Round and about the Steel Media world (February 23)

Round and about the Steel Media world (February 23)

Feb 23, 2018

Another week and… yep, you guessed it: another batch of great mobile news coverage from the Steel Media family of sites.

We say that with all humility.

As we tend to do, we’re bringing you some of the best stuff from our other sites, because we know how hard it is to keep abreast old all this content; so much information, never enough time and all that.

Here are some heavy hitters from our sister sites:

Pocket Gamer

YAY! Shout to the skies… the latest installment of the topnotch Pocket Gamer podcast is LIVE! Episode 432 has the Pocket Gamer staff waxing astutely on Alto’s Odyssey (more on this game elsewhere) and Layers of Fear: Legacy. Bonus material? Why, yes… there’s an interview with the creators of the latter, plus the usual valuable chatter on relevant updates, upcoming releases and more.

And what might be better than playing Angry Birds? Well, checkout Pocket Gamer’s quick-hitter on Rovio’s new tournament version, which allows you to fling birds for money.

148apps

148apps is up to its usual iOS-centric goodies self, with Campbell Bird’s in-depth review of Alto’s Odyssey being one you definitely do not wanna miss (hint: it made a great impression). Then, you get player’s guide for Battle of Polytopia in the mix as well — get at this to become adept at running your virtual world.

We know you like relationship adventure Florence; it made this list last week. Well, the folks at 148apps went ahead and collated a few more games like it.

AppSpy

Look, James Gilmour’s voice is worth paying to hear. On AppSpy’s YouTube page, you get to hear his take on DAFT JUMP for free. On the “regular” site, you can take in Christian Valentin’s latest hidden gem Dark Echo.

And there you have it, for this week. Check back next week for our next installment of our inter-site rundown.

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…

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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.

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.

Who? What? Why? When? Where? Wednesday!

You have questions. We don’t always have the answers.

— So who is not interested in finding out more about the upcoming Samsung flagships? Courtesy of Android Central, we’re hearing Oreo, Snapdragon and 12 MP cameras. Yum.

— Well, it’s about time MyScript Nebo was made available for Samsung Note8. What is it? Handwriting recognition for devices that utilize active pens. I’m thirsty.

Who won the unofficial Super Bowl Ad championship? Alexa, who was mostly missing. On a serious note, what would we do without Alexa?

Where can I find a non-disposable bluetooth tracker that down’t need to be charged twice a day? You know… something thin, portable and unobtrusive?

Why do I feel quite comfortable with the, uh, ancient S7e I use as daily driver. Could it be it’s easier to keep devices for longer now because there is less innovation?

Round and about the Steel Media world

Round and about the Steel Media world

Feb 2, 2018

Yikes. it was 2017 not too long ago. Can it really already be February?

Yes… another week, another slew of great content all around the Steel media landscape. It is pretty good stuff, even if we do say so ourselves.

First up, let’s take a look at PG. Hey, whaddya know? The latest Pocket Gamer Podcast — Episode 429, no less — is live now. On tap this week: discussion about Mario Kart Tour and Hero Hunters. You can also find a comprehensive list of 67 games that are soft launched on Android and iOS, as well as some interest talk pertaining to LEGO games.

I’m interested in a Westworld game for mobile, and you will be too.

If you haven’t checked out 148Apps this week, shame on you! How else would you pick up on Harry Slater’s round up of the best iOS games currently on sale? There’s also some great gaming hints for the crazy popular Headshot ZD and reviews for Pako 2 and Disc Drivin’ 2.

Now, you’ll definitely wanna swing by AppSpy, if only to check out Christian Valentin’s pick for hidden gem of the week (hint: it’s all about geometry). You can also read up on recent mobile entries Gunslugs 3 and Tesla vs Lovecraft.

The real good news? This only scratches the surface. Head on out to Pocket Gamer, 148Apps and AppSpy to get all the content you could want, and then some.

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In case you missed it: elsewhere on Steel Media

The coolest thing about being part of a media network is that there is literally always something fresh… be it a different take, a new game or a platform-specific helper. Just in case you missed the goodness, here’s a quick rundown of some of the happenings on our sister sites.

