Now that iPhone owners can access emojis without any kind of app or workaround, we’re seeing some fun creativity. Specifically, people are telling tales through a series of carefully selected emoticons.

We thought this was so much fun, we had a go ourselves. However, rather than spend hours on epic hieroglyphic epistles, we’ve translated a bunch of film titles into brief pictograms. Now we want you to decode the movies they reference.

Take a look through our emoji gallery of movie messages all composed on the iPhone. Each slide represents the name of a film. To access the answers in each slide, use your cursor to highlight the black text following the “Answer” field. We’ve kept it simple, so we imagine you can guess nearly all of them!

Once you’ve had a look through, why not create your own iPhone emoji sequence to depict the title of, your favorite film? Link us to a screengrab in the comments. If we get enough awesome entries, we’ll make up a fresh gallery of Mashable readers’ creations.

1. Emoji Film Titles

Using only icons from the iPhone’s Emoji keyboard, we have created several series of emoticons, each depicting a popular film.

To access the answers in each slide, use your cursor to highlight the black text following the “Answer” field.

Click here to view this gallery.

And if you don’t have the emoji keyboard enabled on your iPhone, take a look through our quick how-to gallery below, in which we offer a simple, step-by-step guide on how to set it up.

1. Enabling the Emoji Keyboard

To access the Emoji keyboard on your iPhone, click on the “Settings” icon on your homescreen, then scroll down to the “General” option.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: emoticons, features, films, gallery, games, iphone, iphone apps

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Infinity Blade 2

Infinity Blade is my favorite mobile game. I paid about six times more for it than I have any other iPhone or iPad app, and instantly knew it was worth it.

It’s not like Angry Birds, another favorite of mine, which requires a bit of analytical thought to figure out the fewest birds necessary for maximum destruction. Infinity Blade, made by Chair Entertainment, is about action, survival—and a quest.

It’s the game I play the most on any iOS device, so I was thrilled when I got the chance to preview the sequel: Infinity Blade 2. If you read my hands-on report, you know it’s fun and visually stunning. Since I already have so much time invested in the game, I wanted to spend some time with the brains behind the blade.

Donald Mustard and his brother Geremy founded Chair Entertainment in 2005. They were busy building console games such as Shadow Complex when Epic, maker of blockbuster games Gears of War and Unreal Tournament snapped them up in 2008.

By 2010, Chair had launched Infinity Blade, its first iOS game. Built atop Epic’s Unreal Engine 3, it set a new benchmark for mobile gaming visuals, and has subsequently made more than $20 million in sales.

Clearly, the Mustard boys are onto something, as more than a few people share my addiction to the sword-wielding, armor-wearing, spell-casting heroes. (Epic’s Infinity Blade forum has thousands of posts. I chatted with the Mustard brothers about the game, their relationship with Apple, and what’s next.

Developing for the iPhone 4S and iOS 5

Apple invited the Mustard brothers to its Cupertino campus just two weeks before the iPhone 4S launch in October, though this didn’t seem to bother them. “We try and make good guesses as to where hardware is going. We had our fingers crossed that there would be something like the iPhone 4S where we can push things further. Luckily Apple delivered,” said Donald.

Jeremy said the company understands Apple product timelines pretty well, so they were already developing an app that would work with what they expected to be an iPhone 4 upgrade. Chair’s bet paid off.

Geremy and Donald Mustard of Chair EntertainmentThe pair are excited about the potential of iOS 5, especially incremental updates. “[It’s] huge,” said Donald, “because we love being able to update our games.”

Chair is constantly refining their games — but with previous iOS versions, Infinity Blade players had to download a huge update for each tweak. With incremental updates, they can download a 50 MB (or smaller) file, as opposed to one hundreds of megabytes in size.

iPhone 5?

So the Mustards were prepared for iPhone 4S, but what about iPhone 5? Did they see it? Did they ask? Said Geremy: “We certainly asked. We get coy smiles and tight lips…they don’t tell us anything. I’m sure there will be an iPhone 5 at some point, but we don’t know anything about it.” He paused and laughed: “I bet it’s at least as fast as the iPhone 4s.”

What’s Inside

Infinity Blade 2 is a powerful game, but it’s also a scalable one. The Chair teams designed it to scale down so it could run on the iPhone 3GS and iPad 1. On those devices, players simply see less detail. But on the iPhone 4S and iPad 2, Infinity Blade 2 will “use up all the power that is available on these higher-end systems.”

