Mad Skills BMX 2 Review

Mad Skills BMX 2 Review

Feb 21, 2018

Memories, memories… that’s what the new-ish Mad Skills BMX 2 does for me.

If looks are your thing — and, if we had to guess, everyone would say they are — then hey, you’ll probably dig Mad Skills BMX 2. I mean, the default side camera view is as naturalas it comes, and the better to see it all with. The color blending is great, and it really has a serious feel to it, what with the realistic animations and the detail oriented backgrounds. Visually, it is quite richly expressed, and the eye candy component helps set the tone for the gameplay itself.

And when it comes to the gameplay, Mad Skills BMX 2 really wants you to get it, and goes about that by incorporating a fairly exhaustive tutorial. Said tutorial allows you to grasp the controls; these are fairly easy, with an emphasis on leaning forward/back to jump or bare down, along with boosts buttons when available. Rest assured, the intro sessions are done in parts: for example, you learn to maximize downhill speeds and when to tap that down button — to make it worth it, you race against a mirror image of yourself doing the off-road bike thing. Winning yields game currency, and then it’s off to do the tutorials for jumping, landing and so on.

msb3

When the teaching series is done, you’re ready to start the “true” racing pathway, and these are grouped by locale; you have to finish the one series to unlock the next. As you go on though, it makes sense to pick up better equipment, and that is where the earned game currency come in. There are also specials that can be unlocked, and there are plenty of opportunities to use real cash.

It’s fun, relatively self-contained number, easy to get into and enjoy. It allows for plenty of play of somewhat different types. It does bog down at times if you go the free route, so a little bit of patience would be required.

Worth a look, and even an afternoon.

Behind the Scenes: The Android Mobile Casino Experience

Behind the Scenes: The Android Mobile Casino Experience

Feb 19, 2018

The Prodigious Growth of the Mobile Market
Slovavsky-02
Global Mobile Users: Source – ComScore

It comes as no surprise that mobile Internet now outstrips desktop users by a long margin. This was boosted by low-cost Internet (Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G), cost reductions with Android smartphones and tablets, and a burgeoning middle class in China and India.
Slovavsky-01
Personal Use of Devices: 2017 – Source – OfCom

According to an OfCom communications report, users in the UK and the US spend 66 and 87 hours per month respectively browsing the web on their smartphones. The KPCB statistics for 2015 indicate that US mobile usage accounted for 51% of all time spent on digital media.
Slovavsky-03
Smartphone Market Share – Source: DAZEINFO

Smartphones dominate over tablets, laptops and desktops by a long margin. This was confirmed by OfCom research in 2017.

Android vs iOS – The Growing Divide

The leading mobile operating systems are Android and iOS. In terms of their worldwide market share, Android has led iOS (iPhone) since 2012. The stats reveal the following:

  • Q2 2012 – Android 69.3%; iOS 16.6%
  • Q2 2013 – Android 79.8%; iOS 12.9%
  • Q2 2014 – Android 84.8%; iOS 11.6%
  • Q2 2015 – Android 82.8%; iOS 13.9%
  • Q2 2016 – Android 86.2%; iOS 12.9%
  • The remaining percentages are filled by Blackberry and Windows Phone OS. There are also strong geographic trends. iOS dominates in Australia, New Zealand, Scandinavia, the United Kingdom, and France. Android is dominant in Mexico, South America, Russia, Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, and Indonesia.

    Android devices are significantly cheaper than iPhones. According to Forbes Magazine, the typical price of an iPhone is around $687, while that of an Android smartphone is $254.

    The Challenges of Mobile for Web Developers

    Slovavsky-04
    AMP HTML, JS, and Cache – Source: AMP

    Web developers face unique challenges when setting up a site that is mobile friendly. Today, websites have adopted a mobile-first policy when it comes to the user experience. Everything begins with smartphone functionality. Website developers that begin with a PC-based platform (desktop) typically encounter problems when they try to optimize for mobile afterwards. Desktop features may be visible to the end user, while they are invisible to the mobile user. The biggest challenge on mobile though is load time. Mobile is significantly slower than desktop and this is problematic.

    Maintain Traffic Flow

    If a website only functions optimally for PC-based users, it stands to lose considerable traffic among mobile users. Web developers must juggle multiple issues such as navigation, functionality, speed, and quality. Menus, clickable links, and design need to be optimized.

    Most of the plug-ins that are currently available are iOS optimized, and create challenges for the UX on Android. Online gaming platforms are dependent on the audio-visual prowess of their offerings to create a wow factor with players. If the games cannot be seen, or optimized on mobile, the online gaming platform loses out. This concept is known as maximizing on-screen real estate.

