December 2014

Benny’s Top Ten: Ten of the Best iOS Apps and Games of 2014

While Santa was making his own list and checking it twice this year, I was also making a list of my own. A list of the best iOS apps and games of the year — a look back at what occupied coveted spots on my home screen, or what app used the most battery life on my iPhone or iPad. As the curtains fall and 2014 draws to its inevitable end, and in lieu of any actual look back at the year gone by from an Apple perspective, these are the best iOS apps and games of 2014.

In no particular order…

workflow

Workflow

I’ll be honest with you: I’ve never really gotten into the whole “iOS productivity” thing. When I’m out and about, I mostly use my iPhone as a portable Twitter machine, for emails, and that kind of thing — you know, the normal stuff. And when I’m at home, I have my trusty Mac for everything I need to do. But in saying all that, I recognise the kinds of innovative things people are doing with apps like Launch Center Pro and more recently, Workflow. We’ve come a long way since the days of no copy and paste on iOS, and now people are creating workflows for every imaginable thing. If you’re not into iOS productivity because it all just seems a little too hard, or like me, lack the imagination required for getting stuff done on your iPhone or iPad, there’s plenty of beginner’s guides to sink your teeth into. Or you can check out the built-in gallery for a few ideas to get you started.

Workflow is $3.99, on the App Store.

Hyperlapse

HyperlapseBefore Hyperlapse, it was pretty easy to tell when someone had recorded video from an iPhone. There was always a telltale shakiness to the footage that gave it away, and no matter how steady you thought you were holding your iPhone, any movement resulted in the shakes. Then Instagram released Hyperlapse, and mobile video changed forever — and while that might sound a little melodramatic, ask anyone that’s used Hyperlapse for recording video and they’ll tell you how true it is. Hyperlapse’s incredibly impressive video stabilisation tech means there’s now no excuse for shaky video footage. I’ve started recording all my videos taken on my iPhone in Hyperlapse, and it’s basically indistinguishable from steady cam rigs costing much, much more than my iPhone. Hyperlapse isn’t integrated with Apple’s built-in camera app and does require additional processing time after you’ve recorded your footage, but those are small sacrifices to make for perfectly smooth video. Hyperlapse is so good, I often wonder how it’s even possible. The only thing it doesn’t do is prevent you from taking vertical videos.

Hyperlapse is free, on the App Store.

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Friday Morning News

Procreate Pocket iconApple raised $20 million for AIDS research, as revealed by Re/code. Apple’s holiday campaign as part of World AIDS Day offered apps and exclusive in-app purchases, as well as holiday specials in its Retail and Online Stores. They then donated the proceeds from App Store sales to the Global Fund for AIDS research, with a portion of Retail and Online Store sales also going towards the fund. Tim Cook’s email to employees points out the magnitude of Apple’s achievements this year — but all in all, $20 million is a fair chunk of change for something that annoyed a few users.

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Thursday Morning News

IMG_7643Federico Viticci’s list of must-have iPad apps this year runs through apps he uses to get things done, and the sheer fact the vast majority of them are productivity-related is a testament to the fact you can get things done on iOS devices, if you really want to. That said, there’s a few apps that are about consumption, which is good news for the rest of us, as well as all-round useful apps that doesn’t involve complex URL schemes or incredibly powerful workflows. Macworld put together a list of their favourite iOS apps of 2014, too.

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Wednesday Morning News

apple-studio-display-primary-100536086-largeThrown out. That’s the final word from the iTunes DRM antitrust case that’s been ten years in the making, with the eight-man jury deciding iTunes 7.0 was an improvement, and thus finding in favour of Apple when it came to deciding if the company had acted anti-competitively. For the record, iTunes 7.0 did block competing DRM systems from working with iPods, but it all worked out alright in the end, and now Apple doesn’t have to pay a cool billion in damages.

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Tuesday Morning News

apple-gift-backpack-1According to my sources, it’s the Apple litigation season. Apple’s appeal of last year’s ebooks anti-competitive ruling begun yesterday. The story so far is that Apple was found guilty of asking publishers to switch from a wholesale pricing scheme to an agency model, and Apple also negotiated a deal where publishers weren’t allowed to offer a better deal than those offered to Apple. Apple’s argument is based on the premise all this actually made for better competition, seeing as eBook pricing was already dominated by one retailer, Amazon.

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Monday Morning News

zorlucenter_heroAs we enter the last week of news for 2014, the Apple year in review from Ars Technica tells us about all the announcements and game-changing product categories that Apple had this year. From the announcement of the unreleased Apple Watch to fresh new iterations of Apple’s mobile and desktop operating systems and the biggest iPhone ever, it’s been a pretty good year for Apple as whole.

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Friday Morning News

apple_watch_1995Rumour has it the Apple Watch will enter mass production in January, confirming previous rumours which said the same. The report claims an initial production run of between three and five million units — to put that into perspective, anywhere between 60 and 80 million iPhone 6 units were manufacturing during its initial run.

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Thursday Morning News

retention-insurance-app-mobilefirst-01After announcing a partnership with IBM earlier this year, Apple has released the first set of apps designed for business and the enterprise. They probably won’t be of any interest to you, but they’re nice looking apps that mean businesses don’t have to build their own in-house solutions to common problems. The Apple press release has more info on the apps.

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Wednesday Morning News

iphone-3d-gui-patent-02Apple has released iOS 8.1.2, which includes minor fixes for bugs. One in particular highlighted by Apple is an issue where ringtones purchased through the iTunes Store may have been removed from your device, and Apple provides a link to a webpage which, weirdly enough, links to the iTunes Store on Macs, but has instructions on restoring tones when view from an iOS device. If you’re on your Mac, you can view Apple’s support page on restoring ringtones right over here.

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Tuesday Morning News

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 9.39.29 amApple’s Best of 2014 list has all the best and most downloaded music, TV shows, movies, apps, and books. The Loop has the list of all the albums, artists, and individual songs that made the cut, and on the iOS side of things, Elevate’s Brain Training takes out the top spot for iPhone app of the year, while Threes was crowned iPhone game of the year. And on the iPad, the excellent Pixelmator is the iPad app of the year, with Monument Valley taking home the award for iPad game of the year — there doesn’t seem to be a way to link to the Best of 2014 lists on the iTunes Store, but you can visit them by tapping or clicking on the banners in an iTunes Store near you.

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