Archive for January, 2011

What iPad’s Rumored 260 dpi Display Might Mean for Developers

January 27th, 2011 No comments

According to MacRumors, the iPad 2 which should be coming along later this quarter, is scheduled to have a 260 pixels-per-inch “Retina” display, though there is some dispute over whether or not the display, which has a lower pixel density, really counts as a retina display.

As a guy who (happily) used a netbook for about a year and a half as his primary computer, I think people are missing the forest for the trees. A display at 260 dpi, at 9″ yields a screen resolution of 2048×1536! My netbook, and just about every one of them of its generation (frustratingly) is only 1024×600. Doubling that resolution (and nearly tripling it on the vertical end) will make a no-doubt better, more crisp viewing experience. I didn’t dive into the first iPad because of its myriad shortcomings (and a lack of initial content), but having played with them at work and enjoyed the now flourishing application support it has, I am probably going to (possibly literally) be in line for the next gen iPad as soon as it’s available.

When I started at Appiction, they had me slicing images for development, and a lot of the projects that I got into for graphic design came in a mad flurry, where I was getting and slicing up 2 or 3 projects per week. For those who don’t know, slicing involves taking those mocked-up final art pieces and making images out of them that can be used for development. Since Appiction rarely designs things with the standard Coco toolkit available in Apple’s Interface Builder (instead relying on flashier designs even for mundane things like navbars), we would have to export out fancy task bars for the developers. It took a bit longer (one method, the Interface Builder method, literally involves dragging and dropping the navbar you want, the other, what we did on projects, involves creating an entire new object from the image of a navbar), but the results are typically more visually interesting, especially compared to Apple’s standard apps, which can look a bit more mundane by their familiarity.

In slicing applications up, it was a joy to learn that the iPhone 4’s resolution was precisely double the iPhone 3GS and below, from 640 x 960 to 320 x 480. This allowed a very simple scheme for developing applications, where we would export out both sizes for development. If you’ve ever wondered why on your iPhone 4 some of the un-updated app icons for retina display look fuzzy, that’s why. There is a lot more detail that can be shown on the iPhone 4’s screen, since each pixel is doubled.

What this means for an iPad at 260 dpi is an extremely high resolution interface, but for developers, a relatively minor headache. Apple supports the double resolution with the “@2x” extension on file names, allowing devs to simply label a navbar at 130 dpi (on the original iPad) simply “navbar.png” and the 260 dpi “Retina” display “navbar@2x.png”. The compiler handles the rest. Simple!

My friends have been asking me to talk a bit more about Android but the thing with Android is that this ease simply doesn’t exist. While Android has a bit more robust feature set for slicing images and buttons that is integrated all over the application (for instance, you can make a start-up screen for an application compatible with every Android device, past, present and future, by instituting some smarter design standards that I’ve tried to help start here at Appiction), it’s not so simple in a fully immersive application where you are redesigning the entire interface, such as a game.

Android resolutions don’t neatly scale up – rather Android supports resolutions like 640×800 and 640 x 854 simultaneously. Some of this is philosophically consistent, but in terms of providing the same robust application space (especially in gaming) that you see on the iOS platforms, I think the jury is still out. I think it’s a bit unwise of Google to not instill some controls on the types of products their OS runs on, or alternatively, to provide a space in which users recognize that their device is not a “universal” device, but that it will have the horsepower and specs to run some applications, but not others. Kind of like what existed with Windows gaming in the 90’s, and to some extent, today.

What I do know is that as an iOS developer and designer, I’m heartened to hear that the iPad 2 might simply double the original iPad resolution. Doing so would demonstrate the sort of forward-thinking that will allow development on iOS to thrive for years to come.

It’s been a week, are you still using the Mac App Store?

January 14th, 2011 No comments

The Mac App Store launched last Thursday to some fanfare from Apple but to more confusion from users as to what its purpose ultimately was.

What I’ve seen personally has been a lot of issues with exactly what a platform like iOS seeks to solve – diversity. People were reporting on, for instance, Angry Birds’ page that the application was functioning poorly on certain Mac Books. Cnet has talked about how there are some issues with the Mac App Store on NTFS partitions.

Then you get into the issues that happen on any more open platform than iOS – piracy. The Mac App Store appears to include a similar anti-piracy scheme as used on the iOS App Store, which would be fine, except that there are many more tools available to someone to look into the schemes utilized on an actual computer. Is that going to effect the willingness of companies to put their applications through the hoops required by Apple rather than use their own anti-piracy measures?

So, it’s been a week, are you still using the Mac App Store?

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Verizon iPhone A Possible Boon for AT&T Customers…

January 12th, 2011 1 comment

I’m basically locked into my AT&T iPhone contract, for a few reasons (not the least of which being I am the beneficiary of a hefty employee discount – Thanks mom!). So today’s announcement that Verizon will be carrying the iPhone 4 starting on February 10th doesn’t really affect me, nor does it affect those who are going to be tragically left behind — At least, not in the negative.

While AT&T may suffer among its investor base for losing its exclusivity, and an estimated 6 million customers over the next year, its customers might be able to see an increase in service and offers from a desperate AT&T who wants to maintain its lead in iPhone sales. Read more…

Categories: iPhone Tags: ,

Let’s have some standards, people!

January 7th, 2011 No comments

A funny Tumblr blog is making the rounds in the office today – Read The Fucking HIG. It’s full of horrible examples of developers trying to reinvent the iPhone interface, and with the new Mac App Store launching yesterday, a clusterfuck of terrible designs given a virtually unlimited development space for application UI.

