Tag Archives: iPhone

Things to Remember when looking for A New Smartphone

We are in the very beginning stages of the holiday season and that means one thing: shopping.

Apple, with their announcement of the new iPhone 8 and X on September 12th, marked the unofficial start of the season.  Along with the news came price cuts to the iPhone 6 and 7. You might be on the lookout for a new phone, and here’s what to remember when buying a phone or getting a contract for a phone.

The Apple Company Logo
The Apple Company Logo

Memory Size:  Phones can get very costly, fast.  For example, getting the iPhone 8 with 256GB will cost you $850 and don’t even get started on the 8 Plus and X costs.  So getting the 64GB iPhone would be the smart move here and it would also save you hundreds of dollars. Besides, do you even use over 36GB? That’s more than enough for me.

This year’s model or last year’s: Now, if you want to save a buck or two, going to an iPhone 7 or 7Plus would be the best option.  The price for a 7 with 32GB has gone from $649 to $549. A whole Ben Franklin saved just by getting a older model, and by the way, it’s the same thing as the iPhone 8 which comes out next week.

Camera Quality: This one is really obvious. I mean really…do I have to write it?  Ok, I will. These are the most outrageous prices that most will ever see for a phone, a damn phone. However, the iPhone X has all the gadgets, bells, and whistles ever needed for any photographer. A 3D camera with a sapphire cover with a six element lens. This thing has so many gadgets that this article would be small compared to all of the iPhone X’s specs.  However, pre-orders don’t start until October 27th and the phone itself won’t be available until November 3rd. Don’t even get started on pricing; prices start at $999 before taxes and storage choices.  So, whichever phone you choose, remember, nothing is cheap.

More Trouble From Apple iPhone

The new Apple iPhone X – photo from Apple.com

Apple has just recently announced their latest and “greatest” iPhone, the iPhone X. Why they called it the iPhone X and not just the iPhone 10 (be consistent, at the very least) is the first and the least of many baffling decisions that the Apple Company has made with their newest product.

With the iPhone X, you do get their latest and most impressive technology, including a bigger screen with better resolution, improved camera functions, and the A11 bionic chip. You also get a price tag that is well over a thousand dollars. And in terms of function, you could get the same thing from the iPhone 8 for half the price (literally). The iPhone 8 has the same A11 bionic chip as the iPhone X does. So really all you are paying for is a prettier screen. Not to mention, with the glass screen extending all the way to the very edge of the iPhone X, and with the phone’s glass back, it is much easier to break or damage the screen. And with the Apple insurance plan jumping roughly seventy dollars, that’s even more money out of your pocket.

The iPhone X is also seeing the loss of the home button and thumbprint identification in favor of new finger swipes to navigate the device and face identification to unlock the phone. Needless to say, this is going to make using the phone much more difficult and it will require some practice and memorization to actually use (aren’t upgrades supposed to make things easier to use?). With the face ID software, there has already been a number of problems for people with darker skin (i.e. not white), which makes using the phone more difficult than it already is. There could also be issues if you try to unlock your phone in low lighting (a lot of people play on their phone in bed at night) or if you make any major changes to your appearance. What if you grow a beard or have to start wearing glasses or get a scar? And if it all does work properly, what if you get arrested and the police take your phone and simply use the face ID software to unlock it and look through it? You aren’t legally required to unlock your phone for the police and they aren’t allowed to look through your phone. There seem to be a number of issues and potential issues that go along with the iPhone X, including its price tag. Instead, you could get the cheaper, more reliable iPhone 8. Or switch over to a different type of phone entirely and leave Apple behind.

People interpret emojis in different ways

Emojis are used very widely by a diverse range of people. A recent study hoped to find how individuals interpret emojis, and if there was a general consensus among individuals about what different emojis meant.

The study, led by researchers from a Research lab, called GroupLens, at the University of Minnesota, found that individuals often view emojis in different ways. The discoveries will be presented in May at the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence’s Conference on Web and Social Media in Germany.

Emojis can be cryptic in meaning. Graphic from Get Emoji
Emojis can be cryptic in meaning. Graphic from Get Emoji

The study discovered that individuals who viewed the same emoji disagreed on if the emoji expressed a negative, neutral or positive feeling approximately 25 percent of the time. For 95 percent of emojis, individuals did not strongly agree on what feeling the emoji expressed.

