The App Store can be a daunting place. What to try? What to buy? How do you know? Thank goodness the review team at 148Apps is here to save the day. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you’re looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Take a look at what we’ve been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.
The great strategy of Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol returns with Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies. It’s set during World War II; where players have the choice to play as the US Navy, US Army, Imperial Japanese Navy, and Imperial Japanese Army. It certainly has a familiar presentation for those who played the original, but it’s also more polished and enhanced. The mission set-up is different as players are given one mission instead of a choice between three. I also find the visuals to be more polished and likable, but that’s probably because I love the old warbirds. –Andrew Stevens
Rayman Fiesta Run is the sequel to Rayman Jungle Run, Ubisoft’s mobile version of their Rayman revival series, taking the form of a level-based auto-runner. Rayman Fiesta Run really only serves as an iteration on the previous one, but more of the familiar excellent gameplay and an improved level structure make this a better game. Players control the jumps and punches of Rayman, who can’t stop running for reasons both justified and unjustified depending on the level, trying to collect Lums and just get to the end of each level in however many pieces is optimal for Rayman because he has invisible limbs. Levels, which take on many forms from horizontal platforming to back-and-forth ascents – with the occasional wall-running and jumping, too – are challenging due to the timing needed to succeed and survive the various hazards. –Carter Dotson
Tiny Death Star is one of those ideas that’s absolutely brilliant: take Tiny Tower and put it in the Star Wars universe, having players build a Death Star instead of a non-descript tower. Oh, and the bitizens are all Star Wars characters. If that sounds appealing, then go download Tiny Death Star. It really isn’t too much different from the original Tiny Tower, the game where players earn money by stocking floors of a tower that sell different items, building new stores and residential floors for new people to move in to. Managing where bitizens work is important because they’re more efficient at certain floor types. This whole process continues until one’s tower is as high as players want it to be. It’s just all decked out with Star Wars characters and themes this time. –Carter Dotson
Let’s get this reviewing cliche out of the way: Hipster CEO is an acquired taste. It sounds like an excuse to basically say “Some will like it, some will hate it,” but it’s remarkably true in the case of this game. Unlike so many other titles on the App Store, Hipster CEO doesn’t mollycoddle its players. There’s a gameplay guide rather than a comprehensive tutorial, but even that isn’t as useful as simply giving the game a shot and gradually figuring things out. It’ll be rewarding, but it will take patience for those who want to succeed. Occasional moments of being crash-prone can irritate, too. –Jennifer Allen
Bigger, better, stronger. That sums up Sorcery! 2, the sequel to the rather great Sorcery!. Feeling substantially weightier than its predecessor, much like the book it’s based on, Sorcery! 2 is a veritable bargain even despite its premium price tag. It’s been promised that there are over 300,000 words to it with more than 10,000 choices. I have no reason to doubt such a claim as there are plenty of hours of content here. Continuing from its predecessor, it’s not essential to have a save file at the ready but I’d recommend it, purely to carry on the storyline. Players explore Khare: the Cityport of Traps, and it’s a huge city indeed, as they attempt to move forward in their quest, potentially overthrow the city port’s council, and more. I’m grateful that Sorcery! 2 has such an extensive backtracking feature as there really is a lot that can be done here. –Jennifer Allen
ProCam 2 is the kind of photography app that should, theoretically, mean that no other photography app is really needed. While some might find themselves keen to stick to an app they’re more used to, or with a slightly different look, ProCam 2 covers all the bases meaning that there really isn’t a need to do so. I’m assuming the developers wrote up a list of requirements for a good quality photography app, then kept working until every single one had been included. I’m struggling to think of anything that could have been missed. –Jennifer Allen
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If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:
Dot.Stop.Run is a pretty eye-catching runner, but how does it play? Players control Dot, an enigmatic female as she runs along a landscape littered with hazards, such as pits, falling blocks and moving platforms. Using well timed jumps, the player must guide Dot through each level. Dot.Stop.Run has the bare vestiges of a story. Dot has escaped from the unseen system and now runs through an endless binary domain that changes constantly to recapture her. Only by making her way safely through the binary domain can the true power of Dot be unleashed. This story doesn’t really make an appearance in game, but at least it sets the tone for the trippy gameplay to follow. –Allan Curtis
