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Big Fish Games scores a hit with Fairway Solitaire

My meeting with Big Fish Games’ Patrick Wylie was one of my last meetings at GDC, but it was also one of my most satisfying. It turns out I’m not alone in my esteem for the great Fairway Solitaire app this company has put together; “This game is growing our audience,” Wylie told me. That’s quite a big statement. Big Fish has been around for a while making PC titles designed for a very casual audience, usually hidden object games and other casual time management fare. It’s been trying to break out in the iOS market for about the past year and a half. Before Fairway Solitaire, the company hadn’t really had a hit on this level, and I’d argue it was because the company was playing around with its standard casual titles rather than digging in deep. It makes sense when you consider this game’s rocky past. Back in 2008, Wylie says Big Fish Games had one of its biggest PC hits with a hidden object game, and one of the developers got the idea to do a solitaire game with a golf framing on it. However, the decision was that Big Fish should catch a wave with hidden object titles and ride that trend for all it was worth. Fairway Solitaire got put on the back burner, and Big Fish went on to build its reputation on casual gaming. Last year, as the company was trying to gain ground on iOS, Fairway Solitaire showed up in development again, and I actually saw a very early version of it at GDC 2011. But while the game was technically complete last October, Wylie and company decided to go back to the drawing board and spent five months “tuning a game that was already done, just trying to get the experience as exactly right as possible.” All that work apparently paid off; Fairway Solitaire has huge conversion rates for Big Fish, and its players are among the most engaged players on the whole App Store. Wylie says he would have liked to see this success sooner, but he doesn’t really regret all of the work done on the game before release. “I’m glad we actually did wait,” he told me. Big Fish is very excited about the success of Fairway Solitaire, and just like its earlier hidden object games, Big Fish plans to take full advantage of that popularity. Up first on the iOS game, there’s a spring update coming with a brand new pack of maps for players to play through. Big Fish has another Fairway Solitaire-based title planned, and we can expect a summer pack as well, with lots more content and features to come. “We’re going to service this forever,” says Wylie, or at least as long as the game’s players are willing to play. “I don’t know where it’s going to stop,” he says of Fairway’s rising sales. Big Fish’s next game will be called Lifequest, a freemium RPG title designed around performing real-life tasks like getting a job, working, or even eating out or buying a pet. Lifequest has been Big Fish’s “best performing non-hidden object adventure game” on the PC and Mac according to Wylie, so he has big hopes for how it will do on Apple’s touchscreen platforms. Another big title due soon is Plunder, a pirate-based puzzle game in which you guide a set of pirate ships through dangerous watery grids by propelling them forward in the right order and at the right time. Plunder’s been under development on iOS for awhile, and it’s not quite as complicated as Fairway Solitaire, which itself isn’t all that hard. Big Fish isn’t giving up on hidden object games; the company is also releasing the latest version of the popular Mystery Case Files series, called the 13th Skull. It’s jam-packed with full motion video, letting players interact with live action characters as they explore a haunted house and have to find all sorts of items and solve simple adventure-style puzzles. These games tend to appeal to a very specific audience more than anyone else, but Big Fish hopes the production values make it stand out in an already very packed market. Big Fish is very excited about Fairway Solitaire, and we can expect to see much more of that game coming in the future. I’ve always been a proponent of more complicated games, even for casual players. While many developers on the App Store are racing for a lowest-common denominator style of super casual freemium gameplay, Fairway Solitaire shows that with a quality, compelling gaming experience, you can attract engaged gamers from all over. Big Fish Games scores a hit with Fairway Solitaire originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Wed, 14 Mar 2012 06:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Source  |  Permalink  |  Email this  |  Comments

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Ayopa Games to publish Escape from Age of Monsters, Patchwork Battles, more

