Tuesday, December 28, 2010



Why 2010 was “The Year of the App”

Apps gained a major market foothold in 2010, according to a year-end analysis in the Wall Street Journal.

Andrew Dowell reported in the Wall Street Journal: “2010 was the Year of the App. Sometimes cheap, often silly, these little computer programs—there are hundreds of thousands of them—turned smartphones into game rooms, barcode scanners and photo manipulators.”

Apps have been transformed into an ecosystem that enables companies, such as Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG), Research In Motion (RIMM) and Verizon Wireless (VZ), to build customer loyalty. That’s why these outfits have built online outlets to sell third-party programs.

“Apps, many of which cost just 99 cents each, have also spawned a cottage industry with thousands of developers, established software vendors and start-ups focused on churning out mobile programs. Look no further than Rovio Mobile's goofy ‘Angry Birds’ game, which has sold 12 million copies,” said Dowell.

Apps have become a big-bucks industry despite low-cost prices per app: Gartner estimates that global app sales will have reached $6.7 billion in 2010.

Look for more corporate apps in 2011

Dowell said the next big apps trend will be corporate apps from AT&T (T), SAP and others to help their employees track sales and monitor systems. In turn, the adoption of iPads and other tablets is fueling this trend. Citigroup analysts have estimated that Apple will have sold 14 million iPads in 2010. Gartner estimates that 55 million tablets will sell in 2011.

[I'm guessing closer to 70M based on upcoming positive reviews and studies of the iPad in the higher education market. Only wish I could buy some Apple stock.]

Smartphones have become mainstream in 2010, and next year will become even bigger as prices plunge below $100.

Another big trend in 2010 has been the emergence of Android from Google as a serious competitor to Apple’s iPhone. Google made a splash with help from Verizon and manufacturers Motorola (MOT) and HTC (2498.TW).

[After getting my hands on an EVO and Droid X, it's clear the iPhone has met its equal in the DROID space. Next year will mean better apps, more widespread purchases of the newest devices, and intense competition for Apple as the early King of the smart device market. Now if only a solid tablet running Android appeared (better than the Galaxy Tab) with open access to the Android Market, we'd have a serious mobile arms race on our hands.]

Via Howard Wolinsky @ Appolocious

On a personal note, watch for more mobile device app reviews in 2011, and my hope that I'll get my hands on an iPad 2 or Droid X/EVO to advance my research/knowledge and early ambitions to learn more about app development and user interface creation in the mobile space.

In many ways, we're standing at the beginning of an early trend here in 2010/2011 (mobile always-on Internet access in several flavors) that will rival the widespread adoption of the WWW/Net which began in 1994. It's a near repeat of the excitement level, business investments, and potential that we first dreamed about 16 years ago.

Monday, December 27, 2010



Google Books for Android

RATING:
3 out of 5

PRICE:
FREE

TASTY:
Plain vanilla eBook reader that taps into Google’s initial book offerings inside its virtual bookstore service.

BUMMER:
Books are priced higher than competitors. Only runs on devices powered by Android 2.1 or newer. Some users reporting issues reading their titles across multiple platforms.

COOL:
Buy a book via your Android phone, then read it on any device that supports the Google Books application.

SIMILAR APPS IN THE MARKETPLACE:
Barnes & Noble Nook
Amazon Kindle
Stanza
iBooks

In early December, Google took the wrappings off its eBook store and posted ereader software for several platforms.

All in all, Google Books is a plain-jane eBook reader app for Android devices, making it relatively painless to browse, purchase, and read titles offered through the Google service across multiple platforms, without the need to purchase a specific ereader device.

Google Books cleanly organizes your books for easy access, and makes browsing a breeze. When you’re ready to make a purchase, you’ll need to use Google Checkout to complete your purchase.

Your title is immediately downloaded from the cloud to your device, and unlocks the content so it can be synced to any device you have which can run Google’s eReader software. Best of all, you can move from device to device to read your books, and know that your last read page is bookmarked in the cloud. (Go to your PC to continue reading and you’ll start right where you left off on your phone.)

Interestingly, you can switch from standard reading mode to view the originally scanned images of each page. If you’re really seeking that level of detail, it’s available to you. (And it’s one visible byproduct of the company delving into its own in-house digitization efforts.)

But all is not perfect in this first release. Prices for several titles were noticeable higher in Google’s store vs. Amazon’s and Barnes & Noble, adding $2-$4 to the cost of some popular titles. You also can’t add multiple bookmarks to your eBooks, and no in-book searching is currently available. Look for future updates to clean up these items in the near future.

Read all of my Apple iPad and Google Android application reviews at Appolicious and Yahoo! Tech.

Saturday, December 25, 2010



Google Reader for Android

RATING:
3 out of 5

PRICE:
FREE

TASTY:
The world’s premier RSS aggregation service is now available via a standalone reader app on your Android device.

BUMMER:
Font is super-huge, and with no ability to force to app to store its messaging cache on your SD card, your phone’s onboard storage will quickly be overwhelmed.

COOL:
Be sure to head into settings and turn on the ability to use your volume key to scroll between items. Nice touch, Google!

SIMILAR APPS IN THE MARKETPLACE:
A Good Reader
NewsRob
FeedSquares
Greed
Pulse News Reader
ReaderScope

Google’s first release of its official RSS client is an excellent start, but there’s plenty of room for improvement.

For starters, Reader does an admirable job of displaying your Reader feeds on your Android device. Especially if you’re getting up in years and could use some reading glasses; the standard font is super-huge and there to stay. The app’s light color scheme is also easy on the eyes, and its ability to browse by individual feeds or categories is a welcome approach.

Add in multiple Google account support, controls for reading all entries vs. only those that are unread, direct access to starred items, and a super-simple integration of finding items shared by those you follow and Reader starts to look like a worthy competitor to its Marketplace cousins.

That said, the current version does have a fatal flaw for heavy RSS users: no ability to force to app to store its messaging cache on your SD card means your phone’s onboard storage will quickly be overwhelmed. We’ll likely see Google address this and other issues in an upcoming update.

That said, if your RSS feed list is relatively small (like mine) you’ll likely not encounter any show stopping issues.

Be sure to head into settings and turn on the ability to use your volume key to scroll between items. You may also press and hold on folders of content or items to rename them, unsubscribe, and more. The Share feature makes sending interesting content to specific people or groups of followers no sweat at all.

Read all of my Apple iPad and Google Android application reviews at Appolicious and Yahoo! Tech.

Friday, December 24, 2010



Droid Odyssey BETA for Android

RATING:
4 out of 5

PRICE:
FREE

TASTY:
Finally, a quality platformer for Android! Take control of a little android and bend the laws of physics to solve a series of puzzles.

BUMMER:
The beta release is relatively short, with additional features and tweaks expected before a full launch.

COOL:
If you’ve played Mario Brothers, you’ll feel right at home in Droid Odyssey. Your robots always-on rocket pack will help you stay alive as you drift from platform to platform!

SIMILAR APPS IN THE MARKETPLACE:
Mobile Andrio (Free)

Don’t let the stone pillars, ever-moving platforms and coin-like pickups fool you. Droid Odyssey is much more than a port of Mario Brothers. This game (currently in beta/testing) offers up a familiar platformer experience, but adds in a series of increasingly difficult physics-based puzzles to solve.

Thankfully, the small (some would say cute) robot you’re guiding through each level of play is packing a tractor beam. You’ll employ it to place items in specific spots in order to move from level to level.
As things progress, you’ll notice a definite up-tick in difficulty, and will come to rely on your robot’s small booster pack to float rather than jump between obstacles and platforms.

