About the Author

Zach Kahn

@zkahn94

Hey, I’m Zach. I contribute my thoughts on apps, gaming, social media, and wearable technology here at 9to5Mac and over at 9to5Google. Here are a few of my favorite apps.

The Best Mac Apps

  • Byword is my favorite app for writing. It’s got a very clean interface that lets you focus on what you’re writing and it syncs your work across its iPhone and iPad apps flawlessly with iCloud. When you upgrade to Premium for $4.99, Byword also supports publishing to WordPress and Tumblr right from within the app.
  • Things and Clear are my go-to apps for task management. Things is great for reminding you to stay on top of larger projects like writing a piece for 9to5Mac or scheduling an interview with an app developer. Clear, on the other hand, is great for quick to-do’s like checking items off a grocery list or buying books from Amazon.
  • Airmail‘s the best way to achieve ‘inbox zero.’ It’s basically Sparrow, but new features and bug fixes are added regularly.
  • Tweetbot is the best Twitter client around. It’s got support for Pocket, my favorite read-it-later service, and syncs your read position or status of your timeline and direct messages across its iPhone and iPad apps with iCloud.

The Best iPhone Apps

  • I’m no photographer by any means but I love browsing Instagram. Follow me @zkahn94 to see my shots!
  • Thinglist is hands-down the best note-taking app for iPhone. Thinglist categorizes your thoughts by topic so that you can easily enter and retrieve your notes. You can filter notes by food, book, movie, idea, and a handful of other categories. It’s insanely great.
  • Track 8 is a unique music player that’s built upon the Metro design language popularized by many of Microsoft’s current products. It’s flashy, but functional. If you’re looking for something radically different than Apple’s built-in music player, this is your app.

If you’re working on an app and would like a detail-oriented beta tester with an eye for good design, I’m your guy. Shoot me an email at zach@9to5mac.com to get in touch and be sure to follow me on Twitter @zkahn94.

Zach Kahn's Favorite Gear

August 13, 2013

VEVO and VEVO HD receive full AirPlay support ahead of rumored Apple TV app

Music video service VEVO just pushed out an update to its apps for iPhone and iPad that allows users to stream both audio and video from an AirPlay-enabled device to an Apple TV. Previously the app only supported AirPlay audio. It’s an interesting move considering the rumors that VEVO is building its own app for Apple TV set to launch sometime later this month.

According to a recent report by Advertising Age, VEVO’s Apple TV app is supposed to feature a “lean-back” version of VEVO, with programmed channels, but will also feature on-demand programming. The app will allow users to watch VEVO TV, which the company describes as “a 24/7 channel of music videos, live performances, and original shows from VEVO’s massive library – made by music lovers for music lovers, no algorithms allowed.” VEVO already has apps on a variety of competing devices, including the Xbox 360 and Roku Web TV box.

For what it’s worth, HBO GO received an update allowing audio and video AirPlay mirroring just two months before the app made its debut on Apple TV.

VEVO (iPhone) and VEVO HD (iPad) are available free of charge.

August 10, 2013

Apple iPhone Becomes Available Through Verizon Wireless

According to a report by AllThingsD, Apple will debut its latest iPhone lineup during a special event on September 10th, just a month from today. The report doesn’t specify as to which models will be announced at the event, but if rumors are to be believed, we may see the highly anticipated iPhone 5S as well as a new, low-cost iPhone 5C.

There’s been much speculation as to when exactly Apple will unveil its latest lineup as the company has been unusually quiet about new products over the last year. Many are also wondering whether or not Apple will break its traditional iPhone lineup (introducing a new iPhone and shuffling older models down to lower price points) or if it will in fact produce a cheaper, plastic iPhone to cater to demands for Apple to enter new, lower-cost markets.

We’re excited to see what the company has in store for this event as well as what they’ve been planning for new product categories. While the report doesn’t postulate the appearance of an entirely new product category, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has expressed a deep interest in both wearable technologies, given credibility to the rumored iWatch, as well as the television.

