Saturday, May 21, 2011

Feedback and comments are welcome.

In order in keep the clutter down. Please post feedbacks and comments below. Thank you for reading my iOS/Mac life.

Appreciation corner and random thoughts.

Occasionally I get some unexpected apples that drop from the trees that I was hanging out under. I have received tons of app promo codes so it would not be feasible for me to list them all here. Sorry. Instead I will highlight some of the developers or promoters that I have not thanked in the earlier posts.

Contests and Giveaways.

1. Viaden (Pregnancy: Week by Week) 4/19/11
2. macstories (LogMeIn Ignition) 5/9/11
3. mr.joee (iBouncer) 5/12/11
4. Readdle (PDF Expert for iPad) 5/23/11
5. CasualFridayGames (SuperBlox 2 beta) 6/2/11
6. OstinGames (Zepi HD) 6/3/11
7. Articul Media (Quick Mice) 6/16/11
8. Janathan Lanis (Boost 2) 6/17/11
9. macstories (myPhoneDesktop) 6/25/11
10. FreeAppParty (Snake Wars) 6/28/11
11. ikuragames (Jabbit) 7/4/11
12. FreeAppParty (Icarus-X) 7/12/11
13. GAMEized (FingerKicks) 7/12/11
14. AppAsia (RabbitDash) 7/15/11
15. PowPowGames (DreamTrackNation) 7/17/11 Canadian
16. Blissoft (Rat Fishing) 7/20/11
17. AppAsia (Q Pang) 7/22/11
18. FreeAppParty (Office Jerk) 7/25/11
19. Tower Defense® (Com2uS) 7/27/11 *
20. Clingmarks (Penguin Links Pro v2) 7/30/11
21. FreeAppParty (Mr Giggle 2 Lite) 8/1/11
22. The Ching Chong Group (The Flight of Flo Flo) 8/15/11
23. mommagamehouse (JumpingEggs) 8/16/11
24. Rolocule (Flick Tennis: College Wars HD) 8/19/11
25. charles (iDancing) 9/14/11
26. ramendee (Ramen Delight) 9/16/11
27. GoldStarApp (Vocab Power) 9/17/11
28. Zero Workroom (Creepy Cutters) 9/23/11
29. Tiny Farm (Com2uS) 9/26/11

Latest fascinations.

Check out Relievos, a new iOS 3D photo app that is just unbelievable. A must see! If only games adopt the underlying rendering engine...

Apps that touched my life.

Various app reviews.

There are so many that I am sure this is just a partial list. These are published in iTunes store and different forums, blogs, FaceBook and Twitter posts scattered all over the internet.

A disclaimer. Apps were provided as a promo unless indicated otherwise.

I have been slacking off updating my blog as there were too many reviews to catch up.

Escape the Ape 092511 Insane jumping action! ***** Universal $0.99 PAID

Draw a trampoline for the JoJo the monkey to jump from. The ape is right below you so you need to go up fast. They are many items to grab on the way up. Bananas will provide temporary boost. Balloons will let you float upwards. The most impressive jump is the combo jump by combine 3 nice jumps.  At the end of the round you will earn gems that you can redeem for power ups in the shop.

The gameplay is very exciting. The music pumps your adrenaline and the sound of the ape is horrifying. But don't panic because you need to place your trampoline just right to Escape the Ape. insane jumping action.

Rolling Fall HD 1.1 8/21/11 Behold cut the chain. ***** iPad $1.99

It has a hint of Cut the Rope with zombie theming.

Excellent rendering and animation (this is subtle if you don't pay attention). iPad native is always so much better than playing x2 mode.

Sound effects
The eerie sound effect is perhaps the best kept secret of this game.

This is an advanced physics game requiring careful planning to complete each puzzle. A strong hit will produce more scoring. On top of that the clock is clicking so you need to act fast to claim a spot on top of the leaderboard. Most levels cannot be completed with a single try. Getting three stars would require even more forethought and skillful timing.

An excellent physics based puzzle game rather than just another game to kill more zombies.

80 levels of gameplay will keep you entertained for hours if not days. If you are a fan of physics based puzzle game, do yourself a favor and try this out yourself.

Sheep vs. Wolves 1.0 8/21/11 Good strategy game if you are the sheep. **** iPhone $0.99

The graphics, soothing sound effects and gameplay are all well implemented.
Which beckons the question why I always lose as wolves and win as sheep.
Am I not getting it?

Screen Invaders 1.0 8/21/11 Good tapping fun. **** iPhone $0.99

The game design is pretty fun. The graphics and sound effects are pretty good. There is no background music. I finished the easy mode and went straight to hard just to get some challenge.

It would be nice to add some power ups. Also some audio cues to tell that time is running out would be a bonus.

A fun fast tapping game.