There has to be some science behind the way certain games force you to stop playing and instead ‘come back later’. I’ll happily admit I’m no expert in the economics of designing free-to-play games, but I always thought turning people away was a dangerous idea. They just might not come back. It’s with this in mind that we talk about Lost Chapters HD. It’s a game all about exploration of an island, completing tasks to unlock new buildings and discovering treasure along the way. –Matt Parker
Cats. Lovable bundles of fur or feline freeloaders? How you feel about cats will determine how you want to look at this game. LIKE CATS: Wake the Cat is a puzzle game where you gently roll a ball of yarn towards a sleeping kitty so that you may wake them from their peaceful slumber and play with them. HATE CATS: Wake the Cat is a puzzle game where you launch a ball of yarn (maybe with a rock in the middle of it) so that you stir the cat from its unearned slumber. Maybe to then throw the cat out of the house. I don’t know. –Matt Parker
Announced at the company’s special media event held last month, the iPad Air will go on-sale today at Apple retail stores, the Apple Online Store, and select wireless carriers in the U.S, Canada, Europe, and select parts of mainland China. Apple began taking orders for the redesigned tablet device – which arrives at a thickness of just 7.5 millimeters, and weighs in at a super-light one pound – around Midnight (Pacific Time); with the company focusing heavily on conveying the added convenience that the tablet’s new weightlessness will bring to customers looking to carry the device on them or simply hold the device for long periods of time in one hand.
However, weight isn’t the only factor new with the iPad Air. Still boasting Apple’s ‘Retina’ display, the Air also features the A7 system-on-a-chip processor. Built for both speed and performance, the new chip offers 64-bit architecture; making the iPad Air the first tablet of its kind to do so. This, Apple says, will ensure the new tablet is able to deliver “killer performance,” whilst at the same time retaining that all-important battery life.
The iPad Air going on-sale in Australia has already sent the internet abuzz with photos and unboxing videos detailing what’s new, as Apple has once again seemingly managed to convince people to line up at its many retail stores to grab a taste of the action.
Shoppers line-up at Apple Store in Sydney – [credit: CNET/CBS]
Available in both Space Gray + Black and Silver + White, the iPad Air will run anyone looking to take advantage of its new features the same $499, $599, $699, and $799 for the Wi-Fi Only models (16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB respectively), then jumping to the more premium entry price of $629 if you wish to add cellular connectivity. The line maxes out at $929 for the 128GB cellular version.
Posted by Andrew Stevens on October 7th, 2013 iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
There is a new app for all of us very busy people, called Skimmin, that brings us the latest news in the fastest way possible. The app is designed to inform people of the most important need-to-know information from the day in one minute. It’s done by selecting 5-10 stories from the day which are presented to the readers in short summaries.
Posted by Rob Rich on August 28th, 2013 iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
At long last, the days of scouring the internet for the kind of news stories you’re interested in are over! INQ has just released their new app, Material, and it aims to do away with the need to go looking for information.
The app syncs up with your Twitter or Facebook account, then uses a special algorithm to analyze your activity and cherry-pick the right news stories for you. Fashion, Music, Technology, Art, Manga, etc. Material will search through it all.
– Your material is unique and relevant to you.
– It takes seconds to join.
– Your Material changes as you do.
– Read it anywhere.
– It delivers new content twice a day.
Posted by Andrew Stevens on June 28th, 2013 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
AOL has launched its latest app, AOL: Mail, News, Weather & Video, that provides users with easy access to their AOL Mail inbox along with top videos and stories from AOL.com. Users can customize their news stream to see only the stories they’re interested in. Also, users can save stories to read at a later time and share stories through their favorite social media outlets.
This week at 148Apps.com, we turkey trotted our way into Thanksgiving and the holiday season with a tremendous list of apps for sale, courtesy of site founder Jeff Scott: “Black Friday is the biggest sale day of the year for the big box stores. And the same is true for the App Store. But the good thing about the App Store is there’s virtually 0% chance of getting trampled while trying to get that $39 laptop everyone is racing for.
