Mac|Life - Reviews http://www.maclife.com/articles/22/feed en NYT Now Review http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/nyt_now_review <!--paging_filter--><p>From the moment the App Store launched, The New York Times has been at the forefront of the digital newspaper revolution. There's been a constant stream of apps and subscriptions, but for the most part, its initiatives have revolved around an unimaginative repackaging of the paper. With NYT Now, the Gray Lady seems to have figured out a formula that may pay off. Rather than delivering a rich stew teeming with every subject it has to offer, the app serves as sort of a greatest hits package, aimed at casual readers who might not have such a ravenous news appetite.</p><p>The app does well to keep the general look and feel of the Times website intact, but everything is presented in a more traditional mobile fashion, which has its drawbacks. The main page consists of an occasional daily briefing—where you can quickly scan a smattering of stories across a variety of topics—along with a current list of articles handpicked by the Times' editors.</p><p><img src="/files/u338318/2014/04/nyt-now.png" width="620" height="548" /></p><p>Navigation is mostly accomplished by scrolling, but there's not a whole lot to distinguish the importance of one story over another; on the web, there's a clear hierarchy of news that isn't quite as obvious in the app, despite its top-to-bottom layout. Articles can be easily bookmarked and shared, but any related videos and galleries that appear on the main page strangely aren't packaged in the story view.</p><p>With such a stripped-down interface, we expected to get a condensed summary when clicking on a story, but that's not the case—subscribers get access to the full stories as they appear on the Times' site, reformatted in a neat Instapaper-like presentation. So while the content may be limited, the $7.99 monthly subscription presents a decent value based on word count alone. However, its target audience probably doesn't want to scroll through a thousand words on the Korean ferry crash, so we'd like to see a cheaper (or free) version that lifts the 10-article limit and offers edited versions of stories.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> NYT Now is the Times' best effort to date to reach the mobile generation, but it's still a bit more iterative than innovative.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-product"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Product:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/nytnow/id798993249?mt=8" target="_blank">NYT Now 1.0.3</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-company"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Company:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The New York Times </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-contact"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Contact:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://www.nytnow.com" target="_blank">www.nytnow.com</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-price"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Free </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-requirements"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Requirements:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 7.0 or later</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-positives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Positives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Good concept targeted at mobile readers. Natural navigation makes it easy to find and read stories. Excellent curation of articles.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-negatives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Negatives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Layout doesn’t do much to promote stories. Lots of scrolling. No condensed versions of articles. Videos and galleries don’t follow through to main story view.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-score"> <div class="field-label"><strong>Score:</strong>&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> 3.5&nbsp;Good </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/nyt_now_review#comments Reviews app store reviews AppLife Apps iPod and iPhone new york times news newspaper NYT Now Reading Software Fri, 18 Apr 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Michael Simon 19773 at http://www.maclife.com Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff Review http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/family_guy_quest_stuff_review <!--paging_filter--><p>Family Guy made its name on TV by being simultaneously derivative and edgy; it riffed on The Simpsons’ formula of an animated nuclear family with a drunken, lovingly-dumb father, but its gags went further or weirder. And it did it well. So you might have reason for thinking that Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff—which takes its cues from The Simpsons: Tapped Out—might also push boundaries and poke fun at conventions. You’d be sadly mistaken. The Quest for Stuff is a shallow, money-grubbing, cynical, and downright boring freemium city builder with few redeeming qualities.</p><p>On the positive side, great care has clearly gone into the graphics, with all the little visual details replicated on even minor characters and buildings. It’s chock full of the same sharp dialog you know and love (or hate) from the show—albeit mostly without voice acting. Many jokes are recycled from the series, but there are plenty of original (and funny) ones that self-consciously reference the senselessness of your experience and the minutiae of previous episodes. The game hits its high point before you even start playing, though, delivering a delightful animated opening in which Family Guy gets canceled again and Peter fights the Giant Chicken (revealed to be the president of Fox) in a battle that destroys the entire town.