DEO 1.00 8/18/11 Physics puzzler with an artistic flare! ***** iPhone $0.99

Visually stunning! Even just staring at the graphics is pure eye candy. The background music is tranquil but the game is by no means boring. Tap the screen to charge a jump. Release to jump. The longer the charge, the further you jump. So essentially you need to charge at the right duration AND release at the right time to jump to the next green platform. Eventually you will make it to the red platform and advance to the next puzzle.

The game ramps up its difficulty quickly to provide a challenging gaming experience. With stated 96 levels of bouncing action, I will have hours and hours of gaming. Can't wait to complete the game as it is highly addictive.

iCatcher! (a podcast catcher app) 1.2.4 8/18/11 Standing on the shoulder of (past podcast app) giants. ***** universal $1.99

Podcast apps have improved slowly over the years. While most people I imagine uses iTunes ro sync podcasts, I have jumped to dedicated podcast apps many moons ago. I find iCatcher! very appealing as compared to Podcaster, Instacast, and Downcast.

Since iPad 2 has better support of bluetooth, I have been using it instead of my iPhone to listen to podcast (and VoIP but that would be a different review.) I would prefer native iPad screen so this fits the bill nicely. The importing of podcasts went with a hitch. It found all the usual suspects and recommended additional ones from my keyword searches. Loading and playback of podcasts is quick. Finally it supports complex multitouch gestures which is a nice touch. This has now taken up a coveted spot on my iPad 2 dock to be my default podcast app.

Tilt & Sprout 1.1 7/31/11 48 levels of fun challenging tilt control. ***** $0.99

Control the direction of sprout growth through tilt of the device. Pick up mineral and avoid obstacle. Higher levels contain removable and movable obstacles. You need both good steering and picking the right fork. There are portals to go through but there is only one way to pick all the minerals and get gold.

It is a twist on the snake game where you only get to go sideways and up. The graphics and sound is excellent. Control is smooth. Works well and looks good on iPad but of course a universal update would be nice. My only quibble is that flowers should be flowers and not other objects. Perhaps you can use real flowers and make the levels into a basic botany class introducing different flowering plant groups or just some common ones.

One of the more original gameplay and with more levels in the works. I look forward to keep coming back to play this one.

The Flight of Flo Flo 1.0.1 7/30/11 Adrenaline pumping flying game. ***** iPhone $0.99

Think jumping game but flying with obstacles. Great graphics even with iPad x2 graphics. Easy to play. Tough to master. Definitely fun. It will take a while to get all the trophies. I mean I don't even have one yet!

Cow Chase 1.0 7/30/11 Fun endless runner. ***** iPhone $0.99

Cute cow. Excellent graphics. Lovely country background music. Simple touch control. Not as easy as you would think. You need to jump over obstacles and over muddy ground. You also need to pickup sunflower energy (a la PvZ). Run too slow and the UFO will pick you up. Run too fast and you won't live another day as you will end up in the ocean!

You can check Game Center leaderboard to see how you fare.

Peppers The Game 2/9 7/30/11 The most bang for the buck for a matching game. ***** universal $2.99

Consider this. 4 different matching games for the price of one! Each has many levels to unlock. Game Center integration included for leaderboard. I really enjoy the beautiful graphics which is ideal on the large iPad touch screen. Many hours of gameplay guaranteed.

hCG Diet Assistant 1.1 7/30/11 Love hCG diet? Don't miss this useful tracker. iPhone ***** $9.99

Neither myself nor the app publisher is endorsing hCG diet. Rather I am rating the effectiveness of hCG Diet Assistant in managing hCG diet, a controversial starvation diet in conjuction with over the counter hCG pills/drops or prescription hCG injections. hCG is touted to act as appetite suppressant, redistributes fat and accelerates weight loss.

The app outlines 4 stages of hCG diet- loading, very low calorie diet, stabilization, and a life long maintainence stage. It help you to log your food intake, exercise and hCG dosing during your 24-40 days of dieting. The interface is polished. It can generate detailed reports and charts.

I look forward to an update to allow exporting of data/reports and an iPad native format. Overall very useful if you need an assistant to help you track you progress through hCG Diet.

ObstaBall 1.0 7/30/11 Awesome graphics! **** iPhone $0.99

The best part of the game is the excellent graphics rendering. There are 3 game modes. I tried all 3 and have to say the game is kicking my behind. Problem is I get stuck in the second level in all 3 modes. Either the controls or the gameplay or both is too hard. I vote for more sound effects and a beginner's mode.

Zombie Vendetta 1.0 7/30/11 Whac-A-Zombie. Perfect for relieving stress! ***** universal $0.99

Survive as long as you can while whacking endless zombie attacks. Works great, especially on the large iPad touch screen. You start off with a bat. There are weapon upgrades as you progress. Also the grid size and the pace increases as you kill more zombies. Each level consists of 20 zombies.

