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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Gaming in the Cloud

The Game Center has been dead almost since it was introduced in Sept. 2010, but some iOS 5 updates could breathe more life into the stale medium. The idea was supposed to be a cross between playing games on Facebook and the social capabilities of Xbox Live.
The execution fell fairly flat, as friends had no way to communicate or really even interact with their friends except to compete with them. The person on the other side might as well have been AI for all the contact you would have with them. Kudos to the person who remembered to brag about an awesome Ms. Pacman victory when they met up with their friend hours later.

The update:

Several iOS updates have happened since its release, and none have really addressed the social issue fully. The newest update has actually taken enough steps in the right direction that it might be worth picking up again, or picking up for the first time.
The iOS 5 update makes picking it up for the first time even easier with friend suggestions. Unlike the rather annoying Facebook friend suggestions you’re probably used to, the Game Center’s will actually help you find people you already interact with on a regular basis and let you know which games they regularly play. The days of awkwardly hitting up your co-workers to see if they play Words with Friends are over. After all, gaming may be growing more social by the day thanks to cloud computing servers, but it doesn’t mean you want to have conversations about your Bejeweled addiction in mixed company.
However, in case you really do want to show off your proudest jewel-sorting moments, look no farther than the Achievement Board section of the Game Center. Much like its sister feature in Xbox Live, it will show you all of your high scores and achievements, along with all of your friends. If you choose to be matched up with strangers, it will show you their Board before you begin the match. iPhone gaming isn’t as intense as playing in a pro-gaming environment yet, but it is nice to know who you’re up against regardless. A crushing defeat is lessened if you know you’re up against someone who spends their entire day on their phone.
You can also add a profile picture to your account and find new games from the Game Center portal, which will hopefully encourage more developers to begin using its capabilities.

The remaining issues:

Puzzlingly for an Apple product, much of how the Game Center functions has been left in the hands of individual developers. It’s lacking the rigid, perfection-driven focus of most of Apple’s software. Matching is also left to developers, who may not care to find an even system and instead simply throw together players of whatever skill levels together.
The major improvement that should happen, though, is including some way for friends to communicate with each other. Game Center was supposed to pave the way for mobile social gaming. As it stands, Game Center still is hardly a social experience.[Source]

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Verizon Wireless and Sprint Speed Up Texted Haiti Donations

Sprint and Verizon Wireless said Friday that they were responding to a surge of text-message donations for victims of the Haiti earthquake by making sure the money got to its destination much faster than usual. Verizon Wireless said Friday that it would immediately send a $2.1 million check to the Red Cross for its efforts to help victims of the "Earthquake in Haiti".
Sprint said that as of 9 a.m. Friday its customers had contributed $1.2 million via text message to charities including the American Red Cross, the Yéle Haiti Foundation and the William J. Clinton Foundation.
Btw, the Red Cross has to date raised over $30 million in donations for the Haiti earthquake relief.
Haiti Earthquake of 2010
A massive earthquake struck Haiti just before 5 p.m. on Jan. 12, about 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, toppling everything from simple shacks to the ornate National Palace, The quake was the worst in the region in more than 200 years, and as many as 50,000 people were feared dead.

View the original article here

Motorola Requested 2.25% Patent Licensing Royalty on iPhone Purchases [iOS Blog]

Late last year, Motorola Mobility requested Apple pay a potential royalty of 2.25% on its iPhone sales in recently unsealed litigation from last year. The royalty would amount to more than $1 billion in 2011 alone, though there is no indication which specific iPhone models would be covered by the license nor if it would be retroactive to the initial launch of the iPhone in 2007.

The patents appear to be covered under the FRAND standard, which requires patents to be licensed for "fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms". The 2.25% request that Motorola offered was in response to a demand for a FRAND pricing offer from Apple.
Florian Mueller, writing about the issue, offers some additional insight: I assume this relates to Apple's sales and to all of MMI's standard-essential patents, though the context is only one patent (the one over which Motorola has already forced Apple, temporarily, to remove certain products from its German online store. Assuming in Motorola's favor that this was a license to all standard-essential wireless patents, the amount still appears excessive to me given how many companies hold patents on such standards and what royalty rate this would lead to in the aggregate.
A quote in the Wall Street Journal from the chief executive of the Epicenter IP group, which helps companies license patents, noted that "there is no debate that Motorola was the inventor of the mobile phone" and its patents could be broad and necessary for a phone maker.
This is only one more step in the long and drawn-out patent battle between the two companies, but the licensing rate for patents is typically a closely held competitive secret. The 2.25% rate would be a significant amount of money, given the tremendous sales Apple is generating from its iPhone business.
View the original article here

X-PLANE 9 FOR IPAD

A flight simulator with a multitude of maps, aircrafts & missions. The video is at the bottom of the post.
Pros:
-22 Regions (Maps)
-40 Aircrafts with customizations
-A multitude of flying conditions
-Missions for each aircraft (even docking the space shuttle at the ISS!)
-Radio Chatter
-Realistic scenery with 3D buildings & terrain
-In app Apollo mission purchase
Cons:
-Up close the land is pixelated
$9.99 (optional $4.99 Apollo mission)
5/5
My very first iPhone App Review was X-Plane for iPhone. Now there is X-Plane 9 for iPad and I must say, it is about 30 times more outstanding than the iPhone App, The iPad app has many more planes & regions.
X-Plane 9 for iPad has 22 regions that include areas from Florida to Alaska to the Grand Canyon, to Hawaii. If you want to you can also land on a aircraft carrier!
There are a total of 40 aircrafts in the app, ranging from helicopters, to gliders, so commercial planes, to fighter jets to even the the Space Shuttle (you can even do the Apollo mission fora $4.99) in app purchase.)
Another thing to mention here is that some of the fighter jets can actually shoot.You can even shoot down an AI jet.
Some of the planes themselves come with missions and can be scene when switching to the map view, but most of the time, you are only going to see the ability to start landing, take-off or start at a random place.
Each plane has the ability to customize the total weight of the plane and its center of gravity.
Much like the iPhone App, there are four times of day – day, sunset, twilight & night. There are also the 5 different whether conditions; however, you now have the ability to mix two different levels. You can also customize the visibility, wind speed & direction, turbulence & wave height.
Once in an aircraft, there are a multitude of views – inside the cockpit with meters & controls, window view with on-screen meters & controls, follow the aircraft, customizable view – zoom in & out on the aircraft.
When flying an aircraft, you’ll need patience especially if you are flying from on airport to another as some of the maps are expansive and it can take awhile; of course you can always just do the landing & take-off missions. Lastly a very neat feature includes the ability to play the sim with another user that is on the same WiFi network. Can you say dog-fighting?

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Oditha D Wanasinghe
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