Hey, I'm Arron. I'm a 23 year old freelance writer and graphic designer from Cheshire, UK who is very much tuned into the app space. Straight out of college I founded RazorianFly - a web-based publication aimed at providing its readers with the latest from Apple, and the technology industry. The publication now attracts 80-100K unique readers per month, generating over 100K page views per month.
When I'm asked for a review, I ultimately look for the design, presentation and clarity that product offers (or could offer) to its intended audience. If it doesn't cut it - I'll tell you straight.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Posted January 29th, 2010 by Arron Hirst Our Rating: :: GOOD, BUT SHORT AND REPETITIVE
Cogs is an immersive puzzle-like experience which centers around building complex machines by way of sliding tiles with cogs attached to them around a playing board. While fun, the game's repetitive nature of puzzle can be a letdown in some areas.
It’s pretty common knowledge now that Google and Apple aren’t getting along as much as they used to. In fact, when Google’s native ‘Voice’ application, which mainly allows users of Google’s far-reaching social network to send voice-like emails to anyone with an account, was kindarejected from the App Store, the world reacted.
Just like when Google’s native Latitude app was rejected though, the firm took no time over announcing its “slap you back in the face” course of action against Apple, publicly stating its plans to bring the service to both the Apple iPhone and it’s android based devices in the near future, via the web. But with no official release date, people (including myself) started to ask when it would happen.
Today, Google have announced its Google Voice web app now works on the iPhone. Using HTML5 the web app provides a clean, crisp and user iterative native-esque experience, providing easy access and Voice functionality you’re probably all now familiar if you’re lucky enough to have a Google Voice account. The web app centers around a virtual keypad just like you see in Phone.app, and works as expected. Although, with the app being totally web based, the necessary iPhone OS pop-up confirmations are still present. With the app, you can either dial Google Access numbers, or international numbers and pay Google’s low cost rates. Need to see who’s been sending you voicemails lately? Just switch to the inbox tab. Here, just like as you would if the app were native, you’ll see a list of voicemails, as well as the ability to view or play the message in full and call or text the original sender.
Need to send a message to one of your contacts? Tap compose, and the HTML5 powered web app will bring up the necessary compose tools for you. Maybe you want to easily access certain sections of the web app directly from your iPhone’s homescreen? As you would with other sites you can add a webclip icons which lead directly to these sections the usual way, from Mobile Safari.
Finally, Google Voice on the iPhone .. even if it is a web app. Yes, I’m looking at you Apple.
Okay, so you have an iPhone .. and although nice, you’re getting pretty tied of playing the same old style RPGs and puzzle games. How about something a little more left field, like Glu Mobile’s new project called 1000 Find Em All. Explained in detail by Chris White, head of the studio, the game’s concept is simple. Your goal is to find and build a collection up consisting of 1000 highly weird and wonderful ‘things’. You start off in a grey, dark and lifeless world but as you guide your character around this world it will gradually bring colour and life to the objects and places around you.
Now for the fun part. Glu Mobile dropped 1000 virtual objects both in the real world and in-game, so it probably won’t be surprising to hear that you can actually play ’1000 Find Em All’ without the need for GPS. There are three ways you can join in on the fun – the first being over GPS! Activating GPS in-game will instantly show you a map of your current surroundings and gifts available for pickup. To pick-up a gift you simply walk over it. Gifts you pick up are then stored in your virtual library within the game.
Some iPod touch users though may not have GPS, and therefore Glu have built the game to work in two other modes too. The first is in-game. Even when you’re not connected to GPS, 1000 Find Em All provides a huge virtual world for you to explore and navigate, in an attempt to find these 1000 objects.
The last mode in the game is one which surprised me. Not by it being there, but how it will work. In Wi-Fi mode the game will pick up all the Wi-Fi hotspots around you and turn them into game characters. These are called ‘Gifters’ and become sources to collect gifts. With no release date or price mentioned by Glu, 1000 Find Em All looks to be a cool take on usual bog-standard gaming experience targeting the iPhone and iPod touch .. one I personally can’t wait to play!
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Posted January 26th, 2010 by Arron Hirst Our Rating: :: GOOD IDEA, BAD IMPLEMENTATION
Chomp is designed to show you the best of the App Store from user input and live user reviews. With its Facebook-esque UI and strong feature set it should be one not to be missed, but sadly it's let down by the lack of user intuitiveness.
Yesterday Apple announced its quarterly financial earnings for Q1 2010 which ended on Dec 26th 2009, calling it a “Record Breaking” first quarter. In fact, the company reported it turned over $15.68 Billion in revenue, managing to sell a staggering 8.7 Million iPhones which saw a 100% unit growth, 3.36 Million Macintosh computers which saw a 33% increase over last quarter, and finally reporting it had sold just 21 Million iPods which represented a slight decline of 8% in unit growth.
In a press release statement posted on Apple.com, Steve Jobs CEO commented that Apple has now become a $50 Billion company, and looking forward to future product announcements (Ahem .. Tablet) and gearing up for the fiscal quarters that lie ahead, he doesn’t see that slowing down anytime soon.
