Big thanks to BubCap

My thanks to BubCap for sponsoring the site this week. BupCap is a clever and effective way to cover the Home button of your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, preventing unwanted presses. There are four variations available: regular, Ultra, Max and Pro. The first three are made of semi-rigid plastic. They’ll resist an accidental (or unwanted) button press from a child, while allowing an adult the activate the button. Think of a teacher in a classroom or a parent.

The BubCap Pro is made of rigid aluminum and can only be activated with a toothpick. It’s difficult to remove by hand. It’s extreme for sure, but perfect for when you absolutely cannot have a user navigating away from a given applicaion. Think museum kiosk, trade show or something similar.

Each model is sold in a 4-pack for $5.99, in addition to an Intro Pack (2 regulars and 2 Ultras) and an Explorer Pack of six (two each regular, Ultra and Max) for $7.99. Finally, the BubCap Pro is available in a two-pack ($9.99) or a 25-pack for mass deployment ($119.99) in black or white.

BubCap Home Button Covers for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

Big thanks to BubCap Home Button Covers for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch for being this week’s sponsor. The BubCap is a cover that, when placed over the Home button of your device, prevents it from being pressed. It’s fantastic for trade shows, students, users with special needs and kids. In fact, I recommend the BubCap in my article, “How to child-proof your iPhone.”

Prevent Unwanted Home Key Presses

There are four BubCap models of varying rigidity: regular, Ultra, Max and Pro. The regular, Ultra and Max models are semi-rigid and made of plastic, while the BubCap Pro is rigid and made of aluminum. The plastic models will yield to the firm press of an adult, but most children will not be able to activate the Home button while its in place. Think of how often you’ve given your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to Jr., only to have him navigate away from the initial app and get into something else. This eliminates that issue completely.

Additionally, my wife is a special needs teacher and a BubCap prevents her students from accidentally tapping out of communications apps. Best of all, they remove easily without leaving a residue and are re-usable.

Go Pro

The aluminum BubCap Pro can only be activated with a toothpick and is practically impossible to remove by hand. It’s extreme for sure, but perfect for when you absolutely cannot have a user navigating away from a given applicaion. Think museum kiosk or something similar.

Try It Out

Each model is sold in a 4-pack for $5.99, in addition to an Intro Pack (2 regulars and 2 Ultras) and an Explorer Pack of six (two each regular, Ultra and Max) for $7.99. Finally, the BubCap Pro is available in a two-pack ($9.99) or a 25-pack for mass deployment ($119.99) in black or white.

You’ll find a BubCap iPad photo after the break.

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New Monopoly uses iPhone-readable debit cards instead of cash

Hasbro’s Monopoly line of board games keeps expanding like hotels on Boardwalk. You can buy themed editions, variations for kids and even “Scrantonopoly,” which features landmarks from my beloved Scranton, Pa. Now Hasbro has announced Monopoly zAPPed, which swaps paper money for debit cards that can be read by iOS devices.

The cards are coated with a special “conductive paint” developed by Volumique (NFC or RFID are not used). Once the companion app is installed on the iPhone or iPod touch, each card is “tapped” against the device to register the transaction and free players from the burden of simple arithmetic. Progress!

Expect Monopoly zAPPed to hit stores this fall for $25 (the iOS app will be free).

My thanks to Tango Remote HD for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch

Big thanks to Tango Remote Control Media Player HD for being this week’s sponsor. This fantastic app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch lets you use one iOS device as a wireless remote for media on another. For example, you can connect your iPhone to some powered speakers and use an iPad or iPod touch to play music, skip, jump between playlists or even create new playlists on the fly.

Alternatively, connect the iPad to a TV and use the iPhone to control playback of your videos. No Apple TV required! Tango Remote Control Media Player HD ($4.99) is available in the App Store now.

Thanks to Tango Remote HD for iPhone and iPad

Did you receive a new iPad, iPhone or iPod touch over the holiday? If so, check out Tango Remote HD to enhance video and audio playback on your new device. It allows one iOS device to function as a remote for the other. For example, connect your iPhone to a set of powered speakers and use an iPad to control music playback, complete with playlists, artist, album, etc. You can even create playlists on the fly.

Or, connect your iPad to a TV and control video playback with your iPhone or iPod touch. A direct connection means snappy response. I’ve been enjoying this app for a long time and I know you will, too. Go and get it.

Thanks to Tango Remote HD

Big thanks to Tango Remote Control Media Player HD for being this week’s sponsor. This fantastic app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch lets you use one iOS device as a wireless remote for media on another. For example, you can connect your iPhone to some powered speakers and use an iPad or iPod touch to play music, skip, jump between playlists or even create new playlists on the fly.

Alternatively, connect the iPad to a TV and use the iPhone to control playback of your videos. No Apple TV required! Tango Remote Control Media Player HD ($4.99) is available in the App Store now.

Some Game Center screenshots [Updated]

Just a few hours after iOS 4.1‘s release, Firemint and Secret Exit released Game Center-enalbed versions of their games (Flight Control, Real Racing and Zen Bound 2). I own all three, and spent some time playing with them this evening. Here are some early screenshots and thoughts on Apple’s venture into social gaming.

