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Hands On: Firo 3.0 (iPad)

08/04, 10:30am

Feature packed app still remains accessable, even to beginners

We've written about the validity of the iPad as a musical outlet before, but quite a few of the music production apps available for the iPad tend to fall into one of two groups: they're either so simple they're more like toys, or so complicated that they're only for professionals. The app that we're going to talk about today, however, is a nice middle-ground -- a feature-packed, yet user-friendly app called Firo.

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Hands On: Griffin Helo TC Chopper

08/03, 2:53pm

Lightweight iOS enabled Bluetooth helicopter is tons of fun on the cheap

One of the greatest things about smartphones and Bluetooth-enabled tablets is the sheer amount of crazy gadgets that go along with them. You can control lights, air conditioners, cameras and more, all from your iPhone or iPad -- but what about things that are designed for fun? What about Bluetooth-enabled toys? Today, we're here to tell you about one of the most fun gadgets we've had a chance to look at, Griffin's Helo TC Chopper.

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Hands On: Vox 2.5.1 (OS X, iOS)

08/03, 9:57am

Vox straddles the thin line between brilliant and unusable

This is the most beautiful, even mesmerising app and where you always want to shout loudly about great software, we wanted to stand on desks and bellow that Vox 2.5.1 is a gorgeous music player and service. Unfortunately, we more stood by desks arguing over it. It was 50/50 between one side of MacNN saying it is stunning with some problems and the other half saying those problems were just too much. Both sides are right: we long to recommend this to you but if we do, we have to prepare you for frustrations.

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Taking Apple Music for a drive: the non-techie point of view

08/03, 9:30am

Tech mavens say Apple Music's implementation is bad. Does everyone?

We're a completely Mac and iOS household but it's my husband William who is the techie one. Look left a bit and there's me. Hello. I just want to use the stuff without understanding the innards. So MacNN asked me for a non-geek review of Apple Music.

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Pointers: Fix Waiting Apps (iOS)

08/03, 8:13am

Though not why it happens at the worst times

You may never have seen this, in which case you have a good day now. The rest of us have turned to our iPhones and found that an app we need urgently is greyed out for no clear reason. Or a whole folder is. Or the app does say Installing and you realise it must be an update as you installed this one months ago -- but then it keeps on saying Installing. Perhaps the very worst is when it just says Waiting. Surely, there can be no worse torture inflicted on a law-abiding iOS user than having an app say Waiting, in perpetuity.

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Hands On: Bee 1.0 (iOS)

07/31, 2:50pm

Snappy, fast email for casual users

The world seems to hate email, but it isn't going anywhere -- and those of us who like it are bemused at attempts to replace it. Microsoft Send didn't strike a chord with us but actually, maybe Bee 1.0 does. It's definitely got a place in adding convenience and speed to emails, though probably not if you're a heavy user of Apple's Mail, and definitely not if you're wedded to Gmail or Outlook.

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Hands On: Angry Birds 2 2.0.1(iOS)

07/31, 7:45am

Angry Birds gets a proper sequel, but it falls short

At this point, we're sure that almost everyone who owns an iPhone or iPad has at least tried out an Angry Birds game, be it the original or one of the many sequels. It's hard to go a public place without coming across some sort of Angry Birds merchandise. Billionaire developers Rovio have finally made a proper sequel, Angry Birds 2, and we sat down and took a look at it to see how it holds up to the original.

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Yahoo Livetext brings audio-free video text chats to iOS, Android

07/29, 3:07pm

Yahoo claims lack of audio a feature, for context-free communications

Yahoo today announced Yahoo Livetext, a new app for one-to-one live video texting on iPhone and Android phones. Yahoo Livetext blends texting with the immediacy of live video -- but without the audio.

