Dots Review

Dots Review

Aug 20, 2013

Dots, dots… and more Dots.

There are two flavors of play, which come as a timed 60 second rush for a points and a more relaxed mode based on a finite number of moves. The gameplay gets straight to the point, too: connect dots of the same color. Gesture-based controls facilitate the connections via swiping; as soon as the finger is lifted off the screen, the connected dots are removed from the screen, the raw count of removed dots is tallied and they are replaced by new, random dots hat fall from the top of the screen (just like in Bejeweled). dots1

The key, as noted, is to connect as many same-colored dots as possible. Because of the constant cascading, what seems like a good move a nano second earlier may not clear as many dots as it could have because of the new positioning. And not so fast… it is not as simple as just drawing lines through dots to clear them; diagonal formations can’t be connected. Lines that run through right angles can also be made.

Closing squares is the key move, as a connected square not only clears the connected dots, but all apps of the same color, thereby potentially increasing one’s point haul significantly. This creates an opportunity for some limited strategy of trying to create square-making opportunities.

Every run with completed dots earns dot cash; these dots can be used to purchase power-ups that help to accumulate points. Another fun aspect is the trophy/recognition element, with which the game awards points and a trophy for specific thresholds (like games played or number of squares made in a round). Little things like that make the game that much more enjoyable, and keep players engaged. The social networking functionality and leaderboards serve the same purpose.

The graphics are utilitarian, with the grid colorful dots super-imposed on a a stark white background. The animation connections work well, and the game has clean look overall.

Dots is a fun game that is shockingly addictive, and proof simplicity is always something to be aimed for.

Carbon for Twitter Review

Carbon for Twitter Review

Feb 11, 2013

When it comes to reputation, Carbon is one of those apps that reached mystical status long before it released. With screenshots and hype from beta users, Carbon can be said to be one of the most anticipated Twitter apps Android has ever seen.

Thankfully, the wait is over.

Carbon tries to be a clean, functional Twitter conduit, and, as an opening gambit, it did look quite sleek. The stark black background with white font looked good, with the usernames and avatars displayed prominently. The animations were fun to see; for example, pulling down on the stream screen (which invoked refreshing) angled the screen and gave it an interesting transition perspective. Sliding left or right to the different screens also had a sort of cubing effect, which just made the app seem just a bit more, well, alive.

The main screen itself maintained minimal principles, with a post button, profile button and menu button residing onscreen at the bottom.

Functionally, Carbon is no slouch. First, it is able to manage multiple accounts. Entering accounts was easy as putting in credentials and getting a token. Swiping once or twice to the right of the Timeline got me to the Mentions and Messages screens respectively, which had the same feel as the Timeline screen. Long-pressing an individual tweet gave me an opportunity to reply, quote, re-tweet or star the tweet. It took me a minute, but I eventually that swiping with two fingers up or down to the top and bottom of the screen. It worked well with images and links.

The Menu button had links to starred tweets, lists, trending hashtags, search tool, filters and settings link. I could toggle notifications for mentions and messages in the Settings tab, as well as manage my Twitter accounts.

All in all, I found Carbon to be incredibly snappy, and fairly functional within its minimalist design. For convergence feens, the lack of other social networks may be off-putting, but to be fair, Carbon only promises to be awesome at Twitter, and I think it does. Also, jump-to-top wasn’t easy for me to figure out as I would have liked, and it’s a true shame that it isn’t yet optimized for tablets.

Still, I find no difficulty in proclaiming it to be one of the best Twitter clients on Android.