How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you’re looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Take a look at what we’ve been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.
When translating a nearly 30 year old tabletop game like Blood Bowl into a digital format, the folks in charge have to make some decisions. Craft a fairly robust in-game tutorial to ease new players gently into this somewhat complicated quagmire? Or just say “screw it,” assume the target market is going to be almost entirely existing fans of the product, and leave the newbies to sink or swim? Take a guess which direction Focus Home Interactive and Cyanide Studios went with this one. For the uninitiated, Blood Bowl is what would happen if somebody tossed American Football and Rugby into a blender and poured the resulting slurry through a filter made out of the Warhammer fantasy universe. This violent team sport, played by such Warhammer staple races as Orks and Skaven, doesn’t exactly cleave to either of those two inspirations, however. This almost-familiarity players might feel is the entry point where things start getting complicated. –Rob Thomas
The sequel to Episode 1, Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery: Episode 2 is just as pleasant but far too short lived – clocking in at only around an hour. Sure that might be a fun hour of solving puzzles, but it never quite gets going. Jacob and Biggie head off to the Crackskull Mountain to solve the secret of Biggie’s childhood, amongst other things. The writing is suitably witty and entertaining, with a smattering of puzzles to break things up, but that’s the problem: it really is only a smattering. 14 puzzles are all that are available here, and while they’re fun and well designed, they’re not particularly original. –Jennifer Allen
Using the colorful and immensely popular license of Adventure Time comes Time Tangle – Adventure Time, a title that’s keen to avoid being just another Endless Runner, but fails to truly take advantage of its small sense of purpose. Each session involves spinning a wheel to see what kind of activity must be completed. These generally involve either chasing something, collecting something, or beating something up. The controls are the same but the change in objective does help make you think there’s more to Time Tangle – Adventure Time than there actually is. –Jennifer Allen
I demand a lot from my electronics. Since I became disabled and lost my ability to write, I’ve depended on my touch screen devices for everything – especially my college work. Being in an environmental biology program means I’m in the field a lot in many weather conditions. Naturally when it rains I need a waterproof case, but my phone always runs out of juice before the day is out. Most battery cases didn’t offer the waterproofing that I need; until I found iBattz’s new case. The iBattz Mojo Refuel Aqua S Case (what a mouthful!) is pretty spiffy. The case can be used to extend battery life, then when you need waterproofing it takes less than a minute to switch it over and lock it up tight. I’ve been using the case for almost two weeks now and have noticed the good and bad of it. –Jade Walker
It was bound to happen one day, wasn’t it? Yes, Micromon is currently the nearest you’re going to get to Pokemon on your iOS device. Fortunately it’s pretty fun, too. There’s one downfall though, and it’s a pretty obvious one – those pesky in-app purchases that often get in the way of such experiences. First up, Micromon is gorgeous to look at. It doesn’t offer quite as many monsters to capture as a Pokemon game, weighing in at just over 130, but each of them is delightfully animated and appealing. The story within Micromon isn’t particularly gripping, staying quite formulaic, but that’s no great hardship. –Jennifer Allen
I don’t know about you all, but I use my iPhone and iPad to watch Netflix videos all the time. It’s just so handy to be able to pull up a streaming video right before bed or to watch something else while the TV is in use. Well the Slingbox M1 is kind of like that; kind of. It’s also quite a bit different, but no less interesting. The Slingbox M1 essentially lets you broadcast the signal from your cable box to your iOS device and your computer – with the appropriate apps, of course. This means that you can use your iPad as a second screen, watch something on TV without moving to whichever room has the TV in it, or even catch up on local news and sports while you’re out of town. So long as you have an internet connection you can stream the signal from your cable box straight to your other devices. –Rob Rich
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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:
Master of Craft looks to be an engaging game that merges key gaming genres in a tidy package. At its core, it’s all about simulating an economy of crafting. Off the bat, the busy animation of the game easily draws one in, with bright colors and vivid landscapes. If the developer’s goal is to please people that are iffy about the game at the start, it is mostly successful. The rustic vibe combines well with the whimsical representations, and the overall visual feel is that it is playful and serious at the same time. –Tre Lawrence
Suits and Swords is much like Blackjack version of the venerable and well received Sword and Poker. While a good ideas does a simpler game like Blackjack have the legs to support an RPG? Suits and Swords has a rather amusing story. The majority of things and characters in the story are named after card related things. The main character is called Black Jack, he’s a solider or Battle Jack and the villain is an evil disembodied head named Joker. He’s pretty serious.. –Allan Curtis
Super Heavy Sword is a classically styled platformer, which aren’t all that common on the Playstore. Monster Robot Studios have freely admitted that the game is a homage to the astonishingly successful Mario games. Indeed the game feels like a mix of Mario 64 and the original Super Mario Bros. With the big N’s reluctance to bring the overalled plumber to Android, can Super Heavy Sword full the gap? Super Heavy Sword opens with a scene of Pike, the Hero and Lucinda the princess. A bunch of enemies roll in and amazingly don’t kidnap Lucinda but rather begin destroying to land,. Now it’s down to a lone warrior and his girlfriend to stab them all and restore peace. –Allan Curtis
And finally, this week Pocket Gamer weighed in on BioShock for iOS, provided a complete database of Micromon’s Micromon, found nine celebrities besides Kim Kardashian with their own mobile games, and found eight games that you wouldn’t be able to play if it weren’t for some dedicated fans. And it’s all right here.
