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Hands On: Breezeblox 1.1 (iOS)

05/22, 10:26am

Test your spatial reasoning with this devilishly deceptive puzzle game

We know that spatial-awareness puzzles require a certain kind of person: a bold person, one who isn't afraid to get their mind tangled up in the puzzle. They've got to be a little pensive, too. After all, these puzzles often require a very specific solution, putting the wits of even the best lateral thinker to the test. One such puzzler is Breezeblox, a deceptively inviting puzzle game about a jiggly square.


Hands On: Streamline 1.2 (iOS)

05/21, 3:30pm

A zoomable calendar app for iOS, coming to Android soon

Streamline Calendar by Serendipi shows everything on the user's various calendars on a zoomable format. Rather than looking at a traditional calendar, the app organizes events and appointments into a timeline that can be expanded, or narrowed down.


Hands On: Lost Within 1.0 (iOS, Android)

05/21, 10:11am

Somebody please hold our hand

We're no stranger to spooky games and scary themes, but sometimes the suspense inherent in horror survival games makes us very anxious, and it's difficult to get a good play session rolling. When faced with having to sneak through a creepy asylum, with a creepy kid whispering creepy things at us, and gurgling "inhabitants" chasing us into lockers ... we did the only thing any rational adult would do. We called our friend Todd, and asked him to virtually hold our hand through Skype while we played Lost Within by Amazon Game Studios.


Hands On: Postbox 4.0b4 (OS X, Windows)

05/21, 7:53am

Powerful replacement for Apple's Email

It used to be that free trumped everything, especially when that free was something built by Apple or Microsoft. When literally every Mac or Windows user has a particular type of software provided right there with their computer, it used to be that rivals simply died. Now we seem more open to persuasion, or at least to considering alternatives, and for some people Postbox 4 is going to be so ideal they'll wish they bought it two versions ago.


Hands On: Awesomenauts (cross-platform)

05/20, 12:31pm

Cartoony MOBA offers fun play, poor multiplayer experience

Ah, the humble multiplayer online battle arena, or as it's colloquially known, the MOBA. We're not sure if there is a more misunderstood genre. This community-heavy, no-holds-barred, multiplayer brawl is almost unanimously love it or hate it, with very few people in between. Today, we took a look at a rather unusual MOBA, known as Awesomenauts, to see where it stacks up against other big-name games.


Hands on: Foldify Zoo 1.2 and Foldify Dinosaurs 1.0 (iPad)

05/19, 2:59pm

Another papercraft toy creation tool from Pixle

Foldify Zoo -- Create, Print and Fold Paper Animals! and Foldify Dinosaurs are two more papercraft toy creation apps from Pixle, makers of Foldify and Storest, which we have looked at previously. Both Zoo and Dinosaurs include all the tools from Foldify, but have more limited papercraft patterns to choose from. What the user gets in exchange is an educational rundown of the creature in question, and where in the world it's from.


Hands On: Bamboo Paper 2.5.1 (iOS)

05/19, 10:46am

Wacom offers well-designed, albeit simple drawing app to pair with stylus lines

Design giants Wacom are known for their line of drawing tablets, which they've been producing for the better part of two decades. Because of this, they've become an industry standard when it comes to graphic design and digital illustration. Seeking to extend their market, Wacom recently made the leap of producing a line of Bluetooth-enabled styluses for the iPad, and with it came Bamboo Paper, a stylus-compatible drawing app designed for the iPad.


Hands On: Two Dots 1.6.2 (iOS, Android)

05/19, 7:43am

A simple but engaging connect-the-dots puzzler with some micro-transaction issues

Two Dots by Playdots purports to be the story of two brave dots. We're not sure there's actually a story there; certainly the game's visuals portray themes of travel and adventure which we quite like, but really what the user gets is some simple but engaging connect-the-dots puzzle action. We enjoyed the gameplay in Two Dots, but it does the thing we dislike most in games with micro-transactions. That being, it keeps us from actually playing the game.


