As iOS apps become ever more sophisticated and feature-laden, it’s nice to see some creative developers opting for a more barebones, streamlined approach to app development. Loop is a notable example of a program lacking a long list of features, instead delivering a tool that serves as a solid introduction to the mechanics of cel animation. But as refreshing as that focus on simplicity may be, it also keeps the app from being particularly useful.
The impending arrival of iCloud Keychain has thrown a spotlight onto apps used to store sensitive data, including our longtime favorite, 1Password. The folks behind lesser-known contender Passwarden have seized this opportunity to overhaul their own app, but they haven’t gone far enough quite yet. Like 1Password, Passwarden stores login, credit card, and other data with 256-bit AES encryption, with the option to sync it between OS X and iOS. Although the core functionality is largely the same, Passwarden’s freemium business model is a real kick in the teeth.
The words "battle train" immediately bring to mind that cool scene from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, wherein Max and his hardscrabble crew are strapped into an armored doom-train, fighting off psycho marauder goons in post-apocalyptic hot-rods. While nowhere near as gritty and ultraviolent, Lionel Battle Train takes that core premise and spins it out into a fun, though sometimes also frustrating rail-bound combat adventure.
There are plenty of free iPad apps for entertaining toddlers, but few have much real educational value. This isn’t a problem for Learn with Homer, an app created by top literacy experts that overflows with well-crafted early learning content. Aimed at ages three to six, Learn with Homer makes reading fun and instructive. Upon launch, up to three different little ones can customize the app with a photo from the front-facing camera, which is then decorated with one of several virtual “thinking caps.” It’s a fun way to set the stage for what lies ahead.
While Android tablet makers continue to serve up a dizzying array of new models compared to Apple's relatively simple iPad lineup, the manufacturers remain helpless to offer the one thing users really want: More top apps.
Online photo service Shutterfly has always been a great place to order prints or create photo gifts, but the company is gradually moving to mobile devices, including a new iPad app for creating photo books.
Just as Disney has long made drawings come to life with its many classic animated films, the Disney Animated app makes what could have been a solid, static book feel exuberant and entertaining as an interactive experience, full of behind-the-scenes footage and touch-based activities. The iPad app explores the long history of Disney's in-house animation efforts, breaking down the process step by step while explaining its many aspects using more than just words.
If you were a fan of the iOS app Matcha.tv, which quietly shut down in May, take heart: It appears the second-screen service has been absorbed by Apple, presumably as part of Cupertino's bigger television ambitions.
For many years, the venerable line of Akai sampling drum machines has enjoyed nothing less than cult status in certain musical production and engineering circles — hip-hop owes a lot to these devices — and legions of musicians have looked forward to iMPC on iOS, which is available in separate iPad and iPhone releases. While it comes with loads of sounds, we found some major omissions that severely limit the overall usefulness of this drummer, especially compared to other iOS alternatives.