Touch controls can be a tricky thing to master, especially for designers. Too many inputs can clutter the screen, fingers can get in the way, and sometimes virtual controllers just don’t cut it. That’s why I found Caonpy’s Sensus iPhone case to be so intriguing.
The Sensus attaches to your iPhone 5 or 5s (with future support for more devices planned) and protects it from bumps and scrapes like most other cases can and do. What’s different about it is the inclusion of touch sensors along the back and side that can work as extra control inputs – that use variable pressure, no less. This means that it measures the strength of your taps to create something akin to virtual analog button sensitivity. It also means that, potentially, you’ll be able to use the back and side (or top if you’re playing with a landscape orientation) of the case to control what’s happening on-screen.
A lot of what happens with the Sensus is dependent on whether developers embrace the technology and what they decide to do with it, but there’s so much potential there. No more obscuring the screen with a finger when playing a game. Entirely new control methods that measure how hard you press down on the sensors. Honest-to-goodness virtual shoulder buttons in a place that feels natural!
Canopy is planning to release the Sensus in mid-2014, and the case will retail for $79.99.
Azoi, a Bay-Area based technology entity, has just announced Wello, an iOS case that doubles as a health tracker.
The hardware is able to glean information from users by sensors that begin to collect data when the held as one would hold a smartphone while taking a picture. It tests for and measures a wide degree of information: blood pressure, heart rate, blood oxygen, temperature, lung functions, and ECG function. It combines with the free Wello app to record and analyze findings.
“Over the last two years, we have focused our efforts on coming up with a technologically advanced yet easy-to-use tool to help you monitor health and facilitate better lifestyle choices,” said Hamish Patel, founder and CEO at Azoi. “We are proud to introduce Wello – a not so small engineering feat in microelectronics, nanosensors, imaging, data analytics and design, that we hope will make a big difference in helping the world become a healthier place. We have effectively put health monitoring equipment, typically in large form factors, into a highly convenient and accessible mobile phone case.”
Square has been around for a fair bit now; making digital transactions on-the-go and generally allowing small business owners a convenient way to charge customers using nothing but their iPhone and a tiny add-on. The new Merchant Case they’ve created in conjunction with Griffin Technology looks to improve upon that convenience.
Aside from simply securing your phone in a sturdy non-slip case, it will also make toting the reader and using cards even easier. There’s a spot in the corner of the case allows the Square Reader to slip right in without having to take the case off, and a groove along the bottom that allows credit cards to slide through easily and consistently. And once you’re done processing transactions for the day you can simply tuck the Square Reader into a compartment on the back of the case and forget about it until it’s time to use it once more.
The Merchant Case + Square Reader set won’t be shipping for another couple of weeks, but you can preorder it now for $19.99 on Griffin’s website.
Mipwr has launched its Kickstarter campaign for its hand-operated charger, backup battery, and protective case for the iPhone 5 and 5S. It’s a great idea for anyone who needs to find alternate power for their iPhone. There are 22 days left in the Kickstarter campaign with a goal of $78,000, so make sure to check it out if this is something of interest to you!
