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While this post has nothing directly to do with iOS, it is a pretty major story in the mobile world. One you are likely not going to hear the end of soon. Microsoft has just officially unveiled Windows Phone 8, the mobile version of their new Windows ecosystem.

While at first glance it looks like Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone 8 has matured nicely. The Windows Phone 7 interface, known previously as Metro, has become the basis for all Windows 8 devices, desktop, tablet, and mobile. Which is great for standardized usability, maybe. There are some really good things about Windows Phone 8, and some bad ones. The interface is great, the apps, not so much.

 

Windows Phone 8 – The Interface

 

When Joe Belfiore got on stage to introduce the final unknown features of Windows Phone 8, it seemed like a sigh of relief. Microsoft has been teasing this release for what seems like months, but it’s finally here. However, it’s not without some notable issues.

I must point out that the Windows Phone 8 OS interface is perfectly suited for mobile. It is the only mobile OS designed from the start for mobile and it shows that a lot of thought went into the design. In many ways it’s a better interface for mobile than iOS or Android (which just copied iOS). It is focused on getting you the data you need quickly. The strength in iOS is with the apps. But that isolates that data inside the app and requires extra touches to get to it. Windows Phone is designed to surface the data from your apps onto your start screen. It’s just there and it’s really well done.

Some really good new features were presented, like Kid’s Corner, a specially administered interface on your device for when your kids want to play. Deep integration of your social networks is also a huge plus–doubly so on the go. Rooms allow groups of people to share things like photos, calendars, and even group messages.

 

Windows Phone 8 – The Hardware

 

Microsoft has announced a range of devices that will run Windows Phone 8. Let’s be honest: they are all pretty good but not amazing. None of them that I tried have the design and feel of the nearly perfect iPhone 5, but they are functional and fairly well done. Some corners were cut with most devices being all plastic, but that also keeps the retail prices down.

Some stand-outs include the Nokia 920, and the HTC 8X. Microsoft handed out HTC 8X devices as the unveiling this week and it’s the device I’ve been using to test Windows Phone 8.

 

Microsoft asks for a third chance

 

Here’s the really bad thing about Windows Phone 8, Microsoft is asking for yet another do-over in mobile. They messed it up, failed to build properly for the future, again, and need to start over. That means that the old stuff is deprecated and won’t be upgraded.

So all the years of their rhetoric about Windows Mobile being the operating system of the future? False. Windows Phone 7 is the future? False. Have a Windows Phone 7 device? It’s not upgradeable to Windows Phone 8, just a few short months later. Sorry, Microsoft needs to start over and create something new, so you are left with the short straw. If you have a recent Windows Phone 7 device it can be upgraded to 7.8, a subset of Windows Phone 8, but incompatible with WP8 apps, which is little consolation.

So even while Nokia was spending crazy ad dollars telling users that the “Smartphone beta test is over,” they knew it was just a ruse. It’s unforgivable to me that Nokia was selling devices it knew would not be upgradeable in just a few short months. Imagine if the iPhone 5 were not upgradeable to iOS 7 when that inevitably comes out next year. Oh, the fervor that would raise. But you see, hardly anyone bought Windows Phone 7 devices, so there’s no outrage. There are good things about being on the low end of the list in smartphone production, huh, Nokia?

I think Microsoft should just buy every Windows Phone 7 user a new Windows Phone 8 device. Would be great PR, and probably more effective than some of the ads they will end up running.

The end result of this is that you should be at least a bit concerned that Windows 9 is right around the corner and could easily make any Windows Phone 8 device you buy obsolete and non-upgradeable.

So, that’s a bit off my chest. But now here’s the kicker. I really like Windows Phone 8, I do. I think it’s innovative, pleasing to use, and all around well done. But the sad thing is, I won’t use it regularly, because there are still too few good apps for it.

 

Right Achilles Heel: Where are the good apps?

 

While Microsoft touts 120,000 apps for Windows Phone, there’s a real problem with those apps: a huge majority of them are just horrible crap. Most of them are way worse than the crappiest of apps on iOS. Many of the recognizable ones, the ones that Microsoft trumpets as being keystones on the platform, are just way behind compared to their iOS counterparts. Some are designed as feature sub-sets of their iOS versions, but others just haven’t been updated in too long.

The good news is that this lack of good apps should start to be less of an issue. At the Windows Phone 8 event this week Microsoft said they would have 46 of the top 50 apps on Windows Phone. I don’t know where that top 50 came from, but they did announce some good additions, like Pandora, Temple Run, and Angry Birds Space.

Microsoft will spend a ton of cash advertising Windows Phone 8; hopefully it will help. Flurry has already announced a huge uptick in new Windows Phone projects. Hopefully those new apps will be first class citizens, unlike some of the feature-lacking ones available now for Windows Phone.

But that’s not all. There is yet another problem with the Windows Phone app marketplace: device-specific apps.

 

Left Achilles Heel: Manufacturer Specific Apps

 

Forget about the Windows Phone 8’s (lack of) upgrade fiasco. Or even that the apps released for Windows Phone are sometimes generations behind other platforms. Here’s another big problem: device-specific app markets.

It seems like every other platform tries to match the iTunes App Store, but none are able to do it. Microsoft has capitulated to the device manufacturers to allow them to place manufacturer-specific app market sections in the main marketplace leading to apps that not all users can get to. Of course, the device marketing wonks have run with it. Releasing apps for specific devices from one manufacturer instead of all devices on the platform is a weak marketing tactic. In the end, it’s the whole of Windows Phone that will suffer for it.

 

Windows Phone 8 – Where does it fit in?

