Posts Tagged apps

Daniel Singer HeadshotEver had the idea for an app, but felt like the lack of programming and design ability was a bit of a non-starter? Well, 13-year-old Daniel Singer has made an app. He’s the designer of Backdoor, a chat app that lets users chat with their friends anonymously, trying to get clues to guess who they are. It’s available now on the App Store.

This isn’t even Daniel’s first thing that he’s helped to design: he helped create YouTell.com, an anonymous feedback site. He says that helped lead to the creation of Backdoor. “One day during a meeting, I was kind of thinking about how you reply to feedback, and if you reply a lot, that turns into a conversation. And from a conversation, the best platform to do that would be a messenger, and [on] iOS. And that’s kind of how it all started.”

While he has a limited iOS programming background at the moment, he’s more a design person, and he just started mocking up Backdoor after having the idea. “I’m primarily a UI designer, so I immediately kind of hopped into Photoshop and just started messing with that.”

How’d he get started with design in the first place? He says “a few years back” (keep in mind that he’s thirteen, almost fourteen years old) that he “wanted to create a gaming youtube channel, because I was in to it at the time, so you had to like make a website and a channel design and all that, and so I had to learn the skills to do that, and from there I wound up liking the skills more than the actual YouTube page, and I kind of pursued those further, primarily with design.”

BackdoorUIIn speaking over the phone with Daniel, his youth is apparent, both from the way he speaks like a typical teenager, and in how he describes how he uses Backdoor: “One of my friends played a prank on me, which was quite funny, which was, I was sitting down at a table and they said “look behind you, it’s me” – and it was complete strangers and I looked behind them, and it was funny. I ended up using clues and I kind of guessed that it was someone I knew and not some random stranger. That was fun.”

But also, he has a maturity to his voice – his voice was deep enough that I was a bit skeptical if he was still thirteen, which he technically is – he turns fourteen soon – and of course, what he’s doing is something that people twice his age are trying to do with startups. He also has a youthful optimism toward what is available with technology that he an do with it: “The skills and the resources are pretty widely available and free as well to the most part. To learn programming and design, in 30 days of your Photoshop free trial, you can learn quite a bit, and then if you’re into it and go ahead and get a student plan, which is not that much. It’s really openly available to learn.”

“I tried looking for a teacher, and there really aren’t for design as far as I was able to find, unless you went to art school, but that’s a college, a conventional course. I ended up teaching myself a lot about design.”

And by going out and learning how to do all of this himself, he’s way ahead of even many adults who have the inkling in their head “Maybe I could create an app…” because he just did it.

FREE!
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2013-06-22 :: Category: Social Networking

This Week at 148Apps: August 5-9, 2013

Expert App Reviews

 

Yet another week has passed, and that means the 148Apps reviewers have combed through the vast numbers of new apps out there in hopes of reviewing the latest and greatest. 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. 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.

My.Shopping

 
shopping

Offering a quite powerful way in which to organize one’s shopping, My.Shopping isn’t going to win prizes for simplicity or minimalism, but it might suit those looking for a more complex solution than the usual methods. A cluttered interface introduces proceedings but a clearly laid out plus sign does at least guide users the right way. It’s possible to add product names and sellers so they’re easier to include in the future, as well as actual shopping lists. Being able to configure sellers accurately to include local area details is a potential option, too. –Jennifer Allen

Disney Animated

 
disneyanimated09

Disney animated films are kiiiiinda popular, and have been ever since Snow White was released in 1937. They’ve been going strong ever since. Countless books both official and not have been published documenting the company’s techniques, movies, and so on. However, I don’t think any of them, or even all of them put together, hold a candle to Disney Animated. Disney Animated isn’t a simple eBook. Oh no. It’s an interactive encyclopedia of all fifty-three of Disney’s feature length animated films. Ten different chapters explain the history of the animation giant, its methods (past and present), character development, music, and more. Each of these sections explains a core concept and offers up several detailed examples that can be viewed, and often directly interacted with, via a single tap. Curious about Disney’s animation techniques over the years? Check out the chapter on Animation and view dozens of samples from Lady and the Tramp, The Lion King, Tangled, and more. Or maybe take a stab at animation itself by doing some simple skeletal adjustments using a model of Vanellope from Wreck-it-Ralph. There’s a remarkable amount of information for Disney fans to appreciate here, and a significant portion of it is either animated, interactive, or both. –Rob Rich

Mikey Hooks

 
MikeyHooks_screen-09

Mikey Hooks takes the sublime speed-run platformer Mikey Shorts and adds grappling hooks to it. I love Mikey Shorts and I love grappling hook games. I’m no mathematician (I’m a writer instead) but that adds up to Mikey Hooks being an incredible game. Through 24 story levels and 12 race levels, players must run, jump, and swing their way through levels as quickly as possible. As this is the second game in the series, the training wheels have been taken off: now players have limited health and can die when touching spikes, and there’s a lot more freedom in path-taking as the trapped humans aren’t in the levels any more. The story levels still have challenges for collecting all the coins (which are used to unlock a wild variety of new disguises) and finding the hidden golden shorts in each level. –Carter Dotson

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of kids’ apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:

GiggleApps

 
We are happy to announce that all past and future Giggleapps content will now be featured throughout 148Apps. Here’s some of what Giggleapps writer Amy Solomon brought to the table this week:

Create & Learn Apptivity Case from Fisher Price

 
apptivity

Recently, I have been given the chance to test a new iPad case, the Create & Learn Apptivity Case from Fisher Price. This case is compatible with 1st 2nd and 3rd generation as well as the new iPad, but a camera is needed to access a section of the related application of the same name. I remember when we first got our iPad 3, my husband was intent on encasing our device in something that would be utterly protected from our sometimes irresponsible – if not occasionally downright reckless – five year old boy. Our old case has done the trick as our iPad has never seen any damage, but not without some cost, as my husband announced after some time struggling to get this piece of hardware onto the iPad that he was NEVER, EVER taking this case off, as it was too difficult to do so. Of course, as we had been given the chance by Fisher Price to review not only this iPad case, but two previously reviewed Apptivity play sets as well, it was understood that this case would have to come off, which it did, with a lot of cajoling. –Amy Solomon

Symmetry School

 
symmetry

Symmetry School: Learning Geometry is an app for iPad that helps children understand the principles of symmetry in this engrossing interactive app. Both reflective and rotational symmetry are touched upon here as children drag differently colored geometric shapes onto a grid that needs to be filled in accordingly. Three levels of difficulty are included for both the reflective and rotational sections of this app. Children will have the easiest time starting to explore this app with the reflective section as this is symmetry they may find familiar such as in a mirror image, looking at the details of butterfly wings, or creating Rorschach-like art by adding paint to a folded piece of paper and distributing color equally between both halves. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes

 
might and magic

How long should a game last? Are you the type of person that demands 30 hours of gameplay before you’d even consider purchasing a title? Well, Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes has got you covered. This game is huge. Try and bear in mind I’m being quite relative with my usage of the word ‘huge’. It’s no Skyrim, but for your average Android download, Clash of Heroes contains a campaign that easily clocks in at over 30 hours. Is this a good thing, though? Do we want to grind through 30 hours of Clash of Heroes? It will all come down to how much you enjoy the game’s basic structure and combat. Clash of Heroes is a Strategy RPG title. Battles are turn based and at the end of each fight, you’ll level up, gain EXP and all sorts of other RPG tropes are thrown in. –Matt Parker

Rail Rush

 
railrush

Yes, Rail Rush may induce a double take. In a good way, that is. A decrepit, seemingly endless mine shaft is the scene of this caper; the playing environment is mostly made up of the the running area that this type of running game is known for, but the running path appears as a three-lane rail track that is treacherous in its condition, and the runner is maneuvering a runaway mine cart along the railway. Plenty of obstacles are present, which most of the swipe controls help avoid. Swiping up and down invokes jumping and sucking respectively, while swiping left or right jumps the cart in either direction. This is useful for jumping off of a busted track to a (temporarily) safer one, or for avoiding objects on the tracks. Additionally, there are left and right tilt movements, which are not only effective for avoiding obstacles, but key in collecting gold nuggets, gems and other specials that line the sides of the rails. –Tre Lawrence

Autodesk Homestyler

 
homestyler

Some people used to look at me funny when I’d tell them the best bit about playing The Sims wasn’t drowning people by removing a simple ladder, but that it was the building and design phase that I spent most time on. There’s something about creating your perfect home. Something that The Sims made look so simple and didn’t involve a single piece of Ikea flat-packed furniture. Something so easy about it all. It’s that same feeling that Autodesk Homestyler also evokes. It’s a fairly simple design tool that allows you to place furniture within a preset blank canvas of a room or you can import pictures of your own home. –Matt Parker

Instabrowser Review

Instabrowser Review

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Instabrowser solves a problem, but is it one that people actually have, and is it worth the cost?

Read The Full Review »

It’s been about a month since the app marketing gurus at Fiksu first reported their findings on the legitimacy of all those ads we’ve grown accustomed to in the Facebook app. As our own Carter Dotson noted, there was an increase of 14.6 million downloads of the top 200 free apps per day throughout the month of May. That’s a lot of downloads, and it was pretty much all because of those Facebook ads. Now the numbers for June are in, and it doesn’t look like the trend is going away. If anything it seems to be building momentum.

fiksuloyalFiksu’s Cost per Loyal User Index, used for measuring the average cost of earning a loyal user (i.e. opens the app three or more times), shows that values have jumped back up to $1.50 for the month of June. What this means is that it’s costing advertisers more money on average – about $0.17 more when compared to May – to attract customers, which Fisku believes is due to a recent influx of developers and publishers looking to advertise on the social media platform.

fiksucompetetiveOn the other hand their App Store Competitive Index, which tracks the average download volume of the top 200 free U.S. apps each day, is showing a decrease of about 9 million total downloads for the month of June as compared to May. A loss of 9 million downloads in one month definitely sounds like one heck of a drop-off, however it’s still a one million download improvement over last year’s numbers; which they attribute to the App Store’s perpetual state of competition.

So those slightly annoying but easily ignored ads we usually gloss over while letting all our friends know what we’re eating for dinner and where, possibly with an accompanying photo, actually serve a purpose. A significant purpose. And it looks like advertisers are going to be fighting over the top spot for some time to come.

Splyce Review

Splyce Review

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Want to make some super sweet party mixes with little effort? Splyce is here.

Read The Full Review »

Your App Experts

 

Week-in and week-out, the 148Apps reviewers search through the new apps out there, find the good ones, and write about them in depth. 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. 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.

A Ride Into The Mountains

 
rideintomountains05

Sucker that I am for retro-inspired visuals, I was immediately interested in A Ride into the Mountains. It’s not just a visual throwback, however. The fluid animations, beautiful backgrounds, haunting melodies, and simple-yet-complex gameplay come together to make something more than just a retro themed time waster. It’s actually pretty special. Zu and his family have protected the land from evil forces for generations. One day the sacred relic keeping it all at bay is stolen, so he jumps onto his horse and sets out to get it back. A Ride into the Mountains is centered around one main gameplay mechanic: firing arrows. Players must tap and drag their finger across the screen to draw back Zu’s bow and release to fire, with the time spent drawing determining the shot strength. Little by little more mechanics are introduced – such as tilting the device to move the horse or tapping the screen while drawing back on the bow to focus and slow down time – until eventually it becomes an unexpectedly solid little arcade/action game. –Rob Rich

Sky Gamblers: Cold War

 
SkyGamblersCW-6

I admit to not having spent much time playing the Sky Gamblers series. I’ve never been a huge fan of airplane warfare games, and I don’t think that the real world is either – has there been an actual aerial dogfight in the past few decades? I hope not, because war is bad! But yet, aerial dogfighting winds up popping up commonly in games. So when duty called, I decided to give Sky Gamblers: Cold War a shot, and I can see the appeal. This is aerial warfare that’s got a light learning curve to it. Sky Gamblers: Cold War does the one thing that I think every other online multiplayer game needs to have at their main menu: a quick start button! This promotes quick, casual online play by making it super-simple to jump in. There’s still options for creating games (including private matches with Game Center friends), but this subtle little feature goes a long way toward ensuring that people will actually play a game with online multiplayer! I found matches even in the dead of night. –Carter Dotson

Agenda Calendar 4

 
agenda

Keeping a well organized calendar is a crucial part of a good workflow for many, and on the iPhone there are already several great calendar apps available – but is Agenda Calendar 4 different enough to make a splash? I’ve been using Fantastical for all my calendaring needs over the past few months, but Agenda Calendar 4 has a seriously good chance of becoming my new default. –Ruari O’Gallchoir

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of kids’ apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:

GiggleApps

 