    Challenges for Online Casino Webs Developers

    Slovavsky-05

    Web developers must create mobile friendly platforms for all devices. This includes pixel intensity, responsive design (creates increased liquidity for screen adjustments), greater interactivity with buttons, slide and swipe functionality, tilting, flipping and shaking options.

    Leading online casinos are making it easier for players to enjoy a rich mobile casino experience through a single web page for iOS and Android. The mobile game offering can be accessed from a hub page. This is an effective way to promote the mobile casino’s offerings. This presentation and design eliminates many of the challenges that web developers face with mobile users. The Android and iOS apps each have a unique interface. When mobile players click to play, they will automatically be presented with a full range of gaming options optimised for their device.

    Google’s Mobile First Indexing
    Slovavsky-06

    In 2016, Google announced that its search index will rank sites with a mobile-first approach. The algorithmic code of Google’s crawlers understands structured data and ranks pages and sites via the mobile-first index. According to Google, the majority of people are using their smartphones and tablets to access websites nowadays. The lag effect of PC-based ranking remains, however the Smartphone Googlebot is now crawling across websites and ranking them accordingly. Luckily, webpages that have already implemented responsive design and feature dynamic serving are good to go. The mobile first index is here and it’s reshaping the way web developers are creating pages, apps and enhancing their SEO efforts.

    What Are Google AMP Pages and How Can They Help?

    Mobile websites take much longer than PC/desktop to load, and this has been one of the greatest challenges to mobile functionality. A viable solution to the load time challenges with mobile comes in the form of Google AMP pages. AMP stands for accelerated mobile pages, and it is an open source project aimed at enhancing the speed, delivery and quality of mobile functionality. This ensures higher levels of engagement, increased ROI, greater flexibility and quicker load times. Accelerated mobile pages make it much more enticing and engaging for players to go the mobile route.

    Google AMP allows websites to rank better on mobile, and this is good news for search engine optimization (SEO). Since most users abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load, it’s important that sites are mobile friendly. Most mobile sites don’t load in 3 seconds; in fact, most take 10 seconds to load. And if you’re using 3G Internet, this can be as much as 19 seconds. Google AMP is 4 x faster than a standard HTML page and it’s designed for rapid loading. There are no known downsides. To get started, all that’s needed is an extension, plug-in or module on a content management system such as Joomla, WordPress, or Drupal. Then it’s off the virtual casino games – wherever you may find yourself.

    This article is sponsored as part of Steel Media Preferred Partners.

    Round and about the Steel Media world (Feb 16th)

    Round and about the Steel Media world (Feb 16th)

    Feb 16, 2018

    Another week, and slate of great news stories, reviews and features from the Steel Media empire. Because, well, you can never have too much content, and we’re here to help you catch stuff you might have missed.

    So, without too much ado, here is some cool stuff from around the Steel Media world:

    Pocket Gamer

    Pocket Gamer is chock-full of great stuff this week. Creature Quest feens will be happy with the staff generated tips and tricks guide, which should have you dominating in no time. Emily Sowden gets a hat tip for a quick list of the best iOS and Android updates for the week — including Death Road to Canada, The Battle of Polytopia and more. And, for those that have refined ear for interesting audio, the ubiquitous Pocket Gamer Podcast Episode 431 is up.

    148apps

    And yes, 148apps is still putting out the good stuff this week. There is Campbell Bird’s in-depth review of visual stunner Florence. Then, you can — you SHOULD — check out the updated list of the best games out for iPhone available now. And it’s never too late to get all booed up with the list of Valentine day apps. X’s and O’s…

    eisenhorn-xenos-ios

    AppSpy

    And still even more good stuff. Thanks to Christian Valentin, we know to look forward to upcoming iOS game sequel Alto’s Odyssey. Similarly, AppSpy has us impatiently waiting on cross-platform gravity defying caper Flo, due out on Android and iOS sometime in 2018.

    And there you have it. Great stuff. On tap. Enjoy.

    My App Addiction: Pocket Casts

    My App Addiction: Pocket Casts

    Feb 16, 2018

    I’ll shout it from the rooftops, all day long: I love podcasts. I really, really do.

    They are what FM radio was for me when I was a young buck, but better. There is just so much stuff to listen to out there. All you need is the patience to find interesting content, and the tools to listen to it.

    For the latter, I’ve come to depend on Pocket Casts.

    Pocket Casts is one of those OG Android apps… one that arguably allowed the OS to gain parity with the app haven that was iOS. As a dedicated podcast app, it did one thing, and did it well. Even now, it gets props for being as good a media manager as it is a player, with several features that make it almost indispensable.

