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All Articles by Chad Garrett

Splinter Cell Conviction for iPhone- app review

Sam Fisher is back in Splinter Cell Conviction for iPhone and iPod Touch. Having played the original way back when on the Xbox, it was interesting see how the game has matured years later on the iPhone. The game has morphed into more of a run n' gun type of game. Yes, you still have to try to be stealthy, but not like the games of old. If you feel like it, just walk right in and start shooting. I actually like this as it gives you a choice in play style; covert or action.

Sam is out for revenge to find out who has killed his daughter; basically, he doesn't care who or what gets in his way to uncover the truth. The game spans 13 levels in 8 different locations and with this mobile iteration of the franchise you get some new gameplay mechanics. First, you are given icons next to cover you can run to. Simply tap the in screen action icon and Sam will run and cover to that location. You can do this successively assuming there is an "icon" to run to.

Next, you get a nifty after shadow that appears on screen to indicate where the enemy thinks you are, or your last known location to them. This adds a fantastic play mechanic that is horribly underutilized. It would have been great to throw small objects or something and cause the enemy to head towards that location. Instead it is used only when you are detected and enemies will head to that area.

You are also given the ability, albeit only in certain situations, to target multiple enemies to take them out with a single button press. Regretfully, you can't use this any time you want, only in certain situations. This is the biggest downside to Splinter Cell Conviction, its restrictiveness. The game plays well, look gorgeous and is fun, but is hampered by the inability to use some of these cool play mechanics on the users terms. It is this flaw that prevents this title from being the near perfect game it so wants to be.

Should you get Splinter Cell Conviction? Good question. If you are a casual gamer looking for a little stealth action, then yes, you can't go wrong. If you are a hardcore gamer, the limitations might prove a little frustrating. For me, I like it and will continue to play it, but I will always be wishing I has complete control over Sam. Check the video and screens after the break!

[$9.99- iTunes Link]

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The Elements for iPad- app review

The ultimate in interactive elements has arrived in the form of The Elements for iPad. I was a little late getting to this app seeing as how it came out at the iPad launch, but I am really soaking up what the Elements has to offer now. It's is basically an interactive book made by the folks at Periodic Table. They make printed books, etc for the education market around the world. This is their first foray into the iPad/iPhone and I have to tell you; wow. I wish they had this stuff when I was a kid.

The way The Elements works is you have a complete listing of the periodic table of elements in front of you. These objects are not just photos of the elements, but actual 3D renders that move. Tap on an element and it takes you to that element's custom page of discovery.

The element page consists of a big render of the element or an example of it's use on the left of the screen and all the information you could want to know on the right including the atomic radius, structure, weight, density and more of the element. WolframAlpha provides additional information and proves to be an awesome resource.

The bottom right corner gives you additional navigational tools. Tap the right arrow to bring up more information about the element along with even more 3D renders of the the element or it's uses. You can spin/rotate all of the element examples in real-time; there are over 500 renders in this app. You also get a detailed history and story about each element to give even more insight. Of course just having interactive 3D renders aren't enough. No, double tap a render and you are presented with a fullscreen object. Tap the double circle icon and you can view the object stereoscopically. Focus your eyes, you can see a "real" 3D render of the object. Of course, some of us just can't do that. So The Elements gives you a convenient link to order the special 3D glass for $4.95. That is rather cool. I can imagine students sharing the glasses to examine all of the elements in this way and it is really exciting to see the future of interactive education for students.

Alas, there is always another side to the story and regretfully this app has crashes constantly even with the most recent update. I so am looking forward to a few more updates to make it ultra-stable.

The newly formed company TouchPress is responsible for creating The Elements and are on a mission to make more books like this one. What is on my wish list? The human body and the universe, I can't wait.

[$13.99- iTunes Link]

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Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction now available for iPhone

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction is now available in the App Store for $9.99. Stealth action has finally made it to the iPhone. I have not had too much time with the title, but it looks and controls great.

The game has Sam Fisher is back in his first foray on the iPhone. Controls are standard fanfare, virtual joystick on the left and action buttons that change dynamically based on the situation on the right. The duck and cover mechanics are fun and there are lots of new mechanics such as a white shadow that appears indicating Sam's last known position to the enemy. This comes in very handy for strategically dodging the bad guys. The views are sweet and frame-rate is good. I will be reviewing this game soon, but for now, enjoy a couple screenshots from early in the game and the official trailer after the break!

[$9.99- iTunes Link]

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Wired brings their magazine to the iPad

At over 5ooMB, Wired's iPad app arrives in the App Store and yes, the future of magazine reading appears to arrive with it!

