The holidays are upon us! 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.
We’ve previously looked at the Sandisk Connect Wireless Drives. Wireless storage is something that many companies are trying out. Seagate takes things to an extreme; giving us a one terabyte drive capable of holding 500 HD movies, then making it portable and wireless. The drive comes with wireless N, which allows much quicker transfer, and also includes a USB 3 connection for the fastest transfer of data when not in wireless mode. In testing, moving media to the drive in wireless mode was nice and speedy. Regular USB was rapid as well, although I could not test out the USB 3. With the terabyte of space, it stored everything I threw at it. –Jeff Scott
Limber up those fingers and start humming vocal exercises, because developers Halfbrick and Six Foot Kid are ready to help indulge everyone’s inner rock and roll superstar. Their newest release, Band Stars, puts players in control of a budding ensemble on the verge of breaking it big. Can this new music management title strike a chord with its audience, or will it simply get lost in the roar of the crowd? Step aside Game Dev Story fans, because there is a new management game in town. This time around, instead of trying to produce fictional games the product is melody. Each band consists of a collection of characters who have different skills that help contribute to the song sculpting experience. Tunes are produced in three stages: writing, recording, and mixing. One musician with high lyrical and creative abilities is assigned to writing a base track while the entire group performs it and a single member polishes the final mix. There is even an option to highlight solos in each performance, just to give the future smash hit a little bit more juice. –Blake Grundman
A year after the runaway success of the original The Room, we find ourselves with a new set of puzzles in the appropriately titled The Room Two. Can it stand up to the exceptional quality of the original, though? Well, yes. It does exactly that. It’s required that I write more than that of course, but fans of the original should stop here and immediately start downloading The Room Two. It’s everything one could hope for from a good sequel; building upon what worked so well for the original. –Jennifer Allen
I’m a huge Olloclip fan. I have been so since their first model for the iPhone 4. As an amateur photographer for many years, I’ve gone from film to digital very early on, to a killer DSLR, and now to almost exclusively the iPhone 5. In that time I’ve lost a little bit of the options for creativity on the hardware side, but slowly they are coming back. This latest 3-in-1 Macro lens set really plays to my interests. I love taking creative macro photos, and this lens set will be a great addition to my camera bag. Like the other Olloclip lens sets, this one has three different lenses; all of them macro on this edition. A 7x, 14x, and 21x lens allow varying levels of magnification on the subject. The Olloclip macro set also includes light diffraction hoods for the lenses. This allows the camera to be placed right on the subject but still allow light in. –Jeff Scott
The latest in the series of games from Finland-based studio Rovio Mobile that took the world by storm with its creation of the Angry Birds franchise, Angry Birds Go! arrives as a casual racer that still has that unmistakable Rovio touch. Starting out, players can choose to jump right into the race or visit “Toons.tv” – Rovio’s animation service that aims to bring the Angry Birds characters to life in a 52-episode marathon. Jumping in will see one go through a short tutorial consisting of a single solo race, and later having those pesky pigs join in for the ride. –Arron Hirst
The Wolf Among Us is the latest title from Telltale Games, bringing a story of fairytale fables who live in secret within the real world. This is a five-episode series based on a mature graphic novel series known as Fables. Players take the role of Sheriff Bigby Wolf, previously known as the big bad wolf – a character that is feared and disliked by many. The mood is set early on as players venture into an altercation with another Fable. The decisions made affect the entire story and outcome, so each decision comes with consequences. The story is very intriguing and pulled me in at a hundred percent. It’s a story that turns players into a detective as they try to discover the mystery behind a murder. It definitely takes a dark turn into this world of fairytale characters, and that’s one of the factors that makes discovering what happens next so intriguing. –Andrew Stevens
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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:
Any.DO is the development house behind one of the most respected task utilities on Android, and its Android calendar app, Cal, is definitely one that needs to be looked at. Forgive the slobber; this app is gorgeous. It comes in with bright colors, pictures and live animations to complement the default white look of the calendar information. the app automatically pulled information from my selected calendars, and presents them in a slick day-in-week view that can be pulled down to expose a monthly date look. Swiping to the left gives the previous day, while the right predictably brings the next day up, and so and so forth; months can similarly be manipulated in the cal1month view. Events on the calendar are ever so gently color-coded. –Tre Lawrence
Tower Madness is a tower defence game that looks like a lot of things at the same time. Of course, it’s not exactly easy to stand out from as numerous crowd as tower defence, and it’s not like Tower Madness isn’t trying, but I still found myself drawing parallels to other similar games, and especially Fieldrunners, quite a bit. The story is laconic and ridiculous. Aliens need your sheep, all eight of them, and you need to stop them. The stopping power includes about a dozen different kinds of defences, all of which can be upgraded, and should probably be a lot more interesting to aliens in the first place. The aliens come in waves, being delivered by UFOs, and heading straight to the sheep’s pen, with their walking routes being marked by arrows. When the player places a tower in their way, the aliens find a new path, around it. Thus, playing with tower positions, the player eventually creates a corridor of death that can eradicate even the most resilient of otherworldly scum. –Tony Kuzmin
Aztec Antics is an interesting platform-based thriller from Bouncing Ball Games that celebrates the golden days when arcade games ruled the roost. It had a decidedly retro look, with an eye-pleasing array of 2D pixelated graphics making up most the background. The characters are itty bitty things, full of vigor and hungry to move. Blocks form platforms and naturescapes set against a soft background denoting jungle and temples. –Tre Lawrence
And finally, this week Pocket Gamer reviewed The Room Two, GTA: San Andreas, and Angry Birds Go!, picked out the top smartphones you can buy right now, went hands-on with Trials Frontier, and started its complete walkthrough to The Room Two. All that, and loads more, at the Pocket Gamer Week in Review.
