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Posts tagged with "games"

WordleBot 1.1, Now Fully Accessible with Native Emoji-to-Image Conversion

WordleBot 1.1.

WordleBot 1.1.

Following the release of my WordleBot shortcut last week, I’ve received a lot of useful and informative feedback from users in the accessibility community regarding the shortcut’s ability to annotate Wordle results with descriptions. Although well-intentioned, my original approach was misguided: even with line-based scores, the grid of emoji characters still performed horribly with screen-reading technologies such as Apple’s VoiceOver. WordleBot didn’t do much to make results more accessible for VoiceOver users since it was only reformatting the grid of emoji characters with additional text.

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Wordle! Developer to Donate Game Proceeds to Charity

Wordle is the web-only daily word game that has taken the Internet by storm. The simple, free game by Josh Wardle struck a nerve, quickly spreading thanks to its social-media-friendly score sharing and a New York Times profile of the game’s backstory.

The game also spawned a legion of rip-off versions that appeared on the App Store and were ultimately taken down by Apple. However, one of the App Store apps that saw a spike in downloads last week wasn’t a Wordle clone. It was an entirely different game called Wordle! that was first published five years ago by Steven Cravotta.

Emma Roth, writing for The Verge reports that Cravotta has decided to donate the proceeds of Wordle! to charity at the end of January. According to Roth:

Cravotta says that downloads for Wordle! slowed to around one to two per day, but when the browser-based Wordle started taking off, so did his app. The app racked up 200,000 downloads in a single week, albeit from confused users who mistook it for the browser-based Wordle. Cravotta reached out to Wordle app developer, Josh Wardle, and let him know about his plans to donate the proceeds from his app to charity — Wardle sent out a tweet of his own to acknowledge the gesture.

Cravotta told The Verge that the earnings from Wordle!, which stand at just over $2,000 so far, will be donated to BoostOakland, a charity that supports tutoring and mentoring young people in Oakland, California. After the gleeful tweets by one Wordle clone developer, it’s refreshing to read about Cravotta’s plans for the windfall he received from the similarity between his game and Wardle’s.

If you’re a Wordle fan, be sure to check out WordleBot, Federico’s shortcut inspired by Wordle’s score sharing feature. The shortcut preserves the game’s iconic score-sharing graphic but adds text labels to each row to improve the accessibility of scores on services like Twitter and provide additional context to the results.

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WordleBot: A Shortcut to Annotate Your Wordle Results with Scores

WordleBot for iPhone.

WordleBot for iPhone.

Update, January 18: I have released version 1.1 of WordleBot with support for converting emoji results to a single image. You can read the article here and redownload the updated shortcut below.

I, like the rest of the Twitter over the past few weeks, have fallen in love with Wordle, Josh Wardle’s ingenious daily word game (if you somehow missed it, check out Wardle’s profile in The New York Times). It’s so refreshing to have something so disarmingly simple, yet challenging that isn’t out to scam us (although some have tried) or sell our data on the Internet these days. Wordle reminds me of Brain Age for Nintendo DS in its heyday: everyone I know does it and is talking about it, at least for now. For me, Wordle has become this nice, daily ritual that I try to complete with my girlfriend to improve our English skills.

Wordle is a web app, and it comes with a clever built-in sharing feature that lets you share your results with other people by visualizing them as emoji of different colors based on the letters you guessed in the daily puzzle. I’m sure you’ve seen those tweets featuring lots of green and yellow emoji pass by on your timeline. While I think Wordle’s default sharing mechanism is fun, on-brand, and already iconic, I don’t like how its output is not accessible or descriptive enough. Folks with visual impairments such as colorblindness may find the emoji-laden Wordle tweets nearly impossible to decipher; those blocks of emoji don’t play well with screen-reading technologies such as VoiceOver; and, I just thought it’d be useful to figure out a way to score each line of the puzzle to bring some additional context to your Wordle results.

So, I made WordleBot, a shortcut that takes Wordle’s default shareable text and reformats it with partial and perfect scores for each line. With WordleBot, you’ll be able to share results that keep the original Wordle aesthetic and format but also include scores for 🟨 and 🟩 letters on each line, like this tweet:

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Apple Names the 2021 App of the Year Award Winners

Apple has revealed its annual App of the Year winners. This year, the company picked a collection of 15 apps and games from among the millions available on the App Store, naming them the Apps of the Year. In recent years, Apple has also used its App of the Year awards as an opportunity to highlight trends on the App Store. This year, the company’s App Store editorial team picked just one trend, Connection, sharing a collection of 5 apps that span a wide spectrum of genres.

