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This Week at 148Apps: December 10-14

Posted by Chris Kirby on December 16th, 2012

This week at 148Apps.com, site editor Rob LeFebvre examined why mobile games just don't seem to have as much depth as their console brethren. He says, "Should gamers expect the same experience on mobile devices as on console? Probably not–but that may be changing. Michael de Graaf, the producer for the mobile version of Need for Speed Most Wanted, feels that the difference between console and mobile is narrowing. “At the moment, consoles still have an edge when it comes to raw power but that gap is narrowing,” he told us, “and we’ve seen possibilities continue to expand on mobile. The current quality of screens we are seeing and new form factors are increasing the quality and diversity of experiences that gamers can now have on a mobile device.”

Nick Rish, vice president of mobile publishing for EA, believes that comparing the two is futile. “There is something very immersive about holding a device 10 inches from your face,” he said, “putting on headphones and enjoying a game like Need for Speed Most Wanted while on your lunch break … It’s tough to say one platform provides a better consumer experience than the other; gaming is in the eye of the beholder.”

“Mobile gaming grew from very basic flash games we all’ve been playing on web browsers,” said Przemek Marszal, art director at 11 bit studios, the developer behind the Anomaly Warzone series. But that’s changing, he said, noting that even a hard-core indie developer like John Carmac sees the potential of iOS gaming.

Read the full post at 148Apps.

Over at GiggleApps.com, writer Amy Solomon got back to nature with her review of Scholastic First Discovery: The Forest: "Scholastic First Discovery: The Forest for iPhone is an impressive adaptation of the printed non-fiction title “In the Forest” A First Discovery Look and Learn Book from Scholastic. A version of this app is also available for iPad.

The Forest is an impressive application about nature, with wonderfully bright colors and robust details on each page bringing the sights of forests to devices. Instead of text that one would read, this app consists of very good narration that leads children through interactive exercises that will teach them a lot about the forests of North America.

Six chapters are included that cover a lot of ground, such as learning about both deciduous and coniferous trees, tapping leaves or branches to learn about the trees they belong to, also allowing children to drag these realistic bits of foliage around the screen."

Read Amy's full review at GiggleApps.

Last up, AndroidRundown.com writer Carter Dotson was happy to announce that one of our favorite games, Punch Quest, is coming to Android: "Android, get ready to start punching. Punch Quest is coming to Android very soon. The culprit? Noodlecake Games, who have made a habit (or a business model) out of releasing and supporting iOS-to-Android ports. Punch Quest combines and endless runner with beat ’em up gameplay, as players run through a dungeon, punching and uppercutting the foes they come across. Coins can be earned to be spent on new skills, power ups, and hats. Sweet, sweet hats."

Read the full story on AndroidRundown.

And we've cleared yet another week in 2012. Join us next weekend for another recap of the latest and greatest news from the week that was - and make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest for the latest info on the hottest apps. Now go get the rest of your holiday shopping done!

This Week at 148Apps: November 26-30

Posted by Chris Kirby on December 2nd, 2012

This week at 148Apps.com, we got to known iOS developer Lady Shotgun. Jennifer Allen writes, "Doing things a little differently from the rest, Lady Shotgun considers itself as a co-operative of freelance game developers, with the team working remotely from each other rather than through a central office. It might be unorthodox but this team is made up of folks with some extensive experience in the game industry. Uniqueness continues through the fact that Lady Shotgun is made up, predominantly, of female game designers and coders with men forming the minority here."

Read the full interview at 148Apps.

GiggleApps.com headed to work for a review of the unique Grandpa's Workshop. Amy Solomon says, "Grandpa’s Workshop is a fun interactive app which teaches about the tools found in a workshop as well as learning about simple math concepts.
I really enjoy how this app works, as a fun older gentleman walks children through workshop-related activities such as identifying tools, painting different projects or mending broken objects jigsaw style.

Simple math-related activities are also included such as using a tape measure to measure boards, cutting boards into fractions such as halves or quarters, choosing the correct number of screws or other parts grandpa needs as well as a spot-the-difference section involving tools that may be similar or different."

Read Amy's full review at GiggleApps.

