Apple and the App Store turn (RED) in the fight against AIDS

Unless you're someone who absolutely detests app updates, you've probably noticed a decent handful apps suddenly turning "RED". Don't worry, if you spend any amount of time in the App Store at all this week, you won't miss it.

In support for World AIDS Day 2014, Apple has partnered with (RED), donating a portion of sales on Black Friday to the Global Fund in the fight against AIDS. It's a pretty clever use of the largest shopping day of the year, if you ask me. On Cyber Monday, all sales of Apple products will go towards the Global Fund. Now that's impressive.

You'll also find that 25 apps, from Angry Birds to Clash of Clans, have updated with exclusive content to support (RED). From now until Dec. 7, for every purchase of one of the participating apps (or any purchase of the (RED) in-app content), all proceeds will go toward the Global Fund as well.

 My App Store updates on Sunday.

My App Store updates on Sunday.

If you haven't played it already, I highly recommend Monument Valley. It's a beautiful, entertaining game that's well worth its price.

Or if you want something that will stick, try Threes, a far-superior, more polished version of 2048. In fact, even comparing it to 2048 does a disgrace to the care and thoughtfulness put into this app.

Anyway, (RED) is great cause and helping kids in Africa couldn't be easier. For a full list of participating apps, iTunes has you covered.


Source: Apple

The Apple Watch is a first generation product with a heart of gold

Announced back in September alongside the iPhone 6, the Apple Watch has been quite the talk of the tech community since Apple unveiled their foray into the smart-watch realm.

Aside from the little demos Apple has given to the press and public, not much has been known about how the Apple Watch will actually work for developers—until now. Known as WatchKit, the development platform and guidelines are now available from Apple. For first time, we are now able to dig a little deeper into Apple's new platform. Diving into the myriad of documents and guidelines released by Apple reveals a number of new facts about the Apple Watch.

One of the most interesting things I found on Apple's WatchKit page is that Apple Watch apps come in two components: the WatchKit extension and the UI elements installed on the watch. According to The Verge, who delved extensively deep into Apple's new development guidelines, an iPhone will be mandatory to use Apple Watch apps. Apparently, the watch won't have much function without being connected to an iPhone, especially in regards to third-party apps. This is because most of the processing power is done by the user's iPhone, which then sends information back and forth to the watch, according to The Verge.

Unfortunately, Apple stated in their press release that fully native Apple Watch apps won't be coming till next year. This means that for the time being, all Apple Watch apps must be extension functions of iPhone apps, which is probably what most people expect anyway.

For right now, third-party WatchKit apps will have three primary functions:

  1. A full app UI that users can launch and interact with
  2. Provide read-only glances of information to the user
  3. Show actionable notifications the user can interact with from their watch

The last thing of interest was that any and all maps that third-party developers show to a user on the watch are only static, according to the Verge. This means they can't be interacted with, only acted upon. This reveals an interesting design choice on Apple's part: to minimize confusion by limiting how a user might interact with such potentially dense information on their wrist, such as a map.

Overall, it seems like Apple is playing it safe with this first round of development tools. Though there is certainly room for improvement and complexity for the Apple Watch in the future, I think Apple knows this is still a first-generation products. It's going to have its kinks. Think about the first iPad or the first iPhone. Neither of those products were the stunners they are today. Apple is starting with another clean slate with the Apple Watch. It might not be the most exciting product at first, but I highly doubt Apple will give up on this thing so easily.


Sources:
The Verge
Apple WatchKit
Apple Press Release
Image couresty of Apple

Day One — Journaling in the Twitter age

We’ve all been there. You’ve had a rough day, you’re ready to vent. You open up your Facebook/Twitter page and just type it out, to get it out of your system.

Unfortunately, this habit of simply spilling your emotional guts across social media isn’t just juvenile, it also paints a poor public picture of yourself. Unless you’re diligent about deleting your late-night rants or soliloquies, those posts are up for anyone to read at any time. Even still, there is no guarantee that those posts are gone from the internet forever.

Emotional venting is normal for nearly every human on the face of the Earth. The difference is the avenue we choose to do said venting. Back in the day, there was this thing called journaling. A pen and paper (preferably a notebook) was all that was need to write away the day’s stresses and struggles. With the rise of the internet and blogging, writing words on paper is slowly becoming a lost art.

That’s why app developer Bloom made Day One, the journaling app for the twitter age. Available for Mac OS X and iOS devices, Day One is a beautifully designed app that can potentially change the way you record life’s happenings.

As someone who still enjoys keeping a physical journal, Day One first struck me as a bit redundant. I wasn’t sure how it was going to fit in my life. But then it clicked.

Every time I had a thought or something happened in my day that struck a chord with me—positively or negatively—I opened Day One, wrote it down and then put my phone back in my pocket. Overtime, Day One became my own personal Twitter of sorts. I could look back through my entries and see how I was feeling at that given moment.

The app also allows you to add photos to each entry. Though I prefer just keeping it text based, I’m glad the feature is there. While the amount of times I use it in a given week or month often fluctuates, I’m looking forward to seeing the collection I acquire over time.

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At $4.99 on iOS and $9.99 on OS X, the price may seem a bit steep for those used to $0.99 or free apps. However, the price is more than worth it. You’ll never get annoyed by ads or be begged to spend money on the app. It’s clean and simple. You get what you pay for, and in this case it’s an excellent piece of software.

While I haven’t used the OS X desktop app, I do know the interface is mostly the same. Having both apps also means you can take advantage of the seamless syncing in Day One across all your devices.

Journaling is a practice best perfected through repetition. The reward that comes from consistency only improves with time. Thanks to Day One’s friendly design, achieving that consistency becomes much easier. The app can also be set to remind you to develop the habit.

Turn those Twitter rants into a personal micro-journal. This way, you’ll save yourself a world of regret the next time a potential employee skims through your social media posts. I made the switch, and I’m immeasurably better off for it.


Here are App Store links for both Mac and iOS versions:

iOS

Mac OS X