Pocket Gamer

It’s always live at PG, and for folks that have a taste for sexy game talk, the latest Pocket Gamer Podcast — Episode 428 — is here. On the docket? Convo about The Room: Old Sins, Thumper and an interview Warhammer Quest II‘s developer.

There’s more… a walkthrough for popular cross-platform game Super Senso, and Jon Mundy’s take on the best iOS and Android games of January 2018.

148apps

Where to begin… if you want some tips and tricks to get ahead in Meteorfall, or become the baddest crime fighter in Jydge, or simply want to set sail with the best info possible in World of Warship Blitz… rest assured, the crew at 148apps has you well covered.

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AppSpy

If you’re looking for news about the latest music game that’s dropped on mobile, AppSpy’s got you covered with it’s quick hitter on aforementioned new iOS app Thumper. You also want to drink in the feature read on the Hidden Gem of the Week, Ending, as well as furthering your ambition to become the best turn-based gunslinger by reading up on Christian Valentin’s hot take on Infinite West.

About that impromptu toughness test…

About that impromptu toughness test…

Jan 16, 2018

There is nothing — NOTHING — sexy about those insane drop tests. You know, the ones where the geek with the masochist streak lets admittedly increasingly fragile devices drop to the floor… supposedly to see how well they react to the clumsiness that occurs in the real world. I think it takes a twisted individual to be able to do this, but there is a place for ruggedness testing. These tech gizmos aren’t cheap, and even the most careful of us can have our plans for device longevity thwarted by the innocent gestures of a kid borrowing one’s phone to catch an episode of Super Y.

Stuff happens.

I come across all sorts of gadgets, and have the privilege of getting to try out dozens of products in any single category. Consequently, when I did pick a device, it is usually one that I can truly call the best for my needs at that time.

Like my earpiece of choice, the Jabra Eclipse. Sleek, light, effective, with a portable charging case to boot. I use it for calls, music and podcasts, and frankly, I baby the precious unit.

Till my laundry mishap last week.

Hey, I always check my pockets for gadgets. It’s a big reason I tend to do the laundry myself, actually; a soaked phone would cause me to swoon. Somehow, I messed up. I remember making a late addition to the load: a light jacket I’d worn out earlier in the day. It had the Eclipse and case in it. It went through the wash and dryer cycles, and I didn’t discover it till I got the clothes out to iron.

Ugh… my heart dropped when I saw the case at the bottom of the barrel. It took me a little while to locate the earpiece, which was magnetically stuck to the top of the dryer. Physically, it looked fine, but I just knew it would never work again.

But hey, I plugged in the charging case, and slapped in the earpiece. It started charging. What? After a half hour, it was working. Flawlessly.

So that’s my story of the Impromptu Toughness Test. Well done, Jabra.

[Our Jabra Eclipse Review]

My app addiction: Google Home

My app addiction: Google Home

Jan 9, 2018

The world is simultaneously getting more connected and more untethered, and I love it. Even better, I enjoy the way mobile devices are becoming the heartbeats of a new paradigm… the so-called “connected home” that allows us to literally bring the internet of things home.

Of course, Google is at the forefront of this movement, and one of its biggest pieces in this pursuit is its all-encompassing control hub, Google Home.

The app does a lot — but my usage really devices around casting content from my phone, of late especially YouTube TV.

Now, the beauty of the setup is that using Google Home to cast does not tie up one’s phone. Indeed, one can go on and do any number of activities on the hosting device… like, say, drafting an article highlighting why the app is so easy to get addicted to.

One of the things that makes the whole system worth it is the built-in nature of the system. Google Cast is built into the Chrome browser, so, in theory, you can mirror most things from the Chrome browser to an equipped television. This also means I can use Cast-ready applications, like the Youtube TV app, on iOS. That’s not a bad proposition at all, especially folks who use technology across mobile platforms. And the list of iOS apps that are ready to go is fairly expansive, including media favorites like HBO GO, Showtime, Hulu Plus, WatchESPN, Spotify and >a whole lot more. And remember, the Chrome thingie means your PC can be a portal too.

