Having trouble making sense out of the overwhelming number of apps released each week? Have no fear! Just look to 148Apps for the best app reviews on the web. Our reviewers sift through the vast numbers of new apps out there, find the good ones, and write about them in depth. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Want to see what we’ve been up to this week? Take a look below for a sampling of our latest reviews. And if you want more, be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.
The Caped Crusader is back in brick form for a new adventure, this time on iOS. As someone who’s had an on-again off-again relationship with LEGO games in the past I was curious to see how a mobile release might hold up. Turns out it holds up very well. Like, ridiculously well. In fact, LEGO Batman: DC Super Heroes is hands-down the best LEGO game I’ve ever played. Yes, including ones on consoles. All the wacky villains that should be stuck in Arkham have gotten loose. Again. Now they’re terrorizing Gotham. Again. And this time Joker has managed to team up with Lex Luthor. The two are such a handful that Batman has to enlist the help of other heroes, including Wonder Woman, Cyborg, and a whole lot more. There’s a conventional virtual stick and buttons setup and a surprisingly intuitive touch interface to pick from. No matter their preference, players will be bashing everything in sight to collect studs (the world’s currency), reconfiguring piles of bricks into new contraptions, finding tons of secrets, and doing just about everything else they could expect to find in a big screen LEGO game. –Rob Rich
Is it possible to make something great even better? When it comes to Robot Unicorn Attack 2, the sequel to the popular endless runner where a unicorn jumps and dashes through multi-tiered levels, collecting fairies and smashing stars, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” First off, Adult Swim Games enlisted PikPok on the title, and as a studio well-known for their fun games and high production values, it was a perfect choice. It’s immediately apparent that this game is absolutely gorgeous. The level of detail in the animated backgrounds, the galloping unicorns, and just everything is absolutely astounding. New elements like Giants that can kill the player if their solar beam attacks aren’t avoided add a splash to the familiar experience. –Carter Dotson
Impressively nearing its 100th anniversary, The Thirty-Nine Steps is still a tremendously gripping thriller courtesy of John Buchan. With various cinematic adaptations, it’s easily accessible, too. Now, we have this iPad adaptation, part interactive story, part simple game, to enjoy. It’s quite good too, although slow-paced and not without its problems. Following the story of Richard Hannay, a man framed for murder in 1914, it’s a great mystery full of intrigue and riddles. Readers don’t get to change the outcome or events within the book but they do get to interact with objects, start up conversations and open doors. The latter is a little gimmicky, invoking gestures to perform the required action, but the rest feels like an enhancement to getting into the story. –Jennifer Allen
It’s almost wrong to fault GoComics. As a free app, it does mostly anything could want from it, in terms of content. As a paid app (via an in-app purchase subscription), it eliminates one of its main irritants: the adverts. For a comic fan, it’s an ideal addition to their collection, even despite its issues. GoComics is, essentially, a portal of many of the most popular comic strips out there, as well some great up-and-coming artists. There’s plenty of space for political cartoons, too, sensibly categorized according to their political leanings. It’s immediately easy to dive straight in and find one’s favorites, with the likes of Calvin and Hobbes, Peanuts and Garfield playing a prominent part in the appeal. Just tap on their name and the latest strip comes up, along with a calendar that enables users to go back to any date they so choose. It’s fast to browse and easy to lose plenty of time to. –Jennifer Allen
Other 148Apps Network Sites
If you are looking for the best reviews of kids’ apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:
It will come as no surprise to readers that I am often asked to recommend apps to family and friends, especially for those in grade school, as iTunes seems filled with apps for toddlers and those in preschool, but it can be harder to find apps for older children. Parents looking for an interesting, thought-provoking app for this age set should take note of Escape From Tokeru, a puzzle game that includes an interesting back story, beautiful illustrations and moody, ambient background music. –Amy Solomon
Gappy’s First Words is a new interactive universal app that re-enforces early spelling and reading comprehension from the developers at Spinlight Studio, a favorite developer of mine these apps are consistently rich with details and nuances at a level of quality making these application stands out from others. Meet Gappy, an interesting bunny-like character with large ears and big teeth, and help Gappy hop her way home, filling in the gaps of word puzzles along the way – stylized as a bridge of sorts where pieces of this crossing are missing and need to be completed with correct letter tiles. Success will earn users new details that can be added to Gappy’s house such as new windows, fence or chimney. –Amy Solomon
