Tag Archives: kindle

Maddie Bear in Space

It’s been quite awhile since I last released a game for myself. The other night, I decided I would try to push out a game in 3 hours or less. The result is Maddie Bear in Space.

It’s available for iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire, Android and Android TV and requires a simple touch or button tap interface. You collect as many moons as you can and avoid the spikes to gain a high score.

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Amazon Kindle Fire Kid’s Edition Review

One of my clients, who I’m developing an app version of their children’s book for, sent me a Kindle Fire Kid’s Edition for device testing. I’m going to give a brief overview and review of the device from a consumer, developer, and parent point of view.

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Opening the Box: Inside the box is the Kindle Fire Kid’s Edition, MicroUSB charging cable, wall plug, and rubber case. I was pleasantly surprised to see a MicroUSB cable in there, as my first-generation Kindle Fire didn’t come with one and I’ve had to use one from a Palm Pre for development. I’m pretty sure this is just Amazon’s Fire HD 6″ tablet with a rubber case, an extra 1 year warranty tacked on, and FreeTime pre-installed at an extra $50-$90, depending on their current sales.

Interface: The interface has improved since the first-generation Kindle Fire, which is nice. The graphics are a lot more crisp and the speed is much faster. Just the speed upgrade alone might be worth it if your only other Kindle Fire device is a first-generation like mine.

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Size Comparison: In relation to the first-generation Kindle, the kid’s version is lighter, but also has a smaller screen size. Once you insert it into the rubber case that helps protect it from kids dropping it, it actually ends up a little wider than the first Kindle.

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Software: The main difference between the Kid’s Edition and regular Kindle Fires is FreeTime. This provides your child unlimited access to pre-approved books, games, and TV shows on the device. However, it does feel like the added FreeTime, parental controls, and profiles bog it down a bit. The device often freezes or has issues, which requires a reboot.

Developer Review: In comparison to the first generation Kindle Fire, you need special software to transfer .apk files to this device. Whereas my old Kindle Fire would instantly appear on my MacBook for me to drag and drop files, the Kid’s Edition requires Android software. However, with the Kid’s Edition, you can just close the software and unhook the device from your computer, you no longer have to eject the media. I’m not sure how you get your apps on Amazon’s Pre-Approved FreeTime listings, they may have to contact you if they deem it worthy. I was unable to find any of my children’s books and apps while logged into my daughter’s FreeTime account. Like every device after the first-generation, this one doesn’t have the 20 pixel tall menu bar hardcoded onto the screen, so that’s something to consider when developing apps for it.

Consumer Review: At the time, the Kid’s Edition was $150 USD, but now I see it’s gone up to about $190, which seems pretty steep. As I said, it’s really just a $100 Fire HD with a rubber case, FreeTime, and an extra 1 year added to the warranty. You can get FreeTime on your Fire TV, a rubber case for $3 on eBay, and just try not to break a $100 Fire HD after a year, and essentially save yourself quite a bit of money. Also, the bloatware of having FreeTime slows down the device and causes freezing. It’s much nicer than the first-generation Kindle Fire, but at this day and age, those random $40 Android tablets found in bargain bins are faster than the first Kindle Fires.

Parent Review: My daughter loves the Kid’s Edition Kindle. At only 2 years old, she immediately knew how to navigate the interface, download books and games, watch TV shows, and switch between apps without me showing how to do it. The rubber case makes it easy for her to hold and protects it against drops. The limited access makes it easy for me to hand to her and not have to worry about her downloading or buying something she shouldn’t be. However, while using the device in the car, I tried to switch from my account to my daughter’s and it wouldn’t let me without a wi-fi connection to verify my password. This is a terrible feature that Amazon needs to address.

Overall: At $150 or less, the Kid’s Edition is a great deal for parents. At $190, you’re probably better off with something else or just buying a cheaper tablet and getting a rubber case for it. The software can bog down and the fact that I couldn’t switch accounts without wi-fi is pretty bad. That being said, it’s still a nice device for younger kids and knowing it can be replaced for 2 years if it breaks is nice.

Maddie Bear’s Snack Time: Amazon Fire TV Edition

I’m very pleased to announce that Maddie Bear’s Snack Time has just been approved for the Amazon Fire TV!

