At 148Apps, we help you sort through the great ocean of apps to find the ones we think you’ll like and the ones you’ll need. Our top picks become Editor’s Choice, our stamp of approval for apps with that little extra something special. Want to see what we’ve been up to this week? Take a look below for a sampling of our latest reviews. And if you want more, be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.
Unlike the endless procession of knock-offs, cash-ins, and clones, Retry actually finds Rovio substantially iterating on the Flappy formula, mixing in the star-ranked progression that drove their own mega-hit. Instead of tapping and flapping through an endless procession of pipe gaps, Retry has players guiding their tiny propeller-driven plane from airport to airport in an elusive search for that perfect landing. It’s no easy feat to fly in Retry, with the inexorable grip of gravity and the drag of momentum screwing up those carefully laid flight paths. Too steep of a climb will pull you over into a loop. Not enough feathering of a descent sends you propeller-first into the ground. But when that sweet spot is delicately finessed out of the greedy grip of physics’ and you manage to glide gracefully out of a near-fatal dive, taxiing to the very edge of the final runway? Sublime. And hey, if not, just tap the screen again; there’s always another retry waiting. –Rob Thomas
This is going to sound funny, but I have clinically diagnosed OCD. One of the weird quirks for me is that I obsess about having several cases or carrying bags for everything. So the idea of a new, very functional case really excites me. When asked about reviewing a case that provides drop protection and an extended battery, I think I replied to the email less than twenty seconds. Sadly, I was told the only colors were black, blue, grey, and white – I was hoping for purple or pink. I really like cases. The Protection + Power comes with a charging cable (USB to micro USB) and a headphone extender (the case lengthens the hole to the jack). Attaching it to my phone was really easy – honestly, it’s the easiest of any battery case I’ve owned. You slide the phone onto the lightning connector, which tilts slightly, then gently push the phone back into the case. Once inside, it seems really secure and safe from most gentle drops. Since it was early in the day, I plugged the charging cable into my desktop computer and watched the lights on the back begin to blink. I went through regular use that day, and took the charging cable to bed. When upstairs, I pulled my lightning cable out of the jack in the wall, and put the USB/microUSB cable in its place. I’ve done this with numerous other charging cases in the past with no issue. In the morning, my phone was at 55% power and the case’s battery was dead. It never charged. –Jade Walker
Opening with the sacking of the city of Moonbrook by the villainous Hargon, Dragon Quest II follows the adventures of a group of young heroes descended from the legendary Erdrick, a recurring character in the series’ mythology. It is as full of cheesy and wonderful faux-Shakespearian dialog as its predecessor was, with the classic RPG mentality that one should speak to every NPC in order to learn about the world and one’s quest. The visuals are bright, colorful pixel art that has been updated for modern devices while retaining that old-school flair. The music, on the other, hand is quite symphonic and adds a sweeping grandeur that enhances the atmospheric qualities. It’s a great juxtaposition of old and new, and it really improves on the gameplay experience. –Andrew Fisher
The first thing you’ll notice about Agents of Storm is that it’s really rather pretty – especially compared to other games of its ilk. That’s the second thing. Games of this ilk – freemium base building games – are incredibly common. Unfortunately for Agents of Storm it’s mostly business as usual, despite a few vaguely original tweaks. Notably, you don’t design your own base. It’s all made for you instead, taking away some personalization and sense of ownership from the whole experience. That base gradually expands the more you level-up, with a couple of taps getting things all set up. –Jennifer Allen
I am eager to let readers know about a new Toca Boca app – Toca Boo – right in time for Halloween. This app is a bit of a departure for Toca Boca, known for their apps that include cleverly themed mini-games and role-playing apps that allow children to pretend to play store, tea party, or drive a train, as well as apps that allow children to build cities or landscapes to drive cars around on. Here, Toca Boca introduces Bonnie, a girl who enjoys being scary, wandering around her house looking for family members to frighten. Children will have fun increasing the creepiness factor for her unassuming victims by turning lights off and on as well as incorporating static on the radio, an alarm clock that rings suddenly, and other objects that can startle others when turned on or off mysteriously – which is done with the tap of a finger, and to be assumed the work of this mischievous girl. Listen to the heart beats rise in the characters as the intensity is increased – a great time to tap one of these characters, triggering their frightened reactions. –Amy Solomon
