A little more than a year ago, when the iPad was released, I decided that it was time to take a look at the world of comics. When I first thought about it, the concept seemed perfect: Entertaining fantasy or sci-fi stories, brought to me on my iPad through beautifully illustrated pictures. Unfortunately, after a brief market analysis, I found out that ‘beautiful’ isn’t exactly the first word that comes to mind when you look at typical run-of-the-mill comic. Most of them rather look like rough sketches, printed by an inkjet which is missing at least one color…
My rescue came at the very end of 2010, when the German artist Daniel Lieske published the first episode of his free digital graphic novel 'The Wormworld Saga'. Being read more than a quarter million times within the first four weeks, it became a huge success and proved, that Daniel obviously had hit a nerve. The comic looks a gazillion times better than your average superhero novel and was, from the get-go, designed to be read on a computer screen, rather than to be printed out on paper.
The next logical step for the series, besides working on chapter two, was to create a native iPad App for it. Since this is a rather costly endeavor, Daniel created a kickstarter campaign to fund it. Raising about twice as much money as required, the campaign turned out to be ‘huge success no. 2’ and eventually enabled the artist to quit his job and to dedicate all of his time to the Wormworld Saga. Naturally, the second result of this campaign was the iPad app which was just released this weekend and which brings me back to the topic of user interfaces.
To make it short, the app delivers on all fronts. It makes use of the same vibrant colors and beautiful art style as the comics. My favorite part is the main menu, in which you can skim through all available episodes (notice the glow around the selected ‘magazine’) and which instantly makes me want to collect ALL of them. Which I did… But it’s only one right now… What a petty…
The app enhances this existing comic by giving you the opportunity to hide the speech bubbles and, with the ‘pro’ version, to seamlessly switch between the preliminary sketches and the final artwork. And, as if this wasn’t enough, the paid version also comes with additional comments and articles, describing the process of creating the Wormworld Saga.
As you can probably tell, I am rather exited about the graphic novel as well as the app, especially since both of them are free! If you want to support Daniel Lieske, you can unlock the enhanced version of the first episode for $2.99 with an in-app purchase. I also recommend a look at his shop, where you can buy high quality prints of his work. Keep in mind that Daniel is doing this for a living now so show him some love!
Earlier this month, I was complaining about Lion’s address book, and I have to say, I rather enjoyed doing so. Fortunately, Apple also screwed up the iPad’s contacts app… It’s not as bad as under OS X but it’s a close call. So here is a quick overview about what’s wrong with it.
As I said in my last post, recreating real world objects in an iOS application is just fine and at first glance, the address book app looks pretty nice. That impression however changes quickly, if turn your iPad to portrait mode. A ‘real’ address book is not meant to be higher than wide (at least not when opened) and Apple couldn’t come up with anything better than filling the remaining space with BIG BLACK BARS. Doing so, they waste about 25% (or roughly 200.000 pixels) of the iPad’s precious screen estate.
Talking about wasted screen estate, as with the address book on OS X, there are a lot of white pixels beneath the contacts information (again, partially reserved for ‘notes’). As if wanting to somehow fill it, Apple placed the ‘Share Contact’ button literally ‘somewhere in it’. Just have a look at the image above, you’ll see what I mean. If someone could explain to me the purpose of this buttons location, please enlighten me.
Whenever Apple releases a new version of iOS, they “assimilate” a few existing apps. Yesterday, with the announcement of iOS5’s new features, the body count was especially high. For instance, todo lists, beside other apps, were seemingly rendered obsolete. So if you are looking for a free, great looking, cross platform todo list right now, you just have to wait until this fall and you are done, right?
Thank’s to wunderlist, you don’t. Wunderlist, released earlier this year, runs on iOS (both iPhone and iPad), Android, Mac, Windows and, as if this wasn’t enough, on you browser, so it’s safe to say that it runs every where. Syncing your todos is as free as the app itself but the most important thing is, that it all looks great.
Unlike it’s compatetors, like the heavy weighted and even heavier priced OmniFocus or Things, wunderlist is all about simplicity. There are no dependencies, no tags and no priorities (just “favourites”), just enter a new task or check a finished one and you are done. You have the option to set due dates, to create multiple todo lists and, most importantly, to change the apps background picture, but you can also safely ignore all of this and wunderlist makes it rather easy to do so.
I’m not saying that wunderlist right for everyone. If you are a heavy user (in terms of amount of usage, not body mass) you might want to try a more sophisticated solution and it seems as if wunderlist’s developers, 6wunderkinder, are currently working on such a product. But if you just want to set up a shopping list or remind your self of cleaning the kitchen, you should give wunderlist a shot. It’s free!
All of UiDid… well
While the official weather app was installed on the iPhone from day one, Apple still doesn’t bother to bring it to the iPad. Luckily, there are more than a few worthy substitutions and this article features my three favorites. They are all (currently) available for $0.99 (so just buy them all if you are unsure) and will work both on iPad and on iPhone/iPod touch.
This App is one of the early birds in the iPad’s AppStore and had it’s fair share of publicity, when the iPad was released. To be honest, it focuses more on the gorgeous ambient Videos than on the actual weather forecast, but who cares. Since the app’s release, the developers added quite a few new videos as well as a clock. They also released a free, ad sponsored version, so if you are unsure, try at least this one.
While also featuring beautiful, but a bit blurry ambient Videos, Weather+ is more about the numbers. If offers detailed and delightfully displayed information about cloud cover, pressure, visibility and more. If you don’t appreciate all this data, you can turn it off in the settings. And even if you don’t care for the weather at all, this app makes a great clock.
This app is build around a 3D globe which accurately displays the day and night cycle as well as the current cloud pattern. You can spin the earth around at will or set it to auto-spin, if you choose to put it on your nightstand. Oh, and it also displays your time and weather, but this is really a minor matter here.
Those apps would make perfect use of the iOS lock screen and I really wonder, why apple doesn’t allow them to use it. It surely would be more entertaining and useful than the static wallpaper. So let’s wait for next monday, maybe iOS 5 will bring some improvements.
If your shopping tours don’t lead you trough the city anymore but trough Amazon, eBay & Co, Delivery Status is the right widget for you. It keeps track of all your, well, tracking numbers and displays all the relevant information in one frame. There is not much more to it but this software is so beautifully laid out and colored that you might want your parcels not to arrive at all. Plus, you will start to buy paperbacks rather than kindle versions again…
If you really like it, there is also the equally gorgous iOS App Delivery Status touch for $4.99 which works on both iPad and iPhone. You may also create a free online account wich allows you to keep your widgets and apps in sync.
One more detail, I just noticed: When you enter a tracking number which is typical for one specific parcel service, Delivery Status will automatically select it for you. Nice!