“If you annualize our quarterly revenue, it’s surprising that Apple is now a $50+ billion company. The new products we are planning to release this year are very strong, starting this week with a major new product that we’re really excited about.”
If this report suggests anything, it shows that despite the economic climate of 2009 and early 2010, Apple has boatloads of tenacity, managed to battle through it all, and is seeing, once again, a record breaking quarter in unit sales, especially in regards to its popular iPhone product line.
UPDATE January 22, 2010: The latest video trailer is out, and it looks mighty good.
Fancy a new puzzle challenge? Published by Chillingo, Cogs is an upcoming, innovative logic-based puzzle game from the guys and girls over at Lazy 8 Studios. Just through the simple motion of sliding titles with various metal cogs attached, the game sees you the player building a variety of mechanical machines and crafts. The aim of the game is to get all the metal cogs turning on the playing board, achieved by ensuring each cog touches the next one beside it all the while keeping your overall number of moves to a minimum. What makes Cogs different to your normal tile-sliding puzzler however is the playing board. It’s not flat. Using two fingers, and adapted for multi-touch, the board is rotatable giving you a birds eye view of where best to make your next move.
Cogs plays out in two modes; Inventor mode and Challenge mode. In Inventor mode you’re giving a brief of what the outcome should be after completing each level. Challenge mode however is a little more pressured, seeing a 30 second time limit introduced, and just 10 moves to find each solution to each puzzle! Paying through 50 levels of coglicious slidification, your skills will be put to the test across 3 specific categories. Whether you managed to find the solution, the time it took you to find that individual solution and how many moves in total it took you to find the solution. Each of these in-game aspects are then marked out of 3 stars.
With its oldy-worldy 3D animated visuals and simplistic gameplay, Cogs is, in my opinion, a fun-filled offering and definitely one to watch. Set to be submitted to Apple early next week, we’re told that the final version will include some sort of in-app purchase system, which can only mean one thing .. more levels anyone? Continue reading Preview: Cogs By Lazy 8 Studios »
Released just a few weeks ago, US Army News and Information is the first official iPhone app from the U.S. Department of Defense. The app serves as a digital news and information source for those that like to keep up to date on the army’s movements in the Middle East, Europe and Africa, with the app also focusing its attention inside the army covering aspects such as Human Interests, Community relations, Health and Science and Technology. Taking information from their official site, the app also offers a tile-based strategy game to keep those brain cells ticking, the ability to view the latest news videos, provides detailed weapon and vehicle fact files and offers the ability to directly download and listen to US military podcasts.
As well as offering all of this functionality though, the app also serves as an e-reader for the “Soldier Magazine,” a medium to view a selection of high-res photos of the Army’s recent missions and of course the ability to find your nearest US Army recruiter. Found something you want to share with another? The app also has the usual sharing options, including the ability to post a new story or video to Twitter and Facebook. You can also follow the US Army’s movements on both Twitter and Facebook, right within the app.
In general, the apps UI is nothing new, with the app offering five tabs along the bottom and providing various list veiws to navigate the app effectively. However, one part did catch my eye. When viewing an article in-app you’ll see that they’ve implemented this ‘slider’ type view. Basically, this means you can view the image relating to the story, and then slide this panel up to reveal the entire story in a scrollable view. It’s kind of nice .. I’ve never seen that before.
Anyways, with the app being FREE, it’s definitely worth checking out, especially if you have a keen interest in, or serve for the US Army. Now you can keep up-to-date with the goings on around you, right from your iPhone or iPod touch.
Let’s take a step back from this materialistic world for a minute, and put things back into perspective. It’s time to give something back people. If you’ve ever made an excuse not to donate to charity .. (do you stamp on little kittens while you’re at it?) .. well, frankly, now you don’t have one. Launched on Monday, ShopKick Inc have announced they’ve partnered with both Citibank Inc and Kraft Foods to bring a modern charitable experience to the iPhone that you’ll just want to get involved with – and trust me, you will!
Available for FREE from the App Store, CauseWorld allows you to collect “Karma” when you either come close to, or on entering a retail store. Here’s how it works. On your trip into town, or into the city, you visit a bunch of retail stores and open the CauseWorld app near or inside the participating store(s). By doing so, you’re rewarded with a certain amount of “Karma”. This “Karma” actually represents a small chunk of the $500,000 fund both Citibank and Kraft have each provided together. You the user then get to spend this virtual “Karma” on real world charitable actions, and the best bit is, you get the choose which ones.
I know what you’re thinking .. I have to buy products at the store to gain this Karma, right? Wrong! Simply opening the app at any participated store will result in receiving a whopping chunk of Karma. So far, there are nine charities taking involvement in what CauseWorld is trying to achieve, including the likes of American Red Cross, Feeding America, American Forests, GlobalGiving, DonorsChoose.org, Prevent Child Abuse America, Carbonfund.org, American Humane Association, and Room to Read.
