Sure 148Apps is known far and wide for its diverse array of app reviews, but we also love to spotlight some lesser-known developers, review the occasional piece of useful hardware, and challenge developers to duke it out in their own games. Here’s a look at some of the highlights from the past year:
Jennifer Allen:What’s your favorite thing about iOS development? 11 Bit Studios: We are producers of PC and console games too, and iOS development is pretty different. The entire design process begins (after typical dev brainstorm for game’s main theme is over, hehe) with thinking about how to make touchscreen gameplay enjoyable in the project. At least that’s our way. We believe this particular gaming platform is based on the controls in the first place. PC games may be pad-controlled, keyboard-controlled, mouse-controlled or even be turn-based in a model where controls are totally less important comparing to story. That, of course, does not mean we are not putting attention to story, visuals et cetera, but there’s something in the statement, that iOS development is very controls-oriented. And those controls are all about tapping and finger-swiping.
Jennifer Allen:What was the inspiration behind Zombies & Trains? Tor Martin Kristiansen: We actually weren’t that interested in making a game about zombies, since it seemed like every other day, someone made a game about them. We were focusing on coming up with an idea that sounded cool when you shared it with other people. At some point, almost as a joke, we started discussing ways of disposing of zombies that hadn’t been used in games or movies, and the idea of a train blasting through a zombie-horde came up. It immediately struck us as an idea that we just had to try, and we made a simple demo that was so much fun to play. And it was incredibly challenging, something we liked!
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.
Posted by Andrew Stevens on October 14th, 2013 iPad Only App - Designed for iPad
Sonos Controller for iPad puts new features at your fingertips in its latest update. You are now able to play and pause music with the push of a single button, and press the button twice to skip to the next track. Another feature makes it easier for you to control Sonos from multiple households without the need to reset the controllers.
Lastly, Sonos has released PLAY:1, a mini wireless speaker with quality sound that you can control through the controller app. PLAY:1 can be purchased for $199, putting the sound of music in any location inside your home.
Sonos today released an update to their apps that allows you to save global favorites, called Sonos Favorites from all of their music services in one convenient list. For instance you can save a playlist from Spotify, a favorite radio station from the streaming radio, a favorite station from Sirius XM. And each of them will appear in your Sonos Favorites where you have two touch access to them. Much better than diving three to four levels deep looking for your favorite sources.
Sonos also announced a new awesome speaker. The Sonos Playbar. Meant to be a speaker bar that sits under your large screen TV, the Playbar has all of the usual features of a Sonos speaker meaning that you can play “all the music in the world” on it. It also has optical connection to hook directly to your TV. The Playbar will be $699 and available in just a couple weeks. You can preorder it at the Sonos site. Here are the key features, direct from Sonos:
• HiFi Sound for your TV: PLAYBAR’s powerful nine-driver array and unique acoustic software deliver immersive audio for movies and games, huge waves of live concert sound and wirelessly streams all the music on earth. PLAYBAR includes six mid-woofers for deep, rich low frequency sounds and three tweeters for crystal clear high-frequency sounds.
• Play all the music on earth with this complete wireless HiFi system: Whether you’re watching your favorite movie, catching up the latest TV series, gaming with your friends or having a full-on house party, PLAYBAR provides the perfect HiFi accompaniment. Easily access popular music streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora and Rhapsody, your favorite Internet radio stations and your personal music library through the free Sonos controller apps. And, PLAYBAR can be used as a standalone all-in-one player or added to your Sonos system, expanding your listening experience throughout the home.
• Home Theater made simple: To set up PLAYBAR, all you have to do is connect an optical audio cable to your TV and apply power. You can place it in front of your TV or mount on the wall and PLAYBAR’s built-in sensors will automatically orient the audio channels and adjust the EQs for the perfect sound. When you add a SUB or two PLAY:3s, you can get a full 5.1 experience without the need for messy wiring or complex audio set-up. Control the volume with your existing TV remote or via one of the free Sonos Controllers for Android, iOS, PC or Mac.
Rdio Unlimited Family, announced today, is a new discounted way to have more than one account for your family and friends. Calling it “the industry’s first digital music family plan,” Rdio hopes to allow folks who know each other group their accounts in bundles of up to three at a time. Each account acts as it’s own individual account, with the ability to listen to an individual mix of the over 10 million songs on the Rdio service. Users can also follow other Rdio listeners, and share songs and playlists with other users, Facebook, and Twitter. The accounts are fully functional Rdio accounts, able to access their unique settings on a variety of devices and platforms, including the iPad, iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile 7, as well as home devices like Sonos and Roku.
