Review: Badly Drawn Faces

The other day I ran out of coins playing my favorite game, Scramble with Friends, so I decided to run to the App store and take a look at all the new apps out there. I ran across one that immediately caught my eye. The app is called Badly Drawn Faces and is developed by Sporcle. When I read the description, “Sharpy is a narwhal. Narwhals can’t draw. No one ever let Sharpy know that.”, I knew this game was the kind of silly I was looking for. Below, you can see a screenshot of Sharpy and his relatively bad rendition of Frankenstein.

Sharpy the Narwhal
Screenshot of Badly Drawn Faces

The game is extremely simple to get started with and to learn. There are many levels that they refer to as “Pads”. Below, you can see a screenshot of one of the pads. A lot of the pads are locked until you guess a certain number of faces, and then they will begin to unlock as you go.

pads

The premise of the game is very simple. You are presented with a graph paper sheet upon which Sharpy will commence to draw a famous face. If you figure out who the famous face is before he is finished drawing, you can hit the guess button and type in the answer for extra points. Below, you can see the face with the guess button beneath it.

Face

You will quickly find out that the most important thing in this game is collecting fish. You get one fish for every face you get correct. However, if you get stuck on a face, it will cost you 3 fish to get a hint from Sharpy. You also have the option of posting the picture to Facebook and Twitter so your friends can help you guess the picture.

I am giving this app 4 stars because it really is a lot of fun. If you’re looking for a simple game to pass the time, then this is the app for you. It runs like a charm on my iPad 2. I have played it pretty much non-stop for a couple of days and I am not even close to running out of levels. I believe this is one of those games you need to put in your arsenal for those days when you need mindless entertainment. Although, I have to admit I have learned a few things about people I didn’t know by playing it. Oh, did I mention it is free!

You can download Badly Drawn Faces at the following link http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/badly-drawn-faces/id541920351?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D2.

Apple Drops YouTube App from iOS6 Due to Licensing; Standalone App Coming Soon

The war is officially on between Apple and Google with their competing mobile operating system; iOS and Android. Apple recently built their own Mapping system for iOS 6 and removed the integration with Google Maps. However, the most recent update to iOS 6 also drops the YouTube app.

According to The Verge, the removal of the YouTube app from iOS 6 was done because Apple and Google had come to an end of their licensing terms.

Our license to include the YouTube app in iOS has ended, customers can use YouTube in the Safari browser and Google is working on a new YouTube app to be on the App Store.

However, this is not the end of the YouTube app on iOS 6 because Google is reportedly working on a standalone YouTube app for iOS 6. This was mentioned in the Google India event.

YouTube is probably the most popular app on the iOS operating system and Google will definitely come up with a replacement before iOS 6 is shipped to consumers. However, it looks like the default app will still be available on older iOS versions.

Apple’s decision not to renew the license for the YouTube app may be based on their thinking to get rid of as much Google dependency as possible. I won’t be surprised if Apple also decides to go with Bing as the default search engine in future. If that happens, it would be a huge blow for Google because they make a large chunk of their revenue from the search option in iOS.

Parse Can Help You Build Instagram in Just 30 minutes

Instagram is one of the most successful startup stories you’ll ever hear about. It took over a year to build such a great product in terms of popularity, usability and money it earned. Quite acceptable. However, as Mike Krieger (co-founder Instagram) likes to put it, “Instagram is an app that only took 8 weeks to build and ship, but was a product of over a year of work.”. But if you use Parse, a backend service for smartphone apps, Instagram could have been built in just 30 minutes. Now here’s an awkward statement for any founder.

anypic-intro

Anypic is a latest open-source alternative released by Parse that replicates Instagram. You can download the source and put together your own version of Instagram. Parse claims that developers have already started tweaking Anypic to create intriguing photo apps. Cool, right?

Just like me, you must be wondering why would someone roll out a replica of a burgeoning service. Well it was not meant that way. The developers of Parse had other intentions in mind while building this app. Anypic commends how flexible and robust Parse(which also serves backend for Anypic) is. The 30-minutes-to-fame is actually complementing the fact that developing smartphone apps with Parse supporting the backend is as easy as pie.