Ayopa Games is a mobile games publisher that actually has its roots in Chillingo. Founder Johnny Coghlan was a former head of publishing there until Chillingo was acquired by EA. Coghlan has brought his mobile game-finding expertise to Ayopa, and this company’s slate is almost as enticing as Chillingo’s usual offerings. First up was an update to Dungeon Crawlers , a turn-based RPG developed by Drowning Monkeys. Version 1.1 of the title will add in-app purchases, a feature that was always planned but that the devs “knew wouldn’t be in there for launch.” The update basically adds a store to the game where players can spend gold either earned from inside the game or purchased with real-world money to pick up extra loot or other helpful items. Version 1.2 is due in another month or so, and that will add multiplayer functionality to the title, bringing in leaderboards and an Arena Mode. Players have also asked for a bestiary of the game’s enemies, so that’s coming too. Dungeon Crawlers is already a fairly popular title — though like all turn-based strategy RPGs, it can be a little tough — so it’s good to see the team is supporting it with some sizable updates. Escape from the Age of Monsters is another title from Ayopa. Developed by Massive Joe and made by the same team that made Age of Monsters (plus comic artist Jeff Matsuda), that rock/paper/scissors style fighting game from a ways back. Escape is a endless running game, but while there are walls to punch through and pits to jump over, the big twist is you’re running along with a few small children. The game’s gag is that you only need to run faster than the children from the monster that’s following you. If the monster eats three of them, it’s just you left, so you then need to run as long as possible without getting caught. As with Age of Monsters, Matsuda’s work brings the whole thing a great graphical look. While gameplay seems somewhat superficial, we’ll have to play the title when it arrives in April to see how deep it goes. There were two more games that I thought worth mentioning, and Patchwork Battles is the first one. It’s another turn-based battle game, a tactical RPG, but the heroes of the game are made completely out of found materials: things like cloth, foil, and other crafted items. You can combine any five body pieces to customize your characters (or “mimics,” as the game’s lore calls them). Put a healing arm on a rogue’s body, for example, and you’ll have a healing damage dealer. The story sounds expansive, and the RPG system seems very deep, so Patchwork Battles could be really amazing. The game should be out sometime this summer, with multiplayer and other features expected post-launch. Pocket Heroes is the last title Ayopa showed off. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see too much of it in action, as it’s an online-only title and the Internet wasn’t playing nice that day. But it sounds good: a multiplayer, co-op only RPG in which you explore a 16-bit 2D fantasy world with your friends asynchronously. We’ll have to wait until the end of the month to see how it actually plays online. Ayopa is a relatively young company, but Johnny Coghlan’s talent for picking great iOS games at Chillingo appears to have transferred well. I have no doubt we’ll see a few of these games topping the charts in the future and quite a few more quality titles getting published by this company very soon. Ayopa Games to publish Escape from Age of Monsters, Patchwork Battles, more originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Wed, 14 Mar 2012 07:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Source  |  Permalink  |  Email this  |  Comments

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Faux G: New "4G" indicator on iPhone 4S is the tip of a standards iceberg (Updated)

