In the shadow of the dearly departed Skyview Drive-In Theater, Santa Cruz's weekend flea market was another bit of my youth's paradise. Between all of the horrendous and delicious fried foods, and the empty promises of a vegetable chopper destined to make your life more convenient, the true prize would always lay between plastic, cardboard and twist-ties. Some would call them Hero Rangers, Adventure Turtles, or even Chopper Rats from Pluto, but despite their off-color paint jobs, they often could provide as much enjoyment as their copyrighted cousins. Knock-offs are what make budget-conscious world go round, and the iOS ecosystem is hardly different.
One of the most amazing things about the App Store's offerings is the fact that you get so much punch for relatively few bucks; so when a drum app shows up that costs a whopping $49.99, it’s hard to think that it’s truly better than 10 existing $4.99 drum apps combined. While Different Drummer does indeed offer a unique take on the process of laying down a beat, it’s a bit rich at the current price, which is a pity – there's some real innovation to be found here. Different Drummer really lives up to its name: It’s a drummer, alright, but it’s radically different from any other iOS beat machine – or most plugins we’ve ever run into on the desktop.
Whether you use a Mac, iPad or iPhone, the last 24 hours or so have produced some welcome updates to your favorite apps -- including universal support for Mailbox, and signups for the next version of 1Password for Mac.
Google may be the enemy in the eyes of many iOS users, but it's hard to deny the search giant has brought most of its coolest toys to Apple's mobile platform -- so why did it take a third-party app to add support for Google Play Music All Access?
We're heading into a three-day weekend for Memorial Day here in the United States, so we'll be taking a break on Monday, but promise to return on Tuesday with the mother of all weekend recaps. (Provided, of course, that stuff actually happens while we're watching parades and grilling hamburgers over the weekend.) If the separation anxiety is too much to bear, just read our Thursday recap twice, then set your alarm clocks for Tuesday a.m.!
With stellar followups like Angry Birds Space, developer Rovio has once again proven that its bird-flinging saga has every reason to deserve its status as the unofficial poster child of mobile gaming, and for the next week, you can download it for free for both the iPhone and the iPad. Considering that it reached 10 million downloads in the first three days after its release last year, there's a good chance you already have it.
Last fall's release of the HeroClix TabApp tried to bring together the worlds of physical and digital games, letting users place specialized figures from the HeroClix tabletop game series on an iPad screen and transport them into a game. Unfortunately, while it did a solid job of recognizing the figures, the game itself was an utter mess: Painfully repetitive, both ugly and filled with lag, and lacking the strategic spirit of the tabletop source material. The brand new HeroClix TabApp Elite forges a fresh path with distinct gameplay and much different figurine implementation, but while it's thankfully a much smoother experience, the game itself still isn't strong enough to warrant the investment.
Not so long ago, armchair astronomy used to involve lugging along stacks of charts and flashlights if you wanted to know the name of a star (aside from notables like Polaris and Betelgeuse). The advent of astronomy apps for iOS devices changed all that for the better, but until now, the best ones have emphasized utility over beauty. That all changes with Sky Guide, which achieves a remarkable balance of both.
Button-mashing brawlers make for a great time when you've got real buttons to mash, but they don't always translate so well to iOS touch screens. Rather than attempt to shoehorn all of the intense fighting action into a traditional arcade-style control scheme, indie studio The Game Bakers concocted a fresh touch-centric battle system for its quirky new face-pummeling fighter. Combo Crew's fast-paced fisticuffs and streamlined combo system hinges on simple swipe controls that are far more satisfying to wield than you'd expect from an iOS beat-em-up.