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Another Week of Expert App Reviews

 

At 148Apps, we help you sort through the great ocean of apps to find the ones we think you’ll like and the ones you’ll need. Our top picks become Editor’s Choice, our stamp of approval for apps with that little extra something special. Want to see what we’ve been up to this week? Take a look below for a sampling of our latest reviews. And if you want more, be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.

Intake: Be Aggressive

 
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Without context, it would be easy to think that Intake was designed from the ground up for the iPad. It’s the portrait orientation, and the game being so multitouch-friendly, being about frantically eliminating pills that drop from the sky by tapping on them, with the ability to pop multiple at a time by using multiple fingers. It actually wasn’t made specifically for iPad, though; it started as a PC game that used the mouse. Now that Intake is on the iPad, it’s at home and is a must-have for iPad owners who love fast-paced intense experiences. The best way to play the game is by laying it down flat on a table, using one’s thumb on each hand to switch pill colors in an Ikaruga-esque fashion, and then using other fingers to pop pills up and down the screen as necessary. It’s worth popping the same color pill as what is selected in order to extend out combos – not only for more points, but to get the power-ups that can help keep the board under control. This is especially necessary during the challenging levels that appear every five stages: they will often be the end of a run, but completing them means it will be even more lucrative. Checkpoints that new games can be started from are available every 25 stages. –Carter Dotson

Lethal Lance

 
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There is no question that Lethal Lance swims in a big pool of old-school platformers, but LL Team and their publisher BulkyPix knew exactly how to make their title stand out. The game successfully (and almost immediately) plunges players into a lighthearted world that only jokingly ever takes itself too seriously (i.e. 2 star ratings come with the title of “Mr. Serious”). The objective (as one would expect from an intentionally old-school title) is for users to find their way to the other end of the level without losing all of their lives. Every level is packed with coins for players to collect in order to get a better rating. The rating system itself is pretty straightforward; in order to get all 3 stars, players must accomplish all of the 3 different objectives: they must finish the level without losing any lives, collect all of the coins, and reach the exit before the time expires. If the time does expire, they will simply lose one of the stars – as opposed to starting over. –Cata Modorcea

Sharebrands Stereo Headphones

 
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It’s funny how important comfort can be when it comes to a set of headphones, which is exactly why I’ve been enjoying Sharebrands’ Stereo Headphones as much as I have. It’s also rather funny how this $65 pair of headphones is actually more comfortable than some close to $200 pairs I’ve tried. And heck, some of that $65 isn’t even profit – Sharebrands donates 25% of the sale price of each pair to help the environment (Green), men and children’s health (Blue), women and children’s health (Pink), education (Yellow), or to help fight poverty (Red). Comfort isn’t the only thing these headphones have going for them, though; they also sound pretty good. I’m sure there are better pieces of audio headgear out there, but what I’ve been hearing is certainly not bad. None of that horrible “tinny” business, good balance, and the extra padding around the ears helps to block out a lot of background noise that could otherwise intrude on whatever the user might be listening to. –Rob Rich

Racer 8

 
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Puzzle games and cars don’t exactly seem like the most logical combination on the planet. However, anyone who has ever played the classic quasi-board game “Parking Lot,” knows that that not only can the blend work, but also that it can actually be quite amusing. This is why it should come as no surprise 30-06 Studios would want to take advantage of this mix with their new title, Racer 8. Will it have players revving their engines or leave them running on fumes? Equal parts asset management, time trial and puzzle game, Racer 8 plays on several different mechanics to keep players’ heads constantly spinning. The core goal consists of navigating the car, which is constantly in motion, through a series of checkpoints and ultimately across the finish line. This is actually completed by revolving the square tiles in the map grid in order to form a track for the vehicle to follow. Throughout the process there are other concerns such as gas scarcity and target times, which both play secondary roles in determining how well the player performed on any given stage. –Blake Grundman

Accompli

 
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Why have three apps when it’s possible to do everything with just one? That’s the thinking behind Accompli, an email app for Gmail and Exchange users that also happens to offer contacts and calendar integration. It has its issues – mostly relating to its privacy policy – but if that’s not a major problem then Accompli is a handy solution for business users. Starting out, Accompli offers all the features we now come to expect from email apps. It’s minimalistic to look at as well as use, with a choice of thread views, a unified or separate inbox, and plenty of simple to use gestures to manipulate everything. At this point, it’s familiar enough that one would be forgiven for wondering what makes Accompli stand out over something like Mailbox. –Jennifer Allen

Sago Mini Monsters

 
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Sago Mini Monsters is a playful and creative app for toddlers and early preschool children that allows them to explore with color and other fun details as they create unique monsters that they need to take care of by feeding, primping with accessories, and attending to their personal needs such as teeth brushing. Each monster is met by dragging him or her from the green swampy area seen at the bottom of the page bubbling about adding a charmingly icky sense of style – especially as one will need to drag the monsters and their food up from this bog-like area as a tap will also make this fluid bubble. Children will enjoy decorating their at first detail-less monster with the use of five included colors. Simply draw and, when completed, a charming creature face will sprout giving personality to the character the young player has just decorated. Also fun is the ability to swap out different features to further customize the look of these monsters, complete with fun gooey details as one pulls off areas of the face, allowing new parts to sprout. –Amy Solomon