 

It’s easy to categorize mobile users. This is a generalization, of course, but Android users tend to be the DIY types and the “I heard there’s something called a smartphone and I want one for free” users. iOS users are the people the like it when their devices “just work.” Those iOS and Android users have already invested time and money into their platform of choice and the apps there. They aren’t likely to switch in large numbers to Windows Phone 8. So who’s left for Microsoft?

Business users, perhaps. Those that work for companies heavily invested in Microsoft technology, maybe. The problem with this is it takes years for companies to upgrade this type of infrastructure.

People who don’t already have a smartphone? These are the best candidates for Windows Phone 8. If you have a Windows 8 computer, it just makes sense to go with Windows Phone 8 if you aren’t invested in something else.

Then there are those that just want something no one else has. It is different from iOS and Android, so perhaps a certain number of people will want it just because of that fact.

 

Summary

 

Windows Phone 8 is a great mobile OS with good hardware, but a lot of hurdles yet to clear. In spite of everything negative listed above, it is well thought out, very well implemented, and something to keep tracking. If it gains enough steam, and everything meshes perfectly, it could possibly be a top mobile OS. But the real problem is it just may be too late–5 years too late. We will see if Windows Phone 8 will be enough to win Microsoft more than just an honorable mention.

Gameloft are known for putting out a pretty broad variety of games. This game, while it looks like it’s focused on kids, will have a pretty broad appeal. If you, or someone you know is a Brony or Pegasister, you already know what I’m talking about.

My Little Pony, the TV show has seen a huge revival of late. Both with kids and adults identifying with the show. Gameloft have announced a game set in the My Little Pony world, a freemium city builder, that might just make all fans happy.

With a huge variety of ponies to include in your world, even a few for the adult fans (check out the video for details on that). Lots of mini-games, quests, and a few interesting twists.

The game will be free to download and play and should be out soon. A great reason for Bronies and Pegasisters to get that new iPad mini — for My Little Pony! Take a look below for our exclusive video from the game below for more on the game.

New App: Atebits First Game, Letterpress Released

Posted by on October 24th, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Atebits has had an interesting history on the App Store. We’ll leave that for another day, but Atebits has recently risen from the ashes with the stated goal to “Make things. Fun things, useful things, new things, improved things.” And to that end, their first game, Letterpress is now released.

As you can see from the above video, the asynchronous multiplayer word game with a bit more competition than others. The game ends once every letter on the board is captured by one of the two sides alternating word selection. The game is much more strategic than just trying to find the longest words. You must use the right letters at the right time to capture that letter and add to your total. At the same time you can capture the letters already claimed by the other player if you choose the correct letters. It can be complex, and much more challenging than it seems initially.

The game is available now for free with a $0.99 IAP to unlock more than two games at once and some other nice features. If you are a word game fan, you will like this one.

App Update: Big Update Coming Soon to The Moron Test

Posted by on October 15th, 2012
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

We’ve got the exclusive details of the first major update to The Moron Test in over a year. With over 35 million downloads in the series, this update is sure to make a lot of fans happy.

The soon to be released 6.0 update includes the new “Tricky Treat” level. Here are the first couple sections from that level in the following video.

If you have never played The Moron Test, the above video also gives you an idea of what The Moron Test is all about. It’s a quick, reaction puzzle game featuring a great variety of simple, yet devilishly fun and confusing read and react puzzles. So devilishly fun in fact that over 1,200 man years have been spent playing the Moron Test games. That’s nearly 2.5 million hours.

We got a chance to speak with Berkeley Malagon from DistinctDev, creators of the Moron Test about this update and what’s in store for lovers of the series.

148Apps: So it’s been over a year since your last big update to The Moron Test. What have you been up to in that time?

Berkeley Malagon: At the end of last year we decided it was time to create a sequel for The Moron Test. In December, we launched The Moron Test 2, and that has kept us pretty busy this year. We’ve released three great sections for that version featuring animations, a fantastic new art style and some of the best puzzles in the series. Behind the scenes, we grew the team from three people to five people and moved to Seattle, WA to open our first office.

148: Can you tell us what we have to look forward to in this update?

Berkeley: “Tricky Treat” is a brand new set of halloween-themed puzzles coming soon for the original version of The Moron Test. It’s really the best section we’ve made in the whole series. It’s the culmination of years of practice creating mind-bending puzzles that seem simple, but trick players into failing in ways that have them slapping their foreheads. It’s also the most polished section we’ve made, featuring new characters, funny costumes, and all sorts of spooky silliness.

148: What’s the thinking behind doing an update to The Moron Test instead of a Moron Test 3?

Berkeley: We were trying to decide what to work on next after launching “Field Day”, the latest section in the sequel. A third game in the series was an option, but the timing wasn’t right – there’s still a lot we want to do with the current two titles. We realized the timing was perfect for making our first halloween-themed section, and we thought it’d be fun and for us and our fans to update the original with a huge unexpected free section. We had a blast making it, and we think fans will have a blast playing it.

148: What do we have to look forward to from The Moron Test?

Berkeley: Fans can expect both the original and the sequel to keep getting love, so they should get both games and watch for the great updates. Fans should also like our Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/themorontest) for sneak-peeks, updates, and exclusive content not found in the games.

Keep an eye out for the update to The Moron Test. It should be hitting the App Store any time now.

Theological discussions aside, I imagine it would be pretty tough to build a massive sea-going vessel and then stock it with two of every animal in the world. I also imagine it would be rather difficult to catch up with said super-sized ship once it’s set sail, but that’s exactly what happens in Chillingo’s Catch the Ark.

Noah and a few of his animal buddies have been left behind. Rather than mope around and wait for the floodwaters they decide to get proactive and attempt to chase down the biblical boat. The gameplay, which is still admittedly in fairly early form, takes place on an endless river. Players must guide the tiny raft back and forth in order to avoid obstacles and snag some coinage. These coins can be gathered and used to purchase new dinghies or special power-ups to give their future runs a better chance at success.