Update: See discussion of the ITU’s “sliding scale” of 4G below. Commenters have pointed out that since 2010 the standards organization has acknowledged that 3G evolutions can reasonably be called 4G. References to 4G vs. IMT-Advanced have been clarified. In a rare move of capitulation to a carrier, Apple caved to pressure from AT&T and made a controversial change in iOS 5.1 last week: an iPhone 4S on AT&T now reports a “4G” network rather than the old 3G signal. This change has been expected since October of 2011 , but that doesn’t mean it was uncontroversial. Reactions to the switch were mixed. Some people suggest that the terminology is largely meaningless anyway, so the relabeling doesn’t matter; a wireless standard by any other name will still download as sweetly. Others were affronted by Apple failing to stand firm and stop iOS being infected by AT&T’s marketing pixie dust. Some easily swayed folk even took to Twitter to congratulate Apple on delivering a 4G upgrade to their existing handsets, apparently not understanding that this change is nothing other than nomenclature. The iPhone didn’t get any faster in this update; all that changed was the graphical indicator on the phone. So who’s right? I suspect it’s probably obvious, but I’m in the “this is wrong and annoying” camp, and I think the people on Twitter overjoyed at an upgrade they didn’t get are supporting my point. I’m going to set out my argument; please feel free to wade in in the comments and make your opinion heard if you disagree. A small disclaimer In order to give you some context around what has happened here, I’m going to briefly summarise the history of how wireless communications standards are created. This necessarily involves some alphabet soup, I’m afraid, as everyone in the wireless game dearly loves their TLAs (three letter acronyms), ETLAs (Extended Three Letter Acronym), and DETLAs (Doubly Extended Three Letter Acronym). Bear with me, or if it gets too much, skip the next section. Readers with experience in this area will notice me glossing over all sorts of details. I’m just trying to provide enough background to make the rest of the story comprehensible, but if you think I left out anything important, please leave a comment and tell me. For clarity, note that I am concentrating on GSM and its derivative technologies, and omitting the various CDMA flavours used by Verizon and Sprint in the USA and a modest number of other wireless firms world-wide. Suffice it to say that the roughly the same standards process happened on the CDMA side of the fence. Standards & speeds: a brief history of wireless There is a famous quote misattributed to Albert Einstein which goes like this: “you see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat.” Since the first analog wireless telephones appeared in the 1980s (retroactively called “1G”), there have been many attempts by various bodies to design standards for the non-existent cat. The idea was for everyone to be using the same cat; that way, manufacturers could exploit economies of scale. This would mean cellphone companies could make fewer models that worked in more places in the world, infrastructure vendors could manufacture interchangeable cell towers and radio stacks, and end users could move their cellphones between countries or between operators within the same country. As Patrick Bateman and Gordon Gekko were yakking on brick-sized Motorola DynaTacs connected to 1G networks, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute were looking ahead and developing Groupe Spécial Mobile , which would later be renamed Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM). GSM was by far the most successful second-generation wireless (2G) standard. Even as consumers were becoming familiar with the technology, however, the next global standard — Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) — was being developed. This time, the process was world-wide (as opposed to GSM, which was developed by European companies) and led by the International Telecommunication Union or ITU. The ITU is the United Nations agency charged with coordinating standards for digital communication among all member nations. Lather, rinse, repeat: as gadget blogs filled up with brand new 3G handsets in the early 2000s, the ITU pushed on and defined target goals for next-generation networks to hit. These were defined in a standard called IMT-Advanced , which was finalised in 2008. (The standards process churns slowly; the actual specification for IMT-Advanced was finally adopted early in 2012. ) IMT-Advanced specified some aggressively high targets for bandwidth: 100 megabit/sec downloads when the mobile device is moving fast (e.g. in a car) and 1 gigabit/sec when stationary or moving at a walking pace. Even Apple’s mighty new hardware interface standard, Thunderbolt , can only manage 20 gigabit/sec — and that has a wire . IMT-Advanced, the true successor to 3G technologies, is what we originally thought 4G would be… but 4G turns out to be a marketing sticker rather than a technical standard. Where the rubber meets the road The original IMT-Advanced standard put out by ITU wasn’t a fully fleshed-out, technically implemented solution. Rather, ITU standards are sort of like aspirational goals for technology vendors to achieve. While ITU’s busy brains were drafting the IMT-Advanced standard, telecoms companies and consortiums like the 3rd Generation Partnership Project were beavering away on new solutions like LTE and WiMAX. The first generations of these technologies didn’t meet the requirements for IMT-Advanced, but new versions known as LTE-Advanced and WiMAX Release 2 will eventually hit the numbers. Meanwhile, of course, mobile vendors have mouths to feed so they need to keep selling us shiny geegaws. We saw lots of intermediate standards pop up between vanilla UMTS 3G and true IMT-Advanced. I’ve already touched on current generation LTE and WiMAX, which were new technologies; these come in between 3G and 4G, but closer to the latter. There were also a few “UMTS-on-steroids” solutions developed, such as HSDPA and HSPA+. Again, these enhance data speeds over and above what the initial versions of 3G could offer, but far short of the requirements for IMT-Advanced — and rather closer to 3G performance than they are to “4G.” An iPhone 4S on HSPA+ has a maximum theoretical download speed of 14.4 megabit/sec; that’s just 1.5% of the speed that IMT-Advanced demands of 4G. The new iPad with LTE tops out at 73 megabit/sec; fast, but still only 7.3% of the original target for IMT-Advanced (“4G”). All this has happened before These intermediate standards are a replay of what happened with 2G. Initially, GSM’s data component, General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), could only offer a paltry 9.8 kilobit/sec of data speeds — no one saw mobile data coming when GSM was being