Can Clinton Clinch The Nomination With An App?

Anyone who’s even glanced at the internet or their TV for what feels like the last ten years will know all about the US general elections. The top candidates for their next president are Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, and no matter who wins it feels like history will certainly be made.

No matter where you live, your potential leaders will be consumed with bringing in more and more voters. In today’s environment, how do you catch and then consistently hold the voter’s attention? The team behind Hillary Clinton appear to be answering that question with an app, Hillary 2016.

This article compares Clinton’s app to the hugely popular Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, and it’s not hard to see why. The app takes the form of a game, where the player competes against other Clinton supporters in who can work the hardest for her. When you start playing, you have a bare little office to work from. You gain ‘stars’, which earn you in game knick knacks, discounts off ‘2016 swag’, and even the chance to win a signed item from Clinton herself.

The app certainly appears to hit the entertainment nerves of mobile app game fans. By offering incremental rewards, the player is drawn into the game and engaged by it. Then, almost by osmosis, they take in more and more of Clinton’s philosophy, and then theoretically consider voting for her.

She doesn’t only teach players her own philosophy, but actively attacks Trump’s campaign in the app. The app description itself in the app store reads ‘The only thing standing between Donald Trump and the presidency is us.’ Strong stuff. They’re not above using humour too, as one of the most popular aspects of the game is the ‘Trump or false?’ quiz, which has users guess if Trump really did come out with a number of bizarre statements.

This is probably one of the most successful presidential apps that have ever been made. It’s not the highest bar, as the first ones were made in the last elections and were mostly info driven apps. However, it’s set a new standard in campaigning, one that was a bold choice to make. A well made, fun and engaging app holds the attention of people arguably much more than most traditional media. As this is the case, it seems that Clinton was right in using an app to get her message across. Now, the proof of its success will lie in whether she gets elected come November.

So, What Makes Pokemon Go Just So Ridiculously Popular?

So, no matter how hard you try and get away from it, Pokemon Go is here to stay. With the summer holidays now in full force, you’ve probably seen kids (and their parents) out in the streets, on the hunt for those elusive pocket monsters. So, just how popular has the game become?

According to recent data, it’s more popular than sliced bread, and that’s putting it lightly. Survey Monkey polled Pokemon Go users to find out what made them tick, and found some surprising results. The game is installed on over 5% of Android phones, which doesn’t sound like a lot until you realise that Tinder, the hyper popular dating app, is only on 2% of them. The app is pulling in $0.25 per user every day, which means that right now, it’s making more than Candy Crush Saga. In fact, more people are using Pokemon Go than they’re using Facebook on their phones.

So, it sounds like everyone and their dog (literally) is playing Pokemon Go. Just what is it that’s captured everyone’s imagination?

In short, it’s because it’s a truly unique game. Developer Niantic Labs created Ingress before it, which was another GPS based game, but Pokemon Go is just something else entirely. It uses augmented reality in a way that hasn’t really been used before, and in doing so has found a way that everyone can interact with it.

The really clever thing about the app is that it combines this new and exciting gameplay with established and beloved characters. There are adults who grew up with Pokemon, and love the opportunity to get to play with them again. Parents are enjoying the fact that they can play with their children, and kids love the idea of playing the role of Pokemon Master.

So, what can app developers learn from the popularity of the app? It’s incredibly rare for an app to take off the way Pokemon Go has, so it’s hard to predict. However, we can see how the game affects its users and extrapolate from there.

The biggest thing about the app is the way it has brought people together. Many apps sell themselves as social networks or dating apps, but really, none of them have been able to touch Pokemon Go. It seems that the combination of collecting the Pokemon and going out into the neighbourhood has made people come together in a way they never have before.

Do you have an idea for an app that could do something similar? This may be the time to get working on it. App users have discovered that the combination of gaming and exploration has a positive effect on their lives, so if you can add something new, now is the time to get it out there.

This Is How Pokemon Go Is Changing The World For The Better

So Pokemon Go launched in the UK last Friday, and it seems that the whole country, if not the whole world, has caught Pokemon fever. Everywhere you go, you can spot Pokemon Trainers running around catching the virtual pocket monsters hiding in plain sight. It’s clearly great fun, but what Nintendo clearly didn’t expect is that the app is having a huge positive impact on its players.

