The week is almost over, and the holidays are that much closer, but those gifts won’t find/buy/wrap/give themselves now will they? Thankfully there are people like us putting together handy-dandy holiday shopping guides for you! Whether you’re looking for new hardware and accessories, or just something a bit less impersonal than an iTunes gift card, we’ve got you covered.
Today’s guide centers around iOS gamers. These are the folks who love their portable games and spend most of their morning commute matching pieces of candy or fighting immortal titans. If you’d like to make the gamer(s) in your life have an overall more pleasant and convenient gaming experience, or simply get them some really cool stuff to play, check out our list below for some ideas.
MOGA Ace Power Gamepad
The MOGA Ace Power Gamepad ($99 – iPhone/iPod Touch) has several distinct advantages over the other controllers in this list: it’s collapsible so it’s easy to carry while still acting as an extension of the iOS device, it’s the first official MFi gamepad for iOS devices, it uses dual analog sticks in addition to buttons and a D-pad, and it comes with its own battery that will help to extend the amount of time iOS gamers can play things while away from home – or at least a charger. The noticeable downsides are that it’s rather heavy thanks to the internal battery, and it doesn’t support portrait orientation. [Our Review]
While you’re considering the MOGA Ace Power Gamepad, you should probably also think about software to go with it. I’d recommend Oceanhorn ($8.99 – Universal), Dead Trigger 2 (Free – Universal), and Silverfish ($1.99 – iPhone) since all three are not only good games in their own right but also confirmed to be compatible. I’m sure there are plenty of other games out there that will work with it as well, but if you’re trying to put some sort of package together it would probably be best to stick with what you know will work.
MOTO TC Rally
There’s also the option to mix things up and use and iOS device as the controller for something else, rather than attaching a physical controller to it – hence the MOTO TC Rally ($99 – iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch). This is more than just a RC car with an iOS controller: the free app used to control it adds quite a few gaming elements to the physical racing. Users can race their friends and cause virtual damage -that actually affects performance- through special impact sensors, use power-ups, customize their car’s performance and more.
LEGO Mindstorms EV3
The LEGO Mindstorms EV3 kit ($349 – iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch) is another great option for those looking to venture a little off the beaten path. I mean it lets users basically build whatever the want, then control it with their iPhone or iPad. How cool is that? It’s got the universal LEGO appeal, the remote control angle, and taps into those creative juices for potentially limitless amounts of fun. [Our Review]
iKit NuCharge Battery Case for iPhone 5
The iKit NuCharge Battery Case ($89 – iPhone) is certainly something to consider for the iPhone 5 or 5s gamers in your life. The lightweight case doesn’t block any ports, and it allows users to recharge their phone on the go. Perfect for lengthy trips or holiday visits with relatives where someone (not naming any names here) inevitably forgets to bring their charging cable. [Our Review]
What games go best with a phone-charging battery case? Battery hogs. There are a fair number of them out there and they can usually be picked out by their super-pretty graphics. A couple of great-looking (and just plain great) games you might want to consider are Warhammer Quest ($4.99 – Universal) and, of course, Infinity Blade III ($6.99 – Universal). However, XCOM: Enemy Unknown ($19.99 – Universal) is by far the biggest battery-muncher and would definitely benefit from something like the iKit NuCharge case.
Mophie Juice Pack Pro
The Mophie Juice Pack Pro ($129 – iPhone) may not be the most elegant-looking case, but what it lacks in style it makes up for in functionality. This is one very durable charging case that will keep batteries going longer and protect the phone from minor splash, dust, and more serious impact hazards. It’s a good fit for camping trips or gamers who are particularly brutal with their devices. [Our Review]
The Mophie Juice Pack is another charging case, sure, but it’s also quite durable. So it should be able to stand up to a little punishment when you toss your phone across the room after a particularly rough game of Tilt to Live 2 ($2.99 – Universal) or Pivvot ($2.99 – Universal), and will let World War II turn-based airplane strategy buffs like our own Andrew Stevens keep playing Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies ($4.99 – Universal) through just about any harsh weather conditions.
Ultimate Ears Mini Boom
Doubtless we all know at least one audiophile, and the Ultimate Ears Mini Boom speaker ($99 – iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch) is definitely something to consider for them. It’s easy to connect to any device via bluetooth, is durable, a good size for travel, and produces some impressive sounds even by itself. It’s a great way to enhance anyone’s iOS gaming experience. [Our Review]
Of course if you’re looking to get some nice speakers, you may want a game or two to go with it that put the enhanced sound to good use. I’d recommend The Last Door – Chapter 2: Memories ($1.99 – iPad) for those who love a good scare as it’s a ridiculously creepy game without any audio enhancement whatsoever, so you can imagine what some high-quality speakers will do to it. Home ($2.99 – Universal) is another excellent choice for the same reason. LEGO Lord of the Rings ($4.99 – Universal) is another good option because, come on, who doesn’t want to hear that epic score and the official movie dialogue on something more substantial than their iPhone/iPad speaker?
Feel free to peruse our Editor’s Choice selections for more top-rated game ideas.
Three days in and, if you’ll forgive the reference, “it doesn’t show signs of stopping.” Welcome once again to another one of our holiday shopping guides! Even the most battle-hardened gift giver can be plagued by indecision. Thankfully there are people like us putting together handy-dandy holiday shopping guides for you! Whether you’re looking for new hardware and accessories, or just something a bit less impersonal than an iTunes gift card, we’ve got you covered.
Today’s guide is for those creative types in your life. These are the people who like to draw, compose music, sculpt, or otherwise make things with their iOS devices. So long as they enjoy creating, and you’re in need of some gift ideas, you should check out our list below.
OlloClip Quick-Flip Case
The Olloclip 4-in-1 Lenses ($69 – iPhone) are about the best recommendation we can make for the creative types in your life. This collection of interchangeable lenses – 2 macro, a fisheye, and a wideview – clips right on to the iPhone, and are a great way to enhance one’s photography without the need for any retouching. The only real issue with the Olloclip lenses is that they can’t clip on to an iPhone unless the case is removed. The Olloclip Quick-Flip Case ($49 – iPhone) is the perfect answer to this problem. The corner can unclip and swing away to make room for the lens attachments without the need to remove the case entirely – and as an added bonus it comes with a tripod adapter. [Our Olloclip 4-in-1 Lenses Review] [Our Olloclip Quick-Flip Case Review]
While the Olloclip lenses are great, there’s no shame in getting a little digital help for those photos and videos. Pro Camera 7 ($1.99 – iPhone) is a very handy app for taking great photos and videos. TimeShiftGen2 ($0.99 – iPhone) with its real-time filter previews and easy-to-use interface would make for another handy inclusion.
SanDisk Wireless Media Drives
These wireless SanDisk Drives ($50 to $100 – iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch) are also a worthwhile consideration for most artistic types. Whether they like to snap lots of photos, mess around with amateur (or even professional) video, or illustrate, they’re a fantastic option for storing a massive body of work without eating up an iOS device’s storage space. They can be particularly useful for when users are on-the-go or otherwise away from their computer for extended periods of time. [Our Review]
Pretty much any apps that allow users to store their created content would be a great fit with these SanDisk drives. AppCooker ($9.99 – iPad) allows would-be developers to create rough app prototypes, so having an external backup for all of those files and assets is a good idea. Music creation apps along the lines of Session Band – Piano Edition ($5.99 – Universal) aren’t a bad idea either. I mean those remixed tracks need to be saved somewhere, right?