To build Infinity Blade 2, the Mustards eschewed more complex game geometry and focused on character shadows and light rays — effects typically found on console games. Epic added these capabilities to the engine and debuted them in Gears of War 3 on the Xbox 360. That was only a few months ago. “Now it’s on the iPhone 4S,” said Geremy. “We made the game, and I still can’t believe it’s running on a phone that I carry in my pocket.”

Where are the Android Apps?

As I was testing Infinity Blade 2, I kept wondering how it would run on an Android “super phone” such as the Motorola Photon 4G, which packs a graphics-friendly NVidia Tegra 2 chip. Unfortunately, Infinity Blade isn’t in the Android Market — and it doesn’t sound like it’s coming any time soon.

There is nothing technically preventing the brothers from bringing Infinity Blade to Android right now. Instead, they’re hesitating because of piracy concerns. According to a number of online reports, there’s enough of a piracy issue in Android marketplace that many developers find it necessary to build in antipiracy measures, which in turn dampens sales.

“We’re confident that will be worked out and it will become a viable place for game developers, but that hasn’t happened yet,” said Donald. “So it’s not the tech, it’s the business platform.”

What Steve Said

Donald Mustard met the late Steve Jobs when the Apple founder unveiled Chair and Epic’s game, then called “Project Blade,” at a September 2010 Apple event. Jobs was impressed with the game: “I can’t believe that’s running on an iPhone,” he reportedly said. Jobs also once joked about Donald’s last name, saying “Your name is really ‘Mustard’? I won’t forget that name.”

What’s Next

What comes after Infinity Blade 2? The brothers aren’t quite ready to go there yet. “We’ve been working 24 hours a day,” said Donald. “Working like crazy to get this game finished.” They are, however, excited about some of the features that should arrive after the December 1 launch, including “Clash Mob” — which Donald says should change the way we look at “asynchronous social collaboration.”

Building A Successful App

There are a lot of successful apps in the App Store. But with 800,000 of them available, there are also thousands of flops. What does it take to make a game app that can drive $20 million in sales?

Donald offered this advice to would be app developers: “Create a game that is unique to iOS — something that utilizes the touch screen in a cool and innovative new way. Our iOS mantra at Chair is that ‘if the game would be fun with a controller, you are not making the right game.’ Gamers want a fun, original experience on their iOS devices — not a port of their favorite console game.”

Infinity Blade 2

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More About: apple, apps, games, iOS 5, ipad, iPhone 4S, ipod, steve jobs

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Already using Google+? Follow Mashable’s Pete Cashmore for the latest about the platform’s new features, tips and tricks as well as social media and technology updates.

If the 10 million users that still-invite-only Google+ accumulated in just two weeks weren’t enough to make Facebook nervous, the latest report about the new social network’s gaming platform might. Google will take a smaller percentage of revenue away from game developers than Facebook does, reports All Things D.

Google reportedly will also, unlike Facebook, host games on its own servers — which could make them faster and less buggy.

The Google+ code includes mentions of a gaming platform, and Google has reportedly invested as much as $200 million in the dominant social gaming company Zynga. But there’s been no official word about if and when the game platform for Google will launch or what it will look like.

Google did, however, make
http://googlecommerce.blogspot.com/2011/07/make-money-with-in-app-payments-for-web.html” target=”_blank”>in-app payments
available to web developers this week. This is a technology that would be required for in-game payments, All Things D points out, and Google is only charging a 5% fee for the service.

If Google sticks in this ballpark with its fees for game developers, it will be severely undercutting the industry standard of 30% set by Facebook and Apple.

More About: facebook, games, Google, Google Plus

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If your favorite part of July 4 celebrations is the fireworks, then we’ve got a fun gallery for you. We’ve found five tools that offer virtual fireworks you can enjoy right at your desk.

Whether you want to send someone an animated message, play around to create a mesmerizing browser show or add fireworks to your own site, we’ve found web sparklers to suit.

Light the touchpaper, stand at a safe distance and rocket through the gallery. You can find out more about the tools by clicking on the blue title text at the top left of each slide. Let us know which ones you like in the comments below.

1. Enjoy Canvas Fireworks




This hypnotic HTML5 Canvas experiment offers three different shapes of fireworks that you can control with your mouse for a 3D wow experience.

2. Write a Message in Fireworks

This is tons of fun. Compose your own message and see it written across the London skyline in fireworks. You can also share it with an automatically generated tiny URL.

