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SwipeKeys Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on June 9th, 2015
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: PARTIAL SUCCESS
SwipeKeys is a swipe-based keyboard and custom text provider, all in one.
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MyScript Stylus Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on May 4th, 2015
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: COOL BUT IMPRACTICAL
MyScript Stylus is very good at recognizing handwriting, but it’s slower to use than a regular keyboard.
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HERO Keyboard Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on February 26th, 2015
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: INTUITIVE TYPING
Providing a more intuitive way of typing, HERO Keyboard should save you plenty of time.
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Nintype Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on December 8th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: TRICKY BUT WORTHWHILE
There's a steep learning curve involved, but stick with Nintype, and your typing speed should improve immeasurably.
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Annoying Cab Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on November 18th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar :: TOUGH TYPING TRAINER
Learn to type faster by keeping a cab driver happy in Annoying Cab.
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148Apps 2013 wrAPP-Up - Developers, Hardware, and Carter

Posted by Chris Kirby on January 1st, 2014

Sure 148Apps is known far and wide for its diverse array of app reviews, but we also love to spotlight some lesser-known developers, review the occasional piece of useful hardware, and challenge developers to duke it out in their own games. Here's a look at some of the highlights from the past year:

Developer Spotlight: 11 Bit Studios

Jennifer Allen:What’s your favorite thing about iOS development?
11 Bit Studios: We are producers of PC and console games too, and iOS development is pretty different. The entire design process begins (after typical dev brainstorm for game’s main theme is over, hehe) with thinking about how to make touchscreen gameplay enjoyable in the project. At least that’s our way. We believe this particular gaming platform is based on the controls in the first place. PC games may be pad-controlled, keyboard-controlled, mouse-controlled or even be turn-based in a model where controls are totally less important comparing to story. That, of course, does not mean we are not putting attention to story, visuals et cetera, but there’s something in the statement, that iOS development is very controls-oriented. And those controls are all about tapping and finger-swiping.

Developer Spotlight: Dragonhead Games

Jennifer Allen:What was the inspiration behind Zombies & Trains?
Tor Martin Kristiansen: We actually weren’t that interested in making a game about zombies, since it seemed like every other day, someone made a game about them. We were focusing on coming up with an idea that sounded cool when you shared it with other people. At some point, almost as a joke, we started discussing ways of disposing of zombies that hadn’t been used in games or movies, and the idea of a train blasting through a zombie-horde came up. It immediately struck us as an idea that we just had to try, and we made a simple demo that was so much fun to play. And it was incredibly challenging, something we liked!

Prepare for the Bluetooth ZX Spectrum - a Bluetooth Keyboard That Will Trigger Your Nostalgia Reflexes

Posted by Rob Rich on December 20th, 2013
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: NOSTALGIC :: Read Review »

Elite Systems has just announced its love letter to retro gaming and computing. The BlueTooth ZX Spectrum is, essentially, a bluetooth keyboard specially designed to look like a ZX Spectrum. A Kickstarter campaign is set to begin very soon, and once it (presumably) reaches its goal production will begin.

The Bluetooth ZX Spectrum will connect wirelessly to iOS devices and function like a normal (and very awesome in a retro sort of way) keyboard. However, it's also being designed specifically to work with a series of apps that will release separately during the hardware launch. These titles include classics such as Manic Minter, Jet Set Willy, and more. Additionally, the ZX Spectrum: Elite Collection series of apps will be made backward-compatible to work with the Bluetooth ZX Spectrum at a later date.

You can head over to the official Kickstarter page and sign up to be notified once the project launches. When it's inevitably available, the Bluetooth ZX Spectrum is expected to sell - online only for the time being - for between £39.99 and £49.99 (or about $65 to $80 US).

