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Apps: Chihuly, Little Inferno, Mailbox + Repulze
By Phil Dzikiy | 02.12.13

Fans of famed glass artist Dale Chihuly now have a free iOS app to enjoy in The Chihuly App, which lets you create your own art with the looks and shapes of his celebrated glass sculptures. After picking one of Chihuly’s styles, you blow into the microphone to create a virtual sculpture that can be moved, molded, and color-changed by touching the screen. When the work is complete, you can view your creation in 3-D, and share it on Facebook. It’s also possible to browse artwork other users have made, and read a timeline of Dale Chihuly’s life and accomplishments. It’s pretty neat stuff for a free download.


A puzzle/sandbox game for iPads, Little Inferno ($5) is an “interactive fireplace” that lets you burn things, advancing through stages by discovering combos when certain items burn together. All you’re really doing from an actual gameplay standpoint is buying items, throwing them in the fireplace, and lighting them ablaze—complete with brief but frustrating delays between the purchase of an item and being able to toss it in the fire. You also get snippets of correspondence from other characters via letters, which create a story with an ending that’s claimed to pack a wallop. You’ll need to decide whether you have enough video pyromania to continue experimenting with the items for hours; in any case, you’ll find Little Inferno to be a unique gaming concept.


Orchestra, Inc.‘s Mailbox (Free) launched in the App Store last week, quickly drawing attention for more than its functionality; it opens with an in-app waiting line that quickly grew to hundreds of thousands of people long, and many day-one downloaders are still waiting for access today. Once you actually get in, the app provides an alternative way to view and use your Gmail account, with a gesture system designed to help you reach inbox zero. The UI is based around five zones, with new mail at the center, surrounded by archived messages, the trash, snoozed messages that you’ll be reminded about at a designated time, and lists, such as “To Read.” A short swipe along a message is differentiated from a long swipe, with each sending your mail to a different zone. If you’re a Gmail user, not in a rush, and looking to try something new, Mailbox is definitely an interesting concept worth seeing.



The last several years have made clear that it’s not easy to clone Sony’s groundbreaking futuristic racing franchise Wipeout — so far, no developer has come close. Now we can add Repulze ($2) to the list of games that are “getting there,” as developer Pixelbite has recently added additional “Phase 2” content to its previously very unfinished title, which now sports 17 different tracks, six upgradeable vehicles, and additional power-ups. As of today, Repulze has the smooth frame rate, resolution, and 3-D polygonal graphics we’d expect from a Wipeout title, with very respectable controls and some good techno music, besides. If you’ve been looking for neon-lit tracks, curves and jumps, or energy beam vapor trails, you’ll find them here. But what’s missing is the gameplay: as of now, you’re essentially racing a hovercraft down tracks without real competition, alternating between picking up three red or green boost icons in a row to speed up your ship. Earnable or unlockable for $1, Phase 2 bolsters the action with more on-track items, while an upcoming Phase 3 promises rockets. Here’s hoping for more and better action as this title evolves.

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So what’s happened to the letter ratings that used to be given to Apps and Games?

By Matt Spinaze on 02.12.13 at 07:13 PM

We’ve been discussing app ratings internally for quite some time, and came to the conclusion that frequent app updates, changes in pricing, and releases of buggy-but-likely-to-be-fixed initial versions really undercuts the value of any point-in-time rating. Something that’s overpriced and crashy on day one can be completely fixed 48 hours later, while something that’s really good on day one can be wrecked by going freemium or ad-supported. So we wanted to find a good balance of covering important new releases efficiently and realistically.

By Jeremy Horwitz on 02.13.13 at 10:11 AM

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