3. Add Fireworks to Your Own Site With Fireworks.js

You can add fireworks to your own site with this nifty Javascript animation experiment. Or if you’re just firecracker-curious, you can play around with it on the dev’s site.

4. View Augmented Reality Fireworks

Simply print off the marker, fire up your webcam and you can enjoy your very own miniature augmented reality fireworks show.

5. Go Old School With Fireworks Just For You

Dating back to 2002, this particular desktop show is perfect for kids, offering mesmerizing fireworks generated by the click of your mouse.

BONUS: Join the HTML5 Fireworks Festival

If you’re handy with HTML5 then join the “Hanabi fireworks festival” by forking the sample code, or creating your own from scratch. The resulting entries will then be revealed as an online spectacular on July 7.

More About: apps, fireworks, HTML5, july 4, List, Lists, software, web apps

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Imagine you’re a gaming console manufacturer, and some kid hacks your console to do “neat tricks.” Do you help him or sue him?

The question isn’t a hypothetical one; currently, two rival companies have each taken one of these roads. What remains to be seen is which approach will be more profitable, both financially and in terms of gamer goodwill.

Microsoft is set to release a Kinect software developer kit (SDK) to academics and enthusiasts later this spring; the company really is welcoming hackers and curious minds to go to town on its hands-free gestural control interface.

Who could have guessed that the Windows maker, which has struggled to shake an unjustly stodgy image, would be the first to invite experimental development on its gaming platform? Or that its biggest rival in the gaming space, Sony and the PlayStation 3, would be gathering some bad PR of its own for suing PS3 hackers at the same time?


Why Is Sony Suing?


Here’s the skinny: Sony is suing, among other entities, George Hotz, a.k.a. geohot, a 21-year-old hacker who is well known for his iPhone jailbreaking. In fact, Hotz created the first-ever public software exploit for jailbreaking the iPhone 3GS. After working on jailbreak software for the iPhone 4, iPad and a slew of other Apple devices, Hotz turned his attention to the PlayStation 3.

Hotz hacked on the PS3 for at least seven months, successfully opening up the console for homebrew games and PS2 emulation. Along the way, he released the root key (also known as the metldr key), which decrypted the PS3′s loaders, allowing anyone who wanted to open up their own PS3s to do so.

Because of that, Hotz is now knee-deep in a bitter lawsuit with Sony, a lawsuit that’s cost him more than he can afford to pay. In fact, he had to beg the Internet for the more than $10,000 he needed to cover his legal bills.

While Sony says Hotz violated copyrights and committed computer fraud, Hotz, who claims to have never played a pirated game in his life, retorts, “They don’t really care about piracy; they care about control.”


How Microsoft Is Helping Hackers


In a stark contrast, Microsoft seems to not give two shakes about control, at least as far as hacking with the Kinect is concerned.

The company’s brand new gestural control system is as hot as it is financially successful. While many corporations would keep a money-maker like that tightly locked down, Microsoft is doing everything it can to invite more hackers to play with and create experiments with the Kinect.

Microsoft’s big test came last November when a prominent Google engineer staged a Kinect-hacking contest. Previously, Microsoft had made statements that it wanted to make Kinect tamper-proof and would work with law enforcement to ensure that it remained so. But the company changed its tune last November, saying it was “excited to see that people are so inspired” by the possibilities inherent in the Kinect.

Since then, hackers have used the Kinect for everything from World of Warcraft “magic” to music video production.

And today, given the success of Kinect hacking for Xbox, Microsoft announced it will release a non-commercial “Kinect for Windows” SDK. The company says the reason for “a starter kit for application developers is to make it easier for academic research and enthusiast communities to create even richer experiences using Kinect technology.”

The SDK is coming from Microsoft Research (MSR) in collaboration with the Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB), and it will give devs “deep Kinect system capabilities such as audio, system APIs, and direct control of the sensor.”

A commercial version of the SDK will be available soon.


Which Company Is Right?


The bigger picture Microsoft is trying to convey is that, as a company, Microsoft has long been excited about natural user interfaces; and it wants you, the hacker, to be excited about them, too. Granted, there are still likely some strings attached, and we doubt the company would be tickled to have you blog about Xbox jailbreak codes.

Nevertheless, suing users who hack your console versus helping users who hack (part of) your console are two interesting and opposed actions that are likely to be judged with great relish in the court of popular opinion.

How should Sony be handling geohot and other PS3 hackers who just want to make the console do neat tricks? Is this lawsuit really doing anything other than garnering the multinational corporation a boatload of bad PR?

