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MMAHQ - Tragedy

Posted by Chris Hall on March 1st, 2010

When tragedy strikes, depression hits and you start to go into autopilot. It's the only way we can cope with hard times, and these times are quite hard. Thankfully nobody I know is dead, hurt, wounded in the line of fire, or probably even hungry at this hour, but a good friend of mine has left me for four years. That good friend is the Winter Olympics.

Now that there is no speed skating, downhill skiing, hockey, or even curling on MSNBC, I'm completely reliant on apps to run my life. Last night I used Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock so I could at least be woken up gently. Unfortunately I set it up to only let me sleep for 5 hours, but I was awake… sort of. I was having awful dreams of Lindsay Vonn crashing, Bode Miller cutting flags, and Canada winning the hockey gold medal, but I guess my sleeping patterns looked pretty decent for a short nights sleep. How would I know though, I'm no doctor.

Eating is the toughest part of being so down in the dumps. Some people are emotional eaters, some people starve themselves, I just want to eat something expensive. It's true that being sad isn't conducive to my budget, but man do I eat well. I reviewed OpenTable last night because it is really the best app for my current needs. I could use Zagat To Go to find a more professional review, and I may in fact use it still, but OpenTable not only shows me where to go, it also reserves me a table.

MMAHQ - The Return

Posted by Chris Hall on February 22nd, 2010

It's been a few weeks/months since the last MMAHQ, but I feel that there's no better day than today to mark its return. For those of you who are too young to remember the glory days, I'll recap. Monday Morning App HQ is a weekly article that covers the news that I find most interesting from the weekend and beyond. There really aren't any set guidelines for the article, and I always take article requests… the funnier the topic the better. Well here it goes. Enjoy!

Girlie Apps No More

I felt a great disturbance in the force this weekend. Not sure what the problem was, I went straight to CNN and found that there were no disasters to be aware of. I called my family and thankfully found that everything was alright. I thought to myself, "maybe that Mario Sounds app was #1 in the App Store". Nope. I did find the culprit though. What I felt was the collective groan from every preteen and teenage boy that owned an iPhone or an iPod Touch. Apple, in a move which I'm sure makes their lives infinitely easier, pulled "girlie apps" from the App Store.

That means no pasties, no big boob editions, no strip teases… nothing. Most developers have only good things to say about the situation. One prominent developer said, ""As a game developer, I think this opens the top spots for quality games to be seen. Any spot that opens up for good content to be given a chance to shine is a great move for the iTunes market." The situation is a bit different though for others.

Tuesday Morning App HQ?

Posted by Chris Hall on December 22nd, 2009

Christmas Time Is Here!
Christmas is in just four days, and the best gift of all is definitely a new iDevice for your loved one. Sure, you could give a plain ol' iPod Touch or iPhone, but wouldn't he/she be so much happier with an iDevice loaded up with a few apps? Here's 4 that I think everyone should have.

1. Tweetie 2
Whether or not the person you are buying your iDevice for uses Twitter or not... they will very soon. They may scoff at the idea now, but the ability to Tweet about your surroundings with text message ease makes the idea far more attractive. Being the best of its kind, Tweetie 2 is the way to go for all of your narcissistic Twitter needs.

2. Midomi Sound Hound
It used to just be called Midomi, and it used to be absolutely free, but given the fact that Shazam charges too, I figured I'd go with Midomi for my recommendation. Like Shazam, Midomi can tag a song out of midair, but it goes one step further and pulls songs that you sing or hum into the mic. Is "Hey Mr. Tambourine Man" stuck in your head, but you can't think of The Byrds? Pull out Midomi and start humming. Warning. If you are entirely tone deaf, this really won't do you much good.

3. Yelp
Sure, it's an old, no-fun app, but it is an app that I use on almost every vacation I take. Just select 'near me', choose 'restaurant', and then pick. It's that easy. If you need a bit more excitement in your life, I'd go with the even older UrbanSpoon, which does the same thing but leaves the selection process to the phone itself. Watching the slot machine selection process is great though.

4. Need For Speed: Undercover
I know I'm going to get flack for this, but here is my rationale. If you are pre-loading a game for this iDevice, I'm assuming that the person is somewhere between the ages of 13-18, and that they like games... otherwise they would probably just go buy their own games. You could certainly take a gamble and buy an RPG like SEED, Zenonia, or Inotia 2, but RPG's really don't show off the system like other games do. Remember, this is the game that people are going to show of to their buds and say, "Pshh, eat that PSP". Personally, I would go with a tower defense game, but there is nothing sexy about tower defense. To show off the full graphics capabilities of the iDevice, I would go with a full speed racer. Most would probably say that Real Racing is the way to go here, but as a show-off piece, it falls in one crucial area... cut scenes. Sure, the cut scene does nothing to enhance the gameplay, but if you really want to stick it to your UMD toting, PSP playing friend, just show them that your iDevice can roll with a game complete with full motion video. NFS: Underground really is the most complete video game on the device, even if it may not be the best.

Vector TD
Speaking of Tower Defense, Candystand just put Vector TD onto the iPhone. Sure, it's not the prettiest thing you'll ever see, but if it's anything like the web version, it will be fun. I'm just now downloading it to my iPhone, but I'll hopefully have a review up soon.

Big Dollars
For all the stories I hear of iPhone devs struggling to make ends meet, it's good to hear a success story or two every once in a while. According to a recent Reuters article, Tapulous says that it is pulling in a million dollars a month from its 'Tap Tap Revenge game series. According to the article, "Earlier this year, research group comScore said the game had been installed by one-third of Apple app users."

