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Hands On: Alarmy (Sleep if U Can) alarm clock (iOS)

11/28, 5:17pm

Alarmy, the annoying morning alarm clock

Waking up is a difficult feat for some. It certainly doesn't help when most alarms require only a simple tap to activate snooze mode. Some people become so adept at serial-snoozing that they don't even have to wake up to do it. Alarmy (Sleep If U Can), by Delight Room, promises to put an end to the phrase "just another ten minutes."

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Hands On: Rugby Nations 15 (iOS)

11/28, 1:55pm

Take control of your own rugby team with Rugby Nations 15

Sports games have existed for about as long as video gaming has and have been popular whether played on arcade cabinets or on the Xbox One. While most would agree that sports games tend to thrive on console, Rugby Nations 15 by developer Distinctive Games makes a strong argument for sports gaming on mobile platforms.

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Hands On: Snoopy's All Star Football (iOS)

11/26, 7:44am

Hit the gridiron with the Peanuts gang

Cupcake Digital is a well-known name in the ring of games for elementary-age children. To date, they've created games for children's entertainment titles such as Yo Gabba Gabba, Wow! Wow! Wubbsy, and Strawberry Shortcake. The company is now tackling two American classics, Peanuts and football, in Snoopy's All Star Football. Is the game worth handing to your little ones, or is it the digital equivalent of Lucy pulling the football away at the last minute?

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Hands On: Carrot Talking Task List (iOS)

11/21, 10:33pm

Motivational app mixes virtual 'boss' with to-do list

For those who would welcome robot overlords, Carrot, by Grailr, promises to keep you on task! We've all been there; those days when absolutely nothing seems to get done. But what if there was a to-do list that actually encouraged the act of doing things. Wouldn't that be helpful? After all, most to-do lists are little more than polite and easily forgotten suggestions of what should be done. Supposing, however, that there was an app that actually pushed people to get out there and do them? Well, as it turns out, there is.

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Hands On: Hungry Squid (iOS)

11/21, 12:03pm

A race of interstellar cephalopods need your help

It's not unusual for everyone to be looking for the next popular iOS game. We've seen it with the many clones of Angry Birds, FlappyBird, and 2048. While no one will deny that these games are fun, sometimes a user might crave something with a little more thought and care behind the design. That's where Hungry Squid by Michal Malewicz comes in, promising to enchant those who play it.

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Hands On: Neato (iOS)

11/21, 7:50am

Minimalist note-taking app uses Apple's new Widget technology

At this point, there's a good chance that most iPhone users are using their devices to quickly jot down notes and reminders on the fly. It's extremely convenient, especially since most people keep their phones on them nearly all the time. However, there are times when a user has so little time to take notes, that going through the process of unlocking their phone and digging for the app they need is simply too cumbersome. That's the exact problem that Neato, by Mohammad Khoman, is trying to remedy.

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Hands On: Thesaurus Rex (iOS)

11/21, 1:09am

Reference tool keeps up-to-date, offers options to avoid redundant writing

Are you a budding wordsmith? Then Thesaurus Rex is your new best friend! Thesauruses used to be big, clunky books, that were often found covered in dust at the back of any public or academic library reference section. But as more and more people write, these useful books have managed to find a way into the pockets of millions of people. One such entry is Thesaurus Rex by Dictionary.com, an app which promises to help users find the perfect word for any occasion.

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Hands On: Unit Converter Infinity (iOS)

11/20, 7:26am

Not sure how to go from miligrams to ounces?

As even casual students of the sciences have learned by now, it's apparent that there's a lot of differences between disparate measurement systems. Be it miles to kilometers, Fahrenheit to Kelvin, or cubic centimeters to gallons, there's a good chance there's going to be a conversion that can't be a done off the top of one's head. With the proliferation of the smart phone, there's no reason to not have a pocket converter at the ready. Unit Converter Infinity by Incpt.Mobis is a choice that stands out.