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Livescribe rolls out new Echo Smartpen 8GB Pro edition

07/29, 10:00am

New release has more storage, better software than original release

Smartpen manufacturer Livescribe announced yesterday that it is now rolling out a new Echo Smartpen 8GB Pro Edition. The Echo smartpen is an all-in-one device that digitizes notes written on paper and records audio synchronized to handwriting using the built-in microphone. Following capture, the app and hardware combination transfers all of the notes and audio to a computer through USB.

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Pointers: Six tools for writing books

07/29, 9:38am

Replace that typewriter and make yourself an e-book

When you've done something once, you can fly through it the second time. Unless that second time is ages later, in which case you spend all your waking hours re-learning something you'd already sweated through. So entirely for you and not at all, not in the teeniest way for us the next time we write a book, here's what you need. It's what we recommend after a summer of working on this, followed up by one or two cases where your mileage may vary and anyway the alternatives are fun. Plus a few quick notes of lessons we learned, mistakes, and evidence -- actual evidence -- that all this works.

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Hands On: Learn Spanish with MosaLingua 7.0 (iOS)

07/29, 7:54am

Give yourself a refresher course with this simple Spanish language course

Language is one of those things that needs to be maintained and routinely brushed up on, and is especially true of a second language. How many of us took Spanish or French in high school, but haven't spoke a lick of it since then? If you're looking for a great way to refresh your memory, we suggest checking out something like Learn Spanish with MosaLingua.

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Hands On: NC Twitter Widget for Notification Center 1.1 (iOS)

07/28, 3:06pm

Just swipe to read the latest tweets

Twitter is a never-ending waterfall of news, totally random information and totally spurious comments: you can't keep up with everything, and everything changes from moment to moment too. NC Twitter Widget for Notification Center 1.1 can't stop the flow, but it can let you quickly see the latest few tweets before, just as quickly, letting you back into real life. It's an iOS 8 Notification Center item, which means you can see Twitter at any time by just swiping down from the top of your screen.

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Hands On: This is My Food 1.0.0 (iOS)

07/28, 2:01pm

Easy-to-use biology and nutrition app makes learning about food fun

Educational apps for kids over the age of five are often entirely centered around reading comprehension or mathematics, and often tend to gloss over the sciences. We think that is a real shame, because kids are naturally curious about the world around them and how it works. Urbn Pockets, however, saw this opportunity and decided they'd step in, with a biology- and nutrition-themed app called This is My Food.

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Hands On: Dashlane 3.0.3 (OS X, iOS)

07/28, 10:49am

Good, strong password manager

Ask anyone who uses a password manager app, and they will evangelize about it -- but they'll also make it sound as if there's only one. We're a little guilty of this ourselves: we've regarded 1Password as synonymous with password management. Yet there are really a handful of them, and Dashlane 3.0.3 has fans who will never look at anything else. They probably don't need to.

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Hands On: Lumo Deliveries 1.4.2 (iOS)

07/28, 7:49am

Manage your shipping empire and attempt to take over the world

Resource management games are a fairly broad genre. You've got the base builders and the simulation games, but every so often you've got games that are almost entirely about one single thing: aquiriing and reallocating resources. The most famous title we can think of is Cookie Clicker, but there are several other games in the genre. Today, we check out another game that fits this mold, Lumo Deliveries, to see how it stands against other more well known titles.

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Hands On: Stray Dog Simulator 1.1 (iOS)

07/28, 7:37am

Eat trash, get in fights, live the life of a stray dog in this strange but fun game

If you've never experienced the joy of playing a game that is utterly ridiculous, we're not sure if you have even really begun living. We've checked out a lot of silly games here, and they've earned a spot in our heart. Today we add another to our growing list, Gluten Free Games' Stray Dog Simulator, a game in which you live the life of a stray dog.

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Hands On: Busy Shapes 1.4.0 (iOS)

07/27, 1:40pm

Cute puzzle game helps kids understand color theory and spacial logic

There's something to be said for apps that cater to the preschool and elementary crowd. Years go, most developers avoided creating apps for younger kids, because most mainstream consoles and computers had far too many buttons for little fingers. Thanks to touchscreen devices, more developers are making the leap to engage a younger audience. We checked out Busy Shapes, a cute puzzler for the under-10 set.