Other 148Apps Network Sites
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:
Lunagames launched a Halloween-themed shooter for Android, but is it worth you time? Well, that depends: do you like murdering zombies? Trigger Happy from Lunagames is a straightforward action packed shooter. In it, you need to shoot every zombie or other Halloween themed monstrosity that’s coming right for you. You can do that with just your handgun, including unlimited ammo – the way I prefer to play my Halloween/horror games. But that won’t do the job in Trigger Happy. –Wesley Akkerman
I had the misfortune of having some serious health issues a short while ago, and, without getting overly conversational about it, it changed me. It made me take health more seriously, and one fringe benefit is that it allowed me to take a longer, more appreciative look at the burgeoning area of connected health devices. “Burgeoning” is somewhat of an understatement; the category is exploding. As part of my personal fitness odyssey, I’ve had the privilege of trying out interesting connected gear. The Withings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor is one of them. Personal blood pressure monitors are not new; I have had a generic one for quite some time. While convenient, the one drawback is the collation tool is not self-contained. I used my smartphone to collect the data via my all-round app HanDBase, and while the solution worked, I’d like a more homogeneous fix. –Tre Lawrence
As part of our ongoing health series, we explore connected health accessories with an Android connection. For an introduction to Android Rundown’s mobile health series, check out our editorial. Health bands and smartwatches are all the rage now; there are several out in the wild, and, thankfully, several corresponding price points. Being healthy is becoming easier to incorporate in one’s lifestyle — in theory, at least. For a lot of folks, having a connected health tracker just makes sense… especially when it can be paired to a ubiquitous always-on device such as a smartphone. Oregon Scientific is a tech company with good pedigree, and has made a name for itself in the area of personal and home electronics; it’s not too much of a stretch to see why it would throw its hat into the fitness tracker ring. the Ssmart Dynamo Activity Tracker is the fruit of this endeavor. –Tre Lawrence
And finally, head on over to AppSpy, because we’ve been eating loads of English Breakfasts, watching kids poop their pants in fear, playing the best new multiplayer indie racer, and getting spookier than that Michael Jackson video where he’s a zombie (Thriller? Is it Thriller? I want to say it’s called Thriller). And it’s all right here.
Wahoo Fitness is terribly close to bringing their RFLKT+, the enhanced device that turns an iPhone into an advanced bike computer, to fruition thanks to Kickstarter. With the campaign over on Friday, September 20th, the team took time to answer my questions about the RFLKT+ and how it improves over the original RFLKT accessory.
148Apps: What are you trying to do with the RFLKT+? How are you trying to improve it over the RFLKT? Wahoo Fitness (WF): The RFLKT+ adds in ANT+ connectivity. ANT+ is used in over 60 million devices on the market and is the current standard for wireless technology in the cycling industry. Most cyclists are currently riding with some sort of ANT+ device, whether it be heart rate, speed and cadence, or power. RFLKT+ gathers all this info via ANT+ and then using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) sends the data to the iPhone and integrates it into your cycling App. The iPhone combines the ANT data with GPS info and then BLE’s it back to your handlebar mounted RFLKT+.
148Apps: For those who aren’t well-versed in the specific protocols, why should cyclists, even those already using RFLKT, be excited about RFLKT+ and the ANT+ protocol? WF: It connects the iPhone to basically every cycling sensor on the market. Whether it be BLE or ANT+ the RFLKT+ will harness that data and put it to use in your app and on your handlebars. Makes it extremely easy to get everything you need pre, post, and during your ride all in one place on the iPhone. By allowing cyclists to leave the iPhone, screen off and in the jersey pocket, you keep it safe and save your battery.