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
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:

AndroidRundown

Greedy Dwarf

 
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In Greedy Dwarf you control a dwarf in a mine cart, collecting gold and surviving the inside of magma-filled cylindrical caverns. It’s a endless runner type of game, chopped into different levels. The controls of the cart are fairly easy to comprehend. By swiping left or right, the cart will go that direction respectively. The levels are mostly in the form of a cylinder, so the dwarf can ride not only on the ground, but also on the walls and the ceiling. By using two fingers or both thumbs, the mine cart jumps. The problem with these jumps that is difficult to see when to jump or where to land, because of the 3D environment. When dying often, this gets very frustrating. –Wesley Akkerman

Dancing Samurai

 
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Little known fact, but samurai warriors very rarely used their katana swords in battle. They mostly used pikes, like everyone else, because they had the farthest reach, meaning that you could deal a lot of nasty damage, while being on the safe distance yourself – and you didn’t have to worry about friendly “fire” as well! The reason that I speak about ancient Japanese military tactics is that I frankly don’t have much to say about Dancing Samurai – not because it’s bad, but because it’s so small – like a bonsai tree under mount Fuji. –Tony Kuzmin

Brandnew Boy

 
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The first thing that will most likely strike you about Brandnew Boy (apart from its odd title) is that it looks great. Brandnew Boy is built using the Unreal engine and even though I reviewed the game on a Nexus 4, it still managed to pack a graphical punch. The game itself revolves around you playing as a young man (or if you’d prefer, a young woman) who’s got a bad case of amnesia. What they (you) can remember though is how to kick and punch. This is handy as each level you complete is full of bizarre creatures, ranging from odd-looking ‘egg men’ to what can only be described as a demon with an umbrella. –Matt Parker

And finally, this week, the Pocket Gamer crew highlighted its most anticipated games for May, took an advanced look at the next game from Rock Band developer Harmonix, reviewed 3DS sport sim Mario Golf: World Tour and picked the three best iOS and Android games of the week. Have a read.

We Are Your App Authority

Every week, the experts here at 148Apps take on the hundreds of apps released weekly and take the time to sort through them, find the good ones, and write about them in depth. Isn’t that spectacular? A few lucky ones become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Here are a few excerpted notable reviews from this past week. Want to see all of them? Then be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.

Thanks to the advent of quality cameras on cellphones, we as a society take a heck of a lot more photos than we ever used to. The simplicity involved and the fact that everyone almost always has their phone on them, makes it all too easy to get very snap happy. What’s the best way of storing them, though? There’s so many different services, it can get complicated. Everpix aims to consolidate all the services together, enabling users to always be able to browse ALL their photos, not just certain groups of them. –Jennifer Allen

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-12-22 :: Category: Photography

Major Magnet from PagodaWest Games is at once a celebration of the titles that influenced its creators, but it also exists as a fantastic original concept that works wonders on touchscreens. It’s simultaneously nostalgic, original, and fun, a winning combination. –Carter Dotson

$1.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2013-02-21 :: Category: Games

Simogo has made a name on the App Store for themselves by creating stylish games that operate in a way that’s just a little bit different from the rest of the App Store. Year Walk is a haunting adventure that tells a strange story, seemingly influenced by Swedish folklore, that’s their best title yet. –Carter Dotson

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

Wrapcam is the newest photo editing app, but it’s not quite the same as the others. It does use a variety of filters, but these different filter options and effects are designed to let users wrap and roll pictures to create impressive photo art. It’s like taking a picture and wrapping it up in decorative paper or cloth. –Angela LaFollette

$1.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-11-15 :: Category: Photography

Within mere seconds of playing, Spunk and Moxie made me smile yet swear. Yes, it’s that kind of game. It’s entirely appropriate that cameos are made by characters from Spelunky, VVVVVV and Super Meat Boy, given they all share a similar level of difficulty. There’s even, currently, a $1,000 cash prize for unlocking all the stars! –Jennifer Allen

$1.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2013-02-21 :: Category: Games

Other 148Apps Network Sites

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

GiggleApps
I am excited to introduce readers to a new maze app by GiggleUp, Preschool Maze 123. As the name may imply, is a delightful maze app for preschool children – a lovely companion app to their other lovely maze app, Toddler Maze 123. –Amy Solomon

$2.99
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2013-02-13 :: Category: Education

I would never expect or encourage the iMarker and the Crayola Color Studio HD to take the place of coloring by hand with crayons on paper, but my son is quite interested in digital toys and tools. I am happy that he can continue to work on his pencil grip now while using this app, but I would love more apps or more material to be developed that would also work with the iMarker. –Amy Solomon

FREE!
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2011-05-27 :: Category: Games

Sharing with Duckie Deck is a delightful role-playing app for toddlers which re-enforces how to be nice and share with others. –Amy Solomon

