Kelsey Anderson, one of P3's designers, passed this link along to me: Google and Saatchi Gallery Motion Photography Prize. Google+ and Saatchi are hosting a competition of "moving photographs" created with Motion, a free tool that allows users to animate still photography. Google+ is accepting submissions through April 1, and by the quality of the photos I saw in this article, there should be some amazing ones.
Photograph credit: Kitsune Kowai's untitled GIF courtesy of Google+ (be sure to click the link for the full effect)
Here are some useful tips to make your iPhone battery last longer: Why Does My iPhone Battery Die So Fast? It's a blog post from six months ago, but still relevant. Some are just common sense, but some I wasn't aware of.
"Right above the earpiece of your iPhone, there’s an ambient light sensor that Apple uses to adjust the brightness of your display to the amount of light all around you. Head to Settings -> Wallpaper & Brightness and turn off Auto-Brightness. So why does turning off Auto-Brightness save battery life? Whenever you use your phone, you’ve got a little sensor asking, “How bright is it now? How bright is it now? How about now?”, etc., and not surprisingly, that drains your battery."
I love the Olympics. I'm not completely sure why, since I don't have an athletic bone in my body, but maybe that's the reason. I love seeing the athletes from around the world and hearing their stories, and watching the featured spots about the host country. I just love it all. It's the only time that finds me on the couch watching television for hours on end. And like most things, when I find something I love, I like to find iOS apps that go along with it.
iTunes has a bunch of Olympic-themed apps. There are several NBC apps and some IOC official apps, and I've tried and enjoyed them all, but the one that I've really had fun with is Team USA's Pinsanity. It's an iPhone app that also works on iPad, and in turn works in conjunction with a Facebook app of the same name.
In the app, you are collecting virtual pins that depict things like participating nations and medal winners, along with things like Russian flowers, foods, and animals. In the Facebook app, you are filling up a virtual USA House with displays specifically built to contain the various categories of pins. You start out with a set amount of coins, and you can, of course, purchase more so that you can purchase more displays and more pins . . .
You have to have a Facebook account to play, but that requirement is becoming so ubiquitous that I suppose it doesn't really matter. I've enjoyed watching the Olympics in the evenings and checking the app periodically to see if new pins have been added with each USA medal win. Codes are posted periodically on the app's Facebook page.
The Team USA Pinsanity app is free. With the limited real estate, the USA House interface is only available in the Facebook app, but pins can be collected and stored in the mobile apps and placed in the displays later.
I'm very picky about apps, and also somewhat shallow. Functionality is great, but I generally place more value on appearance. I found a couple of fun, and also beautiful, Christmas apps this week.
One is called Garden Rescue - Christmas Edition, by Rainbow Games. There is a free version and a full version for $1.99. It's a tower defense game where you are defending your Christmas tree farm from various types of insects or, as the game description says, the "battle between beetles and plants -- the two archenemies."
I haven't gotten past the first level yet, but the game is beautiful and I've been enjoying it.
The second game I found is called Christmas Splat, by Magic Mirror LLC, who also produced Elf Yourself for Office Max. Splat is the cat from a series of books by Rob Scotton. The app allows you to create a video greeting card using a photo of your choice. You can also turn on the microphone and talk to Splat, and he will repeat whatever you say in his funny voice. You can also have Splat make a snow angel. A silly app that would be lots of fun for a kid.
Learning for the sake of simply learning is a noble pursuit, an acknowledgment that ultimately we are all perennial students. Yet when it comes to our relentless quest to not only stay abreast of the latest and greatest technology and all the ensuing tactics that inevitably arise, we like to take things a few steps further. That means synthesis and application. After all, what good is abstract and theoretical knowledge if you don't ever wield it?
Yesterday, we celebrated a major milestone for Propaganda3: the release of Burn The Lot for iOS and Android. A few months ago, we were honored to be accepted to speak at the 2013 Unity Developers Conference in Vancouver, BC. At that time, we characterized our presentation as a "pre-postmortem." To understand what it took to get us to the starting line, you can enjoy the full presentation via Unity's YouTube channel.
As a platform, Unity has become an amazingly powerful tool in our repertoire. Just as the App Store and Google Play democratized access to a global audience where our products can stand side-by-side with the work of major studios, Unity has given us even more ability to take full advantage of that opportunity.
