Note : This article is all about the standard Apple Watch Series 8. I’m not going to talk about the Apple Watch Ultra because it is a whole new beast. But I did want to mention - if you have a 45mm Apple Watch Series 8, you CAN use the new Apple Watch Ultra bands and they look pretty good. I’ll link a video below.
Like many of you, I’m still figuring out the right cadence to upgrade my Apple Watch. I upgrade my iPhone every two years, which is a bad habit formed from the days of carrier phone contracts. I don’t do that with my Watch though. The passiveness of the Apple Watch means that unless the device is broken or noticeably slow, I don’t actively want to change it. Why risk messing up a good thing?
With this in mind, my Watch upgrade history goes something like this. I went from an original Apple Watch (Series 0) to a Series 3. That was obvious, as it had a major speed increase and cellular support. Having cellular support in the Watch was awesome and sounded super useful (spoiler : it wasn’t). The next year I upgraded again, from a Series 3 to a Series 4 and it’s wonderful, massive new display. I dropped cellular on this model due to the lack of use it received over the previous year. That Series 4 is where I stayed until the Series 8 came out last fall. I thought the always on display and speed increases were nice, but it wasn’t going to make a tangible difference in how I used my Apple Watch.
I will also confess that I originally planned on upgrading to a Series 7 in 2021 with it’s rumored flat edge redesign. The design change was my motivation to upgrade and when that didn’t materialize I went back into hibernation. So why jump on the Series 8? The temperature sensor was the straw the broke the camel’s back, but more on that later. I finally realized that all the things I had skipped over the last 4 generations added up to a pretty nice upgrade, even without a huge “wow” feature that I had conditioned myself to wait for. I would still be getting the always on display, improved performance, improved battery, and fast charging. I also wanted to switch back to a cellular model, as I had started running and found that connectivity way more useful now. These upgrades would also let me take full advantage of sleep tracking, with would go hand in hand with the newly announced temperature tracking and how it worked. I swear that discussion is still coming.
Lets talk about wha...Read Full Story
Should anybody pay $549 for these? No, not really.
These days you can find AirPods Max on Amazon frequently for $100 off. So are they worth it for $449? The answer to that is most likely still no - but I’ll concede these are some awesome sounding, premium headphones. They are well made and have a great feature set, but they exist in an awkward space where they are priced above their capabilities and getting into the range of much higher end headphones. You are paying a lot for the Apple design sense and attention to detail here, with one exception that we’ll get to later. That being said, it is a compelling package but one that I feel like $399 is probably the sweet spot.
Like most Apple products the design and material quality is top notch. The ear cups are made from metal instead of the plastic commonly found on head phones even more expensive than these. Even the headband has a sturdy feel. The The only downside is with that hefty premium feel, these have a little more weight than most headphones. After wearing AirPods Max during a multi-hour coding session, I can definitely feel it afterwards. Also the internal ear pads are removable and super comfortable. They have a super nice magnetic attachment that is strong but yet easy to remove. Fun fact here - you are actually supposed to replace the ear pads on headphones every so often, which I did not know. Apple just engineered a crazy elegant solution to accomplish that. It does let you mix and match colors which is cool.
So how do you get these fancy headphones hooked up to your device? The AirPods Max will connect over Bluetooth or you can connect to a standard audio 3.5mm jack. Wired connections do require an additional purchase of a lightning to 3.5mm cable for about $35, available from the Apple Store. I think most people in the market for the AirPods Max are going to take advantage of the H1 chip to get all the fancy Apple goodies. That gives you Spatial audio (which sounds crazy good), auto device switching via iCloud, one tap pairing, transparency mode and noise cancellation mode and access to Siri. The AirPods Max borrow the button and digital crown from the Apple Watch and they work out really well. That gives you some fairly precise volume control and a also a quick way to toggle your sound mode. Holding down the crown will trigger Siri. The transparency and noise cancellation modes are stellar. I can’t stress this enough. I have used some other br...Read Full Story
When I purchased an original Xbox in 2001, there was only one game that I wanted – Halo : Combat Evolved. Like many others, it was the killer app that compelled me to tolerate that weird, giant controller and gamble on Microsoft’s first home console. Instantly I fell in love with the franchise and it has remained one of my favorite FPS games to this day.
