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Archive for the ‘Mobile’ Category

Gowalla: The location based travel game

Gowalla web and iphone screenshots

Ok, “game” might be pushing the term a little bit but it’s still good fun. Much like other location based social services like Brightkite and Foursquare, Gowalla allows you to “check in” to locations in the real world to update your profile on the website and on the iPhone app.

What makes Gowalla a little different is that it’s been created by Alamofire, the people behind the moderately addictive Facebook card collecting and trading (stealing) game, Packrat.

Simply, as you check into places in the physical world (using GPS — no cheating here!) you might find that someone who has checked in before you has dropped a virtual item and, if you want it, trade it for an item in your possession. Trading, checking into locations and other actions offer rewards in the shape of virtual pins, much like your Xbox or PS3 achievements.

So, what’s it got that’s better than Foursquare, the current fore-runner in this area? Well, for starters you can play it anywhere — Foursquare is limited to a few cities, mostly in the US. Secondly, Trips. Checking into a series of locations such as a series of iconic locations in Central Park, or Frank Lloyd Wrights buildings in Chicago unlock bonus pins. These are limited at the moment but there’s promise of more.

Finally, it features a lovely user interface and exquisite collectable pins, stamps and location badges illustrated by Brian Brasher and David Lanham.

Oh, and did I mention that it’s free? What are you waiting for? Get collecting!

Gowalla Free (iTunes App Store link)

Monkey Island Special Edition for iPhone

The Secret of Monkey Island on iPhone

Following the recent rumours of a port, Lucasarts quietly slipped The Secret of Monkey Island onto the iTunes App Store this week without fanfare… So quietly that it still isn’t mentioned on the game’s official site. But yes, that’s right, you can now play the updated point and click classic on your iPhone and iPod Touch!

Weighing in at a hefty (for an iPhone app, anyway) 350Mb, it includes the new “special edition” version with the voices and enhanced soundtrack found on the Xbox and Windows versions as well as the original VGA version, just as it appeared in 1990. Simply swipe two fingers across the screen at any time while playing to switch between them. Swiping two fingers sure is easier than messing with DOS extended memory and Soundblaster drivers for hours on end! Oh how I miss 1990s PC gaming… You really had to work to play a game back then. None of this plug and play nonsense.

I digress…

Monkey Island iPhone screenshots

The new high-definition visuals work just as well on the less than high definition format of the iPhone’s three and a half inch screen. The controls, while seemingly cumbersome at first, work incredibly well once you realise that the screen is functioning in the same way as a laptop trackpad to guide the cursor around. This offers much more precision than if you were to use a greasy finger stump to directly select objects on the screen.

Just as in the original it’s possible to store multiple saved games which means you can let your friends and family have a go. It’s a simple feature that’s surprisingly lacking in many iPhone games that would benefit well from it. Yes, I’m looking at you, Rolando!

In summary, it’s a great port of a lovely revisiting of a fantastic classic. Buy it now and help ensure Lucasarts re-release Sam & Max Hit the Road, Day of the Tentacle and the rest of their point and click adventure back catalogue!

The Secret of Monkey Island £4.99/$7.99 (iTunes App Store link)

Eliss, the multi-touch iPhone game

Eliss

A game that simply couldn’t exist on any other platform, Eliss is wonderful in its deceptive simplicity in much the same way Tetris was (and is).

Split circles — planets — apart with your fingers to form smaller planets and slide them together to form larger ones in an attempt to adjust them to just the right size to slot them into a squeesar to cause a supernova. When different colour planets collide your health goes down, to recoup health grab the little stardust triangles.

And that’s it! Easy… right?

Eliss £1.79/$2.99 (iTunes App Store link)

Eliss Lite Free (iTunes App Store link)

Brushes: The iPhone drawing app

Examples of art produced on the Canvas iPhone app

Here’s a fantastic must-have little app for any illustrator, artist or designer… providing they have an iPhone, of course!

Brushes allows you to use your iPhone handset as a virtual canvas, with your finger as the “brush”. When I was originally told about this I was pretty sceptical… how could you achieve any kind of detail with a big fat finger on a tiny screen? I was happily proved wrong. While it doesn’t have any kind of pressure sensitivity it does allow you select brush sizes, types and zoom in for those trickier parts.