Logitech Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard Review

By Rob LeFebvre on July 2nd, 2013
Scratch that--THIS is the best bluetooth-enabled keyboard I've ever used, with easy switch access to pair up to three Apple devices and a comfortable Apple-centric layout.
Read The Full Review »

Apps Invade The Toy Aisle

Posted by Jennifer Allen on December 13th, 2012

In the last few weeks, I've noticed an interesting trend among my young cousins. No longer do they want cuddly toys or regular action figures from Santa. This year, it's all about iPhones and iPads--a marked change from the increasingly distant days when I was a kid. Given the importance of such devices this Christmas, we thought we'd take a look at just how apps are invading the toy aisle and offer a few ideas for festive presents.

Ideas for Babies and Toddlers

Fisher Price offer plenty of great ways of integrating iPhones or iPads with your kids' playtime. The Laugh & Learn Apptivity Case turns devices into a form of 21st century rattle. Noisy beads keep them interested, while a mirror means that baby can take a look at themselves. There's peace of mind too, as the case can withstand drool, teething and a certain amount of throwing around. It comes in iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad varieties.

The Apptivity brand continues from there, too. There's a Storybook Reader, which turns an iOS device into a book that can be turned just as easily as a conventional tome.

For the more active baby, there's the Gym, allowing babies to hone their motor skills in conventional ways, while also playing peek-a-boo with the Fisher Price app.

Finally, there's the Monkey, with its cuddly toy nature combined with the power of some fun iOS games for the youngster.

Toddlers can enjoy the fun of Dora the Explorer Let's Play Backpack, which lets kids place a toy backpack on an iPad in order to unlock new activities to learn logic, Spanish and many other important skills.

Toy Vehicles for the 21st Century

Remember as a kid how much fun it was to play with toy cars? Disney and its AppMATes toys have brought that up to date. Disney Cars2 AppMATes come in two varieties: Lightning McQueen/Holley Shiftwell and Mater/Finn McMissile. In both cases, kids place the car on the iPad screen before taking it for a spin around Radiator Springs. It's perfectly safe for the screen, too, thanks to the rubber contacts, although doesn't work through screen protectors.

For the Scientific Child

iTikes offers a great range of toys that turn iOS devices into more educational tools. The Map Explorer uses a form of Augmented Reality to help kids interact with a world map, as well as learn about the Solar System, dinosaurs and animals.

Other toys such as the Microscope, Keyboard and Canvas offer a similar mix of educational fun. It's all helped by the fact that kids don't require an iOS device at all times to enjoy the toy.

This Week at 148Apps: November 5-9

Posted by Chris Kirby on November 12th, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

This week at 148Apps.com, we got into the holiday spirit with a review of a gadget that might be on many people's wish lists this year - the iRig Keyboard. Site editor Rob LeFebvre writes, "IK Multimedia might be trying to take over the music peripheral world. The company has a wide range of apps, instruments, and support items that could, in theory, be used to build a band entirely out of iOS instruments. The latest offering from this prolific manufacturer is titled iRig Keys, a super portable iOS keyboard with 37 velocity-sensitive keys, modulation and pitch wheels, low power consumption, and core MIDI compliance. The iRig is aimed at the portable musician, the composer on the go, the backpack virtuoso, and as such, it succeeds brilliantly."

Think you might ask Santa for this? Check out Rob's full review at 148Apps.

The upcoming holidays were also on our minds at GiggleApps.com, as Amy Solomon reviewed Ice is Nice: All About the North and South Poles. Amy says, "As the name may suggest, Ice Is Nice does indeed give a lot of great information about the earth’s North and South Poles, as well as animals found in these areas that children and their adults will enjoy a great deal.

As with the other titles from this series, go on an adventure with The Cat in the Hat, Dick and Sally as well as Thing One and Thing Two, who are all here to learn such topics as the harsh temperatures found at the Poles or why there are six months of darkness or perpetual sun."

Learn more about the poles in Amy's review on GiggleApps.