As mentioned at the beginning, Instagram couldn’t have been built with Parse as the latter came along only while Instagram was already a hit. Parse is already serving backend for more than 25,000 apps which includes enterprise apps as well as apps from non-affiliated developers. On a closing note, Anypic is a great product-showcase app that reinforces the ability of Parse.

Score Prizes During the Olympics 2012 with Viggle

The London Olympics 2012 go into full swing tonight. People from nations all around the globe will tune in to cheer their favorite athletes. With that in mind, what better time could their be to introduce you to an app that pays you to watch your favorite shows. Today, I want to introduce you to Viggle, a “loyalty program for television that gives people real rewards for checking into the television shows they are watching”.

Points for Watching Olympics 2012

Review in Detail

Viggle is available in both IOS and Android flavors. This FREE app allows you to “check in” while you are watching TV. Pictured above, you can see a screenshot of how the app looks on an iPad. When you are watching TV, simply tap the “Check In” button and it will listen in on what you are watching. After a few seconds it will match the sounds it picks up to its database and will show you on the screen what it thinks you are watching. Once you confirm that is what you are watching, it will give you all kinds of links about the show, as well as information on other ways you can accumulate points.

On the “What’s On” tab of the app, it will tell you special points promotions where you can earn significantly more points for watching. As an example, I checked into a Travel Channel show that I just happened to be watching today and after a bit of time, Viggle awarded me 29 points for watching that show. If you look at the picture above, you will notice that you earn significantly more points for watching the “Featured Shows”.

Starting tonight, you can earn the chance to get 100,000 points when you “invite friends, check in and play along with Viggle LIVE during prime time Olympic coverage”. Viggle has a social aspect to it. It allows you to share what you are watching on Facebook and Twitter. You can also invite friends and earn points when they sign up using your invite link. They also have to actually check into a show for you to get credit. If you do that during this Olympic coverage, you’ll get 1,000 points per person plus other great opportunities.

Review Summary

The Good: If you are an avid TV watcher, you can earn rewards for checking in with this app. You can earn everything from a $10 off an order coupon to a Royal Caribbean cruise! The app is extremely simple to install and integrates with Facebook for authentication.

The Bad: If you’re phone or tablet isn’t on the cutting edge, the app is pretty flaky. On my pitiful little LG Optimus T, it even gave me a warning that the app would run slow. Frankly, it didn’t work at all. However, on my iPad 2, it worked like a charm. Also, the rewards are far from reach and seem a little expensive to earn. For instance, a $25 Starbucks gift card is 9000 points. Considering I only got 29 points for my check in today it will be quite a while before I reach even the smaller of the prizes. However, if you’re a big TV watcher and are willing to tap into the “Featured Shows”, you can earn points a lot quicker.

Because the app requires so much horsepower and the fact that it is hard to earn big rewards, I am going to give this app 3 stars. I think there is a lot of potential in this app and it is kind of fun. If you would like to learn more, see their website at http://viggle.com.

Official London 2012 Olympics Apps

London 2012 Olympics Clock
London 2012 Olympics Clock (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The Countdown has begun and the Olympics are right around the corner. Here is a list of Olympics apps for iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone.

Apps for Watching the Olympics

BBC Olympics App – The BBC app is a FREE comprehensive app with everything you could ever want to know about the London 2012 Olympics. It is available in iOS and Android flavors however, it appears for now only the iOS app is the only one that will let you watch streaming video. A screenshot can be seen below.

BBC Olympics App
BBC Olympics App

NBC “Live Extra” App – This app will give you live access to the Olympics however, there are some stipulations. To quote their website, “Access is free for subscribers to a cable, satellite or telco TV service package that includes CNBC and MSNBC.”

NBC Live Extra
NBC Live Extra

 Official London 2012 Olympic Mobile Apps

The London 2012 Olympics have come out with a few mobile apps of their own. See below for screenshots, descriptions and download links.

Official London 2012 Join In App – If you plan on being in London to watch the games, then this is the app for you. In their own words this app is a “mobile guide to help you plan, enjoy and share your Games experience”. This is a FREE app.

 London 2012 Join In app
London 2012 Join In app

The London 2012 Results App – This app is probably the one you’ll find most useful if you’re watching the games from the comfort of your own home. They describe the app by saying,”The Official London 2012 Results app provides all the latest news, schedules and results, allowing users to keep up-to-date with the latest action live across all Olympic sports and Paralympic sports.” It is a free app and so far the only one to include the Windows Phone family.