</p><p><img src="/files/u338318/2014/04/quest-for-stuff-2.jpg" width="620" height="465" /></p><p>Your job is to rebuild Quahog, a feat made challenging not through difficulty but rather suffocating timers that drag progress to a standstill. You don’t play The Quest for Stuff so much as periodically jump in and tap stuff for 30 seconds to bank money and experience, and put Peter’s friends and family to work on new quests/activities. That's all done so that you may eventually rebuild a new section of the town or unlock new characters, costumes, and quests—ready to repeat ad infinitum.</p><p>What’s worse are the minuscule amounts of money and experience most buildings produce on a rolling basis—some as often as every minute, others over a few hours. These resources halt production entirely until you tap to reset them. It’s a slog to get anywhere without splashing the cash, whether you’ve played for five minutes or several hours, and it’s simply not worth the trouble to wade through the crap for well-written speech bubbles and quest descriptions.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> No amount of fan service or witty writing can save Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff from mediocrity born of leaden pacing and shameless freemium money-grubbing.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-product"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Product:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="https://itunes.apple.com/app/id838500730" target="_blank">Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff 1.0.7</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-company"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Company:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> TinyCo, Inc </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-contact"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Contact:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://tinyco.com/support" target="_blank">tinyco.com/support</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-price"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Free </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-requirements"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Requirements:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 5.0 or later</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-positives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Positives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Great introductory cutscene. Witty, humorous writing. Graphics capture the finer details of Quahog.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-negatives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Negatives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Takes an eternity to rebuild the town. Not much to do. Limited voice work. Designed and balanced to suck money out of you. As with the show, some dialogue oversteps the mark between edgy and offensive.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-score"> <div class="field-label"><strong>Score:</strong>&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> 1.5&nbsp;Lame </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/family_guy_quest_stuff_review#comments Gallery Reviews Animation app store reviews AppLife Apps cartoon Family Guy Fox freemium Games iPad iPhone iPod iPod and iPhone Quest for Stuff Software Tapped Out The Simpsons Thu, 17 Apr 2014 18:18:39 +0000 Richard Moss 19772 at http://www.maclife.com Scanbot Review http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/scanbot_review <!--paging_filter--><p>No matter how many different scanners we've tested over the years, we've still yet to find a truly elegant solution. Whether we're making digital reproductions with our all-in-one desktop printers or copying paper with the massive units in our offices, we're constantly stymied by jams, blurry images, and slow, clunky interfaces. Even the simple, camera-based apps on our iPhones have their shortcomings, and we often find ourselves retaking and cropping images until we get them right.</p><p>With a gorgeous interface and a good developer pedigree, we had high hopes for Scanbot. There's a clean, simple aesthetic that runs through every screen, helping you capture and organize your documents with ease. The priority here is speed, as Scanbot's foolproof interface can attest to, but it doesn't come at the expense of professional features, including high-resolution output, a low-light indicator, and automatic edge detection. Our final products weren't always perfect, but the powerful cropping tool and one-touch enhancer fine-tuned things nicely.</p><p><img src="/files/u338318/2014/04/scanbot.png" width="620" height="548" /></p><p>Scanbot is the first app from the creators of the now-defunct doo storage service, so we were hardly surprised to see a tight integration with the cloud—but we weren't expecting such comprehensive synergy. Nearly every major service is represented, and you can set your image to automatically upload to your favorite. It’s a much better method than the standard save-and-email strategy most of the other scanner apps use, though you can still clutter up your Camera Roll if you so desire.</p><p>The app’s interface does a nice job of prompting you with tips on how to take better scans, but we would have liked a little more control over our documents, most notably a perspective or skew tool to straighten crooked scans and flatten folds. Also, we wish we were able to organize our scan into folders instead of rushing off to the cloud every time, and we had some issues with moving and resizing the digital signature.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> Scanbot certainly isn't the first scanning app for the iPhone, but it might be the first one we actually use regularly.