iPhone Game Developer Interview: Nitako (Rasta Monkey)

23 03 2009

A founder of Nitako (makers of Rasta Monkey) Noam Abta was kind enough to answer a few questions for us to go along with our recent Rasta Monkey game review.


The iLife: First off tell us a little about yourself, where are you from and how did you get involved with designing games?

Noam Abta: Nitako was founded by me (Noam Abta) and Yuval Markovich and we are located in Rishon Le Zion, Israel.
We are both animation film makers and In the 2 years prior to starting Nitako, we were the founding team of Aniboom.com, an animation portal which is also an international animation studio. In Aniboom we were heavily involved in the product and technology, so when we decided to leave there, game design seemed like the most natural choice considering the combination of our skills and the love we had towards gaming.
It seems that with todays tools and technologies, and the increasing awareness to the fact that Indie gaming could also be profitable, more and more people like us who come from either art or technology are drawn into this line of work.

The iLife: Where did the idea for rastafarian monkeys come from?

Noam: Good question. Basically the game started out as a pretty abstract gameplay. We were fiddling with all sorts of movements you can create using physics elements (like springs for example), connecting those elements together and watching how they behave and move when gravity comes into action. In a while, different characters began to emmerge and we chose to use something that reminded us of a monkey. Since we love reggae music so much (our office band, together with our musician friend, Nimrod sarda, recorded all the music for Rasta Monkey here in our offices), we decided we want a Rastafarian theme to the game, and the idea of Rasta Monkey was first conceived.

The entire interview is after the break.

Read more…

App Store Review: Rasta Monkey

23 03 2009


Rasta Monkey is a 2D platformer where you play as a (gasp) monkey swinging in the trees trying to collect fruit to make smoothies. It uses a nice little physics engine to accomplish jumps, swings, and some puzzles. You’ll have to contend with monsters and some tricky jumps to finish each level.

The game only comes with 10 levels, two of which are tutorial levels. The levels aren’t very long, though they do have a lot of variety. Each level you are given a set amount of each type of fruit to collect. The game definitely doesn’t make it hard to collect these fruit, and a lot of the time you’ll find you’ve collected more than you needed. It never penalizes you for falling out of the trees, which is a huge relief in some of the harder areas. All it will do it set you back to your last checkpoint, which are never too far off.


The controls work surprising well. You hold the the corner of the screen where you wish to go, and hold with two fingers to swing on the branch. If you let go of both fingers at the same time you’ll jump, or you can abort the jump by letting go of one finger at a time.

The art is cartoony and colorful, which fits the game very well. The music, even though there seems to only be two songs, are catchy and, at worst, can just be turned off.

The only downsides to the game are its intermittent slow-downs and some frustrating monsters you face later on in the game. On my first generation iPod Touch when the camera zoomed out I’d occasionally run into a frame-rate drop. It wasn’t terrible, it was still playable, though it does makes the game feel buggy. Lastly, certain monsters are just plain annoying to get past. Some are big and move fast, and constantly knock you off the branches. It gets tricky, you either have to move fast and nail the jumps to avoid them, or get lucky and have the monster boot you in the right direction.

For the (currently introductory) $1.99 price tag it is definitely worth the couple days of fun you’ll get from this game. It isn’t a huge amount of content, but the actual game has a lot of variety and was put together very well.

iPhone OS 3.0 Beta 7A238j Screenshot Gallery

23 03 2009

Below are a number of screenshots leaked from the recent seed of iPhone OS 3.0 to developers.

General Settings iPhone OS 3.0 Beta

After the jump is a huge gallery illustrating some of the most significant changes in the iPhone 3.0 OS. The anonymous tipster who submitted the following images noted that the build is plagued with a few bugs, but nothing too serious.
Read more…

Using Twitter on your iPhone: Tweetie 1.3 Review

22 03 2009

Tweetie is by far the cleanest, most versatile Twitter client I have ever used for the iPhone. Find out what makes Tweetie stand out from the rest below!


Twitter, one of the most pervasive social networking services has grown to encompass over 6 million active monthly users. It seems that everyone from President Obama to Britney Spears is now tweeting everything from breaking news to interesting articles and cool events going on. If you’re new to Twitter, or don’t have an account, you should sign up here. If you’re on a Mac be sure to check out my previous article on “Getting the Most from Twitter on your Mac” to get started from your computer.