148Apps: Why turn to Kickstarter to fund the RFLKT+? WF: It presents an amazing opportunity that you rarely have, to validate demand prior to hitting market. The Kickstarter community provides high level and immediate feedback for your product and your company. It’s one thing if Wahoo thinks they’ve come up with a great idea, it’s another for Wahoo to have thousands of outsiders say prior to the product hitting shelves ‘Yes we want that!’. Two, it also provided a chance for Wahoo to reach beyond the target consumer and out to a more broad group that will also have an important use for Wahoo products.
148Apps: How much does trying to promote and appeal to backers for a fitness Kickstarter compare to other types of Kickstarters, if you’ve researched this? Was the success of something like the Pebble an inspiration to go with crowdfunding? WF: Yes. The Pebble watch kind of put Kickstarter on the map. Its very enticing to think that something can just really hit like the Pebble. Definitely with being something specific to cyclist, you do limit yourself a little more than a smartwatch or say a Bluetooth speaker. But in general cool, smart technology seems to resonate with people on KS.
148Apps: As a company working in the field of fitness technology, how much has the market changed since you launched RFLKT, both in a business and a consumer sense? Where do you see the future going? WF: It’s changing everyday. Sleeker wearables, more data, and most importantly “valuable” data will shape the future. Its not tracking everything, its tracking the data that helps you reach your goals and tracking it in the most seamless way possible. Most people are already running and riding with their iPhone, why also have a $500+ bike computer? The iPhone is the most powerful bike computer on the market when paired with our tools. Harness that power and get your music, text, calls, fitness info, cycling data and run log all-in-one place. No need for syncing, transferring, etc. The iPhone is with you all the time anyway, might as well put it to work.
Thanks to the team at Wahoo Fitness for their time.
In each case, the new iKlip models provide ways in which to mount and position the iPad or iPad mini, thereby enabling users to operate devices hands-free as well as set up the perfect viewing angle towards a microphone stand, tabletop or anything else of use in the studio. It’s the kind of solution that’s ideal for presentations as well as music studio work, or just around the home.
The iKlip 2 offers such a solution for iPad users, enabling them to attach any type of iPad (from the 2nd generation and later) to a microphone stand securely, as well as be able to adjust the device to just the right viewing angle. For iPad mini users, there’s the iKlip 2 for iPad mini, offering the same potential.
Tabletop stands are also available in separate iPad and iPad Mini versions, with the iKlip Stand making things much simpler. It’s the ideal stand for connecting the iPad above the desktop so that it’s easy to position equipment, such as a musical keyboard or mixer underneath, but it can also be used in the home. Too small an office desk to fit all the devices easily? Use the iKlip Stand to solve such a problem and revel in the extra space!
The iKlip Studio offers a similar solution but is specifically designed for use on flat surfaces, and aimed at those apps that require “energetic tapping and beat making”, tying in nicely with the many DJ based apps already out there. Non-slip rubber grip feet, as well as adjustable viewing angles keep the iPad safe and secure, plus it folds flat, lending itself perfectly to easy storage.
The iKlip 2 for iPad and iKlip 2 for iPad mini will be priced at $39.99 or €29.99 excluding tax, while the iKlip Stand for iPad and iKlip Stand for iPad mini will be $59.99/€49.99. The iKlip Studio for iPad mini is priced at $29.99/€24.99.
We’re big fans of IK Multimedia’s accessories and I suspect these new iKlips will be quite the hit when they ship during the first quarter of 2013.
So iWALK came out with a useful little external battery pack recently, the iWALK Link 1700i. It claims to offer just about a full phone charge in an adapter that could fit on a keychain. It’s more convenient than lugging around a separate power brick with USB cable, or using one of those bulky Mophie cases. For iPhone 4S and earlier owners, it promises to be an extremely useful device. Just one problem: it’s got the “old” 30-pin dock connector, not Lightning. So, iPhone 5 owners are out of the loop with the Link1700i, right?
Well, not necessarily. Apple does make a 30-pin-to-Lightning adapter, which provides charging and audio support to the iPhone 5. Which means that the Link 1700i may just be useful for iPhone 5 owners just yet.