Over the past few years other FPS games have skyrocketed in popularity, from the likes of Call of Duty to Overwatch to Destiny. The latter of which was created by Bungie, who was responsible for creating Halo and who developed the first three mainline entries in the series. Destiny has dramatically advanced what gamers expect from an FPS game. It provides a variety in armor and weapons, an ongoing story, a variety of different activity types and a fluidity of control that just feels better than any other shooter out there. Needless to say, the bar has been raised significantly since Halo 5’s release in the fall of 2015.
Since then, I have parted ways with my Xbox, transitioning to gaming primarily on a combination of Playstation and PC. However, I jumped at the chance to test an early version of Halo Infinite the past two weekends on my PC, hoping to get a feel for the upcoming installment. The following are initial impressions, but keep in mind this is an early version, not even labeled as a beta. We don’t even know when this build is from, so things could change considerably before the final release on December 7th.
My post today is going to cover the feel of the gameplay. People with faster gaming PCs can tell you all about maxing out Infinite’s graphics or how the Dolby surround sound shakes the walls.
That being said, my first impression was mostly positive. The game felt good, and my time with Halo Infinite was fun. When it releases this December, the multiplayer will be free to play, using a combination of season passes and treating the single player campaign as DLC. A side note, I’m really hoping this, like a lot of Halo Infinite, signals a shift to a Destiny like formula where yearly or at least regular single player expansions are released. Don’t worry, we will return to this comparison soon and often.
This is definitely a remix of Halo – like a modern twist on the original trilogy Halo gameplay. As far as Infinite itself, I think the game did a fine job of achieving the goal it set out for. The developers mentioned previously this wa...Read Full Story
Hi everyone! So I’m happy to let you know that I have started a Red Escape Youtube channel. Why does a blog need a Youtube Channel? Good question. I’m actually looking to cover some other interests – streaming video and the occasional video game – in a more visual format. Hope you’ll check it out.
For the majority of the past twenty years I have used Adobe apps every day. I am intimately familiar with them. I have also been using the Affinity suite for the last few years. I wanted to discuss the rising popularity of Adobe alternatives and what Serif specifically brings to the table.
To start, people who know me are aware that I’m not a fan of subscription software. I refuse to even sell my own software as a subscription.
A few years ago Adobe drastically changed the landscape of the design world by moving all of their Creative Suite apps to a subscription only offering. Since that point, the trinity of Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign has been locked behind a monthly paywall.
A lot can change in a few years though – like the reinvention of European developers Serif.
Serif are the developers behind the Affinity suite of design apps. If you haven’t heard of them, Affinity is a modern reimagining of the Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign triangle. What’s wrong with the Adobe apps you might ask? I mean most designers were trained on and have 20 years or more of experience with these apps. Keyboard shortcuts for all three programs are ingrained in the subconscious of designers. Why even chance switching your entire design suite up for something that you’ve used your entire career?
The two things that pushed myself (and many other designers) were cost and quality.
I had previously read that most designers updated Creative Suite every other version. This makes sense for a few reasons. Cost is of course reason one – why buy new software you don’t need. Creative Suite had always been healthy investment, over $2000 for the Master Collection. But the reason that gets less headlines is the more interesting one – when you have a production workflow up and running well, you don’t want to be doing app updates every year. You want to keep that workflow as stable as possible. The conflict here is that Adobe would like you to spend money as often as possible. After acquiring Macromedia and snuffing out their largest competitor Adobe had created an interesting market. Outside of a few niches, they had no realistic competition. While most industries at the time couldn’t have dared be as hostile to their customers, creatives literally had no choice. Creative Cloud was something no one the industry was really asking for. It only benefited Adobe’s bottom line, but it did that exceedingly well. Adob...Read Full Story
I’ve been a huge MCU fan since the very first Iron Man movie back in 2008. With Avengers : Endgame being released on digital this week, I wanted to write a brief article about some feelings I had about the latest MCU outing, Spiderman : Fair From Home.
*** Be warned, from this point on there could/will be spoilers ***
Let me be clear – I absolutely loved this movie. Where the first Spiderman was pretty good, it felt like there was just a little too much of Peter moping about not Happy not taking his calls. Far From Home rectifies that, pushes Peter forward as a character, builds out the world and more.
Director Jon Watts, who returned from Homecoming, does a wonderful job of showing Peter’s struggle to balance his life between being a high school kid and a superhero. Homecoming tugged on this thread a little, but FFH makes it a focal point. For me that is a defining trait of Peter Parker. I also applaud the decision to take Peter out of New York. It makes for a nice change of pace and scenery.