Last November we gave a sneek-peek at Wired's concept for a magazine on a tablet. That demo was in Adobe's Flash. The new version is 100% Flash free and is beautiful.

Navigating the magazine is a breeze; tap on the screen and you are given overlayed navigation tools. The bottom scrolls through pages and the top has two options- zoom out and a vertical list of articles in the issue.

There is plenty of interactive content too. Videos from the upcoming Toy Story movie and 3D real-time models of Mars and a Lego Lamborghini. With this awesome content and interactivity comes a price; $4.99 an issue. Is it worth it? Let us know in comments! Check screenshots after the break!

[$4.99- iTunes Link]

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Groupon for iPhone - app review

Groupon for iPhone is an App Store front end for the free Groupon service that acts like a buying group in your city. You can get a wide selection of things at a discount from massages to baseball tickets.

You can go to the website to view what the daily deal is, or just launch the iPhone app. The app allows you to select a city, place an order, view your Groupons, expirations and more.

This is how it works. Groupon coordinates deals with vendors in your area. When a certain number of people "buy" the Groupon, the deal is on and everyone is charged. If the limit for the deal is not met, no one gets charged.

The Groupon app is divided into three sections: Today's Deal, My Groupons and Settings. Today's Deal shows you all of the information about the daily deal. You see the cost, how many bids are needed for the deal to happen and let's you know when the deal is "on" too. It gives details on how much you are saving and what's in the "fine print". Fine print includes the expiration information, blackout dates, etc. If you have decided that this is a Goupon you want, click the Buy button. You are not charged until the quota for this deal is met; nice.

The My Groupon section is to review what Groupons you have and get a history of your purchases. Location and expiration information of your Groupons are kept here as well.

The last section is settings and currently the only option is to enable a passcode lock for the app.

[Free- iTunes Link]

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OmniGraffle for iPad - app review

OmniGraffle for iPad is a great application for creating workflow diagrams, organizational charts and more. At work I use Microsoft's Visio to create workflow diagrams pertaining to software implementations. I now have almost the exact same functionality in my iPad.

The layout is very similar to Apple's own iWork suite for iPad (and OmniGroup's other iPad offering, OmniGraphSketcher) in that you swipe between open documents and can easily create or delete documents from the same screen. If you have used OmniGraffle on the Mac or Visio on Windows you will be instantly familiar with the interface once you have created a document. The top right corner has all of your stencils, drawing tools and properties of the objects you are working with. In the top left you have control over layers for your diagram. For this review, I am going to cover the simpler aspects of OmniGraffle so you understand at a high level what it does. Advanced users will revel in the other aspects.

To begin drawing, open the stencil group your want and drag an object to the grid. This can be done in portrait or landscape. From there you have almost limitless choices: color, line thickness, rotation, curve edges, shadows and so on. After placing a few objects in your drawing you can connect them with the connector stencils. Again, drag to the drawing and connect. The properties for lines are the same as other objects but you can add different types of arrows and even branch the arrows out. OmniGraffle for iPad can also use third party stencils, but no guarantees. These stencils should be added via iTunes.

So now you have several objects in your drawing and you want to change the properties of all of them, perhaps change the fill color. How do you accomplish this? Very, very, very easily. All you have to do is tap and hold the first object, then tap subsequent objects. Any object you touch will become a group for editing. You can then apply any changes you like to those objects; colors, line thickness or style, just about anything. It is awesome to have this power at your fingertips and it is a shame OmniGroup does not have templates available for the user to edit since changing properties are so easy to do. OmniGroup has suggested they may add templates in future release of the app.

It is important to note that OmniGraffle gives you excellent placement tools and control over your drawing. You can add, edit or duplicate layers in your drawing and activate snap to grid so you can precisely position every object placed.

The single biggest drawback for this wonderful application is that unless you already use the Mac version of OmniGraffle, it is difficult to share with other types of applications. Exporting options include: send .graffle in email, send email PDF, copy as image and send to photos. There is not an XML or Visio export at this time unfortunately.

I could go on about all of the fantastic features of OmniGraffle and for a 1.0 product launch with iPad and I very excited for the future of this application for the iPad. OmniGroup says that they have a lot of plans to enhance this app and they are coming soon. The short development time did not lend itself for adding a lot of features at launch (though I still think they did an amazing job) For business, this has to be one of my favorite applications.

