Asphalt 8: Airborne review

Image via Gameloft

Image via Gameloft

Games like Real Racing 3 and CSR Racing have given a massive breath of life to the racing genre on mobile devices. While Real Racing 3 takes a simulation approach and CSR Racing is based on drag racing, there’s still be a lack of a quality arcade-style racer. Fortunately, Gameloft has filled that void with Asphalt 8: Airborne, a visually-impressive racing game that comes packed with a ton of speed and action.  Whether you’re looking to pull off flips and barrel rolls, or you want to speed and drift around the competition, Asphalt 8 offers something for all types of race fans.

As soon as you enter the main menu, it’s obvious that Gameloft set out to make a racing game that’s full of detail and customization, even if the menu system is a bit cluttered and difficult to navigate. The main gameplay options are World Series (online play), Career, Quick Solo Race, and Local Wi-Fi Race. Season one of the career is available from the start, and is an excellent way to get used to the controls and the different game types. Players experienced in mobile racers may be able to go online and hold their own right off the bat, but the controls feel a little less sharp than in games like Real Racing 3, so a few practice rounds isn’t a bad idea. While the first few races will likely be underwhelming, most players will quickly learn some of the tricks that make Asphalt 8 stand out. Pulling off crazy stunts doesn’t just look cool, it’s a fun way to refill turbo meter and destroy the competition. (more…)

ooVoo review

ooVoo app iconooVoo is an iOS and Android release from the company of the same name. It’s available now as a free download from the Apple App Store and Google Play and carries no additional in-app purchases.

ooVoo is a video and text chat system in the same vein as Skype and Google Hangouts. When first opening ooVoo, users will be prompted to sign into or create an account. Account creation can easily be done through social media profiles, though creating a proprietary account can be accomplished just as fast as connecting a social media profile. Once logged in, ooVoo will import contacts from the device and social networks and will easily list any contacts that are also using ooVoo. Users who don’t have friends using ooVoo can easily invite them, and the ones who are connected will show up on a special contact list.

When two users connect on ooVoo, their options are similar to Skype: video, audio, or text. The video and sound quality are good, and are mostly on par with the competition. Getting into a call and connecting with other users is a breeze and users are able to organize chats with up to 12 people simultaneously. It’s a simple system that feels very familiar to Skype and Google Hangouts users. ooVoo’s basic functions doesn’t offer anything that those other services do not, but it does everything just as well, including seamless interaction between mobile and PC users. (more…)

Skyscanner All flights, everywhere! review

Skyscanner All Flights, everywhere app iconSkyscanner All flights, everywhere! is an iOS release from Skyscanner. It’s available now as a free download from the Apple App Store and carries no additional in-app purchases.

Skyscanner All flights, everywhere! attempts to allow users to easily find the best price for any airline ticket and book it right from their mobile device. When users open the app, they’re greeted with the search window, either as a clean slate, or showing their previous search. It’s a simple menu that simply asks for the starting airport, the destination, the depart and return dates, and how many passengers. This process works identical to flight app competitors, with a couple additions. The first is a list of every available airport, sorted by country. The other option is to display this same list as an interactive map.

Once the information is entered and submitted, Skyscanner continues to work like most other flight-booking websites and apps. Once the list of flights is generated, it’s automatically sorted by price per person. Users can change the sorting by departure time, duration, and arrival time, and they can filter out certain airlines, multi-stop trips, and block out undesirable times. Users who aren’t satisfied with the prices or times can pull up a chart that allows them to quickly change the departure and arrival dates and quickly execute another search. If users need some time to think about their plans, they can press a button to add the search to their favorites list and check it out later.

Skyscanner All flights, everywhere! screenshot

There’s a bit of customization in Skyscanner that, when combined with its straightforward interface, can make it a somewhat-appealing candidate for booking flights on the go. Users can easily change their currency, save booking information, and put various trips on a watch list so they can book if a good deal pops up. Users who find a deal or have an idea that they want to pass on to someone else have a few sharing options available. Users can post their searches publicly to either Twitter or Facebook, or they can email flight and trip details to anyone. These options are nice to have, despite the social media sharing seeming entirely unnecessary.

While other services allow for booking of hotels and rental cars, often in bundles, Skyscanner relies entirely on flights at this time. Part of that is due to the service booking directly through the airlines, but users who want to plan entire trips will need to book hotels and vehicles separately. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as many users book separately anyways, but those who are into bundling their vacations will need to look elsewhere.

Everything Skyscanner does, it does very well. The issue with the app isn’t that its not good, it’s just not entirely relevant. There are other apps and services that help book flights. In some cases, other services will find lower prices on the same flight, though most are about equal. Skyscanner is in the midst of crowded flight app market, and while it has a very easy-to-use interface to help it stand out from the pack, it gives no compelling reason for anyone to pick it over the competitors.

