Apps of the Week: Epic Zen Garden, OmniFocus, Evernote, Pocket + more

New Apps

Other than the new Health and Tips apps from Apple — check out our recent iOS 8 Instant Expert article for more details — the most notable new apps this week are third-party keyboards which can be used in iOS 8. We’ve started testing the keyboards, but we’ve run into a number of bugs early on. Look for a more detailed piece later.

New Games

Epic Zen Garden (free) — Epic Zen Garden from Epic Games was first seen at Apple’s WWDC in June, meant to show off Unreal Engine 4 and Apple’s Metal, a new system designed to improve graphics and processing in iOS games. We tried Epic Zen Garden on an iPhone 5s, and it did look nice, and the effects were impressive enough, but it’s barely a game. Download it just to get a hint of what Metal might have to offer down the line, but don’t feel bad about deleting it from your iPhone or iPad after 10 minutes or so.
Apps of the Week: Epic Zen Garden, OmniFocus, Evernote, Pocket + more

Goat Simulator ($5) — You don’t need iOS 8 to play this new game. Released earlier this year for OS X, Goat Simulator from Coffee Stain Studios lets you simulate the life of a goat, if said goat was an indestructible force with the capacity for mass destruction. You jump, lick, and headbutt your way through a town, blowing up cars, climbing houses, knocking people down — whatever strikes your fancy. It’s a sandbox game, and more of a game than Epic Zen Garden is, though not by many degrees. Unfortunately, Goat Simulator is a bit buggy, and keeping the camera in line isn’t always easy. It can be sort of fun in a crazy way, but most people might find the price was a bit high after dropping $5.


As one might expect with Wednesday’s release of iOS 8, the updates this week have been many. A number of first-party Apple apps were updated Wednesday. In games, Gameloft’s Modern Combat 5: Blackout and Asphalt 8: Airborne have been updated to support Metal. Additionally…

Apple’s release of iOS 8 yesterday brought with it new opportunities for developers to take advantage of third-party integrations and extensions, and it was almost no time at all before app updates started flooding the App Store to give users the benefits of the tighter integration available in iOS 8. While we were left wondering about the point of some of the integrations—does one really need access to their Kindle library from the “Today” screen?—many of them really are genuinely useful and some present interesting ways of handling things.

Apps of the Week: Epic Zen Garden, OmniFocus, Evernote, Pocket + more

1Password (free) — The ever-popular password manager 1Password gets a major update with version 5.0 for iOS 8, coming with a Safari Extension that can now be used to auto-fill passwords and other secure info into your online forms—a process made even easier with the app’s new support for Touch ID authentication. You basically just tap the 1Password button on the extensions menu, touch your finger, and then choose the account you want to use to sign in. It’s a more secure way of doing things than relying on iCloud Keychain, since the passwords stay locked up until you want to use them, rather than being filled in as soon as you hit a sign-in page.

Apps of the Week: Epic Zen Garden, OmniFocus, Evernote, Pocket + more

Evernote (free) — Evernote’s 5.0 update gets into the game as well, providing Evernote fans with a Sharing Extension to now easily clip their favorite articles and web pages into a notebook of their choice—a feature that many Evernote power-users have been waiting for since the app first debuted on the App Store. A Today Extension is also provided to allow users to take quick notes right from the Today screen, and Evernote can now use Touch ID on supported devices to protect access to your important data.

Apps of the Week: Epic Zen Garden, OmniFocus, Evernote, Pocket + more

OmniFocus 2 for iPhone ($20) — OmniFocus 2 2.3.1 was one of the first updates to arrive, and probably one of the obvious apps for offering a Today Extension. As a task-based app, it only makes sense that you should be able to get an overview of what needs to be done today when actually looking at the “Today” screen. Additionally, OmniFocus adds a Sharing Extension to allow users to quickly and easily create tasks from other apps, such as when viewing a web page in Safari.

Apps of the Week: Epic Zen Garden, OmniFocus, Evernote, Pocket + more

PCalc ($10) — “Pro-grade” calculator app PCalc version 3.3 is worth a mention here for its more innovative use of the Today Extensions to actually display an actual inline calculator. Since Apple doesn’t allow the Control Center calculator button to be reassigned, this is about as close as you can get to having quick access to the more powerful capabilities of PCalc. As an added bonus, you can start a series of calculations on the Today screen, and then tap on the result to be transferred to the PCalc app with all of your calculation history intact and ready to go, and a new option in the app allows you to keep the app and widget in sync at all times. You can then pick up your calculations in either place, along with Handoff support to move your calculations between multiple iOS devices.

Apps of the Week: Epic Zen Garden, OmniFocus, Evernote, Pocket + more

Pinterest (free) and Pocket (free) — Pinterest version 3.9 and Pocket 5.6 have both added their own Sharing Extensions as well, allowing users to more easily send information to those apps. While bookmarklets could do the job before in both of these cases, the Sharing Extensions make the whole process much more accessible, and provides more flexibility for doing things like selecting a board or adding tags after posting.

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