August 2, 2013

ChAIR employee’s LinkedIn profile hints at possible Infinity Blade 3

First spotted by Kotaku, it appears that Epic Games, developer of the Gears of War series for Xbox 360 and the Unreal Engine used to power many console and mobile games, may be working on an additional Infinity Blade sequel appropriately titled “Infinity Blade 3 for iPhone.” According to a Senior QA Tester’s LinkedIn profile, Epic’s iOS publishing arm, ChAIR, looks to be in the midst of either development or beta testing for a new Infinity Blade title to follow the studio’s last release, Infinity Blade II.

A prequel to the popular series entitled Infinity Blade: Dungeons was demonstrated by Epic Games at Apple’s iPad (3) with Retina Display announcement earlier last year, but the title still has yet to see the light of day. Infinity Blades: Dungeons was expected to launch sometime in the later half of 2012, but the company pushed back development of the title and then officially canceled the project earlier this year, squashing little remaining hope for the action-RPG’s eventual release.

Kotaku reports that major changes have been afoot at Epic Games since Chinese internet giant Tencent acquired a 40 percent stake in June 2012. Such a change in Epic’s management may have pushed back development of certain titles and may have even been responsible for Impossible Games (the studio responsible for Infinity Blade: Dungeons development) closure earlier this year. Tencent is often associated with an assortment of freemium titles, so many have wondered if Epic couldn’t find a way to bring such a model to Infinity Blade: Dungeons or if it may show up in a future release in the series. A freemium model would put the pay-to-play series in the same position as Real Racing 3, which was originally a pay-to-play title but then turned to a freemium model when the series’ developer Firemint was acquired by EA.

ChAIR has been unusually quiet since the release of the final content pack for Infinity Blade II last August, but Kotaku believes that the development of Infinity Blade 3 may be more of a reality than rumor due to nods from the company’s newly appointed Community Manager, Hilary Goldstein. In his first blog post as Community Manager, Goldstein hinted that fans may see a new tile in the coming months. If that’s true, we may actually see Infinity Blade 3 demoed alongside Apple’s latest hardware come this fall as with previous installments in the series. It’s also interesting to note that iOS7 will officially support third-party game controllers, and although the Infinity Blade is known for its touch-and-slash gameplay, we could see suport for more traditional controls as well.

July 31, 2013

Twine enters mobile dating app arena with unique location, conversation features

Sourcebits, a popular app studio that’s worked with Coca Cola, GE, and Hersheys, believes they’ve created a unique network that will fundamentally change the way you meet and converse with the people around you. It’s called Twine and unlike the current players in the mobile dating space, Twine emphasizes your interests and the conversations derived from those interests instead of your appearance. While the app doesn’t guarantee that you’ll find your perfect match, it does put a refreshing spin on the traditional dating game by imposing certain restrictions on how you can meet and interact with people.

For starters, Twine places you in an automatic queue when you first launch the app so as to keep the entire network balanced at a consistent one-to-one ratio. In other words, for every man (interested in women)  accepted into Twine, a woman (interested in men) is accepted as well. The same formula applies for those who are interested in the same sex; if a man (interested in men) is accepted, so to is another man (interested in men). It’s a smart mechanic for three reasons, the first of which is that it will undoubtedly ensure every person has at least one other person to talk on the network. It also ups the exclusivity factor of the network, making it appear as more of a private club than a dating service. Lastly, the queue protects Twine’s network from being ‘infected’ with a plethora of spambots, which many other networks often fall viticm to.

Twine also employs a unique, patent-pending algorithm Sourcebits referes to as ICE (Intelligent Conversation Enhancer). This attempts to create the most compatible local connections based on a combination of interests and proximity. Twine detects your location with respect to other users by simply pulling your iPhone’s geolocation. The app then connects that information with your interests (from Facebook) so that each connection maintains more than one commonality. In my limited testing, the app connected me with other users that had several common interests, including mutual favorite TV shows, movies, and books.