Cheesy Chess is a creative and fun mouse-themed logic game with heavy chess elements. This app reminds me a lot of the slider puzzles I had as a kid where plastic tiles will ultimately make up an image but needed to be slid within this puzzle, keeping in mind that only one piece can be moved at once. Here, imagine a mouse king who needs to progress through this slider puzzle at the top center to leave this board, but the other puzzle pieces need to be moved out of his way to do so. –Amy Solomon
Mountain Sheep’s arcade hockey game Ice Rage has finally made its way to Android thanks to Herocraft – is this game a slap shot goal or power play where the team with the advantage does not score? I’m not too well-versed in hockey. There are no power plays or penalties or icing here, as it’s all about one-on-one hockey action. It’s really more akin to air hockey instead of ‘actual’ hockey in any way. Players can check the opponent to get the puck, and when they have it, it’s possible to hold down on the one virtual button on screen to charge up and aim a shot. Matches last one just minute in most modes, so it’s perfect for fast sessions. There’s plenty of crazy action that goes on here, with arrow angles and tough shots to make. Just because it’s arcade hockey doesn’t mean that some degree of precision is unnecessary! The arcade ladder made with temporary character upgrades is a fun diversion, and the later difficulties with things like manual goalie control help out as well. There’s a crazy set of characters to play as, including Enviro-Bear. Bear is playing hockey, how can this be? –Carter Dotson
For the over-21 crowd there are not many things that spice up a good night with friends than sitting back and mixing up a few bar favorites. The obvious caveat is that not everyone is a trained bar tender and a poorly mixed drink can put a damper on a good night. Amazingly there are machines that will mix drinks automatically, but those have a large footprint and, besides being expensive, are cumbersome and hard to clean. Besides, what is the fun of making a good lemon drop if some machine pumps one out automatically. So, get a glass that has all those recipes on the side measured out by volume. Well, the problem here is that there can only be 6-7 mixtures tops, and there are hundreds of drink recipes in the world. Also, those do a poor job at measuring solids like sugar or salt. The answer is The Barman, an ingenious KickStarter project by John Gallagher of Sewell, New Jersey. –Joseph Bertolini
Jones on Fire is a fun little runner that will probably have folks doing a double take due to the unique look of the playing characters. It looked very, uh, Lego-ey. And somehow, that wasn’t even the best part. Folks like me who grew up as fans of the iconic chiidren’s building blocks, or have played console games based on their form (like Stars Wars or Batman) will understand. The simplistic block figures were endearing, and I thought they blended well with the unique background. The sharp colors added to the overall experience, with walls of fire retaining a menacing look even while contrasting with localized burns on the ground. I liked the little graphical things, like the look of the game store, decked out with green text and fireman’s pole. The entire atmosphere was almost as enjoyable as the game action itself. –Tre Lawrence
This week at 148Apps.com, we helped everyone looking to expand their iOS device’s musical footprint with a round-up of Bluetooth speakers. Site editor Rob LeFebvre says, “Bluetooth is a fantastic technology. It lets me connect my iPhone or iPad to a ton of different devices, including speakers, keyboards, other computers, headphones, and mice without wires. The latest version, 4.0, draws very little power and features an increased signal range of up to 100 feet.
148Apps received three different portable Bluetooth speakers recently, and we decided to put them all through their paces, to better understand which ones might be better for specific uses. We’ll be looking at the Braven 600, the CubeEdge, the Disco 2, and the Logitech Boombox.”
Over at GiggleApps.com, Amy Solomon was in a traveling mood, as she reviewed Geography Drive USA, calling it, “A wonderfully engaging educational app that teaches about American geography in ways children will love.
As one can imagine, it is not uncommon for friends and family to ask me to recommend apps for their children in grade school as many apps out there are for preschool-aged children. Geography Drive USA is a title that I can easily recommend as an application that is both highly educational and a lot of fun.”
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2012-11-20 :: Category: Education
And at AndroidRundown.com, our KickStarter Spotlight of the week covered Pixel Kingdom. Joseph Bertolini writes, “Today we’re looking at a game that is the brainchild of a college sophomore from Central Florida and it is a fresh take on the game-type that was popularized by games such as Plants vs. Zombies; where waves of enemies come down set lanes, and it is up to the player to deploy defenses down each specific aisle. Named Pixel Kingdom it is a small twist on this idea is that here these defenses are actively moving down their lane in an endless battlefield against the ranks of evil. Thrown in are a handful of bosses that fill multiple lanes, such as random dragon attacks.”
So there you have it – another week in the life of the 148Apps network of sites. Stick with us every day by following us on Twitter or Pinterest and Liking us on Facebook. There’s more content just right around the corner.
