Using stickers to decorate your photos is a common feature found in social apps like Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and others. But today, stickers have started showing up in a more surprising place: Amazon’s mobile app. Following a recent update, Amazon has added support for stickers within its iOS app’s camera feed – the feature that allows you to search for… Read More
A well-liked Tumblr extension called XKit, which adds more functionality to the social blogging service, has just made its way to mobile, in the form of a paid iOS app. Though there have been some reports of flattening Tumblr traffic following its acquisition by Yahoo, the platform today hosts close to 200 million blogs, which are updated over 94 million times per day. Among these bloggers is… Read More
Sharalike, a new application that lets you create video slideshows similar to Facebook’s recently popular “Lookback” videos, is now launching into beta. The company’s technology takes your own photos and videos and automatically sorts them into animated, HTML slideshows in just a matter of seconds. Users only have to point the app to the media they want to include, then… Read More
Simulation video games are often purposefully, gloriously mundane. But they can also make the quotidian highly entertaining. And that’s certainly true of this U.K.-made example of the genre. Meet: Chippy, a fish & chip shop simulator game for iOS that’s plenty of fun to play – partly because its subject matter is so spectacularly mundane (frying fish and chips), but also because it turns that mundane task into an addictive game of time management.
Firstly, for non-British TC readers, “chippy” is slang for a fish & chip shop – aka a staple of the British small-town high street, selling battered fish and fat-soaked chips. Traditionally, this comfort food would be served straight from the deep fat frier, wrapped up in yesterday’s newspaper, and drenched in salt and vinegar. It’s about as quintessentially British as a cup of tea.
Now to Chippy the game: The game-play involves memorising orders, and remembering the correct sequence in which to swipe items around the screen to make up each order. If you lose track and leave the chips/fish in the frier too long, they’ll start to blacken and burn, eventually giving off a plume of dense black smoke and being good for nothing but throwing in the trash.
Burnt food also attracts flies, which has a knock on effect on your hygiene rating. You can dispatch flies by throwing stuff at them individually or by activating a UV fly zapper on the wall of your shop to net the whole swarm. But pressing on that until all the flies are pulled to fiery death means you can’t be making up orders so risk falling behind and having angry customers storm out of the shop.
Chippy scores are reputational, based on customer satisfaction, factoring in things like speed/efficiency of order fulfilment, quality of the food (burnt or uncooked fish and chips won’t win you many points), and whether you got all the aspects of the order right or not.
The game eases you in with simple orders, and steadily introduces new elements to ramp up the complexity – so you move from making up a single portion of chips, to making multiple fish & chips portions, with or without salt & vinegar, at the same time and so on. There are also challenges going alongside the basic pipeline of orders. These appear on the newspaper you use to wrap the food, prompting you to ‘cook up three of everything before you open the shop’ or ‘knockout a fly by throwing something at it’.
For the rest of the time, the newspaper headlines are pure entertainment, plus a dash of humour – such as ‘Hipsters alarmed by choice in craft beers’. For a game focused on a single screen environment, there’s a lot of detail to enjoy.
The developer behind Chippy was also involved in making the iOS pirate game Plunderland – a paid title that was downloaded more than 500,000 times. Chippy is not being made by Plunderland’s studio (Johnny Two Shoes) but is the first game from a spin-off sister company, called Glitche.rs. Co-founder and game designer Maxwell Scott-Slade says Glitche.rs will be focused on “making more targeted apps with smaller development cycles and a slightly different team”.
The studio (and Chippy) is being self-funded. “We don’t have any investors, our mantra is keep development cycles small and cheap – get the minimal viable product out there and add to it in response to fan feedback,” Scott-Slade tells TechCrunch.
Chippy is a paid app ($2.99/£1.99) that deliberately eschews in-app purchases – in part to ensure it can appeal to kids and their parents (who can be wary of gaming costs racking up expectedly). But Scott-Slade also reckons there’s plenty of life left in paid games, especially as he argues that gamers are getting tired of virtual currencies and would prefer a simpler, up-front approach.
“I think [an app being paid] shows an intention to the player. We did experiment with in-app purchases, but never with virtual currency, only to unlock the entire game,” he says. “It’s absolutely nuts to suggest that paid apps are dead. Knowing what you’re getting for a fixed price is important for a lot of players. Listen on the ground and see the general frustration from players being constantly sold virtual currencies – they don’t like it!
“But we also don’t like it as gamers ourselves, the choice to go ‘premium’ was partly due to age range reach but also to support the idea that charging up front for something is still a viable option. I want to prove that,” he adds. ”Another important thing to note is Chippy is potentially quite a niche game, with free you need millions of players before you really start to make any money.”
Being niche, Chippy is also going to have to work to pull the punters in. Scott-Slade says Glitche.rs will need around 20,000 downloads of the paid app to break even and they have “zero dollars for marketing budget.” To help spread the word they have built a gameplay recording feature into the app that lets players share short clips to social networks.