Tunnel Trouble

 
tunnel

Tunnel Trouble is a creative and fun universal educational app that to children preschool age and above will seem like a simple and interesting game application, with adults all the while appreciating how terrific this app is for teaching problem-solving in a way that is engaging and full of whimsy. Tunnel Trouble allows players to help a chicken run through a series of maze-like tunnels of an underground passageway, in later levels avoiding a monster who needs to be trapped to let this chicken pass by unharmed. Each of the 25 levels includes a cross-section of the tunnel this chicken is trying to run through. This tunnel is actually made up of a series of pieces that each need to connect to allow chicken free access. –Amy Solomon

Play-Doh Create ABCs

 
play-doh

PLAY-DOH Create ABCs is a new universal app that allows children to enjoy this popular modeling compound, now 55 years old, on their devices as they also learn their letters. Needless to say, I was interested to see how Play-Doh, which is such a tactile toy, translates into an application. There are three sections to this app with its main area being Write and Craft where children, after choosing from a large variety of Play-Doh colors, can trace each letter with the drag of a finger. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Le Vamp

 
levamp

It must be tough being a vampire. You’ve got a limited time of day in which you can be up and about. You can’t check yourself out in the mirror. There’s the whole ‘having to drink people’s blood’ thing. It sounds like a right hassle. On top of that, there are some vampires that have the added burden of parenthood, as in Le Vamp. In Le Vamp you take control of a troublesome vampire who’s barely out of nappies. Assuming vampires use nappies. This cheeky little terror of the night has decided to skip his bedtime and run amok in what I assume is a village outside of Paris. This hasn’t gone unnoticed though, as the petit vampire has managed to upset many French stereotypes meaning an angry mob of farmers, mimes and Napoleon lookalikes will be chasing down our blood-sucking friend. –Matt Parker

Warmly

 
dragon

Mad Dragon is an interesting side-scrolling runner that features an almost lovable fantasy character. A hitherto sleeping dragon is our angry protagonist. In this side-scroller, action proceeds from left to right, and the enraged dragon possesses an exhaustible set of attributes that assist it in its desire to wreak as much havoc as possible. Wreaking havoc, in this game, mostly refers to destroying as many buildings as possible, while avoiding the bombs that are spread out around the place to stop the dragon. –Tre Lawrence

Jungle Heat

 
jungle

War. Often we’re asked what it’s good for and a common response is “nothing”. In fact, some have even gone as far to say “absolutely nothing”. That none-too-subtle Edwin Starr reference is a heads up that Jungle Heat is a game all about war. A war which takes place in a jungle that happens to be full of oil and gold. The game places you in control over an ever-expanding base that you launch attacks from. You can think of Jungle Heat as a Farmville style game where instead of harvesting crops your training soldiers to go and do battle. It’s the training and the battles that make up the two main parts of the game. –Matt Parker

Your App Authority

 

Week-in and week-out, the 148Apps reviewers search through the new apps out there, find the good ones, and write about them in depth. 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. 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.

Gentlemen!

 
gentlemen

Occasionally frantic, Gentlemen! is never short of gloriously great fun. Lone gamers won’t be so keen given that it’s exclusively for two players, but it’s the perfect reason to get a friend involved. The idea is simple enough: players must defeat each other in a duel to the death. Just like in the old days of honor and explosive birds, ok, maybe not so much. Presented in portrait mode, each player’s controls are set on opposite sides of the screen. In a nice move, menu buttons and other descriptions are similarly laid out, for either player to easily interact with. Controls are simple with left and right, alongside a gravity flip button and the use of a weapon. Weapons vary, mostly thanks to a switch in the middle of each game enabling players to change around. Knives, bombs, dynamite, electric shields and explosive birds all play a role, each offering their own advantages and disadvantages. It’s as zany as it sounds, while adding a surprising tactical edge to proceedings. –Jennifer Allen

PhotoNova 2

 
photonova

I have a handful of photo apps on my iPhone 5 that I keep handy when I feel like making my pictures look fancy. Each app has its own perks like frames, filters and adjustments. I tend to rotate between them until I find the one that transforms my picture into a work of art. I’m always on the lookout for new photo apps because I’m really looking for that one that will replace all my other go to camera apps. I reviewed PhotoNova+ 2 a few months ago, which is a free version of their paid app. PhotoNova 2 offers users more advanced features like a variety of selection tools, an option to switch out the background of photos that have a green background and an impressive effects selection. –Angela LaFollette

Tangent

 
tangent

Many photography apps tend to do quite similar things to imagery, mostly involving applying filters to photographs. Tangent doesn’t quite do that. It might involve applying new effects to an image, but through a vector art style overlay, improvements are being added to the image, rather than replacing anything. There’s a fairly simple process to follow throughout the app. Users can either import or take a photo directly from within, before opting for a specific style. Tangent offers both straight-forward and quick applications, as well as plenty of choice for those who want to adjust things individually. Shapes form the first set of choices, with circles, rectangles, triangles and plenty more, available to apply to an image. It sounds gimmicky, but it can really set off a photo nicely, giving focus to the important part of a photo. There are plenty of shapes available too, with in-app purchases provided for those who want even more choice. That’s a trend that continues throughout, with plenty of additional blends and colors available at a price. Fortunately, it’s always possible to preview them first. –Jennifer Allen

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of kids’ apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:

GiggleApps

 

ABC Aquarium

 
aquarium

Peapod Labs has developed a favorite series of educational ABC apps and has recently added two new titles – ABC Aquarium and ABC Bugs, each terrifically educational and including exceptional photography to allow children to view these different creatures in a way that highlights all of their unique attributes. Each of these apps, now eleven and counting, features a wide amount of content, including terrific, detailed photos of each subject as well as narrated fun facts, curated videos gathered from the Internet and simple, intuitive interactions which young children will enjoy a great deal. –Amy Solomon

Gro Recycling

 
gro

Gro Recycling is a cute and fun interactive universal app that allows children to sort recycling into different receptacles, totaling six in all, including a unique choice of recycling batteries as well as a compost container. Game play is charming and intuitive as one simply drags a piece of recycling to be recycled to the correct container, as these bins happily and hungrily eat what they are being served, while a mistake will result in the spitting out of the wrong material. This app is lovingly styled with the delightful humanizing of these recycling bins as cartoony faces, which are included with fun, witty noises that each of these characters makes, hungry to eat recycled materials. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Attack of the Spooklings

 
spooklings

Mobile games that offer their players to smash the opponents using nothing but their very fingers were at the very start of the touch-screen revolution, but lately it seems that somewhat counter-intuitive habit of putting buttons on touch-screen has largely rendered the “clean” touch-screen games mostly obsolete. Someone should analyze this trend to some revealing, but ultimately unnecessary results. Regardless, we’re here to talk about Attack of the Spooklings. It’s a fine, but incredibly simple game. How simple? It takes longer to read this sentence than to see the whole game. It’s not surprising, considering that it consists of an astonishing single screen, and single enemy. While I’m all for the games with minimalistic design, they should also be complemented with really incredible gameplay. Attack of the Spooklings is quite exciting for some time, sure, but it simply lacks any sort of complexity to be interesting. –Tony Kuzmin

GP Retro

 
gpretro

GP Retro is a racing game that isn’t scared to rock looks of old, and I suspect it is aware of my abject weakness for titles that bring back the wonderful things of days gone by. The game comes at us in glorious 2D, and in this one, retro is no misnomer. The chunky pixels underscore the jittery unsure animations that make these type of games fun to look at. The purposely un-sharp colors were done well, and even the intro pages for the drivers were nicely formatted to fit with the retro look. As for gameplay, it is basically top-down view simulated Grand Prix open-wheel (to start) racing over mostly asymmetrical raceways. Sharp turns characterize the racing; losing control and ending up on grass slows down the race car considerably. There are valuables and power-ups to be collected, as well as hazards to be avoided. –Tre Lawrence

Cross Horizon

 
cross horizon

Yes, I know: there are a LOT of RPG titles for Android. Can Cross Horizon be one that is worth checking out? The dialogue cutscenes were okay, but where the game really excels is in the “live” action sequences. These graphical representations highlight the fantasy world in rich three dimensional form, with perspectives done quite well. The greenery is not too green, and while the shrubbery won’t be confused for a live wallpaper, they work in the context of the game. The mythical creatures look suitably gruesome, and the animations (especially attacks) are relatively life-like. The entire art presentation makes the game stand out in a positive way. I liked the customization options. At the beginning of the game, I got the opportunity to create a character. Face, skin color, hair type… even the shape of the eye can be tweaked. In a post-racial world (stop and dream with me), options like this signal, to me, the work of a developer that has an eye on details. –Tre Lawrence

 

Celebrating the App Store’s 5th Anniversary

 

App Store Insiders

First up, check out the over 20 interviews that Jeff Scott (with a little help from Carter Dotson) did with the App Store’s best and brightest, like this one from Tapulous co-founder, Mike Lee:

Mike Lee148Apps: If you have one single success within the App Store you’d like to highlight, what would it be?

Mike Lee: I’m really excited about the work the New Lemurs are doing. I’ve been trying to blend technology and altruism both on and off the App Store since before it was a thing, with everything from the Club Thievey fundraising drive that linked Mac developers with the Madagascar Fauna Group to the Obama ’08 app to Appsterdam and on into Lemurs Chemistry.

What distinguishes my work now from what I was doing 5 years ago is this: while I’m still focused on providing great products and experiences to people, that has stopped being the end in and of itself. Now I am much more concerned with spreading good memes. My abilities as an App Maker, and my ability to be an example of what kind of apps we should make and what kind of App Makers we should be, have switched seats.

My current obsession is the idea that games would not be a waste of time if they were made based on science. By replacing the arbitrary game mechanics with rules from nature, you end up with games that happen to be educational as a side-effect, instead of trying to gamify education. Lemurs Chemistry is the embodiment of that idea, and it’s the best game I’ve ever produced.

Be sure to read all of the interviews, chock full of insight and info, right here on 148Apps.

Looking Back

It was a special week across the 148Apps network of sites, as we celebrated the App Store’s 5th anniversary with a wealth of original content from our team of reviewers. Take a look at some of their picks for the best apps from the past five years.

Fairway Solitaire

 
fairwaysolitaire1

In all my time playing iOS games, I’ve never been quite so tempted to buy an in-app purchase as I was while playing Fairway Solitaire. This isn’t because there’s so little content bundled with the free version (there’s enough) but because it’s so addictive that I didn’t want to stop playing. For a game that’s essentially a twist on card game solitaire, this is praise indeed. As the name suggests, Fairway Solitaire is a version of Golf Solitaire, a classic variation on the card game that everyone knows and loves. The difference here is that rather than create suits such as in regular Solitaire, the player must score runs by clearing the card deck using the least amount of moves. Once the pile of cards run out, the par is determined and the player moves onto the next hole. At the end of the course, a star rating out of three is offered as a way of encouraging players to master the stage. –Jennifer Allen

Rage of Bahamut

 
rage

Rage of Bahamut wasn’t quite what I was expecting. It definitely involves collecting cards and battling other players, but it’s more akin to a browser game than what most would consider a “proper” iOS title. Whether or not this is a bad thing depends a lot on personal preference, but anyone willing to look past the clunky interface just might find themselves having a great time. At its core, Rage of Bahamut is all about gathering cards in order to complete quests (or battle other players) in order to get better cards, etc. But that’s just the basics. Quests can be completed in order to acquire treasure, more cards, cash, and experience for whichever card has been designated the Leader. It’s all used as expected (i.e. buying car packs, building a stronger deck, etc), really. –Rob Rich

Disc Drivin’

 
disc

Disc Drivin’ is a game whose immediate goal might not be apparent; the easiest way to explain the game is that it is like Mario Kart crossed with Words With Friends. You and your opponents take turns sliding your disc across the tracks, replete with tricky turns, turbo boosts, and powerup icons. The Words with Friends-esque element comes from the turn-based gameplay; when you take your turn, your opponent then takes theirs, and so on until someone completes 3 laps and wins the race. The game supports up to 8 players in either hotseat or local wifi multiplayer, and up to 4 people online, with push notifications notifying you when it is your turn. There’s a reason why I describe this as being similar to Words With Friends in particular, and it is because Disc Drivin’ is just as addictive and viral as that game was around its popularity peak. If you start up one game, you’ll quickly find yourself wanting to start up more and more, and anxiously waiting for your opponents to make their moves so you can play some more. The physics engine with the discs adds to the fun, as wacky things can happen when you hit ramps, bombs or other discs; there is plenty that can happen when discs go flying to cause you to shout for joy or shriek in error. You never know what you’ll see next. That, and just the whole addictive and surprisingly fast-paced nature of the asynchronous multiplayer, is what makes this one a gem. –Carter Dotson

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of kids’ apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. GiggleApps writer Amy Solomon served up her App Store favorites during this week’s fifth anniversary festivities:

GiggleApps

 

Toca Tea Party

 
tea party

Toca Tea Party is a wonderfully creative app from one of my new favorite developers, Toca Boca. This app creates a lovely interactive tea party environment which has become a huge hit with our entire family. This is a wonderful iPad app which simulates a tea party for three, be it a child and two adults, a child and two dolls or stuffed animals, or three toys with the help of little hands. This app has been enjoyed in our house in every conceivable way and I can say that my husband, son, and I all love this application. –Amy Solomon