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Hands On: Vitamin-R 2 (OS X, iOS)

11/19, 11:54am

Time management desktop app successfully improves concentration

We all feel it, especially those of us working from home -- there is never enough time to get stuff done. Or, perhaps more accurately, there is not enough time in a day to get everything done that you should ... while also procrastinating with endless sources of distraction an Internet-connected computer has to offer. Enter Vitamin-R 2, an app for OS X (and also available for iPhone) that asserts that it can promote the optimal conditions for your brain by structuring your work into short bursts of distraction-free, highly-focused activity alternating with opportunities for renewal, reflection and intuition.

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Hands On: Door Kickers (OS X, Windows)

11/18, 7:45am

Bite-sized strategy title makes users breach and clear bad guys' lairs

Frequently, players' allegiances to strategy games fall in one of two categories: either real-time strategies or tactical turn-based play. But what if there was a game that aims to please both sides? Potentially, now there is. Door Kickers, by KillHouse Games, is a real-time strategy game that gives players the ability to undergo tactical interventions while leading their own SWAT team. While the game itself is in fact a real-time strategy, the tactical elements and the ability to pause are likely to please gamers who enjoy more tactical play.

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Hands On: This War of Mine (Linux, OS X, Windows)

11/17, 11:57pm

The gut-wrenching toll of war is put on display, forcing brutal choices to grasp at hope

Stepping into This War of Mine speaks a lot about the experience a player should expect, as there are no frills or explanations. The stark, desaturated palette explains everything about the world people are thrust into -- it's void of the color and spirit of life, with choices living in shades of gray. It tells a tale of people, stranded in the middle of a city devastated by war, forcing them to press on until a ceasefire is secured. This War of Mine isn't about entertainment or escape. It's about the elasticity of human nature and the will to survive.

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Hands On: Goat Simulator (iOS)

11/14, 4:08pm

Ever want to be a rampaging Capra aegagrus hircus? Now's your chance.

When most people think of video game protaganists, chances are a goat isn't the first one that comes to mind. Generally, we tend to think of mustachioed plumbers, camo-covered commandos, or spiky blue hedgehogs with a penchant for hoarding gold. However, Goat Simulator by Coffee Stain Studios has, through the cult status of its previous releases, changed all that. In this game, a player takes control of a lively goat, and is set free to do whatever they wish in this quirky sandbox simulation game.

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Hands On: Quick Drafts (iOS)

11/14, 10:44am

Notepad replacement brings to-do lists, contact info capture

One of the biggest problems with apps that promise to help a user jot down ideas is that they tend to be bulky, poorly designed, or too distracting. No one wants to fight with an app that is slow, or takes too long to find exactly what they need. Sometimes the simplest solution really is the best one. Quick Drafts, by Sebastian Obentheuer, is a slimmed-down, fully-functional notepad app for those who crave simplicity.

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Hands On: SavouryPot (iOS)

11/13, 3:45pm

Digital cookbook curating app tries to help with recipe organization and storage

If there's one thing that the Internet is good for, it's teaching us how to cook meals we never thought possible. While Pinterest does a good job keeping a collection of links to our favorite recipes, it certainly doesn't do much to hold the recipes themselves, which may be lost behind a morass of links anyway. This is where SavouryPot comes in, an app by Anton Zehrdev, that promises to help organize anyone's unruly collection of recipes, regardless of source.

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Hands On: The Great Photo App (iOS)

11/13, 7:35am

Guide to perfect picture taking encapsulated for the iOS

Let's face it, photography is daunting. With a slew of terms and techniques that are less than user-friendly, and an ever-increasing amount of gadgetry to attempt to master, it's not exactly something one can jump right into and do well out of the gate. However, The Great Photo App by Baglan Dosmagambetov is aiming to make sense of all photography has to offer, and pass this information on to the user -- with Apple's handheld devices as the teacher.

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Hands On: TunesFlow (iOS)

11/12, 2:50pm

Alternative music player brings style and functionality to iOS

Listening to music is a very personal thing for most people. As a whole, we generally tend to think of our music collection as an extension of ourselves. Music fanatics often tend to demand a lot out of their personal music players, allowing them the ability to customize their experience fully, from playlists to organization to artwork and beyond. TunesFlow, by Hector Ricardo Garcia Peña, aims to meet and exceed the needs of the average music enthusiast.

