Archive for June, 2012

Apple Announces 2012 Design Award Winners

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Apple announced the winners of its 2012 Design Awards yesterday at WWDC to recognize iPhone, iPad, and Mac apps that demonstrated excellence in design, innovation, and technical excellence. Only apps available in the iOS and Mac App Stores as of May 1 were eligible. The selected winners receive an Apple Design Award trophy as well as other prizes.

The 2012 Apple Design Award winners are as follows:

iPhone Apps

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iPad Apps

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Mac Apps

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Student Developer Awards

Student developers are also recognized for outstanding apps with the following student-created apps selected for awards:

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Apple Announces iOS 6 Featuring Siri Enhancements, Facebook Integration, Updated Maps App and More for Fall Release

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Along with the announcements about OS X Mountain Lion pricing, release timing, and new features and a new MacBook Pro today, Apple also officially announced iOS 6 and highlighted some if its new features at today’s WWDC keynote event.

In iOS 6, Siri will debut on the 3rd-generation iPad and gets several new enhancements including the ability to report sports scores and schedules, tell you about local movie times and make restaurant reservations through OpenTable. And, most importantly in my view, Siri will be able to open apps, a feature that will make hands-free use much easier.

As expected following a plethora of rumors, Apple has revamped the Maps app with its own map data, doing away with Google’s integration here entirely. The new Maps app will include Yelp integration for business listings and will (finally!) offer turn-by-turn navigation guidance. It will also source real-time traffic data from iOS users anonymously and re-route accordingly.

Facebook will get system-level integration, similar to the way Twitter is integrated in iOS 5 today. Using a public API, developers will be able to add links to post to Facebook easily within their apps.

Apple has created a new app called Passbook which will act as a virtual wallet to hold airline boarding passes, loyalty cards, coupons, and more. Developers will have access to a new API to offer these items to iOS device users. At the keynote, Apple showed screenshots of a Starbucks Gold Card within Passbook, similar to the way the current Starbucks iPhone app works to pay for goods. Passbook can also alert you automatically when you’re near a business where you can use the app and prior to an event, like the departure of a flight.

Facetime will work over cellular networks, losing the restriction to Wi-Fi only that it faces in iOS 5 currently. And the Phone app gets some new options when incoming calls arrive to let you reply with a text message or set a reminder to return the call later.

A new Do Not Disturb feature lets you customize when calls and notifications should be suppressed to avoid waking you up at night or interrupting a meeting, a feature that will definitely help me sleep a little better despite my chatty, night-owl friends.

iOS 6 will work on the iPhone 3GS and later, the 2nd-generation iPad and later and the 4th-generation iPod touch. Though Apple has charged for iOS updates in the past, no price has been announced for iOS 6 and it will most likely be a free update for the aforementioned devices when it becomes available in the fall.

Apple Announces New Features and July Release for OS X Mountain Lion

Monday, June 11th, 2012

At today’s WWDC keynote event, Apple announced several new features for the next version of the Mac operating system and noted that it will be available next month for $19.99 through the Mac App Store.

The pace of innovation on the Mac is amazing, OS X Mountain Lion comes just a year after the incredibly successful launch of Lion,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “With iCloud built right in and the new Notification Center, Messages, Dictation, Facebook integration and more, this is the best OS X yet.”

As previously revealed by a rumor, Mountain Lion will include a dictation feature that will be available system-wide to enable entering text by voice. Facebook integration will also debut, making it easy to share links and photos directly without navigating to Facebook’s site or a 3rd-party app.

The new Power Nap feature will let the new, thinner MacBook Pro with a Retina display announced today and the 2nd-generation and later MacBook Air models complete app updates and Time Machine back-ups and downloads emails and more while charging in sleep mode.

iCloud Tabs will sync open Safari browser windows across all Macs and iOS devices using the same iCloud account, making it easy to pick up where you left off browsing the web when moving from one device to another.

As previously revealed, Mountain Lion will gain several apps and features already available in iOS 5, including iMessage (via the new Messages app), Notification Center, Reminders, Game Center, and more.

Of course, we’ll let you know as soon as Mountain Lion is available through the Mac App Store next month!

30/30 is a Gorgeous Timer for iPhone and iPad With a User-Selected Price

Friday, June 8th, 2012

I have always been fascinated with productivity apps intended to help users structure work days to complete tasks and take breaks and I’ve dabbled with a few timer-styled apps here and there to see how well they keep me on track throughout my work day. I hadn’t found any that really worked for me but I think Binary Hammer’s 30/30 gesture-driven timer app, which debuted in the App Store yesterday, may change that.