Finally, 148Apps.biz writer Carter Dotson explored the improvements made in Tapjoy's latest SDK: "Mobile advertising service Tapjoy has announced version 9.0 of their SDK for iOS and Android. The purpose of this update is meant to expand out and improve their current set of features to improve user engagement with their ads, and to integrate daily rewards, a popular feature that developers can now easily implement. These are meant to provide advertisers ways to developer targeted ads in a better way, and for developers to generate revenue even from non-paying users through incentivized ad viewing, service signups, and app installs."

Want more info? Read all about it at 148Apps.biz.

And that sets us up for a week of pre-Thanksgiving hysteria here in the States. Join us on Twitter and Facebook to keep track of holiday app sales, news and reviews across all of our sites...and do yourself a favor and start thawing that turkey now.

iRig Keys Review

By Rob LeFebvre on November 9th, 2012
The iRig Keys is a great MIDI keyboard for on-the-go, iOS composition and performance at an affordable price.
Read The Full Review »

Link: iRig Keys Announced - MIDI Keyboard Connects To iPhone, iPad, Mac, PC

Posted by Rob LeFebvre on August 30th, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

IK Multimedia, purveyor of fine musician-quality iOS peripherals and software, has announced a new keyboard today: iRig Keys. This portable keyboard has 37 velocity-sensitive keys, is Core MIDI and USB class compliant, and will work with iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and Mac or PC computers. There's also free software for every platform, and it will work with any other MIDI compliant software, like Garageband.

iRig KEYS will be shipping in Fall 2012 for $99.99/€74.99 (excluding taxes) and will be available from musical instrument and consumer electronics retailers around the world. Pre-orders are now available from the IK Online store and other selected online stores.

How to Use iOS 5's Text Shortcuts to Correct Common Autocorrect Errors

Posted by Carter Dotson on August 20th, 2012

From Reddit, another interesting “How To” topic: how can we keep stupid autocorrect problems from constantly happening?

Well, the first solution when iOS picks up on some bad autocorrection habits is to just erase the keyboard dictionary entirely. Do this by going to Settings, General, Reset and Reset Keyboard Dictionary. Note that this will erase everything in the keyboard dictionary, including any good things like emails and usernames that iOS has picked up on. It’s throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Now, there is a way to get rid of the bathwater while keeping the baby around – it’s cute, even if diapers ain’t cheap. Starting with iOS 5, Apple implemented a feature in iOS to let certain keyboard shortcuts be automatically inserted when typing.

This is designed primarily to make typing long strings of text much easier by setting up shorter strings to automatically expand to longer strings. For example, I use it to easily send emails to a long address easily. But it also serves as a great deterrent for frequent typos by replacing a misspelling with the proper spelling every time.

Go to Settings, General, Keyboard, and scroll down to Shortcuts. Tap Add New Shortcut… to do exactly what it says on the tin. Note that the top line is the text that should be replaced, and the bottom line is for what gets inputted.

Note that these shortcuts work even with hardware keyboards, so common typos can also be corrected even with real keyboards. This is also particularly useful to correct typos like thr being replaced with Thr when trying to type the. Unless you know someone named Thr, which is just awesome. The downside is that pretty much any frequent typo needs to be replaced manually using this method, but at least it exists as a reliable solution.

To delete a text shortcut, just swipe horizontally and tap “Delete” – this is recommended for the default “omw” shortcut. We’ve all sent a message where we just wanted to say OMW and wound up sounding far more excited than we really were. Yes, we’re on our way, but we’re not all sunshine and rainbows about it.

So, while perhaps it’s not a perfect replacement for a flawed autocorrect system, at least it’s a clever solution. Have something you need to know how to do on iOS? Let us know in the comments!