Intuos Creative Stylus
The Intuos Creative Stylus ($99 – iPad) and drawing go together like two things that go really, really well together. Wacom knows tablets, and by extension they know styli. The Intuos feels great, works great, comes with an assortment of attachment tips, and the compatible apps (listed on the official site) offer palm rejection and pressure sensitivity. [Our Review]
For the more musically inclined, consider the iRig HD ($99 – iPad/iPhone). The device can connect a guitar to any iOS device and plays the sound directly through the iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch. Producing songs or simply screwing around with a guitar and converting the resulting tunes into a digital format doesn’t get much easier than this, and Amplitube for iPad (iPad – $9.99) is the most significant companion app to consider along with it – since it’s actually developed specifically to work with the iRig HD and allows users to do all their recording and editing directly on their device. [Our Review]
Castiv Guitar Sidekick
The Castiv Guitar Sidekick ($29 – iPhone/iPod Touch), on the other hand, is a surprisingly simple contraption that’s equally as clever. This little clip attaches to the neck of a guitar and allows the user to clip their iPhone or iPod Touch to the other end – an ideal spot for reading tablature, recording tunes, tuning, and more. [Our Review]
Why not add The Backing Track App ($0.99 – Universal) to the Sidekick while you’re at it? This useful little app adds a background track for the guitar player to mess around with. The tempo can be adjusted and the tracks will loop until the users decides to turn them off. It makes practicing improvised tunes a snap, and is a lot more portable than a computer or radio.
Feel free to peruse our Editor’s Choice selections for more top-rated creativity app ideas.
Welcome to Day Two of our 2013 shopping extravaganza! Having trouble figuring out what to get for a distant relative, new neighbor, or estranged second cousin? Thankfully there are people like us putting together handy-dandy holiday shopping guides for you! Whether you’re looking for new hardware and accessories, or just something a bit less impersonal than an iTunes gift card, we’ve got you covered.
Today’s guide centers around highly social iOS users. I’m talking about the people who practically live on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, and all that. It can be tough to come up with something for such diehard (virtual) social butterflies, and even more tricky to surprise them, but we’re certainly going to give it a shot! Check out our list below for some hopefully useful ideas.
iKit NuCharge Battery Case for iPhone 5
When people check Twitter, Facebook, and so on all the time, it stands to reason that they might need something to supplement their battery usage. Enter the iKit NuCharge Battery Case ($89 – iPhone). It’s light, slim, and great for on-the-go charging. Which in itself is great for people who use their phone once every ten seconds to update their status or share photos of their lunch. [Our Review]
Feed reading is a big part of most social media users’ day-to-day habits, which is why including an app like Ziner ($4.99 – iPad) and Reeder 2 ($4.99 – Universal). With so much news and information just a few taps away, having an extended battery would be very important indeed. And if the need arises to settle an argument about any number of topics at a get-together, massive cross-referencing search engine Phlo ($1.99 – Universal) is also available.
The Netsuke from Poddities (~$20 – iPhone/iPod Touch) is another worthwhie consideration. It’s such a simple little piece of hardware: just a metal loop that screws into the bottom of the iPhone. And yet it can be quite handy for someone who’s constantly checking their screen. Installation is easy and it allows users to attach their own lanyard or other form of loop so that their phone is always within easy reach withouth the danger of falling out of a pocket. Once attached they’ll be able to wear their iPhone or iPod Touch around like a necklace or strap it to their wrist for easy Tweeting – or really any other sort of rope/nylon-based attachement they can think of. [Our Review]
The most significant purpose of the Netsuke is the way in which it makes one’s iPhone or iPod Touch so easy to have on-hand. For this reason, it’s ideal for messaging apps such as the new Tweetbot 3 ($2.99 – iPhone) and IM+ Pro7 ($4.99 – Universal), as well as for camera apps like PureShot ($1.99 – Universal). If a random thought occurs that must be shared, friends must immediately be informed of a change of plans, or something really cool is happening and photographic evidence is needed, your Netsuke recipient will be covered.
Sonos Wireless Music Systems
Another thing social folks like to do is share their music with others. Either by mentioning what they’re listening to in a post, linking YouTube videos, quoting lyrics, or flat-out playing their music for anyone within range to hear. It’s for the latter reason that we recommend the Sonos Play:1 ($199 – iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch), Sonos Play:3 ($299 – iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch), and Sonos Play:5 ($399 – iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch). These are some seriously high-quality speakers that work incredibly well solo or grouped together. They even feature humidity protection, so you can place them in the bathroom without having to worry about damage from the steam. Even if someone on your list already has a Sonos speaker, they could easily add another one to their system for even more expansive sound. [Our Sonos Play:1 Review]
If the person you’re getting a Sonos speaker for also happens to enjoy amateur videography, you might want to consider gifting them a copy of Vidstitch Pro ($0.99 – Universal). It’s a great way for them to combine multiple videos and still images into a sort of moving collage, and could certainly benefit from the addition of some high-quality sound. Conversely, if they prefer to listen rather than create there’s always Pocket Casts ($3.99 – Universal). This unassuming little app is a fantastic tool for downloading, managing, and listening to one’s favorite podcasts regardless of whether or not they’re available on iTunes.
Feel free to peruse our Editor’s Choice selections for more top-rated social app ideas.
The turkey leftovers have been finished off, distant relatives have made it back to their homes, and the holiday shopping season has officially begun! Knowing what to get for someone, regardless of how familiar you may be with their tastes, can often be a challenge. Thankfully there are people like us putting together handy-dandy holiday shopping guides for you! Whether you’re looking for new hardware and accessories, or just something a bit less impersonal than an iTunes gift card, we’ve got you covered.
Today’s guide is for the health nuts. Those people who get up inhumanly early to exercise, bike and/or jog with regularity, or otherwise make athletic activities a significant part of their day. If you’d like to help the health-conscious iOS users in your life with some handy gizmos, or maybe nab a useful app or two they may not have heard of, check out our list below for some ideas.
The earHero Headphones ($149 – iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch) are definitely something to think about for the people on your list who go jogging or biking in busy urban areas. These earbuds are all about safety. They actually allow outside sounds to reach the listener even while in-use, which may sound silly but can make a big difference to someone riding their bike through the streets of a major metropolitan area. Car horns, truck engines, etc, won’t be drowned out – which will theoretically make running and biking around town significantly safer. At least from an “almost getting blindsided by an SUV while crossing the street” point of view. Admittedly the sound quality isn’t ideal for listening to music, but when safety is a concern I think it’s a worthwhile sacrifice. [Our Review]
While the sound quality may not be ideal for music, that’s no reason to think that there aren’t some worthwhile apps that would pair well with earHero headphones. Take Zombies, Run! ($3.99 – iPhone) for example: it’s not about music but about listening for the approaching zombie hordes and running like mad to keep from getting eaten. Then there’s TempoRun ($2.99 – iPhone), which is admittedly music-focused but it’s more about the tempo than the actual tunes. It allows users to set their own pace by way of adjusting the speed of their music, and even offers streaming radio if they get tired of their own playlist.