We offer a tip of the Carny Cop's hat to our friends at Unity. We couldn't have gotten here without you.
Working in a digital medium day in an day out, there's always a certain thrill that comes with seeing your name in black and white. That's why when we received word Kung Fu Robot had been named one of this year's best free kids apps by Parents magazine, we dropped our mouses and immediately ran to our nearest purveyor of printed periodicals.
To be listed alongside such properties and companies as Disney, PBS, Despicable Me and "Bill Nye the Science Guy" is humbling to say the least. Knowing that we're just getting started with this story as we tap the bottomless brain of Jason Bays and layer on the immense talent of Noel Selders is truly exciting.
Click to bigify.
Consider for a moment the classic aphorism "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink." You don't teach passion. It's either there or it's not. Sure, you can inspire passion but that also requires that there was a seed of passion present to begin with, ready to germinate and grow.
Now watch this group of precocious young'ins proudly displaying their passion via the vehicle of Tool's classic "Forty Six & 2."
Perhaps inspired by their instructor, the music itself and being in the comfy confines of a multimillion dollar studio? Absolutely. Crazy talented? Check. Passionate? Well, you tell us.
What's the result of that passion? That's an easy one...
Craft. It's both our muse and our passion. When we're at our best, it's also our reward. We couldn't be prouder of this most recent international recognition from The FWA for our efforts on KUNG FU ROBOT, a labor of love we crafted with creator Jason Bays and our good friends at Substream Music & Sound Design.
A quick bit of info about The FWA...
FWA stands for Favourite Website Awards, an industry recognised internet award program and inspirational portal, established in May 2000.
FWA is the most visited website award program in the history of the internet, with over 170 million site visits as of November 2012 (and multiple billion hits to our servers).
We're fortunate to have earned this distinction three times now and each one has been extraordinarily special. We don't take any of these for granted.
We're just getting warmed up with KUNG FU ROBOT. Part two — titled "Clean Up on Aisle 9" — is currently in production. In other words, back to work for us. Craft also demands commitment.
6,500 Indonesian rupiahs is about 59 cents or so at today's current exchange rate. File under "things you learn when you sell apps in an international marketplace."
We like to think we have an eye for up and coming talent. So when we hear about things that validate that fluttery gut feeling we get when we look at a shiny new portfolio or meet a whip smart student or recent grad, we have the tendency to nod knowingly like Mr. Miyagi at the end of The Karate Kid and beam with a bit of pride.
So with that, we would like to extend a hearty helping of congratulations to Eli Brumbaugh, a former P3 intern, and Ashley Einsphar, one of our current P3 interns, who were big winners in the recent Above the Fold Awards Student Design Competition. This competition "seeks to honor the best Web, motion and interactive designs from students around the world."
I sort of hate to admit it, but a lot of my app downloads are based more on the way they look, or even how their icon looks, rather than how they function. Function is, of course, important, but it's hard to enjoy using an app or playing a game if the interface isn't attractive.
One other criteria for me is how easy it is to figure it out. If I can't pick up a game and immediately start playing it -- even if I don't understand all of the controls -- I tend to either delete it or just not play it.
So when I discover a game that is not only beautiful, but easy to understand, I'm happy. One such game is Stay Alight, from Wyse Games. I was captivated by the beautiful graphics. The protagonist is a little guy with a lightbulb for a head, appropriately named Bulb. Bulb wanders around through trash piles in various landscapes and shoots green slug-like creatures wearing thimbles or bottle caps for hats. Some reviewers have likened the gameplay to that of Angry Birds, and it is, somewhat, but the photo-realistic graphics make it more of a pleasure to play. Like most games, the first few levels are pretty easy, but it gets more difficult a few levels in.
Willa Cline, Propaganda3's Manager of Operations and self-described crazy cat lady, was one of the first bloggers on the web.
The four apps in my iPhone dock are the ones that I find myself using all the time: Speed Dial 1, Fahrenheit, Horizon, and Night Stand.
Speed Dial 1: I have it configured to call my husband with one click, so I can call him when I'm on my way home from work by just pressing the icon. That way I don't have to fumble around with finding him in my favorites list. I have an iPhone4, so I don't have Siri (yet). That's all it does, just calls one number, but it does it beautifully. If you want more than one speed dial button, you can download and install Speed Dial 2, 3 and/or 4. They come in different colors, and you can configure them in your iPhone settings.