Lots of fresh new content this week at 148Apps.com, including a three part series tracking the history and development of Firemint’s Real Racing series. Rob Rich writes, “The soon to be released Real Racing 3 is on a lot of iOS gamers’ minds these days, especially many of us here at 148Apps. Because of this we thought it would be a good idea to recap the series. In fact, we might have gone a bit beyond that and created a trilogy. First we’ll be taking a look at the series’ history and the history of Firemint, the Melbourne based studio that created the series. After that we’ll be taking a look at the design factors and what when into creating the first two Real Racing titles as well as a little of the third. And in the third part of this series, we’ll take a look at the new Time Shifted Multiplayer found in Real Racing 3.”
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-12-14 :: Category: Education
And we close out our weekly tour of sites by checking in on the latest KickStarter spotlight on AndroidRundown.com. Joseph Bertolini writes, “It is amazing how many times I leave my phone in the car or forget to bring my keys out with me. Consolidating these two would be a dream and there are a few solutions available but their effectiveness is very questionable. One of the more complete and involved KickStarter projects that we have spotlit here, Intellacase is a smartphone case that incorportes within it a key fab for any modern car with keyless entry. While this does nothing for most car owners who still reside in the land of metallic gateways, a growing number of affordable cars are adopting the keyless ignition as a viable offering. Certainly for anyone who has a car that utilizes keyless technology this is an incredibly attractive opportunity. Image going out on the town, with the increasing prevalence of NFC payments, and being able to bring just a phone which has access to both wallet and car access.”
Another week down, but oh so much more to report in the coming days and weeks! Keep track of the latest happenings by following us on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. You’ll be glad you did. See you next week kiddies!
Device Reviewed With: New iPad
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The new Logitech Solar Keyboard Folio is, without a doubt, my favorite iPad keyboard to date. It’s well-made, easy to type on, fairly protective, and – check it out – uses light energy! OK, the review is done. Move along.
Just kidding. Needless to say, my week with this iPad keyboard has been instructive, and while the Solar Keyboard Folio isn’t the “perfect” keyboard case for the iPad, it has a couple of features that sets it above the rest.
First up, there’s the solar power thing. Look, charging my keyboard with a mini USB cable is a serious hassle. It doesn’t charge my iPad (why not?), and it’s yet another device I need to make sure it powered up before I leave the house for serious writing. I already have to charge up an iPhone, an iPad and a laptop (sometimes), why do I want to have to plug in a keyboard? I don’t, that’s why. Keeping the Solar Keyboard Folio charged is a simple matter of setting it down in some decent light, indoor or outdoor, and letting it soak up the magic photons. That’s it! I haven’t had to consciously think about charging this thing since the day I got it. This is seriously brilliant.
Secondly, there’s the two viewing angles. The iPad is held in a solid protective grippy section, and snaps in fairly well. This holder has two little pegs on either sides of the bottom corners that fit into the bottom keyboard section, at a typing angle, and – omgyay – a viewing angle, as in the picture at the top of this review. I know of no other keyboard case that allows both of these angles, and it transforms the way I use my iPad with the keyboard. While other iPad keyboards force the typing angle, making things unwieldy when I want to just use the touchscreen. the Solar Keyboard Folio has found just the right mix of flexibility here. As long as I’m happy with landscape orientation, of course.
Which is one of two downsides of this product. There isn’t a way to use the keyboard with the iPad in portrait mode, making longer documents less usable. I’d like to be able to use the iPad in either orientation, depending on the task at hand, but the Solar Keyboard Folio just isn’t designed with that possibility.
The other issue here is the awkwardness of using an iPad in a folio-style case with a keyboard attached. It’s possible to flip the keyboard around to the rear of the iPad and hold it for touchscreen use, but it’s not comfy. I ended up pulling it out of the folio to use when I didn’t want the keyboard, which sort of defeats the purpose of an always-on folio, right?
Bottom line, though, this is the iPad keyboard to beat right now. The keys are solid and responsive. Typing on this thing is a joy, though as with any iPad-sized keyboard, the smaller size takes a bit of getting used to.
iPhone gaming and mobile phone gaming in general are poised to take over the entire handheld gaming market but there is still one big thing holding them back. Touch controls can be great but they are no replacement for responsive, dedicated, physical buttons. Plenty of hardware manufacturers have tried to fix this problem with varying degrees of a success and now a new challenger, Bladepad, is trying to enter the fight.
