We all shop, right? Heck, even those of us who adamantly declare all we need is online shopping tend to end up in a store at some point in our lives. It’s kind of fun to browse around, and sometimes it’s more straightforward to seek something out by looking around. The Apple Watch has a ton of potential for changing how we shop. Some developers and retailers have already leapt upon this idea, such as Woolworths in Australia launching an app soon and Retale announcing a similar app. What else do you want, though? We take a look at some neat potential ideas.
Something like RedLaser
RedLaser is a great app for the avid shopper, allowing you to search for plenty of products, coupons, and deals near you. Expand that to the Apple Watch and things could get even simpler. Glances and Notifications could mean you could easily see what deals are available at a store while you’re nearby. You could quickly use Siri to look up a review, saving you from getting your phone out and generally looking way cooler. It’s going to need some backup from your iPhone, but it’ll save you plenty of time and effort.
Nothing’s been confirmed yet, but there’s got to be an Amazon Apple Watch app coming, right? Being able to search quickly would be great, plus there's the potential from its 1-Click ordering system. I remember one stressful Christmas shopping trip last year where I stood in a mall and used my iPhone to buy the stuff I couldn’t find in a store. An Apple Watch method of doing this would be so much smoother and it just makes sense.
So many deals! Groupon is bordering on overwhelming these days with the offers it provides - from cheap gadgets to massages. Having these all accessible and scannable from your wrist would be a real time saver. Tied into your iPhone, it could have great location-aware capabilities for when you’re near somewhere with a great deal on.
A grocery list app like Grocery iQ
I wander around grocery stores with my iPhone out, looking through what I need to get. It’s cumbersome, and once I dropped my iPhone on the ground and got a nasty dent in it. That sucks. Having my shopping list on my wrist would be far better in this instance. As anyone who’s used a stock app can tell you, there are far better grocery list specific apps out there. Something like Grocery iQ on your wrist would be convenient, and you could easily tap on an item to say you’ve gotten it and so forth. Being able to keep regular lists would be great for when you’re buying the same thing often, too.
How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you're looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Take a look at what we've been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.
One of the first comics I can remember buying with my own money as child, purchased from a newsstand near my great-grandmother’s apartment, was an issue of Marvel’s Contest of Champions. Contest of Champions was groundbreaking in a couple of different areas: it was Marvel’s first publication released in a “limited series” format, and it was also one of the first attempts to blatantly strip out any attempt at more nuanced story arc by instead offering three issues of heroes clashing against one another in page after page of epic battles as cosmic puppet masters tugged at their strings. Despite revisiting the concept a couple of times in intervening years, nothing ever quite captured that same spectacle that my five year old self felt while leafing through those pages. However, Marvel and Kabam are dragging the old chestnut out of mothballs again in the form of a head-to-head fighting game. And despite a couple of issues, it’s actually not the worst licensed game I’ve seen. --Rob Thomas
How lucky do you feel? Area 777 is heavily dependent on luck, so you’d better hope that you’re a naturally fortuitous person. Thanks to that dependency, it’s not overly gripping. Even when it eventually introduces new chip types it feels like too little, too late. The concept behind it is that it’s part slot machine, part tower defense game. In reality, it’s almost all slot machine with a hint of tower defense. Each level consists of a slot machine, with enemies slowly making their way across it in order to cause you damage. You have to hit the spin button and, mostly, hope that the reels line up and you take them out along the way. There is some element of strategy in there, mostly through the acquisition of chips, but it’s fairly basic. These chips frequently correspond to an element, such as fire or ice, thereby allowing you to set the enemies on fire or freeze a reel in a particular position. It’s helpful but hardly enough to make you feel fully in control of the game. --Jennifer Allen
SimplePlanes gives players all the tools they need to build airplanes from scratch. But successfully making use of those tools means wrapping your head around all the different parts and physics that, presumably, actual engineers need to consider. The game tries to help ease players in with its extensive manuals explaining the difference between an airfoil and a fuselage, but absorbing that data takes time and practice. There are a few convenient shortcuts, like the ability to mirror the plane so players won’t have to waste time sculpting the perfect wing twice. But like Minecraft, the best rewards – whether it’s a speedy biplane or functioning VTOL aircraft – will come to those with the patience to literally construct them piece by piece. --Jordan Minor