Dodo Hardcover Case for iPhone 5 and 5s
Why the Dodo Hardcover iPhone Case ($34.95 to $54.90 – iPhone 5/5s)? Because it’s a good-looking and sturdy iPhone case, that’s why. It may not be ideal for clipping to a waistband or strapping to a limb, but it offers great protection when tossed in a pocket. And sometimes people prefer to put their iPhone in a pocket (presumably a zippered or buttoned one) when they go running or biking. So the Dodo case will protect their phone, and look good when they take it out for a moment or two during a breather at that little cafe on the corner they like to stop at sometimes. [Our Review]
With such a durable and good-looking case, there’s no harm in taking a look at some rather movement-intensive apps. For example, if your recipient were to load up Performance Stretching ($2.99 – iPhone) or Pocket Yoga ($2.99 – Universal) before going for a run or otherwise working out, they wouldn’t have to worry much about their iPhone falling out of a pocket and bouncing off the floor. The same goes for Pedometer Pro ($1.99 – iPhone), which will keep track of the user’s running information whether they’re out on the street or on a treadmill. If the phone happens to fall out of their pocket while in mid-run, the Dodo case will be there to protect it.
Adidas MiCoach SPEED_CELL
On the more literal side of things, we have the Adidas MiCoach SPEED_CELL ($70 – iPhone). It’s a tiny stat-tracking gizmo that measures speed, distance, steps, stride rates, and more, and clips right on to a shoe’s laces or can be placed into a special cavity found in specific brands. Just sync it up with an iPhone and start running! [Our Review]
Then there’s the RFLKT+ ($129 – iPhone); an iPhone-powered bike computer. The RFLKT+ clips on to a bike’s handlebars and displays app data (and controls music playback) straight from the iPhone – transmitted wirelessly over bluetooth, of course. In other words, users can clip their iPhone somewhere or stuff it in a secure pocket or something, then control everything from this tiny display mounted in front of them. Yes please!
The FitBit Force ($129 – iPhone) is another worthwhile stat-tracker to consider. This little watch-like thing can be worn all day and night – keeping an eye on calories burned, steps taken, sleep, and more. Those stats can then be wirelessly synced to an iPhone, where users can monitor their progress in real time and even set personal goals to try and beat. It also supports a sizable number of third-party fitness apps. Oh, and it tells time.
Bike2Power BikeCharge Power Pack
For the very active bike riders who tend to stay out for hours at a time, there’s also the Bike2Power BikeCharge Power Pack ($59 – iPhone). This durable all-weather battery backup attaches to the user’s bike and can be hooked up to a number of iOS devices (yes, even an iPad) when needed. If they’re out for a while and need more juice for music on the ride back, they’re covered. If the forgot to charge their iPhone and need to call for a pickup due to inclement weather or exhaustion, no problem. Of course if they stay out even longer after recharging their stuff, that’s another matter entirely.
With that in mind, how about an app like gMusic 2 ($1.99 – Universal) for all their audio entertainment needs? It allows users to stream their entire Google music collection, and if they burn out their phone’s battery in the process of listening to Queen on repeat they can easily charge it back up again with the Bike2Power. Anything they’d be using while out on the road would be a good fit really; from Cyclemeter GPS ($4.99 – Universal) to MotionX 24/7 – formerly MotionX Sleep ($0.99 – iPhone).
Feel free to peruse our Editor’s Choice selections for more top-rated fitness app ideas.
One of iOS 7′s new features is the iCloud Keychain. What this allows is for passwords and credit cards stored in AutoFill to be shared between iOS devices and Safari on Mavericks so that you can easily retrieve them without needing to type them in again. It is also engineered to protect your data through an additional security key and two-factor authentication. Here’s how to set it up, use it, and protect yourself.
iCloud Keychain can be set up when setting up a new device, when updating to a new iOS version, or from the iCloud menu in Settings. When setting up for the first time you’ll be asked if you want to enable iCloud Keychain and to create a security code. By creating a security code, this will store the data in iCloud; if you don’t create one it will still allow for data to be shared between devices, but it will not be stored in iCloud and you will need to authenticate a new device from another device with iCloud Keychain enabled on it. Authenticating from another device requires putting in the password to the iCloud account and choosing “Allow” on the dialog that appears.
To save a password or credit card to iCloud Keychain, just log in to a site or use a credit card in Safari. A dialog will pop up asking if you wish to save to the iCloud Keychain. Now, when you try to use a saved login or credit card from another device, Safari can automatically fill it in no matter where it was originally saved from.
It’s important while using iCloud Keychain to have a passcode of some sort on your device. This treats you physically using your device as secure, so make sure that there’s a security mechanism in place to ensure that your device is being used only by yourself or someone you trust. Otherwise someone can easily get access to your passwords and credit cards just by having your unprotected device.
What the security code for iCloud Keychain does is make it simple to sign in to the iCloud Keychain from a new device without needing to log in on that other device. This is a separate code or password from your login passcode, though it can be the same.
By default iCloud Keychain will prompt for a four-digit security key, though it’s possible to either have an advanced security key that can contain letters and numbers, and/or one that is randomly-generated for complexity. If you forget this key, then you can use a second device in order to approve it. It also provides security so that even if someone compromises your iCloud account and wants to set up iCloud Keychain, they still can’t get into your data unless they know the second password or if they have another device of yours that they also know the password to.
If you disable iCloud Keychain on a device by disabling it from the iCloud Settings, you can prompt to save the AutoFill data locally or erase it.
Hopefully this demystifies this very useful feature!
Does your job have you responding to lots of emails saying the same basic thing? Create a shortcut with a good canned response to save some time and thought.
Fix common typos
iOS’ built-in autocorrect is useful, but sometimes its autocorrect can try to correct to phrases that aren’t what you want. So, make your common mistake the shortcut, and the corrected version your phrase. This will take preference over autocorrect’s suggestion so you can create your own autocorrections!
As well, autocorrect works for text shortcuts you’ve created. So if you make a typo for a shortcut, autocorrect will fix it to the correct shortcut and correct expanded text. You don’t have to be perfect – just close.
Only use the emoji you want
Like to use certain emoji but hate having the international keyboard button? Well, it’s possible to have only certain emojis be triggered by using a keyboard shortcut. Just enable the emoji keyboard, insert the emoji(s) in the phrase section, and then create a useful shortcut. Want to insert the US flag into tweets? Just create a usflag keyboard shortcut.
You can then disable the emoji keyboard and it will still work – it’s a system font, so it will work even if the keyboard is disabled. This works with any international keyboard, too, though emojis are more fun.
Insert frequently-used URLs
Constantly need to link to something? Set the URL as the phrase and set an easy-to-remember shortcut. This is perfect for reaction images or for, you know, more serious purposes. But mostly for GIFs.
What kind of shortcuts should I use?
Make sure that they’re phrases that don’t conflict with actual words. I like to make six-character shortcuts, usually making the first three relate to the topic of the shortcut, and the last three being something about the shortcut. It needs to be simple, memorable, and short enough to justify you saving time! Note that shortcuts do sync up between iCloud devices, so you don’t have to worry about having to recreate shortcuts when you pick up your other device.
Keyboard text shortcuts are a great way to save time – using them is a great way to make the use of your device more efficient! Go on and be short!
Notification Center may be nothing new to iOS users, but iOS 7 brings a bit of an overhaul to the veritable notification bar. Here’s a guide to what’s new, what’s different, and what’s been removed.
The first big change is that there are now three sections to Notification Center: Today, All, and Missed.
