New Apps + Games
Age of Sparta (free) — A new strategy game from Gameloft takes you to ancient Greece where you must build a city and defend against Xerxes’ invasion. Age of Sparta combines traditional city-building with strategic battlefield combat, and an online multiplayer system provides thousands of other players to ally with or conquer as you build your empire. A variety of city structure options allow you to build everything from traditional barracks that allow you to recruit soldiers to temples and shrines to curry the favor of the gods and gain special powers against your enemies on the battlefields. A huge collection of unique units is available, ranging from basic foot soldiers to mythical monsters and beasts, and detailed graphics and animated combat scenes rival those of PC and console strategy games.
Google Calendar (free) — Although Google has released iOS apps which allow you to use almost all of its services on your iPhone or iPad, the one piece that has been conspicuously missing is the company’s own native calendar app. While CalDAV support allows you to sync your Google Calendar to your native iOS calendar app, and third-party solutions abound as well, Google clearly feels that it’s time for it to toss its hat into the ring with an official app. Google Calendar follows the company’s new Material Design ethos, and provides access to your Google Calendar accounts, as well as your iCloud or local iOS calendars. The app is nicely designed, with a clean and colorful look, but it’s not without its limitations. Firstly, it only supports the iPhone at this point, and in fact doesn’t even provide any kind of landscape view. Calendar views are also limited to list, one-day, or three-day views, but on the upside, Google Calendar provides tighter integration with Google’s other services, including offering the ability to automatically display events found in your Gmail inbox, appointment locations that link to Google Maps, and assisted entry that provides smart suggestions for event names, places, and people as you type. If you’re a Google Calendar user and aren’t satisfied with what the native Calendar app provides, Google’s offering here is certainly worth a look, if only for its free price tag and tighter Google integration.
Snow White ($5) — We haven’t heard from Nosy Crow in a while, but the celebrated kids’ app developer is back with its take on Snow White. As one would expect, it’s another well-made interactive storybook app with a few really neat touches — we especially like how the magic mirror shows the “reflection” of the person using the FaceTime camera. Nosy Crow suggests the app for ages 6-8, and we think that’s about right, as the interactive tasks might be too involved for younger tykes.
Fruit Ninja ($1) — Halfbrick’s classic action game takes your fruit slicing skills to a whole new level with the Chainsaw Blade. Now you can slice your fruit, and paint the walls with its pulp. The new blade also guarantees a critical hit on watermelons every single time, and the update adds local multiplayer support for iPhone and iPod touch users.
MacID ($4) — This cool little app for unlocking your Mac with Touch ID gets even better with this latest update, providing a nice list of new features such as a Today widget that allows you to quickly unlock your Mac simply by pulling down the Notification Center, better support for the iPhone 6 Plus — including landscape mode — clipboard sharing between your iPhone and your Mac, and even audio controls to let you play, pause, skip and mute music on your associated Macs. A number of smaller enhancements have also been added, including a new monochromatic color option and notifications that automatically clear if you unlock your Mac by entering your password instead of using MacID.
NCAA March Madness Live (free) — The app for following the Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament gets a nice 2015 update, again allowing users to watch the tournament live on iOS devices. You can log in with your TV provider to get unlimited access to all 67 games across all of the major networks, streamed live to your device. If you don’t have a participating TV provider, you can still watch CBS games and see previews of games from other networks. An interactive bracket allows you to explore the tournament and follow up-to-the-minute scores and stats, and the app is filled with analysis, storylines, and classic March Madness moments to keep you immersed in the tournament. All-new team pages allow you to read up on your favorite teams and research your brackets, and live notifications keep you informed on upsets, overtimes, close games, and anything pertaining to your favorite teams.