If that’s not enough to get you to grab it already, what if I told you that artist Jorge Colombo has already had his Brushes art featured in (and of the cover of) the New Yorker Magazine? Thought so. Brushes is available for £2.99/$4.99 from the iTunes App store.

Images by Jorge Colombo on the iPhone Brushes app

Also check out these sketches produced by Disney Art Director, Stef Kardos. Anyone know of any other artists doing cool stuff with this thing? (thanks Steve)

Brushes £2.99/$4.99 (iTunes App Store link)

Apple announce the iPod touch

iPod touch and friends

Apple have just announced, as many have predicted, the iPod Touch. Basically an iPhone without the phone. It comes in 8Gb and 16Gb flavours (which is far too small a capacity for me to even consider buying — I have enough trouble with 60Gb!) and has built-in wifi for browsing the web and spending your hard-earned cash at iTunes while you wait for your delayed train (or while at their new friend Starbucks’ place). Still, it looks cool.

Also announced:

  • An all-metal 160Gb iPod classic
  • A chubby new 8 or 16Gb iPod nano (with coverflow and video playback)
  • iPod nano in new colours
  • and a cheaper 8Gb iPhone (no 4Gb, it seems)

If you want more geekery, Engadget have a hands-on with both the iPod nano and iPod touch.

O2 to get iPhone in the UK

O2 ‘to get iPhone contract in UK’: Not so handy for me because I’m already on the O2 network and the best phone deals always seem to go to new customers.

The Apple iPhone: Dissected

The iPhone dissected

The iPhone Dissected. Literally. You’ve just got home with a $500 state-of-the-art* mobile phone. What’s the first thing you’re going to want to do? Rip it apart! (via Boing Boing)

*[If state-of-the-art means a phone that can't send MMS, use an MP3 for a ringtone or copy and paste text]

Update: I swear I’m not obsessed with destroying expensive gadgets! PCWorld scratch and drop-test the new Apple phone and stick the video on You Tube. Meanwhile, Daring Fireball has a thorough round-up of first impressions of the iPhone.

WeFi: Wifi hotspot sharing & mapping application

WeFi map

WeFi is a new collaborative wifi mapping tool that records open wifi networks that your computer can “see” and uploads them to a central database. Anyone can then browse their website for access points anywhere in the world and see them on a Google-powered map. The ultimate goal is to “make open Wi-Fi act more like a wireless infrastructure that can compete with 3G networks, except freely created and shared by the users.”

Wonderful idea, though their site seems to think I’m in Slough. (via Boing Boing)

Temporal Anomalies in Time Travel Movies

Temporal Anomalies in Time Travel Movies (via Kottke)

Looking for answers in all the wrong places

I’ve just spent the morning trying to fix problems which should have been very easy to fix… but weren’t because I was simply looking in the wrong places for the answer!

Firstly, I attempted to collect my email. Thunderbird fired up fine, as usual, but just stopped at “Connecting to…” I thought the problem was my mail server but no, I could connect via IMAP and webmail just fine. Turns out the problem is Norton… again. Now, aside from being a hideous resource hog, Norton Internet Security is a lovely little app that runs in the background where you let it do its thing and forget about it. Of course, because it’s forgotten about it’s the absolute last place you (well, I, at least!) forget to look.

Secondly, I thought I’d have a play with OrangeTV, Orange’s new app (currently for the Nokia 6680) which streams “TV” to your UMTS/3G mobile. Now, I had a play with this a few days ago but couldn’t get any sound to accompany the video. Figuring it was just a network problem, and because I hadn’t used it before, I didn’t think too much of it.

This morning I gave it another go; again no sound.

When I first received this new handset I found the warning tones a little bit too loud for my liking and, as Nokia still don’t have the option of reducing the warning tone volume independently, I’d turned them off. Strangely, the developers of the OrangeTV app have chosen to disable the audio if the warning tone is turned off in the selected profile. Very odd.

Anyway, I’ve just wasted half a day sorting those out. Now I’ve wasted further time writing about it. :)