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This Week at 148Apps: January 28-February 1

Posted by Chris Kirby on February 2nd, 2013

Lots of fresh new content this week at 148Apps.com, including a three part series tracking the history and development of Firemint's Real Racing series. Rob Rich writes, "The soon to be released Real Racing 3 is on a lot of iOS gamers’ minds these days, especially many of us here at 148Apps. Because of this we thought it would be a good idea to recap the series. In fact, we might have gone a bit beyond that and created a trilogy. First we’ll be taking a look at the series’ history and the history of Firemint, the Melbourne based studio that created the series. After that we’ll be taking a look at the design factors and what when into creating the first two Real Racing titles as well as a little of the third. And in the third part of this series, we’ll take a look at the new Time Shifted Multiplayer found in Real Racing 3."

Read Part One, Part Two and Part Three at 148Apps.

GiggleApps.com traded in the racing wheel for a stethoscope, as Amy Solomon reviewed Doctor Cat: "Doctor Cat is a cute children’s app allowing users to use different medicines to treat animals.

This app is bright and colorful, with a simple and sweet narrative about a cat finding a lost doctor’s bag and using its contents to treat creatures in need."

Find out more about this delightful new app for children by visiting GiggleApps today.

And we close out our weekly tour of sites by checking in on the latest KickStarter spotlight on AndroidRundown.com. Joseph Bertolini writes, "It is amazing how many times I leave my phone in the car or forget to bring my keys out with me. Consolidating these two would be a dream and there are a few solutions available but their effectiveness is very questionable. One of the more complete and involved KickStarter projects that we have spotlit here, Intellacase is a smartphone case that incorportes within it a key fab for any modern car with keyless entry. While this does nothing for most car owners who still reside in the land of metallic gateways, a growing number of affordable cars are adopting the keyless ignition as a viable offering. Certainly for anyone who has a car that utilizes keyless technology this is an incredibly attractive opportunity. Image going out on the town, with the increasing prevalence of NFC payments, and being able to bring just a phone which has access to both wallet and car access."

Read more about Intellacase at AndroidRundown.

Another week down, but oh so much more to report in the coming days and weeks! Keep track of the latest happenings by following us on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. You'll be glad you did. See you next week kiddies!

Fluke HD Review

Posted by Nick Papageorge on July 5th, 2011
iPad App - Designed for iPad

Fluke HD is, in my opinion, one of the best Sorry/Ludo clones on the app store today. It is one that has held my daughters' attention for months now, and one that we absolutely love coming back to quite regularly to play as a family.

The game, as you can imagine, is quite simple. You have 4 tokens that you need to get from the star to the finish. You can play by yourself with computer controlled players (easy, medium or hard difficulties) or with up to 6(!) people... that would be one heck of a full iPad to huddle around! Multiplayer through Game Center is also an option, not a bad idea if you've got 2 devices and want to play separately.

There are currently 4 different boards to choose from: Alien World (which was newly added), Carnival, Mediaeval and Race Track. There's also a promise of more boards to come, which I'd love to see. Included is a link to Fluke's Facebook page where you can chime in on what you'd like to see included for the new boards. The developer is very active here, a fact that is quite promising. For parents who are concerned with their children clicking out to external sites, I need to advise that this is an easy link to click on, even mistakenly so.

Anyway, back to the game. If you've played Sorry, you know the basics. Once into the game, you need to roll a 6 to add another token onto the board. This then gives you another chance to roll the dice. As for the play on the board, if you roll and land on another player's token, it captures it and sends it back to the start. There are also 2 different unqieu actions spaces on the board. The first is a "Special" tile that requires the person who lands on it to follow its instructions. The second is the "Teleport" device, which will send your token off to another teleport space of the same color, possibly sending you back some spaces.

Fluke honestly surprised me. I knew from what I'd seen that I would like it, but I thought it would get boring rather quickly. Well, it hasn't, and for an app at this price, that's an impressive feat.

I am a firm believer that the iPad is the answer for board gaming on the go, and Fluke is further proof to that. It provides a simple and easy way to access a very high quality "Sorry" clone no matter where you are. No longer do I have to worry that I've lost a piece to the game (I STILL can't find where a red Trouble token is and haven't touched the game since that happened!), and I never have to worry about cleaning it up afterwards. Also, unlike the board game, you get the variety of having multiple board selections here that don't just change how the game looks, but the strategy in how the game plays. A short board is a short, simple game versus a longer board that allows for more strategy. It's simple, but it's something that seriously adds to the longevity of the game.

My say is that if you want to enjoy a really great and fun family board game, Fluke is without a doubt the way to go. The developer cares about the title, and has succeeded in creating something that's easy for a wide age range (it require no reading skill) but also succeeds for adults. It's neither unattractive nor boring, an unfortunate fate of many clones on the app marketplace. You really can't go wrong, and as of my writing it's $0.99 - I cannot think of a better way to spend a buck.

Fruit Memory HD Review

Posted by Nick Papageorge on June 23rd, 2011
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Fruit Memory HD is, in my opinion, one of the nicest Memory-type games available on the app store, and is one that my daughters and I have a ton of fun with on a regular basis.