When a week starts off with New Year’s Eve, it’s bound to be a good one, and this week was no exception at 148Apps.com. Site founder Jeff Scott started us off with a bang by saying, “We are proud to announce the nominees for the fifth annual Best App Ever Awards. The awards that celebrate the best apps available, not just the best selling. This year we saw an amazing response with over 715,000 nominations submitted for 6,755 unique apps!
Voting is now open and will remain open through January 31st, 2013. Winners will be announced in February and details on that are to come.”
Over at GiggleApps.com, Amy Solomon took a closer look at Hansel & Gretel: Lost, saying, “Hansel & Gretel: Lost is a well crafted re-telling of this classic story for iPad, wonderfully illustrated with animations as well as including top-notch narration, music and sound effects. Auto-play is also an option as well as silencing the narration to read this book by oneself.
It is easy to tell from the first page that this app is something special. The illustrations are lush with color and beautiful to look at with a marbled textured style that I always find appealing. Every element in this book is at a superlative level of quality that adults will greatly appreciate, as will their children.”
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2012-10-05 :: Category: Books
Finally, AndroidRundown.com writer Carter Dotson took on the establishment and challenged the conventional wisdom about “iPhone Killer” hardware: “Well, it took a bit longer than expected, but it seems like Google is finally going to use their Motorola acquisition to actually make a standout phone for themselves, the “X Phone.” Or whatever the next Nexus device will be called.
The immediate speculation swirling around is that this is finally Google’s “iPhone Killer.” You know, like the other Nexus devices that were iPhone killers. I don’t think that anything at this point will be an iPhone killer. It just isn’t going to happen.”
And so begins 2013! Keep track of all the latest happenings, including developments in the Best App Ever Awards, by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook and following us on Pinterest. And from all of us across the 148Apps network of sites, have a Happy New Year!
This week at 148Apps.com, site editor Rob LeFebvre examined why mobile games just don’t seem to have as much depth as their console brethren. He says, “Should gamers expect the same experience on mobile devices as on console? Probably not–but that may be changing. Michael de Graaf, the producer for the mobile version of Need for Speed Most Wanted, feels that the difference between console and mobile is narrowing. “At the moment, consoles still have an edge when it comes to raw power but that gap is narrowing,” he told us, “and we’ve seen possibilities continue to expand on mobile. The current quality of screens we are seeing and new form factors are increasing the quality and diversity of experiences that gamers can now have on a mobile device.”
Nick Rish, vice president of mobile publishing for EA, believes that comparing the two is futile. “There is something very immersive about holding a device 10 inches from your face,” he said, “putting on headphones and enjoying a game like Need for Speed Most Wanted while on your lunch break … It’s tough to say one platform provides a better consumer experience than the other; gaming is in the eye of the beholder.”
“Mobile gaming grew from very basic flash games we all’ve been playing on web browsers,” said Przemek Marszal, art director at 11 bit studios, the developer behind the Anomaly Warzone series. But that’s changing, he said, noting that even a hard-core indie developer like John Carmac sees the potential of iOS gaming.
Over at GiggleApps.com, writer Amy Solomon got back to nature with her review of Scholastic First Discovery: The Forest: “Scholastic First Discovery: The Forest for iPhone is an impressive adaptation of the printed non-fiction title “In the Forest” A First Discovery Look and Learn Book from Scholastic. A version of this app is also available for iPad.
The Forest is an impressive application about nature, with wonderfully bright colors and robust details on each page bringing the sights of forests to devices. Instead of text that one would read, this app consists of very good narration that leads children through interactive exercises that will teach them a lot about the forests of North America.
Six chapters are included that cover a lot of ground, such as learning about both deciduous and coniferous trees, tapping leaves or branches to learn about the trees they belong to, also allowing children to drag these realistic bits of foliage around the screen.”
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2012-10-26 :: Category: Education
Last up, AndroidRundown.com writer Carter Dotson was happy to announce that one of our favorite games, Punch Quest, is coming to Android: “Android, get ready to start punching. Punch Quest is coming to Android very soon. The culprit? Noodlecake Games, who have made a habit (or a business model) out of releasing and supporting iOS-to-Android ports. Punch Quest combines and endless runner with beat ’em up gameplay, as players run through a dungeon, punching and uppercutting the foes they come across. Coins can be earned to be spent on new skills, power ups, and hats. Sweet, sweet hats.”
And we’ve cleared yet another week in 2012. Join us next weekend for another recap of the latest and greatest news from the week that was – and make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest for the latest info on the hottest apps. Now go get the rest of your holiday shopping done!
