I’ve been watching more films this year, although all of them predate 2013 as I play catch up with 2012 box office hits and similarly popular movies from the past few years. But this has made a nice jumping off point for someone who’s now regularly keeping track of movies seen and unseen, helping me avoid articles from some film fanatic’s website titled, “20 best movies of ‘x’ year!” which, I’ll be frank, doesn’t help me that much.
Then there’s Limelight, a social bookcase for displaying film posters and ratings for movies you’ve seen and want to see. It’s an app that’s inherently social, meaning anyone who knows your username can follow you to discover new films and garner recommendations for their To Watch lists. Which is why I say it’s an app for discerning film lovers — for people who genuinely enjoy watching films, who want to proudly share their collections with the world. Limelight is very open — at least, it’s meant to encourage you to discover something new within its small social network. Social is mandatory.
MapBox is a platform for creating custom maps, integrating with social networks like Foursquare and services like Hipmunk to provide relevant points of interest on top of data sourced from the OpenStreetMap project. MapBox Streets is a component of the platform that lets developers beautifully stylize OpenStreetMap data, providing an opportunity for businesses to customize map views to better fit their brand.
TileMill, our open source design studio, is going to relaunch with vector tiles fully integrated to be a powerhouse tool for custom cartography. Design iterations can happen in seconds and be applied to a full global vector tileset without lengthy downloads, imports, or time spent tuning database queries. In short, anyone will be able to make a totally custom branded map, of the entire globe, that is lighting fast on every device.
As we’ve seen with Apple’s Maps and Google Maps, vectors make for a lightweight, data efficient way to display what’s around you. Vectors load much more quickly than rasterized images, and their small footprint allows map data to be cached on devices without taking up lots of storage space. MapBox claims that, when powered by vector tiles, their MapBox Streets’ dataset of the entire world can fit onto a single thumb drive.
Having just shipped a web editor for managing magazines, Flipboard released a small update this morning that focuses on bringing forward basic readership activity and the magazines your friends are curating, as well as adding more options for sharing articles with a new share menu.
Flipboard is continuing to flesh out features related to magazines by first revisiting profiles. Profiles have been updated to display some basic information such as the number of magazines you’re sharing and the number of readers that are currently subscribed to the content that you’re curating. You can’t delve into any kind of trend data at the moment (as you can with Pocket for Publishers for example) — all Flipboard is providing are simple stats that don’t divulge specifics.
Magazines, being a focal point since Flipboard hit verison 2.0, are now included in an additional Friends category as you open the Content Guide. Instead of searching for topics or things you like, you can browse the magazines your friends are publicly curating and subscribe to them. Friends, for example, can be pulled in from Twitter if you’ve added your Twitter account for browsing Tweets and links.
The share menu has been vastly improved, and I’m very happy with what’s been done to make sharing links easier than ever. Flipboard now plugs into a variety of social networks, letting you tap icons for Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ in addition to email and sharing via SMS. There’s also new options for copying links to the articles and saving photographs to the Camera Roll.
While Google Reader is being shut down on June 1st, Flipboard is continuing to improve upon integration with the RSS service by making it easier to navigate folders.
Users from Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Italy, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands and Russia are reporting the appearance of Apple’s new two-step verification feature, which was previously limited to the US, UK, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand.
As updates are rolling out, Apple’s support documentation hasn’t been updated to reflect the changes. For those that now have access to Apple’s Two-Step Verification for your Apple IDs, I’ve written a comprehensive how-to that should clear up questions about anything you might see as you go through the process.
Mel Martin from TUAW has a nice overview of Amazon’s latest iOS app, which utilizes the capabilities of their Amazon Cloud Drive for storing up to 5GB of photos for free from your iOS device.
Amazon offers more free storage than Apple, and Apple will only store up to 1000 of your photos for 30 days compared to about 2000 photos with no expiration from Amazon. With Apple, after 30 days you must sync to your main computer. I see the Amazon service as a nice extra backup to what Apple offers.
If you use Amazon Cloud Drive, you can also access documents, music, and photographs through the desktop application for transferring files to and from the web.
Fun and intriguing air combat title, programmed by Sid Meier himself, and available to download for free from the App Store. It’s in the same vein as the currently popular free-to-play game War Thunder, featuring historical WWI aircraft and dogfights in a turn-based strategy sim that’ll have you trying to outsmart enemy AI for air dominance. A demonstration of the game, as played by Touch Arcade, shows off the game’s mechanics and various IAP options for unlocking skins and additional pilots.
Polygon also has a short interview with Firaxis’ associate producer Pete Murray, who explains why the studio pursued the WWI theme amongst other titles like XCOM and Civilization.
As a child of the Nintendo generation, I remember the maps that were drawn for Kid Icarus, for each of the stage’s fourth levels suddenly placed players in sprawling fortresses with Eggplant Wizards and it was nice to immediately be aware of where the hospital was in case you fell victim to a potent spell. On the Genesis, I still have the giant taped-together maps for seaQuest DSV, which I remember were deemed necessary if you ever wanted to diffuse bombs in that one level with the special dolphin while avoiding turret fire within a certain amount of time. And while I don’t remember if we ever drew maps for Metroid or Castlevania, I’m sure they existed at some point.
If you played old games, drawing maps were a necessary part of the experience. You had no HUD or map rooms or objective beacon. As a kid, these necessities then transpired to our own fantasies, drawing our own game worlds on paper in an attempt to create the next best 2D adventure. Few of us ever made them come alive with an actual computer, but the worlds were there, waiting to be explored at some eventual point in time.
Pixel Press, the latest-coolest-thing to appear on Kickstarter, is a nostalgic blast to the past that explores the Nintendo generation’s child-like wonder of developing game levels. Not only does it merge current technology with the pleasure of drawing your own fantasy worlds from pencil and paper, but it has the potential to teach level design for budding game makers. With your iPad, you simply take a photograph of a map drawn on grid paper to apply textures and sounds, making it come alive where you jump, avoid moving obstacles, and navigate your way to victory. The demo is absolutely impressive — a time lapse takes you from creation to completion in just a few minutes with a playable result. Backing the game for $10 will net you the finished copy of the Pixel Press app for your iPad, while a $25 pledge will reward you with the app and necessary sketchpad. If funded at their current goal of $100K, Pixel Press is expected to ship Q4 2013.
Pinch to magnify doesn’t just zoom the whole page — pinching open reveals a loupe over your drawing that magnifies the section of the image you want to focus on. FiftyThree describes pinch to magnify as “focusing where it matters, without losing sight of the bigger picture.” It’s quite elegant — there’s no need to pan across an image, be concerned with changing the zoom level, or otherwise feel the need to change the granularity of a tool’s brush size.
The second feature can be found just after flipping swiping through your journals, placed neatly at the end and appearing as stack of sketches with the most recent inspirational sketch on top. Tapping The Made With Paper stream reveals a grid of curated sketches from the community, with each image linking back to the website where it was discovered. While you can’t reorder the Made With Paper stream within your journals, you can rearrange your journals around it if you’d like it to be the first thing you see as you open Paper. Personally, I find this stream much more convenient to browse than FiftyThree’s own Made With Paper blog.