Game Day: Nanuleu

Nanuleu by Selva Interactive is an excellent new tower-defense strategy game reminiscent of Rymdkapsel. I’ve been a fan of tower-defense games since the original Fieldrunners game launched on iOS just a couple months after the App Store opened. Nanuleu is a less frenetic, more laid-back take on that classic style with many of its own distinctive elements.

Nanuleu is played from an isometric perspective on a procedurally generated map that makes each game you play unique. There are three modes, Apprentice, Warrior, and Sage, each of which is progressively more difficult to complete.

Each Nanuleu map is procedurally generated.

Each Nanuleu map is procedurally generated.

You start each game with a life tree at the center of the map and resources that you can spend to expand your territory across the map. Tapping on the squares on the map that are adjacent to territory you already control gives you the option to plant certain types of trees or simply expand your network of roots. Water, mineral, and life trees can only be planted on squares with corresponding colored symbols and require more resources than simply laying down roots.

Five types of trees are connected by a root system.

Five types of trees are connected by a root system.

After a while, enemies start attacking from different spots along the edges of the map. Planting protector, and later, war trees helps defend your trees against the enemy. As you expand your network of water, mineral, and life trees, resources accumulate faster, but you need to spend your resources carefully to defend your territory. If the enemies start taking out trees, especially those that produce resources, your territory begins to shrink. Vanquish all the enemies and you win the round. If the enemies get the upper hand and overtake your last life tree, you lose.

It’s easy to understand why Nanuleu won an award at the 2015 Indie Game Maker Contest and has already made a best of 2016 list just over a week since its release. The game combines great visuals and sound with simple, but challenging, gameplay. Nanuleu games are not short. Most of the games I’ve played have lasted 20-30 minutes, but time flies because it’s easy to get absorbed in the action. If you enjoy tower defense and real-time strategy games, Nanuleu is worth checking out.

Nanuleu is available on the App Store for $2.99.

Pokémon GO is Big, Really Big

It’s not a surprise that Pokémon GO is a huge hit. All you need to do is walk around any major city or look at the photos of people mobbing spaces like New York’s Central Park to get a sense for just how big the game is. But, today Apple confirmed to The Loop that Pokémon GO is just as big, and perhaps even bigger, than people thought:

Apple told me today that the game has set a new App Store record with more downloads in its first week than any other app in history. That is impressive.

Even more impressive is that for that first week, Pokémon GO was only available in the US, Australia, and New Zealand.

There have been a lot of big games on the App Store. Angry Birds, Clash of Clans, and Candy Crush come immediately to mind, but Pokémon GO feels different. Pokémon GO has captivated the world in a way that no one has seen before. It’s easy to dismiss the game as a waste of time and productivity, but that’s short-sighted. Sure, Pokémon GO is just a game, but it’s a game that has gotten people outdoors and brought them together with other Pokémon players – and there’s nothing wrong with that.


Canvas, Episode 15: Task Management, Part 1

This week Fraser and Federico take a pass at task management on iOS. This is another area of productivity where iOS is very well served for options.

In this week's Canvas, we've started a new mini-series on task managers for iOS. We've taken a look at Todoist (with some details on why and how I've been using it again) as well as Apple's Reminders app.

We have lots more in store, and you can listen to the episode here.


Jumping in with Both Feet

The tagline for my MacStories Weekly column, Ongoing Development, is:

Trying new things, seeing what works, and discarding what doesn't.

The description captures Ongoing Development well and I like that it’s short, but if I were to add anything to it, I'd expand the middle bit to ‘seeing what works and where it leads’ because when you find something that works, it often leads in new and unexpected directions. When I started recording short audio clips for The MacStories Lounge Telegram channel, I never expected it would lead to a WWDC interview series with developers, but it did.

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Apple Reveals Limited Edition Apple Watch Bands for the Olympics

Apple will sell Apple Watch bands based on their nylon watch band line to commemorate the Olympics. According to GQ, which reported the story first:

When the games start in August, the tech company will be selling Apple Watch bands that reference the national flags of 14 major competitors, meaning you can symbolically cheer on Team USA (or Team France, or Team Brazil) every time you get a text message.

