For every developer making millions in Apple's app store, there are several thousand who've had their dreams of app superstardom smashed into a million little pixels. Given its unpredictability, what makes the App Store so popular with developers—and how can you succeed? One developer's tale of hitting the Apple jackpot.
I tend not to be thrilled with "enhanced" toys that add a pre-packaged digital layer to the natural interactions that a kid can come up with on her own while playing. They usually seem too cumbersome to be fun (hold your phone-cam carefully while you play with this action figure!) or just not that clever once the novelty wears off. But if anyone were going to design a physical/digital toy that felt "just right," it was going to be Lego. Its new set, Life of George, combines an iPhone app with classic plastic bricks into an "augmented reality" experience that actually feels playful.
You may have heard about the hunt for the Higgs boson (or "God particle," as it's sometimes called) going on at CERN's Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. Some think the elusive particle may never turn up, but now you can pitch in on the search yourself using an Android app called LHSee. Designed and built by scientists at CERN, it streams live 3-D visualizations of actual particle collisions that happen at the detector. Take that, iOS users!
People who monopolize conversations are either a) narcissistic jerks doing it on purpose or b) accidental jerks who just need a gentle reminder now and then to shut their yaps. Talk-O-Meter is your secret weapon for the latter category: it's an iPhone app that uses voice recognition and biofeedback to compute, on the fly, which person in a conversation is doing most of the talking. So instead of looking at your watch, or interrupting, you can just point to the Talk-O-Meter screen as if to say, "You might want to wrap this train of thought up."
People are making movies, commercials, and music videos using nothing but the cameras on their iPhones nowadays, but what about directing live TV? You know, the kind of thing where a guy in headphones yells at a bunch of little screens representing multiple cameras: "Ready camera one! Take one! Zoom camera two!" Now, with an app called CollabraCam, you can wirelessly link four iPhone, iPad 2, or iPod Touch cameras and direct their coverage like you're Holly Hunter in Broadcast News.
It's Saturday afternoon, the kids are climbing up the walls, and you don't have any bright ideas for keeping them busy. You can pull out that lame board game, crack open a bottle of "mommy's special grape juice" — or use an app called RedRover as a lifeline.
Everyone on the web (read: that tiny subclass of "everyone" that gets paid to care about social networking apps) was shooting their mouth off last week about the latest'n'greatest app on the block, a $41-million funded doohickey called "Color." The brainchild of Bill Nguyen (a tech entrepreneur so adept at playing venture-capital roulette that he's successfully launched eight previous startups), Color lets you snap photos and share them in an "elastic social network" with people geographically close to you, with no checking-in necessary.