Recap: You get to help real-world causes by simply walking into a store. It’s not even your own money and you get social credit for doing so. So, If you do do one thing today, make it this: CLICK HERE to re-tweet this and spread the word about CauseWorld to your followers on Twitter. Heck, why not put a link to it on your Facebook profile? If only a small amount of you download and start using this app in your day-to-day routine, the world could be seriously better off for it.
On Monday, you may have seen the release Zinio Magazine Reader. A slick looking virtual kiosk for everything magazine on the iPhone. The app features a whole bunch of online digital magazines for purchase, and browsing them looks to be fairly simple. I’ve arranged with Zinio to get my hands on a copy, so hopefully I can show you that in-detail shortly. In the meantime though, there’s one publication which has been available on Zinio’s library since August 2004 and which I’ve been waiting to come to iPhone, and that’s MacUser.
If your a Mac or Design fanatic like me, and happen to live in the UK, the likelihood is you’ve heard of MacUser. Originally started by Dennis Publishing in 1985, and later licensed to Ziff-Davis Publishing for use in the rest of the world, MacUser is a fortnightly publication which targets mac users who are specifically involved in the design industry. Due to licensing issues though, unfortunately only the UK edition remains. Currently led by Editor, Nik Rawlinson the magazine is packed with tips, tricks, news, rumors, reviews and general Mac and Apple-related goodness. Until today, the publication has been available one of two ways. Online, via the official MacUser site with each issue browsable via an embedded flash widget, and on glossy paper in stores. Each issue of the publication is available for as little as £3.95, and alongside this it’s also offered as a £17.95 6-month subscription which bags you 6 issues.
Yesterday, MacUser launched on the iPhone, providing full high-resolution versions of their digital mags in a standalone app. Controlled via in-app purchases, your initial 59p purchase of the app will bag you the latest 100-page issue of MacUser Mazagine, free. Afterward, each fortnightly issue will set you back £1.79, or you can opt for the 6-month subscription as with the web version.
Opening the app for the first time will show you an overview of the 7 previous issues, and the most current issue displayed in CoverFlow. As far as reading and panning goes, the app pretty much features the same interface as their current flash widget, the only difference being it’s adapted for multi-touch. Each issue can be read in either portrait or landscape. Turn your phone back to portrait, and you’ll get a list view.
There are five tabs along the bottom; Library, Bookmarks, Search, Settings and Downloads. Your library tab lists the issues you’ve both downloaded, or that are currently able for purchase. While reading you can bookmark pages for later viewing via the app’s pop-up menu, activated by a sharp tap on the screen. While on an issue you can search for a keyword, term or phrase and the app will find and return the pages those show up on. One tap, and you’re reading again. Need to manage downloads, head on over to the ‘Downloads’ tab. Here in true App Store fashion, you’ll see downloads in progress.
The app is a little janky right now, even to the point where graphical glitches are noticeably present. I recommend waiting for an update, but it definitely has potential.
I get a lot of e-mails daily, most of them the usual snore-worthy PR mailshots from the App Store big boys .. and of course (well, at least most of the time), these are about upcoming games and apps for the iPhone itself. So, it was refreshing this morning to receive the heads up on a new completely open-source project from iPhone development studios Edovia and FutureTap.
Originally a Canadian-German co-production between both firms, InAppSettingsKit is an open-source project which allows iPhone developers to place settings in-app, as opposed to hiding them away in the iPhone OS Settings.app.
Edovia and FutureTap admit there has been extensivediscussion among the iPhone community about which option is better. Do you oust your app’s settings to Settings.app and hope the user finds them successfully, or do you opt for the in-app route and risk cluttering your once streamline app with a bunch of settings most would only use on the rare occasion? According to Edovia and FutureTap, there are quite a few reasons in-app settings should be considered.
- Settings.app becomes a total mess with longer load times
- If only in Settings.app most users simply don’t understand the mechanism and miss the settings
- A context switch is needed to switch between settings and the app. If on the 16th screen, this involves quite some tapping and flicking.
- In-App settings can instantly change the behavior of the app
Sure, in-app settings are popular. After all, What’s better than to be able to edit the global settings of an app, without having to leave the actual app? We’ve seen a slurry of the big name apps take this approach. Including the likes of Twitterrific, AIM and more recently, Tweetie 2 .. among others.
What’s interesting about this project is, as a developer, instead of having to choose one route and ultimately having to accept the consequences via user feedback, it proposes a new outlook on settings for iPhone OS. Dubbed ‘Hybrid Settings’ the settings are place in Settings.app sure, but they’re also available in-app too, providing the best of both worlds – and don’t worry about visual consistency of your settings either, using the kit your in-app settings will look just like as if they were pulled straight from Settings.app.
“We’re proposing a second approach that we call “hybrid settings”. In this model, the user has the choice: the settings are available in Settings.app. But they’re placed in-app as well. That way, every user can decide where to edit the settings. The in-app settings are a 100% clone of the Settings.app style.”
