Category Archives: iPad App Reviews

If you’re a fan of iPad apps, you’ve landed in the right place. Here we cover many of the best apps and games in the iPad App Store, and even some that are not so great, just so you’lll know which to avoid. We cover all the iPad app categories – from iPad editions of newspapers and magazines, to productivity apps, games, eBook apps, utilities, social networking apps, photography apps, and more.

Evernote Introduces New Plus and Premium Accounts

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Evernote recently introduced a new set of pricing tiers. You can still use the services for free across all your devies, but if you become a power user who wants to keep more notes and have more access to your notes (even while offline), you’ll want to invest in Evernote Plus or Evernote Premium.

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How to view your iPad Photo library by Geolocation

Napkin 04-29-15, 10.57.50 PMThere are various ways that you can search, organize and view your photo library on your iPad.  You can choose to view your photos based on when they were taken, or by how you grouped them into albums.  You can even view them based on when and who you shared individual or groups of photos with.  But did you also know you can view your photos based upon where they were taken?  Let me preface this by saying that this will only work if you have allowed the Photos application on your iPad to have access to your location.  To check this setting and/or change it, go to the Settings App–> Privacy–> Location Services–> Photos.  Here you will have two options to choose from–allow the Photos App access only while you are using the app, and not allow at all.

To view your photos based on their geolocation, this feature must be set to “while using the app” or the pictures won’t even have a location to sort them by.  Once you have the setting updated, all of your photos taken on your iPad moving forward will now have a geolocation stamped into the metadata stored within the photo.  Armed with this knowledge, you can now sort and search your photos based upon their location.

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Quick Look: Does Not Commute for iPad 


There’s a Joseph Gordon-Levitt movie called Premium Rush that’s all about bike messengers weaving through the traffic in New York City. The main character visualizes all the wrong approaches and simulates several awful crashes before finally landing on the right angle of attack, which he then executes perfectly. It’s that kind of keen spatial projection that will get you through each level of Does Not Commute.

This is a game about driving and finding small moments of beauty in all of the chaos, like when you skid perfectly between two incoming cars and reach your destination without a scratch. You drive one car at a time from point A to point B, and once you arrive at your goal, you’ll take the role of a different car somewhere else on the level. Once you’ve finished a few runs, you’ll realize that all of the cars you’ve previously driven are now whizzing by you. You’ll suddenly rue your reckless driving from only 30 seconds earlier as past versions of yourself make it hell for you to skid around a corner in one piece. If that sounds chaotic, that’s because it is, but the “crashendo” builds so slowly that you’ll always understand just enough to navigate your way through it all.

Add a countdown timer for each level and a set of tantalizingly placed timer refills around the map, and you have yourself a recipe for some nail-biting vehicular puzzles. You’re playing the long game in Does Not Commute, and you may find you’ll have to return to previous puzzles to allow yourself the time to finish the next ones. Fortunately, well designed power-ups you unlock along the way make the experience more forgiving and expand your options, even as the puzzles get harder.

Does Not Commute can be a punishing, but satisfying game with pockets of well-written humour to ease the stress, and it’s one of my favourite titles to come along in a while.

Here’s an App Store link for Does Not Commute; it’s free to download with an In-App purchase option to add checkpoints for $1.99.

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Transferring 24MP Pictures To My iPad With The PlayMemories App


I recently purchased a Sony A6000 so that I could take more dramatic videos and stylish review shots. One of the biggest changes I’ve been adjusting to is that modern cameras actually have Wi-Fi on board, and so I can transfer my 24 MegaPixel JPEGs right from the camera to my iPad for editing on-the-go. I can do all of this thanks to the PlayMemories app on the App Store, which allows me to connect straight to the ad-hoc network broadcast by my camera.

This is an awesome setup for me, as I can take a few hundred burst shots while I’m playing tennis with friends and then send all of them over to my iPad while we break for lunch. It takes about 5-10 minutes for each set of 100 shots, and so the transfer is usually complete by the time my friends and I are done eating. I can then cull all of the crappy out-of-focus shots from the iPad’s 10-inch screen, and even start editing photos with some of my favourite extensions.

When I get home, I don’t even have to worry about transferring pictures off of the camera to the Mac. iCloud Photo Library automatically uploads all of the JPEGs from the iPad to my iPhone and Mac. This workflow is a dream come true for me, and it’s a far cry from the days of requiring iPad memory card adapters, or worse: transferring all photos from the camera to iPhoto, and then syncing lower resolution versions to the iPad through iTunes.

I’ve been using the iPad as a computer substitute and a second screen for years now, and so it’s a thrill to be able to use the machine in a new context. It’s amazing how versatile this little tablet is proving to be.

