Hang-gliding over the Swiss Alps, or just cleaning your dryer’s lint tray? Either way, the titans of tech want you to record a snippet of it. Then they want you to slap on some emojis and text. Then they want you to share it with the world.
Snapchat started it. Instagram copied it. Facebook really copied it. Even Microsoft’s doing it. And now… Apple. Available Thursday for the iPhone and iPad, Apple’s Clips app lets you shoot, edit and share mobile-friendly mini-movies. If you have iOS 10.3 (the latest version), you can download it from the App Store.
Today’s software updates from Apple are notable for a lot of reasons. macOS 10.12.4 gets Night Shift from iOS, I can now find my AirPods in the Find My iPhone app, there are the beginnings of a standard to control apps that nag you for reviews on iOS 10.3, Siri enhancements on watchOS 3.2, but the most important change is he first switch from HFS+ to APFS. APFS is Apple’s new file system for iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS. It’ll be installed with the latest iOS update, and will come to macOS in the future.
File systems keep track of where your files are on a storage medium like a hard drive or SD card, and Apple has been using some variation of the same file system, HFS and HFS+, for the past thirty years.
APFS should be an improvement in performance and reliability because it is targeted towards modern computing devices that use flash memory instead of spinning disks, but it is going to be a little bit like pulling a table cloth out from under a plated dinner and table setting in order for the operating system to replace the file system on the devices during the update.
I made sure my iCloud backups were all up to date before starting the upgrade, you should too.
Matthew Panzarino has the scoop:
Workflow the app is being acquired, along with the team of Weinstein, Conrad Kramer, Ayaka Nonaka and Nick Frey. In a somewhat uncommon move for Apple, the app will continue to be made available on the App Store and will be made free later today.
This is terrific news. Workflow is an automation app that helps you get real shit done on iOS. I’ve used it to do things like clipping headlines out of articles and preparing a link in the format I use to link to posts like this one. Or you could use it for a simpler task like tapping one button to send a text message to your significant other and let them know how long it’ll take you to get home.
Workflow can do all kinds of things, but it is the kind of thing that it’s great to see Apple embrace because it means they’re serious about improving the functionality of iOS for more than reading, watching, and playing. If folks who grow up with iOS ever want to hope of being productive on those devices instead of learning desktop computing, this is going to be a tremendous start.
Here’s what Apple announced at their WWDC 2016 Keynote, or you can just watch the video.
Kevin Lynch spoke about the changes coming in WatchOS 3.
Apps, that you pick, update in the background and launch faster as a result.
The long button below the crown will no-longer launch your VIP contact list. It’ll now launch the dock app switcher. The dock displays a live view of the applications so that you can see updated information even without entering one.
Glances are gone, replaced by control center when you swipe up on the watch face.
Messages immediately give you options to reply, instead of having to choose that you want to reply first.
When a message comes in you can scroll down to get a list of suggested replies.
WatchOS 3 will have a new input interface called Scribble. You draw out letters one at a time with the whole word appearing above the input interface. This supports both English and Chinese characters.
In addition to the Micky Mouse watch face you can now choose Minnie Mouse with different outfit color options.
There is a new watch face called Activity that more prominently features the activity rings which monitor your steps and other exercises throughout your day. They’ll be larger and displayed behind an analog style of watch hands if you choose this face, or in chronograph and digital variations.
Kevin Lynch isn’t done with new watch faces yet, Numerals is another. This one displays only analog watch hands and a prominent digit or digits in many different fonts for the current hour.
Another change to the watch face. You can now swipe to switch between them and choose which you would like available.
More complications are available on more watch faces.
Stacy Lysik gave a demo of WatchOS 3. She shows the audience how Apple’s watch apps have been updated for quicker interactions. The timer gives you a few preset timing options to launch, for example. This should allow my son to more quickly set timers that confuse me when they go off because he loves to grab my watch and mess with it while I am holding him.
Kevin Lynch returned to tell us about the SOS feature that can call your regional version of 911 and alert your emergency contacts with your location after the call. It’ll be activated in WatchOS 3 by holding down the side button and it’ll display a countdown before calling emergency services. Interestingly, Lynch mentioned that it’ll work either via bluetooth to your phone or over wifi if your Apple Watch is on a known network.
