Double Fine is a studio known (and beloved) for incredibly eccentric affairs, like Psychonauts, Costume Quest, and Stacking, but by contrast, Dropchord seems remarkably straightforward. It's an arcade-style high-score game released under the guise of a music game – which makes sense given its fantastic electronic dance soundtrack and visualizer-inspired look – but the beats and gameplay feel disconnected. So it's not a rhythm game; that's not a problem. However, the game approach itself never provides as strong of a hook as the presentation, feeling more like something to occupy you while you watch and listen rather than a central pull of the experience.
There are many solutions for storing photos and videos in the cloud, and Stream Nation is the latest to offer a range of affordable options. Users are initially given 2GB of free storage for photos (JPEG, TIFF, RAW, and others) or videos (MOV, AVI, MPEG, or even MKV), which can be uploaded from Mac or Windows applications or via the free, universal iOS app. It's a slick and secure app overall, though we encountered a handful of drawbacks during use.
Christmas came early late last year as Santa’s elves restored Google Maps to iOS as a third-party app. Seven months later, the mobile Maps has already hit version 2.0 with another stocking full of enhancements, including native support for the iPad. At first glance, Google Maps 2.0 looks identical to the previous version – iOS users were the first to receive this all-new user interface, which finally started arriving on Android devices over the summer. The moment you begin searching, however, changes abound.
Knowing more than one language not only gives you a better understanding of the world around you, but it can also open up new job opportunities, make travel easier, and help you improve your thinking skills. The creators of Duolingo seem to think so too, which is why they've created an app counterpart to the website – newly compatible with iPad alongside iPhone and iPod touch – that makes it incredibly easy to teach yourself a new language at any time.
From the Osama bin Laden compound raid to the rescue of hostages from Somali pirates, small military strike teams have grabbed more and more headlines in recent years. It's only fitting that video games, which so regularly imitate soldiers' actions via first-person shooters, would follow suit. Breach & Clear is a celebration of the slow, methodical, and tactical side of combat, with your squad of four soldiers tasked with taking out enemy combatants in a series of engagements. You set their paths and then let them loose, watching as your decisions pay off or get your men killed.
When it comes to Google Reader replacements, can there be only one? The folks behind Feedly seem to believe there’s room for everyone, and have engineered a cloud sync solution that extends its reach across rival apps and onto competing platforms. Feedly’s own free, universal app is a spectacularly polished effort capable of turning websites into beautiful, swipe-ready cards. If that’s not your cup of tea, content can also be viewed in title-only, list, or even Flipboard-style magazine views, making it one of the most customizable news readers we’ve ever used.
Depending on your feelings about the company's distinct brand of entertainment, Wake Up With Disney either takes a bit of the pain out of dragging yourself out of slumberland or ensures you’ll never want to sleep again. You’ll have to love Donald Duck and his propensity for tantrums to stand it for more than a few minutes, as he’s the one and only choice of companion in this playful interactive alarm clock. He’ll huff and he’ll puff, and he’ll either drive you insane or delight you with his wake-up-time antics.
To die-hard news junkies, word that Google Reader would be put down like a sick animal came as quite a shock. Developers instead saw this as an opportunity to fill that gaping hole with something fresh – a challenge the new owners of Digg quickly attacked with their own shovels. The result is Digg Reader. It's not a separate product, but rather a feature bolted onto the existing web service and now added to the free, universal iOS app. For existing Digg users, the app offers the best of both worlds: All the Top Stories they know and love, plus favorite RSS feeds rescued from Google Reader. Sadly, it's rather short on features and functionality for RSS power users.
With the incredible popularity of Minecraft, it’s not surprising to see other games expand upon its winning creation formula. Toca Builders is one such offering, but it uses the template for additional aims. This kid-oriented app from Toca Boca adds some interesting twists to the core concept of “building with blocks” and gives kids the chance to be creative while also employing problem-solving skills.
There's just something about weather apps. They all basically do the same thing, but no matter how many we download, we just can't resist the temptation of a new interface or novel concept. Foresee fits both of these criteria, so naturally we had to try it out. However, it's less a weather forecasting app than an outdoor planning one. It does display the current temperature and conditions in a city of your choosing, but instead of simply showing highs and lows for the next few days, it predicts how the weather will affect the various things you want to do.