Bladepad is a slim, protective case that adds a directional pad, two analog sticks, four shoulder buttons, and four face buttons to an iPhone all with full back-lighting. Like a PSPgo or Xperia Play, players can slide the buttons back underneath phone when they are not needed or just easily remove the case entirely. The case and phone can be simultaneously charged over USB and “the battery life is competitive with both the Nintendo 3DS and Sony PS Vita.” Bladepad, LLC says that the product will work with any iOS device using Bluetooth 4.0 including the iPhone 4S, the new iPad, and presumably whatever new iPhone comes out this fall.
However, the project is still in need of funding. Those interested should check out the Bladepad Kickstarter page where one can pre-order at reduced prices along with shirts and other prizes. Bladepad is currently slated for release this holiday season for $99.
This week at 148Apps.com iPad cases were on our collective minds. First, site editor Rob LeFebvre reviewed the new Hammerhead Capo Case, stating, “The Hammerhead Capo case is a solid, good looking basic case for $40. It comes in black, blue, white, red or orange leather-grained polyurethane. It covers the whole iPad, with molded open areas for the dock port, headphone jack, rear camera, and volume buttons.”
Meanwhile, Lisa Caplan also took a closer look at Brydge, a new Kickstarter project. Lisa writes, “There is a new Kickstarter project, Brydge, by Brad Leong that will come close to converting an iPad into a notebook with a hinged aluminum case and Bluetooth keyboard that looks a lot like a Macbook.”
We also had many, many new kid-friendly app reviews on GiggleApps, including Amy Solomon’s review of the latest Toca game, Toca Kitchen Monsters. Solomon says, “I have a real treat for readers today as I would like to announce that recently, Toca Boca released a free version of their popular digital toy app, Toca Kitchen. Titled Toca Kitchen Monsters, this new app includes two monster characters whom players can cook for and feed, complete with monster-like table manners and house-keeping skills.”
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-04-05 :: Category: Education
Children’s apps were the focus on 148Apps.biz as well, as Kevin Stout reported on a new study released by Ruckus Media Group. Stout writes, “Parents are tough customers to please. While it’s obvious that children’s apps and games need to be appealing to kids, it’s the parents that those apps are really targeting. Ruckus Media Group just announced the results of its national study about children’s educational apps and parental preferences. The research, done with research group, PlayScience, looked to investigate what app experiences parents provide for their children, what parents prioritize in children’s apps, parents’ involvement in their childrens’ reading, and parental guilt with digital devices. We spoke to CEO of Ruckus Media Group, Rick Richter, and obtained some additional information about the study.”
Thew news, reviews and contests keep on coming across all of the 148Apps network of sites. Keep up to date with the latest by following us on Twitter and Liking us on Facebook. You won’t regret it. Until next week…bye ya’ll!
Update: This review was published on April 27th. As of May 27th, the hinge on the cover has indeed broken. An iPad case company claiming to provide the kind of protection that Hammerhead does should surely last more than a month with light use. I’ve changed the scores above to reflect this.
The Hammerhead Capo case is a solid, good looking basic case for $40. It comes in black, blue, white, red or orange leather-grained polyurethane. It covers the whole iPad, with molded open areas for the dock port, headphone jack, rear camera, and volume buttons.
The top, folio-style cover is hinged to the back area, and features a hinged fold in the middle. The top cover meets the iPad glass with a soft, fuzzy material to protect from scratches, and auto locks and wakes the iPad on closing or opening the top flap.
The flap folds behind the iPad in a triangle shape with a little clip that seats within a spot on the back for three not-too-different landscape viewing angles. The clip also keeps the case closed, but did not actually snap into place in the back of the case, so did not feel as solid or stable as I’d prefer.
The Capo case also allows for a typing mode, Smart Cover-style, that uses the hinge as the stopping point for the case and iPad. This may not be tenable in the long run, as the hinge is only made of plastic, but it worked well and felt fairly solid in our testing.
The iPad 2 fits into this case extremely well, which makes sense as it was engineered for that devices specific dimensions. The new iPad fits almost as well, to the point that it’s perfectly usable for Apple’s newer tablet. The Capo case kept both iPads safe and snug in a variety of bags, as well. It feels good in the hand, too, with much less bulk than similarly protective cases I’ve used. The Capo case adds very little weight, and the faux-leather grain provides a nice “grippy” texture, making this a wonderful case for the minimalist iPad user.