Today replaces many of the widgets that were originally displayed at the top of Notification Center. This shows the current weather in a human-readable forecast, saying what the weather today will be, what the current temperature is, and what the high will be. Below this, Notification Center will tell you what events you have today and show you which events are coming up in the next few hours. Below this, the Stocks widget is displayed. At the bottom, the summary of events for the next day is displayed.
All is the traditional list of notifications: based on how they are sorted in Settings, apps’ recent notifications will all display here as they come in. Tap the X next to an app’s name in this view to clear out all of that app’s notifications.
Missed shows notifications as well, but only ones that appeared while the device was locked. These are not sorted by app, but are sorted purely by when they came in. Clearing the app’s notifications out of All or opening up the app the notifications came from will clear it out of Missed.
As well, Notification Center is now available from the lock screen, so you can see the Today, All, and Missed notification views from this screen. As well, you must swipe on the notification itself to open it up – the bottom Slide to unlock bar will always unlock the device, not view the most recent notification.
Many of the settings for Notification Centerremain the same as they were in previous versions, particularly arranging notifications for the All view, but there’s new settings for the new features. You can control Access on Lock Screen to enable or disable access to the Today view and to view notifications while the device is locked. Disable both to disable the Notification Center pulldown on the lock screen entirely.
The Today View settings control which widgets appear in Notification Center. Most notably, the ability to share to Twitter and Facebook from Notification Center has been removed.
This covers the changes to Notification Center in iOS 7. Now go on, be notified! Be aware!
Posted by Rob Rich on September 9th, 2013 iPad Only App - Designed for iPad
Having trouble with some pesky rivals or figuring out how long certain units may last against high level defenses? Well fret no more! Pocket Gamer has released their own guide for Clash of Clans, and it’s totally free.
The Pocket Gamer Guide to Clash of Clans covers just about anything you’d want: from beginner’s basics to intricate strategies. It also includes comprehensive break downs of troops, heroes, spells, buildings, resources, and defenses, as well as a plethora of general tips and tricks to take advantage of.
If you’re neck-deep in all things Clans, Pocket Gamer’s guide will probably be of use to you.
There is a dirty little secret that some are too busy worrying about Plants vs. Zombies 2’s microtransactions to acknowledge: It can be played for free, FOREVER. In the final installment of our pro-tips series we will discuss exactly how to do so. Penny pinching has never been so simple.
Free-to-Play or Free Forever?
Yes, there are certainly more than a few opportunities to shell out real cash monies to the talented folks at PopCap Games. It could even be argued that a few of the purchase exclusive items might be of benefit to the player; but they are far from critical. In fact, later on in the base campaign these seeds could prove to be weaker than the core suite of spores unlocked through the game’s natural progression.
Another major complaint is the fact that players must spend earned in-game currency in order to utilize one-time-use power-ups, much like the ones we discussed yesterday. The fact of the matter is that while the currency can be refilled using actual dollars, it’s just as easy to replay/grind early stages again in order to earn cash. Could this be considered tedious? Probably. But if it were easy, why would anyone ever trade real cash for “funny money?”
Unlocking worlds utilizes a similar concept of iterating on a stage several times, only with a different gameplay wrinkle for each session. These stars are then used to turn around and unlock new worlds. The base set of worlds were easy to reveal, as long as the player has enough patience to play through stages a couple of times. Honestly, what fan of the series wouldn’t be doing this already? Each world had a low enough bar of entry that the minimal star counts were trivial at worst. Hopefully PopCap will continue with that trend in whatever additional content that awaits players in the pipeline.
At the end of the day PopCap may have made their game almost too devoid of the necessity to spend money. Plants vs. Zombies 2 may not be a free will offering, but with the way it’s designed it might as well be. For this reason it is worth imploring players to actually consider buying an item or two, all in the name of supporting a developer that consistently gives fans more game for next to nothing in return. Remember, just because you can always play for free doesn’t necessarily make it the right thing to do. With great replayability comes a great responsibility.
So for the last time, never forget that there is no shame in having a green thumb if keeps the blood off of your hands! Thanks for a fantastic week and please continue to return to 148Apps for all of mobile gaming needs.
Pull up a chair and listen to the tale of a Plants vs. Zombies 2 round gone horribly awry. Not only can this happen to anybody, but there is little that can be done once the cogs of fate have started rolling against the player. Unless, of course, there are a few power-ups left in the satchel. Then all bets are off.
Power to the Plants
There comes a time in every player’s game when they decide whether to pack it in and take a loss or dig deep and try for a miracle win. For the non-wussies in the population there are power-ups, which help to level the playing field – for a cost. These specific perks take four different forms and can vary in levels of usefulness.
As far as generic pay-per-use perks go, there are three different ways to dispatch undead using gestural controls: pinching, flicking, or sliding. The one thousand coin lightning bolt is used by sliding a finger between zombie adversaries, which links them in a chain of electric obliteration. A throw costs a bit more, clocking in at twelve hundred, and consists of a flick of the finger that will send the troops reeling. Arguably the most viscerally appealing is the pinch, which simply pops the head off of every reanimated abomination and oddly happens to be the cheapest at only eight hundred coppers.
The last, and easily most useful of the quintet of amplifications, would be the overcharge leaf. This game-changer allows any one plant to cause an absurdly augmented amount of destruction. Every plant is effected by this item differently, but the result is always the same: tons of re-dead corpses. While these normally cost a thousand apiece to unlock, frequently they can be collected off of dispatched plants.
But when are these items right to use? Most times they should be saved for the last or middle wave of zombies, unless the fate of a mower is in question. If a match can be won using less than three perks, then it’s normally worth it. The reason for this is that between two to three uneventful stages, these losses can be recouped without necessitating the spending of a penny of actual cash.
Most critical of the decisions is which power-up will be most effective for a given scenario. As far as bang for the buck goes, the pinch is the most effective in clearing a map while not draining the bank. If undead are bunched together, a couple of double flicks can go a long way towards cleaning house. Heavily armored brutes are best to be left for the electric bolt. They may not end up completely drained by the end of the attack, but all of the weaker enemies in the area will be singed beyond repair, leaving all the defenses with a single target.
It may seem like a no-brainer to purchase as many overcharge leafs as possible, but they’re abundant enough through death drops that it should almost never need to be done. This power will be the one that is used the most abundantly, but should also be reserved for worst case scenarios. Juicing up a Bloomerang may be the very best use in early worlds, simply due to its combined horizontal and vertical attack, but be sure to experiment with each plant when the stakes are lower.
Be sure to keep it locked here for tomorrow’s final lesson: How to play Plants vs. Zombies 2 forever, without spending a dime. Rest assured, it is not to be missed. So until next time, remember that there is no shame in having a green thumb if keeps the blood off of your hands!
Another day, another sweet dose of high fructose Plants vs. Zombies 2 tippage. In today’s lesson, the goal is to make stage replays as painless as possible. So sit back and relax while we let the knowledge flow.
Déjà Vu All Over Again
Once a stage has been cleared as part of the main campaign, players have only seen the proverbial tip of the iceberg when it comes to what it has to offer. In order to clear whole worlds, they’ll need to re-visit any given area as many as three more times, all in the name of grinding out stars.