Here’s hoping a full version comes online early in 2011 so we can enjoy additional levels, added features, and improved level design.

Thursday, December 23, 2010



Speedx 3D for Android

RATING:
5 out of 5

PRICE:
$1.53

TASTY:
A fast-paced 3D racer that begs the question: Can you dodge the obstacles in this tunnel and track of terror?

BUMMER:
Lacks multiplayer. Some users report issues submitting their scores to the leader board system.

COOL:
See a colored stripe on the ground? That means an obstacle of that color is just ahead. Stay in the neutral areas to avoid the oncoming barriers, or else!


With plenty of racing games to choose from in the Android Marketplace, it’s awesome to see a truly original 3D racer appear in the Droid universe. Take the controls of a lightning-fast vehicle as it travels across a hostile, blocky environment.

Using your accelerometer skills to street, you’ll need to keep your car on the neutral, gray squares and avoid the colored sections. That’s because each colored track leads to a correspondingly colored barrier. One tap and BAM, down goes your limited shields.

Be sure to touch the orange sections to charge your shield, and do you best to stay on the straight and narrow. This simple game play will yield many hours of dodging, boosting, and general racing fun in a one-of-a-kind environment. Be sure to submit your scores to the global leader board for some universal acclaim in cyberspace.

My favorite feature is the ever-changing raceway engine. You may start in a tunnel of terror, but within a few seconds things flatten out and the stars come out to reveal a standard track stretching out forever on each side of you. The difficulty also increases the longer you survive, adding up to a truly immersive and addicting title.

HyperBees, adding a live multiplayer module to your game would take it from great to insane! As it stands today, Speedx 3D is well worth the mere $1.53 U.S. to get in the game.

Read all of my Apple iPad and Google Android application reviews at Appolicious and Yahoo! Tech.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010



Tank Hero Beta @ Android

RATING:
4 out of 5

PRICE:
FREE

TASTY:
Strap into your very own battle tank and take out the enemy in a series of arenas in this overhead shooter.

BUMMER:
Free beta release offering a short eight-level experience.

COOL:
Bounce your shots off the walls of each arena to see the enemies explode into balls of OpenGL 3D-rendered graphics.

SIMILAR APPS IN THE MARKETPLACE:
Tank Recon 3D
Tank Ace 1944
Battlezone 3D
Battle Tank (ALPHA)

Fans of Battlezone and its ilk will feel right at home in this top-down tank shooter. Strap into your brightly colored treaded nightmare and head into a series of eight battle arenas, each populated with a set of enemies to destroy.

Use your phone’s D-Pad (or its on screen replacement) to drive around, and tap the screen to fire. Don’t forget to ricochet your ordinance off the walls to catch your opponents unaware.

Rendered in high-quality, OpenGL 3D graphics, the tanks are a sight to behold, and the resulting explosions look just as they should. Be sure to take a peek at the Options and try the fixed camera type. You’ll get to see the entire playfield at one go, making maneuvering that much easier.

Offered as a free beta version, there’s lots to be excited about as the final production iteration is prepped for launch. Here’s hoping for an expanded menu of weaponry, multiplayer support, and more.

Read all of my Apple iPad and Google Android application reviews at Appolicious and Yahoo! Tech.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Thorium & Nuclear Waste





Top Android Games by Category

‘Tis the week before Christmas, and on every Android phone, a trove of free holiday apps were awaiting, all snug in their Marketplace. Dash away, dash away, dash away all to grab these festive offerings, and to all a good night!

ANDROID APPS

Angry Birds Seasons
Don’t let those snuffling pigs put the Grinch in Christmas! The snowbound Angry Birds are waiting to be flung into action this holiday season.

Pandas vs Ninjas Christmas
It’s Angry Birds, but with cute pandas and ruthless ninjas swapped in their place.

Jewellust Xmas Lite
Three levels of Jewellust goodness with a distinctive holiday theme await you in this free demo.

Christmas Puzzle: Jigsaw
A jolly gift for any Santa fan! Work your way through 51 individual jigsaw puzzles, dragging each piece into the right place to build the final image of Jolly Old Saint Nick and his merry crew.

Read all of my Apple iPad and Google Android application reviews at Appolicious and Yahoo! Tech.

REVIEWS

Angry Birds Seasons (FREE)

Like a virtual Advent Calendar, the developers over at Rovio Mobile are offering up a fresh, no-cost holiday-themed level of Angry Birds every day leading up to Christmas, delivered through this standalone download. That’s 25 complimentary levels sporting snow scenes and bundled-up birds who are set on taking out those evil Grinch-like pigs. The app also includes all 45 Halloween levels in a “Trick or Treat” episode. With more than 30 million downloads of Angry Birds apps to date (5 million to Android owners), gently urging us to launch Seasons daily to grab a new level (and see today’s ads) just makes sense businesswise. And it’s a a load of fun to boot!

Pandas vs Ninjas Christmas (FREE)

The panda’s enjoyed a quiet life. That was, of course, until the ninja’s arrived. This free Angry Birds clone, sporting snowy scenes and candy cane constructions, challenges all comers to defend the panda’s precious homeland from an invading horde of evil ninja. You’ll need to bring your A game to this title, with many levels needing a very specific move or technique to get on to the next. Aim carefully, hit those candy-colored platforms, and watch those ninja’s get what’s coming to them.

Jewellust Xmas Lite (FREE)

Like a chocolate sampler with three rich confections waiting inside, Jewellust Xmas is the perfect stocking stuffer for every Android puzzle gamer. Bursting with color, Christmas trees, candy canes, and ornaments, this three-leveled seasonal treat brings the familiar “swap and burst” game play of the full Jewellust titles to your device. Gather as many tiles as you can, help Santa get presents to all the kiddies, work your way through jigsaw puzzles, and snag power-ups every chance you get. The full $2.95 version brings 35 levels of fun, along with two game modes, nine power-ups, online scoreboards, and more.

Christmas Puzzle : Jigsaw (FREE)

This ad-supported (free) app will get you in the Christmas spirit with a few swipes of your fingers! Boasting a collection of 51 individual virtual jigsaw puzzles, each sporting a jolly Christmas theme, you and your family can help but smile as each offering unfolds. Start with large-pieced images and work your way through progressively more difficult offerings. Doing jigsaw puzzles on your smart phone really doesn’t get any better than this.

Monday, December 20, 2010



Top iPad Games of the Week

With snow falling over much of the U.S. in recent days, it’s never been a better time to stay indoors, warm up, and spend some quality time with your iPad.

New App Store releases include a family-friendly tablet edition of MONOPOLY, the triumphant return of a long-lost friend in SimCity, a kid-friendly alien shooter, plus two free apps to get you in the holiday gift-giving spirit!

Apps Reviewed (iPad)

MONOPOLY for iPad
The board game classic leaps onto the iPad with everything you need to monopolize your family and friends. (Boardwalk is MINE!)

Max Adventure
Aliens have taken the world’s parents hostage. Do you have what it takes to vanquish these squishy foes in this super-smooth dual stick shooter?

SimCity Deluxe for iPad
Build the perfect city in your role as mayor and city planner. Equally perfect for casual and hardcore city manager types.

Cut the Rope: Holiday Gift
Just in time for Christmas, the folks as ZeptoLab have given the iPad community a free holiday confection. Om Nom is hungry for CANDY, and you’ll need to lay off the egg nog if you expect to keep him well-fed!

