mobile Archive


Facebook Home And Privacy

Om Malik:

So if your phone doesn’t move from a single location between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. for say a week or so, Facebook can quickly deduce the location of your home. Facebook will be able to pinpoint on a map where your home is, whether you share your personal address with the site or not. It can start to build a bigger and better profile of you on its servers. It can start to correlate all of your relationships, all of the places you shop, all of the restaurants you dine in and other such data. The data from accelerometer inside your phone could tell it if you are walking, running or driving. As Zuckerberg said — unlike the iPhone and iOS, Android allows Facebook to do whatever it wants on the platform, and that means accessing the hardware as well.

While I don’t think Facebook would be able to get away with this Orwelllian future that Om paints, I do think it’s a valid concern. Do we really want this level of personal data exposed to a company whose business model rests on targeted advertisers?

via Why Facebook Home bothers me: It destroys any notion of privacy — Tech News and Analysis.


Mailbox For iOS

Anthony Wing Kosner for Forbes:

Email is a constant stream of triggers, and the means to act upon these triggers can be present in the tool through which you receive it. This is why Mailbox’s mobile first approach is so important. Increasingly we get our mail messages on our mobile devices without the time, attention or full-size keyboard to make a complete response. These half-read, half-considered messages become work to take care of later—but that later never comes. By being able to structure your responses even if you don’t have time to make a full response you reduce the residue and mental overhead associated with your inbox. So when you do sit down at your desk or laptop or iPad, your work is cut out for you and ready to engage with the actual content you have to consider.

It took me a week to decide to take the plunge with Mailbox and allow it to archive all of my email on Gmail. All of my mail has been in my inbox basically since I signed up for the service years ago, a situation I imagine most people have been in as well. I can say it’s been a pretty good experience so far, my inbox is pretty clear, but I’m still getting used to the workflow of sorting my mail.

It’s a shame that there’s no Exchange support for the app, because for me, that would be the true test for Mailbox’s workflow – work emails. Nevertheless, I’ve definitely cut down on the bulk email lists I’ve subscribed to on my personal account. When you see the emails streaming in on an empty inbox, it’s pretty easy to see what’s necessary and what isn’t. Having 100,000 emails in the same place over the last 9 years or so just ended up being a big pile of eh.

via Mailbox App Revolutionizes Gmail Productivity, Will Google Or Apple Buy It? – Forbes.


Zynga And Insider Trading

Ben Popper for The Verge:

“Zynga is a company very focused on data. Mark (Pincus) wants this business to be driven by numbers, not by hits,” said one employee. “They analyze every action in the game and try to optimize the business. The rely on franchises to eliminate risk.”

Because this sounds like a great long term strategy for a “games” company.

via The Verge.


Ghost Trick Now Available on iOS

The only thing keeping Nintendo and Sony handheld systems relevant in the age of iOS/Android gaming is the fact that they offer high quality game experiences that can’t be replicated elsewhere. Of course, there are certain console titles that play just as well, if not better, on touch screen only devices, Scribblenauts Remix being one of them and Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective being another.

Capcom’s finally released Ghost Trick on iPhone/iPad as a universal app (with iCloud saved games enabled!) today. I haven’t actually played through the original version on Nintendo DS yet, but hear it’s a pretty good game. It’s a detective adventure game where you try to solve your own mysterious deaths as a ghost. There’s a bunch of parallels with the Phoenix Wright series, if you’ve ever played those.

You get the first two chapters of the game as a free download, and can purchase the rest in app for $9.99. It’s a pretty good steal, given the fact that Ghost Trick just came out barely a year ago as a $29.99 retail Nintendo DS title. Plus, you’re arguably getting a better gameplay experience as you don’t need to use a silly stylus or carry around a Nintendo DS with you.

I’m midway through the first chapter now and will most certainly be buying the rest.

Updated Protip (2/3): The iCloud interface is really ambiguous and scarily written. (“There is a chance that you might lose your progress” on both options?? Come on Capcom!) I’ve tested it, though and you want to hit “Sync iCloud backup data” to upload your current save to the cloud. Tapping “Sync this device” brings the save from the cloud down to whichever device you are using now.

Download on iTunes


Steam Releases Mobile App

Well, well well, Steam. Look who’s decided to join the mobile apps party.

I suppose it was only a matter of time before Valve jumped into mobile. Right now the features list looks pretty basic, offering only friend status updates, chatting, and access to the Steam store. While good for impulse buys or checking up on deals, I was actually hoping for at least an achievement viewer. There’s nothing I like doing more when I’m away from my computer than wistfully reflecting on all of my gaming accomplishments.

Obviously, the mobile app’s functionality will only grow from here. After all, Steam itself started off as a pretty basic client, too. It’ll be interesting to see if Steam expands its tendrils into the mobile gaming distribution arena, given that both Android and iOS already have exclusive channels for that. Perhaps Steam will become more of a content curator? There’s certainly a lot of trash to wade through in those marketplaces.