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

 
flyingbooks

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore is a very special interactive storybook for iPad that is perfectly realized in every way. Strong words, I know, but this app is simply wonderful, poetic and beautiful experience for all ages. Based on the short film of the same name, this ebook has interwoven interactions and other animated visuals that are simply striking for use of imagery that will stay with the reader for a very long time. It is hard really to write this review as I would encourage readers to experience this themselves, as I don’t think my words here will do this app justice. The story is said to be inspired by hurricane Katrina, Buster Keaton, and the Wizard of Oz equally, and is about a man who is currently writing a book about his life. One day, his world gets turned upside down but is fortunate to later find a library filled with books with flying abilities that need a caregiver. In reality, this app is really about so much more. My son, at 3.5 years, still takes things on face value, and for him, this story book is about the love of reading and the warm embrace books deserve as the protagonist takes care of these flying books as if they are living, breathing things. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Smash Spin Rage

 
smashspin

Beautiful, drop dead gorgeous 3D graphics. Relatively easy controls. Frankly who cares about backstory?
Smash Spin Rage is a game that brings mythical elements to 21st century handheld gaming. It brings to bear murder, the supernatural and an unquenchable desire for revenge. I mostly like the graphics in this one. The colors avidly bring to life the spooky ambiance of the location, with natural light combining and contrasting with shadows at the same time. The animations are smooth, and the supernatural effects worked well. From the opening cutscene to the battles all the way to the creativity of the belligerents, the game looks good. –Tre Lawrence

Ultimate Stick Fight

 
stickfight

So many of us cut our gaming teeth on scrolling beat em ups. You know, those games like Fighting Force that gave us the opportunity to graphically beat up hordes of violent thugs. There was usually the simplest of backstory, plenty of swinging limbs and even a weapon or two to procure. Ultimate Stick Fight is in that same glorious vein. Jumps, kicks, punches and tons of people to practice them on. And stick figures. Part of what sets this game apart is the look; instead of regular-looking characters, we get souped up, colorful stick people. Interestingly enough, the developer does well with colorization, and is able to imbibe a good deal of character into the thin guys. The movements and animations were fairly life-like, but kept the whimsical nature that we expect in characters of this genre. When matched with the numerous, creatively diverse backgrounds, it makes a pretty compelling 2D visual feast. –Tre Lawrence

Leaping Legend

 
leaping

Leaping Legend is an arcade-style infinite climbing/running game. The virtual world is decidedly medieval, with the jittery characters and animations presented in 8-bit retro glory. As noted, all the elements come together to create a game with an arcade feel. The animations are fairly utilitarian, and do the job without being too flashy. If creating a remarkable ode to the past is the goal, I think the developer mostly succeeds admirably. In this one, the higher up one goes the better. Trying to free the fair-haired maiden at the “top” is the goal, and to accomplish this, our protagonist has two parallel walls to run up, as well as the ability to leap from one wall to the other on the quest to the top. This ability to leap is invaluable, as along the way, there are all sorts of run-ending obstacles, ranging from scary looking rotating blades to barrels and plenty of dropping debris. –Tre Lawrence

AltaMail Review

AltaMail Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
AltaMail is an app that's got powerful guts, but a painful user experience.

Read The Full Review »

 

AdamSaltsmanAdam Saltsman is one of the most talented, intelligent, and opinionated developers working on the App Store nowadays. He’s worked on a selection of titles on the App Store as diverse as the influential endless runner Canabalt to the abstract touchscreen game Hundreds. However, there are reasons why he thinks Canabalt isn’t quite as influential as it appears to be, and his concerns about the future of the App Stores and the indies working on it.

148Apps: Canabalt remains one of the most influential games on the App Store as one of the first high-profile endless runners, and the one that seemingly sparked a million more games. What do you think of the game’s legacy, though? Do you see it in similar terms?

Adam Saltsman: So the funny thing about Canabalt to me is that it hasn’t sold as well as a lot of people think. We’ve probably sold maybe 250,000 or 300,000 copies or something, and a lot of those were during sales over the last few years combined. That’s nothing to laugh at, and I’m super thankful and grateful for that response from people, but I think the game had a bigger impact on journalists and other game developers than it did on the general public. Not to mention the hordes of games inspired by the games that Canabalt seems to have inspired, which probably outnumber Canabalt’s direct influences by a few orders of magnitude!

Canabalt

It’s important to remember that lots of games influenced Canabalt too, though, as well as Wurdle. These were not things created in a vacuum! All the same I could not be happier with Canabalt’s reception and impact. It feels like a huge honor, all the time, forever.

148Apps: The way that developers make money within the App Store has definitely shifted in the past 5 years, yet you have remained an outspoken critic of the way that many games use in-app purchases. Why is that? Has your position shifted at all over the last few years?

Saltsman: I don’t think my position has changed much. Most of the approaches to IAP or “free to play” style designs that are deployed on the App Store, especially in financially successful games, remain fairly corrupt or coercive in a way that makes me pretty uncomfortable. Some of these approaches have actually been outlawed in Japan, so I don’t think their coercive nature is completely imaginary. These approaches have even become formalized enough to have actual names (treadmills, energy systems, tight loops, etc).

I think players in general are at least slightly more aware of these systems. This is important, especially for kids. Many of these games still target children with schemes like “give us $5 or your virtual fish will DIE.” It’s good for people to understand that a “game” on their phone might operate that way.

But also there have been games with large IAP components that don’t really feel particularly coercive, like ShellRazer, which I think is cool. These games actually speak to the promise of IAP and F2P as a way of engaging a broader or different type of audience in different ways. These games are very definitely the exception to the rule, though.

148Apps: What do you think about the viability of the App Store over the next five years? Will there be any changes, or any directions that you would like to see the marketplace go in?

Saltsman: The App Store to me seems to really strongly favor a particular kind of approach (if you don’t do IAP of course), which we used on Hundreds. This approach goes something like this: “work on the game in relative secrecy for like 1–2 years, then launch it and hope it gets featured and impresses everybody enough to get the critical mass you need to get good word of mouth and a good long tail in the future.”

Hundreds-3

As a member of a small team, and somebody with a growing family, this approach freaks me out pretty bad, and there are a lot of platforms (especially PC/Mac) where you don’t have to take that kind of crazy all-or-nothing path. I would love it if the App Store could support preorders, and bundles, and a lot of these other things that help sustain small teams through risky development on other platforms.

On top of that, launching on the App Store first places certain price limits on your work in some people’s minds, and selling at a higher price point on other platforms later can be a challenge. For small teams, it seems like designing for PC/Mac first, with potentially touch-screen friendly controls in mind (e.g. favoring the mouse over gamepads), is a really superior way to approach things, from a business and tech perspective.

In the “old days” (ha ha!) it felt like you could just think up a real good game for the only model of iPhone/iPod Touch that actually existed, build it in a reasonable period of time, and kind of blow people’s minds. Prices weren’t quite as low back then either. It’s totally natural and understandable that those early successes would draw in more competition, but at this point, as a small team of 2 or 3, you have to be pretty receptive to the idea that you are up against teams of 10 or 12, with 1–2 years of publisher-backed runway. You can still compete, indies can ALWAYS compete…but if you are trying to make games commercially and take care of your family, you have to be cognizant of these things, and more considered in your approach in the future.

Thanks to Adam Saltsman for his time; it’s always a pleasure.

 

Over the past five years, many thousands of developers have tried their luck in creating the next big hit for iOS gamers. While some were there right from the beginning, others have found success in only the last couple of years. I took the time to chat to four relatively recently successful developers to find out exactly why they were so interested in pursuing the App Store route, and how they’ve found the experience so far.

“First and foremost it was the ease of development and getting things…running quickly, with no development kits and long processes of approval,” explained Simon Flesser of Simogo (most famous for the rather exceptionally spooky Year Walk). “That coupled with us being interested in the iPhone as a gaming platform and the different features it provides, touchscreen interaction, motion controls, constant internet connection…”

Simogo's Year Walk

Simogo’s Year Walk

Barry Meade of Fireproof Studios (makers of BAFTA award winning The Room) had similar views: “As a small team with little resources to draw on, the fact you could self-publish on the App Store was a huge enabler for us…The Room might never have been made if we’d had to rely on a publisher as it was a bit too unusual…they would not have believed in the game like we did.” As he pointed out, “the App Store allowed a team from nowhere to make a small game and see big success.”

The Room‘s Fireproof Games is one such team made up of ex-AAA developers, with the studio formed by six ex-lead artists from Criterion Games’ Burnout franchise. Similarly, Warhammer Quest‘s Rodeo Games came from such a background. Formed from executives previously working for the likes of EA, Lionhead, Criterion and Codemasters, Rodeo Games were provided the opportunity to pursue something new, thanks to the App Store.

“Well, we’d been in the AAA games industry for many years and had been talking about how to take steps in setting up our own company. The App Store was just flourishing at the time. It was this awesome, new, bold place for smaller dev teams to put their games in-front of a huge audience. So we crafted a plan with the mindset of making the very best turn based strategy games on iOS, and Rodeo Games was the result,” Ben Murch, co-founder, explained.

Fireproof Games's The Room

Fireproof Games’s The Room

Neil Rennison of Fighting Fantasy developer, Tin Man Games, enjoyed a similar revelatory moment, after a move to Australia, gave him the chance of starting his own indie development studio, just as the iPhone and the App Store came to fruition: “I was originally running a small games art outsource company in the UK and then…I…moved to Australia with the dreams of starting my own indie and making my own titles instead of working on other people’s games.”

How different do they all think things would be if the App Store didn’t exist, though? “Very! Certain types of business models and certain types of games would probably not exist without the App Store,” Simon reckoned. Ben offered similar views, although noted the loss of the “middle tier” of gaming: “The gaming world would be a very different place right now. Just think about how many small companies and jobs have been created just from iOS gaming alone. Before the App Store, there was this surge towards “middle tier” gaming, i.e. titles coming out in the £10 – £20 bracket. I guess that market would have grown more and become an eco-system in itself. However, thanks to the App Store, creators who were interested in that model shifted into the mobile market, effectively crippling the whole “middle tier” gaming sector.”

Rodeo Games's Warhammer Quest

Rodeo Games’s Warhammer Quest

Mention was also made, by Neil, of the fragmentation of the mobile phone operator universe, something that was a significant problem before the advent of the App Store. “Apple’s stock would be worth a lot less”, noted Barry. All quite rightly pointed out that none of them would be in the position they’re in today, if it wasn’t for the ease of the App Store.

For the most part, all four of our interviewees were very positive about the App Store’s impact. Each citing how it’s “paved the way for many small developers”, as Simon eloquently put it, and enabled them to try riskier material. As Ben pointed out, “Without the App Store, it would be nigh on impossible to get your strange little game idea in front of….well, thousands of people would be a struggle. Suddenly, anyone can release something that has exposure to HUNDREDS of MILLIONS of potential buyers. Just thinking about that blows my mind.”

Financial barriers are also lowered, as Barry explained: “The relative cheapness of mobile games development allows niche ideas to thrive.” Neil reinforced that point, citing how the games industry “was slowly becoming a bloated AAA only console game market and traditional game developers were beginning to struggle as the mid-point of the market was getting squeezed. The app revolution helped give developers options and in a way created its own new market in which everyone had the same opportunities from the big publishers to the lone bedroom coder…[it] was a perfect springboard for budding entrepreneurial devs like us.”

Tin Man Games's Fighting Fantasy: The Forest of Doom

Tin Man Games’s Fighting Fantasy: The Forest of Doom

Simon was slightly more cautious, enjoying the risks that were possible to take, but also citing how it’s “paved the way for some very questionable money-grabbing schemes… the market place has been somewhat flooded with low-quality software. It might have lowered the quality bar for what is considered to be a release-able piece software.”

That’s clearly a thought that runs through each of the developers’ minds, given that each recommends changes that make it easier to find good apps and games. Ben would appreciate a better quality Related Apps section and a twist on the Genius section, “Some form of “We recommend these Apps for you based on what you’ve downloaded already” type thing.” Discoverability is a big thing for Barry too, “There should be a lot more ways to format the lists of games when browsing the store. A chart by user rating is very needed for those smaller companies who make great games but get buried by the marketing clout of richer but arguably less skilful publishers.”

Higher “quality control” is an important wish for Simon, while Neil would appreciate a way to reply to App Store reviewers.

Rodeo Games's Hunters 2

Rodeo Games’s Hunters 2

For the most part, though, all four developers were, understandably, happy with how the App Store is performing, both in terms of business and personal use.

“I think Apple does a marvellous job at finding and promoting good games. It’s so nice that they can give small developers, such as us, a big spotlight if they find something that is good…it’s almost…unbelievable that something as strange as Year Walk can get the same type of exposure as a mainstream game from a big publisher,” beamed Simon.

