Software

Google Releases Google Maps App for iPhone

GoogleMaps

Google has released their Google Maps application for the iPhone.  After Apple’s most recent public debacle with their own Maps application, they really had no choice but to allow Google to pass their Maps App through the Apple verification process.

The new Google Maps is a free download from the Apple App Store.  For more information, check out the Google Maps Apple App Store page at:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/google-maps/id585027354?mt=8

Over the past 24 hours, the Google Maps app has become the number one download on the App store, displaying quite appropriately what is user disdain with the current Apple offering.   Where Apple will somehow give up on their own App or not remains to be seen.  However, while many have already given up their Apple apps, the Google Maps app seems to be prone to similar issues with occasional drop outs of the app, the app not able to read foreign street names and a serious re-routing issue.

 

First Order of business for Apple: Fix Apple Maps Now!

maps

This past week, Australian police put out a warning to drivers: DONT USE APPLE MAPS!   This story really brings the adage “You can’t get there from here” to mean a whole new thing.  Users around the globe have been complaining about the way Apple Maps handles some of the images and placement of items ever since its release with iOS 6.0.

While most user experiences are a simple matter of a few meters to about 1 kilometer in difference, or the occasional warped or misplaced bridge or building, the Australian version of the app put the town of Mildura in the middle of Murry Sunset National park, a difference of more than 70 kilometers.  This put some users of the App in a real life life and death situation due to the fact that it is mid summer in Australia, nearly 46C in the park and no water to be had for kilometers around.

It is now apparent that Tim Cook’s re-shuffle of his cabinet at Apple was right in the removal of Scott Forstall from the Apple governing committee was to punish Scott for the failure Apple Maps.  Whether Eddie Cue can do any better with it will only be shown in time and new releases of the app, although none have been shown to be in the pipeline quite yet other than the fix to the Australian issue with Mildura.

Frankly, I am glad that my own recent experience with Apple Maps was only a kilometer off and I was able to ask local folks for actual instructions to the location I was trying to find.  Apple did get on the ball and fix the Australian issue quite quickly yet I doubt they will be fixing the whole app anytime soon.   They are still taking the attitude that their Maps app will be better than anyone else can create including Google, however, other map applications such as MapQuest is passing them by while they twiddle their thumbs.

For the players in the Map Business, there is Google and then there is everyone else.  Google has spent years and millions of dollars building their Maps by driving the actual roads shown on the maps.  They are continually updating their map related systems.  I was recently a witness to the evidence of this updating process in action when I was standing on a street in Japan and a small vehicle with the Google Logo and the camera globe on the roof of the vehicle rolled by.  Two minutes later, the same vehicle rolled by again, obviously taking care to get every element of the road recorded.  Having checked the Google Maps system, I found that the actual update of the road I was standing on has not made it to the system yet as it is too recent, yet it is something that frankly Apple is at this point totally incapable of doing.

If Apple is smart, they will give up on having their own Map app,  go ahead and license Google Maps and quit the bickering between the two companies which at this point is leading to the possibility of real world casualties due to Apple’s desire to keep everything in house.   Not only will this be a win for Apple since they wont have to actually perform updates to the maps, but it will also be a major win for the users who really are screaming at this point about Apples absolutely lousy Maps app.  They would also enjoy the benefit of a working relationship with Google in the long run that could actually benefit both companies bottom lines.

Even though no apparent updates of Apple Maps are forthcoming, I would say to look for the next update near the end of January or early February.  Of course, that may be a bit optimistic and for those who think I have the crystal ball of what is going on at Apple, Inc., I wouldn’t go getting your hopes up too high.

Java Apple Computer Emulator (JACE) Updated

Brendan Robert has released a new version of his JACE or Java Apple Computer Emulator.  The latest update includes a number of fixes and enhancements as per his posting in CSA2:

] Fixed nasty bug that caused crashes when joystick buttons (alt-keys) were pressed.  Airheart is 100% playable again!

] RamWorks support is now available for up to 8 megabytes of memory.  In addition to the RamFactor support it is possible to use both at the same time.  Not that you’d ever use 24mb ram in an Apple //e.  :-P

] CPU can now log warnings if 65c02 extended opcodes are used.  You can enable this to detect old incompatible usages of illegal 6502 opcodes.

] Cleaned up a few improperly implemented softswitches.  MMU implementation is 100% compatible now.

for more information about JACE or to download the program, check out Brendan’s JACE project page at:

https://sites.google.com/site/brendanrobert/projects/jace

Mailplane Updated to Version 2.5.10

Uncomplex GMBH has released a new update to their Mailplane App for Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. Mailplane is an application which allows users to control multiple GMail accounts from a single application.

Over the past several months, they have released updates which separated the Pre-Lion code from the Lion/Mountain Lion code and version 2.5.10 addresses some of the issues brought about by these changes. The Application is $24.95 USD for the latest version and Free for all versions which run on Mac OS X 10.4-10.7.

You can download the latest version of the software from Uncomplex GMBH at http://www.mailplaneapp.com

New Game Lets Users Simulate Gravity to Fly Through Levels

New York, New York – Developer Dr Robert Belluso’s first game, Little Bird combines current technology, exotic landscapes, objects, and contraptions, allowing the player to interact with the game in ways they’ve never seen before! Unlike games that rely on tapping, sliding or swiping, Little Bird 1.0 takes advantage of the latest iPhone technology. The user tilts the device to the right or left, using gravity and speed to build momentum to get through each level.

Before long you will be rolling, jumping, bouncing, flying through the air, swinging in baskets, riding in carts, and shooting out of cannons while avoiding obstacles, booby traps and enemies to help Little Bird collect coins along the path to safety.