The 14 countries with commemorative bands are Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Great Britain, and the United States.

The catch is that the bands will only be sold at the VillageMall Apple Store in Barra da Tijuca, Brazil. Like the limited edition bands given to Apple employees to celebrate Pride weekend in June, the Olypmic bands are sure to become instant collector’s items. Although the bands will not be sold until August, at least one athlete, Travon Bromell, already has a USA model.


Google Enhances Crowdsourcing of Its Maps Data

Maps are a highly competitive corner of the mobile device landscape. Today, Google added features that make it easier for users to add new places, suggest edits to locations, and verify other users’ submissions.

Google announced on the Google Maps blog that adding and editing locations has been expanded worldwide in Google Maps and Google Search. In my limited tests, I only saw links to edit locations in Google Maps, but it may be that the feature is still being rolled out to Search.

In addition, you can now add additional details about a location that you find using Google search. As Google describes it:

There’s more to a place than its business hours or address—you might want to know if a place has a romantic vibe, serves vegetarian food or offers outdoor seating. Now on Google Maps for Android and when searching on your mobile phone, you can contribute what you know about a place so that others can benefit from the info as well. Knowing these types of details helps us build a deeper understanding of a place so we can better help users find the places most relevant to them.

I added some information about one of my favorite Chicago restaurants and found the process to be easy and fast. On iOS this only works if you use search in Safari. Android users can also add location details in Google Maps.

Finally, Google has opened up verification of user-submitted data to other users. If new data has been added to a location you can indicate whether it is accurate or not. After a location receives sufficient support for a change, Google will make it permanent.

Mapping services are only as good as the data behind them. Google continues to push forward at a fast clip and adding legions of users to its efforts to provide valuable map data makes a lot of sense. Apple Maps has made great strides since its introduction, but I’d like to see something like this added to Apple Maps to help it catch up and stay competitive with Google Maps.


Square Enix Working on Apple Watch-Only RPG

Siliconera reports that Square Enix, the maker of the Final Fantasy franchise and Chaos Rings, is developing an Apple Watch-exclusive role-playing game called Cosmos Rings. Square Enix has a bare bones teaser website up with virtually no information about the game, but Siliconera says that Cosmos Rings:

features the “Time Upstream System” that uses the Apple Watch’s Digital Crown. The game will send you various messages according to your daily step counts as part of an experience that Square Enix says can only be done through the Apple Watch.

Siliconera also says that Cosmos Rings is being produced by Takehiro Ando who worked on the Chaos Rings series of games that originally debuted on iOS in 2010. In addition, Yusuke Naora, who was the art director on several Final Fantasy games and designed characters for Chaos Rings will have a hand in the Cosmos Rings visuals.

Cosmos Rings is slated for release later this summer.



Exploring the App Store’s Top Grossing Chart

A word cloud of the names of the apps in the Top 200 Grossing charts

A word cloud of the names of the apps in the Top 200 Grossing charts

You have probably noticed that there are a lot of free apps, apps with In-App Purchases, and games in the Top Grossing charts. I did too, so today I decided to survey the US App Store's Top 200 Grossing iPhone apps and create some charts to visualize various data points and trends. Included in this article is an analysis which examines the upfront price, In-App Purchases, category, and other details of the apps in the Top 200 Grossing charts.

The rankings will change from day to day, and country by country, but I think the results in this article provide interesting observations from a general perspective, even if some of the exact details may differ depending on the day.

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Connected, Episode 100: Tepid Takes

On the centennial episode of Connected, the crew covers #TicciMentee program applications, checks out Scrivener for iOS and considers iOS 10's widgets and privacy features.

On this week's Connected, we celebrate episode 100 with a very special surprise and a host of iOS 10 topics. I'd like to thank everyone who has listened to us so far. I'm excited to keep producing Connected every week with Myke and Stephen.

You can listen here.

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