Hands On: Montar Universal Car Mount

05/18, 4:14pm

Strong, easy to fit windshield mount for iPhone

Don't get us started on which States let you use a windshield-mounted GPS: it's so complicated, it changes and anyway by the time we'd listed all the conditions our UK colleagues will have driven wherever they're going. For the US, we can wait with crossed fingers for a heads-up laser display projected onto the glass. Until then we're going to argue that having your iPhone mounted up where you can see it is safer than an in-dashboard system you have to keep taking your eyes off the road to see. More, we're going to recommend you use the Montar Universal Car Mount wherever it is safe and legal to do so.


Hands On: Circulets 2.1.5 (iOS)

05/18, 10:20am

Face off in no-holds barred competitive local multiplayer with this reflex-based game

Local multiplayer games are somewhat of a rarity on the iPad, and we think that's a shame. There's something about sitting down and playing a competitive game with a friend that we enjoy, and the iPad seems to beg for this experience. One such game that takes advantage of the size and accessibility of the iPad is Circulets, a seriously competitive local mutiplayer game.


Hands On: Foldify 1.7 (iPad)

05/18, 7:30am

Design, print, and assemble paper-craft toys and art

Readers might remember our Hands On for Storest, an app that gives kids physical paper props with which to play store. Today, we take a look at Foldify -- Create, Print, Fold! by the same developer, Pixle. Much like Storest, Foldify is an app that kids -- or immature adults like us -- can play with and then take part of that app into the physical world by printing it out in paper.


Hands On: BitTorrent Bleep 1.02 (iOS)

05/17, 1:54pm

New P2P instant messaging app helps keep conversations private

It's hard to have a conversation about the Internet without also having a conversation about privacy, or the lack thereof. As a response, BitTorrent Bleep is a new messenger service brought about by a desire for a little more privacy than the average text or IM program. We sat down with Bleep to see just how well this newcomer holds up to its promises.


Hands On: Mobee Magic USB 3.0 Hub (iMac)

05/17, 9:08am

Add extra USB ports to your iMac

If there is a first rule to reviewing then surely it is to be useful. This is what something is, this is what it says it does, this is whether it does it and why you would or wouldn't benefit from spending whatever it costs on whatever it is. With that in mind, then, Mobee's Magic Hub is a device that attaches to the stand on your iMac and lets you plug in more USB devices. It'll set you back $50 and it's worth it. Off you pop.


Hands On: NYT Now 2.0.1 (iOS)

05/17, 8:59am

Headline news app now free

If you're confused by The New York Time's range of online and mobile apps, the short answer is that this is the one you want, this is the one that ought to be on Apple Watch -- and this one is now free. It used to be a subscription-only app, but this week that changed, and you can the get the good one, the NYT Now 2.0.1 app, for nothing.


Hands On: Alternote 1.0 (OS X)

05/16, 7:11am

An alternative to Evernote's kludgy interface

It's not so much "alter" as in "change," it's more "alter" as in "alternative." Alternote 1.0 is an alternative to Evernote, or at least it is a better way of writing notes into Evernote. It's not a true alternative like Microsoft's OneNote, where the two do the same jobs of both entering and storing notes. Instead, Alternote is a substitute for the Evernote note-entering interface: you can write in this faster, and it's a much cleaner, simpler, OS X Yosemite-like application that is visually appealing.


Hands On: Toca Tailor 1.0.5 (iOS)

05/15, 3:50pm

Creative kids app encourages kids to explore designing clothes!

Toca Boca is a developer we feature regularly here, and it's not hard to see why. Their apps are bright, friendly, easy to use, and consistently ranked among the top apps for young kids. Today we checked out Toca Tailor, a sandbox-style game with a similar feel to games like Toca Hair Salon and Toca Mini.


Hands On: Paper by FiftyThree 2.5.1 (iOS)

05/15, 11:44am

Paper by FiftyThree gets a business-minded update

We took a look at Paper a while back, a slick little drawing app by FiftyThree. It was an instant favorite, especially when paired with FiftyThree's Bluetooth stylus, Pencil. We loved the ease of use, the stylish design, and the ability to easily create new drawings within collections of notebooks. Recently, Paper recently was the recipient of a significant new update and we decided it was time to revisit the app to see what changes have come about since our last look.