Korg microKEY-25 Brings Music Playing to iPad With Portable MIDI Keyboard

Posted by Carter Dotson on March 29th, 2012

Noted synthesizer and keyboard manufacturer Korg has announced a new iPad-compatible MIDI keyboard for use with various iPad music apps. The microKEY25 is a 25-key MIDI keyboard with a joystick, octave adjustment buttons, arpeggiator and sustain buttons. The keys themselves are velocity-sensing, designed to play chords, and to be customizable using Korg KONTROL Editor software for PC and Mac.

The keyboard connects to the iPad by way of its USB output to the Camera Connection Kit's USB adapter. When used with MIDI-compatible apps, like Korg's own iMS-20, it can send keyboard commands to play music and use its key functions to adjust various commands. It is compatible with GarageBand and its built-in MIDI keyboard support. Use VidRhythm to remix videos with the microKEY25. Cross the streams, and use a Korg keyboard to control Animoog! Any app that supports the iOS CoreMIDI framework introduced in iOS 4.2 can be used with a MIDI controller such as this, making it a portable and low-cost option for on-the-go musicians. The keyboard will be available from select music retailers for $69.99.

Aluminum Keyboard Buddy iPad 2 Keyboard Case Review

Posted by Jeff Scott on August 15th, 2011

This case popped up recently and looked like it had a chance to be something unique. While it borrows heavily from the Zagg mate, it makes a few improvements and is a heck of a lot cheaper. Let's take a look at the Aluminum Keyboard Buddy case for it iPad 2.

This keyboard for the iPad 2 is sold as a case, but it's not truly a case. Rather, it is more of a smart-cover-enabled clam shell with a keyboard included. The iPad sets, face down, into the tray of the keyboard with the edges coming up to enclose the sides of the iPad. And here we see the first issue with this keyboard.

To place the iPad 2 into the case for storage, users need to wedge one wide side of the iPad under two tabs on the edge of the keyboard. Then, users close the iPad by easing it down over the keyboard. To get the iPad wedged under both of these tabs is not a super easy thing. And once the iPad is closed into the keyboard, it is not as secure as the iPad was in the Zagg keyboard. The friction seems a bit lacking - it easily works itself out when stored in a bag or carried in your hand. Perhaps a little forceful adjusting of the aluminum edge of the keyboard would help, but I'm not willing to risk breaking it to do so.

Using the actual keyboard is much better than expected. It's a similar Bluetooth design to most other non-folio type keyboards. The iPad 2 wedges into a groove on the front of the keyboard and leans back either in portrait or landscape orientation. The keyboard base then becomes the platform to hold the iPad 2 and use as a keyboard. This works quite well and is in my opinion the best method for typing. The solid base allows you to use this on a table or even in your lap, though using it in your lap with the iPad in portrait mode can feel a bit unbalanced. The one issue with this keyboard in particular is that the iPad bounces considerably when touching on the screen. The tabs holding the iPad in place are perhaps a bit soft for this or the overall design is a bit less rigid than it needs to be.

What about the keyboard? Well this is where this device really shines. While it has very small keys, they have great separation from the other keys. This really has given me unparalleled accuracy in typing on an iPad keyboard device. Add to that my preferred double-width backspace, inverted T arrow keys, and the usual compliment of iPad quick access keys, and this could be my favorite small iPad keyboard.

When closed up, the keyboard adds very little bulk in comparison to other keyboard cases. The whole package is just under double the thickness of the iPad alone. This keyboard also includes the special iPad 2 magnet in just the right place to automatically wake up your iPad when you pull it out of the case. Perhaps this could be an issue for battery drain if the iPad is popping out of the case in your bag, however.

Overall, the Buddy iPad 2 case is a good specialized keyboard. While half the price and not nearly as good as the Zagg mate, it is half the price. While for pure typing pleasure you can't beat the Apple Bluetooth keyboard, in a pinch this one will work and is considerably more portable. Add to that the rather cheap price at under $50, and it might be the perfect keyboard for some.

This iPad 2 keyboard shell is available for $49.90 from MIC Gadget in either white or black. Full specs from the manufacturer are below, or after the jump.