This week and into Monday we’ll likely see hundreds of iOS games and apps on sale at some really great prices. We’ll be updating this post frequently through Monday with the best of the sale apps and games.”
The holiday spirit continued at GiggleApps.com, with Amy Solomon’s review of Wombi Toys: “Wombi Toys – a toy workshop for kids is a new interactive app that my son is really enjoying.
My son always get so much out of immersive role-playing apps, be it mini-games or more open-ended adventures which allow my son to cook for animals, plant a garden, pretend to be a doctor, fix a car or play tea party.
For those parents who know exactly the genre of app I am talking about, it is worth getting to know Wombi, a Swedish developer with a wonderful sense of style.
They have developed a series of really fun jigsaw puzzles of different themes and other apps that I have also enjoyed, so I was super-excited for the release of Wombi Toys – a toy workshop for kids which allows children to play toy-themed mini-games, building or fixing a very nice variety of toys such as wind-up car, painting alphabet blocks or using a hand pump to inflate a ball as each of these games are cute and fun, tactile as well as intuitive.”
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-10-18 :: Category: Games
Finally, AndroidRundown.com writer Carter Dotson shared some unfortunate news: One of the biggest names of the early days of touchscreen mobile gaming is about to finally fade away: parent company GREE is shutting down OpenFeint, effective in December.
OpenFeint may not be as fondly remembered on Android as it is on iOS. It was the first real service to provide leaderboards and achievements, a much-desired feature. However, the platform failed to expand upon that core functionality once Game Center kicked in and became ubiquitous; while features like cloud saves were implemented by OpenFeint (and seen in games like INC which provided cross-platform saves) they never took off with developers or the public. However, the service was still purchased by GREE, and has been languishing recently as it transitions in to the GREE Platform.”
And, as the tryptophan kicks in, we bid you a fond adieu this week. But make sure you keep track of all the latest sales, contests, reviews and news items by following us on Twitter and Facebook. See you next week. Gobble gobble.
This week at 148Apps.com, we got into the holiday spirit with a review of a gadget that might be on many people’s wish lists this year – the iRig Keyboard. Site editor Rob LeFebvre writes, “IK Multimedia might be trying to take over the music peripheral world. The company has a wide range of apps, instruments, and support items that could, in theory, be used to build a band entirely out of iOS instruments. The latest offering from this prolific manufacturer is titled iRig Keys, a super portable iOS keyboard with 37 velocity-sensitive keys, modulation and pitch wheels, low power consumption, and core MIDI compliance. The iRig is aimed at the portable musician, the composer on the go, the backpack virtuoso, and as such, it succeeds brilliantly.”
The upcoming holidays were also on our minds at GiggleApps.com, as Amy Solomon reviewed Ice is Nice: All About the North and South Poles. Amy says, “As the name may suggest, Ice Is Nice does indeed give a lot of great information about the earth’s North and South Poles, as well as animals found in these areas that children and their adults will enjoy a great deal.
As with the other titles from this series, go on an adventure with The Cat in the Hat, Dick and Sally as well as Thing One and Thing Two, who are all here to learn such topics as the harsh temperatures found at the Poles or why there are six months of darkness or perpetual sun.”
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-06-27 :: Category: Books
Finally, 148Apps.biz writer Carter Dotson explored the improvements made in Tapjoy’s latest SDK: “Mobile advertising service Tapjoy has announced version 9.0 of their SDK for iOS and Android. The purpose of this update is meant to expand out and improve their current set of features to improve user engagement with their ads, and to integrate daily rewards, a popular feature that developers can now easily implement. These are meant to provide advertisers ways to developer targeted ads in a better way, and for developers to generate revenue even from non-paying users through incentivized ad viewing, service signups, and app installs.”
And that sets us up for a week of pre-Thanksgiving hysteria here in the States. Join us on Twitter and Facebook to keep track of holiday app sales, news and reviews across all of our sites…and do yourself a favor and start thawing that turkey now.
