Fireproof Games has announced that The Room Three will hit the App Store in spring 2015. An early announcement, The Room Three is sure to be a highly anticipated title as the newest game in the popular atmospheric puzzle series. The Room Two was released late last year, and The Room (reviewed here) was first released in 2012. Fireproof says the newest Room game “promises to evolve the mysterious story and take puzzle solving to higher and weirder places than ever before.”
Apple has updated its App Store Guidelines ahead of its upcoming release of iOS 8 and iPhone 6. The updated introduction notes that “If your App doesn’t do something useful, unique or provide some form of lasting entertainment, or if your app is plain creepy, it may not be accepted.” Guidelines have been added for Extensions, HomeKit, HealthKit, and TestFlight. The new guidelines should alleviate some users’ fears about the new frameworks — HealthKit apps cannot store information in iCloud or share data with third parties without user consent, among other measures. Additionally, data gathered from HealthKit and HomeKit cannot be used for advertising or data mining purposes.
Along with the updated guidelines, Apple recently added a page to its developer site detailing common app rejections. The page reveals that “more information needed” was the most common reason for apps to be rejected in the seven-day period ending August 28 — the top 10 reasons for rejection within that time period are all included on the page.
Google Slides (free) — Google debuted its Slides app this week. The presentation-creating app joins Google Docs and Google Sheets as yet another Google Drive-based app. Slides allows users to open, edit, and save Microsoft PowerPoint files; the autosaving app can also work without an Internet connection.
Hyperlapse from Instagram (free) — Instagram’s Hyperlapse is a new app that seems like it could become a sensation. Users can quickly create time lapse videos with the app. It works amazingly well — you can shoot while stationary or in motion — and the app clearly shows users how much time an accelerated video will actually take to watch once the time lapse is complete. A hyperlapse video can go up to 12 times normal speed, enabling users to show a lot of action in a short amount of time. The effect is very impressive for a free app. It’s simple to use, and no sign up or account is required, so we highly recommend downloading Hyperlapse to see what the fuss is all about. Next month, iOS 8 will introduce an integrated time lapse video recording feature with comparatively limited settings.
Mobile Passport (free) — Airside Mobile’s new Mobile Passport app, which is officially approved by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, allows users to enter the U.S. faster. You’ll be able to skip the regular line upon returning from abroad, as the app “effectively replaces” the traditional declaration form required of all travelers entering the U.S. by air. Both U.S. and Canadian citizens are eligible to use the app. Currently, the service is only available at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, with more supported locations to follow in the future. Keep in mind that the app is not a replacement for your passport.
Poppy Cat and the Bubble Volcano ($3) — The prolific StoryToys returns with another storybook app, Poppy Cat and the Bubble Volcano. Featuring the popular Poppy Cat, the app features a variety of games and activities. It’s similar to other StoryToys apps, but it’s definitely worth a look if your kid is into Poppy Cat — the app features sound effects and music from the show, and illustrations are based on the TV show’s animation.
The legendary Pac-Man returns for his newest adventure, Bandai Namco’s Pac-Man Friends ($5) for iOS. Pac-Man Friends is a new, original game that uses tilt controls to get Pac-Man and his buddies past the ghosts to the goal. Though the game does share some common elements with other Pac-Man classic games, Pac-Man Friends is ultimately a departure from the traditional style.
The gameplay in Pac-Man Friends is reminiscent of a wooden labyrinth game, as players tilt their iOS devices to guide the big yellow guy and his friends through the levels. There are five different control modes — four are tilt modes, and one is a touch mode. We found the touch mode to be much different than the preferable tilt control options, but it’s always nice to have options.
Apple has removed the app Secret from the Brazilian App Store, according to 9to5Mac. A Brazilian judge recently ordered the removal, after ruling that the app violates an article in the Brazilian constitution which prohibits anonymous freedom of expression. The judge also ordered that Apple must remotely disable the app from users’ phones, but it’s unclear whether the company will proceed with that step. Secret allows users to write and share anonymous posts with people nearby.
Lytro Mobile App (free) — Lytro has relaunched its Lytro Mobile App. The new app is universal, and allows users to interact with Lytro’s “living pictures” through various gestures. Both the old app and the new app are free, so if you’re a Lytro user, there’s no reason not to download this new edition. For the best viewing experience, iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and iPad mini with Retina display are recommended.
Star Walk 2 ($3) — Vito Technology’s Star Walk 2 is the sequel to the popular Star Walk app, which allows users to point their iPhone or iPad to the sky for information on constellations and astronomical data in real time. The new app offers a new design with a cleaner interface, new visual and sound effects, and 3D models of celestial bodies which are available through in-app purchase. For those who enjoy the original app, Star Walk 2 is worth the upgrade — the interface is gorgeous. Anyone with even a passing interest in astronomy should grab Star Walk 2.