The “open territory” of the Store was appreciated by Barry, also, “You can upload a game to the store and be published in 150 countries within 24 hours – this is really quite incredible when you compare it with how difficult it was to get a game onto other platforms only a few years ago. It’s pretty much a revolution in terms of enabling creativity,” with Neil offering similar views.

Simogo's Bumpy Road

Simogo’s Bumpy Road

As a consumer, it’s also proved quite the hit with Ben pointing out, “it’s that feeling of being able to browse a huge catalogue of games from your sofa, eventually finding something that’s right up your street. They have great landing pages in the App Store making it easy to find great games that you may not have heard of previously.” Neil appreciated the vast wealth of games, too, “it’s enabled me to play games that I haven’t played in over 20 years and also experience new innovative game designs from some truly talented people that wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to shine.”

While it’s clear that the App Store isn’t perfect, mostly in terms of offering great visibility to the titles that deserve it, these four developers have clearly found it an overwhelmingly useful experience. Each of them, from different backgrounds, have found great and deserved success, highlighting the best of what can come out of the App Store in terms of original efforts.

We’re certainly fascinated to see what will come next from these relatively new developers, part of the next generation of exciting game makers.

Thanks to Simon Flesser, Ben Murch, Barry Meade and Neil Rennison for taking the time to answer our questions.

$3.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2013-02-21 :: Category: Games

$4.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2013-05-30 :: Category: Games

$0.99
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2012-09-19 :: Category: Games

$5.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2013-06-11 :: Category: Games

angry birds space

Powerslyde is a free iOS app that detects the games and apps you have on your iPhone and then makes recommendations for other apps and games you might like. You can use the app to discover great apps that you might not have known about yet, and recommend those apps that you love to your friends and social networks.

This week, Powerslyde users have recommended some great apps to fill out your iPhone. Give them a quick peek below. We’ve grabbed five of the most recommended ones, and here they are.

Skype
Instagram
Paper by FiftyThree
LostWinds2: Winter of the Melodias
Rolando

Interesting list, to say the least. It’s a delight to see older games like LostWinds2 and Rolando (one of the first iOS games ever) come in as some of the most highly recommended apps this past week. It’s also fantastic to note those three non-game apps, too. Paper is a fantastic mixed media art app that still resides on my own iPad, while Skype is indispensable as a business and keep-in-touch tool. And Instagram continues to be my favorite way to filter and share iPhone pictures socially.

What about you? What are your top recommended apps? Let us know in the comments below.

Powerslyde says,

There are millions of mobile apps in the app store. How do you discover the right ones for you? Powerslyde helps you find the right apps for you with a little help from your friends. Receive personal app recommendations, automatically see when your friends add new apps, and share apps with your friends with one swipe.

FREE!
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2013-03-04 :: Category: Lifestyle

Expert App Reviews

 

Week-in and week-out, the 148Apps reviewers search through the new apps out there, find the good ones, and write about them in depth. 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. 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.

SuperBetter

 
superbetter

A surprising amount of apps and games like to think that they can change one’s life. In reality, a select few can actually accomplish something that huge. Most of the remaining few might change small elements, such as providing encouragement for those trying to exercise more or give up a bad habit. SuperBetter is part of an even smaller group: it wants to change and improve everything about one’s life. A lofty ambition but one that I reckon it can accomplish, with the willingness of its users. One such glimpse into the importance of SuperBetter comes from this Ted video from game designer, Jane McGonigal, explaining just why the app can help so much. It’s fascinating stuff and ideal context. Essentially, SuperBetter is about turning life into a game. –Jennifer Allen

Layton Brothers Mystery Room

 
laytonbrothers10

Oh, look, Layton Brothers Mystery Room. Sounds interesting. The name Layton has pretty much become synonymous with puzzle-solving brilliance. The Professor had a knack for solving most of the world’s problems with a little logic, and that talent has apparently been passed on to his progeny. Alfendi Layton, however, is not his father. Mysteries are still a key feature for this particular Layton’s adventures, however Alfendi and his new assistant Lucy Baker (Detective Constable) are out to solve murder mysteries. Two of which are available for free right from the start and seven more that can be purchased for an additional $5. The each case involves mulling over suspects, inspecting a recreated crime scene (because Alfendi is something of a shut-in), questioning suspects/witnesses, and piecing it all together until a solid accusation can be made. In fact, aside from the world and characters Layton Brothers Mystery Room actually bears little resemblance to earlier games in the series. –Rob Rich

Limbo

 
Limbo-1

Limbo, the 2010 Xbox Live Arcade release that also made its way to other platforms, has finally come to mobile. For those who have not experienced this haunting puzzle-platformer, this is as good a time as any to jump in. Limbo is dark and mysterious, thanks in part to its silhouetted art style that renders most the world in black and white. There’s little guidance given, as players just kind of have to start running, and taking on the challenges that face them, from tricky jumps to finding ways to dispatch enemies, and avoiding traps. This is very much a horror game, as plenty of opportunities to scare the player are presented. Seriously, this game is nightmare-inducing. The deaths in the game aren’t particularly gory, but they are rather gruesome. That it’s a kid on the receiving end of most of the carnage is part of what makes it unsettling. That, and some of the things that are encountered in the world of Limbo. –Carter Dotson

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of kids’ apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:

GiggleApps

 

Coolson’s Artisanal Chocolate Alphabet

 
coolsons

As some readers may have noticed, I do not personally review many word games. Very few word games gain my attention because I am terrible at these types of puzzles, finding them for the most part frustrating and demoralizing. Therefore, it is quite a compliment from me to have enjoyed reviewing Coolson’s Artisanal Chocolate Alphabet as it is a word game that has won me over with a charming narrative, wonderful sense of style and an abundance of whimsy that I have greatly enjoyed. –Amy Solomon

The Terrifying Building in Eyeville

 
eyeville

The Terrifying Building in Eyeville is a thoughtfully written and wonderfully illustrated children’s storybook app. This is a very personal storybook developed by Joel Grondrup as his daughter was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare cancer of the retina. The Terrifying Building in Eyeville is an allegory for this cancer as a small man named Kanser arrives in Eyetown after falling off the back of a truck during a rain storm. He knocks on the door of Mr. Nice and asks if he can start building onto Mr. Nice’s home as he is a traveling builder who looks for houses to build onto. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Space is Key

 
space

The best games, for me, are ones that are simple, easy to control and, more or less mildly infuriating. It’s why I pulled my hair, shedding years while playing Super Hexagon. It’s probably why I find Space is Key so intriguing. It mocks me. To my face. It’s evil. Space is Key is about as simple as they come. Looks-wise, it uses switching primary colors with opposing hues to highlight obstacles. The color changes do an interesting job of creating a psychedelic atmosphere reminiscent of Super Hexagon that doesn’t internet with the gameplay. –Tre Lawrence

Warmly

 
warmly

Warmly is an atypical productivity offering from The Chaos Collective that seemingly wants to make the descriptive term “alarm” a misnomer by changing the way we do alarms and wake patterns in the first place. The opening user interface is a clear cut celebration of simplicity, and hints at the design elements that govern the entire app. It gives a scroll-through window for setting the time (with an AM/PM toggle), and nine (9) big square buttons. After a scheduling check-off and an off and ok button, THAT’S IT. Laid against the soothing yellow backdrop, the relatively minimalist viewers are hard not to like. –Tre Lawrence

LandGrabbers

 
landgrabbers

Nevosoft’s LandGrabbers is a fun hybrid game that is surprisingly dependent on strategy and quick thinking. The land that makes up this game is ably represented by effective graphics the encompass several mythical environments. In the first stage, the 3D graphics do a good job of giving life to the structures, and further down the line, the scenery becomes even more intricate; rolling hills, stone bridges and shrubbery all add up to cushion the action in a reasonable looking shell. –Tre Lawrence

Users of the Facebook mobile app may have noticed that the app now features more ads prompting users to download certain apps. Whether they be ads in the news feed itself or placed on the sidebar, these ads are just a new little blip for Facebook users to contend with.

However, these little blips could be actually having a significant impact on the way that marketers try to sell apps to iOS users, according to ­­a company called Fiksu that tracks app downloads and performance in the context of marketing.

What happened is that since Facebook launched these ads in May, there was an increase in the average number of daily downloads among the top 200 free apps (which are among the most-heavily marketed), from 5.61 million per day in April to 5.9 million per day. That might not sound like a lot, but think: plus an extra day in May, that’s going from 168.3 million downloads to 182.9 million downloads. That’s more potential customers to spend money on the in-app purchases that help make these games so profitable. There’s a reason why there’s so many free-to-play titles.

That's right - thanks to Facebook's ads, there's been the most downloads per day since January, where the post-holiday rush of new devices drives lots of app downloads.

That’s right – thanks to Facebook’s ads, there’s been the most downloads per day since January, where the post-holiday rush of new devices drives lots of app downloads.

This has all come at a good cost to marketers, too. Despite the increase in downloads, the cost to get a loyal user, defined as someone who opens an app three or more times, dropped from $1.50 per user the month before to $1.33. If Facebook mobile ads and the increased inventory they offer are to thank for this, then expect more of them.

Yet, it's also been cheaper to get loyal users. Expect this to go up as the success of Facebook app marketing spreads. For you, that means that ads aren't going away in Facebook or possibly other social networking apps any time soon.

Yet, it’s also been cheaper to get loyal users. Expect this to go up as the success of Facebook app marketing spreads. For you, that means that ads aren’t going away in Facebook or possibly other social networking apps any time soon.

FacebookAdSidebarThat little sidebar that features sponsored apps? It’s staying, and could expand. Expect to see more apps advertised in the news feed. While Fiksu says that some of the increase could be related to changes in behind-the-scenes tracking, Facebook still likely plays a major role in it. It’s still one of the most-downloaded and most-used apps out there, and it represents a big opportunity for Facebook to start making some actually money from mobile (where they’ve had trouble making money before), and for those developers that want to give you a new way to spend money on virtual coins and gems to break more blocks or build more buildings in their free-to-play games. It’s a potential union that is all strengthened by your desire to keep seeing funny memes and have political arguments with people from high school.

Expert App Reviews

 

Every week, the 148Apps reviewers comb through the vast numbers of new apps out there, find the good ones, and write about them in depth. 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. 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.

Magic 2014

 
IMG_0522

Fantasy based card games are very much an acquired taste. Some have been drawn to the genre since grade school, while others join later in life, but one thing remains the same: Magic the Gathering is by far the most popular example of the genre. On the heels of last year’s Magic 2013, it would only make sense for Wizards of the Coast to follow up their smash hit, for a new year. Can Magic 2014 manage to meet the same bar of excellence raised by the original installment, or is this essentially a glorified re-skin? Fans of last year’s Magic installment have a very similar experience awaiting them when opening Magic 2014. Most of the game’s core interface has remained fairly unchanged, but it really was never broken to begin with, so there was no need for a fix. Newcomers and veterans alike will find more than enough card based shenanigans to keep them busy for countless rounds. –Blake Grundman

JetScanner

 
jetscanner

The App Store is loaded with many apps that scan documents, but most of them seem to take an eternity to process files. Additionally, they aren’t always accurate. I’ve scanned business cards and manuals, only to go back and enter additional information in manually. There’s a new app that promises users that they will no longer have to wait and it boasts that it can produce PDF documents from any photo at a very high speed and at the highest image enhancement quality. It’s easy to get started with JetScanner as a quick start guide helps users learn the ropes. There are two ways to create documents. Users can either tap the camera icon or tap the album icon. Once a document is created, users can make adjustments by tapping on the wizard icon to adjust the smart crop or edit additional processing options like adjusting color, making the image black and white or quickly reverting back to the original. Additionally, users can tap the information button in the upper right corner to change the paper size of the PDF. –Angela LaFollette

Cling Thing

 
image 3

Cling Thing starts off with some great, but little, moments. They feel fleeting. However, then another great little moment appears and another and another. Eventually, these seemingly small yet neat tricks cling together to form a superb whole. In Cling Thing, players guide wacky Madballs-esque creatures to the end of each stage by using their slimy, stretchy, sticky tendrils to move around. The action resembles World of Goo but with just one ball to manage instead of dozens. Those two games also share a similar creative drive to get the most out of their deceptively simple yet deep mechanics. Early levels are pretty straightforward where all the creatures have to do is slime-swing to the end of the stage Spider-Man style. However, later stages introduce doors that need keys, blocks that need moving, wheels that need to be spun, and underwater areas with new physics that need new approaches. –Jordan Minor

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of kids’ apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:

GiggleApps

 

Talking ABC

 
abc

Talking ABC… is a delightful alphabet app which includes charming and impressive claymation animals that will engage adults and children alike. I do love this kind of animation, so I was eager to see the claymation included within, and I can say that these bright and quirky animal creatures do not disappoint, as an estimated 770 pounds of clay was used to create the animals and letters – impressive to say the least. As one may expect, there is a main section of this app which includes 26 letters, each with its own corresponding animal seen to the left of the screen. –Amy Solomon

