iOS 5.1 beta 2 out of the oven, ready for developer consumption

Ready to kick off Monday with some iOS flashing? Excellent, because Apple’s just released the second beta of iOS 5.1, lovingly christened 9B5127c. No Cupertino devices at Engadget HQ have taken the plunge, but as noted by MacRumors, the beta enables individual picture deletion from Photo Stream — which differs from the existing delete all or nothing implementation. Too early to tell if it’ll finally squash any lingering battery bugs once and for all, but you can hit Apple’s developer website to get your download on — just be ready for the next one in two weeks, cool?

[Thanks, Haseeb]

iOS 5.1 beta 2 out of the oven, ready for developer consumption originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 12 Dec 2011 14:36:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Kindle Fire or iPad 2?

Since the launch of the original iPad, Apple’s had effectively zero competition. But wait! With the sleek, cheap Kindle Fire shipping Nov. 15th, we’ve suddenly got a legitimate contender. Choice is great. But, uhm, which choice should you make? More »

iPad 2 gets an $8 million Cretaceous makeover with dino bones, diamonds and gold

In case you weren’t aware, Apple’s sold a whole lot of iPad 2s, so aside from the couple of bezel color choices or adding a Smart Cover, there’s not much you can do to make your tablet stand out from the crowd. Well, now there’s another option for the well-heeled gadget lover. Stuart Hughes is back with another custom gadget for the economic elites called the iPad 2 Gold History Edition. It’s got a solid gold backside, an Apple logo and home button crafted from a total of 65 flawless diamonds, plus a bezel crafted from Ammolite rock and slivers of thigh bone from a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Between all that ice and prehistoric bling, there won’t be a problem picking this iPad out of a lineup. What is a problem (for most of us, anyway) is the price: eight million dollars. We dig the dino look and all, but that’s an awfully hefty entrance fee — we’d rather buy a stock slate and take a few dozen trips to the final frontier instead.

iPad 2 gets an $8 million Cretaceous makeover with dino bones, diamonds and gold originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 31 Oct 2011 23:47:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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7 Halloween Costumes With High-Tech Appeal

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Nikon Costume

Halloween isn’t just for kids in knockoff Disney costumes. The holiday has become ground zero for geek-themed cosplay, and allows more DIY-oriented tech nerds to explore wardrobe hacking of the highest order. LEDs, iPads, green pigs and angry feathered fowl — they’re all present and accounted for in this year’s Halloween opus.

Here are a few of our favorite tech-themed costumes. If you’ve got some winners of your own, shoot me an e-mail or share in the comments section of this article.

Above is Tyler Card’s fully functioning Nikon DSLR costume, quite possibly the most impressive outfit of the bunch (but let’s be honest, it’s pretty much impossible to choose favorites).

Card mounted a DSLR on the inside of the costume’s lens using a small, modified tripod. The shutter is triggered using a remote shutter release that’s mounted under the shutter release button on the costume camera — so, when the costume button is pressed, it actually snaps a picture. Card used a hot-shoe flash extension to situate an external flash above his head as the “pop-up flash,” and a USB cable connects the camera to a laptop mounted inside the back of the costume. As photos are taken, they’re played as a slideshow on the laptop’s LCD screen, which he unscrewed and flipped backwards.

Card told that the costume is primarily made of cardboard, duct tape and spray paint. The lens is made from a 5-gallon paint bucket, whose lid acts as the lens cap. The lens is made of Plexiglas, and the flash diffuser is Plexiglas covered with window-frosting spray. Excluding the cost of the actual camera and computer, the costume only cost about $35 to make — but it took about 40 hours to create.

The toughest part?

“Believe it or not, the most challenging part was cutting a circular piece of Plexiglas without having the proper tools,” Card says. “It was very tedious getting it to fit snug, without having to tape it up.” Another challenge: getting the costume on and off, which requires “a little help too.”

