Instant messaging used to be the most convenient way to have a conversation online. Then along came audio chatting to free us from all that typing. Today video chatting is the best way to feel directly connected to others over the Internet—it’s the next best thing to being there. And while iChat can pull off amazing video chats, it has two main drawbacks: It only supports video chats with up to four people, and it’s Mac only.
Have you ever tried adding up the number of keystrokes you tap out in a day? We didn’t think so. But we bet you’d be shocked by the total. We were happily surprised when we saw how many keystrokes we’d saved—4,572—after a few days using TextExpander, SmileOnMyMac’s supersmart text-substitution utility. Speed typists might be skeptical about the app’s usefulness—and we might have sided with those skeptics before we installed it. In mere minutes, we created a couple dozen “snippets,” or chunks of text that appear in any application when you type certain shortcuts. TextExpander also allows you to limit the apps that certain snippets work for, which is useful for keeping your html snippets out of Word documents, for example.
A shareware game to pass the time between incredibly important work-related projects.
If you’re a fan of 2D platform games like Dark Castle or Pitfall, Midnight Mansion is fun, easy to pick up, and should keep you busy for a long time. Its eight mansions hold 350 rooms to work your way through (avoiding monsters, climbing vines, collecting keys, and so on), and the included Mansion Builder lets you design your own levels. Three difficulty levels keep players of all abilities coming back for more, and the 32-bit graphics are polished enough that Midnight Mansion doesn’t feel like a relic from a bygone era.
Within the weatherproof body of the new, 10.2-megapixel Pentax K200D beats the transplanted heart of the K10D—a sophisticated, semipro camera that garnered a Mac|Life Editor’s Choice last year (5 out of 5 stars, Jul/07). Almost every feature (and more) that made the K10D stand out is now integrated into the K200D—and for less money.
Computers can’t understand the analog waves that make up old VHS tapes and pre-DV camcorder videos. These curvy patterns contradict the binary world of “off” or “on,” so you need to digitize those sources before your Mac can “see” the picture. Pinnacle’s Video Capture for Mac is a fin-shaped box that handles this job—and little else. Plug in an analog video source, and the unit translates it into a 640-x-480-pixel MPEG-4 file your Mac can recognize. It works, but armchair archivists will immediately wish it had a few more features beyond its single trick.
From its animated opening cut-scene to its dazzling DayGlo-infused tracks, Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D brings console-style racing to the iPhone. If you don’t immediately recognize the name, Crash is the furry, PlayStation-born answer to Nintendo’s Mario—and he’s got the kart-racing cred to prove it.
If you’ve ever watched an episode of The Flintstones, you know full well that cavemen (sorry, cave-people) had cars. Cro-Mag Rally lets you channel your inner Fred or Wilma, racing cutesy stone-age vehicles (Bone Buggy, anyone?) around a variety of cutesy tracks. The result? A cute little kart-style racing game, albeit a flawed one.
The iTunes App Store launched with not one, but three racers vying for the winner's circle that is your iPhone/iPod touch Home Screen. We pit Wingnuts Moto Racer, Cro-Mag Rally and Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3Dagainst each other and learn that accelerometer-based steering doesn't always equal an innovative gaming experience.
Check out the road race for your iPhone/iPod touch after the jump.
Wizards, elves, dwarfs: If it’s not Tolkien, it’s probably Dungeons & Dragons. Underneath the Neverwinter Nights 2 videogame interface, the ghost of Gary Gygax rolls d20s to determine your success. These tested underpinnings and an almost paralyzing range of choices make Neverwinter Nights 2 an entertaining journey. Unfortunately, regular glitches and weak graphics keep the game from excellence.
If you’re like us, your iPhone bookmarks folder is filled with sites that provide an array of live sports score updates --- MLB.com, NBA.com, NFL.com, Scores Pro, ESPN, et al. Being a sports fan is a full-time business, and iPhone has made it easy to keep on top of our game, whether on the road, at work or at the beach.
And now, thanks to a little-known Web app-turned standalone native app, it’s easier than ever.