[$49.99- iTunes Link]

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Motorola EQ5 Wireless Stereo Speaker for iPhone, iPad

The Motorola EQ5 Wireless Speaker for iPhone 3G/3GS  and iPod Touch is one awesome Bluetooth stereo speaker setup. Looking for a good speakerphone? Need an excellent portable speaker with surprisingly good sound? This might be for you! It is currently available in the TiPb Accessory store for $99.95.

I have been searching for the perfect complement to my iPhone; an external speaker that sounds great, small, portable and asks like a phone. What did I find? The Motorola EQ5 (part of the Moto Rokr brand) portable stereo Bluetooth system. You might remember I reviewed the Blueant stereo speaker in the past; I really liked it and the missing piece for me was the ability to have great sounding stereo sound. Guess what? I have found it in the Moto EQ5. Read after the break to learn more!

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Zombie Infection for iPhone - app review

Survival horror thriller Zombie Infection for iPhone has to be Gameloft's highest production game to date. The graphics and voice acting are top notch and the cinematic style is engrossing.

Zombie Invasion starts off with you landing in a small town, that -- wait for it -- has been overrun by zombies! The first level is basically a tutorial showing you the moves for your character. You can shoot and stomp on crates to find goodies such as ammunition and medical supplies. You can move while aiming (albeit very slowly) and you can dismember the zombies by shooting their legs, arms and heads; what more can you ask for?

As you progress through the 12 levels in the game you unlock them to replay at any time. This is great since Zombie Infection has a trophy achievement system. You can go back though levels and practice/earn achievements. There are some fun ones too, for example if you shoot off both legs of a zombie, you get an achievement for that. It is this type of mechanic that makes me come back for more.

To add a little variety to the game, you can also play as one of two characters; Ex-soldier Damien Sharpe and reporter Alex Rayne. The names are cheesy, yes, but the gameplay and fun factor is not. I love this game and I am thankful that Gameloft is bringing these types of games to iPhone; it makes one really compelling alternative to other platforms for mobile gaming. Check the video and pictures after the break!

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Todo for iPad - app review

Appigo's Todo for iPad complements their existing Todo for iPhone app very well and if you already use Todo for iPhone, you will be quite pleased with the iPad version. If not, you'll certainly appreciate Todo for iPad on its own merits.

One of the first things you will notice is the aesthetic; Appigo went for a traditional three ring binder look and feel. You can change the color of the binder, paper and rings in the settings menu. Appigo promises more themes in a future update.

Outside of looking pretty, Todo gets the job done just like its iPhone cousin. You can create a your standard task, project, checklist, contact or website. If you are a Getting Things Done (GTD) user, you will be happy to know that @contexts as well as tags are supported. Holding the iPad in landscape gives you full view of all your task information. On the left side you have your lists, Inbox, Starred and Focus list. Let's discuss this in a little more detail.

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Gowalla for iPhone - app review

Gowalla for iPhone is a social app from some fine folks in Austin, TX that allows you to check-in to locations, see where your friends are checking-in, collect items and complete trips. For those of you not familiar with the whole "check-in" craze, the idea is you travel around town, land at a "spot" such as the movie theater, gas station or restaurant, and then tap the Check-in button. When you do this a couple things happen:

You can...

  • Post to Twitter and Facebook
  • Add a photo
  • Add a quick post
  • Leave an item

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Gowalla for iPad - app review

Gowalla for iPad is a social app from some fine folks in Austin, TX that allows you to check-in to locations, see where your friends are checking-in, collect items and complete trips. Gowalla for iPad is available now in the App Store for free [Free- iTunes Link]

Gowalla is the newest entry into the whole "check-in" craze. Why check-in? With Gowalla the main goals are to see where your friends are and to collect items. However, this process is mainly reserved for the iPhone app. The iPad version of Gowalla provides beautiful access to view your activities (where you and your friends have checked-in), see what spots are in your area (spots are places to check-in) and your Passport (a summary of where you have checked in, stamps, pins and items collected.

This app is an excellent companion app to its iPhone cousin. The large screen really gives you great access to view where your friends are in real-time across the world. You can pinch and zoom from your city to the whole world in a breeze. You can learn more about a location or friend by tapping on their name on the map. Spots also dynamically appear when the map is moved to a new location, very slick.

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Quick Review: OmniGraphSketcher for iPad

OmniGraphSketcher for iPad [$14.99- iTunes Link] is one of Omni Group's latest editions to the iPad. Like the Mac app of the same name, it's a quick and easy graphing or plotting tool that allows for realtime creation of charts and graphs. And on the iPad, it's all done with multitouch.