The thing that first caught my eye with Fruit Memory was its very clean and attractive art style that really stands out on the app store in comparison to other apps of its type. That, plus, it was all of a dollar. And because of the price, I didn't have huge expectations as all I wanted was a simple, attractive memory game. But once I loaded it up and started playing it with my daughters, I realized very quickly that every now and then a dollar provides a lot more than a dollar's worth of fun and entertainment.

When you start up Fruit Memory you're presented with an selection page that contains quite a few options, but is incredibly easy to navigate. The game can start with as few as 12 cards or as many as 40, scaling the cards in size to accommodate.

The next option allows for the selection of players. You can play on your own and keep a local leader board of how long it took to complete as well as how many moves it takes. There are separate entries for 12, 28 and 40 cards, and there are unique fruits to be found even at the 40 card level.

Once you start everything up, you get to pick your character, avatar, however you want to describe it. There are 16 options and, wouldn't you know it my twins always argue about which character they want to pick. The character designs don't seem like they make much of an impact, but they really do. The faces are made up of various internet emoticons (>.<, o.O, ^_^, T_T) and so on. Very, very cute.

The options make it really easy for even younger children who are not able to read to start up the game. The buttons are large, and very clearly marked, making it very easy for even a 2 year old to set up a game.

After you're done and you jump into the game, the layout is, simply, perfect. Each person has a tab at the bottom of the screen showing their avatar and their score. If you get a match in a turn, you can go again, otherwise it moves to the next player. It's designed nicely for a tabletop mode, and when you have 4 players it becomes 2 on 2, just great for families. One thing that I absolutely love is that each time you guess right, your avatar jumps up and down in happiness. Again, it's a simple touch, but it adds to the attractiveness of the app.

The card backs are, as the title suggests, fruits. The shapes are easy to recognize and differentiate and are very colorful. There will be no issues if your child is color-blind, either, as there is no repetition based on fruit color.

I've had my hands on quite a few other memory apps, some that are much more expensive or much fancier, just out of curiosity to see if they improve upon Fruit Memory and, at this point, I've yet to find one that I would pick in its place. The clean, simple and very visually pleasing aesthetic of the app combined with the attractive sound effects and adorable "characters" is something that is a huge hit with my whole family and, without a doubt, will be for yours too. Heck, it's a buck! You can't go wrong!

abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz Review

Posted by Nick Papageorge on June 22nd, 2011
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Yes, the name of the app I'm reviewing today is the entire alphabet. From this point on, I'll refer to it as abcdefg for the sake of my fingers.

I stumbled across this app thanks to the title, it initially seemed like a unique way to learn the alphabet and practice word sounds, but I soon found it was that plus a lot more and it turned into a favorite of mine and my daughters very quickly.

Upon opening abcdefg and hitting play, you're presented with a simple and easy to access play field. The alphabet is split into 2 halves, one on each side, running lengthwise on your device. At the top 4 different words: "Gravity", "Crickets", "Vehicles" and "Birds". At the bottom are 5 buttons, "Recycle", "Arrow", "Bomb", "Camera" and "Info". Honestly, this is all that you need to know to get started.

Simply take a letter from either side and drag it into the middle of the screen. When you let go, the letter will go off on its merry way. When my daughters first grabbed it, they dragged a few letters and nothing happened. Once the letters hit the edge of the screen, everything changed.

With gravity (the option selected by default), the letters simply move with your device. Each time the letters hit an edge, the "sound" of the letter is played.

Vehicles zip around the screen, making sounds as they move. Crickets skitter and make sounds when they group up together. Birds is the most diverse, with varied sound, tempo and pitch depending on where/how it's placed.

As each letter moves, it leaves a unique trail behind it, making a visual representation of the soundscape you, I mean your kids, are creating and it's easy to stop a single letter, group of letters, erase the whole picture or take a snapshot of the insanity using the buttons below.

People might dismiss abcdefg, but if you look closer at what the app actually provides, I think you'll find that it's an invaluable tool for kids. In the app, you're a conductor of sound, and you learn concepts like pitch and tempo. You also get a quick into to physics, seeing how the different letters move and interact with each other, things you don't often see in "kid" apps these days.

While abcdefg is no replacement for music lessons, it allows children to draw outside the lines of music and just perform these strange experimental mini-concerts with letters. Some of the things I've heard my daughters create simply blow my mind. They have to experiment in combining sounds together, finding ones that match in tone, pitch, whatever to create an appealing and melodic sound. They also end up with these crazy pictures of letters strewn everywhere. They get to interact with art in a way that I've never really seen, at least not in this medium.

I can honestly say that I think any kid would benefit from putting their hands on abcdefg, even if it's just to increase familiarity with the alphabet and word sounds. Beyond that, it's an introduction to physics and a way for kids to create experimental soundscapes, by simply placing letters on a screen, turning that into honest to goodness music.