Luna League Soccer is the kind of soccer game that you’ll dive into for a few minutes here and there, but not exactly think too deeply about. It’s an arcade sports game through and through, meaning it takes seconds to master. On the left of the screen you have a floating joystick, while the right offers a contextual button that enables you to shoot, pass, tackle, or switch players depending on what’s going on during the match. It’s very simple to pick up, with each team bringing their own special moves to the fold. --Jennifer Allen
The graphics are pleasantly glitzy; the several environments showcase the developer’s penchant for being able to highlight artistic perspective and use of lighting and corresponding virtual colors. The animations are cool, and one can almost taste the kicked-up dirt. When the optional sound effects are tossed in, it’s hard not to appreciate the complete package of sights and sounds. When it comes to gameplay, off the bat I liked that I could get into the nitty-gritty with a minimum of interactions. As noted, this is mostly about destroying other combatants without being destroyed, and the tool at hand is a heavily weaponized truck on big wheels. The controls are virtual in nature, with buttons for shooting, accelerating, braking/reversing, and steering – the last of which can be switched to tilt or arrow control. With this, and after one picks the format (multiplayer vs single player), it’s off to the races. --Tre Lawrence
Online quizzes are a big deal these days. They’ve always been fairly popular but the rise of Buzzfeed, Playbuzz, Zimbio, and so many other places has really strengthened our love of answering a bunch of questions to figure out what animal/TV show character we are. It turns out such structures can be used for good as well, such as in the case of Hi.Q – Health IQ. It’s an app that offers you thousands of health-related questions, devised by experts, and can therefore teach you some valuable facts. Dive in and you’ll immediately notice that Hi.Q – Health IQ is stylishly laid out. Looking like it’d easily fit into a lifestyle magazine, each quiz is clearly described along with an attractive photo to further sell its purpose. Some quizzes may offer a lot of different questions but they rarely take too long to complete. Each time you answer a question the answer or an explanation is shown, meaning you’re constantly learning. --Jennifer Allen
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:
Ninja. Running. Swords. Enter Amazing Ninja. Side-scrolling action is the name of the game. Our protagonist martial artist runs aggressively from left to right, looking to avoid or confront different obstacles on the left. The ninja is stick-figurish in appearance, is armed with a sword and has enviable ups at speed; jumping and slashing are his only means of recourse. Tapping on the left side of the screen invokes jumping; on the right causes a slashing motion. The first type of obstacle are the blue-colored “deserters” that are seemingly fleeing the very conflagration that our hero is eager to get to. These terrified soldiers can be dangerous in their haste, and can end a run by making contact. Slashing the deserters has dire consequences, and as such, our boy has to jump over the blues. --Tre Lawrence
We get pitched a fair amount of accessories to take a look at, and, frankly, some are very, uh, unique. Not all work, either; some are ambitious, but might have a fatal flaw. Or two. Or seven. In any case, mobile accessories can be interestingly varied. I’d like to say I am open-minded, and I do feel like a decent assessor of product, but every now and then, I am surprised. But hold a sec; let’s talk about the Olixar Light Bulb Speaker. The name says it all: it’s a light bulb that doubles as a bluetooth-enabled speaker. The review package MobileFun sent us highlights the unit; in hand, it is mostly white, with a gold mid-section. It is more streamlined than “regular” bulbs, but also weighs a bit more. It sports LED light too, and emits 3W light (which the distributor says is equivalent to 50W from a standard bulb. It screws into regular receptacles (the package comes with an adapter piece for European light sources) and works the same way. Turn on the switch, and it bathes the room in bright, warm light. It functions well upright and upside down. --Tre Lawrence
The past couple of years have definitely been the years of the streaming media unit. All the big players have a hat in the Big C, and with good reason: we like content. Lots of it. Enter Fire TV, the still-relatively-new offering from Amazon. Amazon provided us a gaming bundle package to check out, containing the black unit, black remote, power cables, batteries, and the optional bluetooth gamepad (one should ensure one has HDMI cable). It’s fairly svelte, a bit smaller than one would guess, coming in at 4.5 x 4.5 x 0.7 inches and just under 10 oz. It has a quad core processor and 8 GB of storage, and supports output of 720 x 1080p up to 60fps. Specs aside, there is little to dislike about Amazon Fire TV. It looks good, and is a veritable source of content. It has a lot of the go-to programs that can be downloaded to it: Netflix, WatchESPN, Pandora, Crackle, Showtime Anytime (based on provider) and, of course, Amazon Instant and Amazon Music, among other offerings. Setup is easy, and the included control is definitely a huge positive. On its own, as a streaming accessory, it holds its own against the competition. --Tre Lawrence
Also this week, Pocket Gamer reviewed Gunbrick and Sol Invictus, played Metamorphabet and Need for Speed: No Limits, and figured out how to play PS4 games on any Android device. All that and loads more, right here.