Each mobile platform has its own version of emojis, because of this, interpreting emojis can be particularly problematic when the sender and the receiver are using separate platforms.

The study’s participants, made up of 334 individuals, rated a total of 125 emojis. They were asked to rate the feeling expressed by an emoji on a scale from –5 (strongly negative) to 5 (strongly positive).

The researchers discovered, on average, that when two individuals viewed the same emoji, their feeling ratings were different by approximately 1.8 points, and when they looked at different versions of the same emoji, their ratings were different by approximately 2 points.

Individuals used contrasting words to describe the different renderings of the same emojis. For instance, when viewing the emoji of a “person raising both hands in celebration” individuals used words like “hand” or “celebrate” to describe the emoji from the Apple version, and words like “exciting” or “high” to describe the Microsoft version.

According to the study, the findings suggest that it would benefit users to merge the design of emojis across all platforms, which could lower the probability of miscommunication.

According to researchers, future studies may determine how individuals view emojis when they are viewed in the context of a text message, or if individuals from separate cultures also view emojis differently. Because the new study only looked at emoji with human characteristics, or anthropomorphic, future studies could investigate how individuals view non-anthropomorphic emojis.

iPhone SE: Good things can come in small packages

Image from apple.com
Apple’s latest iPhone model. Image from apple.com

On Thursday, March 31, Apple released the iPhone SE, the latest model of the smartphone that has been around since the first generation was released on June 29, 2007. iPhone SE may look like an updated iPhone 5s with the specs of an iPhone 6s, but the small phone still has a lot going for it. However, if you don’t want to switch from a large screen, you probably don’t want to switch to a four-inch phone, and are better off waiting until the estimated release date of the iPhone 7 in September 2016.

Here are the looks and the technical specifications of the new iPhone SE model, laid out in an easy-to-read format so you can see if the latest model is just what the doctor ordered. 


Design Features

Size

If you don’t want to switch from a 5s to a larger, more impractical sized, phone, the iPhone SE has the same four-inch screen that’s easy to use — you can type easily with one hand, and reach all four corners of the screen of your phone.

Color

The iPhone SE is available in four colors: silver, gold, space gray and rose gold.

The colors of the iPhone SE. Image from apple.com

Other Design Features

The new iPhone SE has a stainless steel Apple logo inset, instead of an Apple logo stamped-on the back of the phone.

The chamfered edges of the iPhone 5s have been redesigned as “refined” and are now more matte than before.

The iPhone SE features a somewhat thicker design, and doesn’t have a bump where the camera is placed.

Tech Specs

Display

The iPhone SE features a 4-inch LED-backlit Retina display with a 1136‑by‑640‑pixel resolution at 326 ppi. The contrast ratio is 800:1, the same as the iPhone 5s. However, if you’re switching from an iPhone 6s (or 6s Plus), they feature 1400:1 and 1300:1 contrast ratios, which is a big difference to take in.

Chip

The iPhone SE features an A9 chip with 64‑bit architecture, with an embedded M9 motion coprocessor. This means that the latest model has the same great performance as the iPhone 6s. The M9 motion coprocessor collects, processes, and stores sensor data, which improves functionality further.

iSight Camera

The iPhone SE iSight camera is rated at 12-megapixels with1.22µ pixels and an ƒ/2.2 aperture.

Video Recording

The new iPhone SE can shoot and edit 4k (3840 by 2160) video at 30fps. It shoots slow-motion video at 240fps (720p) and 120fps (1080p) and 1080p HD video at 30fps or 60fps, and 720p HD video recording at 30fps.

FaceTime HD Camera

The FaceTime HD Camera on the iPhone SE takes 1.2-megapixel photos, 720p HD video recording with an ƒ/2.4 aperture.

Retina Flash allows your iPhone SE screen to flash three times brighter than it normally does on models prior to the iPhone 6s. The features measures current lighting conditions, and a True Tone flash matches ambient light.

Touch ID

The iPhone SE features the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, which is built into the Home button. It’s not as fast as the iPhone 6s’, however, but it’s not noticeable unless you hold either of these phones in each hand.

Apple Pay

Apple Pay allows you to use your device to pay with your iPhone SE using Touch ID in stores and within apps.

Power and Battery

The iPhone SE gets up to 14 hours of talk time on 3G, up to 13 hours on Wi-Fi and LTE of internet use, up to 13 hours of video playback, up to 50 hours of audio playback, and has a standby time of up to 10 days.

