Game Day: Yuri

Yuri is a delightful hand-drawn platformer for iOS and macOS by Fingerlab that follows the adventures of Yuri, a small child who wakes up in a dreamlike world. You may recognize the Fingerlab name from one of its previous iOS releases, DM1 - The Drum Machine, an excellent music app for the iPad that won an Apple Design Award in 2012.

Yuri was conceived of by French brothers Ange and Aurélien Potier. Ange drew Yuri for over ten years as a comic strip and made short films featuring the character before he and three others built a game around Yuri. As a game, Yuri immediately reminded me of Limbo because of its monochromatic, dream-like art. According to Fingerlab, the game is also a tribute to comic adventures like Tintin by Hergé and Little Nemo by Winsor McCay, the influences of which shine through in the plot and artwork.

The whole package is tied together with incredible sound design. Right from the opening screen of the game, the sound of rain against Yuri’s window adds to the atmospherics. That, combined with an exceptional soundtrack that is available separately on iTunes, bring Yuri’s dream world to life.

The game itself is easy to play. Yuri wakes up lying in his bed surrounded by vegetation. On iOS, there are buttons with left and right facing arrows in the bottom left corner of the screen for moving forward and backward. In the lower righthand corner of the screen is a button with an upward-facing arrow for jumping. On the Mac, the left and right arrow keys are used to move forward and backward, and the spacebar makes Yuri jump.

When Yuri first gets up, his bed turns into a sort of scooter, which is how he navigates the strange world that surrounds him. The world is dark like Limbo but rendered in shades of blue that create a less foreboding atmosphere than Limbo. As you explore, there are birds and bugs everywhere, some of which are obstacles that will cause you to die if you run into them too many times. The consequences of dying in Yuri are minimal, though; you just restart close to where you left off, and try again. That makes the game less challenging than some but fits well with the theme of the game. Yuri is more about exploration than defeating enemies.

In all, there are ten levels to play in Yuri, and the developers say more are on the way. That isn’t very many levels, but each is detailed and longer than many games, so the level count is a bit deceiving. Moreover, the length of the game strikes me as reasonable in relationship to its price. The iOS version of Yuri is also available on the Apple TV, where its simple controls make it a delight to play.

Yuri drew me into its mysterious world immediately. It’s the kind of game I love to relax with because it’s as much about experiencing the story as it is a game. If you want to get lost in another world this weekend, Yuri is an excellent choice.

Yuri is available on the iOS App Store for $2.99 and the Mac App Store for $2.99.


Canvas, Episode 27: Advanced Workflow Programming, Part 2

This week Fraser and Federico close out the Workflow programming series with some of the more advanced techniques in Workflow programming.

With today's episode of Canvas, we finalize the Workflow series with one last round of advanced topics. You can listen here.

If you haven't listened to the previous episodes of the Workflow series yet, now's a good time to start.

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Connected, Episode 125: Tiny Adorable Fort

Dan Moren joins Stephen and Myke to follow-up on microblogging, talk about home assistants, Apple’s television dreams and the Mac mini.

I skipped Connected this week, but Dan Moren and the rest of the crew did a great job with this episode. I particularly enjoyed the discussion on Apple getting into the video content business and what it might mean for Apple Music. You can listen here.

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  • Eero: Blanket your home in fast, reliable WiFi. Use code CONNECTED for free overnight shipping.
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Apple Updates iOS App Design Resources

Apple has updated its iOS design resources with a comprehensive set of colors, guides, templates, and UI elements:

Creating iOS apps is even easier with the updated Apple UI Design Resources. Use the latest Sketch and Photoshop templates and guides, color palettes, and the San Francisco typeface to quickly and accurately design iOS apps that integrate seamlessly into the overall user experience of iOS.

The design assets are available to download in both Photoshop and Sketch formats on Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines website. In addition to the new assets, Apple has four videos covering the materials, an overview with User Experience Evangelist, Mike Stern, as well as videos covering design comps, icons, and glyphs, also narrated by Stern.


Downwell Review: Fall Safely

You’re in a park late at night when you stumble upon a large hole in the ground. Upon examining it, you realize that it is in fact a well – one that looks ominous in the darkness of the night. Of course, you wonder what lies in the well’s depths, but the echoes rising up from deep below send a shiver down your spine. What you’re hearing is not pleasant; it’s not human.

In this scenario, I’d venture to say that all of us would decide to ignore the well and move on with our night. But in Downwell, the protagonist must take a slightly different path. Instead of walking by, he straps on his gun boots and jumps into the hole, looking to defeat enemies and collect treasures.

And that’s where your action comes in – after guiding the character into the well, you’ll maneuver him to safety from stage to stage, hoping to minimize damage while capturing all the riches you can. All of this takes place in a retro-style, procedurally-generated game that’s incredibly addicting and one of my favorite iOS games I’ve played in a long time.

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Editorial Updated with 12.9-inch iPad Pro Support, Split View Multitasking

Ole Zorn's Editorial was the text editor that completely reimagined how I could work from iOS. While I have since moved to Ulysses as my primary text editor, I still use Editorial almost daily for its unique Markdown automation. Editorial's combination of Python scripting and visual workflows for plain text editing is unparalleled and there's nothing else like it on the App Store.