Fahrenheit: A weather app (it also comes in "Celsius"). I actually like the looks of the Apple weather app better, but Fahrenheit stays in my dock because it shows the current temperature as a Badge App icon. According to Apple's weather app, it's always 73 degrees. That would be great, if it were true (currently it's 98 degrees here in Kansas City). Tapping on a day will give you an expanded forecast with lots of detail like sunrise, sunset, humidity, wind speed, etc. You can even press a button and get satellite maps and radar, although I never do.
Horizon: I recently started using a calendar app called Horizon. It interfaces with the iPhone calendars, and presents the information in a list. Clicking on a day gives you a weather panel with the date, the current temperature and weather condition, windspeed, humidity, and the precipitation possibility. It's a clean presentation, and easy to view in a hurry. You can edit calendar events through the app, but I find it a little fiddly, so I generally stick to iCal to add and edit events. The main point of the app is showing the weather for events, which would be even more useful for someone with a lot of sports events, for instance.
Nightstand: I've downloaded and tried a lot of clock apps, but Nightstand is the one I've stuck with. It has a really nice digital clock display, and I have it configured to show the day of the week and the weather conditions. There are several different themes, including analog and flip, but I like the soothing blue digital effect. I only use it as an alarm clock when I'm away from home, but I really like it for that. Propped up on a Wedge iPhone stand or the Teeny Tiny Thai Pad (okay, that's a bit of overkill, but isn't it beautiful?), I can see what the time is with a touch. I see that they have now upgraded the app to Nightstand HD 2, with more features, but the original is fine for me.
Willa Cline is an established author, holds the distinction of being one of the first female bloggers on the web, and is Propaganda3's own Manager of Operations.
On July 1, Google pulled the plug on another application -- Google Reader -- citing declining use. Google Reader's interface made it easy to subscribe to RSS ("Really Simple Syndication") feeds that you were interested in, and read them all in one place. A multitude of news reader apps were written to take advantage of Google Reader and to import a user's subscription feed into various interfaces.
Apparently social media was a contributor to its demise, as many people moved to Twitter and Facebook to get their news rather than RSS feeds. Since was a loyal Google Reader user, the shutdown stung, but I had already taken the opportunity to import my subscription list into Feedly, which was completely inaccessible on July 2 due to over capacity. As Wil Wheaton wrote on Facebook: "I just deleted the Google Reader bookmark from my browser. I felt like it needed Scotty playing bagpipes to properly say goodbye."
An interesting article in Forbes quotes several ex-Google employees as speculating that shutting down Reader may result in fewer innovative ideas, as designers and developers may decide to go out on their own rather than bring up their next great idea within the Google framework.
Victoria McNally writes at Geekosystem.com about the "Reader-shaped hole in our hearts," and Devin Coldewey writes in TechCrunch: "It’s like seeing your favorite fighter (I was going to say Ali, but Google doesn’t deserve him, even in simile) throw a match for the money. He’s no worse a fighter for it, but could you ever cheer for him again?"
Google Reader subscription data can be downloaded as a zipped XML file until July 15 from Google Takeout.
P.S. Bonus hit: a handy infographic of "The Google Graveyard: A Resting Place for Good Ideas."
Willa Cline is an established author, holds the distinction of being one of the first female bloggers on the web, and is Propaganda3's own Manager of Operations.
Bridging the distance between product and lifestyle has never been a difficult task for brands like Nike. At some point, their efforts in this area become an exercise akin to attempting a high jump on the moon -- it just happens. Example no. 739: the debut of their recent work for their FC247 shoe line in Spain, another instance of experiential interactive that hits all the right chords.
Living in the future is pretty damn cool sometimes.
[Image Credit: Nike]
I'm currently enamored with Doodle Cat, an adorable app from developer Mail.Ru. It's a very simple app, probably best suited for children and adults who, like me, love cats. The cat (who doesn't seem to have a name as far as I can tell) appears as a pencil drawing on a piece of graph paper. Poking the cat produces a "Purr" or a "Mew," the visual representations of which can be moved and stacked on one another, producing new items. For example, a Mew and a Purr produce a ball of yarn; two Purrs produce a closed box, and it builds from there. Drag the ball of yarn onto the closed box, and it turns into a birdcage. A Mew and a closed box produce an open box. Drag the cat into the open box and he will play hide and seek with you.
