Waldorf is a German synth company with a pedigree that dates back more than a couple of decades, and specializes in a branch of sound generation called "wavetable synthesis," which blends sampled sounds and synthesized filters together for slick sonic goodness. Its new iPad app, Nave, is a bold monster, with tons of deep programmability, and a thick, gorgeous sound that truly rivals hardware synths that cost more than the highest-capacity iPad.
You'd think it would be a simple task to make a great game based on the latest Superman film, what with all its high-flying action and superhero awesomeness. Sadly, Man of Steel is a bland, repetitive, and weak (though ultimately competent) Infinity Blade knock-off, minus the exploration. You'll fight one Kryptonian after another, going through a Story Mode of loosely-connected scenes based on events from the movie, all while leveling up your skills along the way and watching a handful of neat comic-style cut-scenes that hint at the presence of a plot.
Our kids may have been able to unlock our iPhones since before they could walk, but that doesn't mean they're actually gaining anything by using them. There are countless cartoon and character apps to keep them occupied, but sometimes we want them to learn and create while they're having fun. Montessorium's "Intro" apps have always struck a keen balance between education and entertainment, but its latest entry, Intro to Colors, might be the best to date. With a vivid, interactive interface inspired by the Montessori color tablets, Intro to Colors just might turn your child into the next Picasso.
The iOS games market generally isn’t defined by the kinds of action titles with pinpoint-precise controls that dominate consoles. That makes it all the more daring when a game on iPhone and iPad attempts to go in such a direction, and even more impressive when one does it well. Quadropus Rampage manages to leap that particular hurdle with relative ease, though the touch screen interface does keep the controls from feeling particularly on point.
When I was a kid, I got this magazine called Penny Power, which was put out by Consumer Reports with the goal of helping kids grow wise to the concepts of money (mostly spending it) in age-appropriate ways. It's no longer published, but I still remember some of the lessons it taught me, because it made those lessons fun. Dinorama appeals to me for the same reasons, now as a parent myself. It's filled with teachable moments about money, wrapped up in a tycoon-style game where kids build and run their own dinosaur park.
Fancy yourself a comic book fan? If you've always dreamed of weaving together your own comics and image-heavy stories, but don't have the motivation (or ideas) to pursue the real deal, Halftone 2 for iPad can scratch that itch and then some. With more flexibility and features than its predecessor, this greatly improved follow-up lets you create elaborate and hilarious comics from your camera roll almost effortlessly – if you're willing to drop some green on in-app purchases, that is.
One of the most amazing things about the App Store's offerings is the fact that you get so much punch for relatively few bucks; so when a drum app shows up that costs a whopping $49.99, it’s hard to think that it’s truly better than 10 existing $4.99 drum apps combined. While Different Drummer does indeed offer a unique take on the process of laying down a beat, it’s a bit rich at the current price, which is a pity – there's some real innovation to be found here. Different Drummer really lives up to its name: It’s a drummer, alright, but it’s radically different from any other iOS beat machine – or most plugins we’ve ever run into on the desktop.
Last fall's release of the HeroClix TabApp tried to bring together the worlds of physical and digital games, letting users place specialized figures from the HeroClix tabletop game series on an iPad screen and transport them into a game. Unfortunately, while it did a solid job of recognizing the figures, the game itself was an utter mess: Painfully repetitive, both ugly and filled with lag, and lacking the strategic spirit of the tabletop source material. The brand new HeroClix TabApp Elite forges a fresh path with distinct gameplay and much different figurine implementation, but while it's thankfully a much smoother experience, the game itself still isn't strong enough to warrant the investment.
Not so long ago, armchair astronomy used to involve lugging along stacks of charts and flashlights if you wanted to know the name of a star (aside from notables like Polaris and Betelgeuse). The advent of astronomy apps for iOS devices changed all that for the better, but until now, the best ones have emphasized utility over beauty. That all changes with Sky Guide, which achieves a remarkable balance of both.
Google+ is a hit-or-miss proposition for many socially connected folks, so the company’s first Hangouts attempt — originally part of the Google+ app — passed by largely unnoticed. Now available as a standalone app, Hangouts appears hell-bent on reinventing the messaging wheel, but winds up leaving too many spokes off to make this a smooth ride.