Boing Boing 

She & Him's yule log app

Yuleeee

The lovely and talented M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel have released a simple and fun free iOS app called "A Very She & Him Christmas: Yule Log." Cozy up to the fire and listen to "I'll be Home for Christmas" from their now-classic A Very She & Him Christmas album.

Tyra Banks has an app that teaches people how to "smize"

John Koetsier of VentureBeat: "Tyra Banks has released a new iPhone app to help other women -- and men -- learn the secret that she teaches America’s Next Top Models: how to take sizzling hot self-portraits by “smizing.” Smizing, as I learned today, is the art of smiling with your eyes."

Smizing with Tyra Banks

Doomsday Preppers game for iOS

https://youtu.be/k-o1Tdvr9J0

Based on the popular National Geographic Channel TV show by the same name, Doomsday Preppers challenges you to prepare for a new (and even more fabulous) life below the ground. Design a multi-level dream bunker complete with everything you need for post-apocalyptic bliss, from a gym to a greenhouse to a disco bar! Flush out your subterranean palace one floor at a time while measuring and improving your survival skills along the way, so that you can extend your underground lifespan – and keep on building!

Plasma Orb marble maze game for iOS

Plasma Orb looks like a fun marble maze game for iOS. But beware -- it has "Infrequent/Mild Simulated Gambling." (Via App Spy)

Siri vs. Google Voice Search for iPhone

The guys at Gizmodo did a side-by-side comparison of voice search on iPhone, using Siri vs. using Google Voice Search for iOS. (Thanks, Joe Sabia!)

Advisory: iOS6 maps on the tube


The London Underground workers made a funny.

(Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

(Image: source unknown -- if you know it, please leave details in the comments)

Spacecraft 3D: Nifty robotic space travel augmented-reality app from NASA JPL

I recently had a chance to visit NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory with Miles O'Brien. At the NASA center in Pasadena, engineers are readying for the long-anticipated landing of the Mars Curiosity rover on Aug. 5. During our visit, we met with the team behind a cool new iOS app from JPL: NASA's Spacecraft 3D, an augmented reality application that allows users to "learn about and interact with a variety of spacecraft that are used to explore our solar system, study Earth, and observe the universe."

Using a printed AR Target and the camera on your mobile device, you can get up close with these robotic explorers, see how they move, and learn about the the engineering feats used to expand our knowledge and understanding of space. Spacecraft 3D will be updated over time to include more of the amazing spacecraft that act as our robotic eyes on the earth, the solar system and beyond!

The app is really a ton of fun. You can download it here for free, iPad and iPhone and iPod Touch. Here's the JPL press release announcing its release.

Plug NES USB game controllers into iPhone with GameDock

GameDock is an iPhone dock that comes with game controller ports. Kyle Orland:
"At $125 per Dock (plus the cost of an iOS device), the GameDock at first looks a bit less attractive than the $99 Ouya, which is self-contained. But the creators note the power of Apple's iOS devices and the existing library of proven, working games as benefits, and say they think keeping the TV interface separate from the actual mobile platform is actually the better way to go."

Apple rejects "Angry Syrians"

Frederic Jacobs produced an iOS app called "Angry Syrians," which was apparently blessed by Rovio. It was intended to raise awareness of the ongoing bloodbath in Syria. Apple rejected it because "We found your app contains defamatory or offensive content targeted at a specific group, which is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines." (the defamed and offended group in question is the brutal Assad regime and its supporters). (via Hacker News)

AppStore delivering corrupt updates

Marco Arment reports a serious problem in the AppStore: corrupt updates crashing every time at launch, affecting many recently-updated apps: "If you’re a developer, and you have a non-critical update pending release, I suggest waiting a few days for this to presumably get sorted out before releasing it."

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean "fast, fluid, and beautifully designed"

Dieter Bohn on the latest version of Google's Android operating system: "compared to what [iOS and Windows Phone] bring to the table today, I think Jelly Bean is a stronger offering, especially if you're a participant in the Google ecosystem." [The Verge]

Kingdom Rush available on iPhone


[Video Link] My favorite tower defense game is Kingdom Rush. You can play it online for free, and there's also an iPad version. I don't want to admit how many hours I spent playing it on my iPad. (I will say that I finally finished the game by playing it the entire time I was on a plane from Los Angeles to New York and back to Los Angeles earlier this month.)

The cartoonish art is very appealing, as are the monsters and towers. The goal of the game, like all tower defense games, is to prevent the invading hordes from making it through a gate to your kingdom at one end of the display. You do this by placing towers staffed with archers, knights, magicians, and cannoneers along the path that the monsters run down (the monsters appear from a trail emanating on the opposite side of the display). As you kill the monsters, you collect gold, which can be used to buy more towers. Even though there are a few more bells and whistles, it's a simple game -- but addictive.