Hands On: Where Apple HealthKit does not yet tread

05/14, 4:22pm

Women's cycle apps -- we compare two

We understand completely, for many people, the human body is biological and gross. That goes for everybody and every body: male, female, human, jellyfish … it's all horrible, sticky, and gross. Don't get us wrong, we think that's great! It's something we all have in common! That being said, this Hands On is about apps that are specifically for those who are female-bodied and currently experiencing what we going to tactfully call "cycles." So if that applies to you, or somebody you care about, this is here to inform you. If it doesn't apply to you or somebody you care about, or it's not something you want to read about, go ahead and give this one a pass.


Hands On: Origin PC BlackWidow Chroma keyboard

05/14, 8:28am

A rainbow in the dark for typists, gamers

While Origin PC is known for the computers they build, they also offer a Gearshop filled with additional components to improve your gaming experience. One such offering is the $169 Origin PC BlackWidow Chroma, a mechanical gaming keyboard with customizable backlighting options. Anyone familiar with the PC gaming market may recognize the name "BlackWidow" as a product offered by Razer, and they would be spot on. Origin's keyboard is simply a Razer BlackWidow Chroma that has been rebranded with the Origin logo. Despite the BlackWidow's popularity amongst the gaming community, this was our first chance to get our hands on an actual unit. Find out our thoughts on the colorful keyboard in both our written hands on and accompanying video review.


Review: FileMaker Pro 14 (OS X, iOS, Windows)

05/13, 12:22pm

Excellent update to a superb but not flawless tool

Here's the thing. FileMaker Pro is a quietly spectacular app: it's for creating databases but for three decades now it has also created careers. There are people whose entire working lives have been devoted to creating databases in FileMaker Pro and they do it for lone freelancers, corner shop businesses and even corporations. Now a new FileMaker Pro 14 has been released for the app's 30th anniversary and, with one caveat, it is hugely recommended. Check our full review to see what we liked, and what we didn't.


Hands On: Google News & Weather 1.7.426 (iOS, Apple Watch)

05/13, 9:33am

Well, there's future potential at least

It is one of the oddities of life that weather forecasts are considered part of the news. Frankly you could well question why sport gets a mention but a summary of weather that hasn't happened yet really is not news. Finally, Google has made a stand: its updated Google News & Weather app for Apple Watch does not include weather.


Hands On: Strategic Dice 1.1 (iOS)

05/13, 7:34am

Paired down strategy offers quick Risk-like gameplay for both single and multiplayer

We're willing to bet that a lot of our readers grew up playing games like Risk, and have fond (or not-so-fond) memories of the game. Sitting around a table with your friends, making pacts, breaking pacts, acting like you didn't know about the pact in the first place -- it's all part of the game. There's something unique about the emergent qualities of strategy games, and we're positive that's why games like Risk stick with us. We took a look at Strategic Dice, a game that replicates the feeling of playing strategy-based board games and will likely send you hurling down the path of nostalgia.


Hands On: BBEdit 11.1 (OS X)

05/12, 1:30pm

Is there anything this text editor can't do?

Sometimes you just need a pencil. BBEdit is not that. BBEdit is more like a lifetime of writing and editing tools compiled into one veteran application, and regularly updated with more. It got a shakeup with version 11, but now the new BBEdit 11.1 introduces still more features -- seriously, where do they keep finding features to put into this text editor?


Hands On: NodeBeat 2.1.4 (iOS)

05/12, 11:38am

Intuitive music app lets users create great songs, regardless of prior skill

We're not sure if Apple ever assumed that the iPhone and iPad would ever become legitimate musical instruments, but it's become apparent over the last couple years that there are many artists who are successfully producing music on their favorite iDevices. This is largely due to the complex-yet-intuitive apps that allow users to create viable songs with just a little practice. We checked out one such app, NodeBeat, an ingenious music-creation app.


Hands On: Hook 1.03 (iOS)

05/12, 8:01am

Lateral thinking puzzle offers a relaxing escape from your day.