Just like last year, Apple has honored 15 apps and games as the App of the Year winners from a wide variety of categories. According to Apple’s press release:

“The developers who won App Store Awards in 2021 harnessed their own drive and vision to deliver the best apps and games of the year — sparking the creativity and passion of millions of users around the world,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “From self-taught indie coders to inspiring leaders building global businesses, these standout developers innovated with Apple technology, with many helping to foster the profound sense of togetherness we needed this year.”

Mac App of the Year, Craft.

Mac App of the Year, Craft.

This year’s app winners are:

Apple Arcade Game of the Year, Fantasian.

Apple Arcade Game of the Year, Fantasian.

Apple also recognized games on each of its platforms, plus its Arcade service:

Apple Watch App of the Year, CARROT Weather.

Apple Watch App of the Year, CARROT Weather.

The App Store editorial team sees a lot of apps every year, and the trend it saw emerge in 2021 was ‘Connection,’ a theme embodied in the following apps:

Bumble is among five apps selected as embodying the Trend of the Year, Connection.

Bumble is among five apps selected as embodying the Trend of the Year, Connection.

In addition to naming this year’s winners, Apple called out each of the developers of the apps and games in a special ‘Developers make all the difference’ story, which links to profiles of each app and game. You’ll also find features on each app and game in Apple’s App Store apps.

Apple has created a profile story for each App of the Year winner.

Apple has created a profile story for each App of the Year winner.

To commemorate this year’s App of the Year winners, Apple’s designers created physical awards, which made their first appearance last year. The blue awards resemble the App Store’s icon and are made from 100% recycled aluminum with the winner’s name engraved on the back.

Picking the best apps of the year isn’t easy, which makes it easy to quarrel with individual picks. However, I think the choices by Apple’s editorial team this year do an excellent job of capturing a wide range of the best that the App Store has to offer.

Congratulations to this year’s Apple App of the Year award winners. I always enjoy seeing developers’ hard work and contributions to Apple’s platforms recognized.


New Tokyo level of Skate City Will Debut Alongside Skateboarding Becoming an Official Olympic Sport

This Friday, the Olympics will begin in Tokyo, Japan, and for the first time, skateboarding will be on display as an official Olympic sport. To mark the occasion, Skate City, the Apple Arcade game produced by Snowman and developed by Agens Games, is releasing an update that adds Tokyo to the game’s collection of cities this Friday, July 23rd.

According to Ryan Cash of Snowman:

For the last few years we’ve been looking for an interesting way to tie a real-world event into something we make, but we never wanted to do anything that didn’t feel meaningful. When the Tokyo games were announced it was a no-brainer for us. Skateboarding’s coming to the Olympics for the first time in history, which is a triumphant moment for the sport. We knew we had to be part of it in some small way.

The new Tokyo level features 21 new challenges and 30 new goals in Endless Skate mode, along with additions to the game’s soundtrack, new decks and clothing options to unlock, and leaderboards.

Judging from the trailer, the latest expansion, which Snowman says is Skate City’s largest yet, looks fantastic. The cityscape is full of vibrant, neon colors that set it apart from the other cities in the game.

Skate City was one of the original Apple Arcade launch games, and it remains one of my favorite games released on the service so far. I’m eager to give it a try and plan to do so as soon as it’s released on Friday. I’ll be covering my first impressions of the game along with Alto’s Odyssey: Lost City, which is also produced by Snowman and got a big update last week, on this week’s episode of MacStories Unwind, which will be out later on Friday.


Team Alto Releases Trailer for Alto’s Odyssey: Lost City, A Special Edition of the Original Game Coming to Apple Arcade

Next Friday, July 16th, Alto’s Odyssey: Lost City is coming to Apple Arcade. Lost City is a special edition of the hit sandboarding game by Team Alto (a collaboration between Land & Sea and Snowman) that debuted on the App Store in early 2018, winning an Apple Design Award and Game of the Year in our inaugural MacStories Selects Awards. If you’re not familiar with Alto’s Odyssey, I recommend reading Federico’s review. It’s one of my favorite of his reviews because it so perfectly captures the charm and vibe that makes Alto’s Odyssey special.

First teased by Team Alto last month, the new trailer below provides a glimpse of what appears to be an ancient city through which Alto will race.

Knowing the team behind Alto’s Odyssey, I expect Lost City will be a great way for existing fans to get more out of the original game and new players to discover the fun that garnered the game such a loyal following three years ago.

Alto’s Odyssey: Lost City is already listed on the App Store, where Arcade subscribers can pre-order it, so they are notified when the game becomes available on July 16th.