Using it with the adapter on the iPhone 5 gives it one big advantage: it’s actually more comfortable to use it in portrait versus on a 30-pin device, as the Lightning adapter provides enough space to grip the phone and do things like typing and scrolling with the Link 1700i safely out of the way. Landscape is a different story, as the i-Walk already provides a bit of an uncomfortable barrier; it’s ludicrously bigger on the iPhone 5. I’d suggest not playing games while charging with this thing, though I could hold it in a way where my thumb was not reaching over the battery. Still, I don’t recommend it.
While the box claims that it has 1700 mAh battery capacity power, in practical circumstances, I could rely on it to recharge about 3/5 of my battery, particularly with it being used occasionally in that time. Part of the problem could be the connection: I noticed that the iPhone would act as if the Link 1700i was being occasionally disconnected and reconnected when unlocking the screen, or even just periodically while it was in my pocket. I haven’t noticed this when using the adapter otherwise, and haven’t seen it in testing on my iPod touch 4th gen either. Using it with the dock adapter does leave some space for headphones, but it’s a tight fit, and would likely cause damaged headphone connectors.
The Link 1700i comes with two lids by default: one with a slot for the loop to be put on a keychain and one without. As well, it comes with the micro-USB cable to recharge it, the port being conveniently located on the side of the battery.
While it’s hard to measure the device’s actual effectiveness because it’s working in a roundabout way on the iPhone 5, it is far from an ideal solution. However, this is in part thanks to Apple: by using a new proprietary connector and then only selectively licensing it and not giving it to peripheral manufacturers before its unveiling, those looking for a convenient external battery are forced to turn to less-than-ideal options. Have an iPhone 4S or earlier? This seems like a perfectly fine solution. iPhone 5? Be prepared to deal with the imperfections thanks to Apple.
Dead phones are a problem that just won’t go away. Mobile technology is advancing faster than battery technology can keep up, and our phones are dying faster than ever. Sure, external batteries exist, but what happens when those die, especially for those who are away from power sources for extended periods of time? There are solar chargers, but that relies, quite obviously, on there being sunlight. In my best infomercial voice, I exclaim, “There’s got to be a better way!” Meet the Powertrekk, the charging solution that’s unlike any that have come before it.
This is because the Powertrekk comes with a fuel cell that can be used to power USB devices. Fuel cells work by converting by a fuel’s chemical energy, from a source such as hydrogen, into electricity through reactions with elements like oxygen. So, for those who paid attention in chemistry, what’s a common liquid source of oxygen that could be added to a hydrogen fuel cell in order to be converted into electricity? Water! Yes, by simply adding water to the Powertrekk’s fuel cell puck, it can be used to charge a device over USB. The Powertrekk also comes with a 1500 mAh internal battery that can be charged over USB, or through the internal fuel cell. The fuel cell itself has a storage capacity of 4 watt-hours, which means that at its maximum output of 5 volts, it has a total 8000 mAh capacity, using Amperage X Voltage = Wattage. In layman’s terms, that’s about enough to charge the iPhone completely about 4 times, assuming maximum battery efficiency. Also, the 5 volt output means that the iPad cannot be charged with the Powertrekk.
Now, the Powertrekk is not an inexpensive solution; the charger is expected to sell for US$229 when it is released, and 3 extra fuel cell pucks will cost $12. Still, this could be a useful accessory for those who spend a lot of time away from electrical sources, find solar chargers inefficient, and/or want an environmentally-conscious way to charge their USB devices. The Powertrekk will go on sale in the spring, available from both the Powertrekk website and worldwide through a variety of distributors.
The Tinké plugs directly into an iOS device, and users touch its sensor directly with their finger. By touching this, the device claims that it can measure heart rate, respiratory rate, and the oxygen level in a person’s blood, making it essentially a pulse oximeter for an iOS device. It measures these then rates the person on its “Vita Index”, which is based on the quality of the measured information. Tinké also can track this information over time, so people can see how their health is changing, and preferably for the better! People can share this information with friends and family, with the ability to comment on Vita Indices, to share tips and encouragement. As well, users can share their Vita Scores anonymously, with the ability to compare their scores with other people in their age group.