There's a new type of puzzle game sweeping the app store, and I like the direction these games are headed. Instead of relying on fastest speed or fewest moves, these puzzles are designed to help a player unwind, not unlike meditation. Instead of feeling frantic or stressful, these games offer a calm experience to get wrapped up in. We found one of these gems, Hook, a simple puzzler that focuses on relaxation rather than frustration.


Hands On: BBC News 2.1.4 & NY Times Breaking News 5.0 (iOS, Watch)

05/11, 7:10am

Two of the world's best news services on your Apple Watch

It's not as if either BBC or the New York Times is flawless in terms of news coverage but they are behemoths that are mostly trusted and what they write sets the news agenda across the world. Now both are among the burgeoning news apps available for Apple Watch and they have separately found similar yet sometimes distinctly different ways to do some nice touches. One has done it via a standalone app and one via its existing Newsstand version and this would be a news app smackdown except we're recommending you get both.


Hands On: Everyday 2.0.2 (iOS)

05/08, 4:34pm

A time-lapse timeline of selfies

The other day, we saw a sign in a public place announcing there would be construction blocking off access to certain areas of a building. The sign excused the mess and inconvenience caused by the remodeling as "creating a better backdrop for your selfies." There are any number of accessories for taking selfies, and some people are absolutely selfie-obsessed. Enter Everyday by Little Pixels, an app that not only encourages the user to take a selfie every day, but creates an animated timeline of those selfies to share.


Hands On: Kayos 1.0.0 (iOS)

05/08, 1:25pm

A slick flying game of near misses and nearly misses

Kayos by Jonathan Lanis is an arcade game what the player tries to keep their sleek minimalist design jet alive as long as possible. Obstacles are either scattered about or falling from the sky, and the space between them becomes tighter and tighter. In all honesty, we don't think we're very good at Kayos, but we actually enjoy playing it just the same.


Hands On: Armadillo Gold Rush v1.0.9 (iOS)

05/08, 10:00am

Popular Latin American mobile puzzle game releases to the US iOS App Store

Turn-based puzzle games aren't new, and the genre offers a lot of different takes on game mechanics and content, covering everything from games with RPG elements to games that feel more like shooters. Today, however, we checked out Armadillo Gold Rush, a turn-based puzzler which has been a popular mobile title in Latin America for almost a decade now, and has finally made the leap to iOS.


Hands On: Dungeon Crawlers Metal 2.0.4 (iOS)

05/08, 7:10am

We're not here for a princess, we're here to kill you

Dungeon Crawlers Metal by Ayopa Games is a top-down fantasy tactical RPG. The player controls four characters -- a warrior, priest, mage, and a rogue -- in their quest to "cleanse" a dungeon of monsters for the smarmy-looking Dungeon Keeper that hired them. The meat of the gameplay is in turn-based combat on a grid, and it's quite fun -- although there were a few hiccups when we played with it.


Hands On: Adobe Photoshop Sketch v2.2 (iOS)

05/07, 4:51pm

Design giant Adobe updates digital sketchbook to include flow, opacity, and size controls

Many people would be surprised to learn that the iPad is an entirely viable way to create art, but thanks to the amount of fully-functional drawing apps on the app store, that's exactly the case. Today, we took a look at Adobe Photoshop Sketch, the brainchild of digital design empire Adobe, to see how it stacks up to other sketchbooks on the App Store.


Hands On: Castaway 1.0 (iOS)

05/07, 1:31pm

Good, minimalist podcast player

You've already got a podcast player on your iPhone, maybe you don't need another. Yet you may well want another, or you may not yet be aware of your desire to change from Apple's barebones offering to something that has more features or is just nicer. While we're not going to knock Apple's Podcast app which does the job well enough, Castaway has its advantages.


Hands On: Airmail 2.1 (OS X)

05/07, 10:27am

Alternative to Apple's mail app gets new look and features

As with any software where Apple already provides something as part of OS X, you have to have good reasons to spend money on alternatives. The makers of Airmail 2.1 have plenty of reasons for you, and they are good and they are useful, yet somehow they're not completely compelling.