Tom Holland brings Peter to life again (literally following Endgame) but with a dilemma we haven’t seen before. Without Tony Stark around, Peter is left to deal with things on his own. The prospect of not having Iron Man as safety net seems to terrify him. He’s not ready to step up and be the new Iron Man, instead looking to pass that responsibility to anyone who will take it. The character development of Peter in FFH is so well done – it felt like we literally saw him grow up and accept his place as a full fledged Avenger in this movie. There is a scene later in the film that involves AC/DC which would make Tony Stark proud.
I would be remiss to not mention Mysterio, who I felt like was just as good if not better than the Vulture. Knowing Mysterio’s arc from the comics gave a little away, but Marvel did a great job of weaving his story into the MCU tapestry. Jake Gyllenhaal was perfect in his role as Quentin Beck/Mysterio. He really sells both sides of his character, who makes a wonderful ally and villain for our beloved wall crawler.
The supporting cast was great too. Peter’s classmates and teachers provide their comedic relief, including a touching video tribute to the Avengers at the beginning of the movie. Ned and Betty Brant’s story was fun, although it came really close to being played out too much. We learned a little more about MJ’s character, but I feel like Marvel has to make a decisi...Read Full Story
I will admit up front that I’m definitely not the biggest sports fan in the world. I am however a cord cutter, which means it’s quite difficult to get access to sports content. Being from the Midwest I was raised on basketball, and I still follow both the NBA and NCAA. I also enjoy the occasional MLB game and in rare moments will even watch an NHL game. For the past couple of months I tried subscribing to ESPN+ to see what it can offer to the cord cutter who doesn’t need sports, but still would like to have them around.
First off the basics – ESPN+ is a streaming service, priced at $4.99 per month in the US. As a disclaimer, I paid for my ESPN+ subscription out of my own pocket; I received no compensation from Disney and/or ESPN.
Since it costs only $4.99 per month it’s one of the more affordable services out there. However the big question is – what does ESPN+ offer to a cord cutter? For what I would consider a typical American sports viewer the answer is not very much.
ESPN+ will show you some games that are broadcast on ABC, but any content from ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3 or the myriad of other ESPN cable properties, is not available. What you get is a smattering of minor league or international sports. The only basketball games available were European leagues. Even NBA summer league games required a cable subscription. The service does seem to have a fair amount of UFC content, but of course any major events still look to be pay-per view. I don’t follow UFC enough to know how good the ESPN+ coverage is; if you do it might be worth checking out.
There is one daily MLB game you can watch, but it suffers from the same issue as the MLB.tv app. You’ll miss lots of games if you are located close to a team and that one game is blacked out. Living in the Midwest, I am blacked out from any Reds, White Sox or Cubs games despite living hours away from any of those teams. This amount to frequent blackouts. On the bright side the ESPN+ game is a different game than the MLB.tv free game. It’s not been available for me to test, but during the NHL season they likewise offer a hockey game of the day on ESPN+.
The one exception to this seems to be soccer. I don’t follow the sport personally, but my girlfriend does and she was familiar with several teams that were playing. They claim to offer every out of market MLS game – so for soccer fans ESPN+ might be worth the cash.Besides that, it’s slim pickings – with ... Read Full Story
I very rarely wade into the world of politics, and I have two reasons why.
First of all, it’s an ultra corrupt world of backstabbing, lies and grandstanding. None of that is appealing to me. Secondly, it seems that real change, despite broken promises and campaign slogans, is few and far between. Politicians (of all parties) don’t appear to actually want change, it’s the constituents that do. Politicians are merely jockeying for influence and money.
As a thought experiment however, I attempted to approach government like I would software. Analyze what isn’t working without emotion and conclude “If I were doing a version 2.0 feature list of the US Government, what would that look like?” – these are my release notes:
The first “feature” of Gov 2.0 is to end Career politics. A “user” may serve 8 years total in either the House of Representatives or Senate.
All corporate lobbying of the US Government will be ended. Companies should not be allowed to use their influence (aka money) to steer the government. Instead of lobbying, publicly televised quarterly panels will be held to allow government reps and corporate reps to discuss important topics. A panel of citizens would decide what is worth bringing forward for a vote. When the country votes for President, any proposals brought forth from this committee would be voted on as well.
Freedom of religion should be protected – unless it endangers the lives of innocents. Every accommodation must be made to protect freedom of religion, for all major religions. But in the case of an exemption for a life saving vaccination for example, the preservation of life must be given precedence.