laid down, so it wasn’t a priority. When smartphones started to appear and it became clear this wasn’t enough, but before 3G standards were anywhere near complete, we saw mobile vendors design and deploy High Speed Circuit Switched Data (HSCSD) and then the torturously-named Enhanced Data rate for GSM Evolution (EDGE). HSCSD boosted download speeds to 57.6 kilobit/sec and EDGE as high as 386 kbit/sec. This led to EDGE often being referred to as “2.5G”, as it was said to be a halfway house between 2G and 3G. Apple coded the original iPhone OS releases to communicate to the customer if they were on a GPRS network (with a dot) or a EDGE one (with an ‘E’) — the difference is significant, and the user has a better experience if he or she knows what performance to expect before using the device. Enter the marketers Following this pattern, we could reasonably expect the faster-than-3G slower-than-4G standards like HSPA+ to be called “3.5G”, or even “3.1G”. Some people do that, but it wasn’t enough for the marketing departments at some big cellular operators. It’s always easier to sell things to people when you don’t have to make them read a post as long as this one before they understand what they are buying, and it’s even easier still when you’ve taken the last number and turned it up one louder — hence digital camera’s megapixel myth . AT&T and Verizon were quite keen, to say the least, on warping the term “4G” to apply to these new 3.5G standards. So they did just that, without as much as a by-your-leave, starting in 2008. Sprint Clearwire was the first to jump the 4G hurdle, then Verizon and Metro PCS, and eventually T-Mobile (branding similar HSPA+ technology to what AT&T now offers in the iPhone 4S as “4G” ). None of these networks met the IMA-Advanced speed threshold, nowhere near it — but that did not stop the carriers from taking advantage of the lack of a technical standard for “4G” to gain some branding bonus. There are any number of Android handsets supporting HSPA+ that now are branded and marketed as 4G; last year’s Samsung Focus S continued this into Windows Mobile 7. Now Apple has joined in, in a surprising move, seeing as how it is normally lauded for being immune to carrier interference. Update : As commenters have correctly pointed out, in 2010 the ITU let out a heavy sigh and acknowledged what carrier marketing had already done to confuse the marketplace. The organization allowed that 4G, while not formally defined, might as well be used to refer to upgraded 3G technologies like HSPA+ rather than only to the IMT-Advanced superspeed standards. Since 4G has no official meaning within the standards process, one can’t say authoritatively that the indicator is technically wrong; only that it is decidedly confusing. Make no mistake — what’s happened in iOS 5.1 on the iPhone 4S is an AT&T change only. If you’re anywhere else in the world, on any other network, and enjoying a full-speed HSPA+ download to your iPhone 4S, the indicator will say “3G” and not “4G.” Only AT&T gets this treatment (so far). Even worse, Brian Klug of Anandtech discovered that even plain-jane UMTS 3G reports as 4G now — so the new “4G” indicator can’t even be used as a meaningful guide to when you are getting HSPA+ speeds. It just means you’re on AT&T’s network and you’re getting better than EDGE speeds. The disappearing “Enable 3G” slider That’s not the only thing that changed in iOS 5.1/iPhone 4S settings to suit AT&T, as it happens. The “Enable 3G” toggle in Settings.app has disappeared for AT&T customers on the iPhone 4S too , despite having been present in previous versions of iOS. This switch allowed device users to force the phone off the 3G network and on to the older EDGE standard; this was used for a couple of reasons, including improved battery life or getting “lifeline” data service in highly congested cell environments. Older iPhones demonstrated noticeably better power performance on EDGE versus 3G. This is another piece of carrier politics in action, in my opinion. AT&T wants to clear customers from its old 2G/2.5G networks as fast as possible, so it can potentially close down old cell sites and prepare to re-use the cell bands for something else. As such, it’s not in the company’s interests to allow customers to disable 3G data altogether, as that binds them to the 2G/2.5G network. I should note that this customisation isn’t exclusive to AT&T iPhone 4S units, however. I use Three here in the UK, which (unusually) has no 2G network of its own; it rents 2G capacity from a rival operator to fill in coverage holes, and runs a (pretty substantial) 3G network of its own. This means that customers with “Enable 3G” set to off cost Three money, as they are effectively roaming onto a secondary network for all their data. I can’t remember when I last saw this slider in my Settings.app, but it was some time ago. Granted, I’ve never been terribly eager to use that on/off switch anyway. I’ve occasionally used it to try and eke out the last 10% of my battery, but it’s not a setting I’ve found much reason to toggle. If this adjustment is going to put a major crimp in your iPhone usage, please let us know. Wrapping up Hopefully, I’ve convinced you of one of two things in this post. Either a) you are affronted that AT&T’s marketing folks can redfine the capabilities of the iPhone 4S like this or (more likely) b) you just don’t care very much about technical definitions and think I’m talking rubbish — or perhaps c) you skipped over most of the article on your way to the comment box to tell me I’m a nerd. Let me put it another way: until last week, an iPhone 4S on AT&T showed 3G; today, it shows 4G instead, even though the speed hasn’t changed. That’s highly confusing to users, which is the exact thing Apple is supposed to be great at never doing. On those grounds alone, this is an objectionable change. Even worse, Apple now sells an iPhone 4S that reports itself as 4G and an iPad that’s directly marketed as 4G… but the iPad’s download speeds are five times faster than the iPhone’s. Obvious! I can certainly understand that Apple wants to show users whether they are connected to a vanilla 3G network or a fancy HSPA+ one; the speed difference is considerable. Other handsets (like my ancient 2006-era HTC Tytn, which runs Windows Mobile 6) handle this by switching the network indicator to ‘H’, analogous to the ‘E’ that iOS shows for EDGE. I think it’s disappointing that Apple made this change, particularly as we’ve all been so positive in the past at how it has successfully resisted carriers’ habits of fiddling with things. Hat tip to Jon Silva for the image Faux G: New “4G” indicator on iPhone 4S is the tip of a standards iceberg (Updated) originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Wed, 14 Mar 2012 08:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Source  |  Permalink  |  Email this  |  Comments