Having only 20 employees total, the guys over at Tapulous are certainly doing well for themselves. They aren't the only ones though... Lima Sky, the dev behind the Top 10 Paid App stalwart, Doodle Jump, recently announced that they have passed a million downloads. While they aren't pulling in a $1mil a month, they are splitting all the profit between its 2 employees, Igor and Marko Pusenjak. Merry Christmas indeed.

Big Finish
Well that's all I have for this week. I hope all of you have a great holiday weekend... just don't eat so much that you won't be able to read 148apps on Monday. That just wouldn't be good for anyone.

Monday Morning App HQ - The Apology

Posted by Chris Hall on December 14th, 2009

Dear 148apps reader,

I'm sorry to inform you that I have been compromised. I've tried over the past few months to be as impartial as possible towards the iPhone, but I in fact suffer from the Stockholm Syndrome ... you know, where after a certain time of captivity you start to love your captors. My biggest regret in the world is exposing the masses, particularly you, dear reader, to hurtful propaganda. For that, I am sorry.

I am also sorry for beginning this story at the end... it is a cheap tactic to get people sucked into reading worthless babble (which this absolutely isn't). My enlightenment all started when I was brought to the attention of a recent report done by Strand Consults, "one of the leading authorities on mobile technologies, revenue models and distribution strategies". These wily Scandinavians recently put out an article titled "How will psychologists describe the iPhone syndrome in the future?" and a report titled "The moment of truth, a portrait of the iPhone", both of which have changed me forever.

The first article, "How will psychologists describe the iPhone syndrome in the future?", discusses "the approach that Apple and the iPhone fans have had to the product, and the energy they have spent defending the product despite the shortcomings and limitations of both past and present versions of the iPhone". The article then goes on to list 20 things that iPhone owners have been defending since the inception of the device, simultaneously exposing how warped our feeble minds really are. I mean, once I get my mind past the fact that the Apple has cultivated an App Store that has over 100,000 apps and that the UI is so simple that my little sister can use it, I do realize that I should've called it a day when I couldn't use MMS. I mean, this is a phone first and foremost. It pains me to learn of the shroud that was placed over my eyes for all this time. The fact that I'm not using a "real smartphone" that can run background apps, like a Blackberry, is inexcusable. Sure I may have to carry a Nintendo DS and an iPod to get the same feature set, but specialization really is the way of the world. Would you want to buy a car that makes you breakfast? Of course not! That new car smell would be gone in weeks! How about a toaster that doubles as a coffee maker? Absurd.

The followup report, at this point, is just too much to grasp. Titled, "The moment of truth, a portrait of the iPhone", it is sure to expose truths that I simply cannot handle.

In the report we take a close look at the 10 largest myths about the iPhone:

1. The iPhone drives data traffic into mobile operators networks
2. The iPhone helps operators attract new customers
3. The iPhone is good business for mobile operators
4. The iPhone is dominating the mobile services market
5. App store is a huge success that has revolutionised the services market
6. There is money to be made by developing applications for the iPhone
7. It is iPhone customers that are generating the majority of online mobile surfing traffic
8. The iPhone has a large market share
9. The iPhone was the first mobile phone with a touchscreen
10. The iPhone is a technologically advanced mobile phone

For fear of going on suicide watch, I have refrained from ordering the full report, although it is free.

Once again, I'd like to offer you my most sincerest apology. I have been compromised by the dreaded iPhone Syndrome, and am not entirely sure of what to do next. I am thinking of submitting myself to a VH1 celebrity rehab show, preferably one with Dr. Drew... he's the best.

As the strand report has so eloquently put, "the iPhone is surrounded by a multitude of people, media and companies that are happy to bend the truth to defend the product they have purchased from Apple." I, being on of the talking media heads behind the product, should be ashamed. Please find it in your heart to forgive me.

Sincerely,
Chris Hall

Tuesday Morning App HQ?

Posted by Chris Hall on December 8th, 2009
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: SPARKS FLY :: Read Review »

BestAppEver
We did it last year, and we're doing it again... but bigger. 148apps, along with a long list of writers of other publications, have started the nomination process for BestAppEver 2009. The goal of the awards are to single out the best of the App Store, not the most popular. With the App Store as large as it is, there are so many apps that slip through the cracks, so hopefully we'll catch all the great apps that you (and I) haven't played yet. Be sure to head over to bestappever.com to nominate the apps that you think should win.

Big Sequels
Monkey Ball 2, Inotia 2, Labyrinth 2, Dragon's Lair (Space Ace sequel at heart)... I think I'd like to call December the month of the sequel. Being the holiday season and all, it seems that many of the bigger devs are banking in on peoples willingness to buy things, and what better way than to work off of a proven template. Hopefully before the end of the month we'll see Real Racing 2: Hybrids, Doom 2, Fieldrunners 2, Flight Control 2: Air Force, and the inevitable I Am T-Pain 2: T-Wayne. Life would certainly be good.

Ongoing Sales
If you haven't noticed, we've been keeping track of some of the great holiday sales going on right now in the app world. We have a daily article that Bonnie aptly calls, "Daily Double", because it tracks the daily sale from the Appvent Calendar and EA's 12 Days of Christmas. EA's fare has primarily been apps from over the summer, while the Appvent Calendar is all over the board with some quality apps that most people have never heard of. Be sure to check daily for the sales... you won't want to miss them.

Out Of Left Field
Out of nowhere last week came geoSpark, a game created by the brilliant minds at Critical Thought (geoDefense Swarm) and Imangi (Harbor Master). While the game hasn't quite grabbed me in the same way that either geoDefense Swarm of Harbor Master did alone, I keep coming back for more. I liken geoSpark to the McRib. It's not something that you think you really want at that moment, but you know deep down that it will be more satisfying than anything else on the menu. I have a feeling that by Christmas I'll be having nightmares of stars and swirls running into each other, and possibly of being afraid to leave my finger on the home screen for too long for fear that my app icons will gravitate towards one another. Go ahead and buy this one now... you won't regret it.