    First, it has a bright interface, which allows it to be easy on the eyes. It also has a great discovery system, breaking podcasts into intuitive settings like Trending, Top, and also by subject matter; you can also do a raw search by name. Personally, I’m able to find audio blogs I probably wouldn’t have found otherwise.

    And then, when it comes to managing your discovered podcasts, it’s invaluable. You can manage the number of downloaded podcasts available — reducing bloat — and can auto-download and auto-queue broadcasts. The player itself is just as easy to use.

    Now, I am always a big fan of convergence. For example, I love Google Play Music, which allows me to stream music, play audio files already on my device AND listen to podcasts. Usually, it’s all about getting the fewest apps to do the most things reasonably well. It’s just that Pocket Casts does the podcast thing so well, it’s worth having the extra app around.

    [Our Pocket Casts Review]

    Smashing Four Review — shuffleboard on steroids

    Smashing Four Review — shuffleboard on steroids

    Feb 15, 2018

    Full disclosure: at the risk of being soundly mocked (as I probably should be), I just learned how to play Shuffleboard the other day. Loved it… so much so that I am negotiating with my better half to get one for the house. I can dream.

    All that to say this… it was a good time for Smashing Four to come across my desk.

    Look, to be fair, the shuffleboard comparison gives a comparative baseline, but really doesn’t completely describe the game. It is group battling and strategy in a rosy presentation.

    Almost like shuffleboard.sf3

    It starts with the glitzy visuals: bright use of color that highlight the main playing area, which comes into focus with an effective top-down view; the animations, on which the gameplay depends a great deal, are well done, with plenty of whimsical touches and appropriate sound accoutrements.

    I know, I know… you wanna know about the gameplay proper. Well, shuffle shuffleboard out of your mind. The built-in primer helps you learn the game, which is all about gathering troops and knocking the sense out of opposing troops in a war of attrition. To further explain, you line up against a random opponent, each of you with four pieces and alternate turns. You project your pieces, one after the other, and reduce the lifebars of your opponents, before they do the same to you.

    And “project” you do… by dragging and releasing your piece, Angry Birds catapult style. You can aim, and look to do maximize damage by direct hits and secondary rebound damage. You can also look to strategize, because the game also plays like billiards, you can also look to play defensively, making it harder for your opponent to hit you when it is his/her turn. Oh, you can’t tarry too long, as every turn has a time limit.

    As the pieces lose life, they varnish, and the player that loses all pieces loses. Winners get game coin and orbs, which, when matured, yield new cards and more. The orbs add a time requirement of sorts, as they require maturing (which can be shorted by green gems or real cash).

    The cards can reveal new players (with new attributes) or clones of cards already owned and/or deployed. Clones can then be used to upgrade existing pieces do that they can be more useful in battle.

    It comes together well, and has been an enjoyable pastime for the past few days.

    Better than shuffleboard?

    youtube bbDGD-XrVxo 600

    YouTube TV adds new networks

    YouTube TV adds new networks

    Feb 14, 2018

    Surely Google hopes the world is split into two closely related camps: folks who subscribe to its cord cutters beloved service YouTube TV, and those that are on the cusp of signing up for it.

    Here’s great news for the former, as well as maybe even more of a value-added invective for the latter.

    YouTube TV is adding more channels. Now, in addition to the existing lineup, you also get access to live TV content from TNT, TBS, CNN, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, HLN, truTV, and TCM. That’s eight (8) new channels for your viewing pleasure.

    This adds to the existing lineup, which includes staples like ESPN, ESPN 2, FX, Disney Channel, SyFy, Bravo and a host more: a shade under 60 included channels, plus access to premium add-ons for extra.

    The service costs $35 per month; there is still a free trial for those looking to give it a no-risk look. Check out why we found YouTube TV more compelling over time, even more the addition of channels HERE.

    Screenshot 2018-02-14 at 09.54.55 - Edited

    Never-ending street racer Nitro Racing GO launches on Google Play

    Never-ending street racer Nitro Racing GO launches on Google Play

    Feb 14, 2018

    Time to celebrate: Nitro Racing GO: Idle Driving Clicker is live on Google Play, courtesy of T-Bull

    In this one, your street cred is built by passing other competitors during the race; when you pass another racer, you get goodies that can be used to improve your craft. The game boasts dozens of vehicle upgrade opportunities, card play leaderboards and plenty of interesting locales.