When a regular person quits their job, they are not paid for the rest of their life. Government should function the same. As the purpose of government is to “serve” the people, when you are done serving you will be expected to go back to your career. Government is NOT A CAREER. The money saved from this can be funneled back into more important programs.
Congress shall make no more than the average median wage of the constituents they serve. A congressman or woman should not make $175,000 a year while the people they serve only make $50,000. The President shall make twice the median wage...Read Full Story
I have been a believer in the iPad from day one. When Steve Jobs unveiled the original iPad on stage in 2010, I immediately bought in to having a larger tablet device positioned somewhere between my iPhone and MacBook Pro. The original iPad of course left a lot to be desired, but the germ of the idea was there.
Of course when I got my original iPad, I was mostly just a geek and graphic designer. Fast forward to now and my work has grown exponentially. In addition to graphic and web design, I now write, podcast, code and edit video and audio. And while you can pry my MacBook Pro from my cold, dead hand I have tried over the years to do more and more work from my iPad.
Obviously that original iPad didn’t get me far. iWork was in its infancy and was so-so. Other apps came along like Diet Coda and many, many drawing apps. Even Adobe has a suite of mostly useless iPad Creative Cloud apps. Over the years I have upgraded to an Air 2, then an iPad Pro 9.7″. In both cases the hardware was amazing but the software was just not up to the task. It seemed like if I needed to get “real work” done, I ended up retreating to my Mac to do so. The praise for Apple’s hardware couldn’t be higher, and in the case of the Apple Pencil they definitely raised the bar.
Not to stay they made no software improvements – iOS even added multitasking and some iPad focused features, including a basic file manager in Files.app (finally!). It still wasn’t enough for most pro workflows. With the release of the 2018 iPad Pros, these same problems have been magnified. The hardware is outperforming MacBook Pros, the keyboard and Pencil are awesome – but iOS 12 is holding back the hardware from it’s true potential.
I do feel like 2018 was a watershed moment for the iPad though, and it comes down to three main points:
1. The 2018 iPad Pro Hardware
This thing is a beast. I just recently upgraded and also got the new pencil and keyboard folio. While it weirdly makes the iPad into a mini, baby-Mac laptop, at the same time it makes the iPad feel so much more like a productivity machine. Combine the full screen display with the refined, wireless pencil charger and landscape Face ID (which I feel works better here than on the iPhone) and you have a nice computer. Did I mention the processor is faster than some Macs? The hardware has reached a point where it’s stupidly overpowered.
2. Developers give a damn
I love my Apple devices, but as anyone who reads Red Escape knows I have my fair share of issues with Siri. As you can imagine, in my household we do not have a HomePod. I tried an Echo a couple of years ago and never looked back. Now I use multiple Echo devices, along with many skills, to control music, lights, smart plugs and even my Xbox.
This Has Happened Before
While while smart assistant needs are met by Alexa, I am not a Fire TV fan. I love the Apple TV interface and the hardware is pretty powerful. Also as an iOS developer, I can develop for the Apple TV. I know I haven’t yet, but the ability to do so is nice to have in my back pocket.
A little over a year ago on December 6th, 2017 Prime Video arrived on Apple TV. Supporting 4K HDR and the TV app, it brought together a service I enjoyed with a platform I loved. I can say that it substantially increased my enjoyment of the Apple TV. With series I wanted to watch like the Grand Tour, Jack Ryan, The Man in The High Castle and more, having Prime video integrated with the devices I use the most made them both more valuable to me.
Fast forward 12 months and I have this exact problem again, but reversed. I have an Apple Music subscription, which I enjoy. However I find the HomePod, which is Apple’s speaker solution, to be limited. While the sound is great, Siri’s capabilities and dependence upon a single phone makes it unattractive to me. As I mentioned I much prefer the Amazon Echo, which is more independent and acts as conduit to all kinds of services and features. But not being able to stream music was frustrating. I had even thought, albeit briefly, about switching to Spotify to solve this problem, but as I mentioned I still prefer Apple Music. As of right now I must connect via Bluetooth to play Apple Music on my Echo.
Yesterday that changed – Apple Music is officially coming to the Amazon Echo.
I had dreamed of this integration, but honestly I never imagined it would happen. I even briefly flirted with the idea of buying a HomePod when they hit $250 during Black Friday sales. Ultimately I decided that even $100 off wasn’t a valuable proposition for a speaker that only played music (although it sounded great) and lacked so much on the smart assistant front. Thankfully Apple also decided that the revenue from potential Apple Music subscriptions outweighed the benefits of ...Read Full Story
Let me start off by saying I’m a daily CarPlay user. I’ve used several generic infotainment systems with the notable exception of Android Auto. So far in my experience, CarPlay is far and away the best system. It has definitely made me a safer driver and mostly removed the temptation to look at my phone. However, there are several areas where I feel it falls short, and one major philosophy that I believe Apple has wrong that is preventing it from truly solving the CarPlay problem.