In the comments, tell us what you would do if you were a Sony exec. We look forward to reading your responses.

More About: geohot, george hotz, hacking, kinect, microsoft, PS3, sony, trending, xbox

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Facebook‘s virtual currency, Facebook Credits, will become the official coin of the realm beginning July 1, 2011. On that day, all social game developers on the Facebook platform will be required to process payments through Facebook Credits.

Currently, Facebook Credits is accepted as payment in around 350 apps from 150 developers, including 22 of the top 25 Facebook games. Credits is used for more than 70% of all virtual goods bought and sold on Facebook.

Facebooker Deborah Liu writes on the Facebook Developer Blog, “We’re excited to give Facebook users the confidence that when they purchase Facebook Credits or receive them as a gift, they can spend them in any game on Facebook.”

Between now and July, Facebook will be working with developers to ensure that every Facebook social game is using Credits, to help developers improve their revenues and to tweak the product to give users the best possible experience. Interested devs can check out Facebook’s Credits page for developers.

Facebook’s decision is fantastic for the company’s bottom line; the social network company takes a 30% cut of all Facebook Credits revenues. In other words, if you pay $2.00 for a talking horse on FarmVille, Facebook collects $0.60 from the Zynga. Already, Credits has made promising contributions to the company’s ever-rising revenue estimates (currently at $2 billion annual for 2010.

The Facebook Credits product has come a long way since its inception almost two years ago. About a year after Facebook Credits was first posited as an online payment option, Zynga adopted the product for use in FarmVille, then Facebook’s largest social game with 80 million users.

And now, users can buy Facebook Credits at big-box brick-and-mortar retailers like Target, Walmart and Best Buy.

What we can’t wait to see is how the virtual currency will be used in the future, particularly in non-gaming apps, for non-virtual goods or for off-Facebook purchases. We’re also wondering if and when Facebook Credits will become the only kind of currency allowed for Facebook apps — a move that could spell amazing things for Facebook’s revenue but that could also bring negative consequences for developers and end users. We’ll continue to report on Facebook Credits as it rolls out to more games this year; stay tuned.

More About: casual gaming, credits, facebook, facebook credits, social gaming




To promote its new racy teen drama, Skins, MTV has launched an entertainment checkin service that lets fans interact with each other, the show and even snag free tunes.

Partnering with social television startup Starling, MTV has created a co-viewing tool called MTV Skins Captionbomb. The premise is rather simple: Access the tool via Facebook, and then start chatting.

Users are presented with a card on which their Facebook picture appears, and then can start interacting with others in order to “unlock” new cards, which feature the faces of the Skins cast. Players can then “Play” those cards by commenting on them, thereby contributing to the general conversation about the show.

Perhaps the coolest aspect of the game is that you’re not just playing for virtual currency, you can also unlock free MP3 downloads from bands featured on the show — mostly indie acts like The Drums and The So So Glos.

“We were trying to figure out how we could get beyond a checkin and create more interesting engaging ways that users can interact around our shows,” says Suejin Yang, vice president of product development for MTV.

“Music is a big part of the show experience,” says Colin Helms, vice president of MTV Digital Media. “They’re putting a lot of new and indie music into the show. The theme song was even sourced from the audience,” he adds, citing 3D Friends, the band that provided the track.

In addition to crowdsourcing the theme song, MTV really took to the web to grow buzz for the show. Since Skins was originally a UK show, it was easier to grow a fanbase before the premiere.

“We usually build a community after the show has launched,” says Helms. “We did the opposite with Skins.”

In fact, MTV started ramping up online efforts three months before the show’s premiere last night, January 17. The network launched skins.tv, a community hub featuring show content and a variety of apps, including Where It Went Down, which lets users share where memorable moments “went down”; the Fast Society group-texting mobile app, which we covered in the past; and a Facebook app to determine your “party personality.”

According to MTV, this virtual pre-gaming, if you will, paid off — garnering more than 5 million video streams and 700,000 uniques on the skins.tv site, 9,000 followers on Twitter, 55,000 “Likes” on Facebook, and 2,500 followers on Tumblr. That’s all before the show launched.

Granted, Skins has the advantage of being a known entity with a pre-existing fanbase, but MTV and Starling’s efforts — particularly the addition of free music to the checkin game — certainly are innovative.

Yes, entertainment checkin services are a known entity — that’s basically the premise of GetGlue (who sometimes even doles out physical rewards rather than digital stickers), and WE tv has partnered with entertainment checkin service Miso to create a branded campaign around the show Bridezillas.

