Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Google Adding Transparency to In-App Purchase Prices


According to Google, price ranges for in-app purchase will be listed on their detail pages within the Play store –including those fees payable for virtual products and subscriptions. Recent changes had already indicated whether in-app purchases were present within each title, but this takes it a thankful step further.

I expect reactions to this change will be mixed. In some cases it may be detrimental to developers who give apps away at freemium prices, only to (hopefully) engage users with amazing and useful apps that they then have a captive audience ready to purchase virtual goods and services. It may also benefit those developers, with users realizing ahead of time that they can eliminate the ads within an app for a mere $0.99 (as an example).

Of course, these added details may not be that helpful unless the listings are descriptive. For a game that lets you purchase virtual currency, the pricing may read something like: $1-99 (quite the range).

Apple is likely paying close attention to these changes being made by Google –having also been legally attacked recently for unintended in-app purchases that were made by their users (particularly parents).

Will seeing the in-app purchase prices make you more or less likely to download a particular app?

Google Adding Transparency to In-App Purchase Prices is a post from: Good e-Reader

Major Fruit Ninja Update Coming in Early October


Fruit Ninja is one of those games that is cleverly simple but difficult to master; it is face-paced enough to keep you engaged, but quick enough to play it easily passes the time in waiting rooms. Fans of the existing ‘swipe and slice’ styling may be excited to discover that the game is being rebuilt from the ground up in early October, with a fresh user interface and new menu.

Describing the upcoming upgrades, the developers at Halfbrick stated:

The team has thrown away the tired menu and UI designs, ensuring the steps between playing, equipping new gear, and using social features are all streamlined. Before starting each game, players can equip different Blades and Dojos, which were previously cosmetic only. Now, almost every item will have a unique effect on gameplay, which has effectively broken the score ceiling and added an exponential amount of depth and strategy to slicing. For example, the Great Wave dojo periodically spawns ten fruit at once, and the Autumn Blade creates a fruit-swirling tornado with every pineapple sliced. Players can mix and match their favorites, and leaderboard entries will display which combination of items were used.”

Sure there will be more fruit, fancier weapons, and even a few new challenges to master… but it’s a bit of a gamble. Good advice usually suggests that you shouldn’t mess with a good thing –does this popular game need more sophistication or should they have left well enough alone (while perhaps creating a second similar, but updated, title ala Angry Birds style)?

If you haven’t yet experienced the fun of Fruit Ninja, download the current version –so you have an educated opinion that allows you to appreciate (or hate) the new version in a few weeks.

Major Fruit Ninja Update Coming in Early October is a post from: Good e-Reader

Kobo Disables eBook Downloading

kobo ebooks

Barnes and Noble experienced a maelstrom of negative publicity last week when it was revealed that they have disabled the ability to download eBooks. Many readers alluded that this would be the final nail in the coffin and a great reason to switch to another online retailer. You might want to think twice about dealing with Kobo as we have breaking news that they also are not allowing customers to download key eBook titles.

Kobo is a company that has developed their own variation on standard ePubs called KePub . They have added a database (SQLite) that helps them read and manage books that come from their bookstore or another bookstore that has adopted their format.

We have heard from many users that if you buy an eBook, where KePub is the only format available, it won't download to your PC and while it will appear on your Kobo reader, it doesn’t show up in the files if you connect the device to the PC in attempt to load the book into Calibre. It is also not available to download on the main Kobo website, where you can access all of the books in your library. This makes it very difficult for the average reader trying to back up their books.

Kobo Disables eBook Downloading is a post from: Good e-Reader

New Kindle Software Features Coming Soon

Last week when Amazon officially announced the new Kindle models for this year, they also revealed some interesting new software features that will be coming out soon. The new Kindle ereaders, and presumably the Kindle Paperwhite since it’s not going anywhere, are getting family sharing, enhanced search, more advanced info with About a Book, access […]

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AT&T Offers 1 Free Year of Amazon Prime

at&t amazon prime

AT&T will be offering customers one free year of Amazon Prime with the purchase of their new internet program. The new offer also comes with a subscription to HBO and AT&T's version of basic cable for a one-year intro rate of $39 per month. This arrangement makes sense for Amazon as it tries to build a viable streaming video competitor to Netflix, pushing both new content and a huge archive of old HBO shows, which its rival doesn't have.