More Sales

While 148apps is certainly not a food news source, I feel that it is important to inform you all of the greatest food sale ever. I mean, what respectable Apper doesn't consume inordinate amounts of fast food every week? Whataburger, the home of the soon to be extinct A1 Thick'n Hearty Burger, has started their own 12 days of Christmas. Every other day until Christmas, Whataburger is sending out a coupon to those who have signed up (sign up here) for a free item of their choosing.

"We are thankful for our loyal customers and understand how hard they are working this year to make ends meet," Preston Atkinson, Whataburger Restaurants, LP President and COO, said. "This is our way of helping them make their money stretch a little further this holiday season."

Merry Christmas Whataburger!

This Weeks Sign of the Apocolypse
The App Store, home of all the apps that we love so very much, has this list of top selling apps that is totally out of Apple's hands. Usually the list is populated with apps that they advertise on their home page, but sometimes, for some reason, bad apps slip in. I guess this is the ultimate sign that the people buy what they truly want, unfortunately, in this case, the people truly wanted Pocket Girlfriend during the first week of December. Seriously guys... this is sad. It's so sad that I'm refusing to put a link to the app.

Note To Will Raskin
"Sunday's national game on Fox, mainly Cowboys-Giants, earned its highest preliminary rating on the network in three years." says SI. There's a bright side to everything right?

Monday Morning App HQ

Posted by Chris Hall on November 30th, 2009

Black Friday Awesomeness

First off, I hope that everyone (in the US) had a great Thanksgiving. It was a fairly standard Thanksgiving this year I think... the Cowboys won, the Lions lost, there was far too much turkey consumed, and everyone patiently awaited for the shopping madness the following day. Black Friday 2009 turned out to be a bit of a drag for normal stores, but was a fantastic day for App Store customers. On Black Friday we posted an article with all the sales that we could find, including sales from almost every major developer in the App Store. It was especially great for those of you that were looking for a new GPS app, as we found 6 different GPS apps significantly reduced in price. Some of the sales are still going I think... and with Cyber Monday being today, we may see a few more go on sale. Boy do I love consumer holidays!

More Black Friday Awesomeness
Being the consumer all-star that I am, I went out and braved the masses on Black Friday. It was quite crowded, but I really wasn't there to buy a ton (although I did get suckered into a cashmere sweater... don't judge me), I just wanted to go out and see if there were any huge deals out there. Because I'm an App nerd, I thought that it would be fun to use Red Laser to see if the prices were good or not. I had never really used the app much in the wild, and was really shocked at how well it worked. Next time you're going out to buy something, I'd definitely recommend checking out Red Laser... there's a reason it's been in the top 10 for so long.

How To Stop Piracy
I've been thinking about how I would stop piracy if I were an app developer. Sure, you could go into a bunch of tricks and gimmicks that hurt the user experience, or you could just throw up an advertisement. Now most people think that advertisements should only be in free apps, but why? Why can't a developer be out to make a bit of money to support the App Store's obsession with 99 cent apps.

I just got an email from iTankster (who, oddly enough is based in Rosenberg, TX... right down the highway from where I am), saying that their newest app, iTankster, will have an advertisement.

"iTankster has a single advertisement from the sponsor in the menu screen of the game, featuring in both the legally paid as well as the resulting pirated versions. This will ensure that even the pirates will see an advertisement. The developer is hopeful that the pirates will support the game by either clicking on the sponsor advertisement or by paying for the game later. While placing of an advertisement is bound to cause a controversy among some users who feel that if they paid for an application it should be advertisement free, the vast majority understand that in today’s world with rampant piracy developers have to look at alternative means to earn revenue for recovering the cost of development."

Rock on iTankster. By no means do I support piracy in the App Store, but if you do in fact steal a game that has an advertisement, it really is your civic duty to click on the ad. It's just good karma.

Another Word On Ads
Sorry to get on my soap box here, but I really think that people need to rethink their repulsion towards unobtrusive ads in paid apps. I don't want it to get annoying, but is a small ad on a paid app really that big of a deal? Just think, because of that ad, that developer may make twice as much money, giving him/her the opportunity to make an even more developed app in the future. I myself would like to see every developer become absurdly rich... most of them are really great people with some great ideas for bigger and better apps.

And seriously, if the market demands apps that are less than $3, why not let a dev make a few bucks on his/her project that could've taken 100+ hours to complete.

This Weeks Sign of the Apocolypse
You know, being right around Thanksgiving, I'm going to choose to be thankful this week that the App Store, and all of the apps in it, exist. The moral high ground feels good sometimes.

Fact For Will Raskin
Did you know that prior to this last game, Oakland was 3-0 when playing in Dallas? Weird.

Monday Morning App HQ

Posted by Chris Hall on November 23rd, 2009

[caption id="attachment_21260" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Picture shamelessly stolen from JustJared.com.. they made the list too!"]

[/caption]Ariel Foxman = Awesome
If you haven't heard yet, Ariel Foxman, the Editor in Chief of InStyle Magazine, put out a list of his 6 favorite websites in the November issue of the magazine. Shockingly, 148apps was on the list, making Ariel Foxman my new favorite person in the fashion world. I was quite partial to the Victoria's Secret models before, but none of them have ever done anything for me. Thanks Ariel! (Ariel, if you are reading this, I'd love to do a short little interview about your favorite apps... a celebrity app advice article would be amazing!)

