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This Week at 148Apps: March 2-6, 2015

Posted by Chris Kirby on March 9th, 2015

Your App News and Reviews Source


How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you're looking for. 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. Take a look at what we've been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

AG Drive

Wondered what futuristic street-racing looks like? Check out AG Drive. It’s the future — 2260 to be more exact — and “anti-gravity” drive-powered machines are all the rage. Fantastic spacecraft fill the air, interstellar travel is commonplace, and everything is done at a brisk pace. Racing has also evolved, and as to be expected, the new drives are at the root of it. Spurred on by the craziest, windiest race tracks imaginable, we get the backing story for AG Drive. And the environments in the game help define it a great deal. The graphics are slick, but stop short of being pretentious, and the vehicles characterized therein look realistically futuristic. The animations are vivid, and the laws of physics are not overly disrespected in the name of action. --Tre Lawrence


Overkill 3

Craneballs is back. With Overkill 3. It’s a gritty affair, with a plot line that yanks the player into a dystopian future that lacks hope or societal order. Our main character is someone who is willing to unite the resistance against the evil Faction, and bring hope to mankind — all while sporting the tightest digital haircut, like, ever. Overkill 3 is in the same vein as the previous two titles: cover system rules the roost. One big change from the earlier iterations is the fact that the player perspective is shifted from first to third person. This does make for some subtle changes, but the action is definitely not in short supply. --Tre Lawrence


Meteorz

It sounds crazy, but the App Store really does feel like the true successor to arcades. It’s full of tiny, extremely varied games still figuring out just what to do with a new entertainment technology and the new audience that comes along with it. Plus, lots of those games are trying to infinitely steal your money. Games like Meteorz make this metaphor even easier, in a good way. In Meteorz players work to protect planets each going through their own personal Armageddon, as in the Bruce Willis movie. Meteors hurtling towards the planets threaten to destroy them, so players hop between worlds to defend them. If the minimal, angular, crystalline sci-fi visuals and haunting spacey synth songs weren’t enough of a throwback, each round plays something like a modern version of arcade classic Asteroids. However, instead of piloting a spaceship, players rotate armed defense satellites around the fixed planet to target obstacles. --Jordan Minor


Heavenstrike Rivals

Heavenstrike Rivals is a free-to-play strategy game by Square Enix. In it, players duke it out against each other or AI in the quest to prove the supremacy of their squad. With some unique gameplay systems and some new twists on familiar ideas, Heavenstrike Rivals is really fun, though a little bit intimidating. Part of Heavenstrike Rivals‘s promotion on the App Store mentions that the game is a trading card game (TCG), though it doesn’t look like one. Much like some card games, like Magic: the Gathering and SolForge, players do construct armies of creatures and send them down one of three lanes with the ultimate goal of bringing the opposite players’ life score to 0. However, most presentations of the creatures in the game are fully animated and move around the game like some kind of papercraft puppets, which makes the whole thing looks really sharp. Players that are particularly fond of the steampunk aesthetic, anime, or both should be pleased with the work that has gone into making Heavenstrike Rivals look the way it does. --Campbell Bird


This is My Weather-Meteorology for Kids

Like much of the country, we are experiencing a rough winter this year, oftentimes with days too cold and snowy to spend a lot of time outside. During these times of difficult weather, I have enjoyed testing the new app This is My Weather – Meteorology for Kids – a content-rich interactive application that thoughtfully uses a child narrator to explain different weather topics. First, children will have a chance to dress a character of their choice in weather-appropriate gear. This app may generate a temperature to dress for as well as allow parents to change up the need for different outdoor apparel and to dress for local weather. I enjoy this section, especially as one can choose a boy or girl of many different skin tones to dress, but I would love to be able to pre-select what is considered an appropriate outfit for my child’s specific needs the way one can adjust the temperature itself as here the character will announce that he is too cold, hot, or just right. --Amy Solomon


Other 148Apps Network Sites

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:


AndroidRundown

Misfit Shine

The new Misfit Shine is hardly new, but it shouldn’t be a surprise that plenty of people still consider it a piece worth at least trying out. We were eager to get the review unit Misfit sent us. The unit itself is tiny, barely bigger than a quarter in circumference; the unit contains a battery, and fits into a watch-like band. It’s quite light, almost slender on the wrist, but reasonably nondescript for something crafted from aircraft grade aluminum. It is waterproof, and grayish in color (there are other color choices), which mostly hides the series of LEDs when they are not lighted.. --Tre Lawrence


