Work around Apple's sequence
When MacNN gave iOS 9 the full Hands On treatment and examined it in detail, one of our few complaints was that you could only use Apple apps in Slide Over. We said this feature of swiping in an app from the side was great, and would only get greater when other developers' apps were included, but they weren't there yet. We should've waited 20 minutes: now, so many third-party apps are working with Slide Over that we've hit a problem we just never saw coming: it's hard to find the app you want.
Rosa and Joey reprise their roles in the newest installment of the Blackwell series on iOS
If you're a person who plays games regularly, there's a good chance that you're familiar with the point-and-click adventure games known as the Blackwell series. They're not new games by any stretch of the imagination, with the fifth and final game of the series, Blackwell Epiphany, released in 2014. They are, however, new to iOS, so they merit a look-see. Today we're going to check out Blackwell 4: Deception, the fourth game and the most recent addition to the iOS collection.
New features, better security, smoother upgrades, more
We have, on more than a few occasions, mentioned the importance of keeping software up-to-date when you are running a Mac or iOS device. You don't necessarily or always need to be the first person to install that new beta, or the first to undergo a major upgrade like today's release of El Capitan, but when we say "stay up-to-date" we mean reasonably close to the latest version of whatever program you have that you like and use. There are many benefits and few risks in doing so, and in this Pointers we will cover how to keep all your software current.
It's okay but will it stick around?
If it were just one app, and if it just came from a new developer, then you'd describe Google Keep 1.04 for iOS as lightweight note-taking software that's fine, but nothing special. It doesn't have a lot of functionality, it isn't for people who make a lot of notes, but it's quick -- and apart from some garish options, it also looks good. However, this isn't one app, it's part of a service, and it isn't from a new developer, it's from Google -- and that is a problem.
The 6s, iOS 9 and more
This week in the MacNN forums, members are still largely focused on discussing the new iPhone 6s. Along with the new iPhones, forum-goers are also discussing the new iOS 9 and what they think of the changes that have been made.
Couldn't be simpler, probably couldn't be better
It just works. Specifically, it just records. The new Just Press Record 1.0 for iOS, OS X and Apple Watch records audio -- on any of those devices, including the Watch -- and then saves it. That's the entire app right there, and if this means we now have to struggle to fill the rest of this page with anything useful, then that's just our tough luck. Just Press Record is finely done, and does one specific job well.
A portable email surgeon
Email is not dead, email is not dying, email is still brilliant. True, we get a lot of it, and that is a problem. The volume is a problem that services and apps try to fix by being like Apple Mail, but better somehow. Dispatch 3.1.2, though, is like an adjunct to Mail that makes handing your emails faster and more efficient -- under certain circumstances.
Cute platformer includes quests and lots of thematic flavor
Have you noticed how complex games are becoming these days? It seems that every game we come across has some sort of new mechanic, some in-depth stat system, some cross-genre complexities that you've got to keep straight. If you long for the days when games were a little less complex, maybe you should check out 2-bit Cowboy, a retro platformer set in the old west.
Gorgeous endless runner offers lots of unlockables for dedicated players
We find that arcade games have a lot of merits. More often than not, they're quick games that you can use to pass time when you're hanging out at the DMV, or waiting for the bus. They also give you the opportunity to play against yourself, in an endless attempt to beat your top score. If you're someone who has some time to kill and wants something quick to play, we're here to show you how Sky might fit the bill.
Sweet paper puzzler offers all-ages gameplay with lots of personality
We like math puzzles, we like word puzzles, we like spatial reasoning puzzles -- if it's a puzzle, chances are, we like it. That's why we're so excited to show you a puzzler that packs a ton of personality into pieces of paper, a little game called Paper Titans. Before we delve into it, let's get it out of the way: Paper Titans looks incredible.
Endless runner makes vast improvements over others in genre
We've covered several games in the "runner" genre before, and for the most part these simple platformers are pretty decent, but all have a few drawbacks. Today, we think we've found a game that may have changed the way we feel about runners. Let us introduce you to Chaos Chambers, an endless runner that really blew us away.
Simple mathematics puzzle game will get your brain working in overdrive
If you would have asked us 10 years ago if we would have been playing math-based puzzle games for fun, we probably would have told you that you were insane; but here we are, with an iPad full of math puzzles we can't seem to put down, no matter how hard we try. We recently tried out another game that we quickly became obsessed with, a minimalist math puzzle game called 10.
Native Watch app leads list of improvements
The MacNN staff who don't happen to use this To Do manager are secretly convinced that the rest of us would do a new Hands On if the Omni Group even so much as changed the color of the app. We resent that accusation, and wish to point out that it is patently not true -- for they changed that back in 2.6, and we didn't say a single word. Now the various incremental updates since our last review have brought us to OmniFocus 2.8 for iOS. It's got more than a color change, it's got a native Apple Watch app, and now the iOS version has certain features that are better than the OS X release.
