The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life converge

Category Archives: Software

iOS 7- Initial Impressions

I was reading through several posts that reminded prospective updaters to iOS 7 yesterday of the potential frustrations that awaited users as a result of high server loads and various bugs within iOS 7 that would no doubt slow down their update to the latest iteration of Apple’s mobile OS. On October 2011, crowded servers meant that the iOS 5 install was delayed, and after I did get the OS onto my devices, a poorly-set synchronisation setting completely wiped all of my data, so I had pulled the closest thing I did in my undergraduate career to an all-nighter in an effort to restore the data to my devices. Fortunately, the iOS 7 update procedure today proved far more straightforward: my battle-worn iPad 2 was updated via a connection to my desktop. This was effortless, as iTunes simply asked me if I wanted to make the update, and efficiently installed the new OS. On the retina-display iPad, I merely had to hit the “update” button in the systems settings, and off it went, downloading at a steady 2.0 MB/s over my wireless network. Because my iPod Touch is a 4th generation device, it was shafted by the new iOS update, but the silver lining is that I will not be updating to an OS that could cause a large amount of lag in the older hardware.

  • Whereas the difference between iOS 5 and iOS 6 were minimal, the jump from iOS 6 to iOS 7 is such a visual treat. Notice how some apps, such as iBooks and Amairo*Clock, still have previous generation icons in comparison to the elegant new icons for the native iOS apps, except YouTube, because they made some recent updates that make their app feel up-to-date and responsive. Also, allow me to reminisce about how efficient the update was: remember, folks, when you’re downloading stuff at 5 MB/s, downloading iOS 7 won’t take 43 minutes.

  • A lot of mobile OS reviewers out there said that Apple could stand to learn a few things from Microsoft and its Windows Phone 8. It looks like Apple took this advice a little too literally, basing their new multitasking menu off the one found on Windows Phone 8. With that said, Apple one-ups Microsoft here, adding the capacity to close an active app by swiping the app upwards. I am very pleased with this functionality; it brings something I love about the Windows Phone 8 platform to iOS.

  • All of the native iOS apps get a beautiful new look, feeling modern and minimal to emphasise the content. Browsing in the new Safari is as smooth as ever, though it did take me some effort to acclimatise to the new location of the favourites and share buttons. There is also a little something called shared links now, which provides a neat shortcut to links posted by the people I follow on Twitter. This is bloody useful.

  • Lyrics are back on iOS 7 for iPad, baby. The newly designed music app looks even better than it used to, allowing me to navigate effortlessly though all my music, and most importantly, brings back lyrics to the iPad, which were removed since the iOS 5 update two years ago. This change was undocumented, and Apple had never formally explained why they removed the lyrics. It took two years to bring the lyrics back, and since I’m likely not capable of updating to iOS 8, lyrics on my iPad are here to stay.

  • The videos application also gets a change, retaining its old layout but appearing more modern in graphical terms. I’ve opted not to mention the new notifications centre because aside from a new screen-filling appearance and increased amount of information it gives, it behaves similarly to the old one but strips away the capacity to post a Facebook status or Tweet.

I’ve only been playing around with iOS 7 for the past hour or so, but a majority of my reactions are positive. The new design is reminiscent of the Windows Metro design. Clean and elegant, it brings iOS into the modern era, making my iPad feel like my Windows Phone and doing away with the skeuomorphism  that made the iOS feel like a previous generation device. Modern technology is supposed to be sleek and elegant, and the new iOS delivers: in fact, the new animations and behaviours make things feel like an elegant, interactive version of Prezi. While I’m still more used to the older multi-touch gestures; the new Spotlight search (one-fingered down on the home screen) and Control Centre (one-fingered up on the dock) take some getting used to, but I love the fact that I can now turn on my WiFi without going into the settings. While iOS 7 still functions as it did previously, the updates are refreshing and most welcome. Of course, I imagine that my iPad 2 will not have any support for iOS 8 once it comes out, but I do intend on using the iPad 2 until the very end.


Danny Choo’s Culture Japan releases yet another fun clock, Amairo*Clock, in the same lineage as its predecessor, DRACLOCK. In terms of functionality, it is identical to Draclock, being able to read back the current time (in Japanese) when the screen is tapped, notifying one about their birthday and possessing a built-in alarm. While the core mechanics are identical, Amairo*Clock features new characters from the eroge Amairo Islenauts and features voice acting from said game’s original voice actors.

  • Amairo*Clock was released on May 2, 2013 and requires iOS 6.0 or later, as well as 501 MB of storage space.

  • This app is completely incapable of operating in landscape mode on the iPad. However, give the image a good look and realise that landscape mode’s absence is probably not sufficient a detractor from this app.

  • I was enrolled in a introductory Japanese course a year-and-a-half ago. As it stands now, I retained some of the material, but for all intents and purposes, I am illiterate in Japanese.