Finally, AndroidRundown.com's KickStarter spotlight this week was for the BlueTube Amplifier. Joseph Bertolini writes, "Being a sort of audiophile I appreciate the sound of a classic tube amplifier and I recently just started re-downloading my favorite albums as lossless FLAC files to preserve that original sound quality. Looking around the market today, it is really a sad time for those who really care about the quality of their music as cheap parts are appearing from overseas and there is a resulting flood of bargain Bluetooth speakers and docks on the market. These sound terrible, and combined with the super-compressed audio files that the average user has in their music collection music really has taken a technological step backward at a time when there has been nothing but technological advances. Well, audiophiles and smartphone owners rejoice because I have discovered our savior and it does not come from the likes of Sony or any large corporation. Meet the BlueTube Bluetooth Tube Amplifier, and built out of solid cherry and walnut hardwood it promises to look as great as it sounds."

Read Joseph's full article at AndroidRundown.

Thus ends November, but that means December fun is just getting started. Join us on Twitter, Facebook and now on Pinterest for the latest news, reviews and more. See you next week, true believers.

Duolingo Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on November 15th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: LINGUISTICALLY EDUCATIONAL
Helping users learn a new language, Duolingo proves to be a great foundation for knowledge.
Read The Full Review »

Making Shakespeare Fun With Explore Shakespeare

Posted by Jennifer Allen on November 6th, 2012

Educators face a common plight, regardless of what they teach: how to inspire their students to be interested in the subject matter. Perhaps it's down to human nature, that anything that must be learnt is immediately dismissed. I'm as guilty as many others, only truly appreciating the works of Shakespeare when it came to having the choice of reading his work. I've got a feeling, though, that if apps such as Explore Shakespeare were around when I was learning, it would have helped.

The Explore Shakespeare series has recently been released by the Cambridge University Press, offering users the chance to read the full play, listen to an audio performance of it (featuring the voices of actors such as Michael Sheen and Kate Beckinsale) as well as explore and analyze the content.

But how does it actually fare with its core market? Headmistress of St. Mary's school, Cambridge, Charlotte Avery explained to us that the students were immediately enthusiastic during their time with the Romeo & Juliet app, she particularly enjoyed "the ease with which the students can find out the meaning of a word or phrase by simply tapping on it as they read," as well as a "diagram of all the characters involved in a particular scene," reducing any confusion that can come from understanding complex fight scenes in the play. The girls themselves explained that they appreciated the color photographs of professional productions "so that you can imagine what is going on" and that it was "fun to use."

Given the school's policy of "Bring Your Own Devices" into school, the Explore Shakespeare series looks set to be quite the hit there and hopefully elsewhere, too. Charlotte Avery explained it best that "bringing iPads into the classroom is the way to go!", pointing out that it helps to "bridge the 'disillusionment gap' between what young people experience with technology inside and outside of school."

It's an interesting move for education and one that I'd heartily recommend. Anything that brings classic literature to life for a new generation has to be a good thing. The Explore Shakespeare apps are available now. They're usually priced at $13.99, but currently on sale at $8.99 each.

Brain Cox's Wonders of the Universe Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By David Rabinowitz on November 2nd, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: EXPLORE THE UNIVERSE
Travel virtually around the universe and see it in vivid detail in this incredible app
Read The Full Review »

Dr. Frankenstein's Body Lab Review

iPad App - Designed for iPad
By Lisa Caplan on October 27th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: SPOOKY ANATOMY
Dr. Frankenstein's Body Lab puts little fingers - and big ones - to a fast-paced spooky anatomy-themed challenge just in time for Halloween
Read The Full Review »

Marlee Signs Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on October 27th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: TALK WITH THE HANDS
It's no stand-in for a proper teacher, but Marlee Signs makes for a decent introduction into the world of ASL.
Read The Full Review »

Fodor's Travel Phrases Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on October 4th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: PRACTICAL BUT LIMITED
Fodor's Travel Phrases is a suitable introduction to common phrases around the world but it is a little limited, even in paid form.
Read The Full Review »

Space Place Prime Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on September 28th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: FASCINATING
Capturing just what makes science and space so exciting, Space Place Prime is a great bite-sized, extensive selection of knowledge.
Read The Full Review »

Link: Narr8 Announced; A Different Kind of Publishing Platform

Posted by Jeff Scott on September 18th, 2012

We got a chance to go hands on with Narr8 a few days ago, and it's been officially announced today. Narr8 is a new kind of publishing platform, and a very ambitious one. The all original content will cover everything from entertainment to education and all be interactive, animated, and in series form. Fully developed, it will be an engaging and eclectic mix of content. Think of it as adult comic book-style with interactive content.

