Categories
Apple Books iOS macOS

iOS 12 and macOS Mojave e-books available for Pre-order

As has been the case in 2012, I have written a couple more books. Just like last year, I have written a couple of books. Also like last year there are two, one about iOS, tvOS and watchOS and the other about macOS.

In previous years I have published an iBooks version as well as an ePub. There is a slightly different approach this year, at least for my books on Apple. There is only going to be one version, ePub. The biggest reason for this that the ePub format that is produced by Apple’s Pages software can now do image galleries, which was the big reason for doing the iBooks version.

Similar to last year there will be paperback versions of the books, the order information for that will be forthcoming a bit later.


iOS 12 Book Cover

iOS 12, tvOS12, and watchOS 5 for Users and Developers delves into the changes and new features of Apple’s iOS-based operating systems.

Some of the changes covered include: performance improvements, privacy changes, grouped notifications, enhancements to FaceTime, improved photo features, suggested password enhancements and more. We will also cover some app updates, including changes to Activity, Stocks, News, Voice Memos, and Books.

There are also a bunch of new features like the new Siri Shortcuts which allows you to automate various tasks. Screen Time will let you gain insights into your, as well as your children’s, usage across all of your devices. If you like sending Animoji you will love the all new feature Memoji which allows you to customize an Animoji character however you would like. The new Live Listen will help those who may have a difficult time hear things more clearly. We will also dive into the new Safari password features which will help you use individual passwords on all of your devices.

For developers we dive into the Xcode Changes includes Dark Mode, Performance Improvements, changes around object libraries, and enhanced editing features. We will also dive into Grouped Notifications and how to provide threaded conversations. With Siri Shortcuts we will look at the different ways of adding intents. ARKit 2 is also covered which includes Quick Look and Persistence. For CoreML we look at how to improve model sizes with quantization as well as a brand-new framework related to CoreML, called CreateML. There are also two additional brand new frameworks, Natural Language and Network and we look at these as well. No Apple Developer book would be complete without looking at some of the changes that surround Swift.

There are some features for web developers as well which includes MapKitJS, MusicKitJS and ways to provide secure loading of remote content.

No matter your technical level, there is something for everyone in iOS 12, tvOS12 and watchOS 5 for Users and Developers.

You can pre-order the ePub from Apple for $3.99, or the Kindle version from Amazon for $3.99.


macOS Mojave Cover

Despite macOS being a mature operating system, the new version macOS Mojave (10.14) contains a bunch of new features. Some of the new features covered include Dark Mode, Screenshots & Markup, and the redesigned Mac App Store.

Besides the new features there are some major changes too including ones to Finder, Safari, and using unique passwords on each website. There are also four brand new applications that are coming from iOS. We look at these in-depth. These apps are Stocks, News, Home, and Voice Memos.

Server Administrators see some big changes with macOS Mojave and these are covered as well.

For Developers we cover Xcode changes include performance improvements, object libraries, editing enhancements, and code folding improvements. We look at implementing Dark Mode within your apps, Notarized apps, and implementing Finder Actions.

There are some new frameworks that are covered as well. These include the Network Framework, Natural Language, improvements to CoreML and a related framework called CreateML.

For web developers we cover MapsKitJS, MusicKitJS, and secure loading of content.

No Apple developer book is complete without a discussion of the changes around Apple’s own programming language, Swift. We cover some of the recent changes as well as some future ones.

You can pre-order the ePub from Apple for $3.99, or the Kindle version from Amazon for $3.99.

Categories
Apple iOS

Apple’s App Store Celebrates 10 Years

Time does surely fly, it seems like only yesterday that Apple unveiled the iPhone App Store to the world. The exact date was July 10th, 2008. At its launch the App Store had 500 applications, which seemed like so many at the time. Today there are millions of applications.

It is very likely that without the App Store, Apple would not be the company the it is today. It is not to say that the iPhone itself would not have been somewhat of a success, but it is without a doubt that the ability for third-parties to provide applications for users to download.

There are many things that have been said about the App Store, be sure to check out Apple’s coverage from many who have been instrumental in the success of the App Store.