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Hands On: NeoFinder (OS X)

11/10, 12:30pm

Digital asset catalog tool allows for in-depth organization

Data, like everything else in life, needs to have at least some semblance of organization to make better use of it, particularly when you get into situations involving our digital information. For keeping track of files that may be scattered about on various physical storage modes, NeoFinder has been created. A digital asset cataloging app, NeoFinder reads and imports information on the user's selected file data, and provides tools for creating an organized catalog that also includes storing size, creation and modification dates, version information, comments, metadata, and more. Priced at $40 for a single license, this detail-focused app is geared towards the individual or small business that has a need for a formal library system for all of their media.

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Hands On: Avenged Sevenfold's Hail to the King: Deathbat (iOS)

11/05, 7:44am

No strangers to games, Avenged Sevenfold has a decent dark fantasy title

Generally, we don't tend to think of bands as being capable of creating much more than music, but Avenged Sevenfold aims to change that with their action-adventure RPG title, inspired by the band's own lore. Hail to the King: Deathbat by Avenged Sevenfold is an overhead dungeon crawler, not dissimilar to that of Diablo. The player takes the role of Andronikos, the King of the Underworld, tasked with reclaiming Hades from the game's main villian, Dark Andronikos. In order to do this, the player moves through various dungeons, collecting items, defeating monsters, and besting bosses.

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Hands On: ffwd player (iOS)

11/04, 7:10am

New music player app seeks to supplant Apple's own player

While there's no doubt that Apple's built-in music player certainly does its job well, those who love music might find it a little basic for their needs. But what does one do when they want to find a music player packed with features the default music player lacks? Developer Christopher Lim has built the ffwd player, a music player for iOS that aims to create a better overall experience while listening to music.

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Hands On: ColorSnapper (OS X)

10/29, 11:55am

Versatile pixel color grabber offers 24 color formats

Visually creative professionals have long been in favor of using OS X to get their job done, in part because of simple, included utilities, like DigitalColor Meter. This utility allows users to magnify screen contents and copy the RGB pixel components, suited for those who seek a specific hue for their own design project - web, graphic or otherwise. This included tool is great, but for those who seek a more integrative alternative, we decided to check out ColorSnapper, priced at $5, to see if more features made a better pixel color picker.

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Hands On: Boom (OS X)

10/25, 7:04pm

Boom audio boosting app increases file volume, optimizes OS X audio

The speakers included with Mac laptop and desktop systems and portable devices typically suffice for basic audio needs. For more power behind your sound, Global Delight offers its audio app Boom, a volume-optimizer for OS X. Boom's central functionality is that it can create "boosted" media files and playlists, so that audio is easier to hear when listening on a device's speaker such as iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. On an OS X system, Boom optionally includes a volume booster and equalizer for additional sound control. Priced at $7, does Boom effectively achieve its aims?

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Hands On: Printworks (OS X)

10/20, 7:33pm

Desktop publisher offers tools suitable for beginner and experienced users

Standalone desktop publishing software fills a need for those who want to create a variety of printed projects, particularly if seeking a structured, template format. Launched earlier this year, Printworks for OS X is an all-purpose page-layout and desktop publishing app that offers templates for a wide variety of documents, as well as the option to design a document from scratch. A comprehensive app currently available for $30 (regularly priced at $50), Printworks' attention to detail throughout the creation process of a document is suitable for personal use or for small businesses who are seeking software specifically for this purpose. Is it worth the pricetag?

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Hands On: AudioNote (OS X)

10/14, 11:04am

Note-taking app synchronizes audio recording with manual notes

It's pretty safe to say that most people feel like they could improve their note-taking, whether for classes or work purposes. Among the various apps available for improving notational efficiency is Luminant Software's AudioNote, which combines notepad functionality with voice recording. Focused on synchronizing notes and audio, AudioNote aims to assists users in documenting all the information they need, with review of notes supplemented by the audio, and vice-versa. Does it simplify note-taking, or complicate it?

