Tony Hawk’s Skate Jam’ Review – I Wish This Game Was Better

Eli Hodapp reviews the latest entry in the Tony Hawk game series, “Skate Jam”:

At the end of the day, Tony Hawk’s Skate Jam just looks and feels like a incredibly low-effort reskin of the developer’s other game, Skate Party (Free) (which actually had Mike V. branding until recently) which was another super mediocre skateboarding game on the App Store. It would be easy to say, “Hey, well, whatever, this is the closest we’ll get to a real Tony Hawk game on the iPhone,” but we’ve already had a real Tony Hawk game. Eight years ago. With all the technological advances we’ve seen over the years, it’s baffling that they managed to release a worse game than a hacked together port of a Dreamcast title with, admittedly, very less than ideal virtual controls. I’d suggest just downloading Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 instead, but, well, you can’t.

Another day, another below par freemium iOS game released.

It’s such a pity that these kind of games are the only ones worth releasing on the App Store for game developers these days. Like Eli, I downloaded Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2 on my iPhone all those years ago and loved every minute of it. As has been the trend for a long time on the App Store, it was pulled due to the overhead of keeping it updated in line with iOS.

I’d love to see some sort of mechanism built into iOS to allow older, no longer supported games to be ran on the latest iOS versions in some form of emulator. That would at least guarantee that older games would not dissapear without a trace just a few short years after release.

On Switching from an iPad Pro and a Macbook to a Pixelbook

Following on from his previous post on switching from iOS to Android, Fraser Speirs details why he moved from a iPad/MacBook setup to a Google Pixelbook. The majority of his work centering around using G Suite makes it an easy decision for him.

Traditionally, Google has had a bad track record for implementing features in it’s iOS apps. This, coupled with the cost of having to juggle a MacBook and an iPad, have pushed Fraser to move over to an all Google setup.

Google is a long way ahead in services in my opinion. Google Maps, Docs, Drive and News are applications that I use on a daily basis, and Apple have yet to come close to challenging them with their equivalent services. That’s a gap that’s only going to get harder and harder to fill for Apple.

On Switching from iOS to Android

An interesting post from Fraser Speirs about his reasoning from switching from iOS to Android recently. The main reason for this is cost, unsuprisingly. Like most of us, Frasers main use of his phone was to check social media, YouTube and Google Maps. That does beg the question of why people (myself included) buy brand new, expensive phones every year or two.

For me it’s a mix of ecosystem and preference. I could switch to a cheaper Android model any time with no loss of functionality, but I enjoy using iOS. That may change at some point in the future if Apple continue to price up the iPhone, but for now I feel like I’m making a worthy investment in sticking with Apple.

I’m interested to see how Fraser finds the switch after a longer period of time has passed.

The iPad as a laptop replacement

The latest iPad Pro release has got me thinking. For a long time, I have been of the belief that an iPad is an entertainment device, something that you can pick up and use to browse the web, watch videos, read books and view photos. The Pro line has been challenging that perception though, and the latest release takes it further towards the territory of a “real” computer.

The iPad Pro line comfortably matches, and even beats traditional laptops in terms of processing power. It has a screen that holds its own next to 4K displays, and has the option of connecting a keyboard, an external display, and an Apple Pencil. At this point the only real argument against the iPad is iOS itself. There are ways to perform most tasks that a casual user would want to do, but for the like of software developers and audio/video professionals, the iPad is still not going to cut it just yet.

That’s something that I expect to change in the near future. The fact that the iPad now has the power to run “pro” apps means that it’s a matter of when not if professional apps make there way to iOS. Shortcuts, which debuted in iOS 12, are beginning to unlock the power of automation on iOS. I can only see this get more and more embedded into iOS over its next few iterations.

Thinking about this brings me back to this blog post by Matt Gemmell from earlier this year. In it, he talks about how the iPad is already well on its way to becoming a standalone computer to replace a laptop for most people:

I used to be an iOS and macOS developer, though it’s more and more difficult to believe it was really me. Xcode is the integrated dev environment on macOS, to build software for all the Apple platforms, and everyone’s always saying that it’s the reason the Mac is still around (and the reason that all these programmers who invariably love iPads can’t switch to using one full-time).

But you don’t need a Mac. You need Xcode on the iPad. That’s all. We’ve gone through dozens of iterations of this same subtly-misdirected argument.

Typing on glass is imprecise, or weird, or slow, or something! You’re right. But you don’t need a Mac; you need a physical keyboard. We’ve got that.

Finger-painting is nowhere near precise enough for serious artwork! That’s true. You don’t need a Mac; you need a more accurate input device. That’s the Apple Pencil.

You can’t do your job on one little screen! Fine. You don’t need a Mac; you need iOS to support external displays. There’s AirPlay right now, and I think more support will come.

The list goes on.

My MacBook is six years old now and beginning to show its age. Up until recently, I was thinking of upgrading to a new one. When I thought about it though, I realized that I only use it about once a month - and that’s only to do tasks that I can’t do on my iPad (updating my website, coding, manipulating photo metadata etc). The rest of the time, I’m on my iPad. I don’t have to worry about booting up or shutting down, fans spinning, third party software, slow updates, being in a sitting position the list goes on.