Developers can find out more about the project at InAppSettingsKit.com – and if you have an app and you’ve recently added the InAppSettingsKit to it, the guys at Edovia and FutureTap want to know. Add yourself to the list at: inappsettingskit.com/apps.
.. And the new year App Store sales just keep coming! Yesterday we got a tip from one of the more prominent iPhone development studios on the store, Glu Mobile, who told us that starting today, Friday, January 8th, they’ll be staging a new year app blowout sale. Running this coming weekend only, the sale will see the studios well-loved hit titles such as Family Guy: Uncensored, Glyder and Bonsai Blast (among others), drop in price to just $0.99 each!
The sale will end the evening of Monday January 11th. Check out the full list of the apps on sale below, along with a short, quick-fire description of each to help you on your way with the decision to buy ..
Ubisoft has today debuted the sequel to their multi-ward winning Assassin’s Creed game franchise, on the iPhone. Assassin’s Creed II Discovery. According to the game’s App Store description, the game carries the series on following Ezio on his travels to Spain as he scales cities, jumps rooftops and tries to rescue his fellow assassins.
But don’t get too excited just yet.
Hitting the store late this morning, the game officially became the first ever App Store gaming title to smash through that $9.99 price barrier, blasting it’s way into that previously rumored ‘Premium‘ price band. Unfortunately, the game was pulled just a few hours after it’s release, and is no longer available on the App Store .. for reasons unknown.
If the price holds up on the game’s return to the store, it could in fact retain that title for itself. Priced at $11.99, Assassin’s Creed II Discovery is reportedly exactly the same as that of the DS version, the main difference in this version however, compared to that of the original Assassin’s Creed II Discovery is more of a side scroller adventure, rather than a fully-blown immersive RPG.
Luckily, Touch Arcade managed to snag a copy of the game before it was pulled from the store. Checkout their in-depth gameplay video of Assassin’s Creed II Discovery in action below.
So, What’s this deal with Ubisoft pulling the game? Where’s the game gone? I hear you ask .. Well, we at 148 reckon the early pulling of the app could likely be due the game being approved by Apple yesterday, but Ubisoft having forgot to change the actual release date of the game on iTunes Connect, have realised later, causing them to panic and pull the app.
If you’re not already aware, this is pretty normal practice for developers of the App Store. When submitting an app a developer like Ubisoft can choose and set a specific date in which an application becomes available to the public. This allows them not only to hype the app before its initial store release, but in turn, also work to specific set deadlines with regards to the marketing surrounding the title. It’s likely this won’t turn out to be one of those purposeful PR stunts, although it’s not completely out of the realms of possibility.
First impressions of Assassin’s Creed II Discovery have been mostly positive from what I’ve seen so far, however some people still believe that a price point of $11.99 could be a little too steep for what they’re actually getting (if that indeed is the game’s final price point).
Be sure to check out the games page for full game descriptions and screenshots.
What do you think? Is an $11.99 price point worthy of such a game?
Having worked 12 years in the gaming industry, working as a software engineer and senior programmer with major gaming outfits such as EA and RockStar Games, Edinburgh-based Kevin Ng has worked on and helped develop a slew of well-known console titles which we will most likely be familiar with or have played at some point in our lives; including the likes of: “Skate” for Xbox 360, “Bully” for PS2 and “Starlancer” for PC and Dreamcast. Leaving that life behind though (for the most part) Kevin is now going solo, becoming an independent developer specifically targeting the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch. He was kind enough to give me a quick heads up on his debut iPhone title, and I even scored myself a pre-release promo copy to take a look at .. (Cheers, Kevin!).
Dropping January 11th, Word Crasher is a well-designed, graphically exciting word game. Playing through two modes; Marathon and Flood Panic the aim of the game is to create words from the letter chips that fall from above – but don’t make the mistake of picturing this as your normal every-day word puzzle. Its much more dynamic. Usually with these types of games we see a rigid setup which involves some kind of grid-like area, and you having to draw out or follow a certain path in order to create a word. Word Crasher throws that rule book away, adding it’s own pretty unique twist to it’s gameplay.
The game is set out in a ‘tank-like’ environment. With fairly straight forward gameplay, at the start of each level a number of letter ‘chips’ fall to the ground, and every few seconds or so after that, another letter chip will be added into the mix. Unlike other word puzzles of it’s genre, in Word Crasher you’re able to make a word from any of the letters on screen, regardless of their current position or proximity to others letters on screen. Almost psychedelic in it’s approach, the game has a sort of modern retro feel to it. Tapping letters on the board will see a faint colorful neon-like glow surround them. As you select various letters to create a word, they appear at the bottom of the screen allowing you to see just what you’ve selected and whether it actually does make sense (unlike my attempt – seen right!). The games AI then lets you know if the word exists by lighting up either the ‘tick’ symbol (bottom right), or cross symbol (bottom left).
The game’s “Flood Panic” mode injects even more challenge, introducing a rising water level which creates both a frenzied-type gameplay experience and a race against the clock. Having spent some time with the game, my first impressions are that this is one polished, well-designed and thought out title.