Thanksgiving
Whether you are stuck with your in-laws or are in for an entire day with that crazy uncle, turkey day is upon us. My family started fairly early this year and, in true Texan style, fried up a turkey with Creole butter marinade last night. It was oh so good, but I have a strange blackout headache from it now.... quite unfortunate.

While I love the traditional Thanksgiving day food (for those of you that aren't in the US, we spend the whole day eating turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing, some kind of green vegetable casserole, and about every pie conceivable), there is far too much extended family interaction for me. Besides the annual football games and the random hour after dinner running around trying not to pass out from a tryptophan overdose (Wikipedia tries to blame the 'after food coma' on carbohydrates and alcohol... fools), most of us are stuck. Fortunately, being an iPhone owner, I can escape into my little world of apps. The great American eating festival brings with it the greatest shopping day on Earth, black Friday, where everything goes on sale... and if last year was any indicator, even iPhone apps. Yay! We'll have a running post on Friday for apps that are on sale/free, so be sure to check in throughout the day for some great deals.

iTunes Store Problem
Having a vested interest in the App Store (it is directly tied to my employment), I would really like it if Apple put a bit more into app promotion. I mean, they've done some great things to make the App Store as big as it is, but they need to go a bit bigger. What they need is to put some apps on the iTunes Store front page. Why can't the recent launch of Call Of Duty: World At War: Zombies (come on Activision, let's shoot for a shorter name next time) be next to the frightening picture of Rihanna trying to scare me into buying her newest album? What makes the newest single of the week, "Death To All But Metal" by Steel Panther (awesome!) better than the also free Eliminate Pro? It's a pretty big deal to make the front page of the App Store, but it would be entirely different to make the front page of the iTunes Store.

Let's get on this Apple.

Great Idea of the Week
On a whim, I downloaded Touch Tone Hero yesterday and the feeling of nostalgia sort of blew me away. It's basically a rhythm based game, much like Rock Band and DDR, but it uses a touch tone dialer for the music. Instead of seeing buttons fly down the screen, you see numbers that you have to dial. The best thing about it though is that it makes no attempt at being polished or anything, it just makes the regular touch tone sound when you hit the numbers. The only problem that I have with the app is that it uses an image of a candy bar style phone as your dialer and screen. Since I am using a phone already, why not let me play with the iPhone phone interface? With a more polished app image and a more iPhone-like interface (making it look like a native app), this one would be a must have, if only for the gag value. Regardless, it is funny, so try it out if you're looking for some quick entertainment.

This Weeks Sign of the Apocolypse
Nothing in the world makes me throw up in my mouth quite like an unholy combination of an app, a washed up rapper (don't tell him I said that!), and an athletic beverage. Well kids, it happened. Moderati Inc. (of Soulja Boy Tell 'Em Romplr: Remix fame) put out the "50 Cent "Baby By Me" sound lab" that is littered with Vitamin Water advertisements. I know it's free, but someone should really be paying me for being exposed to this crap. The best part is that it's on the front page of the App Store in the New and Noteworthy section. Good job Apple.

Poor Will Raskin
Although the Cowboys won yesterday, it was a tough game to watch. You know it's bad when I'm up for a beer run in the middle of the 3rd quarter. Maybe they'll play better on Thanksgiving... maybe.

MMAHQ Tuesday Update

Posted by Chris Hall on November 17th, 2009

Boys vs. Girls
After learning yesterday that girls, in Steve's world, should be doing math flash cards, I was welcomed to the 'Apps For Boys' iTunes essentials page today. With awesome (monster trucks!) on top of awesome (Transformers!) apps on the page, we, as a gender, are also supposed to be doing math. Ah, but there is a difference. I'm writing this with the assumption that the "Apps For Boys/Girls" pages are written for smaller kids and not high-schoolers. My sister calls them 'tweens'... whatever that means.

Looking at the description of the math apps that are assigned to the genders, I see one very obvious difference. If you look at 'Math Flash Cards' the math app recommended for girls, it says that "Math Flash Cards is a fun to use math drill application that looks just like paper flash cards. This app is perfect for your kids to help keep their skills tuned over the summer." Sure, that's great... stay fresh over the summer. Perfect, Summer is only what, a year away? The boys on the other hand were given Mathemagics - Mental Math Tricks, which, in its description lets you, "Prepare for the math section on the SAT, PSAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT, MCAT, or any other standardized test. Don't waste time with a calculator on the few tests that allow them. Use Mathemagics as a tutor to quicken up your test taking abilities."

Wow, so good luck girls... with your silly flash cards. We'll be studying for the GRE at age 11.

Unity and Storm 8

Yesterday, I posted an article about Ranvensword that mentioned Storm 8 in a negative light. I got an e-mail rather quickly explaining the situation. Here's part of the post on their forum that explains the situation.

Here’s the background: You may recall that in August 2009, some users noted that Storm8 games contained software code that for some users collected mobile phone numbers upon opening the application for our massively multiplayer online role‐playing games (MMORPGs). However, Storm8 was not using those numbers for any purpose. Nor did we ever provide them to any other company.

We determined that these numbers were being collected as the result of legacy code (old, obsolete code) in the games. The legacy code had been included early in the software development process as a potential way for Storm8 to identify specific devices; however, we later determined it was more suitable to use the device’s Unique Device ID instead. Once Storm8 was alerted to this issue in August, we immediately took voluntary, proactive steps to satisfy our user community and we quickly made available updated versions of our games without that legacy code.

Storm8 greatly values its relationships with its millions of users and with Apple, and our goal is to continue making our exciting gaming experience available. We know that users are continuing to play Storm8 games, but need the ability to access the iTunes store to upgrade the applications in order for Storm8 to best serve our user community. We are actively working with Apple to help resolve these issues, and will keep you informed.

