Technophiles Podcast » app of the week The Technophiles Podcast is a show about how we, humans, respond to all the weird and wonderful things that technology has brought into our lives. | @technophilespod Fri, 15 Aug 2014 01:20:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 App of the Week | Design This Home Thu, 27 Feb 2014 15:00:28 +0000

Design This Home
by App Minis LLC
operating system: android also available for iOS | price: free
size: 40mb-50mb mb | category: games

BY TINA URCH | I gave Design This Home a try to scratch my designer itch because I’m not currently putting my design degree to work. Despite being slow to get going the game is an enjoyable outlet for those with an interest and enjoyment of design.

The game starts you with one room of a home to get going and learn how to play. From there you are given tasks to complete which earn you additional money, increase the value of your home, and help you attain higher levels which open up additional design options. Aside from completing tasks, you can earn money by cleaning as bubbles pop up over items in your home. You also take in money based on the value of your home at regular intervals which the game calls your income. Your home increases in value as you add more rooms and higher value items.

The extensive library of furniture, fixtures, wallcovering, and flooring gives you a wide range of options to choose from. And over time you can change items out, put them into storage or sell them back to help you upgrade. While some items are a little cheesy looking, for the most part there are classy and chic choices. As you attain higher levels in the game you unlock higher value items for your home.

When you start to play it seems difficult to have enough money to do much. It takes some patience to slowly increase the value of your home so that you take in more money as income. Many of the reviews I read of the game made the same complaint about not having enough money, but I found that once you really get going and grow your house the money comes a lot easier. You also have the option to buy game money with your own real money if you really want to build and design more quickly. Having more money also enables you to purchase additional homes with a variety of layout options. It would take quite awhile to fully exhaust all of the capabilities of the game.

Overall, Design This Home is a great choice if you’re looking for a game that doesn’t require a lot of attention. You don’t need to check in more than a few times a day unless you’re out to earn money by doing your cleaning. I really enjoy that it doesn’t demand my attention constantly and I can rely on the notifications to let me know when I have income ready to collect. I think I’ll stay interested a lot longer since I can scratch my design itch on occasion and not get bored too quickly.

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App of the Week | Spotify Music Thu, 20 Feb 2014 15:00:16 +0000

Spotify Music
by Spotify Ltd.
operating system: iOS also available for android & blackberry os | price: free
size: 36.9 mb | category: music

BY SHAWN KERR | Spotify recently went free for both mobile and tablets, something I didn’t think would ever actually happen. But the magic of Spotify has done something fantastical and brought us our on demand music – even if you can’t necessarily listen to it exactly the way that you would like.

I want to mention that I’m reviewing Spotify from a free standpoint. You can pay a small fee to be a premium member, however I’m interested in what Spotify now offers us in terms of its free services.

There are several different options for listening to music. You can listen to the radio – a service similar to that of LastFM, listen to albums, artists, and many other ways of clustering music together. However, the crux and strength of Spotify is playlists.

You can create playlists on any device and they will sync over the cloud. You can even access your Spotify playlist library within your web browser. You can listen to any playlist that you’ve made at any time and so long as you don’t mine the occasional ad you can do it all for free.

The catch on mobile is that you can only listen to playlists, artists, albums, etc. on shuffle. Free users have to listen to their music as a jumble and if you were hoping to hear that one song that you love or have stuck in your head you may have to wait a bit before it starts streaming into your ear holes.

I tried to circumvent this by creating a playlist of only one song, but doing this only got me a radio station based around that song.

The other feature I want to briefly touch on is discover.

I find Spotify’s discover feature to be the best recommendation feature I have found yet. Spotify has some sort of algorithm that really looks at what you like and recommends based on artists and songs, not genre and loose weird connections. It’s one of the reasons that I stopped using Pandora. Spotify has introduced me to a lot of music via their discover feature and it’s one of the few that I’ll take the time to look at.

