Portland’s mobile development chops continue to gain attention. This time it’s an addictive iPhone app built by Portland-based Subatomic Studios.
It seems that almost everyone who plays Fieldrunners—a strategic tower defense game—gets a little bit addicted to it. Even the writers at Time Magazine. So much so, in fact, that—even though the app was only released a little over two months ago—it has been named one of Time’s top 10 video games for 2008.
Not iPhone games, mind you. Video games. Period.
Why do they like it?
With the opening of the App Store and the release of development tools, third-party developers have converted the iPhone and the iPod Touch into handheld gaming devices that will soon be serious competition for the Nintendo DS and Sony’s PSP. The pick of the first litter is Fieldrunners, a fast and furious tower defense game that looks great on those super-bright, super-crisp screens and seamlessly integrates the famous touchscreen as a game controller.
Pretty high praise—and definitely mainstream exposure—for some great development happening here in Portland. Now, if we can just get them to look up from the game long enough to see the other cool stuff that’s happening here.
[HTML2]How? Much in the same way they took the time to clean up their Web-based UI, the Strands folks announced that they have put their design ingenuity into optimizing the Strands mobile site for the popular Apple products.
And it’s looking really good. What’s more, it’s much easier to deal with than loading the old Web UI.
But don’t just take my word for it. There are much more reputable types chiming in on the release (and I’m not just saying that because I appear in their screenshots).
Louis Gray finds the interface making definite strides forward:
Back in August, when I first discussed the lifestreaming site’s beta offering, I found myself fairly critical of its user interface, saying it minimized some of the best features, including the actual feeds from your friends’ activity. In the last few months, thanks to feedback from its growing user base, the team has doubled down efforts to simplify the UI, and they managed to do well enough that the site works well, even in my 3.5″ wide iPhone.
Lifestreaming service Strands continues to impress with its rapid growth in features, with a new mobile interface being launched targeted at iPhone users.
I remain a fan of Strands and their, um, strides. And I can’t hardly wait for the next big leap forward, when their recommender technology enters the picture. That, my friends, is when we’ll see the true power of this platform.
What’s that? You’ve somehow missed out on trying Strands? Have no fear, gentle reader. Simply leave a comment below with a valid email address, and I’ll make sure that you get in to try it out.
Aside from being beautiful, it’s a feature rich application designed to get individuals more involved in the political process. (In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the opponents of the Obama campaign rival the proponents in downloads.)
The application has a “Call Your Friends” tool that helps you organize your contacts by key battleground states — a feature we’re hoping will generate thousands of additional personal contacts. You can also easily mark reminder notes to yourself on which friends you have called, who they are supporting and who wants a reminder call on Election Day. The information does not leave your phone (so your friends’ and your own privacy are protected) but the total amount of calls the application makes are tallied, so you can keep track of your progress as we close in on November 4th.
Leaving politics aside for the moment, it’s a pretty impressive display of what is possible using the iPhone and iPod Touch platform.
[UPDATE] I just heard that the Obama ’08 for iPhone folks will be holding a launch party for the app during the next presidential debates. Head on over to the Mission Theater on Tuesday, October 7 to congratulate the team and watch some politicking. To RSVP, see the Obama ’08 iPhone App Launch Party and Presidential Debate Party on Upcoming.
Is Portland beginning to take center stage in mobile app development?
So yes, the app is super cool. (And if you agree, you may want to digg it.) But, I think—in my Silicon-Forest-centric frame of mind—that’s not the only cool thing happening in this story.
There’s something else that’s going on here. And when I say “here,” I literally mean here.
While the application is an impressive feat for a volunteer effort (or any effort for that matter) what I think may be even more interesting—and Zachary, arguably the premiere consultant for all things iPhone, agrees—is the underlying story about mobile app development in general—a development effort that, more and more, seems to be centered around talent right here in the Silicon Forest.
“This speaks to a growing trend in Portland toward mobile app development,” said Zachary. “We’ve really got something starting here.”
I’m terribly proud of this application. I’m also honored to have been part of making it happen. It’s not simply that we built something that we believe will empower people to bring change to Washington, but it is also the fact that we assembled an exceptional team.
