Monday, December 30, 2013

A reminder to developers: don't take encryption lightly

There aren't many details published at the moment, but this chat app recently rejected by Apple is a reminder that the powers that be don't take encryption lightly. (The reason for rejection appears to have been encryption related and as developers will be aware, Apple does "make more of a fuss" around submissions of apps including encryption, apparently due in turn to the company's legal obligations.)

Is there a market for a 13 inch iPad?

Articles have re-emerged over the past few days about the possibility of Apple releasing a larger iPad, primarily intended for educational applications (or possibly other cases where what is required is a "semi laptop" replacement). The rumour was apparently started in May 2013 by this web site claiming that Apple was to release a so-called "iPad Maxi".

So far, Apple has stood out from other manufacturers in limiting the number of form factors that iOS apps must cope with, much to the delight of developers. (This situation contrasts with Android, where it is almost impossible to test apps with all available form factors, leading to occasional incompatibilities with some applications on certain devices.) The most major change of form factors so far for developers was from the iPhone 4 to iPhone 5, involving a change in screen resolution in addition to a change in physical size. More conveniently for developers, the change from the classic iPad to iPad mini did not involve a change in resolution (bearing in mind that to the developer, supporting retina vs non-retina usually involves at worst minimal code changes). The iPad's "retina" resolution could presumably be scaled up to a 13 inch screen without affecting quality too much so it would be interesting to see if that is the way Apple would go, or if they would feel compelled to increase the screen resolution despite the burden for developers.

But I wonder how much of a market there is for a larger iPad as such. A strength of the iPad is its portable, lightweight design and the recent focus of its development has been on miniaturisation. There are definitely cases (software development is a case in point!) where the screen size of the iPad is a limiting factor. However such applications tend to go hand in hand with needing the facilities of a "full" laptop and for a "semi lightweight" solution, Apple already offers the Mac Air range. With the introduction of iCloud integration, the company appeared to be making efforts to establish the tablet vs the laptop as their main way of differentiating form factors (remember the adage that the laptop is "just another device"?). It seems to me that if another size of iPad was introduced, it would be backtracking a little on this philosophy.

Time will tell how much veracity there is behind the iPad Maxi rumour...

Saturday, December 28, 2013

SimCity: An idea still going strong

SimCity was one of the original sim games and a classic in its genre. But when looking at versions such as SimCity for iPhone (which I review here), what stands out is how the game hasn't evolved compared to other titles in the genre. Whereas other titles have focussed, as is the trend with various mobile games, with asset-building and the opportunity to incessant in-app purchases, SimCity remains true to the original: it is heavily strategy focussed and asset-building is not a straightforward process that will happen by "default" as you progress with the game.

Developers re-gain access to iTunes Connect this weekend

As is traditional, Apple's app control panel "iTunes Connect" was shut down for a few days over Christmas (yes, computers need quality turkey-eating time too, apparently!) and re-opens today. Today is the day when we find out how app sales did over Christmas in the temporary absence of control over their price and respective iAd campaigns.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Two examples of gameplay over graphics

OK, so it's holiday season and I've been idly checking out a few more means of wasting time on my iPhone. Compared to the early days of mobile gaming, modern titles often require all of the graphics resources behind them as desktop titles. But I was struck by two examples (both from the same publisher) showing how the graphic simplicity of the mobile games of yesterday can still work in an iPhone game. Pocket Planes and Tiny Tower are an example for small developers of how games from small teams whose development is focussed primarily on the strategy of the game rather than fancy graphics can still work!

Friday, December 6, 2013

More PHP security mayhem

The theme of this article in eWeek follows on from my earlier post about the trouble of securing the "computers" we forget about such as routers, etc. Earlier versions of PHP have a severe security risk, effectively allowing an attacker to run unauthorised commands, install malware etc on servers running PHP scripts. This issue gets severely compounded when we have a plethora of connected devices running PHP (needlessly IMO) with no clear system or mechanism for applying security patches to them ("when did you last upgrade your router's firmware?").

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Pyramid 13 Free for iPad now includes Spanish translation

An update to my free Pyramid 13 Solitaire app for iPad was released to the App Store today and now includes Spanish translations of all in-game instructions, hints, captions etc. Apple's turnaround time from submission to release was surprisingly quick on this occasion, making me wonder if updates that simply include new translations are allowed a simpler, expedited review process?