And so it goes. There are 50 items that can be created, including various iterations of a litterbox (empty, full and dirty), a flower vase (which, when combined with the cat produce a broken vase), a flying sheep, an aquarium (both empty and full of fish), and several toys that the cat will interact with. Some of the items make sense. For instance, dropping the brush onto the cat produces a pile of fur, and a pile of feathers (produced with the bird + cat interaction) combined with a rug makes a pillow. But some of them are a little more obscure -- axe + bird cage = knitting needles. Not sure where that equation came from!
I love the doodle animations, and the interaction with the cat. When left alone for awhile, he will lie down on his back and go to sleep, or wash his face. If you are so inclined, you can pick him up and drop him from the top of the screen, but just like a real cat, he always lands on his feet.
50 additional items can be purchased in-app for 99 cents, but with no instructions, you are left to experiment to find out what happens when various items are combined. Doodle Cat is a free universal app.
Willa Cline is an established author, one of the first female bloggers, and Propaganda3's own Manager of Operations.
As a means to fuel our own current efforts, we've found ourselves plumbing the depths of carny culture as of late. So while studying carny slang is a good start -- and it's even better if you can figure out how to work in "Michigan bankroll" into a status meeting -- we're always looking for more.
So many thanks to our own Willa Cline for reminding us of this little gem from the early 1980s. Gary Busey, Jodie Foster and Robbie Robertson (The Band)? We feel an iTunes download coming on.
We've expressed in the past how difficult having a craft-driven conscience can be. Why? The moment you take your eye off the bigger picture, the details that collectively coalesce to form that view all too often go blurry, leaving the effort looking like a shopping mall glamor shot taken through a Vaseline-smeared lens.
Functional? Perhaps. Compelling? Nope.
That's why we can appreciate confessionals such as this one posted by the travel discovery service Adioso. When "1 out of every 5 visitors is having a bad time," the writing is on the wall. Respect to the Adioso team for not only their willingness to face that challenge but also for being so transparent in sharing how they're addressing it.
This week's Virtual Pint goes to Foursquare for their partnership with Samsung on the Foursquare Time Machine. While the brand tie-in leaves us scratching our heads a bit in that cash-sponsor-check-and-insert-corporate-logo-here sort of way, the process of watching your full history of Foursquare check-ins play out before your eyes is compelling.
The Virtual Pint is awarded weekly to work that has most caught Propaganda3's attention during the previous seven days. For this nifty visualization of social location data -- and the pause is should create in the mind of every active Foursquare user when it comes to HOW MUCH of that data will persist as long as the great servers in the sky continue to draw their collective juice -- we give Dennis Crowley and his crew this week's gold.
As our travelling duo of developers prepare to drink in their fourth day of WWDC, we continue to receive daily updates as to what they're finding interesting, intriguing and exciting. The hard part? Well, as a licensed Apple Developer, we have very detailed agreements with our friends in Cupertino that also include terms of non-disclosure. That means we really can't get into too many details about what Bret and Daniel are learning in their sessions. But today we decided to share as much as we can. Hopefully we won't upset the Apple cart.
WHAT'S NEW IN XCODE 5?
████████ ██ ████ ██████ ████ ██████████ ████ ██ ██ ████ █ █████ █ ██ ████████. So that's going to make things A LOT easier.
BUILDING USER INTERFACES FOR IOS 7
█████ █ ██████ ██ ███ ████. ████ █████ ███ ██ ███ ██ ████████ █████ ███████. ██████ ███ ██████ █████ ██ ███ ███. So we'll just have to see how that goes.
███ ██ ████████ ████ ██████ █ ███████. ████ ████ █ ███████ █ ██████ ████ ████ ████. ███████ ████ ██████. ███████ ███ █ ███████. Definitely food for thought.
██████ ███ █ █████ ███ ███. ██████ █ ██████ ████. ███████ ██ ████████. ██████ ████████ ██████ █████████ ███ █. Really looking forward to giving that a try.