I have to admit I was pretty impressed by Catch the Ark, even with the game in such an early form. The visuals are incredibly stylish and colorful, the controls are responsive, and the little detail of animals hanging on the small boat representing “lives” is just brilliant. It’s also worth noting that, at least in this early build, it avoids many of the pitfalls typically associated with Bible-related games. Which is to say it’s more about the game than the Genesis.

Catch the Ark is still too early in development to have an official release date or price, but it’s definitely coming. And it seems like something worth keeping an eye out for.

Ever since I found myself transfixed by Wayne and Garth’s adventures in creating their own personal rock-a-palooza, I wondered what it would be like to start one of my own. Reality being what it is, coupled with me being barely in my teens at the time, meant that it wasn’t something I could actually do. At least it wasn’t. Now that Chillingo is getting ready to release Pocket Festival that young man’s dream can very much become a reality. Okay a virtual reality but sometimes you take what you can get.

Pocket Festival puts players in charge of their own personal Lollapalooza, Woodstock, Warped Tour, or whatever else they might want to call it. They can build tents for concert goers. They construct the stages and book the bands. They pick up litter for experience points (!!). And, as expected, more experience unlocks more gear, which can be purchased with coins and used to earn more coins to buy more gear. Most notably there are also daily quests that are changed, you guessed it, daily and offer players a number of rewards for various tasks.

This freemium rock-fest will be available soon. And you won’t even have to wait in line for a week to get tickets!

Imagine a twisted game show in which contestants have to navigate their way through a maze full of hazards in order to earn some potential big bucks. Possibly even their freedom. Okay, not that game. What I’m talking about is Chillingo’s Man in a Maze. It’s a bit less bleak.

For starters, the Man (pictured) is always grinning like a goof. That’s pretty much the tone to expect from Man in a Maze: goofy and lighthearted. In between levels players can potentially spin a large, Price is Right-style wheel for bonuses or even use gems nabbed within a stage to purchase upgrades. Of course the stages themselves can be a bit more punishing than the bright and colorful themes might make them appear.

In my brief time spent with the game I saw a number of variations to the maps, which required completely different strategies. At it’s core, Man in a Maze functions much like a fairly typical maze chase game. Players guide the hapless grinning fool around with a finger drag and attempt to snag gems, avoid enemies, and possibly nail them with a fancy ball or two.

All the family friendly (and universal!) game show of death shenanigans will be coming to the App Store this winter.

What do you think of when I mention fur underwear, lots of muscles, and a really big sword? Okay, it calls a couple of different pop-culture icons to mind but what if I include flowing blond locks and an alter-ego that wears pink tunics? Couldn’t be anyone other than He-Man, could it? Well it is. And The Most Powerful Man in the Universe is getting The Most Powerful Game in the Universe at the end of the month by way of GlitchSoft (Destructopus, Star Marines) and Chillingo.

The developers have teamed-up with Mattel in order to bring the App Store an interactive celebration of the iconic 80’s action figure’s – I mean action hero’s – 30th anniversary. Hem-Man: The Most Powerful Game in the Universe is quite possibly the first iOS Tap n’ Slash, too. Players will tear through several different environments and over 25 levels throughout Eternia as they attempt to thwart Skeletor yet again. The game features destructible environments, un-lockable and upgradeable attacks, hidden artwork, a very tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, and a surprisingly clever control scheme. I didn’t get the chance to play around with it at all but it looks pretty intuitive with the left side for the screen used exclusively for movement and the right for jumping, attacking, and a bunch of special moves.

The glorious homage to one of the manliest toys ever to have graced the 1980s – with its self-referential humor, giant boss battles, and promise of more content in the form of new playable characters and levels in the future – is due out in the App Store at the end of the month, specifically October 25th. I wasn’t able to get a solid price point but it should go for between $0.99 and $1.99. Very soon we’ll all HAAAAVE THE POWEEEEEER! Make sure to use it wisely.


Things are looking pretty grim. A despicable race of alien beings has planted a doomsday device called “The Cosmic Fuse” deep inside the Earth’s core. Rather than wait for a team of semi-washed up actors lead by Hillary Swank to ride a drill train through the center of the Earth we’ve enlisted the help of Verticus, the world’s first (so far as I know) free-falling superhero.

Verticus is a new “endless faller” headed to the App Store courtesy of Moonshark, Controlled Chaos Media (creators of Texting of the Bread), and Stan Lee. Yes, that’s Stan – The Man – Lee. The comic book legend has created a special story and superhero for his first iOS outing, as well as supplying his own voice as the player’s mission commander. Commence geeking out. I was able to have a chat with Moonshark’s CEO, Matt Kozlov, and he filled me in on the whole world-saving affair.

The titular do-gooder must fall his way through the Earth’s atmosphere, past cities and their streets, and beyond its very center in order to reach and diffuse the alien invaders’ bomb. Then he has to make it through to the other side. This isn’t a mere dodge-em-up, however. The fledgling hero will have both offensive and defensive abilities to aid him in his task, as well as a number of upgrades to earn and unlock through multiple playthroughs. So there’s obviously plenty of incentive for multiple replays, what with the upgrades and new suits to earn. It’s also possible (though not necessary) for players to purchase in-game cash to speed up their development if they so desire.

Verticus is slated for a release sometime this fall (we all see what you did there, Moonshark). If you’re too excited to sit idly by and wait for the action to commence, you can also check out the game’s official Facebook page for more details. Oh, and you can enter to win one of a few pieces of official Verticus artwork signed by Stan Lee while you’re there, too. Wait, what?