Aqueduct 101
Another free gift for the season, this time a truly unique puzzle game that will challenge you to fix up jumbled waterways and pipelines.

Reviews (iPad)

Read all of my Apple iPad and Google Android application reviews at Appolicious and Yahoo! Tech.

MONOPOLY for iPad ($9.99)

After a few short minutes of rolling the dice, buying properties, grabbing some Community Chest cards, and trading properties with AI players, there was no question about it: Hasbro had expertly brought the full MONOPOLY experience to the iPad. At $9.99, it’s a serious investment. But with high-quality HD graphics, smooth game play, fun animations to keep things moving, spot-on AI opponents with varying levels of toughness, and exclusive features (tabletop multiplayer and teacher modes), there’s nothing missing in this first-rate experience. My favorite feature? When playing in tabletop mode with up to three others, the iPad automatically rotates the game image to face the current player. Nice touch.

Max Adventure ($.99)

Aliens have taken the world’s parents hostage. Do you have what it takes to vanquish these squishy foes in this super-smooth dual stick shooter? Admittedly, I’m a huge fan of shooters in the iPad; just not the controls themselves. Max Adventure, however, nails it. Use your left thumb to move Max around the screen, while the game moves the shooter dial on the right side to wherever your finger touches the screen. This small tweak makes the game much more fluid, and the addition of upgrades, power-ups, and a silly over-the-top story make for a fun sci-fi romp.

SimCity Deluxe for iPad ($.99)

For decades, closet city planners and Mayor-wannabe’s have been using their PC’s to turn open land into massive cities. EA brings this immersive classic to the iPad, and it’s perfect for casual players right on down to hopelessly addicted players who want to tweak every aspect of the city management experience. Pinch and zoom down to your open plots of land, easily zone space for homes, businesses, and industry, add roads, power, and waterlines, then pray that seasonal natural disasters don’t wreak havoc on your virtual creation. With seven scenerios and starter cities at your disposal, perfect touch screen controls, and dockable widgets to keep tabs on all aspects of your dream city, you’ll be an expert urban planner in no time.

Cut the Rope: Holiday Gift (FREE)

Just in time for Christmas, the folks as ZeptoLab have given the iPad community a free holiday confection: a full 25 levels of festively-themed Cut the Rope goodness. Little Om Nom has again been shipped to your doorstep, and he wants MORE CANDY. You’ll need to lay off the egg nog if you expect to keep him well-fed! There’s the usual set of head-scratching puzzles to solve, along with a few new twists, all designed to keep you from successfully dropping hard candy into On Nom’s insatiable maw. Use your finger to cut ropes, trigger fans, drop candy into floating bubbles, avoid spikes, and time your moves perfectly to collect golden stars and, finally, get Om Nom his sticky treats.

Aqueduct 101 (FREE)

Calling all virtual plumbers and puzzle app fans: Aqueduct 101 is your gateway to a world of mixed up pipelines and jumbled waterways. It’s your task to move the pieces around to get the water flowing again. This is a truly unique offering that will challenge you to think in new ways to get past locked gateways, pass floating bridges and crazy conveyor belts, and generally think in four dimensions to properly lay down the pipes in the right sequence to get the water flowing again from point A to B. If the free 48 levels in the “101” version aren’t enough for you, grab the $2.99 app (named simply Aqueduct) and keep on going!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tron: Legacy = WOW
Before you see it, watch the '82 original Tron on YouTube, starts here...



After clicking play, be sure to use the control on the bottom right to move from 360p to 720p... Big difference in viewing quality! "What the SCSI?!"

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas iBand
iPad's, iPhone's, and Christmas Tunes

P90X Legs & Back | Workout
Fitness Blueprint | Insanity/P90X #10 (Get P90X or start with Power 90)
Personal | Weight: 197 (Shakeology Snack Added)
Tracking Calories (iPad App)
Working at my Stand Up Desk (plans) (Why you should, too!)

Wall squats + pull-ups = My Friday Wakeup Workout...

What's yours?

Thursday, December 16, 2010


P90X Yoga | Workout
Fitness Blueprint | Insanity/P90X #10 (Get P90X or start with Power 90)
Personal | Weight: 197 (Shakeology Snack Added)
Tracking Calories (iPad App)
Working at my Stand Up Desk (plans) (Why you should, too!)

Snow day in Central NC, namaste...


Skygrid Android News Aggregation App Review

RATING: 5 out of 5

PRICE: FREE (Ad supported)

TASTY: Set up your own personal news reader app on your Android device and get the most relevant news pushed to your phone.

BUMMER: Some users report reduced battery life when using the app over long periods of time.

COOL: Makes it super-easy to get the latest news based on events, topics, and people trending up around the world.

SIMILAR APPS IN THE MARKETPLACE:
Pulse News Reader
Nubinews
Top News
BBC News
Google News
World News
FOX News

Read all of my Apple iPad and Google Android application reviews at Appolicious and Yahoo! Tech.

It seems every new source has its own “reader” for tablets and smart phones these days. If you’re a diehard reader of the New York Times, Newsweek, USA Today, or Wired, there’s an app for that.

Enter Skygrid.

Billing itself as a news aggregator, this popular (and much-used on my part) iPad and iPhone app is now available to Android users. With a few finger presses, you can easily tap into featured trending news stories focusing on the very latest events, topics, and people. Content comes from dozens of sources, including mainstream news outlets (newspapers, TV stations, etc.), top blogs, and even social media sites.

The most compelling features of this easy-to-use news app revolve around its ability to filter incoming streams by topic area (think tech, mobile, politics, business, celebrity, football, etc.) and a standalone area where you can add your very own custom streams. If something is trending around the world, you’ll find it in Skygrid.

Like what you see? Share it right to Facebook and Twitter with one finger press. The newest version sports beefed up retrieval speeds, one-tap searches, and more.

It all adds up to a must-have, custom news app for all news and topical research hounds who take their Android device with them on the go.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010



Glympse Android App Review

RATING: 5 out of 5

PRICE: FREE

TASTY: Glympse makes it easy to share your location in real-time with anyone, anywhere, and set a time limit for how long the notification is active.

BUMMER: Can’t earn badges or mayorships for “checking in” or “setting my location.” A worthy trade for complete control over how this data is stored and who can access it, no?

COOL: Want to share your location with a single person or small group, then have the information disappear after a set time? Glympse makes it possible, and addresses privacy concerns raised by popular alternatives like Gowalla and FourSquare.

SIMILAR APPS IN THE MARKETPLACE:
FourSquare
Gowalla
Google Latitude

Read all of my Apple iPad and Google Android application reviews at Appolicious and Yahoo! Tech.

For many months now, I’ve used Gowalla and FourSquare to alert my friends, family, and co-workers to my location at any given time. When I’m away on business or pleasure, it’s fun to “check in” or “set my location” at coffee houses, hotels, convention centers, and elsewhere. Instantly that information appears in my Twitter and Facebook feeds, and the entire planet knows where I am.

In recent months, I’ve greatly reduced these activities. Why? There’s no way to un-store this information once its been freely posted. I’ve left a myriad of virtual bread crumbs across any number of locations, which anyone can mine, examine, and generally use for their own purposes.

Which is why I’m so glad to have found Glympse. This free app does what FourSquare and Gowalla do – sharing your exact position with others -- without all the bells, whistles, and privacy concerns that come along with them.