Pango Imaginary Car

 
pango

Pango Imaginary Car is an app that allows children to create cars and other vehicles by combining various parts together. I enjoy this app. It is a concept that is not exactly unique, yet this is an app that is of very high quality and utterly appealing. The first thing one will notice when opening this app is color. A bright, sophisticated lime-green color makes up the background of the center screen where one builds his creation, dragging vehicle elements from the tabs seen left of the page. Eight tabs are included, with details that will create the body of the car, such as the front ends of a few differently shaped cars, trucks and a train as well as basic shapes that can be used to create a larger vehicle as well. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Cubed Rally Redline

 
cubed

Most endless runners inspired by Temple Run take the standard behind-the-back perspective. Sure, Pitfall had a more dynamic camera angle, but that’s the exception. Cubed Rally Redline steps things up and does it from an isometric perspective, similar to developer Jared Bailey’s original version of Cubed Rally Racer that Android gamers sadly don’t have. However, where the game also differs from most 3D endless runners is in the number of lanes: there’s five to deal with here. Good luck. –Carter Dotson

Bombcats Special Edition
bombcats

Bombcats Special Edition is Radiangames’ entry into the casual physics-puzzler genre after an assortment of action-oriented titles and block-based puzzle games, and it stands out as a fun and addictive title. The gameplay can be best described as a hybrid between Angry Birds and iBlast Moki. The goal is to free all the bombkittens from their electric cages by launching the bombcats around the levels, eventually using their ability to “tele-splode” (so they don’t actually die) to free them from the cages. However, there’s a fuse on the bombcats, so getting them from point A to point B in a timely fashion is key! –Carter Dotson

Spelling Monster

 
spelling monster

Spelling Monster is a gift from heaven to parents with kids in the early school years. it incorporates several learning tools and exercises into the gameplay, which is wrapped in the pleasing veneer of an Android game. The main menu breaks the game into an adjustable word list and a bunch of mini games. The word list allows for the addition of just about any words, which is great for accounting for, say, vocabulary or multiple kids of different abilities using the app. The game list had five different games: Letter Pop, Missing Letter, Letter Catch, Word Traffic and Word Jumble. –Tre Lawrence

Your App Authority

 

Every week, the 148Apps reviewers comb through the vast numbers of new apps out there, find the good ones, and write about them in depth. 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. 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.

We also went deep in our coverage of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, with a review, strategy guides, and a Commander’s diary. Be sure to check that all out.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

 
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The original X-Com: UFO Defense has been one of my all time favorite games for almost 20 years. There’s something about the combination of naming soldiers after friends and family members, carefully trying to manage finances and tech trees, and the tense search for hostile aliens in unfamiliar terrain that still excites me to this day. So when it was announced that Firaxis, the developers behind the latest entries in the Civilization series, were going to release a modern update of the 1994 classic I was both supremely excited and ridiculously nervous. Of course I was worried about XCOM: Enemy Unknown for nothing. It turned out to be a fantastic re-imagining of my favorite strategy game that trimmed away a lot of the unnecessary fat and added a few more contemporary elements to create an incredibly compelling experience. Then it was announced that Firaxis and 2K China were going to take that same experience and somehow cram it on to iOS devices. Again I found myself excited and worried at the same time. And again I was worried for nothing. –Rob Rich

Where’s My Mickey XL

 
mickey

Disney’s Where’s My Water series has been both a success both financially as well as creatively, with its original incarnation bringing unique physics gameplay and an original character to the table. Now, Disney has expanded the series in part by integrating their known characters into the gameplay. The problem has been that they just haven’t fit all that well: Perry from Phineas & Ferb in Where’s My Perry felt like Disney just slapping a character into the formula, and to me at least, it fell flat. So now, we have Where’s My Mickey, which ramps up the character integration from “secondary character on a Disney Channel animated series” to“ the very face of Disney.” Thankfully, the Disney folks decided that with their superstar, they had to bring their A-game to Where’s My Mickey and by gosh golly, they nailed it. –Carter Dotson

Videon

 
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It’s quite difficult to fault Videon. It’s a video recording app that offers mostly everything anyone could want from such a tool. Something that’s bound to be welcomed amongst those planning on recording plenty of videos this summer. Aligning towards many different needs, users can go straight into recording something or choose to change some settings around first. The former is ideal for when the opportunity arises, such as when a child or pet is doing something cute. The latter is great, when planning ahead. –Jennifer Allen

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of kids’ apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:

GiggleApps

 

Mini U: Zoo Abracadabra

 
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Mini-U: Zoo Abracadabra for iPad is a charmingly different puzzle app that kids and their parents will both enjoy. This app includes a circus theme where animals create towers holding each other up, creating wondrous shadow-animal shapes. Children are then asked to choose what animal is making up this grand tower from the animal tiles one can select, seen at the bottom of the screen. There are three different levels of difficulty within this app that include an increase in the number both of the animal tiles to choose from as well as the number of the animals balancing together, creating most interesting shapes. –Amy Solomon

Dr. Panda Handyman

 
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My family and I are always excited when a new role-playing app becomes available as these types of apps allow children to imagine themselves performing various occupations as well as to engage in pretend play, making these apps favorites in our house. This new app, Dr. Panda Handyman, is such an app, as children work alongside Dr. Panda helping to fix damaged objects of animal friends and neighbors seen within five separate scenes. I enjoy how the different animal connected to each scene may vary as do some of the details found in these scenes. It makes me smile to see some old faces from other apps such as the polar bears or elephants or monkeys, as well as new characters to meet along the way. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Little Nick: The Great Escape

 
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Little Nick is a running game game that is based on the popular Nicolas TV and books character. It’s a running game, and the abbreviated top-down view is quite reminiscent of endless runners like Temple Run. In this adventure, we ditch jungle temples and crazed monkey-ish beasts for somewhat suburban streets and Mr Goodman in pursuit. And, we get a bike! For background, Nick is framed for the dastardly destruction of a window, and takes off out the property gates on his two-wheeler to escape the vengeful Goodman after him. But these city streets are littered with obstacles, making escape especially hard. The graphics were more than decent, with good animations. –Tre Lawrence

Warmly
warmly

Warmly is an atypical productivity offering from The Chaos Collective that seemingly wants to make the descriptive term “alarm” a misnomer by changing the way we do alarms and wake patterns in the first place. The opening user interface is a clear cut celebration of simplicity, and hints at the design elements that govern the entire app. It gives a scroll-through window for setting the time (with an AM/PM toggle), and nine (9) big square buttons. After a scheduling check-off and an off and ok button, THAT’S IT. Laid against the soothing yellow backdrop, the relatively minimalist viewers are hard not to like. –Tre Lawrence

Neon Snap

 
neon

Neon Snap is one of those games that soothes the mine just by looking it. With the tetrominoes and gridded space, it is practically impossible to not think of Tetris, if just a little. It’s advisable to avoid getting too caught up in the similarities, as Neon Snap sorta turns the gameplay over on its head. The developer uses simple graphics to frame the game. With a mostly dark backgrounds, the play pieces are brightly colored, and the color of the pieces depends on their respective shapes. The animations are decent; rotations are handled in a utilitarian manner, and everything comes together with a minimalist feel. –Tre Lawrence

Your App Experts

 

Need to know the latest and greatest apps each and every week? Look no further than 148Apps. Our reviewers comb through the vast numbers of new apps out there, find the good ones, and write about them in depth. 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. 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.

Solstice Arena

 
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League of Legends may not have invented the MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) genre, but it certainly had a hand in popularizing it. It’s actually become so popular that there have been more than a few attempts at recreating such an experience on iOS. And I have to admit that while Solstice Arena has a few snags, it’s probably the best mobile iteration I’ve played yet. The basic gist of a MOBA is that two teams of players beef over turf until one has wiped out the others’ base. What makes things a little different than every other team-based multiplayer game out there is that the characters feel more like MMORPG classes than anything; each with specific skills that are meant to pair well with other characters’ and each with their own role to play. In Solstice Arena, players must take down the other team’s towers in order to weaken defenses, while simultaneously battling other player characters who are trying to do the same to them. There’s no major penalty for death except for waiting to respawn, although it’s a good opportunity to spend gold on better gear for the match. –Rob Rich

Avengers Alliance

 
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For several months now I’ve been seeing little Facebook updates about friends and their Avengers Alliance progress. I had about gotten to the point where I was going to see what all the fuss was about when I found out it was coming to iOS, so naturally I decided to check out the more portable version instead. The Earth is in danger (again) from some sort of enigmatic presence. Also super villains. As a new S.H.I.E.L.D. recruit, players must team up with a host of notable Marvel heroes as they try to thwart nefarious plots and figure out just what in the heck is going on. The majority of these missions involve turn-based battles with various baddies, but it’s also possible to send characters off on side missions (over a set period of real time, of course) for extra cash and experience. Players can also train their heroes when they’ve acquired enough experience in order to access new abilities that can make a huge difference in a fight. –Rob Rich

Rando

 
rando

“You have no friends.” This is a tagline for Rando, a photo-sharing app from ustwo. Initially the statement seems hostile, but it reveals the philosophy behind this app: it’s anti-social. It’s not about status or appearance, like Instagram, the service that this app stands in marked contrast to. It’s all about sharing photos to someone, or no one in particular. See, how Rando works is that it lets users take a circular photo, and then launch it into the universe. It’s saved to the camera roll, but there’s no way to share that photo to any social networks from within the app itself. Later on, a push notification may be received that will say that someone in a certain spot will have received one of the user’s Randos, but that’s it. This is about sharing to just one person. One random person out there in the universe. They might like the photo, they might not, the photographer won’t know at all. –Carter Dotson

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of kids’ apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:

GiggleApps

 

Helping Me and Dad, and Just Grandpa and Me

 
just helping

Helping My Dad – Little Critter and Just Grandpa and Me – Little Critter are charming apps adapted from the storybooks of the same name, now developed by Oceanhouse Media – great choices for Father’s Day. In these tales, Little Critter tries hard to be helpful to his loved ones although he is unaware of the mess he makes in the wake of his helpfulness. In Helping My Dad, Little Critter tries his best to take care of his father, creating more work for him along the way as kids are known to do, such as waking him up early on dad’s day off or making breakfast, causing terrible disarray in the kitchen. –Amy Solomon

Sago Mini Forest Flyer

 
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Sago Mini Forest Flyer is a delightful, universal app from Sago Sago, a new developer to be aware of as it is a combination of talents from both Toca Boca as well as the creative minds who developed zinc Roe’s Tickle Tap Apps. As some readers may know, the Tickle Tap Apps are a series of apps that were my son’s first experience with applications, now having been re-developed into new apps. Sago Mini Forest Flyer is a new variation of the earlier app, Field Flyer. Sago Mini Forest Flyer maintains much of what we have enjoyed from Field Flyer as well as adding new elements to have fun with as well. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Block Story

 
block

Block Story is a quest-based adventure in the same vein as Minecraft that puts an adjusted spin on survival style gaming. Gameplay starts straight away: a mini-tutorial greets you with basics of the action. Players learn movement, collection of items, hunting and the procurement of sustenance, and more. The options give a good idea of what to expect; players get to name a new “world” and “world seed” and select from three modes: Story, Creative and Hardcore. Then you can pick or create a character and push on. –Tre Lawrence

Uno & Friends

 
uno

UNO & Friends is a re-polished take on the classic shedding-type card game that tosses in some interesting new features and multiplayer functionality. The standard gameplay applies. Play commences against three other players, each player being dealt seven shuffled and random cards from a deck of four colors (yellow, green, blue and red). The rest of the cards, face down for surprise chance effect, make up the deck and the topmost deck card is turned over and becomes the starter card. The first player then places a card that matches the color or rank of the starter card; each succeeding player then takes a turn in clockwise fashion, also trying to play a card that matches the last card played. If a player does not have a card to play can take it from the bank; if it is playable, it has to be played immediately. The first player to play all his/her cards wins. –Tre Lawrence

Tilt Arena

 
tilt

Tilt Arena is a classic type of game for a modern type of gamer. If the game brings back memories if the iconic arcade shooter Geometry Wars, don’t feel alarmed; that’s a good thing, and the developer isn’t ashamed of the potential mental connection. The gameplay is fairly simple; the goal is to stay alive. It’s set up in a rectangular grid, with the player in control of a white trapezoid spacecraft. Armed with perpetually shooting guns, I had to avoid the randomly appearing enemy spacecraft that were oh so eager to exhibit their contact-based lethality. Darting around and dodging them helped to a small degree, but directing the guns at them destroys them and earns valuable points. –Tre Lawrence

Outfit7’s Talking Friends series of apps has reached one billion downloads.

Seriously. The talking cat apps that feature characters like Talking Tom, later expanded out to a host of other characters, have been downloaded over one billion times. That’s an absurd number of downloads, and the series continues to look upward and outward, as it continues to expand from just being an entertaining toy app to something more substantial. I spoke to Outfit7 CEO Samo Login about this milestone.