In short: Current game versions do not download, store or use iPhone® telephone numbers when a game is opened, and Storm8 has no plans to download, store or use iPhone® numbers in the future unless the user expressly authorized the download in advance. We are committed to continuously enhancing your gaming experience and customer satisfaction through planned new launches and ongoing upgrades.

So kids, buy your Storm8 games without worry. 'Zombies Live" wants you!

Toxic
The Holy Grail for an average developer is to get on the front page of the App Store. Developers can plug away for countless hours on their masterpiece, only to have Apple put their rival app on the front page, making it the clear cut champ. So with thousands of developers just praying for the day that they will reach the front page, how do you think they feel today. What happened today you ask? Today was the day that I went to the page, and in the huge scrolling screen at the top, saw 'It's Britney!'. I don't even want to go into the details of the app... I just want to shake my head in shame. Sorry struggling devs, your hard work is just no match for Britney Spears.

Monday Morning App HQ

Posted by Chris Hall on November 16th, 2009

No iPhone?

As I said in MMAHQ last week, I am in Sugar Land, TX for the month of November, living it up with the townies. For those of you who don't know, Sugar Land is the anchor suburb of the Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown metro area, and was rated by CNN/Money as the third best city in the United States. You would think that in a well to do suburb with a ton of kids, you would see an insane number of iPhones. I live in Phoenix most of the year, and everyone I know there has an iPhone (maybe because they all work or worked at various Apple Stores...). Not seeing someone with an iPhone is almost confusing to me. I mean, how in the world would I communicate with people without it. Some people claim that using the phone feature is the answer, but their 20th century thought process is as foreign an idea to me as cheese on apple pie.

I'm rambling... it's a bad habit. So, to get to the point, I've discovered that nobody in Sugar Land, except for my dad (who still can't grasp the concept of an app), has an iPhone. Something is wrong, and I can really only think of two people to blame. Being a Sugar Land native, I of course blame myself first, but the real culprit is the local Apple Store in the First Colony Mall. The recently red-shirted Apple employees need to step up their game and pump out some iPhones! The gauntlet is thrown. Tell every Apple employee you know to shoot an email to the store manager over there so that they know that they need to be on their A-game.

Unity?

I was sad to hear Friday that Ravensword, Chillingo's new, amazing looking RPG/adventure game, along with a bunch of other games that were made with the Unity engine, were rejected from the App Store. The official word is that,

Ravensword like many other Unity games have found themselves caught in the crossfire between Apple, Storm8, and API calls which exist inside of all Unity games. The same APIs were used by iMobsters developer Storm8 to solicit contact information from players. While Ravensword and other Unity-built games do not collect information from users, Apple rejected the game and others as a measure to prevent such from happening again.

Fortunately for us, the API's have been removed and the game has been resubmitted. Hopefully we'll see its release soon... I'm itching to play.

Who Wants To Go To The Probowl?
Gameloft, to coincide with the NFL season that is well underway, launched an "NFL 2010 Twitter League Contest". According to the email I received, "NFL fans need to answer trivia questions on this site: http://www.nfl2010game.com/TwitterLeague/
Contest Details on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsVX4Hq5ahY".

Typically, contests like this amount to very little, but the 1st place winner gets 2 tickets to the Pro Bowl, plus airfare and hotel accommodations in Miami. I think that a 148apps reader should win it. Let me know if you do.

Metallica Mad
Knowing how much Metallica hates pirates (remember Napster?), I wonder how mad they are about pirates in the App Store. Do you think that they even know that they have an app?

This Weeks Sign of the Apocalypse
The new "Apps For Girls" iTunes essentials page makes me laugh. I totally understand the need for the market to open up to girls, but what really qualifies as an app for a girl. According to Apple, girls are interested in only a few things: puppies/kittens, looking like a princess, and math. Wait, what was that? Math? Yes ma'am, on the list of "Apps For Girls" lies 'Math Flash Cards', a "fun to use math drill application".

So while the boys of the world are playing Doom while trying to sound like T-Pain, the girls are going to be looking like princesses while learning math. I'm not sure where this is going, but it sounds to me like an evil scheme concocted in Pinkie and the Brain.

I Just Can't Drop It
I'd love to know how 'Math Flash Cards' got onto this list. Imagine... you've created yourself this great math drill app, targeted towards school kids of all genders. You sell a few apps on the store, and then Apple calls you with a great opportunity. "Hi One Moxie, this is Apple, we'd love to put your app in the "Apps For Girls" list."

The End

Monday Morning App HQ

Posted by Chris Hall on November 9th, 2009

Food For Thought
Over the past few weeks/months/years, I've heard a good deal of rumors regarding the iPhone going to other carriers such as Verizon, or maybe even T-Mobile. I'm not here to debate whether or not this will happen, but whether such a change would be good for the App Store. With more and more people being exposed to the iPhone, we'll see more and more people buying apps, creating a huge market base for developers. Here's where it gets tricky though. With more and more people buying apps, will the larger companies (EA, Gameloft) start putting real advertising money into the system, only to edge out the small guys? There was a time, not all that long ago, where indie devs, many of which are developing for the iPhone today, were creating PC games.

I don't want to create a ruckus or anything, but I just hope that you remember the little guys out there. The revenue numbers are all pointing towards an EA domination, but there are some really great small dev apps out there fighting it out in a 99 cent low bid war. Buy some apps... heck, go crazy and buy some $2 apps, the devs would certainly appreciate it.

