Apps Lists, News/Rumors

Sega Go Dance-Apple’s free app of the week

This week, Apple is encouraging you to move your body with its free App of the Week in the App Store, Sega Go Dance. Last Thursday, the company slashed Tiny Firefighters to zero bucks, which is an interactive app/book/game for kids, usually available for $2.99.

Do you love to dance? Then you might like SEGA GO DANCE. The app uses advanced motion-capture tech to turn your device’s FaceTime camera into a motion sensor, that recognizes and scores your movements in real-time. What you are required to do is to place your device on a table or other flat surface to fully enjoy the game. Connect your iPhone or iPad to your television via a HDMI cable or just use AirPlay to beam action wirelessly to the TV.

The developers released Go Dance last September and made it available for download for $1.99. Additionally, Go Dance was named one of the App Store’s Best Of 2013 games.

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Apple explains its choice in App Store Notes:

“Each week, we select a great app and bring it to you, for free, as our App of the Week. (In-App Purchases sold separately.) SEGA’s Go Dance offers a unique experience that’ll have you standing up and boogying. Set your iPhone or iPad on an inclined surface, and the game will use your device’s built-in FaceTime camera to judge your dancing while the display shows you which moves to perform next. Perfect your routines, then go online and shake a leg against other players.”

Sega Go Dance is available as a free download in the App Store through Wednesday, March 12. It can be used by iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, fifth-generation iPod touch, iPad 2, third-generation iPad, fourth-generation iPad, iPad Air, iPad mini, and iPad mini with Retina display owners.

News/Rumors

Apple to bring full-screen video iAds to apps this year

Advertisers may soon be given a new way to reach users with Apple’s iAd service, as Apple reportedly plans to introduce full-screen video iAds for apps on the iPhone and the iPad later this year.

The new iAd option will allow included video content to play automatically at full screen. A user is required to click on a mobile banner for a brand’s ad video to play. Under the new format, developers could opt to display TV commercial-like ads during moments of transition, like in between levels within a game or in between articles in a news-style app.

There are already a number of free-to-play apps offering full-screen third-party video ads. For instance, Zynga’s Draw Something on iPad asks users to watch a video ad before giving them access to the next level. iPhone maker currently permits full-screen video iAd advertisements within some iPad apps, but this system can reportedly be expanded to other iOS devices.

Since Apple has given this opportunity to developers to make money on the iOS platform in 2010, iAd has lost its popularity among those intending to have good profit. But, Apple has been trying to bring iAd back with a new focus on iTunes Radio.

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«The in-app video ads may be a way for Apple to rekindle advertisers’ interests in its fancy-but-flawed iAds. The ad product line was unveiled in 2010 with all the pomp and circumstance of a new iPhone, but they’ve struggled to gain traction in the market. Advertisers were initially asked to drop $1 million for the rich-media units, which more closely resemble a mobile microsite than a banner. That price tag has dropped to $100,000 over the years, even as Apple has added features like maps.»

It’ll be interesting to see how this new format works with both advertisers and users. It is still unclear how much Apple would ask advertisers to pay and when it starts implementation.

News/Rumors

OnLive is back with new CloudLift game service

Online gaming company OnLive, which made headlines in 2012 for a round of sudden and massive layoffs, was revived with the announcement of two new gaming services, including CloudLift and OnLive Go.

Founded in 2003, OnLive is a firm that set out to change the way we play games. OnLive’s first Game Service was introduced in 2010, but problems with Internet connections, latency, and video compression caused it to get unfavorable reviews. In 2012, the company was forced to lay off most of its employees, and later being sold to Lauder Partners for just $4.8 million-despite the true value of its patents estimated at the time in the range of hundreds of millions of dollars. And now the company is back with two new cloud-based gaming services.

CloudLift is a subscription service that gives users the ability to play digital games, such as those from Steam, on any device, while OnLive Go for developers is designed to bring MMOs to mobile devices.

