Amazon has jumped into yet another market by producing their own mobile game for Android and iOS. The game, called Air Patriots, seems like an interesting take on the whole tower defense type game that has proven popular on the mobile platforms. I know I love TowerMadness and play it constantly on my iPhone.
Air Patriots has the player control a squad of planes to defend your territory and defeat the enemy. Users draw a path on the screen with their finger, which the planes then follow and use as attack paths. Amazon is offering up 13 different types of planes, 28 levels, and 7 different maps, 3 of which are free.
"When we created Air Patriots we wanted to make a game that was easy and engaging, and the simplicity of drawing paths for planes was something we thought would appeal to players," Ernie Ramirez, executive producer at Amazon Game Studios, said in a statement. "We think customers will find Air Patriots both familiar and fresh, with a degree of challenge that keeps them engaged and enthused to play more."
We're getting closer to the release of Angry Birds Star Wars and Rovio has indulged us with yet another trailer, this time featuring Han Solo and Chewie. The trailer also shows off some in-game play and it's rather interesting how the game appears to be taking shape. More on that in a moment, for now, take a look at the trailer:
The game appears to feature some really unique forms of birds and they take the Star Wars theme to the max. For instance, Han Solo is firing a laser gun as he flies through the air, and the beams then ricochet around the level, something we haven't seen out of Angry Birds as of yet.
Chewie, too, offers a unique play style as it appears Rovio has mixed the previous land-based Angry Birds with Angry Birds space. This is rather fitting, considering Star Wars takes place on both planets and in space. It really is a culmination of the many games that Rovio has produced in the Angry Birds series.
Check out the trailer above, give us your thoughts in the comments, and be sure to download the app of November 8 when it is released.
Microsoft has had a bit of a time naming the apps that users download from the Windows Store. First, they were being referred to Metro apps, though they had to stop the Metro naming after someone threatened to sue them over its use. Yesterday, Microsoft referred to the apps as "Windows 8 Store Applications."
Microsoft has now recanted that description and instead directed everyone to refer to the apps as "Windows Store apps." It's a bit shorter and easier to say and much more likely to catch on, though most people will probably still just refer to the Windows Store apps as "apps" due to the ubiquitous that term has come to be.
Google have just released the new Google Search app for both the iPhone and iPad, which sports enhanced voice search that answers just about any question you have, with Google's comprehensive search results.
Thanks to Google's fast and accurate voice recognition technology, the new app understands exactly what you're saying. All you have to do is not use Siri, load up this app and tap the microphone icon asking a question such as "is United Airlines flight 318 on time?" As you speak, the words appear on screen and you'll receive your answer immediately. If the answer is short, such as asking the time, Google will tell you the answer out loud.
Google's Knowledge Graph is also another great piece of this app, giving their search technology an understanding of people, places and things in the real world. Here are some examples of what questions Google can answer:
- "What does Yankee Stadium look like?" Google will show you hundreds of pictures instantly.
- "Play me a trailer of the upcoming James Bond movie." The trailer starts playing immediately right within Google Search.
- "When does daylight savings time end?" The answer will appear above the search results, so you can set your clock without having to click on a link.
- "Who's in the cast of The Office?" See a complete cast list and find out who made you crack up last night.
The release of Angry Birds Star Wars is getting closer and closer every minute and some are more excited than others. To try to get those who aren't excited to join the ranks of those who are, Rovio has been producing trailers teasing the game and we finally have a trailer out that shows some actual gameplay:
In the video, levels are seen being played on Tatooine, with the pigs dressed as Tusken Raiders, and Hoth, with the pigs wearing the same head wear that the Imperial officers do. It really looks all rather interesting and has the Star Wars theme woven rather deeply throughout the entire game, or at least the game parts we have seen.
Another video is due out on November 5 and the game is due out on November 8. It's very likely it will set some more new records when it launches.
Draw Something was insanely popular, before OMGPOP was acquired by Zynga. Now, it has really dropped off in popularity, and late-to-the-game Microsoft have reached a deal with Zynga seeing the social game on Windows Phone.
Draw Something for Windows Phone is made as an exclusive to Nokia's Lumia range of handsets for the next two months, which is sure to piss more than a few current Windows Phone, and future Windows Phone 8 owners off.
Windows Phone will also see Words With Friends released to it soon.
Microsoft have been kind to Android users, providing SmartGlass integration on the Google Play store. The companion app is a bit of a change from the My Xbox Live app for Android, which let you control some of the Xbox 360's features from Android-based devices.
Windows Phone-based users get the best integration of all the OS', but it's good to see Microsoft not letting Android users cry in the dark alone. The Android app lets you look through the Dashboard, input text, browse the web (with zooming), search for local content, and control media playback.
The app requires an Android device sporting a resolution of at least 800x480, and a full list of features can be found below:
- Navigate your Xbox 360 with swipe and tap
- Use your phone's keyboard to type to your Xbox 360
- Browse the Internet on your Xbox 360 with full keyboard and zooming
- Play, pause, fast forward, rewind, and stop videos and music on your Xbox 360
- Search the full Xbox catalog of music, video, and games
- Enjoy rich, interactive experiences from select game and entertainment content creators
- Track and compare your achievements with your Xbox friends
- Change up your 3D avatar
- Message your Xbox friends
- Edit your Xbox profile
I knew the iTunes era was over, but this quickly? Well, Apple is rumored to been in deep negotiations with major music labels where we would see them launch an ad-supported Internet radio service, like Spotify or Pandora.