“Part of the reason we included Kamcord (the CCTV gameplay recording feature) was actually directly a result of Chippy being a single-scene game. There’s not much you can do for a gameplay trailer and it’s really the hands-on experience that makes you most excited. Sharing little segments of gameplay to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are our best options for piquing interest that doesn’t cost us a thing!” he says.
The studio has also been frugal in its development approach – building a “minimum viable product” and being strict about paring back their list of game-play ideas to keep costs and time down. Lots of ideas they had, didn’t make it in – or not yet anyway.
“Chippy will grow as more people download it – the idea was to build it with the fans after launch,” he says, confirming that new features will be added if Chippy fans clamour hard enough for them, whether it’s curry sauce, pickled eggs or deep-fried Mars bars.
“We had a strict 12 week development cycle with just three people plus our sound designer,” he adds. “Keeping development costs down was also key to us being able to make a potentially niche game.”
How niche the appeal of playing at making virtual fish & chips turns out to be will be fun to watch. “We realised that potentially, not every market would get Chippy. But we’re glad to see that most players seem to really love it – even in Japan!”
If you like your data local, but crave remote access, you’ve now got options like Synology’s new DiskStation DS413j — a network-attached storage (NAS) server for your own private cloud. The feature-packed box has four drive bays for a total of 16TB storage, and you can mix and match HDDs of different sizes without losing the comfort of RAID. Along with what you’d expect from NAS, its media server will stream content to your console or TV via DLNA or UPnP and push tunes to your stereo, with iOS and Android apps for couch DJing. The server will sync your files across computers if you wish, and give you access to all that data on the move via the internet or mobile apps. And, if you need more files, you can download directly using your favorite protocols — it’ll even automate them if you trust RSS feeds to make recommendations. All this can be yours for around $380, depending on the retailer, but don’t forget to budget for drives to fill those empty bays.
When they’re not breaking world records, fuel-hating Wave Glider seabots like to indulge in other hobbies, like shark tracking. One of the vessels has just been launched off the coast near San Francisco (vid after the break), adding a mobile worker to the existing local network of buoy-mounted receivers. They monitor the movements of electronically tagged sea life, including the fearsome Great White, picking up signals within a 1,000-foot range while researchers from Stanford University analyze the data from the safety of the shore. Better still, the free Shark Net iOS app gives anyone the chance to track these things, and activity should increase as the monitoring network (hopefully) expands along the west coast and more bots are introduced. You didn’t think the world’s fascination sharks was limited to only a single single week, did you?
[MobilePRwire] – Gelpme is a free iOS app, that allows travelers to share and save intimate, personal impressions of places they visit. Designed as a crowdsourced travel service, the app allows users to share experiences with friends and other users, track posts on specific destinations, make comments, browse postings of other travelers, and find new amazing places to visit. Gelpme is about creating a new kind of world map – a map full of emotions and inspiring moments.
It is a place to share and discover memorable experiences that go far beyond the standard tourist programs and tour guide reviews.
At launch in portrait orientation, Gelpme displays five buttons in its bottom tab bar. Highlighted Share button allows the user to share any outstanding travel experience, add some photos and then publish (Facebook repost is possible). If Internet connection is not available, shared experience will be saved and uploaded later.
Explore button opens a map of the user’s current location, with a cyan pushpin marking the spot. Violet pushpins indicate shared experiences (Gelp spots) nearby. The map can be set to display either all Gelp spots or only those that are shared by user’s Facebook friends. Touching any violet pin brings up a translucent overlay at the bottom of the map showing the photo, name, and first 2 lines of the description. Touching the right-facing arrow opens full description with photos of the place and list of comments.
Follow button allows users to choose any locations worldwide and get updates for new shared experiences. Comments is the fourth button, where users will find comments about any of their Gelp spots made by others and commented spots by himself. And fifth is the Profile button, where members can see a profile of themselves with a description, photo and list of shared Gelp spots.
* Share peak travel experiences with friends and other Gelpers while traveling
* Explore the map to find exciting spots nearby
* Follow and explore any locations for new experiences while planning a trip or on the go
* Find out where your Facebook friends have been and ask them to share their most exciting experience
* Save your experiences offline – upload and share them later
“Gelpme is all about traveling and the most valuable things for a traveler – it’s about emotions, impressions, and inspiring experiences,” stated Vladimir Filipyev, CEO of Gelpme Ltd. “It’s about that feeling that you get when you go bungee jumping over a mountain river; it’s about the smell of fresh bread baked on a mountain peak at sunrise; it’s about the cosmic energy you feel in a holy place. Gelpme is about sharing the wonder of travel.”
Gelpme is a new service for travelers that allows users to share travel experiences and explore the map of exciting spots. It is crowdsourced travel service to let people find, enjoy and share incredible travel experiences around the world! Copyright (C) 2011-2012 Gelpme. All Rights Reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone, and iPod are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. Other trademarks and registered trademarks may be the property of their respective owners.