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Google Drive Adds Google Now Functionality and More

Posted by on Jan 28, 2015

Google Drive gets update.

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Games

Laser Quest Review

Posted by on Jan 28, 2015

Octopus and lasers actually work great together.

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Productivity

Root Explorer Review

Posted by on Jan 12, 2015

Root Explorer brings some needed flair to Android File management.

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App Rundown

Laser Quest Review

Posted by on Jan 28, 2015

Octopus and lasers actually work great together.

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Recent Posts

Laser Quest Review

Laser Quest Review

Jan 28, 2015

Laser Quest has a flashy name that might fool folks. In a good way.

It’s a puzzle game, true, but it’s how the puzzles are framed that make this interesting. Our protagonist, Nio the octopus, is an industrious creature with an eye for treasure, and a willingness to travel to procure it.

The playing area is a grid made of smaller squares, and the general premise is to move Nio from the start point to the the location square of the treasure chest. these squares can also be occupied by items that can be collected by contact, or otherwise manipulated to effect a solution. There are also stars that can be collected; each level has three.

Unfortunately, there are obstacles between our octopus and the treasure it seeks; chief among these are lasers which have the ability to toast a careless octopus to a crisp. Thankfully, there are helpers that can be collected and/or utilized to neutralize the lasers; two notables ones are reflecting mirrors and wrenches. The former are great when it comes to redirecting the lethal laser in a safer direction. With the instructional cutscenes (and a bit of trial and error), one soon learns how to eliminate lasers. The wrenches can be used to adjust other tools, such that a laser emitter can be twisted 90° to neutralize another laser or such.

laser2

Further on, there are other elements: time sensitive bonuses, bombs, torches and more. the puzzles get more creative, and it does become quite the brain teaser.

So it boils down to getting as many stars as possible, creating means if egress, picking up as many gold coins as possible and getting to the successive level.

The game features exhaustible time reversals, as well as as hints. The former can be purchased with gold coins (which themselves can be procured with real cash via in-app purchase).

Bottom line? It’s a fun game with several levels and addictive gameplay. Just what the doctor ordered.

LEGO BIONICLE Review

LEGO BIONICLE Review

Jan 28, 2015

Lego Bionicle is a sub-franchise of Lego that I just never got into, despite being hugely into Lego. It was just too corny, and never really felt like Lego. There was barely any construction involved, and I couldn’t figure why I was supposed to get into that vague story about some monsters that have an obsession with masks. I was obviously in the minority, since Bionicles are hugely popular even today, evident by this very videogame, Lego Bionicle.

The story in Lego Bionicle is as vague as it is in the whole Bionicle universe. There’s some mask that everyone wants, I guess? The story is told in the wordless one-shots between the levels, that make it even more unintelligible, so I just didn’t bother with it. I understand that the player controls one of a number of warrior-type beings that search for the maskguffin through the different parts of a huge island, populated entirely by aggressive Lego spiders, and that’s perfectly enough.

The gameplay in Lego Bionicle has a really minimalistic approach to it. The levels are basically a bunch of interconnected arenas, where the player needs to kill advancing spiders and not get hurt by their random attacks, because…nothing. When hurt, the player taps the screen for a couple of seconds, and the Bionicle springs back into action. I know that it’s a game for children, but it felt a bit toothless even for that. The action demands the player to tap on the spiders around him, and the hero will jump between them, dealing damage. There are two super-attacks, one dealing a damage around the player, and another stunning the enemies. The gameplay is actually surprisingly exciting, as you have to jump between the spiders really fast, and not to get hit by their attacks – again, despite the fact that they don’t really pose any threat. After the level is over, the player gets a body part for one of the Bionicles that slightly changes its appearance, as a trophy.

There is a single big problem with Lego Bionicle, and it’s a complete lack of variety. The campaign is insultingly simple and short, there are only two kinds of enemies,Lego Bionicle 4 and the same boss at the end. The Bionicles have literally no gameplay differences between themselves. Basically, the only things that change when playing different Bionicles are their look and attack animations, and the backgrounds. It’s pretty dumb, considering how much work was obviously poured into them, and how long it takes to complete the campaign with all six of them – not even talking about collecting each of the numerous body parts. The game looks massive, but doesn’t feel massive at all.