With all of Apple’s relatively recent success in the smartphone and tablet market, we can forget sometimes that what kicked off their modern dominance was a device that simply played music. BICOM, Inc. has been recognizing how important music is to the company with their playGo series of iOS receiver systems. The newest model, the playGo AP1, is their biggest leap forward yet.
Previous playGo models used USB interfaces but the playGo AP1 instead streams audio wirelessly using Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and Apple’s own AirPlay functionality. Music from iOS devices, iTunes and other services like Pandora, Rhapsody, and Spotify are wirelessly pushed to speakers with their high-fidelity audio intact. The playGO AP1 also retains built in USB for compatibility with older devices.
Unfortunately, the project is still in need of funding. However, interested buyers can check out the playGo AP1 Kickstarter page and purchase one early for $199. The funding deadline in July 5th and if it’s a success, expect to see the playGo AP1 released shortly thereafter.
MyStream, the mobile to mobile music sharing app that launched earlier this year, has announced a recent update that adds additional media file type support, fixed a few bugs within the MyPlayist function and improves the loading screen behavior. The app, created by entrepreneur Richard Zelson, acts as a virtual earphone splitter and allows users to share their music via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Now, the app features social networking integration and a new expanded playlist sharing functionality, which allows the full song to be played by turning on “Access MyPlaylist” and selecting a top 10 list of songs to be made available for others to enjoy. This was a major point of feedback from users of the previous version. Previously, the app only allowed full playback of the host’s song in real-time while others could only be played as 30-second samples. MyStream is available as a free download in the App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.
Photo Party Upload is an app developed by LA Photo Party, Inc. in order to help facilitate the sharing of photos taken at events in an easier manner, with the ability to share them to the internet directly from an iPad. By using a PC with the Photo Party Upload Helper program and an iPad connected to the same wireless network, photos can be automatically sent from a camera directly to the iPad. While getting photos directly from the camera is naturally the hurdle to going completely wireless, this can be achieved through the use of an SD card with wireless capabilities like the Eye-Fi, by shooting photos from a camera directly hooked up to a PC, or just by transferring from the camera’s memory card at various times. When photos reach the watched folder of the Photo Party Upload Helper, then they are automatically sent to Photo Party Upload for iPad. From there, photos can be easily viewed, and sent by guests via email, Twitter, and Facebook. The app is free to download, but requires a subscription to the Photo Party Upload service; a 2-week trial is included.
Wireless music syncing? Wireless playlist syncing? It seems the 21st century is finally starting to live up to its expectations, thanks to an update from Spotify. A new version of the application will provide users with the ability to sync MP3s and playlists wirelessly, in addition to the “offline playlists” mode that finds local tracks in the Spotify and iPod app. That includes Spotify Free users.
A new download service has been unveiled too, making it a simple process to buy every song in a playlist. “Spotify’s new MP3 download service makes it possible to own your playlists in one easy step … we’ve been able to offer you some of the most competitive prices available – from as little as 50p per song.” The download prices are tiered, depending on how many tracks you buy: 10 will cost £7.99 (80p per song); 15 will cost £9.99 (67p p/s); 40 will cost £25 (63p p/s); and 100 will cost £50 (50p p/s).
“From today, Spotify really is the only music player you’ll ever need” writes Daniel Ek, CEO & Founder of Spotify. “Our users don’t want to have to switch between their music players, but they do want to take their playlists with them wherever they go … now we’ve made that possible.” The new features will be packed into a new version “rolling out to users … over the coming days.”
iPod Classic, Nano and Shuffle users haven’t been left behind, with new functionality to manage music from the Spotify desktop application. Simply connect an iPod via USB and watch it appear under ‘Devices’ in Spotify. iPhone and iPod Touch owners – check your updates now, there’s at least one waiting for you.
Many people, myself included, have gone almost completely mobile with their data syncing. There’s nothing wrong with syncing your iPhone to your computer to get info, but something about plugging my phone in seems very “last generation.” Through various apps, you can access just about any form of data right off your computer; no wires attached.