“Little Bird brings the simple idea of a real skill arcade game, from which the concept was born, to the next level,” explains Dr. Belluso, the App’s creator. “Little Bird offers a fun, challenging and unique experience that will keep gamers coming back for more. It’s a novel, gravity driven game played with challenging physics-based obstacle courses.

Although developed initially for iPhone, Little Bird is a universal App available on all devices. It combines accelerometer and gyroscope gaming technologies and features 20 unique levels with future levels coming and frequent updates.

Little Bird Game

An A.P.P.L.E. Review: Rovio releases Angry Birds Star Wars

Rovio has been releasing new versions of Angry Birds every few months and once again, they have a new hit on their hands.  After releasing Angry Birds in Space, topping an astronaut on the Internation Space Station performing an angry birds experiment was going to be hard to top.  What better way to top it than licensing the name Star Wars.  Angry Birds Star Wars is a wonderful mix of the previous Angry Birds games and thos items we have come to expect to be associated with Star Wars such as Chewbacca, Light Sabers, and R2D2 and 3CpO.

With two levels built into the Star Wars version of Angry Birds, this game makes for hours more of entertainment, frustration and elation upon completion.   Aptly labeled Tatooine and DeathStar, the first two levels will give the average user two to 4 hours of game play.  But there is a hidden secret within this version of the game.   An in app purchase allows the user to buy the Path of the Jedi section of the game adding another whole section giving many more hours of game play.

We played the game on the iPad and found that the results were not unlike those we experienced in previous renditions.  Rovio has made the game available on all of the major computing and smart phone / tablet platforms. The initial levels of the game for the iPad costs $2.99 USD with the Path of the Jedi section costing an addition $1.99 USD.   If you are a fan of Angry Birds or of Star Wars, then this is the must have app of 2012.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Apples

URL: http://starwars.angrybirds.com

Minecraft notes:

Minecraft is an on-line game where the players run around mining for certain minerals, build structures, combat monsters as well as each other. and generally explore an expanding world. It is divided into two components. Namely on-line servers as well as clients to access the servers. Both components are free however to make full use of the capabilities of the client, a non-free (premium) account must be used. The game components are available for the “big three” operating systems (Linux, OS X, and Windows) and may run on systems with up to date JAVA installed.

Installation is simple but a lot of people have experiencing problems with getting the free accounts running. The simple solutions to most of the problems are pretty standard. Make sure the client is updated (if possible). Make sure at least JAVA 6 is installed. Make sure opengl is also installed and current. Sometimes deleting the bin folder in the .minecraft folder helps (depending on the problem the entire folder may not need to be deleted).

Here are some of the problems I encountered along the way.

– Initially I had the “Done Loading” error on all my machines. After trying all the common solutions suggested on the web I found I had to create an account (free) and tell the client to play from the web browser (a link on their web page). This fixed the problem for me. I was able to get in and play the demo. Apparently the other way is to sign in with a premium account.

– Some Windows computers don’t have up to date opengl drivers. I was able to login with a Dell SX 280 only to get a black screen. After looking at some error messages I determined I had to go and get the latest drivers from Dell. No joy there. The XP drivers stopped being updated around 2009. Since it is a borrowed machine (to be used in a different demo for a computer club) I didn’t want to spend a lot of time on it anyhow.

– The free account uses a built-in server apparently and will not connect to other servers even on the same box. All the player can access is the same demo world. There is a time limit of about 100 minutes, but the player can start over at the end. I was thinking it would be nice to allow the player unlimited access to their own server (on their own machine). Connecting to 127.0.0.1 without restriction would help people who want to be game developers/programmers and don’t wish to buy a premium account.

Other than that it is pretty much a matter of downloading the programs and running them. I personally wouldn’t go out and get a premium account but for those who would I can see where it would be a fun game.

Good Old Games Offers Entire 32 Game Interplay Bundle for $34.99

Interplay has long been the one focus of many a user in the gaming world.  Their games, including the classics Battlechess, Fallout, and Conquest of the New World led the way in the Apple gaming world of the 1980’s.   Now, Good Old Games is offering a “Pay What You Want” type bundle where you can pay as much as you want and based on that payment collect an appropriate number of games.   The initial level is set at 8 games and if you pay more the the average amount, you get 20 games.  However, should you give GOG more tan 34.99 USD, then they will give you the entire 32 game lot, along with a long list of goodies to accompany the package including 21 soundtracks, manuals and all of the other relative digital items.

The bundle of games is currently available for the next five days.  For more information or to purchase the bundle, check out the Good Old Games website at:

http://www.gog.com/interplay

Evernote releases new Video outlining Evernote 5 for Mac

Evernote Corporation has released a new Video and specs page on their website outlining the new features in their upcoming release of Evernote 5 for the Mac.  The new version of the software has over 100 new features implemented including:

  • Better Notes List
  • Snippets View
  • Cards View
  • Note Editor
  • Change a Notes Location
  • More Keyboard Shortcuts

The site includes many more features that will be in the new version, however, no official release date has been announced for the full package yet the beta release is expected within the next week.  For more about this, check out the evernote blog at:

http://blog.evernote.com/2012/10/26/coming-soon-the-new-evernote-5-for-mac/

Don’t Run With A Plasma Sword Now Free Download

Xperimentalz Games has announce that the popular runner game, Don’t Run With A Plasma Sword for iOS devices is now a free download.  The game, which features five level of story and boss levels as well as five levels of endless play, allows the user to gain points through the play and upgrade the runner’s abilities, outward appearance and revivability.  This game has been featured on Call-A.P.P.L.E. a number of times and is one of our favorite games for the iPhone and iPad.  The game is currently available in English and French.

You can download the program from the Apple iTunes store at:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dont-run-with-a-plasma-sword/id479907900?mt=8