And finally, AppSpy kicks 2015 off by giving you the definitive rundown of the best Nintendo-esque games on mobile, showing you the first gameplay video of Need For Speed: No Limits, a world exclusive look at Team17's Flockers, and much more. Join us, won't you?
With the release of the iPhone 6, 6 Plus and Apple Watch just around the corner, Amazon has announced a special offer for their Trade-In Program. If you submit an item before October 10, that price will be locked-in for the following 45 days after that submission, with these gadgets currently worth the following amounts:
iPhone 5S - $400 for 64 GB
iPhone 5 - $350 for 64 GB
iPad Mini - currently at $150.75 - $261.8 based on model and memory size
Samsung Galaxy Gear - $71.40
Pebble Steel Smartwatch for iPhone - $100
This offer for the Amazon Trade-In Program is set to last for the next month, through until October 10.
Sev Zero is the first game made by Amazon Game Studios to have made its way to the Fire TV, and now there's a companion app for iPad to go alongside it.
With the iPad app, players can bring friends and family into the battle against the Ne'athu, with the player on the iPad acting as air support, sending down air strikes to take out the enemy. Meanwhile, the other player can continue the tower defense and first-person shooter side of the combat.
Sev Zero: Air Support is available on iPad now and is free to download, whilst Sev Zero is available on the Amazon App Store and costs $6.99.
Are you angry about the new Comixology app, which removes the ability to buy comics from inside the app itself? If so, you should be just as angry at Apple for their policies making such an absurd situation, where an app can offer the ability to consume the content it sells without actually selling it, as much as you are at Comixology/Amazon for inconveniencing you.
The economics for the change are clear: they were giving 30% of every sale to Apple, as per App Store policies. That's the way it's been since the App Store opened - every time money changes hands, Apple takes its 30% cut. When in-app purchases were introduced, Apple kept the rate per transaction the same: 30% on everything. Thus, when Comixology sold a comic for $3.99, they only got ~$2.80 from it, for a book they had to sell for the same price on their site, by Apple policies.
For years, Comixology's Comics app was one of the top grossing apps on the App Store - especially on the iPad. Source: AppAnnie
So, that 30% fee on transactions that Apple takes is problematically high. Certainly, it can be justified for paid apps: Apple provides approval, storage, bandwidth, tax collection, and a variety of services beyond just taking the money, in order to justify taking such a cut of a developer's revenue.
You could go to your local comics shop or to a vendor at a convention, and using a Square credit card reader, they can sell you that comic at a 2.75% per swipe fee. So what right does Apple have to be taking 30% on a similar transaction? I think they should be allowed to take a reasonable premium on top of payment processing for the App Store services they provide, but it's clear that 30% is unreasonable, especially for low-margin fields like the sale of music, movies, and comic books.
And because Apple specifically restricts outside payment systems, there's no recourse for anyone who wants to offer media or subscription services through an app but to not sell said services in the app itself. It's why you can't buy a Netflix, Spotify, or Dropbox subscription from inside their apps at all - because Apple can't take their steep tax.
