It sure is something to realize how much power is in your iPad, especially if you’re a musician pining for classic analog synthesizers — heavy, expensive, temperamental instruments that are increasingly hard to find, and even harder to maintain. Arturia, creator of the Minimoog simulation app, iMini, has done it again, delivering an exquisite simulation of the venerable Oberheim SEM (Synthesizer Expander Module), that company’s very first synth. In many ways, iSEM is an improvement upon the hardware it models, starting with the fact that it’s polyphonic.
Using Photoshop to retouch the human face and body is a process that requires learning about the inner workings of channels, layers, masking, and many subtle techniques to get truly professional results. However, for iOS users, there’s a better solution for these particular tasks in the form of Facetune, a deceptively simple gem designed for fashion and beauty work that is capable of delivering some minor miracles with the utmost of ease.
Apps like Mailbox and Dispatch do a fantastic job of keeping our messages moving, but there's still a danger that we could forget an important email that's been tucked out of view. Skimbox addresses such concerns with a smarter approach to email filtering. It breaks your inbox into two parts: Mainbox, reserved for important messages, and Skimbox, which contains the rest of the emails sitting in your inbox. A fairly intelligent algorithm automatically sorts messages it deems important, learning from what you read and who you reply to.
CSR Racing was an unconventional entry for the racing genre, seeing as it included very little actual racing. Instead of steering around obstacles, you were tasked with dragging down a straight stretch of road, with timed control prompts like gearshifts used to influence your performance. Still, it became a massive free-to-play hit, spawning numerous copycats along the way. Follow-up CSR Classics offers much of the same tone as the original affair, though with the added element of classic hotrods to appeal to the gear head in us all.
Created by one of the designers of the mesmerizing and atmospheric Limbo, the pint-sized 140 strikes a much different image. Gone are the gloomy, shadow-centric backdrops and the eerie happenings, replaced by vivid pixel graphics and thumping electronic beats, which sync up well with the rhythmic obstacles and platform movements in the world of this ultra-minimalist side-scroller. Yet despite the many differences, 140 is very much cut from the same cloth as its pseudo-predecessor, as both drop you into an alluring world without a trace of explanation, yet impart their rules and mechanics with ease. And neither lingers for longer than is needed.
Fist of Awesome is a game with time-traveling bears, a talking fist, and bears being uppercut by said fist. Suffice it to say, it's all a bit absurd; when your character is told not to think too much about what's going on in the story, it's advice that you would be wise to follow yourself. Underneath all of the silliness and some less-than-enjoyable attempts at humor, though, is a surprisingly fun action game when played in short bursts.
In Device 6, a new spy-themed interactive fiction game from Simogo (Year Walk, Beat Sneak Bandit), text is used with verve and clarity, as sharp prose maps out protagonist Anna’s journey around a mysterious island. It’s not just that Device 6 is text-based – it’s that the text dances around the iPhone or iPad screen. As Anna turns down a hallway, the words also bank at a hard right angle; when she climbs a spiral staircase, her story and your device screen spin with her.
Square Cash is a deceptively simple new way for consumers to send money using only email and a debit card. Unlike competing payment services, there’s no password to remember, no fees at either end or an account to set up, although you can use an existing Square login should you have one. Here’s how it works: Open the app, enter a dollar amount on the keypad, tap "Attach to Email," and enter the recipient’s email address. After you hit send, the app’s job is complete – Square replies via email, requesting your debit card number, expiration date, and zip code.
Me vs. You captures much of the competitiveness and fun of air hockey in an abstract, single-screen two-player game, though you should be wary of who you play it with. It’s actually three games in one, each with a distinct set of rules and interactions that could make or break a relationship, and all unified by an elegant minimalist aesthetic and a beautiful soundtrack. With both tactical and physical components to all three games, it's definitely one for competitive types.
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.