Twitter Main View Tweeite 1.3

The iPhone provides one of the greatest interfaces to Twitter seen to date- arguably much nicer than the Twitter web interface or other Twitter (computer based) software- with its integrated camera, GPS (or GPS like capabilities) and multi-touch you can not only stay on top of Twitter but interact with it in new ways. Although there are dozens of Twitter applications for the iPhone platform, there are only a few that really stand out.

Twitter Profile Page Tweetie 1.3

Tweetie implements the full Twitter API- which means all the possibilities Twitter offers to developers is implemented in Tweetie. Upon first glance, Tweetie displays tweets and messages making use of the iChat style bubbles. At the bottom menu you can quickly switch between your Tweets, @Replies, Messages, Favorites and More- which includes “My Profile”, “Go to User”, “Nearby”, “Trends” and “Search”.

Twitter Location Tweetie 1.3

Tweetie is very simple, easy to use and works the way you expect it to. Everything you would want to do is available to you fast- starting with support for multiple Twitter accounts, updating your location, browsing tweets by location and even Twitter searching and trend viewing. You can view links posted in tweets through the built in Safari browser or even re-tweet the link! And all links posted are automatically shrunk with the bit.ly service. Even photo uploading is simple, as Tweetie allows for quick access to your photo library or camera and will compress and upload each photo you tweet to TwitPic.com.

Until Tweetie came around in November 2008, Twitterific and Twinkle respectively held the titles of the best paid and unpaid Twitter clients for the iPhone. Although Tweetie costs $2.99, it clearly provides quite simply the best Twitter experience on the iPhone OS platform. If you are on Twitter, this application is a must have.

iStat for iPhone Review: Hardware Statistics, Information, Remote Computer Monitoring and RAM Management

20 03 2009

The iStat application is quite easily the best hardware monitoring application available on the App Store today.

iStat for iPhone Icon

Bjango, an exclusive iPhone developer team is a new venture of iSlayer who developed iStat Pro, iStat Menus and Organized. The team has also published a number of high quality applications prior to iStat including Darkness, Jobs, Cities and Phases.

iStat Pro Widget Display

For those familiar with the iSlayer team and use iStat Pro or iStat Menus already know why iStat makes for a killer iPhone application. Keeping on top of your hardware is a crucial- not only will it allow your iPhone to preform better but extend your battery life. While there are a handful of other applications that promise to do the same in the App Store and even Cydia or Installer.app, iStat does it the best and with more features without question.


From first launching the application, you are presented with a well laid out screen with all of your vital statistics in a number of panes laid out before you. The first group is information pertaining to the iPhone’s memory. A pie chart of the iPhone’s RAM displays the Wired, Active, Inactive and Free number of megabytes combined with a display of Page Ins and Page Outs. You can also free up RAM by pressing the Free Memory button.

The second pane has a small graph of the disk usage on the iPhone and displays the space available.

The third pane contains the IP addresses on the Wi-Fi and Cellular network.

The forth pane contains the iPhone’s uptime, along with the past load averages for 1 minute, 5 minutes and 15 minutes.

Finally, the last pane contains the Unique Identifier and the Wi-Fi MAC Address along with three buttons “Email ID”, “Email Both” and “Email MAC”. These pieces of information are handy when registering the Wireless MAC address to a new network, or sending the iPhone’s UID to get an Ad-Hoc distribution.

While iStat organizes a great deal of information about your iPhone, it isn’t where the functionality ends. iStat can give you remote statistics on any Mac running OS X Tiger (or later) and connected to the internet. By simply downloading the iStat server and installing it on your computer you can start looking at statistics from computers thousands of miles on your iPhone or iPod touch.


The installation of the server is simple and can be found on Bjango’s website here. Once running, you simply enter a four digit number randomly generated on the server side into your iPhone, assuming all of your routing is in place. Once this is done you can now start viewing statistics of your Mac! The statistics are laid out in the same format as the stats for your iPhone, but depending on the age of your Mac, will most likely contain more information (such as the different network interfaces, battery or fan status and more).

iStat for the iPhone is an excellent application for monitoring both your iPhone and your Macs from on the go. Check out iStat in the App Store here, on sale for $1.99 (limited time only)! We would also like to thank Marc Edwards at Bjango for giving us the opportunity to review iStat.