Besides that, Lego Bionicle is an okay fast-paced action for the fans of the Bionicle universe. If you’re not into Bionicles, it’s only interesting for about an hour at most.

Oh, and there are no in-game purchases, making the game completely free, so that’s pretty sweet.

Google Drive Adds Google Now Functionality and More

Google Drive Adds Google Now Functionality and More

Jan 28, 2015

Google’s storage and document processing app Drive is getting a nice update that brings some fantastic additions to the application.

Per the update primer:

What’s New

* Search Drive with the Google app — includes voice search like “OK Google, search notes on Drive”

* Access custom maps created with Google My Maps

* Performance improvements and bug fixes

Users should start seeing the rollout immediately; Google Drive remains free on the Play Store.

[Source: Google Play App Page]

Multidisciplinary Coaching Tool Coachbase Goes Freemium

Multidisciplinary Coaching Tool Coachbase Goes Freemium

Jan 27, 2015

Coaching utility Coachbase is looking to become even more available by going free.

The app, which allows coaches and trainers to create virtual playbooks on Android devices, is shedding the $9.99 price tag; now, potential users can try out a limited version, and then unlock the full featured app via in-app purchase.

Coachbase is developed by a former youth coach, and supports over 20 sports, from basketball and soccer to floorball and water polo. it offers background syncing, animations, sharing options, and more.

As noted, the app is available for free (with in-app purchases) on Google Play.

[Source: Google Play App Page]

Mint.com Gets Update, Adds Manipulation of Bill Reminders and More

Mint.com Gets Update, Adds Manipulation of Bill Reminders and More

Jan 27, 2015

Intuit is busy with Mint.com, and has just uodated the app with a bunch of new features:

New for 4.0.0
Bill Reminders: You can now create, edit and view Bill Reminders on your phone.
– When you have a Bill due in the next 7 days, an Upcoming Bill Reminder Card will be displayed in the Updates Section.
– From the Upcoming Bill Reminder Card, you can view all your Bill Reminders
– When viewing an individual Bill Reminder, you can delete that reminder
Additional Improvements:
– Improved pin entry
– Squished Bugs

Mint.com is a great all-in-one financial app that allows users to keep track of spending and budgeting. It allows for syncing with online accounts, and is a cross-platform offering.

It remains free on the Play Store.

mint

[Source: Google Play App Page]

Tabtor Releases Math Learning App on Google Play

Tabtor Releases Math Learning App on Google Play

Jan 27, 2015

Tabtor is building upon its success on iOS by releasing the Android version of it’s well-regarded mathematics learning/tutoring application.

The app is backed by a subscription service, and the whole system is specifically aimed at kids in the K-6 bracket; a student gets unlimited worksheets and regular feedback from a dedicated tutor.

Per the Google Play page, features include:

- Tabtor membership gives you access to unlimited digital worksheets for one low monthly price for one student (subject to fair usage and assessment of submitted worksheets). Multiple plans available.
– Every worksheet is accompanied with a video tutorial to assist in the moments of frustration
– With your membership, a tutor is assigned for each student
– Student starts with a diagnostic test
– Student gets instant grading on every question
– Tutors provide personalized feedback, daily or as-needed, based on the worksheets submitted by the students and accordingly assign worksheets
– You get weekly updates on the performance of your children
– In addition, you get a biweekly session with the Tutor to review the performance of your children and for your child to talk with the Tutor
– Curriculum is aligned with CCSS (Common Core). Grades covered: Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th grades. 7th and 8th grade content will be released soon.

Tabtor CTO Balraj Suneja is pleased with the Android release. “We’re pleased to offer Tabtor’s groundbreaking learning program on the Android platform,” he says. “Students who use it have not only shown dramatic improvements on tests, but in many cases, they’ve been able to truly excel in a subject they previously struggled with, building the skills they’ll need for college and their professional careers beyond school.”

As noted, the app is free with a Tabtor subscription; it is available on the Play Store.

Risky Waters Review

Risky Waters Review

Jan 27, 2015

Risky Waters sounds like an exciting concept. Beset by evil serpents from beyond this world, the player must sail down a river as combat and destruction grips the land, destroying these mighty beasts with a ship mounted cannon. Failure to destroy the flying abominations allows them to breathe fire on your delicate craft. Killing off monsters grants experience that makes the cannon stronger. Shooting hearts can repair your redoubtable ship on the fly.

