One thing I have noticed during the last few months is how Apple continues to invest in releasing new iPad models during different times of the year and that come with different titles. The company is also making these iPads different in terms of price, size or form factor, and hardware specs.

 

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This in turn may be good and bad for consumers. By having choices, they can really find out what they want and need for their needs at different price points. However, this also means they have to invest their time into research and in the end may purchase the iPad that wasn’t meant for them or that they could have gotten a better deal on if they really knew the market.

An example of this was Apple’s recent push with the now outdated iPad 2 hardware and the original iPad Mini hardware. In terms of refurbished products, they are still both sold at similar price points ($248 for iPad iMini vs $279 for iPad 2) and Apple continues to keep the iPad 2 as the refurbished model to get rather than put an iPad 3 or The New iPad in there as the cheaper product with the full screen. 

This confuses consumers who are on a budget because they would be smart to not listen to Apple’s marketing and purchase the iPad 2 at this price since it is the full sized iPad with the same hardware specs as the Mini. The Mini is simply the newer product that hit the shelves, but in reality both of these iPads have similar hardware specs within them.

This goes back to the question: are there too many choices and price points right now on the market available to consumers within the iPad lineup? I think the answer is yes. Even when we do not take the refurbished models into consideration, the main iPad lineup still includes the Mini as an option along with the Mini with Retina, iPad Air and the cheaper and a bit older iPad with Retina display (iPad 4).

At least it is the iPad 4 now that is being sold cheaper than the other models new, because until recently this was still the now much-outdated iPad 4 that Apple had in this bracket. 

On the main website (when not clicking on compare models) it is a bit less confusing with the latest Mini and iPad Air being displayed side by side. This was a smart move by Apple. It tells consumers to get the product they want depending on size they want or need and price. However, the market is a lot more confusing than this when venturing further into Apple’s website and really figuring out what you as the consumer want and need.

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Basically, Apple may be biting themselves a bit in the foot by not offering a shoppers guide of sorts on their website that guides consumers into choosing the right tablet for them. There is still and expectancy of knowledge or research on the market involved and this gets even more confusing for consumers shopping for rival Android tablets as a potential replacement for the iPad. 

 

 

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If you are an iDevice developer or a PR representative for any company making apps (whether gaming or any other type of app it doesn’t matter) I am now offering my services to write press releases for your upcoming app or just-released app.

The rates will depend on the type of press release I am writing (length) and whether the developer will provide all the information we will put together into a nice format. If we have to do additional research and interviews (say of a CEO) I will charge more. The prices are negotiable, so feel free to e-mail me and inquire.

If you e-mail me, I can send you some samples of ones I’ve written. I mostly followed the prmac.com format. Here are recent samples of what I’ve written for a contact:

IntelliVocab 1.5 Released to Improve English Vocabulary Interactively

IntelliVocab for Business Announced

iCan ABC Announced

References:

Lana Parker
PR Manager
lana760@gmail.com
Twitter: @VelvetMobile

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[Update] This is a recent rewrite of the April update. I no longer work for AppAdvice and Tablets.com has been turned into an eCommerce site. So below is the current update:

Lately, I have also been learning and expanding my skill base into graphical design (with Photoshop and ArtStudio so far) and video editing (Final Cut). I am willing to take freelance clients in these endeavors as well as writing. I am a journalist first and foremost with a BA degree, so that is where my specialty still lies. I have experience covering events, adding my own multimedia, and now even graphical design and video editing to the mix. I hope a big publication or blog notices me one of these days as journalists need too.

One of the things that got me interested in digital art is my nature is that of an artist. I also think writing is both informing the reader and it is an art all onto itself. The advantage of being able to use Photoshop or digital image-editing well for Web writing, is you can spice up blogs and blog postings with good use of imagery.

I am now looking to expand to higher-paid writing jobs and take on freelance assignments in graphic design, press release-writing and video editing.

Thank you, Mike

The next huge up-and-coming iOS title, SuperBrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP is packed with all kinds of artistic flair and beauty. The pixelated beauty is finally coming out and will be hitting the iPad exclusively.

The game looks to be a medieval swords-and-shields type of game with magic and sci-fi plot twists thrown in. It also seems to have a lot of surreal elements thrown in. Will the game transform the platform as we know it into a new direction? I certainly think it will. It looks like art and game finally combined into something truly special.

Posted: March 4, 2011 in Apple and Gaming

And guess what? It’s coming Friday, the 11th. Apple’s next tablet iteration was unveiled yesterday at an Apple news event in the same downtown area and timeframe as the Game Development Conference (GDC 2011)– that was and still is underway.

What is kind of ironic, is that at GDC 2011 many iPhone and iPad developers were trying to showoff their upcoming apps. Yet Apple swayed many bloggers and journalists from that conference and into their own news event — with Steve Jobs speaking.

Here is a piece I posted for tablets.com — Where I’ve been writing as of late — about how Apple really tried to crash Nintendo’s GDC announcement and timed their own event to run concurrent to Nintendo’s.