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Dual Case Holds Two iPads Side-By-side

Double trouble: ZooGue’s Dual case holds two iPads side-by-side

Double the iPads, double the fun! Or at least, double the chance of using the iPad to get any work done. At least, that’s the promise of ZooGue’s Dual iPad 2 Case.

The Dual iPad case is pretty much just a longer version of the ZooGue’s Genius, a good but bulky leather foilio-style iPad case. The Dual Case holds two tablets side-by-side, has a fold-out, Velcro-secured kickstand, a band to mount it to car headrests and covers with magnets to sleep and wake the iPads within.

You might scoff, but when I need to get some work done on an iPad, the best companion is another iPad. You can use one as a source and one to do the writing on. If you’re an author, or editing photos or video or music, you probably need just one, but for blogging one screen leads to frustration.

Of course, an actual computer is even better, especially if you start connecting bluetooth keyboards to your iPads too.

But it really doesn’t matter, as the Dual Case is a more of a gimmick. Available only as a limited edition, the cases are being auctioned for charity, with proceeds going to the the Alabama Autism Assistance Program.

Also, check out the reviews on the product page. My favorite, from Lord Michaelton of Raspberry Falls, begins thusly:

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovingly designed product, but what the heck am I supposed to do with my third iPad?

Dual iPad 2 Case Limited Edition [ZooGue]

See Also:

Netbooks slip under tablet shipments, achieve has-bEeen status

Still unconvinced we’re headed towards a post-PC future? We can at least conclusively say we’ve entered a post-netbook present, as Q2 2011 marks the first time their numbers have been eclipsed by tablets, according to ABI Research. 13.6 million slates were shipped in the quarter, besting the 7.3 million the diminutive laptops were able to clock in. When compared to the prior quarter, that works out to 112 percent or 7.2 million increase (!) for the former, and a 1.1 million decline for the latter. Cost apparently isn’t a driving factor, as the firm notes that tablets pack an average price of $600 — nearly double that of their trackpad-toting brethren. Oh, and in case you were wondering, 68 percent of tablets shipped were of Cupertino’s flavor. More cold hard facts await you in the PR after the break.

Continue reading Netbooks slip under tablet shipments, achieve has-bEeen status

Netbooks slip under tablet shipments, achieve has-bEeen status originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 25 Oct 2011 02:34:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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How Apple’s A5 Chip and iOS 5 Will Change Mobile Gaming

A screenshot of Infinity Blade II on the iPhone 4S illustrates the fine graphical detail enabled by Apple's A5 processor. Image: ChAIR Entertainment

If the last two weeks of mainstream press coverage are to be believed, the only relevant features in Apple’s new iPhone 4S are Siri, the phone’s remarkable digital assistant, and the new 8-megapixel camera, which delivers near point-and-shoot image quality to Apple’s mobile platform.

But there’s one other feature that’s largely been ignored, even though it too was demoed at the iPhone 4S debut: Apple’s A5 processor, which grants exciting new opportunities for iOS game developers.

The 1GHz dual-core A5, along with various aspects of iOS 5, have the potential to seriously supercharge gaming on both the iPhone 4S and iPad 2 (which uses the chip too). At Apple’s iPhone 4S launch event, we were shown a demo of Infinity Blade II, and its graphics were impressive enough to wow even jaded console enthusiasts and PC gamers.

In your curiosity duly piqued? Here are some of the virtual sword-clashing, adventure-questing and strategy-pondering improvements we can look forward to as game developers explore (and hopefully implement) Apple’s latest updates.

7X Graphics Power for Fancier Rendering Effects

Smartphones and tablets are great gaming platforms, but they have typically placed us in graphically simple visual environments (think Angry Birds or Scrabble). But now that Apple’s A5 processor is available in both iPad 2 and the iPhone 4S, game developers can go hog wild in designing graphically intense 3D worlds for iOS, confident of a growing installed base of Apple’s fastest mobile chip.

As Perry Tam, CEO of iOS gaming company Storm8 told us, the A5 processor will “certainly help remove some restrictions for developing games that demand more CPU power.”