The Game Center lists the compatible games you’ve got installed, but not until you launch/quit those games. Simply installing them won’t do it. The first time you launch an app, it registers itself with Game Center and drops a little graphic with the icon and your username.

An app’s achievements can be found in two locations: the app itself and with Game Center. Here’s a shot of Flight Control’s achievements list in both places. It’s too bad that the achievement icons are so small, as I bet they’re beautiful and I’d like to get a better look. For example, in the screenshots below, I can’t select the Safety Card achievement to bring up a detail page. It’s simply a part of the list.

Once a game is registered, it appears in Game Center’s list of available games. The “Find Game Center Games” banner launches Safari and points it to apple.com/game-center. Perhaps in the future it will list supported games, but for now it’s just a web link.

Each game gets its own great-looking page. Below are some screenshots of Flight Control in the Game Center. A full-sized icon sits atop the page (again making me wish for large achievement icons), which lists the last time you played, your place on the leaderboard, achievement history and aspect of the game (maps, levels, etc.) you recently played. The leader board is fun because it separates your friends from the global pool of players, and data can be restricted to today, this week or all time.

Just for fun, here are two screenshots from Real Racing.

Of course, the project’s success hinges on the effectiveness of the social aspects. As a gamer, I’m eager to earn achievements and brag to my friends. But will casual gamers be equally motivated? Perhaps. When looking at a friend’s page, you can see what games you have in common. If your good buddy is playing Game X, you’ll probably check it out. Additionally, Apple lets you set your status for all to see. I can already predict using it for trash talk among my friends.

Good luck to Apple and all the developers involved. Again, this was a quick post to share some screen shots and initial thoughts. So far, I’m enthused about Game Center.

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Update: There’s now a dedicated section of the App Store. I wondered how long that would take.

Apple’s Game Center [Updated]

Apple released iOS 4.1 for the iPhone and iPod touch 1 today, and with it the much-anticipated Game Center. Much like OpenFeint, Game Center will let users compete with each other for big points and bragging rights across a number of games.

The oddity is that it launched with no supported games. I suspected that Apple would have worked with hand-selected developers like they did prior to the iPad’s release (Firemint comes to mind). I’m sure Apple is approving an onslaught of submissions right now (Touch Arcade has been keeping tabs on the process) but it’s odd that they launched the service with none.

It wouldn’t be so bad if Apple users weren’t already underwhelmed by Ping.

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Update: This is supposedly the first game with Game Center support, and I’ve played with 3 others and posted screenshots.

  1. iPod touch 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation, iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS are supported.

FaceTime’s future

In episode 20 of The Bro Show, Myke, Terry and guest Patrick discussed something I want to expand upon. Namely, the future of FaceTime, the mobile video calling solution that Apple introduced with the iPhone 4. It’s certainly the device’s marquee feature.

Myke 1 made an astute observation: if you consider the television ads that have aired so far, you’ll notice that Apple hasn’t advertised the iPhone 4 per se. Instead, it’s advertised FaceTime. FaceTime is the product and the iPhone 4 is the delivery system. Of course that will change, but how and when? Here are my thoughts.

FaceTime for Mac

During The Bro Show, the guys suggested that iChat will be replaced with “FaceTime for Mac.” I agree and expect it to be a part of Mac OS 10.7. 2 It will allow those without an iPhone 4 to enjoy a FaceTime call with those who have one. Just consider the huge number of machines Apple has shipped with iSight cameras built in. To implement it, Apple can expand upon the video conferencing features that are already a part of iChat.

FaceTime for iPod touch

This is a logical evolution of the touch and I expect to see a demo at Apple’s September 1 press event. The addition of a front-facing camera should necessitate a redesign of the super-thin touch to accommodate the hardware. It will be interesting to see if Apple goes with a flat back and, if so, what it will be made of. As the guys pointed out in The Bro Show, there’s no need for a wrap-around antenna as the touch is Wi-Fi only.

The iPod nano is capable of video, but FaceTime will be restricted to the touch. The nano has long been the best-selling iPod model (as the mini was before it), and the low price is primarily responsible. Plus the screen is too small and adding the camera and Wi-Fi hardware would necessitate a redesign that would turn it essentially into a touch.

FaceTime for iPad

Here’s something that many people are looking forward to, myself included. However, I don’t expect to see it this year. Look for an announcement in January.

3G

You can blame this restriction on AT&T, but I think they’ll soon make this available. Now that the unlimited data plan no longer exists, 3 data-hungry customers switch from being a network-taxing hindrance to a new cost center. Do you plan on making lots of FaceTime calls? Then opt for the higher-priced data plan.

The main problem with FaceTime right now, aside from requiring Wi-Fi, is that both parties must have an iPhone 4 to participate. By significantly expanding the pool of participants, Apple will finally bring the “Jetsons phone” to the masses.

  1. I think it was Myke. Correct me if I’m wrong.
  2. With support for old school text chat.
  3. Except for those who were grandfathered in on plans from 1st-generation iPhones.

Apple adds “iPad upgrades” to app store

Apple pushed a nice new feature to the iPad section of the App Store this morning. A new tab entitled “iPad Upgrades” lists the iPad-optimized counterparts to iPhone apps you’ve purchased. You’ll find it in the Genius section, which is also new for the iPad (it’s been available for iPhone/iPod touch apps for quite a while).