The Tinké will come in four colors: black, red, white and an aqua blue. Zensorium is currently taking reservations, with a target price of $99, although there is no planned release date for the hardware. As well, there is no indication if this will officially support the iPad. Will the information be cloud-based, or device-based, so users could potentially use the Tinké dongle on their other iOS devices, like iPod touch or iPad, and will the network be available through the web? Plus, will it work? Will all the measurements, especially oxygen measurement, really be accurate based on just using a dongle? Other pulse oximeters are intrusion free, but use a closed design; will the open ended design of Tinké negatively affect measurement? These are important questions to be answered as Tinké reaches its release date in the indefinite future.
Winter is coming. Well, that’s what the news reports say anyway – being here in south Texas, I haven’t had to wear a jacket at all yet. But I was in Chicago last January, during sub-freezing temperatures. I had to wear gloves! Now, the problem is that wearing gloves makes it hard to use the capacative screens that the iPhone and most other touchscreen devices boast. Whenever I wanted to take a picture or check my phone, I had to take off my gloves, and risk my hands suffering instant frostbite, because I have lived in Texas my whole life and am not even used to snow, much less the 10-degree-Fahrenheit temperatures I experienced the day I was out and about downtown Chicago. Well, not using my phone was not an option! If only I had some sort of way to use my phone with my gloves!
I am not alone in my problem. South Koreans used sausages, and conductive gloves do exist. But what if I have a pair of gloves that I really like, and want to use my phone with? Is there not a compromise that exists? Oh, but there is! Meet a handy little accessory called Digits.
Digits consists of 4 dots that attach to any normal pair of gloves, and serve as conductive pins. By putting them on the thumbs and index fingers of a pair of gloves, they can allow any pair of gloves to control a capacitive touchscreen device. How wonderful! Now, texts and emails can actually be sent while the temperature outside feels like some kind of negative number! Or, enjoy the Avalanche mode of Super QuickHook while in an actual avalanche! (Disclaimer: 148Apps is not responsible for the safety of anyone who attempts to use their touchscreen device during an avalanche)
Digits are available now in a pack of 4 for $11.99. They are available from Quirky’s website, or from outlets like ThinkGeek. While they might not be of much use in areas that consider snow to be nothing but a wild fairy tale, in colder climates, these may be extremely useful for those who can’t bear to keep their phones in their pockets at any point!
IK Multimedia, makers of the iRig Mic for iOS, and the iKlip for the iPad, have introduced their latest accessory: a version of the iKlip for the iPhone and iPod touch called the iKlip Mini. The goal of the iKlip Mini is the same as the full-sized iKlip: to mount the iOS device of choice to a microphone stand. This iKlip is compatible with all iPhone and iPod touch models, supports both landscape and portrait orientations, and comes with detachable bracket support for the iRig’s microphone adapter to attach to the side of the iOS device. All buttons on the device are accessible, and the clip can be installed either on the microphone stand’s pole or boom. The iKlip Mini will be available soon for $39.99 from IK Multimedia’s web store, or from select music and electronic retailers. The original iKlip was rated four stars here on 148Apps; hopefully the iKlip Mini proves to work just as well.
Before the smoke has even cleared from the iPad announcement yesterday, some accessory makers are already showing off some new products to go with it. iLuv is amongst the first to unveil a new line of products, full of carrying cases, hard and soft, as well as a few types of screen protectors. Interestingly enough, iLuv has promised these items to be available in February, a bit premature since no one will be able to hold an iPad until March or April, but hey, better early to the game than (insert cliché here). Check out more of their products after the break. Continue reading iLuv Already Showing Off iPad Accessories »
I’ve personally never really believed it when someone would tell me that the iPhone’s camera isn’t bad for a phone. After all, I would take picture after picture and the majority would come out, usually with a string of words which I won’t repeat, blurry and unrecognizable. As I hustled around CES last week taking pictures and spilling coffee all over myself, it was actually Chris Hall who so graciously pointed out, in between laughs of course, that it was probably my pitifully shaky hands that was the problem and not the camera itself. As it turns out, he was right, for once, and for the past few days I’ve been using the Blur Tripod and have formed a new opinion regarding my camera phone.