“When we first introduced Rdio, everyone in the industry offered the same rates and service plans for on-demand music: five dollars per month for Web-only access and ten dollars per month for Web and mobile,” said Drew Larner, CEO of Rdio. “Now with whole families using Rdio, we’ve had a tremendous number of requests from our users for a family plan. We’re really proud to be the first digital music service to bring this type of plan to market.”
The new Rdio Unlimited Family Plan, users can save 10% with a two-account plan, at $17.99/month. If there are three accounts purchased in the bundle, there is a 23% savings, coming in at $22.99/month, while additional accounts above and beyond the three are charged at the standard $.9.99 per month. So, while a family of six will save some on the first three accounts, it might behoove them to purchase two family accounts, with up to three accounts each.
We hope to see more services adopt this “buy more, save more” approach with time, and Rdio is leading the way. I look forward to the time when the discounted savings includes more than three at a time, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.
It’s not everyday that we write about hardware on 148Apps. So when we do, you know it’s about something awesome.
Today, Sonos, one our favorite iOS friendly audio hardware makers have released a new, smaller device, the Play3. It’s the little brother to the fantastic S5, now called the Play5 that we reviewed last year. This smaller version has 3 speakers instead of the 5 found in the Play5. It still maintains the features of the Play5 in that it connects with your home network to stream music from iTunes and a huge variety of online services like Spotify, Rdio, Pandora, etc.
I had a chance to test out the new Play3 for a few minutes earlier this week. And I’m impressed. It does a great job, in a smaller package, of still sounding great. You can use this in addition to a Play5, on it’s own, or create a stereo pair between two like devices. The Play5 is a great machine that I’ve grown to love. The Play3 will be a great first device for new Sonos users considering it’s retail price of $299. It will also make a good second device to extend your Sonos range into another room.
We hope to be able to bring you a full review of the Play3 in the next couple weeks.
When devices that supported AirPlay started showing up at CES this year it left Sonos at a bit of a disadvantage. Airplay requires special hardware for it to be supported in a consumer device and the Sonos devices didn’t have that chip. But that’s not the end of the story.
The engineers at Sonos put their heads together to find a way to make AirPlay work on Sonos devices like the S5 which we looked and loved at last year. It’s a bit of software and a bit of hardware. But if you have an Apple AirPort the you have all the hardware you need.
To make AirPlay work on the Sonos, you connect an AirPort Express directly to your Sonos S5, both the Ethernet and audio cable. Once connected and configured properly, when you play something on the AirPort via AirPlay, the Sonos will pick it up and switch to play the audio from that device automatically. Boom, instant AirPlay.
Ok, it’s a bit of a kludge, but damn, it works great.
As a heavy music consumer, it is hard for me to imagine a day in my life without the wonderful aid of any of a number of different genres of audio entertainment. Rarely is there a moment where I do not have a headphone attached to my ear or a speaker of some sort blaring lord knows what. You can pretty much guarantee that as long as it doesn’t have country twang, I am listening to it. There is one small problem with using my iPhone as a media device however, namely a space limitation on my poor little iPhone 3G. Between reviewing apps here on the mothership 148Apps and games over at The Portable Gamer, I never have enough space for my media.
This is where some of the innovative products from Sonos come into play. A perfect example of their hardware includes the S5 media player, which Jeff reviewed for us back in June and received rather stellar ratings. Until now the only way to either control or experience the nirvana of these magical musical mavens was through an iPhone/iTouch application for media management. Fortunately for all of us, the developers over at Sonos have decided to finally make the jump to the HD era, designing a completely new iPad app from the ground up, made to take advantage of the best features of the groundbreaking iOS device.
Sonos has even gone as far as to create a trailer to debut their newest technology, which you can find below:
Though I will admit that I am not familiar with the original iPhone/iTouch application, this new piece of software looks like a brilliant way to bring together a true media center for the home and marry it with the sleek and sexy visual appeal of an iPad. I know that video game consoles such as the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 have been attempting to do this for years to no avail, but this may finally be someone doing it right.