Could be an interesting new platform for content creators once they open up to outside authors. Right now all content is developed in-house. Take a look at the link below for more info on Narr8. Coming soon to the iPad.

ShowMe Xcode Review

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Jennifer Allen on September 17th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar :: USEFUL COMPENDIUM
ShowMe Xcode lacks attractive looks but there's some useful information here for newbies to Xcode.
Read The Full Review »

How My Body Works Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on September 12th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: INTERESTING BUT FLAWED
How My Body Works does exactly what the name suggests and in an interesting manner but its pricing structure and slow loading is off-putting.
Read The Full Review »

Inspire Your Kids To Make & Create With DIY.org

Posted by Jennifer Allen on August 29th, 2012
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

The summer break might be over but the quest to find new and exciting ways to entertain the kids continues on. We all want to make sure the kids near to us, whether they be our own kids or nieces and nephews, are suitably entertained while also instilling useful knowledge within them. DIY.org wants to do both and succeeds with aplomb.

The app helps kids build a portfolio of all the different things they make, whether they be fun drawings, technological creations or simply garden based projects. The app and accompanying website gives them a place to show off their talents as well as gain skill badges depending on what they've made. As a form of achievement, these badges focus the kids' aim while also giving them a sense that they've gained something. We checked in with CEO, Zach Klein, to learn more about the site/app that has garnered around 20,000 users so far.

Zach explained to us that their main source of inspiration has come from the kids themselves and the "unique qualities" that the youngsters offer. "They're simple people who are often passionate and capable of complex creativity," he explains. "There aren't many options for kids to contribute this special power to world. That's what motivates us."

Summing up what some of the best creations out there are, Zach demonstrated the sheer breadth of imagination from the kids using the service. Kids through DIY.org have made their own version of the popular game, Operation, a Stomp Rocket and a stop motion Nascar crash film. It's great to see such variation, right down to the sweet tooth fairy pillow created for someone's sister.

Each project can be assigned a positive comment or sticker with categories such as Awesome, Beautiful, Favorite and Genius ensuring that kids feel good about what they do. Zach explained that there are future plans afoot: "We plan to add social features to DIY so our members can make friends more easily. This will make it easier for them to share feedback and hopefully collaborate to make together."

It all sounds quite exceptional and a great idea to keep the kids happy and stimulated. Why not try it out for yourself? The app is available now and it's free.

Use Clipboard by VolunteerSpot to Track Back To School Parent Volunteers

Posted by Lisa Caplan on August 16th, 2012
iPad App - Designed for iPad

While many parents are at least a little bit happy to have kids returning to school, a new school year also means new volunteer jobs for parents and volunteer coordination from the schools themselves. A new iPad app, Clipboard by VolunteerSpot, offers PTA members, coaches, fundraisers and class moms and dads a way to keep track of their obligations to their local schools.

The idea behind the app is to skip the sign-up sheets and mass emails in favour of directly accessing the necessary sign up information and then to let parents communicate efficiently with the right people to get the job done, be it planning a homecoming celebration or spending time as a classroom aide.

VolunteerSpot boasts that their coordination tools, which are primarily located on their website, "boost administrative and management efficiencies by up to 85 percent and increase parent participation by 20 percent.” If you or your school use the service or the app, we’d love to know what you think in the comments.

The Fun Way To Learn Algebra: Helping Students And Educators Alike

Posted by Jennifer Allen on August 13th, 2012

Reminding us that the iPad can be a great educational tool comes the rather impressively titled The Fun Way to Learn Algebra - FREE - Hands-On Equations 1 Lite.

The app, part of a series of educational tools from Hands On Equations, introduces the concept of algebraic concepts to children from the age of 8 upwards.

We've all experienced the difficulty of figuring out algebraic formulas at one time or another, while growing up. The Fun Way to Learn Algebra - FREE - Hands-On Equations 1 Lite hopes to make it fun!

An introductory video explains that users can move game pieces around a scale to represent the two sides of an equation, eventually simplifying and deciphering what's going on. It's a simple visual aid that should help those students who are struggling to understand it all.

The Fun Way to Learn Algebra - FREE - Hands-On Equations 1 Lite is free to download and use, while other products by the developer build upon the taster session. All are out now and priced between $3.99-$4.99. A small price to pay for unravelling the conundrum of algebra!