 London 2012 Results app
London 2012 Results app

Official London 2012 mobile game – Just for fun, London 2012 has launched an official mobile game that features 9 Olympic events. It comes in iOS and Android flavors and has a free and premium version. Visit their Facebook page to  learn more about it.

Official Mobile Game
Official Mobile Game

Keep checking back with Techie Buzz as we continue to update you on the latest mobile apps surrounding the Olympics!

Need A Second Opinion? Ask A Question On Thumb

Bought a new pair of glasses? Or need some buying advice? Whatever be the case, we have questions to ask, we love responses and we need opinions. There’s always a good way to ask your Facebook or Twitter buddies or some may even try the Google+. Frankly from time to time the updates never receive attention as it is buried down with the flooding updates from others. Here is an Android app that does a great job in getting your updates rated or opinionaided(as they like to call it). The amount of responses you get is something makes it stand out in the crowd of already popular services that offers Q&A.

thumb-intro

Thumb, with a simplistic method, lets you ask a question about anything you wish to get a second opinion. Once you have uploaded something the app algo shows it to random users listed in a random pattern with similar updates from people using the app. Users can vote on it with a thumbs up/down, express indifference with a neutral button or those who really wish to take participation to higher level can drop in a comment too. You can also add images to your questions to make them more intriguing.

thumb-app-interface

Asking a question or voting on a question on Thumb is so surprisingly easy and judging by the obvious engagement big names have it already being termed as one of the most addictive social network around questions. The average responses ranges something around 70 per question which is not just a big number, it explains how addictive Thumb is already. The user engagement even astounded the company CEO Dan Kurani when it first took off. Check out the promo video, it demonstrates quite exactly how prompt, albeit, diverse thinkers the Thumb community comprises of.

The app once again proves that the social space is far from being called saturated. If you have right mantra and the right skills to implement it, getting someone into the social game is not that hard. As in this case, the app banks on the instinctive nature of humans, where the response is more impulsive rather than judgmental. Moreover, we all have opinions and we just love to express them even before we are asked. That’s me exaggerating, although, I believe Thumb took this simple logic into consideration.

Get Thumb for Android and iOS.

Kyck Start Your Football Madness With The Soccer Social Network

The knockout stage has kicked off for Euro 2012 thereby taking the football fever to a higher level. There are plenty options you can socially connect to the madness. There’s Twitter and other apps like OnSports, PlayUp, Share The Match etc that does a fine job handling the social updates pertaining to the game.

kyck-intro

However, a new social network, Kyck plans to make the experience more specifically soccer-centric. The service went live last summer with a website and the release was followed by an iOS app launched afterwards. The company plans to go mobile and an Android variant is expected during the end of the current year. The company was started by Mac Lackey, a vet in the online tech industry and was sold off later. The team currently consists of 14 members and 3 interns.

The social network is currently invite-only, although, the team urges users to ask for an invite which will most likely get answered in a day. Alternatively, you can ping them on Twitter, letting them know about your eagerness and passion to join the network by adding a hashtag #KYCKme to your tweet. Once you get in you can follow international teams as well as any player to check out the latest conversations related to the topic. Similarly, if you wish to get your views included in a specific conversation feed, you can tag them with the relevant tag. Check-ins to a game, club or player will ensure you get in-app or push notifications related to them in later times. The social element comes in as a hybrid of Twitter features. You can follow people to get updates(photos, comments, notes etc) from him/her on your stream. Moreover, the spiffy algo also curates a list of contents(Top Kyck) that are considered commendable by the community.

The new network is planning for a public release sometime during the next month. The UI and wider availability are two major elements they are putting their faith in to ensure better feel for the users.

While OnSports and PlayUp remains my favorite, I can’t stop myself from using the official Euro 2012 app in an unceasing manner while I’m not in front of a TV. But that said, the Euro 2012 app is for the time being I will certainly love to have something like OnSports that is entirely for soccer games and all sorts of them. Thankfully Kyck feels so much like it. Since I prefer Android, I will have to wait for some time to comment more on the mobile experience the soccer social network delivers. Until then we will love to  hear more from you about your favorite sports apps.