When you first open 30/30, you’re presented with a few tutorial screens to show you how to use the app and the gestures to create, delete, move, and edit tasks. There are no buttons in 30/30’s main interface and its gestures are reminiscent of one of my favorite to do apps, Clear.

Once you’re past this tutorial, which can be viewed again through the Help option in the settings menu if needed, you’re presented with 30/30‘s main screen and some fake tasks to give you some practice. You can delete these and start over from scratch or just edit them to suit your needs.

The concept here is simple – you create a list of tasks and assign each a time between one minute and 60 minutes. Once you start the timer with a tap, 30/30 will count down the time you’ve set for a task and sound an alarm at the end to let you know when you need to move on to the next one. If you’re using another app or your iPhone or iPad is locked when the timer ends, you’ll get a single push notification alert.

By default, an Auto-Pause setting is enabled which stops the timer at the end of each task and requires you to re-start it to move on to the next one. Personally, I prefer to disable this Auto-Pause setting so that the timer automatically starts for the next task without any input from me.

30/30 will simply rotate through your list of tasks over and over again like a playlist on repeat until you stop it, which can be very handy for interval workouts or if you simply want to alternate work sessions with breaks all day. Or you can enter enough tasks to fill up to 10 days before they start repeating, allowing you to structure your entire work week if you want.

Other settings include on/off toggles for brightness, vibrate on alert, sounds, and push notifications. A News button here provides updates and information straight from Binary Hammer, a feature that I think would be useful in every app to learn of impending bug fixes or other issues.

30/30 is free to download from the App Store but you can pay for it if you want via the In-App Shop button in the app’s settings, which reveals the option to pay $.99, $1.99, or $2.99 via in-app purchase. Binary Hammer’s President, Bob Koon, calls this “Pay what you want” and likens it to the shareware software model. So, if you find 30/30 useful, you can “donate” accordingly to show your support. Amusingly, the in-app purchase confirmations note that you’re buying a “Boatload of Thanks” when you do donate.

My work days may not be routine enough to use 30/30 every single day but when they are, 30/30 will be running on my iPhone or iPad to help keep me on track. 30/30 is a worthy download if you’re at all interested in trying to give some structure to your work day to help you get things done.

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Flutter for Mac Lets You Control Apps via Webcam with Hand Gestures

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Flutter, a California-based start-up, has released its unique gesture-driven media control application of the same name in the Mac App Store. Flutter lets you control music and video playback in iTunes, Spotify, VLC, and Quicktime with hand gestures recognized through your computer’s webcam.

To start playback, all you need to do is hold your hand up with your palm facing forward to your webcam. The same gesture will pause playback.

Here’s a demo video showing how Flutter works:


Only a single gesture is recognized to start and pause playback so far but more gestures to skip and like songs and mute and control volume are coming soon according to the app’s description. Flutter will also gain compatibility with additional applications and sites, including YouTube, Netflix, Pandora, and Hulu.

Though Flutter is still in alpha and isn’t considered a final, bug-free and fully-tested product, it works pretty well. If you’re a fidgeter like me though, you could find yourself stopping and starting music playback more often than you intend but it’s a useful and unique app nonetheless. It’s a little unnerving knowing that my iMac’s webcam is on all the time while Flutter is running but my paranoia is a separate issue altogether.

Flutter has been available for download directly from the company’s site for a few months now but it just debuted in the Mac App Store a couple of weeks ago. It’s currently free to download though this won’t last once new gestures are added and it becomes compatible with more apps, so I definitely recommend you get it now if you have a Mac running OS X 10.6 or higher with a webcam. Though it has limited functionality right now, Flutter is one of those apps that makes you feel like you’re living in the future.

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Get Your E3 2012 Coverage at TouchArcade

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

E3, the annual video game trade show held by the Entertainment Software Association, officially kicks off today and our sister site, TouchArcade, is in attendance to cover the hottest iOS titles and other related news revealed there. To see all of TouchArcade’s coverage of E3, check out this link which will show all E3 2012 articles published to date throughout the week.

Of course, you can also find TouchArcade’s coverage via the free official app that debuted last month. Just hit the News & Reviews section or use the search function and enter “E3″ without the quotation marks to find all articles containing news from the expo.

Though the show floor won’t open for a few hours, some news from the expo is already out, including announcements from EA, Microsoft, and Nintendo and others.

As we’ve mentioned before, we leave iOS game coverage to the experts at TouchArcade and restrict our blog coverage here at AppShopper to all other categories, with the exception of a few posts here and there for major game news. The iOS game category is enormous in and of itself and TouchArcade has no shortage of news and reviews to offer year-round.

If you’re attending E3 yourself, be sure to get the free official E3 app to get easy access to the show’s floor plan, exhibitor list, shuttle schedule and more.

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