Runes of Camelot

Camelot (of course) is our location and, of course, there ain’t no Camelot without Arthur. Amelia and Merlin are out to help the noble monarch save Camelot by thwarting the evil Morgana’s plans, and they do this with runes or special potions. To begin the game, one gets to choose a character, and each is said to have a unique storyline. At its core, Runes of Camelot is a match-3 puzzle game. As such, the idea is to get a line of three or runes of the same color, horizontally or vertically. Getting three straight (via gesture swipe) dissolves the matched set, and they are replaced by pieces that fall from the top. The pieces are randomized, but any triples created from swaps also dissolve and are replaced. When a set of four pieces are formed, a diamond-looking rune with special powers is formed. These runes can be manipulated to create column shattering reactions that help finish levels. Regular matches yield special powers that are diverse and helpful in time crunches. --Tre Lawrence

Big, Gaudy, and Expensive - Why the Apple Watch is Kind of "Meh"

Posted by Jessica Fisher on September 25th, 2014

Whenever a shiny new gadget comes out, the same question runs through my mind: "Will this become an indispensable part of my tech arsenal, or will it be a glorious waste of money?" Things rarely seem to fall in between – either they change everything, or they change nothing.

Sure the idea of the Apple Watch is intriguing, but as I started my research into the device, the first hurdle I ran into was held in the first image I saw of it; the thing is huge and ugly, with a huge and ugly price tag to match.

I have a lot of mobile devices: my iPad, my phone, and my Shine fitness tracker. Investing in something that boils all of those things down into a single fashion accessory might sound appealing at first but the reality is that, as a part of my daily wardrobe, it just doesn’t fit. In order to be able to have a functional touchscreen, the smallest possible face for the Apple Watch is 38mm. That's kind of large for someone like me who has small wrists. Sure, it would let me reenact scenes from Dick Tracy (and that’s cool enough to merit serious consideration), but with its metallic 90s style Casio band and massive face it just looks plain silly. If Apple wants to not only become a part of my lifestyle but a part of my appearance, they are just going to have to try harder. Yes, I know they offer other bands, but the current iconic design is neither formal nor cool, and that just won’t do.

In truth, though, I haven’t worn a watch for several years now. With so many devices that keep time already taking up valuable room in my pockets, I haven't felt the need to wear one. Once again the point would be to minimize the amount of stuff I carry, and in that regard the Apple Watch is intriguing - especially as more apps become available for it.

But appearance aside, the biggest hurdle for getting excited about the new Apple Watch is that price. At $349, it’s unreasonable as a substitute for a bunch of tech gear I already own. Also, considering it needs to paired with an iPhone, which I do not presently own, the Apple Watch would be useless to me unless I bought one of those, too.

At the moment, the Apple Watch really doesn’t offer anything truly new to justify itself. Perhaps after the watch is released and a few generations pass I'll find it a more worthwhile investment. By then the price may drop and my old gear will be out of date and in need of an upgrade anyway. Until then, I think my Dick Tracy impressions will just have to continue to rely on my good old (free) imagination.

Lifetrak Zone C410 Fitness Tracker

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Jeff Scott on July 10th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar ::
While the standalone performance of the Zone C410 is pretty awesome, the integration with iOS seems a bit of an afterthought. But the year long battery make some of the limitations easier to understand.
Read The Full Review »

iPhone Watch, Pebble, Hits $1M on Kickstarter in a Day

Posted by Kevin Stout on April 13th, 2012

Until now, most smartwatches that could link up to a smartphone have been created for Android. Pebble is the first smartwatch that works for iOS (it actually works for both iOS and Android).

Engadget broke the story that the Pebble development group created a Kickstarter project for their watch. At the time I’m writing this, the project has made over $1M. They’ve raised over ten times their goal ($1ook) for the next month in the span of a little over 24 hours. This is the same development team that made the inPulse watch for Blackberry.