First off, there is a dearth of apps for CarPlay. Apple has defined a few, very specific categories and all other apps are forbidden from running on CarPlay. Why you ask? I have no inside knowledge, but I believe Apple’s philosophy to be that texting, mapping and audio are enough. Nothing else should happen inside the car. That is admirable but also dangerously naive. The world is more complex than ever, whether Apple or I like it or not, and the fastest way to get people to pick up their phones while driving is to tell them that the one app they want to use can’t be controlled through CarPlay. Isn’t any app with a CarPlay UI a safer alternative than a driver interacting with their phone? I don’t think Skype video chats or streaming Youtube would make for safe driving apps (more on that in a minute) but at least allowing a Skype user to be in a call as an audio only participant or allowing the Youtube app to stream audio only would be marked improvements over people who are inevitably driving down the road, watching YouTube on their phone screens. I say open any app up to CarPlay and only disapprove an app who’s safety is worse than a person using their phone while driving.
I told you we’d be coming back to Youtube and here we are. This should be a slam dunk. You obviously don’t want people watching video while driving. What about the dad waiting for 45 minutes to pick his daughter up from soccer practice? What about two people sitting in a car, killing time, who want to take advantage of that large touchscreen? It turns out we solved this problem many years ago with in car DVD players. If you remember, they are supposed to be hooked up to your brake so that the unit will only allow DVD playback if the vehicle is in park. Heck, my current CarPlay enabled head unit will play videos from a USB stick as long as I am parked.
I propose an enhanced level of interactivity for apps called Parked Mode – which would allow a user to watch Youtu...Read Full Story
When the iPhone X was announced I was relieved. You see I always upgrade my iPhone every two years. Luckily last year was not my year, so I had some time to sort out my feelings about Face ID. I have always been a huge Touch ID fan and I frequently use my phone laying on my desk. Needless to say I was very nervous about this year’s iPhone lineup, which adopted Face ID across the line.
Let me preface this with an acknowledgement that I know some people had issues with Touch ID and for them Face ID was a drastic improvement. I’m attempting to convey my experiences, based on my particular use cases in this article.
I do like Face ID – in fact I really like it. When it works, it’s very convenient and flat out futuristic. Just looking at your phone and watching things unlock does have a very Apple-like “magic” quality to it. Overall it’s still not better than Touch ID though, and it all comes down to one simple metric – the failure rate is way too high.
That’s not to say it ruins the iPhone XS or is unusable. Quite the opposite, it’s a unique feature that even with its shortcomings is tolerable. However I just spent over $1,000 on a phone. The thought has occurred to me more than once that for a product with that price, is “tolerable” the best we can expect? I certainly hope not. Apple loves money, as we can see by their prices jumping across the board as of late. I feel like as Apple fans we tend to give the company a pass based on accumulated goodwill or warm memories of those moments where Apple innovation made our jaws hit the floor. I’ll come out and say it – the iPhone XS is a damn good phone. It’s a great phone. It feels super premium and ticks off a lot of boxes. It’s not however one of those products that makes your jaw hit the floor.
The first time Face ID works its impressive. You can’t help but smile at your phone. Then you’re sitting at your desk and tap the screen to wake your phone – but it can’t see you, which triggers the phone to ask for your passcode. “No problem, it’s a new phone and I probably did something wrong” you say. It happens a few more times during the day as you’re still getting used to the phone. That night you’re laying on your side and Face ID fails. Even though you’re playing the break-your-neck game to align your head with the Face ID camera it still doesn’t work – which means enter your passcode again. After a few days of this you come to realize that you’re not the on...Read Full Story
Is augmented reality really going to be as big as Tim Cook thinks it is? At WWDC last year it wowed the audience and had people in a frenzy. Fast forward a few months and the reception noticeably cooled after iOS 11 saw its public release. However, it received a shot in the arm this past week with the announcement of the latest version of AR Kit.
In a very un-Apple move, the company detailed what to expect in the upcoming iOS 11.3 update due out this Spring. One of the most important, and likely overlooked components, is AR Kit 1.5. While features like iMessage in iCloud or new Animoji will get users to upgrade, developers are poised to receive a far more functional version of AR Kit than what shipped in iOS 11.