$2.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-11-02 :: Category: Education

AndroidRundown
Rebuild is an interesting apocalyptic game from Sarah Northway that brings survival, end-times and zombies together in a fun, atypical way. It had the major zombie staples: zombies are running amuck, and I had to make it to a sealed off bastion of humanity, and guard against the undead that would just love to welcome us, uh, personally to their fold. Graphically, the developer did well to ensure that the zany artwork became a part of the gameplay, instead of distracting from it. There was a weird sort of bleakness to the abandoned All Mart that lent itself to the storyline. The hand-drawn art was from from unpleasant, and the game animations worked well. –Tre Lawrence

If I thought about some of the least sexy things that I could write this KickStarter Spotlight on, I would imagine that plastic screen protectors would be somewhere near the top. These are the things that nobody wants on their device and, in my opinion, something that really muddles the advantage in having a swift, crisp display. So, that aside, for me to take up an entire blog post about a screen cover it must be fairly incredible. All the latest advancements in Corning’s Gorilla Glass and similar products have ushered in a new wave of advanced smartphone screens capable of being ever sensitive as well as strong. Unfortunately, things do happen. Every smartphone owner, including your’s truly, has that story of the time that they dropped their phone a mere foot and ended up with that disheartening spider-webbed glass. While we might not be able to do anything about the glass in modern phones there is certain control over what goes on that screen. Enter Evolutive Lab’s Rhino Shield which, among carrying on the animal moniker trend, is by-far-and-away the most unbelievable protection that I have ever seen. –Joseph Bertolini

Vector is a side-scrolling running game based on the basics of parkour. It pitted me as an individual reluctant to conform to totalitarian regime in power, and with an understandable need to escape. I started by picking a location… the first of three (Downtown) was opened b default. Each level had its own appropriately named sublevels, which had to be unlocked. Actual gameplay jumped directly into the storyline, with a built-in tutorial (which is always a big plus for me). I had the bad guys after me as I jumped out of a building. Using swipes, I had to conform to my environment to elude an equally skilled establishment thug intent on preventing my escape. While running, there were goodies to collect, and tricks to learn. Prior to the action starting, I was given a trick or two to pull off, which determined moving on to higher levels. Coins collected could be used to open special moves, as could real cash. –Tre Lawrence

This Week at 148Apps: August 5-9

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.”

Want more of this Editor’s Choice review? Find it at 148Apps.

$2.99
+ 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.”

Dive into Murky Reef at GiggleApps.

$4.99
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.”

Want more of this report? Head to 148Apps.biz.

Another week down, but a new one is just around the corner. Join us on Facebook or Twitter to get the jump on the latest news, reviews and contests. Until then, get back to class.

This Week at 148Apps: August 15-19

This week at 148Apps.com, Jeff Scott took a look at the new Dexim iBlueK iPad2 Keyboard Folio Case, saying, “I must admit that I was a little disappointed overall by the iBlueK. Partially because of the 6+ month wait. While it’s a competent keyboard and a good case, it now just feels behind. The 6 months in production, after announcing it at CES, now makes it feel a bit dated. While it was innovative in January, it just feels bulky and a generation behind. Other manufacturers, led by Apple and the Smart Cover, have gone for more sleek and thin cases.”

Read the full review at 148Apps.com.

Meanwhile, at sister site GiggleApps, Amy Solomon reviewed part game-turned iPhone app Spot It: Dobble. Amy writes, “This app has made me very curious about the related party game, something I will be on the lookout for when my son shows interest and aptitude for this application. Like books, I find value in both the classic presentation of a game like this as well as its application counterpart. Although far into the future, I see myself buying this card game as a standard gift in grade school if my son allows this. I highly recommend this app!”

Read the full review at GiggleApps.

$1.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2011-06-17 :: Category: Games

Android Rundown featured an article this week on Talkbox Voice Messenger, an app that allows sharing of small voice recordings between Android and iOS users. Writer Carter Dotson says, “By holding down on the push to talk button, the user’s voice is recorded and then immediately sent to the other user in the conversation. They can then send messages back, and users can listen to the messages. The app can either play back through the loudspeaker or phone speaker by holding the phone up to the ear. Users can send more than just their voices to their friends and other TalkBox users, as they can also geotag their messages and include pictures. It’s kind of like the best walkie-talkie ever.”

Read more about Talkbox Voice Messenger on Android Rundown.

FREE!
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2011-01-18 :: Category: Social Networking

Finally, 148Apps.biz writer Rob LeFebvre shared a quick overview of AppBlade, a new service for devs wishing to test their apps. Rob writes, “Typically, companies trying to deploy applications, for the iPhone especially, have to use a number of complex steps to move developed applications from the developer to testers or other enterprise users. The process can be confusing and involves many steps. AppBlade hopes to help manage this complexity from one simple, easy to use centralized location.”

Read the full article on 148Apps.biz.

That’s it for this week. Be sure to stop by our 148Apps lists for updates on the latest releases and more, and don’t forget to check out our Twitter and Facebook streams too! See you next week.

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