I’ve talked about the Human Interface Guidelines in this very blog before, and they’re incredibly important. At Appiction, the first thing they had me do was read the HIG and get acquainted with its requirements and guidelines and I’m a better designer for it. A lot of people think restrictions tend to inhibit their creativity, but at a certain point, the fact that actual people are going to use the app, and are going to come into it with a set of assumptions about how an app works, becomes more important than needing your special “two-finger swipe backward to go back” design.

It’s not about what the phone/OS is capable of, it’s about what’s reasonable to expect people to deal with before they close your app and move on to one of the other hundred solutions that could probably also solve their problem. The less impediment you put between your user and their enjoyment of the app, the better. Period.

[link Read The Fucking HIG]

[link Or just read the actual HIG! :)]

My Number One Pet Peeve In iPhone Apps

January 6th, 2011 No comments

Allow me to rant for a second here…

The iPhone sprang from the meaty loins of what? The iPod. In fact, one of the coolest things about having an iPhone is having an integrated iPod. It even has its own app.

Given that the iPhone has essentially swallowed up an iPod Touch on its way to being a smartphone, one would think that it, or maybe more appropriately, developers, would implement better controls for allowing its iPoddy goodness to shine through. Read more…

5 Apps To Help You Keep Your New Years Resolutions (and 5 That Won’t)

January 5th, 2011 1 comment

If you’re the type of person who makes major life changes based on the arbitrary position of their home planet with respect to its orbital position as it drifts pointlessly around its star in a cold, indifferent void, then you’re probably the type that repeatedly fails New Years Resolutions. Like me!

And you’re not alone: According to Time Magazine (who I am sure did Extensive Research), the 10 most commonly broken New Years Resolutions are, in order: Read more…

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Mobile Wireframe Gallery Gives Preview of How Companies are Building iOS Apps

January 4th, 2011 No comments

Building software from a design standpoint has always been a bit more art than science. Prior to working for Appiction, I used to do really raw mockups in Photoshop as quickly as I could to get the point of the screen across to the developer. A lot of times, these were very, very abstract, as all that was really important was the placement of elements on the screen.

Preliminary wireframes for an eReader application I designed a couple of years ago. Yes, there are things I'd change about both of these wireframes now!

App development remains a fairly new frontier, and while there are Apple’s standard Human Interface Guidelines and Google’s Android Developer Guide, most of us are still figuring out the best way to communicate to developers our design visions in a way that fits both a functional and aesthetic sense. The MOObileFrames blog is a collection of wireframes from various companies showing their process as they take the first step to cement their mobile visions into concrete realities. Hopefully you can use some inspiration from what other companies and individuals are doing to apply to your own designs. Good luck!

Categories: application design, mobile design Tags:

Sim Me: Game Dev Story on iPhone

January 4th, 2011 3 comments

There are times where life gets very meta – like when you’re watching yourself watch TV on TV, for instance, or when you’re playing a game about developing games while you’re at work developing games. I think Lewis Black said it best: “”And I believe that the brain is so smart that when it watches you watch yourself watch you watch yourself do something you’re not supposed to be fucking doing it says you are so stupid I will kill you.

But where Mr. Black is the eternal pessimist, I continue to be a beacon of positivity. Cue  Game Dev Story (iTunes) by Kairosoft: another in a line of repeated task games, similar to EA’s fantastic Lemonade Tycoon (also for iPhone) game. In this one, instead of building a lemonade empire, you’re building a game studio from the ground up. Read more…

Categories: game design, game development, review Tags:

Starving for Content

January 4th, 2011 No comments

So hi, and welcome to the revamped Previously, this site was a portfolio site, but it was really more a placeholder, since it rarely found itself updated. I intend to change that.

I recently began working at an excellent company called Appiction in Austin, TX (, doing iPhone development. However, I’ve been in mobile game development since its early beginnings, as a QA tester and level designer as far back as 2007. While that might not sound like it was so long ago, recall the original iPhone was released in June of 2007, and the actual Apple App Store didn’t launch until the next year – in fact, I recall having active conversations with people back when the iPhone came out wondering whether developing for the iPhone was going to be a wise direction to angle toward or whether we should stick with Java/BREW development.

Prior to that, I was working to hack my way into the game industry in the AAA division, prior to the PS3 and XBox 360 generation of consoles, and as a writer in the movie industry. I graduated after returning to school in 2008 from UC Santa Barbara ( with a degree in Film & Media Studies and worked as a freelance designer for iOS games and apps the entire time until I finished my degree in 2009.

This is an exciting time in the game industry, and especially in the mobile arena. I look forward to documenting the developments in the industry and its various facets, and the ever-changing face of PC and console gaming in its wake.

Bear with me as I figure out exactly what I want this site to look like and be! I’m working on doing some layout things and I’ve posted a couple of articles that I originally wrote for last year as a bit of added content, but moving forward, I want my posts to be a bit less restrained than I had to be when I wasn’t writing for myself.

So there you go. Have fun. 🙂

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Rocket Man: Captain Ludwig on the iPhone Review

January 4th, 2011 No comments

It could be said that many of the best games take a very simple element and highlight it. Games like Pac Man or Tetris take a relatively simple concept and stretch them out into full games. But, what’s often overlooked is that the games that really last tend to have a style about them that draws your attention. The same could be said of Captain Ludwig by Mudloop, a space-themed puzzle game on sale this weekend for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Read more…

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