Screenshot_2015-01-26-18-51-22Unfortunately, the actual gameplay is very dull indeed. The game plays a bit like a shooter, one stick to aim and another to shoot. These controls make it very easy to target the airborne serpentine threat. The gameplay however is very dull indeed. The viewpoint is set so close it is down to pretty much luck if the player can take down a dragon before it sets fire to their ship and the game is extremely boring due to the one note gameplay and lack of skill required. There are no hidden depths or gameplay surprises here.

This could have been redeemed slightly if there was some kind of upgrade or experience system to permanently upgrade the player’s ship or its wussy little cannon, but experience only counts for the particular game it is earned in and seems to have little effect. It is not obvious what leveling up does for the player.

Risky Waters
also looks really bad. The graphics are drawn in a style which is both painful to look at and poorly colored. Bug eyed, purple dragons look like something from a fever dream. The aforementioned super close camera also makes playing the game much harder than it should be. At least the game is distinct enough on small screens and never lags or stutters.

The sound is unexciting. The weak blip of your cannon does not evoke any atmosphere and dragons are rather quiet. The music is passable.

Risky Waters is a dull, ugly looking game that really isn’t worth anyone’s time. There are a multitude of way better shooters on Android.


Flick Soccer 15 Review

Flick Soccer 15 Review

Jan 26, 2015

Struth, for a free game Flick Soccer 15 sure packs in a lot of modes.

Screenshot_2015-01-25-17-19-31Specialist focuses on accuracy. A target drifts around a goalmouth, protected by a goalie and later by more and more defenders. The player must get the ball in the goal, while also hitting the target. Swiping in a curve on the screen sends the ball in that direction and is pretty much required to get it around defenders. Aftertouch can also be invoked by swiping after the ball has been kicked. Hitting the bullseye awards an extra ball and the idea is to go as long as possible without missing three times in a row and running out of balls, making blues rather costly. This is ok at first, but gets kind of dull.

Quickshot is the same as Specialist but much faster. A tight time limit counts down faster than a dingo eats babies and hitting the target awards a small amount of extra time. The player has unlimited balls and the game continues until time runs out. Much faster paced and tense than specialist Quickshot is fun.

Challenge gives the player limited balls and a score to beat. Reaching that score with the allotted balls ranks up the player and unlocks harder challenges. This game mode has the most longevity due to its ranking system.

Screenshot_2015-01-25-17-20-43Crossbar is a dull mode where you must hit the goal’s crossbar with your ball as many times as possible. Crikey, it is repetitive. Finally, Smash It has the player smash panes of glass over the goals as fast as possible. It’s ok.

As for the tantalizingly named Beach Babes mode (which costs 99 cents to unlock), it is simply the same game as Specialist, except on a beach with bikini sheilas acting as defenders and a beach ball to use instead. Hardly compelling, but an amusing little extra. Stone the crows.

Flick Soccer 15 has fun gameplay, but it is certainly not a ridgey-didge game. It is well suited to play while in a line or waiting for something and in short bursts. Just about anyone from oldies to ankle biters, sheilas and blokes will be able to play Flick Soccer 15 too, which works in its favor.

Flick Soccer 15 looks bonza. Bright and colorful, the graphics are apples and have all the genital protecting you’d expect. The sound works well too with the roaring crowd egging you on and some surprisingly good music putting you in the zone.

Flick Soccer 15 is an enjoyable but somewhat short-lived game. Since it is completely free (except for Beach Babes) there’s no reason not to give it a burl, even for bludgers.


New York Tourism App I Love NY Launches on Google Play

New York Tourism App I Love NY Launches on Google Play

Jan 24, 2015

Folks looking to see the sights in The Empire State have a new, mobile tool in their arsenal: the I Love NY app, which just launched on Google Play.

The new app provides details on thousands of attractions that folks can see while visiting or traipsing around New York State.