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Geometry was never this fun: Ultraflow for iPad

IMG_0615Ultraflow is a unique puzzle game that combines the gameplay of bumper pool, min-golf, Breakout, and some of its own chops in one fast-moving milieu. While the play can be very hectic with lots of moving parts and bouncing around, the color palette is subdued to give your senses some calm place to rest.

 

The object of each of the 99 puzzles is the same: use your finger to launch a small circle so it bounces into a larger circle. There will be myriad types of obstacles in your way: bumpers as in pinball, brick walls to break down, energy-sucking barriers, or one-directional energy boosters that speed your ball on a one-way path. On each level your ball has only so many bounces allowed before it explodes. For simpler puzzles that number is very low, maybe 3 or 4. For complicated puzzles such as those with the bricks, your allowable bounces range well into the double digits, sometimes 40 or more.

The gameplay is very quick: you either solve the puzzle or die within a very few seconds. Some of the puzzles are easy, which provides a nice mental respite from the puzzles that can be frustratingly difficult. As with most puzzle games, once you figure out a geometric trajectory that creates a win, it seems obvious after the fact. There is a merciful hints function that you can turn on or off. Hints take pity on you when you’ve died many times in a row: a suggested path shows up on the screen.

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Review: Nintype Keyboard for iPad

 

 

Nintype is an incredible keyboard concept, and I think it could prove to be one of the very best ways to type on a tablet screen. I’ve always thought that an awesome touchscreen keyboard would involve a mix of tapping and swiping, which is exactly what Nintype offers. But the most innovative feature of this keyboard is that it can accept taps and swipes within the same word.

Other keyboards like Swype require that you complete an entire word by tracing a single line through multiple letters for a single word, which can be very clumsy for words that are longer than five characters long. Nintype addresses this by allowing me to write by using combinations of taps and swipes, in whatever order I like.

For example, typing the word “keyboard” starts with a tap on the letter “K”, then my left thumb taps “E”, my right thumb traces a line from Y-B-O and then my left thumb finishes by tracing through “A” then “R” then “D”. Working with Nintype is a lot like learning a dance. There’s a rhythm and order to the process, and it’s confounding to witness for the first few minutes. However, the really impressive thing is that this idea actually works out in practice… and it’s really fun to use.

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Flare 2 For Custom Photo Filters On My iPad

I took advantage of the current Mac App Store promo and picked up a copy of Flare 2 for $7, which I think that will really unlock the potential of the Flare Effects app on my iPad.

I now do most of my editing within the Photos app in iOS. I use the basic iOS sliders to adjust basic light and color, add a hint of sharpening in the Afterlight photo extension, and then save the changes. One thing that’s missing from this editing flow is the set of filters I used to apply within VSCO Cam. I love VSCO’s filters, but I don’t like having to import pictures into VSCO to edit, and then save those edits as new pictures in my photo library. That process creates a lot of clutter.

So on the advice of Ben Brooks, I’m going to give Flare 2 a shot. The Mac app can create photo filters and sync them to the companion iOS apps, which have working extensions in the Photos app. If I can manage to create a few filter sets I really like, Flare 2 should essentially act as a suitable VSCO replacement.

I still have to figure out exactly what kind of filters I’d like to try and recreate, but I’m excited at the prospect. If you’d like to pick up Flare 2, it’s still on sale for 50% right now. The Flare Effects iPad app is completely free.

 

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Popular iOS app Todolist to receive major makeover with v.10 later this year

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Todolist the popular universal iOS task-manager app is slated to receive a major update that is described on their Blog site as a Completely new version for iOS.  I have a love-hate relationship when it comes to productivity apps.  I touched upon some of my feelings when highlighting a major update to Wunderlist earlier this month. Updates are good–hell, they’re needed to keep the user base loyal and happy.  Todolist hasn’t received any updates to their app this year.  I suspect they have been focusing their efforts into this new overhaul, and I for one, am excited to see what they have planned.  Their goal was to make Todolist iOS app faster, easier to use, and more beautiful–sounds like a good start!

Notable changes include…

  • Completely revamped task interactions will make it easier and faster to get your ideas out of your head and onto your to-do list, no matter where you are.
  • New organizational features will give you more control over how you view and prioritize your tasks and projects.
  • And much, much more– you may even see a few pops of color incorporated into our characteristically minimalistic design…

Via their Blog they go on to say that the update is coming up fast–which could mean anything, I guess.  Perhaps in the next few weeks?  If you want to hear about the release as soon as it happens you can sign up to have the news delivered to your inbox.  Once the iOS version is released the same features will also be available on the Web, and on your Mac or PC.