With a fresh Mac lineup and rumors building, the new Third Generation iPhone 2,1 is on the way

19 03 2009

With the entire Mac line finally brought up to date, the iPhone 3G begins to show age in the Apple lineup.

iPhone case back full

On the first Tuesday of this month, Apple updated the Mac Pro, Mac mini and iMac desktop models, outfitting them with the latest Intel processors and NVIDIA graphics. Finally killing off Firewire 400, including mini Display Port connectors; the changes finally unified Apple’s desktop offerings with the unibody MacBook family, unveiled in October 2008. Since that “Spotlight on Notebooks” event, every Mac has seen an update. The iPod line was updated in September 2008, including the third generation iPod shuffle introduction last week. Even the Airport Extreme and Time Capsule Wi-Fi router and NAS devices saw updates recently. This leaves the iPhone 3G as one of the oldest major offering of Apple hardware on the market- if you can even believe that.

Announced at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June 2008, the iPhone 3G replaced the original iPhone with a lower price tag (subsidized by the carriers), 3G and 2.5G cellular capability, built in GPS functionality and a refined case and audio components. Since the July 11th launch, over 15 million units have been shipped worldwide giving Apple a surge in marketshare to 8 percent of all smartphones, using the latest numbers from Gartner.

Apple has indicated in the past that early summer is the iPhone refresh period alike early fall for iPods. While the original iPhone was introduced at Macworld 2007, it launched June 29th that year. The iPhone 3G was announced at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference on June 9th 2008 but didn’t launch until July 11th later that year.

In April of 2008, iPodObserver leaked an image of the back of what turned out to be the iPhone 3G. Again in February 2009, iPodObserver published the image (shown, above and a closer up, below) of an iPhone with a curved matte finish back. While leaked images rarely turn out to be accurate, the images do look legitimate and sport a unseen iPhone model number, “A1303”.

iPhone case back bottom

Additionally in late January, MacRumors reported seeing server logs populated with a mysterious iPhone device labeled iPhone 2,1. Apple uses these hardware identity strings to distinguish different hardware models- the original iPhone is designated hardware string iPhone 1,1 while the iPhone 3G was labeled iPhone 1,2. Interestingly, the first generation iPod Touch was introduced with the iPod 1,1 and the second generation iPod 2,1. The second generation iPod Touch added a internal speaker, hardware volume controls, microphone support and a updated processor.

Thus, the 2 in the iPhone 2,1 might reveal that there will most likely be more significant changes in the hardware of the new iPhone than seen with the first generation iPhone and second generation iPhone (iPhone 3G). While it remains unclear at this point what the changes will be, there have been a number of rumors about updated, multi-core processors manufactured by Imagination Technologies. The company is known as the firm behind the PowerVR graphics core used in the iPhone today.

Just yesterday, the company announced new highly efficient PowerVR multi-processor chips that might find their way into the next generation iPhone. Other rumors, left over from the buildup to the iPhone 3G announcement have pointed towards the addition of a second forward facing camera and or video capabilities.

iPhone case back

Whatever the new iPhone will bring us, both from the growing number of rumors and 3.0 firmware and SDK preview, it appears we are all in for a significant revision. As we get closer to WWDC 2009, we will most likely know more about the upcoming iPhone. Stick with The iLife for continuing development and analysis of rumors. But for now check out the following links if you want to learn more about upcoming the iPhone.

PinchMedia iPhone 2,1
New Imagination Technologies chip analysis
Major architectural changes suggested by iPhone 2,1

First Look: Sony Style Store and Comcast Labs

19 03 2009

I had the opportunity to attend the grand opening of the new Sony Style store and Comcast Labs, located in the Comcast Center (Comcast’s main corporate headquarters) at 17th and Market in Philadelphia.


The Comcast Center is also home to “The Market at Comcast Center”, a area with a bunch of food stalls and shops, and “The Comcast Experience,” a 2,000 square-foot LED screen, with a resolution 500% greater than that of an HDTV. The Sony Style store / Comcast Labs is accessed through a large staircase in the main Comcast Center building, near the giant LED screen. You can see part of the entrance stairway and the LED screen the photo below:


You can also access it from the Market entrance, either way, you have to go underground, but it is wheel chair accessible.

We will take a look inside the store and lab, after the jump.

Read more…

iPhone 3.0 firmware and SDK previewed and released!