Developer Interview: Safeer Mohiuddin

Safeer Mohiuddin is a  nineteen  year old developer and the Co-Founder of  mezz. Mezz is a real-time hyper local mobile application and platform that allows you to discover and share activities, events, food and other happenings nearby.  You can follow him on Twitter    @SafeerMohiuddin.

Safeer Mohiuddin

Me:   When did you start learning how to program and how did you learn?

Safeer Mohiuddin (SM):  I started learning how to program in my freshman year at Monta Vista High School. I took one Java course and then after that I took several other programming courses at the local community college while I was in high school.

Me:   What made you interested in learning iOS development?

SM:  I got the iPhone when it first came out and it’s been truly amazing to see how far the platform and the apps have come along. I wanted to develop an app that other people would use and I thought it was something achievable in a short amount of time.

Me:  How did you think of the idea for mezz? Has the app been successful?

SM:  As a kid who has lived in the suburbs my entire life, I always wanted to experience the city life. The city life is always vibrant and there’s always things going on but it’s really hard to find about all that stuff. Over the summer, My friends and I hung out a lot but there were too many times where the conversation would go like What do you wanna do?I don’t know. Repeat that happening like 50 times in one day. Besides Xbox and movies we wanted to find something new to do. Whether it was just a pickup game, music in the park, concerts, new restaurants…we just wanted an easy way to find something to do.

We did a soft launch in Mid-November and have a couple thousand users. We are working on making sure we are providing the highest level of quality of local happenings. I believe that we are on a path to major success and that there have been certainly mini-successes that we have achieved. The most important thing at such an early stage is to get user’s feedback and improve and iterate.

Me:  How do you manage college and work on Mezz at the same time?

SM:  It’s extremely difficult. I tried it for a month and I wasn’t doing my best at school or Mezz. I needed to prioritize the two and dedicate 100% of my time to one. I decided that opportunities like this don’t come too often and took on Mezz full time.

Me:  What’s your work setup like and workflow on a given task?

SM:  I spend a lot of time thinking about the task before I actually go out and do it simply because as a small startup there is so much to do with so little resources and tasks need to be prioritized.

Me: How do you handle a deadline?

SM:  I’m very conscious of deadlines. Obviously things can go wrong and things can take longer but it’s important to stay focused. If working on a task is significantly delaying other tasks than it needs to be reprioritized.

Me:  What are your thoughts on Android’s Market potential as an actual sales drive? vs the App Store?

SM:  As a developer for both Android and iPhone, the fragmentation on Android in terms of development and the number of different markets is very distracting. It drives focus away from development.

Me:  Thoughts on an openvs. a closedOS? What benefits do you think each one brings to a developer?

SM:  This is a very feisty debate but as a developer I prefer a closed OS. If users want the highest level of experience on their smartphones than the opportunity must be given to developers to develop something that they can fully control. If there are too many variables in the equation, it is very difficult for developers to be able to develop an app with high quality standards.

Me:  Do you think a consumer cares about whether or not the OS they are using is open?

SM:  I don’t think they care but that doesn’t mean that they will be affected by it. I think many consumers don’t realize what are the end results of an open’ vs closed’ platform.

Me:  If you can share, what cool projects are you working on right now?

SM:  Right now I am working only on mezz. Mezz is a real-time hyper local mobile app and platform that allows you to discover activities, events, things to do, food and much more.   The content on mezz comes from anyone posting on mezz as well as locally relevant Tweets and other API’s. We envision mezz to be the aggregator of all local content.

In my little spare time, I’m helping a couple other people jumpstart their companies by giving them advice and support.

Me:  What are you most proud of?

SM:  When I was 16, I started buying and selling iPhones. I made enough money to buy my own car. It was a major personal accomplishment for me because it gave me a sense of ownership and responsibility. It wasn’t about getting a car because I could have easily asked my parents but more of a step towards independence and a start towards an entrepreneurial journey.

 

Developer Interview: iOS app developer Steve Troughton-Smith

Steve Troughton-Smith

Steve Troughton-Smith is  a twenty-two year old developer and founder of High Caffeine Content, and Mobile Architect at Tethras , a company that specializes in translating apps into other languages. In short, he make things. You can follow him on Twitter   @stroughtonsmith  .

