Jason Rohrer has made a name for himself as a primary figure in the growing movement of art-games. Until now his games have essentially been an experiment in artistic expression through game design, exploring themes like regret, death, and creativity with basic game mechanics.
But Primrose takes a break from the debate with some unique puzzle gaming in the same vein as Tetris. Like most good puzzle games, the idea behind Primrose is simple: your goal is to accumulate points by surrounding blocks of one colour with blocks of another colour on a 7×7 grid. When a group of blocks have been surrounded, they disappear, giving you a certain amount of points depending on how many blocks were collected. Then the surrounding blocks are changed to the colour of the blocks that were eliminated.
But like always, it’s not quite as simple as that. Blocks are given to you randomly, two at a time, and must be placed in a particular order. So, you might get an orange block and a green block and be required to set down the orange block first. Further, the second block of a pair must be placed in the same row or column as the first block. This restriction adds depth to the game, forcing the player to come up with a particular strategy for block placement to ensure that no blocks are placed where they can’t be used.
Finally, combos can be achieved to multiply your point total when eliminating blocks. Through strategic placement and planning, the colour changes that occur when you surround a group of blocks can be used to eliminate multiple groups of blocks. For example, when a group of green blocks are surrounded and turn their surrounding blocks green, those newly-green blocks may complete the surrounding of another group of blocks, which will also be eliminated for even more points.
The combo technique is of course the key to getting a high score, and success depends on the player’s development of various combo strategies; anticipating colour changes and careful placement of blocks is central.
Like any good puzzle game, Primrose is easy to get into but difficult to master, and presents the player with some simple mechanics that blossom into a difficult problem as higher scores are strived for and more blocks fill the screen. Adding to the difficulty is the fact that new colours are introduced after a certain amount of moves, increasing the complexity of the dynamics between the blocks considerably.
The game is quite challenging, but of course most puzzle gamers wouldn’t have it any other way; the best puzzle games present us with an essentially unsolvable problem that will keep even the most expert of players coming back for another challenge, and that is exactly what Primrose does.
Primrose also features some very clean and simple graphics with no clutter and plenty of soft, bright colours. The result is an interface that is reminiscent of a computer console from a classic sci-fi movie, with big bright buttons and lights. The sound effects reinforce this look, with different retro-sounding, synthesizer-like tones that accompany the placement of each colour of block.
All of this adds up to a very clean, simple, and presentable game that is easy to get into. I played the PC version of the game, but you can tell it is clearly optimized for the iPhone; the iPhone’s touch controls should be completely intuitive in Primrose, and the style of gameplay is perfect for a quick game while trying to kill some time waiting for the bus. Further, the game presents the player with no fluff, meaning iPhone users will be able to get straight into the game with the tap of a finger.
Overall, Primrose, while not being a groundbreaking title by any means, is a great example of very solid puzzle-gaming that will be right at home on the iPhone or any PC. It’s very tightly-crafted, and shows a great understanding of gameplay mechanics and the way they interact to make a compelling game.
It also shows that Jason is not only an artist, but also has the chops to make some addictive and professional-quality entertainment as well.
Primrose is set to be released February 19th for iPhone, Mac, Windows, and GNU/Linux.
For all those clamoring for some different formats for their smudgy iPhone pictures, USB Fever answers your calls.
The aluminum attachment fixes to your iPhone magnetically, providing a unique alternative to other iPhone lenses, which usually use cumbersome clamps to awkwardly attach the lens.
According to the product’s site the attachment also works with many other devices, such as other mobile phones, digital cameras, and notebooks. But if your device isn’t already magnetic, or “mangeic” as the site eloquently puts it, you’ll need to affix a self-adhesive magnetized ring to it, which the lens then pops on to. This means you can quickly and easily pop the lens on and off without having to deal with any doodads.
The lens is available in wide-angle and fish-eye configurations, offering iPhone users a good deal of photographic options.