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-product"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Product:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/scanbot-pdf-scanner-multipage/id834854351?mt=8" target="_blank">Scanbot 1.0.1</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-company"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Company:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> doo GmbH </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-contact"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Contact:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://www.scanbot.io" target="_blank">www.scanbot.io</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-price"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> $0.99 </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-requirements"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Requirements:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 7.0 or later</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-positives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Positives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Clean interface that makes scanning a breeze. Excellent integration with cloud services. Powerful automation tools and editing features.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-negatives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Negatives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>No in-app organization. Missing pro tools to straighten scans. Digital signature buggy and confusing to work with.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-score"> <div class="field-label"><strong>Score:</strong>&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> 4&nbsp;Great </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/scanbot_review#comments Reviews app store reviews AppLife Apps Documents Doo iPhone iPod iPod and iPhone Photos productivity Productivity Software Scanbot scanner scanning Software Thu, 17 Apr 2014 17:38:24 +0000 Michael Simon 19770 at http://www.maclife.com Microsoft Excel for iPad Review http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/microsoft_excel_ipad_review <!--paging_filter--><p>Wherever Word travels, Excel cannot be far behind—and at long last, Microsoft has allowed the number crunching favorite to follow the money trail straight into the App Store with a touchscreen version built just for iPad. Microsoft Excel for iPad ends years of suffering with less-powerful third-party solutions that have been all too happy to encroach in Redmond’s absence. Like <a href="http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/microsoft_word_ipad_review">Word</a>, Excel for iPad is in most respects a superior effort over the venerable Mac application, offering an impressively clean user interface that doesn’t skimp on features.</p><p>In particular, the iPad touchscreen is put to great use here with a customized keyboard expressly designed to make data entry easier. Why include the entire alphabet when entering numeric data? Excel for iPad switches between the two with only a tap, which is also all it takes to leap from sheet to sheet within a single workbook. Switching between Home, Insert, Formulas, Review, View, and Table modes is equally easy.</p><p><img src="/files/u338318/2014/04/excel_for_ipad_custom_keyboard.png" width="620" height="465" /></p><p>We had no problem opening a variety of file formats (including CSV and legacy XLS), although in many cases we were prompted to convert and save an entirely new version before being able to edit. Excel for iPad is free to download, but you’ll need to purchase an Office 365 subscription to actually do anything beyond viewing. A new Personal plan makes this cheaper than ever at $69.99 per year for one computer and tablet, although we’d still like to see Microsoft introduce a cheaper mobile-only option priced at $49.99 or less.</p><p>Subscription grievances aside, Excel for iPad only truly stumbles when it comes to file management and output. Like Word, there’s currently no way to print or save to PDF, and both apps suffer from spotty OneDrive cloud file sync, which is unfortunately the only option available. We frequently discovered duplicate saved files, particularly after opening on the Mac side and then returning to iPad.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> When it comes to actually getting work one, Excel for iPad is another home run for Microsoft, although the company needs to go back to the drawing board when it comes to actual file management.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-product"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Product:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/microsoft-excel-for-ipad/id586683407?mt=8" target="_blank">Microsoft Excel for iPad 1.0</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-company"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Company:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Microsoft </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-contact"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Contact:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://office.microsoft.com" target="_blank">office.microsoft.com</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-price"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Free (Office 365 subscription required) </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-requirements"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Requirements:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>iPad running iOS 7.0 or later</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-positives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Positives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Keyboard customized for numeric data entry. Streamlined touchscreen user interface. Delivers the best of Excel in tablet form.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-negatives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Negatives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>No printing or save as PDF feature. Poor file management. OneDrive frequently creates duplicate files. Requires Office 365 subscription to create or edit documents.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-score"> <div class="field-label"><strong>Score:</strong>&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> 4&nbsp;Great </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/microsoft_excel_ipad_review#comments Gallery Reviews app store reviews AppLife Apps Excel iPad Microsoft Office productivity Productivity Software Software spreadsheets Wed, 16 Apr 2014 21:44:38 +0000 J.R. Bookwalter 19764 at http://www.maclife.com R.B.I. Baseball 14 Review http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/rbi_baseball_14_review <!