Last week, Apple announced the iPhone 5, much to the surprise of everyone I’m sure (that’s sarcasm). The new phone has some pretty nifty features, but not everyone will be waiting in line for days in order to get their hands on one. Those of us who don’t want to trade-up just yet still have a way to scratch that “new Apple gadget” itch, however: iOS 6. This new iOS will be compatible with most older devices, including the iPhone 3GS (Yay!) and above, the fourth generation iPod Touch and up, and the iPad 2 and later. So while I might not be able to get my hands on a 5 just yet, I can still feel special when my phone starts to do new and exciting things!
iOS 6 – Plenty of changes to some old favorites
Before we get in to all the major changes and new features I want to take a moment to go over some of the smaller tweaks to the apps many iOS users can’t live without. The camera has gotten a bit more attention this time around. Users can take panoramic photos now with their iPhone 4S/5 and iPod Touch 4th/5th generation, up to 240 degrees both horizontally and vertically. They have simply to sweep the camera along using a predefined motion and the device and software takes care of the rest. Then, said photos and everything else on the camera roll can be shown off to friends quickly and easily with the Photo app. Video chatting with friends and family via FaceTime has also gotten much simpler now that the app can work over a cellular network and Wi-Fi is no longer required–provided the carrier allows for that sort of thing, naturally.
Even the Notification Center has been revamped with Twitter or Facebook posting allowed directly from the notifications window and the option to quiet those irritating 3am notices, thanks to the new Do Not Disturb feature (more on that later). Last, but certainly not least to the accident prone, Find My Phone has been updated to include a Lost Mode which allows users to remotely lock their misplaced phone with a 4-digit code and display contact information for honest folks to use in order to return the lost device. This goes hand-in-hand with Find My Friends, an app that uses GPS to keep track of friends and family, even going so far as to issue alerts when certain individuals have left or reached specific destinations. It sounds weird, but think of it in terms of the kids leaving school and getting home. Pretty nifty, I know, but this is just the beginning.
iTunes, App Store, iBookstore – Refurbishing the storefronts
iTunes, the App Store, and the iBookstore are also getting adjustments by way of some slightly revamped storefronts, Facebook integration (“like” items in the store or view items that friends like), and a new preview feature that automatically keeps track of any apps/music/books that you browse through. You can view this list from within any of the three stores–and across any of their iOS devices thanks to iCloud–and make purchases from it directly.
Remember how ChAIR promised continuous and free updates to Infinity Blade II? Well that’s still very much a thing. The gorgeous App Store juggernaut has just received yet another significant content update and includes all of the requisite stuff we’ve come to expect (i.e. more of practically everything), as well as a couple of surprises.
The Skycages update is adding 30+ new items to the game. This includes weapons, armor, rings, and so on. New achievements, enemies, and some special new Clashmob content is also available. However, there are two major aspects that really make the “+1” version number enticing: it adds even more story elements that finally bring this particular chapter of the saga to a close, and – perhaps even more exciting – there’s a new weapon type to learn and master. No, not a new sword, a new type of weapon. The “Solar Transport Energy Blades” is a class of weapon entirely separate from the sword/shield, dual blades, or two-handed weapon and allows players to “harness the power of the sun.”
As though all of this weren’t enough, seeing as I’ve barely scratched the surface of the first update, Infinity Blade II is also getting a celebratory price cut. So the six people who haven’t gotten their hands on it yet can do so now for a paltry $2.99. Then maybe we can figure out just what the heck Skycages are together.
Lots of people have grown up on Worms, and plenty have come to love the little invertebrates thanks to their multiple re-releases on virtually every existing platform, but something’s been missing from Worms 2: Armageddon this whole time. It’s meant to be a multiplayer game through and through, but while the wealth of options has been nice (Bluetooth, Local Hotseat, WiFi) there was still one element needed to make it perfect for mobile – iOS or otherwise – gaming. Good thing Team17 is awesome.