Maddie Bear's Snack Time
Maddie Bear’s Snack Time (Image by PlaceIt.net)

In case you’re not aware of the Fire TV, it’s Amazon’s new plug-and-play media box for your television. It gives you access to Amazon Prime movies, Netflix, and even games. It’s very similar to Apple TV, but with its own games and gaming controller. This means you can now play Maddie Bear’s Snack Time on your TV with the Fire TV remote instead of being limited to a touchscreen tablet or smartphone.

For the iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, and Nook Tablet versions of Maddie Bear’s Snack Time or any of my other apps, check out www.GPAnimations.com.

Maddie Bear’s Snack Time

I’m happy to announce that my latest mobile app game, “Maddie Bear’s Snack Time” is now released for iPhone, iPad, Android, Nook Tablets and Amazon Kindle Fire Tablets. Based off of the Maddie Bear book series, Maddie Bear’s Snack Time is a game where Maddie Bear tries to eat as many pieces of fruit as possible while avoiding all of the junk food. It’s an endless runner-style game that is very easy for young children to pick up.

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Kwik 3.0 Now Available

Last week, Kwiksher released their latest version of Kwik Photoshop plugin. I was fortunate enough to be part of the beta testing, and helped CEO Alex Souza discover some of the bugs before the final version was released.

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I was even able to release Maddie Bear’s Birthday for the iPad using the beta version of Kwik.

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Kwik now is compatible with Corona SDK’s new storyboard tool called “Composer” as well as their new Graphics 2.0 anchor point system. It offers a revamped interface and a plethora of new features and settings that were not available in previous versions. You can now add monetization with iAds and AdMob, splash screens, in-app purchases if you’re a Corona Basic, Pro or Enterprise subscriber, and you no longer have to deal with the annoying task of enabling Adobe Flash to run the plugin.

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Kwik has also switched over to a subscription business model to allow for more updates in order to keep up with the ever changing world of mobile app development. When Apple or Android make a change to their operating systems, Corona Labs has to follow suit, which in turn makes Kwiksher have to follow their lead.

There is also another huge benefit to their new subscription model. Let’s say you have an idea for a storybook app, but you’re not ready to make a huge investment in software in case your app doesn’t make you a lot of money or in case you just don’t end up liking app development. You can download the Corona Lab’s Starter Kit for free and then just do a 3, 6, or 12 month subscription to Kwik, depending on how long you’ll need it.

You can also have your script reviewed, have video chat support, and pretty soon, Kwiksher can even publish your app to all of the major app store for you via their services program.

My latest book, Maddie Bear’s Birthday, would have taken much, much longer to develop had I not used Kwik. It saved me days worth of coding. Check out my app at MaddieBearBooks.com to see what is possible with Kwik.

Maddie Bear's Birthday for iPad
Maddie Bear’s Birthday for iPad

Pre-Advertising

I still have two more pages of my next children’s book to draw, but just because it isn’t finished doesn’t mean I can wait to advertise it. Once the drawings are finalized, I still have to do minor revisions, export for print, send the files to Amazon, proof the book and then make available…and that’s just for the print version. The app version will open a whole other Pandora’s box of goodies.

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However, the book is far enough along where I need to start getting the word out. I’ve already reserved the placeholder website: www.MaddieBearBooks.com, created a Facebook page, Twitter account, and even Instagram. I’ve been brainstorming ideas how to create more interest such as an in-app purchase inside the app that allows you to buy the paperback version of the book, a limited edition autographed version of the book, stickers, posters, and prints.

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It’s my goal to turn this into a regular book series that I can continue to draw for years to come, so branding will be important. However, I’m still not certain how much money, if any, I’ll be willing to spend on advertising and marketing. I think initially I’ll try social media and word-of-mouth to see how far that goes and determine the next step from there. What are some ideas that you’ve come up with for marketing your products?

From Kwik to Print

Since 2011, I’ve written, illustrated, and developed two children’s book apps and I’m currently working on my third. I’ve also recently illustrated and developed a book app for Huggable Melodies. Thanks to Kwik, creating the apps was very easy and it allowed me to focus on drawing instead of coding.

I drew the artwork in Flash, and then using Photoshop and the Kwik plugin, I was quickly able to covert the artwork into apps for the iPad and Kindle Fire tablets. However, since my daughter is only 16 months old, I wondered if iPads would even still be around in a few years when she could really comprehend the stories I had written for her. This made me want to consider self-published print versions.

