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Game Centered: Special Holiday Edition, Exciting New Games and Awesome Updates.

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Game Centered features roundups and in-depth reviews of the best in iOS games and related gaming news. This week, in advance of Apple’s annual iTunes Connect closing dates (12/21-12/27) we've been treated to a whole slew of top-of-the-line new games and big updates that slipped into the App Store just in time for Christmas! We've got a lot of exciting gaming news to cover, so let's dive right in. And don't forget, the App Store allows us to gift apps and any of the following games would make excellent holiday presents.



Apple Posts Best of 2013 Lists: Duolingo Named iPhone App of the Year

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Monday Apple posted their Best of 2013 lists, including Music, Movies, TV Shows, Apps, Books, and Podcasts. The free Duolingo - Learn Languages for Free, was named iPhone App of the Year. And it's well deserved. Not only can you use it to learn Spanish, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, and English, but the app makes it fun. It uses gaming techniques to help you learn. And, interestingly, the app also has a crowdsourcing function, such that in the process of learning and doing translations, you are helping translate the Web into other languages. 



What I Played This Week: Angry Birds Go and Quantic Pinball!

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There's a buzz over Angry Birds Go (free), and 'freemium" titles in general to discuss in this edition of WIPTW. I was not aware that computer bits were being subjected to such draconian work conditions on our devices that they needed to rest; but Angry Birds Go introduces the "energy" concept to the Rovio game chest: a union break for overworked player characters, I suppose. Otherwise, ABG has plenty of good graphics, and is mostly goofy and fun like a cart race should be. Also played this week is the jam-packed action pinball slam of the season called Quantic Pinball ($2.99). If you like pinball, you will gorge yourself on this version.



Ahoy, Mateys! Time for Another Game-Centered, Featuring Updates, News, and Oh Yes, Pirates!

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Happy Holidays gamers, and welcome to the latest installment of Game Centered. Game Centered features roundups and in-depth reviews of the best in iOS games and related gaming news. Among the App Store’s myriad games, it’s all too easy to overlook some of the greats. Each installment of Game Centered will take a close look at a select few worthy of special recognition. This week's installment brings news of what promises to be a new, award-winning game set within the Game of Thrones universe, as well as update news and a review of the latest Assassin's Creed iteration. And don't forget, the App Store allows you to gift apps, something to keep in mind as you read on...



JumpStart's Madagascar Math Ops Makes Math Magical

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I have a special place in my heart for JumpStart learning programs. My kids grew up on the Toddler series and popped those CDs in our old PC like they were pop tarts in a toaster. But this is a post-PC era, and touch screens and apps are all the rage.

Fortunately, JumpStart has changed with the times and they offer a plethora of iOS apps that leverage the touch screen as well as relationships with Dreamworks and their Madagascar characters. Jumpstart offers apps that teach ABC's, math and more.



Top 3 App Deals of the Week

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As new iOS apps flood the App Store every day — recently topping 1,000,000 — we know it’s tough to tell which ones are worth their salt. But thanks to our Weekly Scoop, you can have the best for free! Here you’ll find a weekly roundup of the coolest apps free or at a discount for a limited-time only. Each week features the best and brightest from websites like Free App ReportAppsGoneFree, appsfire, and more.

Hurry! Get 'em while they’re hot!



Watch Your Neck App Helps You Avoid Text Neck

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With over 2.19 trillion text messages sent annually, there’s a little known condition that is plaguing smartphone users known as "text neck." The injury involves stiffness in your neck and shoulders and typically is caused by excessive smartphone usage.

A 2011 study published in the International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics found that 53 percent of mobile phone users suffer numbness or neck aches. Another study led by Erik Peper of San Francisco State University showed that 84 percent of subjects reported some hand and neck pain during texting. Moreover subjects also displayed other signs of tension, like holding their breath and increased heart rates.



How to Keep Your Gmail Contacts Synced with Your iPhone

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As a Google Apps for Business client (a paid, cloud-based productivity suite that helps you and your team connect and get work done from anywhere on any device using ad-free Gmail), I was seeing that my Gmail contacts were rarely identical to my iPhone contacts. The number of contacts I had in my Gmail contacts was nowhere close to the number of my iPhone contacts. This problem happens because when I receive an email from someone in Gmail and add them to my contacts, it didn't always sync with my iPhone contacts. You'd think it would; but it doesn't. And the same thing happens when I add a contact on my iPhone. 



What I Played this Week - Gobble Edition!

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Three cool titles helped me to overcome a triptophan and carb coma this past week. One of them was an actual zombie-style turkey shoot called Gunner Z (free with many IAPs). The second was a free tunnel race called Boost 2 ($1.99). Finally a platform defense hybrid called Forces of Nature ($0.99). All three made for a delicious gobble weekend of time killing fun!



Give IK Multimedia Gear to Your Musicians This Holiday Season!

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Several of us blogger musician types have raved about IK Multimedia gear over the years, and with good reason (see Mike Riley's recent reviews here.) Early this year at CES, I was able to get an up close and personal preview of the latest music creation gadgets, but only recently was able to check out the production versions of IK's iRig Pro and Blueboard. If you are wondering what in the world to get your favorite musician this holiday (with a Mac, iPad, or iPhone), look no further. You can check out the rocking guitar demo above for a taste!



Best iPhone Apps, iPad Apps, iPod Touch Apps | iPhone Life Magazine

We review the Best iPhone Apps, iPad Apps, and iPod Touch Apps.  Whether you want to play a game (like Chillingham Manor), navigate with GPS, or discover new apps, you can easily get lost.  There are so many on the market and the number is increasing on a daily basis.  So where to begin?  The following examples are just a few of what is out there.

The Head Finder is one of the iPhone apps around. It is a task management or schedule management that helps you organize all the different things you have to do.  It has a very simple user interface and it seems they designed all the most common functions to be done with as little tapping and typing as possible which is a real time saver.  Several time management apps, in the past, have seemed to waste more time entering events and tasks into the app than you might save by being more organized.  With Head Finder you can have a new task entered in less than thirty seconds with their quick three tap process to create a reminder.

Another one of the best Iphone apps we've seen is The JumiCam. This app allows you to view streaming video from any web cam you want with ease.  It's easy to set up the software on your PC and then connect your phone to see what's going on at your house.  The JumiCam also works very well on either a 3G connection or WiFi. This app allows you to connect to as many different web cams as you want so you can monitor your entire house while you're away if you want.  It can really take the place of an entire security service if you wanted it to.  There are many ways to use this, from keeping an eye on a babysitter while you're out on a date to making sure your pet is safe at home while you're at work.

As the name describes, U.S. Traveller is made for travelers that call the United States their home and travel to countries outside their own. In opening the iPhone app, on the "Countries" tab, you are presented with a list of countries & their correlating flags. The added flags next to the country names are a nice touch, especially since most people can quickly find a country based on visual representation versus textual representation. You can travel from the U.S. to numerous countries - Chile, Argentina, Germany & Italy to name a few. This may not adequately prepare you for the countries you visit, but this will for sure help you. The amount of information and the ease of access it gives to people is incredibly invaluable.