Worms 2: Armageddon now features asynchronous multiplayer. Allow me to reiterate: Worms 2: Armageddon now features asynchronous multiplayer. This means that anyone anywhere can start, continue, or finish a game whenever they have a spare moment. No need to sit around waiting for the other person to make their move. No more forfeiting a game because someone has to walk the dog. Players can simply take their turn, then move on to something else. Perhaps another game of Worms.
The update is live now, so anyone who already owns it can jump on the App Store and start the download. Then enjoy up to 16 simultaneous games to be played at their leisure. Everyone else can download it for $0.99 and start priming those Holy Hand Grenades.
The End of Days draws nearer. But rather than dwell on the inevitable destruction of the world, the Pygmies have been given a bit of a reprieve. Bolt Creative’s newest update to their sandbox of death involves a Pygmies-only dance club. Being Pocket God it should come as no surprise that the club comes with its own set of unique perils. It’s not called Dance Dance Execution for nothing.
Players can pull a balloon down from the ceiling and give it to a pygmy who will promptly suck out the helium and start to ramble a-la David After Dentist. Silly as that might be, the real fun can be found on the dance floor. Dragging a pygmy onto it will begin a Dance Dance Revolution-style mini-game in which the proper arrows must be matched or a massive disco ball will drop down and crush the little semi-naked rug cutter.
An all-new Dance Pack (available for $0.99) rounds out the new stuff, and includes more dance moves for the pygmies. Dropping one of them into the hanging go-go cage will get them boogying to a number of tunes, including the Pocket God theme. Pocket God Episode 45: Dance Dance Execution is live and available to download right now. So Macarena on over to the App Store and get to it.
SPECIAL GIVEAWAY: Want your own copy of MotionX Sleep? The developers have given us a link that will send you a unique code to redeem for a FREE copy of the app. Simply click right here to enter. Offer available to US iTunes account holders only.
When I first took a look at MotionX Sleep, I was fairly impressed with all the sleep-monitoring app’s handy functionality. However, that was then. Now MotionX has added a laundry list of new features and tweaks, making it even more formidable in the world of iOS lifestyle software.
Along with a bunch of minor optimizations, a number of features have been directly improved thanks to customer feedback. MotionX Sleep now offers an “audible placement test” to make finding the best spot for the special pillow alarm much easier. The alarm itself has also had an interface tweak, making it easier to set. Sleep history and other statistics can be viewed in one, seven, or thirty-day summaries to give users better detail on their sleep habits. This info can also be shared on Facebook and Twitter as an effective way of convincing our mothers that we are, indeed, getting enough rest.
The Smart Sleep Cycle Alarm has also been improved by way of allowing users to adjust their wake-up window, including new sounds, and adding an optional vibration. Finally, the interface has been adjusted to make certain features easier to customize. The 24/7 Daily Step Counter can be turned on or off from the main menu, and undesired sleep recordings can be deleted straight out of the sleep log.
It’s the little improvements like these that go a long way. While MotionX Sleep was a worthwhile investment for health-conscious iOS users before, it’s even more useful now.
It’s been a long time coming. At least, it probably seems like a long time to all those disgruntled iOS users. Anyway, at long last, Plants vs. Zombies has gotten a major update that includes a number of features that many have been missing (i.e. taking issue with their absence). Read on for the nitty-gritty.
More mini-games are being added to the already robust list, including the Zombiquarium, Portal Combat and Beghouled Twist. Anyone unfamiliar with these mini-titles should know that they’re all interesting and fun in their own ways. Especially Beghouled Twist, with its hybrid of classic zombie-on-plant carnage and match-three puzzles. Of course, Portal Combat is interesting, too. The addition of reality-bending gateways that let plants fire across multiple rows (careful that the zombies don’t use them to get closer!) make for some cool overkill moments.
A new puzzle game has also been included in addition to I, Zombie (which itself has received an Endless Mode). Vase Breaker is now a particular favorite of mine as it takes the random “card” distribution used in many other extra modes and hides it underneath a grid of unmarked vases. Some may contain plants, some may contain zombies. Players have to play conservatively and smart if they’re going to have any chance of making it to the end. And yes dear iPad users, at long last the Zen Garden has also been included. Raising oddball plants like our PC counterparts is finally, blessedly, an option.