I wonder about the usefulness of an emergency call where your watch is broadcasting that call publicly on a speaker instead of through your phone’s earpiece.
Jay Blahnik appeared on stage to introduce a new fitness related improvements, starting with activity sharing as a competitive feature. With it you’ll be able to see your friends and family member’s activity rings and data like steps and calories burned. If your friends use third party apps and devices, it sounds like those will work with this feature as well as long as they use Apple’s HealthKit as a data intermediary.
When you view a friend’s activity information you’ll be able to send them suggested encouraging or competitive messages about their progress.
Jay Blahnik continued on to introduce new technology to recognize activity information for wheelchair users. He talked about how they have adjusted different notifications and other information if the wheelchair setting is enabled. For example, the Apple Watch can optionally remind you to stand for a minute once an hour. For wheelchair users the watch will remind you to take a break and push around a little. Some of the workouts will be specifically for wheelchair users.
Finally, Blahnik introduced an app called Breathe to remind people to take stress reducing breaks. It’ll have different kinds of optional reminders and will be able to guide you through a session with visuals or haptic feedback.
Lynch returned to the stage to discuss how WatchOS 3 will be improved for developers to enable integration with those new features and improvements.
Apps on the watch will be able to use Apple Pay. Fitness apps will be able to run in the background during workouts and have access to more data that will enable new kinds of workout apps on the watch according to Lynch.
There are many more improvements and new APIs to the SDK for the watch including SpriteKit and more. Games should be much better though it’ll still be a tough sell to keep your wrist raised up for a while. I’d still expect it to be really only for quicker interactions.
Eddie Cue came on stage to talk about tvOS for the 4th generation Apple TV. He spoke about new apps like Sling, Fox Sports Go, the French TV service Molotov and a few games like NBA 2k, Minecraft Story Mode, and Sketch Party.
Cue then introduced improvements to the Remote app for iPhone which has all of the features of the physical 4th generation Apple TV Remote.
Siri for the Apple TV will be able to find shows and movies by topic. Cue searched for high school comedy movies from the 80’s and got Ferris Bueller’s day off and other options.
Siri will be able to load into live channels. MLB was notably absent.
Logins with cable providers will be reduced to a single sign-on. The App Store will let you know what apps/channels you have access to once you sign in.
The Apple TV will have a dark mode, and will automatically download available apps if you download them to another device.
Cue finished the tvOS talk by briefly mentioning some of the improvements for the developer kit and mentioned that the new version will be released publicly this Fall.
Craig Federighi was introduced to discuss the improvements to OS X, now renamed to macOS. The new version will be macOS Sierra.
Sierra will introduce new features cribbed from third parties such as unlocking your Mac when you have your Apple Watch close to it.
Another new feature borrowed from a third party, Tapbot’s Pastebot in this case, is Universal Clipboard. You’ll be able to copy and paste text, images, video and more between Macs and iOS devices.
iCloud Drive will now include your files in the desktop folder and sync those between Macs as well as making them available via the iCloud Drive app on iOS.
If you are running out of space on your Mac’s hard drive, Sierra can attempt to offload older files to iCloud and remove other kinds of files that users don’t typically need like old application caches. There will be a new GUI specifically for doing all of these functions.
Apple Pay will now work on macOS Sierra through websites that support it. You’ll authenticate it on your iPhone with the Touch ID finger print reader or Apple Watch.
Craig announced another Sierra improvement, tabbing application windows like web browser tabs. Developers won’t need to do anything to support this functionality.
Videos will be able to go into a picture-in-picture mode from websites. You can drag to move or resize this always-on-top window which also persists across full screen application virtual desktops.
Finally, Siri will be available in macOS Sierra. She made a few jokes with Craig during a demo. Siri will be able to understand new questions that are more appropriate for a Mac. For example, Craig asked about files from a specific time period and location, and then did a follow up question to further refine the search. It is unusual for Siri to understand context.
Results from Siri can be pinned to the macOS Notification Center. Image results can be dragged directly into applications from Siri, or copied and pasted from an iOS device.