Source: Apple Newsroom

Categories
Apple Apple TV Apple Watch Apps iPad

Apple’s 2018 WWDC Keynote Announcements

The beginning of June starts with Apple providing a preview of what new features users can expect on their devices in the Fall. Apple updates all of their operating systems each year. There are a number of features coming to iOS, tvOS, watchOS, and macOS. There are hundreds of changes and it is not feasible to cover them all in this post. Below are the biggest features for each operating system. Let us start with the biggest operating system, iOS.

iOS 12

iPhone Customers have expressed their discontent at how older iOS devices have performed when installing newer updates of iOS. With iOS 12 supporting the same devices as iOS 11, users of the iPhone 5s and the iPad Air 2 may be reluctant to install iOS 12 on their devices. However, this is one of Apple’s primary focus areas for the year.

In Apple’s tests, applications started 40% faster, the keyboard appeared 50% faster, and sliding to the left to take a photo was up to 70% faster. These improvements will mean that users do not have to wait for common actions to occur.

There is a new Augmented Reality quick look file format called USDZ, which will allow developers to show quick look previews within applications like Messages, Safari, Mail, Files, and News. This means that you can use augmented reality within a webpage to see exactly how that custom designed product will look, within your own space.

Adobe is brining the USDZ file format to all of Creative Cloud, that will provide a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWIG) editor in Augmented reality.

Some of the other items within ARKit 2 will be:

  • Improved face tracking
  • Realistic rendering
  • 3D Object detection
  • Persistent experiences
  • Shared Experiences

Let us look at this last one, Shared Experiences. Shared Experiences allow you to have up to 4 people simultaneously interacting within the same app, all with their own personalized experience.

Photos and Camera

Photos and the camera are significantly important aspects to a lot of iOS users’ experiences. Apple is bringing some improvements to Photos. The biggest amongst these are when it comes to sharing photos.

With iOS 12, when you share a photo, or set of photos, with someone over iMessage, they will be receiving the full resolution of the photo. Similarly, when a photo set is shared with you, if you have any photos of the same event, you will be prompted to shared the photos that you have with the other person, so everyone can have the same set of photos for the event.

Animoji

Animoji are a big feature on the iPhone X. Apple is adding some more Animoji, including the Koala, Ghost, T-Rex, and Tiger. Animoji can now also detect your tongue so yes, you can use Animoji to stick out your tongue at others.

While Animoji are great, it is better to be able to create an animated example of yourself. With iOS 12 this is possible with a new feature called “Memoji”.

Memoji

Memoji takes the concept of an Animoji, but allows you to create your own custom Animoji for use with Animoji. You can customize your skin color, including adding freckles, hair color, and eye color. You can also add items like hats, sunglasses, earrings, and more.

Memoji will allow you to personalize your conversations even more than before. Besides messages, users also communicate via FaceTime, which has seen some big improvements as well.

FaceTime

FaceTime was introduced 8 years ago, in June of 2010. Since its release it has only seen minor changes. That is no longer the case.

Traditionally, when you use FaceTime can only be used between two individuals, With iOS 12 you can now use FaceTime in groups, up to 32 individuals. Having 32 people can make group chat a lot easier.

When you do have these FaceTime group calls, you can want to add some personality to them. You can do this by using your Memoji right within FaceTime, while you are chatting.

Siri Shortcuts

There are many times that a user wants to do something via Siri, but there is no capability within iOS to do so. There is a new feature called Siri Shortcuts that will allow you do just that. Siri Shortcuts allow any app to expose quick actions to Siri.

With Siri Shortcuts you will be able to name the shortcuts, and then use that phrase to activate the selected action. For instance, if you use the tile app to find something, like your keys, can you assign the phrase “lost my keys”, and with Siri Shortcuts the Tile app will automatically open directly to your keys so you that you can find your keys.

This is just an example and it will depend on application support.

Notifications

The last feature to note of is regarding Notifications. With Notifications under iOS 12, you will get grouping options. You will now be able to group notifications by application, automatically, or turn it off. This can be done on an app by app basis. You will also be able to group by topic or thread as well. With grouped notifications you can remove an entire group by swiping left, just like notifications under iOS 11.

