CalcPro Review

CalcPro Review

Nov 13, 2012

In my quest for convergence, I have tried many a utility on my smartphone. As I often say, if I can do it well on my phone, then that’s where I want it done.

CalcPro: welcome to the party.

CalcPro is a tidy piece of software from carlosg that promised to make me do away with ancient artifacts like standalone scientific calculators.

The opening user interface is deceptively simple; at first blush, I thought it was simply a calculator clone that was maybe a bit too ambitiously named by its developer. Underneath the unassuming hood, though, was an app that truly packs a mathematical punch. Yowza!

Simple monochromes welcomed me in. With a simple number pad, I initially wondered how I was to solve more complex equations. A simple swipe in either direction answered that query. To the left were more functions: square, trigonometrical functions and more. There was a list of pre-populated constants with one-touch entries for Plank’s constant, Euler-Mascheroni’s Number, and, of course, the never ending pi.

To the right was a set of Tools, which included an Equation Solver, a mini tool for different types of interpolations, a unit converter and a beta equation plotter. Even more impressively, it had a built in Wolfram|Alpha answer engine functionality, allowing me to type in search terms directly into the WA site. The unit converter had a nifty currency exchange tool that not only converted six major currencies, but which also had the exchange rates that could be updated from within the app.

I was able to customize decimal places, angle units, and what type of coordinate system to use with specific numbers. The program was able to handle most of the equations I tossed at it, and the memory program was topnotch. I was able to input previous solutions into current equations, and things like variables were able to be recalled as well. The handy erase tool cleared up previous entries quite well.

All in all, I thought the settings could have been a bit more refined, but even that small complaint pales in the light of its overall functionality. The built-in Help tool also had value.

CalcPro proves that well-designed products can — and do — come in simple packages.

Apparatus App Review

Apparatus App Review

Jan 27, 2012

I will admit that I am a nerd. I’m an engineering student who grew up on the first version of The Incredible Machine and free-form puzzle games are some of my favorites. That being said, I expected a lot from Apparatus, and fortunately for me it delivered, and it was one of the few apps where I was actually amazed while playing it. The first thing I have to say about this app is that it is gorgeous and it runs smooth to boot. This was tested on my quickly aging EVO 4G, so even non-feature phones should have no problem running this app.

For those not familiar with the premise of games like The Incredible Machine, the game gives a simple objective and a set amount of materials for the player to gerry-rig up into their own special Rube Goldberg machine. Games like these thrive on the user’s creativity, and Apparatus is no different; however, I would have liked to have seen some more open-ended gameplay as some levels seemed very linear. There is also an excellent free-play mode where the player is given no restrictions and allowed to let their creativity roam.

Going well with this free mode is the fairly fleshed out community that comes with the game. Downloading user-made levels could not be easier, and it only takes a few seconds to get a level and start playing. This sense of community is a huge addition for a game like Apparatus as the game aspires to be a kind of Little Big Planet for the mobile device. As we’ve seen with games like Minecraft, Halo, and the aforementioned Little Big Planet, what the public is capable of doing has no bounds, and giving them a way to share their magnum opus with the rest of humanity is an essential feature for any game nowadays.

And by "no bounds" we mean THIS.

One gripe with Apparatus is the lack of a tutorial to explain some of the features of the game. The first few minutes here will be frustrating due to seemingly random actions that become more clear the longer the game is played. Also the controls can be a bit touchy, but like above, they too work themselves out as the player becomes familiar with them. All that aside, Apparatus is a great game that impresses both graphically and fundamentally; a definite pick up for those who long for the days of The Incredible Machine on Windows 98.