--paging_filter--><p>Nearly six years into the life of the App Store and we’re just now getting a realistic, licensed Major League Baseball simulation—but R.B.I. Baseball 14 doesn’t resemble the feature-crammed, richly complex affairs seen on home systems. Instead, it pulls both inspiration and its moniker from a popular ‘80s/‘90s console franchise, and grounds its gameplay in the simplicity of that era while modernizing only the visuals. The result is expectedly very accessible and easy to get into, but also skimps on a lot of things that make baseball video games enjoyable and worth playing more than a couple times.</p><p>R.B.I. Baseball 14 loops in all 30 of the modern major league teams, but only some of their players—the starting lineup, a couple of bench guys, and a few pitchers. Your interactions are similarly scaled down on the diamond. When batting, you’ll have only swing and bunt buttons, plus the ability to move your batter around the box; thus getting a clean hit is all about timing and positioning. Power, on the other hand, consistently eluded us during play—the A.I. opponents were smacking homers over the wall a lot more often than we ever did. On the mound, every pitcher has the same arsenal, unfortunately: a standard toss, a hard fastball, and a floating knuckleball of sorts. You can guide the ball a bit with the virtual stick, but there’s no noticeable distinction between players.</p><p><img src="/files/u338318/2014/04/screen6.jpg" width="620" height="465" /></p><p>Which gets into the main issue with R.B.I. Baseball 14: It’s a serviceable barebones sim, but it lacks the flavor of the game. The players’ faces look close enough to the real thing, but don’t display any personality or unique mannerisms, and hurlers are essentially identical on the mound. Even the stadiums are barely differentiated, and you see almost nothing beyond the field itself—no views of the exterior or aerial shots. Wrigley Field has the right dimensions, but lacks ivy or bleachers; it’s just green walls and a splotchy mess of pixels beyond.</p><p>Fielding is challenging, baserunning is rigid and awkward, and the simplified overall approach means repetition takes hold quickly. But it’s the lack of modes that makes for a difficult long-term recommendation. The season mode is dry and offers no game simulation or even management options, otherwise you can take on single games or jump right into the postseason. Without deeper hooks, multiplayer of any sort, or even a little pomp to the presentation, R.B.I. Baseball 14 feels entirely predictable—which can make a 162-game season feel very long indeed.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> R.B.I. Baseball 14 is fundamentally fair, but the too-streamlined approach and lack of common modes make for a foul lasting impression.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-product"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Product:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/r.b.i.-baseball-14/id783753727?mt=8" target="_blank">R.B.I. Baseball 14 1.0.1</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-company"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Company:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Major League Baseball </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-contact"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Contact:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://www.mlb.com" target="_blank">www.mlb.com</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-price"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> $4.99 </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-requirements"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Requirements:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 6.0 or later</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-positives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Positives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Decent pick-up-and-play mechanics. Players largely look the part.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-negatives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Negatives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Lack of depth or variety to gameplay, and there’s little uniqueness to players beyond looks. Monotonous, personality-free presentation. Lack of interesting play modes for the long haul, along with no multiplayer options.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-score"> <div class="field-label"><strong>Score:</strong>&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> 2&nbsp;Weak </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/rbi_baseball_14_review#comments Gallery Reviews app store reviews AppLife Apps baseball Games iPad iPhone iPod iPod and iPhone MLB R.B.I. Baseball simulation Software Sports Wed, 16 Apr 2014 21:36:02 +0000 Andrew Hayward 19763 at http://www.maclife.com David Review http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/david_review <!--paging_filter--><p>David doesn’t pull any punches. Its blissful, serenely sparse world is populated by multitudes of terrifying two-dimensional shapes, all hell-bent on snuffing the life out of your little box-shaped hero. All you have in your defense are wits and agility, along with a special projectile ability that takes a few seconds to charge. David’s physics-driven rumination on the struggles of life feels almost poignant at times, and its abstract design works mostly in its favor—but the game is also extremely difficult and not for the easily frustrated.</p><p>Each of the eight main levels—and another that you can unlock later—is designed to fit its theme. In Anger, a writhing mass of floating white diamonds pursues your hero, periodically firing gleaming darts that hone in on your position. Anxiety puts you in a maze suspended above an altar that shoots dozens of glowing squares upwards. Flee, meanwhile, starts you off defenseless and surrounded by danger, as a mass of ovals gives chase through a winding path.