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MacNN's Week that Was: July 19 through July 25, 2015

07/27, 12:22pm

The Terminator (again), Elon Musk and AI weapons, and more!

Yeah, its a day late because of some improvements on the site, but its now time for the weekly MacNN Week That Was column! Rolling into our second month, this is our weekly column on the stories that entertained us, informed us, or amused us in our patrols around the Internet during the week. We're not just highlighting our own writing -- anything that we've discussed behind the scenes here at MacNN is fair game. Read on for thoughts on the events of the week in the tech world!

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Pandora expands ad-based Sponsored Listening program

07/27, 10:03am

Advertising video must be consumed prior to one hour of uninterrupted listening

Streaming music purveyor Pandora today announced that its latest engagement-based advertising product, Sponsored Listening, is now available to all advertisers. The product gives Pandora users an hour of uninterrupted listening following engagement with a brand's full video, which can be up to four minutes long, at the beginning of a listening session. This launch follows a beta period initiated in September 2014 during which Sponsored Listening received feedback from Pandora's listeners and produced a measurable return on investment for advertisers.

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Hands On: Adventure Time Puzzle Quest 1.3.498317 (iOS)

07/27, 9:30am

Match-3 mechanics combine with RPG elements in this Adventure Time-themed game

So you may have noticed this by now, but we've got some serious love for the match-three genre. We especially like games that combine match-three elements with other genres of gaming. You also may have noticed that we're pretty big fans of Adventure Time, too. Well, thanks to Cartoon Network and D3PA, both of our loves are combined in Adventure Time Puzzle Quest, a match-three roleplaying game (RPG) that takes you into the Land of Ooo.

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Living With: Fallout Shelter (iOS)

07/27, 7:31am

One month into our post-apocolyptic adventure and we're already a bit bored.

When we first got our hands on Fallout Shelter last month, we were immediately addicted. This spunky little base builder was a well-designed way to pass the time as we wait for Fallout 4 to release. Originally, we'd touted the game as a perfect portable base-builder with adequate challenges and plenty to do, but as time went on, we've noticed that our opinion has changed a bit.

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Apple celebrates Disabilities Act's 25th, pushes LGBT equality bill

07/24, 12:57pm

Company continues long-standing campaign for equal rights for workers

Apple this week is highlighting two areas of protection from discrimination in two separate actions; the endorsement of a new legislation motion to include sexual orientation and gender identity to the Civil Rights Act, and a spotlight celebrating the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act by showcasing a collection of accessibility apps. The company was recently recognized for its leadership in tech accessibility by the National Federation for the Blind.

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Honda launches 2016 Accord, company's first CarPlay vehicle

07/24, 9:43am

Android Auto, CarPlay standard in three models of Accord

Car manufacturer Honda has dispelled any confusion about its CarPlay launch plans. At its Mountain View, CA research facility, the company revealed the new 2016 Accord, boasting support for both CarPlay and Android Auto. The new Accord is the first Honda vehicle to have CarPlay support, but the company says that it will have more vehicles in the 2016 line that supports the Apple connectivity standard.

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Hands On: Microsoft Send 1.2.4 (iOS)

07/24, 7:40am

When email just isn't curt enough

Microsoft Send 1.2.4 is more an experiment than an app: designed by the company's Garage team, it's an attempt to see what email would be like if you turn it into text messages. The answer is ... text messages. Maybe you like text messages and for some reason can't send them to someone. If so, then Microsoft Send is for you.

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Invisible ads slowing down iPhones, Android

07/23, 6:01pm

Phantom adverts affecting data caps, defrauding advertisers

Over 5,000 fraudulent apps currently available for iOS and Android are displaying ads users cannot see, but which are causing problems, using up cellular data, and costing advertisers around $850 million per year, says online fraud research company Forensiq in a new report. The ads are not visible on screen, yet the volume of them contributes to an overal slowing down of iPhone or Android devices while stealing data from often-limited cellular data plans.