You can plot out your own data points and format them any way you want. You can change color, axis points, size, shape, arrows... you get the idea. You can even copy and paste data from a multicolumn document such as Excel or Numbers and create a simple graph quickly.

I found this app to be useful in meetings or anywhere, really, that you need to illustrate some sort of graph (see the YouTube video at the end of this post to get an idea). If you already use iPad, then this is a great arsenal to have for any sort of data analyst, manager or sales person. Show up at a customer site with a busy spreadsheet? Does the customer look confused? You can very quickly plot out a graph to show them why their sales may be down or up.

Finally, OmniGraphSketcher allows you to read OmniSketcher files in email and allows you to export as a PDF via email or as an image to your Saved Photos album.

Overall I am impressed with OmniGraphSketcher. It eerily appears very similar to Apple's own iWork suite for iPad and you can see where the groundwork has begun to standardize these types of apps on iPad. I vote two thumbs up for OmniGraphSketcher.

Check after the break for a video and pictures!

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Quick Review: Pages for iPad

Having a virtually full-fledged word processor like Apple's Pages iWork app [$9.99- iTunes Link] on the iPad is a big deal. There has been a lot of discussion, however, about how Pages would work on the iPad. How do I transfer/ sync documents? How will my formatting be effected?

I had to use Pages to do some document editing for a house flyer for our home (we are in the process of selling). I figured what a great opportunity to give Pages a spin. First, I had to get the document on the iPad. Email or iTunes? The Pages file was 12MB so I opted to transfer it via iTunes. The process was simple; I selected the Pages app from the bottom of the Apps tab with my iPad attached to my iMac. I clicked the add files button and chose my Pages file. I synced the iPad and my house flyer appeared in the document list in pages.

After importing the house flyer into Pages, I was not greeted with any formatting warnings (to be fair I have imported Microsoft Word documents and did receive warnings. It was hit and miss; some documents looked identical, others, not so much) and I began editing immediately. But, there was one problem...

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Quick Review: Bento for iPad

Bento for iPad [$4.99- iTunes Link] is a fantastic database option for users of Filemaker's Bento for Mac. It is a fast and simple database application for capturing just about anything from invoices to party planning to recipes.

I have been using Bento for Mac and iPhone for a while now. I was very excited to get the iPad version. Bento looks great. There are elegant themes that make Bento appear like a leather- bound book or clipboard. You can create a database on the fly from one of the supplied templates and sync it back to your Mac and iPhone. If you want, you can even make a database from scratch right on the iPad. When creating your database you have a choice of several fields including checkbox, choice, number, text and several more. Adding these fields to your new database couldn't be easier; click the pencil icon and drag the field to the workspace. Once placed on the screen, choose that fields properties. One of the more impressive features I found was the ability to add a Media field and insert a picture directly from Saved Photos on the iPad. There is a nice shadow effect behind the image and it looks really good.

Overall I am very pleased with the iPad version of Bento. The one feature that I would really like to see would be the ability to either export or send via email a record from Bento; there is currently no option to export data from Bento for iPad.

If you have an iPad and need to have a database with you, you will love Bento. Anyone from parents managing their kids schedule to a small business can use the portability and power Bento has to offer. For only $4.99, you are getting a huge value.  If you aren't the creative type, you can always download templates from Bento's Template Exchange.

Check out the Video and Gallery after the break!

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Quick Review: LogMeIn Ignition for iPad

If you've been using LogMeIn Ignition for iPhone, prepare to be blown away by the iPad version. LogMeIn Ignition for iPad [$29.99- iTunes Link]has essentially the same functionality as the iPhone, but is much faster.

LogMeIn is a free service (with paid options depending on what you want) that works on a Mac or PC. It allows you to remotely control another computer. LogMeIn Ignition brings that functionality to iPhone and iPad. You have full right and left-click support as well as most all of the other useful key functions such as your "F" keys and arrows keys. If performance is an issue, you have complete control from the settings screen to change resolution and color quality. I tend to use Compressed; it is a step above Black and White and allows for a faster refresh. You can also change how you navigate on screen. You have two choices: screen moves or mouse moves. I lean towards screen moves as that gives me the most speed when navigating. Pinch to zoom works like a charm and is blazingly fast.

Ready for the bonus? LogMeIn Ignition is a Universal app, so you buy once and you can use it on iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. For those that need a little extra power in their remote sessions, LogMeIn offers their Pro2 account which allows for even more flexibility such as copy/paste desktop sharing and remote printing between sessions. If you aren't sure which works best for you, there is a handy comparison chart.