You can follow Skyscanner’s progress on AppData, our tracking tool for mobile and social apps and developers.

Monogram review

Monogram app iconMonogram is an iOS release from Fara, Inc. It’s available now as a free download from the Apple App Store and carries no additional in-app purchases.

Monogram is a collection of user-created shopping catalogs intended to help users present their unique shopping experience. Monogram features an easy-to-use iOS app, but also requires a web browser to make full use of its functions. Monogram places a focus on fashion and apparel, and currently features more than 300 online stores whose products can be mixed and matched to create catalogs of different themes and styles. Monogram’s ease of use and strong visual presentation makes it attractive for both users and fashion bloggers.

Users who just want to focus on shopping and don’t care about creating their own magazines will feel right at home with the Monogram app. To use the app, Monogram doesn’t require users to create an account or link social media accounts. When the app is first opened, users are immediately introduced to Monogram’s featured posts, a collection of quality entries from users. Every featured post links back to its source magazine, which is where Monogram starts to shine. Magazines are collections of posts created by a group of users. There are two types of magazines: ones that are ran by a group of select users, and ones that are open for public contribution. All magazines are ran by editors, chosen by the magazine’s creator. Editors are there to makes sure the submitted content fits their theme, and from our experience, they seem to be doing well. (more…)

NOAA Hi-Def Radar review

NOAA Hi-Def RadarNOAA Hi-Def Radar is an iOS and Android app from WeatherSphere. It’s available now for $1.99 on the App Store and Google Play and carries no additional in-app purchases.

A lot of people don’t care about detailed reports and long-term forecasts when they’re curious about the weather. Sometimes, all someone wants to do is take a look at the radar, see what’s in their area, and know what’s coming their way. There are numerous perks of using the visual aid of a radar over written forecasts, and now mobile users are in for a treat with the detailed options available in WeatherSphere’s NOAA Hi-Def Radar.

When NOAA Hi-Def Radar is first opened, users are given a look of the U.S. From there, they can zoom in and out of any location they choose, though service cuts off outside North America. By default, the map shows off current rain and snow, along with severe storm and flood warnings. The radar displays the past hour of weather, allowing users to get a good idea on how storm fronts are moving. Users can pause the radar if they’d like, and they can view a static image of activity of any point in the past hour.

Users who want to monitor multiple cities or locations can easily set bookmarked locations by typing in an address or finding the location on the map. The may also comes with three different views: Road, Satellite, and Hybrid. The road map is what looks best for weather purposes, but the satellite and hybrid maps will be useful for users who want a more realistic look at a specific area. None of these views change the actual function of the radar, however. Those looking to add or remove features will have a ton of options available.NOAA Hi-Def Radar screenshot

There are a ton of customization options available in NOAA Hi-Def Radar, and it would take far too long to list them all. One of the most in-depth menus is the layers list. There are only a few layers turned on by default, such as the NOAA Base Radar and NOAA Warning Boxes. Users who desire more information can show features like cloud cover, recent lightning strikes, hurricane forecasts, and a drought map for the U.S. The expansive layers menu can also adjust the interval of the radar, allowing for a more precise or a broader look at recent weather patterns. Finally, users are also given the option to save and share screenshots of areas they want to show off to others on social media and email. (more…)

Never forget whose round it is with Turn Taker

Turn Tasker app iconTurn Taker is a new iOS app from independent developer Malcolm Christie. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, and carries no additional in-app purchases.

Turn Taker is a productivity app that allows teams to collaborate on various repetitive tasks and easily determine whose turn it is to do something. The examples given by the developer include mundane activities such as buying milk and taking out the garbage, but there’s no reason why it can’t be applied to more complex scenarios which involve repeated tasks.

To use Turn Taker, users must sign up for an account, which may be done using Facebook, if desired. Once signed up, the user then has a number of different options. They may create a new team, join an existing team or manage the tasks and teams they are currently involved with.

Turn Taker

Creating a new team is a simple matter of giving it a name, tagging it with a location via GPS and determining whether or not it is “public.” The latter option determines whether or not any other Turn Taker users in the nearby area will be able to find the team and join it — this is good for situations where the team manager would like people to volunteer for the team rather than inviting people directly. The app does allow for direct invites too, of course — this may be accomplished either through the iOS contacts list or Facebook if the user has connected their account. If the team is set to private, inviting users is the only means of adding them — all team members must accept and join the team before they can participate in the activities. (more…)

Frame My Photo gives images the finishing touch

IMG_2285Frame My Photo is a new iOS app from Unity Apps. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store with no additional in-app purchases — though the app description suggests it will only be free for a limited period.

