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Archives: February 2011

Pennant Baseball Stats App For iPad

While I am a big sports fan, I am more interested in the history of baseball and its statistics than other sports. Pennant is an iPad app that provides a bunch of baseball history and statistics, and it is currently on sale for $4.99 through out Spring Training. Pennant contains data on over 115,000 games from 1952 to 2010.

When you first start Pennant you see a list of team names in alphabetical order. The default view has you swipe through the team names, but you can also display those names in a grid and on a map. Tap the team name to dive deeper into the teams stats, by seeing a timeline that runs from 1952 to 2010 and the winning percentage in bar charts. Tap a year in the timeline to view the list of all the games in that season, which you can further scroll through.

What makes Pennant so interesting is not just the amount of data it contains, but how the data is presented. The screenshot shows the Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals game on June 23, 1984, known as the “Ryne Sandberg game.” You see each inning of the game in a circle, and as you slide your finger around the circle you see significant moments of the game. The bar charts provide indications of major scoring plays. Tap the longest blue bars in the ninth and tenth innings to see home runs hit by Ryne Sandberg to tie the game twice, both off Bruce Sutter.

If you are a baseball fan that is really in to statistics, I think you will like Pennant.

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Search For Android Apps With Chomp

As the number of apps in the Android Market increases, it becomes increasingly harder to find apps that you want. Google has been incrementally improving the process by providing things like the web version of the market and the new Android Market app, but both use Google’s search engine and as a consequence you often see results that don’t match what you are seeking.

Google’s app search is optimized to search on meta data terms such as the name of the app or the developer’s name, but it doesn’t seem to do as well when searching for app types. For example, go to market.android.com and enter restauraunt guides in the search box. Twelve results appear on the first page of the search results, but three of those include travel guides and not restaurant guides.

Chomp is a search engine that is optimized to find apps based on their function and topic rather than on the name of the app. A version of Chomp has been available for the iPhone, and it is now available for Android phones. When I did a test search of restaurant guides using Chomp on my Nexus S, every one of the first ten results related to restaurants. As you can see in the screen shot, you can filter the search based on whether you want to see paid or free apps.

Chomp displays search results in individual cards, and you swipe left and right to move through the cards. While this approach to providing search results is graphically appealing, I would prefer that the results are first showing in list form so that I can see more app names and then be able to drill down into more detail. As you browse each card, you can tap the graphic icon to see a screenshot, and the information icon to see a description of the app. If you chose to install the app, tap the Get It button and the the Android Market loads for you to install the app on your phone.

I can’t say that Chomp is perfect. For example, a search on food includes WordSearch, aniPet Aquarium, and Hangman Classic Free in the first ten search results, which do not have any relationship to food. However, Chomp does provide some related search terms at the bottom of the screen that you can tap, so for example, Food And Nutrition appear as a related option and when you tap that you get better search results.

Chomp also provides their apps search capabilities on the web site, and that has the added benefit of search for iOS and Android apps at the same time. The top three restaurant guides on the Chomp web site include six free iOS apps, two free Android apps, and one paid iOS app. Both of the three Android apps are also available on the iPhone. You can filter the web search to one of the two platforms.

If you are frustrated with the Android Market, either on the phone or on the web, give Chomp a try. The app is free and available now in the Android Market.

Who Is Playing Mobile Games?

Android Community has posted results of a study on mobile phone gaming done by the Information Solutions Group. The study collected data using a web survey of 26 questions from 816 participants in the U.S. and the U.K. In order to participate those surveyed had to have played a game on their mobile phone during the past month.

The study shows that slightly more males play games on their mobile phones than females. What might be interesting is that the average age of the participants who are avid game players is 39.3 years, which is higher than some would expect. However, bear in mind that this probably reflects survey population more than the broader population, after all, how many teenagers are going to complete a web survey about playing mobile games?

The survey does show an increase in the frequency of game play. As much as 84% of the respondents play games on their phones at least once a week, compared to 40% in 2009, and 35% of the respondents say they play mobile games every day, compared to only 13% in 2009. I think these numbers are due to an increase in smartphone sales, and an increase in the number of casual games like Boggle and Words With Friends.

Clearly, the study shows that mobile phone games are a huge potential market. I have been observing that there seems to many more games on the Windows Phone Marketplace than other apps, and that may be by design based on this study.

