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Hands On: Vellum 1.2.5 (OS X)

07/31, 10:18am

It's about time we actually reviewed this

There's reviewing and there's reviewing. You know that the tiniest single-function utility gets examined, turned upside down, poked about with and possibly even shaken a bit. You also know that doesn't take long. There are things like Microsoft Word which take a month or more of serious use with betas and previews before more serious use with the final release. Then there's Vellum 1.2.5. We've had this software for about six months, maybe seven. You can't say we're quick with the news on this one, but complete, we are.

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Hands On: Gif Me! Camera 1.11 (iPhone)

07/31, 8:25am

Quickly make GIFs straight from your iPhone with this user-friendly app

The Internet is obsessed with GIFs, if you haven't noticed, but we're pretty sure you have: and for good reason -- they're small, they're animated, and usually contain some of the funniest bits of things you'll see all day. If you've ever wanted to make your own GIFs, we've got a just the app for you to check out: Gif Me! Camera.

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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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Hands On: Microsoft Excel 2016 v15.11.2 (OS X)

07/29, 2:20pm

Hugely-recommended overhaul, but few new features

It's no longer enough for Microsoft to add the odd new feature and scrub up the appearance of an app: the world has moved on, not least in that we now call them all "apps" instead of "applications." With Office 2016 now available to Office 365 users (if their companies have enabled it, or if they sign up themselves), our attention did go first to the new version of Microsoft Word. Office for Mac really contains four major applications (and OneNote, which we'll call a minor one) though, and while we personally might lump PowerPoint and Outlook together into the guest-cast category, Microsoft Excel 2016 15.11.2 is definitely a star of the show.

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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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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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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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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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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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Hands On: Alone 1.0.9 (iOS)

07/22, 7:14am

Race through space at breakneck speeds in this brutal endless side-scroller

What kid didn't grow up wanting to fly a rocket through the vast expances of space? We may have known a child or two who built cardboard rocket ships to pilot through alien landscapes, maybe after playing a little too much Commander Keen. If you're looking to relive the thrill and excitement of those days you dreamed about flying your spaceship through the cosmos, we're going to point you in the direction of Alone.

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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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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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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: Microsoft Word 2016 (OS X)

07/17, 11:02am

The new version of Word for OS X is very, very good -- but so what?

If you have to use Microsoft Word at work, go get this now and be delighted with it. If you don't have to, if you're looking for a great word processor, it's just a little harder to recommend Word quite so readily. It's harder, and it's also very unfair, as 30 years of using various versions of Word have left us with biases against it. Word earned those biases, it's just difficult to think about going back to relying on it, even though Microsoft Word 2016 is the best and the shiniest version ever.

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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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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: Caves of Qud (OS X, Windows)

07/15, 12:17pm

Freehold Games returns, this time with charmingly weird traditional roguelike

As you might be aware we've covered Freehold Games' Sproggiwood, a cartoony, playful roguelite that came out late last year much to our adulation. The game was unapologetically fun, almost sickeningly cute, and we adored every second of it. Today we're pleased to tell you that Freehold Games has released another game, but this time a bit different than Sproggiwood. Today, we check out Caves of Qud, a roguelike of a different sort.

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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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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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Hands On: Adventure Time -- Card Wars 1.5.0 (iOS)

07/14, 8:46am

Battle with Finn, Jake, and all your other favorite Adventure Time characters in Card Wars

We're pretty big fans of Adventure Time here. From the minute that bear-hatted human and stretchy yellow dog entered our lives, things have been a lot more algebraic around these parts. There's something about the show that speaks to both our inner child and our outer geek, which is why we're excited to show you another Adventure Time-themed game. If you're a big fan of the show, we think you should check out Adventure Time: Card Wars, a trading card featuring Finn, Jake, BMO, and all sorts of inhabitants of The Land of Ooo.