Quick, easy-to-play games have always been popular on iOS, but the success of Flappy Bird and others seems to have further emphasized the “quick.” Pako - Car Chase Simulator ($2) by Tree Men Games certainly has more detail and thought than most of those titles, but we’re still talking about a game in which each round lasts not minutes, but seconds. It’s on sale for $1 for a limited time.
Pako is a basic-looking game that will remind some of the early Grand Theft Auto games, with a fun premise — you’re driving a car, so try not to crash. Yes, the police are chasing you, but the levels will give you enough of a challenge on their own without that hot pursuit. That’s due to the control scheme — tapping the left side of the screen turns left, tapping the right side turns right. And that’s it. Your car automatically travels at a steady speed. There is no braking, no going in reverse. If you’re going to swerve into a wall, you’re already too late.
Hanx Writer (free) — Hanx Writer from Hitcents.com is a new writing app designed to mimic the experience of a typewriter on an iPad. Also, it was created by actor and noted typewriter aficionado Tom Hanks. Documents can be emailed, printed, and shared like any other, except that writing them will give you all the sounds and animations of a traditional typewriter. The app offers use of the Hanx Prime Select typewriter for free, and users can make in-app purchases to use different “typewriters.”
Sago Mini Friends ($3) — Sago Sago’s newest childrens’ app is Sago Mini Friends. It features characters from a few of the developer’s other games. Kids pick from one of five friendly animals, and visit the homes of the other characters to participate in very simple mini games. For those familiar with Toca Boca’s exploration apps such as Toca Town or Toca House, think of Sago Mini Friends as a more basic version of those, but for younger children.
Activision has announced the Skylanders Trap Team Starter Pack for iPad ($75). The newest video game in the popular Skylanders series features a special tablet edition that includes a wireless portal and wireless game controller, in addition to game figurines. For those unaware of the Skylanders series, the game uses real-life figurines that can be controlled within gameplay by use of an NFC-enabled portal; the iPad edition will use a Bluetooth LE portal and Bluetooth LE controller. Third-party controllers are said to work as a secondary controller in multiplayer mode. The pack will be released on October 5. [via FamilyGamerTV]
Rules! ($2) is a new puzzle game from TheCodingMonkeys. A polished puzzler, Rules! looks to establish ground in the competitive and crowded territory of casual puzzle games on iOS.
Grabbing early attention hasn’t seemed to be a problem for Rules!, as it’s catapulted to the top of the puzzle game charts and has hit the top ten for all games. It’s a quick-play puzzler which, at first glance, will remind some gamers of the equally exclamatory Threes!— but it has unique gameplay of its own. Developers TheCodingMonkeys may be best-known for converting board games Carcassonne and Lost Cities into iOS games.
Daniel Tiger’s Grr-ific Feelings ($3) — PBS Kids has just released Daniel Tiger’s Grr-ific Feelings. The app, based on the show Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, has a variety of activities for youngsters. Kids can draw, play mini-games, step into the feelings photo booth, or sing along to their favorite songs from the show — all concentrating on different feelings. This is a well done app with lots of content and great voicework; the activities are intuitive, even for younger children. If you’ve got a Daniel Tiger fan in the house, they’ll enjoy Grr-ific Feelings.
NFL Now (free) — The NFL has released its anticipated NFL Now app, also expected soon as an Apple TV channel. Until then, the iOS app allows for AirPlay to an Apple TV. NFL Now claims to offer “hundreds” of new videos daily in a personalized stream. Currently, fantasy football and training camp videos are the focus. Users view the app’s content in portrait mode, and the app automatically switches to landscape mode for video. Only some content is available for free — full highlights and unlimited access to the NFL Films library cost $2 a month for USA, Mexico, and UK users, and $5 a month for the rest of the world.
Foursquare Labs has updated its free Foursquare iOS app to version 8.0. As expected, the redesign has eliminated location check-ins — the feature which first brought Foursquare to prominence. Users looking to check in can now only do so through Foursquare’s separate Swarm app. The new Foursquare is focused on tips and location discovery, as the app aims to find places and things based on a user’s specific tastes. Changes can be seen immediately upon updating, as the app now features a new icon, and a bright pink-and-blue color scheme.
Thanks to our amazing developer community! Apple says July was record-setting month for app store revenue http://t.co/BI8wFTTG5V— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) August 5, 2014
Apple has told CNBC that its App Store set record revenue numbers this July. The App Store also reportedly had a record amount of customers making transactions in the same month. It’s an interesting release of information — the company doesn’t usually make a point of publicizing specific monthly sales — with curious timing, considering the almost-simultaneous report of a new iPhone event having been scheduled for September 9. In another unusual twist, Apple CEO Tim Cook then tweeted about the news, linking to the CNBC story.