Contemplating My Next Tablet

Last week Verizon started selling the Motorola Xoom and with that people are finally able to buy tablets running Android 3.0, which is a new version of Google’s operating system optimized for tablets. I am coming up on about a year of owning my iPad, and all of the new tablet releases have me itching to buy a new tablet.

Frankly, the iPad is good enough that I don’t necessarily need to buy a new tablet, but I do need to get my hands Android 3.0 in order to write about it. What I like least about the iPad is its weight, it is simply too heavy to hold for long periods of time. The iPad’s weight is driven by a combination of its screen size and battery. On the other hand, the think I like the most about the iPad is its battery life, I literally go days between recharging the iPad, so I don’t want worse battery life. I do want a smaller screen that will not only make the tablet lighter, but also more portable.

The problem is that all the manufacturers of Honeycomb tablets seem fixated on matching the iPad with 10 inch screens. The LG G-Slate has a smaller 8.9 inch screen that is between the 7 inch screen of the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the 10 inch screen on the Xoom, however I am wondering whether it will be lite enough. On the other hand, the G-Slate might be the smallest Honeycomb tablet to come to market fairly soon and it’s going to be sold by T-Mobile, which is my current phone carrier.

The Acer Iconia Tab A100 will be a 7 inch tablet, which I think is the size I am most interested in, but there is no idea when it will be available for purchase. One 7 inch tablet that I am really interested in is the HTC Flyer, but it runs Android 2.2. The reason why I am really interested in the Flyer is that it has a pen, which would be really handy for taking notes. Basically, the Flyer is going to be a HTC tablet, but on Android 2.2 that takes full advantage of HTC’s Sense user experience. The problem is, we don’t know when the Flyer will be available or how much it will cost.

At the moment I am leaning towards getting the HTC Flyer, but if the LG G-Slate arrives sooner at a reasonable price, I might buy it first, even though I think the Flyer is a better fit to what I want to do with a tablet than the current Honeycomb tablets. You can be sure that what I ever I decide to buy will be written about on this blog.

Random House Adopts Agency Pricing Model

Random House will adopt an agency pricing model as of March 1st.

The publisher issued this statement late this afternoon: “Going forward, Random House will set consumer prices for the e‐books we publish, and we will provide retailers with a commission for each sale.  There are no changes to our terms of sale for physical books. The agency model guarantees a higher margin for retailers than did our previous sales terms. We are making this change both as an investment in the successful digital transition of our existing partners and in order to give us the opportunity to forge new retail relationships.”

GalleyCat has more: “The American Booksellers Association immediately issued a statement supporting the move. The new price model for Random House books will also help 200 ABA booksellers sell Google eBooks through their websites. ABA CEO Oren Teicher had this statement: ‘We have believed from the beginning that the agency model is in the best interest of not only the book industry, but the consuming public as well … We appreciate the careful and thoughtful deliberation Random House has brought to this issue, and applaud their decision to adopt agency pricing.’”

DirecTV iPad App Now Available

Satellite-TV provider DirecTV announced that its DirecTV iPad App is now available via the iTunes App Store.

The app allows users to create their own customized home screens; use standard TV controls including play, pause, rewind, fast-forward, and scroll through channels; create lists of favorite channels and sports teams; browse by subjects such as movies, sports, or a complete 14-day guide; use one-tap DVR recording and programming information; get access to DVR playlists; and set their DVRs from anywhere.

The app joins similar iPhone and Android efforts, and CNET pointed out that it is only compatible with DirecTV Plus DVR and TiVo Series 2 receivers.

JPMorgan Expects Tablet Sales To Soar

JPMorgan Securities Analyst Mark Moskowitz told Reuters that he expects the tablet market to hit $35 billion market by 2012, cutting into PC sales.

Moskowitz told Reuters: “We expect tablets to have an increasingly negative impact on PC shipments. More than 35 percent of tablets sold in 2012 will be cannibalistic, particularly as relates to netbooks and notebooks.”

Reuters has more from the brokerage house’s outlook report: “JP Morgan raised its 2011 tablet revenue estimates to $26.1 billion from $24.9 billion and 2012 estimates to $35.2 billion from $34.1 billion. It expects 2011 unit shipments of 47.9 million, up from its prior view of 46.1 million. For 2012 it sees unit shipments of 79.6 million, up from its prior view of 78.2 million.”

Much like what happened with eReader, JPMorgan predicts that soaring tablet sales will drive lower prices.