The amount of energy that went into this was fun to be around. Raven Zachary and Jason Grigsby’s strategy genius, Jonathan Wight’s very powerful development fu, Mike Lee and Tristan O’Tierney’s hacking support, Louie Manta’s visual-zing-wow aesthetics, Aileen Jeffries and John Keith’s many-faceted support, and Dom Sagolla’s tireless testing work. Phew. That’s the lot of us.
We all hear, time and time again, how mobile is the next big thing. Wouldn’t it be nice if that big thing were happening right here in Portland?
I think it would. And I think it has the potential to happen.
And with efforts like this—and the growing ranks of mobile developers here in town—I’d say we’re well on our way.
Congratulations to the whole team—but especially the Portland folks—on launching an amazing app that’s sure to step on to a national, if not worldwide, stage.
Even the iPhone critics have to admit that there may something to the iPhone app thing. I mean, if the results Vancouver-based Avatron Software is producing are any indication.
Last Monday at 5 PM Pacific time, Avatron released Air Sharing, a temporarily free iPhone app that lets you treat your iPhone as a wireless hard drive. Not earth shattering news, I grant you.
But fast forward to today. And as of this writing—a few minutes shy of one week—they’re approaching nearly three-quarters of a million downloads.
That’s right more than 700,000 little versions of the Avatron apps are walking around on iPhones.
“It’s just amazing,” said Dave Howell, CEO of Avatron. “It’s way beyond what we thought would happen.”
And the reviews are looking quite positive, too. Even donpdonp might be happy with this little app, considering:
Best app in the app store. It’s incredibly useful and works with my Ubuntu desktop!… This is seriously the best app around. Worked out [of] the box, almost zero config.
Using Bonjour and the standard WebDAV interface, Air Sharing allows iPhone and iPod Touch users to mount the devices as a wireless drive on any Mac, Windows, or Linux computer; drag and drop files between the device and computers, and view documents in many common formats.
Basically, it’s like working with any other drive. Wirelessly.
But there are also some other interesting features that could extend the use of the Air Sharing app. What are those features? Well, Dave will be my guest on the next Silicon Florist podcast, so tune in to find out.
Interested in trying Air Sharing? Well, it’s free to try for one more week. After that the price will go up to $6.99.
Without a doubt, one of the busiest people in Portland—when he’s actually on the ground here in Portland—is Raven Zachary. Working with Legion of Tech. Founding iPhoneDevCamp. Running around consulting on Open Source. Standing in line waiting for iPhones. And helping folks with all things iPhone.
Yeah, you caught that, didn’t you?
It’s no secret that Raven’s interest has definitely been leaning more and more toward the iPhone, as of late. And you know what they always say? Follow your passion.
For those of you who know me as the founder of iPhoneDevCamp, this will probably not come as much of a surprise. Over the past few weeks, a number of professional opportunities relating to the iPhone have emerged that are too compelling to pass up. Some of these project I can’t talk about just yet, but I am looking forward to sharing them with you as soon as I able to.
Well, sort of.
Raven will still be supporting some of his consulting clients for The 451 Group. But instead of being a full-time analyst, he’ll move into the part-time role of contributing analyst.
So, he’ll still be crazy busy. Just with a different priority ranking on his efforts.
I, for one, couldn’t be happier for Raven. His passion is infectious. And this opportunity to channel his energy into this gig will be a delight to see.
In his talk, Raven will provide a basic overview of the process of developing and distributing software for the iPhone and iPod touch, and share some key findings and metrics gathered in the two weeks since the launch of the App Store. What does the App Store mean for third party mobile developers?
I recently posted a link to the iPhoneDevCamp 2 Portland event (and I believe there will be another one when the ma.gnolia links post fires off). This differs from the original iPhoneDevCamp, because this time around Portland will have a satellite event so that Portland folks can participate without having to spend the cash—and the carbon—to make it to the main event down in San Francisco.
Very cool idea. And a great way to keep the community involved.
