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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.


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.



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.

Sponsored by:


The All-New Glif iPhone Tripod Mount

The first Glif, an iPhone tripod mount by Studio Neat, was released in November 2010. Fast forward almost six years to today and Studio Neat is back with an all-new version of the Glif that looks like the best one yet.

Having a tripod mount for your iPhone is surprisingly handy. Club MacStories members may recall that just last month, Graham Spencer and I used the Glif for two very different projects. Graham mounted his iPhone to a Glif to take time-lapse movies of the Australian sky, while I used my Glif with a GorillaPod tripod and microphone to record interviews with developers at WWDC. Those projects, which we described in detail in the Club MacStories Monthly Log, were very different, yet perfectly suited for the Glif.

The latest version of the Glif focuses on three areas. The first is a quick-release lever that makes it easier to get you iPhone in and out of the Glif. The second is multiple mounting points that let you mount the Glif in landscape or portrait mode, or attach additional items to the Glif like a light and microphone that can turn your iPhone into a portable movie rig.

Studio Neat introduces two accessories for the Glif, a handle and a wrist strap.

Studio Neat introduces two accessories for the Glif, a handle and a wrist strap.

The third improvement to the Glif is the introduction of two accessories. The first is a handle that screws into one of the Glif’s mounting points. The handle should make it easier to hold your iPhone steady without accidentally covering the camera lens with your finger. The second accessory is a strap that you can loop around your wrist for added protection against dropping your iPhone.

As with previous Studio Neat products, the new Glif is a Kickstarter campaign. Over time, I’ve become more cautious about the Kickstarters I back, especially when it comes to hardware products, but Studio Neat is one of the few companies where I do not hesitate to back a product I want, because it has a solid track record of past success. For a $25 pledge, you will receive the new Glif if the project is funded, while $50 gets you the Glif, handle, and wrist strap. If you want two complete sets of the Glif and its accessories, you can pledge $100.


Enhanced eBook: Storytelling Through Dance

I've been a fan of Keone and Mari's dance videos since my girlfriend introduced me to their YouTube channel a while back (she's a dancer, and an avid follower of their work). I often watch choreography videos, but what Keone and Mari create is exceptionally unique. In addition to being masters of their craft, every video they produce blends choreography and story – revealing a deeper meaning to the song they are dancing to. Truly, Keone and Mari's videos are works of art.

Now, Keone and Mari have set out to produce a multimedia eBook to combine "dance, writing, music, film, design, photography, and technology to tell a story". I'm not a dancer myself, but, knowing their work, I'm intrigued:

We’re best known for our work as dancers and choreographers, yet we’ve always had a dream to use dance as a medium between different/collaborative art forms. With Mari’s creative writing degree and our love for various art forms we never saw dance being completely independent of the different crafts. Our dream is this: An enhanced eBook with storytelling through dance.

Enhanced eBooks are digital books that include immersive, interactive, and interesting features like video, music, audio narration, animation, photography, and more. While dance videos online have become a norm in the millennial age, we hope to give dance a new home within this enhanced ebook. Imagine following a movement-driven story, that’s accompanied by originally produced music, partnered with interactivity - like flipping through photos, learning a dance, or potentially dictating where in the story you’d like to go next. The imaginative possibilities are truly there. The hope for this creative and visual novel is to have it available on your devices to download or stream.

I would love to see this project happen. Keone and Mari have launched a Kickstarter campaign seeking $45,000 in funding to cover costs for production, artists, and design. With 11 days left, over $24,000 have been pledged, and there are some great rewards for dancers such as tutorials, Q&As, and even private dance lessons.

If you're interested, you can contribute to the campaign and check out more details on their Kickstarter page.


Apple Begins Switching Apple Music Subscribers to Audio Fingerprint-Based Song Matching

A major complaint about Apple Music when it rolled out was that it used a metadata-based matching system, which sometimes caused it to incorrectly match songs in users' music libraries with Apple's database. Jim Dalrymple reports for The Loop, that:

Apple has been quietly rolling out iTunes Match audio fingerprint to all Apple Music subscribers. Previously Apple was using a less accurate metadata version of iTunes Match on Apple Music, which wouldn’t always match the correct version of a particular song. We’ve all seen the stories of a live version of a song being replaced by a studio version, etc.

According to Dalrymple, the audio fingerprint matching system that Apple is slowly rolling out to Apple Music is the same system that has been available to customers who subscribe separately to iTunes Match. The new matching functionality is being added by Apple at no additional cost to Apple Music subscribers, which means that if you previously subscribed to Apple Music and iTunes Match, there should be no reason to renew your iTunes Match subscription when it expires. As Jim Dalrymple points out, however, you may want to be sure that the new system is working properly before letting Match expire.