CloudLift allows OnLive to link games bought from Steam or other services to OnLive, uploading the games to the cloud to be played anywhere on any PC, TV, or mobile device. Gaming is synched, meaning you are allowed to start a game later on. You can purchase a monthly CloudLift subscription for $14.99, while a streaming-only PlayPack subscription is available for $9.99.onlive

The only things you need to do is purchase a game from a distributor once in order to play it with the OnLive service. Games are delivered in 720p at 60 frames per second.

Right now, CloudLift offers with 20 titles, including The LEGO Movie Videogame, Saints Row IV, as well as Batman: Arkham City, Asylum, and Origins.

CloudLift is currently available on Mac and Windows PCs and Android devices. OnLive also plans to bring it to iOS, but it requires more time.

“iOS is a big platform. We’re not sitting here ignoring it,” he told Pocket-lint. “It’s the same thing with Surface. We want to be platform agnostic. We continue to grow and we’ll focus on growing across all of those.”

 

News/Rumors

Roku announces new $50 ‘Streaming Stick’ with full-fledged remote control

Video streaming experts Roku introduced a new $50 HDMI streaming-stick to finally give consumers a significantly cheaper alternative to the Apple TV.

“The new Roku Streaming Stick gives consumers more choice for streaming entertainment to the TV than any other device,” said Jim Funk, senior vice president of product management at Roku. “Consumers want a ton of entertainment, an easy way to search for movies and TV shows, and options to control the experience with a remote or mobile device. This new Roku Streaming Stick brings all that and more – and in a tiny form factor.”

The new Streaming Stick delivers more than 3,000 movies,1,000 Roku’s channels, including Plex, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon, Spotify, Major League Baseball, Showtime, WatchESPN and personal media from a smartphone or tablet, in up to 1080p resolutions.

Most significant feature is that the new stick acts like a set-top streamer, but is kept out of sight behind an HDTV’s panel.rokustick

The second-generation Streaming Stick brings a full-fledged remote control and an on-screen interface. It also includes a USB cable and wall adapter, though users can connect the stick to their HDTV’s USB port. The Roku Streaming Stick connects to the Internet via 802.11n Wi-Fi.

The Streaming Stick is available for pre-order for $50 from Roku’s website or on Amazon.com, which is more expensive than Google offers, but it offers access to more content.

The Roku Streaming Stick is scheduled to be shipped sometime in April.

News/Rumors

Microsoft aims to expand Xbox Live on iOS

Microsoft last November introduced its free SmartGlass app on the App Store, bringing Xbox One users the ability to connect to their console to browse the web, navigate the dashboard control content and more, all from their iPhone and iPad devices.

According to a new report from The Verge, the giant is aiming to entrench its popular Xbox Live service into both the iOS and Android ecosystems for a few years, allowing developers to integrate the service in iOS and Android games.

“While Microsoft has experimented with achievements on iOS and Android recently, the company is planning to push Xbox Live cross-platform in a big way soon. Sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans tell The Verge that Microsoft is building a platform to extend Xbox Live functionality to iOS and Android games.”

The company has been offering tools letting third-party iOS and Android developers integrate Xbox Live functionality into their apps and games.

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As reported, the idea is that this expansion would make Xbox Live act as a cross-platform alternative to Apple’s Game Center and similar services, providing users with the ability to earn achievements, manage friends and more through a single service across Xbox and mobile platforms. Both services now allow users to track their achievements in titles and add friends to have a look at what others are playing.

Apple released its Game Center as a social gaming solution for iOS developers in 2010 and made it available for Mac in 2012, making it a true cross-platform service for Apple’s hardware ecosystem.

Perhaps, Microsoft hopes to attract developers who have been previously put off by the company’s strict certification requirements for titles. The company is planning to reduce those restrictions in order to court smaller and independent developers, which have chosen platforms like iOS and Android.