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Hands On: PopClip (OS X)

10/09, 12:44am

Unobtrusive tool can improve efficiency for those who work with text

Since the release of iOS 8 and the upcoming launch of OS X Yosemite, a cohesive workflow between iOS and OS X is increasingly apparent. PopClip further accentuates this experience for OS X users by adding a non-invasive, iOS-like toolbar when one selects text, providing quick access to context-specific actions. Initially released in 2011, the app received an update last week, fixing various minor bugs. Developer Pilotmoon's PopClip's default offerings are copy and paste -- much like what can be found on iOS -- but with over 100 additional extensions that can be added.

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Hands On: Planetary Annihilation (OS X, Windows, Linux)

09/15, 5:16am

Kickstarter RTS game Planetary Annihilation shows considerable polish

In August 2012, a team from Uber Entertainment launched a kickStarter campaign, aiming to raise $900,000 to make a new real-time strategy game called Planetary Annihilation. After two years of work and raising over $2.2 million, as well as other funds via "early access," the game is finally released outside of beta, and gamers can finally try out what backers have been playing for some time during the game's development.

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Hands on: Yomi for iPad

07/05, 2:25pm

Non-collectible card-game arcade fighting game spans genres, fan bases

Apple's iOS and other mobile platforms have occasionally been criticized for offering relatively few "deep" gaming experiences, with simplified versions of complex titles being big movers. The iPad came into its own about six months after its release with titles such as Ticket to Ride and other board game adaptations, with a bevy of other releases following. Card games, mostly of the collectible variety, are popular -- with the recently-released Hearthstone by Blizzard taking top honors. But what about deep card games without a collectible mechanic? Game designer David Sirlin has released Yomi, a genre-spanning card-based game, drawing on arcade fighting games like Street Fighter II and the like for inspiration. Does Yomi live up to its promises of a deep, strategic experience, without "pay to win" being a factor?

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Hands On: Chunky Comic Reader for iOS 7

06/12, 12:28pm

Chunky Comic Reader blazes a path in a crowded iPad comic consumption field

For every file format, there are a hundred iOS apps that will read them. We've already discussed what we feel is the pre-eminent reader for PDFs: GoodReader. What about comic books? Sure, many of them are distributed as PDFs, making GoodReader a solution, but there are other formats. For that, we're examining one of the best reader apps out there -- the free Chunky Comic Reader (CCR).

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Hands on: F1 2013 (OS X)

06/11, 12:20am

Formula One comes to OS X with adrenaline fueled simulation, challenging gameplay

When gamers have ever wanted to get into the seat of a race car without spending millions of dollars to do it, they've turned to games to get the experience. From NASCAR, dragsters, rally cars and everything in-between, gaming has covered much of the realistic side of racing. What about players, however, that want a game that touches on simulation aspects, but pushes them to gain a little as a tenth of a second each time around the track? Codemasters' F1 2013 is the title that will set the pace for a proper racing experience.

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Hands On: GoodReader 4 for iOS 6, 7

06/07, 12:12pm

Is the new 'paid update' for the venerable iOS app worth the $7?

PDF powerhouse GoodReader was an early addition to Apple's app store, before the iOS had a good option for reading the ubiquitous file format. Even in the beginning, it had a wide array of tools available for media consumers to annotate, view, and manipulate PDFs, if only on a basic level. Controversially, the universal iPhone and iPad GoodReader 4 has now been released, and is a paid upgrade in the form of a completely separate app from the previous versions, which had discrete versions for large and small iOS devices. Is it worth paying for a new version? For that matter, should a new user shell out for the app, in view of Apple's own tools for PDF viewing?

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Hands on: MacPaw Hider 2 file-encryption tool

04/03, 12:00am

Can encrypt and hide files and folders with 256-bit AES protection

While at the Macworld Expo last weekend in San Francisco, MacNN got a chance to talk with members of the MacPaw software team, best known for their duplicates finder Gemini II and their utility app Clean My Mac. The company released its latest upgrade, file-and-folder encryption tool Hider 2 (formerly MacHider), for OS X 10.8 and higher on Wednesday. The program is designed to allow users to hide, encrypt and password-protect sensitive files, whether they are confidential business documents or those pictures of an ex.