As the title suggests, Frame My Photo is a simple app designed to allow users to quickly and easily add a picture frame effect to photographs from their device’s camera, photo library or their Facebook photo albums. The resulting framed images can then be shared via Facebook, Twitter and email or saved to the device’s camera roll.

Using the app is a simple matter of choosing the image source (camera, Facebook or photo library) and then picking or taking the photograph. This process is occasionally interrupted by pop-up advertising alerts offering free games and the like, but not so often as to be too obtrusive. Importing a photo from the camera or photo library is very straightforward — the photo library option also allows photos to be pulled from iCloud Photo Stream if available — but the Facebook option appears to be broken at present. Tapping on the Facebook option opens the Facebook app (if installed) and then should open the app’s permissions page and allow the user to install it to their social network account — however, when tested, this option steadfastly refused to work, instead giving a non-specific error message (“An error occurred. Please try again later.”) and simply returning to the social network’s News Feed when cancelled. It’s not clear if this is an issue with Facebook or the app itself, but the problem persisted regardless of whether the device was connected to Wi-Fi or cellular data, and happened repeatedly.


Create a poster with Phoster

photo-1Phoster is an iOS app from Bucket Labs. It’s currently a free download from the App Store at the time of writing due to its feature spot as Apple’s App of the Week — its normal price is $1.99.

Phoster’s stated aim is to allow its users to create their own posters using a combination of templates, images and text. These posters may then be shared to a variety of social networks or printed out. The app comes pre-loaded with a wide variety of different templates for users to use, many of which use recognizably modern, attractive styles, and each is customizable.

To create a poster, users must first pick a template from the available options. Templates are divided into categories according to the shape of the poster — square, portrait or landscape — and may also be marked as favorites if the user finds a particularly appealing design they would like to reuse. All templates come with placeholder text and space for an image — either in the background of the whole poster or in a dedicated area, depending on the design — which can then be manipulated in various ways.


Send a virtual postcard with Postale

IMG_2498Postale is an iOS app from 7twenty7 LLC. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, and carries additional in-app purchases.

Postale’s remit is simple: it allows users to create virtual postcards, then send them to people via Facebook, Twitter or email. Postcards may have one of four different layouts — a portraitwise image with text to the right; a landscape image with text to the right; a vertical layout with a photo at the top and text at the bottom; and a “panoramic” layout featuring a letterboxed image with text above and below.

The first time the user fires up Postale, they are walked through the rather simple process of creating a postcard a step at a time. The tutorial is relatively unobtrusive, but it’s questionable if it’s even necessary, since the app is extremely easy and intuitive to use.

Creating a postcard consists of several steps: choosing a layout, choosing a visual theme from those available — additional packs are available via in-app purchase for $0.99 each — and then customizing the layout with a photo, title and message. Photos can either be taken with the camera or imported from the camera roll, and the app makes use of Aviary’s SDK to allow for fine-tuning and adjustment of the photograph in various ways. Titles and messages can be entered independently, and each may have their own style set by changing the color, size and font of the text. There are a fairly wide selection of commonly-used fonts available in the app, though the widely-despised Comic Sans is nowhere to be seen.


Live life in 10-second bursts with Moovee

mzl.ukadjgbu.320x480-75Moovee is a new iOS app from the company of the same name. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, with no additional in-app purchases.

Moovee is a very simple app indeed: its sole purpose is to allow its users to shoot short video clips of up to 10 seconds in length, then share them online both via Moovee’s own mobile-social network as well as Facebook and Twitter.

Upon starting Moovee and signing in using either a proprietary account or Facebook, the user is immediately taken to the service’s main feed. From here, videos are displayed one at a time, automatically advancing to the next when the previous one is finished. Each video shows how many times it has been viewed along with any likes and comments it has received, and also provides the viewer the opportunity to do either of these things. A simple double-tap on a video quickly provides a “like”, tapping starts and stops the video and tapping and holding restarts it from the beginning. All content may also be shared via Facebook, Twitter, email, SMS/iMessage or the iOS clipboard with the tap of a share button in the corner of the screen.

Shooting and submitting video is a simple matter of tapping the camera icon in the corner of the screen, which immediately takes users to a standard-looking iOS camera display. From here, the user may shoot as much video as they like and subsequently “crop” it to 10 seconds or less using the standard iOS video-editing interface. After the video has been saved and compressed, the user may add a short description, their location data and decide whether or not they would like to include audio. Once this step has been completed, the video is posted online for everyone to see. It’s a quick and simple process with a lot of immediacy.


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