iDev – Kiwis developing apps

As app development, er, develops in new Zealand, several events cater to those wanting to better, or learn, development and for those who work with developers.

CreativeTech, held at AUT last year, was one, and work is underway for next year's event (September) to cover all aspects of tech and creativity.

with a focus more directly on those in the app building industry, registration has opened for NZiDev 2.0, in Auckland this year. Over the next week guest speakers will be announced.

Last year NZiDev was hosted by Jade Corporation in Christchurch, with over 100 new Zealand developers attending the BarCamp style event. Jade has organised this year's to again be hosted by Nick Torkington, but it will be taking place at Albany Senior High School in Auckland over the 3rd and 4th December, with an early bird rate for tickets ($90 for the two days) until 9th November.

Albany High School is a modern Open Source-based school which opened in 2009. after 9th November, entry goes up to $100, or $55 per single day.

You can register now, online, and read more about it here.

There's a map of how to find the venue on the site.

Scrabble wars

Gaptionary is a new, new Zealand-developed app-based game for the iPhone and iPad. Developed by The Goods ltd, it launched in may and immediately went up the iTunes chart, becoming the number two word game behind Scrabble in new Zealand.

it has since been sold in the UK, Europe, the US, Australia, Canada and Japan.

The Goods says Gaptionary is best played in a group, relying on the participants' vocabulary and imaginations.

The Goods co-director Alex Hill says "Gaptionary turns people into instant stand-ups."

It's not just a word game, but a story game conceived by four Kiwis sheltering from an electrical storm while on holiday. Players are asked one by one to come up with the most interesting word they can think of, according to prompts. once the gaps are filled, the story is read aloud.

for those unfamiliar with nouns, verbs and adjectives, Gaptionary is a learning tool. Story topics include Wedding, Party, Babies, Current Affairs, Holiday, Natural Disaster, Supernatural and many more.

you can download Gaptionary for just $1.29

TomTom NZ now for iPad

TomTom App for iPhone 1.9 is now available, newly optimised for iPad. On iPad, compared to iPhone, it has higher resolution maps and an improved user interface at no extra cost. Existing TomTom App customers can download the new version to their iPads for free.

The new release is compatible with Apple's new iOS5.

The TomTom App for iPhone/iPad 1.9 comes with a new map release – a benefit to users of both Apple devices. The new map includes updated roads, more accurate information about fixed speed camera locations and points of interest.

TomTom has made use of the extra iPad screen space. The full-screen display shows both driving view and advanced lane guidance at the same time. you can switch to driving view with one touch from anywhere within the App, and you can access guidance options with a tap.

Customers can get HD Traffic as an added extra via in-App purchase; this feature is compatible with iPhone 3G/3GS/4, iPad WiFi + 3G models. for existing TomTom HD Traffic and Speed Cameras subscription owners, drivers can simply switch subscriptions from their iPhones to their iPads, at no cost. That means all the navigation features from TomTom can now be enjoyed on the iPad.

TomTom App for iPhone/iPad 1.9 is available now, priced from NZ$94.99.

The HD Traffic subscription is available in the App Store for NZ$9.99 for a one-month subscription and NZ$49.99 for a one-year subscription.

Real-time traffic conditions are updated every two minutes ensuring drivers are always on the fastest route with TomTom HD Traffic. and Doh! As for the iHone version, Homer Simpson, Darth Vader, Yoda, and C3PO navigation voices available as in-App purchases.

Big sounds, cool package

Industrial design is oh so important, and Apple gets criticised for dumbing down devices for the sake of slick products. but I love that. I'm so used to Apple devices 'just working' and delivering all I need easily, it's a shock when I have to struggle with a product from another brand – why should a DVD player be hard to use?

A Phillips iPhone/iPod charger I have doubles as a clock radio. God knows why I bought it – it functions OK and wakes me up, in its favour. but the writing on the tiny buttons is really hard to see and I have to read the bloody manual even if I want to change the time for daylight saving. Nothing is straightforward: arcane combinations of buttons nobody would remember need to be pressed to change anything, with buttons so small and unresponsive we keep pressing the wrong ones to turn the radio on or off, or volume up or down even.

but the Philips Fidelio DS8550 turned out to be a very pleasant surprise, partly because the interface got handed off to a free Fidelio app that lets you control the player on the iDevice you have connected – therein, Philips had to adhere to Apple's app guidelines. Thank goodness. it works well, and gives you internet radio, control over your playlists and even local weather conditions.

you can connect via Bluetooth (with an iPad) or with a smaller iDevice directly docked.

but best of all, I don't expect decent sound quality from a plastic enclosure. Wood, sure. but I cranked this on my test tracks that have defeated even the best brands of earbuds and 'phones, and even at full volume, these things sounded impressive, with no distortion.

The full review will appear on my macnz, but if you're interested, I recommend giving one a whirl with your own playlist in a shop. and it's kinda styly, truth be told.

The Philips Fidelio DS8550 costs NZ $399.95 at Noel Leeming – there are other models in the range at Noel Leeming stores, and certain models at Bond and Bond and Dick Smith, with RRPs from $129 to $699).

It's also available in the online Apple Store.

As predicted, Telecom is also going to sell iPhone 4S, so that should shake things up a bit. I get to look at a 4S soon …

– mark Webster