Apps Lists, News/Rumors

Oceanhouse Media celebrates Dr. Seuss’ Birthday with a huge sale

In honor of both Dr. Seuss’s birthday and Read Across America Day, the team of Oceanhouse Media in partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P., kicked off its annual app sale. That means, that more than 60 of the company’s Dr. Seuss digital book apps can be picked up with up to 80% off starting February 28th through March 6th. The biggest sale is for the popular story that Dr. Seuss is most known for, The Cat in the Hat at just $0.99.

Here’s some of the more popular titles.

  • The Cat in the Hat, $0.99
  • Green Eggs and Ham, $1.99
  • One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, $1.99
  • The Lorax, $2.99
  • Horton Hears a Who!, $2.99
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas, $2.99
  • McElligot’s Pool, $2.99
  • Dr. Seuss’s ABC, $1.99

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It is a fantastic present for parents, whose children enjoy reading virtual Dr. Seuss books on an iOS device. Five of The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library book apps help young children understand basic science concepts and explore plenty of subjects from animals and nature to outer space. Recent releases include “If I Ran the Rain Forest” and “Miles and Miles of Reptiles.”

“This is the first Read Across America Day that each of the 44 classic Dr. Seuss books are available on the App Store as a digital book app,” said Michel Kripalani, founder and president of Oceanhouse Media. “We’re offering the 5 bestsellers for 99 cents each to encourage new fans to give them a try.”

As mentioned, a range of titles are available from as little as $0.99, and the sale is scheduled to run until March 6.

News/Rumors

Apple launches ‘CarPlay’ iOS vehicle integration feature

As expected, Apple has announced its CarPlay iOS vehicle integration feature at the Geneva Motor Show. It is advertised as a smarter, safer and more fun way to contact with your iPhone while driving.

CarPlay reportedly allows your device to take over the in-dash display of a car, providing Siri voice controlled access to the following opportunities: navigation, phone functions, messages, and music.

Once an iPhone is connected to a CarPlay-supported vehicle, its user will be able to easily access various iOS apps, including Maps, Phone, Messages, Podcasts, and Music, Beats Radio, iHeartRadio, Spotify, and Stitcher. More apps are also promised to appear in the future. Additionally, drivers will be provided with the access to contacts, calls and voicemails. The new feature also allows to have messages read aloud, and a user can dictate a response to them as well.

CarPlay will debut this week in vehicles from manufacturers such as Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo, while other manufacturers such as BMW, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia, Mitsubishi, Nissan, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota will have access to the update later.

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“CarPlay has been designed from the ground up to provide drivers with an incredible experience using their iPhone in the car,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of iPhone and iOS Product Marketing. “iPhone users always want their content at their fingertips and CarPlay lets drivers use their iPhone in the car with minimized distraction. We have an amazing lineup of auto partners rolling out CarPlay, and we’re thrilled it will make its debut this week in Geneva.”

The feature originally called ‘iOS in the Car’ was unveiled by Apple during its developers conference last summer. While the iPhone maker said that the functionality was ”very important to the company,” a report in January claimed the project was plagued by ‘organizational issues.’

CarPlay will be available as an update to iOS 7 and works with Lighting-enabled iPhones including the iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, and iPhone 5.

Accessories, News/Rumors

Moov-personal trainer from former Apple engineer

There is no need to describe the hype around “smart” watch-form gadgets. The range of such devices can be divided into smart watches and fitness trackers. The abilities of most of them are not too different from each other, although there are sometimes pretty interesting ideas. Moov, created by a former Apple engineer is one of them.

Unlike many other devices that read parameters such as heart rate, steps, calories and so on, Moov is described as a personal trainer. The accessory not only tracks your activities, it also gives you personalized tips to improve your workout performance. The Moov is provided with nine-axis sensors like accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer. These sensors collect necessary data, analyzes the quality of the exercises and in real time gives tips to improve your training. For example, while running, the device can provide real-time audio advice in a form of recommendations. It can ask you to change step length or reduce the speed.