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Shadow Government tries to combine real-world policy with casual gameplay

Shadow Government was probably the most fascinating game I saw at GDC. I should probably clarify that: I didn’t see much of the game in action, but what I did see showed off an excellently designed UI and some good looking (if a little complicated) Farmville-style game mechanics. The most fascinating thing about Shadow Government isn’t what it does, but what its developers hope to do. Nicholas Fortugno is the game’s main designer, and though he’s still fairly young, he has a number of solid iOS and award-winning game credits to his name. He’s also a teacher of game design, and with Shadow Government, he says he’s aiming to not only bring up the level of these Farmville-like social freemium games, but also help players to take a long, hard look at the effects of real-life issues. That may sound a little nuts — it certainly does to me. But Shadow Government isn’t just driven by Fortugno’s freemium engine. It’s also driven by a number of simulations from a real-life group called The Millennium Institute , a think tank that does hardcore policy analysis for a number of corporations and countries around the world, setting up models as accurately as possible that will predict the given effects for any number of real life decisions. What if the price of oil goes up, or agriculture is de-funded, or minimum wages in a certain company go down? The Millennium Institute models situations exactly like that, and Fortugno has been given access to all of those simulations in order to model this game. On the surface of Shadow Government, you’re placed in control of the future of the real-life United States and given a set of freemium tools to make decisions for the country. Do you build up industry by building a factory, or grow education by building a school? Underneath that relatively simple interface, the Millennium Institute’s simulations are running. If you want to, you’ll be able to dive into the background of the app and really see the effects all of your decisions have. Fortugno hopes that the game will actually teach people how certain policies work by dealing with real-world issues in this very social, casual way. The policies and analyses that Fortugno talks about and that the Millennium Institute researches are extremely complicated affairs, some that I’m sure would require multiple degrees of study to really research and understand fully. But Fortugno is convinced that even given the relatively simple interface of a freemium game, he can at least get people interested in making these decisions. Seeing the effects of those decisions might push people to educate themselves further. Shadow Government’s not necessarily an educational game. As Fortugno told me, it wouldn’t help to market the game that way, and it’s not necessarily meant to be an experience built around numbers and simulations. But Fortugno says it is meant to be a title “for people who don’t play games in contexts that they don’t play games about.” In other words, Fortugno’s trying to take Farmville and actually use it to make people think about and even understand the real world around them a little further. Shadow Government is currently being worked out in a closed beta, and it’s set to come out later this year. Fortugno certainly has the chops for a project like this, and as I watched him animatedly talk at GDC, it became apparent very quickly that he wants to make it work. The game’s idea and ideals are both quite fascinating, so I hope Shadow Government pulls it off. Shadow Government tries to combine real-world policy with casual gameplay originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Wed, 14 Mar 2012 09:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Source  |  Permalink  |  Email this  |  Comments