One type of mission that’s used heavily early on is the limitation of how many plants can be in used at one time. Thankfully there are seeds that are destructible! Be sure to make heavy use of the potato bombs, and this will help keep the plant count down while still maintaining a high level of protection. Additionally, it is also extremely useful to combine cocoanuts, placed as far to the right of the map as possible, with an evolved Peashooter or Bloomerang behind it. The nut will eventually be gnawed through, but not before heavy damage has been unloaded on the troops barricaded behind it.
Another pesky permutation are the “non-trample” assignments, where a line of moss will exist somewhere on the map and the player’s job is to prevent the hallowed ground from being decimated by undead feet. Once again, the cocoanut is the player’s best friend when laid two rows in front of the “no-step zone.” Behind the roadblock, plant some Bonk Chow. This will help deliver a strong one-two punch, as the strikes can hammer away on any zombie feasting on a nut. Thankfully this method will also allow for quick plant replacement should the brain munchers manage to breach the perimeter.
Probably the most irritating of all the challenges involves use of a sun power cap and plant limit, simultaneously. Right out of the gate the key should be using as few sunflowers as possible to race to the power cap, while making use of the low cost bombs as a cheap form of early defense. Once the sun cap has been reached destroy all of the sunflowers, because they are no longer useful and take away from the plants available for productive use. Next is to focus on collections of Bonk Choy, backed by Bloomerangs. This combination will help to pick away at the defense long before the troops ever reach the front lines. Bonks are more than up to the task of cleaning up the riff-raff.
Also, don’t be afraid to make use of a power-up in a pinch. The trick is to pick the correct time to deploy these special abilities. Tune in tomorrow to see just what scenarios best necessitate paying for a little help from the deities of the greenhouse. Until then, remember that there is no shame in having a green thumb if keeps blood off of your hands!
A new week is finally upon us, which can only mean one thing: a fresh new dose of Plants vs. Zombies 2 pro-tips. So without further ado, it is time to ring the bell and start class. Everyone, please take your seats.
Seed Selecting Secrets
As players venture deeper into the fertile soils of Plants vs. Zombies 2, it becomes immediately evident that there are WAY too many different seed varieties! Unfortunately, there is also a fairly limited number of active seed slots available per round. This makes the selection of the proper plant varieties absolutely critical. Here are some helpful hints to fend off even the hungriest of zombies.
The main factor to consider are a stage’s hindrances. If this is the first time through a stage, most likely the player will only be dealing with varying waves of outbreak management. For this scenario, be sure to refer to last week’s hint for successfully starting a match. To utilize this strategy, add at least a standard sunflower and pea-shooter (or their upgraded states which are unlocked later), along with a land mine. Additionally, a strong hand-to-hand plant like Bonk Choy will be more than enough to make a significant dent on the front lines, while the pea-shooters chip away at the horde from a distance.
If a stage has obstacles in the way, this is where stratagems become a bit more subjective. In the case of tombstones that appear in a region like Egypt or their numerous facsimiles in other worlds, it is critical to choose between either avoiding the objects altogether or blowing them to kingdom come. Most times, the latter of these options will prove to be more effective. In this circumstance the Bloomerang is by far the player’s best friend. Not only will it chew through multiple obstacles at one time thanks to its multiple projectiles, but also debilitate enemies as well. Nesting these seeds in between a back row of sunflowers and the melee focused Bonk Choys will help ensure their survival and as well as a steady flow of graves being demolished.
Last and certainly not least, NEVER underestimate the value of delay tactics. Having a cocoanut in the arsenal is an extremely effective way to bide time, especially when there is not enough sunshine in the bank to produce a more powerful offensive unit. It may not be the most glamorous slot in the utility belt, but there are times when its quick deploy time and thick skin can genuinely make a difference when an unprotected lawn mower is in the balance.
Now get out there and start making smart lineup decisions! Tune in again tomorrow when we talk about conquering stages for stars and how to tackle their assorted nightmarish objectives. And as always, remember, there is no shame in having a green thumb if keeps blood off of your hands!
On the heels of Plants vs. Zombies 2’s release for iOS, we decided it might be fun to pass along a few tips and tricks we’ve learned over the last month; starting with some helpful strategies for setting up a solid foundation. Keep an eye out all next week for even more zombie-stopping strategies!
Start With Sun and Spuds
Anyone worth their salt knows that nothing happens in the conflict between zombie and zucchini without the assistance of plenty of sunlight. This is why it is key to make planting sunflowers the early emphasis of almost every match. But that’s a no-brainer, right? What might not be so obvious is how easy it can be to get an entire row of sun production in the ground before ever needing to plant a single pea shooter.
But what about the zombies bent on munching the marigolds? It turns out that the lowly land mine, which is available from the start, can prove to be crucial in tackling the issue while simultaneously helping a player lay the groundwork for victory.
At the start of every match begin by planting sunflower seeds across the entire back row as quickly as possible. On most maps, by the time the second plant has sprouted the first zombie will begin meandering down the aisle. Carefully note the location of the creature and plant a land mine in that row, the third column from the rear. The standard walkers that start nearly every match will take long enough to saunter that the entire back row of sunflowers should be able to be seeded before the first brain-chomper goes boom.
Follow suit for the second critter that appears, making sure to observer the same buffer of two squares from the back. This buys time that can be used to either plant an entire second row of sunflowers (my personal preference) or layout the first layers of protection. After the first two to three undead, this will have allowed for a free chance to stockpile energy or shore up defenses for whatever onslaught the hoard has in store. Fortunately this setup will work in almost every scenario and can help set the stage for a swift conquest.
Be sure to let us know in the comments if you have any Plants vs. Zombies 2 topics you would like to hear about. We will be taking requests all next week. And remember, there is no shame in having a green thumb if keeps blood off of your hands!
Why use a separate app to edit your photos? The built-in Photos app offers a variety of basic features for sharing and editing photos that may just handle most usage cases without needing to launch a separate app to make rudimentary changes to photos. This is how to use the Photos app!
Launch the app and choose one of the photos that you want to view and/or edit. You are first presented with the Share arrow for posting to various social networks, sending it to people, or other options. The Play arrow will start playing a slideshow of photos in the album the current photo is in. The AirPlay icon will send the photo to an Apple TV on the network. The trash can icon will delete the photo. Don’t expect this to look the same in iOS 7, what with the death of skeumorphism and all.
The real fun starts with the Edit button in the upper right corner. The rotate button will change the orientation of the photo, which is handy if photos have come out sideways. It rotates photos in a counter-clockwise 90-degree turn with each press.
The wand icon will turn on auto-enhance, which adjusts light and color levels in the photo automatically to try and make it look better. Tap the icon again to toggle it, and tap Save in the upper-right corner to save the change. The red circle with a line through it is the red-eye removal tool. Tap on a photo with red-eye and it will be removed if the app detects red-eye. Finally, the crop icon will allow for photos to be cropped. This is grat for making precise changes when wnating to share a photo to Instagram, or creating a new Twitter avatar. Use the Constrain option to force the cropping section to a certain ratio.
The forthcoming iOS 7 update will add new features like filters to the existing set along with a new design, so be prepared to do even more with photos, from Photos!
The X-Com series, particularly the earlier games, are notoriously unforgiving. Although while XCOM: Enemy Unknown has been modernized, and is therefore more player friendly, it’s no slouch either. In fact, even on the Normal difficulty there’s a good chance you’re going to get creamed if you try to breeze through it. But all is not lost. If you find that you’re losing soldiers at an alarming rate or keep getting the project disbanded because a bunch of countries freak out and leave, we’ve got a few tips you might want to consider.