After a couple of years without updates and a long TestFlight beta period, Editorial has been updated for iOS Split View and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. There are other changes (the workflow editor has been moved to the accessory panel and the Python editor now opens in a separate tab), but, overall, it's still the same Editorial you know and love, updated for the latest iOS devices. I've been using the beta version of Editorial 1.3 for several months now – being able to keep Editorial next to another app is great for editing and research, and moving back and forth between a document and a workflow is easier.

As for everything else, my coverage of Editorial 1.0, 1.1, and 1.2 still stands; Editorial is the text editor for iOS power users thanks to its excellent automation features, advanced Markdown editing, and TaskPaper integration. As I wrote in November, I still edit all my longform stories in Editorial. Despite the paucity of updates, I love the app as it's a shining example of pro software for iOS.

If you haven't played with Editorial in a while, now's a good time to check it out again (the app is also available at a discounted price of $4.99).


Nintendo Announces Fire Emblem Heroes for Mobile Devices

Update: After publication of this story, Nintendo of America tweeted that Fire Emblem Heroes will launch on February 2nd on both iOS and Android.

During a Nintendo Direct event today, Nintendo demonstrated its next iOS title, Fire Emblem Heroes, featuring characters from throughout the classic game series. In a somewhat surprising move, however, Nintendo said the game will launch first on Android, February 2nd. No release date was given for the game’s iOS launch; only that it will be ‘available soon.’

According to a Nintendo press release:

Fire Emblem Heroes is an original strategy RPG about two warring kingdoms in a bitter clash. As a summoner, players build their army by calling upon popular Fire Emblem heroes from worlds that span the breadth of the series. Players will wage tactical battles streamlined for on-the-go play and level up a mix of new combatants and legendary heroes. Some familiar hero characters will become allies, while others will become enemy generals. Players can enjoy the full majesty of tactical role playing on bite-sized maps designed to fit nicely on a smartphone screen, even when playing in short bursts. Players lead their armies with easy touch-and-drag controls, including the ability to attack by simply swiping an ally hero over an enemy.

Fire Emblem Heroes will be available as a free download with In-App Purchases. At the same event, Nintendo announced additional Fire Emblem titles that will be released in the future for its 3DS family of devices and the soon-to-be-released Nintendo Switch.


Threaded Conversations Are Coming to Slack

Slack is rolling out threaded conversations to its popular messaging tool. According to Slack’s official Twitter feed, the much-requested feature is being added to the service’s web and mobile apps in stages over a series of days.

Slack explains how Threads will work as follows:

Say someone posts a message in Slack that you want to follow up on, but the deeper conversation doesn’t apply to everyone. Now, you can kick off a detailed discussion on that particular topic by hovering over the message and clicking Start a thread. The right sidebar in Slack will open, and you can add your reply.

Messages with Threads are indicated just under the original message with the avatars of each participant. Anyone with access to the channel can click on a Thread to open it in the sidebar. If a message in a Thread is relevant to the channel’s larger audience, it can be sent back to the main conversation. Messages sent back appear alongside the original message. To help users keep track of Threads, Slack has also added a new view called ‘All Threads’ that lets you see every Thread you are part of in one place.


Logic Pro X and GarageBand for iOS Get Significant Updates

Today Apple launched the latest versions of two of its apps aimed at music creators: Logic Pro X 10.3 for macOS and GarageBand 2.2 for iOS. Each update brings a number of improvements that offer additional tools to users and increased integration between the two apps.

Logic Pro X 10.3 adds Touch Bar support to the app for the first time, implementing it in a number of ways. The Touch Bar can serve as an instrument, allowing users to tap out a drum beat or play a piano keyboard. Power users will appreciate the ability to keep some of their favorite controls on the Touch Bar, as it can be configured with different keyboard shortcuts to suit each person's needs. There is also the option to navigate audio waveforms using the Touch Bar.

For those who may not have a Touch Bar-equipped device, the latest update to Logic still has several things to offer. In addition to minor design changes, new features include Track Alternatives, which allows creating and sorting through different edits of any individual track. Increased ties with iOS is another major addition, as you can now upload a project to iCloud in a version compatible with GarageBand on iOS. This allows changes to be made to the file while on the go, straight from an iPhone or iPad. Other features include Selection-Based Processing, which makes it possible to apply a combination of effects to any selection of audio, and beefed up internals driving the app including a 64-bit summing engine.

GarageBand 2.2 for iOS brings the compatibility features necessary to edit an exported Logic file, as mentioned above. Though there seems to be no sign of Logic making its way to iOS, this addition helps mitigate the issue slightly for occasions when your Mac isn't nearby but an iPhone or iPad is.

The latest update also comes with a new synthesizer called Alchemy, which includes a collection of over 150 patches designed by Apple and covering a wide range of genres. Anyone who regularly records in GarageBand should also appreciate the new Multi-Take Recording feature. New tools for adding one-tap vocal effects to a recording such as distortion or pitch correction were added too.

Logic Pro X 10.3 and GarageBand 2.2 are both available as free updates to existing customers. Logic Pro X is available on the Mac App Store for $199.99, and GarageBand is available on the iOS App Store for $4.99.