Spotify free is pretty fantastic. For paying nothing you can listen to your favorite playlists, artists, and albums. So long as you don’t mind listening to it shuffled. As well, when listening to mobile I didn’t find any increase or decrease in the number of ads that I heard – which was another nice plus.

I highly recommend Spotify for anyone who wants an on demand music streaming service but doesn’t have the cash for a monthly subscription.

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App of the Week | Clumsy Ninja Thu, 13 Feb 2014 15:00:59 +0000

Clumsy Ninja
by Motion Graphics
operating system: iOS also available for android & kindle | price: free
size: 96.3 mb | category: Games

BY DAVID GEISLER | It’s a tricky thing; reviewing Clumsy Ninja. So many interesting things going on in the background but I honestly can’t tell if very many interesting things are going on in the foreground. Natural Motion, the company responsible for calculating life like A.I. and physics with the Euphoria engine used in games like Grand Theft Auto IV & V as well as Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, has put together an app (and I think I’m going to call it an ‘app’ rather than a ‘game’) that is charming, sweet, a little addictive and even…at times…microscopically emotional.

The story of this app can go back, at least, to Apple’s September 2012 Keynote where the clumbsiest of ninjas was introduced to an unexpecting audience when demoed on the, at the time, new iPod Touch. [youtube] NaturalMotion had taken their DMS (Dynamic Motion Synthesis) technology, normally used for Digital Stuntmen in films and NPCs in many popular video games, and brought it into the spotlight. Clumsy Ninja is a ‘game’ where players interact with a less than coordinated but playfully wide-eyed Ninja character by way of a freemium styled goal oriented progression system.

I’ve been playing around with Clumsy Ninja for almost a month now. You basically treat this little character much like a virtual pet. The welcomed difference is that you’re not tasked with keeping the little bugger alive. Rather, you’re tasked with improving his abilities in the arts of ninja-ing…sort of. If being a ninja includes, jumping on trampoline’s and getting thrown into basketball hoops.

I’ll admit, I read ahead, before downloading this app, so I was aware that a very large part of “Ninja’s” animation was rendered in real time. They built a skeleton, muscles, even a central nervous system into the character model and he explores the world with toddler-like reflexes when you first start. It appears that he is constantly learning how to move his body with increased grace the more you expose him to obstacles. Even if that obstacle is as simple as grabbing his hand and pulling him across the screen.

A bit like a GTA game, sometimes you can have just as much fun fooling around with the A.I. as you can accomplishing your next task. I have to say, that I felt a little bit of glee, maybe even pride, when after the 20th-odd time that I threw my ninja up onto an awning at a local market…he reached out to grab the edge to stop his fall. It was the first time that I had seen him do something like that. He then let go and still tumbled to the ground, but after another four or five throws, he grabbed the edge…corrected his balance and dropped down landing on his feet. You know, it’s the simple things in life when you’re raising a ninja. Who knows how much of this is an illusion, and how much is really happening in the background. Though I suspect much of it is organic, with the exception of a couple key-framed poses here and there.

There’s something here…something fun, but the real verdict is held in the test of time. These days, my little ninja (who I used in-game money, that I earned, to buy Technophiles themed clothing for…yup) is a great way to kill five minutes in line at the supermarket. I still check in on him here and there, but for me the freemium-level-up-addiction doesn’t keep me coming back. If you love Tiny Tower, you might very much enjoy helping your Ninja be rewarded with new belts and skills. I’d say…it’s free so try it. It’s more exciting than a fish bowl and I can’t wait for this kind of technology to develop into something really interesting.

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App of the Week | Songza Thu, 06 Feb 2014 15:00:29 +0000

by Songza
operating system: android also available for iOS | price: FREE | size: 10 mb | category: music

BY DREW NOWAKOWSKI | Although Pandora has been my traditional “go-to” app for listening to Internet radio, Songza is making a strong push to becoming the leader in the clubhouse when it comes to streaming music. While apps like Pandora lets you to make music stations centered on an artist or genre, Songza is different in that it has built custom playlists to fit your mood and activity. Despite some glitches (see below), fewer ads and awesome playlists make this app a must have in your music listening arsenal.