Lastly, Twine puts conversations first by blurring user photos and name until both parties are comfortable with unveiling their identity. Tapping on the ‘Reveal Now’ button will send a request to the participating user offering them to view their partnersface and name, as well as reveal their own. Sourcebits says, “this allows users to focus on connecting first rather than superficially basing their decision to engage on a profile photo. Flirt first, reveal later.”

Unfortunately, for more flirtatious users, Twine sets a limit on the amount of outgoing and ingoing twines you can both send and recieve to three per day so as to focus each user on creating and maintaining meaningful conversations with other users. Twine helps you in this regard by suggesting unique topics to talk about based on respective interests. If, however, you are a particularly smooth talker, you can earn a bonus Twine to talk to a fourth person that day. It’s an interesting break from most all other traditional dating apps, which almost ironically place emphasis on one’s appearance. For that reason, Twine may have a good shot and capturing a reasonable amount of marketshare from an already fairly crowded space.

Twine requires a Facebook account to sign-up, which may irk some users but it requires Facebook’s info to power almost all of its functionality. On the whole, Twine does what it promises and is therefore well worth a try. The app will match you with relatable strangers to start an interesting conversation as advertised, but it won’t fundamentally change the way you date online.

You can download Twine on your iPhone or Android smartphone for free today.

July 29, 2013

As first noted by MacRumors, Apple TV customers will be pleased to know that the $99 “hockey puck” will soon fully support Netflix’s newly announced user profiles. While Netflix says that a complete rollout to all supported devices will be complete by the end of August, it appears that the feature is partially available today for certain Apple TV and Netflix users.

Netflix’s user profiles allow subscribers to create personal viewing accounts that track individual ratings, recently viewed movies/showes, and recommendations. Each account can also set different parental controls to differentiate viewing capabilities between parent and child accounts.

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July 26, 2013

After being offline for more than a week, Apple’s Developer Center is back. Access to the portal was removed by Apple after it was discovered that a breach into the system granted individuals access to the names, mailing addresses, and email addresses of registered developers. Apple confirmed that sensitive personal data such as credit card information and developer passwords were encrypted and secure.

The Developer Center looks the same as it was prior to its removal, but we assume Apple has followed through with its promise to overhaul the entire system by updating its server software and rebuilding its databases from scratch so as to prevent another intrusion.

While most of the main developer services have returned, Apple is still in the process of restoring the entire portal to normal. Some areas of the site such as the forums, pre-release documentation, and development videos, are still offline as per Apple’s System Status page.

Apple has also emailed developers with this new information:

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Ashton Kutcher’s thoughts on playing Steve Jobs and the wider tech landscape [Video]

Ashton Kutcher, the star of the upcoming jOBS biopic, a film about the late Steve Jobs and his life before the launch of the iPod, sat down with The Verge’s Joshua Topolsky to talk about all things tech. In their 20 minute conversation, the two talk about Kutcher’s physical and intellectual investment in technology and tech culture.

Topolsky starts off the interview asking Kutcher about how his interest in tech originated, to which Kutcher admits that he was tasked with programing Fortran in college, but wasn’t even sure how to use his email. Kutcher was then inspired by a comment from his professor who said to Kutcher, “scientists discover problems, engineers solve them.” From there, Kutcher wanted to “grow up to be someone that solved problems.”

Topolsky also asked Kutcher about both his positive and almost infamously negative experiences with Twitter. Topolsky recalls when Kutcher was one of the most popular celebrities on Twitter or, as he puts it, ‘the Twitter evangelist.’ Kutcher explains that while he used to post things a bit more freely than he does now, he’s still big on the network and enjoys some (but markedly less) conversations that happen on Twitter.

Perhaps even more interesting, however, is Kutcher’s thoughts on how people are now more willing to retweet things now that Twitter has made it easier to do so. He says, “You used to type ‘RT’ and then whatever the thing is , which actually had friction in it. You had to copy and paste something, put in ‘RT’ and then repost it. And the friction that existed there caused people only to retweet things that had enough value that they were willing to put the work into doing the syntax to actually retweet it.” It’s a fascinating observation and perhaps entirely true for a great extent of Twitter’s users.