Fully supported by Open Feint, Word Crasher is reportedly set to make it’s debut on January 11th at the introductory price of $0.99 .. returning to $1.99 afterward. Also, while you’re at it, be sure to checkout the game’s official site at wordcrasher.com.
You may remember a few months back now that Apple unveiled a new system in which it used a web-based interface to show song information for an individual iTunes URL, before you were physically transferred to the actual iTunes store itself. The move came in sync with the iTunes store re-design which saw the store become more streamlined overall, with a cleaner, crisper interface. Until now, these new web-based ‘Preview‘ pages have lay dormant, offering no real purpose other than to provide necessary links to albums and individual tracks on the iTunes store.
Today, Apple has reportedly enabled studio 30 second previews of all tracks in it’s current iTunes catalog to work in-browser. Mac Rumors are reporting via GigaOM that these previews are encoded in 44.1 KHz AAC format at 300+ kbps, and playback is issued via QuickTime.
The move falls in line with Apple’s recent acquisition of the online music streaming service Lala, which could see Apple move it’s entire current catalog online, possibly offering all-you-can-eat subscription based plans in the future.
In August of last year, we saw Facebook for iPhone get a complete overhaul, with the firm introducing us to version 3.0. Courtesy of software developer Joe Hewitt, the update brought an entirely different UI to the table, a user interface which thought more specifically about the user in general, and the actions and features within Facebook. For the most part the update was well received, with the likes of Mashable calling it an “absolutely essential” upgrade for all users of the service. It certainly wasn’t ‘complete’ though. Far from it. In fact, there were many glaring omissions including the likes of built-in support for Apple’s Push Notification Service, contact sync with the iPhone OS address book app and the ability to immediately playback Facebook uploaded videos from the app itself.
Today though, Facebook has debuted version 3.1, the next major release to the software. Thankfully, this version adds full support for Apple’s Push Notification Service, meaning you can now setup the app to notify you of various types of status alert. Not to add more the in-app interface, (heck – the app is overflowing with functionality!), the guys at Facebook have decided to oust the settings for notifications to iPhone OS Settings. Simply head over to Settings > Facebook. Configurable notification options include the ability to setup push alerts for Messages, Wall posts, Friend requests, Friend confirmations, Photo tags, Events and of course, Comments.
Other changes include the ability to sync your contacts from Contacts.app. Now, navigating to the ‘Friends’ section, you’ll find a ‘Sync’ button in the top right. Hit it! The app will give you options to both turn syncing on and off and will ask you if you’d like to replace photos of your existing contacts with those of their profile pictures on Facebook. To clarify, this new sync feature allows you to add both profile pictures and link data (which already resides on Facebook) to contacts that already exist on your iPhone. In order to do this the app will take contact information from your iPhone, and upload it to Facebook – and of course, before it does you get the usual “please allow us to do this by tapping below. Oh! .. and tell your friends you’re doing it too – so they don’t, you know, get angry!” agreement which you’ll need to accept. It’s pretty quick too, with my own set 74 contacts taking just just a few minutes to sync.
I asked my followers on Twitter to give me a little insight into what they thought of this update. Here’s just a hand pick of what they had to say ..
“Push notifications are perfect. Contact photos are horrible quality, and a waste of time!”
“It’s ok. The matching of friend names to contacts was ok, but annoying that it replaced pics for contacts who already had them.” – @StuartRidout
“Contact sync worked, but would prefer some sort of confirmation. No sound for notifs (for me at least).” – @DevinStoker
So far, overall reaction to this update seems mixed – and it’s not a surprise. There have been isolated reports of the app syncing the wrong photos to certain contacts, general inconsistencies .. among other quirks, and sadly 3.1 still leaves us waiting for true video support for Facebook uploaded videos. Facebook 3.1 is available on the App Store now, as a free update.
Update: Wow, that was fast! Today, Facebook for iPhone 3.1.1 is available. According to the App Store description the update includes “bug fixes for address book syncing”.
Released onto the App Store on Dec 4th, Shaun White Snowboarding Origins is a snow boarding simulation game which sees you .. well, snowboarding. Choosing from a selection of custom boards you take to the slopes attempting to learn and eventually perform up to 50 neat board tricks along the way, and with a truck load of downloadable content, you can really add to your virtual snowboarding experience.
Originally priced at $4.99, Advanced Mobile Applications dropped us a short note earlier this morning letting us know that in celebration of the new year, they’ve price slashed the title to just $0.99! No immediate information on how long the sale will last, but I’m guessing it won’t be too long.
The app also recently received an update in the shape of version 1.1, and according to the App Store description the change log includes:
- Bugs fixed
- New start and end sequences
- Name’s of your friend’s ghosts are displayed during a race
- More responsive jump controls
- Bonus score values modified
Checkout the official trailer video below for some in-game footage.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Posted January 5th, 2010 by Arron Hirst Our Rating: :: SIMPLY STUNNING
Speed Forge Extreme is a polished futuristic space-like racing title from the guys over at Chillingo. In many ways it's being called a clone of Sony's WipEout franchise - and I'd have to agree, it is. It's not as feature filled yet, but it's damn close.