</p><p><img src="/files/u338318/2014/04/david-1.png" width="620" height="465" /></p><p>The dominant emotion through everything, though, tends toward frustration. Each level can be played on one of two difficulties: “Okay” gives you seven hit points, while “Very” leaves you with just one. It’s enough of a challenge just to survive in either mode, but on top of not dying, you’ll need to exterminate your foes by shooting out charged particles—which have only a short range and loop back around to you like a boomerang in a beautiful display of color. Charging a shot involves tapping and holding on the center-point of your avatar (and optionally dragging toward a target), and everything slows down while this happens, granting precious time to plot an escape route away from danger.</p><p>Both the tilt and touch screen controls work well for changing direction, though the need to constantly tap the jump button to move higher—something you’ll have to do while charging shots, as well as in normal play—makes the game feel in moments like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time. It gets easier with practice in the Arena mode, which also features a points-based progression system separate from the main game, but David never stops being excruciatingly hard. Thankfully, that difficulty manages to work in its favor, acting as a touching metaphor for the trials of life and the herculean effort it can take to triumph over adversity.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> David presents an abstract, dangerous world that’s as tough as it is beautiful and surprisingly emotive.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-product"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Product:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id777413889?mt=8" target="_blank">David 1.0.0</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-company"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Company:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Fermenter </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-contact"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Contact:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://www.fermentergames.com" target="_blank">www.fermentergames.com</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-price"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> $0.99 </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-requirements"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Requirements:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 4.3 or later</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-positives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Positives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Beautiful, sparse visual design supports the abstract themes and gameplay. Cool survival/arena mode.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-negatives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Negatives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Super hard. Enormous difference between the Okay and Very difficulty levels.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-score"> <div class="field-label"><strong>Score:</strong>&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> 4.5&nbsp;Excellent </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/david_review#comments Gallery Reviews abstract action app store reviews AppLife Apps David Games indie iPad iPhone iPod iPod and iPhone minimal Software Wed, 16 Apr 2014 21:23:55 +0000 Richard Moss 19762 at http://www.maclife.com Trials Frontier Review http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/trials_frontier_review <!--paging_filter--><p>If you approach Trials Frontier as a Trials game (capital “T”), then you’re in for disappointment. Although the game broadly echoes its console counterparts, its soul has been ripped out and replaced with the festering guts of a stinking freemium business model, and then spray-painted in mobile-friendly colors and cuteness. Yes, this is still a physics-oriented bike-balancer, set across ludicrously difficult-to-traverse tracks, but it lacks refinement and elegance. Also, it’s now largely about taking on missions from demanding cartoon characters, larger-than-life, over-the-top, hazard-filled courses (with explosions and fire and more explosions), and that encroaching sense that if you don’t spend some money on in-app purchases very soon, the game’s going to slam the door shut in your face, often and repeatedly.</p><p>For anyone who’s never gone near a Trials game, this is a trials (small “t”) effort that at first holds up fairly well against existing similar iOS titles that beat the series to the App Store. The controls balance on a knife-edge between irksomely twitchy and reasonably solid (and so are probably quite well suited to the genre), levels are short, and the game has a decent amount of character lurking. Initially, it’s quite good fun—if frustrating—nursing your cartoonish bike to the end of cartoonish courses, in order to appease the cartoonish demands of cartoonish folk lurking in the game’s central hub, a cartoonish saloon.</p><p><img src="/files/u338318/2014/04/vrrrm.png" width="620" height="349" /></p><p>But even the most enthusiastic newcomers are likely to soon feel ground down by Trials Frontier. Races require fuel, which is initially in plentiful supply but after a couple of hours’ play becomes scarce, unless you’re willing to fill up the tank with acquired gems—or, of course, just buy more gems with real money. Occasional head-to-head races against robotically scripted A.I. require powerful enough bikes, and upgrades cost coins and take time to add. Again, loosening your wallet can alleviate grinding, but a few hours in, the costs become prohibitive to all but the most obsessive players.