There was a time when Batman games were about as fun as a root canal. Thankfully, Rocksteady changed all of that with Batman: Arkham Asylum; but since the bar has been officially raised in the past few years, we have higher expectations from any game approaching the franchise. The Dark Knight Rises competently recreates a console-like experience on iOS with a pitch-perfect story played through an open-world Gotham City – but it's also plagued with bugs.
While it might not be as powerful as its name suggests, Layout brings a fresh style of design to the iPad, with a clean interface, brilliant menu approach, and robust color palette that rivals the most powerful desktop publishing software. With Layout, you can create neat, modular collages with up to 16 pictures and captions, customized borders, and in-app photo enhancing.
William Shakespeare's Sonnets is a collection of 154 poems that deal with love and beauty, and this new app from Touch Press is an extremely original way to experience them all. The company is rather adept at making very clever reference works for the iPad, like the excellent The Elements and Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomy, and The Sonnets by William Shakespeare continues in that tradition.
As with App Store classic Tiny Wings, Knights of the Round Cable utilizes a simple tap-and-hold approach to chase high scores and complete objectives; and despite the breezy setup, the gem-collecting affair proves to be a demanding and engaging experience.
There's a fine line between form and function. Every developer who puts a premium on design inevitably faces tough choices along the way, sacrificing features and usability for the sake of retaining their vision. Like its name suggests, WTHR is a minimalist reinterpretation of Apple's Weather app, offering the current temperature and conditions alongside a 7-day forecast. As a Dieter Rams-inspired design project, it hits on many of his 10 principles, with a pure, clean aesthetic that practically begs you to touch it.
Angry Birds developer Rovio really knocked it out the park with its first run of physics-heavy bombardment games, which (as we all know) starred agitated avian getting hurled through the air to annihilate grunting swine in haphazard fortifications. By contrast, Amazing Alex HD isn't the most original or fresh follow-up -- it's essentially an updated and re-skinned version of Casey's Contraptions, a game the studio acquired and then removed from the App Store. But the revamped, physics-heavy, puzzle-solving gameplay still offers an entertaining way to bend your brain nonetheless.
Gabi reimagines Facebook with a gorgeous design and custom filters, but it ultimately lacks nuance in highlighting the content people want to see. It replaces the usual Facebook feed with a selection of over 100 questions -- such as "Which of my friends' statuses are most liked?" -- that are answered in ranked lists from which you can do the usual Facebook interactions, with an option to limit results to today, this week, or anytime. This unofficial option is a joy to navigate and explore, but is it a suitable replacement for the proper Facebook app?
The Game Bakers cooked up a tasty, well-plated iOS debut with its original twist on critter-flinging combat, and Squids: Wild West sees the gang of adorably stretchy cephalopod protagonists return for another round of crazy gun slinging and squid hurling fun. Deep sea vistas blend with the dusty west in each beautifully designed battlefield, making for a peculiar mix that works so well largely due to the high level of polish and personality woven throughout the presentation. The fact that Squids: Wild West is a real looker is bolstered by accessible gameplay that belies its strategic depth.
Remember the scene in John Carpenter's sci-fi classic, They Live, where the hero dons a pair of special sunglasses and finally sees how the world around him really is? Using Google's awesome new iOS version of its Chrome browser offers a similar type of reality check, shining an ugly spotlight on how Apple holds back third-party browsers on the platform. If you've used Chrome on the Mac, you pretty much know what to expect from the iOS app: Fast omnibox search or URL entry, unlimited tabs, Incognito mode for private browsing, and the ability to sync open tabs, bookmarks, and passwords to a Google account in the cloud.
Turn-based strategy games might seem like a somewhat complex genre for iOS’ pick-up-and-play market, but Outwitters seems primed to sell players on the approach with ease. Essentially, it’s an asynchronous online (or local pass-the-device) multiplayer board game utilizing hexagonal grid maps and a colorful, quirky art style, with the goal of maneuvering your team of odd creatures -- ranging from salty sea critters to sugary rainbow-pop cuddlies -- to destroy the enemy’s base on the opposite side of the board.