Game failed to work under iOS 8.4, promised patch failed to surface
[Updated with new information from 2K] The iOS port of 2K's atmospheric shooter Bioshock has been completely delisted from the App Store. The game, which failed to function under iOS 8.4, is now clearly no longer being updated despite promises of a patch, not available for purchase, and cannot be downloaded by prior purchasers under any circumstances.
Microsoft claims 10.5-inch screen size cutoff for free editing, saving
Microsoft is calling the iPad Pro's larger size not a "true mobile device," and as such, will require an Office 365 subscription to allow users to edit and save documents. At this time, the end user agreement for the iOS version doesn't specify this restriction, but the Android and Windows Store version both have the restrictive clause.
Free app synchronizes music across multiple smartphones, tablets
Montreal startup AmpMe has launched an app that allows users to play the same song on multiple smartphones and tablets at the same time. AmpMe app iOS and Android can effectively turn mobile devices into extra speakers, with the app not only playing the track but also keeping it synchronized across all connected devices, with more smartphone speakers effectively creating a clearer and louder audio performance compared to a single device.
Dash through a lemonade factory in this single-player co-op platformer
If you're a big fan of platformers, you might consider yourself somewhat of an expert. If you are looking for a challenge, we highly suggest trying out something a little different, like a single-player co-op platformer. Today, we're going to tell you about Super Lemonade Factory, an eccentric little game with a surprising amount of heart.
Cute JRPG boasts good story and decent playability
We've discovered quite a few RPGs for iOS, and there's a surprising amount of both live-action, open-world, western-style RPGs and turn-based, story-driven, Japanese-style RPGs, called JRPGs. Today, we're taking a look at another JRPG, a plucky little game by Kemco called Link of Hearts.
New release integrates new iOS 9 technologies into image editor
Pixelmator Team today has announced the release and immediate availability of Pixelmator for iOS 2.1, a major update to its image editor for iPad and iPhone. Version 2.1 adds support for iOS 9, multitasking on iPad through both Split View and Slide Over, and the ability to open and edit 8K-resolution (8192x4096) images.
Cute app for kids is a spin on a classic Chinese puzzle
When you were a child, you may have had a Tangram, a flat square that was cut into seven smaller shapes. It's a Chinese puzzle designed to teach kids (and adults!) how to create images from simple shapes. Tayasui has decided to take this concept digital with Tayasui Tangram, the perfect app for creative kids.
Chinese malware was not malicious, but points out new vector of attack
Apple has now responded publicly to the XcodeGhost malware scare, explaining in a page on its Chinese website addressed to customers that even if they used apps affected by the issue, no personally-identifiable information was gathered. The company removed any affected apps, and explained the cause (iOS programs were built using compromised Chinese versions of Xcode downloaded from other sources), while offering developers a method of ensuring that their own installations of Xcode were valid.
Pilot a cargoship with twitch-reflexes and a delicate hand
You might already know it, but we like games that are designed to be somewhat of a challenge. We think that twitch-based reflex games are fun, and we don't mind if a game can be a bit frustrating. We ran across one such game recently, and we're proud to show it to you. Allow us to demonstrate for you why we think Super Grav is a fun but frustrating game.
Acquisition of key staff by Google forces slow closure of Oyster
An e-book subscription service that aimed to be the equivalent of "Netflix for books" has announced it is preparing to shut down after two years of operation. Oyster revealed it is starting to take steps to shutter its service "over the next several months," with reports claiming the closure is being triggered by Google hiring a number of key employees from the company to bolster its own Google Play Books service.
Practice your math while learning how to create simple circuitry
Are you a big fan of math-based puzzles? What about electrical engineering? Well, if you answered yes to either of those questions, then we've got the mother of all games to show you. Allow us to introduce you to Light This Up, an app that has you solving electricity-based puzzles while improving your basic mathematical skills.
Peace developer claims Apple performing refunds for all customers
Apple has taken the highly unusual decision to refund all purchasers of the Peace ad-blocking browser, the developer has confirmed. After voluntarily taking the app out of the App Store after being listed for a few days, and providing refunds to customers requesting their money back, developer Marco Arment advises that Apple is now "proactively refunding all purchases" of the $3 app to its users.
The arrival of iOS 9, and the pointlessness of user app reviews
This week, the MacNN Podcast takes a good look at some of the burning issues of the past week, including of course the release of iOS 9. We talk both about the entire downloading experience -- one of the smoothest we've seen in a long while -- and our first impressions on some of the new features and optimization of the release. We also talk about two of Apple's biggest court cases, the Move to iOS app on Google Play, and how useless most app store reviews are.