148Apps: Did you ever imagine that you’d ever get anywhere near this point, getting one billion downloads with your apps?

Samo: I would say that when we started, that was one of our objectives. It sure seemed a lot with seven billion people in the world, but we didn’t set any limits where we should stop. So far, we have doubled the number of downloads every half-year, roughly. I spoke to a guy [recently], he can see us getting to two billion, but four billion would be a challenge! [laughs] I don’t think so because we are introducing new apps, so I don’t see a problem with four billion, so, why not?

148Apps: What is it about the Talking Friends series of apps that you think has led to this kind of success versus some of the other “talking cartoon-y character” apps that are out there?

Samo: I think that our objective was always to create something funny, and we invested always a lot into quality [with] all these apps, not only the graphics but the whole user experience. And I think that users notice that. It’s something that for sure, always differentiated us from other companies that had created talking apps.

We also plan in the future, always, some kind of hidden educational aspect, especially for preschoolers. If you create an app that’s a straightforward educational app, the kids can smell it. It’s like when you teach a child something, if you just cover it up into something funny and entertaining, the kids will have fun and learn about something at the same time. That’s the added value that we intend to give our users with our apps in the future.

TalkingTomTalkingGinger

148Apps: So really with your apps and going forward in the future, you’re really trying to use the likability and the familarity of these characters to branch out into other kinds of apps, but to also have, maybe to say, positive goals to them?

Samo: Well, we learned about our characters that we were lucky from the beginning. I wouldn’t say we have actually planned it. It’s pure luck that we have picked up Tom and later characters that are easily lovable, and people can really connect to. So we already developed a series of webisodes in partnership with Disney, and a couple of music videos also in partnership with Disney Records, and our audience really loves them. The webisodes have over one hundred million views on Youtube, and the music videos also.

So obviously our audience wants all different kinds of entertaining content, not just the Talking apps. And for sure, we’ll be working in this direction in the future to create different kinds of apps, mostly with entertaining but also some gaming content to bring our characters into movies, music, merchandise, to increase the number of touch points are audience has with our characters.

TalkingAngelaTalkingEpisodes

148Apps: So this is something where you’ve taken this simple idea of, this kind of talking cartoon character that people can interact with, and now you’re bringing it to all sorts of new avenues, taking it to places that seem unexpected with the launch of the original app, but here you are.

Samo: I would say ‘unexpected’ when we started, then when we saw the power of our characters that with big distribution we’d compete with TV, with one billion downloads of our apps, and over 170 million monthly unique users, we actually compete with TV stations. And with apps, it’s much easier to get to a global distribution, than with any other technology before. So we are taking this from here, expanding this into other verticals, which is in my opinion, a logical next step. We didn’t expect it at the very beginning, but later on we became aware there is much more behind our characters than just talking apps.

 

Rando Review

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Rando is an app for photo sharing, without being social. It's strange, it's different, and it's wonderful.

Read The Full Review »

Ever notice that you’re running out of free space, and apps like Instagram, Spotify, and Vine are taking up a lot more space than they should be? Some apps like these take up over 500 MB of space for cached data, which can be a killer given the limited amount of storage space on most devices. As well, they don’t engage in a best practice of making it possible in the app itself to delete cached space. When trying to install a large app, this can be a real problem.

It’s time to take the power back, and your device’s free space. I’m going to show you two ways to clear up this cached space: the brute force way, and the way that’s a bit more clever.

Method number one: Just delete and reinstall the app

This will delete all the data for the app. It’s easy enough. The downside? You have to redownload and reinstall the app, not to mention needing to login again. Any special preferences will be gone too. This is a solution. It’s just not a very good one.

HowToCache-DeleteApp

Method number two: delete the cache files using i-FunBox

The cache files stored by apps can be accessed by users with a little bit of savvy. Download an app like i-FunBox to access your device. Plug it in to your computer. Launch i-FunBox. Go to the “Applications” section of your device, and find the app whose cache data you want to delete.

HowToCache-AppsPage

Find the folder called Caches in the Library folder. Right-click on it and delete it.

HowToCache-CachesFolder

This should work for most apps. See the results in the Usage section of Settings -> General:

HowToCache-LeftHowToCache-Right

See, with Spotify, deleting the Caches folder cleared up much of my recent cache usage, with the tracks that I saved for offline listening still in the app. You will notice that after using the app again, the Caches folder will be recreated, so this is non-destructive.

Some apps may use multiple or non-standard folders. The best way to discover where this cached data is hiding is to select all the files, copy them to your computer, and then poke through folders’ file sizes to see where large chunks of data are hiding. Then you can delete those folders safely.

In general, just deleting cached data is safe, because by definition it’s just temporary. As long as you don’t delete anything in the Preferences folder, you shouldn’t lose anything important. Feel free to back it up to be safe.

Not that you may need to do this whenever you need to free up some space as the cached data will add back up as you use the apps. Still, if you’re trying to install a large app, this can free up space without needing to delete apps themselves. So go ahead, install Infinity Blade II and keep it there!

We Are Your App Review Source

 

Need to know the latest and greatest apps each and every week? Look no further than 148Apps. Our reviewers comb through the vast numbers of new apps out there, find the good ones, and write about them in depth. 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. 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.

Kingdom Rush Frontiers HD

 
kingdomrushfrontiers04

The original Kingdom Rush pretty much took the tower defense world by storm. Our own Greg Dawson thought very highly of it, in fact. Kingdom Rush: Frontiers is meant to deliver more of the same, with an emphasis on “more.” More towers, more heroes, more levels, and so on. But is more necessarily better? Actually it doesn’t really matter when the core experience is so awesome. Kingdom Rush: Frontiers is more or less the same kind of slightly quirky tower defense that fans of the original have come to expect. For the unfamiliar that means lots of funky upgradeable towers with branching development paths, high powered hero units that can turn the tide of a desperate battle, hordes of enemies designed to make a number of tactics seem ineffective, and a ton of humorous references to other video games. Players can construct towers on specific points, use coins earned by slaying enemies to improve them or even evolve them, then hope like heck they’ve planned ahead well enough because the game has a tendency to throw a few curve balls such as massive enemies creating new paths to guard partway through a level. They can also use points earned while playing to upgrade their towers’ effectiveness and teach their hero new skills. –Rob Rich

Shindig Drink Explorers Club

 
shindig

Trying new drinks is part of the fun of going out with friends, but it’s usually difficult to remember these drinks later. The iPhone has made it possible for users to log this information through apps, but there aren’t too many that cater to all alcoholic beverages. Shindig is a new drink journaling app that includes a long list of beers, wines and spirits. It’s a way for users to remember drinks they’ve tried, leave reviews, and share with other community members. It’s essentially an exclusive drink explorers club, where the only membership requirement is to take an oath to try new drinks, create fun and a little weirdness and to never drink alone. –Angela LaFollette

Analog Camera

 
analog

I have a confession to make – I absolutely love camera apps, and so when I heard that Realmac Software had released Analog Camera to the App Store, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it! At it’s core, Analog Camera may just seem like the average camera app with filters built-in, in fact, most people might just dismiss it as another knockoff of Camera+, when in fact, this app could easily give Camera+ a run for it’s money. The flat interface of the app is absolutely stunning. If this type of flat interface is in anyway similar to what Apple is purportedly preparing for release in iOS7 then I would be incredibly pleased. The interface of the app allows users to easily understand the controls – although a brief and helpful tutorial is also available the first time they open the app. The filters that are included with the app all work very well, and users can preview what it looks like on their image by holding down on any filter to open a small preview of the potential result. –Ruairi O’Gallchoir

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of kids’ apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:

GiggleApps

 

The Poppin Princess

 
poppin

With great enthusiasm, I would like to introduce readers to the new interactive book, The Poppin Princess. This is a marvelously crafted tale, unique in how this storyline is played out, yet also grounded with classic fairytale elements from stories such as Cinderella or The Princess and the Pea to create a perfect new story that children and adults will adore. The look of this app is lovingly stylized, with bold colors and perfectly realized illustrations to create the world of this kingdom, said to be “elegant, refined and sophisticated” – words I would use to describe the look of this storybook as a whole, yet also including a modern, almost indie quality as well. –Amy Solomon

Pettson’s Inventions Deluxe

 
pettsons

Pettson’s Inventions Deluxe is a unique and highly engaging problem solving puzzle app for children as well as adults. Meet Pettson and his cat Findus, and help them build fantastical contraptions while keeping in mind the laws of physics as players add different parts to the machine-like cogs and belts as well as unique items such as a ramp made out of cheese or a flower pot. It is tempting to compare Pettson’s Intentions to a Rube Goldberg machine, and although I think this comparison has some merit, I do not believe it is spot-on as Rube Goldberg device solve simple daily problems such as turning on a light switch with the use of a convoluted and over-built invention. Here, however, there is more of a sense of nonsense as one may devise a way to open and close monster cages as the creatures when loose may scare an animal making it run, pulling a lever behind them, watering flowers to make them instantly grow which may lure a cow to graze, as well as tasks that could include washing a pig or making it snow around the house with the use of an ice cream cone and a windmill. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

The Secret Society

 
secret

G5 pounds out yet another hidden mystery game, this one cloaked as a shadowy thriller. Welcome to The Secret Society. This first person adventure starts with a somewhat cryptic message from my Uncle Richard’s personal secretary, Christy, telling me he has disappeared, and asking me to come the mansion as soon as possible to retrieve a note left for me. The tutorial reveals I have this special power, like my uncle, to move inside of magic pictures. While learning the ins and outs of discovery, I do learn from Uncle Richard’s mysterious letter that he I have control of the mansion… and his seat on the shadowy Order of Seekers. –Tre Lawrence

NBA 2K13

 
nba

While the NBA season is winding down with the NBA Finals (Editor’s Note: That will hopefully end with the San Antonio Spurs crushing the Miami Heat), with basketball simulations, the season does not ever have to end. This is why NBA 2K13, the port of the ever-popular console basketball game for Android devices, is potentially such a breath of fresh air. The actual graphics are, in a word, fantastic. The definition is superb, and there is a clear flair added. Movements are fairly realistic, with special care given to adequately replicate basketball movements. The background scenery was impressive, with exacting care seemingly paid to different NBA arenas. The animations are good as well; I especially like the little things, such as the ubiquitous daps given between free throws. The replay sequences are nice, and even the entertainment/timeout clips looked believable. –Tre Lawrence

After Earth HD

 
earth

After Earth HD is a game that follows in the trend of high-end movies that get companion games on mobile devices. As I’ve noted before, I like the concept… when it’s done right. Well, when Will Smith and son are affiliated, it should be awesome, no? It’s a running game, and it’s hard not to draw parallels with the de facto barometer of the genre, Temple Run. The story is simply a runway to the action. I was a young cadet granted entrance to the exclusive Rangers Training Academy, in the hopes of becoming a guardian of Nova Prime. –Tre Lawrence

Dispatch Review

Dispatch Review

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Dispatch claims to make triaging one's inbox easier with a bevy of advanced features, but they just prove to be overwhelming and overcomplicated.

Read The Full Review »
Limelight Review

Limelight Review

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Rate many movies in not much time. Criticism for the mobile era!

Read The Full Review »

We Are Your App Review Source

 

Need to know the latest and greatest apps each and every week? Look no further than 148Apps. Our reviewers comb through the vast numbers of new apps out there, find the good ones, and write about them in depth. 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. 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.

