Since its introduction in 2010, Apple has defended the iPad as a tool for creativity as well as consumption, and no app genre better demonstrates the power of the former than those used to spruce up digital images. Four years later, the App Store is chock full of apps—many of which also work well on iPhone and iPod touch—for turning photos into works of art, and many of them rival tools that have barely become staples on the desktop. Journey with us now as we take you through a gallery of eight tools to help you master the art of iOS image editing.
For such a relatively compact game, developer Ice-Pick Lodge’s Knock-Knock is often unwieldy, mixing and matching elements from survival horror, point-and-click adventure, and 2D side-scrolling games with a bizarre, metaphor-heavy narrative about mental health. The results are scary enough, but Knock-Knock suffers from a lack of clarity and focus.
If there's one thing that we’d change about iOS, it’s the keyboard. Back in 2007, we may have marveled at its flexible design, but today it feels antiquated—especially when compared to some of the alternative models we’ve tried. Unlike Fleksy or SwitfKey, Jot doesn't offer a new way to type; rather, it focuses more on text selection, sidestepping Apple's somewhat stale tap-and-hold method for a clever cursor-based concept, which dramatically improves upon the way we cut, copy, and paste.
Block Fortress: War tries valiantly to narrow the focus of its stellar, open-ended base building and first-person tower defense predecessor, but it misfires repeatedly and never quite lives up to its potential. Foursaken Media once again tackles a Minecraft-esque universe of war-torn block races, this time constructing a campaign around relatively linear battles wherein you have partial command of a hero and his minions, plus full control over the placement of defensive blocks, turrets, and bombs.
If you’ve ever fancied creating fine art—worthy of hanging on the wall alongside greats like Picasso or Van Gogh—on your iOS device, Brushstroke lets you quickly realize that dream in only a few taps. The universal app makes it delightfully easy to create a frame-worthy piece of art using the built-in camera or existing device photos. Once imported, the app walks you through five key stages: Paint, color, canvas texture, image settings, and sign, which lets the mobile artiste put a digital signature onto each work of art.
Eets Munchies invites tinkering and experimentation. Like its PC and Xbox 360 predecessor—from Klei Entertainment, of Don’t Starve and Mark of the Ninja fame—this puzzle platformer asks you to move and manipulate wacky objects to help a hungry rodent find dessert. Although Eets doesn’t have quite the feverish pull of other similar puzzlers, it does a splendid job at continually introducing you to new elements and allowing plenty of room to learn and get creative.
If you're an intergalactic space miner by trade, there are worse fates than getting stranded on a giant red planet rich with subterranean minerals, danger, and excitement. With nowhere to go but deeper and deeper beneath the planet's surface, Mines of Mars teases you along into its Metroid-style adventure by putting up subtle barriers and giving you a means to overcome them: mining. The balance between gathering, crafting, and exploring is well tuned to draw you in, even if other aspects of navigating the planetscape feel weak by comparison.
Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors — also known as 999 — grabbed attention for its brutal plot, devilish mysteries, and compelling characters when it hit the Nintendo DS in 2010. On March 17 the title is scheduled to make its iOS debut as 999: The Novel, and we’ve enlisted director/scenario writer Kotaro Uchikoshi to explain why you should care about the story’s unique cast.
As our iPhones have matured, so have our apps. What used to be a sea of simple utilities with very mobile mindsets has evolved into a rich landscape of powerful tools, which continue to amaze us with what can be accomplished on a 4-inch screen. Zippy is the sort of app that shows us just how far our devices have come. As a basic to-do manager, it does its job well enough for a recommendation, but developer Amit Wadhawan embraces the power and modernism of iOS 7 to pump a little pizzazz into the stale concept and put it over the top.
Some really great-looking games headline the week’s release slate. We already know Smash Hit is stellar — check out our review from earlier — but side-scrolling sci-fi adventure Mines of Mars is also intriguing, as are Wave Wave, Block Fortress: War, and the second episode of Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Season Two. Be sure to keep an eye out for full reviews of some of these titles in the coming days, and then check back next Thursday for an all-new list of notable games to consider.