</p><p>Worse, though, is the fact that success in missions requires specific items to be acquired, and these are "won" by way of a spinning wheel at the end of each race. Fundamentally, then, you’re forced into a kind of Groundhog Day scenario, racing the same tracks again and again in order to secure a prize on the basis of pure luck—and not whether you heroically managed to cross the finish line within the tight time limit demanded to win a gold medal.&nbsp;</p><p>Eventually during testing, one of the saloon people cheerily mentioned there was a new object outside to investigate. We had a look and it was a slot machine, adding yet more randomness to the game and coming with its own countdown timer. It was at about this point that we realized Trials Frontier is presumably just a big joke, trolling iOS users en masse.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> If you can deal with the business model, or are happy to waste a few hours before abandoning the game entirely, Trials Frontier is pretty, fairly playable, and reasonably fun. But stick around and the veneer is soon stripped away to reveal endless, soulless grinding to appease cartoon simpletons.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-product"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Product:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id659283309?mt=8" target="_blank">Trials Frontier 2.0.0</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-company"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Company:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Ubisoft </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-contact"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Contact:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://www.ubisoft.com" target="_blank">www.ubisoft.com</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-price"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Free </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-requirements"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Requirements:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 6.1 or later</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-positives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Positives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Decent graphics. Well-designed courses. Plenty of missions for people prepared for the long haul. Mobile-friendly approach.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-negatives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Negatives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Truly miserable business model. Prizes and progression depend heavily on luck. Overtly twitchy throughout.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-score"> <div class="field-label"><strong>Score:</strong>&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> 2&nbsp;Weak </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/trials_frontier_review#comments Gallery Reviews action app store reviews AppLife Apps Bikes freemium Games iPad iPhone iPod iPod and iPhone motorcycle platform RedLynx Software Trials Frontier Ubisoft Tue, 15 Apr 2014 21:27:43 +0000 Craig Grannell 19755 at http://www.maclife.com Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft Review http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/hearthstone_heroes_warcraft_review <!--paging_filter--><p>Compared to most popular collectible card games, Blizzard's Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is relatively straightforward. Simple rules make it incredibly welcoming to new players, but they also allow for elegant strategies and varied tactical possibilities. Unfortunately, as a free-to-play game, Hearthstone runs into the same problems that have long plagued tabletop card games: it's hard to get worthwhile new cards without breaking the bank.</p><p>Based in the same universe as World of Warcraft and the real-time strategy entries, Hearthstone's battles see two opponents square off, each armed with a deck of 30 cards and 30 hit points. During each turn, you'll draw a card from your deck, play an attacking creature (called a minion), and gain a mana crystal. Eventually, someone runs out of hit points and the match is over. It's a pretty basic premise, but it creates a nice balance between short-term tactics and long-term planning—the cards you draw may be unpredictable, but your mana rate is steady.</p><p><img src="/files/u338318/2014/04/hs1.jpg" width="620" height="349" /></p><p>Some cards have special abilities, too: "Taunt" forces the opposing player to focus on one minion until it dies, while "Charge" lets a minion attack faster than usual—and some spells can raise and lower your minions’ health and attack stats. Hearthstone boils down to trading blows back and forth, but complexity and strategy are derived from how these special powers interact with each other. Eventually, you’ll unlock enough cards to start building your own decks, full of cards that play well together.</p><p>Hearthstone is primarily a multiplayer game, broken into two modes. There's ranked play, which uses a matchmaking system to pair you with an opponent of roughly equal skill, and the Arena, which allows you to build a deck from a randomized supply of cards. Ranked play encourages deep knowledge of one character and one deck, while the Arena focuses more on breadth and flexibility. A turn in the Arena lasts until you've lost three matches, at which point prizes—usually a card pack or two—are doled out based on your performance. Arena is easily Hearthstone's better mode: it exposes players to a wide range of cards and play styles and encourages quick thinking, whereas using the same deck over and over can begin to feel rote eventually.</p><p>There's a tension between these two modes, however. To build a competitive deck for ranked play, you’ll need plenty of powerful cards, which Blizzard is happy to sell: two packs of five Expert cards cost $2.99. A more cost-effective route is the Arena, which is also hidden behind a paywall: 150 in-game gold, or $1.99 in real cash. Here's the catch-22: you'll need plenty of high-level experience before an Arena run becomes profitable, but you'll need plenty of cards to build a deck strong enough to climb the ranked ladder to get that experience. Hearthstone's crafting system lets you create particular cards using another currency called Arcane Dust; unfortunately, Dust is usually obtained by dismantling other cards in your collection. Any way you slice it, you'll need to spend hard-earned resources to become a competitive player.