Sierra will be supported on these models of Mac:
Late 2009 & later
2010 & later
Craig moved on to iOS 10 and discussed 10 new features.
First off the bat, user experience improvements.
The lock screen has been redesigned. You’ll be able to raise your phone and it’ll wake up, bypassing the issue with newer Touch ID sensors that are so fast you never see the lock screen if you press a finger to the home button.
Notifications on the lock screen are more interactive and designed for 3D Touch to display more contextual information. Craig demoed 3D touching a calendar invite and seeing more details about it, before accepting it.
The next example that Craig demonstrated was a more interactive iMessage conversation where he could see more of the context of the conversation and also get images in it without leaving the lock screen notification.
If you use the illegal taxi service, Uber, their updated notifications showed you the location of your incoming car with an unvetted driver that is probably making less than minimum wage after all is said and done.
Notification Center now lets you clear all of your notification with a 3D Touch gesture that reveals a clear all button.
Control Center was simplified in its initial display, but it also has another page you can swipe to with more bigger buttons for music control and an album art display.
It’ll be easier to get to the camera from the lock screen, you can now slide from right to left to open the camera application.
Sliding from left to right displays a new widget view. The demo broke when Craig tapped on his calendar widget to “show more” of his day. An engineer was immediately brought on stage to answer for this failure.
There are more 3D Touch improvements to apps on the home screen. The email application can now display a widgetized list of contacts and a count of unread messages from them. The activity application on the iPhone can also display your activity rings in a widget that appears when you 3D Touch on that from the home screen.
These widgets can also display live video through third party applications like ESPN.
Craig moved on to iOS 10’s improvements in Siri.
Developers will have access to Siri in IOS 10. Though it appears to be limited to certain categories of apps like messaging apps. Craig mentioned Slack, Whatsapp, and WeChat.
Siri will hail illegal taxi cabs through third party apps Uber, Lyft, and Didi. Search photos in Pinterest, IM and Shutterfly. Start and stop workouts with MapMyRun, Runtastic, and Runkeeper. Send payments with Number 26, Square Cash, and Alipay. Set up VoIP calls with Cisco Spark, Vonage, and Skype.
CarPlay will also work with third-party apps for messaging and VoIP.
The keyboard suggestions, QuickType, will be improved and understand the context of the conversation. Craig’s example, is that it’ll understand the difference between playing in the park versus the Orioles playing in the playoffs. If you’re asked “where are you?” in iMessage, QuickType suggestions will give you a big suggestion to give your current location on a map. If you’re asked for contact information, QuickType will suggest sending the contact. The calendar event suggestions that you’d see if you tapped on text like “Sunday at 2PM” before will now be more context-aware and understand that you’ve been talking about a certain type of food and a street address that get included in the calendar event suggestion.
The keyboard will now support multilingual typing, I won’t have to switch between German and English anymore!
Photos will now display your photos pinned on a map, and will run facial recognition to understand who is in what pictures. I hope it works better than iPhoto did at that. Photos will also now detect objects and scenes in pictures so that you can search for these better. Craig displayed an example picture of someone riding a horse by a lake with a mountain, and said it would understand the mountain and horse and the scenery if you search for those. I wonder if we’ll see progress bars scanning all of our photos the first time we open the new Photos app in iOS 10 as this occurs. I suspect that this will be done offline due to privacy concerns.
Photos will also group together different trips, people, groups, and topics like “on the water” or “at the beach” into a new interface. Craig demonstrated the new “Memories” tab in Photos on iOS 10 that shows the product of this computer vision work. It’ll even create a short video of different events with Ken Burns style zooms of different photos and videos as well as music layered on top. Craig assures us this will pick the right music, but he demonstrates overriding the music choice and how Photos will re-edit the “memory movie” to match the music change. These changes will also come to macOS Sierra.
Craig takes a break as Eddie Cue returns to show us updates to maps. iOS 10 Maps will offer you some suggestions based on calendars and where you commonly go at different times of day. If you search for restaurants it’ll display a horizontal list of cuisines and restaurant styles you can pick from, and adjust its suggestions based on which you select. Navigtaion is also improved. Eddie shows us how the view is more dynamic, zooming in and out intelligently based on where your next turn is and other information. Maps will give you suggestions for things along the route, and tell you how long it’ll take to reach your destination if you stop at these suggestions. There’s also a Maps extensions API, Eddie’s example is booking a table at a restaurant with an OpenTable restaurant, hailing an illegal taxi cab with Uber, and paying for it all inside Maps. Cool.