Level 1-4. Bat. 25 strikes. 3x3 grid.
Level 5-9. Handgun added. 15 bullets. 4x3 grid.
Level 10-14. Shotgun added. 5 rounds. 5x4 grid.
Level 15 Grenade added. One grenade only but kills all zombies on the screen.

It is not necessary to choose the weapon as they will be swapped automatically. You should avoid hitting empty spots as you can use up you weapons. The game is over when you miss 3 zombies, which can happen in a hurry.

An excellent quick reflex type of game. Two minor design issues. You can only go to the leaderboard while playing and not after the game is over. I don't see why you would want to look at the leaderboard or achievements during a game. I would rather see that screen estate used to display weapons that does not cover the gameplay area. This brings up my second observation. You can switch weapons but that interrupts the game and doesn't seem to add to scoring. Maybe consider weapon switching and grenade launching without stopping the gameplay in a future update.

Fun addictive gameplay, Open Feint and Game Center integration with leaderboard and achievements makes this a great addition to your games portfolio.

Some other suggestions (not included in iTunes review).
1. Please add sound effect for the grenade explosion. A loud boom would be awesome!
2. There is a delay in the sound effect. I would like to hear the bat when the zombie is hit, not after the animation sequence after the zombie disappears.
3. The display of the weapon count is not intuitive. One bullet is shown when in fact none is left. You should display what the next weapon is rather the what the last weapon used was.
4. I am not sure how the combo works. It would be nice to link some combo hits.
5. Bugs (iPad2). I saw the hanging screen once after the game is over. Also twice I get to a point where no more zombies are showing up but the game is not over. I can change and fire weapon but no zombies. This may be related to memory leak.

PenguinLinks Pro v2 2.1 7/25/11 Challenging and addictive match 2 game with lovely penguins. ***** iPhone $0.99

I didn't think there would be a match 2 game but here it is with a very challenging and addictive gameplay. There are lovely penguins and a hypnotic sound track. In fact, graphics is just as detailed with iPad x2 mode. The challenging gameplay is what makes this a 5 star gem.

Essentially you need to link 2 like penguins to eliminate them. You start with kindergarten with a 4X4 grid, which is basically just instructions for the game. One nice touch is that the game supports
multitouch for rapid elimination of the penguins. There are 7 unlockable grades: elementary (4x6), high school (5x8), SAT (5x8), college (7x9), GRE (7x9), grad school (7x9) and an endless mode (variable grid size). Each grade has 4 or 8 levels and each level consists of 7 to 11 puzzles. Elementary, high school, college, and grad school levels are timed. You must eliminate all penguins in the allotted time or you lose and have to start from the beginning of the level, not just the beginning of the puzzle. There is no pause button by design but since it supports backgrounding, you can exit the game to answer a call and still able to get right back into the action.

The gameplay is rather tame until midway through the high school levels. Grad school levels have hidden penguins that only appear after you clear all adjacent penguins (think minesweeper). There
is some sort of a leaderboard. You will be ranked in percentile after each grade you completed. Game Center integration would be even better. Hopefully it will be included in a future update. Finally
there is a heads up mode where you get to play against another player over bluetooth to see who finishes a puzzle first. I tried iPhone vs iPad and it worked well. If you happen to play against someone with a lite version of the game then you can only play elementary school level even if you are playing the full version.

In summary, a very polished match 2 puzzle game. Lovely cute penguins is rather misleading as the difficulty ramps up significantly in the later levels.
HexRoto 1.0 7/25/11 A simple but challenging puzzler. **** $0.99 iPhone

Just rotate the colored ball to the corresponding colored hole.
Good game mechanics. A fair challenge and casual puzzler.

Retina Wallpapers HD & Background HD for iphone 640x960 1.0 7/23/11 Excellent quality photos. **** Free IAP

Great photos!  These are beautiful images to enjoy on the phone as backgrounds. It is not meant to replace apps like Pimp Your Screen which has app shelves and calendar overlay. I am not seeing any ads although I did not purchase the IAP. That may change in the future. Also another odd thing is that the app icon is different than that in the iTunes description page.

It has a nice translucent interface to go along with the gorgeous pictures that you can download. You can email photos, preview in lock screen or home screen, play a slide show, add special effects filter, set favorite and download photo to your iPhone's picture folder.

Hopefully this will be updated to be iPad (and future iPad) native as well.

Did I say the pictures are amazing? Enough said. Get it while it is hot!

Q Pang 1.3 Excellent arcade shooter with original gameplay. ***** iPhone $0.99

You are Go-Nyang-E, a heavily armed cat, protecting our planet from hordes and hordes of green alien called "Q." Other than the naming is a bit odd (what exactly do you mean by calling it Q pang?), the game is actually very polished and well deserving its 5 star rating.