When you first start the app, the music “concierge” will give you six choices for you what you are doing/what do you want to hear using the time of day as a starting point (you can get new options if you don’t like the ones listed). Then you pick 1 of 6 genres followed by 1 of 3 sub-genres and a playlist of songs (usually around 60) pops up for you. For example, it’s late morning on a Wednesday, one of your choices is “Working Out.” You could choose “High-Intensity Pop” followed by a subclass of “Performing-Enhancing Pop: Running” and boom, a set list of 58 songs from the 80’s to today designed to keep you on pace for a good run. Or say it’s Friday Night. You could select to play music for “Drinking at the Bar” for which Songza asks which kind of bar? A Lounge? A Night Club? A Sports-Bar? Well let’s say it’s a Dive Bar, for which Songza lets you choose from “Trans Am Rock,” “Classic Rock Deep Cuts,” or “In a Lower East Side Dive Bar.”

These are just a few examples of the hundreds of playlists available for the multitude of things you are doing (my personal favorite and most used activity is “Studying (no lyrics).” One cool thing that is evident by listening to the playlists is that they are “made by music experts.” Since it was developed by a person and not songs thrown together by some computer algorithm, there seems to be sensible variety within the selected playlist that fits the activity. I’ve never said the phrase “why is this song in here?,” something I could not always say for Pandora stations. Also, just like the other music apps, you can thumbs up/ thumps down a song (to help with playlist development) and of course skip to the next song if you don’t like it (I think your allotted 6 skips per hour). Another awesome thing about this app is there are no interrupting ads while the music is playing.

Granted before you can start your playlist, you usually have to enter a word from some ad being shown. However, once you’ve done that, you’re good for 24 hours of uninterrupted play. That’s well worth it compared to having to listen to a commercial every few songs and interrupting your jam session. The only glitch I’ve experienced with the app is when I’ve tried to Chromecast it to my TV, it usually only plays the first song then stops.

I’ve looked around and it seems like I’m not the only one who’s experienced this problem. Since Chromecast is fairly new (and only few apps actually CAN beam to Chromecast), I’ll give them a little bit of a slide, but hopefully that’ll be fixed in a future update. All in all, whether you are “Singing in the Shower,” “Driving Home from Work,” or having “A Sweaty Dance Party,” this app is a great source of music. If you haven’t done so already, download Songza. You will not be disappointed.

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App of the Week | Duolingo – Learn Languages for Free Thu, 23 Jan 2014 16:00:14 +0000

Duolingo – Learn Languages for Free
by Duolingo
operating system: iOS & Android | price: FREE | size: 28.0 mb | category: Health & Fitness
Compatible with iPhone and iPod touch.

This is a rather in depth review of the app Duolingo. While I know it’s rather long I felt that cutting anything out of its current form wouldn’t do the app justice. Happy reading!

Duolingo is an app that aims to teach you a foreign language. With language choices of French, German, Spanish, and Italian it has a nice list of common languages you can learn. While I was disappointed that I couldn’t brush up on my Korean I was happy with being able to start learning French, a language that I had always wanted to learn but just never got around to.

Basically Duolingo works like just about any language program/class (as far as I’m aware) by teaching you English equivalents of foreign words and phrases. The app has you translating sentences both to and from the language of your choice focusing on how to speak and read the language right away. Duolingo does give you “vocabulary” words but they are rarely presented as such. Usually you learn a new word by discovering it in a sentence you are being asked to translate. Translating isn’t done solely through typing out sentences however. Duolingo will also ask you to translate sentences to and from your chosen foreign language using word banks that contain more than just the words needed to translate the sentence. Additionally there are fill in the blank questions where you select the proper prefix and type out the word they are asking you to translate.

Duolingo also has speaking exercises. While I’m sure you can speak them into your phone’s mic I only did this while wearing headphones with a built in mic. I’m wary of voice recognition software in general. I work with voice recognition daily, and it isn’t the most reliable software out there. Despite my hangups with voice recognition it is a nice little feature assuming you take its accuracy with a grain of salt.