According to Apple, its A5 processor delivers CPU performance twice as fast as its previous chip, along with seven times faster graphics processing — and all without additional battery life penalties.

“The A5 chip is very, very fast,” says Donald Mustard, creative director at ChAIR Entertainment, the Epics Games studio that developed Infinity Blade II. “[Game developers] love power. Extra power allows us to do more of everything.”

That “everything” includes high-end rendering techniques. At Apple’s iPhone event, Mike Capps of Epic Games said some of these techniques aren’t even used in top-line gaming consoles. For example, the A5 chip allows Infinity Blade II to include insanely detailed graphical flourishes, such as light rays shining through trees, character shadows cast on the game environment, koi swimming in a pond, and individual dandelions blowing in the wind.

The increased processing power enables richer, more cinematic gaming experiences, bringing iOS gaming much closer to what you’ll find on consoles, if not gaming PCs. Indeed, now it would seem that touch-based game control, and not graphics firepower, is the primary hurdle preventing iOS devices from becoming ideal platforms for shooters and other action games.

iCloud Delivers Seamless Gameplay Narratives

“iOS 5 is really slick,” Mustard says. “The best thing it offers to developers is iCloud.”

Mustard described how he was playing Infinity Blade II on an iPad 2. His character had just finished a fight, and picked up a sword that had fallen on the ground. Mustard then opened up Infinity Blade II on his iPhone 4S — and began playing the game exactly where he had just left off, his character with sword in hand.

“Seamless syncing across devices is a huge thing for gaming,” Mustard says. The iCloud feature enables users to effortlessly transition a game-in-progress from one iOS 5 device to another, allowing for an uninterrupted gameplay narrative as they move from, say, their subway seat to their couch, or even from room to room.

iCloud offers other unique benefits that game developers can begin coding for in updates and new titles. In Infinity Blade II, for example, users will find a new community-based gameplay mode called Clash Mobs.

It works like this: You get a notification that a big monster is available to fight for the next 24 hours. The monster is loaded with 1 million hit points. You fight him, knocking off 10,000 of his hit points. The monster now has 990,000 hit points. Thousands (if not millions) of other gamers take their hacks at the same bad guy, and together you work in concert to take him down, unlocking weapons and other features.

But that’s just one example of crowd-sourced gameplay. Other group-based challenges could be incorporated in a wide variety of games and game types. Just as the original iPhone’s accelerometer gave us the entirely new genre of physics-based gaming, we should expect developers to respond to iCloud with similar innovation in community-based gaming — leading to novel new modes of play we can’t yet imagine.

A New Twist in Turn-Based Gaming

Asynchronous turn-based gaming: It’s a fussy phrase that describes something quite simple. In effect, iOS 5 lets you play turn-based games against friends in a non-live, non-real-time environment. In iOS 4, both players had to have their apps running at the same time to, say, play a game of chess. But now, thanks to asynchronous turn-based gaming support, you can play all variety of turn-based games at a much more leisurely, convenient pace.

After you play your turn, a push notification is automatically sent to your competitor — who can act immediately, or pick up the game when time allows. And via the iOS Game Center app, which was added in iOS 4, players can manage multiple games-in-progress to keep up with the action (or whatever passes for action in the asynchronous turn-based gaming paradigm).

“The ability to play turn-based games asynchronously with your friend via Game Center in iOS 5 makes mobile social gaming even more convenient on mobile devices, which people tend to pick up and put down throughout the day,” says Tam, whose company developed a turn-based game called Cannon Ball, pictured here.

“Turn-based games used to require a separate infrastructure that cost the developer time and money,” Tam says. “iOS 5 takes care of that for you.”

And that means developers can spend more time creating rich, well-designed gaming experiences with more creative twists.

Connecting With Friends

iOS 5 makes it easier for you to discover new games in Apple’s Game Center by exposing the preferences of your trusted confidantes. Specifically, Game Center can now make recommendations based on what your friends (and non-friend competitors) are playing. iOS 5 users can also connect with friends of friends without knowing their email addresses or nicknames.