Sensors

The iPhone SE doesn’t feature 3D touch, because it’s using the same display technology as the iPhone 5s. But if you haven’t had a iPhone 6s, and even if you do, it doesn’t make that much of a difference.


The iPhone SE has an entry-level price for the 16 GB model of $399, and compared to the iPhone 6 prices from $549 and the iPhone 6s prices from $649 and up, you get enough bang for your buck without breaking the bank.

iOS 9 feature could take a real hit to your wallet

Black couple paying bills

One of the new innovative settings on iOS 9 could be eating away at your data plan, making your data bills skyrocket. This addition of the default setting for your iPhone is called “Wi-Fi Assist”.

The feature will identify poor Wi-Fi connections and use cellular data in its place.

The setting has a reasonable and practical purpose, heightening smartphone speeds. If Wi-Fi Assist is left activated, your iPhone will automatically and silently shift to cellular data whenever it finds that your signal is weak. This results in faster network connections, but it will eat up the data of your cell phone plan. And no one, especially broke college students, want to deal with extra charges to their data plans.

iPhone users with restricted data plans should watch out for this feature, and should deactivate the setting as soon as possible. The feature could tally up a substantial amount of extra overage fees. If you decide to take the risk, be cautious, because you will not know when Wi-Fi Assist is in effect. Data overages can occur and rack up immensely. When your next phone bill arrives, you could be due extra fees.

However, iPhone users with unlimited data plans do not have to worry; internet connections can be boosted wherever Wi-Fi is weak, deciding when it’s necessary. This also is handy for those who always switch their Wi-Fi on and off to receive a better connection through cellular data. You no longer have to do all of that hard work to swipe up and turn off your Wi-Fi; your phone will now do that on it’s own.

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To avoid possible data overage charges developed from Wi-Fi assist, deactivate the setting.

  1. Tap the “Settings” app on your home screen.
  2. Tap on the “Cellular” tab.
  3. Scroll down to the very bottom.
  4. You’ll see a toggle for “Wi-Fi Assist”.
  5. You then can switch it on and off at your discretion.

Follow the list above to toggle Wi-Fi Assist, or search settings for “Wi-Fi Assist”.

IMG_6320

 

Whatever you decide to do, just make sure to keep a tab on your data usage and plans. Don’t get charged for extra data you didn’t know you used. Just be safe, careful, and conscious.

The new “News” app On the iPhone

Apple recently released a new software update, which made a few minor changes to our familiar iPhones. For one, the text font is different and it is possible to switch between apps a lot easier now. However, the big change that I noticed was the new app added to our phones: the news app. At first I didn’t think about using this app but I decided to snoop around and see what it was ad I’m glad I did. The news app lets you select anything you can think of (food, traveling, every-day life, etc.) and personalize it to news appyour liking.

When you open the app it shows an endless amount of articles about the stuff you were interested in. It provides a list of articles about recipes, traveling, sports games, political news, animal news, and so much more. Anything you could want to know about is right there in an app instead of Google searching and different news updates.

The app has seasonal options, too, such as fall food ideas or Halloween costume ideas that you can go back and delete off your news feed when the season passes. This is something very useful and convenient that has been added to our already intelligent and capable phones.

I use the app to get easy recipes, look at movie reviews, catch up on celebrity gossip, and get my daily dose of real world news. The app is a great addition to the iPhone that many people will get a lot of use out daily. This app could be for any age because it lets you customize what you want to read about. The app could let a middle-aged man read the political news but also let his 16-year-old daughter read about the celebrity gossip.

Overall, the new “news” app has proved itself worthy in I’m sure not only my book!

The new noteworthy iOS 9

Do you like the new IOS 9? Graphic by Katie Gibson
Do you like the new IOS 9? Graphic by Katie Gibson

Following the release of the new iPhone, iOS 9 released September 16. Like everyone else, I rushed to make sure I was connected to the WiFi in order to download the new update as soon as possible. This update brought enhancements to already existing built-in apps, and introduced a brand-new app.

1. News

Unlike those built-in apps that you may not use, and can’t delete, and put into the back of an app folder; News gives you a fresh perspective on daily events, customized to your interests. News puts all the stories you’re interested in one place, so you don’t have to scour multiple websites for the information you want to know. Articles are pulled from a variety of sources, from top news websites to indie organizations. Stories are chosen for you based on your interests, and News gets optimized each time you use it.