Lets face it, everyone likes a sale – and I imagine even more so when this said sale involves grabbing a bunch of pretty great iPhone apps for almost next to nothing! For the second year running, Minnesota based indie developers Howling Moon Software have rounded up some well loved developers to bring a snatching of seriously cool App Store titles at awesome discounts!
Starting December 31st 2009 and ending January 1st 2010, each of the included titles will be discounted from their normal price, allowing you to snap up the dev(s) hard work at a pittance, and with titles such as Retro Dreamer’s ghoulish Eyegore’s Blast, Chaotic Box’s bubble popping frenzy Pinch n’ Pop, Howling Moon’s physics-filled Crayon Ball and Exosyphen Studios’ roller coaster offering Rail Adventures, there’s something for everyone!
Here’s a full list of the applications set to go on sale:
Showcasing 25 iPhone applications of all description and size, this yearly “App Blowout” sale is described as being a unique way for independent developers targeting the App Store and Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch to promote their software to the masses, and of course offer a little something special moving into the new year.
So, Where is all this going down? I hear you ask. Well, simply slide on over to: newyearappblowout.com. There, starting December 31st all the prices changes listed above will come into effect, and we’re told by Andy of Howling Moon Software that the applications will be discounted for 48 hours – and so advice is to get in quick!
I know for sure that I’ll be keeping an eye on how this one plays out, and as I’m sure you’ll agree, there are some great title reductions up there this year!
After months of waiting for followers of the title, Gameloft have today announced the release of N.O.V.A Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance. Possibly one of the most anticipated App Store titles of the year, N.O.V.A Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance is a science fiction first person shooter set in futuristic environments. Graphically stunning, the game centers around man-made artificial satellites called near-orbitals, created to allow people to live on due to the Earth no-longer able to sustain life.
For the protection of these separate near-orbitals they each came together to create N.O.V.A, or the Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance. A team of mercenary operatives tasked with the mission of fighting to defend mankind. Forced back into battle against your will, you play as Kal Wardin, a retired marine. Knocked out cold by members of the N.O.V.A, Wardin finds himself assigned to a string of life-threatening missions.
Highly compared to that of the Halo franchise which has become insanely popular all over the world on Microsoft’s Xbox platform, N.O.V.A Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance plays out over a satisfying 13 campaign levels, each taking you to a different landscape, including: a jungle, snow, spaceship, bunker and a forgotten alien city. There are six weapons within the game which you can take advantage of to help you on your mission. These include: an assault rifle, a shotgun, a sniper rifle, a handgun, a rocket launcher and a plasma gun. Plus, in certain levels you’ll also get to use grenades and even rock out on machine gun turrets!
As well as playing the game yourself, N.O.V.A Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance can be played in multiplayer mode, too. In this mode, 2-4 players can play in local and online multiplayer deathmatchs, over Wi-Fi and you can versus up to 2 players via a Bluetooth connection. In total, the game’s mutliplayer option offers a range of 5 in-game maps in which you can choose from.
Already a 5-star hit wonder after less than 24 hours on the store, and receiving huge critical acclamation, I can’t help but think N.O.V.A is going to be an instant App Store hit, if it isn’t already! I have to say, having picked up the game myself and played through a level or four, this game sports some of the best visual based graphics I have ever seen on the iPhone (and iPod touch) platform. I’m not just saying it, it’s like N.O.V.A crosses that invisible barrier of mobile game to console wonder, and in my personal opinion, Gameloft has excelled.
Be sure to stay tuned for our full in-depth review of N.O.V.A Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance, very soon. In the meantime, feast your eyes on some in-game shots from the game below!
Smule, the Sonic Media company and guys behind the likes of Ocarina, Leaf Trombone: World Stage and the widely popular I Am T-Pain for iPhone, have today announced that they have received new funding from an outside investor. Shasta Ventures are a group of venture capitalists who say they’re hell bent on providing great customer service, as well and helping ‘exceptional’ entrepreneurs create next-gen companies. Well, they’ve certainly lent their helping hand to Smule, pumping in a staggering $8 million dollars into the firm.
“Smule has emerged as the innovative brand in the consumer mobile market. Moreover, we were impressed with the financial performance of the company in ’09, in addition to the company’s vision for the future. The dynamics of this new market are unique, and Smule is extremely well positioned to be a dominant player in this market.”
- Jason Pressman, Managing Director at Shasta Ventures
Smule says the investment wasn’t planned, however after seeing the potential Shasta could bring to the firm, they were more than happy to partner with them. Jeff Smith, CEO and co-founder of Smule had this to say:
“Candidly we were not planning on raising capital at this stage of our business plan, yet as we got to know the partnership at Shasta, we found they had a similar perspective on the importance of innovation, and a robust understanding of the new consumer market realities. We are therefore excited to have them join us on our mission to redefine the mobile social experience.”
