While we can generally figure out how to operate most new apps with little instruction, Peek Calendar required a trip to the tutorial before we got started — one of several we made during the course of reviewing the app. It's not so much that Peek is overloaded with powerful features or intricate gestures, but rather it rarely led us in any logical direction. Peek Calendar pushes the iOS 7 human interface guidelines to their limits with its ridiculously minimal, gesture-heavy approach, but while it tries to limit the amount of time you spend interacting with your calendar, its unique concept is ultimately too smart for its own good.
Social networking is a great tool for groups or businesses to communicate with the masses, but getting the message out across multiple services can be like pulling teeth. Like most everything these days, there’s an iPhone app for just such a purpose — no toothache necessary. Postcard is a free app for iPhone that simplifies the task of cross-posting to multiple social networks at once. Rather than switching between different apps or services, you'll simply tap out your missive once and then sit back as it’s posted to the relevant websites of your choosing.
Every notes app worth its salt needs to strike a balance between form and function, combining speed, effortless navigation, and easy organization into a simple tool that gets out of our way as we work. UpWord Notes doesn't just hit all of these marks — it does so in such an elegant way, we can't help but wonder if we've finally found the perfect app for quick note taking.
Handy Photo's unique user interface makes it fast and fun to edit images from a mobile device, whether that's an iPhone or an iPad. Name a feature and it’s probably on Handy Photo’s checklist, along with convenient tricks such as Move Me, which allows an object from one photo to be transported to another in just a few taps. For those who aren’t so easily impressed, Handy Photo also includes Magic Crop, which allows photos to be “uncropped” by dragging any edge beyond the available image, then automatically healing the remaining space left behind. While results vary depending upon the type of image, the feature performed quite admirably in our testing.
Thanks in no small part to Bejeweled and Candy Crush, match-three puzzle games have made a curious resurgence in recent years, especially within the mobile market. We’ve seen match-threes dressed up as dungeon crawlers, medical simulations, pet shops, and even a shanty-laden pirate drama. Another Case Solved, the latest such app from Chillingo, tosses a few additional mini-games into the mix and goes the way of the 1940s-era private detective.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then PopCap must feel downright exalted upon spotting this new casual tower-defense affair. Trolls vs Vikings is so similar to the massively successful Plants vs. Zombies that the two would be barely discernible if not for this game’s slightly cruder art style. Almost every friendly and enemy unit and gameplay element has a direct analogue, and while Trolls vs Vikings is competently designed and tries to improve the groundwork that PopCap laid, it whiffs on some of the fundamentals.
Foursaken Media barely misses a beat on Bug Heroes 2. It takes 2011’s hit tower defense/dual-stick shooter/real-time strategy hybrid and pumps out a cool, fun, great-looking, and fast-paced sequel that ups the ante on just about everything (but sadly marginalizes the story of feuding bugs). Strategic nuances mix brilliantly here with arcade-style action, and the mission, skirmish, and endless modes alike all offer plenty of variety in the flow of play — though not in terms of scenery, as only three maps are included.
Tengami, a new point-and-click adventure game from indie duo Nyamyam, takes place in a dreamlike version of mythical Japan. It’s all cherry blossom groves, abandoned pagodas, and gently rolling seas, painted in pastel pinks and blues and set to ethereal music. Still images are pretty enough, but Tengami is defined by the cues it takes from old pop-up storybooks: secret passages are hidden beneath paper flaps, and new areas spring into existence with each turn of the page.
Oquonie revels in obfuscation. On the surface, it’s a simple isometric arcade adventure, of the type enjoyed by gamers since the likes of Knight Lore and Head Over Heels on ancient 8-bit systems. Taking the role of a dopey-looking cartoon bipedal dinosaur in a suit, you amble about a maze-like office complex, bumping into photocopiers that bestow you with cards and simultaneously spew gibberish via a series of cryptic glyphs.
Decades of fascinating and enlightening documentary work by filmmaker Ken Burns form the core of his self-titled app, which draws on close to four hours of footage compiled from documentaries covering a huge breadth of material relating to American history. While we’d have liked to have some longer clips included, careful, almost meticulous design and curation underpins everything. Only the 13-scene, 31-minute innovation playlist is available free, though; the rest of the videos and the other five playlists are locked behind a $9.99 in-app purchase.