Once you’ve set your location, Glympse creates a one-off webpage, containing your first name, location, and Google Map showing your location. The app makes it easy to share a link to this private webpage to anyone via email, SMS (text message), and yes, Facebook (showing to Friends Only) or Twitter.

The secret sauce? Your location is only shared for the duration of time you specify, then the page and its information go away. No virtual breadcrumbs. No trace. No privacy concerns.

I’ll miss my Gowalla badges and FourSquare mayorships, but Glympse gives me much better control of who knows where I am and for how long. Perfect.
One on One w/Tony: Diamond Delts | Workout
Fitness Blueprint | Insanity/P90X #10 (Get P90X or start with Power 90)
Personal | Weight: 197 (Shakeology Snack Added)
Tracking Calories (iPad App)
Working at my Stand Up Desk (plans) (Why you should, too!)

Upper shoulder blaster. Yes, please.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010



P90X Plyometrics Cardio | Workout
Fitness Blueprint | Insanity/P90X #10 (Get P90X or start with Power 90)
Personal | Weight: 197 (Shakeology Snack Added)
Tracking Calories (iPad App)
Working at my Stand Up Desk (plans) (Why you should, too!)

Brought it today... Amazing what doing these workouts to their max/total time forces your body to do: ADAPT. Good life lesson, as well as physical impacts. Nice.

Yahoo's P90X Review from today: P90X | The saying goes, “At any given time, there is an episode of I Love Lucy playing somewhere in the world.” I think the same is probably true of the P90X infomercial—possibly twofold. The parade of jaw-dropping transformations and well-oiled “after shots” just reek of scam. But, you know what…? The hype machine of the infomercial doesn’t change the fact that P90X is a really solid, well-rounded, old-school weight and cardio program that will deliver great results to anyone who has the dedication to push themselves through the workouts and, most importantly, reel in their diet. It delivers the same kind of solid workout experience you can get from taking several classes at a gym, which makes it ideal for parents and people who like the flexibility of working out at home. (One caveat: If you are a woman looking to lose weight, it’s likely the nutrition guide that comes with the program will suggest far too many calories. Here are some suggestions for alterations.)

The Verdict: Hit it! Just don’t expect that something magical will happen when the UPS man delivers the package to your door. As with any workout program, you’ll need the commitment to hit the workouts hard and change your diet to see results.



Top Android Games by Category

When your family and friends challenge you to a friendly game of trivia, are you unflinching in your desire to dominate all comers?

Have others accused you of wasting valuable brain real estate with useless, but amazing, facts about the Harry Potter series, Star Wars movies, sports figures and stats, or the physical features and capitals of every country on Earth?

If so, your Android device can help you get your trivia on anywhere, anytime. This weeks’ list of some of the very best trivia and quiz apps will keep you at the top of your game, put you in the running to win actual prizes, and (let’s be honest) earning you stares of scorn and awe as you crush your competitors.

ANDROID APPS REVIEWED THIS WEEK

Trivia Burst: Put your all-around trivia knowledge to the test, climb the online leader boards, and win Amazon gift certificates. Bring it!

Trivial Droid (Quiz Game): Offers hundreds of questions delivered in several modes, offering the ability to post your results to an online ranking system. Do you have what it takes?

Trivia Mania: You’ll need to read your newspaper, keep up with your RSS feeds, and be an all-around trivia nut to keep up with this often-updated trivia offering.

Brain Cafe | Geo Quiz: Go global and test your knowledge of the planet and the countries we call home. Geography buffs, have at it!

Brain Cafe | Food Quiz: Hungry? Test your knowledge of local and global cuisine in this tasty Android offering.

Read all of my Apple iPad and Google Android application reviews at Appolicious and Yahoo! Tech.

DROID REVIEWS

Trivia Burst (FREE)


The list of features for this free trivia challenger is impressive: 22,000 questions in 22 categories, online ranking system, frequent updates, and more. The highlight? Make it to the top of the heap and you could earn yourself Amazon gift certificates. It’s time to put your money where your Android is!

The downside? The app sources its questions from an open Web source that contains user-submitted content that isn’t always correct. Be sure to flag any incorrect questions you stumble upon right in the app, and join me in working our way to the top! Now, what is a group of cows called again?

Trivial Droid (Quiz Game) (FREE)
Trivial Droid may have only a few hundred questions stored in its rusty innards (see what I did there, Star Wars fans?), but what it lacks in depth and updates, it more than makes up for in features. Bring your A game to this app and you could rise to the top of its global leader boards! Choose to play in Normal mode (20 seconds per question, get ranked), Passive mode (progressive difficulty, limited time/lives, no online ranking), or Marathon Game (limited time/lives, unlimited questions, no ranking.) The sound effects are a nice touch, the questions span dozens of topics, and the ads are visible but not distracting. More regular updates of the questions (once every six months?) would go a long way in making this app a full 5-star experience.

Trivia Mania ($.99)
The developers at AA Team have compiled an impressive set of fresh, timely trivia questions in their Trivia Mania app. While many offerings offer a set list of questions that tend to get stale, Trivia Mania is updated every few weeks with fresh queries. You’ll need to read your newspaper, keep up with your RSS feeds, and be an all-around trivia nut to keep up with this engaging title. Comes with multiplayer functionality that operates via Bluetooth, making this app perfect for long car trips and vacations where wifi may not be generally available. With hundreds of questions built-in, and regular updates on the way, the .99 price tag is right on the money in my book.

Brain Cafe | GeoQuiz (FREE)
Let’s face it. We could all use a good refresher in geography. This free app will take you around the world in far fewer than 80 smart phone taps, presenting breathtaking images leading to the main Quiz categories: Great Explorers, People, Capital Cities, Countries, and Flags. Each quiz is made up of 20 questions, and there’s four answers to choose from for each query. Stumped? No worries. A wrong answer leads to additional information about the question, along with a handy (if not entirely vetted or editorially-reviewed) link to the topic in Wikipedia. As a free app, its relatively small set of questions is less a hindrance as a fact of life with a no-cost offering.

Brain Cafe | Food Quiz (FREE)
Who doesn’t love to eat? If you’re an adventurous eater, like I am, Brain Cafe’s Food Quiz is your go-to app for pairing your love of good eats with a challenging set of global quizzes to test your foodie knowledge. The interface is easy to navigate, and the images of everything from soup to nuts and everything in between is a treat for your senses. After nailing a tough set of questions about your favorite region’s offerings, be sure to post your results to Twitter or Facebook to amaze (and hunger) your friends no matter where they may roam. You’ll learn something new every time you fire up this tasty little morsel.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Because the Interwebs are full of cats. And it's late. And I'm tired. And this is silly stuff...

Ascent
Commemorating the U.S. Space Shuttle Program



Matt Melis, a longtime NASA engineer, has take to the ‘Tube to show off what he calls “the best of the best” imagery from shuttle launches, including high-definition video. Melis has been in the launch analysis game for quite some time. His 45-minute tribute to space shuttle launches is incredibly educational and a fascinating watch for fans of space programs.

You’ll get to hear NASA engineers explain every imaginable detail of a shuttle launch as footage from the ground and from the shuttles themselves show what goes into the first phase of a successful space mission. You’ll get to see launches for STS-114, STS-117, and STS-124 missions. In short, if you’re really into space stuff, this YouTube video is the director’s commentary of your dreams. (Source: Mashable)


Ancient Frog

Platform: Android

RATING: 5 out of 5

PRICE: $2.62

TASTY: A round 100 levels of puzzling relaxation and virtual meditation, wrapped in high-quality, forest-themed graphics.

