Category: Opinion »
It's the end of the year, so it's time for some arbitrary internet awards! In this wrap-up episode of Who Wore it Best? we present our winners for the best, worst, and flat-out weirdest cloned games that graced the App Store in 2014.
The end of 2014 is almost here, which can only mean one thing.
Okay it can mean a lot of things, but in this specific context it means Game of the Year lists!
Which is why the 148Apps staff have all picked their favorites from the past year. And why we've put them all into one handy list for you all to enjoy. It's a nice list, too. Lots of variety and even a few free downloads that are worth checking out. So give it a look, and if you agree (or even if you disagree) please chime in below!
Puzzle to the Center of the Earth feels like a breath of fresh air compared to most everything else I played this year. It's a fair free-to-play puzzle game that encourages and rewards patience in all of the best ways and none of the bad. It's also a platformer that requires forethought and strategy rather than reflexes.
Unlike other mobile games like it, Puzzle to the Center of the Earth is not pushing players to make huge combos or speed-run through levels. Instead they can take their time planning out the best courses through a cave, much like an actual spelunker might (albeit with the power to carve out paths by magically matching blocks). It's a super well made game that isn't scared to have players get lost in its levels for a good while, which makes it unique as a puzzle game. For a mobile title, it strikes a fantastic balance of being engrossing, replayable, rewarding, and light enough for playing on the go, all of which lend to it being my favorite mobile game of 2014. - [Campbell Bird]
When I heard that an original Hitman game would be coming to iOS, like plenty of other people I couldn't wait to cheese wire a guy to death while disguised as a security guard before popping another target in the face with my silenced pistol, all while waiting for a bus. When Hitman GO was released, many were initially disappointed to find that wasn't the case. However, after playing what is a deceptively simple and infectious game of strategy for a short time, many (including myself) were hooked.
Hitman GO looks like the board game you wish your family would play at Christmas (put away the Cluedo box, grandma) with its sheen and minimalistic graphics that just ooze class akin to the suit Agent 47 is known for. Combine that with accessible gameplay that calls for multiple play-throughs thanks to the variety of challenges available, forcing players to tackle levels in different ways, and you have a winner in Hitman GO. It's a game that should be on everyone's hit list - [Lee Hamelet]
The very first Angry Birds debuted on iOS back in 2009. When you sit back and tally up the number of Angry Birds games out there and the impact they've had on pop culture as a whole, you just need to ask yourself: "How would the birds taste following a three-hour engagement with a broiler?"
No, seriously. The anniversary of the Angry Birds and American Thanksgiving are in the same neighborhood, date-wise. And while not everyone eats fowl for Thanksgiving (or meat in general, for that matter), Thanksgiving is still synonymous with roasted bird-meat. So let's sit back, loosen our belts, and have a solemn conversation about how the Angry Birds would fare as a main course this holiday season.
Come on, it's worth considering. There are no wings to contend with, no drumsticks - not even any bones if the way they fling themselves around is any indication. The Angry Birds are just big buttery balls of white meat. That said, some probably make for better eating than others. Let's get on with this vital holiday breakdown.
At this point in the month, you or at least a few people you know are probably getting ready to scramble around (or are already scrambling around) for Thanksgiving Dinner. It's a hectic day of precise oven utilization, but there's also the whole family and camaraderie thing.
We've already put together a handy list of useful apps that should make your Thanksgiving a breeze, but what if you want to unwind while staying in the holiday spirit or practice for the insanity that is to come? Well you're in luck, because now we've got a list of a half-dozen iOS games that evoke all sorts of Thanksgiving feelings - both heartwarming and... well, not so heartwarming.
It's All Hallows' Eve once again. And what better way to enjoy the holiday spirit(s) than to have a good scare - or ten?
Since nobody at 148Apps could come up with an answer to that question we've created a list of our top picks for spooky, creepy, scary, and unsettling iOS titles in honor of the ghoulish festival. Hopefully these games won't be too much for you to handle...
The Walking Dead - Season 1
The Walking Dead isn't conventionally scary in the "Aargh! What the heck just jumped out at me??" kind of way, but it's distinctly unnerving. It taps into that instinct to protect those we care about then shows us just how easily the life we once knew can be taken away forever. Forcing you to make tough decisions that are a matter of life and death mean you never get a chance to calm down or relax. Instead, you're constantly on edge in a world that makes no sense any more. If that's not deeply scary, I don't know what is. - Jennifer Allen
Ellie - Help me out... please
Ellie - Help me out... please is a short, but creepy puzzle game that revolves around the player's interactions with a kidnapped girl through a security camera feed. It definitely has some Saw vibes thanks to its puzzle room nature and voyeuristic perspective.