Bloomberg reports that the talks could end by the middle of next month, and the service could launch as soon as the first quarter of 2013, said sources who wish to remain anonymous. Apple's new service would see quicker access to new songs, which would help them compete, quickly, against the likes of Pandora.
There are quite a few labels that are reportedly involved, including Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, as well as Sony Corp's music division, where executives had said to have visited Apple's Cupertino-based HQ over the last couple of weeks. Apple hopes that listeners who are streaming the music would buy the tracks from the iTunes store thanks to its convenience. Automatically generated playlists would also let users listen to music that the system thinks they'll enjoy.
I have to admit, I absolutely love SwiftKey. It's one of the first apps I install on any new Android-based device I use, personally or for reviews. The developer behind the application has just announced something new, SwiftKey Flow.
SwiftKey Flow infuzes the power of SwiftKey's predictive algorithms, and puts a new spin on continuous input, offering real-time prediction as you begin to "flow" a word on the keys. Sounds amazing, eh? Check out the video above!
There are already apps like this out, such as Swype, but SwiftKey's prediction engine is very, very powerful. From the start of your finger touching the screen, SwiftKey Flow begins offering you predictions based on the movement of your finger - as soon as you let go of the screen, SwiftKey Flow will enter your word onto the screen. The application has been "engineered to simultaneously support both typing by 'tapping' on the keys (SwiftKey as you currently know and love it) and gliding across the keyboard".
More and more companies are releasing apps for Windows 8. Amazon has just joined the party with the release of their Kindle app for Windows 8. The app will allow users to read their collection of Kindle eBooks on both Windows 8 and Windows RT. Of course, the app comes with all the features you've come to expect from Amazon and Kindle.
This means the app supports Amazon's Whispersync technology, which "automatically syncs your furthest page read, bookmarks, notes, and highlights across all your devices that have the Kindle app installed and across any Kindle device." It even comes with the ability to pin your favorite Kindle books to the home screen.
This is great! No longer will I have to wait those extra few seconds to start reading Fifty Shades of Grey. Joking aside, this is a nice feature of the app, and a Kindle app should be well received and welcomed on the new Windows 8 and Windows RT platform. After all, there will be many more potential customers for Amazon with all of these new Windows 8 tablets shipping.
Here's reason enough to switch to Apple's walled garden: less chance of malware. Malware is increasingly becoming a problem for the Android operating system, no doubt due in part to its openness and the ability for anyone to post an app to the Play Store. Also sideloading apps furthers this problem.
Don't believe me? Well, a new study shows that Android malware grew by 580 percent in the previous year. An incredible 175 million downloads were of apps deemed "High Risk." And these app downloads came from Google Play's Top 500. Let's stop the scare tatics, though, and focus on reality. For the most part, Android users will be safe from malware.
That 580 percent statistic is misleading. Malware samples grew from 4,951 in September 2011 to only 28,707 in September 2012. So while the 580 percent statistic is true, it's highly misleading. Looking at it in terms of total apps, roughly 1.69 percent of all Android apps are malware, though most of those are not in the Play Store.
Furthermore, "High Risk" does not mean malware. It just means the app has the potential ability to steal data, damage privacy, make payments, or various other nefarious activities that could have legitimate uses.
Windows Store is slowly filling with apps in the lead-up to the unveiling (well, official launch) of Windows 8. Skype has officially added their app to the Windows Store and anybody running a preview copy (or full, MSDN, TechNet, etc copy) can download the app from the Windows Store and get in touch with friends.
The Skype App is compatible with both versions of Windows--Windows 8 and Windows RT--meaning you'll be able to use it on your shiny new Surface tablet, as soon as it arrives. The app definitely looks polished, and that is probably due in part to it being developed by Microsoft. After all, they have to make the new platform attractive to potential customers.
Skype was acquired by the technology giant for a few billion dollars, and Microsoft has been working on integrating the video chat service with its products since then. Skype should soon be making its way onto the Xbox platform as well, as Microsoft works to unify the experience across all of its platforms.
There are only a few days until Windows 8 launches, with Mountain View-based search giant Google releasing a dedicated search application for Windows 8 ahead of the operating system's release on Friday.
Google Search for Windows 8 is available right now in the Windows Store for free as an alternative to Microsoft-owned Bing, the default search engine in Internet Explorer on Windows 8. Google Search for Windows 8 isn't just a search app either, it is a portal to other Google services.
Google Search for Windows 8 acts as a portal to Gmail, Calendar, Maps, Drive and Reader - all while the main interface sports a simple large search bar including voice search, if you want to just talk into the PC for your searching needs.
Folding@Home stops folding for the PlayStation 3, has added over 100 million computation hours to research
I still remember when the PlayStation 3 was first teased, dual HDMI outputs, PS2 compatibility, tonnes of USB ports, Folding@Home support and oh so much more - well, one-by-one those features are being taken away.