17 03 2009

It’s finally here! Today, Apple released in specific detail the new iPhone 3.0 firmware and new iPhone SDK! Rumors have been flying for weeks about what is to be released this morning and we have all the answers.


The waiting is finally over! After weeks of anticipation, apple has previewed the iPhone 3.0 firmware to the public. The new 3.0 firmware has many features that we have been dreaming about since January 9, 2007. They include:

  • Copy and Paste
  • Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
  • Landscape view in SMS, Mail and Notes (was already in Safari)
  • In-applicationĀ  purchasing, like extra content
  • Access iPod library from your application
  • Spotlight to search your iPhone
  • A2DP (Stereo Bluetooth) Capability
  • And more

The Firmware will be free to all iPhone users but will cost $9.95 for iPod touch users.

New iPhone SDK

The new iPhone SDK has many exciting features that Apple Developers are excited about. The most notable of these is the ability to test your developed apps before releasing them into the open market of iTunes. It also includes over 1,000 new API’s!

All in all, today we witnessed the next generation in mobile devices. Many people were worried that the new Palm Pre would contain many apps that the iPhone did not and become the leader in the smartphone market, but Apple took care of these worries. The new SDK is currently available to registered Apple developers and the 3.0 firmware will be available to the public sometime in June.

iPhone Developers Given Access to iPhone 3.0 SDK and Firmware Starting Today (Updated)!

17 03 2009

After the 3.0 preview Tuesday, Apple has updated the iPhone Developer Connection website to let developers get their hands on the 3.0 SDK and firmware.

We'll be back soon. iPhone Developers

The site which normally hosts the latest firmwares and SDK releases and notes is temporarily down and displays the famous sticky note reading “We’ll Be Back Soon” from the online Apple Store. In the 3.0 event, over 1000 new API’s have been opened up to developers including the Push Notification Service, which is finally making light since the WWDC 2008 preview (and promised September 2008 availability date). Apple promised all current and future iPhone developers will have access to the new firmwares and SDK builds- but is unclear at this time if that extends to non-paid iPhone developers.

Update: [3:22 PM EST] The Apple Developer homepage (developer.apple.com) and other pages (here) has been updated with new iPhone SDK information but the iPhone Developer Center is still down.

Update: [3:37 PM EST] The iPhone Developer Center is back up, fresh with new content for 3.0. We are combing through it now and will post up interesting finds soon. Note: the site is being very unresponsive.

Update: [5:02 PM EST] The iPhone Developer Center, while up, has not let us log in yet.

Update: [5:42 PM EST] The iPhone Developer Center, is still being very temperamental, but we have managed to get a look and begin downloads of 3.0 software!

More information will be coming as soon as we can get it.

Mac OS X Snow Leopard: 10.6 Build 10A286 Exclusive Preview

17 03 2009

In an unusual move late Monday evening, The iLife has received a number of exclusive looks into the latest Snow Leopard build.


These screenshots shown in the gallery below detail some small subtitle changes in the latest non internal build of Mac OS X 10.6. The build, titled 10A286 was seeded to Apple Developers earlier this month.

Of the notable changes, is the Cocoa Finder. The source indicates the font is different and there are small animations when selecting a file or renaming a folder or file. There is also a new right click (or control click) menu that includes “Make New Sticky Note”, “Show Address in Google Maps” and “Send Selection” (to Mail) among other additions. The new trash “Put Back” menu option is indeed present and our source says you can even launch trashed items while they are still in the trash. Our source noted everything from web browsing to opening programs ran considerably faster on his MacBook Pro (4,1). This is not surprising considering the new 64 bit Kernel as seen in the Activity Monitor shot.

The new QuickTime X interface is demonstrated in two screenshots below, which is the only instance of the “black glass” interface being used throughout the build, which breaks the Leopard ‘unified interface’. Also the Exchange support implemented within iCal, Mail and Address Book is a new addition. The Calculator application now features a “Convert” menu. The Image Capture, Font Book and Bluetooth Setup Assistant have seen small interface changes, bringing them up to speed with the latest Apple looks. The Trackpad and Energy Saver icons in System Preferences have changed to reflect that of the new unibody MacBooks and more interestingly, the four finger gestures have also been implemented to non unibody MacBooks supporting multi-touch. Finally, when taking screenshots instead of being labeled with “Picture X” (going in sequential numerical order), the screenshots are now titled by default with the date and time.

Happy 300th post and thanks to our anonymous source for the tips!