Apps

Birdbrain for iPhone - App Review

YouTube Link

Birdbrain for iPhone [iTunes Link] is an app that aggregates your Twitter statistics such as followers, following, blocked, and several other variables into one app.  It also shows you differences in how many followers you've gained or lost.  You can also see the specific people that have started following you or stopped following you.  Clicking on a user will also allow you to view certain statistics about that user.

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Regarding Apple including 3rd party app screens in 1st part app patent filings

Apple has begun filing patent applications for 1st party (i.e. Apple produced) iOS apps that include screen drawings of well known 3rd party (i.e. independently produced by developers for the App Store) apps.

Is Apple trying to steal the hard work and shatter the good will of App Store developers? Is Apple merely showing how App Store apps could hook into future Apple apps/hubs? Is it something in between?

Let's take a look after the break...

[Venomous Porridge, Thanks Dev for the tip!]

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We Farm for iPad - app review

We Farm for iPad is a real-time farming game by ngmoco. If you're familiar with We Rule, We Farm is very similar except that your are building a farm instead of kingdom.

As with most ngmoco games, you must have a plus+ account to play. If you don't have one already, signing up is simple. When you first start playing We Farm, the game takes you through a little tutorial which is pretty helpful.

The goal of We Farm is to raise money and build your farm. You raise money by growing crops, raising animals, and receiving and placing orders with friends. Almost everything you do yields experience points. As you level, more items are available for purchase; higher level buildings will output more money. You will also be able to upgrade your farm as you level which gives you more space and gives you a nicer looking farmhouse. You can also turn on notifications to alert you when certain tasks are complete. However, they do not work for me. I've asked around and apparently I'm the only with this problem.

There are two currencies used in We Farm. The first is gold and is what you make doing various farm tasks and buying items. The other is Gro. This is used to instantly complete tasks like growing crops, building buildings, fulfilling an order, raising animals, and increasing your animals' happiness. You earn Gro every time you level and is also available as an in-app purchase.

My biggest complaint of We Farm is animal raising. To make your animal happy, you have to periodically "pet" it. Each pet increases the animal's happiness by 5%. The happier your animal is, the better chance he has of winning a prize at the fair. Once you win a prize, your pen/coop/pasture becomes available for your friends to place orders at. This means you make a lot more money from it. The problem is that if you have an animal that takes 2 hours to raise, you must come back every 6 minutes during that 2 hour period to get the happiness to 100%. This is an unrealistic expectation in my eyes. Of course, you can get around this by using Gro, but We Farm doesn't provide enough Gro to use it on all animals before needing to spend real money. However, the happier your animal is, the less Gro it takes to bring him to 100% happiness, so my strategy is to pet my animals as much as I can, then use grow at the end to bring it to 100%.

Another small complaint I have is that there isn't a way to quickly return to your own farm when visiting someone else's farm. I'd like to a small icon to tap in the corner of all farms that quickly takes to your farm.

All in all, I enjoy playing We Farm. However, you must like time management games to have fun with this one. I have been impressed with the performance of the app; it runs smoothly, I've never received a memory error (a common problem with We Rule), nor has it ever crashed. So if you're a fan of these types of games, check out We Farm - it's free!

Screenshots after the break!

[Free - iTunes link]

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On-device App Store gains "Try Before You Buy". Sort of.

As part of their constant tweaking of all things App Store, Apple has added a section to the on-device (i.e. on iPhone or iPod touch) App Store that's called "try before you buy".

Here's the deal, on the Featured tab, under New, there are series of 4 banners at the top. If you're in the US, the bottom right one now says Free on App Store. Tap on it and you get a list of New and Noteworthy, Try Before You Buy, and Our Favorites.

Tap on Try Before You Buy and you get a listing of free or lite versions of popular apps you can sort by Featured, Popular, and Release Date.

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ultrasn0w carrier unlock now available for iPhone 4

If your iPhone 4 is locked to AT&T or another carrier, good news -- the ultrasn0w unlock is now available to set you free.

Those who ponied up full price for an international, factory unlocked iPhone 4 direct from Apple need not apply. Those who chose subsidies and the lock that came with it, get your Jailbreak on and head over to Cydia. If ultrasn0w doesn't show up immediately, search for repo repo666.ultrasn0w.com.

Version 1.0-1 of ultrasn0w works for:

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Apple releases iOS 4.1 beta 3 for developers

You know the drill, if you're a developer and you want the latest, greatest iOS 4.1 beta 3 for your iPhone or iPod touch, head on over to Apple and get it.

No word yet on what, if any new features it might contain but we're still guessing we won't see anything too spectacular until Steve Jobs takes the stage for the annual iPod and iTunes event in September, and sh

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Hero of Sparta II- app review

Can Gameloft deliver with their sequel to Hero of Sparta? I think the answer is a resounding yes. Though not perfect, Hero of Sparta II (HOS2) delivers pure action and colorful graphics on Apple's noble iPhone and iPod Touch.