Now that I am beginning to dabble more into Google Home (the hardware, that is), the app becomes more of a mainstay for me. Google Home ties it altogether, making life easier and more cohesive, all while becoming more indispensable to me and mine.

The good old days…

I admit it… I miss the good old days.

Way, way back when… when mobile games and utilities were novelties that cost as much — and sometimes even more — than similar desktop applications. Heady days, I tell you. Finding that special application could make or break your mobile experience.

Back then, Palm and WinMo were the platforms to contend with, and the mobile apps available were slick pieces of engineering. Remember Datebk and Agendus (by Pimlico Software and Iambic respectively)? Well, you were not — could not — be organized without them. Calendar, to-do and everything in-between for the mobile professional. Owning one or the other was a sign of seriousness. Owning both? Hello.

And then, what about TomTom Navigator? Yo, $150 got you the best GPS software at the time (before adding a bluetooth puck, by the way). SplashMoney was king when it came to managing financial accounts. Think about it… checkbook balancing with every Hotsync.

And there were games too. A whole lot of games. Bejeweled found a mobile home early on, as did fantastic entries like Chuzzle, Platypus and more. Look, if you didn’t have an Astraware game, you didn’t know games. Seriously, that studio had my free time on lock. I still think that Hellfire: Apache vs Hind is one of the best games to ever make it to mobile, but I am sentimental like that.

The Broken Sword series (from Revolution). SimCity. You name it, and I probably had it. Owning games meant spending money.

It is a different day now. Back then, freeware was probably unique, so much so that they were cataloged separately (prior to the proliferation of app stores). Now, free-to-play is pretty much the standard.

On the surface, it’s all good. Kudos to developers reacting to the market, and figuring that creating experiences that give the user the option to go for more (or using ads) was the way to go. Everyone wins, no?

Still, I miss the old days, when buying a full-fledged application was the way things were done. I am not against IAPs, but I do wish I had an opportunity to procure some games outright. Developer, name your price. I decide if I want to pick it up. May the best app win.

That’s my perfect world.

But the app market has spoken, and I do have to respect it. Now, instead of the semi-functional demo version that leads one to get the full version, we have it all in one package. Micro-transactions are the law of the mobile gaming land. More downloads, potentially more money for the developer willing to put out a great game AND put in the work to keep said hit game maintained.

But I am allowed to reminisce I think. I will look back at the good old days, where I spent a lot and got a whole lot more… I think. there was a whole lot less available, numerically speaking, but I do feel like I was a better supporter of those who made the apps.

My App Addiction: Swagbucks

My App Addiction: Swagbucks

Jul 31, 2017

The internet is one great window shopping trip. For me, at least, it is. I love finding cool, useful stuff, especially gadgets. Now, the whole process works for me because I have one crazy flaw: I dislike buying stuff at full price. I will if I absolutely have to, but usually, I’m perfectly fine not purchasing an item if it isn’t on sale at that point in time.

Consequently, I’m always looking for a deal. Yes, one has to consider the ROI of deal-chasing, but still, Swagbucks is a great tool to have when it comes to pulling the trigger with specific retailers.

Swagbucks is a way to earn “swagbucks” for answering surveys and shopping. Said swagbucks can be redeemed for cool goodies like Amazon gift cards. Some of the surveys feel more invasive and time-consuming than others, but the shopping aspect is compelling; what essentially comes to cash back for shopping and the like can be addictive. For example, buying stuff at Macys.com can net you 6% in swagbucks… basically, 6 swagbucks for every dollar spent.

Bucks can be redeemed for gift cards from Amazon, Target, Paypal, Walmart and several other big name companies.

Of course, for folks that are especially mobile — self humbly included — it wouldn’t be as cool without a companion app.

Now, I use the app more for reference. If I am out and about, and see something on sale (or am notified of a great price via another one of my addictions Slickdeals), I usually check to see if it a seller that gives out swagbucks. If it does, I figure it might be better to purchase online, maybe even via my phone, so as to get the affiliate link.

