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Posts tagged with "iOS"

GameClub Launches a Subscription Service That Revives a Growing Catalog of 70 Classic iOS Games

Last March, I sat down with Eli Hodapp at Blue Bottle Coffee in San Francisco. We were in town for the annual Game Developers Conference (GDC). For me, it was strange to be back in the environs of the Moscone Center for something other than WWDC. I felt a little like a fish out of water, and I sensed Hodapp did too, though for a very different reason.

You see, Hodapp had just announced that he was leaving as Editor-in-Chief of TouchArcade, after a decade of helping build it into one of the premier websites that covers iOS games. As a reader, I was sorry to see him go, but I was also eager to chat with Hodapp because what brought us together was the buzz surrounding the reason he left: GameClub.

GDC San Francisco 2019.

GDC San Francisco 2019.

Hodapp and I are both from the Chicago area, but we’d never met before GDC. What led me to contact him was a column he’d written for gameindustry.biz about preserving the legacy of iOS games that had disappeared from the App Store, a topic that we’ve covered many times on MacStories and elsewhere in the past.

In the gameindustry.biz story, Hodapp explained why he left TouchArcade:

I’ve been incredibly vocal about preserving our digital history over the years, and it’s distressing to think how many great, historically important (and simply fun!) games have been lost. That reality is my prime motivation in stepping down from TouchArcade: to raise awareness of this problem.

Hodapp had joined GameClub as its VP of Business Development shortly before GDC to help build the library of 70 classic iOS games that are launching with the service today.

Over coffee, Hodapp and I discussed the state of gaming on iOS, game preservation, and, of course, GameClub. It was still very early days, but Hodapp articulated a clear vision of how classic iOS games could be resurrected in an economically viable way. As we chatted, Hodapp outlined the very thing GameClub is launching today: a service designed to reintroduce dozens of games to a new generation of iOS gamers without ads, manipulative In-App Purchases, or other gimmicks. The business model hadn’t been locked down yet, but if all the business and technical hurdles could be cleared, a subscription service was likely.

Shortly thereafter, GameClub launched a beta program to test games that it had already updated to work on modern iOS hardware and software. I joined immediately. I enjoyed playing some old favorites throughout the summer, and watching as the ranks of GameClub’s beta testers grew on Discord.

As I checked in periodically over the summer, it was clear that something about GameClub had struck a chord. For some gamers, it was the fatigue built up over many years from the constant barrage of ads and In-App Purchases. For others, it was the delight and nostalgia of rediscovering the first games they’d played on iOS. Even in those early days, it was clear that GameClub had tapped into something special by releasing a steady stream of classics and building a community of people that cared about them.

Now, after over seven months and many more beta-tested games, GameClub has launched, and I love it. Not only is the service brimming with many of my all-time favorite iOS games, but the GameClub app itself is a terrific way to discover new games and keep track of favorites. There’s a lot going on with GameClub, so let’s dig in.

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MacStories Shortcuts Icons Receives Free Update with 50 New Glyphs

I’m happy to announce that MacStories Shortcuts Icons, our custom icon set for adding shortcuts to the Home screen, has received an update today that adds 50 new glyphs.

The update is available now for free for existing customers (just download the file again with the link in your original email receipt); for new customers, the update is part of the standard MacStories Shortcuts Icons purchase, which is available at $14.99 for a total of 350 custom Home screen glyphs.

All sales are final. You can read our license and terms of use here.

For those who may have missed it last month: MacStories Shortcuts Icons lets you customize the look of your shortcuts added to the Home screen by choosing from hundreds of glyphs designed specifically with Shortcuts users in mind, going beyond what’s provided by Apple in the Shortcuts app.

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Shortcuts Corner: Quick Contacts, RSS Feeds, Inspecting Lenses for iPhone 11 Photos, and Turning Reminders to Notes

In this week’s installment of the Shortcuts Corner, I share two app-based shortcuts (for Quickness and Fiery Feeds) that I teased earlier this week, which let you create new contacts and subscribe to RSS feeds, respectively. Additionally, I’ve been working on an iPhone 11 Pro photography story, and I’ve created a shortcut that lets you double-check which camera was used to take a particular picture. Lastly, I share a preview of a shortcut to batch-convert reminders to notes, which is exclusive to Club MacStories members this week. Let’s dive in.

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Shortcuts Corner: Apple Frames for iPhone 11 and 11 Pro, App Store Updates Page, Logging Completed Reminders, and Time Zones

In this week’s installment of the Shortcuts Corner, I share an interesting assortment of shortcuts, from an updated version of my Apple Frames shortcut and an easy way to open the App Store’s Updates page to an automation that takes advantage of a feature in the latest Numbers update. And for Club MacStories members, I’ve prepared two shortcuts that should speed up the process of getting the current time for different cities around the world – both via the Shortcuts app and Siri. Let’s dive in.

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A Comprehensive Guide to All 120+ Settings URLs Supported by iOS and iPadOS 13.1

A few weeks ago, I came across a post on Reddit claiming that Apple had restored the ability to launch specific sections of the Settings app via Shortcuts in iOS and iPadOS 13.1. I was inspired by that discovery to finish working on a project I had long been putting off: documenting all the URLs supported by the Settings app in iOS and iPadOS.

After some a lot of trial and error, I’ve collected 120+ URLs that can open individual pages and sub-sections of the Settings app. In this post, I’m going to share the complete list of URLs that are supported as of iOS and iPadOS 13.1 (specifically, iOS 13.1.2), as well as a custom shortcut to launch them.