2K announced today that it’s bringing the hit game BioShock to iOS this summer. The critically acclaimed first-person shooter, originally released in 2007, will offer touch controls, as well as full MFi game controller support. No exact release date or pricing information is now at this time, though 2K’s announcement noted that BioShock will be a “premium priced mobile game.”
Facebook has released version 13.0 of its iOS app to the App Store, with update notes promising that the social network will now bring regular updates to the App Store “every 4 weeks,” while explaining how to enable iOS 7 automatic updates to stay current. Facebook notes that “every update of the Facebook app includes improvements for speed and reliability” and that any other new features will be highlighted within the Facebook app itself, suggesting that users will no longer need to check out the app’s App Store page for the latest release information. The Facebook app has received very frequent updates since version 6.0 debuted in April 2013, and moved to a new version numbering and monthly update pattern this past February. Version 13.0 marks the first time the company has made any official commitment to a regular iOS update cycle.
80 Days ($5) is an interactive fiction adventure from inkle based on Jules Verne’s classic novel Around the World in Eighty Days. This game brings steampunk into the story as well, as players try find the quickest way around the globe through exploration and conversation.
In 80 Days, you inhabit the role of Passepartout, valet to Monsieur Fogg. It is your duty to help Fogg circumnavigate the globe — this is done largely by talking to locals and exploring new cities. This is game is heavily centered around reading. Though the in-game art is very nice and adds to the proceedings quite well, graphics are not the star of the show. It’s all about the story, which resembles a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Unlike those old children’s books, however, the timeline in 80 Days is fluid and constantly changing. Though you will make many, many choices that affect the game, you are often a spectator as well.
Beehive (free) — Beehive - The Social Network Filter from Kendall Innovations is that rare thing: a new social networking app that should be useful to certain people. The app takes your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds, and lets you narrow them down to the friends you care about most. All of those updates can then be viewed from the single Beehive app. Most appealing to those who would be interested in this sort of thing is the app’s anonymity. You never have to worry about deleting or unfollowing friends — just pick who you want to follow within Beehive, and they’ll be none the wiser. Additionally, Beehive doesn’t require an email address, or even the creation of an account. It’s also ad-free. Not all users will find such an app necessary, of course, but for those looking to cut down on their social networking time without missing anything important — or without offending people — Beehive might be the perfect answer. Right now the app is built for iPhone, but an iPad version will be coming soon.
NPR One (free) — NPR’s new NPR One app curates a stream of public radio news and stories for the listener. The app’s bizarre, meandering description describes NPR One as “a handcrafted experience” while noting the app also delivers the big stories of the day. Basically, it’s a different way of accessing public radio through a somewhat personalized set of recommended stories — users must sign in using their Facebook, Google, or NPR accounts.
Apple has reinstated popular Bitcoin wallet app Blockchain to the App Store. It’s not an entirely unexpected move, considering Apple recently started allowing Bitcoin apps back in the App Store, after making a change to its App Store Review Guidelines. Blockchain was originally pulled from the App Store in February. Nicolas Cary, Blockchain’s CEO, told Bloomberg that Blockchain’s Bitcoin wallet has 1.9 million users.
Modern Combat 5: Blackout ($7) is one of the most high-profile iOS games to be released this year. Blackout is the latest first-person shooter in Gameloft’s Call of Duty-esque series, and this time around, there are no in-app purchases to be found. However, an internet connection is required to play at all times.
As Modern Combat players will expect, Blackout has a great presentation. From the seriously impressive, detailed graphics, to the immersive sound and all of the requisite bells and whistles one would expect, there’s no doubt that Gameloft’s newest is a truly premium title. It’s important to note the frame rate during the game was solid for us on an iPad mini with Retina display, whether in single-player or multiplayer mode.
Matter ($2) — Photo app maker Pixite is back with Matter, a new app that allows users to add 3D effects to photos. Those effects come in the form of various 3D objects — users have the ability to change the traits of the objects, as well. A video feature allows users to create short animated loops of the object within the photo. To us, the objects look a bit “prog-rock album cover,” but to some that’s likely part of the appeal.
ShipAntics: The Legend of The Kiki Beast ($2) — The prolific StoryToys continues to move in a new direction with ShipAntics: The Legend of the Kiki Beast. Unlike many of the developer’s storybook apps, this is a full-fledged adventure title for young gamers. Though the gameplay is mostly in simple point-and-click style, there are plenty of puzzles and cartoon cutscenes. This app is chapter one of a three-part series, with chapter two coming as a “low cost” in-app purchase in the future.