2. Notes

I’ve always used the Notes app for jotting down my thoughts, even when given the option to use pen and paper. With iOS 9, the Notes app can do so much more. You can add checklists, and check them off as you go. Using the tip of your finger, you can draw right in your note. You can add a photo to the note, either from taking the photo in the Notes app, or accessing your photo library to add an existing photo or video to a note.

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3. Maps

I utilize Maps app to get from one destination to another, since I’m so bad at directions. Maps has added Transit view, and a Nearby feature. With Transit view, you can find public transit information with routes and directions. With the Nearby feature, you can find exactly what you’re looking for, wherever you are, whether it’s food, drinks, shopping, fun, etc.

4. Siri

Siri is now also the technology that powers search on your iPhone and iPad. The search screen is updated to contain relevant people, suggested apps, places nearby and local trending news. The update also offers suggestions on music, emails and events.

5. Apple Pay

Apple Pay is now more secure, simple, and useful as ever. You can use Apple pay to make purchases with your credit cards, and soon it will be possible to use store credit cards and rewards cards.

6. iCloud Drive

The new iCloud Drive app allows you to access any file you save to iCloud from your Home screen, allowing for better organization and accessibility.

Along with these visible improvements, there are other refinements that brings you better performance, faster updates, enhanced battery life, and improved security. iOS 9 doesn’t require you to free up as much space to update. Low Power mode lets you extend your battery life up to 1 hour of additional time before needing to charge your device. iOS 9 advances security by giving you the option of having 6 digit passcodes along with the options that were available before the update.

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If you own an iPhone, I strongly recommend that you download the iOS 9 update. You can decide whether you like the new features, and if you don’t you can always re-install iOS 8 again through the Apple store.

If you want to switch from Android to Apple, have no fear, you can download the Move to iOS app to switch from the old device, wirelessly. It transfers your contacts, message history, camera photos and videos, web bookmarks, mail accounts and calendars. Any apps you used on your old device, will be added to your iTunes Wish List.

Congrats to the new members of the iFamily

Author: Jessi Wollmann

jwollmann@radford.edu

September 9 was a day filled with excitement for those in the iFamily. All over the world, people waited in anticipation to figure out what the newest upgrade to iTechnology would be.

Introducing the newest editions to the iPhone family. Graphic by Katie Gibson
Introducing the newest editions to the iPhone family. Graphic by Katie Gibson

Apple did not disappoint.

In this year’s annual fall technology release, Apple announced the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, the Apple TV, the iPad Pro, the newest iPod touch, the Apple watchOS2, and their collaboration with Hermes to unveil a new Apple Watch Hermes Collection.

The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus got two new and particularly exciting upgrades: 3D Touch and Live Photos. 3D touch gives an iPhone user a new and innovative way to look at and interact with the info on their screen. Live Photos gives the user the ability to take a picture and then bring that normally still photo to life. It does this by capturing the few seconds before and after a picture is taken and brings a certain sense of magic to a photo.

The Apple TV is an entirely new idea that brings apps directly into a user’s living room. This also includes a Siri Remote, allowing a user to search for a program with multiple Apple devices. Also introduced were the iPad Pro, iPad Pencil and Smart keyboard that can all be used simultaneously on new apps.

Finally, Apple released an upgraded form of the Apple watch and announced a partnership with Hermes to create sleeker Apple watches. These watches have leather bands designed by Hermes to create a unique expression of Apple watch.

So looks like it’s going to be a big fall for Apple. Everyone’s buzzing about the new products. Hopefully after September 25, the release date of the new technology, Apple and it’s estimated 600 million users won’t be disappointed.

 

Why it’s important to not burry your head in technology

Things are happening all around us. On television, up close in person, from a distant view…but few people are starting to realize and observe all of these things because they are too consumed with their technology. Technology has come a long way and is very advanced now, which is great in many ways. To stay in touch with people, have a way of reaching someone in case of emergencies, or just to have the convenience of having almost everything at your fingertips.

Don't become too attached to your technology. Graphic from Pop Sugar
Don’t become too attached to your technology. Graphic from Pop Sugar

But, it is good to remember that putting down your devices when they aren’t necessary is okay. It’s nice to look up from your phone and notice the leaves have changed colors or notice a butterfly passing by you. It’s nice to watch a movie without checking your social media and not have to ask questions about what happened in the last scene. When you have a family trip or outing and you don’t use your phone or iPod it allows you to have conversations with each other the entire time instead of broken sentences and interruptions from the buzz of a text or notification.