Life Consuming

I'm spending the month of November in Sugar Land, TX, my hometown, because I have a job that lets me make interesting life decisions... such as this one. I was on the way to dinner with my mom the other night when I got a push notification for Words With Friends. I figured that I'd just let it go. Then I got another... and then another. Soon, I was enveloped in 8 Scrabble games, forgetting about all life around me. At first I claimed that it was all part of my job, but after cheering out loud because of placing a 105 point word against Bonnie (she's still winning the game... it's driving me insane!), my mom gave me the evil eye that only a mother could give. I now realize that I am officially obsessed, and had to take Sunday off, so I'm very sorry for all of those who have been waiting 30+ hours for me to take my turn.

Needless to say, you should go and purchase Words With Friends right now. I'm always up for a good game (Chris148apps), but if you want to truly experience life on the edge, play Bonnie (bonniee).

I Like Jelly!
If you didn't realize yet, Jelly Car is the #1 app in the App Store, both in sales and revenue. Being a 99 cent app, it had to of sold a mess of copies to beat out Rock Band in revenue, so good for Walaber... wait...what?!?! Disney? Walt Disney? Disney of Miley Cyrus and to a lesser extent Mickey Mouse fame? Yes sir. The guys at Walaber must've made some fat loot on that deal.

This Weeks Sign of the Apocolypse
Wal-Mart. No, it's not the fact that there is a free (talk about rolling back prices) Wal-Mart app out that inexplicably cracked the top 10, but it's the fact that there are enough iDevice fans that would download such a thing.

Due to its alarming popularity, the app has been bombarded with bad reviews in iTunes, leading one kind soul named Doccowboy to write, "Rate the app, not the company. This is not a place for people to be on your soapboxes." He then went on to give the app 3 stars without writing anything about the app. Mr. Doccowboy, sir, I think you just bypassed reviewing the app and reviewed your own soapbox comment. I don't want to pick on you, but there is an above average chance that you resemble the man below.

Stay classy my iDevice touting friends.

The More You Know
If you click on the title of the article, you are taken to a place where you can leave comments. Please leave comments.

Tuesday Morning App HQ?

Posted by Chris Hall on November 3rd, 2009

It's a fairly big week in the app store for game releases. Maybe the developers and Apple are teaming up to scare us reviewers (get it, Halloween... I thought it was clever) into working overtime to get all these reviews done. Just to name a few of them, we now have Doom Classic, Command and Conquer, Eliminate, NBA Live (last week), Asphalt 5, and Alice in Bomberland running wild in the app store, most of which are just dying for a review.

Productivity, Lost

I must say that working for an app review website is just about the best thing ever, but there is a major drawback. The reason half of the apps were made was to completely wipe out productivity. Some of the apps that are self proclaimed 'master time wasters' are in fact master time wasters. Every once in a while I'll download something, you know, for work, and it'll just decimate my productivity. This time, the culprit is 'Words With Friends', a Scrabble-like game that takes me back to my days of playing Scrabulous on Facebook. The game is paced however fast you and your opponent choose to play, and you get a handy push notification when it's your turn.

If you ever want to play, my SN is chris148apps. Let's make a pact though that if you beat me, you won't tell too many people... I have a reputation to maintain!

There will be a new iPhone... shocker

I love reading Apple rumors, and today I found one that blew me away (brace for it). There may be a new iPhone sometime in 2010. Over at Gizmodo, they have pictures, from a seemingly reputable source, of what they are calling the 'iPhone 4 Generation Midboard'.

Does anyone else see that Verizon logo in the bottom of the left panel? No? Am I just trying to start something?

My US pride is hurt
ngmoco:), the only company happy enough to put a smiley face in their name, made me quite sad last week. While waiting for Eliminate to grace my iPhone, I discovered that the Canadians... CANADIANS!!!(????)... got the game first. What, first the Winter Olympics, now Eliminate? What's next... more new games, the iPhone, the next Taco Bell taco?

[caption id="attachment_19844" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="They can\'t have it!"]

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Worried about the devs
I've talked to quite a few developers in my time, and they all seem to have a similar concern. They are just not sure how they are going to make any money in the app store without breaking into the top 100 apps, and even then are worried that the 99 cent pricing structure ruins their chance to make any money at all. After taking a look at the top grossing apps in the App Store, I can see why they are concerned. Only one app in the top 20 is made by an 'indie' dev, and the game, Pocket Devil, is just a knock off of Pocket God. Maybe EA's $9.99 price scheme is really the way to go, as they have 9 of the 20 top grossing games out there.

This weeks sign of the apocolypse
There are so many fantastic apps in the App Store, but while digging through the list of top grossing apps, I found that the 28th app on the list is 'Truth or Dare - 18+'. This makes me sad.

Monday Morning App HQ

Posted by Will on October 26th, 2009

iShoot developer reveals screenshots of second game

Ethan Nicholas, the developer of the Worms-like game iShoot, was one of the early App Store success stories. After making reportedly over $800,000 in five months, Nicholas quit his day job to devote himself full-time to developing games. Nicholas will hope to avoid becoming a one-hit-wonder with his follow-up game. Recently, he tweeted pictures of the upcoming game, and though no other information is known, it appears to be a free-roaming hunting game. Good luck Ethan!


My newest addiction
Every once and a while, a simple game in the vein of Doodle Jump will grab me and inexplicably become a new addiction. Right now, that game is Canabalt. Canabalt is a super stylish game in which to escape from aliens, your hero runs along rooftops. All you control, with simple taps, is when your character jumps. Though it lacks online leaderboards, there is twitter bragging and it's definitely got that "just one more try" appeal. There's also a free online flash version.


