My iOS App Picks for 2014 — iOS Photo Apps

I tend to keep my pho­to­graphy over on iPad­Dark­room, but since I’m writ­ing about iOS photo apps that I’ve dis­covered or have dom­in­ated my work this year, it seemed fit­ting to look at apps that have influ­enced my photo work.

You’ve likely seen some work cre­ated with these apps before, but they’re worth pro­fil­ing again as my picks because they’ve stood head-and-shoulders above the oth­er apps in the photo edit­or / fil­ter space.

So, on to the apps… Con­tin­ue read­ing “My iOS App Picks for 2014 — iOS Photo Apps”

My iOS App Picks for 2014 — eBook Readers

It’s that time of year again — the year is end­ing, com­ing to a close. And we often take time to look back at things we’ve done. In my case, I thought I’d look back at the iOS apps that have most engaged me over the last year.

I’ll basic­ally select a ‘win­ner’ and a ‘run­ner up’, and give a few reas­ons why the app cap­tured my atten­tion and interest.

So, without fur­ther pre­amble, here’s my first cat­egory and selec­tions: Con­tin­ue read­ing “My iOS App Picks for 2014 — eBook Read­ers”

Captain on the bridge

About a year or so ago I down­loaded a nifty little PC game called Artemis — Star­ship Sim­u­lat­or.

Actu­ally, that name’s a bit mis­lead­ing — it’s more of a Star Trek bridge crew sim­u­lat­or. There are oth­er reviews that cov­er it bet­ter, but suf­fice it to say it’s a cool game to bring to a LAN party or a friends place where you have easy access to the net­work and a fist-full of laptops. Great if you have access to all that gear, but not that great for a quick and spon­tan­eous game with friends.

Today I dis­covered the iOS ver­sion, and my above com­ment is nul­li­fied.

The iOS ver­sion of Artemis works and plays with the PC ver­sion, yet does it all on an iPad — even my ori­gin­al iPad 1 run­ning iOS 5.


Each bridge pos­i­tion is con­trolled from one iPad, though with a quick set­tings change you can con­trol mul­tiple pos­i­tions with on a single iPad.

The really cool thing is that an iPad can even act as the game serv­er.


Now, Artemis is not a game for every­one. It’s really a col­lab­or­at­ive star­ship com­bat sim­u­lat­or, but if you’ve got a few friends and a few iPads, it’s now much easi­er to host a pickup game on gamenight.

Shields up! Red Alert! Arm photon tor­pedoes, we’re going in!

Immelmann your way to victory in Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol for iOS

After check­ing out PocketTactic’s piece on the lim­ited (to Canada) release of a new Sid Mei­er game, I thought I’d take a little time tonight and check out Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol for iOS, espe­cially there’s not a lot of game info either on 2K’s page (they’re the pub­lish­er) nor on FireAxis’s page (they’re the developer).

Basic­ally Ace Patrol is a turn based World War I air com­bat game — in the style of the old Avalon Hill games from late in the last cen­tury. You move your air­craft a hex or two at a time dur­ing your turn, maybe shoot­ing, and then your oppon­ent does the same.

Actu­ally Ace Patrol kinda reminds me of Richthofen’s War in some of the mis­sions and turn mech­an­ics.

Unlike Richtofen’s War, turn pro­gress hap­pens much quick­er with mis­sions unfold­ing in a cam­paign sequence mir­ror­ing major battles of The Great War.

I’m not going to write a full-up review as the world-wide release of the game doesn’t hap­pen until May 9th. For some reas­on, the Canada iTunes store was selec­ted to test-launch the title so is avail­able there cur­rently. So I’ll  just touch on a few of the things I found inter­est­ing about my brief play with the game.

  • Jaunty music — I rather liked the soundtrack. Cool music and, if you stay on the store or oth­er stat­ic menus, you hear some sort of avi­ation back­ground chat­ter and noise after the music ends.
  • Good graph­ics — the air­craft are kinda car­toony, but over­all it works. The map is rendered nicely and the anim­a­tions are pretty smooth.
  • User Inter­face — the 3d rota­tion around your air­craft and the battle is intu­it­ive and essen­tial to under­stand­ing what’s hap­pen­ing in the fly­ing furball of com­bat.
  • Four nations and cam­paigns — An abridged Brit­ish cam­paign comes free with the game. The com­plete Brit­ish cam­paign and three oth­ers are avail­able as in-app pur­chases.
  • The turn-based move­ment mech­an­ic forces you to think a few turns ahead and attempt to anti­cip­ate the flow of battle.
  • Single and multi-play­er through turn han­doff or loc­al net­work play.

So yeah, to sum­mar­ize, Ace Patrol is fun, and yeah, I’ll be play­ing it quite a bit more, and per­haps invest­ing in some of the addi­tion­al con­tent through the in-app pur­chases.

Whoops! Almost for­got the price break­down of  some of the in-app pur­chases, fol­lowed by a cool game­play video ( 20+ minutes!)