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Hands On: DropZap 3.6 (iOS)

07/23, 5:36pm

Quirky puzzle game requires careful move planning to progress

Puzzle games are ubiquitous. Whether on Steam or on console, or even in the App Store, there's simply just a plethora of games for you to sort through. In an effort to help you find a puzzle game you might enjoy, we actually check out quite a few. Our offering today is DropZap, a quirky puzzle game with match-3 influences.

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Hands On: To-Fu Fury 1.0 (iOS)

07/23, 1:40pm

Springy arcade puzzler has fun mechanics, falls a little short on execution

Easily the most booming game genre on the App Store is the humble arcade title. These simple, score-driven games are usually quick to pick up but difficult to master. We've checked out a lot of arcade games here, so if we weren't before, we're now becoming seasoned professionals when it comes to knowing what stands out above the rest. Today, we check out Amazon Game Studio's new-to-iOS arcade puzzle game, To-Fu Fury, to see how it stacks up against other games in the genre.

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Hands On: Phraselogy 2.0.6 (iPad)

07/23, 10:01am

It's no Word but this Drafts sister title is excellent

Agile Tortoise is the developer of four apps. We enthused about Terminology, we raved about Tally 2, we fair evangelise Drafts 4 daily. That leaves Phraseology 2.06, and of course after those three we went in expecting to like it -- but we also thought we might not. For Phraseology is a word processor, and we have already written thousands of words in the note-taking Drafts 4. A trip into Phraseology, therefore, became simultaneously a practical question of whether we needed it, and a more philosophical one of what exactly the difference is between a note-taking app and a word processing one.

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Hands On: Bean Boy 1.029 (iOS)

07/23, 7:57am

Reach for the stars in this strange, springy, vertical platformer

There's a type of game that we seem to run across every few years or so, a sub-genre of our beloved platformer. The games of which we speak are called vertical platformers, heavily muscle-memory based climbers, which means that through carefully-aimed, carefully-timed jumps, you attempt to climb as high as possible. Orisinal has a version of this game called The Amazing Dare Dozenon their website, and we've seen other versions on sites like Newgrounds. Today, we check out one iOS-based vertical platformer called Bean Boy.

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CudaLaunch gives iOS users VPN access through Barracuda NG firewalls

07/22, 11:49am

App available for both Android, iOS; allows access through enterprise firewall

Barracuda has today announced the release of CudaLaunch, an application for both iOS and Android devices that provides mobile workers secure and remote access to an organization's private cloud applications and networks through the widely-used Barracuda NG Firewall. The application is designed for both mobile workers and IT administrators, with end-user features for productivity, as well as management features for administrators.

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Hands On: Legions of Steel 1.0 (iPad)

07/22, 9:49am

Tactical game plays like an adrenaline junkies game of hide and seek

We're getting pretty familiar with games by Slitherine, the developer responsible for Hell: Fight for Gilrand and Warhammer 40K: Armageddon. So far, everything they've thrown at us we've liked, which is why we decided to check out Legions of Steel, another tactical strategy game that's out for the iPad.

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Apple pulls ability to post App Store reviews using iOS 9 beta

07/22, 8:23am

New pop-up notice warns iOS 9 beta users they cannot add App Store reviews

In a move likely to please app developers, users of the beta for iOS 9 are no longer able to add their reviews to the App Store. The latest build of the mobile operating system removed the ability to post the reviews, with a new pop-up window appearing on beta versions stating "This feature isn't available. You can't write reviews while using a prerelease version of iOS" whenever a user attempts it from a device with iOS 9 installed.

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Hands On: Screeny 1.5 (iOS)

07/21, 5:04pm

Could it be any more niche yet useful?

Clearly, not every app is for everyone. Usually you can see that an app is good, even if you know you'll never use it yourself. Just occasionally, though, you find one that makes you wonder if anyone at all would ever use it. This one we've found is Screeny 1.5 and the answer is yes. We would. We are now using it, and we're using it a lot, but all it does is find and remove screenshots from your iPhone and iPad.