BUMMER: I’m so relaxed after playing this game for an hour that I can’t find a single reason to be bummed out. Well, except for the flies my frogs have eaten. Poor, poor flies.

COOL: One of the best looking “games” for the Android platform to date, with fully animated frogs controlled by your fingertips.

Read all of my Apple iPad and Google Android application reviews at Appolicious and Yahoo! Tech.

Stressed out? Need a little relief, on the go? Ancient Frog is your new go-to de-stress app, offering up a round 100 levels of puzzling relaxation and virtual meditation, wrapped in high-quality, forest-themed graphics.

Take a deep breath, launch Ancient Frog, and feel your shoulders relax. There’s no time limit, no countdown pulsing away, or leader boards to worry about. Slowly but surely move your jaw-droppingly rendered frogs (six species in all) across a small, forested landscape to get to a yummy fly.

With crisp and clear forest sounds accompanying your meditation/gaming sessions, you’ll find Ancient Frogs easy to pick up and play, and feel free to take your time working your way through all 100 levels of goodness.

As one of the best looking “games” for the Android platform to date, with fully animated frogs controlled by your fingertips, this is a must-have app for every stressed out Droid owner needing some down time.


Cub Scout Pack 218's Christmas Float in this year's Cary Christmas Parade. Good, if wet, times.

P90X Chest & Back | Workout
Fitness Blueprint | Insanity/P90X #10 (Get P90X or start with Power 90)
Personal | Weight: 197 (Shakeology Snack Added)
Tracking Calories (iPad App)
Working at my Stand Up Desk (plans) (Why you should, too!)

Crazy Monday reboot workout. Push ups. Pull ups. Lawn mowers. The whole bit. Lifting goodness.



My old computer lab from Exeter High School in Reading, PA, circa 1988. That's Tim Behm there on the left, George Hammond on the right. Wonder whatever happened to Tim? My brother Todd and I spent many, many hours in there doing BASIC projects, then went home to our superior C64's.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

P90X Cardio X | Workout
Fitness Blueprint | Insanity/P90X #10 (Get P90X or start with Power 90)
Personal | Weight: 197 (Shakeology Snack Added)
Tracking Calories (iPad App)
Working at my Stand Up Desk (plans) (Why you should, too!)

Little Saturday fat burning to kick things off for the weekend. Critical to "push play" with P90X six days a week -- adding the stretch on Sunday if you need it. And you do.

Off to the Cary Christmas parade with my Cub Pack 218 family, then a holiday party for everyone back at the Kirk of Kildaire. See all of your Caryites downtown today!

Friday, December 10, 2010



Top iPad Games of the Week

What a week to be an iPad owner – or dreaming of one as a holiday gift. App developers have outdone themselves in recent days, launching a set of top-shelf games that are sure to impress, inspire, and enthrall you through your holiday downtime and well into 2011.

Infinity Blade is a must-buy for all serious gamers, bringing the Unreal 3 engine to a mobile device for the first time. It’s 3D, hack-and-slash gaming made gorgeous on the go, and you’ll be hacking your way through some of the best looking foes you’ve ever laid eyes on from the get-go.

Rock Band Reloaded (finally!) brings the familiar rock star-wannabe, candy-colored button mashing you’ve experienced on other consoles to your iPad. (It’s so good we can all forget the original try at Rock Band for mobiles, which soundly failed to meet expectations.)

Time Geeks is a light hearted, kid-friendly 8-bit version of Where’s Waldo that is sure to make that long drive to Grandma’s fly by, and Eenies will have you blowing up alien invaders in a fun Worms-like romp.

iPad Apps Reviewed

Infinity Blade: 3D gaming made gorgeous on the go. You’ll be hacking and slashing your way through the some of the best looking foes you’ve ever laid eyes on, thanks to Epic’s Unreal 3 engine (which is truly equal parts “epic” and “unreal” in terms of what it can do for games.)

Rock Band Reloaded: Successfully brings the familiar rock star-wannabe, candy-colored button mashing you’ve experienced on other consoles to your iPad.

Time Geeks: Find All! HD: Kid-friendly, 8-bit graphics-powered version of Where’s Waldo that is sure to make that long drive to Grandma’s fly by.

Eenies at War: Will have you blowing up alien invaders in a fun Worms-like, turn-based romp.

Read all of my Apple iPad and Google Android application reviews at Appolicious and Yahoo! Tech.

iPad App Reviews



Infinity Blade ($5.99)

Fans of hack and slash sword-fighting games should run, not walk, to the App Store and get their hands on this instant iPad classic. Coming from the creative minds of Epic Games (and its Chair division,) Infinity Blade is the first game running the full Unreal 3 engine on a mobile platform.

What does that mean? If you’ve seen Gears of War, Mass Effect, or Batman: Arkham Asylum, you’ve experienced this engine first-hand. It gives developers powerful tools for bringing rich 3D environments to life on any gaming console or platform. Now mobile can be added to the list.

Infinity Blade is the best-looking game to date for the iPad, with realistic castle environments, epically detailed fighters, and even pixel-perfect sunbeams, cloud cover, and other scenery touches that put you right in the action. The overall game field is curiously small, however, bolting your character to a set of rails as he fights his way into a distant castle to avenge the death of his father. Again. And again. And again...

This “bloodlines” approach to the game means you’ll start outside the gates, hack and slash your way through 10 opponents, pick up gold, weapons, armor, and health potions along the way, then end up at the top spire, only to be killed ever so quickly by the God King. Then it’s on to “18 years later” with your fighter and his upgrades/equipment miraculously respawned in the form of a son who continues the “bloodlines” cycle.

(If the God King was smart, he’d not let these corpses go back to your home village for recycling after each defeat. But let’s not drive an 18-wheeler through that plot hole and instead suspend our disbelief, shall we?)

The RPG elements kick in as you level up, allowing you to put points into health, attack, shield, magic, and more, while spending your gold on new equipment along the way. Each bloodline will have you coming back a little stronger and more well-equipped to one day take down the God King. How long that takes depends on your appetite for destruction and hours to burn. After three hours of play since launch, I’m on “Bloodline 4,” with no end in sight. And that’s a good thing.

Each battle uses your iPad’s expansive touch screen to enable finger swipes to block incoming attacks from all angles. Then it’s time to take advantage of the blocks to slash the stuffing out of your opponent with your sword, axe, etc.

Use your shield as your backup blocker, and don’t forget to touch the lower left and right sides of the screen to dodge quickly in those directions as attacks come your way.

At first, the battles will feel similar, and not all that difficult. Don’t fret. After a few levels, you’ll start to get a feel for the nuances of the battle engine, carefully eyeing each weapon swing to block it successfully, and knowing just when to cast a healing spell on yourself, or trigger a massive magical attack. It adds up to a challenging set of battles after level six and up.

Infinity Blade is an excellent beginning, showing us the true power of the Unreal engine on Apple’s device. Future updates are well underway for this must-buy title, adding fresh enemies for us to vanquish, a full multiplayer environment, new equipment, plus an all-new “Dread Dungeon” level (yes, please!) that will present unparalleled challenges that go far beyond the God King in the form of Titan Guardians. Yikes.



Rock Band Reloaded ($9.99)

I count myself among those gamers who truly can’t get enough of Rock Band and Guitar Hero. My living room is cluttered with all manner of plastic guitars, drums, and microphones, each giving my family and I the ability to play “rock star” for a few hours.