HOS2 is an action game spun in the Greek mythological era of the Gods and Goddesses. You play the warrior Argos. I won't get into his story here, but in this game you are sent on a path of redemption. You return to Earth after spending some buddy time with Hades and immediately the action starts. The controls are different than its predecessor. The main diffidence is that Argos can now jump. This adds a much needed play mechanic to HOS2. In the weapon department, you start off with the basic shield and sword. After every level or so, you start to collect a variety of different and useful weapons including: wings that can be used to glide and attack, a helmet that give Argos the ability hurls fireballs, and my favorite the claws which give you God of War like attacks against your enemies.

The levels are mostly linear, but on occasion you can find a hidden area that has extra gems. You can collect red balls that can be used to increase the attack and magical attack of each weapon. Blue gems to replenish magic and green gems to gain back health. You can also collect additional gems that can be added to your weapon of choice to gain attack/magic bonuses like a +2 to attack, for example.

Pulling off attacks is fun. You have an attack button that when pressed successively, gives you a combo attack on your enemy. However, you can add a modifier to your attack by swiping up, down, left and right. If you use the down motion it will typically cause a "shield break" maneuver with your selected weapon to destroy a shield or some other object. Using the up swipe will launch your enemy in the air for you to unless even more combos.

I am very pleased with the variety of levels in HOS2. You have a lot of different interactive events from running acorss a crumbling bridge to swinging with the claw weapon like a vine to climbing towers. The enemies in HOS2 are not as great. I found that I was constantly fighting the same 3-4 enemies every time with an occasional 5th monster added just for variety. A new enemy feature which is enjoyable is "taking control" of the enemy. For example, the Minator can be controlled by following a series of button presses on screen. You can then control the Minator and attack the baddies. Regretfully, there is not much of a boss battle. There is a boss at the end of every level in HOS2, but you rarely actually attack them. Instead, you typically dodge their attacks or dodge environmental variables. This is somewhat disappointing, but there is plenty of action when fighting during the levels.

The graphics have really be stepped up in this release. There is an insane amount of detail close up with a wide variety of color and textures; make no doubt, HOS2 is very pretty and impressive. However, all of this comes at a controversial cost in this reviewers opinion; framerate. HOS2 moves nicely if you are in a relatively enclosed area with a couple of enemies, but this is rarely the case. You are typically fighting 5 or more bad guys at once in an open area and this is where the framrate begins to suffer. I estimate this game runs at an average of 15-20 frames per second. This can become frustrating when trying to string combos together,etc. I can only hope that Gameloft will update this app soon. Gameloft did an awesome update to GT Motoracing Academy to the pleasure of many fans and I hope that they do the same here.

Overall, HOS2 is a must buy for any action fan. If you are looking for the silky smooth framerate of say, N.O.V.A, look elsewhere. If you want a solid, fun action game that pays homage to God of War, then this is the game for you.

[$6.99- iTunes Link]

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Why Apple's Remote App hasn't been updated for iPad, iPhone 4, or iOS 4

Steve Jobs say Apple is the largest start-up in the world, and Posterous CEO Sachin Agarwal not only experienced it, but says that's why things like Apple's own Remote App for iPhone haven't been updated for iPad, iPhone 4, or iOS 4:

Yes, the Remote app is due for an update. But here's why it hasn't been updated: the person who wrote it is busy working on other things. Yes, the person, not the team. (He's a good friend of mine)

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OmniFocus for iPad- app review

By now you probably know that I am big into productivity apps and I am always looking for the next big thing. I use a lot of task management apps on the iPad, and there are some great ones for sure. However, I have just come across the ultimate task management app for your iPad; OmniFocus. This is, without a doubt the best app for utilizing David Allen's "Getting Things Done" (GTD) methodology. What makes this app stand out so much are three things: good design, Forecast and Review. But, I am probably getting ahead of myself. Let's start at the beginning. Note, a lot of the features I am going to discuss are not unique to OmniFocus, but I think it is fair to describe them so you know what is contained in GTD and can get a better grasp for how it is used. For this review I literally rebuilt my tasks in the app form scratch except for the made-up Inbox screenshot below. I had to do that since I am already organized :-)

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Kaboom's Paratrooper lands on the iPhone

Kaboom's Paratrooper is simple in theory -- tap the plane to drop the paratrooper, tilt your iPhone or iPod touch to direct them to the landing spot. And right there is where every casual gaming fan knows the addiction starts and the mayhem begins.

You want to hit the X. You need to hit that X. Things get more complicated quickly, of course. Obstacles build up. They're paratroopers after all, not sky divers. So don't be surprised when you start having to leap -- and land -- into the middle of a paper-art war zone. (Yeah, paper-art. Awesome.)

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