Welcome, one and all, to another 148Apps holiday shopping guide! Are you 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. Continue reading 148Apps 2014 Holiday Shopping Guide for Socializers »
So little time and so very many apps. What’s a poor iOS devotee to do? Fortunately, 148Apps is here to give you the rundown on the latest and greatest releases. And we even have a tremendous back catalog of reviews; just check out the Reviews Archive for every single review we’ve ever written.
Power Grounds is probably best described as a minimalistic take on a Roguelike, to the point that it’s more like a puzzle game than anything else. I’d stick to calling it just a puzzle game, but alas, Power Grounds was borne out of something called the Seven Day Roguelike (7DRL) Challenge. The constraints on the creation of Power Grounds are very apparent (hence why I insist it’s more like a puzzle), but they result in a game that has such a laser-like focus on what it is supposed to be that it succeeds in being a very simple but very satisfying experience. Power Grounds takes some of the basic tenants of Roguelikes (randomization, permanent death, turn-based movement) and applies it onto a largely monochromatic grid. Players take control of a stick-wielding hero that is tasked with progressing through six rooms of enemies and obstacles – without dying – to beat the game. To do this successfully, players have to develop a strategy of movement as well as a strategy for unlocking the game’s power-ups. –Campbell Bird
Wind-Up Knight 2, Robot Invader’s sequel to the game that put them on the map, is an auto-running platformer where players must jump, attack, roll, and use their shield to take out enemies and avoid hazards. This is not an endless runner, this is a platforming game where movement is automatic, and it’s freemium (with IAP to unlock the full game) versus an endless runner with consumable IAP so players should go in expecting something quite different from everything else that’s out there. The items that can be bought with the game’s coins (which can be bought with IAP as well) do provide help, but they’re not squarely necessary at all. –Carter Dotson
Offering that “just one more go” mentality, BREAKFINITY is a brick busting game in the vein of Arkanoid but with a difference. That difference being that it’s effectively endless. It’s a nice twist on the usual format. After all, how often does one ever complete an Arkanoid-style game, anyhow? Usually, it’s a classic example of enjoying the journey rather than seeking out the destination. Each level of BREAKFINITY is relatively quick to complete, mostly because the objective isn’t to clear all the bricks. Instead, it’s to create a gap and hit the top wall of the screen in order to progress to the next stage. Once that happens, the level changes around but the format stays the same. –Jennifer Allen
Once upon a time, those who wanted to see whether a new color suited a particular room in the house were restricted to using paint samplers on their wall and being confined to having to redecorate at some point very soon to hide such things. That day has passed – kind of – with apps like TapPainter emerging to make the process much simpler. Admittedly, nothing is going to quite beat the tactile process of painting things on the actual wall, but TapPainter does a decent job of demonstrating what can be achieved. All the user needs to do is either import or take a photo directly of the room before getting to work. This is where, in the case of my rather lackluster iPad 2 camera, things get fuzzy. I found it a much smoother process to take a photo with my iPhone 5 before importing it that way, but mileage is going to vary here depending on what iPad users have. –Jennifer Allen
We’ve looked at other devices that allow for the expansion of available storage on iOS devices, but none have done so in such a elegant and portable way as the Mophie Space Pack. On the surface, the Space Pack looks like any other Mophie battery case. But on the inside are additional smarts and storage to keep up to 32GB of media. This is facilitated by a special app from Mophie called Space. –Jeff Scott
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If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:
Okay, I admit it. I really didn’t want to have a go at Golfy Bird. I mean, it is from Noodlecake, yes, which is almost always a positive. Still, it sounds suspiciously like The App That Was Pulled that we deign not mention by name. Frankly, the clones that popped up were somewhat depressing, and I even winced at real birds for a spell. I was wrong. Golfy Bird is its own person, and it’s somebody that might be very easy to like, and even fall in love with. –Tre Lawrence
Mark my words… There might be a zillion RPGs, and countless board games, and twice as many hidden objects games… no matter the time frame, or the medium of gaming, there will always be a place for arcade action gaming. Always. Mikey Hooks, which comes to us via platform heavyweight Noodlecake Studios and BeaverTap Games, is just one of those games, and I admit that I had pretty much decided to like it at first glance. –Tre Lawrence
Nice to meet you, SideSwype. The playing area is a 5×5 grid, with space for 25 squares of different colors. if filled all the way. The sparse white background is a great counterpoint that highlights the coloring of the squares, and the smooth animations are just what we’d expect from a game that uses gestures as the main form of movement and problem-solving. –Tre Lawrence
And finally, this week Pocket Gamer cautiously checked out Rollercoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile, took a stab at a Clash of Clans clan war, spent some ker-azy money in Crazy Taxi: City Rush, put together an epic guide to FTL, and checked out some games at Birmingham-based expo, Rezzed. It’s all right here.
Not so many years ago, every phone came with a built-in loop for attaching a wrist strap. Not so much any more. While there are a few cases that support a lanyard loop, not many still do. And there’s the Netsuke from Poddities that adds a loop to the Lightning connector.
A lanyard or wrist strap can be a great feature for safety, especially in high “Apple Picking” crime areas like San Francisco, New York City, or just about any tourist destination worldwide. Not to mention it can help keep a phone from hitting the concrete when pulling it from a pocket.
Here’s a quick and easy way to add a simple lanyard to the new iPhone case. I’ve done this with a few different cases now, and even look for cases to use that fit what is needed to do this. The main feature to look for in a case that this technique will work with is a very sturdy sidewall, made of hard plastic. It needs to be a sturdy build to keep the lanyard from cracking or tearing the case. A soft silicone type case won’t work for this.