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> Beginners and mid-range players will find that Hearthstone provides a wealth of easy-to-learn tactical card battling for free, though high-level play isn't cheap.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-product"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Product:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://us.battle.net/hearthstone/en/" target="_blank">Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-company"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Company:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Blizzard Entertainment </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-contact"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Contact:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://www.blizzard.com" target="_blank">www.blizzard.com</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-price"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Free </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-requirements"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Requirements:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Mac OS X 10.8, Intel Core i3 or better, 4 GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M or ATI Radeon HD 5670 or better, broadband connection, Battle.net account</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-positives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Positives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Turn-by-turn gameplay is tense and tactical. Plenty of options for customized decks and strategies. Very generous learning curve for new players.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-negatives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Negatives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Paying for card packs is one thing, but paying for access to the game's best mode is galling. Skimps on some game modes that other collectible card games offer.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-score"> <div class="field-label"><strong>Score:</strong>&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> 4&nbsp;Great </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/hearthstone_heroes_warcraft_review#comments Gallery Reviews Blizzard Cards CCG collectible card game Games Hearthstone Heroes of Warcraft Mac mac game mac games Mac OSX 10.8 Software Strategy Warcraft Tue, 15 Apr 2014 17:20:12 +0000 Joseph Leray 19754 at http://www.maclife.com CanOpener for Headphones Review http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/canopener_headphones_review <!--paging_filter--><p>Given that a vast amount of music enjoyment happens in the privacy of a comfy pair of headphones (or less-comfortable Apple earbuds, unfortunately), we’ve always wondered if there was some way to give the overall experience a bit more of the sonic “space” created by the physical phenomenon called “crossfeed.” That is, the acoustic energy typically associated with the temporal characteristics of how each channel of a stereo audio signal reaches your ears through open air. CanOpener promises just that, and thankfully delivers in many respects.</p><p>It functions as an alternative to Apple’s own Music app, and supports just about all of the features you depend on, from playlists to shuffle play, podcasts, and more, albeit with the significant omission of handling streaming audio. Hardcore audiophiles who refuse to compress their music will be thrilled at the support for uncompressed FLAC files, and CanOpener also plays music in the background, so we found ourselves gradually using it more and more as a primary music player.&nbsp;</p><p><img src="/files/u338318/2014/04/canopen.2.png" width="620" height="465" /></p><p>The crossfeed effect instantly made our soundstage more expansive, and was definitely heard in a more pronounced way with older rock and classical music recorded before the 1970s—when audio elements tended to be hard-panned left or right; the improvements are less noticeable with music recorded in the last 30 years. It’s subtle, but you can instantly compare the before/after of the sound by pressing the Bypass icon. The built-in two-band equalizer also does a nice job of boosting bass and treble, though we really like the flexibility of the Pencil EQ, a $3.99 in-app purchase that lets you draw totally customized EQ curves. Only the most intense audio geeks will opt for the $4.99 Hi-Fi Pack, however, which delivers fine-tuned dithering options essential for listening to FLAC-format songs.</p><p>There are preset profiles for an array of popular headphones and earbuds, though we didn’t find our Sony MDR-V600, Sennheiser PX 100, or Koss Pro4AAT cans on the list. No worries, as you can create customized templates for your own headgear once you’ve experimented with the app settings and dialed in optimum combinations.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> If you’re satisfied with the current state of your headphone audio endeavors on iOS, then rock on. But if you’re looking to wring the most performance from the experience, drop a dollar for CanOpener and see if you can hear the difference.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-product"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Product:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/canopener-for-headphones/id690996855?mt=8" target="_blank">CanOpener for Headphones 1.22</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-company"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Company:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Good Hertz </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-contact"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Contact:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://www.goodhertz.com" target="_blank">www.goodhertz.com</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-price"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> $0.99 </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-requirements"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Requirements:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 6.0 or later</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-positives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Positives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Does indeed improve headphone sound quality in many instances. Extensive controls. Nice EQ options.