Sony have taken to their PS3 software update post, announcing that the Folding@Home service would go into retirement next month when the PS3's 4.30 update arrives.
Folding@Home ties into Stanford University's work on protein folding and research into causes of diseases like Alzeihmer's. Until now, it had reached 15 million PS3 owners, which offered the second greatest contribution, only to have Windows machines beat them. PS3 owners have added 100 million computation hours into the research project.
Windows 8's release is just around the corner. On October 26, Microsoft will officially unveil their latest iteration of the Windows operating system. As most of you know, Windows 8 features an app store, much like the Mac Store and App Store on iOS, and the Google play Store on Android. What wasn't known, however, is what we would be seeing available there at launch.
Companies and developers have started to come out with announcements that their products would be available in the Windows Store. Hulu is one of those developers and they have announced that a Hulu Plus app will be available in the Windows Store as of October 26 to coincide with the launch of Windows 8.
The app will allow users to browse the plethora of content available through Hulu. It has, of course, been optimized for the touch-enabled systems and tablets that Windows 8 has been designed for. The regional rules for content still apply to the app, though I doubt anyone expected anything different.
We're sure to see loads of new apps for Windows 8 being announced through the coming week, and we'll try to make you informed about the most important ones.
Before Microsoft pushes out the mandatory Dashboard update to the Xbox 360, they have decided to do some spring cleaning. This spring cleaning comes in the form of the Redmond-based software giant removing social networking apps Twitter and Facebook from their Xbox 360.
The new Dashboard update is in the process of rolling out across the world, and from now on users won't be able to read or update their status through the Xbox 360 itself once the apps have been removed.
A Microsoft representative spoke to IGN saying "we're retiring the Facebook and Twitter apps" in something they push to "streamline" app functionality on the console. Microsoft were asked if the social networking apps would return in the future, which is something they wouldn't comment on at the time.
Facebook for Android has been updated today, with the 16MB-or-so app now including three changes. The first of which speeds up photo tagging, another new change is you can now select an album that your pictures get uploaded to, and thirdly a photo upload bug has been squashed.
Facebook are really into photos, so these changes are very welcome to those who use Facebook regularly for photo uploading and tagging. The official change log for this update doesn't really state much:
- Faster photo tagging.
- Choose an album when uploading photos.
- Fixed photo upload bug affecting people using certain languages.
I've updated the app on my Galaxy S II running Jelly Bean and it doesn't seem too bad at all so far, but it's not a native app and I'm really hanging out for that - come on, Facebook.
Mozilla have launched the latest Aurora-based Firefox for Android which includes the browser maker opening the doors to the Firefox Marketplace for early adopters and testers. With the name "Firefox Marketplace" you should be able to guess that this is Mozilla's version of Google's Web Store for Chrome.
Firefox Marketplace lets users browse around looking for mobile web apps, and allows developers to show off their web apps. These apps will run in full-screen mode and can be pinned to the home screen.
The idea behind the early release of Firefox Marketplace is to "collect as much real-life feedback as possible about the Marketplace's design, usability, performance, reliability, and content", according to Firefox engineering manager Bill Walker. Walker also pushes that it is meant to be an open ecosystem, where "users have choices and developers have control over their content, functionality and distribution".
Facebook have announced they've updated the Android SDK bringing it to beta 3.0. Facebook's new changes have been called the "biggest overhaul" yet, which are mostly aimed toward making it easier and quicker to develop Android apps which work with Facebook.
The social network are also trying to make third-party interfaces more consistant, offering new native UI control packs built-in caching in order to make the whole experience faster. Developers will also now receive the ability to integrate friend tagging and calling up nearby places. New login controls to manage authentication are said to help apps call up your Facebook identities and hold onto them, without you having to authenticate more than a few times.
Hopefully this means we see the native Facebook for Android application soon, like iOS receives a few weeks ago.
Rovio has released a new trailer for its upcoming Star Wars based Angry Birds game. The new video is the second to feature actual real footage from Star Wars, curious because George Lucas has traditionally been somewhat stingy with the usage rights for the film. This footage comes from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
In the video scene, we see Han Solo boast about his Millennium Falcon. Rovio explains that this is "one of the few times Lucasfilm has allowed for such use of the original material." The hint from this film comes in the form of the slingshot being placed on top of the Millennium Falcon. Any ideas as to what this could mean?
What do you think about the new trailer? What hints do you see? Are you excited for the new Angry Birds game?
Microsoft may have released Zune which failed to really take off or compete with Apple's iTunes, but it looks like Microsoft is back yet again with a new competitor for Apple: Xbox Music.
Xbox Music is an all-in-one digital music service that will throw the 30 million tracks available to users through the Xbox 360 gaming console to Microsoft PCs, tablets and smartphones running the Redmond-based company's Windows 8 and Windows RT operating systems.
There are three parts of this new venture, the first is a free streaming service that will be ad-supported and limited to a certain number of hours after six months. A premium, unlimited, ad-free streaming option is also available at around $10 a month, and consumers will also have the option to simply purchase and download any track from the catalogue.