It’s helping those with mental health issues

We touched on this last week, but many players are reporting that having the app is making it easier to cope with mental health issues such as depression. Twitter user @vincentmtweten says that ‘Tbh Pokemon Go has worked wonders for my depression. The hardest part of the day is leaving bed but when you see that Eevee outside it’s easy.’ It seems that the app gives people a reason to leave the house, and helps them get exercise and socialise with others, all factors that can help with illness.

It’s helping out local businesses

With lures being dropped nearby local businesses, they’re getting in on the action. Some are simply advertising their locality to passing Pokemon Trainers, but some are actually offering deals and discounts to them to reel them in. With the ability to request Pokestops now a feature, there’s nothing to stop businesses getting in on the action and bringing the Pokemon Trainers in in their droves. Of course, not everyone is a fan of them wandering in…

It’s bringing people together

The greatest thing about Pokemon Go is that it seems to be bringing communities together, in a way that no other game has really managed. Stories all over the internet talk about how people have made friends while out and about, with people from all walks of life. Of course, sometimes these friendships boil over into romances, and Project Fixup has started the first Pokemon dating app, Pokedates, in order to help trainers find love. It’s also helping people who otherwise have difficulty socialising, such as 6 year old Ralph Kopperman, who is diagnosed with autism. His mum says that he’s interacting and making friends with other trainers thanks to the app, something that would have been unthinkable before.

It’s getting people fit

Of course, the app hasn’t been out long enough in order to see any major results, but it seems that Nintendo have inadvertently made a fitness app. Trainers collect eggs, and in order to hatch them, they have to walk a certain distance. Of course, some trainers are circumventing the system by attaching them to their dogs, but they are out and walking, and what’s a better reward for getting some exercise than getting a new Pokemon?

All in all, it seems no one could have predicted the impact Pokemon Go would have on gamers around the world. It’ll be exciting to see how it will evolve in the future. For now, stay safe while on your Pokemon hunting travels, and let us know if you’ve made any exciting finds!

Everybody’s Talking About Pokemon Go, So We Are Too

In the last week, all the tech world can talk about is the release of Pokemon Go. The app game has become a phenomenon, leading Pokemon fans to walk for miles in search of Pokemon to catch. The game has become so popular, it’s even caught the attention of mainstream news.

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Andy Morgan

Pokemon Go works using augmented reality, showing Pokemon in ‘the wild’ in the real world. The player takes on the mantle of a Pokemon trainer, catching them and training them up, ready for battle. This simple mechanic has caught the imagination of adults and children alike. Adults and older fans, who remember playing the game on the Gameboy, no doubt love the fact that Go allows them to immerse themselves further into the world of Pokemon then we have ever been able to before.

The app has provided some surprising benefits too. Players have reported making fast friends with other players, having met them while on the hunt for the same Pokemon. Others have reported the app having surprising mental health benefits, leading people suffering with depression and other mental illnesses to leave their homes and engage with other people, when normally it would be too difficult.

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Ella Clarke

However, there have been some problems that almost no one could have anticipated. There have been reports of people being lured into gunpoint robberies using the app, and one teenage girl in the US even came across a dead body while out looking for Pokemon. Police stations have had to ask people not to wander into their station looking for Pokemon, and several US police departments have had to issue warnings, including asking users not to wander into roads while playing, or against playing the app while driving.

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Andy Morgan

This brings to mind the case against Snapchat, when a teenager, using the speed filter while driving, hit and disabled another motorist. There’s already been some scary images of people wandering onto busy roads, not even looking at traffic, as they rush to catch a Pokemon. If someone is injured while using the app, will Nintendo face legal problems?

In the countries the app has been released in, it’s become a runaway success. However, the app hasn’t made it’s way to the UK yet. Gamers have found workarounds, even going as far as setting up US Apple accounts in order to play. Hopefully, by the time this blog goes live, it’ll be available in UK app stores.

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Ella Clarke

Do you have any funny stories about Pokemon Go, or found a Pokemon in an odd location? Let us know!

Spotify vs. Apple: Who’s In The Right?

A huge legal war is brewing between Apple and Spotify, all based around how Apple controls developers who use the Apple App Store to distribute their apps.

Spotify kicked off proceedings by publicly accusing Apple of trying to freeze them out of the music app market. They claim that Apple have blocked their latest app update until they agree to Apple’s own billing system. By doing so, Spotify say, Apple are hoping to remove Spotify from the competition to make way for their own Apple Music service.