Every once in a while, or as often as you can, stay strong and avoid your technological devices. Enjoy the things happening all around you in your life, in other’s lives, in nature, or whatever you find interesting. It’s a good feeling when you haven’t glanced at your fluorescent screen for a while and have taken in what’s around you. My dad always asked me why I was so interested in what everyone else was doing, and I didn’t know how to answer that because I didn’t really know why.

Social media can be nice but looking at everyone else’s lives instead of experiencing and living your own can be a burden eventually and one that you don’t want to carry forever. Notice and appreciate the little things in life and forget about the big world living inside your phone and apps. Enjoy the now and get involved with your world and the people in it. Technology often crowds our mind and consumes our thoughts, but if you give it a break you will start to see very clearly and appreciate things you wouldn’t have even thought about before.

Make sure you aren’t letting your phone control your life because it goes by faster than you think and before you know it you’ll regret that you didn’t stop to look at the landscape around you, wherever you may be, or pay enough attention to your family on that summer vacation. Look up, look around, take it all in, and enjoy it.

Your phone will always be there, waiting, but moments will pass.

The MacBook quietly evolves

It’s that time again; all of your I.T. friends and Apple fan-boys will be raving. Why wouldn’t they? For just under $2,000 you could have a brand new MacBook.

What you’ll also have is the latest in Apple innovation that will subtly inhibit your ability to share chargers.

Remember that first friend to get an iPhone5? Their biggest plight was needing a charger. If they forgot to bring their charger with them, odds are their friends wouldn’t be able to help.

Now, Apple has taken this sadistic technique and applied it to the new generation of MacBooks.

Even CollegeHumor has chimed in on the absurdity.

 

 

No longer will you be worrying about being that “charger guy” in front of your friends, but now you also have the opportunity to be a screw up in front of your coworkers.

While the new charging cable is an unneeded addition, Apple has made significant improvements to its popular laptop model. The MacBook now boasts dual-core and quad-core Intel processors to compliment its more-than 5 million pixels Retina display.

Retina display, however, is so 2012. The real innovation in this year’s model is the addition of the Force Touch trackpad. According to Apple, users will enjoy, “a tactile response from the trackpad.”

Using the Force Touch trackpad – only available on the 13 inch model – one will be able to scrub through a video by applying pressure to the trackpad. The more pressure you apply, the faster the video will play.

Ever have issues trying to gently zoom in or out on a map? No longer will one have to deal with the awkward two finger zoom function, instead one needs only to apply pressure to the trackpad.

Tech Talk: iPad Air

iPad-Air-smart-cover
Even thinner than before! Photo from Idownloadblog.com.

This week on Tech Talk, we’ll be discussing Apple’s latest device for their holiday lineup: the iPad Air. It’s a thinner and lighter version of the iPad that deserves a new name. With such big improvements to the chassis and bezel, it’s a must-have for the holidays. The only thing missing is the Touch ID sensor, seen on the iPhone 5S. We talk about why Apple would make such a stupid mistake since all the information on your phone is synced to your iPad via iCloud. Continue reading Tech Talk: iPad Air

iOS 7: Like putting new makeup on a dated scarlet woman

The software that runs the lives of iPhone users, iOS, just got a much-needed makeover. The seventh revision of the revolutionary software was released on Sept. 18 with a new palette of colors. It’s a massive overhaul in terms of the user interface and this renovation has turned out to be more intuitive than ever before.

Continue reading iOS 7: Like putting new makeup on a dated scarlet woman

China: Handset Battleground

Apple has consistently tried to make a dent in the handset market in China. The iPhone 5C was supposed to change the game for the Cupertino-based computer company. It didn’t. Analysts have concluded that maintaining Apple’s current pricing strategy with the 5C is hurting its sales in China. Only one hundred dollars less than the 5S, the 5C is considered a preemptive failure to squash down the Android market share. Continue reading China: Handset Battleground

“Up”-grading to a healthier lifestyle

“Up” by developer Jawbone is part iPhone app, part sensory wristband. “Up” helps users track their overall health. It does this by using a number of sensors built into the wristband, as well as user-inputted data. Jawbone hopes that the $99 app and periphery wristband will improve users’ standards of life.