Star Trek Rivals

 
startrekrivals06

Granted I’ve yet to watch either of the Star Trek reboot films (I know, I know), but I seem to recall there being something about Kirk and Spock not liking each other. Or rather, they have a kind of rivalry going on. Which is appropriate since Star Trek Rivals is all about going toe-to-toe with friends. And shoving their faces in the dirt with superior tactics. In a friendly way. Star Trek Rivals is essentially the Triple Triad mini-game from Final Fantasy IX with Captain Kirk, the Enterprise, and so on. For the unfamiliar that means a 3X3 grid and a bunch of cards with a number on each of their four sides. When a card is placed next to a rival’s, and it has the higher number between the two touching sides, that card is converted to the other side. The overall goal is to have dominion over more cards than the opposition by the time the grid is full. This is done by strategically placing cards so that they either block an opponent’s attempts at assimilation or take over their cards directly. –Rob Rich

Jawfish Poker

 
JawfishPoker-3

Jawfish Poker is Texas hold ‘em poker for the mobile generation. A tournament can be played in minutes against dozens and dozens of players. For those wanting a rapid-fire poker experience, this is worth checking out. Instead of sitting at a table against a multitude of players, all the matchups are heads-up against players in the same tournament. Betting has been simplified: there’s a steadily-increasing big and small blind, and the only options are to fold or to go all-in. This means that for every hand that is called, someone’s getting knocked out. It’s high-intensity poker all the time, all against real players. While the Texas hold ‘em rules remain the same, new challenges arise. Bluffing becomes a particularly risky strategy just because it’s only really possible to steal the blinds with the all-in-or-fold betting system. Thus, knowing which hands are good to bluff on becomes key because any hand could instantly be a life-or-death situation. –Carter Dotson

Disney’s Story

 
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With hardly a sign of animated talking animals, Disney’s Story is a fairly mature storyboard creation app for those who want to combine their images to create their own tale. Immediately accessible, not much is needed to get started. Facebook sharing is there, requiring a quick log-in but it’s far from essential at first. Instead, users can get straight into the action by manipulating the images from their camera roll. Story divides these images, at first, into dates proving particularly useful for those collecting memories from a specific day. For instance, I looked for the date in which I got a new baby guinea pig and within moments, could create a collage of the memories of the first day for the piglet. –Jennifer Allen

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of kids’ apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:

GiggleApps

 

Colours!

 
colours

Colours! is an interesting, interactive color theory app that children and their adults will enjoy. I honestly did not expect much from Colours! as teaching children how to mix primary colors to create secondary shades is not an uncommon topic, so I was pleasantly surprised how complex this app can become. Colours! allows one to mix red, yellow, blue, white and black to form any color possible. A sponge is also included to use as an eraser – a nice touch. –Amy Solomon

Zoola Deluxe

 
zoola

Zoola Deluxe is a charming interactive animal app for babies and toddlers – a companion app to the popular Zoola, also reviewed at GiggleApps. Zoola Deluxe contains a nice variety of animals one can interact with. To start, tap on one of nine animals from either Farm, Safari or Forest animals. Babies will enjoy how chunky the areas for each animal to tap are, making this app intuitive for the youngest app users. Once a selection is made, listen to the animal’s name narrated as well as see the word on the screen. Also note the mild yet effective animated elements included as well as the sounds for each creature. This app also contains a nice variety of languages, always a nice touch. –Amy Solomon

Itsy Cars

 
itsy

Itsy Cars is a unique interactive app that allows children to build the race track of their dreams using a combination of thirteen pieces of track which are connected to create a track that one can drive a race car through. Four differently styled cars can be chosen, and then children will build their tracks with the tap of a finger, connecting pieces of track together. When complete, start the car down the track, tapping the “Turbo Button” when players want their car to go faster. The look of this app is highly computer-generated, with the use of many angles and bright yet not terribly unrefined colors – a style I am not always a fan of but which makes a lot of sense in this app. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Sonic the Hedgehgog

 
sonic

Sonic the Hedgehog is a classic, at least in the sense that it was the launching pad for a famous character. In reality, it’s a lot more like some bands’ first album: their later stuff is more refined, exploring their strengths better, to make for a better product. Such is the original Sonic game. Sonic 2 and 3 do a lot to make the series much better, so I must admit that when I heard that Sonic 1 was being remastered by Christian Whitehead and company a la Sonic CD, I was initially disappointed. But really, there was no reason to be: the tweaks and new features make this better. Sonic should be well-known at this point. Run, jump, fight Eggman’s robots and contraptions (though he’ll always be Dr. Robotnik to me), and avoid those darn spikes. This is the game that started the classic formula, including the most underappreciated part of the series’ gameplay: the complex levels and challenging platforming that comes from their multiple layers. –Carter Dotson

Prizm

 
chuck

How much muck could a muck chuck chuck if a muck chuck could chuck muck? Chuck the Muck is a cool entry from KizStudios that merges nice graphics with easy-to-learn gameplay and a familiar scoring method. Bob is the name of our protagonist in this one. A blob with attitude, Bob is described as a being with an appetite, and it seems to hunger for colored gems. It just so happens that these gems are not that easy to get to. Thus Bob’s job is to use the gooey stuff in his environment to solve the physics puzzlers that the the gem placements created. The basic tool was a stretchy, springy “muck” that I could manipulate to a degree. Using it as a trampoline of sorts, I could use my finger to direct Bob in a pre-determined trajectory. This helped me collect the gems for three start score. Missing a target or a landing could lead to Bob’s demise. The controls mostly involved dragging, pulling to release and tap and hold. –Tre Lawrence

Elements Battle

 
elements

I can’t say that I expected much from Elements Battle. The name is about as unimaginative as it gets, the art looked pretty but uninspired and to top it off it’s freemium, which is a business model that I’ve never been entirely comfortable with. As it turns out though Elements Battle is substantially better than I expected. The core game is a lot like Puzzle Quest. The bulk of it is a series of puzzle battles on a grid where three or more identical symbols must be matched each turn. Those symbols correspond to elemental spells which get fired at an opponent once enough of them have been matched. The opponent does the same and the winner is the one with health left at the end. Outside of battles there are some basic RPG mechanics with quests to complete (though they all boil down to battles too), levels to gain and a store used to purchase additional spells and equipment. –James Rogerson

The App Experts

So many apps, and so little time! Just look to 148Apps for the best app reviews on the web. Our reviewers sift through the vast numbers of new apps out there, find the good ones, and write about them in depth. 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. 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.

Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol

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Ace Patrol is the latest title from Sid Meier and the team at Firaxis Games. Set during World War I, it’s the player’s job to guide a squadron of pilots in strategic turn-based gameplay. The free-to-play version features one stage from the British campaign with six single-player missions for players to engage in. If they want to play and beat the full campaign, which is three additional stages, they’ll have to purchase it for $0.99 cents. Players are given a choice of three missions to choose from at the start of the game. Missions have a wide range of objectives, such as having players attack an enemy train, protect a surveillance plane, attack an enemy bomber, and dogfight in ace vs ace action. Players are able to decide on what mission to select based on the objective or how many points it offers. Those points are multiplied depending on the four available difficulty levels and help provide better scores for the leaderboards. –Andrew Stevens

Infuse

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A particularly situational app, some users will look at the feature set of Infuse and wonder just why they need it when the built-in Videos app does everything they want. Infuse is for those users who want to play videos from other sources, without the need for conversion first. That covers quite a few different needs, from those wanting to watch family videos taken on a different device to those wanting to watch their converted DVD or blu-ray collection, while on the move. It’ll even allow users to view video attachments that have been emailed through. Regardless of one’s needs, Infuse is an attractive and useful app. Covering many of the more important bases, Infuse offers support for over 14 file formats, such as AVi, M4V, FLV, MOV and OGM. Plenty of audio formats are catered for too, such as the increasingly elusive Dolby Digital Plus format. Infuse works smoothly too, with little significant slowdown noticeable during my time using it on either my iPhone or iPad. –Jennifer Allen

Las Vegas!

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One of the biggest constants in casinos is also a very simple concept: the house always wins. Sure somebody might hit the jackpot or win a few Blackjack hands against the dealer, but statistically (and by an overall average) the house always come out on top. Not so with Las Vegas, Ravensburger’s iOS port of the board/dice game. In this particular casino the player always wins, even when they lose. The rules of Las Vegas are fairly simple; players (and possibly AIs) take turns rolling right dice. The numbers each one lands on represent one of six casinos on the board, each with a range of cash values up for grabs. They then have to “bet” their dice by placing them in their casino of choice with the highest bid earning the pot. Conversely if there’s a tie all matching bids cancel each other out. Naturally larger bids have a better chance of winning but the toss up is that it means fewer and fewer dice each following turn. There’s a certain amount of strategy to placing each bet and it’s possible for savvy players to sneak in and grab a 90,000 casino with a single die while other players vie for the top spot and negate each other. After four rounds all the cash is added up and a winner is declared. –Rob Rich

Star Command

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Star Command is a sci-fi simulation game that clearly takes cues from Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek universe. Although the game takes a few missteps in parts of its design, the whole package is so charming that it hardly matters. Anyone wanting a good Trek-like combat experience should stop reading this review and go buy it now. For everyone else, here’s how Star Command plays: Players begin by choosing a captain and a ship to command. From here, an in game tutorial gives just enough information on hiring crew members, building rooms on your ship, and how combat works, and then promptly throws you into the thick of it. Before you know it, you’ll be commanding your engineers to put out fires by sick bay while your weapons crew has to abandon their battle stations to combat enemy aliens that have beamed aboard. –Campbell Bird

Other 148Apps Network Sites

If you are looking for the best reviews of kids’ apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:

GiggleApps

Little Red Riding Hood

red

Little Red Riding Hood by Nosy Crow is a universal app that I have eagerly been anticipating for quite some time, and I can say with much excitement that this app is worth the wait.
This is a re-telling of the classic story with a few great twists along the way. A special app, Nosy Crow has added some wonderful new elements to a classic story, specifically allowing children to choose one of many paths they would rather take as Little Red travels through a forest on her way to Grandma’s, collecting numerous objects along the way as well as meeting new characters. –Amy Solomon

Zoe’s Green Planet

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Zoe’s Green Planet is an interesting universal application about diversity. This is the story of Zoe, an inhabitant of a green planet with a demographic of entirely green people, seen vividly with the use of illustrations with heavy paper mache elements creating a subtle 3D effect, as well as a tactile, slightly distressed feel that I find appealing, as I do the numerous shades of green that make up the palette of this app. One day, a red space ship lands on the green planet. Inside is a red family who would like to visit other planets and makes a home on the green planet. They have a daughter who is Zoe’s age, and they go to school together and become friends. –Amy Solomon

Brains My Body

brains

Brains My Body is a very nice interactive app for children which teaches about basic anatomy and diversity and includes fun facts about the body. The look of this app is crisp and clean, with colorful, textured woven fabric used as the background for these activities. Also of note are the layered ambient sounds heard throughout, consisting of a beating heart, blowing wind and wind chimes – interesting choices I have enjoyed listening to. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Goomy: to the Rainbow Land

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Goomy: to the Rainbow Land is an interestingly styled platform running game with a unique set of characters. Goomy came personified as ball that took nine different forms. Legend has it that he wants to make it to the mythical, happiness-filled Rainbow Land. However, the journey is not without dangers but of course, how could we have expected anything less? The playing area was an expansive end-to-end platform, with Goomy traveling from left to right. The traveling area was irregular in design, with land masses of different heights interspersed with deep, lethal canyons. The graphics were rich in color, with playful artwork highlighting the elements of the game. The animations were smooth, and did a good job of adding to the fun factor. A lot of time seemed to have been put into creating the six or so different playing environments. –Tre Lawrence

Punch Quest

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One of my favorite games of 2012 was undoubtedly Punch Quest. Rocketcat Games’ endless puncher’s only flaw? It wasn’t on Android yet. Well, Noodlecake Games, in their first published title after the launch of Super Stickman Golf 2, have rectified this situation. And oh how sweet it is to be playing this amazing game on mobile. Unlike most endless runners where there’s little to no combat, this is all about punching one’s enemies. It’s more of a beat ‘em up with automatic running instead of an endless runner. The fighting is surprisingly complex despite there only being three different inputs: forward punching, uppercutting, and blocking, though each has different functions based on different situations. For example, uppercutting in the air is actually a dive punch. Upgrades can tweak the way that punches work, or give them special functions. But it’s the interplay of the attacks and the way that each enemy has a particular strategy that works best – and ones that don’t work quite so well – that players need to learn and master in order to do well at the game. –Carter Dotson

Modern Snake

snake

Snake is one of those games everyone knows. It’s popularity was forged in the mall arcades of the 70s, and it has been ported to almost every platform. Ever. Everyone has redone it, and so any developer that touches it best come correct. Modern Snake, at the very least, excels in the area of minimalist design. I liked that there were no extraneous elements; it kept enough familiar designs, like the segmented snake, and tossed in colors and touchscreen compatibility to differentiate it from the original forms. The green worked well on the stark white playing area. The developer did well to add options to spice up what would otherwise be a one-dimensional game. There were options to speed up or slowdown game speed, to have a two-player local game, to play with or without walls and to play with on-screen directional buttons or by swiping. –Tre Lawrence

Make your voice be heard! Or perhaps your music as well. Whatever sounds you need to record, there’s an app to make that happen. Here are four of our favorites.

iSaidWhatiSaidWhat?!: I’ve used probably 6 different iOS devices over the past 3 years, and the list of apps that I’ve installed on all of them is short; iSaidWhat?! is on all of them. This audio recorder is perfect for recording audio anywhere and everywhere from the iPhone or the iPad (though it’s not universal, it still works), with the ability to trim files down. But really, the reason why it’s so great? It’s possible to reduce the gain on the mic, so in particularly noisy situations, it’s possible to prevent audio clipping. It’s perfect for loud situations, and makes it the app that I keep using. It could use a modern update, but it’s still great.

$3.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-12-19 :: Category: Business

GarageBandGarageBand: Want to record some music? Why not use Apple’s mobile version of their famous music app? It supports recording through the mic port, including from third-party accessories like iRig for guitar, and external microphones. As well, there’s MIDI support for using devices like keyboards with the app. When it’s all arranged, the files can be exported to SoundCloud, to a desktop iTunes library, or even to Facebook and YouTube.