Topolsky wraps up the conversation by asking Kutcher about his preparation for the role of Steve Jobs in the upcoming biopic. Topolsky says “it’s kind of an egotistical move to say ‘I’m going to play Steve Jobs in a movie,” but Kutcher says it was never about being Steve Jobs, but rather more about portraying his character.

Kutcher then goes into detail about the whole preparation process which included creating a 14 hour SoundCloud file with various Steve Jobs presentations, learning to think about Steve’s motives to perform certain actions throughout his life, and lastly practicing Steve’s unique look, walk, and voice.

You can watch the full video by The Verge up above. jOBS hits theaters August 11th.

July 25, 2013

“How can we create high quality, easy-to-use software for both professional and novice DJs?”

That’s the question that inspired co-founders Karim and Christoph to make Algoriddim’s djay, the award-winning music production software. At the time, DJ software was extremely expensive and complex, but the pair were determined to create meaningful change in an industry they were both tremendously passionate about. While they both enjoyed the art of scratching, in between attending classes and studying for exams at college, the two had vastly different skill levels.

Karim was the expert. With ten years of experience under his belt, Karim had his fair share of knowledge about the industry and had used some of the most popular DJ software available. But with every gig he played, Karim found each solution clunky and downright confounding. He could manage, as digital software proved to have a superior functionality compared to his old analog favorites, but the situation wasn’t even close to ideal.

Christoph, on the other hand, had an extraordinary admiration for DJing, but didn’t have the experience or expertise of his buddy Karim. No matter what software he tried, Christoph was often puzzled as most professional software featured an overwhelming set of controls and required an insanely high level of manual skill, which made performing all the more difficult.

As such, the duo wanted to make something new; software that they and similar people could both use. expand full story

July 19, 2013

Despite Microsoft’s disastrous quarterly earnings report, in which it took a $900M writedown on discounted Surfaces, the company has just pushed out a new ad for its Surface v. iPad campaign.

As with its previous advertisements, Microsoft bashes the iPad’s inability to perform certain tasks that the Surface is specifically designed to handle. This particular ad highlights the iPad’s lack of built-in back stand, USB port, and keyboard accessory, all of which are not built-in to or included with the iPad.

Interestingly, in this ad, the Siri-inspired voiceover says, “This isn’t going to end well for me, is it? Nope definitely not ending well,” which is particularly intriguing given yesterday’s financial results. As evidenced by these results, it would appear that Microsoft’s Surface is  in a precarious position, and not Apple’s iPad. expand full story

July 18, 2013

Ruby for Reddit: A simple client for iPhone [Review]

Today, HalfPeeled has released a third party client for Reddit, Ruby for Reddit, that makes the already unique experience of browsing the community-based entertainment website extremely simple. The company, which is headed up by WWDC Student Scholarship recipient Nate Chiger, is also responsible for the neat panoramic photo sharing app, PanoPerfect, as well as a few other interesting apps that are worth checking out. Before we jump into the app’s functionality, let’s take a moment to talk a bit about Reddit. If you’re already familiar with what Reddit is, feel free to skip this paragraph below and jump down to the review.

For those who are unfamiliar, Reddit is a social news website that empowers users to submit content in the form of a text or link post and vote on the best submitted content. Often referred to as “the front page of the Internet,” Reddit prompts users to actively engage in ‘up voting’ or ‘down voting’ submissions so that the greatest, most interesting content can rise to the top of the page. In doing so, the site encourages users to submit all sorts of posts — from world news to cat .gifs — so that the site and its community can vote and subsequently engage in conversation about almost anything there is to talk about. In doing so, Reddit has formed its own unique culture and community that have shed some light on incredible stories and have even given way to powerful, life-changing actions. Reddit has no barrier to entry (other than signing up for an account) and can make even the most slow days seem interesting. In short, if you haven’t yet perused the site or don’t already have an account, you should probably check it out and sign up for one free of charge. It’ll certainly make this review a whole lot more interesting.