Enthusiasm is high about an iPhone DevCamp 2 satellite event being held in Portland. However, PCC Cascade informed us today that we will not be able to use their facilities to host DevCamp 2 PDX without paying almost $1000 in security and overtime fees. Disappointing news, because plans have been in the works for weeks now and we have already announced it to the world. This leaves us without a venue to host this event that is only a week and a half away.
So, I’m throwing up a “Geek Bat signal.” If anyone has the ability to host the event or to help these smart folks find somewhere to muck around with their iPhone apps, please comment below.
Even if you can’t help, please spread the word that they need help.
I got the chance to see a demo version of Nearby at Platial’s iPhone App launch party a few weeks back. And it’s a pretty slick little application. Nearby takes advantage of the location-aware features of the newest iPhone, allowing users to dig into Platial content that is pertinent to both where they are—and where they might like to be.
Like most mapping applications, users can find the typical “publicly available” information about locations. But with Nearby, they also gain the advantage of tapping into Platial user data—the stories about the spot you’re standing. That means litterally thousands of notes, images, tags, and reviews for some areas. Stories of personal experience. And insight. Stories that you don’t usually get, unless you have an actual person or two to guide you.
Long story short, Nearby is a virtual tour guide, providing the backstory for the world around you. And with the iPhone app, you’re getting that story as you walk through that location.
“This reinforces our mission to create the Peoples Atlas,” said Di-Ann Eisnor, CEO of Platial. “For two years we’ve been collecting information about all kinds of places that are meaningful to people; user-generated content that goes beyond commercial listings and into architecture, activism, street art, playgrounds, local history–things you can’t find anywhere else. We still have a long way to go, but we’re closer now with Platial for iPhone.”
Nearby is currently available for download from the Apple iPhone App Store. No registration is required, so users can begin using the app right away.
Well, if you have an iPhone or iPod Touch with the 2.0 version of the firmware.
Have you tried the Platial Nearby app? I’d love to hear about your experience.
Platial is a free online mapping resource where people around the world every day share and discover all kinds of places. Anyone can map just about anything including their towns, lives, travels, feeds, files, photos, video, and stories in one simple interface.
Portland-based toonlet, the only Silicon Forest based service I’ve found that holds the promise of turning you into the next Jim DavisScott Adams Matt Groening, has released a couple of recent updates that have made the joy of creating toonlets more, well, joyful.
Much like Bruce Banner gaining superpowers after being accidentally irradiated, the toonlet team has discovered that a series of recent Safari-focused improvements have imbued toonlet with superpowers of its own. And you reap the benefit.
So—wait—maybe it’s you that has the superpowers and toonlet is more like the radiation giving you those powers?
I don’t know. My analogy kind of fell apart there.
Anyway. Suffice it to say that, thanks to these Safari improvements on toonlet, you gain the ability to create, compose, and edit toonlets from your Apple iPhone (or someone else’s iPhone if you wish).
In fact, I created the toonlet below from my iPhone. (Yes, I agree. It’s unfortunate that they have yet to fix the “lacking humor” problem. Baby steps.) http://toonlet.com/embed/strip?i=9156
Second, and easily more important, toonlet has added an “edit” feature for its strips. So now, when you make typos, pick the wrong character, or write something unfunny… Not that that happens to you. I mean, you’re always funny. But if someone less talented than you were to make that sort of mistake, now they can go back and make the toonlet better.
Corvallis-based ORBlogs, the Oregon-focused blog aggregator, has announced the release of an iPhone interface. Interested users can access the simplified iPhone version via m.orblogs.com. (You can access that URL via a Web browser, as well, if you’re interested in a really big interface.)
ORBlogs’ new interface provides a stripped down view of its site content:
[Y]ou can browse all posts, Oregon-related posts, popular posts, and the top 15 topics from the last seven days. Clicking a post excerpt will take you directly to the post on the original blog.
iPhone users will also be happy to know that there is a custom icon for your iPhone desktop, if you choose to add it as a Web clip.
More is planned for the m.orblogs.com, including city-focused pages similar to those found on the ORBlogs site.
ORBlogs is run by Paul Bausch, one of the original developers on Blogger. An admitted side-project, ORBlogs provides a valuable resource to all Oregon-based bloggers by aggregating stories from across the state. For more information, visit ORBlogs.