9 Elefants offers a reasonably stylish and cartoonish take on Paris, draped over a game that thinks it’s a cousin to Nintendo’s Professor Layton series — but has bafflingly omitted panache, imagination, and fun. The plot involves meandering about unlocked locations, having drawn-out conversations with irritating characters who seem to be in on a massive practical joke. Your father, a professor, has vanished; but rather than help you, Paris’s inhabitants instead demand you solve puzzles, in return for them drip-feeding vital information.
Despite a plethora of fun and colorful interactive elements and engaging animations, Incredible Numbers isn't a dumbed-down app for the digital generation. Rather, Professor Ian Stewart uses the iPad's boundless teaching tools to take the mystery out of some of mathematics' most difficult concepts, including factorials, Fibonacci numbers, and heptadecagons. An attractive menu of eight circles—plus a bonus section dedicated to brainteasers—guides you to your chosen lesson, but the simple one-word headings hardly prepare you for the wealth of information inside.
Arithmetic has never been so strangely fun as in Calculords, a collectible card game from developer Ninja Crime and comedy writer Seanbaby that puts math calculations at its very core. It has a bit of a learning curve, and its NES-inspired retro art style may prove divisive, but there’s a lot to like once you get over that initial hump. Computer-controlled opponents give as good as — or even better than — they get, complete with snappy taunts and humorous sci-fi-referencing one-liners, and you can easily find yourself locked in battles for hours without noticing how much time has passed.
One of the challenges facing educational game developers is how to strike a balance between lessons and fun. Too much teaching, and the game ceases to keep a child’s attention; too little, and it becomes just another game. That’s one of the reasons Slice Fractions is so great: it has mastered teaching kids about fractional math without having overt lessons to do so. Slice Fractions tasks players with clearing a path for a woolly mammoth to get from one side of the screen to another.
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.
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.
The Mac|Life 101 series is where you can come to learn new and simple ways to do things with Apple’s desktop and mobile operating systems. Whether you’re new to the platform, or just want to learn a new technique, then MacLife 101 is for you.
Spotlight is not only a great way to search for files in the abyss on your hard drive, but it’s also a great tool for productivity. There’s several hidden features that make Spotlight a power house for getting things done on your Mac. From being a calculator, to letting you launch apps, we’ll show you all of the tricks that make Spotlight so powerful.
Every Monday, we'll show you how to do something new and simple with Apple's built-in command line application. You don't need any fancy software, or a knowledge of coding to do any of these. All you need is a keyboard to type 'em out!
This week’s Terminal 101 tip will help you solve both simple and complex equations through the command line without having to launch a dedicated application. With the Terminal and bc (a command line-based basic calculator), you’ll be able to perform quick calculations in long string formats, and even set variables and refer to them throughout the equation.