The bottom line here is that the Capo case by Hammerhead is a solid-feeling protective case for an attractive price point. The new iPad and the iPad 2 I tested it with both felt secure and well-protected, and the case is my current favorite full-protection, non-keyboard case for my new iPad.
Halfbrick, developers of the immensely popular Fruit Ninja games has announced a lineup of brand new licensed Fruit Ninja products from a number of partners. These new products will include key chains, toys, plush figures, card and board games, headwear, bags, apparel, underwear, phone cases, calendars, fruit snacks, stickers, posters, and other odd and ends.
While it’s not yet clear exactly what these products will be when they are all realized, the prospect of Fruit Ninja card games and underwear is interesting to say the least. These products will be produced through a number of partners and will begin to roll out this week. As of yet, no announcements have been made concerning the cost of any of the products or where they will be available for purchase.
“For the first time, we’re creating characters and personalities around the fruit that players slice through,” says Halfbrick CEO Shainiel Deo, commenting on the new products. “I’m confident that the Fruit Ninja community will love these products.”
The new Akai Pro MPC Fly turns any iPad 2 into a full featured MPC (music production center). Not only does it turn an iPad into a portable production center, but it also acts as a protective case opening on hinges to sit upright, lay flat, or close shut for transport. The MPC Fly touts 16 pads with note repeat and swing, and works with any Core MIDI apps. It also works in conjunction with the MPC Fly iPad app.
With the MPC Fly iPad app users can sequence four tracks at once, access library of audio samples and drum kits, use various audio effects on their sequences, pull samples from their iTunes library, and share their work on SoundCloud, Facebook, or Twitter.
The MPC Fly houses it’s own rechargeable lithium-ion battery making it a truly portable solution. It also includes a wall charger, and will charge the iPad while it’s plugged in to the wall. No word yet on how much the MPC will retail for.
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Tablets are awesome. Tablets are also awkward to hold and use because of their size. In order to address this first world problem, there exists the HandStand. This case, available for both of the currently available models of the iPad, features a hand strap on the back to allow for one hand to securely hold the iPad while the other is free to use it. This is great for walking around with the iPad, or for holding it up to display to someone else.
The HandStand works well as a keyboard prop due to its design. This makes it easy to put the iPad on a desk and start typing on it, or to just easily see what is being displayed on the screen, though it isn’t usable as a video stand. The case is very easily usable in any orientation, and can be rotated while holding it. The case provides a good grip while using it; I never felt like I was going to drop the iPad while it was in my hand.
The problem with the HandStand is that by using it, the user is limited to explicitly one-handed usage of the iPad. This can limit what apps are usable while the hand is in the grip portion. This is far better used when with a specific use where having to have the iPad in one hand is best, not for everyday usage. But then, using it is a pain. Literally. See, the iPad is not all that heavy, but combined with the additional weight of the HandStand itself, and with all the weight being put on the hand and wrist, it becomes very quickly uncomfortable to use. When using it to show the iPad to someone else, but it’s more comfortable, but for self usage? It’s just uncomfortable. As well, the case makes pressing the lock and volume buttons difficult to press because of the rubber covering the buttons. This is 2011; why is it so difficult to make a case that doesn’t add unnecessary difficulty to using the buttons on devices? The iPad 2 version of the HandStand appears to offer direct access to the buttons.
I find the limited utility of the HandStand and the discomfort it causes while using it makes this a product I can’t recommend. This seems like a good idea at first, but unless it becomes more comfortable to use, the awkwardness of holding the iPad without this case is still superior.
If there was one reason I’ve heard more than any others about why someone bought an Android or Blackberry phone over the iPhone, it’s that the person doesn’t like to type on touchscreens. Regardless of my argument that after a few weeks, I ended up typing MUCH faster on the iPhone’s onscreen than on my old Blackberry, people often opt for a physical keyboard.
The NUU MiniKey is by no means the only physical keyboard case for the iPhone (there’s a flip-out one available at ThinkGeek and another popular one by BoxWave), but it has a few interesting features and sturdy-looking design (though it looks like it may almost double the thickness of the iPhone).