Posted by Rob LeFebvre on October 19th, 2012 iPad Only App - Designed for iPad
News wire service Reuters released a new iPad-only news photography app today. Get it while it’s hot.
The Wider Image is an unprecedented photography experience from Reuters, the world’s largest news agency. Created exclusively for the iPad, this immersive app reimagines news photography to bring images and information to life.
Start with over 100 compelling stories by Reuters photographers across the world, with new stories added daily. Get the wider story. Transform the way you see.
Posted by Jeff Scott on October 15th, 2012 iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
Circa is a new news processing app that hopes to break down the news, remove the fluff, and present what matters to you. They do this with a bunch of editors rather than an automated process, so the results have the potential to be pretty good.
This week at 148Apps.com, we gave the Editor’s Choice award to Organ Trail: Director’s Cut. Reviewer Rob Rich had this to say about the game: “There’s something timeless about The Oregon Trail. Gearing up and heading west across the country in order to settle in some promising new territory, braving all manner of hardships and diseases along the way, it’s a game that just about everyone loves. Wait a second, the “E” is missing. It’s not Oregon Trail? It’s actually Organ Trail? Well I don’t see what the big difference-OHMYGOD ZOMBIES!!!
Organ Trail: Director’s Cut is a throwback to the classic era of computer gaming. Back when we had to load these things using floppy disks, and in-game sounds consisted entirely of varying forms of *BOOP*. Much like its pioneer era inspiration, the game tasks players with preparing for a cross-country road trip and naming party members after friends in order to make them feel bad when they inevitably die in horrible ways. Only this time it’s during a modern zombie apocalypse, and instead of hunting for food and fording rivers they’ll be scrounging for meager supplies while fending off the walking dead and creeping through zombie hordes.”
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-08-09 :: Category: Games
Everything was about back to school at GiggleApps.com, where reviewer Amy Solomon had this to say about Murky Reef 1st-2nd Grade Reading, Science and Math: “Parents will appreciate how this app incorporates the Common Core standards for Grades 1 and 2 while keeping children engaged and entertained, especially as children prepare for school to start again soon and need to begin to get back to the business of focusing on school work.
Murky Reef is a collection of 22 interactive games which teach a great deal about the animals of the coral reef as well as include math, logic and language exercises.”
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2011-09-30 :: Category: Education
Finally, on 148Apps.biz, Carter Dotson reported on the rise of the app developer middle class, saying, “While there’s often much pessimism among developers as far as the challenges of money making on mobile apps goes, analytics firm Flurry’s latest report discusses how the revenue among mobile apps is being distributed. With it, there’s evidence that an app developer ‘middle class’ is forming, as with more revenue being spent on mobile apps, developers do not need to reach the kind of high ranks that they did in the past to make the same kind of revenue. As well, the ‘long tail’ of revenue is getting longer.”
The update provides full video capability as well as the ability to convert all the photos, video and text uploaded to the service into virtual ‘storytelling journals’ that can be shared on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, as well as shared with the HipGeo community and via email. Consolidated, it should prove a great tool for avid travellers.
The app groups together photos, videos and texts into a location, so it’s simple to browse what’s going on and where as part of a coherent album. A Trip Player and Day Map ensures that movements are clearly shown between the photos, videos and writing, making it easy for viewers to catch up on the traveller’s progress.
Alongside the ability to create such journals offline, before uploading when inside a Wi-Fi zone, HipGeo is a great all-rounder for those who want to blog their travels.
Good news for those who use CoPilot Live, version eight. The developers, ALK Technologies, are offering a big upgrade free of charge to version nine. The new line of CoPilot Live GPS apps for the US and Canada still have access to live navigation, but now with more perks. The biggest addition is voiced turn-by-turn directions, no doubt a response to Apple’s iOS 6 announcement, but there’s more. The new routing features give you three different ways to find where you are going, each with information not only on distance but on mileage and with the year of free live traffic they are offering to new subscribers on their website it’s even better.
The new design is less distracting, with lane assist arrows and what they call “ClearTurn” display. There is also “Tap and Go” navigation which lets you literally just tap on a location on the map to get directions. It even has “social navigation” allowing you to check into Facebook and Twitter with your locale or to search Wikipedia or Bing’s Local Search from within the app. If you upgrade or try V9 for the first time, let us know what you think in the comments.