Although the puzzles are a little opaque, immersion in the very tiny game world is precisely what makes it kind of creepy. Not necessarily creepy in the "spooky" sense, but in the sense that players start questioning the game's bizarre setup. Who is the player character? Why is this girl in this room? What does it all mean? - Campbell Bird
With the Apple Watch’s generic release date of, “early 2015” hovering on the horizon, it's only a matter of time before gamers begin to ask “What’s in it for us?” The obvious choice would be to place entire games directly on the face of the watch, but its limited form factor could prove to be a problem - to say the least. We've thought long and hard about the impending reality of wearable entertainment and decided to think outside of the box a bit. Here are just a few of the ideas of what developers might have waiting for us very soon.
A couple of years ago, with the holiday season rapidly approaching, my mother generously asked me if there was anything I wanted for Christmas. As it turned out my wife and I were just getting into board games as a hobby, but not wanting my mom to bother wandering into a Manhattan board game specialty store I just told her I'd give her the names of a few games we were interested in that I knew she could find on Amazon. She surprised me with her response - that she wasn't going to be able to get me those games because she didn't feel comfortable shopping online.
My mother is the first to admit that she's not the most tech-savvy person around, but I was still shocked that she wouldn't order anything from Amazon, and further shocked that she had never bought anything online. When I asked why, both she and my father explained that they simply didn't trust the technology and that it made them uncomfortable.
I guess the reason I found it difficult to accept is because online transactions have represented the majority of my expenses for years. So the idea that people who are otherwise modern, educated, competent folks wouldn't trust something as universal as online shopping - their instinctive distrust - seemed downright silly to me as someone who is, by upbringing and profession, constantly exposed to the world of social media, online commerce, and internet connectivity.
Which is why I had to stop and scold myself when I saw Apple Pay and immediately shook my head in disapproval.
Sure, there are security features in place. Sure, your credit info isn't technically stored on the device. And sure, what is locally kept is locked behind a biometric defense system, can be disabled remotely, and probably has a dozen other security protocols I'm unaware of. Still, my gut reaction to the idea of using my phone to pay for things was instantaneous distrust - and that's ridiculous.
Whether you're an adherent to the Cult of Apple, just think their products are cool, or even if you have no intention of buying Apple's newest miracle device, the fact is that this idea of a unified way of managing your credit, integrated into your mobile electronics, is a very likely technological progression. Of course security will always be an issue, but is there really any difference in using my computer to order something from an online retailer via my credit card or tapping my iPhone against a sensor to initiate the exact same kind of transaction in person? The bottom line is that (semantics aside) there isn't, and I doubt very much that this feature will remain exclusive to the iPhone for long.
I also doubt I'm the only one who looked at Apple Pay and scoffed. But I think that, like my parents not trusting the idea of internet commerce, it's just a product of technological inertia. No, I'm not one of the folks who ran out to get an iPhone 6 Plus on day 1, but I won't be one of the naysayers who resists the direction this new tech is taking us simply because 'it's different and that makes me nervous.'
I'm an iPod Touch owner, and I think it may be time for me to admit that my device's time is almost up. But firstly, a little bit of back story for you:
My first iOS device was a 2nd generation iPod Touch, which is long ago enough for it to not have had a camera or microphone. My second iOS device was a 4th generation iPod Touch, with my current device being a 5th generation device. Putting it bluntly, I'm a fan of the iPod Touch.
To me, the iPod Touch was Apple's accidental handheld console. Sure you can purely use it as an iPod with a camera if you so wish, but to someone like me, it was (and still is) my gateway into iOS gaming at a much cheaper cost than an iPhone - one that also just happened to fit into my pocket. The fact that I could access the wide variety of iOS games through a relatively cheap device (compared to other iOS devices, anyway) is the reason I'm here today, on a site devoted to iOS apps.
Once upon a time the release of an iPod Touch was a yearly thing, with the tech in the device just below that found in that year's iPhone. The 4th and 5th seemingly started the pattern of a new device every two years, meaning this year should've bought on the release of the 6th generation. The September 9 iPhone 6 announcement event has long since come and gone however, and the world is seemingly nowhere nearer to seeing a six next to the iPod Touch name.
If you sit down and think about it though, in this day and age the iPod Touch is an unusual thing. It's the size of the phone and does almost everything you'd expect from a modern phone besides be a phone: it has a touch screen, two cameras, a microphone, and the ability to run apps. To be fair, that's also everything the average person would likely expect from a modern tablet as well. And therein lies the rub.