The device uses 3d motion reconstruction technology to analyze and distinguish between a bunch of activities, including running, biking, swimming, weight lifting and more. All the tips and programs are created by certified coaches and based on biomechanics and sport science research.

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Designed in a form of a waterproof disk, Moov can track the position and movement of the human body during exercises. All you have to do is put it on the wrist, shoulder, ankle. The device will support five activities – running, weight lifting, boxing, swimming and biking – with more to come in the future.

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The data collected by the tracker, are then sent to your iPhone or iPad and processed by a special app, which corrects certain aspects of your training. Moov connects your device via Bluetooth 4.0. The rechargeable battery provides up to 7 days of work.

Everyone can pre-order Moov for $59.95. Moov is currently available in black or white.

Apps Lists, iOS

Google Hangouts updated with iOS 7 and iPad optimization

Google on Thursday updated its all-in-one Hangouts messaging app  to version 2.0, bringing optimizations for Apple’s latest iOS 7 and adding a number of new features for iPad and overall usability enhancements. It is the first update for the app since all the way back in November.

In October of 2013, the app also received voice calling and Google Voice integration.

There are aren’t a ton of changes in a new update, but everything definitely has the iOS 7 look and feel to it. The new version now has totally flat menus and buttons.

Several new features have also been added, including the ability to share animated stickers and record and send video messages up to 10 seconds long. In addition, you can send a map of your current location to other Hangouts users.

The iPad app has also gotten some major tweaks, including picture-in-picture video calling.Hangouts

The full list of features is below:

    • Fully-optimized for the iPad, including picture-in-picture video calling
    •  Animated stickers that help you share exactly how you’re feeling
    • Record and send video messages up to 10 seconds long
    •  Send a map of your current location
    •  Optimized for iOS 7

Google Hangouts is a popular cross-platform messaging service that allows you to send and receive text, photo and video messages. Users have also the ability to create group video conferences, known as ‘hangouts.’

Google’s Hangouts app can be downloaded from the App Store for free.

Accessories, News/Rumors

Fin thumb ring converts your palm into a numeric keypad

Smartphones, smartwatches and even smart glasses continue to enrich the line of smart accessories. Smart rings are certainly less common but still pretty intriguing ideas. One of them is Fin, a thumb ring designed to turn your whole palm into a gesture interface. Fin wraps around your thumb and converts your palm into a numeric keypad.

The main goal of the device is to enable hand gesture control of smart devices, aims to not only provide better connectivity, but to alter the way you interact with your favorite gadgets.

How doest Fin work?  Fin is a Bluetooth enabled product that you can connect to three different digital devices, including Smartphones, Smart TVs, Automobiles, and Home automation devices providing multiple device compatibility. Fin has built-in sensors that allow it to track its movement in relation to your palm.  Gestures are then imported into commands for different devices that are transmitted via Bluetooth 4.0.20140110101734-Fin-Indiegogo-spec

Additionally, the ring is equipped with an LED indicator, and runs on a lithium-ion battery that requires a single charge for a whole month. It can then be recharged via a Micro-USB port. Among other advantages of the accessory is its waterproof feature with a rating of IP67. The developer also claims the ring is dust proof.

The device is compatible with iOS, Android and Windows phones.

Key features:

  • Fin should come with Water-proof: IP67.
  • Size/Fit: Flexible.
  • Battery: Li Po custom battery with micro-USB charging dock.
  • Sensors: Fin can track accurate movement of your thumb on the palm also detect each part of your finger where you are touching.
  • Communication: Bluetooth 2.1+ EDR and 4.0
  • Compatibility: Windows, MAC, iOS, Android, Windows Phones.

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With just a swipe motion, the ring allows you to control your smart TV, change the channels, control sounds, navigate your maps, receive calls and read messages, change music, and other car utilities. You can easily share your data with a tap of your finger.

The ring will come in white, orange, black, blue and green, with shipping estimated for September.

Fin is still in prototype phase, and a crowd-funding campaign has been launched via Indiegogo. To gain a ring for yourself you’ll have to pledge $130.