On the surface, it sounds as though Apple’s app verification process is rather strict and unfair. With Apple Music being so recent and Spotify being so established, having been set up 2006, it’s easy to believe that Apple are trying to remove the competition to give their own product a chance.

However, Apple say that this isn’t the case. The Next Web reports that in fact, Apple is being far too lenient with Spotify. They outline Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines, pointing out that if a company wants to put an app on the store, they have to agree that features are unlocked by using Apple’s in app purchases system. Furthermore, users are banned from using any methods that would take app users away from Apple in order to pay, such as buttons or external links. It seems that the rules are very clear, and that Spotify are apparently in breach of them.

At time of writing, it seems as though this issue is going to go to court, with top senators in Washington even getting involved and commenting on the case.

We can see where both sides are coming from. Spotify have clearly never been happy with the way Apple does business, and are annoyed with what seems like one more constriction on the way they market their app. With Apple now having their own competing app, surely this is a conflict of interest?

On the other hand, the rules are very clearly laid out in Apple’s guidelines. It’s very likely that Spotify knew this when they began putting together the update for their app, but carried on anyway and are now annoyed that Apple are upholding their own rules.

No matter who’s in the right, it’s easy to see why it’s become such a huge issue. Anyone creating an app knows that Apple has one of the single largest market shares out there. If you want to get noticed, you need to be on the Apple App Store. However, with the company taking so much of the profit share and the rules being arguably so restrictive, how much are up and coming developers going to put up with?

If this does end up going to court, we’ll be interested to see who wins and how the app industry will be affected by the outcome. Will Apple be convinced to loosen their grip on their marketplace slightly, or will Spotify be made to toe the line?

What ‘Brexit’ Means For The UK Gaming Industry

On Thursday 23rd June this year, the UK voted to leave the European Union. The history making referendum has resulted in backtracking on political promises, the largest crash in the value of the pound since 1985, and the resignation of the prime minister. As you can imagine, the decision is going to have a profound impact on industry within the UK, so how is it going to affect the UK’s gaming industry?

What this means for gamers

In the short term, the UK’s gaming community won’t see many changes, but they may do in the coming months. As the UK moves to leave the EU, prices for games may well be affected due to currency conversion and other factors. Worst case scenario, games may start costing more as developers look to recoup the money they have potentially lost thanks to Brexit.

Jobs may be lost in the UK

Developers are going to suffer if the UK goes through with leaving the EU, as many rely upon EU funding to keep themselves running. Also, thanks to the crash in the value of the pound, many devs found that the value of their companies had nosedived overnight, losing hundreds of pounds in a matter of hours. Some companies may decide to move their headquarters away from the UK into Europe, in order to take advantage of opportunities there. This means that people in the games industry may well find themselves out of work.

There are also concerns about the recently introduced tax relief system for UK games developers. It’s not yet clear whether this will stay in place, and whether the money saved will offset the amount lost by an exit from the EU.

Indie developers may be hit hardest

The big guns in the industry may well be able to weather the storm, but it’s been predicted that indie devs will be hit the hardest, as they’ll have less access to funding. This could have a severe impact on the games that come out of the UK, as some of our most recent successes, such as Candy Crush Saga. With indie devs feeling the financial pressure, they may not be able to put out the same quality and quantity of games as they have before.

It’s not all bad news

You’ve probably noticed that this post is full of ‘mights’ and ‘maybes’. At the time of writing, the UK is still in the EU and we just don’t know what is going to happen yet. If we do leave, other possibilities may well present themselves. Many game devs, when asked by the media, have commented that while disappointed by the result, they think it’ not time to panic yet. If the exit is handled carefully enough, the impact may well be minimal and the gaming industry will be able to carry on as normal. As with many things right now, we’ll simply have to wait and see.

Everything You Need To Know About The 2016 Apple Developer Conference

Another Apple Developer Conference has come and gone, and with it has come another slew of announcements that are sure to have Apple fans excited about upcoming changes within the company. There were no major hardware announcements, with most of the conference focusing on how their software can and will be improved.