Amazon has been offering 3G versions of their e-readers since 2007, with the advent of the first Kindle. The internet access is provided by AT&T, and allows customers to purchase books in hundreds of different countries with no extra fees. The new Fire Phone, which came out a few months ago is an AT&T exclusive, with no options to save money and bundle it on another carrier.

Here is how the new internet package by AT&T works. In order to get the $39-per-month rate, you’ll need to sign on for an entire year of service. There is a $49 activation fee and a $99 installation fee, in addition to renting the digital box for $9.99 a month. If you decide to leave before those twelve months are up, and you’ll have to pay a hefty $180 termination fee.

If you decide to take the plunge and indulge in television over the internet you will get a one year subscription to Amazon Prime. This not only includes their much hyped video service, but also free two day shipping, a free eBook every month and access to Amazon Prime Music.

AT&T Offers 1 Free Year of Amazon Prime is a post from: Good e-Reader

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World Maker Faire New York — a report direct from the Americas

Rachel and Clive spent the weekend with the Pimoroni crew at the World Maker Faire New York. Here is the news report that they telegrammed via Cyrus W. Field's magnetic transatlantic telegraph cable.

They call Maker Faire the "Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth" and  they're probably right. Certainly there's nothing on Earth that can prepare you for it, it's that different. 2014-09-20 13.27.08

It starts even before you get there. Riding the E train in from Manhattan you can play "Spot who's going to Maker Faire". It's pretty easy: they have this look of happy anticipation and glee that sets them apart from the people just going to work or to their proctologist. (OK, so some of them are dressed in robot suits made out of takeaway containers or have Asimov/Yoda/Spock quotes tattooed on their calves: there are no bonus points for picking those people out.) But it's no geek meet: it’s refreshing to see huge numbers of school and family groups there as well as the usual suspects.



As you near the New York Hall of Science the buzz of the crowd is augmented by not-your-everyday sounds: exploding food, crackling Tesla coils and a 51ft long, pedal-powered crocodile blaring out "Soul man". The site is huge, taking at least three days just to get to the toilet and back*.

Mo from Five Ninjas talked constantly for 2 days without a single break

Mo from Five Ninjas talked constantly for 2 days without a single break

The Raspberry Pi stand proved as popular as ever and we talked to hundreds of young people, educators, makers and parents. What was interesting was the increased awareness of the Raspberry Pi as a tool for making and learning. Last year, common questions were "What's that?" or "What does it do?" Now the majority of people wanted to know how to use the Pi to do specific things; or how to move on from the basics; or how to use it in education.


Rachel talking about digital creativity

Rachel talking about digital creativity

We were also delighted to see the Raspberry Pi used in so many projects and products around the show and want to thank all of the folk using it, especially those who we didn't manage to speak to on our whistle-stop tour of the Faire. Cheers!

2014-09-20 17.07.31



The exhibits and demonstrations at Maker Faire are as eclectic as it comes. Some of the stuff is fun and some serious. Some are thought provoking and some simply silly (we like silly). But as a whole it's testament to creativity, ingenuity, invention, engineering, whimsy and science. Best of all, making things has learning built in.


The Hall of Science was built as part of the 1964 New York World’s Fair, a theme of which was “Man’s achievement on a shrinking globe in an expanding universe”. Looking at some of the amazing things I've seen over the past weekend it's clear that this sentiment is even more fitting than ever.




[*This may have just been me. The night before I left for New York for Maker Faire, a giant skeleton ninja shimmied over my wall and sowed the back yard with poisoned giant skeleton ninja caltrops. Ten minutes before my taxi arrived I stepped on one of them. Inoculated to a depth of 10mm with every bacterium known to science I set off for the airport and two days of dragging a foot the size and toastiness of a well-fed coypu. (N.B. The caltrops may have been a needle sharp, week-old lamb neck bone that my brother's dog had been gnawing on. The effect was the same.)]