  • The ability to use custom backgrounds is über pro: here, I have a background from Interface Lift, a site that hosts superior quality wallpapers. I use their wallpapers to liven up my desktop at the lab because said office space has no windows (we use Mac exclusively and are located at the core of the building).

  • As previously, there is a battery indicator and options menu: when I wrote the reflection for DRACLOCK, I had zero iOS experience. Presently, I have programmed a few iOS apps, although the bulk of my work remains in development for Mac OS X (and more specifically, physiological simulation software).

  • What I look forward to most would be a Mirai Suenaga version of these clock apps, featuring Mirai Suenaga and her sisters in a similar fashion. As I come across these apps by pure chance, I am not certain whether or not such an app would be reality.

Amairo*Clock is rated 17+ in the iTunes App Store for “Frequent/Intense Mature/Suggestive Themes” and “Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content or Nudity”, given that the characters can be given swim attire in the options menu. The most notable feature, though, is the capacity to choose custom images for the background. Like its predecessor, Amairo*Clock is a simple app that carries out its functions very well, and this time around, is compatible with both the iPhone and iPad.

Victory in Steam Sales

March 20 was a sunny, warm start to Spring 2013. While Spring would subsequently kick off far cooler than anyone had expected, March 20 turned out to be a magical day. I had woken up to sunshine, and woke up with the intention of making the final set of changes to my thesis paper, which was due on Friday. March 20 was the release date of Gundam Unicorn‘s RE:I AM (by Aimer), the ending song to the sixth episode. RE:I AM effortlessly became my favourite of the ending songs (right up there with Earthmind’s B-Bird), and I had looked greatly forward to the song’s arrival. The NSERC results had also announced on the 20th, much to my surprise, and as such, March 20 was shaping up to be a great day. By the time evening had arrived, my thesis paper was nearly completion, and I decided to take a break. At that time, a friend asked me about the Left 4 Dead/Resident Evil crossover, noting that he wished to play L4D2 at some point in the future. I replied by asking him how much L4D2 was, and, with my own curiosity piqued, I decided to check for myself. To my surprise, the game was on a discount: at 75% off from its regular 20 dollars, the offer was too good to pass up. We made our purchases immediately and have since then, become the proud owners of L4D2; upon the completion of our academic term, we resolved to familiarise ourselves with the game and engage in co-op missions. At the time of writing, academic term is over, and we will likely begin our crusade against zombies very soon.

  • RE:I AM is now permanently associated with my rushing towards the end of semester, charging head-on towards a thesis defense, oral exam and two conventional exams. I have yet to actually play L4D2, but I’ve heard many good things about the game.

  • My first experience with BBC2 was at a friend’s place three years ago. After watching several entries in Marble Hornets, he would show me several of his favorite missions, leading me to wonder whether or not the Type-88 rifle, one of the two long-range rifles in the campaign, would be sufficient to stop the Slenderman. One thing led to another, and the Type-88 would eventually be referred to as the “Slenderman rifle” between us.

Mere days after the deal I got on L4D2, another sale would catch my eye. April 6 was a foggy, cool morning; as the mists blanketed the landscape and obscured the familiar, I was in the process of studying for a quiz, which would involve the tuple relational calculus, domain relational calculus, XPath queries and table normalisation (first, second and third normal forms). However, before I began, I was scrolling through the Steam Store on the iPad, thinking about what games I would have liked to add to my library once term ended. In a curious stroke of luck, the Store displayed Battlefield: Bad Company 2 on its “Today’s Deal”. With only an hour remaining, I jumped online and made the purchase before the deal expired. However, at the time, my Dell XPS 420 was unable to run the game owing to its video card (an ATI HD 2600 XT, for the curious). I would have likely installed it at the time, but as my computer was unable to play it, I consented to continue studying for my databases course and preparing my thesis defense presentation, before heading to a friend’s place that evening to partake in preparing and enjoying spaghetti with sausages, Scrubs, Cards against Humanity (Canadian edition) and relaxing in t3h hot tub.  This time, my old machine’s incapacity to play the game meant that I would not be able to procrastinate, and as such, may have very well contributed to my completion of my undergraduate honours program on a high note. Given that it is summer now, and four weeks since that foggy, cool morning, I believe the time has come for me to capitalise on these purchases and see where the adventure will take me.

Vito Technology Presents Solar Walk and Sky Walk

Vito Technology entered the market of mobile application development in 2001, but its latest applications have made it one of the best known organisations out there for developing iOS apps. Their two flagship apps, Star Walk and Solar Walk, are amongst some of the best apps that exist for the iOS platform. Star Walk is an interactive star map that can track the position of over 20000 objects in the night sky, while Solar Walk is a replica of the region within the solar system. Both apps are spectacular in visuals and functionality; I purchased them a year ago as apps to showcase the iPad 2’s graphics, but the apps have found use in locating objects for star gazing sessions.

Sky Walk

  • While not depicted here, the coolest feature in Sky Walk is augmented reality, the ability to project the stars onto the sky using the iPad’s camera. The system is calibrated using the position of a well-known object, and the app carries out the rest of the calculations.