When Street Fighter x Tekken was quietly announced at E3 this year, many were relieved. It had been rumored for a while, but it was there, in the flesh (or silicon) and it was real. Demos started at PAX earlier this month. And we just got our hands on a build. Take a look at the video below to see what to expect.

Full details are still to come. But from the build we can get a sense of what characters we will be able to play, though others are likely to unlock as you progress in the game. In our early look it seems like the controls are pretty well done. As expected as the controls for Street Fighter IV also from Capcom were exceptional for a touch screen button masher like this.

Global multiplayer system will be included in the game. We were unable to test that in our version, though. It could add considerable interest to the game if it works well.

Look for Street Fighter x Tekken later this year, perhaps sooner, perhaps later. If we had to guess, from this build we would say sooner. But Capcom are being particularly cagey about this game. We hope to know more soon.

Real Racing 3 Demoed At Apple Event

Two games were demoed at the Apple Event Wednesday. Real Racing 3 was the one that really showed off the device. Talking to Rob Murray after the event he noted that the A6 processor in the iPhone 5 allowed them to turn up the effects even more than they already had to make everything in the game look even more realistic.

Real Racing 3 will be out before the end of the year and include interesting new features like time-shifted multiplayer via Game Center, working side mirrors, and visual effects like we’ve never seen on a portable device. These are console-quality graphics we are talking about. Take a look at the following, first screen shot of Real Racing 3 (click for full size 1136×640 screen).

I can not wait to get my hands on this one.

Marvel have announced a new episodic touch combat game for iPhone and iPad, Avengers Initiative. In this first episode, to be released Thursday, you play the Hulk. As the Hulk, you are tasked with defeating a large group of evil super-powered villians who have escaped from a top secret holding facility in an event known as The Pulse.

The Pulse was first introduced in the Facebook Marvel game, Avengers Alliance. Both that game and the iOS game are interconnected with a system called Marvel XP. This allows players to unlock in-game items and level up between the two games.

The gameplay itself takes some big cues from Infinity Blade, if you are familiar with that, the game plays in a similar way. The game functions by using touch and swipe mechanics to fight various foes in the game. You will face a series of enemies in different locations as you progress through the story. The game has full retina graphics and looks great on both the iPad and iPhone. Take a look out our fifteen minute walkthrough below of the beginning of the game to get an idea of the art style and gameplay.

Future episodes will hopefully follow quickly with the first one expected before the end of the year. In later episodes you will have the opportunity to play other members of the Avengers.

Marvel’s Avengers Initiative will be released this Thursday, worldwide, for $6.99. It is not a free to play game. In-app purchase will be available to help power up and create custom uniforms for the Hulk, but will not be required to complete the game.

VS. Racing 2 Hands-On Preview

The sequel to popular top down arcade racer VS. Racing is set for release soon and we got our hands on a preview build to see exactly what to expect in the full release.

VS. Racing 2 looks set to build on the success of its predecessor rather than revolutionize the genre but that’s nothing to complain about given how much fun the title is.

The top down racer has always lent itself to short bursts of fun and VS. Racing 2 is no different. A series of 36 different tracks ensures there’s plenty to do with it only ever taking a few minutes to complete a track. Controlling the car is conducted through a virtual steering wheel on the side of the screen. There’s an option to change this to tilt based controls but there’s really no need. The virtual steering wheel does a fine job of offering responsive controls that can be relatively easily mastered. Although, one tip worth pointing out, stick to using your thumb to steer rather than another finger. It’s geared towards thumb steering and it’s much more intuitive that way.

VS. Racing 2‘s focus is very much on speed and fun here with impressive drifts achievable in hardly any time at all. Action gets pretty challenging in later stages but consistently enjoyable. A series of upgradeables and new cars to buy ensure the learning curve is pretty smooth and satisfying.

The real stand out feature here, however, is the Race A Friend mode. It’s this that I suspect will keep players coming back for more. Supplementing the local multiplayer, players can challenge friends from any location, providing they have their email address. Players take it in turns to beat their opponent’s fastest time. A ghost car demonstrates where the competition lays at all times, providing some memorable thrills and spills. It’s great fun to play and I can see this being the ideal mode to dive into throughout the day. The preview build I checked out didn’t include Game Center integration but that’s set to be included in the full release, so I’m hopeful that this will boost multiplayer play dramatically.

VS. Racing 2 is shaping up to be a highly enjoyable top down racer. Its arcade spirit won’t beguile more serious racing fans but everyone else should be excited. The asynchronous multiplayer should cement its popularity all the more.

VS. Racing 2 is set for release in the near future. We’ll be sure to let you know when it hits the App Store.

AppAddict has the first gameplay trailer for the interesting looking new game from Illusion Labs up. Blast-A-Way is expected to be released later this month.

Even just from the short teaser clip, you can tell the game certainly has that unique character and appeal that we’ve come to expect from an Illusion Labs title. The game has been in the works for over a year and I for one cannot wait to get my hands on the game when it finally launches at the end of the month.

via: AppAddict source: Vimeo

Projectbook, from Theory.io in an information and task manager that takes the whole app genre to the next level. Since applications like this have been around, they have all followed the same aging model of folders filled with items. While you can organize data in folders and lists in Projectbook, the true genius of this app is how it organizes things automatically for you. Using some amazing natural language processing, developed by obvious geniuses, it pulls the relevant keywords from a document and then interconnects all of your data.

This is presented in two different ways. First, keywords are automatically underlined in the documents. Clicking on them will show any documents related to that keyword. Each document also has a “Similar Notes” link that will show you documents that are related to the overall content of that document.

And the Natural Language Text Processing isn’t just looking for nouns, it’s much smarter than that. It looks for context and relationships as well. So, for instance, pull in a web clip about the Porche 911 and it will link to another document you have about the BMW M3.

The result of this amazing text processing is you are organized without actually needing to organize things yourself. You can just dump everything into Projectbook and it will self-organize based on the content. And in practice, it works surprisingly well. You can always fall back to search, if necessary.

Projectbook can pull in data in a variety of ways – typed in, you email it to the app, clip web pages, or you can even pull from an Instapaper or Pocket account. Once data is in it is completely searchable. Including Word documents and PDF documents. And one key plus is that data is on your iPad, no Internet connection is needed to get to it.

While those are some of the key features of Projectbook, there are many other features that round out this app.

• Full featured sketch mode
• Organize by Folders, Tags, or Dates
• Combine text, images, sketches, and audio together on any page
• Create hierarchical outlines with bullets or checkboxes
• Create to-dos quickly by entering as a sequential list, rather than in dialogs
• Email to-dos directly to your to-do list, with attachments
• Create to-dos with natural words, like “Buy tickets 2 weeks from Tuesday”
• Assign to-dos to others and track completion
• Fully GTD compliant to-do system
• Live search bar
• No subscription needed

Projectbook releases today for the iPad. An iPhone version along with a Mac desktop version are in the works and should be released in the coming weeks. Once they are released, all version will seamlessly sync, automatically. We’ll have a full review of the iPad version in the coming days.

$2.99
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2012-08-01 :: Category: Productivity

Freemium social games are all well and good, but a number of them are decidedly lacking in certain places. Namely in action. That’s probably why it’s so easy to take notice when companies like Pangalore announce a game like Knightly Adventure.

Knightly Adventure is indeed a social game, and it does indeed possess a bunch of typical fantasy RPG elements; stuff like medieval kingdoms, quests, hostile monsters, colorful storybook-like graphics, and so on. But while it adheres to many freemium norms, it also attempts to deviate in that one key area. Amidst all the kingdom building, character customizing, friend gathering, and so on is a much more interactive action RPG approach to the quests. With the option of choosing between four character classes (swordsman, wizard, bowman, or knight) available to further sweeten the deal.

This free-to-play cross-platform (mobile, tablet, or Facebook) super-hyphenated fantasy adventure will be setting up shop in the App Store sometime next month. Presumably and preferably soon.

I do love a good SHMUP, and a classic old-school style SHMUP with hand-painted visuals appeals to me even more. It probably appeals to a lot of people, actually, which might have something to do with why publisher Lace Mamba Global and developer Firepixels is bringing Solar Wings to the App Store.

Players will get to blow up all manner of fancy-looking enemy ships as they fight their way through five different worlds. Each with a collection of tough/large bosses and vessels. Power-ups are on hand, naturally, as well as a total of three selectable characters with their own personal ships, although the third character needs to be unlocked before they can be used. And it’s all depicted in that colorful hand-painted style I mentioned. Sounds tasty, right?

Solar Wings should be sitting pretty on the App Store come Saturday, July 28th. Any SHMUP fans can nab it for a very reasonable $0.99, assuming there’s no accident with the listing like there was for the game’s Desura release.

*Note: Images are from the PC version*

Ever see cameraphone footage of a concert on YouTube and think, “if only there was some way to stitch all this footage together into a smartly-edited cohesive whole?” Vyclone says, “I have a way to do that thing you just said!”

Vyclone is designed to serve as a way to combine multiple videos of an event shot at the same location. When people at the same location shoot a 60 second video at or around the same time using Vyclone, and then upload it, the service combines them into one video. The app tries to intelligently switch between different videos in order to create a quality final product, switching angles at just the right time, and deciding on the best audio track to use for the video. Videos can be shared with just the members of one’s own Vyclone crew, the nearby crowd, or with everyone, with the latter two options making it possible for anyone’s Vyclone footage to be part of a video.

Think that Vyclone is a terrible hack of a director? Then use the Remix option to combine the footage in a customized way, and show Vyclone how it’s really done. Vyclone has just launched and is free to download.

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-07-19 :: Category: Photography

A new gameplay trailer for Mojo Bones’ latest release, The Curse, has been released.

The guys at Mojo Bones, previously famous for cutesy dog-based puzzle game, Tongue Tied! have been busy working away at The Curse since releasing the first teaser trailer in February.

I was fortunate enough to get a hands on preview of The Curse and things are shaping up to look pretty great. 100 puzzles will be available to the player, with a creepy nemesis by the name of Mannequin linking everything together.

Puzzles are a varied bunch. While some puzzles will require players to piece together complex jigsaw pieces, others require careful lateral thinking to slide blocks together or draw a set number of lines to block off certain sections. Word based puzzles also feature with plenty of riddles to confound the old gray matter. The bite sized nature of these puzzles lend themselves perfectly to the iOS format and it’s a great sign of how quickly ‘just one more puzzle’ turns into another half a dozen.

Don’t expect an easy ride, though – there are some real brainteasers within the selection and The Curse should prove quite an enjoyable challenge to puzzle fans.

The Curse is set for release this summer. Expect a full review on 148apps when it hits the App Store.

As someone who’s played lots of iOS games and by extension sampled lots of virtual control schemes, external control attachments such as the iCade intrigue me. Tapping the screen is fine and all, but sometimes having physical buttons to press can make a world of difference. Lots of other people seem to think so, too, which aeis why these kinds of peripherals have a place in the market. It’s all well and good for portable play, but what about when I’m at home? Sure AirPlay allows users to game on their TV, but the iOS device is still the primary control. Which is exactly why we have brilliant entrepreneurs like the folks at Cascadia Games (the creators of Cavorite) creating stuff like the GameDock.

The GameDock will essentially be an iOS console, with all the awesomeness that implies. Users simply have to plug their iPhone or iPad into the dock, which is in-turn connected to the TV via an HDMI cable, and start playing any iCade supported titles on the big small screen. The handy dashboard app allows users to select their desired game via the connected controller, so they don’t even have to get off the couch. And just in case anyone wants to use the GameDock but doesn’t have a TV (or at least one with HDMI inputs), everything can be played right on the connected iOS device.

Cascadia Games’ Kickstarter for this most glorious of add-ons is just past the halfway mark for its $50,000 goal. With 35 days to go, there’s plenty of room for more backers. Come on, you know this is an awesome idea.

When originally announced, we didn’t know if the Tiny Wings release due for today was an update to the original or a whole new app. Turns out Andreas Illiger, the developer of Tiny Wings decided to do both and update the current app as a way to say thanks to the people who purchased the game in the past as well as release a whole new app. A note from Andreas:

Hi Tiny Wings fans! The long-awaited Tiny Wings 2 is finally done! I’ve put a lot of love into creating this major update, and I hope you’ll enjoy it. You’ll be getting a completely new game mode with 15 hand-crafted levels, a whole flock of baby birds, fish, and other surprises! And here’s the best part: Tiny Wings 2 is a free update, as a thank-you to my loyal fans (and because I don’t particularly like in-app purchases). :)
Thanks, and have fun!
              -Andreas Illiger

So let’s talk about what’s new! Of course the first thing you will notice is that the app fully supports Retina devices. It looks amazing — the new detail on the art is lush giving it nice paper/watercolor look. An effect that didn’t really come through well in the non-retina version. In addition to that, we’ll be getting a new version for the iPad with an additional multiplayer mode.

For the small screen version, in addition to the Retina version of the current endless mode, we also get a new “Flight School” mode. In this mode you choose one of four birds to fly through 15 hand-crafted levels. In these levels you race against the other three birds which are computer controlled. A couple additional elements are added to this mode, the flower and water. The flower usually sits at the top of a hill and gives you a nice bounce. The water on the other hand resides in the valleys and really slows you down. You can see a quick demo of the mode here:

For the iPad version, a third mode is added that lets two players race against each other in a split screen mode. There are two different play modes in this multiplayer setup. Take a look at the video below to see how it plays.

One of the great options added for this is automatic handicapping. The computer will automatically delay the winner on the next round based on an average of how much time they have been beating the loser by. This will, hopefully, balance out players skill levels and make it more fun for all.

Full iCloud syncing is supported so that if you have the small screen and the iPad version your progress will maintain across those devices.

The update to the iPhone / iPod touch version should be showing up at any time. The iPad / HD app is also available.

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2011-02-18 :: Category: Games

$2.99
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2012-07-12 :: Category: Games

Back in January at Macworld Expo we saw the first demo of Neat Cloud and Neat Mobile. Neat have been around for years providing hardware and software that allows archiving and then searching of scanned documents of various kinds. They produce two different scanners and desktop software to help you get documents into your database. The Neat Cloud update brings that database into the cloud and allows scanning and searching from the iPhone and iPad.

Not only can you use your iPhone and iPad to search your Neat data in the cloud while on the go, you can also use these devices to get items into the system. Utilizing the camera on the iPhone is a great way to get business cards, receipts, and other items onto your Neat Cloud while away from home. Take a look at the video from Neat below for more on the Neat system.

We got a few days to try out Neat Cloud, Neat Mobile, and one of the Neat Desk scanners. Here are some initial thoughts.

The Neat scanner is easy to set up. Just install the software and then plug in the power and the USB cable. Throw in a bunch go papers into one of the three custom guides in the scanner — one for documents, one for receipts, and one for business cards — and away you go. The scanning happens just about as fast as you can throw documents at it. Once documents are in they will be recognized and OCR’ed to get the data from them. From there they reside in your inbox in Neat for you to give them a check and file them in a folder that works for you.

You can also use the Neat mobile app to scan documents into your Neat database. In that case the document is sent to the cloud to be recognized and OCR applied. It is then send back down to your mobile device and to your Neat desktop inbox for sorting.

While the Neat Scanner works well if you have stacks of documents to scan in, in quick testing we found the iPhone camera to be produce quicker and higher resolution scans of most one and two page items. Both seem to have their place — the scanner for stacks of documents and the camera for single items and when you are on the go.

Both the scanner and your iPhone captures will not only keep the original images of your document, business cards, receipts, etc., the system will also apply Optical Character Recognition (OCR) on them. The OCR will, if the document type is set right, also grab relevent data from your scans. For example the purchase total and credit card used for a receipt or contact details from a business card. You can then use that data to updated your contacts or use the receipt data at tax time.

All visible text in the document is converted to text for the database too. Because of this you will also be able to search not only metadata about the documents scanned, but also the full content as well. Great for instances where you are looking for documents about a particular subject, but can’t remember more.

In quick testing of the OCR capabilities, everything seemed to work well with just a few recognition mistakes. In most cases the mistake was minor — but some of the more difficult business cards I threw at it did cause it to return oddly converted text. Unfortunately no OCR system is complete scan and forget, they all need to be fine tuned.

Neat Cloud comes at an additional cost over the Neat scanner and software. A personal account costs $5.99/month but you’ll need the Home & Office account at $14.99/month to use the mobile app. The Home & Office account does have the additional bonus of supporting two users, great for a household. In addition there is a higher level, the Business account that allows access by up to 5 users for $24.99/month.

Neat Mobile and Neat Cloud are available immediately. The link to the mobile app is below. To sign up for a Neat Cloud account, head to the Neat Cloud site.

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-04-18 :: Category: Productivity

No one has really figured out the magic formula for publishing traditionally print magazines on tablets. There are two current methods publishers are trying, simple PDF versions wrapped in an app, and content re-formatted and laid out specifically for tablet screens. Neither method is really selling amazingly well and each have their positives and negatives.

While Next Issue is trying to make the best of the tablet formatted versions and releasing them in a new, more consumer-friendly way. Next Issue has combined multiple publications like Time, Sports Illustrated, New Yorker, and Wired and put them all into one single app. Next Issue says that their app will be able to keep most of the interactive features from the standalone apps. And the really nice part, it’s available in one subscription price, all you can read pricing. They even include a big chunk of back issues.

Available in two different subscription models, you can subscribe to just the monthly magazines for $9.99/month for the Basic plan or include the weekly magazines for $14.99/month total, the Premium plan. If you subscribe to multiple of the 40 magazines they offer in the app, the subscription to Next Issue might even save you money.

We got a chance to take a pre-release version of the Next Issue app through it’s paces. What we’ve seen so far, we can highly recommend it for magazine junkies. The current release of Next Issue doesn’t support Apple’s In-App Purchase program. It’s more of an Amazon Kindle model — meaning you have to go to the Next Issue web site to subscribe and manage your subscription, you can’t do it through the app. An inconvenience, yes. Deal-breaker, probably not for most people.

As mentioned earlier, the magazines in Next Issue are basically the same as the stand alone apps, but wrapped in standard navigation and all in one app. Next Issue adds that standard navigation to let you do things like jump to a section and navigate the pages. It’s quick and fairly intuitive.

One of the big plusses to the Next Issue system is that as long as you subscribe you will have access to back issues as well as the current ones. At launch, Next Issue will have the back catalog for all 39 magazines back to the beginning of the year. With the hope that they will be able to continue to add to the back catalog over time.

As you’d expect, you can download issues for offline use. Good for reading while on a flight, or just someplace without a connection. With some good caching options, you can set how many issues you want to keep and Next Issue will automatically remove old issues. Automatic download is also available but will only work when the application is running.

The following monthly magazines are included in the basic plan ($9.99/month): All You, Allure, Better Homes and Gardens, Bon Appetit, Brides, Car and Driver, Coastal Living, Conde Nast Traveler, Cooking Light, Elle, Esquire, Essence, Fitness, Fortune, Glamour, Golf, Golf Digest, GQ, Health, InStyle, Money, Parents, People En Espanol, People Style Watch, Popular Mechanics, Real Simple, Self, Southern Living, Sports Illustrated Kids, Sunset, This Old House, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Wired

The Premier subscription adds the following weekly magazines: Entertainment Weekly, People, Sports Illustrated, The New Yorker, and Time for an additional $5.00 per month.

The Next Issue app launches on iOS today. You can get a 30 day free trial subscription at the Next Issue web site.

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-07-10 :: Category: News

Fishing Joy 2 Hands-On Preview

The original Fishing Joy has proven to be hugely successful across Asia since its release in the second half of 2010, but that popularity hasn’t translated very well to the Western world. With the release of Fishing Joy 2 later this week, we got a chance to check it out and see if this edition will tempt more of the world this time round.

Fishing Joy 2 isn’t actually anything like a fishing sim, despite the name. Instead, it’s a glorified shoot em up aimed at the casual market. Players are presented with an underwater scene with an array of different sea creatures floating around. A tap of the screen unleashes a tirade of bullets and, well, that’s about it.

There’s variety in the form of different weapons that can be used, each with different powers and strengths, but it’s a subtle change that doesn’t really change the basic structure of what’s expected of the player.

Fish are valued differently according to their size with the player given coins for each capture. A multiplier affects how many coins are gained with these pieces leading to gaining levels. It’s a simple enough mechanic with levelling up leading to new scenes to shoot amongst.

Ultimately though, there’s little point to Fishing Joy 2. It’s very pretty to look at and cute in its own way, but there’s seemingly no real draw to returning to it. I found myself playing it till I ran out of coins (which means no more bullets until a refresh or in-app purchase) then leaving disinterested. Lack of structure sometimes doesn’t matter but in the case of Fishing Joy 2, the addition of challenges would have benefited it greatly. As it stands, the action is never-ending but also lacking a strong purpose other than to pass the time.

Regardless, it’ll be fascinating to see how casual gamers across the world react to such a laid back game when Fishing Joy 2 comes out July 12th.

Starting about a week ago, Andreas Illiger, the creator of Tiny Wings started tweeting some rather obtuse notes on his timeline. Odd posts like “There will be no new game by me any time soon. But there will be something new from me…” Then today, came a countdown and then a link to a YouTube video.

At the end of the very well done teaser video was the payoff — Tiny Wing 2.0, coming to the App Store on July 12th. The follow up to the amazingly refreshing Tiny Wings will be released next week.

At this point we aren’t really sure if it’s version 2.0 of Tiny Wings or a whole new app. But either way, we are really looking forward to this one. Stay tuned!

[via: Touch Arcade]

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2011-02-18 :: Category: Games

Poker has kind of taken the country by storm over the past several years. It’s made its way into all manner of media, obviously including video games. So what makes this particular digital rendition of card-based gambling worth checking out? Quite a lot, it turns out.

All of the expected options are available in World Series of Poker, such as Texas Hold ‘Em and even Omaha Poker, but there’s a slew of more social-oriented features that are actually pretty awesome. Every player has an account that automatically tracks virtually every aspect of their games; thus helping them to better understand their own play style through statistics as well as allowing them to show off their skills with a number of different trophies such as special tournament rings.

It’s easy to tell what a player needs to work on (i.e. too much folding, not enough folding, etc.) at a glance, but what’s also cool is that really good players can gain access to a special league of games that are only available to others that have earned the same honor. In other words, seriously good poker players won’t have to worry about finding themselves in a game full of casual players. It’s also easy to find, invite, and join games that are already in progress. Each game is represented with a table, and players have only to tap an open seat to invite a buddy or two. And it’s just as easy to join a game.

I wasn’t able to procure any pricing information, but World Series of Poker will be available on the App Store “soon.”

A lot of people enjoy Scrabble. Like a lot. But while the current official iOS rendition is doing okay, it’s been in need of a little tweaking for a while. Well the time for tweaking is nigh.

The list of changes includes a much-improved user interface that not only looks nice but makes setting up matches and finding friends a lot easier. In fact, it makes the act of setting up a game into about as painless a process as I’ve seen yet. The chat features have also been updated, and even include some pretty wacky emoticons. There’s also a rather handy new feature that will allow players to see what other words they might have made with their letters after (emphasis on after) their turn is submitted, which should help to even out the playing field a little for the less spell-savvy while still keeping things fair during multiplayer matches.

However, the most exciting change by far has got to be the cross-platform integration. The Facebook rendition is already available, but once the iOS and Android updates are ready to roll out players will be able to get their spell on across all three platforms. This means PC/Mac users can play against iOS/Android users, and that one user’s account can span multiple devices. So one could play a few rounds on their mobile device, then come home and continue the game on the computer via Facebook. Effectively, just about anyone will be able to play Scrabble with just about anyone else just about anywhere.

Scrabble is already available and is free, but these changes won’t hit until sometime this summer. Do any of these changes have you current players excited? Then chime in below!


FREE!
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-12-15 :: Category: Games

I’m not what anyone would consider a soccer fan, but that doesn’t keep me from appreciating all of the cool stuff players can expect to find in EA’s upcoming FIFA 13. This is, of course, in addition to the expected bullet-points such as improved graphics and such.

FIFA 13 is indeed a great looking game. Player animations are incredibly smooth and their likenesses are captured eerily well considering this is an iOS game. Although they do have that creepy blank look that so many real world based character models tend to have. A bunch of smaller details will no doubt cause salivary glands to work overtime as well, including balls sporting the proper logos and all the tiny graphics typically found on a player’s jersey. And all of these fine details can be enjoyed up close and personal thanks to the game’s instant replay feature.

It doesn’t stop with tie visuals though. For the first time ever EA Sports Football Club will make its way into an iOS title. Even better, preexisting accounts will be carried over, so nobody will have to start from scratch on their iOS device. Of course my personal favorite addition is the way special skill shots and moves can be controlled via a second virtual stick on the right-hand side of the screen. Simply tap and drag in a given pattern or direction and the controlled player will start with the fancy footwork.

No information is available yet on pricing, but football (football, football) enthusiasts can expect to find FIFA 13 in the App Store sometime this fall.

Fieldrunners was one of the original breakout iOS gaming hits. First released in 2008, this game checked all the right boxes and really helped herald the iPhone’s potential as a gaming device. As time passed, the folks at Subatomic Studios continued to update the game, released an iPad version, and even a version on the Playstation Network. A lot of amazing things happened for Subatomic Studios along the way. But where was their follow up game? Years passed and nothing.

Then we got word in January that they had a new game in the works and found out shortly later that Fieldrunners 2 was that game. Now, nearly 4 years after the original was released, we have a preview of Fieldrunners 2. We’ve had the opportunity to play with the pre-release build for a week, and honestly, we’re blown away. It’s everything we loved in Fieldrunners, but turned up to 11. The preview below is taken from the pre-release app, but the final version will be out later this week.

One of the first thing you will notice with Fieldrunners 2 is that it improves on just about everything in the game. The graphics are better, the sound is better, and the variations in gameplay are greater. They have left in the familiar gameplay, the included puzzle levels, and completely new map types. Let’s start out with something that will look familiar to Fieldrunners fans.

Grasslands – Here’s a level that will remind you of the original Fieldrunners. But you’ll quickly notice the video improvements in this full retina version. Not only are the animations crisper, they are also much smoother.

Fieldrunners has a load of new levels, and not only the open / pathless tower defense style of the original Fieldrunners. There are also path levels where the creeps will loop over and back on top of the path, adding some interesting strategy to the level. Here’s an example video of a set path level, known as Tangled Turnpike in Fieldrunners 2.

When progressing through the game, you will at times unlock special puzzle levels. These levels go beyond the normal tower defense and require that in addition to guarding your base, you also have to complete the puzzle. Here’s an example of a puzzle level where you must place your limited towers in locations that will guide the creeps between one or multiple towers.

As you can see, the king of tower defense has returned. Fieldrunners 2 will be out later this week. It’s one to look forward to. Follow us on Twitter and we’ll let you know as soon as it’s available.

It’s always nice to see something a little different in a market saturated with a bunch of “Me, Too” freemium titles. Chillingo‘s Zooniverse is one such deviation for a couple of different reasons, not just because of the unobtrusive tutorial. Seriously, it’s incredible how many developers think interrupting the player with pop-up boxes is “good.” *deep breaths*

While Zooniverse is about running a zoo first and foremost, it’s also about keeping the customers happy. These core customer demographics are divided into three main categories: men, women, and children. Each group has its own preferences when it comes to facilities and adorable critters to ogle, so it’s important to find a balance that caters to everyone. Making more people happy means more money, and more money means being able to expand the zoo with more enclosures, animals, and just space in general.

A great deal of critters ranging from woodland to aquatic, and even prehistoric and outright impossible, can be housed in the many available enclosures. Once an animal is settled in, be it through a purchase or breeding, players have to make sure to keep it well fed. Starvation won’t result in horrible complex-forming consequences, but it will cause the creatures to stop earning cash. So, you know, don’t be a jerk and keep them well-fed.

The burning question of what happens with a mouse is bred with a hippo (a Hippopotamouse) will finally be answered for free later this summer.

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