You can also turn off individuals notifications or types of notifications by pressing and holding on an individual notification.

Siri will also be able to suggest notifications to turn off for applications that you have not used for a while. This will be very helpful to reduce the number of notifications that you receive. Let us turn to the last new feature of iOS, called Screen Time.

Screen Time

Screen time, in general, is a problem for today’s technology-based society. The jury is out as to whether or not spending so much time in front of a screen is problematic or not. In order to provide users with information that they need around how much time they are spending on their devices, there is a new feature called “Screen Time”.

With Screen Time you can see how much time each type of app category, application itself, and website are used. You can take any one of those categories, apps, or website and set a limits to what you want. These can be customized on a daily basis, or even on a

Besides individuals wanting to get their traffic usage information, the biggest section of user who want to enable limits is parents. A parent can set up the limitations for their child. This can be done from the parent’s device and automatically applied to a child’s device.

Screen Time will be a huge feature for everyone to keep an eye on overall usage.

That covers the big features of iOS, let us look at tvOS next.

tvOS 12

tvOS has only a few updates that most users will notice. The first of these is that Dolby Atmos audio is coming to tvOS 12. If you have a Dolby Atmos sound bar connected to your Apple TV, and the content that you are watching is Dolby Atmos enabled, it should work.

The second new feature is “Zero Sign-on”. Zero Sign-on is the idea that if you are using your cable company provider’s internet connection you can be automatically signed in to all of the applications that you can stream from, like HBO, ShowTime, and others. This will start with Charter Spectrum customers first, and will expand to other providers in the future.

The third feature revolves around the Aerial views on the Apple TV. With tvOS 12 you will be able to swipe between Aerial Screensavers. Along with this, you will be able to tap on the Siri remote and see the location of the screen saver.

The next feature is that you will be able to tune into live news and sports with the Apple TV. News and Sports are one of the key reasons that people still have traditional cable subscriptions, but that may change.

The last feature of tvOS is the ability to use third-party remotes instead of the Siri remote.

These are minor changes, but welcome ones for Apple TV users. It’s time to move on to watchOS.

watchOS 5

The Apple Watch has a primary focus, health. That has not changed with watchOS 5. The biggest changes for watchOS 5 still revolve around health. These include a new workout type, workout detection, and staying connected.

The new workout type is for Yoga. It is primarily focused on heart-rate. There are millions of people around the world who like to do Yoga and having it be a workout type will allow those individuals to get credit for their Yoga Workouts.

There are often times that you forget to start a workout and only realize it afterwards. This can be particular problematic if you have gone for a while and are not going to get credit. With watchOS 5, this may no longer be the case. watchOS 5 can automatically detect that you are in a workout and suggest you start one. When this occurs, you will receive credit for the time that it detected you were active. Similarly, if you forget to end a workout, watchOS will do the same thing.

Another watchOS feature that may help people stay in touch. There is a large segment of the population that used walkie talkies when they were kids. Apple has brought the same feature to watchOS 5. It is cleverly called “Walkie Talkie”. It does just what you would expect. You can send short audio messages to those who you designate as contacts. The recipient will have to accept an invitation, but after that you will be able to talk freely.

The last feature to highlight is that Siri Shortcuts can now be included in the Siri Watch Face, which include third-party applications are supported.

There are more features on watchOS, but let us move onto macOS.

macOS

Modern macOS was introduced 17 years ago. Since 2013 Apple has been using California place names. For the last four years they have been mountain related. This year though, it is going a bit dryer, with macOS 10.14 Mojave.

macOS 10.14 Mojave has a bunch of new features, with Finder, the Mac App Store, and the Desktop. Let us look at the Finder changes.

Finder Changes

The Finder has received a new view, called Gallery View. Gallery View will provide you with a preview strip at the bottom of the Finder window and a metadata information panel on the right. In this view, in the lower right corner is a new set of features, Quick Actions.

Quick Actions are just as they sound, actions that can be done quickly. These actions are context aware, meaning that you will see different actions for an image, versus a PDF, and other files. Developers can add quick actions if they wish using any combination of shell scripts or automator actions to perform actions all without needing to open an application.

Next, let us look at the Mac App Store.

