Gift Idea: Keep Track of Presents on Your iPhone

Price: $1.99     Score: 7/10     By M. Schustermanbadge appstore sm Gift Idea: Keep Track of Presents on Your iPhone

It’s officially December, and the Christmas countdown is on. If you’ve got a list longer than Santa’s and feel like a little organization is in order, Gift Idea to the rescue.

Designed by Tommy Kammerer, this app isn’t so much a list as it is a gift brainstorming tool. While getting all of your shopping done in one trip would be a dream, the reality is that it’s a long process. During the search for a gift for one person, you might see the perfect gift for another – but what if you forget?

Pull out Gift Idea, choose a friend from your Contacts list (or add a new one), and snap a picture of the item. You can also jot down the name of the place you saw the gift.

There are a few quirks with this app, however. For example, on the main menu there’s a list of “Upcoming Events” – Christmas and Valentine’s Day. In Settings, I can change this to show even more events – but I can’t seem to add events (such as Hannukah or birthdays). You can sort friends by first name, last name, or birthday – but again, I can’t actually add their birthday, so that feature doesn’t work. (I tried adding a friend to the list whose birthday I have recorded in my Contacts book, but that didn’t show up either.)

I’m also confused by the “Unassigned” gifts. This is where gifts that I record for friends who are not in my Contacts book are displayed. Those from my Contacts book are listed under “Friends.” There’s no option to move either, so I’m unsure as to what the “Unassigned” category means – what should they be assigned to?

However, for me personally Gift Idea is still useful. It’s great to have one place to snap a photo and mark down where I saw a potential gift. The organization and clarity of this app just needs a little work before it’s worth the price tag.

Gift Idea [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 3.1.3 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.

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Blaine Goldoff: Heiress iPhone Adventures

Price: $1.99     Score: 5/10     By M. Schustermanbadge appstore sm Blaine Goldoff: Heiress iPhone Adventures

I can certainly understand the appeal of a good story-based game. Unfortunately, in the case of Blaine Goldoff The Heiress Adventure, more attention appears to have been paid to the story rather than the game.

The story, while not appealing to me personally, is something I’m sure many would enjoy. Designed by Whateverr Games & Entertainment, we’re introduced to Blaine Goldoff, heiress to an airline, department store and casino magnate, fashion school graduate and self-proclaimed “daddy’s girl.” Good old dad has asked Blaine to head out to Paris and Tokyo to hobnob with designers. Tough life.

Then comes the game, a series of levels which must be unlocked in which you help Blaine get to her destinations and make her trip a success. The first level is getting her packed.

Here’s the problem; there are no instructions to be found either on the main menu or leading up to each level. Blaine tells you she needs to pack, and then you’re in her room, which is cluttered with shoes, bags and clothes. More clothes are scrolling by in her closet, and Blaine has a little thought bubble flashing images of different items. And there’s a timer.

I guessed the goal was to tap on the items Blaine was thinking of, which turned out to be right. This brought me to the next level, in which Blaine can’t find her passport. You can flip back and forth between two screens, which show her bedroom and places to search. I started tapping on bags, pillows and other stuff to find the passport. Sometimes the app responded, sometimes it didn’t. Tapping on some items brings them full screen, then they disappear. It’s unclear if the player is supposed to doing something other than tapping around the screen, particularly because the response is poor. (Tapping on a bag doesn’t always open the bag, for example).

The game continues this way, with the player guessing and stumbling through each level with only a vague objective. The graphics are very good, and I can see young girls in particularly liking the idea of this app. But with no clear instructions and questionable response, the game itself falls short.

Blaine Goldoff [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 4.0 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.

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Air Battle of Britain Brings Historical Premise to the Gaming World

Price: $4.99     Score: 7/10     By A. Papachristosbadge appstore sm Air Battle of Britain Brings Historical Premise to the Gaming World

Games are a great way to teach children the most important lessons in life. When forced to study, learning becomes nothing more than an act of memorization.  Whatever one absorbs at the time shall simply be regurgitated later, only to be forgotten soon after.  Mundane methods lead to an adult population that seems uninformed, in need of a few refresher courses of their own.  However, Air Battle of Britain by Simviu Technology Inc integrates one of World War II’s most poignant battles with a first person shooter game, mixing history with the fun of a fighter pilot simulation to teach gamers of any age about the horrors and truths of war.