Personally I have no idea what would compel anyone to actually want to attach a special lens to their iPhone; the iPhone takes some very good quality pictures for a mobile device, but it’s not as if a little fish-eye lens is going to make your pics into non-finger-printy, professional quality photos.
Nonetheless, this is a pretty clever design, and if you’re going to add a lens to your tiny mobile phone it might as well be this one.
The magnetic iPhone lens costs $16.99 and is available at USB Fever.
Passage, the poignant indie game that surprised and moved gamers and critics alike a year ago, has made its way to the iPhone.
Passage, designed and programmed by video game artist Jason Rohrer, is hard to describe and even harder to describe without ruining the experience for anyone who hasn’t played it yet. Let’s just say that Passage crams more emotional profoundness into 100×16 pixels than all 400 milion hours of cut scenes in Metal Gear Solid 4.
With no dialogue, explicit story, or even enemies to blow up, Passage manages to say a great deal while building a powerful connection with the player, illustrating the unique ways in which video games can present and shape experiences.
I usually hesitate to use the word “art,” but I believe that Passage can safely be labelled as such; it hits players with an undeniably human experience using only the most basic video games mechanics.
It’s a little bit strange that Passage for the iPhone costs 99 cents; it’s available for free for XP, Mac, and Linux. But if its creator can make a few bucks off of it while broadening Passage’s audience, then all the better for the world of indie games and gamers.
Passage for the iPhone is available here for 99 cents.
The new Pogo Sketch stylus may turn out to be a low-cost alternative to a professional drawing tablet.
The Pogo Sketch, from Ten One Design, is a new pencil-style stylus for use with all “capacitive touch screens,” as the product’s site explains.
What this means, for those that have no idea what “capacitive” is (e.g., me,) is that it is compatible with the iPhone, iPod Touch, and all Macbooks with multitouch trackpads, such as the Macbook, Macbook Pro, and Macbook Air. This means you can use the soft-tipped Sketch instead of your fingers on the trackpads of these products.
But what is truly interesting about the Sketch is that, according to Ten One Design’s site, the Sketch can be used on a Macbook’s trackpad like a pencil, making it a low-cost alternative to a drawing tablet. This means that users of the Sketch may be able to go about drawing and writing naturally in illustration programs without the need for a costly tablet.
It’s hard to say how well the Sketch performs without using it; a trackpad seems kind of small to simulate the act of drawing, no matter how natural the Sketch feels. But if it does in fact perform as well or close to as well as a full-fledged writing tablet, then the Sketch could make quite an impact on the digital drawing market, discarding with the need to get a bulky and expensive tablet.
Ten One Design also has a couple other selling points for the Sketch. They point out that the Sketch, which simulates a fingertip, can be used with gloves so users don’t have to worry about their hands getting cold when using their iPhone in the winter, and also ensures that users don’t get their iPod Touch all smudgy with their greasy fingers.
But really, these seem like trivialities compared to the possibility of being able to use Adobe Illustrator to draw naturally at a fraction of the cost of buying a Wacom tablet.
The Pogo Sketch costs $14.95 and is available here.
Today EA announced the release of the classic game SimCity for the iPhone and iPod touch.
SimCity, a game of city construction and management, is one of the first significant games made by Will Wright, creator of the imaginative, and highly hyped, Spore. As the name suggests, SimCity was also among the first in the line of “Sim” games, made widely famous by Wright’s game The Sims.
The iPhone and iPod touch version hasn’t been stripped down for this touch-based version, and brings all the features that players would expect in a SimCity game. From the looks of it, SimCity for the iPhone bears many similarities to SimCity 3000, the third game in the series.
There seems to be a trend lately of developers re-releasing old games on portable hardware, and SimCity seems like the perfect choice for this sort of thing. SimCity is an old favourite of mine, even though whenever I play it I always end up with massive debt and a stagnant slum, so the chance to play it on the go is pretty neat. Especially nice are the touch controls, which in my opinion are well-suited for the type of game SimCity is.
SimCity costs $10 and is available at the iPhone app store.