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Virtual: I Love the Noise That the Chicken Makes

This week Federico and Myke talk about the upcoming Majora's Mask remake, Call of Duty Advanced Warfare, Fantasy Life, Monument Valley, Sunset Overdrive, Shovel Knight, Crossy Road and Vain Glory.

We talked about a lot of games this week, but expect even more in the next few weeks between Super Smash Wii U, amiibo, and Pokémon ORAS. Get the episode here.

Side note: The original Nintendo DS came out 10 years ago today. To celebrate, you can read this beautiful post at TinyCartridge and go listen to the Nintendo DS keynote retrospective we did when the show was called Directional.

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More on WatchKit

Following the release of WatchKit earlier this week, I've been reading through the documentation and listened to what developers had to say about it. Here's my original roundup of links and tweets. Below, other interesting reads from around the web.

Serenity Caldwell has an excellent overview of Apple's announcements at iMore:

Tapping and swiping continue to be the primary way of interacting with all iOS apps, Apple Watch included. The watch has a few new swipe gestures, including a left edge swipe (to return to the previous screen) and a swipe up from the bottom (which activates Glances). Pinch-to-zoom and other multi-finger gestures don't exist on the Apple Watch; instead, you're presumably expected to use the device's Digital Crown to zoom in and out. There's also Force Touch, a long-press action that activates the menu or important contextual buttons within an app.

John Gruber compares WatchKit to the iPhone in 2007:

In a sense, this is like 2007 all over again. The native APIs almost certainly aren’t finished, and battery life is a huge concern. But with the Watch, Apple is ahead of where they were with the iPhone.

MG Siegler notes that the Apple Watch will be highly dependent on the iPhone:

To that end, the Apple Watch is more of a “widget watch” — that is, it displays content which are less like apps and more like the widgets found in the notifications drop-down on iOS devices. (And yes, they require iPhone apps as a base.) And that shows the importance of iOS 8, which first introduced these widgets to third-party developers. For the first couple months of iOS 8, these widgets were pretty clunky. It’s only now that developers are starting to smooth out the kinks and make these widgets more useful and performant. And this will clearly be key for the Apple Watch as well.

Craig Hockenberry posted a technical overview of the new developer technologies in WatchKit with plenty of good advice:

Once you have the PDF to give you an idea of the physical size, you can then start to see how your design works at that scale. Thibaut has already made the world’s ugliest watch and it’s doing important information design work. Here it is showing a simulated scroll view and exploring glance interactions.

These physical interactions with your designs are incredibly important at this point. Wondering why the scroll indicator only appears in the upper-right corner while you scroll your view? I was until I realized that’s where the digital crown is physically located.

In his thoughts on WatchKit, Nick Heer takes a look at the new Apple font, San Francisco:

San Francisco Text — that’s the one for smaller text sizess — has similar metrics to Helvetica Neue. Not the same, but if you squint a little, kind of close enough, and closer still to the metrics of Lucida Grande. Perhaps this is eventually the new UI font for all Apple interfaces. It certainly would be more of a distinct signature face than Helvetica, and it would be more legible, too.

And last, some early mockups of third-party Apple Watch apps.


Connected: The Old Mac Paladin

This week, Myke escaped. Federico and Stephen talk about Twitter and WatchKit, then debate productivity for a while before realizing the irony of it.

Don't miss the show notes on this week's Connected – we mentioned some fine apps and linked to an old Power Mac G5 used as a grill (really). Get the episode here.

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Billboard to Start Counting Streaming Services in Top Charts

Ben Sisario, writing for The New York Times:

Now Billboard and Nielsen SoundScan, the agency that supplies its data, will start adding streams and downloads of tracks to the formula behind the Billboard 200, which, since 1956 has functioned as the music world’s weekly scorecard. It is the biggest change since 1991, when the magazine began using hard sales data from SoundScan, a revolutionary change in a music industry that had long based its charts on highly fudgeable surveys of record stores.

It'll be interesting to see how music streaming services will affect the position of recent and older songs in the charts. Here's how the system will work:

SoundScan and Billboard will count 1,500 song streams from services like Spotify, Beats Music, Rdio, Rhapsody and Google Play as equivalent to an album sale. For the first time, they will also count “track equivalent albums” — a common industry yardstick of 10 downloads of individual tracks — as part of the formula for album rankings on the Billboard 200.

