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iOS 8 has arrived, and these apps are ready

iOS 8 iPhones

Now that iOS 8 release day is here, developers are releasing updated versions of their apps that take advantage of its new features. I’ve collected several here for you to explore, and I’ll be adding more throughout the day. Is there one that I missed? Speak up in the comments. Now, let’s get started.

Finish (our full review here) now features a Notification Center widget, which lets you see your next three tasks right from Notification Center, as well as new interactive notifications. Each notification center is now accompanied by Finish button and a Stall button. Do you have to put something off? Simply hit Stall.

Apple’s own Find My iPhone has been updated to version 3.0 with “support for iOS 8 and Family Sharing.”

Quotebook, the easy way to capture, store and share memorable quotes, has been updated to version 3.0.2 and is ready for the spacious iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Hootsuite, the social media manager has released an iOS 8-ready version that takes advantage of the share extension. Now you can schedule content to your social serves right from your iPhone with Hootsuite.

Lockscreen Wallpaper Designer (US$1.99), which we’ve reviewed in full, has been updated to version 1.1. It takes advantage of the app extension. Now you can create a wallpaper for that snazzy iPhone 6 (or earlier model) from the camera roll, an email message, a text message or any other supported app. Neat! Version 1.1 is a free update for existing users.

Hours is another time-tracking app, and the latest update lets you start and stop timers from the new Notification Center widget. Move between timers faster than ever. And of course, it’s optimized for the iPhone 6’s and iPhone 6 Plus’s larger screens. Update — Developer Jeremy Olson at Tapity says that “we had to remove Hours from the store just now because we are getting reports from users who upgraded that their old timers are hidden … fortunately there is no data loss. We are scrambling to submit a fix ASAP.”

My beloved 1Password has been updated to version 5. It’s now free with an in-app purchase (note that all Pro features are a free upgrade to all existing version 4 owners), and iOS 8-only. It also supports Touch ID and direct Safari integration. YAAAY!

UpWords Notepad is another inclusive task manager. It integrates your calendar, to-dos, contacts and so much more. It’s very nice looking and manages to get a lot of information into a tidy interface. With today’s update you can view your to-dos and calendar events together in the Today view. You can even reschedule tasks, right then and there.








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Foxconn already struggling to keep up with overwhelming iPhone demand

Apple

The new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are monsters. They’re both far bigger than any previously released iPhone and the 6 Plus model in particular is gargantuan. They’re also both monsters in the sense that demand for them is already off the charts. Earlier this week Apple announced that pre-orders for its two new iPhone models topped 4 million units in just 24 hours, setting a new pre-order record in the process.

But as with many iPhone releases, it appears that Apple may have a tough time getting supply to keep up with overwhelming demand.

A report published today in the Wall Street Journal relays that Foxconn is struggling to increase production in the face of what may very well be Apple’s most successful iPhone launch to date. Part of the problem, the Journal writes, is that Foxconn this year has greater manufacturing duties than it did last year when Pegatron helped handle iPhone 5c production duties.

The Taiwan-based manufacturer, which has more than one million workers in China, is operating about 100 production lines around the clock in Zhengzhou. The challenge is to manufacture two complicated new iPhones on a large scale at the same time because Foxconn is the sole assembler of the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus. It also makes the majority of the iPhone 6 that comes with a 4.7-inch display, the people said.

“We have been churning out 140,000 iPhone 6 Plus and 400,000 iPhone 6 every day, the highest daily output ever, but the volume is still not enough to meet the preorders,” said a person familiar with the matter.

If history is any indication, Apple will eventually get a hand on supply issues, but we can only hope that it’s sooner rather than later. Recall that it took Apple more than two months to finally get all color/capacity/carrier combinations of the iPhone 5s in plentiful supply across all of its retail stores.








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Little World Escape Review

Little World Escape Review

Little World Escape draws players in with captivating concepts before pushing them away with antagonizing execution.

It’s awesome how the relatively democratic nature of the App Store introduces players to new games and creators they may have never encountered. However, it can also lead to promising ideas getting out there a little before their time. While it pulls players in with captivating concepts, Little World Escape ultimately pushes them away with antagonizing, undercooked execution.

little world escape (3)In Little World Escape players help guide an astronaut hopping from planet to planet. With its focus on high scores and tiny colorful planetoids, the space exploration experience is much more Super Mario Galaxy than Eve: Online. Players can run left or right on the rotating spheres and jump once the rocket icon appears. However, soon devilish little aliens emerge from the surface and chase players around the rocks, so waiting to jump is a luxury spacefarers can never afford. By reaching further edges of the cosmos and collecting more stars along the way, players unlock achievements and new planets of different shapes and sizes for future runs.