Apps like Kindle have to sidestep just why they can't actually sell you books in the app itself
Why would Apple, a seemingly pro-consumer company in the way that they design their products to be easy to use, do this? Well, they're not actually a pro-consumer company. They're a pro-Apple-consumer company. Everything they do is designed explicitly to get you to stay with Apple products. Ever thought about getting an Android or Windows Phone but decided not to because you didn't want to lose iMessage? Exactly.
Remember that Apple sells music, video, and books of their own (though not comics to the scale that Comixology does); they have a weighted incentive to make it hard for outside sources to provide them on the App Store unless they pay the exorbitant 30% fee. And when people are inconvenienced by app makers because of Apple's policies they get mad at the app maker, not Apple, which has to cause a chill to run up the spine of anyone struggling with a similar decision as Comixology.
Thus, Android Comixology users can still buy comics through the app. Those who relied on Google Play credit to buy books will find themselves out of luck. Of course, Google doesn't have a monopoly over content distribution or an interest on keeping people as tied to Google Play and their own services, but it's still a better way to operate than the monopolistic way that Apple does. The 30% payment processor fee for in-app purchases is still on the exorbitant side, but the nature of it is a lot more fair.
So, what Apple ultimately has is a situation that's meant to give off the illusion of consumer-friendliness by making it only possible to spend money through iTunes accounts, when it really restricts the freedom that people have to get the content they want, where they want it from.
If a solution that's actually friendly to users (and not just to those who buy in to the Apple system) is to happen, it's going to require public pressure. They could enact the exact same policy that Google Play has, for one. This same policy is the one that allows Starbucks to allow for store credit refills through direct credit card or PayPal payments. It just needs to be expanded to cross-platform media so that users don't get left out in the cold, or compelled to buy from Apple's stores. Give them actual choice.
Or Apple needs to make their tax on in-app purchases - these purely digital transactions - a smaller fee, in order for it to be viable for sellers in high-margin transactions involving media. Somewhere from 5 to 10% may be more reasonable than the current 30%. Whatever the solution I believe change needs to happen, because right now, the ultimate loser from Apple policies are ordinary people who have had convenience taken away from them because of corporate politics.
A little over a year ago, everything changed. My daughter, Peregrine (Pip, for short), was born, and along with the myriad recalibrations, adjustments, and joyous changes that birth brought with it, I also finally came to terms with the true value of the iPhone camera: baby pictures! Hundreds and hundreds of them (no exaggeration) were taken by me, by friends, and by family, and then scattered over hard drives, social networks, and of course iPhones. The problem then became figuring out how to organize and store them privately and securely. As a devoted Mac user it’s easy enough to keep photos stored on iPhoto, but that’s a local option only, with limited cloud storage and sharing (those 1,000 photos on iCloud? Please!), and god forbid my hard drive crashes without proper backup.
I thought all of my problems with cloud storage for photos were solved when Everpix came along. Here was a fantastic, well-designed app that also had great web-based software and a Mac-based uploader. Best of all, it could load in all of my photos from various social streams, eliminate or hide duplicates, and handle a potentially unlimited number of photos for a reasonable monthly or yearly price.
There was just one big problem though; Everpix went out of business.
Before I get to the heart of this article, there are a few lessons to learn from my Everpix experience.
One: Always keep all of your photos on a local hard drive.
Two: Backup said hard drive as often as humanly possible (something I still don’t do, so do as I say, not as I do).
Three: Never, ever assume that a site, app, or service will exist forever. It won’t; it just won’t. They will all go away at some point. Some will last five years. Some will last a year or two. Some of the very best won’t even make it that long.
So I found myself back at square one, trying to find another good (read, as close to the effortless Everpix as I could get) cloud-based storage solution for my photos. Read on for my look at nine different cloud storage services that work with iOS.
+Universal & Apple Watch App - Designed for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch
Amazon App, Amazon's official iOS app, has recently been updated with an interesting new feature called "Flow." Flow allows users to search for and order multiple items at once simply by passing their camera over them. No snapping pictures, typing in keyword searches, or scanning barcodes required. The app then saves all of the scanned items to shopping carts or wish lists where users can decide what to do with them later. I mean, do you really need that gallon of Tuscan Whole Milk?