Rock Band Reloaded hit the App Store a few days ago, and it successfully brings the familiar rock star-wannabe, candy-colored button mashing you’ve experienced on other consoles to your iPad.
After launching the app, you’ll want to link it to FaceBook (which is where new song info can be found, friends’ challenges extended and accepted, and accomplishments posted.)

Once done, you’ll notice a full set of 15 ready-to-rock tracks in your set list, with 10 more available via free download from the Music Store. With initial songs coming from groups like Duran Duran, Nine Inch Nails, and Beastie Boys, it’s a good start. Time will tell how much new songs will truly cost, and which bands are tapped to fill out the for-pay offerings.

Once in a song, you’ll notice that the developer’s have turned the experience on its side, going fully vertical vs. the horizontal playfield we’re used to on other devices. It will take you a few seconds to get used to the new location for several interface options, and to know just when (and how!) to trigger your Star Power.

The iPad’s touch screen makes holding and sustaining notes a breeze, with a little wiggle in your digits serving as the whammy bar to add extra points and grab extra Star Power during sustained white notes. As usual, your multi-star performances will earn you cash and fans, as well as unlock a seriously-deep set of new venues in which to perform.

The app also brings voice recognition for aspiring singers out there. This takes the entire experience to a whole new level -- the original Rock Band app was sadly lacking this feature -- so long as you’re in a quiet place with little background noise (or people who will stare at you as you belt out yet another tune into your microphone-available iDevice.)

Plus, the game includes Bluetooth multiplayer, as well as same-device multiplayer which takes over both sides of your screen in landscape mode. If you’re not worn out by these kinds of games (yet) and are looking to get your rock on no matter where you may roam, Rock Band Reloaded is a perfect purchase this holiday season.



Time Geeks: Find All! HD ($1.99)

My nine-year-old is a huge fan of the Where’s Waldo? series of books. We’ve spent more nights than I can recall scouring jam-packed, oversized pages for Waldo and his friends, family, pets, and more.

The 80’s teenager in me immediately took a shine to Time Geeks: Find All! HD, which marries this familiar seek and find experience with Pixel Art graphics (think 8-bit) and a truly retro style that harkens back to a time when video games were enjoyed in mall arcades and graphics were blocky. (In other words, perfect!)

You and your kids will spend hours working your way through each level, challenging you to find people, animals, and objects and then selecting them so they instantly return to their proper locations. You see, the Zoorgs have created a tear in the space-time continuum, and it’s your job to get everything back to its proper place. (Captain Picard to the bridge, red alert!)

You’ll want to use pinch and zoom to get close to the action to find each hidden item as quickly as possible. There’s six game modes to explore (history, challenges, arcade, relax, mini-games, and editor), along with 140 challenges to master.

Best of all, you can take on the role of level maker to drag, drop, and rearrange items on a level of your very own. When you’re done with your masterpiece, you can easily share it with your friends and family on Facebook.

Time Geeks is the rare app that will engage multiple generations of gamers on your iDevice, and is my kid-friendly pick of the week.



Eenies at War (FREE)

For years, kids of all ages (hint!) have been blasting their way through hostile environments, arming cute worms with all manner of rifles, grenades, missiles, and other ordinance, in order to take out baddies (and each other.)

Titles like Worms and Scorched Earth have successfully addicted at least two generations of gamers on this turn-based, aim-and-fire game play mechanic. Now there’s Eenies at War, and it’s time to hook the iPad generation on this strangely addictive style of gaming.

This time around, everything is customizable. Equip and fully arm mobiles and avatars, switch your strategy based on the kinds of enemies you’re facing, and grab new equipment along the way. Each round (12 in all in the single campaign) grants you xp points, and you can upgrade yourself to level 64 as you progress. With more than 2,000 weapon combinations, you’ll find all manner of creative ways to make the bad guys go SPLAT.

The secret sauce of this Worms-clone is massively multiplayer battles. Join with up to seven opponents to blast your way across multiple battlefields. But wait your turn, please. This is turn-based Worms-style combat, remember?

P90X Legs & Back | Workout
Fitness Blueprint | Insanity/P90X #10 (Get P90X or start with Power 90)
Personal | Weight: 197 (Shakeology Snack Added)
Tracking Calories (iPad App)
Working at my Stand Up Desk (plans) (Why you should, too!)

Wall squats seem to be the universal signal to my furry little cat-child to jump up and lay down on my legs.

First-ever single leg wall squats with cat assist today. Stayed on the whole time, kept my balance, and Mittens was none the weirder. Silly-strength, activate.

Thursday, December 09, 2010


2010 in My Facebook Status' (Statusi?) Updates



Microsoft Kinect + Minority Report = Interface Perfection Achieved

Watch this...



...then today's Kinect version:



It's only taken a few weeks, but the hackers over at MIT (full details) have turned the 360's Kinect camera system into a full-fledged Minority Report user interface. Can't wait to see what hay Microsoft makes from this.

Or, the suits and lawyers from Redmond will destroy it, as usual. Jaded? Yup.
P90X Yoga X | Workout
Fitness Blueprint | Insanity/P90X #10 (Get P90X or start with Power 90)
Personal | Weight: 197 (Shakeology Snack Added)
Tracking Calories (iPad App)
Working at my Stand Up Desk (plans) (Why you should, too!)

Always go into this "workout" pretty sore in the shoulders, and a fair amount of grunting fills the first 30 minutes or so. Then the pain goes away, and it's all stretchy-bliss. Yoga is a key part of my fitness puzzle, and I wouldn't swap it for anything. Neither should you.


Papaya Farm HD

Platform: Android

RATING:
4 out of 5

PRICE:
FREE

TASTY:
It’s FarmVille for your Android device… Almost. Now you can be a virtual farmer from virtually anywhere.

BUMMER:
If you’re looking for FarmVille Lite, you’ve come to the right place. A barebones, but still worthy entry for apprentice hired hands (like your young children, with your permission.) Farm Story is a better choice for older children and adults looking for a richer FarmVille experience.

COOL:
Send invitations to any of your friends registered on the Papaya network to get help with specific tasks to earn experience points and virtual cash. Cha-ching!

SIMILAR APPS IN THE MARKETPLACE:
Farm Story
FarmWorld
Pineapple Farm
Super Farm

Read all of my past Android app reviews at Appolicious and Yahoo! Tech -- click here.

Who knew that the invention of the Internet-connected smart phone would trigger such massive interest in farming? Virtual farming, that is. From Alaska to Florida, millions of digital farmhands plant and harvest crops daily, turning their hardly-called-work into virtual money, earning experience points along the way.

For Android owners, Papaya Farm HD is a wonderful introduction to the world of virtual farming for kids and adults of all ages. Create a new account (or login to your existing Papaya account), and invite your friends to check out your efforts and help with specific tasks. Your job is to plant virtual crops, harvest the results, and tend to digital farm animals.

The rewards for your effort include virtual money, experience and rep points, all of which open up new seeds and animals to buy, along with additional equipment, upgrades, and more.

Be sure to get as many friends as you can helping out. Their efforts on your behalf (and you helping them) will bring you additional rewards, cyberbucks, and points.

If you’re looking for FarmVille Lite for your Android phont, you’ve come to the right place. A barebones, but still worthy entry for apprentice hired hands (like your young children, with your permission.) When you’re ready for a more robust experience, Farm Story is the logical next step on your Droid; FarmVille on FaceBook and the iPad is the blue ribbon winner.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010



"First they ignore you,
then they laugh at you,
then they fight you,
then you win."