That’s not to say anything bad about the AR Kit team – quite the opposite in fact. They have done a remarkable job in upping the quality of AR content and have done so in a relatively short amount of time.
The History of AR Kit
However, I’m sure the following story is all too familiar to many devs. When the iOS 11 betas were released, my first thought was “What can I do with AR?”. The demos were impressive and Tim Cook had repeatedly talked the tech up in the media. Once developers got their hands on the tech, the limits became more clear – and unfortunately they rendered my plans for AR Kit moot (and surely many other developers).
AR Kit 1.0 only supported horizontal planes, meaning the software could sense floors, tables and other flat surfaces. However it could only sense those surfaces – there was no vertical surface detection, so objects like walls were invisible to AR Kit.
In AR Kit 1.5 that has changed.
AR Kit – The Next Generation
While they didn’t bill this as version 2.0, it easily qualifies. The star of course in this 1.5 update is vertical surface detection – walls, doors and the like are now fair game. This will extend the capabilities of AR Kit exponentially, bringing a whole new generation of apps that were impossible previously.
Some other big improvements include an improved ability to map irregularly shaped surfaces like circular tables, a resolution bump from 720p to 1080p and support for auto-focus.
Interestingly, Apple also mentioned support for interactive detection of signs. Direct from the press release :
Using advanced computer vision techniques to find and recognize the posit...Read Full Story
To save it’s future, Apple decided to go back to the past and deliver some of the biggest features of the 80s to the iPad. In the process the iPad has been juiced up by features we take for granted on our Macs, but which will signal a tectonic shift on the tablet.
I think the overwhelming majority of developers were thrilled with many of the announcements made at WWDC last week. For iPad users and developers especially Apple made several major improvements in iOS11 that make the iPad a far more capable machine for productivity work.
The “Files” app which Apple previewed last Monday feels like a miniature Finder. That has been one of the top requested features for iOS year after year. Apple finally delivering some form of file management on the iPad also shows signs of the platform maturing. In addition to managing files and folders, the “Files” app also integrates with Box, Dropbox, OneDrive, Creative Cloud and more. Files and folders also support tags just like files on macOS.
The other big tentpole feature is “Drag and Drop”. Users can now highlight multiple items using a very convenient two handed “click and drag” gesture that feels very natural. The beauty of this feature is that it can be implemented in many ways. Springboard uses it for selections – meaning you can now move multiple icons to different home screens and folders. All apps benefit from image and text drag and drop in multitasking and of course, Files.app uses it for selecting multiple files. All said, it certainly feels like Apple has nailed a click-and-drag mechanic for touch screens.
Other, smaller features that are still worthy of mention include the new iPad keyboard, which now features roll down keys for symbols and numbers. This feature has potential to be the most unappreciated feature of iOS11 for iPad. If this allows users to type even 80% of time without having to switch keyboards the time savings would be immense. While the iOS keyboard is a marvel for being able to become anything, it suffers because it doesn’t have any tactile feedback, so the less you have to move your hands while typing on iPad the better.
Also worthy of mention is the new Control Center / Multitasking Viewer. On the iPad, users swipe up from the bottom of the screen all the way to the top. They are greeted by a very Mission Control-eqse view of the control center and all the running applications. It looks amazing and functions much easier than any...Read Full Story
If you are looking forward to the Nintendo Switch, which will be available March 3rd, you might want to skip this column. For anyone who has listened to Tabletop Life (our monthly podcast about tabletop gaming) you might have a clue about the tone of this article.
When Nintendo announced the NX, I had high hopes they would return to their former glory and build a system worthy of gamers’ time and money. What we received with the Switch was at best a misguided attempt to take on the iPad and at worst a clear reminder that Nintendo can no longer produce hardware without shooting itself in the foot.
Then and Now
The Wii U never really had a chance. It was a strange, incompatible system from the beginning and frankly the Wii U never really competed with Sony or Microsoft. The Wii U continued the classic Nintendo tradition of releasing new hardware with some strange, limiting feature that annoyed potential customers and made the system completely incompatible with the world around it. Nintendo systems are also generally very anemic compared to their brethren. For example, while Sony and Microsoft shipped systems with 500GB and 1TB hard drives for storing multiple downloaded games, Nintendo topped out at a meager 32GB.