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Hands On: iDevices Kitchen Thermometer

07/13, 6:26pm

High-tech temperature monitoring for busy cooks

If you're an avid cook like we are, chances are you have begun looking for the latest and greatest advances in kitchen appliances. We've got our fair share of devices that solve problems, but there are a few we've not replaced. Our colander is the same standard metal design that our grandmother used. Our rolling pin is nothing more than a simple, oversized wooden dowel. Our thermometer is a standard dial-style probe thermometer -- until recently. We're going to show you why we think it might be time for you to upgrade to the iDevice Bluetooth-enabled Kitchen Thermometer.

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Hands On: Puzzle Cards 1.2 (iOS)

07/13, 10:42am

Solve fun, albeit challenging word puzzles with this casual puzzle game

Word games are a great way to help wake your brain up first thing in the morning, which would explain the immense popularity of newspaper crossword puzzles, as well as the plethora of word games available in the App Store. There's something that is both relaxing and energizing about working through word-based puzzles. We checked out Puzzle Cards, a fun little puzzler that we found quite enjoyable.

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Hands On: Ogio Newt 15 Backpack

07/13, 7:18am

Silly name, seriously stylish backpack.

It's that time of year again -- it's time for high school and college kids alike to think about how they're going to carry supplies to and from classes. Even if you're not a college or high school student, backpacks are still convenient to carry all your things from place to place. After all, most of us carry multiple forms of tech every day, so why not make it a little easier? If you're not the type to leave the house without carrying at least a phone, tablet, or computer, read on for our check-out of the Newt 15 laptop backpack by Ogio.

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Hands On: Smart Trash 2.0.0 (OS X)

07/13, 6:38am

Unexpectedly useful tool for emptying the trash

It's the OS X trash, and before that it was the MacOS trash. If you're outside the US your Mac might call it the wastebasket, it might not. Whatever label Apple gives it though, it's the place you dump files and folders you no longer want and it's the place where you delete them about one single ouch-second before realising you didn't mean to. There truly cannot be anything you could add to the trash after thirty years or more, not one single feature -- except there is. Cue Smart Trash 2.0.0 which has some honestly useful extras.

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Hands On: Incipio NGP case for iPhone 6

07/12, 12:49pm

Slim but good case that adds little to the phone's weight and heft

Who would've thought there would ever be an entire industry based on shaping plastic, rubber and assorted other materials into shapes with big holes in? If an iPhone 6 case is all that survives us, if future archaeologists dig one up from the ground, they are going to concoct some seriously strange ideas of what we were like. Mind you, that's their problem. Ours is that iPhones are expensive, and they can be damaged. One of us just got an iPhone 6, so one of us just got an Incipio NGP case for it.

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Hands On: OverColor Pro 1.0.1 (iOS)

07/10, 4:32pm

Improve your spacial reasoning with this layer-based puzzle game

One of the reasons we love puzzle games so much is that they make us feel like we're getting a real mental workout when we play them. We especially love lateral-thinking puzzles, as well as puzzles that require us to use our spacial-awareness reasoning. One such puzzle that gave us quite the mental workout was OverColor Pro, a geometric puzzle that forces you to rethink the way you solve puzzles.

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Hands On: Last Voyage 2.0.0 (iOS)

07/10, 2:33pm

Explore the concept of space with this ethereal explorative puzzle game

Every so often, we find out about a game that is unlike most of the others that we've seen before. These games generally tend to fall outside of normal genre conventions, offering an experience that is hard to come by. We found one such game, Last Voyage, and we think that you should check it out.

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Hands On: TinyWord 2.0.0 (OS X, iOS)

07/10, 9:48am

Lightweight word processor does what it says

Back when Microsoft Word was king, you could do well selling a different word processor if it could open and save documents in Office format. You also needed to be cheaper, and it would help if you were easier to use -- neither of which, to be fair, were hard to pull off. Lastly, if you're in an App Store, finding a way to get the name Word in your title helped people find you. TinyWord 2.0 wants to tick every one of those boxes.