This iPhone app comes with a wristband. Photo from Creative Commons.

“Up” targets three different lifestyle components to help users achieve a healthier lifestyle. The areas it targets are movement, eating and sleeping. The app focuses on these three components using a combination of sensors and user input.

Movement is monitored through the wristband using a precise motion sensor along with the device’s GPS. The motion sensor determines when users have been sedentary for too long. Users can set the time intervals for when the wristband notifies users that they have been motionless for too long. This provides users with a built-in reminder to keep moving. The GPS access allows the app to determine how many miles the user has moved that day and design challenges around distances walked or run in a set period of time. These challenges can be put on the “Up” community, giving users added motivation.

Along with its ability to track its users movements, “Up” also monitors the sleep cycle of its users. Not only does the app watch for when a user sleeps, it also keeps an eye on the quality of sleep users are getting. The wristband also has the ability to wake users by vibrating against their wrist to let them know it is the best time to get up during their sleep cycle, attempting to ensure the user gets a full night of sleep. All the sleep information data is displayed in a simple bar graph for users to read upon waking from their device.

The wristband can’t do everything though. Users are responsible for tracking their own meals. Users do this by inputting pictures into their food diaries. The app asks users after each entry how they feel after a meal. This allows the app to slowly discover which food makes the individual feel best, and also allows the app to provide food suggestions.

“Up” also comes with a support community. The support community issues challenges to “Up” users to motivate them to keep an eye on their health. Many of the challenges appear to be attempts to get users to start healthy habits. These challenges also provide users with some fun, healthy competition.

While certainly innovative, it’s not the first app periphery combination to do that. The $99 “Fitbit” provides similar services. The main difference between “Fitbit” and “Up” is how they’re worn. “Up” is a wristband and “Fitbit” works as a clip-like device that can be worn under clothing or put in a pocket. Either app seems like an interesting option to help people to monitor and learn about their overall health. It will be interesting to see if similar apps come out in the coming years.

Flash coming to a mobile browser near you?

Skyfire allows you to use flash on your mobile device. Photo from Creative Commons.

As most people are aware, Flash player is one of the few things lacking from the Apple mobile arsenal and it may soon be making an appearance on the device. A new mobile browser is being tested out that would be a downloadable app for the iPhone and iPod Touch. This browser is already on android enabled devices and now it’s looking to make the leap across platforms. This wonder browser will bring what many fans of Apple devices have been wanting since the start. It is called Skyfire.

For many people using Android devices, the Skyfire browser has already replaced the built-in one. It offers a much more rich and diverse browsing experience with a great deal of focus on better integrating the mobile versions of websites as well as the non-mobile renditions. The browser is sleek and cleanly built using the mobile interfaces people are used to with the added bonus of enhanced video content.

Skyfire was submitted for review by Apple earlier last month and now it’s only a waiting game. The addition of Flash to Apple will be a big game changer in the way things are currently run. Apple can more or less dictate what makes it on its device by removing users’ ability to use Flash. This ensures that they must purchase content through the iTunes store or view clips via YouTube, which does not use Flash. Now users of Apple mobile devices will be allowed to experience the Web in a whole new way on their mobile device, which is a way previously only reserved for their home computers.

Apple has consistently stated that Flash will not only pose a security risk to their mobile devices, but that it also takes up too many resources and will ultimately cause their devices to slow down. This is a chance for Apple to change their stance on Flash. This could very well be what the iPod Touch and iPhone need, an updated and sleeker browser with Flash fully integrated. If they accept the Skyfire proposal, this opens the window for a different sort of app development more focused on the Web browser than downloadable content.

If the browser does get accepted, which most news sources seem to indicate it will, this will cut down significantly on the underground app development which has been occurring in great numbers in the past few years. The reason for this is fewer people will be Jailbreaking their iPods. Jailbreaking an iPod is when you disable the controls that Apple has installed on the device to prevent it from downloading and installing non-approved apps from third parties. Jailbreaking is a violation of the terms of service because when a user Jailbreaks their iPod, they are taking a major risk if something goes wrong. Once the Skyfire makes it to the app store fewer people will feel the need to Jailbreak their iPods since the main attraction of doing that was the ability to get apps that allowed for Flash video to be played.