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Shortcuts Corner: Search YouTube, Preview Folder Contents, and Play Recent Music Albums

As I explained in today’s issue of MacStories Weekly for Club MacStories members, we’re bringing the newsletter’s Shortcuts Corner section to the site, with a twist: in this series, you’ll find simpler shortcuts that you can download for free, and which will be added to the public MacStories Shortcuts Archive; you’ll also get a preview of an exclusive shortcut available today for Club MacStories members.

In this week’s Shortcuts Corner, I share shortcuts to quickly launch a search query in the YouTube app, preview the contents of a folder in iCloud Drive, and start playback for one of your recently played albums in the Music app. Let’s dive in.

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Apple Hits Restart on Game Controller Support

It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly six years since Apple added game controller support to iOS. The big news at WWDC in 2013 was the iOS 7 redesign, but for game developers, it was rivaled by the announcement that third-party Made For iPhone (MFi) controllers were coming.

The game press and developers understood the potential of controller support immediately. Even though it wasn’t announced there, Chris Plante of Polygon declared controller support the biggest story of E3, the game industry trade show that was happening at the same time as WWDC. Plante imagined that:

If Apple finds a way to standardize traditional controls, every iOS device will become a transportable console. In a year, both iPhones and iPads will approach the processing power of the current-generation devices. Companies will have the ability to port controller-based games for the mobile devices in millions of pockets — an install-base far greater than they’ve ever had before.

Game industry veteran Gabe Newell, the co-founder of Valve, saw Apple’s entry as a big risk to companies making PC and console games:

The threat right now is that Apple has gained a huge amount of market share, and has a relatively obvious pathway towards entering the living room with their platform…I think Apple rolls the console guys really easily.

I was right there with them. iOS devices couldn’t match the power of a traditional console in 2013, but you could see that they were on a trajectory to get there. With the addition of controller support, Apple felt poised to make a meaningful run at incumbents like Sony and Microsoft.

It didn’t work out that way though. iOS’ controller support was rushed to market. Early controllers were priced at around $100, in part because of the requirements of the MFi certification, and they couldn’t match the quality of controllers from Sony and Microsoft.

As anticipated, controller support was extended to the Apple TV when its App Store launched in 2015. Initially, it looked as though Apple would allow game developers to require a controller. In the end, though, the company went an entirely different direction by requiring that games support the Apple TV Remote, a decision that complicated development and dumbed down controller integration to match the remote’s limited input methods. Apple changed course eventually, and now lets developers require controllers, but by the time of that change the damage had been done. Many developers had already lost interest in controller support. It didn’t help either that for a very long time, the App Store didn’t indicate which games were compatible with MFi controllers, leaving the void to be filled by third-party sites.

Last year, when I looked back at the history of games on the App Store for its tenth anniversary, I came away pessimistic about the future of games on Apple’s platforms. After a decade, I felt like we were still asking the same question that Federico posed in 2013:

Will Apple ever develop a culture and appreciation for gaming as a medium, not just an App Store category?

Sadly, Federico’s question remains as relevant today as it was six years ago. Still, I’m cautiously optimistic based on what’s happened in the past year. Part of that is the App Store editorial team’s excellent track record of championing high-quality games in the stories published on the App Store. Another factor is Apple Arcade, the game subscription service we still don’t know a lot about, but which appears designed to showcase high-quality, artistically important games.

The latest cause for optimism is Apple’s announcement at WWDC this past June that iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, and macOS would all support the Sony DualShock 4 and Bluetooth-based Xbox controllers when Apple’s OSes are updated this fall. The reaction from developers and other observers was a combination of surprise and excitement that was uncannily similar to the MFi announcement in 2013. Yet, the news begs the question: ‘How is this time any different?’ The answer to that question lies in how the new controllers work and the role they will play in Arcade.

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Dark Noise Review: Ambient Noise Never Looked So Good

An ambient noise app’s most important job is providing a variety of sounds that can evoke a soothing sense of calm, and offer environment control. The App Store is full of apps that accomplish this purpose, and a new one’s being added to that roster today: Dark Noise, from developer and designer Charlie Chapman.

One chief advantage of Dark Noise over its competition is that out of the gate it’s the best of iOS citizens. Nearly every relevant iOS technology that Apple puts at developers’ disposal has been implemented in Dark Noise: Siri shortcuts, haptic feedback, alternate app icons, a customizable widget, an iPad version with Split View support, and more. I’ve never used an ambient noise app with such strong system integrations.

What makes Dark Noise truly special, however, is the way it’s easy not only on the ears, but the eyes too. Chapman’s pedigree as a designer and motion graphics artist shines throughout the app, creating a design experience through animations and gestures that’s truly delightful.

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Prizmo 5 for iOS Delivers Fast Scanning and Powerful OCR

I own a ScanSnap S1300i scanner, but I’m not sure why anymore. I used to scan paper documents and store them on my Mac. I’d OCR the scans, so they would be text searchable, and I used Hazel rules to organize them in folders automatically. However, I realized recently that not only do I rarely need to refer back to those scanned documents, but most are already available in electronic form online. If I need to look at an old credit card statement or bill, I can log into those accounts to find the information I need, so I tossed my scanner in a drawer.

Important bits of paper still come into my life now and then, but I’ve found that an iOS scanning app is more convenient for the volume of scanning I do now. There are lots of terrific apps on iOS to capture and organize scans, but Prizmo by Creaceed, which I’ve been testing for the past week, has quickly become one of my favorites, distinguishing itself with its ease of capture and terrific OCR functionality.

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