Now that you’re all caught up on Reddit, let’s get back to the app. Ruby for Reddit features a extremely simple and familiar user interface that puts Reddit’s content at the center. You can switch between different subreddits (groups on Reddit based on categories) and pages by tapping on the top bar or by swiping out the navigation panel, much like the official Facebook app. You can also view images inline and pinch to see content in full screen. There are even some custom fonts for you to choose from and a dark mode that makes viewing posts easier at night.

HalfPeeled has also included a ‘Pro’ mode (unlocked via in-app purchase) that lets you submit quick posts to Reddit and hide the status bar from view. You can get by without purchasing the Pro mode, but it’s there for users who enjoy using the app and are looking for some extra customization.

All in all, Ruby for Reddit is an extremely straightforward alternative to the official Reddit app, which doesn’t offer many customization options or other additional functionality. HalfPeeled may have to add some features to better compete with other third party Reddit clients like Alien Blue, as well as tweak some of the design elements to prepare for iOS 7’s redesign, but for version one, Ruby for Reddit is great client that many users will enjoy. You can download Ruby for Reddit (iPhone only) free on the App Store here.

July 12, 2013

eBay releases eBay Exact for iOS, an app to order 3D-printed products on-the-go

eBay has just released a new app for iOS that will allow customers to customize select products to be manufactured using 3D printing technology. As per its description, the app allows you to select a from a pre-determined list of available products, choose a design, and then further customize that specific item for yourself or someone else.

Customers can choose from a variety of materials including plastics, woods, and metals to create anything from personalized iPhone cases to figurines or even jewelry. The company notes that there is no limit to the amount of products you can customize and print.

eBay is relying on partnerships with established 3D printing companies to back its program including Makerbot, Sculpteo, and Hot Pop Factory. The app, eBay Exact, can be downloaded from the App Store today free of charge.

July 11, 2013

iOS gaming news two-pack: Deus Ex disables shooting with jailbreak and Rovio Stars releases Tiny Thief

Today in iOS gaming news, Rovio’s publishing label, Rovio Stars, released their latest title on the App Store dubbed Tiny Thief. Following in the success of the publisher’s first title, Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage, which debuted on the App Store only a few weeks ago, Tiny Thief  puts players in control of a cartoon-styled thief with the ability to sneak and steal in order to solve a variety of puzzles and defeat enemies. Based on the promotional video, it appears players can interact with the game’s background in order to solve unique, location-based missions throughout the side-scrolling adventure. We haven’t gotten our hands on it just yet, but you can download the universal title from the App Store for $2.99.

In other news, we reported earlier that Deus Ex: The Fall, a new story set in the world of Square Enix’s popular PC game Deus Ex: Human Revolution, would hit the iOS App Store today for $6.99.

It appears that after the game was released to the public this afternoon, many players are having trouble running the game on a jailbroken device. Kotaku reports that playing the game on either a jailbroken iPhone or iPad will block the ability for players to use the game’s trigger functionality, one of the most crucial controls of the game.

“Encountered by Redditor KipEnyan and verified by several user reviews in the app store, jailbroken players starting up the first mobile installment of the Deus Ex series are treated to a few cutscenes and a movement tutorial before running into the message above. It comes up during the game’s shooting tutorial, and while one would assume players could still stealth through the game, I’m not sure they can progress beyond that point without tranquilizing those guards.”

While the move may have been the developer’s only option to combat piracy on iOS devices, it probably would’ve been best to give mention of the restriction in the app’s description on the App Store so that players would be informed of the measure before purchase.

There is a way to get around the jailbreak detection, though. A free tweak available in Cydia called xCon is designed to cut off apps’ ability to determine if a phone has been jailbroken. Installing xCon will let you use the app that you paid for with no ridiculous restrictions while maintaining all of the customization options of a jailbroken device.