The MiniKey has navigation keys to allow easier movement between characters than using the magnifying glass on the touchscreen. Like most cellphone keyboards, the MiniKey has function keys to allow quicker typing of symbols and numbers. Something I haven’t seen on other iPhone keyboards is backlighting. While it isn’t helpful to a skilled typist like myself who doesn’t need to look at the keys, other more novice typists may need to see what keys they are pressing. The MiniKey is also compatible with the Mac keyboard shortcuts like Command+C for copy and Command+V for paste. And finally, it has a key to toggle between the physical and onscreen keyboard. I assume this key simply turns the keyboard on and off (which would be great to save battery life).
The NUU MiniKey is selling for $79.99 on Amazon (free shipping). This won’t appeal to those of us that trust that Apple knows best and if we needed a physical keyboard they would have given us one. But to anyone who is on the fence between iPhones and other phones, accessories like this may be the deciding factor.
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When I bought the Apple Wireless Keyboard for both my iPad and MacBook Pro, I immediately ran into a problem. How do I pack up the keyboard to take with me to class? I didn’t want to damage the keys by just throwing it in my bag. I sorely needed a case for the keyboard. As a side note to those who don’t have a keyboard case and don’t want to damage their keyboards: the box that the keyboard comes in is portable and sturdy enough to use temporarily.
Due to a suggestion on a favorite podcast of mine (Andy Ihnatko on Macbreak Weekly), I bought the Incase Origami Workstation. The Origami Workstation is definitely of a minimalist design. The keyboard simply clips into the case – quite securely, I might add. The case is closed, book-style, and velcroed shut. Just as a keyboard case, the Origami Workstation is not worth its $29.95 price tag. But the real usefulness comes in when it doubles as a stand for the iPad.
The Apple case for the original iPad isn’t the most secure stand. It’s not sturdy at all when using it in portrait mode or in landscape mode when it’s sitting upright. So pre-Origami Workstation, I was constantly worried that my iPad was going to fall screen first onto my desk in class (those slanted desks don’t help the situation). The top half of the Origami Workstation folds back and attaches to itself via velcro to make room to place an iPad.
The viewing angle that the stand creates is perfect (the Apple case makes an angle that’s too steep). It holds in both portrait and landscape mode. Also, it’s possible to leave the Apple case on the iPad and it will still fit into the keyboard stand.
The only problem I had with the Origami Station is that one of the velcro pieces fell off shortly after I received it. A little superglue fixed the problem, but I’d obviously rather not have to repair a new accessory that way.
For anyone who is tempted to buy the iPad Keyboard Dock but still wants to be able to use the keyboard in landscape mode, this is the solution – buy the Apple Wireless Keyboard and the Incase Origami Workstation.
At Macworld this year, we saw a few new iPad cases with something extra, a keyboard. We’re going to take a look at a few of these as we get them in. First up is the Keyfolio from historic peripheral provider Kensington.
The KeyFolio looks like a rather nice faux-leather portfolio for your iPad. The iPad is held in securely by a firm flap at the top yet still gives access to all the needed buttons and ports. On the flap that covers the screen there’s a rubber covered keyboard. While the keys are a bit small, the convenience is really nice to have. Yet I do have a problem with some the of the choices made with this keyboard.
They keyboard uses Bluetooth to connect to the iPad giving you the ability to use this hardware keyboard instead of the soft keyboard on the screen of the iPad. Using an external keyboard does offer you some speed and convenience perks. For one you can use the OSX standard command-C,V,X for cut, copy, paste. In addition for you text warriors, the arrow keys and key modifiers also work for rapid text selection.
This keyboard feels fairly good to type with, though it’s a little odd feeling. The rubber covered keyboard is nice in that it keeps dust, crumbs, hair, etc. from getting below the keys. But it does give it a cheap feel and lacks that satisfying click of a normal keyboard. Actually using the keyboard was convenient and easy. Once the BT is paired, it connected to the iPad quickly when turned on and worked well for typing. No problems in that respect.
The one real issue I have with this device are the decisions made with key placements. For one there’s no right shift key. I don’t miss this that much, but if you use that key it will take you a while to get used to it being missing. My bigger concern is that the quote key, both single and double, has been moved to the lowest row by the space bar. This one I have to go searching for every time I need it.
Overall, if you like the form factor, and can get by the key placements, this is a great case for you. While the case itself is on the heavy side it works really well and I’m enjoying using it. The KeyFolio is available from Kensington directly for $99, and considerably cheaper from other retailers like Amazon.