Smule’s Leaf Trombone: World Stage and I Am T-Pain iPhone applications were recently recognized by Apple as two of the top applications for 2009 in their ‘Rewind’ promotion, with T-Pain ranking 4th and Leaf Trombone ranking 9th overall – and according to Smule, to date I Am T-Pain users have created over twelve million recordings using the application. Ocarina on the other hand was released over thirteen months ago now and still remains a top seller.
Search is a big business nowadays, and up until today there’s been one prominent search engine giant which has dominated the App Store in it’s entirety. I am of course talking about Google. They first covered the need for immediate search by introducing Google Mobile onto the store, which also included the ability to search by voice. Later, we then had them introduce a mobile version of their widely popular Google Earth software.
With Apple having partnered with Google in the past to bring Google Maps out of the box on the iPhone, by all accounts it seemed Google had (and still has) things pretty much sown up! .. But let’s not forget, Google aren’t the only ones who want a piece of the iPhone’s ‘search’ market share. After all, Microsoft had already created numerous version of Bing for other mobile devices, however as noted earlier in the year it was clear if Microsoft wanted to complete with the major search giants like Google, they’d have to bow down to the iPhone – and they have ..
Yesterday, having already released a mobile version of their Seadragon software earlier this year, and later introducing their Tag reader software, we saw the debut of Bing. Microsoft’s own relatively new search engine. I have to say, I was surprised. Not by the fact we now have Bing on the iPhone; Surely that was inevitable, right? No, What surprised me the most is how well designed it is. It’s clear it was thought about beforehand, and I like that in an app.
Quite simply, Bing lets you search – and just like Google it does so in various ways, not surprisingly one of them being of course – voice. According to Microsoft, it’s key features on the iPhone are the displaying of the daily image from Bing.com, easy to access voice search, tips and tricks on the home page, “Locate Me” functionality, the ability to add pushpins and save locations. Represented by little Grey squares, Bing’s homescreen is home to some of the latest news stories of the hour, alongside some interesting facts, off set on the ‘Pic of the Day’.
The app lets you search by Images, Movies, Maps (which ironically uses Google Maps), Businesses and Directions. Search results are displayed in-app, with the app featuring a built-in browser. Sadly though, no option to switch out to Safari. Figures much? Searching for businesses is pretty cool. If the business has been rated by Bing users, Bing will display and break down it’s rating for you. For example, say you’re searching for a coffee shop, if it has the data, Bing will display rates for aspects like the atmosphere, drinks and menu quality. A nice plus. Directions in-app feature full Google Maps, plus location (if turned on), along with manual directions and the option to manually step through each turn on your journey.
I must say – it’s a good start Microsoft. One which I wasn’t expecting and definitely a pleasant surprise from you of all people. That said, I do have a small caveat. Turn by turn directions with voice overlay would have been nice.
They did it last year, and now it’s back. The Great App Bake Off 2009. Developers, put down your keyboards, xcode testing tools and virtual paintbrushes, and instead pick up those baking trays and oven mittens, because today my friends, you’re about to cook for your pride, your glory and .. cool stuff! Yes, the Great App Bake Off is back. A time of the year for App Store developers to stop, think and ask themselves that all important question: “Can I actually bake a cake?”
But it’s not just for developers! Oh no, you can enter too, and there are prizes involved – lots of them. Hosted by Gavin Bowman of Retro Dreamer, also the developer behind the App Store hit Sneezies, The Great App Bake Off is a (so far) annual event which sees anyone from anywhere baking for the fun of it! Here’s how it works. You pick an App Store application of your choice, and then you bake a cake which resembles that application. Whether it be in the shape of the app’s main character, or a mouth-watering version of the app’s current App Store icon – You simply have to bake it and take a few shots of it.
It’s simple: pick an App, bake it, send us the pictures, win prizes.
Checkout these awesome first entries into the contest below. The first depicts the cool App Store icon of the app Story Tracker, and the other sees one of the main character’s of Elf Command, come to sponge! .. I mean life!
Once you’ve done that, there are two ways you can send Gavin and the team your cake entries. You can either e-mail them to appcakes at retrodreamer.com, or you can tweet them as an @reply. You’ll find App Cakes on Twitter @AppCakes.
But your awesome bakery efforts will not go unnoticed. Far from it! Apart from the delicious reward of eating your (hopefully) scrumptious creation afterward, you’ll be entering to win yourself a tonne of cool App Store goodies, including all of this:
- A £50 iTunes Gift certificate provided by Chillingo
- A $50 iTunes Gift certificate, provided by Antair
- A $15 iTunes Gift certificate and promo codes for Sneezies and Eyegore’s Eye Blast provided by Retro Dreamer
- 2 promo codes for Story Tracker provided by Andrew Nicolle
- Promo codes for Rocket Santa and Star Fusion provided by Bytesize Adventures
- 5 promo codes for Serving Sizer, provided by Creative Algorithms
.. With more on the way!