Snowman Announces New Creative Studio and Its First App, Pok Pok Playroom, A Digital Play Experience for Kids

Today, Snowman, the studio behind some of our favorite games on Apple platforms like Alto’s Adventure and Odyssey, Where Cards Fall, and Skate City, announced Pok Pok, a new creative studio that is launching an app on May 20th called Pok Pok Playroom.

Pok Pok Playroom is an app designed to encourage interactive play with a series of digital toys that spark curiosity and creativity in kids in a low-key, calming environment. The app’s digital playroom includes multiple brightly colored toys that prompt children to explore through independent play. Here’s how Snowman explains the app in its announcement:

Pok Pok’s first app is called Pok Pok Playroom. It’s a playroom filled with educational toys that spark creativity, imagination and learning through open-ended play. There is no right or wrong way to play, only lots of opportunities for experimentation and exploration. Pok Pok puts kids at the centre of the experience so they can follow their noses and learn at their own pace.

I’ve been eagerly awaiting Pok Pok Playroom since I got a demo of an early version at WWDC in 2019 from Esther Huybreghts who, along with her husband Mathijs Demaeght, are the artist-duo and parents of two young children behind its development. I’ll have more to say about Pok Pok Playroom when it’s released on May 20th, but for now, check out the trailer, which does an excellent job of providing a feel for what the app is like:

Alongside the announcement of the trailer and app release date, Snowman announced that Pok Pok Playroom is part of a new creative studio called Pok Pok. The studio, which was incubated inside Snowman for the past few years, was co-founded by Huybreghts and Demaeght, along with Snowman’s Melissa Cash, Ryan Cash, and Jordan Rosenberg, and will continue to build Pok Pok Playroom and new content for it that will be released periodically.

For more information about the app and studio, visit playpokpok.com.


Apple’s New Siri Remote Lacks Motion Control Sensors Required by Some Apple TV Games

Jon Porter of The Verge rounds up recent discoveries about the new Apple TV 4K’s Siri Remote. First reported by Digital Trends, the new Siri Remote lacks an accelerometer and gyroscope. As Porter explains:

The change means that the new Siri Remote won’t work with certain Apple TV games that rely on motion controls. According to code in tvOS 14.5 seen by MacRumors, trying to play an incompatible game will lead to the following error message: “To play this game on your Apple TV, you need to connect the Apple TV Remote (1st generation) or a compatible PlayStation, Xbox or MFi controller.”

On one level, the omission of the sensors in the new Siri Remote is surprising because it comes hard on the heels of an expansion of Apple Arcade’s offerings on all platforms, including the Apple TV. Still, the original Siri Remote was never a good game controller. The button layout and diminutive size made it a poor substitute for a traditional game controller. The new Siri Remote is a little bigger than the former version, but I don’t expect it would work any better as a controller.

With support for Microsoft and Sony controllers available since tvOS 13 and the addition of support for current-generation console controllers in tvOS 14.5, Apple has clearly made the decision that a purpose-built controller provides a better gaming experience. I just wish Apple would consider making its own controller with a fast, low latency connection like AirPods, which benefits from Apple’s proprietary technology layer that sits on top of Bluetooth.

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Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming Beta Launches on the Mac, PC, iPhones, and iPads

As we reported earlier this week, Microsoft began inviting Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers to beta test Xbox Cloud Gaming yesterday. The beta is invitation-only, but if you’re a Game Pass Ultimate subscriber and are invited to test the streaming service, you can use it on PCs and Macs via Edge, Chrome, or Safari, as well as on iPhones and iPads.

At The Verge, Tom Warren has a short walkthrough video that tours the service’s UI on a Windows PC. Although the games run on older Xbox One S hardware in Microsoft’s data centers, which means longer load times than current hardware, the UI appears to scale nicely across devices. Warren describes the experience as follows:

Once the connection settles down, it’s very similar to xCloud on Android. If you run this through a web browser on a PC or iPad, you’ll even get a 1080p stream. It feels like I’m playing on an Xbox in the cloud, and there’s a dashboard that lets me access friends, party chats, achievements, and invites to games. This is all powered by Xbox Game Pass, so there are more than 100 games available — and even some original Xbox and Xbox 360 titles that can be streamed.

Warren also notes that some games work with touch, but as you’d expect, most are best experienced using a Bluetooth-connected controller.

I’ve had a chance to play with Google Stadia on an iPhone 12 Pro Max and the experience was far better than I expected, even over WiFi. Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming beta has just begun, but it looks like a promising way to enjoy your favorite games on more devices than ever.

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