Since its launch, SugarSync has been one of the leaders in accessing data remotely. With the app (and the downloadable SugarSync Manager for Mac or PC), you can have complete access of your computer’s files, photos, movies, and music with little to no lag or usability drawbacks. Keeping music on your phone for everyday listening is almost silly with an app like this because you can now have your entire music library with you, whether you are at the office or taking a morning jog.
The only downfall, up until now, is that when you are out of a service location or are forced to turn off data (like in an airplane), you’re left with an empty iPhone, devoid of the media that makes it great. SugarSync version 2.1 remedies this by letting you sync files and folders directly to your device, enabling you to use the selected files for offline viewing. There are obvious space limitations, but having the ability to sync up a movie or two before a long flight is an invaluable resource for some.
Other features of the update include improved performance of photo uploads and file downloads, as well as the ability to lock the app with a PIN code in case your iPhone gets lost or stolen.
SugarSync 2.1 is out now and can be downloaded for free in the App Store. In fact, the entire app is free, so even if you don’t have it yet, it can be had for nothing. Happy streaming!
If you liked our coverage of Air Display but it left yourself cursing your lack of a Mac, fear not. MaxiVista has arrived for iPad and will transform your device into an external display for your PC.
For $9.99, MaxiVista can wirelessly add an additional screen to your setup by connecting to your PC via the app and is compatible with XP, Vista and Windows 7. And this is no fly-by-night developer either. MaxiVista has existed in the Windows world since 2003 and now brings its experience to iPad users, with a Mac version also on the cards for the cross-platform iPad owners out there.
Offering a frame rate that comes close, via wireless, to the same quality found with traditional wired displays, MaxiVista looks to be great solution for Windows users who work with multiple windows, palettes or apps.
Do you ever wish you could squeeze a little more space out of your desktop screen? Say, ten inches or so? Avatron Software can help you do just that. Avatron has made a name for itself by producing excellent productivity software, namely Air Sharing for iPhone and Air Sharing HD for iPad, and looks set to continue this trend with its new Air Display app for iPad.
Just launched on the App Store, Air Display allows users to connect an iPad to their computer via Wi-Fi and extend its screen real estate by dragging windows onto the iPad screen. This seemingly magical technique frees your main screen from clutter and allows you to keep your Mail client, calendar or any other application in view while you work. Just like attaching an additional monitor, Air Display effectively extends your workspace by the 9.7 inches the iPad provides.
“We’re really thrilled to see how well Air Display is being received. But we’re just getting started!” Says Dave Howell, CEO of Avatron. “The foundation of frameworks we’ve built for Air Sharing and Air Display is a platform for some really exciting new products in our pipeline.”
Air Display has many uses beyond a home for your utilities as well. Musicians can use the extra space as a control surface and Photoshop users can store their palletes on the iPad screen, the possibilities are almost endless. At present Air Display only works with Macs but a Windows version is on the way and interested users can visit the Avatron site to sign up for notification of its launch.
For you lucky Mac users, $9.99 is all that’s standing between you and a bigger desktop area.
Wireless charging stations have been creating a lot of waves over the past few months and were certainly a big focus at CES, but will they ever really take off? Certainly the market is becoming pretty competitive; I can think of 3 companies selling them off the top of my head (Powermat, WildCharge, and CaseMate). While the concept is theoretically very useful and has a cool, futuristic feel to it, they’re all currently hindered by one major factor, they all require a special case. One of the major sell points for these platforms is the idea of reducing the cables needed to charge multiple devices, but is adding a special case any better? First off, each case is an added expense and more than likely all of the devices you own won’t have a case designed for them, i.e. iPod nano, digital camera, extra battery pack, etc. Instead one company, blueLounge, has taken a slightly more practical approach to the cable management situation.
The Refresh ($89.95) charging station was designed to be a catch-all for personal mobile electronics. Constructed with both functionality and style in mind the Refresh comes in 3 different stylish colors (white, pink, and black) with a very modern feel. The rubberized lid prevents devices from sliding around and is large enough to accommodate 3 or more items depending on their size. Concealed below the lid are 6 built in connectors, 2 iPod/iPhone connectors, both a Mini & Micro USB cable, and 2 empty USB sockets to be used as needed. Additional connectors for specific devices can also be bought for $5.95 directly from their site. Each of the cables can reach up around the lower lip of the lid to start charging any of the up to 6 devices. The Refresh is a great addition to any home with numerous mobile devices and cables. Continue reading Wired vs. Wireless Charging »
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Posted March 23rd, 2009 by Bonnie Eisenman Our Rating: :: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Discover is a free gem that turns your iPhone or iPod Touch into a wireless flash drive combined with a file viewer. With plenty of features, the only real downside to Discover is the ads and some minor lag—but at least you won't hear anyone complaining about the price.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Posted March 19th, 2009 by Chris Hall Our Rating: :: AVERAGE
If you have a super speedy router and need some wireless headphones to watch movies on a computer plugged into a TV that is across the room, this is the app for you. It would be hard to recommend this app otherwise, given the quality of some other apps that do similar things.