Apple Music is also getting updated with an “all-new redesign.” I don’t see the connect tab anymore. Bozoma Saint John went on stage to give a demo. The Music app looks to be streamlined without that connect tab, and pretty different. Lyrics are displayed right below the controls for the music if you scroll down. Very nice. Bozoma tried to get the audience to rap along with Rapper’s Delight, the audience cam showed us various Apple folks attempting to do so, it was extremely embarrassing. The new Apple Music interface looks great, though.
Eddie Cue comes back to discuss Apple News improvements. You can already read this site on there so they’ve done a bit of extra cleanup to improve the rest of the app. For example, they’ve added subscriptions and breaking news notifications.
Craig is back to discuss Homekit improvements. New categories of supported IoT devices have been added. A dedicated Home app is going to be available to control all of your homes. I’m sure monocles are popping out everywhere. Preset scenes will be available to adjust several devices at once. Siri can control these scenes and devices. If you swipe over on Control Center you’ll be able to control devices from there. Notifications will be able to interact with HomeKit devices and display live video from a doorbell device, for example. Apple TV will act as the hub for your HomeKit devices so that you can access them remotely when you’re away from home.
The Phone app will be updated to transcribe voicemails, though this functionality is in beta. An extension API will let other applications interact with the Phone app, in an example slide an extension from Tencent identifies an incoming caller that isn’t in your contacts as a possible spam caller.
When VoIP calls ring through, they’ll integrate into the lockscreen and the phone app just like regular calls. Contacts will be updated to display the options you have to call someone through multiple services. They’ve worked with Cisco to let you get your work calls through your iPhone.
The Messages app has been updated to provide previews of links inline. Videos and photos will display right in Messages. The camera will display a minified camera app inside of messages when you tap that button. Emoji are now three times larger. If you tap the emoji button after typing up a message, but before sending it, it will highlight words that can be replaced with emoji. Message bubbles can now have effects like shrinking or growing to emphasize emotion behind words. Messages can be hidden for a recipient to reveal with a swipe over the text or an image. They’ve also added a short series of icons to send a thumbs up, or a laugh to someone. Apparently we don’t have enough time to select the appropriate emoji now. This demo slide broke and displayed the thumbs-up above the message that it was replying to. You can also send “handwritten messages,” it isn’t clear if these are keyboard input being turned into a generated font with some ink physics or brushed on with a touch, but you can also send “digital touch” messages like drawing a smiley face on the Apple Watch. You can also draw on video or photos with digital touch. There are also fullscreen effects that appear behind the messaging transcript. A slide shows us some fireworks behind the chat bubbles after you send “Happy New Year!”
Bethany and Emron are introduced for a demo. They’re engineering and human interface design team leads. Bethany demonstrated sending and receiving some diffferent message types, Emron received a link to some music that you could play right inside Messages.
iMessage will now support developer-created apps that are launched from an “app drawer” for things like stickers. Craig tells us that some types of apps won’t even require code. Artists can make them a sticker app without coding, but you could also integrate other iOS functionality like the camera. Square Cash will work inside of Messages as well.
Craig started a demo. He demonstrates sending a sticker, and then applying some animated stickers to a photo message. The next demonstration is a group ordering food together through DoorDash, right inside of Messages. Each person selects the food they want from the restaurant (or food truck in this demonstration).
The Mac and Apple Watch will be able to receive these conversations, so it sounds like they won’t be able to work with messaging apps to create messages using them, which makes sense.
Here’s a video they showed to feature the new features in Messages:
Craig finishes up by blitzing through some other improvements to iOS 10. Live editing collaboration in the Notes app. Conversation view in Mail displays messages in a better threaded format. Live photos can be edited and they have stabilization now. Safari on iPad finally lets you use split view to display two websites at the same time. Previously you had to use third-party apps to do that. He also reminds us that many of these new features work for third-party developers.
