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5 Years and Counting - The App Store Then and Now

Posted by Rob Rich on July 12th, 2013

Over one million apps have made their way onto the App Store during its five years of existence. A million. That's a pretty miraculous number when you think about it. However it's not the amount of apps we have to pick from that I find so fascinating, but rather just how much things have changed since 2008. Pickings were comparatively slim at first, and many developers were just starting to dip a toe in the waters of Apple's new smartphone.

On top of that, the technology itself has changed tremendously in a relatively small amount of time. It makes me wonder if anyone from 2008 would even recognize current iOS devices, and by extension the App Store. Would a newer Apple initiate have any idea what they were looking at if they somehow managed to take a trip to five years ago? I think it warrants a look at how the hardware, the App Store, and the apps contained within it have evolved.

2008 - The Beginning of the Beginning

The App Store's first year was a rough but promising one. The iPhone 3G rolled out to coincide with Apple’s new software venue and the original iPhone was still viable. The iPod touch was also present and accounted for, while the second generation appeared closer to the end of the year. Even at this point many developers were eager to push these early iOS devices to their limits, to make them more than just a phone or an .mp3 player with a fancy screen.

Handy apps like Pandora Radio, Last.FM, Facebook, and Yelp were to be expected, but that didn't make them any less impressive to have on a handheld platform. Others such as the intuitive personal organizer Evernote, the eerily accurate song-identifying app Shazam, eWallet’s convenient and secure account password management, and MLB At Bat with its extensive baseball coverage further capitalized on the particulars of the hardware and its general portability. Of course there were also some pretty unnecessary options out there, too. Flashlight kind of served a purpose but was also fairly pointless. It wasn't as bad as stuff like More Cowbell!, though.

At the same time, the games available on the App Store were beginning to show people that "mobile" didn't have to equal "mediocre." Sure there were a few simple ports of the odd classic such as Ms. PAC-MAN, Vay, and Scrabble, but there were also some impressive iOS renditions of popular console games like Super Monkey Ball coming out. Potential mobile gamers also had a few really special titles such as Galcon and Fieldrunners to tide them over. When all was said and done there were over 7,500 apps on the App Store by the end of the year, with more being added every day.

2009 - Moving Right Along

The following year saw even more impressive releases as Apple's digital marketplace began to expand. The second generation of iPod Touch was the bright and shiny new toy at the time, but it was followed shortly by the iPhone 3GS in June while the latest and greatest third generation Touch closed out the year in September. It all meant better processors, better CPUs, more advanced operating systems, and so on. All stuff that developers needed to acclimate to, but also stuff that meant they could push their boundaries even further. There was no loss of steam when it came to content, either: the App Store finished off 2009 with well over 100,000 apps available.

Many of the basic smartphone necessities were covered, but there was room for so much more. Especially while the technology was improving. Plenty of people used their iPhones as phones, sure, but with the addition of Skype they were able to enjoy the added functionality of instant messaging and voice chat without cutting into their data plans (so long as a wifi connection was present). Big companies were really starting to take notice as well. That same year Starbucks and many other big businesses threw their virtual hats into the ring with their own apps designed to make life a little bit easier for their iOS-using customers. Practicality was also becoming an even bigger focus. The Kindle app gave iOS users a practical e-reading option, and Dropbox was there being Dropbox. By which I mean "an awesome and super-convenient way to transfer files between multiple platforms." And this same level of refinement could be seen creeping into the games as well.

So many of the App Store's most notable games and franchises came out around this time. It was almost a mobile rennaisence of a sort. This was the year Real Racing first blew mobile gamers' minds, even causing some of them to question the legitimacy of in-game video footage until they were able to see the finished product for themselves. Zenonia was just a fledgling action RPG at the time, and while a lot of people liked it I doubt they knew just how many sequels it would spawn. The same goes for Pocket God, although with updates rather than multiple releases. Flight Control began to eat away at peoples' free time, Angry Birds and Doodle Jump hit it big (like, super big), and Myst and The Sims 3 further displayed the potential for major releases on mobile platforms. Oh, and Canabalt almost single-handedly invented and popularized a genre.

Monster Hunter Dynamic Hunting Updated With New Monsters

Posted by Jennifer Allen on October 27th, 2011
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: SHORTLIVED FUN :: Read Review »

When I reviewed Monster Hunter Dynamic Hunting earlier this year, I enjoyed it but it was a bit shortlived. With only 12 monsters to defeat, the experience ended way too quickly for my liking. A shame given the enjoyment gained from the title. Fortunately, someone must have been listening as four new monsters and a new weapon, Gunlance, have been added to the title, bolstering the enemy battles up to a not too shabby 16.

The new monsters: Diablos, Azure Rathalos, Kirin and Lunastra, are set to offer a sound challenge to fans of the game, and I'll be sure to not spoil the experience with any extra details.

Besides the extra monsters and the new weapon, Monster Hunter Dynamic Hunting has also benefited from a new Replay Function. For those players who manage to clear the quest without needing to continue, they can now record their entire playthrough from a variety of different camera angles. Twitter functionality has also been added so that fans can tweet the results of their battles and exchange questions and information on the game.

Monster Hunter Dynamic Hunting is available now, priced at $4.99. Existing owners get the update for free.

Monster Hunter Dynamic Hunting Review

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Jennifer Allen on June 7th, 2011
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: SHORTLIVED FUN
Monster Hunter Dynamic Hunting offers a simplified version of the hugely popular Monster Hunter franchise.
Read The Full Review »

Five for Friday: Week of June 3, 2011

Posted by John Bardinelli on June 3rd, 2011

Monster Hunter Dynamic Hunting:
Got a bit of Monster Hunter on your brain? The immensely popular open world RPG/action game has finally made its way to the iTunes App Store, focusing on two things gamers love most: combat, and loot from combat. Take on gigantic beasts from the Monster Hunter universe in one-on-one battles, swiping and touching your way to victory. Grab the goods when the fight is over and use it to craft new items and armor, strengthening yourself for the battles to come. It's definitely one of those "just one more battle" sort of games, even if you haven't been bitten by the Monster Hunter bug yet!

Why focus on meetings, appointments, and other time-eating activities when you can focus on what matters most: your free time? This slick-looking app is sort of the inverse of a calendar program, where instead of tracking actual events, it tracks and displays the time between them, pulling data from your local scheduling app to bring it all together. Enter your usual work day, factoring in meals, sleep, and average waking and going to bed times, then share your free times with friends. Surprisingly great for productivity, especially for those who consider free time more important than non-free time!

This V That:
Visually explore two seemingly unrelated things in a smart, stylish app that's all about comparing data for different parts of the world. For example: is there a relationship between coffee consumption and homicide rates? How about Olympic medalists versus number of Facebook users in different countries? There's an app for that, and it's This V That. Great for trivia enthusiasts and anyone who enjoys apps that raise as many questions as they ask.

Ever wanted to learn to play the guitar? Piano? How2Play is a universal app that contains a number of lessons, courses, background tracks and sheet music available to help you accomplish your musical goals. The download features a number of starter lessons, complete with instructional videos, and allows you to easily grab lessons from How2Play's website (around $6 per lesson) so you can hone your skills and learn to play specific songs.

The enemy of writing is the distraction, and with devices like portable gaming consoles and iPads floating around, an awesome game is never more than a few taps away. OmmWriter aims to help free your mind of the clutter by streamlining your writing experience with a simple layout and a keyboard designed for improved usability. Soothing sounds are available, or you can opt for silence, but the user-centric keyboard design is where the real strength lays.