June 21, 2013

‘Serious’ Game developers getting tripped up by rules and regs of Apple’s App Store

We’ve already detailed iOS 7’s support for MFi hardware game controllers as well as enhancements to in-game leaderboards, new turn-based game modes, and even new security measures to curb cheating, but with all of these great new additions to the  platform we often wonder, ‘what really goes in to making a great iOS game?’ Moreover, while Apple’s App Store is designed to foster independent creativity and allow for any developer with a vision and talent to make it to the top of the charts, why is it that we often see the same old games flood the Top Paid and Top Free categories?

Polygon’s Tracey Lien asked the same question and gives us a handful of great insights into the world of iOS game development. It turns out that, with Apple’s strict App Store policies, making a game isn’t as easy as some might think. In her feature, Lien states that a number of ‘serious games’ have recently been rejected by Apple due to violating the App Store’s guidelines. This would appear to be business as usual as we’ve seen a plethora of apps — both games and otherwise — rejected from the App Store for violating the stringent guidelines, but Lien claims that many of the developers she spoke to have found the policies that they’ve been charged with violating often to be vague and/or completely subjective.

June 20, 2013

Apple & DOJ submit closing arguments as e-book price fixing trial comes to a close

After a three week debate between Apple and the U.S. Department of Justice, the controversial e-book price-fixing case concluded today with final summations at the U.S. District Court in Manhattan. As part of its last remarks, Apple presented a 136-slide deck describing its case against the DOJ in full detail underscoring its argument that they did not conspire with publishers to illegally fix e-book prices.

On the other side of the argument, the DOJ argues that Apple was the “ringmaster” of a plot to raise mainstream e-book pricing above Amazon’s pre-established $9.99 price point by moving the industry from a wholesale model to an agency model. In the proposed model, Apple granted retailers the ability to set prices much like Apple’s App Store. Like Apple, the DOJ provided a deck explaining their point of view. Both decks can be viewed below.

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote is expected to rule on the case in the coming weeks.

Tile: Track and find lost items via crowd-sourced iPhone app

I lose things all the time. My keys, wallet, and even my bike somehow find a way to escape my possession at least once or twice a week. Worse, there’s never a great solution to help me find the things I’m looking for. There’s no ‘Find My iPhone’ for a wallet, so whenever it goes missing, I’ll have to sift through my couch cushions or even call up one of my friends to see if I’ve left it at their house.

It’s not really a great solution, and it doesn’t always yield favorable results (like actually finding the item I’m looking for), but it’s the only good way I know how to find something I’ve lost. Recently (yes, recently), I lost my wallet again and I thought to myself that with an app for almost anything nowadays there must be a better way to find things I misplace.

Then I stumbled across Tile. Tile let’s you track items you often misplace using a slim, attachable tracking device and app for iOS. The neat part about Tile is that the iPhone app works via crowd-sourcing. If you lose your bike, for example, and another Tile user happens to be in the area of the Tile on your bike, you will be alerted. Read the press release below for more information:

June 19, 2013

Apple comments on $30 Million iPad deal with Los Angeles Unified School District

Along with their major update to Apple TV, Apple announced today that it has been granted approval from the Los Angeles School Board of Education to begin a massive iPad program starting this fall. The news was earlier reported by the LA Times.

The program will equip students across the nation’s second biggest school district with iPads that include the Pearson Common Core System of Courses delivered via a new app as part of the integrated solution. Additionally, each iPad will come preloaded with Apple’s iWork (Pages, Keynote, Numbers) and iLife (iMovie, iPhoto, GarageBand) suites in addition to a range of educational third-party apps. Apple notes that the $30 million commitment is only the first phase of a larger roll out for Los Angeles Schools.

“Education is in Apple’s DNA and we’re thrilled to work with Los Angeles Unified public schools on this major initiative as they plan to roll out iPads to every student across 47 campuses this fall,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “Schools around the world have embraced the engaging and interactive quality of iPad with nearly 10 million iPads already in schools today.”

For more details, check out the full press release below.

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Apple has just pushed out a massive update to its $95 set-top box that brings the much anticipated HBO GO and WatchESPN channels to the platform. According to the Apple press release, users will be able to watch content from HBO and ESPN directly from their Apple TV without the need for a direct cable subscription though “HBO GO on Apple TV requires a subscription to HBO through participating television providers” (thanks mom and dad!). HBO GO on Apple TV was reported by Bloomberg earlier this year while ESPN talks have been going on for over a year.