Finally he re-emphasizes how all of this information that involves computer learning, the memories functionality in Photos for example, will be run on the device. The information that is sent to Apple’s servers will also be kept private by them not building profiles of users. Obviously this is a dig at Google who mines all of your data with no regard for your privacy if it’ll enable their advertisers to have better targeting.
Tim Cook comes back on stage to close things out and emphasize Apple’s commitment to developers. He discusses how great Swift is. He’s talking about how it’s the #1 language project on Github since the source was released. Cook also reiterates how important Swift is as a first language by releasing a new app called Swift Playgrounds for iPad.
Tim invites Cheryl Thomas on stage to demonstrate Swift Playgrounds. The app’s front door screen has lessons and challenges. QuickType suggestions are offered inside of lessons with code suggestions. There’s a simple turtle-style demo of moving a character on the screen with code like moveForward() and collectGem(). Cheryl demonstrates wrapping a for loop around some pre-existing code. This looks like it could give Codeacademy a run for its money, though obviously it’ll be limited to Swift many of the lessons could apply to other languages. We need XCode for iPad.
Cheryl opens a more advanced playground with a new coding keyboard to add new code to the playground.
Tim returns again to announce that Swift Playgrounds will be free, of course. Another video:
That could have been incredibly hokey, but I think they did a great job.
Tim Cook goes back over everything we’ve seen, and closes out the keynote.
Make it Rain is difficult to categorize. It’s a game for iOS, and it stretches the definition of a game. Though it isn’t the first to do so.
Progress Quest was the first in this genre. It was simpler, though. Think of starting solitaire and watching it play itself except with high scores on an internet leaderboard more accurately measured in minutes hours and days the program has been running than in a score.
Cookie Clicker perfected it last year by adding upgrades and removing the leaderboards to redefine the goal. Not that there is a victory condition or any well-defined end game but you’re nolonger competing against other people who have just been running the game longer. Now you’re just having fun and experiencing the ridiculousness of the game as it changes over time through the upgrades you choose and your score or cookie count increases.
In Make it Rain they’ve simplified the game but I think they’ve lost something in doing so.
The upgrades names and icons in Make it Rain are funny and the game does have some of the same fun in upgrading your production. In this case it is a fountain of dollars instead of cookies. Much like Cookie Clicker theres fun to be had in trying to pick the optimal path through the upgrade tree. There’s even a great new mechanic in that you can metaphorically “make it rain” by swiping increasingly large bills from your virtual money clip.
But a lot of the charm is gone in the unavoidable comparison to Cookie Clicker. It seems like a slide back towards the gameplay of Progress Quest. When I was playing Make it Rain I kept hoping for some point where a meta game or a new addition to the gameplay.
The breaking point for me turned out to be when, after setting my iPhone to remain unlocked on the floor all night, I woke up to a piece of the new gameplay smacking me across the face. The FBI investigation is cute, but when the wheel of justice spins and lands on a penalty a few too many times you may be ready to toss your phone out the window.
The penalties are just too harsh and put your production into a hole it won’t be fun to dig out of.
It is a free-to-play game, and that almost makes the experience worse. It seems like the gameplay is designed to put you into a situation hat you can’t get out of without spending real money.
Maybe the developers will patch Make it Rain to be a little bit more player friendly, or at least weight that FBI investigation wheel towards fun, but right now I wouldn’t recommend the experience.
2 out of 5 robot pimps.
Game Dev Story is a business simulation about choices.
What genre, what platform, and what theme do you want for your game?
Is the game cute and simple or realistic and innovative?
Do you want to use an in-house art, story, and audio folks or outsource assets and writing?
There are quite a few choices and you’ve got the freedom to make larger decisions about advertising campaigns and which development path to focus on.
Nothing is free, you’ve got to pay platform holders for devkits, employees their salaries, and fees for everything and everyone in the studio. Game developers won’t choose to grow on their own, you’ve got to prod them forward with research data gathered during development. Once they’re more talented their salary has to rise too. Though at least the game doesn’t simulate headhunters to recruit your developers out from under you. Continue reading “Game Dev Story Review”