For the first time since its release, I’m starting to see the side of the argument for the iPad being a viable primary computing device. There’s still a lot to figure out, but I’m excited to see where the iPad and iOS goes over the next few years.

More than 9 million broken links on Wikipedia are now rescued

Internet Archive Blogs:

For more than 5 years, the Internet Archive has been archiving nearly every URL referenced in close to 300 wikipedia sites as soon as those links are added or changed at the rate of about 20 million URLs/week.

And for the past 3 years, we have been running a software robot called IABot on 22 Wikipedia language editions looking for broken links (URLs that return a ‘404’, or ‘Page Not Found’). When broken links are discovered, IABot searches for archives in the Wayback Machine and other web archives to replace them with. Restoring links ensures Wikipedia remains accurate and verifiable and thus meets one of Wikipedia’s three core content policies: ‘Verifiability’.

It’s an interesting problem when you think about it. So often when you visit old web pages, there are tons of broken links to websites that have either taken them down or no longer exist at all. Wikipedia have an enormous amount of work to do to keep dead links at a minimum in their pages, so it’s cool to see how they are going about fixing them.

Bond 25 announcement

From the 007 website:

Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli and Daniel Craig announced today that Bond 25 will begin filming at Pinewood Studios on 4 March 2019 under the helm of director, Cary Joji Fukunaga with a worldwide release date of 14 February 2020.

“We are delighted to be working with Cary. His versatility and innovation make him an excellent choice for our next James Bond adventure,” said Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli.

I’ve no familiarity with Cary Joji Fukunaga, but I’m delighted to see that the release date has only been pushed back a couple of months. Bring it on!

10 Years of 512 Pixels

Ten years of blogging is an impressive feat - almost as impressive as the huge amount of Apple history that Stephen Hackett has documented at 512 Pixels.

It’s great to see niche websites like this continue to live on as social media sites come and go. I’m looking forward to seeing how the site evolves over the next few years.

Apple Kills the App Store Affiliate Program

Eli Hodapp from Touch Arcade reacting to Apple’s decision to end the affiliate program:

TouchArcade has been around since early 2008, with our very first post published on March 12th, 2008 surrounding the earliest iPhone developers committing to making games on the platform. Since then, it has been a rollercoaster. In the early days, we had loads of good times. Recently? It genuinely feels like Apple does not want us to exist anymore.

I don’t know how the takeaway from this move can be seen as anything other than Apple extending a massive middle finger to sites like TouchArcade, AppShopper, and many others who have spent the last decade evangelizing the App Store and iOS gaming- Particularly on the same day they announced record breaking earnings of $53.3 billion and a net quarterly profit of $11.5 billion.

I think it would be a huge loss for the like of Touch Arcade to be forced to shut down or scale back because of this decision from Apple. It may be the case that Apple are losing a percentage of revenue from paying out to those registered in the affiliate program, but that is surely a tiny figure to a company that have just been valued at a trillion US dollars on the market.

Personally, I have used websites like Touch Arcade and Appspy countless times to find apps and games that would be of interest to me. Regardless of what changes are made to the App Store editorial section, it will never replace the value of those sites.

iPhone 3G: 10 Years Later

Great post by Stephen Hackett on the iPhone 3G. The 3G was my first iPhone, which I got for Christmas in 2008 - almost 10 years ago(!). For it’s time it felt like a huge step forward in technology, particularly when exploring the App Store and seeing what was possible.

The home button was noticeably soft to press, and as the months wore on, became harder to press without feeling like you were going to break it. 1 I loved the plastic back and the chrome trim. I don’t think Apple have made an iPhone since the 3G/3GS that feel as comfortable to hold.

I still have a lot of photos that I took on the phone from that time backed up to iCloud, and those photos still hold up really well today I think.

For all the progress that has been made over the past decade, the 3G still looks so familiar. Home button, big screen, border at top and bottom, mute switch, lock and volume buttons - these are all still present in more or less the same position of last years iPhone 8 line.

Despite this, as we move towards edge to edge design I have a feeling that the next few iPhone releases will make the 3G feel like a relic of the past.

  1. Nothing like the Taptic Engine that powers the home button of the 7 and 8 phones. 

Instapaper is going independent

Instapaper blog:

Today, we’re announcing that Pinterest has entered into an agreement to transfer ownership of Instapaper to Instant Paper, Inc., a new company owned and operated by the same people who’ve been working on Instapaper since it was sold to betaworks by Marco Arment in 2013. The ownership transfer will occur after a 21 day waiting period designed to give our users fair notice about the change of control with respect to their personal information.

We want to emphasize that not much is changing for the Instapaper product outside the new ownership. The product will continue to be built and maintained by the same people who’ve been working on Instapaper for the past five years. We plan to continue offering a robust service that focuses on readers and the reading experience for the foreseeable future.

I’m glad to see this move, seeing as Instapaper has been unavailable for use for the past few months in the EU becuase of it non-compliance with GDPR. I’ve since moved onto using Pocket as a replacement, but it would be great to see Instapaper return.