You can turn off speaking exercises temporarily (for an hour) or indefinitely. This is really nice when you’re in public and would like to avoid the awkward stares associated with brokenly speaking some language you’ve been learning for a week to no one.

Duolingo is laid out like a series of lessons. Each lesson contains several sections and each section laid out as a 20 question quiz. Many of the questions can be figured out through logic and knowing word etymology (at least in the beginning), but when you come across a word that you just don’t know such as, say, garçon – you can tap the word to get it’s English equivalent. You can do the same to an English word that you don’t know the foreign language equivalent to. It’s a really nice reference to have when you’re truly stuck. Words that were learned in previous lessons usually are not available via this reference so it’s not always available and has limited use – all good news if you’re actually trying to learn a language.

If you’ve already studied a language previously you can test out of lessons with a quick 20 question quiz and move on to the next set of lessons. Every lesson can be tested out of.

Each section builds upon the previous one by utilizing some of the words from the previous section. Lessons are done the same way by utilizing words and phrases from previous lessons. Learning builds up in a quick but natural way and you always have the option of going back to redo lessons (in case you don’t remember anything from your last session). At the end of each lesson you are offered the ability to go back and strengthen the grammar skills and words you learned throughout that entire lesson at anytime.

The trick to each section is that you only have 3 hearts – a la Legend of Zelda health meter (don’t worry, it won’t beep when you’re down to 1 heart). If you answer four questions wrong then you have to start the section over again.

But the thing that truly makes Duolingo shine isn’t just its varied exercises or its increasing number of languages that you can learn – it’s the gamification that’s built into the process. As a gamer I love gamification. I’m also a collector (when the game makes it worth it) which means I’m willing to do tasks over and over again until I get them just right (I’m looking at you Assassin’s Creed).

Duolingo has Duo the owl who is both their mascot and your coach (far less annoying than Clippy). As your trainer he works to help motivate you and keep you on track with any goals you set. You can set goals to 10, 20, or 30 minutes per day and can send you daily reminders via push notification, e-mail, or both. He lets you know how much XP you need to achieve your goal for the day.

The app rewards you for completing sections and lessons in the form of XP – culminating in leveling up. You also earn Lingots, the in game currency used to customize your Duolingo experience. Levels are somewhat arbitrary from what I can tell (but aren’t they all). However, that ding you see and hear when you level up is always rewarding. Lingots can be used to buy red potions that refill a single heart during a section or purchase a new suit for Duo the owl. It’s these fun little side goals that make me want to perfect each section.

The thing that makes the Duolingo app so accessible is the fact that it is an app. There is a website with the additional option of learning Portuguese (which I presume is coming to the app relatively soon), but the app makes it so easy and convenient to learn a language on the go. While I don’t recommend it while driving I highly recommend playing while in the waiting room at a doctors office or on the bus. It also doesn’t require an internet connection so assuming you can turn your headphones up loud enough to drown out that baby in the background you can learn on flights too.

Doulingo is probably the best language learning tool out there because it includes great gamification with the amazing mobility of your phone. I recommend it to anyone and everyone who wants to learn, maintain, or strengthen multi-language skills.

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App of the Week | Argus Thu, 14 Nov 2013 15:00:02 +0000

by Azumio
operating system: iOS | price: $1.99 | size: 22.3 mb | category: Health & Fitness
Compatible with iPhone

In a year with two new iPhones, explaining all of the reason why you opted for the 64-bit, motion co-processor packed 5S over the cheaper but functional 5C to non-nerds can be a bit trying. The improved camera and flashy fingerprint scanner are easy to understand, but aren’t necessarily phone-sellers. For me, the M7 motion co-processor–which tracks accelerometer data in the background without spinning up the main processor–seemed like the reason to own the phone. It’s essentially a Fitbit built right in; of course, there was no way to tap into that potential without an app that took advantage of it. Surely every fitness app on the App Store will pack M7 features by next iPhone season, but for now, we get Argus.