I can understand why Apple seems to be no longer supporting it. In the past year, the hardware giant released four iOS devices - the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air, and the 2nd generation iPad Mini. Four devices, all varying in price and size, and each with their own niche to cater to. Within those devices, there's something there for pretty much everyone. You want a phone-sized device to play your iOS games on? Fine, go get an expensive contract and get an iPhone. You want a device devoted to running apps? Fine, go get an iPad or iPad Mini with their bigger screens and better resolutions. You want both? Before, the answer to that question was the iPod Touch. Now, I think Apple would much rather you gave them more money and bought an iPhone and an iPad.
This time next year, we'll likely see the release of iOS 9 and the end of support for the generation of devices that used the A5 chip - including the 5th generation iPod Touch. As much as I hope Apple will announce a new iPod Touch next year, part of me knows that the brand is effectively a dead parrot at this point. And as much as I want to nail it to a perch, it's already pushing up the daises and has joined the choir invisible.
So, farewell iPod Touch. The iPhone minus the phone. The iPad Mini but even smaller. The accidental handheld console. You will be missed.
I still own an iPhone 4S, and the arrival of iOS 8 and the new iPhone 6 line pains me.
First off, I should explain that I’m not some half-committed neo-Luddite with a knee-jerk fear of new technology. I actually picked up my iPhone 4S on the day it launched - it was shiny, new, and top of the line. It was like basking in the glow of a new relationship, where everything is perfect and you're so in love. Then, a few months later and through no fault of my own, the person whose family plan I was a part of flaked out and I found myself bereft of service and unable to afford the deposit required to spin my old number off to its own line. My still-relatively young significant other then began its new life as an extra beefy iPod Touch.
I was phoneless for the next couple of years, then eventually acquired a prepaid on a different carrier because it was both cheaper and I wouldn’t be locked to a contract. After enduring months of terrible service (including not being able to get a signal at home, within almost-literal spitting distance of the second-largest city in the state’s downtown area) I finally found out that not only did my old carrier offer prepaid service, but they had just recently allowed the iPhone 4S to be activated on it. I was elated. I could have my phone back again!
But our rekindled romance was short-lived. Once the thrill of having a signal anywhere I went wore off, I immediately began to feel the immense weight of my three years away.
In the interim, Apple had launched and fully iterated the iPhone 5 and and was gearing up to move along to the impending iPhone 6 and the concurrent launch of iOS 8. As I worked my way back into the world of iOS devices, I began to feel increasingly like a relic from a bygone age. Most new apps were not only optimized for iPhone 5 and up, but an increasing number just flat-out wouldn’t run on my old hardware at all. And with each new iOS update, that hardware - already rapidly spiraling towards obsolescence - ran just a little bit worse. Also, my prepaid plan won’t support the 5 series phones at all.
And so, I’ve begun to eyeball the postpaid world once again.
Now mind you, even if I had the money I wouldn’t have been one of those people who obsessively acquires each new phone the second it comes out. I’ve always believed in getting my money’s worth out of a device before moving on. In fact, if I had upgraded a year or so back to, say, a 5s, I could likely be singing a completely different tune at this point. Maybe I wouldn’t yet feel that an upgrade was in order. Sadly, that’s not the case.
Now, after an arduous process that took several hours the other night, my iPhone 4s groans under the strain of running iOS 8. Some features are nice (the integrated Siri song ID via Shazam, the pull-down text message reply from the lock screen) and work more or less as intended. But beyond that, things chug and sputter along slowly and hiccups, glitches, and freezes are far-too frequent. I know some of this is inevitably the bugs that accompany any initial roll-out of new operating systems, but I would be extremely surprised if a fair chunk of it wasn’t due to the fact that I’m running it on a three year old phone that just doesn’t have the muscle to properly support it. And if I thought I was being left behind before with the iPhone 5 app optimization, well it’s about to get even worse.
And that’s to say nothing of the new hardware itself. I got to put my hands on it a few days ago and I was pretty impressed. I feel like the size issue has been overstated by a lot of people. Despite being a pretty big guy I have surprisingly small hands, but even the iPhone 6 Plus didn’t feel too gargantuan for me to hold reasonably. And despite the fact that it’s an ounce heavier than my 4s, it actually felt lighter. And then there's the fact that the regular iPhone 6 actually is lighter, despite being considerably bigger. The recently reported bending controversy doesn’t especially concern me either as I don’t wear super-tight pants. And even if I did, I’d most likely normally stash the phone somewhere else, like a jacket pocket or my messenger bag, rather than forcing it uncomfortably into somewhere it would have problems fitting in the first place.