Wii award winner "Groovin' Blocks" arrives in the App Store
On the heals of the announcement that the fantastic Wii-ware game World of Goo was coming to the iPhone, Groovin' Block, a Wii port, snuck onto the App Store. Groovin' Blocks is a match 3 Tetris variant with a twist - blocks dropped in beat with the music rack up a multiplier and sometimes unleash powerups. While Gamespot loved the Wii version, the iPhone iteration seems mediocre so far. In any case, you can judge for yourself with a free lite version.


This week's upcoming app that looks freakin' sweet:

Rally Master Pro is one of the best-known and most impressive mobile games of all time, and now it's being adapted for the iPhone by Fishlabs. Expect Rally Master Pro sometime in November. Until then, enjoy the official trailer:


This week's sign of the apocalypse:

Tony Romo successfully completed an entire NFL game without a single turnover. This is UNHEARD of.

App of the Week

Earthworm Jim
Earthworm Jim is a classic game that most have heard of, with great action-platforming gameplay and humor in spades. Gameloft has lovingly adapted it to the iPhone with superb graphics remastering. While the controls aren't great, Gameloft did the best they could, and the controls aren't a deal breaker. Grooooovy!

Monday Morning App HQ

Posted by Will on October 19th, 2009

Random musings of the App Store.

Apple now allows in-app purchases in free apps

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've likely heard that Apple is now allowing in-app purchases in free apps. Yes, this creates many possibilities including the extinction of lite versions and new app store charts, but I think that none of these possibilities will come to fruition, for one simple reason: DLC simply won't be widely implemented. One reason, and the reason I think developers have been loathe to implement DLC so far, is the public perception of DLC. The average app consumer is wary - perhaps rightfully so - of DLC, and automatically assumes DLC is there to rip off the customer. I think developers will even be aware of this when making free apps with DLC, as the fear of being nickeled and dimed could lead poor public perception, starting with bad iTunes reviews, which will be open to anyone who clicks the "Get App" button. In addition, I think consumers simply purchase less through in-app purchasing. Once you already have an app, that app can become boring quickly in this ADD app store, so instead of purchasing more content for that app, you are likely to impulsively buy a completely different and new one.

Rock Band released

Last night, EA mobile's Rock Band was released onto the App Store. Sure, it's got that EA polish, but is it really worth 10 times more than Tap Tap Revenge 3, its $.99 competitor. Early indication may be no. While Rock Band features four different instruments, they are all similarly tap-based. The gameplay is fairly unchallenging but fun, and the background graphics are very repetitive and there are no special backgrounds for songs as in TTR3. In addition, the game comes with an anemic set list of only 20 songs, compared to over 100 free songs for TTR3. DLC packs for Rock Band are scarce so far and come packaged as two songs for $.99, the same as TTR3. I think the Rock Band game itself is better than TTR3, just not ten times better.

Free ngmoco:) games!

Largely as a promotion for their Plus+ network, ngmoco:) has made three of their older games free. These are the full versions of the games, now including the excellend Plus+, and they're all worth checking out:



This week's upcoming app that looks freakin' sweet:

There are a few good turn based strategy games on the iPhone, but the Battle for Wesnoth could just blow them all away. Here are a few features:

Over 200 unit types in six major factions, all with distinctive abilities, weapons and spells
Experienced units gain powerful new abilities as they advance.
Bring your battle-hardened troops with you as you fight through campaigns
Hundreds of campaign scenarios available, easily download user-made content
Day/night cycles, fog of war, racial traits
Cross-platform multiplayer


The Battle for Wesnoth has not been submitted, but you can download a free PC/Mac/Linux demo here.

This week's sign of the apocalypse:

Ngmoco:) has recently been tweeting about, and advertising in their games, Epic Pet Wars, another dumb code-sharing text-based MMO. I thought you had high standards ngmoco:)...

App of the Week

Shrek Kart

Last week, I disappointedly reviewed Cocoto Kart Online, which simply wasn't up to snuff. Happily, Gameloft's Shrek Kart has provided a great karting experience. While the controls could still use some additional tuning, they aren't nearly as awful as those found in Cocoto. Though there is no online multiplayer, the single player mode has enough content. The graphics are unbelievably crisp, the track design is good, and the Shrek license is actually used pretty well. At $4.99, it's the best Mario Kart-esque game on the App Store.

Monday Morning App HQ

Posted by Will on October 12th, 2009

Random musings of the App Store

Alchemize App Store Pricing Protest

This weekend, in a protest against supposedly 3400 emails complaining about the $2.99 price of their app Alchemize, Schiau Studios raised the price to $39.99 for the weekend. Yes, it's a hilarious protest against whiners who complain about spending a few bucks, but Schiau is not entirely in the right. Alchemize was originally priced at $9.99 and then quickly lowered until it was only $.99 for a short time. I can't blame people for waiting for another sale. If Schiau truly wanted to protest App Store pricing, they would have come up with a fair price, stuck to it, and never changed it amid protests. By acknowledging the whiners, Schiau has granted them some legitimacy.

PSP Minis

Sometimes it's good to take a look at our beloved App Store's rival, the PSP Mini store. The store has launched and two of its biggest name games have already made an appearance on the iPhone (and for cheaper): Hero of Sparta and Fieldrunners. In addition, Chillingo and Mountain Sheep's Minigore is on the way. What do all of these games have in common? In my estimation, they're three of the most overrated games on the App Store. Hero of Sparta had good visuals for its time, but the dull one-button hack and slash affair has so many pre-rendered cinematic animations it's like watching a movie. Fieldrunners has a great art style and was admittedly one of the first open-path TD's on the App Store, but there's only a few enemy types and tower types, and it lacks the depth of the genre luminaries such as Sentinel 2 and Defender Chronicles. Minigore has nice aesthetics as well, but it's an average two-stick survival shooter with little depth, easily outclassed by games such as Alive 4 Ever. Sony, wake me up when you manage to get some good games.