At 148Apps, we made a decision years ago to not review iPhone cases. There are just too many different cases with too many subtle variations to even try to take an authoritative stab at it. When an exceptionally different case like this comes along, however, we have to take a look. And not, of course, an authoritative review.
The Rokbed from Rokform was sent to us to take a look at and I must say I’m impressed. It’s a pretty formidable looking two piece all aluminum device, you really can’t call it a case, that slides with a very close fit around your iPhone 4. It’s precision milled by a company that’s been making aftermarket racing parts for years. And the precision is impressive but that precision doesn’t come cheap.
I’ve been using this on my iPhone 4 for a little over a week now and I must say I’m really impressed. I originally thought it would add too much weight or bulk to the phone at over an ounce, but I got used to it almost instantly. It’s easy to grab with ridges and valleys in all the right places. None of the ports or buttons are covered, and it still fits perfectly in my iPhone dock (once I removed the tray). And most importantly the aluminum frame doesn’t touch any of the antennas so it shouldn’t interfere with the reception.
One concern might be the headphone jack. While the three sets of headphones that I tried all worked fine, headphones with a large jack might not fit past the ridges.
Overall, I love this “case,” though I think of it more as an exoskeleton. Sounds tougher and more manly that way. It works well and feels very satisfying in the hand. It is very much on the expensive side at $79, but it is also extremely unique and it certainly does catch the eye.
Instead of making people go into Apple Stores, or even worse, submit mail-in rebates, for their free iPhone 4 bumpers or cases (if you don’t know why you’re getting a case, click here), Apple has created an app for the process.
The app tracks your phone by its IMEA, so you can’t get a duplicate case or a second case with someones 3G.
Also, be sure to read the policy on the iTunes page so you get the process done in the correct time frame. Don’t expect to hold off til October and get a case, Apple won’t have it.
It’s a shame that every company isn’t so crafty with its rebates.
Now Apple has announced that it will be providing free Bumper cases to iPhone 4 users and refunds to existing Bumper owners, there’s never been a better time to get hold of some low cost protection for your device. UK-based case manufacturer Proporta is offering a novel spin on Apple’s generous deal by offering a 20% discount on all of its iPhone 4 cases and screen protectors – if you send them your (now free) iPhone 4 Bumper case that is.
Guy Monson co-founder of Proporta says “We at Proporta think it’s very generous of Apple and admire their commitment to solving the problem. We believe that it’s good for Proporta as it’ll help open people’s eyes to the need to protect their mobile devices – something we’ve been saying for the past 14 years… we realise that a free case is a free case and that a lot of customers will still want fully surrounded protection.”
Whether you see the deal as a handy way to upgrade your iPhone 4 case to fully surrounded protection or a sneaky marketing ploy, Proporta does offer a wide range of cases and the discount will certainly help out those in the market for a more sturdy cover.
Those interested can simply enter the promotional code “CASEFREE” at proporta.com to take advantage of the discount.
We got an email this afternoon from Soonleader, a Chinese accessory maker that they’ve already started producing some cases for the next generation iPhone. You know, the one that hasn’t even been officially announced yet. In their note, they mention that they have taken a molding of the next generation iPhone. We can only assume that molding is from the one of many that have seemingly escaped the usual Apple tight security.
Here are a couple pictures of the new cases. They seem to have all of the ports in the right places for the pictures we’ve seen so far. Check the Soonleader site for more pictures.
While we already knowa lotabout the next iPhone. I’m pretty sure there are some things we do not know yet. Those things will likely be revealed next Monday at the WWDC Keynote. And immediately after I’m sure we will be deluged with case designs and accessories from other manufacturers.
Something is going horribly wrong with Apple’s legendary veil of secrecy. Following the highly documented iPhone prototype leaks already this year, it now appears that a prototype iPod touch has escaped into the wild as well. The same Vietnamese website that, to the best of our knowledge, still has an iPhone 4G prototype is now posting images of a prototype iPod touch with a built-in 2 megapixel camera. As before, Tinhte.vn has also posted a video of the device in action that appears to be running some kind of diagnostic tool with some very un-Apple graphics, but it does show the camera working. Last time we posted about Tinhte.vn we mentioned the dramas Jason Chen of Gizmodo encountered when showing off video of an Apple prototype and urged a little caution. The guys in Vietnam obviously missed that post or simply don’t care, this time they even include footage of them walking into their office!