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Technology in Recovery: Unconventional solutions

07/21, 4:22pm

What happens when there are more strokes than you thought?

A lot has happened since the last installment of Tech in Recovery, so please pardon the delay. The primary subject of the series, my wife, has suffered further mini-strokes, which led to a significant setback in both her treatment, and this series. So, absent of other data, for now, let's roll into the third installment of Technology in Recovery. This week, we're going to discuss some things that have been used in her therapy, as well as addressing a frequently-asked question -- what am I doing to stay sane?

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Hands On: Alphabear 01.01.00 (iOS)

07/21, 2:00pm

Adorable word puzzle game comes with tons of features and lots of fun

Whether you're a fan of Words with Friends, Bookworm, or Boggle, there's a lot of fun to be had playing word games. The juxtaposition of the challenge of finding words, and the relaxing low-stress gameplay, makes for a great way to pass the time and unwind after a long day. Today, we bring you Alphabear, a word puzzle that is so adorable you won't be able to stand it.

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Apple, IBM unveil another 10 enterprise apps

07/21, 1:19pm

MobileFirst for iOS partnership now offers 32 vertical apps

The partnership between Apple and IBM that targets the enterprise sector continues a steady stream of new app releases, with 10 more announced on Tuesday that brings the total of the year-old partnership to 32 apps for specific industries. The latest batch include apps designed for managers, business travelers, the mortgage industry, government inspectors, and field technicians and professionals, among others.

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Hands On: Tally 2 (iOS)

07/21, 8:23am

Not much counts against it

Usually when people say that it's hard to find an app in the App Store, they're complaining that search is a mess, there are so many similarly-named items, and generally the great stuff is lost in the weeds of the bad. Yet maybe we have to take some blame ourselves, too. For as much as we rave about Drafts 4 and as much as we wanted a counting app, we did not think to connect some dots and see if the same developer had what we need. Yes. Presenting Tally 2 version 2.1.2, from the makers of Drafts 4.

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Hands On: The Mesh 1.01 (iOS)

07/21, 7:30am

Jiggly math game offers fun, complex play

Number games have been popping up in abundance on the App Store for a while now, giving math junkies their daily fix of perplexing problems. If you're a self-proclaimed mathematician, or just someone who enjoys puzzles, we'd like to steer you in the direction of The Mesh, a hex-grid number game that we enjoyed.

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Hands On: Kiwanuka 1.2 (iOS)

07/20, 2:14pm

Adorable puzzle game has you rescuing wizards in space

We love relaxing puzzle games around here. There's something to be said for puzzle games that you can enjoy at your own pace, without needing to worry about high scores, or a clock that winds down too fast. One such relaxed puzzle game is Kiwanuka, a game that was designed just for the fun of it.

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Hands On: Pocket 5.6.7 (iOS)

07/20, 10:14am

Save MacNN articles to read later

Apparently there are other websites in the world -- it's not just MacNN. If you spot one, do let us know -- and also save interesting articles from them to read later. That's what Pocket 5.6.7 for iOS is for, and if you lob pieces in there just when you're too busy to read them right now, that would be good enough for us.

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Hands On: Warhammer 40,000: Deathwatch -- Tyranid Invasion 1.0 (iOS)

07/20, 7:14am

Warhammer 40k franchise returns with a brilliantly-designed strategy game

The Space Marines are at it again, though it shouldn't be surprising. The Warhammer 40,000 franchise has seen success on mobile platforms for some time now, and we've covered several 40K games here. Today, we check out the newest title, Warhammer 40,000: Deathwatch -- Tyranid Invasion, another impressive turn-based strategy game.

