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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

Favorite Four: Non-Fantasy RPGs

RPGs are incredibly popular, and probably will be for quite some time to come. The weird thing is that for some reason people seem to have trouble adapting the genre’s concepts into a world that isn’t full of magic, goblins, dragons, and so on. These games certainly do exist but they’re few and far between, especially on iOS. Hence our shoutout to four of our favorite iOS RPGs that aren’t saturated with dwarfs and elves and such.

fav4nonfantasy_missioneuropaMission Europa Collector’s
One part dungeon crawler, another part shooter, a sprinkling of horror, and a ton of stat driven RPG elements make up this offbeat adventure. Players must brave the abandoned tunnels of Jupiter’s moon as they attempt to piece together what happened to the crew that was initially stationed there, as well as try not to get torn to pieces by the hideous amalgamations of rotting flesh and electronics that continue to roam the halls. It’s a very action and loot-heavy RPG with nary an orc to be found.

$1.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-03-15 :: Category: Games

fav4nonfantasy_corporatefuryCorporate Fury
When a new CEO takes over a company, they can sometimes really shake up the way things are done. Corporate Fury takes that concept to a whole new level when salary men (and women) are forced to fight each other one-on-one for every little thing. Want a promotion? Then beat the snot out of the person above you. Thinking of passing that report along to the intern? You’d better hope they’re a pushover. Amidst all the goofy violence and mayhem players can improve their character with new skills, equipment, and combat moves as they attempt to fight their way to the top of the corporate ladder, leaving a trail of broken bodies in their wake.

$1.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-08-25 :: Category: Games

cq_rainslick03Penny Arcade’s On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3
Zeboyd’s latest convention-defying RPG might be full of all sorts of fantastical creatures, but they include things like mollusks with a love of mimes and giant crab-wizards. It’s a vaguely steampunk world filled with semi-Cthulhian horrors and a remarkably goofy sense of humor, not a series of dark forests filled with giant spiders and ogres. There’s still plenty of evil afoot only this time it’s a bit less conventional, as are the protagonists and their rampant multi-classing.

$2.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-10-24 :: Category: Games

fav4nonfantasy_theworldendswithyouThe World Ends with You: Solo Remix
When putting together a list of non-fantasy RPGs I knew I just had to include The World Ends with You. It’s a fantastic RPG in its own right that still manages to set itself apart from most other titles in the genre thanks to its style, music, characters, and plot. And it all takes place in modern day Shibuya as Neku and his accomplices attempt to survive the Reaper’s game and save themselves from a horrible fate.

$17.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2012-08-27 :: Category: Games

Favorite Four: Pixel Worlds

Like it or not (I personally like it), retro-inspired pixel graphics are here to stay. A lot of people love the nostalgia that comes with such visuals, but it’s also interesting to see how pixel artists interpret different ideas. They can squeeze a surprising amount of detail out of a few well-placed squares. This list chronicles four of the pixilated worlds we find the most impressive. Not just the characters, mind, but the overall artistic style of their universe.

fav4pixel_arrangerArranger
I’ll admit that it’s a bit rough around the edges. Some of the mechanics aren’t fully realized and the movement controls, while much better after an update, are still a bit tough to use. However this is a list about fantastic, pixilated worlds, and Arranger has definitely got that. Part homage to Atari classics, part acid trip through a 1970s arcade cabinet, it’s nothing it not incredibly imaginative and unique.

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fav4pixel_pixelkingdomPixel Kingdom
I know I’ve already mentioned how much I love the visuals in Pixel Kingdom but I’m going to reiterate because I really love them. Capturing so much personality and charm in characters that sport such small dimensions is no easy task, yet here it’s pulled off almost effortlessly. At least it seems that way. Simply watching the heros walk across the field brings a smile to my face. The added draw of discovering what other bizarre and wonderful creatures lurk just off-screen on higher difficulties is another big draw.