The Sonos Wireless Speaker System is a multi-room speaker system that lets you control all of your music – whether it be from iTunes or an assortment of radio systems including Sirius and Pandora – from one remote (either a Sonos remote or an iDevice with the installed app). Take a look at our review of the Sonos S5 from earlier this year for more on the system.
In an effort to get even more media into the mix, Sonos just recently announced the Wireless Dock which lets users plug their iDevices straight into the music collection. Imagine being able to instantly play the song on your friends iPod that he keeps talking about, or be able to throw a party and have all the guests create custom playlists for everyone to listen to. The possibilities are endless.
“The Sonos Wireless Dock is the perfect accessory for our music loving customers who own an iPod or iPhone and want to enjoy the music stored on them in any or every room of the home,” said Phil Abram, President, Sonos, Inc. “This new dock reinforces our mission to provide our customers with access to all of the music on the planet, including everything available on an iPod and iPhone in the home.”
The dock itself looks much like the original universal dock that you could buy (or came with originally) your iPhone and comes with multiple dock inserts to accommodate different iDevices. Like other docks, you have to take out the insert to put on a device with a case, but that’s something that many of us have been doing for awhile now.
The Sonos Wireless Dock will be available by the end of October, and will retail for a cool $119.
This last week, Chris, Tony and I made the trip to CES to take a look at some of the best new gadgets and accessories for the iPhone. After walking 743.9 miles, shaking 16,984 hands, and trading business cards with 3.5 gajillion people, here’s are some of the highlights of what we saw.
FloTV Mophie Battery Case – Mophie announced an interesting new version of their great juice pack. This new version will include a FloTV receiver allowing you to watch broadcast TV right on your iPhone. They include the FloTV receiver yet the unit is only 2mm thicker than the usual Juice Pack. So far the only downside we’ve heard is the price of the FloTV service which is expected to be about the same as it is for other devices. Full details are still short, but we’ll let you know more as soon as we find it out.
Tunebug – Tunebug is a tiny little interesting speaker for your iPhone. Not much larger than a couple matchbooks stacked on top of each other, this isn’t a normal speaker. Tunebug uses a patented technology called SurfaceSound that turns anything you set it on into a speaker. The coolest implementation is a Tunebug that straps to you bike helmet and connects to your iPhone using Bluetooth allowing you to listen to music while riding your bike without plugging up your ears and tuning out all of the sounds around you. Obviously a huge breakthrough for biker safety. The other implementation connects to your iPhone (or any device) with a normal speaker wire and sets on your desk, turning your desk into the speaker. The Tunebug will be available soon at $119 for the Bluetooth version, $69 for the wired version.
Zoll PocketCPR – As amazing as the iDevices are, they really don’t do much in the ways of saving lives. Sure, there are some apps that are probably helpful in the medical community, but life saving isn’t quite the iDevice’s forte. The Zoll PocketCPR changes this with an app that shows how to perform CPR with accuracy by using the accelerometer to judge compression depth. At the booth, we heard a story or a doctor who used the app and was complimented by a nurse who hadn’t seen proper CPR done by a doctor in a long time. The app hasn’t been officially approved by the FDA yet, but Zoll expects the approval to come shortly. [More Info]
Blio Reader – we got a chance to get a demo of the iPhone version of the much talked about Blio Reader. A multi-platform ebook reader announced at CES. Blio does a few things that other ebook readers don’t do. For one, there’s text to speech technology. Also included are some pretty good options for different ways to read text on the device including both as printed and text versions. Obviously this will be a much more interesting app if the rumored tablet/slate is released. Blio is still a few weeks off, but it looks to be a great platform. We’ll bring you more as soon as we can.
L5 Universal Remote – The L5 Universal Remote, while not quite as universal as the Logitech Harmony due to its lack of bluetooth connectivity (PS3), but is quite an amazing remote replacement unit. With the included IR attachment, the L5 Universal Remote instantly learns your remotes features without needing to plug in those pesky product codes. To me, there’s really nothing that excites me quite as much as the prospect of controlling my entire house with my iDevice. The L5 will be available soon. Continue reading The Best and Worst of CES for iPhone Lovers »
Ubisoft has updated its iOS high seas adventure game, Assassin’s Creed Pirates, with some major additions. This refresh brings new maps, as well as one new campaign mission and three new secondary missions among other features. There are also new ships that are available for the all-new Survival Missions. According to the Ubisoft release, each […]