The first company I tried out was Bookemon. It allowed me to upload artwork in landscape dimensions in full color and order on an as-needed basis. The only qualms I have with Bookemon is if you only want one copy, it’s a minimum of $15 shipped, which is kind of pricey for a small book. Also, if you allow the general public to order your book from Bookemon, they can read the entire book without buying it and Bookemon takes a royalty fee. I’m considering trying CreateSpace or Lulu for my next book and I’ll post about the process when I decide.

On the technical side, converting a book app to print-ready artwork was fairly easy and just took a little knowledge of resolution. Most digital artwork is 72dpi and printed work is 300dpi or higher. The book on Bookemon is 7.75″x5.75″, so I created a new document in Photoshop at that size with a resolution of 300dpi. Then I changed the image size resolution to 72dpi and got the new dimensions. I changed the stage size to those new dimensions of my Flash file and scaled down the artwork page by page. Since Flash creates vector artwork, there was no loss in quality. I exported each page as a .png file at 300dpi and uploaded them to Bookemon.

A few days later the print books had arrived and the line quality looks great.

 

Because of the vector artwork and high-resolution exporting, the artwork is crisp and colors are vivid. It’s nice to have an interactive digital version as well as a traditional print version of the books. For my next book, Maddie Bear’s Birthday, I may try to implement an in-app purchase in the app version that allows you to order a print version as well. First, I have to finish drawing the book and then decide on a publisher.

Have any questions about going from digital to print? Leave a comment.

Review: Kut by Kwiksher

A couple days ago, Kwiksher announced their new software called “Kut“. You may know of Kwiksher because of their innovative Photoshop plugin “Kwik”, which allows you to create Corona SDK apps without code. However, Kut isn’t a tool to create apps, it’s a Photoshop plugin to help you create artwork for numerous devices quickly. You are free to use Java, JavaScript, Lua, Objective-C, etc. to create the apps, Kut just helps with the graphics side, not the coding.

You might be asking why this would be helpful. Say you or your client want to create an app that will run on all iOS and Android devices. Well, you could create the artwork for retina iPads, shrink it down in Photoshop for non-retina, shrink it again for phones, and then repeat for Android, Kindle Fire, Nook, etc. or you could design everything in Photoshop one time and then let Kut do the rest for you. Let me show you what I mean.

First, I downloaded the free trial of Kut and installed it via the Adobe Extensions Manager. Then in Photoshop I opened the Kut panel.

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I opened Kut’s settings and selected the devices I would like to support.

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I started a new Document. In this case, I chose iPad Retina as my starting device since it has one of the largest resolutions of 2048×1536.

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Using different layers, I created a screen for a game that is sure to win numerous awards for fantastic artwork. I saved my .PSD file to a folder on my Desktop.

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I clicked the Publish button and got a popup window since it was my first time using Kut (in this instance, I wasn’t making an app icon, but Kut will create icons for your app if you want it to).

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 8.38.01 AMSo I did as the pop up asked and pasted the code into Terminal.

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 8.38.19 AMAnd just like that, I had artwork compressed and sized for every device.

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 8.39.22 AMObviously had I purchased the full version, the watermark of “KUT KUT KUT KUT” would not be on each image. However, in mere moments, I was able to create artwork for a game for 8 different devices. This could normally take hours and Kut did it all in a click of a button. If you’re thinking about picking up Kut, buy it before December 31st and it’s only $19.99.

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I decided to pick up the full license to remove the watermark. Kut is definitely very useful software for cross-platform development and for $19.99, you can’t go wrong. This time when I published out my artwork, I was given a developer’s report that is part of the full-version of Kut.

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This is extremely useful for rebuilding the interface in your coding language of choice. Now not only do I know the dimensions of my artwork, I also know the exact coordinates to place them on the screen. If you’re reading this, you should stop now and download Kut, it’s a great tool that I’m going to be using a lot.

The Perfect Pillow: Print Edition

My first children’s book app “The Perfect Pillow” has been selling by the thousands for the Kindle Fire and iPad, but my friends and family that don’t own tablet devices were never able to read it to their children.

Last night, I decided to convert it to an actual paperback book so I could keep a print version around the house for my daughter. You can pick up your copy using the link below:

The Perfect Pillow
by Greg Pugh
The Perfect Pillow

I ordered my copy last night, I’ll post pictures when it arrives.