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Sega Forever Brings Sonic and Other Classics to iOS

Sega has been out of the hardware business for a long time, but still, has some of the most beloved video game franchises around. Today, Sega began releasing classic Sega games under the banner Sega Forever.

The first titles released are Sonic the Hedgehog, which was already available on iOS, Comix Zone, Altered Beast, Kid Chameleon, and Phantasy Star II. The games, which are standalone downloads, are free and include ads that can be removed with a $1.99 In-App Purchase. The Sega Forever website indicates that the next title in line for release is Virtua Tennis Challenge, which is currently $4.99 on the App Store and hasn’t been updated since 2013. For iMessage sticker fans, each game also includes a handful of animated stickers of game art.

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Coding on iOS Is More Feasible Than Ever Before

In a series of tweets yesterday, one of the developers behind Codea announced that a new version of the iPad coding app had been approved for release, and this update would enable code sharing for the first time.

Previously we covered the revised App Store guidelines that now permit downloading and executing code inside of apps, but we haven't seen those changes put into practice before now. With version 2.3.7 of Codea you can now import projects from both .zip files and .codea bundles, making it easy to share code with others.

Although Codea is the first prominent adopter of features made possible by Apple's newly-granted permissions, it certainly won't be the last. Other notable programming apps and IDEs like Pythonista and Continuous can follow suit as they so choose. These policy changes, combined with Apple's own entrance into iOS coding via Swift Playgrounds, all of the sudden make iPad a much more attractive programming environment than ever before.

One excellent example of the power of coding on iOS is a game called Starsceptre. Starsceptre is a retro-style arcade shooter that was coded entirely on an iPad using Codea. Creator Richard Morgan wrote the game primarily during his daily commute on a train. “My work commute is basically the only spare time I have, so I needed a way to make games in that time – on the move, on my iPad." The game's trailer is embedded below.

With the less restrictive new App Store policies on coding, and the upcoming power user iPad features in iOS 11, hopefully we will see a lot more examples of apps coded entirely on iPad going forward.


Shutter Remote Review: Photography with Alexa

It was the day of my sister's high school graduation and my mom, being the opportunist she is, wanted to make sure we got a family photo before taking off for the ceremony. One problem was quickly apparent, though – there was no one around to take the photo of my entire family. In a public location, a couple minutes of a stranger's time eliminates the problem; at my house, however, it was impossible to get someone to hold the phone, pose my family, and snap the shot.

Shutter Remote provides one of the most unique solutions to this issue: asking Alexa to take a photo using your iPhone's camera.

To start, download the app on the App Store, launch it, and follow the on-screen instructions. Throughout the process, you'll tell your Echo to add the Shutter Remote skill, provide it a PIN, and get the two devices synced up. Once these steps are complete, Shutter Remote on the iPhone will let you know the exact phrase to shout at Alexa and you're on your way to taking photos by voice.

When I put it to the test, Shutter Remote did exactly what it advertised – and quickly. Almost immediately after I told Alexa to take a photo using Shutter Remote, it snapped the picture and dropped it into Photos. It felt like magic, especially considering the setup was painless.

Shutter Remote's uses are limited, but the times you'll invoke it will make picking it up for $0.99 worth it. If you having a family gathering coming up or want to take a daily selfie, give Shutter Remote a try.


Snap Map Brings Location Sharing and Global Discovery to Snapchat

A new feature is rolling out to all Snapchat users today called Snap Map. From the camera screen inside Snapchat, pinching two fingers together will bring Snap Map into view. The map consists of two main pieces: it shows you friends' locations (if they have location sharing activated) and it serves as a place to discover Stories from people all around the world.

The location sharing piece includes some very simple controls. You can choose to not share your location at all, which is called 'Ghost Mode,' or you can either share it with all your friends or a selected assortment of them. The app makes it easy to share your location only when you want to – in the upper right corner of the screen, there's a settings menu that includes a toggle to activate or deactivate Ghost Mode. While your friends are sharing their location, their Bitmoji will appear on the map and you can tap them to zoom in on their location and access a convenient chat box.