It’s not all mini-games, however. Popcap has also included support for several languages (Spanish, French, etc), as well as some new items in Crazy Dave’s shop and the expected Game Center achievements. Take note: some of the extra stuff such as bonus I, Zombie levels and the like are gated behind purchases via in-game coins. These coins are earned fairly regularly through simply playing the various modes so it’s not a big problem, but players should know that they won’t be able to jump right in to all the new stuff immediately. Worst case scenario; they get to sample the first level of a given mode or game type, then spend a few rounds of doing whatever to earn enough cash to unlock more stages.
Once this update goes live tomorrow (4/19), the iOS version of Plants vs. Zombies will finally be comparable to its PC counterpart. Both for the iPhone and the iPad. Rejoice, fellow iOS users! Rejoice and stop all the bellyaching!
Ash was one of the first RPGs I downloaded when I was a new initiate to the wonders of iOS gaming. I recall being thoroughly impressed by the quality. Well, that quality just got a boost. The original game was released with graphics licensed from RPG Maker, but SRRN Games has replaced all of it with totally original artwork. The new style shares a few basic similarities with the older one, but overall it’s a huge visual change. Especially the character portraits.
Another less obvious but still notable change has to do with the random encounters. One of the game’s initial shortcomings was that there were just so freaking many of them it kind of made getting from point A to point B a pain. This has been rebalanced, so now random encounters are a bit less frequent. They’ll still happen, and they’re still essential to not being caught in a boss battle with one’s pants down, but the decrease will go a long way to making the game more accessible and overall more fun.
Last and most important, Ash is getting an 80% prince drop for the holidays. What was once a great RPG that could be had for $4.99 is now a great RPG made slightly greater and available for a buck. One dollar. $0.99. I’d gladly recommend this game to any RPG fans at $5, but $1? That’s, like, “don’t even think about it just buy it” pricing. So yeah; don’t even think about it, just buy it.
Know what’s great about Pocket God? Aside from the malicious glee one gets from snuffing out helpless cartoon characters repeatedly, I mean. It’s that the game has been receiving a ridiculous amount of support since it’s release. Just over 40 Episodes have been released thus far, and Bolt Creative doesn’t look like they plan to slow down any time soon.
Yes, I said “over” 40. The newest Episode, “I Sting the Body Electric” has just gone live. This update adds a coral reef to the Ocean Floor area, complete with jellyfish to torment those loveable, languishing pygmies. It also includes a purchasable “Underwater World” skin pack that changes the Pocket God island’s boulder into a puffer fish and the volcano into a whale. Oh, and there’s something about iOS 5 feature support or something. I wasn’t really paying attention.
I’m kidding! Just kidding! Don’t hurt me!
The new update allows players to make use of two iOS 5 thingies: First, there’s the Asynchronous Turn-Based Gaming that will let them square off against friends and complete strangers in the Battle of the Gods mini-game. Second is the iCloud Storage, which will save progress whenever a level in the battle arena is completed or a new challenge is unlocked. Then they can continue their game with no data loss on any of their other iOS devices.
I suppose there’s no time like the present to dive back in to the pygmy slaughter. Pocket God is, and has been, available on the App Store (iOS 5 support and all) right now for a buck. But really, who doesn’t own it by now?
Remember Sprinkle? That super-awesome water physics puzzle game about aliens defending their homes from meteoric garbage? Well it’s just been topped-off with more content.
Mediocre Games has just released an update with 14 new levels. That’s probably about 3 lifetimes worth of gameplay, assuming one plans to aim for the maximum rating in each one. Seriously, getting the highest rating for the later stages in this game is hard.
But the real reason I wanted to talk about this has to do with Sprinkle‘s “controversial” in-app purchase option to unlock later worlds. Essentially it wasn’t necessary, as metalcasket mentioned in our review‘s comments. The feature has since been removed, but Mediocre has been gracious enough to offer up 6 new levels (in addition to the previously mentioned 14) to these early in-app purchasers. How cool is that?