Unfortunately a combination of poor design decisions turns Little World Escape from the pleasant planet-hopping adventure it could have been to a stressful exercise the rivals Flappy Bird‘s difficulty. First off, successful jumps require immaculate precision. Players briefly stop before leaping and their trajectory is always completely straight, but the planets they’re standing on never stop spinning. So players must then make the right adjustments, because veering even slightly off course leads to death. There’s barely any helpful gravitational force to pull them to safety.

little world escape (4)On its own, that wouldn’t be so bad. In fact, it probably would have added some needed depth. However, while that mechanic calls for more methodical play, the frantic alien pursuers completely contradict it with hurried chaos. Since players can’t outrun these faster foes, they are pressured to jump as soon as possible to survive – often anxiously waiting for rocket icons that inexplicably show up late. And of course, because jumps must be perfectly timed and aligned, the resultant forced, split-second decision-making creates constant frustrating mistakes. It’s hard to stay motivated and want to improve when so many fundamental parts of the game feel like they are actively conspiring against you.

Little World Escape‘s saving grace is that its core idea is salvageable. It could probably be fixed by just changing a few values and loosening a few time window constraints. But right now, unlike gravity, players won’t be drawn to it.

Posted in: Games, iPad Apps and Games, iPad Games, iPhone Apps and Games, Reviews

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Review disclosure: note that the product reviewed on this page may have been provided to us by the developer for the purposes of this review. Note that if the developer provides the product or not, this does not impact the review or score.

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PSA: iOS 8 is going to make your iPhone 4s a good bit slower

iphone

When iOS 7 launched, those with an iPhone 4s took issue with the slower application launches and hampered battery life, and at least one of those issues is going to get even worse with an upgrade to iOS 8. Ars Technica put the stopwatch to an iPhone 4s running the gold master of iOS 8 (the version you’ll be able to download today), and the numbers aren’t pretty.

ars

Almost everything tested is significantly slower with the new update, but the Calendar, Mail, and Safari apps are hit the hardest. The iPhone 4s also won’t be getting the benefits of the Metal API — the new graphics framework designed to enhance iOS game performance — which is going to be a bummer for anyone who uses their phone for gaming.

This kind of thing isn’t new, and with every new release of iOS 8 the oldest supported device regularly experiences some performance issues. The iPhone 4s is three years old at this point, and while iOS 8 is still a good upgrade for the aging phone (it adds both third party keyboard support and widgets, after all), the price you pay for sticking with old hardware will always be dwindling performance.

[Chart via Ars Technica]








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Light in the Dark Review

Light in the Dark Review

Light in the Dark is an interesting and challenging puzzle game with some amusing bits of background humor thrown in to boot.

Anyone that blacks out and wakes up to a voice booming “STEP INTO THE LIGHT” has reason to be nervous. However, if they’re told to “step into the light” while being directed to a download of Dreamgate Studios’ Light in the Dark, they should do it. It’s a neat game.

Light in the Dark is puzzle game that revolves around light, shadows, and the color spectrum. It features two weird light-beings that have lost their babies (best to try not to think about how they made those babies in the first place). The kids have wandered into dark corners to fall asleep, so in order to find them their parents need to cast their light in those grim, dank tombs.

lightinthedark_05Each parent gives off a hearty glow that extends for an impressive radius. All that’s required to wake a baby up is to bathe it in their parents’ warming  light. It’s not quite as easy as it sounds, though. Each level of Light in the Dark is peppered with walls, boxes, and other items that want nothing more than to cast the blackest umbra possible. In later levels, there are also monsters that get cranky (and stabby) if the light’s on them for too long. Fortunately, boxes can be moved around, and so can the parent sprites. Though movement is sometimes hindered by objects and pits, there’s always a way to shine on.

When the baby (or babies) is exposed to the light for several seconds, the level ends successfully. However, mastering Light in the Dark requires grabbing all three stars in each level. Doing so usually requires color mixing, which is where the game gets tricky. The parents cast different colors; mixing their lights creates a whole different hue. Each star – and each baby, for that matter – needs to be bathed in a select color before it’s collected. Positioning the parents, crates, mirrors, etc, just right takes a good deal of foresight, practice, and patience.

But Light in the Dark‘s uniqueness makes it an interesting title worth returning to. For players that get truly stuck, there’s a hint system in place. Unsurprisingly, hints cost money once the initial three freebies are gone, but free hints are available after watching a brief advertisement.

lightinthedark_02It’s an interesting middle-of-the-road solution, really. Locking up hints behind a paywall feels draconian (especially since Light in the Dark isn’t free to begin with), but having easy access to unlimited hints makes it too tempting to give up at the first sign of trouble and sneak a peek. Having to endure an ad to see a hint kind of rots, but at the same time, it makes players think twice about cheating.