    What better way to flex you underground racing muscle? This is 100% safe, too. Add in unlockable vehicles and a free-to-play methodology, and it might be tough to put this one down.

    T-Bull Operations Chief and co-founder Grzegorz Zwolinski talks about the drive to create something that stands out. “Our goal was to do something different with the racing genre – something no one has tried before,” he says. “Nitro Racing GO combines genres to deliver a wholly original and innovative experience!”

    Can’t wait to see if this true.

    Nitro Racing GO is available for free (with optional in-app purchases). Check out the trailer below.

    Level It! Tower Falling Over Review — green is it!

    Level It! Tower Falling Over Review — green is it!

    Feb 14, 2018

    There is no such thing as too many time wasting games; life as we know not almost begs for them. Level It! Tower Falling Over is new-ish one that looks to make folks see red when they see green.

    It uses decent graphics, with interesting 3D stylings that go well with the controls and are buttressed by non-distracting backgrounds rounded up into two groups: Forest and Mountain.li3

    To understand the game, you have to visualize it… by playing, yep. The “main” game pieces are sorta like legos,and are green and red. These pieces are used to create basic, non-fused monochramatic towers (red or green). Non-fused in the sense that they can be toppled and scattered, much like a jenga tower.

    The core idea is especially easy to grasp, especially with the first few levels. It starts with a singular green tower, and a cannon that can be manipulated the the virtual 3D plane as described earlier. So, you simply line up the cannon as needed, and tap “fire” to shoot. Each level has a fixed number of shots you can expend, and the idea is to aim and shoot to knock down the green tower, and unlock the next level.

    Now, after the subsequent level (and just as we should suspect), the game gets craftier. Multiple green towers, and eventually, the aforementioned red towers. The red towers cannot be fired upon though, so depending on how the towers are set up, knocking down the green without hitting the red with the projectile can be quite the challenge. And they get even tougher, with mixed towers, weird ledges and more, all designed to really test your creativity. Hitting the red directly first means the level is failed.

    Levels can be replayed, and extra balls purchased to extend levels. Easy peasy.

    So, it’s a simple game with a specific focus. You get what you get, and from a time waster perspective, it mostly works.

    Yakuza 6: The Song of Life

    The Yakuza series is an action-adventure video game developed and published by SEGA. Released in 2005, the story follows a Yakuza named Kazuma Kiryu. After spending ten years of his life in jail for a crime he did not commit, he learns that billions of Yen have been stolen from the Tojo Clan. He then crosses path with an orphan girl, Haruka, who is a target of the clan, and who might also have the key for their lost money.

    In this series, Kazuma Kiryu travels to Hiroshima in search for answers. This is the PlayStation 4 sequel, Yakuza 6- The Song of Life. This action adventure game features a character that gains experience from combats and can be used to level up his capabilities. It is similar to adventure themed slot games available at Magical Vegas. As you play and collect points on the site, you get the chance to level up and enter the VIP club, where you benefit from enhanced offers and perks.

    2012 Plot

    On one snowy night, at Japan’s largest stage, a girl makes a confession in front of tens of thousands of fans. Stating “I’m a family member of Kazuma Kiryu.” That was the moment, Haruka Sawamura, declared her true dream. At the time of her confession, Kazuma has just barely managed to settle a conflict between five of Japan’s largest cities. In the middle of a relentless snowstorm, Kazuma and Haruka reunite.
    After the conflict, for Haruka to live with the children of the orphanage, Kazuma once again decides to cleanse. He has to fulfill a three-year prison term, as compensation in order to attain happiness. But this small gesture creates a massive disbalance in the life of Haruka and her orphan friends.
    Day and night Haruka was slandered, and the public outcry was more severe than expected. This caused Haruka to retire from the world of show business in an unexpected way. Attacks were so severe, that it even reached the children of Sunshine Orphanage. Haruka found herself alone and realized the naivety of her decision.

    2016 Plot

    On being released from prison, Kazuma was informed about the hard reality of Sunshine Orphanage and Haruka’s disappearance. Afraid that she would be a bad influence on the kids of the orphanage, she fled. Feeling guilty of not being able to support her, Kazuma returned to Okinawa and suffered his own uselessness.

    Searching for Haruka, he finds that she’s met with an accident and that she’s in critical condition. Kazuma is devastated. It comes to light that Haruka has been in Hiroshima the whole time. A city where the Himei Association is in control and is not affiliated with the Tojo Clan and Omi Alliance. This is new ground for Kazuma, as this area is out of reach of the Tojo Clan. But, why was Haruka in Hiroshima? Was her accident a mistake? Why did Haruka come to this city? What happened to Haruka while Kazuma was in prison? Kazuma makes it his mission to search every nook and cranny of Hiroshima for answers.

