The ARTIS Blog
Release notes & announcements, tips & tricks using our software,
discussion on future features, insight, previews, commentary, etc.
Frenzic for the iPhone and iPod touch »
November 19th, 2008
The Iconfactory and ARTIS Software are proud to announce that our addictive puzzle game, Frenzic, is now available from the iTunes AppStore for the iPhone and iPod touch.
Mac OS X users have been playing Frenzic for over a year, but now Frenzic comes alive for Apple’s mobile platform as well. The iPhone’s revolutionary touch screen interface makes Frenzic a must have for gaming enthusiasts of all ages. Players sort colored pie pieces in a frantic race that tests both the mind and reflexes and offers hours of endless fun.
Like the desktop version, Frenzic for the iPhone takes only minutes to learn, but months to master. Devise new, impressive play strategies to push yourself to the top of the Internet Leaderboards, and thanks to the iPhone’s location services, you can test your mettle against players both near and far. Set up your player account at Frenzic.com to make friends, track stats and climb through seven levels of Devotion from Newbie all the way to Frenzic Grandmaster.
To mark the occasion of Mobile Frenzic coming to the App Store, we’re also lowering the price of the OS X desktop version of Frenzic to just $14.95 for the Guru Bundle and $9.95 for the regular version. Visit Frenzic.com today to download Frenzic for Mac OS X, watch mobile and desktop video demos, browse the global leaderboards and much more.
Frenzic for the iPhone and iPod touch is available today from the iTunes App store for the low price of $4.99. Get ready to flex that gray matter, but be warned … once you start, you may not want to stop!
xScope 2 »
January 30th, 2008
After almost 6 month in the making it is finally here: Version 2.0 of xScope! Again in cooperation with the Iconfactory we have added an array of new features and improvements.
Notably we added a new tool that we hope will help a lot of designers save much time and frustration. Instead of writing long explanations we thought a screencast would explain it much better, so click here to watch the new tool being explained.
Find all the details here at the Iconfactory.
October 26th, 2007
Since Steve Jobs himself announced there will be an iPhone SDK in February 2008 it is not a big secret that I will be working on something for the iPhone next year.
Until then, there is something I am working on for some time now that will make the classic group of ARTIS customers happy, too. The homepage says “our goal is to create software for creative professionals to make their work easier“, and that is exactly what this new thing does:
It makes something unseen before, and it makes something a lot easier.
History repeating »
September 30th, 2007
Could it be that Apple is making a huge mistake, one that will marginalize them to a niche of a market they defined, again?
The iPhone is something fundamentally new and I think everyone who has tried one knows this. Though it is primarily a phone, its real breakthrough is that it has finally answered the question of how to do the mobile computer device.
Like the Macintosh answered the question of how to do the PC, the iPhone does this for the mobile. There have been PCs before the Mac, but when the Mac appeared in 1984, in the long run, they were history.
In the future every mobile computer device will be like the iPhone. The handsets of today remind me a lot of the DOS-based PCs of 1984. Yes, it took its time, but today every PC is like a Mac. The irony is that Apple made some fundamental mistakes, and most of these PCs now run something called Windows, which is undoubtly much more a Mac than a DOS-based PC.
It makes me want to pull out my hair, but more and more it looks like Apple is repeating history in more than one aspect: If they continue on the path they are on today, they will not be the provider of the mobile of the future, because they make two fundamental mistakes:
Locking customers into one operator does not make people happy. At the time they do not have much choice, but beware if they have! If I could buy a more-or-less iPhone from (lets say) Nokia that runs on my chosen operator, I would.
Locking out 3rd party applications does not make people happy, too. At the time they do not have much choice, but beware if they have! If I could twitter, chat, read an e-book, play a game, etc. on a more-or-less iPhone from (lets say) Microsoft, I would.
I have read a lot of articles dismissing these two arguments with the fact that the iPhone is so revolutionary, this does not matter to not make it a huge success. I agree for the moment, but not in the long run. The only reason why the iPhone sells so well is because the competition is still at the MS-DOS equivalent of the mobile. If Apple thinks they will forever keep this lead they are nuts!
It is especially crazy, since building a big pool of 3rd party software now would create a huge advantage over any future competitor. Plus, Apple could make a lot of money out of it too, by selling the software over iTunes (like I said in the previous article I think this provides value for both customer and software developer).
Apple listen: First, you need an iPhone SDK, now! If you are worried about something like Skype, make it clear you will not distribute this over iTunes. Which would be the only way to install 3rd party software. Second, stop your exclusive operator strategy, ASAP! I know there are contracts, that’s why there is ASAP instead of now! This does you more harm than good. I will not buy an iPhone because I will never ever go back to T-Mobile. Never. (I live in Austria)
In essence: Do not lock customers!
Developing for the iPhone »
July 8th, 2007
Why we have just seen the beginning of the iPhone third party application story, and what comes beyond sweet.
First let me describe what I understand to be a real iPhone app (as opposed to a “sweet” iPhone app, which is simply a website):
Icon on the home screen
As long as you cannot access it from the home screen it is not on par with the built-in apps. The launchpad for apps on the iPhone is the home screen, not the bookmarks in Safari.
Access to full screen mode
It should have control over the whole screen, as every built-in app has, and it should react to changes in the phones orientation.
Notifications of UI events
This is most important, but least visible to the user. A real event driven app model. Reacting to taps, zooms, “sleeps” (i.e. user hits home button or phone call comes in), orientation changes, etc.
Finally, which is why real iPhone apps are so ticklish for Apple:
Access to the phones resources
This includes full IP network access (not just fetches of webpages), initiating phone calls, access to the contacts, but also mundane things as access to the filesystem.