Siri is coming to desktops and laptops

iPhone users have found their mobile experience to be changed forever with the inclusion of Siri. Once users got asking it ridiculous questions out of their system, they found that it was actually a useful and quite practical tool to have at their disposal. As part of their OS overhaul, Siri will now be available on desktop and laptops, meaning you can ask her to order you a pizza no matter what you’re doing.

iMessage effects and animations

One of their more aesthetic changes, iMessage users will now be able to customise their messages with animations and effects. Have you ever wanted to send messages that look handwritten, have bubble effects, or have bigger emojis? Then you’re in luck!

Photo upgrades

Borrowing from other online photo leaders such as Google and Instagram, photos will now have several cool new features. Apple maps will be able to tag your photos with where they were taken, and new facial recognition technology will recognise and tag your friends for you.

Apple maps improvements

Maps is receiving an overhaul that hopes to make it more useful to drivers. While using it for GPS directions, dynamic maps will zoom in on turns and zoom back out on long straight roads. You’ll also be able to get recommendations if you’re looking to stop for restaurants or petrol stations en route, and updated journey times if you choose to take those detours.

MacOS

One of the biggest announcements was the overhaul of OS X. For the first time in 15 years, it’ll be receiving an upgrade and a name change, to MacOS Sierra. Most Apple systems will be upgraded, and the Siri integration mentioned above will be implemented. One of the more interesting new features is the Auto Unlock, which will allow Apple Watch users to unlock their computers using their device.

Siri open to outside developers

Possibly the most exciting announcement, Siri will now be open to outside developers to work with. This means that a whole new range of uses will be available for the personal assistant. Soon, you’ll be able to order an Uber taxi, chat with friends on Whatsapp or even pay your bills using custom voice commands.

Everything You Need To Know About E3 2016

It’s that time of year again. Journalists and gamers have descended upon Los Angeles for E3 2016, where anyone who’s anyone in the gaming industry is showing off the latest in gaming and gaming technology. Without any further ado, let’s take a look at the most exciting announcements that have come out this year.

Crash Bandicoot makes his debut in Skylanders

To kick things off with a big dose of nostalgia, Activision  have announced that Crash Bandicoot, the de facto Playstation mascot of the mid 90’s, is making his return in Skylanders Imaginators. Early gameplay footage shows that he’s going to play in a very similar fashion as he always has, with his spin and jump attacks apparently still in place. As the icing on the cake, it was also announced that the original first three Crash games are all being remade and released on the PS4.

Project Scorpio

There have been no brand new consoles announced this year, but Microsoft aren’t content to rest on their laurels. Having seen how popular VR gaming is becoming, they have announced that they are working on Project Scorpio, a 4K ready version of the Xbox One that will support VR play. When released, they promise that it will be the most powerful console ever made.

Death Stranding

If, like us, you were devastated at the cancellation of Silent Hills, you’re in luck. Hideo Kojima unveiled his latest project, Death Stranding, with an almost predictably baffling teaser trailer. It features the likeness of Norman Reedus, who was set up to appear in Silent Hills, waking up on a beach with a baby that turns to oil in his hands. Perhaps it will all make sense when the game comes out. Thinking of past Kojima games though, perhaps not.

Microsoft strategy of convergence

In more Microsoft news, they also announced a new strategy where Xbox One games will be playable on PC, and multiplayer games will support ‘crossplay’ between the two platforms. MIcrosoft aren’t worried about how you play their games anymore, as long as you’re playing them. They’ve even publicly reached out to Sony about supporting Xbox – PS4 crossplay.

Expected sequels

As is tradition for E3, there was the usual slew of sequels announced to popular titles. Resident Evil 7 was announced with a creepy trailer that shows that the franchise is trying to get back to it’s scary roots, and apparently the whole game will be playable in VR. FIFA 17, this time around, will feature a story mode of all things. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild offers a new take on Hyrule, and promises to be a strong title for the Nintendo NX console. Finally, God of War is back (again), featuring Kratos battling Norse gods alongside his son.

Can You Really Apply For Jobs By Playing Games? Testing the Debut App

As the academic year draws to a close, recent graduates will be facing down the task of endlessly writing their CVs and covering letters, and hoping to stand out in the increasing crowd of graduates who want the same thing as they do. It’s not an enviable task, by any means. Luckily, there appears to be an answer. The Debut app promises young people the opportunity to connect with distinguished and established companies such as Rolls Royce, Teach First and Barclays, without them having to do the tedious legwork.