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2013-04-05 :: Category: Games

fav4pixel_canabaltCanabalt
What impresses me so much about Canabalt is how minimal its visuals are. Aside from the main character, I mean. His animations are pretty spectacular. There’s no color and practically no fine details to the backgrounds, yet it manages to tell a rather harrowing story. It’s a world on the brink of destruction, under attack from seemingly invincible extra-terrestrial aggressors, all depicted through the use of various shades of gray and some silhouettes.

$2.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2009-10-02 :: Category: Games

fav4pixel_sworcerySuperbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
Of all the worlds I’ve visited that can be expressed through “bits,” Sword & Sworcery‘s is definitely my favorite. It’s a world full of whimsical forests and foreboding caves. The magic floating in the pixelated air is almost tangible. And to say it’s gorgeous would be a rather terrible understatement. The warrior monk’s quest might be sorrowful (and a tad short), but it’s stayed with me ever since its completion.

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I think most people can agree that we probably don’t need quite as many first-person shooters on the market as we actually have. There are some great games to be had, sure, but with so much over-saturation it starts to become difficult to get excited about it. That’s why we’ve got a list of four of our favorite first-person games that aren’t shooters. They use the same perspective, and in some cases the same “floating hands” motif, but there are no firearms to be found. See? Just because a game is in first-person doesn’t mean it has to involve shooting stuff in the face.

fav4firstperson_darkmeadowDark Meadow
Okay, so technically you do shoot some stuff in the face here, but not in the traditional sense. That’s kind of a weird thing to say now that I think about it. Anyway the crossbow isn’t actually a gun, and it functions are more of a way to chip away at an enemy’s health before they close the gap. Dark Meadow is primarily a first-person adventure/action game with an emphasis on exploration and melee. A combination that ends up being pretty awesome.

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fav4firstperson_thequestThe Quest
Now The Quest is definitely not a shooter. It’s an old-school inspired, first-person, turn-based RPG that isn’t afraid to force those who write about it to use lots of hyphens. It’s also an incredibly robust adventure that allows players to create a number of various custom characters and tackle the world and its various quests as they see fit. And that’s all before taking the ridiculous amount of expansions into account.

$4.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-02-20 :: Category: Games

fav4firstperson_ravenswordRavensword: Shadowlands
If you were to ask any console gamers about first-person games that aren’t shooters, one of the first titles that would pop into their head would have to be either Oblivion or Skyrim. This is the iOS gamer’s equivalent. Ravensword is a huge RPG full of little nooks and crannies to explore and unique creatures to slay. It can, of course, be played in third-person as well but in this instance first-person is far superior.

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fav4firstperson_minecraftMinecraft – Pocket Edition
Betcha didn’t see this one coming. Minecraft is a lot of things to different people: gaming’s most amazing sandbox, a great way to be creative with friends, The Second Coming, a boring and over-hyped piece of junk, or even just “meh.” But what isn’t debatable is the fact that it’s one of the least shooter-y first-person games currently available on iOS devices. Not only is there little to no emphasis on shooting (plus there’s only a bow), but it’s a game that’s actually about building rather than destroying. At least for those who wouldn’t jump into another player’s game just to troll.

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Why should we ever have to look up the number for our favorite contacts ever again? We shouldn’t ever have to, and thanks to the Favorites list and to some clever trickery with home screen shortcuts, it’s possible to never have to memorize a phone number ever again!

The way to access Favorites is through the Phone app on iPhone, or FaceTime app on iPad or iPod touch.even if trying to FaceTime them. So open up the Phone app or FaceTime app and go to the Favorites tab.

HowToSpeedDial-EmptyFavorites

Tap the + icon in the upper right corner. Your contact list should now be displayed. Tap on a contact to access their page. Now tap on the phone number or email address you want to add to Favorites.