Hands On: Coup v1.1.2 (iOS)

05/07, 8:05am

Unique card game has players bluffing and backstabbing to come out on top

Newcomer Coup is a competitive multiplayer card game for the iPad and iPhone. Unlike Hearthstone or Magic the Gathering, it's not based off of a CCG model, but more akin to quick-playing card games, like Citadels. In fact, Coup exists as a physical card game in the real world, and the mobile version is actually the product of a successful Kickstarter. We took a look at Coup to see just how it stacks up against other card games for iOS.


Hands On: RSS Wear 1.0 (iOS, Watch)

05/06, 6:08pm

Newsreader for Apple Watch lacks basics

Seriously, app developers are clearly trying to get us to read more on our Apple Watches and -- you know what? It will work. Not with Wear Reader, the app that shows you books one word at a time, and actually not with this news app RSS Wear 1.0, but something will get us. It might even be some future version of RSS Wear, possibly.


Hands On: Wear Reader 1.1.0 (Apple Watch)

05/06, 8:06am

Read books on your Apple Watch, if necessary

You're going to end up reading more on your Apple Watch than you imagine. Yes, you're just supposed to glance at it to see who's sent that new email but, come on: you'll scroll through reading it all. The screen is more than good enough that you can do this, and you simply will. What you may resist more is the notion of reading an entire book this way. That's what Wear Reader wants you to do: one quick word at a time.


Hands On: Gravilon (Windows, OS X)

05/05, 12:57pm

Strange platformer has players traversing terrain without jumping

We love platformers. What started out as a simple concept has now expanded, with thousands of titles for avid gamers to enjoy with something geared toward everyone. Because there are so many out there, traversing this diverse genre can be a little daunting. We're here to show you a neat title we recently checked out, called Gravilon, a platformer with an interesting twist.


Hands On: Bang, The Official Video Game 2.1.6 (iOS)

05/05, 10:34am

The games you play waiting for an Apple delivery

Hey now, steady down there, Slim. Got no beef with you today. Just moseyed on in to town to wait for the stagecoach that's a-bringin' me my Apple Watch. Think I might take a pew here and play myself some cards. Barkeep! Quit polishin' that glass and fill it with some firewater. I got me a copy of Bang, The Official Video Game version 2.1.6 and I mean to have me some fun.


Hands On: 3D Virtual Tabletop v2.1.24 (iOS)

05/05, 7:45am

Tabletop gaming app boasts stunning graphics, cool features in a portable package

One of the biggest problems of tabletop gaming is that requires a lot of things to be in place before you can even begin to play. First, you need to get a group of people together in the same place to play a game, and generally, that place needs to have enough space for a table, a board, miniatures, and more. But what if it could be easier? 3D Virtual Tabletop gives you the ability to take a tabletop map and miniatures virtually anywhere you can take an iPad or an iPhone.


Hands On: TextGrabber + Translator v4.5 (iOS)

05/04, 7:01pm

Convert text from an image into editable text with one touch

Apps that promise to help you snag pictures of real-life documents aren't new, and we've checked out several in the past. Typically, the apps tend to scan a document and convert the image into a PDF, which is useful if you're planning on reading the document digitally. However, if you're looking to edit the text you're reading, you're out of luck. That is, until we checked out TextGrabber + Translator, by ABBYY.


Hands On: Meditate Plus 1.01 (iOS)

05/04, 3:37pm

For when you need to be still

Whether you take meditation as an essential part of your life, or see it as just being able to shut up and stop thinking for a minute, there are an awful lot of meditation apps for iOS. Seriously. There are more of these than there are notepad apps, and we didn't think that was possible. Normally we'd examine them all, but it just seems somehow wrong to stress-test meditation apps. We've come to Meditate Plus after anecdotal recommendations, which also said you can see this app as a model for how they all work.


Hands On: Stickman Rush v1.1 (iOS)

05/04, 10:39am

Quirky road-rage based games has players avoiding accidents, jumping TVs

We dig games. We spend a lot of time playing them around here, and we've become somewhat adept at picking out games that we think are particularly good examples of both enjoyable and challenging mechanics. We took a look at a fun, albeit strange title that we think you'll like, called Stickman Rush.