The new Amazon App is available for free, and the update is live.
Those of us of a certain age and demographic will remember the holidays of yore, spent poring over the fragile, tear-prone pages of the Sears catalog, dreaming of all the things Santa might bring. Looks like Amazon is looking to recreate the magic with its latest app, Amazon Santa.
With the tap of a finger, kids and their parents can explore by product category or type a search to find the perfect gift and instantly create a Wish List. Parents can review and edit the Wish List as needed, and easily share each child’s list with grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, and family friends. Wish Lists shared via the Amazon Santa app can only be viewed by family and friends who receive the Wish List link. The list shows recipients wished-for items, including those that have already been purchased, helping to eliminate duplicate gifts.
One of our favorite second screen apps, NextGuide has been updated to add Amazon Prime videos to its catalog. This comes in addition to Netflix, Hulu Plus, and iTunes. A solid update. Here's the full update info:
Introducing the latest version of NextGuide, with new content, improved user experience, and tons of tweaks based on user feedback! Thanks everyone!
>> Amazon Prime and Amazon Instant support! Now browse from Amazon's huge streaming TV and Movie library in addition to live TV, Netflix, Hulu Plus, and iTunes!
>> New Gestures - two-finger swipe within showcards, pinch to hide, fullscreen media gallery, and more!
>> Enhanced Cast & Crew with 1-click saved searches and Wikipedia biography lookups.
>> New Category Editor with easy drag & drop category setup
>> Channel Setup now part of Initial Setup Wizard
>> Improved "Your Picks" algorithms
>> Lots of other little new features for you to explore throughout the app
>> Performance improvements, bug fixes, and bears, oh my!
This week at 148Apps, we left our white shoes behind and got ready for some football with Carter Dotson's round-up of apps for the NFL 2012 season: "Are you ready for some football, in particular the 2012–2013 season of the premier American football league, the National Football League? Well, with the season kicking off tonight with the Super Bowl champion New York Giants playing the Dallas Cowboys, I’ve collected four apps to help make the game-watching and fantasy-football-playing experience better. No matter what, they’re better than the replacement refs are going to be!"
Over at GiggleApps, Amy Solomon reviewed This Is My Body-Anatomy for Kids, saying, "I have really enjoyed perusing this application, consisting of many sections that cover such topics as how fast one grows, the skin, one’s senses, as well as the different systems of the body, such as digestive, respiratory, muscular, nervous and skeletal, going into a very nice amount of depth for children to appreciate.
As this app opens up, children are given a choice of characters to follow, nicely including boy and girl choices some of which are children of color and an Asian character – lovely inclusions still not seen often enough in the US iTunes store."
And stalwart reporter Carter Dotson returned yet again, this time on AndroidRundown, to look at the latest developments from Apple iPad rival Amazon: "While rumors of a new iPad mini spread, and the Nexus 7 enjoys its sales numbers, Amazon has laid dormant until now with the announcement of new Kindle Fire devices.
The flagship is the Kindle Fire HD. This will come in both an 8.9" variety and a 7" variety; the specs on the 7" are supposed to be the same as the 8.9", but Amazon was more keen to show off this version. It's got a 1920×1200 screen (true HD!) which is 254 ppi (compared to the iPad retina display's 264 ppi), to go along with a Texas Instruments OMAP 4470 processor, which Amazon claims can do 50% more floating point operations as compared to the Tegra 3 processor in the Nexus 7."
And that's a wrap of this weekly wrap-up! Join us throughout the week for the latest contests, reviews and news on our Facebook site as well as on Twitter. Until next week, remember - no white after Labor Day!
This week at 148Apps, a new video revolution began, as Amazon.com released its Amazon Instant Video app for the iPad. Carter Dotson writes, "Amazon Instant Video is now available on iPad, expanding out the Amazon’s vast library of video offerings to iOS users. This offers streaming of purchased movies and TV shows from Amazon, with the ability to sync up watch lists between devices. It also includes titles available from Amazon Prime, similar to Netflix, a service offering over 120,000 streaming movies and TV shows. It is only available as a yearly subscription from Amazon as part of the Prime service that also includes free 2-day shipping on Amazon items."