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-negatives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Negatives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Needs more headphone presets. Enhancements can be extremely subtle. Doesn’t support streaming audio.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-score"> <div class="field-label"><strong>Score:</strong>&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> 4&nbsp;Great </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/canopener_headphones_review#comments Gallery Reviews app store reviews AppLife Apps Audio Audio and Music Software CanOpener Good Hertz Headphones iPad iPhone iPod iPod and iPhone Music Software sound stereo Mon, 14 Apr 2014 17:21:11 +0000 David Biedny 19745 at http://www.maclife.com Adobe Lightroom for iPad Review http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/adobe_lightroom_ipad_review <!--paging_filter--><p>Cloud sync with mobile devices is rapidly becoming mandatory for Mac and PC software as consumers increasingly prefer to free themselves from the desktop. Adobe is receiving this message loud and clear, countering with a new app that delivers the core functionality of Lightroom 5 for iPad. This isn’t just a tablet version of Adobe’s popular photo software—it’s a robust companion app allowing Creative Cloud subscribers to sync image collections and edit them using gesture-based tools specifically designed for touchscreen devices (an iPhone version is planned for later this year).</p><p>Edit a photo on the desktop and the changes automatically sync across to the iPad within seconds, and vice versa. To establish this connection, you’ll simply tick an icon next to photo collections in Lightroom 5, creating smaller DNG versions that get uploaded to the cloud. Introduced with Lightroom 4, these so-called “Smart Previews” act as stand-ins for full-resolution images stored on the desktop, but look great even on a Retina Display, retaining more than enough resolution to be shared straight from iPad to Twitter, Facebook, or Flickr.</p><p><img src="/files/u338318/2014/04/lightroom_mobile_presets.jpg" width="620" height="465" /></p><p>While Lightroom for iPad is capable of syncing up to 60,000 photos, this is not a true cloud storage or backup service like the company’s consumer-oriented Revel. However, photographers can import and edit full-resolution JPEG images from the Camera Roll while on location, which get synced back to the desktop complete with metadata and collection information. RAW images can currently only originate from the desktop, though. In our tests, sync worked great using either Wi-Fi or cellular connections.</p><p>Edits are made in one of four views: Filmstrip, Adjustments, Presets, and Crop. While it’s impossible to include every tool from the desktop version—features missing at launch include brushes and user-created presets—Adobe has done an excellent job of taking the drudgery out of organizational tasks such as flag/reject, while incorporating the most commonly used creative tools and making them fast and intuitive.</p><p><strong>The bottom line.</strong> Lightroom for iPad may not be a full-blown cloud storage solution, but it offers photographers more than enough muscle to keep the creative juices flowing while away from the desktop.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-product"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Product:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/adobe-lightroom/id804177739?mt=8" target="_blank">Adobe Lightroom 1.0.1</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-company"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Company:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Adobe Systems, Inc. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-contact"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Contact:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://www.adobe.com" target="_blank">www.adobe.com</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-price"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Free (requires Creative Cloud subscription) </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-requirements"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Requirements:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>iPad running iOS 7.0 or later</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-positives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Positives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Fluid, intuitive image editing that syncs changes between iPad and desktop. Great mix of tools and features familiar to Lightroom users.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-negatives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Negatives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Requires paid Creative Cloud subscription. No companion iPhone/iPod touch app. Lacks hooks to Adobe’s own Revel cloud storage service. No RAW support for Camera Roll imports.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-score"> <div class="field-label"><strong>Score:</strong>&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> 4&nbsp;Great </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.maclife.com/article/reviews/adobe_lightroom_ipad_review#comments Gallery Reviews Adobe app store reviews AppLife Apps Creative Cloud Design and Graphics images iPad Lightroom Photo Editing Photos Software Mon, 14 Apr 2014 17:12:04 +0000 J.R. Bookwalter 19744 at http://www.maclife.com