Facilities are essential. Your manufacturing and research abilities, as well as your satellites, all require the proper facilities to operate. Completing a terror mission to earn five engineers could be a waste if you don’t have enough workshop space to use them. And that could lead to falling perilously behind in the early game arms race.
Research, research, research. Don’t neglect your scientists! The technologies they can uncover after studying alien corpses and weaponry are essential to giving your soldiers a fighting chance. By the same token, don’t be afraid to take aliens alive. Assuming you can do so with relative safety. It allows you to recover their weapons intact, which can then be equipped on your soldiers or sold for a tidy profit.
Don’t ignore the Council. You might prefer to spend your money and resources on better armor and weapons, but if you don’t get a few satellites in orbit and ignore the Council’s requests you stand to lose immense amounts of funding. Plus you can flat out lose if too many countries abandon the project.
Check your stores often. Sometimes you’ll acquire items you don’t need for research or manufacturing, and these can be sold off in bulk for a decent price. The same goes for alien tech and specimens you’ve fully researched. So long as it isn’t Ellerium or alien alloys there’s a good chance you won’t need it for the long haul.
Build smart. Most facilities belong to one of a few different categories, such as energy production or satellite use. Whenever two facilities belonging to the same category are next to each other either horizontally or vertically (i.e. uplink next to an uplink, etc) they both get a bonus. This is a very good thing.
Pay attention to your upgrades. You won’t necessarily have the chance to develop all of them, but many of the projects you can produce at the Forge (once it’s available) can make a huge difference.
Consider holding off on major tasks. Despite all the open-endedness Enemy Unknown’s story does progress linearly. Every so often an urgent mission or task will appear, and once it’s completed the next phase of the story begins. While the alien forces will get more and more difficult to deal with over time, regardless of where you are in the story, there are benefits to keeping the plot in check. Namely it gives you the opportunity to research better equipment and gather more resources before the endgame.
Pay close attention to soldiers’ skills. Plan accordingly. Try to select skills that compliment each other, such as the heavy’s Holo-Targeting (accuracy bonus to all squad members when firing on an enemy) and the sniper’s Squad Sight (can target any enemy that other soldiers see, no matter the distance, so long as there’s a clear path to the target).
Consider having two or more of each elite class. It can take some effort but will be worth it. It enables you to create various soldiers with skills that are ideal for a variety of situations; such as a sniper that specializes in large, outdoor environments or an assault soldier ideal for cramped locations.
Upgrade the barracks. Don’t forget about the Officer Training School. Many of the upgrades you can acquire can be a huge help throughout the game; especially the ones that increase the squad size. Check in every so often as more options become available as your soldiers gain higher ranks.
Don’t ignore the support class. Having a medic on the team can mean the difference between a favorite soldier spending a few days in the infirmary or getting their own epitaph. Plus their smoke grenades can really help out in a pinch.
Sidearms can be your best friend. Pistols may not seem all that great at first, but they can mean the difference between life and death; especially plasma pistols. Make sure to give your most powerful handguns to your snipers as they can’t move and fire their rifle in the same turn unless they learn a specific perk. Otherwise, if you intend to move them at all, make sure they have rockin’ pistols. And make the effort to manufacture the pistol upgrades when you can, too. I’ve had my snipers take down enemies from quite a distance during their reaction shots using only a pistol on several occasions.
You wanna live? Get a S.H.I.V. The S.H.I.V. is a small robotic vehicle, not unlike a human-sized tank. They’re no replacement for a battle-hardened soldier but with enough research and development they can be quite devastating. Plus they’re the perfect expendable solution to filling an injured soldier’s spot on the squad during a mission.
Use the right armor. You might think it’s clever to put every single soldier in your squad into the most durable armor you can find, but it’s more likely to hinder them. For example, snipers shouldn’t be on the front lines, and therefore could benefit a lot more from armors that may not be super-tough but can help them reach the high ground easier.
Cars can, and will, explode. It seems obvious but I can’t stress the importance of keeping an eye out for burning vehicles enough. Cars and trucks do provide decent cover, but once they catch fire it’s only a matter of time until they blow. And you don’t want your soldiers near them when that happens. So take a moment to see if the vehicle you plan to move to, or are currently hiding behind, is a ticking time bomb before you make a move.
Don’t take unnecessary risks. It’s often better to miss out on alien tech than to lose a skilled soldier. Take it slow and don’t spread out too much. If a soldier encounters an alien squad and no one can reach them within a turn or two, they could be in serious trouble. Splitting up into groups of two or three is usually the best way to go. At least until your soldiers reach the higher ranks.
Head for the high ground. Everyone, soldiers and aliens alike, benefits from a higher elevation. The higher up you are, the better your accuracy and the worse your enemy’s is. It’s not worth taking unnecessary risks to get to the top of a building or anything like that, but if you have the chance to take a higher vantage point then do it.
Never, ever, ever, ever, blindly rush in to a room. It doesn’t matter if it’s a UFO, base, regular mission, or terror site. It’s a sure-fire way to get vaporized. Approach with caution instead. Get at least two soldiers into good positions, preferably with one next to a door or window, and go into Overwatch. Then carefully open the door or peek in on your next turn.
Approach all newly encountered alien species with extreme caution. At least until you know what they’re capable of, and especially if you’re new to X-Com. What looks like a pushover could quite possibly decimate your entire squad if given enough of an opportunity. Just assume every new life form you encounter is the most dangerous creature you’re ever going to face and you should be all right.
Take ‘em alive. It’s not always feasible, or worth the risk, but when you can you should try to capture an alien or two alive. Not only can their interrogation lead to new research opportunities, you’ll be able to recover their weapons intact which could save you a fortune in engineering costs.
Push forward at the beginning of your turn, not the end. When you move ahead into unknown territory you always run the risk of encountering a squad of aliens. Believe me, it’s much better to discover them after only moving one or two soldiers than all of them. It leaves the entire squad incredibly vulnerable, especially in the later levels.
Keep Chryssalids as far away as possible at all times. You’ll typically see these spider-like aliens during terror missions but they can (and will) appear elsewhere. KEEP YOUR DISTANCE. Trust me.
Surprise attacks are possible. While the aliens are definitely at an advantage most of the time, they aren’t omnipotent. Use this to lure them into a trap on occasion. If your soldiers can’t see them, they can’t see your soldiers, so it’s possible to set a few up in key locations and use one of your own as a decoy to draw them into range.
Don’t underestimate Sectoids. Sectoids are the most “normal” of Enemy Unknown’s, and possibly the most common. However, while they aren’t particularly durable they can use their telepathic abilities to strengthen their comrades. However, if you kill a Sectoid while its mind is merged with another alien both will die. Keep that in mind.
The Most Important Thing
Be prepared to lose. A lot. Newcomers, especially. XCom is a fair game, but it’s also fairly unforgiving. A few wrong decisions early on could create a ripple effect that totally undermines your progress later (see previous tips about selling gear and tending to the Council). Depending on the difficulty and options selected you could also lose a beloved soldier in a flash thanks to one silly mistake. Avoiding these situations is incredibly difficult, but learning from them doesn’t have to be.
If you’ve got your own tips and strategies you’d like to recommend feel free to chime in below. With the odds stacked so firmly against us, We’ll need whatever help we can get.