At the beginning, you will find a black page featuring a few buttons to the right of the screen: Sound On/Off, Music On/Off, Skip Intro and Continue.  Tap Continue to watch the introduction video about the Battle of Britain, which provides the historical background for the game you are about to play.  The main menu (accompanied by the game’s dramatic music) will appear once the video has finished.

Once again, along the right side of the screen, you will find all the important buttons: Campaign, Missions, Help, Setting, History and About.  The Help button will teach you what all the meters indicate and what each button does.  (For more in depth instructions on how to play, click here.)  The Settings button allows users to adjust their accelerometer’s calibration and sensitivity or turn it off altogether, as well as turn the sound effects and music on or off.  The History button links to the Wikipedia article on the Battle of Britain.  As the first major campaign fought entirely in the air, the German Luftwaffe battled the British RAF from July 10 to September 15, 1940.  But be prepared, for this entry requires 171 iPhone screens to present all the info, so it may take a while to sift through everything.  The About button, of course, simply features the credits.

Both Campaign and Missions begin with an explanation of the first fight in this long battle.  Campaign will take you through the entire game, while Missions breaks each chunk into separate, unlockable portions of the battle itself.  With five pages worth of listed missions, Air Battle of Britain promises to provide enough game play to simulate the entire months-long battle.

However, users should be forewarned.  With the realistic, 360 degree flight control simulation, controlling your plane can become quite difficult whether the accelerometer is on or not.  While many will surely learn how to handle their plane with enough practice, those who naturally become motion sick will find Air Battle of Britain to be dizzying and disorienting, much like if they were on an actual flight.  This ability to pitch and roll can leave you soaring upside down unintentionally, with no idea which way you should be facing.  While I applaud the realism, perhaps the game should come with some sort of disclaimer for those who’d rather not go cross-eyed in the process.

Click here to view the YouTube video demonstration of the application’s iPad version.

Air Battle of Britain [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 4.1 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.

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Use Your Brain to Save the Grains in Sand Slides

Price: $.99     Score: 8/10     By A. Papachristosbadge appstore sm Use Your Brain to Save the Grains in Sand Slides

Often times, new concepts can be challenging.  When you’re used to certain methods, gaming can become quite dull.  But when you stumble upon something new and different, the simple task of trying to master this new set of skills can become quite addictive and entertaining.  With Sand Slides by Logik State, users must guide various colored piles of sand from their chutes to their specific collector before the timer runs out and drops sand all over.

Sounds simple, right?  Think again.  Despite the guise of easiness, Sand Slides presents a tricky game of thought that requires you to plan ahead quickly, keeping you on your toes until you simply cannot keep up with the pace any longer.

On the main menu, users will see an array of buttons: Start Game, Play Tutorial, HiScores, and Options, as well as two buttons at the button that allow you to connect to Facebook and Twitter.  The HiScores button will display the highest scores for easy, medium and hard level separately.  The Options button allows you to adjust the music and sound effects volume, visit their website and view the long list of achievements, which connect to Game Center.

The Tutorial, which I highly recommend, provides a step-by-step run through of all the info one needs to know in order to successfully play Sand Slides.  As I mentioned before, the sand chutes each contain different colored sand that will drop during the game.  Each filling up at various intervals, you must learn to direct the sand into the proper colored collector just by dragging your finger to create a slide.  The more you collect, the more points you accumulate.  In fact, if you collect multiple colors in their proper collectors at once, you earn extra points.  If you collect the wrong color, the Grains Counter at the top of the screen will begin to decrease.  Once it hits zero, your game is over.  You may also tap the counter to pause the game.  And, if you must exit while playing, don’t worry – your game will always be saved right where you left off.

Slides help sand land in the proper collector, while buckets contain sand that’s about to fall temporarily until you can drop the sand without interfering with the previous drop.  Simply draw these aids with your finger.  Tap any slide or bucket to highlight it, then tap again if you’d like it erased.  Considering there may only be three markings on the screen at one time, the moment you make a fourth, the oldest marking will automatically be erased.