The MacNN crew discusses the pros and cons of keeping Apple Music around
If you signed up for the Apple Music free three month trial at launch, it's nearly time to decide if you want to pay for the service or not. We've had a fair amount of internal discussion about the pros and cons of the service behind the scenes here at MacNN, and we thought we'd share with you how we feel about the service, and why -- and if we're going to renew.
Star Trek debuts a match-three RPG, heavy on the pay-to-win mechanics
Well, it finally happened. Star Trek has hit the scene with a match-three RPG. We can't say we're even slightly surprised, though: with games like the Puzzle Quest series getting popular, we anticipate a ton of match-three RPGs hitting the App Store in the future. We decided to take a look at Star Trek -- Wrath of Gems, to see how it stacks up to others we've tried.
Possibility of 344 apps infected, claims Chinese research firm
Further research on the XcodeGhost Apple iOS App Store situation has shown that some apps beyond the Chinese market are infected with the limited malware package. According to researchers, 31 apps carrying XcodeGhost have at least some international impact beyond just the Chinese iOS App Store, including popular Rovio title Angry Birds 2. One Chinese research firm believes as many as 344 apps have fallen victim to the package.
Revamped release includes iOS 9 features
In January, we enthused about 1Password version 5.2, and then in April we found more to say over the tiniest of updates to version 5.3. Much as we like it, we knew then that it would take the makers adding something very special to give it a third full Hands On for what is, essentially, the exact same product. They've added something very special. This is now 1Password 6.0, and while it doesn't feel as giant a leap as it was to version 5.0, it's significant -- and we like it a lot. A lot.
Says uniform blocking of all ads hurts websites, creators
Developer Marco Arment has, after just two days of availability, pulled his iOS 9 ad-blocking browser Peace from the App Store, and will offer refunds for those who purchased it. The app will continue to work for those who obtained it during its brief period of availability, but will not be updated. The program relied upon a database used by OS X ad tracker, Ghostery, and blocked all ads without exceptions -- which ultimately led to Arment's decision to pull it.
Alteration of Xcode responsible for embed of relatively light monitoring package
The Chinese iOS app store was briefly serving two apps with very light embedded malware. Apps compiled from a modified version of Apple's Xcode development environment found on Chinese piracy sites have been found to include "XcodeGhost," a malware package that collects time, device name, and network type. In itself, the data collection is not a problem, but of more concern, Apple's vetting process for the apps clearly failed to identify the (admittedly mild) threat.
When you're in a pinch, do this to make your device last longer
It's easy to say that Apple took their own battery reserve ideas from the Apple Watch and applied it to iPhones with iOS 9, but they also improved it along the way. Hugely. Where the Apple Watch can be switched into Power Reserve easily, it removes so many functions that it practically bricks the device, and it is a pain trying to switch it back off. In comparison, the iPhone Low Power Mode is far more clever. So clever, that you many never need to know how to switch it on yourself, you just say yes when the phone asks you. However, there are going to be times when you know you'll have battery issues, and when you'll benefit from thinking ahead.
Movie editor also gains 60fps 1080p, 3D Touch, redesigned views, more
In accordance with new features found on the latest iPhones and iPads, Apple has updated the iOS version of iMovie to support 4K video, as well as 3D Touch and other new gestures that are part of that technology. The new version supports iOS 9, and includes other features that aren't exclusive to the newly-announced iPhone 6s line and iPad Pro. Among these is support for working with 1080p video at 60 frames per second, a redesigned Audio browser, and compatibility with Slide Over and Split View in iOS 9.
Go head-to-head with a friend in this turn-based paper wargame
We love local multiplayer games. Maybe it's our age, or maybe it's just that there's something about playing games face-to-face that we can't get enough of. We recently heard of a neat, skill-shot style game called Lead Wars, that we think should be a part of every game night arsenal.
Try to navigate an eerie world with minimal help from within the game
Once upon a time, there was a well-known genre of games that were designed to test the mettle and resilience of a player, rather than their quick reflexes and ability to manage their stats. These games were often brutally difficult, and provided very little help, but were often worn as a badge of honor when the player finally completed them. Today, we found a modern rendition of such a game, a cryptic, otherworldly game called Hiversaires.
JAMF Casper 9.8 released today, now with iOS 9 support, new config options
Device management software developer JAMF Software today announced same-day support for iOS 9 with Casper Suite 9.8. Today's release allows IT administrators to manage rapid migration to iOS 9 performed by end users or through device-provisioning workflows. Casper Suite 9.8 provides an accurate inventory of all devices migrating to iOS 9 while ensuring that security standards are met. Additionally, the new version brings support of new settings and payloads added to iOS 9 configuration profiles, including trust profiles for in-house enterprise apps, Apple Watch pairing and security, and data security with AirDrop.