Either way, Light in the Dark should keep hardcore puzzle fans interested for a long time (for added fun, make sure to keep an eye out for cute background jokes, like a carton of E.T. cartridges buried deep in one of the tombs). It’s not an easy game, but neither will it darken the player’s mood. Get it?

Posted in: Games, iPad Apps and Games, iPad Games, iPhone Apps and Games, Reviews

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Review disclosure: note that the product reviewed on this page may have been provided to us by the developer for the purposes of this review. Note that if the developer provides the product or not, this does not impact the review or score.

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ShareFile for iPad is iOS 8-Ready with New File-Editi​ng Feature

Citrix’s ShareFile for iPad has been redesigned to support iOS 8. The a file-sharing app now has a new user interface that uses patent-pending contextual menus to navigate through the app faster and easier.

ShareFile also has the new File-Editi​ng feature that allows users to create and edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents from within the app, share and sync multiple files at once, and send files from different email apps on your iPad. It basically wants to be a one-stop-shop for all your document managing needs.

Check out ShareFile for iPad for free on the App Store today.

sharefile


Review disclosure: note that the product reviewed on this page may have been provided to us by the developer for the purposes of this review. Note that if the developer provides the product or not, this does not impact the review or score.

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YouTube Find: Apple’s new ‘Minimal to the Max’ packaging for the iPhone 6

iphone 6 box

The folks at T3 received an iPhone 6 review unit ahead of Friday’s big launch and couldn’t help themselves — they had to post an unboxing video on YouTube. Yes, it is 2014 and yes, unboxings are so 2010, but … it IS the iPhone 6 and Apple has pretty new packaging for us to behold. Check out the unboxing below and let us know what you think of Apple’s presentation of the iPhone 6.

When you are done and want more than just covers and inserts, check out Engadget’s review of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which is embedded below for your viewing convenience.

T3 unboxing of the iPhone 6:

Engadget review of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus:

Review: iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus






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Pizo Animals

Pizo Animals

Pizo Animals is a puzzle app that includes many options adults can choose to customize the experience.

Recently I came across some puzzles that are now too young for my six year old son – jigsaws that fit into wooden-backed frames instead of being boxed like the larger puzzles he now enjoys. Much to my chagrin, I realized that many of these puzzles were missing a piece or two, making them unacceptable for charity donations. I still remember the frustration of trying to keep all of these puzzle pieces together that even when completed did not sit well enough in their frames to keep these puzzles intact. Because of this, during his time at preschool we began to work on a lot of puzzles for the iPad and iPhone where the loss of pieces was no longer a concern, allowing them to be enjoyed while laying in bed or on the go. Even better was that, typically, different levels of difficulty were included within these puzzle apps that would grow with my son.

43Because of this I am always happy to test new puzzle applications, and I am eager to let parents know of a new puzzle app, Pizo Animals. It’s a bright and colorful universal app that allows children to work on animal puzzles with the drag and drop of a finger. Options may be set at four or eight pieces as well as the choice to include outlines showing where each puzzle piece needs to be filled in – be it pieces complete with animal textures and landmarks that may help complete these puzzles or the choice to include simple colorful puzzle pieces instead, asking children to focus on the fitting of these jigsaw shapes to complete the scene.

The relative simplicity of these puzzles – be it with four or eight pieces – makes this app a nice choice for toddlers and those in preschool. Although my six year old now enjoys larger puzzles, he does spend time with Pizo Animals set on Difficult. Here, these animals are presented without a template of any sort, with just their eyes seen on the screen. Children complete these animals by choosing pieces that include eye holes and then working their way around from there. Likewise with the Easy and Medium settings one can ask for help in which the firefly will demonstrate the correct position of a puzzle piece – help children will appreciate when feeling stuck.

1.12Pizo Animals includes a lot of polish. The palette of colors is lush and includes a nice degree of texture that one can see within the landscape with rolling distant hills and ombre-colored grass and sky, complete with gently moving clouds and a sun that includes faint watercolor-like shading and a thoughtful sense of motion all its own. A few interactive moments are included as well. The sun can be tapped in order to shine brightly for a moment, complete with chiming musical sounds. Likewise, clouds can be tapped to create gentle rain as well as a rainbow – a nice touch. A firefly can also be seen, and a tap will include many interesting spoken facts about each animal, which I appreciate.

