MindSnacks has a reputation for quality foreign-language educational apps, but its latest release focuses squarely on the United States – or more specifically, learning just about everything there is to know about all 50 states. U.S. Geography includes eight games tailored for beginner or intermediate students, but it’s also perfect for immigrants, visitors, and citizens alike who want to brush up on their coast-to-coast knowledge. All told, MindSnacks delivers over 40 hours of interactive content, more than 600 hand-drawn graphics, and 1,000-plus trivia questions to keep players on their toes.
Happy Windows 8.1 Day! Oh, you weren't aware that today was the day? Well, it certainly is, as Microsoft began dishing out the update as of 7 AM EST Thursday. But there's oh so much more happening in the tech world, so kick back and soak it all in with today's recap -- even if you happen to be reading it from your swanky new Windows 8.1 update.
Designers and Photoshop pros from an earlier generation will remember the venerable Kai’s Power Tool Photoshop plugins, and even though they’ve been M.I.A. for years, one of the wackiest of those plugs – the Fractal Explorer – has been reincarnated as Frax, a seriously cool graphics toy and perhaps the single most impressive bit of graphics code we’ve yet seen on iOS. Available in separate iPad and iPhone versions (iPad reviewed), Frax is a full-screen, interactive fractal playground, with a very fluid, straightforward interface and a decent amount of customization possibilities for generating a wide variety of truly attractive fractal graphics.
Riding the success of Disney Infinity's huge console launch last month, the Toy Box app for iPad allows players to build and test their creations from inside Infinity's creation mode, and then transfer it all back to your console. It benefits from the intuitive nature of touch controls and portability that the tablet allows, but struggles with keeping a constant frame rate even when dealing with a low number of items in your world. That takes some of the shine off of the experience, especially when transitioning from a glossy home console game.
Whether you’ve preordered a 5C or just plan on updating a scratched and dented 4S, iOS 7 will make your iPhone feel like a million bucks. Due to various UI tweaks, you'll likely find yourself swapping out your wallpaper a lot more often than you did in iOS 6. This is why we love Blur, which lets you create subtle backgrounds with incredible ease that fit spectacularly well with the iOS 7 aesthetic.
Until Apple opens up the iOS file system — and don't hold your breath waiting for that — we'll likely continue to be reliant on cloud services to transport our files to and from our Macs. There's no shortage of ways to do this, but keeping track of everything can be daunting, especially if we can't remember where (or if) we uploaded a file. Doo attempts to solve this problem with a master cloud service that brings all of our files under one roof. On our Macs, it definitely simplified things, but it was missing a mobile component to make it truly useful. Doo for iOS opens the service up to our iPhones and iPads, but unfortunately, it isn't the stellar complement we hoped it would be.
As former users of the Commodore Amiga, we fondly recall the quaint simplicity of graphics editors like Deluxe Paint. Those looking to revisit that bygone era will have plenty of fun with Pixaki, assuming they have the chops to actually paint with pixels in the first place. Pixaki is a touch-powered painting app for the iPad, but unlike modern tools such as Adobe Photoshop Touch, developer Luke Rogers has created a playground for retro artists to embrace those chunky pixels from the glory days of personal computing.
There are tons of faux guitar apps on iPad, and frankly, most of them aren’t worth the pixels they occupy on your screen, especially if you happen to own and play the real thing. While it’s still not what we'd call the Holy Grail, Pearl Guitar shows some real promise, especially for anyone who has been completely underwhelmed by previous offerings. Pearl Guitar is based on samples recorded from a 1979 Martin acoustic dreadnought guitar, and includes many subtle touches, like the sound of the guitar's wood being knocked if you move the iPad, or the string buzzing sound that happens when you move your fingers around a real fretboard.
There are more than 150 million iPads in use around the globe, but accessing Mac or Windows desktop applications from them can be an exercise in frustration. The folks behind Parallels Desktop have come up with an ingenious solution to this situation, but only for those who can afford the rather daunting per-computer subscription fee. Together with a Mac or Windows-based agent, Parallels Access “applifies” desktop applications to make them iPad-friendly, complete with audio.