The Story discovery aspect of Snap Map appeals more to me personally, as it makes viewing other Stories from significant places or events fun and easy. Discovery appears to revolve around the collaborative Stories feature introduced just last month, with shared Stories that center on an event rather than a particular person. Scanning the map, you'll find Stories for things like baseball games, concerts, visits to national parks, and even significant news like natural disasters. It works well both as a way to see what events your friends may be attending, and as a way to explore different activities from all around the world.


John Markoff Interviews Original iPhone Engineering Team Members and Scott Forstall

Last night, the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California hosted a two-two hour interview program. The event was split into two parts. The first half is an interview moderated by John Markoff who spoke with former iPhone team members Hugo Fiennes, Nitin Ganatra, and Scott Herz about the development of the original iPhone. The three engineers recount what it was like to be recruited to the secret project and detail the team’s efforts to bring the phone to market.

The second half of the program, which begins at about 1:07:00 in the video below, is a one-on-one interview by Markoff of Scott Forstall who led software development for the iPhone. The interview with Scott Forstall is his first public comment about the iPhone and Apple since he left the company in 2012 and covers a broad range of topics from early iPhone prototypes to demonstrating the iPhone to Cingular, the first carrier to offer the phone.

Both interview segments are full of entertaining anecdotes about the iPhone’s development and well worth watching by anyone interested in what it took to create the iPhone. Forstall is particularly engaging as a storyteller displaying the same enthusiasm and excitement that he used to show onstage at Apple keynotes.


Apple Posts Two Videos Highlighting Photos Memories

Apple posted two videos highlighting the Memories feature of its iOS Photos app. One, called ‘The Archives,’ is part of Apple’s ‘practically magic’ series of videos and features an elderly man creating a film called ‘Together.’ When the man pulls a photograph out of a cabinet with dozens of drawers, it comes alive with a short snippet of video like a Live Photo.

After gathering a cart-load of photos and film, the man begins the laborious process of splicing them together into a film. The heartwarming spot captures the time, care, and attention needed to painstakingly create a movie from analog photos and videos, making the unstated point of how easy it is to do the same thing in Photos.

The second spot is in stark contrast to the first. It demonstrates the three steps to using Photos’ Memories feature:

  1. Open the Photos app
  2. Go to the Memories Tab
  3. Choose a Memory

The two spots, which both feature Memories called 'Together,' are a clever one-two punch intended to convey how simple Photos has made it to create photo and video montages that once would have taken hours of work.


Connected, Episode 147: I Wish We Could Be Friends in Real Life

This week: HomeKit changes coming in iOS 11, our approaches to running betas and Business Chat in iMessage.

On this week’s Connected, more on running the first beta of iOS 11 on our devices and interesting changes coming to iMessage next year. You can listen here.

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iPhone App Size Is Increasing at a Breakneck Pace

According to a Sensor Tower report, the total space required for the top 10 most installed iPhone apps has increased more than 1000% since May 2013, increasing from 164 MB to a whopping 1.8 GB. During that period, Apple has raised the maximum app size from 2 GB to 4 GB and the minimum storage capacity of iPhones to 32 GB, but the size of the most popular iPhone apps has far outstripped those increases. iOS 11 will address the issue in part, with a feature that can offload apps that aren’t used often, while saving settings and user data.

Sensor Tower explains that,

We see the often sudden growth in size exhibited by apps such as Facebook and Snapchat as directly tied to the intense competition between them, which necessitates a steady rollout of new and more space-intensive features. Of course, some apps have likely grown in size simply due to a reduced need (or perception of a need) for optimization.

I'm sure that competition and perception play a role in the increases noted by Sensor Tower, but it would also be interesting to see how deep this trend extends beyond the ten most popular iPhone apps. I suspect it runs deeper than many people realize. Scrolling through the Update tab of the App Store, I have many recent updates on my iPhone that exceed 100 MB, including Apple’s own Keynote, which is 675 MB.

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