A great couple of weeks to be an iOS gamer

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Three exciting games were released for iOS devices in the last week and a bit. One was from a well-established computer and console development juggernaut. One was from a (now) blockbuster company that made their name on the iPhone and iPod Touch. And the final one from a small but respected Canadian design house, is currently taking the iTunes App store by storm – becoming Game of the Week on launch day. And if you’re planning to pick up an iPad 2 tomorrow, you might want to make these your first downloads :smileyhappy:
Continue reading “A great couple of weeks to be an iOS gamer”

Boppin’ with the BeBot!

bebot.jpgiPad music and synth apps all seem to be trying to exactly replicate the
experience of using a real synthesizer or instrument, like Virtuoso Piano 3 .

Recently I discovered BeBot, an iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad music app that breaks that stereotype.

According to the developer, BeBot is:

…Part synthesizer, part animated robot.

Touching the screen causes the robot to move and make sounds controlled by your movements. Play it like a musical instrument, or just have fun watching the robot and making sounds with your fingers.

Features 4-finger multitouch polyphony, multiple synthesis modes, user-definable presets and scales, tweakable synth settings and effects, and more!

And for me, this reads as pure fun! Robots! Synths! What more could you want.

Well, how ’bout a Theremin? Yep, the developers have built in a preset that emulates a Theremin pretty darn well.

Some will see this as a musical time-waster or toy, yet it can have serious musical applications. Check out the video  below of Jordan Rudess working the BeBot on an iPhone.

So, for $1.99, I’m thinking this is a pretty versitile piece of musical tech. How ’bout you? Got a favourite musical iOS  app? Let me know about it in the comments.

And, as an aside, check out this awesome video of a Theremin being used to play the Star Trek theme!


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Speed up your Internet experience by using the right DNS server

Last week I saw this LifeHacker article (via AppleInsider) about NameBench, a window utility that tests the speed of your system’s DNS servers.

And I was wondering if my DNS was as fast as it could be…

Previously, I’d switched my DNS services over to OpenDNS, a free alternate DNS Provider that adds value as:

  • Ultra-reliable, globally-distributed network
  • Industry-leading Web content filtering
  • Easy to use for families, schools, and businesses of all sizes

Google also has free public DNS services available, which NameBench scans and includes in the results.

But recently I’d noticed that often videos and other streaming media just wouldn’t play back smoothly, so after reading this bit in the life hacker article I thought I’d give NameBench a try.

“When millions of users all tap into the same DNS server addresses to resolve domain names, as Google DNS does by design, Akamai and other CDNs route content to those users along the same path, preventing the network from working optimally. This causes problems not only for Apple’s iTunes, but also any other media streaming or download service that uses a similar CDN strategy to distribute downloads.”

As an added benefit, NameBench checks to see if your DNS servers are vulnurable up to security standards, and if your DNS requests are being censored or redirected (WikiLeaks, for example).

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WOW.
According to NameBench, By switching back to my ISP, I’d get an amazing DNS speed improvement of over 100%!! Remember, this doesn’t speed up my internet connection, just the speed that the Internet translates domain names into those cryptic Internet IP addresses.

So, by making the recommended changes to my systems DNS settings, NameBench was happy with my settings. Now to see if I actually notice any improvement…

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In Real Life.
Well, I’m not too sure if I am noticing any difference yet or not. There’s so many different factors that can contribute to network speed that one change rarely makes a huge difference.

But still, every small improvement you make adds up, and contributes to a more efficient online experience.
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Discovering new apps on your device

One of the neatest things about owning a digital device is discovering new ways to use it. Got a spare 10 minutes? Look for a new app. Great way to kill time :smileyhappy:

For example, when I bought my iPad Touch, I started monitoring websites and twitter feeds such as 148apps and appadvice.com.

There’s an more than one app for that:
I also installed Chomp — a cool app discovery app (so meta) that recorded your recommendations and suggested other apps based on those recommendations. Apple’s iTune Store and app now does this through the Genius service — though it’s not quite as good as Chomp is.

Last night some friends recommended AppShopper — an app and companion website that introduces some great filtering features to the app discovery process.

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The features include:

  • Popular Apps: Overwhelmed by the App Store? The list of Popular app changes lets you browse a list of only the apps that other AppShopper users think are worth looking at.
  • What’s New: Track all the latest changes to the App Store: price drops, updates, and new apps.
  • Wish List: Add any app to your own personal Wish List and get notified of price changes or updates by email. With Push Notifications, you can get the latest updates sent directly to your device.
  • My Apps: Keep track of the apps you already own. With Push Notifications, you can get the latest updates sent directly to your device.
  • Syncs with AppShopper.com: Wish List and My Apps automatically sync with AppShopper.com so you can manage your lists in a web browser.

A universal application (iPhone/Touch/iPad), AppShopper is a rather cool addition to my app surfing addiction.

Which is great if you’ve got an iDevice…but many reading this could care less because they’ve got an Android or BlackBerrry or Other…so, what exists for those platforms? iOS can’t be the only device with dedicated recommendation services. Time to ask for help…from you! Help us out and leave your favourite ‘other’ device app-finder app or service details in the comments. It’s appreciated!



This post of is one of many I publish weekly at the Future Shop Techblog. Read more of my stuff here.