Mac App Store

The Mac App Store has seen a complete redesign. This is similar to the one that iOS got last year under iOS 12. There is a new sidebar with seven different categories. These categories are:

  • Discover
  • Create
  • Work
  • Play
  • Develop
  • Categories
  • Updates

Each tab contains a variety of applications that match that specific category. The Discover tab will let you find new applications that you may not know about as well as provide editorials about applications. The discover tab also shows the Top Charts.

That covers the Mac App Store changes, now let us move to the new features within the Desktop.

Desktop Changes

The changes around the desktop include a large item, and a small one. The small change is actually around screenshots. Screenshots on macOS now functions a lot like that on iOS. You can take a screenshot and do instant mark-up on the screenshot. It will be great to have consistency between iOS and macOS.

Many users use their Desktop as a temporary holding place for files that they are working on. In order to be able to more easily organize the myriad of files on your Desktop, Apple has created “Stack View”. Stack View will allow you to see all of the files on your desktop within stacks. You can organize Kind of file, Date, or Tag. When you add a new item to the desktop, it will automatically be sorted.

The biggest change for the desktop is an all new Dark Mode. Dark Mode on macOS is a true Dark Mode. In previous versions you could have the menu bar and dock be dark but now with macOS Mojave, all aspects of the operating system can be Dark, including applications, provided the developer has added support for them.

If you use your Mac throughout the day, there is a Dynamic Desktop which will automatically adjust the screen throughout the day, from Light Mode to Dark Mode.

Closing Thoughts

There have been a large number of changes across iOS, watchOS, tvOS, and macOS. iOS brings ARKit enhancements, new Animoji, the new Memoji feature, FaceTime group chat, Siri Shortcuts, the ability to group notifications, and the all new Screen Time all bring iOS forward and help people more quickly do things to get back to what they were doing.

tvOS has a few new features that include Dolby Atmos, Zero Sign-in, Live News and Sports, and the ability to swipe to switch Aerial views and their locations. These are minor, but well needed updates.

watchOS brings Siri Shortcuts, the Yoga workout, automatically starting and ending of workouts, and the new Walkie Talkie feature.

macOS includes a whole new Mac App Store, new Quick Actions in Finder, a new Gallery View for Finder. The Desktop gets Dynamic Desktop, a whole new Dark Mode, and Markup.

Overall, the changes to all of Apple’s operating systems should be quite beneficial for users across all of their Apple devices.

There are even more features that have not been included, but will be covered in my e-books. There will be more information about those later in the summer.

Categories
Apple Apps iOS

Minimum Requirements for iOS Apps

Technology, much like time, is an inevitable march in one direction. At least, it is unless we use technology to destroy our ability to create technology, but that is a whole other discussion. Similar to technology, from time to time Apple will change the minimum requirements for applications that are submitted to the App Store.

Starting in July 2018, Apple will be making a couple of things requirements. The first is that you have to use the iOS 11 SDK for all new applications as well as any updates. This does not mean that you cannot support older operating systems, but you must support iOS 11.

The second requirement is that any new applications, as well as any updates, must support the iPhone X’s Super Retina display. This means that you have to have graphics that are 3x resolution, as well as icons that are 3x.

These requirements are not only for iPhone only applications, but also apply to universal applications as well. Luckily for me, my apps already follow these guidelines. This is because I want my apps to work on all of the modern devices.

What this signifies, to me at least, is that there will be more Super Retina screened devices in the future.

Categories
Apple Apps Games

2017 Games Ranking

One of my areas of interest is video games. I do own a number of consoles. The list of consoles that I own includes:

  • Xbox One
  • Playstation 4
  • Nintendo Switch
  • Wii U
  • Playstation 3
  • Wii
  • Xbox 360

I do not generally use all of these. In fact, the only ones that I use on a regular basis are the first four listed. The Playstation 3 is effectively a Blu-ray player at this point.

My go to gaming console is the Xbox One. I do not buy that many games throughout the year. In fact, I generally only end up buying at most six a year. During 2017 I ended up buying more games than normal due to the Nintendo Switch being released. As a matter of fact, I only played eleven different games this year. I thought I would provide a ranking of the games that I have played throughout the year.