If Apple accepts Skyfire into the app marketplace it will have an effective cut down on one of the major problems with its users while at the same time silencing many of its critics. While most people assume the app will be accepted, it is still a waiting game at this point and the ball is in Apple’s court.

Plants vs. Zombies

Screenshot from the PopCap game Plants vs. Zombies. Photo from Creative Commons.

Plants vs. Zombies is an addictive game for iPod touch and iPhone. The game is set up as a basic tower defense game. Players have to defend their homes from an onslaught of invading zombies seeking to devour the the brains of would be victims. Luckily enough there just happens to be an arsenal of plants at the disposal of our heroes that will protect them from the coming zombie invasion.

Game Play

Like any tower defense game, Zombies vs. Plants is simple to play. Users have to place plants in strategic locations to make use of their powers and try to fend off the invasion. Unlike most tower defense game types, the zombies are not restricted to a single path that they can take. The map is broken up into six sections that run parallel across the map. More than one zombie at a time can be in one of these lanes as they advance on the home of the victim to be, though typically early on they continue across rather predictably in sequence.

The real draw to Zombies vs. Plants is the massive number of defensive towers, or in this case the massive number of plants, that players can use. An example of said plants is the pea shooter. It shoots, well, peas at enemies inflicting damage upon them. Then there are the hot tamales; they burn enemy zombies. There are 48 different varieties of zombie killing plants. The number of plants and types are half the fun forcing players to make creative use of the limited number of seeds they can bring into battle to make certain they are prepared.

Along with the 48 different types of plants, there are also 26 different types of zombies. This makes plant selection vital as some zombies will be much more resistant to some attacks than others. This is what makes strategy for this game so very important; without it, what can be a fun and relaxing game can quickly become overwhelming.

The Good

The game is a fun, intense play, and has that unique ability that all tower defense games seem to have to draw players in and keep them intently focused until the very end. The game offers an awesome variety of content for what it is, which only serves to enhance the experience that players get. As the game goes, players are treated to mini-games and challenges to give a break from what could otherwise become very monotonous. The music gives a bit of a spooky feel and builds appropriately in intensity as more zombies march across the screen.

The Bad

It felt like the graphics could’ve been much better and even though the game got its origins in Flash, there is still room for improvement especially on the cross system versions of the game. Game play can seem a little too easy at times distracting from what is otherwise an extremely well built game.

Final Thoughts

For what it is, the game does an extremely good job of offering the most content for the least money. It becomes extremely difficult to put the game down once it has started and you become ever more entrapped in ending the invading zombies once and for all. The game is something that people should definitely pick up if they are looking for a fun and distracting way to kill time.

Whim Rating: 4.5/5


iMut8r photo app

An example of what iMut8r does. Photo from Creative Commons.

iMut8r is one of those unique apps that really takes advantage of and utilizes the built-in camera found in the new iPhone. This app allows users to recreate the images of their friends and families into strange monsters. The app is one of many image apps that has hit the app marketplace. Though the app is clearly meant to be a seasonal one, it appears to be an interesting addition to the app market.

iMut8r has a number of tools to aid in turning users’ friends and families into terrifying monsters. These tools work with a number of preset characters that users can pick from. This sets up the basic template so that creating their picture is easier. A couple of the characters that users can turn their friends and family into are ghouls and werewolves.

One of the most impressive tools on the app is the fade tool. This tool is extremely well designed for such a cheap and light little app. This tool allows users to blend the preset hair and colors to match more closely to the natural hair color of the actual person. This way the image created has a much more realistic appearance that one would not expect for a cheap little seasonal app. The only complaint many users have had with this feature is that not all the hair is fade enabled so users are forced to pick and choose.

For all the praise user feedback gives the app, there are a number of negatives as well. The first among many seems to be that once you save an image, some of the effects occasionally go away leaving a partially completed image. Another complaint is that some of the add on features for faces are tethered together preventing users from moving things like the nose or mouth independently from one another. Other complaints deal with the fact that there is no reset button or undo for images, so once you start working you need to have a fairly clear idea of what you intend to do with the app or be prepared to start all over.

Even with its flaws, iMut8r is among one of the most stunning image morphing apps out there considering its seasonal nature along with the obvious work that went into it. It does an extremely brilliant job of morphing and changing people into the character types that are selected while also giving users a great deal of freedom to change and edit things as they please. This is a must have Halloween app so get it before it expires from the app market place and for a dollar the app is a decent bargain.