At first blush, it’s hard not to like Argus on looks alone. The app features a cascading honeycomb of colorful UI pieces, each representing a health data point logged by the user. Glasses of water, your daily run, the hours of sleep you got the night before, and pictures of each meal (complete with underlying food groups) bounce and slosh in time with the phone’s movements, a cutesy version of the parallax effect iOS 7 achieves system-wide using motion data. Hold an item to sort by data of that type, or log new activity from a list at the top corner. Food logging is as simple as hitting a camera button up top, snapping your food and adding the associated food groups. You can even save images for later Instagramming, if you’re into that.

Unfortunately, there’s a dearth of custom options, like a note field for logging unusual fitness measures like body measurements other than weight and body fat, but the options that are there cover a wide array of fitness data. The trouble is that each of these handy events has to be manually logged, more or less. While it does track steps in the background, M7 does disappointingly little to automate the process of logging other fitness tasks. Argus can automatically detect when you start a run, but that disables M7’s low power operation. It can effectively track runs that are triggered manually in the background, with minimal impact on battery life. That’s nice, but not a revelation compared to any other fitness tracker out there. And with longer time frame measures–like tracking my commute–I constantly forgot to turn off the timer when I arrived at my destination. I eventually set location-gated reminders to tell me to end my commute tracking, which had me wondering why Argus can’t tap into M7 motion data once I stop moving for a while–or use geofences or background location for that matter–to automatically alert me that my commute might be over. And while M7 mitigates battery drain from GPS, the app’s required background app refresh features rained hell on my battery on occasion (this might be because of an unrelated issue with app refresh on my new 5S, so your mileage may vary).

Other automatic tracking features–like integration with Withings wireless scales, or other fitness and heart monitor applications sold by Azumio–seem promising. But they relegate Argus to a very pretty companion app to higher-end fitness tracking gear, not a standalone solution. Argus is a well-executed fitness app, but doesn’t break a lot of new ground. It demonstrates that developers still have a ways to go before the APIs for motion data on iOS can be used to achieve things currently being tracked more effectively by dedicated fitness trackers.

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App of the Week | Flow Free Thu, 07 Nov 2013 15:00:25 +0000

Flow Free
by Big Duck Games LLC
operating system: android also available for iOS | price: FREE | size: 5.2 mb | category: brain & puzzle

BY DREW NOWAKOWSKI | I’ve always been a sucker for a good puzzle. I think that’s one reason why I find Flow Free such an entertaining game to play. The game reminds me of a cross between Pipes and Snake (our favorite game to play on the old Nokia phones) with a little more thinking and planning involved. If you like simple puzzles, this may be the game for you.

To play the game, you drag your finger across the screen matching one color dot to its partner, creating a “pipe” in its path. The object is to connect all the same color dots together, not only without crossing paths, but also covering up the entire puzzle board with pipe. Level one (consisting of 30 puzzles) starts out easy with a 5×5 grid that helps you get the hang of the game, but as you advance to higher levels, the boards get larger with more and more dots to connect. These larger boards are where you need to put in a little more thought as to how you connect your dots. A lot of times, taking the shortest route is not best way to go and you have to get creative with your paths. Thus, these higher level boards are where my proverbial puzzle itch gets scratched.

What I like most about the game is the sheer number of puzzles. The game comes with 900+ puzzles to play and even the option of purchasing more if you so choose. Also, you can skip around if you are having a particularly difficult time with one of the puzzles, so you are not stuck on one forever. There are also hints available to if you get really stuck, but you only get a little few before you have to purchase more.

There is also a time trial mode, in which you are tasked to solve as many puzzles as you can in a determined set of time. I’m not as big of fan since I like to take my time planning my routes, but the option is there for those who want to be challenged by not only solving the puzzle, but also doing it in a speedy fashion.

The biggest hang up I have with the game is that when I am connecting the last set (or near last set) of dots, I tend to accidently swerve my finger into an adjacent pipe. Thus the previously laid pipe is broken and you have to go back and re-lay it, which is kind of an annoyance. I play on my large Galaxy Note II, so this problem may be exacerbated on a smaller screen.