I can't recommend LogMeIn Ignition enough. It's come in very handy when having to access my home computer.. and even my Mother-In-Law's PC for help. There are several VNC type of clients out there, but this one is fast, zero setup (compared to a VNC configuration) and has plans to meet your needs.

Check out the Video and Gallery after the break!

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Quick Review: Real Racing HD for iPad

Real Racing HD [$9.99- iTunes Link] is a blast to play on the iPad. I have enjoyed the iPhone iteration for some time and I was really looking forward to the iPad version. Thankfully the game is still a blast to play, looks good and has a few new features to keep you interested in this version.

First of the changes is the resolution. The graphics and frame rate are really smooth. The immersive feel of the in- car view is fantastic. This game does have a different feel now on the larger screen and I like it. You can now add your own skin to your car via the Camera Role. This is a great way to customize the cars in the game if you get bored with what is available. Firemint even has a website with skins to download. To install a skin, just save to the Camera Role or use an existing image. You can then apply the picture to a car, giving it a new look.

The other new feature with this version of Real Racing is the ability to save/ load ghost car data. In Time Trial mode you can save your race after you finish. You are then added to the leaderboards. You can view or race against others in your bracket . You can't at this time race against higher ranked players. Firemint says they are listening to feedback and may implement this in a future update.

For a first effort out of the gate, I really am enjoying Real Racing HD and I am looking forward to see how the development will improve on this already awesome game. Gallery and video after the break!

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Quick Review: Evernote for iPad

I am a huge fan of Evernote [Free- iTunes Link]. I knew they were working on an iPad version of their software, but I had no idea what to expect. Needless to say I am pleased with their design decisions and love the completely new layout for iPad.

Evernote for iPad gives you several new and fun ways to view and organize your notes. First, you can view them by thumbnail or details. I think thumbnails work best with pictures. I tend to have more text notes, so details works best for me. It gives me the name, etc. of the note at hand.

I love the way Evernote organizes notebooks and tags; the notes appear stacked on each other just like the Photos album. You can't pinch to peek and open (though that would be cool) instead you simply tap to open the notebook or tags you want. You can also sort by name or by count. There is now a separate area of view notes by place too, you can even use location services to find notes by your current location. Take audio and picture notes? Now you can do both in one note on the iPad app. This is a very nice addition.

If you are an existing Evernote user, you are in luck -- the app is universal. Download it once and use it on iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

Gallery and video after the break!

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Quick Review: Apple iPad Dock

Picking up the iPad I was tasked with deciding the most useful accessory for the iPad. For me, that accessory was the iPad Dock. I just couldn't fathom the iPad just laying on my desk, I needed a place to set my iPad as well as take advantage of the other features it allowed me to display.

The dock comes by itself, no USB cable or charger; you just get the basics. The footprint is larger than the iPhone dock since the iPad is substantially heavier. The bottom of the dock has the typical "sticky" finish so it does not budge from its place. I would estimate the angle of the dock to be approximately 60 degrees so it is not exactly upright, but close. The back of the dock has the standard 30-pin connector. You can use the USB cable and charger included with the iPad to plug into the wall or computer for charging. You also have a Line Out to plug into a stereo tuner.

Once you have placed the iPad securely in the dock, it has the familiar green charging battery graphic. If enabled in Settings, you have the new picture frame button that turns the iPad into a beautiful digital photo showcase with animated slideshows.

If you don't want your iPad just laying on your desk, you can't go wrong with the iPad Dock. Oh, and don't forget, the dock just might come in handy when you start typing with the Apple Bluetooth keyboard...

Pictures and video after the break!

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App Store, meet Facebook

You can now browse the App Store directly from within Facebook via Apple's newest Facebook application. There are a few tabs to chose from; the proverbial Wall and Info, but then it starts to get interesting.

You have a Featured tab that shows you the week's spotlighted applications. A Games tab lets you filter by any game genre. Search and Share, of course, lets you search for any app. Once you find the application you are looking for, you can launch into iTunes Preview and straight into the iTunes Store to get it (and post it to your profile, of course).

The latter is what I am excited about because now I can share my recent app favorites with them.

Virtue as partnered with Apple to create this page hot on the heels of their other Facebook page for iTunes. Check for some more screenshots after the break!

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Case-Mate Vroom for iPhone 3G/3GS

Tired of your iPhone slipping out of your hand or off of your desk? Looking to add a little color and grip to you iPhone? If so the Case-Mate Vroom for iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS [$12.95- iMore Store Link] is one to consider. For the full review follow me after the break!

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