Nimblebit's Freebie Friday

This Friday, Nimblebit lowered all their apps to free in celebration of their newly launched site App Classics! Even if you missed the deal, the apps are still worth buying; Nimblebit is the best in the business at creating fun, short, and addictive games such as Scoops and Textropolis. This move was interesting from a marketing standpoint, and certainly created buzz. In fact, Ian Marsh reported via Twitter that Saturday's sales were double normal and more than made up for Friday's losses.

This week's upcoming app that looks frickin' awesome!

This is the inaugural issue of this feature where I'll be showing off some upcoming games that look awesome (though I've been doing it unofficially for quite some time). This week, we have Jet Car Stunts, an awesome-looking racing game in the vein of Track Mania. The game is due to be submitted within the next week. Enjoy!


This week's sign of the apocalypse

A few weeks ago, Chris used this space to talk about how happy he was that Glu's awful Family Guy cash-in was doing poorly in the App Store. Well, times have changed, and apparently Stewie is enough to make a poor game reach #9 on Top Grossing Apps.


App of the Week

Soosiz

Soosiz is without question the best platformer yet on the App Store. The game uses gravity-centered gameplay, like that of Gomi, but much more fast-paced, to turn a good platform adventure into something extraordinary. The level design is excellent, and the difficulty curve is just right. Controls are great as well. There's only a left arrow, a right arrow, and a jump button, but they are all perfectly responsive and work brilliantly in unison, making you almost forget you're playing on a touch screen.. The graphics are cartoony and playful, and the only big flaw of the game is the sometimes overly-childish music. Other than that though, Soosiz is a magnificent achievement is App Store platforming, and it's one of the most fun games I've played in a while, coming highly recommended.

Monday Morning App HQ

Posted by Will on October 5th, 2009

Random musings of the App Store.

App Store Pricing Fracas

In what is seemingly a periodic function, the app store community has been in an uproar over the pricing of a game. What was the sin? Pricing a game over the sacred $9.99 mark? Nope, it was the debut of the addictive but simple flash game Canabalt (free demo here) at a whopping $2.99. The game itself, from its great pixel artwork to the catchy in-game music to the simple but "one more time" gameplay, is actually fantastic, only lacking a global leaderboard. Well, apparently there's some unwritten rule that if a game has a free flash counterpart, it can be priced no higher than $.99. Luckily, the average Joe App Store user was able to withdraw enough from their savings account to shell out the $2.99, as it's ranked #78 amongst all paid games. Bargain bin App Store pricing is great for the consumer, but it sure does create some spoiled brats. Hey haters, you know what you can do if you don't like the pricing? NOT BUY IT! But don't go around calling for Semi Secret Software's head.

App Store Starts to See Yearly Updates

We're beginning to see 2010 installments of emerging App Store sports franchises, including Real Soccer 2010, Baseball Superstars 2010, and the upcoming X2 Football 2010. Not only does each of these titles bring notable improvements over the previous installment, but they are also another sign of the iPhone as a true gaming platform. Developers are clearly planning long term and are investing in the iPhone for their latest and greatest games. This trend will reach explosive new heights if EA Mobile joins in by releasing yearly updates to their sports games along with their console counterparts.

Mini Squadron Looks Insanely Fun!

This video of the upcoming "Mini Squadron" put it on my "can't miss" list:


The game looks to have a nice amount of content with 50 unlockable planes and Wifi multiplayer, great graphics, and awesomely frantic gameplay. Look for this one near Halloween.

New Kontender?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a competition for the best App Store Kart racer between Konami's Krazy Kart Racing and Gameloft's yet to be released Shrek Kart. Well now, a completely unexpected racer has entered the fray, Cocoto Kart Online. Cocoto is made by Eurocenter, the makers of such online luminaries as Dinosmash, Ace Tennis Online, and Bomber Online. Cocoto contains a generous single player mode and of course, fully functional online play over Wifi or 3G. Oh, and Cocoto has one thing neither of its competitor's can beat: at $.99 price tag. We'll try to review this one soon but until then here's a video of Battle Mode:


Note: the game can also be played with accelerometer controls.

This Week's Sign of the Apocalypse

Kyle Orton is now officially a better QB than Tony Romo. That is all. (Truth. -Ed.)

Games of the Week

Robocalypse - Mobile Mayhem

The App Store has seen a few, largely unsuccessful attempts at bringing an RTS to the App Store. Now, it finally has one worth playing, Robocalypse. Not only does Robocalyspe deliver solid RTS gameplay (though it is slightly simplified) but also a large dose of humor, nice graphics, a 17 mission long campaign mode, and online multiplayer. It's tough to beat getting a full DS game for only $2.99.

FIFA 10 by EA SPORTS
It is with some reservations and trepidation that I name FIFA as an app of the week, but I do it because of one thing: gameplay, which makes it tentatively the best soccer (football) game on the App Store. Despite a very frustrating glitch that mixes up all your positions in manager mode and roster management menus that occasionally border on unnavigable, FIFA's controls are pretty good - they just take some time to get used to. In addition, EA packed a massive amount of content, including a multitude of fully-licensed teams and several game modes. In addition, FIFA comes through when it comes to gameplay. Unlike X2 Football and Real Soccer, FIFA is realistic. The gameplay is very smooth with a fine attention to realistic detail. No 15-0 blowouts here; goals are hard to come by, and 1-0 results are common, making goals extremely rewarding. The game never feels "cheap," and you only have yourself to blame for your losses. I reserve the right to change my mind on FIFA's place in the soccer game pecking order until X2 2010 comes out, but as of now, it sits at the top.