Per the app detail page:

· Dozens of curated adventures will take you to the most amazing sites in every corner of New York State
· A simple step-by-step concierge function helps you quickly find the perfect travel itinerary for you
· Find hundreds of unique events and save them to your device’s calendar app
· Discover places to go near your current location and apply filters to find the things you love
· Find maps to help you navigate your way to places to stay, food & drink locations, and attractions
· Stay informed with location-based alerts for top destinations
· Learn more about New York’s 11 vacation region guides
· Plan your trip by saving and sharing your favorites with family and friends
· Find phone numbers and the official website link for each attraction, restaurant, and accommodation for easy booking

The app is available now, and is free on the Play Store.

YouTube Adds Homepage Tweaks via Update

YouTube Adds Homepage Tweaks via Update

Jan 23, 2015

Google is hard at work improving its core Android apps; YouTube is getting an update that is rolling out currently.

Per the app page:

It’s easier than ever to find new music and rock out to old favorites on YouTube. Discover songs and artists on a music homepage made just for you. Listen to an endless YouTube Mix inspired by your favorite song or artist. Play albums fast – right from search.

YouTube remains free on the Play Store.

[Source: Google Play Store Page]

Hungry Hal Review

Hungry Hal Review

Jan 23, 2015

Hungry Hal is a reversal of the typical zombie runner. Rather than fleeing in terror from the undead menace, Hungry Hal casts the player as that undead menace. Taking control of Hal, the player must hurtle down a course, avoiding obstacles and snacking on brains to reach his final destiny, whatever that may be.

Screenshot_2015-01-20-18-40-05Hungry Hal plays like a typical runner. There are multiple lanes on the screen and swiping up or down moves Hal upwards or downwards. However these controls are rather poor. There is a second of delay before Hal moves, often enough to plow into an obstacle or miss a human. It can just be impossible to move Hal quickly enough, especially if the humans are two lanes away.

As Hal runs along he consumes brain juice. Running out of brain juice ends the game, so the player must hunt down humans who appear on the course. Running into them eats their delicious brain, restoring brain juice. Some amusingly silly voice acting makes this fun and some humans may try to run away or change lanes, catching them while avoiding obstacles is a good challenge.

Screenshot_2015-01-20-18-42-03Hal can also collect bones as he runs along and these can be traded between games for permanent powers. These include magnets which attract bones, bait to summon some humans to eat from nowhere and even a scooter that allows Hal to just run over obstacles and humans alike. These are fun and add a good bit of depth, something sorely lacking in many runners these days.

This fun gameplay is helped along by the fact that Hal is completely free. There are no nasty freemium purchases and few ads to speak of. Far too many runners these days offer premium items and energy bars to continue games and otherwise cheapen the experience, but Hal is just based on skill.

Hal looks pretty good. A campy cartoony style suits the subject matter of the game and as mentioned above the silly voice acting and quotes from Hal are amusing.

Hungry Hal might not be the longest lived game but it is an enjoyable runner for free and despite some shonky controls it can provide entertainment.


Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures Collaborate to Bring Movie-Inspired SpongeBob: Sponge on the Run to Android

Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures Collaborate to Bring Movie-Inspired SpongeBob: Sponge on the Run to Android

Jan 23, 2015

If Bikini Bottom is where you’d go if you won the Super Bowl, this news is for you: SpongeBob: Sponge on the Run is out on Android!

The new game is based on the movie SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water! (due out on February 6th), and brings the best of SpongeBob, his cronies, rivals, and more to life on the mobile screen.

Play the brand-new SpongeBob: Sponge on the Run based on the new SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water!
SpongeBob and Plankton are in a race to find the lost Krabby Patty formula somewhere in Bikini Bottom, Apocalyptic Bikini Bottom and a real-world beach. When he’s not running, SpongeBob is flying, floating in a bubble, or has Plankton jumping around his surreal imagination. And when the running gets tough, the tough get heroic! SpongeBob becomes Super SpongeBob to knock through any obstacle in his way!
EXPERIENCE BIKINI BOTTOM
• Laugh at hilarious dialog between SpongeBob and his arch-rival Plankton
• Run through iconic locations including Bikini Bottom, Apocalyptic Bikini Bottom and out of water on a beach
• Customize SpongeBob with unique costumes
• Plankton helps SpongeBob with power-ups like shields and magnets
• Become Super SpongeBob and knock everything out of SpongeBob’s path!
UNEXPECTED TWISTS
• Drive the Patty Wagon!!!
• Adventure off the beaten path:
→ Float SpongeBob in a bubble through a coral forest
→ Jump Plankton through SpongeBob’s imagination
→ Plankton’s jetpack speeds past obstacles
• Run farther than your friends! Compare distance and scores after your run
• Custom animation and voice-overs with SpongeBob and Plankton created just for this game!