It would be nice, however, if the volume levels for these facts did not diminish during the rainy sounds as this information can sound muffled and hard to hear. I do enjoy that when an animal is completed, its associated word is then spelled on the screen as a nice introduction to letter recognition and spelling as well as including another narrated fun fact. Another thing I like seeing within Pizo Animals is for the small ad for one of their other apps hidden within a Parents section of this app – a minor note, really, within a very nice puzzle app that children and their parents will enjoy.

Posted in: Animals, By Age Range, By App Feature, Education, iPad Apps and Games, iPad Education, iPhone Apps and Games, Just For Fun, Parents and Kids, Preschool, Puzzle, Reviews, Toddlers

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Review disclosure: note that the product reviewed on this page may have been provided to us by the developer for the purposes of this review. Note that if the developer provides the product or not, this does not impact the review or score.

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iPhone 6 and 6 Plus review roundup

APTOPIX Apple Event

It’s certainly a busy week for Apple;iOS 8 drops today and later in the week Apple will officially launch two brand new iPhone models — the iPhone 6 and the gargantuan iPhone 6 Plus.

With launch day just a few days away, media outlets on Tuesday evening began publishing their reviews of Apple’s next-gen iPhone models.

Below are a few takeaways and recaps from some of the more notable reviews.

Joshua Topolsky, BloombergBusinessweek

While some reviews were downright effusive about battery life on the iPhone 6 Plus, Topolsky was unimpressed:

Battery life has been improved in the two models, but I’m sorry to report that even a big iPhone 6 doesn’t deliver an all-day charge if you’re a heavy user or in an area without strong wireless signals. It is better than the 5S, and the iPhone 6 Plus yields better results thanks to its size. This is a notable whiff given the fact that so many iPhone users have complained about the current model’s battery, and I think most consumers would have sacrificed some thinness for a more robust daily life span. I experienced several days during the review period where I barely made it to the charger before the phone lost power.

Battery issues aside, Topolsky was particularly praiseful of the enhanced iPhone camera.

NIlay Patel, The Verge

Regarding the iPhone 6 Plus:

Huge phones get to have huge batteries, and the iPhone 6 Plus is a huge phone with a huge battery: I consistently got about two days of battery life from the 6 Plus in regular daily use – slightly more than the day and half we got from the iPhone 6, and basically the same as the Note 3. iPhone battery life tends to fade quickly, however, and I dread the day I inevitably stuff 6 Plus into a battery case and make it even bigger.

Patel was also enamored with the new vibrant display technology Apple implemented on its iPhone 6 models.

Apple’s using some other tricks to make the display look amazing, though: there’s a new polarizer that makes the phone easier to see in sunlight, wider viewing angles with more accurate color reproduction, and overall higher contrast than previous iOS screens. And perhaps most importantly, the entire display stack is thinner, so it looks more like you’re touching the pixels directly than ever before. It’s like the screen is painted on. This, more than anything, is what makes the iPhone 6 Plus display pop – I haven’t seen another phone display that looks quite so immediate.

David Pogue, Yahoo Tech

Pogue is a big fan of Apple’s two new iPhone models and review provides a broad and easy to understand overview of all the new bells and whistles.

Here are Pogue’s thoughts on the advanced camera technologies Apple packed into its new iPhones.

There’s phase-detection autofocusing, which compares incoming light from two pixels for fast, precise focusing – or quick, smooth refocusing while recording video (hallelujah!).

The Plus model has optical image stabilization – the lens jiggles in precise motion to counteract the handheld movement of the phone itself – that works supremely well. To test it out, I fastened an iPhone 6 Plus and an iPhone 5s to a bike on this rig so that they would film exactly the same thing.

Video of Pogue’s makeshift bike test can be seen in the full review. Spoiler alert: it works really well!

Brad Molen, Engadget

Engadget gave the iPhone 6 Plus a score of 87/100 while the iPhone 6 netted a score of 90

With respect to the iPhone 6 Plus, Molen enjoyed its large display and solid battery life but noted that the phone might simply be too big for some people to use one-handed.

The iPhone 6 Plus is difficult to use one-handed, not to mention more uncomfortable than similar-sized phones. In exchange, though, you get more of an iPad-like user experience on a much smaller device. It also has better battery life than the smaller iPhone 6, as well as a better camera.

Engadget’s review is extremely exhaustive and highly recommended if you’re on the fence about which new iPhone model is right for you.

Stuart Miles, Pocket-lint

On the new iPhone design:

Immaculately crafted, the iPhone 6 shows that you can create a device that blows everything else out of the water when it comes to design. That might sound like an Apple fanboy cliché, but we’ve put the iPhone 6 in the hands of ardent Android fans and they agree: the iPhone 6 sets a new standard for smartphone design.