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Poorly-written iOS, Android apps vulnerable to password hacking

07/17, 4:00pm

Dozens of apps allow unlimited login attempts, creating minor security risk

A new report has found that a number of popular iOS and Android apps have what amounts to a minor security fault, in that they allow users to make an unlimited number of attempts to login to an associated account, thus making them vulnerable to password hacking for attackers who have physical access to the device, such as thieves or overzealous law enforcement. Security firm AppBugs says "dozens" of apps are affected, including Slack, iHeartRadio, Dictionary, SoundCloud and many others.

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Hands On: Fotonica 1.1.6 (iOS)

07/17, 3:26pm

3D Runner takes players through elaborate wire-frame landscapes

As a subset of platformers, the runner genre has really taken hold and grown since games like the Bit.Trip series have proven their popularity across multiple playforms. They're games of simple skills, requiring a player to be a master of time rather than a master of intricate button combos, or stat min/maxing. Today, we take a look at Fotonica, a runner we thought earned its place in the genre.

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Hands On: No Brakes Valet 1.2 (iOS)

07/16, 1:55pm

Enjoy the action-packed life of a valet with this fun arcade game

If you've ever wanted to experience one of the most exciting career options through an ultra-realistic simulation, then boy do we have the app for you. You'll experience thrills, chills, and plenty of sweet, sweet dollar bills with this little gem. Step behind the wheel and strap in with No Brakes Valet, and experience what it's like to be one of the most powerful, desired, and feared people on the planet: a parking valet.

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App Update: DEVONthink Pro, DEVONnote, YosemiteRevert, more

07/16, 1:46pm

App Update for Jul 16, 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 DevonThink Pro, DevonNote, YosemiteRevert, SiteSucker, MegaSeg, MachineProfile, and OneNote for iOS.

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Hands On: This War of Mine 1.1 (iOS)

07/16, 10:55am

Gritty, thought-proviking survival game makes the leap from PC to mobile platforms

What makes a game a "game?" Is it fun? Entertainment or enjoyment is derived from playing it? We'd like to think that, there's more to games than that. A game doesn't have to be fun to make it a rewarding experience, but can instead force you to experience things that make you think. One particular game that embodies this exact principle is This War of Mine, a game recently ported to the iPad.

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Hands On: Pixelmator 2.0.2 (iOS)

07/16, 7:55am

Even better features, and it's on sale

There are free apps that still aren't worth the money, but generally speaking, apps are either so cheap as to be worth a punt, or so cheap as to be preposterous. Consequently, MacNN doesn't generally rush to do a Hands On of a product which has had some digits lowered in its price. Similarly, we don't exactly race to redo a Hands On just because a product has had the tiniest of numbers added to its version. You know there's a but, or a yet, coming: one of our very favourite image-editing applications has jumped up from version 2.0.1 to being Pixelmator 2.0.2 for iOS, and briefly sunk from $5 to $1. Go buy it right now. We'll wait.

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Hands On: BlackCam 1.26 (iOS)

07/15, 11:32am

Feature-packed filter app gives your photographs visual interest

There's something about black and white photography that we really dig. It's timeless. It's dramatic. It makes even simple pictures look so much more striking. If you're looking to elevate your pictures to the next level, we've got an app for you to take a look at: BlackCam.

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Acclaimed civilians at war sim This War of Mine hits iPad, Android

07/15, 8:30am

MacNN review of the title found it controversial, thought-provoking

This War of Mine, 11 bit studios' provocative and award-winning strategy game of wartime survival, is available today for iOS and Android tablets. Rather than being on the front lines, This War of Mine captures war as experienced by the civilians trying to survive in a besieged city.

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Hands On: Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved 2.0.0 (iOS)

07/15, 8:08am

Geometry Wars brings another action-packed shooter to iOS, fun ensues

It's strange to think that one of the most popular Xbox Live Arcade games started out as a minigame within another game, but that's exactly how the popular shmup series Geometry Wars got its start. Geometry Wars has seen incredible success across multiple platforms, including console, PC, and even mobile platforms. Today we check out Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved for the iPad, to see just how well it holds up to other games in the series.

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