Fan of the BigStar Movies app and those looking for a new subscription-based video streaming service will be happy to hear about the latest update. Along with their catalog of lesser known titles including some gems, the app now supports AirPlay for HD streaming, and HD upscaling on iOS devices happens faster. Also added is a new “collections” section to help find specialty items, with five categories to start and the promise of more to come. The movie info now shows in a side panel and the whole app was rebuilt for increased stability.
BigStar Movies is a lot like Netflix, but it doesn’t replicate the service. There aren’t tons of mainstream movies here and practically no TV, but there are lots of smaller film festival award winners, and lots and lots of indie across genres. The pricing plan and payment methods are also different. Netflix and similar services require you to sign up and create an account online. They use their own billing services and cost a bit more. BigStar Movies allows you to do the same, and you’ll even find a good discount through online sign-up right now – three months for $4.99, the price of one – but the app also allows you to subscribe via iTunes, nice for those who don’t have credit cards.
The app has the requisite social media integration, enhanced in this update, along with trailers and user ratings. The catalog of movies is the same in Canada as the US, which is unusual and suggests the app’s service is available in its entirety wherever the app is available for download. BigStar is definitely for a certain type of movie lover, so be sure to check out their selections before subscribing. If underground and small indie films are your thing, though, this is a great time to give BigStar Movies a try.
It’s July 4th, so we hope most Americans are out celebrating and reading this on an iPhone or iPad or between activities. But if you are still looking for apps to help make the day even better, we’ve rounded up four of our favorties that commemorate everything from US History to the traditional BBQ for you here.
Weber’s On The Grill
An instant classic last year, this grill guide from the masters at Webers has become an iOS standard for the BBQ set. They’ve added 27 new recipes since July 4th 2011, which makes around 300 total – 40 just for marinades and rubs. There are tutorial videos, tips on cuts of beef, and even a section to take notes. The app also makes creating last minute shopping lists a breeze.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-07-13 :: Category:
This American Life
The popular public radio show has an app that features podcasts. It’s not easy to describe the content, it’s a grab bag of people, places, historical tidbits put together expertly to create an immersive listening experience, perfect for setting the tone on your way to the beach or the fireworks. The app has easily searchable shows dating back to 1995, making it something of a living, speaking American history museum. Look for easy social network sharing for those stories that inspire your patriotism.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2010-02-01 :: Category: Entertainment
What’s the 4th of July without a few drinks? All-American beer is in most coolers, but if you’re looking for cocktails (easily turned into mocktails for those driving or little drinkers) you can spend hours searching online or just grab iBartender. It’s something of an App Store classic with recipes, shopping lists and pictures that will make you want to start the party early, and it was just updated to support the new iPad’s retina display along with new drinks to keep things fresh.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2008-07-31 :: Category:
Presidents vs Aliens
Kids are an important part of Independence Day celebrations, and while it’s great for them to be excited about picnics, swimming pools and amusement parks, somewhere between those activities and the fireworks, you probably want them to know a little about what they are celebrating. President vs Aliens is more than just a US history app, it’s a silly Executive Branch showdown with E.T.s that will capture imaginations and have grown-ups wanting to take a turn. Kids won’t notice they are learning, and you’ll have more time to relax while waiting for the big light shows to start.
One of the most popular blogging platforms out there, Tumblr has recently updated its iOS app.
Version 3.0 comes with all manners of new features, most notably a completely revamped and sleeker dashboard. Increasing compatibility with the iOS format, tap based functionality is improved and swiping through the composing interface has been introduced. It should all make for a much simpler app, ensuring users can blog content even faster than usual.
High resolution photo support is now included, proving particularly beneficial to those of us with the new iPad and iPhone 4S, although the app isn’t Universal just yet.
For those without a consistent internet connection or those currently abroad, offline support will be a great hit with users able to post new blogs, reblog content and comment on others’ work all while offline.
Spotify support and the ability to search tags is also supplied.