The game costs $3.99 (with additional optional in-app purchases) on the Play Store; we look forward to publishing our review shortly.

[Source: SpongeBob Movie Website]

Chrome Browser Update Brings Lollipop Enhancements and More

Chrome Browser Update Brings Lollipop Enhancements and More

Jan 23, 2015

Google’s Chrome Browser has an update rolling out, and it brings some key enhancements.

What’s New
• Easier site permission management
• Updates for Android 5.0 Lollipop
• Lots of bug fixes!

Chrome remains free on the Play Store.

[Source: Google Play Page]

King of Dragon Pass Makes is Way to Humble Bundle 10

King of Dragon Pass Makes is Way to Humble Bundle 10

Jan 22, 2015

Add this to the “awesome news” category…

HeroCraft’s King of Dragon Pass is now a part of Humble Bundle 10. This means that if one pays more than the average ($3.91 at the time of writing), one can get King of Dragon Pass and at least five more premium Android titles.

King of Dragon Pass is a mystical RPG; it is regularly priced $9.99 on the Play Store.

Some features of the game are:

- One of the Top 100 best mobile games of all time (Metacritic);
– Epic saga of conflict, mythology and community;
– Immensely replayable;
– Hand-painted artwork;
– Interactive story with an ultimate level of complexity.

Humble Bundle remains a phenomenal value that allows users to pay what they want to get select apps. The current promotion runs from now through February 1st, 2015.

A purchase link is provided below.

[Source: HeroCraft Press Release and Humble Bundle]

WWE Immortals Review

WWE Immortals Review

Jan 22, 2015

The fans of WWE can rejoice: they got a cool new fighting game, titled WWE Immortals. It gives all of the famous WWE characters even more crazy and unrealistic abilities and pits them against each other in teams by three. If this isn’t enough for you, then mind that they also get really violent finisher moves and exciting battlegrounds to fight in. If this also isn’t enough, then I know about WWE even less then I thought, sorry.

In all seriousness though, WWE Immortals is a surprisingly good game – at least when compared to the previous WWE titles that I got to play before. It looks and sounds great, almost comparable to the fighting games on the consoles. There’s also a ton of different characters to chose from – even though they’re not as different as they seem. More surprisingly, it does require some skill to win.

The player has a collection of cards that represent the fighters. Each fighter has a power level, and a health level that go up as the character gets experience from the fights. They also have three special moves, and a passive ability. The moves can be upgraded by spending some amount of gold, also earned through fights. The player needs to compose a team of three fighters from the ones available to him, challenge the AI opponent in the tournaments, or another players in online mode (although there were some server problems), WWE Immortals 3and beat them to get the experience and the gold. The fight mechanics are simple, but pretty interesting. The player taps the screen for short punches, swipes left or right for heavy ones, and taps with two fingers to block. The punches can also be stringed together into short combos. As the player hits, or gets hit, the energy bar charges up, and can be unleashed by tapping on one of the three abilities. Sometimes, the player needs to do some simple actions here and there to improve the damage output.

Overall, WWE Immortals has a unique and surprisingly potent fighting mechanic, that’s a bit too simple, but works for me. The main problem I see in it is that it’s free-to-play, so it has the same old crap, like the energy bar, and the grinding, and other stuff like that. If you’re okay with that, and you’re a fan of WWE, it’s a cool game, and a great way to kick the butt of a WWE fighter with your own two WWE fighters.

Google+ Update Brings Post Pinning, Low Bandwidth Mode and More

Google+ Update Brings Post Pinning, Low Bandwidth Mode and More

Jan 22, 2015

Google+ is geting a few new features by way of an update rolling out now.

The new build brings:

• Pin posts to the top of your profile or page
• Low bandwidth mode
• Performance improvements and bug fixes

The update is rolling out now; Google+ remains free on the Play Store.