Hands On: Bean Dreams -- Bean's Quest 2.0 (iOS)

05/04, 7:08am

Meticulous gathering game makes us say 'thanksaxolotl'

Bean Dreams: Bean's Quest 2 by Kumobius is a 2D platformer starring ... you guessed it, a jumping bean. Currently, there are 13 "dreams" with six stages each, to be played through as the hat-wearing bean bouncing around collecting fruit and finding adorable pink axolotls sequestered away in difficult-to-get-to nooks of each level.


Hands On: Tunable v1.2 (iOS)

05/03, 1:28pm

Easy to use tool for musicians includes tone generator, tuner, and metronome

Being a musician today certainly has its perks. Between the accessibility of starter instruments and the wide variety of sounds available to musicians, it's a great time to start playing, regardless of skill or previous experience. Of course, there's also the added bonus of the wide variety of apps available to musicians, which can do everything from teach you how to play, to recording, to keeping everything working just the way it should. Today we checked out Tunable, an easy to use app for both the iPhone and the iPad that lets musicians tune their instruments on the go.


Hands On: Give It Up! 1.3 (iOS, Android)

05/02, 2:01pm

Cute and rhythmic, but tries too hard in the attitude department

We enjoy rhythm games, particularly when the music is catchy -- and if there's a character that makes adorable squeaky noises, so much the better. There's a lot to be said for the satisfaction inherent in getting into a groove and becoming one with the music. If the groove is elusive, than finding it becomes so much sweeter. One such app is Give It Up! by Invictus, and we really wanted to like it. The music is fun, and the little character is an adorable blob of ink that bounces and squeaks when the player is doing well, and even its death animation is cute. Unfortunately, we followed the advice given in the app's title.


Hands On: Split v1.0.2 (iOS)

05/02, 8:18am

Simple app tackles the problem of comparing multiple sites with ease

Switching back and forth between web pages in Safari on the iPad is a massive pain. Trying to compare any sort of information becomes tedious and frustrating, and more often than not, we find ourselves bolting to the nearest desktop or notebook computer to do our research instead. That's where Split comes in, a simple little browser that allows you to compare two webpages, side by side, at the same time.


Hands On: Debate Time 1.0 (iOS)

05/01, 4:01pm

Even our political games aren't funny

You've got 18 months of hard political campaigning left before your Presidential elections: here in the UK we have less than a week. Next Thursday, 7 May, is our General Election and while take very seriously the job of choosing the least worst candidate available to us, it is fair to say that we are ready for some relief. Debate Time is an iOS game that intends to do exactly that by switching our attention from the political party leaders to cartoon images of the same people.


Hands On: Drop Wizard 1.0 (iOS)

05/01, 1:50pm

Single-Screen 2D 16-bit arcade fun

Drop Wizard is a single-screen 2D arcade platformer, with an adorable 16-bit style in the tradition of the original Mario Brothers. In Drop Wizard, the only thing the player controls is direction of travel. Every time the wizard drops down to a new level, he shoots a bolt from his wand in the direction he's facing, hence the name.


Hands On: iMindQ 6.2.0 (OS X)

05/01, 11:04am

Mind mapping to project management in one go

The easiest way to describe iMindQ is to say that it is a mind-mapping application: you can jot down stray ideas, then sort them out, join them up into groups, and be sparked into thinking of more related ideas. Even the makers start by calling it mind mapping, but really this is something more than that.


Hands On: Apple Season v1.0.1 (iOS)

05/01, 7:04am

Fast-paced, apple-catching action in another Orisinal arcade title

If we've said it once, we've said it a dozen times: we like arcade games. We like beating our own high scores, and we even begrudgingly admit to liking the fact that we'll eventually lose when we play them. Maybe it's nostalgia from our arcade days, or maybe it's some form of gamer-based masochism. Whatever it is, we keep coming back to the genre, time and again. One example is Apple Season, which will challenge your reflexes and ability to quickly catch apples as they fall from the sky.



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