We heralded the HTC One (M8) as having the best design and build for most of 2014 and the iPhone 6 appears to owe a lot to HTC’s previous efforts. The zero-gap construction in an aluminium body is along the same lines as HTC, but refined to the nth degree. The execution is remarkable.

Some of that nuanced design you can’t appreciate without holding the new phone. Photos don’t give you the feeling of how light the phone actually is at 129g, how smooth that curved glass at the edge is, or how – within a split second – it makes the iPhone 5S look bland, bulky, and out of date.

Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch

I think he likes it:

The iPhone 6 is the best smartphone available. It offers improvements in almost every way that matters, and it delivers those in a striking new design that balances consumer demand for larger screens with a thin, light and durable case. It’s Apple’s most attractive phone, visually, and the 4.7-inch size is going to be more generally appealing than the iPhone 6 Plus’ larger proportions.

More than anything, the selling point here is that Apple has managed to recapture the energy and excitement that came with the original iPhone with the new iPhone 6. It feels like a return to form in all the right ways, in addition to packing a ton of new features like Apple Pay that light the path for what Apple as a company is to become. For users, though, it’s all about delivering the best computer you can keep in your pocket, and that’s exactly what the iPhone 6 is.

Jason Snell, Macworld

Though he now writes for Six Colors, Snell didn’t leave Macworld without leaving behind a great and well-written review of the latest additions to Apple’s iPhone lineup. Notably, the iPhone 6 received a slightly better review score than the iPhone 6 Plus here as well.

Here’s Snell’s take on Reachability, the new gesture Apple added to iOS to account for easier one-handed use on the larger iPhones.

Reachability isn’t the most elegant concept I’ve seen Apple develop, but it does make the size of these phones more manageable when you’re using only one hand. After a few days, Reachability became something that I used without thinking, and it generally did what I needed it to. However, I did find it to be a bit inconsistent. The iPhone home screen doesn’t slide all the way down, for instance-it scrolls the main icons down, leaving the dock and the top bar where they were. No other app interacts with Reachability in this way.

I also found that in some cases, the contents of the screen immediately snapped back to the top when I tapped something. In other cases, there was a pause of a second or so after a tap, enough time to tap something else, or scroll, or interact with the interface in other ways. I don’t like this inconsistency, and in general I think it would be better if the iPhone always waited a second to make sure everything’s done before turning off Reachability. Right now, I never really know what’s going to happen when I tap something when in Reachability mode, and that’s not good.

Below is a video review from Molly Wood of the New York Times:

Additional reviews from other media outlets are listed below:

Harry McCracken, Fast Company

Ed Baig, USA Today

Geoffrey A. Fowler, Wall Street Journal

Jim Dalrymple, The Loop








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Fleksy is a snazzy alternative keyboard for iOS 8

Flexy keyboard

iOS 8 is here and it’s broughtthird-party keyboards! Seriously, I believe this is going to be a big deal, and we’ll have a look at several options as they start coming in. But first, I want to show you all Fleksy.

Fleksy is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as being the fastest keyboard. But it’s not just about speed. Fleksy​ is customizable, resizable and predictive. It supports gestures too, which goes a long way towards making you fast and accurate. Here’s a look at Fleksy for iOS 8.

Customization – colors

Right away you’ll notice that Fleksy looks quite unlike the iOS keyboard, be it iOS 8 or otherwise. The keys are quite flat in design and lack a distinct border. But that’s just the start. You can choose from five colored themes, plus premium themes. It seems odd to have that level of customization over a keyboard in iOS, but it actually looks pretty nice.

Customization – size

Here’s another cool trick. You can shrink the Fleksy keyboard to a layout that’s smaller than the default. Specifically, you can either hide the spacebar/shift keys/number button/Return key and leave yourself just with the letters. It’s a neat little trick, and the shrunken keyboard takes up even less space on the iPhone 6’s half-acre of screen space.

Gesture support

I’ll admit that I’ve been envious of my Android-wielding friends’ options for keyboards, especially all the gestures. With a swipe, they can create whole words, move things around and more. Finally, Fleksy brings some of that functionality to iOS.

First, you can delete by swiping left. That reminds me of Graffiti on my old Palm IIIe. How I loved that thing. But I digress. Fleksy gestures also let you add a space with a swipe or punctuation.

Other goodies

Emoji fans will be delighted to find over 800 of the little guys build into Fleksy​. It also supports more than 40 languages as well as QWERTY, DVORAK, AZERTY and COLEMAK layouts.

I’m excited to see where third-party keyboards go on iOS. If Fleksy is any indication, it’s going to be a fun, active category of app for quite some time.








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