While I loved (and still do love) my 4S, I just feel that our relationship has run its course. We had some laughs together and created some great memories that I will always cherish, but I think it’s time that we move on and see other people.
Whenever a shiny new gadget comes out, the same question runs through my mind: "Will this become an indispensable part of my tech arsenal, or will it be a glorious waste of money?" Things rarely seem to fall in between – either they change everything, or they change nothing.
Sure the idea of the Apple Watch is intriguing, but as I started my research into the device, the first hurdle I ran into was held in the first image I saw of it; the thing is huge and ugly, with a huge and ugly price tag to match.
I have a lot of mobile devices: my iPad, my phone, and my Shine fitness tracker. Investing in something that boils all of those things down into a single fashion accessory might sound appealing at first but the reality is that, as a part of my daily wardrobe, it just doesn’t fit. In order to be able to have a functional touchscreen, the smallest possible face for the Apple Watch is 38mm. That's kind of large for someone like me who has small wrists. Sure, it would let me reenact scenes from Dick Tracy (and that’s cool enough to merit serious consideration), but with its metallic 90s style Casio band and massive face it just looks plain silly. If Apple wants to not only become a part of my lifestyle but a part of my appearance, they are just going to have to try harder. Yes, I know they offer other bands, but the current iconic design is neither formal nor cool, and that just won’t do.
In truth, though, I haven’t worn a watch for several years now. With so many devices that keep time already taking up valuable room in my pockets, I haven't felt the need to wear one. Once again the point would be to minimize the amount of stuff I carry, and in that regard the Apple Watch is intriguing - especially as more apps become available for it.
But appearance aside, the biggest hurdle for getting excited about the new Apple Watch is that price. At $349, it’s unreasonable as a substitute for a bunch of tech gear I already own. Also, considering it needs to paired with an iPhone, which I do not presently own, the Apple Watch would be useless to me unless I bought one of those, too.
At the moment, the Apple Watch really doesn’t offer anything truly new to justify itself. Perhaps after the watch is released and a few generations pass I'll find it a more worthwhile investment. By then the price may drop and my old gear will be out of date and in need of an upgrade anyway. Until then, I think my Dick Tracy impressions will just have to continue to rely on my good old (free) imagination.
After a solid week of use since its debut, here are my personal impressions of how iOS 8 has refined and streamlined the way in which I use my iPad on a daily basis.
Today is Looking Good
The improved Notification Center is by far my favorite feature of iOS 8 on iPad. The now fully-featured Today screen is finally at a place where it should have been years ago: as an integral part of the iOS experience and adding a whole new spectrum of usability to iOS devices.
On an iPad, a device typically chock-full of apps and games, this feature is even more appreciated. From the lock screen I can get an overview of the most pressing news stories (via News Republic), pop culture or meme-inspired articles that are perfect for passing a few minutes (BuzzFeed), a much more attractive weather report (Yahoo! weather), buttons for launching different functions in Evernote, customizable app shortcuts with Launcher, and a shortcut to where I'm up to in the book I'm reading with the Kindle app. It acts as a real hub of activity, allowing me to view my apps at a glance rather than closing and opening each one systematically.
AirDrop between my iPad and my MacBook (running the Yosemite beta) is also a long-awaited feature I'm happy to see added to iOS 8, and is a much more direct way of transferring files between the two. Answering calls on my iPad if my phone is on charge is also a massive plus, meaning I rarely miss those urgent calls from work when my phone is in the other room.
A combination of the new-and-improved Notification Center, the updated Spotlight search, and a rejuvenated Siri will definitely silence some of the critics that previously questioned iOS' productivity or speed of use, as the home screens have become more of a directory than the be-all-and-end-all of the iOS experience (to me at least).
Better Luck Next Year
I'm still waiting for the Control Center to allow for some customization in the same way that the Notification Center lets you edit widgets (for example, a button to turn off data easily) and take proper steps towards becoming a mini settings menu. Hands-free Siri is a great touch, but until Apple comes up with a way to make it work without the constant use of a charger it's not particularly helpful unless you're sitting next to the plug socket.
iOS 8 has taken great steps in moving towards achieving true multi-device connectivity, as well as making the whole interaction process a lot more multi-faceted. As more apps add support for notification widgets, it'll become even more capable.