    Yakuza 6: Song Of Life was released in Japan on 8th December 2016 and will be released to the rest of the world on 20th March 2018. For now, you only have to wait to find the answers to all the questions!

    This article is sponsored as part of Steel Media Preferred Partners.

    In case you missed it — round and about the Steel Media world (Feb 9)

    In case you missed it — round and about the Steel Media world (Feb 9)

    Feb 9, 2018

    it’s a big, big world, and there so much going on. So much news, and so little time to enjoy all of it. For your mobile news and features, the Steel Media crew have you covered, and just in case you were not able to make all the rounds, we got you.

    Here are some of the interesting stories from our sister sites.

    Pocket Gamer rocks the week with reviews for Aegis Defender Switch and roguelike Dig Dog for starters; Folks looking to get some tips and tricks for Dragon Quest Builders, and even a timely walkthrough for Hearthstone. And, by the way, you also get latest episode of the coolest podcast in the land — Episode 430, which talks about Final Fantasy XV and Dandara.

    On 148Apps, we got our regular jewel, Harry Slater’s list of the best iOS games on sale now. There is also an enviable list of the best drag racing games on mobile, and a guide for Dice City Soccer.

    On AppSpy, you can catch its pick for hidden gem of the week, Euclidea, as well as Christian Valentin’s write-ups on True Legacy and cross-platform Forgive Me My Henchmen.

    There you have it… enjoy!

    2018020810542800-E31CB7B96F8F4E742CAFE365B3166C41

    It’s still about the ecosystems, and Amazon is holding serve

    It’s still about the ecosystems, and Amazon is holding serve

    Feb 9, 2018

    Remember back when Amazon released the Fire Phone? That Android-flavored smartphone most pundits called a flop? Yes, don’t pretend. You dissed it too.

    What about the Amazon Appstore? It was appreciated, but with developers less likely to put their apps on it versus the Play Store, it was always gonna be a tough sell. Hey, at least the Fire Tablets have been doing well, right? Either way, for all its financial acumen, we couldn’t help but wonder if Amazon would really become that other ecosystem consumers deserved. I mean, Apple, Google, Samsung et al. weren’t taking naps at the time, either.

    Somehow, we practically missed her until she was right on top of us: Alexa.

    Hey, nothing has changed. It’s all about the ecosystems, and Amazon seems to be pace setter, especially from a mindshare perspective. In this race, mindshare is gold.

    With the connected smarthome being the new frontier, being in front early is important. When it comes to consumer adoption, it’s not always about who has the best product on the market, but rather who has the most recognizable one. When your grandma makes fun of friends who use Alexa, Amazon smiles because it knows it has a future customer.

    Don’t cry too hard for Apple. It has become great at sitting back and perfecting technology rather than necessarily introducing it.

    One thing’s for sure: consumer wins.

    Hopefully.

    Jam Ultra Wireless Earbuds Review

    Jam Ultra Wireless Earbuds Review

    Feb 8, 2018

    We’ve said it before: with the advent of Apple’s version (hey, we admit it), truly wireless headphones — you know, the ones that have each earbud wirelessly free of each other — are becoming more mainstream. They aren’t just hipster novelties anymore, in that they actually have real, measurable value for everyday users.

    Jam Audio has thrown a firm hat into the consumer ring with its Ultra Wireless Earbuds, a (relatively) decently priced wireless offering.

    The earbuds both fit in the palm easily, dark in appearance and each not too much bigger than an acorn. They each have replaceable tips, and allow the earbuds to sit in the ear, and form a seal on the outside. They fit well as stock.

    As with most truly wireless earbuds, the overall experience and aesthetic have a good deal to do with the design and utility of the charging solution. As noted, these ones utilize a portable charging case. At first glance (and compared to the charging cases of competing sets), they may come across as somewhat bulky, but they aren’t ugly, and can be pocketed without too mush unseemliness.

    ja3

    In practice, the Jam Ultras took a bit of while to reconnect to devices it had already been paired to the first time; after this, it was fairly spot on in this regard. When it was connected, the sound quality was sharp and uninterrupted when within ten feet of the audio source. Further out allowed for a bit of interference.

    They were great for podcasts, and was a great outlet for the jazz, country, pop, hip hop and R&B tracks that were piped through them. They also performed well during running and didn’t chafe the ears during extended use.

    ALl in all, a great set of earbuds for everyday use, and at $99 on the Jam Audio website, a good deal cheaper than other options out there.