Most digital music nowadays sounds slightly worse than it does on CD, thanks to audio compression. This is great for quickly downloading music, but not best for audio quality. If you want to listen to music on your iOS device without that pesky compression, and are willing to give up some additional storage space to do so, we have just the guide to do so.
The easiest way to listen to lossless audio on your iOS device is to use the Apple Lossless Audio Codec. ALAC files can be played by the built-in Music app, providing the best support, and the format can be handled by iTunes.
Now, FLAC exists as another alternative. It’s the most popular lossless music distribution format on the internet largely thanks to its open source nature, though ALAC is now open source as well. Bandcamp artists frequently offer music in FLAC format, though ALAC is also an option.
Converters exist for going from FLAC to ALAC – as both codecs are lossless, there’s no degradation in quality in converting, but for using FLAC, a third-party app with iTunes file transfer must be used. The only real difference between the two is at a technical level. I’ll let the audiophile super-nerds fight this one out, but for iOS users’ convenience, ALAC is the better choice here.
Now, you’re going to want to start with your music in a lossless format. This means ripping from a CD, or finding FLAC/ALAC files. Converting from a compressed format to lossless is just pointless.
If you already have ALAC files, then just drop them in iTunes, and put them on your device. ALAC is natively supported.
If you have a CD (they still make those) that you want to make into ALAC files, just load the CD onto your computer and open it up in iTunes. Go to Preferences, and Import Settings on that first page. Set the Import Using dropdown to Apple Lossless Encoder. Now import the CD. It will be added to your library, which you can then add to your iOS device the same way that any other lossless audio file can be added.
If you have FLAC files that you want converted to ALAC, there are plenty of conversion software titles out there. Consider XLD for Mac, which has a drag-and-drop interface, and the cross-platform fre:ac.
If you just want to play the FLAC files on your device directly (such as if you have a large collection you don’t want to convert), then there are plenty of apps that will play FLAC files. Some free options: FLAC Player+, TuneShell, and MoliPlayer.
You should now be on your way to enjoying your music exactly how the creators intended it to be heard!
With text messages and iMessages being such an important form of communication between people, it doesn’t make much sense that there’s no easy way to store them and back them up. They’re backed up when making backups through iTunes or iCloud, but if you have to wipe your device clean, then they’re lost forever. And because of the personal and private nature of these messages, important ones can be lost, unlike email which exists on cloud servers. Now, there is a way to backup your SMS and iMessages manually. Note that this guide will require you to be at a computer with iTunes, and to poke around some hidden directories. If you’re comfortable with this, let’s begin.
Now then, the fun part. We need to go into where the backup is stored. On Windows PCs, this location has to be accessed by opening a local Explorer window, and typing in %APPDATA% (a shortcut to your Windows primary hard drive’s Users/[your username]/Application Data folder). On Mac, open up a Finder window. Hold down the Option key, click Go in the top bar, and select the Library folder that now appears. It only appears when you hold down the Option key. The necessary folder will not be visible if you just go to the Library folder from your Mac on the left sidebar in Finder. Open Application Support.
Now, on either OS, open up MobileSync -> Backup. Open up the most recent folder, as that should be your latest backup.
Look for a file called 3d0d7e5fb2ce288813306e4d4636395e047a3d28. It may or may not have a file extension on it. Copy this file to a safe place.
Now, if you just open it up in a text editor, the file will be full of gibberish but you can search for text strings and they will pop up. It’s largely unreadable, but it’s something.
Now, if you want them available in a readable format, this can be done. Go to http://iphone-sms.com. Upload that file you just saved, and choose an export format. Note that you are uploading your message data to a remote website, so if you’re concerned about the privacy of your data, you might want to be careful, though there’s no known risk factors with the site. Also, the file doesn’t include picture data, so you might want to save those to your Camera Roll manually.
So, that’s how you get your SMS and iMessages backed up. It’s not easy, but it’s a way to preserve your treasured messages. Or not-so-treasured ones. Such is the beauty of text messaging.
So, you want to play Real Racing 3 but are cursing your parents that you weren’t born an Aussie or Kiwi? Why do they get the game first, anyway? Well, developers often release free-to-play games early in countries like these in order to let a small segment of the global public get their hands on it, allowing them to tweak things like gameplay and IAP costs, as well as testing a game’s technical backend, before its worldwide release. But there is a way to become an honorary member of another country to get their free apps (at least in iTunes), and I’m going to tell you how.
First, let’s build a fake identity. I use FakeNameGenerator.com, which generates fake names and addresses in order to create a convincing identity. Choose your country to generate a name and address – I recommend New Zealand for this example, as they also get App Store games first on release day as they are close to the international date line.
Now go to iTunes on PC/Mac. Go to the iTunes Store, click the Home icon on the top sidebar. Now scroll to the bottom and to the right, and click your country’s flag in the bottom-right corner.
This opens up a screen to pick a new country. Scroll to Asia Pacific and choose New Zealand. This will switch you to the New Zealand App Store. Now, the easiest way to create an Apple ID without entering payment information is to start to download the app, as just going through the standard iTunes account creation process will require the input of payment info. So, search for the app you want to download, like, say Real Racing 3. Start to download it, and when the dialog to sign in pops up, click Create Apple ID.
For your email address, I recommend putting something like “+nz” after the name but before the @ if you use Gmail. This will still send it to the same base email but will work separately in iTunes. For example: TupacHologramfirstname.lastname@example.org still goes to TupacHologram@gmail.com. Otherwise, go through the process to register an account, using the info from the fake name generator. Apple will ask you to verify the account by sending you an email. Do so. The app should start downloading on iTunes, or you can now log in to this account on your iOS device. The store will automatically switch to New Zealand from your home country’s account, and switch back upon logging back in.
Note that unless you get your hands on a credit card or gift card for that country’s App Store, you will only be able to download free games, and you will not be able to buy in-app purchases, even if you log in to your home country’s App Store account. This is because iTunes requires that you buy IAP on the account that the game was downloaded from. If you use our guide to transfer saves by deleting the New Zealand app, installing the US version, and then restoring the save, it should work to keep your progress.
This guide should work for other countries as well – having a Canadian account is also handy. Just remember that these games are often not going to be in perfect form as they are still undergoing testing, and that you should redownload on your home country’s account if you want to buy IAP to support the developers. Have any cool games you’ve downloaded besides Real Racing 3 with this guide? Let us know!
The App Store can be a wonderful place full of far too many games to count spread across every genre imaginable. However, despite all the rules and regulations for submissions, a few shady characters will inevitably fall through the cracks. In my numerous App Store searches I’ve seen my fair share of cash-grabs, some obvious and some not so much, but I’ve also begun to notice a few telltale signs that can be a good indication of a developer’s intentions.
This guide is not written in stone, and there are always exceptions to every rule. And I in no way mean to imply that the majority of App Store developers are simply out to con the unwary out of their money. Quite the contrary. Most of them are great folks who are just trying to make an honest dollar doing what they love and making other people happy. I only wish to pass a few tips along in the hopes that it may give you all a better idea of some of the things to look out for.
Tip #1 – Judging a game by its icon
Not all icons can be winners. That being said, if you see an icon featuring a recognizable character or a recognizable character who’s been slightly tweaked so they look a little different, proceed with caution. Using an icon that looks incredibly similar to a top selling iOS (even PC or console) game is a tactic often used to trick potential buyers.