  1. Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo Switch)
  2. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (Xbox One)
  3. PCalc (iOS)
  4. LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2 Deluxe (Xbox One)
  5. Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo Switch)
  6. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Nintendo Switch)
  7. Typeshift (iOS)
  8. Call of Duty: WWII (Xbox One)
  9. Lego City Undercover (Xbox One)
  10. Super Bomberman R (Nintendo Switch)
  11. Puyo Puyo Tetris (Nintendo Switch)

The ranking that provided above is for many reasons. I will attempt to briefly give reasons for my rankings.

1. Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey is the best game that I have played this year. It worked flawlessly on the Nintendo Switch. It combined the best elements of classic 2D Super Mario as well as Nintendo 64 Mario, and it did this all to provide a great story and fun game play. There were only a couple of sections that I found that I could not accomplish. The new game play mechanics of using the hat did add a nice touch to the game. I hope Nintendo continues using the mechanic in another game in the future. I did not get all of the Moons, but that is okay with me.

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2. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (Xbox One)

I have been of a fan of the Wolfenstein series since I first played Wolfenstein 3D back in the MS-DOS days. I have probably purchased more copies of Wolfenstein 3D than I care to admit. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus was not universally loved, like Super Mario, but I enjoyed the story and the game play. You play as BJ Blazkowicz in a continuation of the story in the 2014 reboot, Wolfenstein: The New Order. The gameplay of Wolfenstein II was fun and some new mechanics added a nice touch to a first person shooter. I ran into some issues, which is why it ended up as second in my list and not number one.

To me the Wolfenstein Series, along with Duke Nukem and Doom, will always hold a special place and as long as there is another game in the Wolfenstein universe released, I will likely end up buying it.

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3. PCalc (iOS)

I do not play as many new iOS games as others do. On iOS I generally tend to stick to a couple of games, Solitaire and Tetris. PCalc is not a game, on its face. However, there is a full fledged game within the app. PCalc’s author James Thomson has been working on versions of PCalc for 25 years now. Every time a new feature in iOS is added, James attempts to include it within PCalc, if it makes sense.

Within iOS 11, Apple added a bunch of new frameworks that would allow developers to add augmented reality within their apps. James has done just this. You can play a racing game, complete with track and even achievements. With the inclusion of the game in the “About” screen, I consider it a game. If you have an Apple TV, PCalc TV is the way to really play the game. Plus, besides the game, you get a fully fledged calculator and you definitely need one on the iPad.

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4. Lego Marvel Superheroes 2

Besides video games I love legos. As a kid, I loved playing with legos. As much as I love legos, Lego sets are a bit expensive and therefore I do not buy as many as I would like; plus I do not have the space for a bunch of sets. Now, if you combine Video games and Legos, it is a no brainer for me to get those. The strangest aspect to this purchase was that I am not a Comic book fan and do not really care to see most Comic-based movies. Therefore, I do not know about most of the characters that are included in these games. However, even with all of this, I did enjoy the Lego Marvel Superheroes 2 game.

The story was interesting and did make for a different gameplay. Despite my love for lego and video games, there was not really enough new to warrant having it go higher than it’s current ranking. One of the things I try to do with Lego games is get 100% on them. However, the Lego Superhero games do not allow me to do this. The fact that it is a Lego game, is why it edged out the next game.

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5. Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Unlike the Wolfenstein series, the Zelda franchise is not one that I generally partake in. The biggest reason that I ended up playing some of Zelda is that when I got my Nintendo Switch back in March there were not many games out, particularly since Mario Kart was not going to be released until April. Therefore, in order to be able to play something I picked up a copy of Zelda.

Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a visually stunning game. The story really does allow you to become immersed within the world and urges you on. The open world nature of the game provides a way for you to be able to go and explore wherever you want. Eventually though, it did not hold enough appeal for me to continue playing it. For those that love Zelda, it is a great game to play and is one that you should go out and play.