I’m told by Gavin that he expects this prize pool to grow over the next few weeks, as more and more developers take to their kitchens and get involved, and the contest gets more coverage. Of course, all prizes will be distributed over the best entries when judged in January. The closing date for new entries into The Great App Bake Off 2009 is January 4th .. so get baking!
If you just love movies like me, it’s probably a dead given you know about the Internet Movie Database, or IMDb to the rest of the world. Cataloging one movie at a time, IMDb is an online repository and has grown to become the number one place on the web to find out about movie releases, who star in them, directed them and just about anything else you’d want to know. Last week, this online catalog of information came to iPhone, in the form of the official Internet Movie Database application.
IMDb for iPhone offers a variety of movie-based data, but just like the online version .. it doesn’t stop at movies. Opening the app you’ll find sections for both Movies, TV Shows, and People, with the app offering movie showtimes, titles which are coming soon, US Box office results, the top 25 most searched titles on IMDb and the top 250 movies. What’s interesting about the TV side of this app though, is IMDb for iPhone will ask for your location, and then using the iPhone’s built in geo-location feature, pull TV Shows which are actually airing tonight, in your state or region. So far, this feature only seems to be supported in the US though, but here’s hoping an update resolves that.
The ‘People’ section of IMDb for iPhone relates to the actors and actress that make our movies experiences, memorable. Again, the app will display the top 25 most searched people on IMDb, allowing you to see who is the most popular in search, with the world. What’s really cool though is, as well this, the app will also display an entire list of all the actors and actresses who were “born today,” according to today’s date.
Alongside these immediate features though, if you like you can just search IMDb as you usually would. I have to say that the way information is set out in IMDb for iPhone has clearly been well though out. Everything is clear, readable, and spaced – Making for an enhanced experience over the online version. In fact one app store reviewer commented they like the app more than the website, and I don’t blame them. My only caveat in this is that really, it’s a viewer rather than an interactive experience. The application won’t allow you to log into your IMDb account, it’ll just allow you to view the information as an outsider looking in.
Still, being FREE it’s definitely one for the movie lovers among us!
Blacksmith Games are about to debut onto the App Store with their first title for the platform. Submitted just a few days ago, Plushed is a platformer which will literally transport you to a fairytale world. The game takes the player on a dark-humored, Tim Burton-esque adventure roller coaster .. starting off with the story of a girl, who’s most favorite things in the world are her fairytale book, and her cuddly bunny – Plushie. One night while in bed, she notices a snoring noise coming from out of a mouse hole in her wall. Having never noticed it before, she goes to inspect the noise and grabs a piece of cheese from her dinner left overs, to entice whatever was making the noise, to show it’s face.
A few minutes later a mouse wearing a fairy costume appears in front of her, with a jealous-looking smaller mouse standing behind. Without a thought, the mouse grabs the cheese and devours it. As a reward the mouse offers the little girl one wish. Of course the girl wished to be a fairytale princess. Just as the spell was about to be cast though, a skull from the other mouse hits the wand, mis-firing the spell, causing it to hit the fairytale book. In an instant the book swallows up both the girl and plushie, and the adventure .. begins.
In-game, you play as the main character, Plushie the bunny. Guiding him through 9 danger-filled but fun lengthy levels, including; Ancient Ruins, Wild Plains, Mountain Trail, Batcow Stables, Cotton Candy Park, Cursed Wood, Graveyard Swamp, Princess Room and Evil Mouse Lair, you aim to collect as many golden ladybirds within each of these levels, as possible. Through the game you’ll also come across various weird and wonderful support characters, including a pizza eater, which when given pieces of pizza will close its mouth and let you jump on his back to reach those hard to reach places, a kubicorn which is like a unicorn, but square!, and many more. By default only the first level is available, with the game unlocking each subsequent level, after completion of the previous. Completion of a level seems to be deemed as reaching the end-of-level door, as opposed to collecting all the pickups available, and therefore I found myself re-playing the levels to try and beat my previous golden ladybird totals.
The games controls are fairly straightforward. Moving back and forth is controlled by a left and right arrow seen as in the bottom left of the screen, while jumping is performed simply by tapping the screen. You’ll be glad to know though that you can also control by tilt. To do this just select ‘Tilt’ from the ‘Options’ pane. As well as the game’s built-in levels, Plushed also features 3 mini-games, which you can play through. These include: Jackpack Master, Mining Expert and Defender.
Having gotten the chance to test Plushed out over this weekend just gone, I have to say that I have fallen in love with it. In my opinion, a great first debut. Vibrant visuals and polished hand-drawn characters all complete with their own realistic animations, I couldn’t help but not want to play through some of the levels again.
Plushed has already been submitted, and will be hitting the App Store soon. Watch out for this one!
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Posted December 10th, 2009 by Arron Hirst Our Rating: :: SIMPLY GORGEOUS
The sequel to an overnight App Store hit, Illusion Labs debuts Labyrinth 2. With it's dramatically overhauled gameplay, slick graphics, mutliplayer, level creator and more you just have to pick this one up!
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