Building a budding railroad empire is hard work. You have to take whatever jobs you can get, which means hauling everything from giant vats of maple syrup and pickles to arcade cabinets and ethanol to maximize your profits. Growing your snaking network of train routes – and fleet of trusty engines to traverse them with goods in tow – hits a delightfully upbeat stride in Pocket Trains, the adorable spiritual successor to Pocket Planes and Tiny Tower. Despite the similarly cutesy sheen of this new venture in the world of pixelated "bitizens," plenty of depth, fun, and accessibility are balanced throughout the clever design.
If you search for endless runners on the App Store, you’ll find a slew of games in all sorts of settings, using a variety of people or animals as subjects. Buddy & Me is another one of those games, but rather than emphasize challenge and dynamic action, what sets it apart from the pack are its gorgeous art, less intense gameplay, and charming, light-hearted feel. You play as a boy who dreams about running through the forest with a large, flying dog-like creature helping him.
It’s hard to say whether or not Boson X is truly inspired by the April discovery of the Higgs-Boson particle, which physicists believe explains why matter has mass. There’s theoretically some common ground. Whereas Higgs, which can supposedly explain the Big Bang, remained elusive to physicists for the past 50-plus years, Boson X is also about the discovery of new experimental subatomics, presumably for a greater understanding – or at least the self-serving satisfaction of winning. But the similarities between the so-called God particle and this ostensibly geeky behind-the-back runner unsurprisingly end there.
PDFpen Scan+ is similar to Readdle’s Scanner Pro, which allows an iOS device's camera to be used as a portable scanner. Snapped documents can be cropped (automatic or manual), enhanced, and saved as color, black-and-white, or grayscale PDF files, and then shared in a variety of ways. Smile has gone the extra mile by adding optical character recognition (OCR), which is an optional step after the file is saved. This task takes several minutes to perform, only to produce unformatted text that has to be copied and pasted into another app. We found the OCR results to be wildly inaccurate in most cases, however.
Apps designed using iOS 7's design language have a clear advantage. Those that we loved in iOS 6 are already starting to feel old and antiquated, and it won't be long before we start looking for more modern replacements. Perfect Weather, while not quite as perfect as it claims, is a worthy contender. With an animated, bright interface, it feels as much at home on iOS 7 as Apple’s own forecasting app, but Perfect Weather is not a Weather clone; if it borrows from any of Apple’s interfaces, it’s Passbook.
The App Store doesn’t allow premium upgrades to existing apps, so what’s a developer to do when it wishes to go above and beyond the usual tweaks and release a totally new version of an app? In the case of Screens, a screen sharing and VNC client for iOS, Edovia opted to launch a new standalone 3.0 app, which is a departure considering the previous significant upgrade had been free. In this case, it's luckily a very worthwhile investment for previous users, thanks to enhancements that can increase productivity, not to mention a sleek iOS 7 makeover.
Most guitar slingers tend to pick up the instrument and start emulating their favorite musicians, learning how to play by example and sheer brute effort. While this approach is valid, it tends to lead axe-wielders towards certain chord shapes, and limit the kind of music that emerges from the fingers doing the comfortable trip up and down the neck. Jamn is an innovative app that brings some much-needed musical theory to the fretboard, helping to figure out how chords connect with each other and thus lead the way to a more substantial range of musical possibilities.
Originality and weirdness often blend well in the indie sphere, spawning games that spark the imagination and sometimes spur you to scratch your head in equal measure. Incredipede is one such offering. Ferrying your ever-morphing creature through challenging obstacles and hilltops made of meat is indeed peculiar business in this unique puzzle platformer. Wonder occasionally mingles with frustration, however, given the trial-and-error nature of the game's more grueling stages.
Riding the success of Disney Infinity's huge console launch last month, the Toy Box app for iPad allows players to build and test their creations from inside Infinity's creation mode, and then transfer it all back to your console. It benefits from the intuitive nature of touch controls and portability that the tablet allows, but struggles with keeping a constant frame rate even when dealing with a low number of items in your world. That takes some of the shine off of the experience, especially when transitioning from a glossy home console game.
Hunting never felt so base and inhumane as in Deer Hunter 2014, the latest in a long line of titles that has evolved progressively far from its moniker and expanded now to include endangered animals. The core shooting and weapon upgrading experience is actually very well executed, albeit easy – assuming you can look past the ethical blunder is blasting near-extinct creatures – while its rapid-fire mission structure across three exotic locales makes for some compulsive gaming. However, there’s little by way of deer or realistic hunting on offer.