Choose a lanyard or wrist strap. A variety of them will work. There are probably a couple in the junk drawer left over from an old camera or maybe even an ancient cell phone. Make sure the loop part of the lanyard is at least an inch long to allow space to connect it. If there are none around, I’m a big fan of these from Rokform. Sturdy and just the right size for a wrist strap.
Next, I choose the side – either left or right. Both work. Choose the side that matches the hand the phone is usually held in. I usually hold my phone in my left hand, so I chose left.
Make two small holes about 1/2 inch apart on the side of the case using a 3/32″ drill bit. This will leave enough space so that the case left between the holes won’t easily break with a little tension. The spacing also needs to be small enough so that the loop part of the lanyard can go from one hole to the other and back.
When drilling, make sure to let the drill do the work; no need to push it through with force. Also, be careful to keep your fingers away from the drill bit and away from the back where the bit will emerge.
Next, loop the lanyard through the holes from the bottom outside through the back of the top hole. If the lanyard string is thicker, something like a paperclip will be needed to push the string through. Slide the lanyard through the loop and then insert the phone and ta-da, a lanyard on your iPhone! Simple and easy.
I have also successfully tried this on the Mophie Juice Pack Air Case, the Olloclip Flip Case, and the official Apple iPhone 5s case. As mentioned above, rubber or silicon cases don’t work as they tear easily. If you chose to do this, make sure all common safety rules are followed and it’s not our fault if you destroy your case, drill through your hand, or burn down your home.
mophie has just introduced the mophie space pack; a hybrid iPhone case/charger/storage device. That’s right, it’s a case with its own battery that you can use to charge your iPhone 5 or iPhone 5s when you’re running low, but it also offers extra storage space for your files.
That’s up to 16,000 photos, 14 hours worth of movies, 9,000 songs, or a whole lot of document data from email and other online downloads. Data can be managed both through the phone directly and by connecting the mophie space pack to your computer directly. All in a case that will also recharge your phone for you.
The mophie space pack will be available in March for $149.95. Although if you’re really impatient you can at least preorder it directly from mophie’s website.
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.
Mophie has started a new campaign, Buy (Red) Saves Lives, to help eliminate aids in Africa. For every product that’s marked (Product) Red, Mophie will double its contribution to help the effort. The listed products available include the Mophie juice pack air for iPhone 4, 4S, & 5, Mophie juice pack plus for iPhone 4, 4S, & 5, Mophie juice pack powerstation, and Mophie juice pack reserve.
As I’m sure everyone on the planet knows, the iPhone 5 comes out this week. If you are a heavy iPhone user you no doubt have some sort of a battery like our favorite, the Mophie for your iPhone. With the iPhone 5 release and the new Lightning connector, these old devices won’t work. And Mophie and others don’t yet have Lightning and iPhone 5 compatible devices available. We’ve found a solution, and have also found a great deal for you.
New Trent makes some of our favorite external batteries for recharging all kinds of USB connected devices. The IMP 120D is a massive 12,000mAh at about 1 1/2 the size of a deck of cards. That’s enough to recharge the iPhone 5 multiple times. It is a USB charger — meaning that you plug in a USB cable into the battery and then connect that to your device to charge it. So it works with a wide variety of devices. We’ve used our with iPhones, iPads, other phones, even digital cameras.
We got an email about a special deal from New Trent and Amazon.com, if you buy the New Trent IMP 120D, and use coupon code 3IMIRROR on Amazon, you get a second, slimmer 6,000mAh battery ($40 value) for free. Here’s how to do it:
Go to your cart on Amazon and enter promo code: 3IMIRROR and the price of the iMirror will be discounted to $0! One note – we have no idea how long this deal will last. If this looks good to you, buy it quickly.
Now when you get the batteries, just plug in the Lightning USB cable you got with your iPhone 5 and you are all set to recharge on the go.
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The Mophie Juice Pack PRO is a big, rubberized, super protective case that provides military-grade sand and dust protection, light splash and rain protection, and impact protection in a huge, can-barely-fit-in-a-pocket case that includes its own belt clip.
I’ve long been a fan of the Mophie line of products, enjoying their minimalist design and higher-end battery charge capabilities in an integrated case. The Juice Pack Pro also promises 150 percent extra battery charge, but what that number refers to is not clear, as I got about as much extra charge from the Juice Pack PRO during my testing as I do from my original Juice Pack Plus. Both need to be recharged after about one to one and a half full iPhone 4 battery charges with regular usage.
The Juice Pack Pro does seem pretty sturdy, though. The ports are covered with heavy duty rubber, which also acts as a shock or drop protector. The included belt clip is sturdy, and the encased iPhone snaps into it solidly, without a worry that it’ll drop out in the out of doors. The entire case snaps around the iPhone 4 or 4S like an Otterbox, a competing rugged case that does not include a battery pack. With a case this rugged, though, I kind of expect much more water-proofing, a lack that mophie actually has to point out in the included manual. If they have to point it out, it’s an obvious lack.
I took the case camping with me and it did very well, though I would love to have had an extra iPhone charge for my last day. Some lint and dirt did get under the top screen protector plastic, therefore getting stuck between it and the iPhone screen proper. In addition, the extra plastic film takes some getting used to and did hamper easy selection of icons at times.
Ultimately, whether a purchase is warranted will come down to preference. If there’s a need for a rugged, solidly built iPhone case that includes a battery pack, the Mophie Juice Pack Pro is the way to go. The case is too big for everyday use, however, and the battery pack doesn’t provide any more life than the $30 less expensive Juice Pack Plus (these names are confusing!). The case is extremely difficult to take off and on, so once the iPhone is in, it’s staying there.