Over at GiggleApps.com, writer Amy Solomon got us ready for mealtime wither her review of Bo's Dinnertime. She writes, "Bo’s Dinnertime in a cute and fun interactive universal app that teaches the sequencing of events that lead up to dinnertime, such as food shopping, putting away groceries, cooking and setting the table, as well as eating dinner and cleaning up afterwards. A simple and sweet song is also included, as is a section dedicated to selecting and eating foods with the tap of a finger. Narration is included, leading children though varied food related exercises, complete with subtle highlighting of new objects to tap or interact with, keeping the flow of this app going nicely."
Last, but certainly not least, 148Apps.biz writer Carter Dotson explored the results of a recent study by KinderTown. He says, "KinderTown, developers of an app that helps collect the best kids apps on the App Store, have released a study based on searches within their app. Their “KinderSights” analytics study collected data from June 20th to July 10th, and they have released the results from the study, revealing some key insights into those that search for kids’ apps on the App Store.
The most-searched criterion was age, with 50.2% of searches looking for apps for a particular age. Second was price at 40.6%, followed by platform at 31.8%, and the type of app was last at 30.2%."
This week may be done, but there's no need to worry. More app reviews, news and contests are always on their way across the 148Apps network. Just follow us on Twitter or Like us on Facebook to stay on top of all the happenings. See you next week, Gothamites!
It’s been a great week for those who use video streaming services on their iPads. Yesterday Hulu Plus added Apple TV support to its app and today Amazon Prime members finally have iPad access to Amazon Instant Video. The service, and app by corollary, is part Netflix, part iTunes allowing you to stream a library of 120,000 movies and TV shows including very current ones for $79 or order titles a la carte.
There are some other cool features as well. You can create a Watchlist, or queue if you prefer, that is available on any platform. It shows rented media and your personal collection. Season Pass holders will be able to see their favortie shows within 24 hours of broadcast and those shows will be added to the Watchlist automatically. Videos can be streamed over Wi-Fi or downloaded for offline viewing.
The one hitch is that in order to circumvent Apple’s 30% take of all in-app purchases, Amazon does with Instant Video what it does with its Kindle app. That is, it forces users to the Amazon web site to order. The extra step is a nuisance, but for those who use a Kindle Fire, or are in other ways tied into Amazon’s digital media ecosystem, it’s not really that much work.
Oddly missing is AirPlay or Apple TV support for video (right now it's audio only). There is no word yet from any Amazon spokesperson on future plans or to explain the omission. If you use to the service and try it out on your iPad, please let us know what you think in the comments.
Amazon is introducing an updated version of the Kindle app, which is supposed to be optimized for the new iPad. The app has been a huge success, with Amazon claiming it is the #5 best-selling free app of all time. Users can expect new features and a better look.
The main appeal for the new app is that it was designed with the new iPad’s high-resolution display in mind. Amazon claims that fonts and images will look better and clearer.
The redesigned interface will also give users the options to read “in the cloud”, so they can easily switch between devices with the Kindle app installed and have their books stay in sync. This feature was previously only available for platforms other than the iPad.
The Amazon Kindle store has also been redesigned for the Safari web browser on devices running iOS. Users who wish to buy books on their iPad will still need to access the Kindle store through Safari.
Between the Amazon Kindle App and Apple's own iBooks store, the iPad has firmly established its place as a major player in the e-Reader market. Amazon, also being a very major player, is continuing to secure their own position by making it as easy as possible to get their content anywhere. The latest example of this is their new, touch-friendly, iPad-optimized Kindle Store.
To access the store iPad users must simply enter www.amazon.com/iPadKindleStore into their Safari browsers. From there they can shop for books in the new, touch-screen compatible layout with genres, editor's picks and top 100 paid and free books easy to search. Amazon encourages adding the site to the home screen for even easier access.
The site also supports the Kindle Cloud Reader function. Any books purchased are stored on the cloud, ready to the accessed on any Kindle device, including this new website. Readers can keep going even if the internet connection is lost. As more mobile versions of sites crop up, it's good to see that tablets are getting their own sites too.