Nintendo also took some jabs at Apple (although not directly), according to various sources present at Nintendo’s keynote, where Nintendo President Iwata made a speech.

Iwata basically claimed that Nintendo games are superior and Tablet and smartphone games are too cheap and ruining gaming. Here is what he said according to Jim Dalrymple from Loopinsight:

“Iwata said he considers Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft to be the only ones making high-value gaming products.”

So he thinks Microsoft makes quality products? I wonder if he says the same thing when it comes to their operating systems.

This just shows how scared Nintendo is right now and threatened it the compny executives must feel by Apple and Google. Someone should ask Iwata when a game with the scope of Aralon, or an Elder Scrolls type of experience hits the Nintendo handheld.

Here is my coverage of the iPad 2 and what it will offer for Tablets.com:

iPad 2 Revealed by Jobs Himself

Enough with iPad 2 Specs, How Bout Some Software News

This was my story for Appmodo that had a different spin with all the info presented in one post concentrating on specs, features:
iPad 2 Specs Unveiled from Apple Event

Although impressive technically and in regards to the added cameras, I will probably hold off on the upgrade until the iPad 3 and here is the reason why.

A Photoshopped image I made using ‘Art Studio HD’ for one of the Tablets.com posts:

Posted: March 4, 2011 in Apple and Gaming, Apple Tech News, Rants & Raves

I recently came across two interesting concepts while searching for apps on my iPad. Games that fall into a new category of gaming that mixes with other forms of media. In a sense gaming, music and books coming together to tell a visual story. I am specifically referring to games that combine story books or interactive novels with visual representations called game books — as well as games that combine visual gameplay with voice-based audio interaction.

One example of an audio-type game is Papa Sangre. The game plays without any visual graphics of any sorts and has you engage in a mystery of sorts dealing with the Mexican Day of the Dead tradition. Here is the app description from the official website:

Papa Sangre is a video game with no video. It’s a first-person thriller, done entirely in audio by an award-winning team of game designers, musicians, sound designers and developers. We’ve created an entire world using the first ever real-time 3D audio engine implemented on a handheld device. Which was BLOODY HARD.

It is interesting how certain developers are using all of the features of the iPad or iPhone like voice recognition with the microphone. This is an example of thinking outside the box. This concept reminds me of another game released a few months back by Square-Enix called Voice Fantasy. The game featured a light-hearted RPG storyline that was played with voice commands. The characters would be generated based on voice as well. I found it an interesting, albeit a bit shallow, concept that Square-Enix could run with in future titles if done right.

Another interesting concept I’ve ran into lately on the App Store gaming scene are interactive novel-games or books that have graphics, visual representations, and even quests with non-linear gameplay elements thrown in. Think of these apps as a mix between a book and an RPG-adventure game.

A recent example of such an app to get recognition and that is hailed as pretty much the cream of the crop (by TouchArcade at least) is the recent Fabled Lands HD, that is exclusive to the iPad on the App Store and features RPG elements in a book format.

According to Ellisthion from Dice of Doom, the app is ” a completely open game that has been compared to an MMO in book form, with no linear storyline and the ability to roam around the world as you see fit.”

With all these gread ideas being put together to add immersion to games, I think there is a lot to go in gaming before innovation ceases and the medium fails to advance. We are just scratching the surface here with ideas like voice recognition and sensory imagery being integrated into gameplay decisions. We will have greater roles in games rather than just watching a storyline unfold. Same thing holds true for digital novels and eBooks. As society moves away from print we will need something to compensate for the lack of that paper feeling reading is associated with and all the benefits a real book offers over a digital copy. Interaction is one way to keep our attention.

I think the future of gaming is headed in the virtual reality direction but the first step being sensory in origin — not necessarily with helmets or big visual devices putting our eyes in a different dimension. There is more than visual cues to an experience. The App Store, in particular, just continues to amaze me though with apps constantly pushing the boundaries.

Posted: February 20, 2011 in Apple and Gaming, Personal Thougths

In association with the Daily App Dream giveaway, Hurdle Turtle is available to download for free on the App Store. This game should be familiar to retro gamers who love systems such as Intellivison and the games that it offered, as ‘Hurdle Turtle’ goes directly with that style of play.

You control a turtle through obstacle courses — the initial course unlocked for you is a standard olympic track — where you can only move around a path set for you that is constantly shifting toward the right. And while your turtle moves, you will have to control his directions of movement and jump over obstacles and objects in your path.

As you unlock new tracks things will get bizarre for you; as the second track had me dodge deer and other animals in the forrest for instance. There are also different turtles with their own costumes and outlook to unlock.

‘Hurdle Turtle’ may be the giveaway’s highlight, but it isn’t the only free app being offered by the Daily App Dream giveaway. Two other games are currently free and as part of the giveaway as well — they are Peppy Frog and iDork XL.

‘Peppy a frog’ is a fun little arcade game where you control a frog in a pool of water while trying to eat small fish and avoid being engulfed by the larger ones. ‘iDork XL’ is a line-drawing game where you help a stick-figured man make his way past 64 levels and draw the path for him.