Me:  When did you start learning how to program and how did you learn?

Steve Troughton-Smith (SS):  To be honest I can’t remember a specific timeframe. I remember, as a really young kid, programming with QBASIC on a DOS computer; nothing more complex than ‘Hello World’, or making colors appear onscreen, but I think it was the initial kickstart for me. By the time I was nine or ten I had discovered a program called REALBasic (on a demo disc that came with MacFormat magazine) and was starting to use it to learn how to write Mac OS 8 and 9 programs. REALBasic was very much like Visual Basic for Mac apps, and at the time (up to version 5) was the simplest way to get into Mac development – you could drag and drop to create your app UI and it was really learner-friendly. When Mac OS X came out, REALBasic even allowed you create Carbon applications that would run on it, with all the amazing new UI that Aqua brought. I used REALBasic up until I was 15 when I literally ran into a performance wall – I wanted to create really graphical and animated things, and it just didn’t cut it. Apple had just announced Xcode 1.0, and I decided to delve straight in and not to stop until I figured out how I could remake the stuff I was making in RB in Cocoa. In the end it turned out to be much easier than I thought, and I’ve never looked back.

Me:  What’s your work setup like and workflow on a given project?

SS:  My development machine at home is a 27″ iMac (i7, so ‘8’ cores, and an SSD); most of my development I do on that in Xcode (Mac, iOS), Eclipse (Android), or Qt Creator (MeeGo/Symbian). I have a custom built gaming PC beside it on the desk which handily doubles as a Visual Studio workstation for when I’m working on Windows Phone 7 apps. When I’m away from home, I work exclusively from an i7 MacBook Air.

I sync all my projects across computers through the cloud so that I never have to worry about copying from one machine to another. I just pick up where I left off on whatever machine is nearest.

Me:  How many electronics do you own? Why so many?

Steve Troughton-Smith:  Loaded question; I own everything I need to to make sure I can test everything I build on the widest variety of hardware/software versions. And then I own a little more for devices or OSes I love, or that intrigue me.

If you’re looking for a full list…(x) = number of devices

(2) iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, (3)  iPhone 4, iPhone 4S ,  iPod,  iPod 2nd ,  iPod 3rd,  iPod 4th,  (2) iPad ,  iPad 2,  Nokia N9,  Nokia N950,  Nokia E7, (2)  Nokia N8,  Nokia 5800,  HTC ADP1,  Nexus One,  Nexus S,  HTC G2,  HTC Sensation,  Dell Streak,  NOOKcolor,  Galaxy Tab 7,  XOOM,  Galaxy Tab 10.1,  LG Optimus 7  Samsung Wave,  PrÄ“,  PrÄ“ Plus,  PrÄ“ 2,  PrÄ“ 3,  Pixi Plus,  Veer,  TouchPad,  BlackBerry PlayBook,  Samsung Windows 8 Developer Tablet, and  Countless Macs & PCs, and probably some I’ve missed from the above.

Apps Crash After Installing iOS5

I have been using for over a week now and though the new features like instant access to camera from lock screen and the new notification center in iOS5 is worthwhile upgrading, I have been facing constant issues with apps crashing all the time. This even happens in the middle of a game, while reading an email or even using the App store app on the device or using Safari.

It looks like I am not the only person who is facing this issue since there are several threads out there which discuss the problem. Based on most of the threads I was able to fix the app crashing (fingers crossed). However, most of the solutions don’t work so you might have to continue trying different solutions till the apps stop crashing.

Here are some of the solutions you can try out if the apps on your device crash constantly after installing iOS5:

  • Close down all the apps running on your device and try opening up apps to see if they crash. If you are not sure how to check open apps, you can read a guide on multitasking in iOS
  • Download a free app on your device through the App store on your device. This method has known to fix the crashing for several users
  • Reboot your device.
  • Update your apps to the latest version
  • Turn of iCloud sync on the device

If none of the above solutions work for you, try to reinstall iOS5 on your device and then manually sync the apps to the device. Make sure to make a backup of the device before you restore it.

I will keep an eye for more solutions that should fix the app crashes after installing iOS5 and update this post. Please leave a comment if you continue to have problems or used another method to fix the app crashing problem in iOS5.