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6. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

One of the things that is not easy to do is differentiate racing games. Racing games all have a common game mechanic, end up in first. It is not easy to make your game stand out, however for Nintendo it is a bit easier. This is due to having a large breadth of characters. Mario Kart has been the go to Nintendo racing game, not only for the iconic characters, but because of the very

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is not a brand new Mario Kart game, since it was available for the Nintendo Wii U, but the Nintendo Switch provided a boost to sales of the game. Mario Kart 8 is a traditional Mario Kart game complete with classic tracks as well as new ones. If you have played any Mario Kart games, Mario Kart 8 is one you should play as well.

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7. Typeshift (iOS)

There are only two iOS games on my list this year, and this is the second of them; Typeshift. TypeShift is a word puzzle game that provides you with a set of characters and the object of the game is make words using all of the characters. The catch is that the characters appear in vertical lines and have to shift each line to create the words.

While my explanation may not make a lot of sense, once you begin playing you will catch on quickly. Typeshift has become one of the games that I play daily, besides Tetris Premium and Solitaire by Mobilityware.

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8. Call of Duty: WWII (Xbox One)

You may be able to tel that my primary gaming genre is the first person shooter. One of the most popular franchises is the Call of Duty series. The Call of Duty series started off as a World War II series, but eventually turned to more modern and even futuristic storylines. Call of Duty: WWII brings the franchise back to its roots with World War II, but with modern mechanics.

For me, first person shooters are the single player stories, which is the antithesis of the focus of the series for many gamers. Much like Wolfenstein II, some players did not like the single player story, but I did not mind it. It was not the best story, but you do play as a number of different characters in different scenarios which was a nice adaptation for the series.

I have only played a couple dozen online matches for Call of Duty: WWII and it is not likely that I will play many more. The online matches offer no real differentiation from pervious games and is one of the big reasons that it is number 7 on my list. If you enjoy the Call of Duty series and were hoping for it to go back to its roots, this is one that you might enjoy.

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9. Lego City Undercover (Xbox One)

This is the second Lego video game that I have played this year, however it not the first time that I have played the game. Lego City Undercover originally came out in 2013 on the Wii U. When it was released on the Wii U it heavily relied upon the Wii U game pad for interaction. Without a game pad this time, interactions had to be adjusted.

I enjoyed playing through the game again and unlike Lego Marvel Superheroes 2, I did get 100% on this one. Because I had played it did not rank up as high as other games, but that does not diminish from how fun it is. If you take the vast open world nature of Grand Theft Auto or Zelda and place it within a world of Lego characters you will get Lego City Undercover. Lego City Undercover contains hours of fun and will keep you occupied for a long time.

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10. Super Bomberman R (Nintendo Switch)

With it being the debut year for the Nintendo Switch there are a number of games that are being released for the console. One of those games is a remake of a classic Nintendo franchise, Bomberman. Super Bomberman R is a rebooted Bomberman game. I never really played any of the previous Bomberman games, but I enjoyed the story mode on this one. There are 50 levels to play through where you have to complete puzzles to defeat the robot enemies. As with most games, there are some levels that are tougher than others, but overall it is a good puzzle game that will keep you entertained. There is an online multiplayer component, but I have not played online

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11. Puyo Puyo Tetris (Nintendo Switch)

The last game in my list for this year is Puyo Puyo Tetris. Puyo Puyo Tetris takes two franchises, Puyo Puyo and Tetris and intersperses gameplay of both games into one. I originally purchased this game because it was a Tetris game. However, I was quite disappointed with the game overall. I am sure if you were a fan of Puyo Puyo as well as Tetris you would enjoy it. However, for me, it was not anything that I enjoyed.

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Final Thoughts

Those are all of the game that I have played this year. The list may not be very long but I have played all of these games for more than a cursory amount of time. The one thing that I did not expect was to have two iOS games on my list, since my iOS devices are generally where I play most of my super casual games. Typically PCalc would not be included, but everything that James has done with the app, particularly with iOS 11, warrants its inclusion. It is not likely that I will play most of these games much in 2018, excluding maybe TypeShift and PCalc. I will likely go through Wolfenstein II again once the next one is released. I may dabble in Mario Kart and Super Mario Odyssey again, but once I finish a game I typically do not go back to it.

Depending on what games are released in 2018, as well as reaction to the list, I may do another list next year.