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Official announcement: new iPad to go on sale in 10 countries on Friday at 8 am

Apple announced today that the new iPad will go sale this Friday starting at 8:00 am local time. It will debut in the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland and the UK; along with Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. With a long pre-order and several retailers offering the iPad at launch, it will be interesting to see if there will be lines. If you plan on grabbing an iPad on Friday, please send us pictures from the lines and opening. Use the hashtag #NewiPadLaunch and we will post them up on Friday. Happy iPad shopping everyone! Official announcement: new iPad to go on sale in 10 countries on Friday at 8 am originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Wed, 14 Mar 2012 09:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Source  |  Permalink  |  Email this  |  Comments

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Official announcement: new iPad to go on sale in 10 countries on Friday at 8 am

Byword for iOS released

Those who know me know that Byword has become my favorite writing tool. I’ve been keeping my mouth shut about this release during the beta testing period, but I’m really excited to announce it’s arrival: Byword for iOS . The iOS version includes the Markdown-editing features that I love on the Mac, and has full iCloud and Dropbox sync between devices. There’s an update to the Desktop version as well, enabling iCloud support for the multi-device sync. You can start typing on your Mac, pick up your iPhone and walk away, then continue typing wherever you end up. Your text is ready and waiting for you. Byword for iOS is a universal app, and one price gets you editing bliss on your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch (or whatever combination you happen to have). The price is starting at US $2.99, and will start going up by $1 every three days until it reaches its standard price of US $4.99. Byword for Mac is available on the Mac App Store for $9.99. Even without the new iOS companion app, it’s an excellent writing tool. Portability just makes it that much more useful to me. If you write on a Mac, and especially if you write in Markdown (see the TUAW Markdown Primer ) Byword is a gorgeous and elegant environment to do it in. The feature set looks sparse; everything just works. You don’t need to see a bunch of buttons, you can just type. Features such as automatic list continuation, selection wrapping, and unobtrusive word count just happen, and additional requirements are filled by keyboard shortcuts. It’s worth every penny to me. Byword for iOS released originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Wed, 14 Mar 2012 09:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Source  |  Permalink  |  Email this  |  Comments

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iOS still holds edge in worldwide tablet shipments, despite Kindle Fire launch

The tablet market heated up in the last quarter of 2011 when Amazon went head-to-head against Apple with its Kindle Fire. Many expected the Fire to make a dent in the sales of the Apple iPad and the latest IDC numbers suggest their expectations were correct. Though overall iPad shipments increased, the iPad’s market share fell in the final quarter of 2011 due to the Kindle Fire. IDC says Apple shipped 15.4 million units in Q4 2011, up from 11.1 million units in Q3 2011. This increase was offset by shipments of the Kindle Fire which climbed to 4.7 million units. In the end, Apple grabbed a 54.7 percent market share, down from 61.5 percent in Q3 2011. Amazon grabbed 16.8 percent and became the number one Android tablet maker. Behind the two market leaders are Samsung with a 5.5 percent market share and Barnes & Noble with 3.5 percent. Pandigital, which makes inexpensive Android tablets, rounds out the top five. [Via The Verge ] iOS still holds edge in worldwide tablet shipments, despite Kindle Fire launch originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Wed, 14 Mar 2012 10:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Source  |  Permalink  |  Email this  |  Comments