It’s also possible to do the aforementioned surveys on the go. As noted, these can be quite inquisitive, but for those that don’t mind answering truthfully, it can be a great way to answer these surveys and earn bucks while hanging out at the doctor’s office or during have time of a sporting event.

The mobile app also allows users to rack up bucks by watching videos. Now, this is not the quickest way to garner points, no, but just like the surveys, it’s a great, mobile way to get these done. Now, even cooler if you love watching movie trailers.

The app, of course, also provides notifications with regards to swagbucks-gaining opportunities. It’s the best way to find out about the so-called swag codes that pop up on Facebook and elsewhere. Such codes can be entered right there within the app.

Swagbucks is far from something new, or especially unique at this point. What makes it relevant for me is its ability to potentially make an already sweet deal even sweeter. The app helps keep track of where I am on the go, and to effect sensible purchases when I am away from my desktop or Chromebook. It takes an important app to earn a lasting spot on my primary devices, and Swagbucks has earned one.

My App Addiction: YouTube

My App Addiction: YouTube

Jun 30, 2017

Up till that point, it was probably my happiest day.

Ever.

I was trying to recapture a part of my youth. See, kids today don’t understand how music videos transformed our lives. Back then, cable was not a luxury my dad was ever going to pay for, and our only way of seeing our favorite musician do their thing were the patched together VHS tapes that folks peddled in the open air markets.

We had informal trading clubs.

And then came MTV and them. And internet at home.

And then, I stumbled on YouTube.

I was searching for a music video from way back when… via MSN search, if memory serves me correctly. I could not believe that I could find and watch MC Hammer online. Score.

Since then, it has grown from a bookmark constant to an indispensable mobile app. Education, entertainment, work tool and content distribution all rolled up in one. I have a thing for Nollywood videos, and YouTube is my go-to utility for this type of free content, and more multicultural stuff. There are so many things one can find on YouTube that is hard to find elsewhere, and then there is the added benefit of having relatively clean content.

Relatively.

And the scary thing is that it continues to get better. As a free repository, it is virtually peerless, but even Google’s more recent commercial additions are not off-putting. YouTube Red isn’t a bad value, especially when matched with a Google Play Music subscription. The ability to purchase content is a bonus, and YouTube TV isn’t perfect, but definitely worth checking out, I think.

I am unabashed fan. The app is an everyday thing for me, so much so that I expect it to be on every device I use, from TV to Amazon Fire to tablet to smartphone.

And beyond.

Our favorite gadgets of the past year

Our favorite gadgets of the past year

Apr 28, 2017

Frankly, mobility is all about the gadgets. In Android land, we love the plethora of slick pocketable machines and stash-able tablets, but we always love to see those jazzy accessories that use mobile devices to extend their own functionality.

We have seen quite a few of these, and we are going over — fondly — which ones we liked best. Just to be clear, we are giving high marks to affordability, ease of use and the ability ro cater to cross-platform households.

Here we go:

Jabra Elite *Truly* Wireless Earbuds

Jabra brings its considerable experience in the bluetooth telephony accessory field to this sleek piece. It works in tandem and as a single piece, can be used for streaming and phone calls, and ships with several mini-pieces that help with fit.

Stilo Stylus

I still rock a Palm every now and then… just to have a chance at using the stylus. Look, with more virtual keyboards recognizing handwriting entry, a good stylus is back in vogue.

Stilo makes a really, really good stylus, good enough to displace others from the go bag.

Linksys EA9500 Gigabit Router

Yep… so this one is surprising, but when you factor in the mobile controls and how well the app works, you’ll never go to something so backwards as a “regular” router again. You’re welcome.

Roidmi Bluetooth FM Modulator

FM Modulators are so last year, no? This is one is sleek, is app-supported, works to provide an extra slot, and… works quite well.

Nyrius Smart Outlet

This is your connected home starting piece. Think about it: a wireless outlet socket that essentially allows you to control whatever is plugged in by the tap of an app.

Dog & Bone Locksmart Mini Wireless Padlock

Keys are my kryptonite. But hey, this lock is powered by a bluetooth connected app hosted on the Android phone. I never lose my phone. See?