Still, the addition of music — including up-and-coming music — fits perfectly with the campaign. Viewers are not only exposed to new music, they’re also impelled to interact with the show in order to get it.

“The whole experience is going beyond the badge,” says Kenny Miller, co-founder of Starling.tv. “To give people things they can actually use.”

While it may be counterintuitive — and distracting — to actively engage with others while also watching a show, recent studies have shown that a goodly number of people watch TV and surf the web simultaneously, and given that this is a show geared toward 12- to 24-year-olds, we imagine most of the viewers are online anyway.

What do you think of this campaign? Will you play while tuning into Skins next week?

More About: checkin, mtv, music, television, web apps




Let’s face it, unless you’re an astronaut or a rock star, work is pretty darn dull most of the time. Don’t despair though, as technology can help fill the gaping void of boredom that being stuck in the office creates.

Thanks to the wonders of USB gadgetry you can cram your time at work chock-full of fun, frolics and laughter, making your cubicle the cool place to hang.

We’ve selected 10 excellent examples of USB desk toys and gadgets for your perusing pleasure, so take the first step to banish boredom in your workplace today by having a little look below, and let us know your own favorites in the comments.


1. USB Whack It


A modern take on the vintage arcade classic, USB Whack It is a great way to take out all your pent up frustration in the workplace.

Cost: $20


2. Tengu


Tengu lights up and lip syncs to audio with a variety of facial expressions to amuse you and your fellow cubicle-dwellers.

Cost: $30


3. USB Touch Drums Set


Although desktop drumming with pencils can also do the trick, why not try rocking out on this small-scale USB-powered drum set instead?

Cost: $22


4. USB Plasma Ball


A tiny model of the Tesla original, this plasma ball will add a mesmerizing dash of science to your desk. It’s educational and fun!

Cost: $12


5. Riff Rocker


If drums aren’t your thing, then how about the Riff Rocker? This pocket-sized guitar is compatible with sites like JamLegend, meaning you can enjoy some Guitar Hero-style gaming in the office.

Cost: $14.95


6. Tiny USB Rechargeable Helicopter


We can only begin to imagine the fun flying missions you and your colleagues can come up with using this mini chopper. Just don’t get caught.

Cost: $44


7. USB Missile Launcher


Office warfare can bond co-workers together, boost morale and lift spirits. It can also poke your eye out, so watch where you point that thing.

Cost: $49


8. USB Robot Owl


A very “kawaii” Japanese import, the USB Robot Owl doesn’t do much (he blinks his eyes and turns his head from side to side), but he looks so darn cute doing it, he’ll more than earn his perch on your monitor.

Cost: $19.99


9. USB Basketball Desktop Dunk


Complete with a scoreboard and cheering crowd sound effects, we think a desktop one-on-one should be the way all office disputes are settled.

Cost: $19.99


10. Pop-up Pirate USB Hub


Finally, another retro classic gets the USB treatment. You know that filing can wait when there are pirates to be popped.

Cost: $63


More Gadget Resources from Mashable:


5 Beautiful Keyboards to Spice Up Your Boring Desk
5 Hip Bluetooth Headsets
6 Great Gloves for Touchscreen Gadget Lovers
5 Stylish Computer Mice for the Design Aficionado
Especially For You: 8 Great Gadgets You Can Personalize

More About: gadgets, games, office gadgets, toys, usb gadgets

If you have, throughout the course of your life, spent more time typing on a keyboard than fiddling with a joystick, we’ve got the perfect video game for you. We hope you’re prepared to dominate.

Z-Type might remind you a little bit of Asteroids or Missile Command, but it might remind you even more of scrambling through keystrokes to send an emergency e-mail or finish an overdue term paper (or in our case, break news in a blog post).

Words appear in the screen, accompanied by dramatic music. As you type, you “shoot” at the words until they explode at the last keystroke. The higher you level up, the faster the words appear, and the greater their numbers become.

Z-Type was made with Impact, an HTML5 JavaScript game framework released at the tail end of 2010. It plays nicely with most web browsers as well as with mobile devices such as the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

Both the game and the framework were created by developer Dominic Szablewski. Szablewski made Z-Type for the Mozilla Game On development competition. He said in his blog that he was inspired by games like The Typing of the Dead.

Give Z-Type a shot, and let us know what you think of it (and of the game engine Impact) in the comments.

Hat tip: Sara Chipps.

More About: casual game, game engine, gaming, HTML5, impage, javascript, video game, z-type

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