Today, Kingdom Rush became available as an iPhone app. I would say that the $.99 price tag is a bargain, but if take into account the otherwise productive hours you will spend playing it, the true cost is far more.

Kingdom Rush

Essential mobile adventure games

Konstantinos Dimopoulous offers the 10 adventure games you must play on iOS. Android gamers have plenty to choose from too (albeit buried in Google Play's "Puzzle" section), including the just-released director's cut of Broken Sword.

PGP founder creates secure voice mobile app, bets people will pay for privacy

PGP creator Phil Zimmerman has launched Silent Circle, an encrypted phone-call app for Android and iOS. The service will likely cost $20/month, for which Zimmerman does not apologize: "This is not Facebook. Our customers are customers. They're not products. They're not part of the inventory" (from CNet).

Silent Circle's planned debut comes amid recent polls suggesting that Internet users remain concerned about online data collection (or at least are willing to tell pollsters so), with Facebook topping health insurers, banks, and even the federal government as today's No. 1 privacy threat. Yet even after a decade of startups that have tried to capitalize on these concerns, consumers spending their own money remain consistently difficult to persuade that paying for privacy is worth it.

Zimmermann hopes to overcome this reluctance by offering a set of services designed from the start to be simple to use: encrypted e-mail, encrypted phone calls, and encrypted instant messaging. (Encrypted SMS text messages are eventually planned too.)

Silent Circle | Worldwide Private Encrypted Communications (via O'Reilly Radar)

iPod Body Mod: magnetic wrist piercings become mount for Apple iPod Nano

REUTERS/Keith Bedford

Tattoo artist Dave Hurban displays an iPod Nano which he has attached to his wrists through magnetic piercings in his wrist in New York, May 14, 2012. Reuters has an interview with him here.

"I just invented the strapless watch," he said on Monday of his Apple Inc device, set to display a clock.

Hurban cheerfully recounted how he mapped out the four corners of the iPod on his arm and then inserted four titanium studs into his skin. Once the incisions healed, he popped on his iPod, which is held in place magnetically.

"It's way simpler than you think it is," said Hurban.

Below, Durban's HOWTO video for the project he calls "iDermal," explaining how he pulled it off. Not that he can just, you know, pull them off now.

Read the rest

Apple rumors: sweet new 3D map feature coming to iOS6

Word on the Apple blogs today: in development for iOS 6, a maps application developed entirely in-house, to replace the Google Maps program running on iOS since 2007. "The application design is said to be fairly similar to the current Google Maps program on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch," reports 9to5mac.com, "But it is described as a much cleaner, faster, and more reliable experience." Sources tell 9to5Mac the new app "will blow your head off." MacRumors has more. (via AllThingsD)

Amtrak users, rejoice! Smartphone scans soon to replace paper tickets.

In the New York Times, Brian X. Chen reports on Amtrak's plans to use Apple iPhones as an electronic ticket scanner on several routes, including Boston, MA to Portland, ME, and San Jose, CA, to Sacramento, CA. "By late summer, 1,700 conductors will be using the devices on Amtrak trains across the country," and passengers can choose to print tickets or display a bar code on their smartphone screens for conductors to scan.

Who should know what's happening in your computer? Who should control it?

My latest Locus column is "What’s Inside the Box," a discussion of whether owners, users or third parties should be able to know and/or control what their computers are doing:

The answer to this that most of the experts I speak to come up with is this:

The owner (or user) of a device should be able to know (or control) which software is running on her devices.

This is really four answers, and I’ll go over them in turn, using three different scenarios: a computer in an Internet cafe, a car, and a cochlear implant. That is, a computer you sit in front of, a computer you put your body into, and a computer you put in your body.

Cory Doctorow: What’s Inside the Box

WSJ: Google caught circumventing iPhone security, tracking users who opted out of third-party cookies

Google has been caught circumventing iOS's built-in anti-ad-tracking features in order to add Google Plus functionality within iPhone's Safari browser. The WSJ reports that Google overrode users' privacy settings in order to allow messages like "your friend Suzy +1'ed this ad about candy" to be relayed between Google's different domains, including google.com and doubleclick.net. This also meant that doubleclick.net was tracking every page you landed on with a Doubleclick ad, even if you'd opted out of its tracking.