Sprinkle is still just $0.99, and now features 36 levels (42 for the in-app folks). And there’s no time like the present to strap on that adorable little extra terrestrial firefighter’s helmet.
Genera Games is definitely on to something with TouchyBooks. It’s a clever little app that more-or-less digitizes the experience found in most “board books,” letting young readers (or lookers, really) tap all over the screen to generate sounds and movement. If I were a kid, my parents would never let me hold an iPhone, but if they did this would be a great alternative to a typical bedtime story.
As great as the app may be, this new 2.0 update sweetens the deal immensely. Among the plethora of additions that aren’t all detailed, including a revamped design and a search feature (wow, it must have been rough without that one), are a couple of ideas that are just as smart as the app itself. First, all of the books (full copies, not free samples) can be rated by users. The Amazon-like five star rating system may seem obvious now, but it makes searching through the store a bit less of a hassle. Secondly, there’s the autoplay option. Wow. I mean, the whole narration/interaction thing is smart, but adding the choice to automatically read through a title is borderline brilliant. It’s perfect for kids that are old enough to “read” along, but aren’t quite ready to start poking at things.
Were I a parent, I’d be all over TouchyBooks. This is an awesome app for kids that are just starting to tip a toe into the waters of literacy, as well as a solid tool for helping more advanced “learning-to” readers. Anyone even vaguely familiar with browsing the App Store will find navigation a breeze, and the titles in this limited (but still fairly substantial) library are priced very respectably. Parents, check this one out ASAP.
This morning I got to sit-in on a streaming presentation by Cave World as they announced the particulars of their pending DEATHSMILES update. Options have been added, settings have been tweaked and lots of extra content has been tossed in that should keep the fans quite happy for a while. And they announced another game or something.
The update will include two new special features: First, players can unlock new costumes for Princess Tiara in iPhone Mode (eight plus her default, it looks like) by fulfilling “special conditions” such as clearing Normal Mode. The second addition is a jigsaw puzzle, similar to the one found in Mushihimesama BUG PANIC. Players can unlock pieces as they play and pick up equipment in-game and eventually put the whole thing together. What this accomplishes, aside from looking spiffy, wasn’t talked about, but it’s yet another carrot to keep players interested so it’s hardly a bad thing. As is the “hidden” BGM that can be unlocked by using some “special technique.”
In addition, special DLC weapons will be available for purchase. One of the DLC weapons, the “Golden Horn,” was shown off and looked to be somewhat of a screen-clearing powerhouse. None of these weapons (ranging in price from $2.99 – $3.99) will be required for achievements or unlocking content, but Cave fans probably won’t be able to resist using guns from Dodonpachi Ressurection in their game.
Last on the list of additions is a number of unspecified bug fixes and screen adjustment options. Now players will be able to shift the screen to the left or right in order to keep finger obscuring to a minimum, and the display can be reoriented (FINALLY) to accommodate those of us who hate holding our iPhones the wrong way. Oh come on, it’s totally awkward with the Home button on the left. Admit it.
But updates to their newest shooter aren’t the only thing they had in store. Cave World producer Masa King, clad in a French maid uniform (seriously), showed off a trailer for their upcoming social sim game: Castle Creator. Castle Creator lets players create their own castle town in feudal Japan, register their location and “skirmish” with other players when their town is big enough. There’s no specific date yet, but it is in production and should be out later this year.
Mention of a Mushihimesama BUG PANIC soundtrack CD release (featuring 24 tracks) was also made, but I think the bigger announcement was Espgaluda II HD. It was a last-minute thing, and aside from a very brief demo virtually no information was given, but iPad owners should still be getting plenty excited. It looks gorgeous.
DEATHSMILES owners can look forward to the update sometime within the next day or so.
Logitech has created a wired keyboard for the iPad which is the first one made specially for use in the classroom. The Logitech Wired Keyboard for iPad is designed for easy connectivity by simply plugging it in, making it easier on students and teachers, and has a key lifespan of more than five million strokes. [...]