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-03-10 :: Category: Music

MixlrMixlr: Pre-recorded audio is for suckers. To paraphrase Bill O’Reilly: “We’ll do it live!” This app is perfect for that. Just fire up the app on iPhone, and start broadcasting over wifi or 3G/4G/LTE! Want to play music for strangers on the internet? Go for it! Want to start up a live podcast with friends? Sure! Just have random grumblings and rantings that need to be shared with people right now? This app is perfect for that as well. The audio can then be saved for posterity to SoundCloud, Mixcloud, or Dropbox. The revolution will be broadcast live!

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-12-19 :: Category: Music

AudioNoteAudioNote: Need to take some notes with the audio you record? This app is a perfect choice to use with it. You can record audio and type notes along with the recording. Best of all, it’s possible to tap on text and go right to that part of the recording. It’s great for transcription or taking notes in class. Plus, the app is universal, giving it an advantage over the similar Notability.

$4.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2010-04-29 :: Category: Productivity

ADC GDC

The folks behind the ever-amazing Game Developers Conference, held each year in San Francisco, are expanding their offerings with two new conferences to be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center November 5th-7th, 2013. The App Developers Conference (ADC) will focus on more than just game apps, bringing together developers for iOS, Android, and other mobile platforms for workshops, presentations, and seminars. The GDC Next conference, taking place simultaneously, is the spiritual successor to GDC Online. GDC Next will focus on the future of gaming experiences across all platforms.

Both conferences are looking for presenters from now until May 29, 2013, with the ADC looking for submissions in the areas of Entertainment, Enterprise, Health/Wellness, Lifestyle, Brand Marketing, and Education. Submissions for the ADS are open now at http://adc.callforsubmissions.gdc4p.com.

GDC Next is looking for presentations in the areas of The Future of Gaming, Next Generation Game Platforms, Free-to-Play & New Business Models, Smartphone and & Tablet Games, Cloud Gaming and Independent Games, with a submission form available at http://gdcnext.2013.gdc4p.com.

CarlessWe spoke with Executive Vice President of GDC, Simon Carless (pictured, right), to find out a bit more about the impetus behind the two new conferences as well as the change in venue. The main reason to have the conferences in Los Angeles is one of logistics. “We’re finding a lot of the top game and app developers are on the West Coast – or can easily travel there thanks to the excellent airport connections Los Angeles has,” said Carless. He continued, saying that the lack of direct flights to Austin, TX, where GDC Online was traditionally held, made an otherwise successful conference tricky to get to.

A secondary reason, especially for the App Developers Conference, is that Los Angeles is a hub for many of the topical areas the conference will focus on, like entertainment, enterprise, fitness, and lifestyle apps.

As far as how GDC Next connects to the now-defunct GDC Online, Carless said, “We’re calling GDC Next the ‘spiritual successor’ to GDC Online, in that a lot of the advisory board from GDC Online are transitioning to this new event, but we’ve discovered that as their focus changes (to tablets, free to play, and beyond!), our focus for the show changed as well.” The resulting new conference and focus is more about the future of games, he said, to bring the conference up to date.

Carless is excited about the ADC, as its an area the group has never covered before, though he does mention that there will be a gaming apps track at GDC Next. “So what we found,” he said, “is that there are a LOT of apps being produced that are not games, and people were asking for a much more learning and takeaway-focused event around enterprise, entertainment, lifestyle, and other apps.” And that’s what the group is doing.

If you’re a developer of gaming or other apps and want to present at either conference, be sure to head to the respective pages, linked above, to submit your presentations to the committees who handle that sort of thing.

Image: Serious Games

Is Notification Center far too busy? Can you not find what you want at any point, and thus any semblance of usability for the drop-down menu has gone the way of the dodo? Well, we can help you de-clutter Notification Center with these handy tips!

Clear out individual apps:

Most apps’ notifications will clear when you enter the app, but some, like Instagram, will not disappear. Thus, just pull down from the top status bar to access Notification Center, scroll to the app that’s got too many notifications, tap the X to the right of the app’s name, and then tap Clear. All these notifications will disappear and the app won’t reappear until new notifications come in.

HowToNotificationCenter-ClearApp

Disable notifications for an app entirely:

Do you really need to see notifications for that game you barely play? Well, to disable notifications entirely, go to Settings -> Notifications, and scroll down to the app you want to disable. From here, turn Notification Center off, and this will hide notifications from appearing in the drop-down menu, though they will still come in. If you want to disable them entirely, set Alert Style to None, and disable Badge App Icon and Sounds.

HowToNotificationCenter-AllOff

Reduce the number of items that appear in Notification Center:

It’s also possible to just make an app take up fewer slots in the menu. Go to the app’s page in the Notifications setting menu, and tap the Show menu. From here you can only show 1, 5, or 10 recent items. All notifications will still come in, but only that many recent ones will appear.

HowToNotificationCenter-RecentItems

Use manual notification sorting:

So, you still want notifications to appear in Notification Center but maybe just want to have the important ones appear first? From the main Notifications settings menu, choose Manually under Sort Apps:, and then tap the Edit button in the top-right corner. You can now use the drag selector on the right side of an app’s listing to drag it around in the list. Apps will always appear in the order you specify. Note that new apps always get added to the bottom of the list, so you must always sort them to your desired position yourself.

HowToNotificationCenter-ManualSort

Disable widgets:

If you don’t need to check stocks, think social media is for teenagers, or live in Texas and don’t need to check the weather ever, you can disable each of the three built-in widgets by tapping on their entries in the Notifications settings and turning Notification Center to off.

HowToNotificationCenter-WidgetOff

Hopefully these tips have made Notification Center a much more useful place for you!

Your Trusted Source for App Reviews

Having trouble making sense out of the overwhelming number of apps released each week? Have no fear! Just look to 148Apps for the best app reviews on the web. Our reviewers sift through the vast numbers of new apps out there, find the good ones, and write about them in depth. 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. 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.

LEGO Batman: DC Superheroes

legobatman10

The Caped Crusader is back in brick form for a new adventure, this time on iOS. As someone who’s had an on-again off-again relationship with LEGO games in the past I was curious to see how a mobile release might hold up. Turns out it holds up very well. Like, ridiculously well. In fact, LEGO Batman: DC Super Heroes is hands-down the best LEGO game I’ve ever played. Yes, including ones on consoles. All the wacky villains that should be stuck in Arkham have gotten loose. Again. Now they’re terrorizing Gotham. Again. And this time Joker has managed to team up with Lex Luthor. The two are such a handful that Batman has to enlist the help of other heroes, including Wonder Woman, Cyborg, and a whole lot more. There’s a conventional virtual stick and buttons setup and a surprisingly intuitive touch interface to pick from. No matter their preference, players will be bashing everything in sight to collect studs (the world’s currency), reconfiguring piles of bricks into new contraptions, finding tons of secrets, and doing just about everything else they could expect to find in a big screen LEGO game. –Rob Rich

Robot Unicorn Attack 2

RUA2-screenshot-11

Is it possible to make something great even better? When it comes to Robot Unicorn Attack 2, the sequel to the popular endless runner where a unicorn jumps and dashes through multi-tiered levels, collecting fairies and smashing stars, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” First off, Adult Swim Games enlisted PikPok on the title, and as a studio well-known for their fun games and high production values, it was a perfect choice. It’s immediately apparent that this game is absolutely gorgeous. The level of detail in the animated backgrounds, the galloping unicorns, and just everything is absolutely astounding. New elements like Giants that can kill the player if their solar beam attacks aren’t avoided add a splash to the familiar experience. –Carter Dotson

The Thirty-Nine Steps

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Impressively nearing its 100th anniversary, The Thirty-Nine Steps is still a tremendously gripping thriller courtesy of John Buchan. With various cinematic adaptations, it’s easily accessible, too. Now, we have this iPad adaptation, part interactive story, part simple game, to enjoy. It’s quite good too, although slow-paced and not without its problems. Following the story of Richard Hannay, a man framed for murder in 1914, it’s a great mystery full of intrigue and riddles. Readers don’t get to change the outcome or events within the book but they do get to interact with objects, start up conversations and open doors. The latter is a little gimmicky, invoking gestures to perform the required action, but the rest feels like an enhancement to getting into the story. –Jennifer Allen

GoComics

comics

It’s almost wrong to fault GoComics. As a free app, it does mostly anything could want from it, in terms of content. As a paid app (via an in-app purchase subscription), it eliminates one of its main irritants: the adverts. For a comic fan, it’s an ideal addition to their collection, even despite its issues. GoComics is, essentially, a portal of many of the most popular comic strips out there, as well some great up-and-coming artists. There’s plenty of space for political cartoons, too, sensibly categorized according to their political leanings. It’s immediately easy to dive straight in and find one’s favorites, with the likes of Calvin and Hobbes, Peanuts and Garfield playing a prominent part in the appeal. Just tap on their name and the latest strip comes up, along with a calendar that enables users to go back to any date they so choose. It’s fast to browse and easy to lose plenty of time to. –Jennifer Allen

Other 148Apps Network Sites

If you are looking for the best reviews of kids’ apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:

GiggleApps

Escape from Tokeru

tokeru

It will come as no surprise to readers that I am often asked to recommend apps to family and friends, especially for those in grade school, as iTunes seems filled with apps for toddlers and those in preschool, but it can be harder to find apps for older children. Parents looking for an interesting, thought-provoking app for this age set should take note of Escape From Tokeru, a puzzle game that includes an interesting back story, beautiful illustrations and moody, ambient background music. –Amy Solomon

Gappy’s First Words

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Gappy’s First Words is a new interactive universal app that re-enforces early spelling and reading comprehension from the developers at Spinlight Studio, a favorite developer of mine these apps are consistently rich with details and nuances at a level of quality making these application stands out from others. Meet Gappy, an interesting bunny-like character with large ears and big teeth, and help Gappy hop her way home, filling in the gaps of word puzzles along the way – stylized as a bridge of sorts where pieces of this crossing are missing and need to be completed with correct letter tiles. Success will earn users new details that can be added to Gappy’s house such as new windows, fence or chimney. –Amy Solomon

Cheesy Chess

chess

Cheesy Chess is a creative and fun mouse-themed logic game with heavy chess elements. This app reminds me a lot of the slider puzzles I had as a kid where plastic tiles will ultimately make up an image but needed to be slid within this puzzle, keeping in mind that only one piece can be moved at once. Here, imagine a mouse king who needs to progress through this slider puzzle at the top center to leave this board, but the other puzzle pieces need to be moved out of his way to do so. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Ice Rage

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Mountain Sheep’s arcade hockey game Ice Rage has finally made its way to Android thanks to Herocraft – is this game a slap shot goal or power play where the team with the advantage does not score? I’m not too well-versed in hockey. There are no power plays or penalties or icing here, as it’s all about one-on-one hockey action. It’s really more akin to air hockey instead of ‘actual’ hockey in any way. Players can check the opponent to get the puck, and when they have it, it’s possible to hold down on the one virtual button on screen to charge up and aim a shot. Matches last one just minute in most modes, so it’s perfect for fast sessions. There’s plenty of crazy action that goes on here, with arrow angles and tough shots to make. Just because it’s arcade hockey doesn’t mean that some degree of precision is unnecessary! The arcade ladder made with temporary character upgrades is a fun diversion, and the later difficulties with things like manual goalie control help out as well. There’s a crazy set of characters to play as, including Enviro-Bear. Bear is playing hockey, how can this be? –Carter Dotson

The Barman

barman

For the over-21 crowd there are not many things that spice up a good night with friends than sitting back and mixing up a few bar favorites. The obvious caveat is that not everyone is a trained bar tender and a poorly mixed drink can put a damper on a good night. Amazingly there are machines that will mix drinks automatically, but those have a large footprint and, besides being expensive, are cumbersome and hard to clean. Besides, what is the fun of making a good lemon drop if some machine pumps one out automatically. So, get a glass that has all those recipes on the side measured out by volume. Well, the problem here is that there can only be 6-7 mixtures tops, and there are hundreds of drink recipes in the world. Also, those do a poor job at measuring solids like sugar or salt. The answer is The Barman, an ingenious KickStarter project by John Gallagher of Sewell, New Jersey. –Joseph Bertolini

Jones On Fire

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Jones on Fire is a fun little runner that will probably have folks doing a double take due to the unique look of the playing characters. It looked very, uh, Lego-ey. And somehow, that wasn’t even the best part. Folks like me who grew up as fans of the iconic chiidren’s building blocks, or have played console games based on their form (like Stars Wars or Batman) will understand. The simplistic block figures were endearing, and I thought they blended well with the unique background. The sharp colors added to the overall experience, with walls of fire retaining a menacing look even while contrasting with localized burns on the ground. I liked the little graphical things, like the look of the game store, decked out with green text and fireman’s pole. The entire atmosphere was almost as enjoyable as the game action itself. –Tre Lawrence

Instagram Review

Instagram Review

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Why is Instagram so popular? Because it makes sharing photos extremely easy; it's not just about the filters.

Read The Full Review »
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