Sand Slides presents an entertainingly different concept that increases in pace as you proceed, testing your logic skills as you try to figure out how to juggle all that sand.  Though you spend half the game expecting to fail miserably, you’ll be surprised just how quick a thinker you can be.  We all know sand can be quick, but your mind shall surely be quicker.

Sand Slides [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 3.1.2 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.

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Carry All Your Crucial Information with My Wallet Cards

Price: $3.99     Score: 6/10     By A. Papachristosbadge appstore sm Carry All Your Crucial Information with My Wallet Cards

Cards have become rather essential in today’s world.  From credit cards, to those tiny shopper discount cards designed to dangle off your keychain, all things plastic help the world go ‘round.  However, with My Wallet Cards by Giuseppe Dominoni, users can convert their physical wallet into a virtual notecase that holds all their important information, identification and documentation.

With My Wallet Cards, users can file their credit, loyalty, fidelity, visit and business cards, as well as identification documents, all within a single application on a device they already carry with them constantly.  When you begin, a guide that will walk you through each component of My Wallet Cards will greet you.  However, you will quickly find out that, if you wish to adjust any of this application’s settings, you must exit the application and alter them under the device’s basic Settings application.  Here, you will be able to create a login password, reset the database, turn the guide on or off, adjust the sound effects, save images, and choose your wallet’s background texture (black, gray, beige or orange leather; striped; crocodile; leopard; rock; python; grass; jeans and snow).

Though some of the directions are written in slightly confusing, broken English, users will find that there are five pages of card slots, allowing the wallet to hold up to 20 cards.  (The App Store description claims there are 24 spots, but that appears to be incorrect.)  Simply tap the slot to see your card and tap a second time to modify the entry.  With the Internal Bar Code Generator, My Wallet Cards will create a barcode for each car for easy reading by the recognition devices for cell phones and portable devices.  As a cute touch, users may even add a favorite photo to their wallet as if it were the true, physical object.

Be aware, though, for once you create a password to protect your information, do not forget it, for passwords cannot be recovered under any circumstance.  And though this protection makes life seem much safer, the hassle seems rather unnecessary in the long run.  If you lose your phone, thieves will not be able to use your crucial information to steal your identity, but if you lose your wallet, all will be available for the taking.  In that respect, My Wallet Cards seems wonderful.  Unfortunately, though, you will most likely end up doing double duty, for many stores and businesses probably do not recognize such digital formats as legitimate representation, meaning you will have to carry both your device and actual wallet to be on the safe side.  I have yet to ever see anyone use their phone to present a license or credit card, namely because they do not have physical proof.  Inputting your information simply seems like a redundant waste of time, no matter how appealing their safety procedures may be.

My Wallet Cards [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 3.1 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.

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Rainbow RSS Reader Gathers All Your News Information in One Place

Price: Free     Score: 8/10     By A. Papachristosbadge appstore sm Rainbow RSS Reader Gathers All Your News Information in One Place

The Internet provides a continuous flow of information.  The moment you think you’ve caught up on all the top news of the day, you suddenly find yourself buried under an avalanche of new stories and information that you cannot help but dig your way out by sifting through and reading these latest developments.  But now, with Rainbow RSS Reader by Netycom Srl, users can organize all their RSS feeds into a single list, color coding them by subject matter so you can find just the news you were looking for at a moment’s notice.

Startup the application and begin entering all your RSS feeds immediately.  Use the book icon in the top right corner of the screen to start entering specific URLs or login to Google Reader so you may connect with your current feeds all at once.  Each feed added will then appear on your main page, meaning you need only peruse a single feed each time you wish to read the news.

Though a single feed may initially seem daunting, this unified system allows users to group their feeds into given colors.  Whether you break your feeds into groups because of their topic, source or language, this color-coding system allows you to know exactly what you’re looking for and direct you right to the news you need.  And, if this truly doesn’t help, simply use the Search bar at the top of the screen to look for anything that pertains to your keyword.

Also, Rainbow RSS Reader offers a Shake capability, which allows users to simply shake their device for the next new article.  Users can even update manually by using the arrow icon at the top left corner of the main screen.  Getting your news and staying up-to-date shouldn’t be a time consuming chore.  Use Rainbow RSS Reader to simplify your life because we could all use a few less complications during our day, and this truly may be the pot of gold at the end of a giant news rainbow.

Rainbow RSS Reader [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 4.1 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.

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