Yahoo! isn't exactly the first name in search engines these days, but with Axis, the Web giant has returned to its roots in a big way. If Steve Jobs put the Internet in our hands with the iPad, the App Store's first "search browser" puts websites at our fingertips with a sleek, intuitive interface that turns browsing on its head.
Word Off is like a sleazy used car salesman shilling a fine product. The underlying game may be sharp, tense, and original, but it's mired in a scuzzy business model. At its core, Word Off presents a smart mix between a word game and a strategy title. You play on a board comprised of hexagonal tiles, each containing a letter, and begin with a cluster of occupied spaces in one corner while your opponent starts with the same in the opposite corner.
LostWinds 2: Winter of the Melodias sounds like it could be a Pixar film: using the power of the wind, a boy goes on a quest to find his missing mother in a faraway land. Exploration and puzzle-solving make innovative use of that wind, letting you move a finger across the touchscreen to “draw” the path of a gust, which the young protagonist Toku can use to jump, move objects, or otherwise interact with his environment, to name a few abilities.
If you've ever enjoyed scrawling sequential stick figure doodles in the corner pages of a school notebook and then flipping through it quickly to make the little fellows spring to life, then FlipBook HD may scratch a familiar itch. This drawing and animation app packs a few neat features for crafting clever movie shorts, but an unintuitive interface, stability issues, and a meager selection of drawing tools ultimately make old-school pen and paper a more inviting option.
Adobe Proto is aimed at designers who want to rough out a sketch of their website or mobile app on the go before heading into Dreamweaver or other desktop tools. The resulting wireframe prototypes can be synced to Creative Cloud, either with a free 2GB account or as part of the 20GB included with the $49.99 per month service. The iPad-only app liberates designers from having to sit at a computer all day.
Given the popularity the Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure console game -- which uses toys with built-in RFID chips to interact with the digital characters -- it's disappointing that the series' iOS debut is a simple gallery-style shooter, paired with the kind of persistent challenge progression done best in the excellent Jetpack Joyride.
Offering only nine pre-set filters, no digital zoom, and two flash options (fully on or off), KLIK by Face.com is by no means a great camera. But what this social media camera app does offer is facial recognition software that learns and grows smarter with every use. And while it lacks fancy editing options, it does the job it sets out to do with remarkable skill.
Polymer's about as basic a puzzler as they come, requiring players to slide tiles into place to assemble large, amorphous shapes. The larger the shape, the more points are rewarded. Simple, right? But there's a catch: entire columns need to be shifted around, making a game of Polymer more like futzing with a Rubik’s Cube than simply swapping tiles.
It's a bit of a lost art, the collage. We have Facebook walls and Pinterest boards, but in the digital age, there aren't too many platforms that replicate the timeless practice of snipping words and photos and sticking them to a poster. With Collage, Adobe attempts to digitize the process for the iPad, but doesn't quite conjure the nostalgia I was hoping for.
The lengthy wait between installments could be taken as a sign of Sega's effort to make Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode II a better game than its underperforming predecessor. In some ways, that's true. Improved physics, crisply-detailed environments, and a handful of interesting new gameplay tweaks give this second jaunt better staying power, but with speed and precision being crucial ingredients for a successful Sonic outing, Episode II's frustrating touch controls just don't keep up.