May 14, 2013
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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.
December 27, 2012
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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.
- 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?
- 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.
December 2, 2012
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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…
June 25, 2012
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A month ago, Epic Games released “Infinity Blade II: Vault of Tears,” a free content update for its Game of the Year Award-winning iOS blockbuster, “Infinity Blade II.”As a promotional offer, the full version of “Infinity Blade II” was purchasable for a limited-time promotional price of $2.99 via the iTunes App Store. At around the same time, EA released an update for Real Racing 2 HD 2, making it suited for the iPad 3’s retina display and as part of a promotion, also reduced the price of Real Racing 2 HD to $1.99. These offers were nigh-impossible to pass up, so I purchased both games and ended up saving nine dollars altogether; presently, both games cost $6.99 apiece.
- I might post a full review of Infinity Blade II later. Infinity Blade was one of the games that I had initially considered purchasing, but eventually decided to wait and see whether or not my interest would wane for the game. However, when I heard about the discount for Infinity Blade II, I decided that the purchase would be immediately worthwhile.
- I’m not too sure how Infinity Blade II differs from its predecessor in gameplay: all I know is that there’s a new story, new graphics and new items. The combat system takes full advantage of the iPad’s touch screen and allows players to precisely control their parries, dodges and sword strokes, contrasting melee games on traditional systems, which depend on a preset sequence of moves.
- The graphics on the iPad 2 rival the PlayStation 2 and even the Xbox in terms of quality. Real Racing 2 HD was another game that I had my eye on since last summer. Back then, the price was $9.99.
- I consider Real Racing 2 HD to be the Gran Turismo for iOS. Infinity Blade II is compatible with both iPad and iPhone/iPod touch, while Real Racing 2 HD is iPad-only; a smaller version exists for the iPhone/iPod Touch platforms. However, given that the discount essentially lowered the cost of the HD version, I’d go with the iPad version every time.
Both Infinity Blade II and Real Racing 2 HD were used to showcase the iPad 2’s then superior video processing capabilities. It is hardly a surprise that they are some of the most popular and well-received apps for the iPad. Beautiful and boasting intuitive-yet-engaging gameplay, they extend the iPad’s capabilities well beyond the academic machine I’ve previously hailed the iPad to be.
April 24, 2012
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From the Culture Japan, a new clock application was released for iOS. While it may not feature Danny Choo’s Mascot, Mirai Suenaga, it does appear as the logical successor to the Mirai Clock 3 and offer numerous features that make it a highly useful clock. This awesome clock includes the capacity to read back the current time (in Japanese) when the screen is tapped and a built-in alarm. Moreover, there are four selectable characters (with a range of costumes and poses) and settings.
- This is the general UI found in the application. The date is given in the upper left hand corner, while the clock itself is to the right. For good measure, a battery indicator is also included, and the ‘i’ on the lower right corner is used to change the options.
- The graphics are optimised for the Retina display on the iPod and iPhone 4, so it should come as little surprise that this app looks spectacular.
- There are a total of four characters that may be selected; each of these characters have a different voice when asked about the time and date.
- Use of the app is intuitive: touch the time to get the time. Remember how in Mirai Clock 3, Mirai Suenaga responded to contact? This function carries over to DRACLOCK: different responses can be elicited by patting your character on the head or tapping their shoulders.
- The character’s poses can be changed by swiping left or right. Costumes and characters can be changed by hitting the ‘i’.
- The app is a winner for a few key reasons: it is simple to use and more importantly, it doesn’t crash.
It is compatible with the iPod Touch and iPhone; while I was disappointed that it was not compatible with the iPad, the clock nonetheless is a major improvement over the previous clocks that were released by Culture Japan. Thus, owing to the range of new functions, DRACLOCK makes a welcome replacement for the Mirai Clock on the iPod, despite requiring 118 MB of space to handle all the extra features.