All and all, I find this game entertaining and would recommend it if you are a puzzle-junkie like me.

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App of the Week | Dumb Ways to Die Thu, 31 Oct 2013 14:00:28 +0000

Dumb Ways to Die
by Metro Trains
operating system: android also available for iOS | price: FREE | size: 34 mb | category: Casual

BY TINA URCH | Dumb Ways to Die is by far my new favorite time waster. What began as a public service announcement campaign by Metro Trains in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia to promote safety around trains is now an addictive game for iOS and Android. I highly recommend checking out the original video at The iOS game was launched in May 2013 and followed up by the Android version in September.

The goal is to collect an adorable cast of creatures for your railway platform. This is achieved by playing a series of quick games and collecting enough points to unlock a new character. Each round of the game gives you three lives before you die and have to start over. The various quick games require you to save a character from dying in a “dumb” way such as carefully removing a fork from a toaster to avoid electrocution, flicking away bees from a character’s face, wiping up vomit before your character slips on it, ducking away from a hungry bear, and many more.

All of the games involve interaction with your screen such as flicking, tapping, swiping, and even blowing. I never realized your phone could feel you blowing on the screen before; that makes this game all the more cool right there. To succeed you need to have a speedy reaction time and the ability to quickly figure out what to do to win each game. The 15 mini-games are repeated randomly and with varying speeds on the time limit allowing you to improve at each game over time.

The game’s adorable graphics and kid friendly color scheme make it a surefire hit for all ages. Although there is some debate that the message of safety is dulled, and maybe even undermined, by the cuteness. When the video first came out many critics said that instead of encouraging safety around trains it highlighted various effective methods of suicide. Russia even banned the video from being shown through YouTube.

The only complaint I have about the game so far is more of an issue with my phone. Sometimes it won’t feel my poke, swipe or flick if I don’t execute it just right causing my character to die even though I reacted with appropriate speed. Not the end of the world though since there is no true starting over in this game; once you’ve collected a character for your platform you can’t lose it again. You will simply lose a round and have to start over on your quest to unlock another creature.

Overall I’m a big fan of this game and I highly recommend checking it out as a way to fill random moments of boredom that may occur. Oh, and I suggest you be very good at spelling the word “patience” before you begin. You’ll see why…

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App of the Week | Dots: A Game About Connecting Thu, 24 Oct 2013 14:00:33 +0000

Dots: A Game About Connecting
by Playdots, Inc.
operating system: android also available for iOS & Windows Phone | price: FREE | size: 14 mb | category: Brain & Puzzle

BY SHAWN KERR | Dots is a free puzzle game that is quick and easy to pick up. The game has been available to iOS users for a while now, but was just recently added to the google play store for Android users.
In Dots you connect 2 or more dots in a row by drawing a line between them. You can make as many turns as you like, but connecting dots diagonally is off limits and you cannot trace over a connection already made. When you connect the dots they disappear from the screen and the columns fall into place, pulling new dots in from the top of the screen. Those are the basics of the game.

Once you’ve played a little you’ll find that if you create a square of any size while connecting dots you will erase all the dots of that color from the screen. With 5 different colors of dots this makes creating long strings of dots much easier as well as making it easier to make more squares and continue the cycle.

There are 3 power ups that you can purchase with dots, the currency you earn by playing the game (aka: not by spending real money). You can stop time for 5 seconds – usable once per game, you can shrink a dot out of existence – unlimited usability per game, and you can expand a dot to erase all dots of the same color from the map – usable once per game. These three power ups make it possible to develop intense strategies for maximizing your score.

There are two game modes, Timed and Moves. In Timed you have 60 seconds to make as many connections as you can. Moves gives you a certain number of moves to connect as many dots as possible. There is a third game mode, Endless, that can be unlocked by paying for it.

