Star*Burst from Super Happy Fun Fun is one of those time-killer games for when you just want to align colored gems (under a bit of pressure) without thinking too hard about it. It employs aspects of some other very popular games, with smooth and engaging backgrounds/music, but the starting levels do become a little monotonous. There are some issues I feel with the control scheme, and a minor glitch, but I enjoyed it regardless of these minor detractors.
Many games are based on engines from other games, and so will have a similar flow or look. Some games will have a layout, gameplay setup or theme that is similar to another game (e.g. the author noted that it worked well in the other game). Star*Burst obviously borrows heavily from popular conveyor belt-style games like Guitar Hero, Tap Tap Revenge, etc. The strategy is refreshingly different here as instead of requiring a simple point-in-time response, the game requires you to think a bit about aligning the objects (above the conveyor) coming at you. As gems roll off the belt, you use the paddle to grab them. You can hold up to 5 on the paddle safely. Another tap sends them into a slot above. As you stack up colored gems, you score points and meet level goals by aligning same colors (goals appear above the gameplay area). Alignment can be in the horizontal, vertical or diagonal, and higher point bonuses are earned for intricate patterns (the "Star*Burst--star shaped patterns being among the highest). Seems simple enough, but as you progress, the pace and color change frequency increases and gems invariably fall off the board before you can get to them. Miss enough and you lose...
A couple of interesting twists are included in gem manipulation. Once gems are placed in the matrix above, they cannot be moved, but you can chose to toss a gem to the back of the coming queue (to rearrange the order coming down the belt). Some gems have explosive characteristics, removing other gems in the vicinity when they explode, and wild card gems will match to any color. You can also post your Star* Burst achievements to facebook. The music, graphics and screens do a decent job of keeping you immersed, but I have a couple of gripes. One is the same general gripe I have with touch or iPhone games that fill the entire screen (with no other control options but screen taps). Edge of screen taps are often not effective in moving the paddle to the far left, right edges or corners. There is also a noticeable pause in the game when a match is made. I am not sure that was intentional, but the conveyor stops moving when this occurs.
These are minor issues, and I think Star*Burst will be worth your time if you are really into color matchers. You can grab Star*Burst in the app store at the link below...
The free Photoshop.com Mobile app has been downloaded 6.5 million times since last October. You can use it to edit and share photos via an easy-to-use interface. The latest version, released a few days ago, offers a new sharpen tool, support for a variety of photo borders, and playback of video hosted on Photoshop.com.
Personally, I'm still trying to get through the initial set of levels that Angry Birds offered. You can read my review of the game here
. Apparently the developers weren't content with what they first offered to the public, however. Coming soon (or possibly even out by the time I push "save" on this post) is an update to Angry Birds that includes integration with Chillingo's fledgling Crystal social network. This, of course, will not only add the ability to be competitive about scores, but will provide the user with the much sought after notion of achievements that they've almost come to expect with most iPhone games. More importantly to me, however, is the addition of 40 new levels to the mix. If you didn't have enough to keep yourself busy already, prepare yourself for more. I'm not sure that I'll ever have the pleasure of seeing those new levels, but it's nice to know that now when I think I'm almost done I won't really be almost done any more. If you don't already already have a copy of this fine game you can grab it here (App Store Link)
Tribute Movies is a new app (free) that pinpoints your location to find the nearest movie theaters. You can search for movies by title, read summaries, view movie posters and photos, browse show times, and view the trailers. Other let you search for movies by popularity and user rating, and search for theaters by name, postal code, or GPS location. You can also rate movies and post your comments and reviews.
I recently had the chance to chat with Zvika Ashkenazi, the CEO of MobileAppLoader.com and I was able to learn some very interesting things about his company, the services it provides and I also learned how to track App Store sales.
Zvika sent me a graphic detailing January 2010 metrics for DIY iPhone apps. According to the graphic, MobileAppLoader was responsible for creating 436 apps for their customers which include realtors, auto dealers, restaurants, and hotels to name just a few categories.
As you know from my previous posts here, a number of companies have launched in the last year or so to help people and businesses create their own applications, not just for iPhones, but also for other platforms like Android and Windows Mobile. Previously, this sort of service was unheard of. If one wanted software developed, it could get pretty pricey. For large corporations, this was considered 'the cost of business', but for individuals and smaller companies, personalized or customized software was often out of reach.
Now, some people themselves are talented programmers themselves and can make their own apps. Some companies have developers on staff, while some companies can afford to hire an outside developer for a specific project - at a cost of $5,000 to $25,000 - to develop an application from scratch, that kind of budget is out of the reach for many people. Of course, one can get it for less, but even so, a ball-park bargain-basement sort of figure is still around $2,500. And most aren't looking to create super-sophisticated software, and don't really need to consider spending that sort of money anyway.
At the present time, MobileAppLoader claims that they are the #1 Do-It-Yourself iPhone App company. These stats do not include companies which build apps from RSS feeds or companies with less than 30 apps. Zvika explained that he generated this information by typing the name of the developer into iTunes. Now that I know how to do this, I anticipate hours of fun
Since MobileAppLoader doesn't build their apps via RSS feeds, I was curious as to their process. It's done by what Zvika described as a unique "App in a Snap" Wizard. A user signs up for an account on their site, and selects their business category. Then they chose a design from Iron, Bronze, Silver and Gold offerings and upload four images and type in certain details (contact info, URLs, feeds, text, etc...) and finally hits 'submit'. Behind the scenes, the content is then converted to a native iPhone app using objective-C using the Apple X-code development tool, and that process is then followed by a a quick quality assurance to make sure everything is working properly before the app is sent to Apple for review.
Apps built from RSS feeds can be very handy, but MobileAppLoader is very proud of the real-time interactivity of the apps they build using this method. For example, they've built a number of apps for towing companies and the apps include the ability to tell the towing company where you've broken down, show them a picture of your car and ask them to come and get you. So the app makes use of notifications, GPS and the camera. And that's just one example. Auto dealer apps include the ability of the dealer to notify a customer of their next service appointment. Prices start at $59.99 for setup and $4.99 a month.
I just found a great article over on Technically Personal entitled: "6 Ways to Track and Recover Your Lost/Stolen iPhone". To summarize:
1. Track your iPhone via MobileMe
2. iPhone anti-theft solution – iLocalis
3. GPS tracking for iPhone with Mobile Spy 3.0
4. Find and Recover your Stolen iPhone with iHound
5. Recover your Lost/Stolen iPhone with Navizon app
Read the full article, and be sure to check the comments too.
I like the idea of App Genie ($0.99), which is sort of a Swiss Army Knife of apps. It includes many of the most common tools you might need on your iPhone: tip calculator, currency converter, unit converter, weather, translator, battery level, barcode scanner, GPS locator, and many more. One app replaces many — a handy tool that you'll call upon often.
A new twist on the old ‘Magic 8” ball is Lucky Day! ($1.99) from Silver Lining Ideas, Inc. This app is as straight forward as they come, turn it on and you're greeted by Ka Ching the Panda who invites you to shake your iPhone and make a wish. Will your wish come true? Well that's between you and Ka Ching. Really there's nothing more to this app. Or is there?
When I first saw images of the iPad, something didn't look right. Eventually I realized that I was expecting it to be taller and narrower — more like the aspect ratio of the iPhone (15:10) and the 16:9 aspect ratio of HD and my iMac. Instead, it's 4:3, like the 15-inch monitors of old. The question is why. And the answer is, according to an article posted today on MacWorld, it's better for reading reading ebooks, magazines, and newspapers, better for surfing the web, and better for using productivity applications. And 4:3 feels more natural when you hold it in your hands.