The Failure of The Switch
The Switch is a solution in search of a problem. Nintendo has their dedicated handheld audience who purchase the 3DS system and games. However the casual gaming market has been taken over by smartphones and tablets and that isn’t going to change. If it had any chance of changing, Nintendo would certainly not be the ones doing it. Their proposition is to carry an additional tablet with you to play games for up to 3 hours. The success of the iPad and similar tablets came about by reducing the items people had to carry. Again, this is how Nintendo operates – they come up with an idea and then put on blinders to how ridiculous it truly is to the rest of the world.
The Switch will fail because it doesn’t know what it is. It’s either an oddly designed, incompatible tablet that has terrible battery life or it’s a weak, underpowered home console with terrible controls. Either way it’s overpriced and the game lineup looks absolutely dreary.
As someone who grew up with Nintendo games, I want to buy a new Nintendo system. I want to play new, HD versions of the games I grew up with. I want to challenge my friends t...Read Full Story
Before I begin a tirade, I want to make a few things clear. Being an Apple developer is great. I love the platforms and Apple’s dedication to continually improving them. They build awesome new features for us to implement in creative ways. I adore the user base who is willing to pay for quality software and help support people like me who enjoy developing apps. I enjoy the benefits of an ecosystem where reliability and dependability of the OS and hardware is an important feature. With all of these wonderful things, you would think Apple’s most important connection to developers and the health of their apps would be spectacular.
That connection to developers is iTunes Connect – and it is one of the worst apps I have ever used.
For reference, I am speaking of the abysmal iOS app; the website has it’s own odd quirks but it is, for the most part, useable. Apple only makes one in-house app that is targeted at developers. iTunes Connect is the place to check how your app is doing. It features important information for developers such as stats about downloads, updates and sales. It also is essential in letting you know when one of your app’s updates is under review or, in unexpected circumstances, rejected and for what reason.
Unfortunately, iTunes Connect seemingly gets worse with each update that it receives. If you read the reviews on the App Store, they are overwhelmingly 1 star. The app is riddled with bugs. Many developers rightly comment that if this were an app submitted to Apple for review it would most certainly be rejected. I’m going to condense the rest of this article in to my three main gripes with iTunes Connect. These are the unforgivable sins that have driven me to use App Annie, which is only marginally better.
1. 7D vs Week View / No 1D
For reference, previous versions of iTunes Connect had a 1D view, which was actually the default. The 1D or 1 Day view showed information from the previous day. It was because the reason 90% of developers open this app every morning is to check their sales from the previous day. In an update this summer, Apple switched the 1D totals to a rolling 7 day total. The tab still displayed 1D, so many developers were rightly worried about iTunes Connect giving them incorrect sales numbers.
To fix this, Apple updated the label to say 7D. Changing the label doesn’t fix the lack of functionality. I don’t recall there being a huge (...Read Full Story
Apple this week unveiled what it is calling Safari Technology Preview, which is a middle ground between public releases of the web browser and Webkit Nightly builds for developers.
Apple describes the preview browser by saying :
Safari Technology Preview gives you an early look at upcoming web technologies in OS X and iOS including the latest layout technologies, visual effects, and developer tools so you can provide input on how they are implemented and deliver a best-in-class user experience on all Apple devices.
Safari Technology Preview gives web developers a preview of improvements to Safari’s rendering engine, WebKit, along with developer tools like Responsive Design Mode built directly into Safari. The Technology Preview features the latest version of WebKit, along with a bug reporter to report issues.
The largest advantage compared to Webkit nightlies is Safari Technology Preview updates from the Mac App Store “every few weeks” according to Apple. It also runs side by side with the release version of Safari, for comparisons and testing new features without breaking your current code.
The Safari Technology Preview is available from the Apple Developer website now, for free.Read Full Story
As promised, Adobe has unleashed a preview of Project Comet, henceforth known as Adobe Experience Design (XD) CC. For now, the preview is OS X only, but a Windows 10 release is scheduled for the end of 2016.
It’s easy to like what you see – Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign can all be used for mockups in a pinch, but a program that can focus solely on that one task has lots of appeal. Sketch has made lots of inroads here on the Mac and has won many designers hearts. However, if Adobe can deliver a competent UX design tool that is bundled with Creative Cloud that is a compelling offer. Sketch would be in the unenviable position once held by QuarkXPress, who found themselves matched by a program designers were getting gratis when they bought Photoshop and Illustrator.
Quark REALLY drug their feet on adding new features and most importantly at the time – updating XPress to run natively on OS X. They were most certainly half responsible for their own demise. To Adobe’s credit they were also working on InDesign at a breakneck pace. The rest is history.
