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.
CarPlay was one of the biggest stories of the week, so all the revving of tech engines weren't just for tracking down the supposed founder of Bitcoin. But did you hear any of the news over the sounds of engines? In case you missed it, we've got you covered in this week's wrap up.
Yes, yes, we've got games for you, but first things first. Let's get the business out of the way here first, okay. So we'll hook you up with a great email app and a super clear to-do app (hint, hint) and then we'll get out gaming fingers on. Business before pleasure, little app sale fans, business before pleasure.
Without question, LEGO Legends of Chima Online is geared towards younger gamers. It is, after all, based on a toy line and a CG-animated TV show on Cartoon Network. But don’t write it off just yet — this is a massively multiplayer online action-RPG in which a driving motivation is to collect loot. In many ways, Legends of Chima Online is like a simplified Diablo, and that’s why it can work for older gamers, too.
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.