Given speculation that Beats Music will be bundled in iOS starting next year, it looks like Apple will have an even bigger influence on the Billboard 200.


David Smith’s Initial WatchKit Impressions

David Smith comments on today's launch of WatchKit for developers:

Apple took a clever approach to handling the extremely constrained power environment of the Watch (at least initially). To start with 3rd Party apps will run in a split mode. The Watch itself handling the UI parts of the app with an iPhone based app extension doing all the heavy lifting and computation. This is architected in such a way as to enhance interactivity (it isn’t just a streamed movie) while still keeping the Watch components very lightweight.

As he notes, Apple enabled more than he was expecting for this first release.

What's impressive after reading some documentation and thoughts from developers today is the technology that's powering WatchKit remote apps – Extensions. Initially, many of us assumed that extensibility in iOS 8 would just be about sharing files between apps, but it's turning out to much more.


Facebook Launches Dedicated Groups App

Dieter Bohn, reporting for The Verge about Facebook's latest standalone app for iOS and Android, Groups:

We've been using the app for a few days now and found it to be fast, fluid, intuitive, and surprisingly fun. That's not a huge surprise – it comes in part from Facebook's Creative Labs, which has been responsible for other polished Facebook apps like Paper and Slingshot. Animation on both Android and iOS is fluid and fast, the overall app layout is simple and direct, and functionality (including privacy settings) is easy to intuit just by poking around a bit. It's a great app.

Groups joins Messenger in the list of dedicated utilities for specific Facebook features, but, unlike Messenger, users won't be forced to use it and Groups will still be available in the main Facebook app (for now?). Like most recent standalone experiments by Facebook, I'm skeptical that this will take off in the real world.

Anecdotally speaking, I have a lot of friends who use groups to coordinate events and chat together – on WhatsApp. I have seen WhatsApp groups that go back years, with my friends using photos uploaded to a group as essentially another camera roll for shared photos.

I wish that I could say the same about iMessage group threads, but that would only be a sad joke.


Apple Launches WatchKit, iOS 8.2 Beta

With a press release, Apple just announced the availability of WatchKit, a set of tools that will allow developers to extend their apps to the Apple Watch before the device's release. WatchKit is available alongside a new iOS 8.2 beta for registered iOS developers.

“Apple Watch is our most personal device ever, and WatchKit provides the incredible iOS developer community with the tools they need to create exciting new experiences right on your wrist,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “With the iOS 8.2 beta SDK, developers can now start using WatchKit to create breakthrough new apps, Glances and actionable notifications designed for the innovative Apple Watch interface and work with new technologies such as Force Touch, Digital Crown and Taptic Engine.”

In the press release, Apple included quotes from ESPN, Instagram, and American Airlines, which are already building apps and features for the Apple Watch.

“Apple Watch allows us to make the Instagram experience even more intimate and in the moment,” says Kevin Systrom, co-founder and CEO of Instagram. “With actionable notifications you can see and instantly like a photo or react with an emoji. The Instagram news and watch list allows you to see your friends’ latest photos, follow new accounts and get a real-time view of your likes and comments.”

Apple also launched a WatchKit website and confirmed that developers will be able to create “fully native apps for Apple Watch” later next year.

The WatchKit website includes design guidelines, programming guides, templates, and more. As explained by Apple, WatchKit apps consist of an iPhone app extension and other assets loaded directly on the Apple Watch, and developers will be able to start building Glances and actionable notifications with WatchKit and the iOS 8.2 beta today.

Read more


Sketch to App Store

Created by Cluster Labs, this file for Sketch 3 sounds like a great idea for iOS developers (via Jeremy Olson):

This Sketch file is designed so you make a few changes to the setup page, and over 40 other artboards will be updated with your custom info. Within minutes, you'll be able to export 45 screenshot images.

I constantly hear that generating screenshots for multiple resolutions and languages for iTunes Connect is a time-consuming process. Sketch to App Store seems to automate several tasks involved with generating App Store screenshots such as device templates, text, resolutions, and, of course, exported files.


Virtual: Space Age, with Matt Comi

This week Federico and Myke are joined by Matt Comi to talk about the newly released Space Age. They talk about how the game was developed, the importance of music and the dialog.

If you want to know more about the excellent Space Age (my review), we interviewed Big Bucket's Matt Comi on Virtual. We talked about the development process of the game, letting an idea evolve over time, and, towards the end, spoilers. You can get the episode here.

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