I love Dots. The game was fantastic in part because it was easy to pick up, it has a steep learning curve, and enjoying the game isn’t reliant on some high level skill. The game is played in 60 second bursts in Timed mode (65 if you use the stop time power up) or however long it takes you to go through 30 moves in Moves mode (which is usually not much longer than 5 minutes if you’re really taking your time). It was also somewhat relaxing, watching the dots pop out of existence as I traced my finger through line after line of same colored dots, kind of like a visual version of bubble wrap.

I personally found the game most enjoyable when I was just relaxing and killing time. It’s a great game for when you’re in a waiting room, on the toilet, or just looking to kill a few minutes. The only pressure when playing the game is the pressure you put on yourself.

That said, Dots has several features that can make it highly competitive. You can have multiple accounts on one device. This makes it easy to compete against your friends and family locally (although you’ll have to pass your phone or tablet around). You can also connect to Facebook or Twitter to compete against your friends and followers in the game. There’s also a global leaderboard. All of this gives those who want some competition in their puzzle games that possibility.

The game, while great, is not without flaw. Often times I found that my fingers were a little too swift to trace a connection between dots. Tracing from dot to dot needs to be fairly precise (which may be an intentional mechanic) and I found myself misstepping somewhat often if I didn’t slow my swipes. In a game where you have only 60 seconds, speed is everything. As well, if you are creating a line of four dots you can’t just connect the first dot with the last dot, you have to connect each dot in between. While minor, it made gameplay somewhat frustrating when I was really starting to get into the game.

I recommend Dots to… well… everyone. Dots is a fun simple game that can be played by everyone thanks to its simplicity. More invested gamers can also spend some time by developing strategies to improve their scores and work towards the global leaderboards. The game is fun overall and seeing as its free the only thing you have to lose is a little bit of hard drive space on your phone or Tablet.

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App of the Week: Riptide GP2 Thu, 17 Oct 2013 14:00:14 +0000

Riptide GP2
by Vector Unit
operating system: iOS also available for android & kindle | price: $2.99 | size: 48.3 mb | category: Games

BY DAVID GEISLER | Wave Race physics meets Wipeout track design with a little bit of SSX Tricky sprinkled on top. This week I’ll be writing about Riptide GP™2 a racing game available for iOS, Android & Kindle. If you’re looking for an arcade racer I think you’ll be pleasantly satisfied with Riptide GP™2. The original Riptide GP™ came came out last fall and was a great game. The sequel hasn’t changed too much, which is a good thing, adding in extra modes and features that elevate Riptide GP2 to a ‘console like’ degree of gameplay.

Things like On-line Multiplayer and vehicle customization are now part of the regular experience. Side note…I had fun creating a Technophiles Podcast vehicle.

The water physics are truly impressive. You never feel that you’re being cheated by the game engine. If your hydro jet cuts deep into the side of a wave you slow down accordingly, or turn more sharply. You and all the other racers leave realistic looking wakes which of course become part of the math that is computing the wave physics. With the exception of the occasional up-hill segment of track, (I guess the water is flowing down toward you?) the courses are laid out in an interesting and fair way with a focus on speed. The game really does feel like, the above mentioned, Wipeout series but in water.

Vector Unit choose three different control methods. The default is tilt-based. There is also a touch-to-turn input (which I found worked the best for my needs) and finally a “classic controller” style layout. Tricks are executed simply and intuitively by swiping your thumbs on the screen in different directions when catching some air. For example two thumbs down perform a ‘Superman’ one thumb down and one thumb up will perform a spinning twist move. Every trick builds up your boost meter which you can use at any time.

Finally, I’d like to talk about how impressed I was with how well the game ran. I tested it out on iOS, but I’ve heard great things about the android version as well. I never experienced lag or slow down. I even tested it out on my old 3GS iPhone and though the game automatically turned off most of the fancy special effects, I was able to race (not multiplayer) with ease at a great frame rate. The game is selling for $2.99 right now and I promise you will be playing it longer than it takes for you to drink a café mocha for the same price. Here’s the teaser trailer for the game, which I found on Vector Unit’s site:

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