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Hands On: iAddressX 3.6.0 (OS X)

07/10, 7:57am

All your contacts right there in your menubar

Perhaps you know a lot of people, perhaps you don't. Yet you can be pretty sure that most of the ones you do know have at least one email address, a cell phone, a work line, maybe even a fax if you remember those, plus a website and a Twitter address. Lots of people times lots of contact details means it can take ages to get to the person you want. The newly updated iAddressX 3.6.0 aims to fix all that by putting every detail into one icon on your OS X menubar.

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Hands On: Shadowmatic 1.6.1 (iOS)

07/10, 7:32am

A 3D puzzler in two dimensions

Shadowmatic by TRIADA Studio is a puzzler with an elegant-in-its-simplicity mechanic that's beautifully executed in richly-detailed environments. The attention to detail in the visual elements and the beautiful soundtrack are great, even if it all melts away as we're trying to figure out if we're trying to make a race car or a tulip in a bud vase. The app won a design award this year at Apple's WWDC, and we certainly have to agree that this app was designed to the absolute gills.

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Hands On: Namagic 1.1 (OS X)

07/09, 4:00pm

Increasingly handy tool for renaming lots of files

This was not going to be a very praising review, and it was not going to be a recommendation -- but it it is becoming so. Namagic's first versions were not usable -- they simply did not work -- but Namagic 1.1 has fixed all the problems we found. It still has limitations and elements we're not keen on, but for us the question now is whether you need this type of application or not.

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Hands On: Lamp and Vamp 1.3.0 (iOS, Android)

07/09, 2:47pm

Creature of the night needs help moving, has no friends who own a truck

Remember when we talked about DeadEyes? How people tell us they're just so done with Zombies, but we didn't feel like we were quite finished with them? Well ... we won't feel that way about vampires. OMG we just can't even when it comes to vampires anymore people ... okay, maybe ... just maybe, we can. Because we've found a vampire-themed game that's both enjoyable and adorable. Lamp And Vamp by GlobZ is a game about supernatural creatures of the night, those who hunt them, and a challenging real estate market.

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Hands On: Road Rush Racer 1.0 (iOS)

07/09, 12:31pm

Get out all of your road rage in this endless arcade racer.

It's rush hour on a Friday afternoon and you're staring down a highway full of Sunday drivers and who are bent on eating up your precious weekend. What do you do? You put the pedal to the metal, and you don't stop until you're home or you're in the hospital. At least, that's the concept behind Road Rush Racer, an endless arcade racer by KM Games.

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Hands On: Browsy 1.1 (iOS)

07/09, 7:07am

Full screen browser with gesture controls

Part of the advantage of using iPhone 6 or 6 Plus is that you get a bigger screen, but it's still a lot smaller than a Mac or an iPad, so apps that make the best use of that limited display are welcome. They're just not essential. Browsy 1.1 aims to be a browser that takes away all the controls you don't need -- and bring then back when you do.

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Hands On: Windward (Cross-platform)

07/08, 4:33pm

Set sail on the high seas and forge your own fate with this naval RPG

There's something to be said for games that give you true free rein over how you play. Most games give you a choice of being a good guy or a bad guy, give you an option to foster some relationships with others, but overall, they all amount to similar end goals. Games that give you complete control are somewhat rare as far as games go, with the most notable exceptions being games like Minecraft. We like being able to be in control of our own destiny, which is why we took a look at naval action-RPG Windward.

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Hands On: Summer Project E-Publishing part 7 -- it's gone wrong

07/08, 1:35pm

The book isn't good enough, and new doors are opening

The e-book of The Blank Screen: Blogging is ready, I could send it to you, and I was about to upload it to iBooks and Amazon Kindle. This week, I was going to be showing you how you get the paperback ready, and that that is a surprisingly intricate little tale that involves new online software that we haven't talked about before. We're not going to talk about it this week either, because the book is not good enough.

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