Cupertino's new mobile OS brings enhancements to nearly every aspect
Apple has thrown the switch on iOS 9, making it available for all users. The upgrade, weighing in at 1.3 GB, has improvements in four core areas: Intelligence, Apps, iPad, and Foundation. New additions include improvements to Siri, search, multitasking, Apple Pay, and other areas, as detailed in our exclusive Hands On.
From 'so what?' to 'oh wow' in 20 minutes
Should you wait a day or two before you upgrade to iOS 9? We advise it, but only because that's sensible whenever something big rolls out to so many people at once. Sometimes, it's hard to wait for the greatest from Cupertino, and that's partly why your first reaction to iOS 9 is going to be quizzical. You'll go through what is hopefully a quick upgrade process and, picking up the iPhone or iPad, may even turn it around looking for any signs of something different.
Try your hand at inks with this simple, sleek app
Ink drawing can be a bit intimidating to get into, and a bit expensive if you're not sure you're going to stick with it. Thankfully, once again the App Store has come to the rescue. We checked out Zen Brush 2, a slim and slick app for artistic expression.
Tool allows for cross-platform, cross-API performance measurement
Cross-platform benchmarking company Basemark debuted today Basemark Metal, an app that measures the graphics performance of the latest iOS devices supporting Metal graphics API, and allows for a comparison to OpenGL ES. The test workload in Basemark Metal is identical to the workload found in Basemark ES 3.1, an app that runs on the latest Android OpenGL ES 3.1 powered devices.
Traverse a winding storybook world in this unearthly puzzle game
Every so often, we find a game that completely floors us and sticks with us long after we play it. Sometimes these games are rich in story or boast revolutionary mechanics, but that isn't always the case. For example, Oquonie isn't going to win any awards for controls, and it's not going to win story of the year, but it still managed to make it as one of our all-time favorite iOS games.
App Update for Sep 15, 2015
App development has taken off in the last few years, making it increasingly difficult to stay on top of all the latest versions. To help all of you out, we here at MacNN are dedicated to sorting through new update releases, and highlighting some of the important ones, as well as showcasing apps that we find to be interesting. Today, we look at revisions to backup utility Retrospect, page layout utility QuarkXPress, design software PrintLife, Time Machine browser Back-In-Time, OS X customization tool Deeper, and iOS adaptive keyboard Keeble.
App integration allows for photo, GPS monitoring of employee check-ins
Replicon, the leading provider of time asset management solutions, today announced that it will deliver iOS-based business applications. Replicon has also unveiled a new mobile application in the App Store, which helps businesses of all sizes book time off, approve time sheets, time off requests and expenses, and transfer data to payroll for instant processing.
Take charge and create your own music with this intuitive beat maker
Creating your own music is an exciting and rewarding prospect for a lot of people, and most people dabble in music at one point in their life or another. However, we're aware that it's not second nature to most people, and creating your own music can be incredibly intimidating. That's why we're here to suggest trying out Loop Pads 24, an app that is so easy to use but still produces fantastic musical beats for the novice to play around with.
Scale, app collects, collates data to measure health changes over time
Health monitoring company iHealth Lab has debuted the iHealth Core: Wireless Body Composition Scale (HS6) and a new iHealth MyVitals smartphone app which, combined, provide users with a comprehensive view of their body composition and how their fitness routine impacts their overall wellness over time. The solution also allows persons with chronic conditions, such as obesity and hypertension, to better manage their health and make more-informed lifestyle decisions.
Help Lalo strap on a jetpack and find his family in this endless flyer
Jetpacks are one of those things we've been waiting for, for as long as we can remember. How cool would it be to strap on a jetpack and take to the skies? Well, that happens to be the premise of a silly endless flyer that we can't get enough of. Without a doubt, Pull My Paw is one of the cutest arcade games we've come across.
jRPG offers near-perfect battle system but fails to deliver on story and setting
One of the best things about Japanese Role Playing Games (jRPGs) is that they tend to translate well over to mobile platforms. Because these genres are frequently turn-based, you don't have to have lightning fast reflexes that depend on the tactile sensations of a keyboard or controller, or ludicrously high frame rates. No, the jRPG is one of the genres of games that translates over relatively snag-free. Today, we're here to show you Chrome Wolf, a jRPG for die-hard fans of the genre, but maybe not everyone else.
Pack intended for use in Unreal Engine game development
Following Apple's event, game and Unreal Engine creator Epic Games in conjunction with coders ChAIR Entertainment released the Infinity Blade Collection of assets for developers. The collection, which Epic calls "a $3 million investment in art and sound design" is free of charge for use within the Unreal Engine.
Poker and Solitaire collide in this simple yet challenging single player game
We check out a lot of games here, if you haven't noticed, but there's always one genre that we seem to overlook -- card games. And we don't mean trading card games, as we've put out ample coverage on titles like Hearthstone and Scrolls. No, we mean games like Solitaire. Today, we take time to fix the error of our ways, by showing you a gem of a card game: Sage Solitaire.