  • Navigation and usage of the app could not be easier. Users swipe to move around, pinch to zoom and tap to select objects. Menu items allow users to customise the app settings, alter the time of the view and search for common objects.

  • Sky Walk costs 4.99 CAD in the app store, a cost that is considerably more economic than the 40 or so CAD the astronomy guides cost. Then again, the iPad itself makes it expensive.

  • What’s cooler than being able to look at the sky at various positions and times of day? How about the ability to look up things that one may or may not be familiar with?

Solar Walk

  • Remember 100000 stars? That neat web-app could not run on Safari or iOS devices natively. Now imagine a version for iOS that does something similar for objects in the solar system that is just as visually stunning and easy to use.

  • As per Sky Walk, Solar Walk uses a similar UI and navigation schema, making it easy to use one app if one is familiar with another. This cross-program consistency makes Vito Technology’s software usable- such a paradigm means that users familiar with one product from a company will be able to pick up another product with minimal trouble. From the end-user perspective, this makes it easy to get something done. From the developer’s end, it will mean repeat business.

  • Tapping the screen once hides the HUD, allowing the iOS device to be used as a cool photo frame. The graphics are spectacular: years ago, stuff like this was merely fiction, but radical advances in processor technology have made some once-fictional technology, like high-resolution multitouch UIs, a reality.

  • Solar Walk costs 2.99 CAD in the app store, two dollars less than Star Walk. A recent update has allowed for the app to be streamed to an HD display, further extending the app’s usefulness in showing off the coolest parts of the solar system.

Stargazing and astronomy are two pursuits I’ve had since my first pair of binoculars fourteen years ago: when I first started, things like iPads and electronic sky maps were still constrained to research institutes and science fiction. Instead, I have a small collection of astronomer Terence Dickinson’s stargazing books, which provide maps of the sky and guides for amateur astronomy. I am a binocular stargazer and have witnessed a handful of cosmic events, such as lunar eclipses, auroras, meteor showers, planetary conjunctions and the like with nothing more than the naked eye, and have found many well-known astronomical features with a simple pair of binoculars, reflecting on the fact that the hobby itself can be as simple as keeping an eye and ear open for events and looking at the sky. Of course, the shiny apps we have now augment the experience; if I were to ever bring the iPad into the field, the Sky Walk app has a nifty feature to preserve our night vision.

iTunes 11 is a worthy modern music player

iTunes 11 is the latest and possibly greatest update the iTunes media player has seen for a while. Touted as being faster and sleeker than its predecessors, the update ultimately lived up to Apple’s promise of a refreshed media player for the modern age. In particular, the UI has undergone a total overhaul to match the look and feel found on the iOS music players. The update was released late in November, a full month after Apple announced that they would require more time to polish the system.

  • I’ve been using iTunes since 2005, and preferred the older organisation of music. To re-enable the old interface, Windows users can hit “ctrl-/” and “ctrl-s” to restore the status bar and side bar, respectively. I imagine that these images are high resolution enough to give people a rough idea of my personal music tastes, and admittedly, I believe myself to have some of the most diverse music around.

  • Those using the new interface will find their devices listed off to the right. Some basic statistics, such as battery life and relative storage remaining, are listed, as well. Plugging in iOS devices no longer cause my machine issues with pop-ups and so forth. There’s still the small matter of my cover art not synchronising properly when I covert music to the ACC format for playback: this is something I hope Apple will address in their next update.

  • The “up next” feature is a fun one: it takes away the mystery behind shuffle and lets the user know exactly what songs are next. The new iTunes totally embraces the notion of album art, something I decided to embrace ever since picking up an iPod touch.

  • When an album is opened, if it has album art, the general colours present on the art are extrapolated into the album’s UI for song listings, giving it more character. This is infinitely cooler than cover flow. iTunes haters will probably either change their cards or else refuse to use it: this system works very nicely and is only missing a small range of functions, such as music streaming services.

  • Now that’s a clean way of presenting apps. iTunes 11 is awesome, and while it took a little getting used to, it still does its job of playing music well enough, while performing far better than it used to. My verdict: “you already have a copy and got to listen to me say the same thing that practically everyone else is saying“.

The wait was ultimately worth it: the new iTunes is considerably more visual than any of its predecessors, modernised to match current paradigms in though. More importantly, non-essential functions (especially “ping) have been stripped out, and the new iTunes loads faster than before. Devices are less conspicuous but are still present to allow for modifications to be made. Despite its newfound powers, all the new features mean that the new iTunes will take some getting used to. Once this learning curve is overcome, the new iTunes will act as a proper media general purpose media player for the current age, and for old-timers like myself, who prefer the old look, Apple has allowed that option to be made, too. As a side note, it seems like WordPress has taken a leaf from Apple’s button design: the editor feels slightly more streamlined than the list time I used it to create my infamous “Mob-On!” article