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.
Target brings Apple Watch to its stores, general sales by October 25
The Apple Watch is making an appearance at Target, as the retailer prepares to sell the smartwatch to its customers. The store advises a select number of its stores will be receiving supplies of the Apple Watch this week, with all stores stocking the device by October 25 in time for holiday sales, and Target's online store will start selling the Apple Watch from October 18. Not all models will be available in-store, though the website will include an "expanded assortment" of the devices.
When you can't tap on a day in month view
File this under "simple, short and a workaround" while Apple fixes a bug. Since at least iOS 9, possibly earlier, there have been sporadic reports of a problem with Calendar on iPhones. If you go to the month view, tap on a date and nothing happens, you've got the bug. Fortunately, we've got the solution: double-tap instead.
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.
Sprint increasing price of unlimited single-line plan from $60 to $70
Sprint is preparing to increase the cost of its unlimited plan for a single line. While it is currently priced at $60 per month for unlimited calls, texts, and data, the carrier will be raising the plan's monthly charge to $70 from October 16 for new customers. Existing customers on the plan will continue to pay the $60 monthly rate, with Sprint advising they can also activate a new phone and remain on the same $60 Unlimited Plan, as long as they still meet the plan requirements and are either purchasing or financing a phone.
Half great, half head-slapping
You know that Google Maps is better than Apple Maps: there's probably no one outside Apple itself who would deny that Google's service has far more and richer data, and in some countries is better at finding routes. So the fact that the new Google Maps 4.11.0 release adds Apple Watch support is, in all ways, brilliant. Strike that: it's in all but one ways brilliant. As is so very often the case with Google, you have to switch on settings that you struggle to find -- in part because Google itself tells you the wrong place to look. There's an irony there in a map app by a search giant telling you the wrong place.
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.
Google proposes installing free Wi-Fi hotspots in Indian railway stations
Google has revealed plans to increase the number of people going online in India, by providing high-speed Wi-Fi in railway stations. Working with Indian Railways and communications company RailTel, the scheme proposes the installation of the free hotspots in 100 of the busiest stations by the end of 2016, serving over 10 million passengers per day. The ultimate goal of connecting 400 of the stations across the country is accompanied by another to make it self-sustainable, enabling it to fund expansion into other areas.
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.
Google Keep ships on iOS over two years after Android release
Google Keep, the search engine's note-taking app, has finally arrived in the App Store, two and a half years after it launched on Android and in the browser. Available for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch running iOS 8.0 or later, the free app allows users to save notes and lists on cards, with individual notes able to be searched, assigned colors, and have time or location-based reminders assigned to them. Notes synchronize with Google's servers, so they can be accessed from multiple devices, and can even be shared with other users for collaborative purposes.
Link phones to share streaming music in sync
We were only thinking the other day that music used to be something you shared, and now it's something that works its way into our heads via white earbuds. Everyone able to listen to anything they want is great, but somehow it has meant that so often we don't listen to anyone else's choice. AmpMe 1.4 is about bringing the sharing back to streaming. There are clear features we'd like to see added, as this is limited, but still rather exciting.
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.
VPN access, private phone numbers, security courses offered by MacNN Deals
Every day, alongside our regular Daily Deals post, we are highlighting some of the offers available from our own MacNN Deals store. Today's collection of four deals aim to help you protect yourself online, with the quartet including a pair of VPN services, a private secondary phone number, and a cyber security developer course bundle.
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.
Starbucks spreads app-based ordering, payment to all US stores
Starbucks has made its Mobile Order & Pay system available to all customers across the United States, following tests in a number of US markets. The feature, available in both iOS and Android versions of the Starbucks app, lets customers place their order from within the app, with the estimated time for order completion provided once it has been placed. There is also the ability to pre-pay within the app itself, saving customers more time. Starbucks is aiming to bring the same feature to select company-owned stores in the United States and Canada next month.
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.
Skype issues affecting users logging in, making calls to contacts
Skype is currently enduring major issues affecting its users in a number of countries around the world over the last 24 hours. The Microsoft-owned messaging and calling service is having problems with various aspects of the service, including its login and status systems, messaging, and other services, preventing some users from being able to communicate with others, with Microsoft advising it is aware and attempting to rectify the situation.
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.
Two smart switches, thermostat revealed by company today
Internet of Things device manufacturer iDevices has announced a new line of Apple HomeKit-enabled products.. Revealed today are the iDevices Switch, iDevices Outdoor Switch and iDevices Thermostat, all controllable through Siri, as well as the iDevices Connected app. The HomeKit-enabled iDevices Switch plug allows users to easily control, monitor and program any electric device throughout their home from anywhere using Siri or the iDevices Connected app.
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.
Touch ID, Apple Watch support added to Bank of America mobile banking app
Among its many other uses, Touch ID is great for signing-in to apps that require a secure login, such as banking apps. To that end, Bank of America has updated its mobile banking app to version 6.4.0, supporting both Touch ID login as well as an Apple Watch subset of the app that lets users check recent transactions and balances, and receive alerts on the Watch.
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.