Because of this last point there was never a realistic chance of an SDK at the launch of the iPhone. What Apple has done so far in this timeframe is already incredibly much, and I do not see how they would have been able to create a solid, future-proof SDK on top of that. A phone is not a Mac. It needs more security, because it is less clear what it does, and iPhone users deserve something better than “Application X wants to Y? Cancel or Allow?”, where Y may be something the user does not even understand.
But I do not think that “sweet” (i.e. web based apps only) is the final word on developing for the iPhone. I think third party apps will be “one more thing” on a Stevenote in the future, because they add value. Tremendous value. Imagine a Mac with software from Apple only. How lame!
Third party apps could even become another competitive advantage of the iPhone! Why that? Because Apple could make this process very easy, like the rest of the experience with the iPhone, by selling and installing the apps over iTunes. Like they already do with games for the iPod. Like selling songs. Really easy.
Imagine the traditional model of selling software for a phone: Find the software on the web, go to that website, download a package, drag this to a sync application, then sync to install it on the phone. And this is only the install, you haven’t bought the software yet. Compare this to browsing apps inside iTunes, click on a buy button, look at the progress bar, done.
Now if you ask me if I as a developer like this, I am not totally sure, because it gives Apple total control over the sale to the customer. Though this is not as bad as some developers may think, because that is what most sales are like: Normally companies creating the goods do not have direct access to the customers at the point of sale. On the other hand, if this improves the experience for the customer, and it will then lead to more customers, I do like this model!
So what are the things to be solved by Apple before this “one more thing” could become reality? (Except creating a funny punch-line around the words “even sweeter”):
1. Security model
What they need is a security framework that defines access to resources in a way that goes beyond the current model on Mac OS X. This is not only a technical issue, but also an issue of how to expose this to the user in an easy and understandable way.
2. Business model
How will this work from the business point of view? Will Apple test apps before selling them, and will this cost something? Will listing apps cost something, or is Apple’s cut simply a percentage of the sales price? What about freeware and open source applications?
When these two things are defined, the issue of the interface guidelines will be worked out on the way. Don’t expect every app to be perfect. Even Apple included the Notes app that is a duck, don’t expect developers to deliver only brilliant apps, or that any guidelines would guarantee they will.
The kind of developers who could do great iPhone apps are the existing Mac developers. Apple, let us do it, and I am shure we would add great value, that would make the iPhone even more successful.
Oh, BTW. don’t you think that Frenzic would be a wonderful game for the iPhone? Then read this! If you haven’t done so already then download and try it on your Mac today — and then think of how much fun this would be on an iPhone with its touch interface.
Really soon now… »
January 2nd, 2007
Obviously the next thing has been delayed beyond 2006 now. On the positive side, I can guarantee that 2007 will definitely be the year it is going to be published. After all this is not Duke Nukem Forever — well, it is not 3D…
This project has grown into something bigger and better than we thought it would be initially. This has taken its time. Sorry for the delay, but I think you will like the outcome!
The next thing »
August 11th, 2006
Long time since the last entry here, but I can assure you, I am busy working on the next thing. I cannot say more for now, sorry.
So while there is not much news from ARTIS for now, my partners at The Iconfactory have released their new site last week. If you haven’t seen it yet, it is time to check it out!
Over and out. Ok, that’s wrong. So, out! Though this sounds like Dogbert now…
xScope on Windows »
April 9th, 2006
Ok, not directly in Windows, but with the help of Parallels it runs perfectly on top of Windows.
All you need is an Intel-based Mac, a copy of Parallels, xScope and, well, a copy of Windows, too.
And finally you will be able to use xScope to find those damn IE/Win problems!
Constrain your frame »
March 28th, 2006
One of the things I can do with this blog is to show you some nice little features of xScope that you may not know by now. So here is my first take, hope you find it useful:
On the icon bar of every xScope frame you’ll find the ‘two dots’ icon. Clicking on this will open a menu to constrain the frame to a certain aspect ratio. New in version 1.5 not only the sides are constrained to the set ratio, but also the sides itself are split by the set ratio with tiny tick marks.
This comes in handy especially with the ‘golden section’: It was used by the ancient greeks heavily, and therefore again in Renaissance. It always pleases the eye. I like to use the golden section to fake design skills. Take a look at this picture to see how I used this feature on the new website. There are plenty of golden sections.
Now take out your xScope and find all the golden sections here!
Remote debuggin’ cross the Atlantic »
January 7th, 2006
One year ago Steve Jobs introduced the first Intel-based Macintosh and totally changed the rules of the game. Though Boot Camp and Parallels came a few month later, the switch basically meant that from then on PCs and Macs play on the same field. No confuse-a-consumer anymore. The Megahertz Myth was fun, especially when you could drop in things like the Pipeline for ultimate confusion, but it turned off a lot of people. FUD won over RDF, if you know what I mean.
All that is history now, and the Macintosh is growing like never before. “The first 30 years were just the beginning“: RDF wins over FUD now!
But I do have a personal story to add to this:
The incredible 6,150 miles remote debugging session!
My most popular product xScope had a problem running on the new Intel hardware, so I needed access to one of the Intel Developer Transition Kits (DTK) to debug and fix it. xScope is a cooperation of ARTIS and The Iconfactory, so it looked like a waste to me to have a DTK at both, The Iconfactory and ARTIS. My friends over at the factory had a DTK, so we tried to install Apple Remote Desktop on it and give me access over the Internet. I was trying to debug and fix xScope on an Intel Mac located in southern California, from my Vienna home office in the middle of Europe. That is a distance of 6,150 miles (or 9,900 km), additional to the minor facts that the hardware was not finished, and the operating system was not finished.
It worked. Flawlessly. As expected. When Steve Jobs announced the first Intel Macs one year ago, we already had xScope ported to Intel.