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New iPad sample photos improve over iPad 2

Vietnamese website Tinhte.vn allegedly has a new iPad and has been posting images and benchmarks from the device. A third posting from the group now showcases the photo-taking ability of the tablet device. The images suggest the camera on the new iPad is a huge improvement over the iPad 2, but not as crisp and detailed as the iPhone 4S. Apple announced the new iPad last week and confirmed the tablet will have a 5-megapixel rear camera with autofocus, 1080P HD video recording, and digital image stabilization. People may laugh at the idea of using the camera on a device as big as the iPad, but it has application in business and education where the camera can be used in classroom exercises or corporate presentations. You can view the rest of the iPad’s sample photos on Tinhte’s website . New iPad sample photos improve over iPad 2 originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Wed, 14 Mar 2012 11:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Source  |  Permalink  |  Email this  |  Comments

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You’re the Pundit: Do iPad data buckets matter?

When it comes to forecasting the next big thing, we turn to our secret weapon: the TUAW braintrust . We put the question to you and let you have your go at it. Today’s topic is data buckets. Data buckets refer to the bandwidth allocation you can purchase monthly on the iPad. For example, AT&T’s smallest bucket is 250 MB at $15/month, then jumping up to 2GB at $25/month. Verizon offers 1GB at $20/month and 3GB at $35. Bottom feeders can get 4x the monthly data for $5 more by choosing Verizon over AT&T . Many iPad consumers tell us that bucket size doesn’t seem to matter. They just care that their unit can connect to the Internet whenever they’re on the go, and that their credit card isn’t maxed out at the end of the month. Unlike iPhones, which are used anywhere and anytime, we hear that iPads are more often taken out in Wi-Fi friendly locations like cafés in addition to unfriendly ones like DMVs and Doctors offices, requiring less on-the-go data use than driving-while-Siri-ing. Minimal use may sound like a counter-intuitive idea. After all, many iPad owners cling to their grandfathered unlimited accounts. Others love streaming movies and TV shows. And yet, from our experience, the vast majority of iPad users we encounter care primarily about light surfing, messaging and email. Outside of the power-users, does bucket-size matter for most iPad users? Do you see soccer moms, business folk, and retired grandparents really worrying about balancing buckets and usage? Or are we seeing a skewed sample among typical iPad users? You tell us. Place your vote in this poll and then join in the comments with all your insight. View Poll You’re the Pundit: Do iPad data buckets matter? originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Wed, 14 Mar 2012 11:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Source  |  Permalink  |  Email this  |  Comments

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Dear Aunt TUAW: Help me skip my app update

Dear Aunt TUAW, The latest update for Quickpick has removed a bunch of features — particularly that “Actions cannot be launched directly from the Notification Center any more.” Well, crap. Do I update and lose features I want, or never use “update all” again? *sigh* Your loving nephew, Tim Dear Tim, There are ways around upgrades, but they aren’t convenient or fun, or very manageable over the long-term. Basically, you can copy the original IPA (iOS application archive file) from the Mobile Applications folder in your iTunes library to keep on-hand for reversion. To revert, you delete the app on your devices and in the library, and then copy the original IPA back, then sync. That’s a pain, especially if the app had had any important data stored in its Documents folder. (If you accidentally upgraded, the original IPA is moved to the trash, you can recover it there.) The other way — just as painful — is to update individual apps rather than the more convenient “update all,” fixing your app at the current release. As you point out in your email, you lose any new features the app might offer in the future as well. This is simply one of those can’t-really-win-scenarios and Auntie sympathizes with your plight. Hugs, Auntie T. Dear Aunt TUAW: Help me skip my app update originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Wed, 14 Mar 2012 12:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Source  |  Permalink  |  Email this  |  Comments

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Dear Aunt TUAW: Help me skip my app update