This week at 148Apps.com, site founder Jeff Scott took a closer look at the new studio and game from Aurora Feint co-founder Danielle Cassley: “It’s been a long time since we’ve heard from Danielle Cassley. Please indulge me in this short trip down memory lane. Ms. Cassley is one of the co-founders of Aurora Feint. Aurora Feint was our first app review way way back in 2008 here at 148Apps. Sadly, the Aurora Feint games have been removed from the App Store probably due to their reliance on the soon to be shutters OpenFeint. They were and interesting part of the App Store history and will be missed. Aurora Feint the games company eventually became OpenFeint the social game network service as the demand for the social backend built into Aurora Feint became the focus. A couple years later, in April 2011, after great success, OpenFeint the company was purchased by GREE.
Ms. Cassley has always struck me as a superstar seemingly held back by other forces like corporate structure. Much like her co-founder of Aurora Feint, Jason Citron who started his own company recently, she has now started a new game studio to help build the games she wants to see made. The first game from her new company, Red Bird Studios is a joint venture with Velvet Architects and is titled Avengees.
GiggleApps.com got revolutionary this week, with a review of Ansel & Claire: Paul Revere’s Ride. Amy Solomon writes, “Ansel & Clair: Paul Revere’s Ride is a splendid educational app for iPad 2 and beyond that does a thorough job of explaining the American Revolution and the details of Paul Revere’s ride.
Ansel & Clair: Paul Revere’s Ride is a new app in a series of Ansel & Clair apps that revolves around intergalactic travelers Ansel, a travel photographer from planet Virtoos and Clair, the Virtoosian robot who accompanies Ansel to Boston at the start of the American Revolution to take historical photographs used to teach other Virtoosians distant history.”
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2012-10-23 :: Category: Education
And finally, AndroidRundown’s KickStarter Spotlight this week was for iGloLED. Joseph Bertolini says, “While it may not be the cheapest, probably the fastest and easiest way to spice up any basement or outside area is to add colored lights. We’ve looked at KickStarter projects in the past that are WiFi enabled smart LED lightbulbs, but these are very expensive per light and only illuminate a small circular area. The other solution is to use LED strips, those long single row ropes of LED’s that can easily be hidden under a bar or inside an entertainment system. Now, I have looked around the internet before for these and buying one is actually a lot more expensive then it initially seems because they have to include their own power adapter and most of them cannot be wirelessly controlled or change color. As you can probably guess, this is exactly what this weeks project, iGloLED does. Like most of our KickStarter projects this operates via WiFi and includes a host of options for customizing the color. If that is not enough there will also be an available SDK which means that this bad boy is open to the public and all of their programming brilliance.”
Another week down, and only 15 shopping days remain this holiday season. Before you give the gift of apps, check all of our sites for the latest news, reviews and more – and be sure to follow us on Twitter and Pinterest, and Like us on Facebook to get the latest updates right when they happen. See you next week!
This week at 148Apps.com, we turkey trotted our way into Thanksgiving and the holiday season with a tremendous list of apps for sale, courtesy of site founder Jeff Scott: “Black Friday is the biggest sale day of the year for the big box stores. And the same is true for the App Store. But the good thing about the App Store is there’s virtually 0% chance of getting trampled while trying to get that $39 laptop everyone is racing for.
This week and into Monday we’ll likely see hundreds of iOS games and apps on sale at some really great prices. We’ll be updating this post frequently through Monday with the best of the sale apps and games.”
The holiday spirit continued at GiggleApps.com, with Amy Solomon’s review of Wombi Toys: “Wombi Toys – a toy workshop for kids is a new interactive app that my son is really enjoying.
My son always get so much out of immersive role-playing apps, be it mini-games or more open-ended adventures which allow my son to cook for animals, plant a garden, pretend to be a doctor, fix a car or play tea party.
For those parents who know exactly the genre of app I am talking about, it is worth getting to know Wombi, a Swedish developer with a wonderful sense of style.
They have developed a series of really fun jigsaw puzzles of different themes and other apps that I have also enjoyed, so I was super-excited for the release of Wombi Toys – a toy workshop for kids which allows children to play toy-themed mini-games, building or fixing a very nice variety of toys such as wind-up car, painting alphabet blocks or using a hand pump to inflate a ball as each of these games are cute and fun, tactile as well as intuitive.”
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-10-18 :: Category: Games
Finally, AndroidRundown.com writer Carter Dotson shared some unfortunate news: One of the biggest names of the early days of touchscreen mobile gaming is about to finally fade away: parent company GREE is shutting down OpenFeint, effective in December.