Video by Matthew:

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June 12, 2013

In what seems to be an announcement lost within the buzz of iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks (amongst other WWDC news), Apple will finally open up the iOS SDK to fully support hardware game controllers, enabling handheld-esque gaming experiences akin to the Nintendo 3DS and Playstation Vita on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

As with background apps downloads and new Directions APIs, Apple announced hardware controller support during Monday’s keynote address in one of those ‘things we added but didn’t have time to talk about’ slides (pictured above). The slide indicates that the iOS 7 SDK will support ‘MFi game controllers,’ which is a reference to Apple’s licensing program for third-party hardware accessories. Additionally, Touch Arcade points us to images from Apple’s iOS 7 Developer Guide showing a graphic of two controllers, strikingly similar to the Nintendo 3DS and Wii Classic Controller (from left to right), showing new methods of interacting with iOS via hardware buttons and joysticks. Moreover, we can’t help but notice that this announcement comes right off the heals of Tim Cook’s pledge at D11 to be ‘more open’ than before.

There are also a few other enhancements for gamers coming in iOS 7….Here’s how Apple explains the new Game Controller framework:

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June 6, 2013

Tango launches SDK to become the social layer of apps and games

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Tango, a mobile messaging and video calling app, has announced that it will open its platform to third-party developers in order to expand the service. The company, which now serves over 120 million members worldwide, plans to partner with third party developers in order to integrate its newly crafted software development kit (SDK) into its apps.

Tango states that by allowing third party apps to take advantage of their unique messaging and calling service, it can better serve as a unifying social layer amongst games and other apps. The company hopes that by doing so it can better reflect users’ real-world connections with friends and family and create gaming experiences akin to participating in the cliched family board game night than blankly staring down at a smartphone.

According to Tango CEO Eric Setton, users have been playing a massive amount of games within the app every month. “But we found that we can’t do everything we want to inside the app, in terms of putting out the most compelling content out there and presenting it to our members,” Setton explains. Much as Tango’s actual service, the SDK allows the third-party apps to connect with its network, retrieve a list of friends, and then allow those users to message each other using text, picture, and video. The SDK also includes support for social leaderboards, which show how users’ scores compare with friends and allow for both competitive and collaborative in-game mechanics.

Game developers have given the SDK a warm reception so far says Setton, because of its potential for increased app discovery. Gameloft will soon be releasing an app in called “Candy Block Breaker for Tango” on iOS, and that will be then followed by “JetPack Jinx for Tango,” developed by Bubble Gum Interactive. Developers like Gameloft and Bubble Gum Interactive who utilize Tango’s SDK will split revenues amongst the participating companies.

While  initial partnerships with Tango were specifically focused on mobile gaming, Tango’s SDK will be open to developers looking to to add the functionality to another app genre.

Building and opening an SDK is a massive step for Tango in its steady transformation from a simple video calling app to a mobile social network. If executed correctly, Tango’s SDK may be able to push the company into a position that could rival existing networks like Skype and Fringe. Time will tell if Tango’s investment into third party apps is the key to its own success.

Developers interested in Tango’s service can apply for access to the Tango SDK from the company’s homepage.

June 4, 2013

Chatology for Mac, Flexbits’ answer to the comical search bugs in the Mac’s Messages app

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Flexibits, makers of the popular calendar app Fantastical for Mac and iPhone, have just announced their next product for the Mac. Their new app, Chatology, seeks to ease the pain of searching through conversations using Apple’s buggy Messages app.

If you haven’t tried this yourself, don’t. But often when searching on messages, the application locks up for an indeterminate amount of time. Apple doesn’t seem to be getting all of our crash/bug reports and hasn’t fixed it since its release with Mountain Lion.

A new page on the Flexbits website shows the above image and option to signup for their mailing list, which will include updates on Flexibit’s suite of apps as well details on when you can download Chatology.

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