Priced at $14.95, the Blur Tripod is exactly what you think it is, a tripod for an iPhone. A mini tripod to be precise, which stands about 5.5 inches off the ground or up to 8 inches if you extend the legs all the way. The unit itself comes in two separate parts, the legs and the adapter mount. The legs are made of ultra light weight aluminum wich keeps them portable while still remaining fairly durable. The mount is a simple plastic clip which uses a standard 1/4″ 20 thread camera screw size which makes it usable on most any tripod on the market. An extremely nice feature of this tripod is it’s adjustably, it can truly be manipulated to be able to take photos from nearly any angle you would ever need, however it does become a little unstable when shifted too far to one side. A helpful tip I found though is that while unstable for taking photos shifting the mount all of the way to one side can help in another way by doubling as a steady hand grip for shooting video.
I’m an iPhone purist, I’ll admit it, I love my phone just how it is, stable, fast, non-glitchy. Sure from time to time I’ve wished I could customize my text message tone or set a new wallpaper behind my icons, but in the end it’s not worth it. At least that’s what I tell people most days. I confess however that today, for the first time since 1.1.2, I gave serious consideration to jailbreaking my iPhone. What could lead me down this dark path again? How about controlling a game on my iPhone using a Wii Remote!?! The BTstack project has managed to pull it off!
If you’re not familiar with what the BTstack Project is, it’s an open source project focused on expanding bluetooth device support far beyond what Apple is currently allowing. A lot of the above information comes to us from this article via Zodttd.com which also includes a statement from the developer saying his next target is the PS3 controller. Upon reading, I was almost giddy with anticipation and immediately started spreading the word. But one of my colleagues, being the glass is half empty type that he is, quickly pointed out why I shouldn’t get too excited.
“For one,” he said “theres nothing comfortable about hunching over a table, looking straight down, just to keep your hands free for use on a controller…”
I quickly pointed out that an iBend would be a quick, easy, and cheap solution to that. He conceded this point but continued.
“Secondly and much more importantly [BTstack] is hacking their iPhone to use them, no major developer is ever going to spend the time and money making a game that needs a hack to be used fully.”
I hated to admit it but he had a point, however it may not be a relevant one for much longer as I know of at least one legitimate controller being developed for the iPhone, the GameBone Pro.
The GameBone Pro has amazing potential as 22Moo states it will be fully compatible via bluetooth or dock connector, fully functional D-pad with 4+ action buttons, and a built in speaker/mic, etc. While there is no official price listing or release date yet, we know they are targeting an early 2010 release. Gratefully they are making their developer’s kit free to anyone who wants it.
The free SDK is an important point I’d like to touch on momentarily. While I’m certain more than one developer has a controller under development, it’s my hope that in some circle somewhere there is a committee working on a set standard of controller code. Without a set basic standard we will end up in a market where a game may work with one joystick but not another. Resulting in another BlueRay vs. HD DVD war, only with more players. A war that would most likely end up with game developers ignoring the idea of external controllers all together simply because of inconvenience.
With a set standard though I can already see what the future may hold for iPhone gamers. I can imagine sitting at an airport with a friend waiting for our redeye flight to arrive and needing something to do. Out of my pockets I pull three things, my iPhone, GameBone Pro, and a Pico Pocket projector. Out of his pocket he grabs his controller and within a minute we are playing Marvel vs. Capcom (not currently released for the iPhone) dreamcast style on a 60″ while being totally portable and wireless…I’m getting giddy again.
Today, in partnership with Smartphone Experts, we are proud to announce the launch of the 148Apps Accessories Store! Our iPhone Accessories Store is custom built for all of your iPhone and iPod Touch accessory needs.
To celebrate the launch, we’re giving 10% off to the first 100 orders. To get this discount all you have to do is use coupon code “148savings” at checkout.