This arcade shooter uses the touch screen control very effectively. Rather than old school space invades with left right shoot, you touch where you shoot, or just a bit below your target so your finger does not obscure the actual target. Brilliant There are 12 different upgradeable weapons, gun, cake, machingun, bazooka, wing, boom, cleaner, cannon, laser, ice boom, shotgun and flame thrower. You drag Qs into your cleaner with a finger swipe. There are 16 different Qs. Most you just shoot at to kill . But there
are some that you need to use the cleaner to suck away. Finally there is Kitty that you are not allowed to kill. Each Q you kill, you gain credits that can be used to upgrade you weapons. Here is a spoiler, you don't need to master all weapons to finish the. You do need to upgrade reloading speed, damage, and number of bullets repeatedly to combat the seemingly endless falling Qs. There are 6 missions, green .P, half .P, red moon, ice .P, ghost temple, and a new one called metro. Each mission has 5 levels to unlock. The action is intense. Graphics and animations top notch. Sound effect is comical. There are built in achievements and statistics. Open Feint leaderboard is only for endless mode.

Overall a very addicting intense shooting arcade game with well thought out touch control. Highly recommended. Support the devs so we will all get more missions to play!

Alpha Swarm 1.0 7/21/11 A fresh new take on physics based puzzler. ***** iPhone $0.99

While the name Alpha Swarm means nothing to me. Once I started playing, the gameplay takes over. You goal is to kill enemies and land on to some designated platform. You have to choose the ability, e.g. shoot, jump, etc in the correct order that you want to deploy. Then you need to time your moves just right and pull the trigger as you have to aim and shoot at 3 different off the screen targets in mid flight. I have to keep guessing what ability and what sequence to deploy.

Loved the detailed Retinal graphics that look almost perfect on iPad x2. Content is extensive. I can only imagine how much fun I will have with 20 missions X 3 zones (60 missions) and then able to replay with 4 additional  characters with different abilities. Game Center is not loading as I write this review but when it is back up, I will see you on the leaderboard!

Apps on my docks.

iPhone - Phone | Messages | GV Mobile + | PushMail | Podcaster

iPad - Grazing | App Store | GV Mobile + | PushMail | iCatcher! | Echofon

Mac - lol waiting for Lion to clear the clutter

iOS/Mac development

Apart from beta testing, I have also contributed to various app development to a small degree. Until I publish my first app, these are my proudest moments in iOS/Mac development.

1. Traditional Chinese localization for Byline and Byline (Universal). 2/2011 *

2. Polishing up iTunes store English description for House of Mice. 5/2011

* paid

Beta testing in iOS/Mac

My first foray into iOS/Mac development was partaking in beta testing. As the list of apps gets longer, I will list them here so I will be able to keep track of what I have been up to over the years.

1. Talkatone [C] 1/2011
2. Byline [C] 2/2011 *
3. GV Mobile + [C] 2/2011 *
4. Ice Tales [C] 5/2011
5. PassSync [C] 5/2011
6. Run Fox Run [C] 5/2011
7. To The Top [C] 5/2011
8. Tap Masters Dynamic [C] 5/2011
9. Walled Browser [C] 6/2011
10. SuperBlox 2 [C] 2011
11. Drivee [C] 8/2011
12. HomeRun Battle 2 [C] 10/2011
13. Podcaster HD [C] 12/2011
14. Tesla Over Drive [C] 1/2012
15. TouchArcade [C] 3/2012
16. GoDocs [C] 4/2012
17. Localyze [C] 5/2012
18. Mr. Dreamer [C] 5/2012
19. Mr. Frog [C] 6/2012
20. OneTap [C] 6/2012
21. Lich Defense [C] 7/2012
22. Death Call 2 [C] 8/2012

1. LogMeIn Pro [O] 12/2009
2. syncplicity [O] 7/2010
3. Facetime [O] 10/2010
4. Reeder for Mac [O] 12/2010
5. iProcrastinate for Mac [C] 2/2011
6. BananaTV [O] 3/2011
7. DeskConnect [C] 3/2011
8. Xobni Gmail [C] 5/2011
9. NotifyMe for Mac [C] 5/2011
10. Tweetbot for Mac [O] 7/2012

[C] closed beta
[O] open beta
* paid


(Eventually) I plan to write apps on the iOS platform. Of course that takes time and energy. Since I am lacking in time, I will have to prioritize my many goals before that will materialize. In the mean time, I will catalog my efforts in this journey...

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank my wife, Julia, for tolerating and sharing my passion for my hobby. I am grateful for my sister, Amy, who gifted me the iPad 2 earlier this year.

I would also like to express my gratitude for the many developers and promoters who provided me an opportunity  to evaluate or participate in your app development process.