Tip #2 – Check the screen shots
Screen shots are another good indication of legitimacy. They won’t all feature showpiece visuals but they still need to be there. If a game only has one or two screens available for viewing in the store, and those screens don’t actually show any in-game content, tread very carefully. Another “tell” of sorts is the actual content of the game screens. If the visuals look exactly like another game, or if (and I’ve seen this before) it looks like someone pasted some virtual buttons on top of a screencap, you might want to think twice before buying.
Tip #3 – File size
You see a game that looks awesome and the description makes it sound like the best thing since, well, the iPhone and it has a dozen glowing reviews. Before you hit “Purchase,” just take a quick peek at its file size. If this jaw-dropping showcase of iOS visual prowess takes up 5 MB (or even 50), it’s highly unlikely those screens or reviews are for real. Which brings me to my final tip.
Tip #4 – Check those reviews
User are largely subjective, but they can still be quite telling. If a game has a dozen five-star reviews and three or four with one-star, take the time to read the one-stars. Not liking a game is one thing, but when a buyer claims the game in question is totally different than what’s advertised you might want to pay attention. Also look out for reviews that are way too positive. It might be a trap.
Safari is an app that’s been around for a long, long time, having been on iPhones since the original one! It’s easy then to get into a rut where you use it and don’t consider what else it can do. Well, let’s go through Safari’s section in Settings to poke through some of the options that can tweak your Safari experience to be much better.
Search Engine allows you to set Bing or Yahoo as your search engine. Sorry, AltaVista fans and Pawnee residents.
AutoFill makes it easy to enter passwords and personal info in website forms. Enable Use Contact Info with your contact card, set as the iOS default but something that can be changed from here, to have names and addresses in forms filled automatically with your data. Names & Passwords will fill in usernames, passwords, and other info from your contacts in forms as appropriate. Tapping Clear All will reset this data.
Private Browsing changes a Safari session to not store any history or browsing data once completed. Open tabs can be saved or closed when switching back and forth. If anyone gets suspicious as to why you’re using private browsing, just tell them it’s for the sleek dark interfaced that indicates you’re in private mode.
Finally in Advanced, the Website Data section allows you to clear up some storage space by deleting saved data from websites. Web Inspector is a feature for developers who are working to optimize their sites for Safari on iOS.
Hopefully this guide has shown you some useful features for Safari that you never even knew existed or had no idea how to use!
The beauty of individualized ringtones is simple: it’s nice to know who’s calling solely by sound when not looking directly at your phone. But who calls anyone any more that isn’t one’s parents? It’s all texting nowadays. And how about vibration? Well, there is a way to do this, and though it was once only available as an accessibility feature, it’s possible for all users to do this as a system-level feature. While it’s somewhat buried, it is easy to setup.
Go to Contacts. Find the contact you want to set up the custom sound/vibration for, and open up their listing. Now, tap Edit in the top right. This doesn’t just open up the various fields for editing, but it also unlocks the custom sound and vibration settings.
Choosing a ringtone will make that sound play whenever the contact calls. The vibration setting directly below that will be the vibration that goes off when they call. For text tone, this will be the sound that plays when they text, and the vibration setting below this will be the one that goes off when they text.
For vibration, it will be set to the pattern you have set by default, and the other built-in ones can be selected here. To create a custom pattern, scroll down to the Vibration section and choose Create New Vibration.
This will open up a screen where the new vibration pattern can be made. Tap on the screen in various lengths and frequencies in order to create the pattern you want. When finished, tap Stop in the lower right corner to stop recording. Tap Play to play back the pattern, Record to re-record it, and Save in the upper right corner to name and save the pattern.
Saving a vibration pattern makes it available for other contacts, in case you just want a more defined vibration pattern, or want to create vibration patterns for certain groups of people, for example. You can also set a custom vibration pattern as the system default by going to Settings -> Sounds, and then each sound category’s vibration setting can be found by scrolling up.
Posted by Jeff Scott on September 10th, 2012 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
NextGuide was released last week and it looks to be a great way to find TV shows, both from your cable provider, and online. This includes sources like Netflix and Hulu. You can create a custom guide page for any subject you choose – for me that would be “storage auction shows” or “gold miners” or maybe just Kardashians. Take a look and let us know what you think.
A little-known feature of iOS is parental controls, known as Restrictions. With this feature, it’s possible to set an iOS device to block off certain functions, secured by 4-digit passcode.
Why use Restrictions? This is not just because of the potential for minors to view content that is not appropriate for their age. This is also because of the rise of free-to-play games. Many of these games have expensive in-app purchases, and children who may have access to a credit card connected to an iTunes account may wind up buying thousands of dollars of in-game items, not knowing they are spending real-world items.
So, let’s get started with enabling Restrictions on iOS. Screenshots below are from the iPad, but the steps are identical on the iPhone and iPod touch.
Open up Settings. Tap on General. Tap on Restrictions.
Tap on Enable Restrictions to pull up a password prompt. Enter a custom 4-digit code that will be used to access the Restrictions in the future. The device will prompt to re-enter this password when setting it.
The first section is for disabling certain system apps and features, including disabling installation and deletion of apps. Sadly, Stocks can’t be disabled on the iPhone/iPod touch using Restrictions.
Next is the Location Settings controls. This makes it possible to enable and disable location access on a per-app basis. As well, way at the bottom of this list is the System Services section. This makes it possible to disable some system functions that have access to location, and to be notified when a system service tries to access location.
Next are the content settings. This makes it possible to disable the playback of explicit music, to disallow movies of a certain MPAA rating, and to disallow TV shows with a certain rating. Note that only an upper limit can be set, despite it looking like certain ratings can be disabled – no way to make only TV-MA shows appear on iTunes!
Most importantly for those worried about in-app purchases, these can be disabled entirely. As well, it’s possible to make any iTunes purchases require that the password be put in immediately, instead of having the usual 15-minute period where it doesn’t need to be re-entered. As well, it’s possible to set restrictions on Game Center games, disabling multiplayer and the ability to add friends.
To disable restrictions, just tap the Disable Restrictions button at the top and enter the passcode set earlier.
Note that as of iOS 5.1, all Restrictions settings reset when they are disabled. As such, this is not a good a way to let little Billy or Billie play with mommy or daddy’s iPhone, but to set up a device that they can safely use without being able to view explicit content, spend money, or mess up important settings.
When AppZapp came out two years ago it left its mark as one of the premiere apps for discovering other new apps and app sales. It made looking for fun, new apps an enjoyable activity itself. The new 4.0 update brings even more fun and functionality to the app searching experience.
One of the big new upgrades is the community feature. AppZapp users can now see what apps their friends are downloading to check out what looks interesting. This information is displayed on a news feed that also shows whether or not friends like their new apps. The other new feature is the ability for the MyApps list to view apps downloaded on all of a users devices. This makes syncing easier and more comprehensive.
The AppZapp 4.0 update is available now for AppZapp, AppZapp PUSH and AppZapp HD for iPad. The App Store is full of potentially awesome apps just waiting to be found and this app is here to help.
Remember when Minecraft – Pocket Edition first came out and people were disappointed because it paled so much in comparison to the PC version? Well those differences have been slowly disappearing over the past two years. In fact, this latest update (0.8.0) is purported to be the biggest one yet. And based on what I’m […]