While this is clearly a prototype model, it may not be that new. Apple is alleged to have scrapped an iPod touch with a camera shortly before its iPod event in September 2009 where it instead launched the iPod nano with video. Images circulating on the web around that time also looked very similar to these. Mac Rumors claims that the codename N18 on the sticker one of the images makes this model a third-generation iPod touch prototype, manufactured in June 2009. Whether or not Apple is planning to return to the iPod touch with camera remains to be seen but these pictures at least prove that they have tried it.
And meanwhile, across the South China Sea, more iPhone prototype information is being spilled. Taiwanese website Apple.pro has posted what appear to be shots of the next generation iPhone’s front fascia. This isn’t exciting in itself, given that we’ve seen what we expect to be the finished product already, but what is interesting is one of these front panels is white. Apple already sells the iPhone with a black or a white back panel and, if these images are true, now plans to sell a completely white version as well. We’re not sure we like the idea of an all-white iPhone, especially if the aluminum seen on the black prototype is included on this white version. We may well think differently when we see the final product, however, with Apple being a company synonymous with beautiful products. Then again, Apple used to be a company synonymous with pre-launch security…
As a rule, I try not to review iPhone cases, mainly because they are a dime a dozen and really all depend on your own personal taste. Every once in a while though I come across one that offers a little something extra, a flavor thats been missing, one thats just…special. Today that case is the OtterBox Defender. Unlike most other case makers out there OtterBox is known for designing with quality in mind opposed to flooding the market with cheap pieces of junk. The Defender series for the iPhone 3G/3GS is no different and built with one specific quality in mind, to protect.
In a very DEFCON like mentality, this class of cases come with three lines of defense.
1. A hard polycarbonate skeleton that fully encases the phone.
2. An airtight screen protector that protects all of the glass as well as the sensors on the front of the phone.
3. A soft but rugged silicone skin that surrounds the entire phone.
The hard skeleton shell which surrounds the phone contains three windows, two on the back one on the front. The two on the back are there to provide viewing accesses to the Apple logo and more importantly the camera. To date, this is the only case I’ve come across with a protective window for the camera itself. The window on the front is in fact the actual screen protector which is fully attached and sealed on the skeleton. The skeleton itself is designed to recess the screen by about a 1/4 inch, which is important to reduce the risk of cracking the screen if dropped on its face. The recessed screen and protector raise two of my only concerns with the case. The first being that the gap between your face and the screen makes it slightly uncomfortable to talk on, specifically in a noisy place that you need to press the phone harder to your ear in order to hear. The other being that screen protectors get scratched (that’s what they are supposed to do), but having one that is attached to my case means one of two things. Either I have to buy a screen protector for my screen protector, or I have to buy a new case every time the scratches get too bad. Not the end of the world but depending on how long it takes to get marred up it could quickly turn into an expensive proposition at $50 a case. Continue reading The Defender, a Case Built to Protect »
Delayed but not forgotten! Ok, so this is the most people I’ve ever had to apologize to at once, well except for that night in Vegas…on stage with Cirque Du Soleil…I’ve said too much. Regardless I must apologize for the delay of our Design A GelaSkin contest, as it turns out even we are not immune to the technical difficulties of the interwebs. Alas it’s all done, our galley is set up and awaiting submissions, our voting plan is setup, and I’m just itching to see what kind of creativity you, our readers, are really made of.
If you haven’t a clue as to what I’m talking about here’s a brief recap of my blog post a few days ago. Today we are beginning a new contest called Design A GelaSkin, if you’re not familiar with them, check out their site, each case is truly amazing and we need you to design one for us. If yours is chosen not only will you get a free skin for yourself and your very own 148Apps T-Shirt but also your design will be on a limitless amount of skins that we will be sending out for promotions and giveaways around the world!
Even if your not an artist we still need your help on picking out the best design so please come vote!
Welcom to the Design A GelaSkins Gallery Page. All submissions are added the night of submission so if you don’t see yours right away don’t fret, it will be there in the morning. To keep things honest voting will not take place until all the submissions have been made. In the mean time feel free to make comments about them at the bottom. Click here for more contest details. Spread the word!