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Hands on: Samsung Galaxy Gear Fit

02/25, 1:37am

New form follows speculative renderings

After unveiling the Gear 2 on Sunday, Samsung made a surprise announcement--the Gear Fit--during Monday's Mobile World Congress event focusing on the Galaxy S5. The Fit departs from the squarish, chunky form of the first- and second-generation Gear watches, opting instead for a narrow display and focusing on fitness applications. Electronista donned the Fit to see if the sleek design equates to an improved experience.

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Ears on: Shure SE846 high-end earphones

01/10, 2:18am

Four drivers aim to deliver robust audio

Shure brought its latest and greatest audio gear to Las Vegas this week for CES, including the high-end SE846 earphones that arrived in 2013. Wading through a myriad of new audio products at the expo, we weren't expecting to find anything that would really knock our socks off. Trying to remain optimistic, we made sure to try on the SE846 and hear if it is worth its $1000 price tag.

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Hands on: Razer's Nabu connected wristband

01/09, 6:07pm

Fitness features paired with notifications

As expected, many CES exhibitors chose to focus on wearable technology this year. Razer was among the companies attempting to make a foray into the growing market, introducing the Nabu wristband that provides smartphone notifications and fitness features. We met with one of the product engineers this week to try on a prototype and see how it compares to Nike's FuelBand and more complex devices such as the Galaxy Gear.

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Hands on: FLIR One thermal camera for iPhone

01/08, 5:53pm

Case integrates thermal imager

Among the many iPhone accessories announced at CES, FLIR's thermal-camera case was a particularly unique introduction. The device essentially replicates the functionality of FLIR's standalone thermal-imaging cameras, but well under the $1000+ price tags of the industrial niche tools. We had a chance to see the FLIR One case in action at CES and ponder its many uses for average consumers.

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Hands on: Lenovo's new X1 Carbon notebook

01/07, 8:28pm

Carbon frame keeps weight below 3lb

Among Lenovo's slew of CES announcements, the company introduced a new X1 Carbon notebook. The revised model brings a number of improvements, integrating a newer Core i7 chip, an "adaptive keyboard" and adding a 2560x1440 display option, among other features. We stopped by Lenovo's CES booth to take a closer look at the refresh, which is even lighter than its three-pound predecessor.

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Hands on: Sony PlayStation Now

01/07, 3:49pm

Tech demoed on Vita, Bravia

After a slew of announcements yesterday, Sony waited until this morning to formally introduce its PlayStation Now streaming game technology. The system promises to bring the company's game ecosystem to Bravia TVs and eventually non-Sony hardware such as tablets. We were curious to see the technology in action, so we stopped by Sony's CES booth to try out game streaming from a Vita and a TV.

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Hands on: Lenovo ThinkPad 8 tablet with Windows 8

01/06, 6:18pm

Lenovo maintains competition with Surface

Among the first of Lenovo's CES announcements, the new ThinkPad 8 represents the company's latest midsize tablet powered by Windows 8. Powered by Intel's Bay Trail hardware, it aims to compete with Microsoft's own Surface lineup and other players in the segment. We met with Lenovo in Las Vegas for a quick hands-on preview ahead of the ThinkPad's public debut.

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Hands on: Huawei Ascend Mate2

01/06, 3:18pm

Second-gen phone supports all networks

Huawei has introduced its second-generation Ascend Mate2, bringing a long list of upgrades as the company continues to promote its brand in the US and elsewhere. The gigantic 6.1-inch smartphone is claimed to reach two full days of heave use, and even integrates an extra USB port so other devices can be charged from its 4,050mAh battery. We checked out the new device at the company's CES press conference today in Las Vegas.

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Hands on: Samsung Galaxy S 4

03/15, 2:30pm

Revamped Android flagship

Samsung yesterday formally unveiled the Galaxy S 4 handset at a spectacular Radio City Music Hall launch event, which attracted enough people to completely fill the sidewalks around the entire block. Although the festivities were certainly impressive, we spent some time with the new smartphone to see if it lives up to the hype.

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