Though the app is still in an invite-only beta mode right now, you can still download it and poke around the offline mode. If you’ve used the iOS Gmail app, the Steam app UI looks very similar.

Download on iOS and Android




Hero Academy Is My New Favorite iOS Game

The chaps over at Penny Arcade turned me on to a great new asynchronous turn-based strategy game for iOS called Hero Academy.

Tycho’s description:

There’s plenty of asynchronous tactics games available on mobile platforms, but this one hits the sweet spot in so many tradeoffs that each turn is like munching a little stack of Pringles.  For example, the “playfield” is small, like a boardgame.  It could be bigger, but it’s not; at the same time, it’s not so small that positioning is minimized.  Each turn consists of five – and only five – actions, and you can play your turn over and over again locally until you’ve found the optimal investment of those actions.  Maybe a single unit takes all of them.  Maybe it’s a turn you use to equip for the countercharge.  Turns are never onerous, they always consist of some scientifically optimized volume of input.

Simplifying the description of the game further, you might just call it “Tactics With Friends.” It plays like a very polished, welcoming version of your favorite turn based strategy game (Final Fantasy Tactics, Advance Wars, Jeanne d’Arc, Fire Emblem, etc.) combined with a little card game intrigue. See, in addition to commanding different kinds of units, you always have a “hand” that you can use to either deploy new units, equip them with bonuses, or play effects on the board. Some tricky schemes can be set into motion by playing out unseen resources.

It’s a free download and though it’s got some microtransaction upselling and interstitial ads, it’s never onerous. As if you needed another reason, the game’s developer, Robot Entertainment, consists of some of the people who made Age of Empires and Halo Wars from Ensemble Studios.

Give it a shot. Keep in mind that it’s a “multiplayer only” game, though. There’s no single player campaign, but random opponents have proved to be worthy adversaries.


Review: Judge Dredd Vs. Zombies (iOS)


What could be a more fun iPhone game than shooting the crap out of zombies as a badass postapocalyptic British lawgiver? Turns out, there’s quite a bit of alternatives. I had the opportunity to review Judge Dredd Vs. Zombies for Comics Alliance late last year and while the core gameplay was competently fun, it was sucked dry by the hollow presentation and shameless difficulty due to a freemium model-friendly unlock system.

If you’re looking for an epic Judge Dredd gaming experience based on the comics, let’s stop right there. This is not the game for you. While the word “zombies” in the title could imply a tie in to Garth Ennis’ epic “Judgment Day” zombie storyline, Judge Dredd vs. Zombies involves nothing of the sort. The closest you get to a story is a single briefing screen telling you that Zombies have infested Mega City-One and that Judge Dredd is the “Solution.” In fact, other than scattered badges and the occasional logo in each level, the only sights you’re going to see are Judge Dredd, zombies, and generic looking building interiors. To be fair to the developer, though, it’s what was promised in the title and by golly that’s exactly what’s offered.

Read my full review on Comics Alliance here


3.5 Inch Phone Screens

We may or may not ever hear Apple confirm this, but you can bet your festively plump heiney that one of the reasons the 3.5 inch screen of the iPhone was decided upon was the ease of which you could use it with one hand. Turns out that it’s a lot more difficult to do that on a 4.3 inch Android device.

Maybe bigger isn’t always better.

via 3.5 Inches – Dustin Curtis.


Adobe Kills Flash Mobile

Adobe killed development for Flash on mobile devices yesterday and all we got was a massively TL;DR press release “blog post” by someone on their executive team. I mean, shit, just look at the title of the post: Flash to Focus on PC Browsing and Mobile Apps; Adobe to More Aggressively Contribute to HTML5 (Adobe Featured Blogs). I’m already tuned out.

When will companies learn that communicating to the public with PR-speak just serves to induce eyerolls and indifference? Writing clearly and in plain English isn’t going to make your company look bad.

On a related note, the tech blogging world seems to be caught in a rousing game of “I Told You So” since it appears as if Apple “won” the battle of Flash on mobile devices. I get that it’s a vindicating feeling to be on the apparent winning side, but playing flamebait tennis really just ends up making everyone look the kids on the forums.

I’m just excited that we’re one step closer to having a better mobile web browsing experience no matter what device we are using.



Play Shuffleboard By Daisy Chaining iPhones

Holy crap, this is a great idea.

Developer Peak Systems has a shuffleboard app that lets you connect up to eight iPhones together to create a makeshift shuffleboard table. Yeah, I know, the iPad is probably a better size for the game, but it’s much less likely that you’re going to have a bunch of iPads in the same location unless you’re involved in some really geeky activities.

It may not have the same feel as a real shuffleboard table at your local dive bar, but hey, if you’ve got a bunch of friends with iPhones over at your place for some drinking, why not give it a shot?

Ultimate Shuffleboard on iTunes is 99 cents.

Here’s a video demonstration cooked up by former Tumblr lead developer Marco Ament: