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Friday Five: April 2nd, 2010

Phew! It’s been a busy week. We’ve had two good sequels to two amazing games, as well as quite a few peculiar titles that piqued my interests. To top things off, we even have an iPhone app that’s meant to work alongside its new iPad brother! Here’s a quick sampling from this week’s new releases. As always, our Friday Five doesn’t represent all of the fantastic new apps that have hit the App Store in the past few days, so feel free to chime in with your own suggestions.

Bounce On 2

IMG_0622The sequel to one of the App Store’s first great platformers, Bounce On 2 is another fun romp through a 2D land populated by enemies, obstacles, platforms, and power-ups. Taking on the role of a red rubber ball, you have to roll and jump through the levels, many of which contain creative twists. You’ll find tons of new features: Plus+ integration, gravity switches, brand-new power-ups, and even the option to use touch controls. If you’re a fan of old-school platformers, be sure to check out Bounce On 2.

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2010-03-29 :: Category: Games

Zenonia 2

IMG_0603Zenonia, Zenonia…I think it’s safe to say that Zenonia was also a “first-of” title, though this time I’d call it the first good RPG in the App Store. Zenonia 2 improves upon the original in almost every way, and features a similarly epic storyline, fun real-time battles, and tons of quests and abilities. Plus, it now features four different characters, each with their own storyline and character class, and the new Hard and Hell modes are also slated to come in a future update. The resulting game is fast-paced and deeply satisfying. Zenonia 2 is a great RPG, and once again raises the bar in the App Store.

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-03-29 :: Category: Games

Poetry Everywhere

IMG_0625In celebration of National Poetry Month, Poetry Everywhere with Garrison Keillor ( is bringing its free poetry performances back to TV, the Internet, and now the iPhone. On TV, the project airs short poetry performances during unexpected moments in public television—personally, I think it’s a really cool idea. Now, you can download the free app and have access to numerous poetry readings. Poetry probably isn’t something that most of us think about every day, which makes the opportunity to carry around a bit of poetry in your pocket all the more valuable.

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-04-01 :: Category: Education

Babo Crash

mzl.mppmuuqo.320x480-75We’ve all seen match-3 games before—you know, Bejeweled and its ilk—but Babo Crash brings some fresh new twists to the table. It’s fast-paced, frantic, and features tons of crazy power-ups, which in turn create ridiculous chains of multipliers. It doesn’t hurt that graphics are awesome, either. If you think you’re tired of match-3’s, don’t let that deter you. Babo Crash is incredibly high-tempo, which makes it a great departure from the ordinary lethargy of Bejeweled.

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2010-03-29 :: Category: Games :: Action

Scrabble Tile Rack

IMG_0645I had to include this one, even though it won’t be of use for most of us, just because it’s a fantastic idea. Meant to work alongside the iPad’s Scrabble app, the tile rack app allows you to play a true multiplayer game on the iPad without revealing your letters to your opponent. You use the iPad as your game board, and then your letters appear on your iPhone, safe from others’ prying eyes. You can then “flick” them onto the board to have them appear on the iPad’s screen. I know, I know—hardly anyone has an iPad yet, right? Still, it’s a really cool idea, and I’m dying to see how close to the “real game” this will bring Scrabble’s app. Can you tell that I’m a Scrabble fanatic?

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-04-01 :: Category: Games

photo36I can remember when I was handed my first business card. I always thought they were used as a means of saying: “Hey, look at me! I’m sooooo important, I have a special card to handout to people, showing how important I am!”

Yesterday As I grew up and entered the professional world, I realized that these cards were actually useful, but were a total pain in the expletive. Currently, my organizer has a section devoted to storing/displaying business cards and I’ve amassed quite a few, but I don’t know who’s where, offering what at whatever phone number/email address. I might as well just use them for kindle; at least I would know where they’re not.

Furthermore, I don’t carry my organizer with me everywhere I go:

Not Me: “Hey Jason, let’s go play a pick-up game of two-on-two!”

Me: “Okay, let me just grab my organizer in case anyone we play has a business card they want to show off/give me,”


Not Me: “Hey Jason, let’s go graffiti the side of the tattoo shop!”

Me: “Okay, let me just grab my organizer, in case one of the cops wants to network with me.”

When I acquired my iPhone, however, all that changed. It replaced my organizer and is always with me. And if someone wants to give me a business card, regardless of the time, location, cell block, etc., there is now “an app for that.” Actually, there are several apps, but I’ll focus this review comparison on three:

Application Version Price
ScanBizCards [App Store] 2.60 $5.99
Business Card Reader [App Store] 1.2.1 $5.99
WorldCard Mobile [App Store] 1.2.4 $5.99

In reviewing these apps, I’m specifically looking for (in no particular order):

1. Menu interface/Aesthetics
2. Image quality
3. Scanning accuracy/data recognition technology capabilities using the app’s built-in camera features
4. Scanning accuracy/data recognition technology capabilities using a pre-selected image
5. iPhone Contacts integration
6. Storage features
7. Stand-out/Special features

Continue reading Business Card Readers: A Comparison of Three »

Opening day is just a couple of days away. In honor of that, I thought we would dedicate this Favorite 4 to apps for the baseball fan. In addition, there’s another important event happening on Saturday. So each of the baseball app we chose also have available now, or will soon have, an iPad version. Batter up!

MLB At Bat 2010

If there’s one app that the true baseball fan has to have, it’s MLB At Bat. This every thing for the baseball fan app not only includes all of the stats that you could ever want, but also includes live scores, live game streaming audio and video, and pitch by pitch display and much more. And if you are lucky enough to be getting an iPad this weekend, there’s a version for the iPad that looks even better than the iPhone version.

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-03-02 :: Category: Sports
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2010-04-01 :: Category: Sports

Hit the jump for our other three app picks for the baseball fan.

Continue reading Favorite 4: Apps for Baseball Fans »

Friday Five: March 26th, 2010

The App Store is a busy place, and every week brings a slew of new apps. Keeping up with all the new releases is almost impossible at this point. To that end, we’re going to be starting a weekly round-up of five new apps that have caught our interest for one reason or another. Hopefully, you’ll be interested in each member of the “Friday Five,” too. Please note that this list is not at all exhaustive, so feel free to chime in with your own suggestions!

tumblr_kx6bk3NPSQ1qze438o1_500We Rule by ngmoco
There was no way that We Rule wasn’t going to make this list. ngmoco is the powerhouse behind popular games ranging from Rolando to Eliminate, and like most of their recent games, this one is freemium. We Rule is a kingdom-building game that bears something of a resemblance to the Facebook hit Farmville. The goal is to build up your kingdom as much as possible, which involves planting and harvesting crops among other things. There’s also a strong social aspect, as you can visit friends’ kingdoms and interact using ngmoco’s Plus+ network.

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2010-03-19 :: Category: Games :: Adventure

yahoo-sketch-a-searchYahoo! Sketch-a-Search
Yahoo! Sketch-a-Search is a recent release from the well-known search engine. Instead of web search, however, this one’s for restaurants. The app narrows in on your location, and then you can “sketch” a boundary line with your finger. The app will return a list of restaurants within your sketch. Though it might seem gimmicky, this could actually be useful—all too often, a simple radius search won’t cut it. For most of the listings, the app also provides phone numbers, ratings, directions, photos, and menu pricing.

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-03-23 :: Category: Travel

549515Flick Bowling 2
Freeverse is another studio that’s had a lot of strong hits on its hands: Skee-ball and Flick Fishing come to mind. Their latest title is a bowling game with a decidedly bizarre story mode that involves travel through time and space. If you can grin at the game’s spontaneous and nonsensical plot twists, you’ll also be able to appreciate the improved touch controls. Flicking the ball with your finger gives you a surprising amount of precise control. If you’ve tried the original Flick Bowling, be sure to check out this sequel!

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-03-23 :: Category: Games

sms-in-phoneGroup Text
Group Text is a free app that does what you’d expect: it lets you text a bunch of people at once! Like many other texting apps, it gives you free, unlimited texts by using your data plan, but the main draw is that you can hold “chat” conversations via text even if your friends don’t have iPhones (or the app, for that matter). When one person replies, everyone receives a text with the update. Group Text certainly isn’t a new concept, but it’s free…so why not check it out?

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-03-19 :: Category: Social Networking

And here I thought that Digg was getting old. Digg is a community where users can “digg” links that they deem to be awesome and worthy of promotion; the idea is that, theoretically, the best stuff rises to the top, whether it’s from a major news site or an obscure blog. If you’re still using the website, be sure to grab the recently-released free app. It actually does a lot of what the full-fledged service does: you can browse the usual popular categories, digg stories, save stories for later reading, and more. And besides…it’s free!


+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2010-03-24 :: Category: News

The Academy Awards are Sunday and I can just feel your excitement. Whether you are a tech geek who is praying for Avatar to be the best picture or a softie who wants to see Precious get some awards, you have to be excited about knowing what to put in your Netflix queue next, and everyone wants to see all the winning movies. To get us fully ready for the show, I’ve come up with a list of some apps that will really get you into the Oscar loving spirit.

1. The Oscars – Sure, it may seem like an obvious selection, but sometimes the obvious is necessary. The Oscars app has lists with small descriptions of all the nominations, as well as a way to lock in the movie or actor you think will win… just to show off to others. Once you’ve submitted your picks, you can go to a results page to see what the rest of America thinks will win. According to the app, 51% of people voted for Avatar to win best picuter. Interesting. Well regardless, The Oscars is an inviting, well made, free app. Get it and make some guesses, it’ll be fun.

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-02-10 :: Category: Entertainment

Continue reading Apps To Help You Watch The Academy Awards »

Best Apps For Finding A Place To Eat


I’ve been hungry lately. Real hungry. Some hunger is conquered by Chipotle, but this hunger is only has one weakness, and it is good, local food. Fortunately for all of us in the same situation, there are plenty of apps for that. Here are the four best, brought to you by the never ending hunger of Chris Hall.

4. Yelp – I really like Yelp when I’m looking for a place to eat. Because of its vast user base, the Yelp app provides more restaurants per search than any other app I’ve found. There are also more customer review on Yelp than any other service, so if you believe that more is better, Yelp is for you. The problem with Yelp is the fact the reviews are all user based, and very rarely do people give mediocre reviews. When I search for restaurants, everything is right around 4 stars, leaving me to wonder what I should really eat that night. There is an occasional in-depth review, but for the most part people just write something like, “This is THE place to go” with an occasional, “my waiter didn’t bring my water fast enough, but I still go four days a week… 1 star!!!”.

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2008-07-11 :: Category: Travel

Continue reading Best Apps For Finding A Place To Eat »


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