This watch will receive notifications from the iPhone like incoming calls, emails, and messages. It can also be used as a bike or exercise computer by using GPS information from the phones and presenting average speed, distance, pace data. Users will be able to control the music on their phones with the watch. Pebble has also partner with Freecaddie to make Pebble a rangefinder for over 25,000 golf courses. And the best part is that Pebble is releasing a free SDK for developers to create new watch faces and apps for the Pebble. The possibility for Pebble apps is limitless.

Pebble is currently at the working prototype stage. The money from the Kickstarter will be going to production tooling, large component order, and Global Bluetooth certification. Pledging for the Pebble is now a sure way of getting a discount on the device when it releases (estimated this September). The watch will retail for more than $150, $115 will get pledgers the Jet Black version of the Pebble and $125 will reward pledgers with a color of choice (Cherry Red, Arctic White, Jet Black or the voter’s choice color). Check out the promo video below.

This Week at 148Apps: January 23-27

Posted by Chris Kirby on January 30th, 2012

There was a vast profusion of cool stuff happening across the 148Apps network this week, but the top of the top was the culmination of our 2011 Best App Ever awards. Head honcho Jeff Scott writes, "It was an amazing year. With over 1.5 million votes cast (over three times the number cast last year) and a record number of nominations, we now have the winners of the 2011 Best App Ever Awards. Thanks to all that voted, nominated, and made these fantastic apps!"

Read the full list of winners, and our own Carter Dotson's take on them, on 148Apps.com.

Kid-friendly GiggleApps featured a review of Fun Clock-Learn to Tell Time. Reviewer Amy Solomon writes, "Few apps actually tackle explaining the true concept of telling time they way this app does. After watching the included video in Fun Clock – Learn to Tell Time, children will be will well on their way to understanding how to read a analogue clock. As a parent, I don’t think I could have explained this better myself, also wishing that this video had been around when I was a child."

Take the time to read the full review on GiggleApps.

Finally, over at Android Rundown, Carter Dotson took a closer look at Apple's recent iBooks education initiative and evaluated it for what it could mean for the Android platform. Dotson writes, "It may not have been the sexiest announcement, but Android supporters – manufacturers and users alike – should not underestimate Apple’s education gambit. Their big push into education with iBooks 2 being optimized for textbooks (both the reading and selling thereof) and iTunes U offering deeper integration with college courses could be the necessary roots they have to lay down for long-term success at the expense of Android."

Read the full commentary on Android Rundown.

And that's the week that was. Don't forget to read a full list of Best App Ever winners at www.bestappever.com, and keep following us on Twitter and Facebook for all the contests, news and reviews you can eat. I'll be playing Jetpack Joyride non-stop until next week, but I'll see you back here then.

NBA Game Time Brings All Access Hoops to iOS

Posted by Jason Wadsworth on January 9th, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Now that the NBA season is in full swing, the NBA has released NBA Game Time 2011-2012, an app that gives users access to tons of NBA features anytime and anywhere an internet connection is available. Many of the basic features are free, like game alerts from your favorite teams, stats, scores, play by play reports, news, and video highlights. There are also two subscription level available for users who want to access more of the app's premium content. The NBA Game Time Plus subscription give users access to video highlights from in-progress games, full game video recaps, an advertisement free experience, and live radio feeds (both home and away broadcasts) of games. An NBA Game Time Plus subscription costs $7.99.

For $39.99, users can subscribe to the NBA League Pass which includes all of the features above as well as live streaming of all NBA regular season games, a full archive of all the season's games, and live in-game stat overlays. Some users may already have an NBA League Pass subscription through their cable or satellite provider and are able to use their account information to log in via the app and gain access to all League Pass content.

Currently, NBA Game Time 2011-2012 is compatible with all iOS devices running version 4.0 or higher, but it isn't optimized for the iPad.

My Aquarium

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Gary Lucero on January 14th, 2009
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: ABOVE AVERAGE
My Aquarium is a no frills simulated aquarium: While you can pan your view around the tank, you cannot zoom in or out nor can you "mess" with the fish. You add can fish and objects, and it supports landscape and portrait modes, but offers little else in t
Read The Full Review »

Emerald Chronometer

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Jeff Scott on November 10th, 2008
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: RECOMMENDED
This app turns your expensive phone into an even more expensive watch
Read The Full Review »