I believe that Google has created an enormous internal urgency about Google Plus integration, and that this pressure is leading the company to take steps to integrate G+ at the expense of the quality of its other services. Consider the Focus on the User critique of Google's "social ranking" in search results, for example. In my own life, I've been immensely frustrated that my unpublished Gmail account (which I only use to anchor my Android Marketplace purchases for my phone and tablets, and to receive a daily schedule email while I'm travelling) has somehow become visible to G+ users, so that I get many, many G+ updates and invites to this theoretically private address, every day, despite never having opted into a directory and never having joined G+.

In the iPhone case, it's likely that Google has gone beyond lowering the quality of its service for its users and customers, and has now started to violate the law, and certainly to undermine the trust that the company depends on. This is much more invasive than the time Google accidentally captured some WiFi traffic and didn't do anything with it, much more invasive than Google taking pictures of publicly visible buildings -- both practices that drew enormous and enduring criticism at the expense of the company's global credibility. I wonder if this will cause the company to slow its full-court press to make G+ part of every corner of Google.

EFF has an open letter to Google, asking them to make amends for this:

It’s time for a new chapter in Google’s policy regarding privacy. It’s time to commit to giving users a voice about tracking and then respecting those wishes.

For a long time, we’ve hoped to see Google respect Do Not Track requests when it acts as a third party on the Web, and implement Do Not Track in the Chrome browser. This privacy setting, available in every other major browser, lets users express their choice about whether they want to be tracked by mysterious third parties with whom they have no relationship. And even if a user deleted her cookies, the setting would still be there.

Right now, EFF, Google, and many other groups are involved in a multi-stakeholder process to define the scope and execution of Do Not Track through the Tracking Protection Working Group. Through this participatory forum, civil liberties organizations, advertisers, and leading technologists are working together to define how Do Not Track will give users a meaningful way to control online tracking without unduly burdening companies. This is the perfect forum for Google to engage on the technical specifications of the Do Not Track signal, and an opportunity to bring all parties together to fight for user rights. While the Do Not Track specification is not yet final, there's no reason to wait. Google has repeatedly led the way on web security by implementing features long before they were standardized. Google should do the same with web privacy. Get started today by linking Do Not Track to your existing opt-out mechanisms for advertising, +1, and analytics.

Google, make this a new era in your commitment to defending user privacy. Commit to offering and respecting Do Not Track.

Google Circumvents Safari Privacy Protections - This is Why We Need Do Not Track

Financial Times kills iOS app to avoid Apple tax, switches to HTML5, succeeds

The Financial Times, which is justly famed for being one the few newspapers that manages to charge for an online version and attract substantial numbers of subscribers, pulled its app from the Apple App Store last June, after Apple announced that henceforth, all transactions taking place in apps would have to pay at 30 percent cut to the company, and Apple would control all subscriber info.

The FT developed an HTML5 app instead, which can be accessed from any browser. They now claim that 700,000 subscribers use the HTML5 version regularly, and that this makes it more popular than the app they once sold through the app store.

The FT pulled its main iPad and iPhone app from Apple store after both parties failed to reach an agreement after months of negotiations.

"App stores are actually quite strange environments," Grimshaw said. "They are cut off from most of the Web ecosystem."

A simple message on the top of the FT's Web site has been an effective marketing tool, he added.

"The world outside the App Store is not cold and desperate. Discovery is no problem at all."

(via Memex 1.1)

Choosing Android because you don't trust Google

My latest Guardian column, "Android and iOS both fail, but Android fails better," explains why I prefer Android to iOS -- not because I trust Google more than I trust Apple, but because Android requires less trust than iOS.
I use Android because I don't trust Google. Sure, I trust and like individual googlers, and admire many of the things the company has managed – but I don't for one moment think that Google's management is making its decisions in order to make me happy, fulfilled and free.

I think there are good days when Google's management might believe that helping me attain those ends will make it more money, but if it were to believe that making me miserable would enrich its shareholders without alienating too many of its key personnel and partners, my happiness would cease to matter in the slightest.

So why use Android? Because it requires less trust in Google than using iOS requires that you trust Apple. iOS has one official store, and it's illegal in most places to buy and install apps except through this store. If you and Apple differ about which apps you need, you have to break the law to get your iPhone or iPad to run the app that Apple rejected.

Android and iOS both fail, but Android fails better

(Image: Rooting my HTC Hero Android Phone, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from a_mason's photostream)

DSLR controller app for Android

DSLR controller is an Android app that allow you to remotely control the functions of your fancy Canon shooter. Wired's Charlie Sorrel writes: "To control a camera with an iPhone, you need to first tether the camera to a computer or use some funky, limited BlueTooth triggering. With Android, you just plug in a USB cable." But is it any good?