HowToSpeedDial-PickNumber

Phone numbers will add a shortcut to call the person; email addresses will go to FaceTime. Note that each phone number and email address will appear separately in the list, along with the description for the phone or email address, so you can easily call the different numbers for a person. You can rearrange and delete by tapping Edit in the upper-left corner.

HowToSpeedDial-FavoritesList

Note that this brings easy access to people for phone calls and FaceTime, it may make access too easy! Tapping on the person’s name will start a phone or FaceTime phone call, so if you tap the button accidentally, be prepared to hit the “End Call” button immediately! It isn’t possible to add a person to the list as an SMS/iMessage contact, but tapping the blue arrow to the right of their name (carefully, lest it start a call!) will call up their full contact card, where you can send them a message or email from that page.

Now, an even quicker way to call people or to send them a message is through home screen shortcuts. See, it’s possible through URL shortcuts to call up different built-in apps: tel://1-800-692-7753 when pasted in to Safari would call up Apple’s support hotline, and there’s shortcuts for sms:// and facetime:// as well.

The easy way to set up a home screen shortcut for yourself is to do it through an App Store app – there are several, but OneTap does the job, with the ability to create shortcuts for calls, messages, FaceTime, and even Twitter. It can even set up custom user icons.

HowToSpeedDial-OneTapScreen

The shortcut, once on your home screen, briefly opens up Safari before completing the action you want.

HowToSpeedDial-IconOnHomeScreen

Now, there are ways to do this yourself, but they’re more complicated and they require the iPhone Configuration Utility, or other methods with HTML pages and URL redirection that just aren’t worth your time.

Hopefully this guide helps you on your way to getting to contact the people you want to contact faster!

Favs Review

Favs Review

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
A handy way to consolidate the many likes and favorites we scatter across the internet.

Read The Full Review »
Your Ghost Stories Review

Your Ghost Stories Review

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
This app has enough scary stories to keep the fright going night after night.

Read The Full Review »

Favorite Four – Tower Defense Games

Hello there! It’s time once again for our Favorite Four, handpicked from the iTunes App Store just for you. This week, we’re looking at Tower Defense games. The genre is well worn across all gaming consoles, but perhaps no where as much as on the iOS itself (two full icon pages of iPhone game apps alone – try a search on ‘tower defense’). The concept is simple, yet addictive: place towers across a fixed or grid-defined path to keep bad guys, or creeps, from getting to your base or tower. The upside of so many these kinds of games is that you can find the ones that most appeal to YOU. Here are four of the ones that work for me.

Zombie Attack
This is one of the original iPhone Tower Defense games, having been released way back in July of last year, from IUGO. I still think it’s one of the first TD games on the iPhone to innovate with a non-fixed path, and a thematic consistency that lends to a survival horror-type feel while playing. If you want to play the innovator, go here.
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Sentinel 2: Earth Defense
I truly think this iteration of Sentinel is one of the best tower defense games out there on a thematic level, as well as from a graphic and gameplay standpoint. Its pretty, has a variety of great maps to play through, and keeps the challenge at a high yet accessible level. Give this one a shot if you love science fiction as well as gaming.
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Fieldrunners
If you don’t already have this game, either on your iPhone or PSP, go out right now and get it. The folks over at Subatomic Studios hit the sweet spot in terms of balance and gameplay with this title. It continues to be my go to game of choice when I’m sitting in a waiting room or jury box, needing something that launches quickly, keeps me engaged, and doesn’t require twitch reflexes to keep going. Grab it, and grab it now.
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Plants Vs. Zombies
While this one sits on the expensive side of the price fence, it’s definitely worth it. PopCap, makers of addictive gaming crack like Bejeweled and Peggle, bring what could be the most fun mutli-platform tower defense game to your iPad. The “towers” here are plants and flowers, keeping the hordes of creep zombies at bay with a variety of attributes and powers. This is a game that feels fully polished, fully professional, and competes with any desktop game of the type, let alone an iOS game. If you can handle the price tag, get it now.
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