Ghandi (?)

Where's your platform? | Seth Godin's Blog

That needs to be the goal when you seek out a job.

Bob Dylan earned the right to make records, and instead of using it to create ever more commercial versions of his old stuff, he used it as a platform to do art.

A brilliant programmer finds a job in a small company and instead of seeing it as a grind, churning out what's asked, he uses it as a platform to hone his skills and to ship code that changes everything.

A waiter uses his job serving patrons as a platform for engagement, for building a reputation and for learning how to delight.

A blogger starts measuring pageviews and ends up racing the bottom with nothing but scintillating gossip and pandering. Or, perhaps, she decides to use the blog as a platform to take herself and her readers somewhere they will be glad to go...

There's no rigid line between a job and art. Instead, there's an opportunity. Both you and your boss get to decide if your job is a platform or just a set of tasks.

Original Tron Movie: Found... At YouTube. Yep.



Click the light cycles to play the movie. Disney, if you hadn't created artificial scarcity by letting the entire supply of this DVD go bust, I could have gladly bought one, rather than resort to this.

My Facebook comment above stands. Bust that bunker, likely under Disney World or Disneyland!

P90X Chest & Back | Workout
Fitness Blueprint | Insanity/P90X #10 (Get P90X or start with Power 90)
Personal | Weight: 197 (Shakeology Snack Added)
Tracking Calories (iPad App)
Working at my Stand Up Desk (plans) (Why you should, too!)


City Jump for Droid

Platform: Android

RATING:
2 out of 5

PRICE:
FREE

TASTY:
This arcade jumper will have you leaping from wall to wall, taking out the bad guys, avoiding obstacles, and generally heading vertically up some seriously tall buildings.

BUMMER:
Contains copious amounts of advertising to support the free app. Be sure to click any blue X’s you see to clear away ads hiding important buttons that allow you to replay a level. Ugh.

COOL:
Forget real physics, this is a joyride up the sides of skyscrapers!

SIMILAR APPS IN THE MARKETPLACE:
Hyper Jump
Monkey Jump 2
Jumpoid
Cloud Jump

Read all of my past Android app reviews at Appolicious and Yahoo! Tech -- click here.

Van Halen said it best: “I [have an Android phone and the City Jump app installed so I] might as well jump. Jump!” This arcade jumper will have you leaping from wall to wall, taking out the bad guys, avoiding obstacles, and generally heading vertically up some seriously tall buildings.

The game play is as simple as it sounds. We scroll the side of two buildings, controlling a superhero (Mr. Jump?) as he runs straight up. Tap the screen to jump to the other side; time your jumps properly to hit baddies from below and knock them off. Time them poorly, and the level is done.

And that’s where things get interesting. As in a big honkin’ ad gets right in your face. Staring at it, clicking around it, generally trying to get around it can be a challenge. Unless, of course, you know to click the uber-small blue box with the X in it. Then wa-la, it’s back to your duties as a vertical climbing superhero.

Taking out three bad guys in a row grants you a one-hit shield. Use it wisely, Mr. Jump! Overall, this is a pretty basic, throwaway title. Give it a try; for free, it really can’t hurt. Much.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

P90X Plyometrics Cardio | Workout
Fitness Blueprint | Insanity/P90X #10 (Get P90X or start with Power 90)
Personal | Weight: 197 (Shakeology Snack Added)
Tracking Calories (iPad App)
Working at my Stand Up Desk (plans) (Why you should, too!)

Started with a super-sore right hip, and the muscles in my lower-right back.

Ended with no pain at all, plus a bonus sweat.

P90X, I love ya. Bringing it.


Space Physics

Platform: Android

RATING:
3 out of 5

PRICE:
$1.99 (Free Lite Version Available)

TASTY:
Neon-rendered physics game that challenges you to draw bridges, cogs, and slingshots to get your little green ball to roll over several stars spread our across each level.

BUMMER:
Drawing specific objects can be challenging on older generation Android devices with smaller screens. May take several tries to get the game to understand what you’re trying to draw.

COOL:
Draw a wheel, add some teeth to its edges to set is spinning, then join it with a second wheel to create a slingshot for propelling your ball far across the level. Neato!

SIMILAR APPS IN THE MARKETPLACE:
Super Tumble
Singularity
RedX Lite – Physics
Little Metal Ball Lite
Drop Block
GravityBall Lite

Little green ball, what’s up? You need to get to the other side of this puzzle, touching all the stars along the way? Sure I can help, stand aside little one.

That’s the premise for this neon-bright physics game, which challenges you to draw bridges, cogs, and (by combining cogs) slingshots to get your little green friend to roll over several stars spread our across each level.

At its most basic, you can simply draw a line between two platforms, them roll your ball across the bridge. Touch a star, and that’s one down.

In more complex levels, you’ll need to draw circles either in open space (creating a wheel) or attached to a platform (creating a rotating cog) to get your ball moving in the right direction. Set up your cogs just right and a pair will create a virtual slingshot, propelling your ball across the level in crazy-quick fashion.

Best of all, there’s no one right way to solve each puzzle. Take your time, experiment with your drawings, and interesting things happen. Unfortunately, drawing specific objects can be challenging on older generation Android devices with smaller screens. It may take several tries to get the game to understand what you’re trying to draw.

When purchasing the full version, be sure to grab the Pack for Space Physics. This is a content pack that you can install right to your SD card to lessen the impact on all Android phone’s anemic internal storage.

Read all of my past Android app reviews at Appolicious and Yahoo! Tech -- click here.

Monday, December 06, 2010

P90X Back & Biceps | Workout
Fitness Blueprint | Insanity/P90X #10 (Get P90X or start with Power 90)
Personal | Weight: 197 (Shakeology Snack Added)
Tracking Calories (iPad App)
Working at my Stand Up Desk (plans) (Why you should, too!)

Twidroyd Pro for Android Review

RATING:
5 out of 5

PRICE:
$3.99 (Free Ad-Supported Version Available)

TASTY:
The ultimate Twitter client for the Android, with all the customization features, multiple account support, and reply/posting functions you’d expect from the gold standard.

BUMMER:
Uploading and sharing photos via the app is giving some users issues with the current version (Dec. 2010), though I didn’t have any problems with this feature. (Enable captions in Settings to work around the current photo issue.)

COOL:
Turn your phone to landscape mode to trigger an iPad-like view: A list of current tweets in your feed appears down the left side, taking up 20% of the screen. On the right side there’s plenty of room to display hyperlinks, photos, and any content attached to the tweets. Just select a tweet on the left, and the content appears on the right.

SIMILAR APPS IN THE MARKETPLACE:
TweetCaster Pro for Twitter
TweetDeck
Twitter
Tweeter Mobile
Twit Pro

The Android Marketplace is home to many Twitter clients. Every app makes it easy to read and respond to Tweets in your personal feed. Some even support multiple Twitter accounts, others make it easy to post a photo to your feed, auto-shorten posted links with bit.ly, and more.

Thankfully, one app stands head and shoulders above the pack: Twidroyd Pro. No other Twitter app packs this many features into one small package, including postings, mentions, direct messages with threaded view, integrated search, list viewing, link shortening, geo-location support, multi-language interface, background notifications and more.

