The impending arrival of iCloud Keychain has thrown a spotlight onto apps used to store sensitive data, including our longtime favorite, 1Password. The folks behind lesser-known contender Passwarden have seized this opportunity to overhaul their own app, but they haven’t gone far enough quite yet. Like 1Password, Passwarden stores login, credit card, and other data with 256-bit AES encryption, with the option to sync it between OS X and iOS. Although the core functionality is largely the same, Passwarden’s freemium business model is a real kick in the teeth.
With a virtually endless number of camera apps available for enhancing photos or applying vintage effects, how can a newly released challenger hope to cut through the noise? Virtual cloning is a good place to start. WonderCam is the latest free app to offer real-time effects for photos and videos. In addition to traditional distortion, filter, and desaturation tricks, the app converts photos into comic book frames (complete with word balloons) or can even put a subject’s face into that of a historical figure or celebrity.
Flipping the script from Hutch Games' earlier Smash Cops entries, Smash Bandits spotlights the raucous fun of the getaway, tasking you with creating as much chaos as possible for the TV cameras while evading destruction via aggressive police cruisers. What begins with knocking over orange cones and slamming into cop cars soon turns into commanding a speedboat or briefly manning a tank as this free-to-play affair shows more of its open-city offering. And while the freemium design does limit the action a bit, it thankfully doesn't ruin the fun.
By the eighth entry across nine years, you usually know what to expect from a game franchise – and in the case of Gameloft's Asphalt, that typically meant solid but inconsistent production values, and decent arcade-style racing action that never quite matched the flashy console games it emulated. It was "pretty good – for a mobile racer," but Asphalt 8: Airborne finally sheds that qualifier, and essentially feels like a reboot in terms of quality. It's actually rather amazing, especially for a mere dollar.
The words "battle train" immediately bring to mind that cool scene from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, wherein Max and his hardscrabble crew are strapped into an armored doom-train, fighting off psycho marauder goons in post-apocalyptic hot-rods. While nowhere near as gritty and ultraviolent, Lionel Battle Train takes that core premise and spins it out into a fun, though sometimes also frustrating rail-bound combat adventure.
Mac gamers have waited nearly two years for Tropico 4 to make the leap to Apple hardware, but fortunately, Feral Interactive’s excellent port of the Gold Edition provides countless hours of micromanagement, world building, and tongue-in-cheek humor in a single, complete package. It's a title that should be in every Mac strategy fan's collection – that is, unless you already got your fill from the very similar Tropico 3: Gold Edition.
Assuming that the old adage about imitation being the sincerest form of flattery still holds up in the App Store era, the makers of Kingdom Rush should feel downright exalted by Pirate Legends TD. Copycats are nothing new in the iOS space, but while subtler "tributes" might try to disguise their inspirations, Pirate Legends TD makes no such effort. From the tower selection to the upgrade paths, placement approach, and UI design – plus the between-mission upgrades, map screen design, and use of heroes – this tower defense affair barely diverges from the uniquely fantastic concoction of elements brewed for Kingdom Rush and Kingdom Rush Frontiers.
In theory, an app-based social media platform for creating shareable stories — by stringing words, animated images, and audio together — sounds pretty cool. NARR8 aims to do all of this and more, but it fumbles the process so badly that the intriguing idea alone won't warrant your time. The overall quality of the available reading content through the app (both user- and developer-generated) is lacking, and building your own stories is an unintuitive process rife with unnecessary hoop-jumping and technical issues.
RunBot (out this Thursday) is a game about urgency and immediacy that tests how well you can multitask under pressure. Playing as a fugitive robot running away from his creators, you must dodge obstacles, lasers, and enemy drones, all while picking up batteries to ensure you don’t run out of power. It’s an endless runner that rewards you the more you play, and its easy controls and fast-paced gameplay luckily make it difficult to put down.
There are plenty of free iPad apps for entertaining toddlers, but few have much real educational value. This isn’t a problem for Learn with Homer, an app created by top literacy experts that overflows with well-crafted early learning content. Aimed at ages three to six, Learn with Homer makes reading fun and instructive. Upon launch, up to three different little ones can customize the app with a photo from the front-facing camera, which is then decorated with one of several virtual “thinking caps.” It’s a fun way to set the stage for what lies ahead.