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The Ultimate iPad Setup

Posted by Campbell Bird on December 26th, 2019

iPads are awesome. We all know this. But an iPad all on its own can sometimes just feel like a big, unwieldy phone that sits in some corner, only to be dusted off when you need a way to watch Netflix on a flight.

It doesn’t have to be this way, though. With a little additional investment, you can kit out your tablet so that it can serve as your primary computer both for productivity and entertainment purposes.

How do I know this? Well, I’ve been an iPad owner for years, and have written the vast majority of everything I’ve ever posted to this site using one. With all of this in mind, I’ve put together a handy little guide on things to pick up (or skip) when looking to make your iPad the absolute best it can be for everything.

For the purposes of this guide, I’ll be speaking about items generally, as your wants and needs around said items might shift depending on which model of iPad you have. I’ll also be sharing my personal favorite picks, but those are all based on how well they work with an iPad Pro 11 (2018), as it's my current iPad of choice.

Game of the Year 2019

Posted by Campbell Bird on December 23rd, 2019

2019 has been one of the weirdest years in mobile gaming yet. With Apple Arcade emerging alongside other game subscription services like GameClub and Playond, it feels a bit like the wild west again. I’m not exactly blown away with any of these services so far, but it’s nice to see folks attempt to create spaces on the App Store for quality games to thrive.

Speaking of quality games, I played quite a few of them this year. By a rough count (I try to keep a list every year), I ended up playing over 350 mobile games in 2019. I wish it was a little harder to cull that huge list down to ten favorites, but it honestly wasn’t. The ten games you see below are my favorite games from 2019 by a country mile.

Two Spies is pretty fun, but it's hard to play with other people

Posted by Campbell Bird on December 12th, 2019
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Two Spies just dropped on the App Store this week, and it looks pretty neat. The game has two players capturing various cities across Europe, with the goal of eventually spotting and striking the other spy down. It may be simple-looking, but after playing the tutorial and a few bot matches, there’s a hidden depth here that makes it seem like something I’d want to play regularly on my phone.

Dr. Mario World is yet another disappointment from Nintendo

Posted by Campbell Bird on July 10th, 2019
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

As soon as I booted up Dr. Mario World, I knew I wasn’t going to have fun with it. Nintendo’s record on phones thus far has been pretty spotty, with things trending downward as of late.

Lo and behold, a few hours later with the game and the only enjoyment I’ve gotten out of it is seeing Bowser in doctor cosplay. Otherwise, the game’s single-player offerings feel like Candy Crush Saga with less satisfying puzzle mechanics and the multiplayer is... a competitive version of that.

It feels like it shouldn’t be so hard to bring a quality version of Dr. Mario to mobile. It’s a falling block puzzler like Tetris or Lumines, and there are solid-to-great versions of those on the App Store already. Instead of just translating Dr. Mario’s mechanics to the small screen though, Dr. Mario World is a slower, clunkier, and less intuitive puzzler than its predecessor.

Apple Arcade's future depends on how Apple answers a few key questions

Posted by Campbell Bird on March 26th, 2019

Apple made a lot of waves from its special event this week. The announcement of Apple Arcade in particular, a subscription service that will deliver access to over 100 premium games starting this fall, sounds like a potential new step forward for gaming on mobile.

As great as this might sound though, there are lots of things Apple didn’t talk about as it relates to this new service. A lot of what Apple said yesterday may sound exciting, but I have my doubts about the service given what wasn’t covered in their presentation. There’s just too many unknowns, and—given Apple’s track record on games—I’m not sure Apple Arcade will seem all that great when we get the answers.

See below for some of the biggest mysteries looming over the announcement and my thoughts on why their absence has me worried about this service.