So, could Debut end the task of filling out endless application forms for good? We put it to the test.

When you download and boot up the app, it first asks you for some standard sign up data, such as name, date of birth, and gender. It then asks you questions about what you want from a job. The standard answers such as ‘good wage’ and ‘holiday time’ come up, as well as more offbeat ones such as ‘quirky office’ or ‘great parties’. As a potential jobseeker, I was concerned that more about benefits and working conditions weren’t addressed. You’re then asked to pick some areas that you’re looking to work in. At the moment, it feels rather restricted, but it may expand as more companies join up to the scheme.

Once all these tasks have been done, you’ll be shown the main page where you can access all the options Debut gives you. You can browse through opportunities, read useful articles in the ‘insight’ tab, or update your profile with information that makes you unique, such as your strengths, your interests, even whether you were the first in your family to go to university. The two most intriguing tabs, though, are the ‘games’ and ‘talent spots’ tabs.

The ‘talent spots’ tab proposed to bring top employers to you, rather than you hunting them down. If you have an impressive profile, Debut promises that top companies will show up in this tab though, wanting to talk to you. I received one notification while using the app, but it turned out to be Debut offering a month long internship if I could design a game for them. Perhaps, as a profile grows, better opportunities will come though.

And that leads us to the much touted ‘games’ system. The media has announced Debut by declaring ‘Apply for jobs by playing games!’, but it doesn’t seem to be easy as that. At the time of writing, the only game available is the ‘Agile Minds’ puzzle games that did promise tech prizes, but the competition is now closed. However, there are several games lined up for the future with new, undisclosed prizes on offer.

Overall, Debut is a neat idea that does appear to be able to bring new graduates to some of the top employers in the country, but it is very much in it’s infancy. Some of the features feel a bit foreshortened, but perhaps with some more time and input, they’ll be able to offer more to users. Most importantly, it probably won’t replace the more traditional method of applying for jobs, which is a sad thing to say for weary graduates. However, it will certainly help the process, and even give them opportunities they wouldn’t have had before. If you’re a recent graduate, try it out for yourself, and let us know if it helps you.

Dating Simulators Find Their Home In App Gaming

Have you ever wanted to play a game where you’re the only human in a high school full of pigeons? How about one where your girlfriend suddenly and inexplicably turns into an alpaca? Perhaps you want to play a game where you pick a romantic suitor from a pack of dinosaurs, instead? If any of those appeal to you, you’ll want to check out a dating simulator.

This uniquely Japanese brand of video games have been popular for years overseas, but have become more and more popular in the West with the release of several hugely popular titles. As the name implies, dating simulators ask the player to focus on picking a suitor and using their time in game to effectively woo them. They have usually been centered around a male playable character, with several female characters to choose from. However, ‘otome’ games, or dating simulators where the roles are reversed, have become more and more popular in recent years.

There have been several very successful dating simulators, such as early example Tenshitachi no Gogo from 1985, Magical Date, and LovePlus. The most recent one you may well have heard of, though, is Hatoful Boyfriend.

Released in 2012 for PC and recently retooled for iOS, this loving send up of the genre places your character in St. PigeonNation’s, a high school for pigeons that exists in a time where birds are the dominant species. Yes, you read that right. As with most dating simulators, you pick your quarry early on, and focus on your relationship with them, hoping you interact enough for the pigeon in question to consider dating you. However, further into the game, there’s enough cheeky asides and vaguely worrying visuals to make you suspect that everything isn’t as it seems.

With its static visuals and choice based system, Hatoful Boyfriend is perfect for app gaming. It’s joined a marketplace where the dating simulator has really taken off. Search ‘dating simulator’ on Google Play and you’ll get hundreds of titles available for you. Interestingly, they seem to be overwhelmingly aimed at women. They also play off popular trends in pop culture, as seen in the Shall We Date? WizardessHeart+ app, and the bizarre but intriguing Five Nights at Freddy’s homage, Five Tries At Love.

It seems like the app medium has become the new home for dating simulators. With a faster turnaround on development, they can follow trends more closely. Also, the dating simulator format is perfectly suited to gaming on the go, in short bursts, rather than more protracted playthroughs that a gamer might encounter on consoles or PC. Whatever happens though, it seems the genre isn’t going away any time soon. With a parody like Hatoful Boyfriend becoming the most popular example of the genre though, who knows where it will go next?