Players can now also download games directly from Game Center if they see one of their friends is playing a game they don’t already have. Before, you had to exit Game Center and go find the game in the App Store.

“This is a major benefit to developers because it makes it that much easier for people to get involved with a new game,” Tam said.

The Overarching Upshot: More Games, More Updates

Platform updates always pose a challenge to game developers: Should they start coding their games for the new hardware and software, confidant of an enthusiastic (and large) installed base? For that matter, should they go back and update previous versions of popular titles, if only to take advantage of a few new features?

Tam believes that as developers get more familiar with what iOS 5 and the A5 have to offer, we’ll see a lot more games that incorporate these new features. In fact, says Tam, updating a game to take advantage of these features, or even creating a new game from scratch, is “very easy to do.”

Easy: It’s a relative term. Nothing about the graphics of Infinity Blade II looks that “easy” to pull off. But one thing’s for sure: Apple’s latest hardware and software updates are great news for mobile gamers, and the pressure is on developers to innovate.

What iOS games would you like to see updated with new features described above? Please tell us in the comments section of this article.

Smart Cover can unlock password-protected iPads running iOS 5 (video)

Psst. Hey, do you carry a spare Smart Cover around with you? Well, if you’re an unscrupulous sort, you can actually use it to bypass the lock screen of any iPad running iOS 5. This multi-step security hole will let you browse whatever’s running behind the passcode screen, whether that’s email, apps or the homescreen. To take advantage of the flaw, hold down the power button on the locked device until the power off slider appears, then whip the Smart Cover on, open and tap cancel. Fortunately for iPad owners, the rest of the tablet remains locked-down, but the main problem here is any sensitive information left on-screen. If you unlock the tablet to the main screen, you won’t be able to open new apps, although anyone feeling particularly nefarious can apparently delete apps from that meticulously arranged home screen. See how it’s done in the video after the break.

[Thanks to everyone who sent this in]

Continue reading Smart Cover can unlock password-protected iPads running iOS 5 (video)

Smart Cover can unlock password-protected iPads running iOS 5 (video) originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 21 Oct 2011 12:52:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Audyssey’s Lower East Side Audio Dock Air: square to be cool

Not enamored by any upcoming AirPlay-enabled HiFi systems? Audyssey’s curiously square Lower East Side Audio Dock Air could be worth a shot. This is the second wireless speaker from the company, which last year used its audio know-how for the South of Market Bluetooth Dock. The LESADA’s light on features, but utilizes “Smart Speaker technology” to offer what Audyssey claims is best-in-class audio quality. The unit itself is loaded with two 1-inch tweeters, a duo of 3-inch midrange drivers and two thumping 4-inch passive bass radiators. Up top there’s a single volume wheel, while on the front and back you’ll find a headphone jack and a 3.5mm input (if you’d prefer the vintage experience of plugging in). The Lower East Side Audio Dock Air — in all its cubey goodness — is slated to hit shelves in November for about $400. Full PR past the break.

Continue reading Audyssey’s Lower East Side Audio Dock Air: square to be cool

Audyssey’s Lower East Side Audio Dock Air: square to be cool originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 19 Oct 2011 09:00:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Instapaper gets iPad refresh: more friends, more reading

Instapaper, the internet equivalent of a bookmark, has been given a top-to-toe makeover for its latest outing on the iPad. Fear not, your reading materials remain easy to read (and ad-free), but version 4 has now been smoothed over with a thick layer of tablet gloss. Navigation is all done through a bar on the left, and remains available for prodding as you read through your article selection. The upgrade also adds a subscription option for searching all your previous reads, as well as better social skills, with the ability to pick up and store articles and posts shared by your Twitter buddies — ensuring that you’ll probably never run out of reading material again.

Instapaper gets iPad refresh: more friends, more reading originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 19 Oct 2011 03:51:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink Wired  |  sourceInstapaper 4  | Email this | Comments