For those who’ve downloaded XD – what do you think? Let me know in the comments.Read Full Story
Apple has already shown off their new toys. Google was quick to follow. Microsoft went next. Now it’s Adobe’s turn, as Adobe MAX 2015 kicked off this week and brought with it a slew of product announcements and updates.
Adam at FStoppers has written a much more detailed look into Adobe’s announcements, which is well worth a read, but I wanted to hit a few high notes here.
Mobile – and more specifically the integration of mobile into your established workflow – seemed to be the tent pole of the MAX keynote. With some really great apps (like Paper by fiftythree) on the iPad, Adobe doesn’t have a stranglehold on the design app market. However, a compelling way to keep customers in the Adobe camp is to provide deeper integration with the desktop, where Adobe does have a stranglehold on the design app market. (Note: I’m aware of Affinity’s products on Mac and I’m going to learn more and write about them soon.)
They did just that too. Besides increasing their mobile app’s capabilities, Adobe has made it ludicrously easy to hop back and forth between tablet and desktop apps, letting each play to their strengths. This will get even better with the release of the iPad Pro next month and it’s super cool Apple Pencil. The drawing capabilities there will really make Adobe Sketch shine.
They also showed off some interesting updates on the desktop, including Photoshop with artboards, a faster Illustrator, Premiere with some neat color adjustments and an all new UX design app called Project Comet. That last one isn’t coming out until Spring 2016, but it looked very interesting.Read Full Story
I’m just going to go ahead and link to Jason Snell’s excellent El Cap review for Macworld, as it echoes many of my own thoughts. For designers / developers using a Mac, El Capitan will be a welcome update.
El Capitan (OSX 10.11) is all about refinement, sanding off the rough edges. Considering the breakneck pace Apple has been at with Mavericks and Yosemite, it’s nice to see them tidy up a bit.
I’ve been using El Cap for roughly a week now and I have exactly zero complaints about the new OS. There are so many nice little tweaks and improvements throughout the system that you’ll find yourself discovering new things for a while. The entire system just feels more responsive and snappier, and I fully expect that to continue and increase as more developers switch their GPU intensive apps to Metal.
You should, of course, always make sure all your essential apps have been updated or are compatible before you do an OS X upgrade and backup just in case. Don’t upgrade anything ultra mission critical right away either. Honestly though, once you’ve made sure your workflow is El-Cap Ready, go ahead and upgrade. If you’re already comfortable with Yosemite, there’s a lot to like here and the price is right.Read Full Story
If you are a Mac user then you have probably heard of Pixelmator. For those who haven’t, it’s a very capable image editor that compares well to Photoshop. Best of all, since it’s a Mac exclusive the app focuses on taking advantage of as many OS X technologies as possible.
Pixelmator 3.3 ScreenshotWith that being said, it’s a fantastic program and an amazing value. It’s also a little bit different than Photoshop. To help get you up to speed here is a link to some tutorials to get you up to full speed.Read Full Story
With the growing popularity of eBooks, today we’re presenting a link on how to create an iBook for the iPad using InDesign CS5. Going direct to consumers with eBooks is a great way to publish your work without the cost and need to get a publishing deal. In a future post we’ll look at getting your eBooks on the Google Play store.
Link – Creating iBooks (ePubs) for the iPadRead Full Story
My first post has to be App Coda. When I started teaching myself Objective-C and learning how to make iOS apps, I learned the most from App Coda and Ray Wenderlich. App Coda is a 100% free site that the author walks you through step by step (in amazing detail for newbies) how to accomplish programming tasks in Xcode and MORE IMPORTANTLY why you are doing them.
The site has tutorials that cover a variety of topics. While they don’t cover everything the material they do have is solid gold. For anyone trying to get into iOS programming without much of a background I would recommend giving a few of their tutorials a read and immersing yourself in the material.
Link – App Coda WebsiteRead Full Story
Welcome to Red Escape. This is a playground for designers. A place to discuss trends and thoughts. A place of inspiration that was born out of a need to nurture creativity without the need of profits or clients. A safe house for when the world drives us mad. That is Red Escape, and as any designer can see it’s still very new (less than 2 hours at this posting). So this is a journey we shall take together – growing, evolving, designing the site as we go. Thanks for coming along for the ride.
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Welcome to Red Escape. This is a playground for designers. A place to discuss trends and thoughts. A place of inspiration that was born out of a need to nurture creativity without the need of profits or clients. A safe house fo...