While this all sounds great, three bullet points are enough to get my attention, but that’s about it right now. Here’s to hoping we get some additional teaser updates before the final release.

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Pure Pinball for iPad: everything but the roll of quarters

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I have to confess at the outset that pinball arcades were a frequent venue for a large part of my misspent youth. Fridays would find me and my buddy Dave at Pinball Pete’s. We got good enough to play all night on $2, as if that were something to brag about. Pure Pinball is a pinball simulator done right on the iPad. It’s super-realistic and beautiful to look at. In short, if you like(d) real pinball, you’ll love Pure Pinball for your iPad.

The makers of Pure Pinball went to considerable lengths to make sure all the gameplay, graphics, and physics match what you’d find on a real pinball table. From the way the plunger launches the ball, to the gravity of its descent, to the way the bumpers fire, to the spinning of the targets it all matches the real deal. The layout of the table is as busy as late-model tables became before their almost extinction. There are buzzers, bells, ramps, and chutes of every description. Point-making opportunities come and go, announced by the game’s Mr. Big Voice, and lights on the table. You will do well to pay attention to these specials as they can quickly multiply your score. There are three tables available and you unlock the second and third by doing well on previous tables.

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Quick Look: Vesper for iPad

Patrick already picked Vesper as last week’s iPad App of the Week, but call me greedy: I wanted to write about it as well. If you look at Vesper bullet point by pullet point, it’s hard to see why you’d use it as an alternative to apps like Drafts or Evernote. Evernote has apps on every platform and its notes can take files, images, and text. Drafts has had is iOS only, but it has all the tools you need to automate your text workflow on an iPad.

In comparison, Vesper was designed to excel as a classier version of the built-in Notes app, with an option to add a single picture to each note.

I spent the past few days playing with Vesper to see whether it would stick for me, and I found all sorts of really delightful details embedded in the UI. If you show Vesper to someone who has never seen it before, they’ll likely comment on how nice the font is. In my experience, even people who aren’t into fonts tend to see the difference. Then there are the animations. Tapping on a note in the list view will cross-fade you into that note, swiping to see the tag list uses a subtle parallax effect, and leaving a note zooms smoothly back out into the list view.

The thing is, as an iPad app, Vesper isn’t really there yet. It’s really just an adapted iPhone version that happens to work on the iPad. This means there can be a lot of blank space on the screen, as most iPhone apps show a single pane of information at a time. There aren’t any obvious modifications to the iPhone design to take advantage of the different ways that people use and hold an iPad, or to take advantage of the extra space on the iPad’s screen. I’m not too nervous about this though. Q Branch is working on the Mac version of Vesper, but I’m pretty sure they’ll circle back to re-imagine the iPad app afterwards.

I really want to integrate Vesper into my everyday workflow, in large part because it’s just so incredibly satisfying to use. It has a better and faster sync engine than Drafts does, so notes are more consistently updated across my iPhone and iPad during the day. However, that custom sync engine is also what keeps me from committing to Vesper. I’m worried about not being able to access notes on my work PC, or having my data stuck in Vesper should I choose to try another app six months from now. You can of course use the iOS 8 share sheet to send notes out of Vesper, but only on an individual basis.

That isn’t a condemnation of Vesper, simply an admission that this magnificent app isn’t for me. As simple as Vesper is to use, keeping it around would actually complicate my setup, so I’ll be sticking with Drafts and Evernote for now.

Here’s an App Store link for Vesper ; it’s priced at a very sustainable $10 with no in-app purchases. You will definitely get what you pay for.

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How to use alternative apps to navigate to an address from Apple Maps

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Apple Maps have come along way since Scott Forestall first introduced them with iOS 6 in 2012.  I prefer them over Google Maps most of the time, especially with regard to navigation.  However, as one might suspect, they still are not on the same playing field with Google Maps when it comes to search results from within the app. This might not be the case for you, and even though you may know that you have countless alternative options when it comes to competing map programs–you do have options.  There is actually a quick and easy way to navigate to an address from within a different mapping app if you already have the address loaded into Apple Maps–here’s how.

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Apple makes it so easy, you don’t even have to have the alternative app downloaded to your iPad prior to starting this process. Like I mentioned previously, you need to have your address, or pin drop (approximate location) already loaded in Apple Maps.  Once entered, the location (address) will show a pin on your iPad screen with a label defaulting to the driving directions and the estimated time it will take to navigate the that location.  When you tap on that label you will see a split screen showing a satellite view of the location and options to drive to that location or to use that location as your starting point.  Selecting either will give you itemized turn-by-turn directions.  You can then select the “Route” button in the top right of the screen to see the full route on a map.

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