Daily App Dream is a giveaway to iDevice gamers with different titles on the App Store going free for a day. There is also an app for the giveaway, Daily App Dream, that will inform App Store gamers what titles have gone free periodically.

Posted: February 20, 2011 in Apple and Gaming
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Recently, a company called VS Technologies is suing Twitter because a patent was breached called “Method and system for creating an interactive virtual community of famous people”. The U.S. patent, also known as no. 6,408,309 deals specifically with Twitter allowing users and celebrities to interact online.

This is obviously true but technically can’t any social networking website, even blogs, allow for such interaction? What makes Twitter different than someone requesting a Facebook friend request from Lady Gaga or Ashton Kutcher?

Twitter has been known for various scandals or rumors breaking out, and it is public information though. Meaning we can access easily the tweets of pretty much anyone using the system unlike Facebook. But everyone that tweets and uses Twitter knows this and does it on their own account, yes even celebrities love to chitchat and engage with their fans.

Twitter does not really allow for long conversations anyway. It is defined by brevity. E-mails and even online social outlets or games like World of Warcraft or Second Life (more of a system of virtual communities like the patent tries to define) allows for longer and more in-depth conversation. So why concentrate on just Twitter? It is really odd that a company would do this.

Here is what the patent defines and the lawsuit is based on:

“As it pertains to this lawsuit, very generally speaking, the ’309 Patent discloses methods and systems for creating interactive, virtual communities of people in various fields of endeavor wherein each community member has an interactive, personal profile containing information about that member.”

Maybe instead of suing, VS Technologies should team up or learn something from Twitter. Often simplicity is the best method in integrating communities as Twitter showed. Twitter doesn’t try to be a complicated service or even a Facebook replacement. It is based on communication and sharing information in brief segments — not necessairly on a specific celebrity-based interaction.

I would suggest VS Technologies an acquisition but I doubt they could afford one, especially since Google is already on that path. Google realizes the communication possibilities of Twitter, and interactive environments like it. Google also understands Twitter’s potential created in integrating it with the rest of the Web thus streamlining the search process for stories or feeds for example. I am talking about apps, for instance, like iPad’s Flipboard that allows users to have a magazine-like navigation of tweets that often contains links to full articles and can be viewed directly from the app.

Twitter allows you to get feeds from a list of people or companies represented by someone using the service — in an organized fashion and without having to navigate the entire website of that said company. With Flipboard, you can look at main headlines and images of subjects that you are interested in and through Twitter feeds as well. The integration of social services with online Web content like news stories is getting more streamlines.

Basically the point I am getting at is that Twitter isn’t just an outlet of communication or gossip like some websites portray it. However it has it’s limitations as well — notably the brevity of the tweets you can post. I think it is silly to sue the company just because it allows celebrities and users to interact based on some patent. Any website or service online could technically allow this if the celebrities sign up and share their contact information. Speaking of Twitter, am I the only one who constantly has to find out the real spelling of the social network? I always think that the title is ‘Tweeter,’ due to users sending ‘tweets,’ and not as ‘Twitter.’

[Techcrunch]

Taken from Flickr by David Ortez

A private school in Tennessee, called Web School, has decided to go digital with their textbooks for students with the iPad.

According to 9to5Mac, the Knoxville-based Web school will actually require all fourth-grade to 12th-grade students for next year to purchase or rent the iPad. To rent the iPad it will only cost $20 per month.

It is great to see schools make the transition to digital media and embrace new technology like the iPad. The iPad is very lightweight, portable, and offers great eBook, PDF readers. Students of all ages are sick of carrying heavy books around.

Since many of these students are already wanting the iPad or some tablet, this will be a way to teach them to use it for more than just listening to music or watching movies. By embracing the technology, a teaching method can become fun for even the usually less-motivated students. On the other hand, there could be drawbacks to this method of teaching, like the students being distracted with all the other features the iPad offers to even finish reading their textbook.

According to the article by 9to5Mac, distractions like Twitter and Facebook will be blocked somehow on campus though.

[9to5Mac]

Today while I was trying to enter Flipboard, which I have in the seventh screen on my iPad user interface, I’ve ran into some weird trouble. At first I just thought a part of my touch screen is damaged on the lower left where Flipboard is located but soon came to realize the whole screen doesn’t respond to touch on that particular window. The weird thing though is every other screen and icon works fine.

I am trying to figure out what the problem is and whether it is just a glitch or a bug — or something more pernamnet that I have to deal with. I am thinking that an iPad system reboot will fix the issue though. However, all my apps are still easily accessible, including Flipboard, I just have to type them in via the search screen.

Here is the video of me trying to access that screen’s icons and not being able to while going to the next screen and opening an app with ease.

Maybe someone can chime in and give me a tip on how to make icons on all the screens touch-sensitive again?

Update: I fixed the problem by switching off and back on the mute slider button. However, I still wonder what caused the problem.