OpenFeint may not be as fondly remembered on Android as it is on iOS. It was the first real service to provide leaderboards and achievements, a much-desired feature. However, the platform failed to expand upon that core functionality once Game Center kicked in and became ubiquitous; while features like cloud saves were implemented by OpenFeint (and seen in games like INC which provided cross-platform saves) they never took off with developers or the public. However, the service was still purchased by GREE, and has been languishing recently as it transitions in to the GREE Platform.”
And, as the tryptophan kicks in, we bid you a fond adieu this week. But make sure you keep track of all the latest sales, contests, reviews and news items by following us on Twitter and Facebook. See you next week. Gobble gobble.
Posted by Jeff Scott on August 16th, 2012 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
The official Pinterest app has been updated. Improved usability is listed as a feature. But the big news is the app is now Universal and adds a great iPad version to the iPhone version. A must for Pinterest users.
For many of us, “organization” is a foreign and even dirty word. Why would you bother to clutter the brain with something that can just be searched for on Google later, right? For those of you keeping track at home, no, this is not the right answer, and the new app Clipix hopes to show you why.
Clipix‘s new iOS app will help bring convergence to your online life, no matter if you are at the PC or on the road. Users can view anything “clipped” from within the application itself, or from a browser. Adding new items via the application is as simple as taking a picture, scanning a barcode or adding clips from the internet. It is even possible to view friend’s clips from the app as well. Though this service sounds suspiciously similar to pinterest, it might be worth looking into. After all, a little competition never hurt anyone.
Previously, Springpad felt quite a bit like a competitor to popular note-syncing service, Evernote. Now, with Springpad’s 3.0 release, the service has added social networking features that make the app feel similar to Pinterest.
Probably the biggest feature in the new Springpad is the ability to create collaborative notebooks with friends. In the video below, the actors demonstrate making a notebook like “Book Suggestions” where only the friends with opinions users really care about would be invited to the notebook and make suggestions.
Another feature that seems to have potential is the information automatically added to notebooks when a new entry is created. Price comparisons, maps, movie reviews, and more are added depending on what’s added to the notebook.
Users only need to follow the notebooks from their friends that they’re actually interested in, not the friend themselves. Apparently, Springpad understands that I’m not interested in seeing my friends’ rap suggestions but book and movie notebooks will work. And now, Springpad has created an Explore section with content tags that makes it easier to find notebooks from other people that are curating content that users may be interested in.
Springpad has a universal iOS app, so check it out on either the iPad or iPhone.
Increasing numbers of people use their phones and tablets while watching TV. I’m one of those people, enjoying the opportunity to interact with friends via social networks and discuss the latest shows as they happen. Umami came out last November, offering a simple to use portal for users to interact with their favorite shows, whether that be through social feeds or checking out cast information and episode details.
Now, just in time for the Oscars ceremony, Umami has been updated to include Pinterest style features. Users will now be able to instantly capture, and share via Facebook and Twitter, images from the shows they’re watching. It’s the kind of feature that’s truly going to come into its own during events such as the Oscars Red Carpet, where a flurry of people across the world love to discuss what outfit works and what was a big failure.
Alongside this “FreezeFrame” technology, a new TV dashboard has been added in the form of “Dishboard” allowing users to check real-time infographics for all their favorite shows. It also identifies the most popular links and tweets that are trending for a specific show.
For the social TV watcher, Umami just got even more essential.
Appigo has just announced that the standard version of Corkulous, their premiere organization and planning app, is now totally free. This basic version will include access to one large cork board, which they can use to virtually pin up tasks, collaborative projects, brainstorming sessions, to-do lists and more. If you’re the type of person who has a lot of ideas but can’t seem to get them corralled and organized then this might be the ideal solution.
Users can also opt for an in-app upgrade to Corkulous Pro for $4.99. The expanded version includes multiple cork boards, the ability to next boards, exporting and sharing options, and iCloud support. It also bears noting that both versions of Corkulous support Dropbox.
Appigo is known for their productivity apps, but previous work such as Notebook and Todo were considerably drier and focused primarily on business users. Corkulous is still very business-friendly, but many will likely find it easier to use as a part of their day-to-day lives. The ability to quickly pin up pictures, notes and more makes the app ideal for practically any collaborative or brainstorming occasion.
The app also comes along at an ideal time, as the explosion of Pinterest has many folks jumping at the idea of pinning things up and then chatting about it with others. Not saying this will happen, but if Appigo finds some way to integrate this app with the social media service then we may be witnessing the birth of a bona-fide juggernaut.
At any rate, this is now a free app that you can use to get your life in order. What are you waiting for? Get corking!