For the price and for the features offered, abcdefg is much more than a simple novelty. It's an app that I recommend for kids and adults of any age. It's never too early (or too late!) to make crazy music and pictures. I look back in regret, wishing that I'd have had something even close to this as a kid, it might have gotten me that much more interested in creating and experimenting with music and sound.

Garbage Truck Review

Posted by Sharon Cohen on April 12th, 2011
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

iPhone apps in the App Store can be categorized many different ways: age, type (e.g., education, game), activity (e.g., reading, matching shapes) or theme (e.g., math, hobbies). Here's another category that I will add to the list: Purpose. There are some children's apps that teach the alphabet. Others give preschoolers the opportunity to play music or kindergartners the chance to see star constellations. Then there are the apps that I would call "app primers."

App primers teach toddlers the absolute basics about how to interact with their iPhone or iPad apps for the first time. It's like the Candy Land game that teaches the basics of color and counting. Hand an iPhone to a child of 4 or 5, and he/she already knows the tricks--touching, tapping and swiping. However, those actions are not so easy for a toddler. Their chubby little fingers are just learning how to work with the minds.

The Garbage Truck is as simple as simple can be. The toddler needs to touch the truck or car to hear the horn. He/she needs to tap on the garbage person to actually pick up the garbage and on the truck to see the garbage ground up. Every so often, something floats by in the sky that can be tapped for action. For example, a balloon comes floating by, and the toddler needs to tap on the balloon and pop it. Children at this age are also drawn toward sounds, so the honking horn and the rumbling of the garbage truck will keep attention as well.

It is true that an older child, even age three or four, or adult will weary of Garbage Truck within two or three garbage pickups. However, a toddler will be learning coordination and, with improvement, be pleased with the positive results received.

iSee123 - A Counting Adventure Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on August 17th, 2010
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

iSee123 - A  Counting Adventure is a nicely animated interactive app that would be a good choice to introduce number recognition. Text, narration, numbers and animation are incorporated together to help kids learn their numbers and count from 1 to 10. The music and ocean sounds make the animated scenes peaceful and relaxing to watch. 

I am really impressed by the unique aquatic animals chosen, making it stand  apart from the usual barnyard-themed  applications.  My son (aged 2 1/2) has known his numbers for a long time but is still engaged. He quickly found the section of this app where he could just watch the animations and went through all 10 of them again, sitting quietly.  

Although great for number recognition as well as being beautiful and creative, many of the animations don't alone lend themselves well to counting. Before the animation begins, I would like to be able to touch and to count each animal as the narrator counts for me and then the animation should start. Having said this, I still recommend this app because of the peaceful sounds and intriguing animal choices. 

Animals' World Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on August 16th, 2010
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

“Animals' World" is an interactive book app which introduces you to the sights, sounds, and other facts about animals.  Learn where these animals live by looking at a 3D globe,  or see how large they are in comparison to an average male adult. Tap on the animals to hear the noises they make.  You have the option of enlarging in order to see more detail as well. There are over 60 animals in Animals' World, and I find the sheer number to choose from  impressive. 

My son enjoyed scrolling through the animals, tapping them to hear their noises.  I showed him the other choices too, and he enjoyed making them bigger, but the other features did not grab his attention.  My husband, however, did enjoy the globe and scale.

I think kids of all ages will like this app, but they need to be older than my son (2 1/2) to fully enjoy it. I wish there was narration to explain more about what’s going on in the globe and scale areas to engage younger children. It’s probably best for grade school and up. 

Let's Bead Friends

Posted by Amy Solomon on August 9th, 2010
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

"Let's Bead Friends" is an application that lets you design your own friendship bracelets and email them to friends, post to Facebook, or add them to your jewelry box.  This app is intuitive and easy to use. There are five basic shapes as well as a multitude of colors and designs to choose from.  When you are done beading, you can add a message charm such as “miss you” or customize your own and then send the bracelet on its way. 

I did not know if my 2.5 year old son's attention would hold, but he really enjoys this app.  After taking a moment to show him how everything works, he took over designing his own beads and the stringing of his bracelet. "Mom, I'm good as this," my son said, smiling.  It's really fun to see what shapes, colors, and designs he likes to choose, and he enjoys the sound effects and sparkles that play when your bracelet is done. There is also a button to tap to add more "fairy dust," and he taps this button often, saying "it's pretty." I would recommend this app to any child who is into crafts but also to crafty adults.

Sound Shaker Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on July 28th, 2010
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

"Sound Shaker" is a really exciting sound game from Tickle Tap Apps. There are six different sounds to choose from including the flute, drum, and farm animal sounds.  I really enjoyed giving my 2 1/2 year old  son the phone and watch his face as he explored this app. He soon discovered on his own that you can make balls bounce around the page, making sounds when they knock into each other. He was delighted when he realized you could tap longer to make the ball grow bigger, the sound and color changing as well. If you keep tapping the same ball, it cracks open and becomes a chick that flies away. The look on his face the first time this happened was priceless.  I like the cause-and-effect this game teaches and how every time we play with this game, it is different. This app, as well as other Tickle Tap Apps are worth checking out.