 

Review: Griffin Beacon Universal Remote Control (iOS version)

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The Griffin Beacon uni­ver­sal remote con­trol is an inter­est­ing device. It’s a little bit lar­ger than an Apple TV2 (or a hockey puck if that’s closer to your frame of ref­er­ence) but it’s got an odd, Zen-like IR ‘stone’ on the top that’s where the con­trol sig­nals come from. Not your every­day IR blaster.

On Paper
Using Bluetooth to talk to your mobile device (iOS or Android) it uses the smarts of your device to man­age your home enter­tain­ment sys­tems. All well and good, but wait, there’s more! It’s not just the Beacon alone doing the work…

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Well, actu­ally a very cool app called dijit does the heavy lift­ing. The dijit — Beacon pair is quite power­ful, with dijit not only bring­ing list­ings and man­age­ment to your mobile device, it also brings social to your TV view­ing with con­tent dis­cov­ery and social shar­ing. The duo:

  • Trans­forms iPhones and oth­er iOS devices into an easy-to-use, nev­er-lost remote for home enter­tain­ment sys­tems
  • Con­verts Bluetooth sig­nals from iOS device into infrared sig­nals required to con­trol AV com­pon­ents
  • Beacon con­nects com­pat­ible iOS device via Bluetooth with Dijit’s free Uni­ver­sal Remote App
  • iOS device’s Mul­ti­T­ouch screen dis­play becomes the remote with Dijit’s Intu­it­ive Pro­gram Guide, allow­ing users to change chan­nels, volume, input, pro­gram DVR and much more
  • Dijit App uses a con­stantly updated device code lib­rary to make set­ting up con­trols for TV, set-top box, sound sys­tem, media play­er and more, simple and intu­it­ive
  • For com­pon­ents not yet included in Dijit’s lib­rary, the App also includes an integ­rated learn­ing fea­ture
  • Beacon’s low-pro­file design blends unob­trus­ively with any cof­fee table décor
  • Powered by 4 AA bat­ter­ies, elim­in­at­ing messy wires and power cables

In Prac­tice
Get­ting the Beacon setup and run­ning is a pretty simple job of installing the included 4 AA bat­ter­ies, par­ing the Beacon with the Bluetooth on your mobile device, and installing and run­ning the dijit con­trol soft­ware.

Then it’s a simple mat­ter of let­ting the dijit soft­ware know which com­pon­ents you want to con­trol, and bind­ing those com­pon­ents to activ­it­ies.

For example, to watch TV, I need to turn on my receiv­er, my set top box, and my TV. I had to con­fig­ure those devices in dijit, then bind them to an activ­ity (Watch TV). You also can con­fig­ure the lay­out of your ‘cus­tom’ mobile remote con­trol in your mobile device — redu­cing the num­ber of but­tons to just the crit­ic­al ones needed for any spe­cif­ic activ­ity.

A sim­il­ar pro­cess is used to define oth­er activ­ity and device com­bin­a­tions. Pretty simple once you get the hang of it, and I like the abil­ity to cus­tom­ize the lay­out of the remote con­trol but­tons.

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I had the iOS unit to review, and it eas­ily hooked up to my first-gen iPad as well as my iPhone 4s. On the iPad, I really appre­ci­ated the extra screen space to dis­play TV pro­gram­ming inform­a­tion and social media con­tent.

Since the Beacon runs on AA bat­ter­ies, it’s port­able, which means you can move to vari­ous rooms if you have more than one enter­tain­ment centre.

The unfor­tu­nate down­side is that the Beacon doesn’t have an AC adapter, which means that every so often, about as often as a hand­held remote, you’ll be repla­cing 4 AA bat­ter­ies when the Beacon fails to respond. Which may or may not be a big thing for you.

Watch­ing TV
In the end, this is a pretty cool unit. I must admit, it took a bit of retrain­ing for me to start look­ing at my iPhone or iPad for TV pro­gram­ming inform­a­tion, rather than using the device as a remote to con­trol the set-top box’s menu sys­tem. But once I got over that niggle, using the Beacon and dijit soft­ware is actu­ally quite nat­ur­al.

So if you’re look­ing for an inex­pens­ive mas­ter / uni­ver­sal remote con­trol unit for your home enter­tain­ment sys­tem, you may just want to check out the Griffin Beacon and dijit com­bin­a­tion.
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Review: Logitech Harmony 900 Universal Remote Control

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All things in life, as with the Force, have a Light Side and a Dark Side. The Logit­ech Har­mony 900 Uni­ver­sal Remote Con­trol has both.

A bit of a back­ground
I have a his­tory with Logit­ech Har­mony remotes and cur­rently own a Logit­ech Har­mony 720. I’ve always found them chal­len­ging to pro­gram and set up. As well, in my exper­i­ence, Logit­ech has nev­er really suc­ceeded in pair­ing ‘Activ­it­ies’ (watch­ing TV, listen­ing to streamed music, etc) with my devices or com­pon­ents. My wife sets up and main­tains our cur­rent Har­mony remote — I get frus­trated with it. :smileyvery-happy:

So, when I was offered the chance to take a look at the Logit­ech Har­mony 900 I was curi­ous. Has Logit­ech been able to address my con­cerns? Let’s find out… Con­tin­ue read­ing “Review: Logit­ech Har­mony 900 Uni­ver­sal Remote Con­trol”