What really makes this app shine is its landscape view mode. Simply turn your phone into landscape mode to trigger a LivePreview mode, which displays linked web pages and media right alongside the tweet. There’s no longer a need to open a browser and toggle between windows to fully engage in the content, see a photo, follow an embedded link, etc.

(Until I set eyes on Twidroyd, I was accustomed to this functionality on my iPad alone. Twitter, the official iPad app, has a built-in auto-preview when any tweet is selected.)

Twidroyd has native http://bit.ly support for URL (hyperlink) shortening, and fully integrates Twitlonger for tweets containing more than 140 characters. Plus, there’s plixi support for embedding photos within tweets, or hosting images through services like Twitpic to get photos to appear in your Tweet stream.

Be sure to review the Settings to tweak update intervals (a longer refresh time will help save some battery life), and turn on audible or vibration notifications for specific incoming communications from Twitter.

Finally, you can always shake your phone to trigger an automatic update. Shake it, Tweeters!

Read all of my past Android app reviews at Appolicious and Yahoo! Tech -- click here.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

New iOS Update: Brings No-Cost WiFi Printing to iPad and iPhone
Just install this little hack on your Mac, follow these steps, and print directly from your device to any printer...

Source: How-To Wired Blog

Apple's latest mobile-operating-system update introduces a much-demanded feature: wireless printing. Problem is, it will only officially print from printers labeled "AirPrint-compatible," which you likely don't own. However, if you want to print from just about any printer, there's a mod for that.

AirPrint Hacktivator offers a solution for Macs to set up wireless printing with iOS 4.2 with any printer shared on your network. Here's how to set it up, with instructions courtesy of the hack's maker, Netputing.

You will need:

* Mac OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.5

* iTunes 10.1 (if you have neither, select the Apple icon in the upper-left corner of your screen and click "Software Updates" to download the latest software.

* AirPrint Hacktivator [.zip] (Get it here.)

How to proceed

1. Copy the AirPrint Hacktivator software into your Applications folder, then launch the app.

2. Toggle the switch to "On."

3. Enter your admin password.

4. A window *MAY* prompt you to add the printer you want to use with AirPrint.

5. The hack will launch the Print & Fax utility in your Settings folder, and you'll be able to perform the add-printer task here.

6. And you should be ready to start printing!

If at step 4 the "add printer" box for AirPrint doesn't pop up (didn't for me!) follow the steps in this video:



Once you go through steps 1-3, you'll need to go to System Preferences, click on Print and Fax, remove the printer you wish to print to from your iDevice, then re-add it and enable sharing.

I had to do this in order for my local printer to show up on my iPad as a destination. Printing right now, all for free!

Apple, you should put this in your next iOS release, with a Mac and Windows client. Thanks, Steve!


Weekly Top Android Games by Category

Start your engines, Android-carrying race fans!

Whether you’re a road race fan or prefer to get your speed on in the cockpit of a jet-powered boat, there’s a short list of solid, race-ready apps waiting for you in the Android Marketplace.

ANDROID APPS

Asphalt HD: Get into the driver’s seat of the world’s finest automobiles, only on the world’s highest-end Android phones. (Early model owners, grab Asphalt 3.)

Reckless Racing: Kick up some serious dirt and drift your way around backwoods racetracks in this instant Android classic.

Wave Blazer: Take on the most powerful powerboats in the world in this update-ready racing title from Polarbit.

Touch Racing Nitro: Get your reckless racing on in this near-perfect touch-controlled racing title.

Need for Speed Shift: The gold standard of racing games makes its way into the Android Marketplace, and into every mobile racer’s heart. The must-off of this week’s list, for owners of the very latest Android hardware.


Read all of my past Android app reviews at Appolicious and Yahoo! Tech -- click here.

ANDROID REVIEWS

Asphalt HD ($4.99)

Gameloft is known for combining top-quality graphics with super-smooth arcade control schemes, giving casual racing game fans a lot to love. Asphalt HD marries a dizzying array of content with a long list of unlockable racing whips, offering up a high-quality racing experience that can only be had on newer Droid devices. (Older model users, grab Asphalt 3.)

There are 30 vehicles to unlock from the usual suspects (Ferrari, Audi, Ducati anyone?), along with 12 tracks of goodness. Racing is fun, with the default tilt-steering setup working well after a little practice.

The first few tries will result in over steering into walls and competitiors; figuring out the sweet spot for avoiding this will be critical to your long-term success as a top finisher. New racers will quickly unlock fetching female co-pilots, special racing events, time trials, drifting competitions, and a fair amount of cash which can be used to buy new cars, upgrades to rides, and lots more.

So long as you’re not looking for a true driving simulator, Asphalt 5 has many hours of arcade racing fun in store.

Reckless Racing ($2.99)

From the first moment you press your gas pedal to the firewall and hear and see a cascade of virtual stones and dirt flying from your back tires, you’ll be hooked on this instant Android classic. The top-down view makes it easy to see the tracks, which are just curvy enough to challenge your drifting abilities. Add a quality musical score and lots of “Yeehaw!” hootin’ and hollerin’ when you take a jump or cut off a fellow racer, and you can’t help but smile and enjoy the ride. Take some time to play with the controls and remember that a few small taps on the directional buttons make for good turns; hold down left and right at your peril. Bubba, Otis, Lurlene, Cletus, and Floyd are waiting to challenge you in single player mode, or dive into the multiplayer to compete with the best of the best, then post your best times on the leader boards for all to see. An in-game chat module adds an additional layer of smack-talking to this must-have racing experience.

Wave Blazer ($2.99)

Hydro Thunder fans, your long wait for a mobile version of this boat-racing classic is nearly over. Wave Blazer brings the familiar action, quality graphics, and smooth controls to your Android device. The game play is familiar: place in the top three of each race, and more boats and race locations are unlocked. From snowy ice racing to Caribbean island hopping, there’s something here for everyone. Tilt your phone to steer, make appropriate use your nitro to boost your way past the competition, and be sure to move to better boats and the action moves along. The AI of your opponents is a bit lacking, there’s no way to ram other boats out of your way, its too easy to get stuck on walls, and there’s not much in the way of collectable items embedded in each track. Let’s hope Polarbit can bring these features and fixes to an update in early 2011!

Touch Racing Nitro ($3.95)

If you’re a fan of mini-RC car racing, you’ll feel right at home in this visually-appealing game. Take control of a tiny race car and use your fingers to control the gas, brake, streering wheel, and nitro-booster to dominate your opponents across three unique environments and 18 tracks in total. With a bit of practice, the finger-touch controls make for a satisfying racing experience. Pro Tip: Save your nitro boosts (which you can pick up from the track during each race) for the final set of laps. You’ll quickly pull out ahead and place in the top three without much trouble. A slick, challenging racer that should find a good home on your Droid device.

Need for Speed Shift ($9.99)

I saved the very best for last. Designed to run on the newest Snapdragon-powered Android devices (EVO, Droid X), EA’s Need for Speed Shift is the go-to racing app, putting you in the driver’s seat for a groundbreaking 28-state career mode. The entire 3D racing experience is spot-on, with accelerometer controls that make nailing the turns easy, adding on-screen buttons for changing camera angles, breaking, and more. As you progress through the career mode, you’ll earn money to unlock new cars, upgrades like slick tires and nitrous boost. Pro Tip: I find the hood view the best way to master the turns on most tracks. Be sure to click the camera button to find which view works best for your style of racing. Get your friends in on the action with local wifi or Bluetooth connections, and you can all ooh and aah over this top-quality racing title for the Droid.