Battle Chaos, Restore Order with Emross War

Emross War iphone app

Reviewed By A. Papachristos

Price: Free  —  Rating: 7/10

Whether you’re on your computer or passing the time with your iPhone, there’s no shortage of war games. Those that immerse players into a deep realm, such as  Emross War by iFree Studio, encourage users from all over the world to work together to defeat invaders and restore order to the land.  This massive multiplayer online strategy game promises users ease, claiming it only takes three minutes to learn.  Unfortunately, however, victory doesn’t come quite as easily.

When you begin, you will find the main page, which features the Start Game and My Account buttons.  My Account lets you switch between accounts and retrieve your password.  Start Game begins with an explanation of the back story, eventually leading you to a page that requires users to login or register using their character name, castle name and race (human, elf or orc).

Game Play – 8/10

The game dives into the land of Emross, a kingdom of myth and legend.  Since ancient times, the humans, elves and orcs have been at war with each other.  However, the invasion of the Chaos army has only intensified the conflict.  But now that you, a young lord, have inherited a small castle from your family, you must begin your personal journey toward victory.  Users will have the chance to meet and recruit legendary heroes along the way, including the most powerful guardian creature of their own race.  Yet somehow, all these fancy scenarios are not often the most enjoyable element to the game, that is often found in the fact that you can meet up with, and make, new friends as you progress.  Because of Emross War’s online nature, users gain the interaction that makes most MMORPGs significantly more interesting than solo game play.

Users will start with quests that will guide them as they develop step-by-step with the guidance of your in-game father’s old friend.  Quests are typical to such games as much of World of Warcraft focuses upon such tasks to level characters.  All necessary icons can be found sprawled across the bottom of the screen.  And though one must expect such a game to start off slowly as they build the skills they need to truly succeed, the training truly drags considering users can supposedly learn how to use this game in no more than three minutes.

Uniqueness and Usability: 7/10

Once you’ve gotten the lay of the land, you will find that Emross War has the same feel as most other games of the sort.  The only difference is that the small scale makes you spend more time squinting.  I feel that in the end the developers could have a solid foundation that would give the major players in this arena the run for their money – however, they need to create an element that is clever to help them stand out. This is something to look forward to in future updates!

Emross War [ iTunes link ] requires iPhone OS 3.0 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.

Emross War  iphone app

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Baby Aquarium – my first colors – An Aquatic Adventure of Educational Proportions

Baby Aquarium – my first colors

Reviewed By: Tommy Thompson

Price: Free Until 3/1/11 then $.99   —    Rating: 9/10

I think this is how Jacques Cousteau spent his days as an infant!  Baby Aquarium – my first colors by Kids Place is a vibrant, bright, cheery introduction to sight and sound for young impressionable minds.  After several minutes immersed in this game (it takes an underwater view of things), you feel like you’re ready to dry off and walk down the shores of a tropical beach with Pina Colada in hand!  Is it hard to push a stroller on the sand?

Learning: 8/10

Your child will love the way these basic colors are taught.  Offering colors such as yellow, green, pink, orange, brown, red, and blue, they appear in the form of a tropical fish swimming in a coral-filled seascape.  The little user will quickly learn that touching the fish once will divulge its color, while a second touch sends a new fish, and of course a new color, swimming into the picture.  As long as your little user isn’t trying to Find Nemo, the app is a great way to grasp colors.  I give it a learning score of 8 out of 10.

Graphics: 9/10

It’s never too early to learn about triggerfish, angelfish, blowfish, clownfish, or butterfly fish, as this app accurately uses all of them.  One of the most impressive features in this app is that when the single fish is touched, the word of the color appears.  For example, a blue fish is touched, the word “Blue” appears, and the word blue is also spoken.  This is a triple whammy when it comes to retention.  As the colorful fish swim to the forefront of the screen your child should also benefit from the articulate and lifelike background scenery.  After identifying a handful of colors the backgrounds automatically change from a tropical clear blue open sea complete with penetrating sunbeams to a coral and moss filled underwater garden.  There are bubbles and jellyfish and what appears to be a fountain of colorful pebbles that spew up from the bottom of the screen and then rain down every time a new fish appears.  For a young mind this will be a feast of visual delights!  Graphics score, 9 out of 10.

Sound: 8/10

First and foremost the best audio bit is the announcement of the color that is identified.  When your child touches a purple fish, for example, a Mary Poppins like voice will say “Purple!”  And since the fish has to be touched twice to move on you get the lovely “Purple” again!  You’re almost certain “Two Spoons of Sugar” is going to follow.  In addition the spewing pebbles are pleasantly clattering about every time a fish is touched.  When a new color is on its way a heavenly harp like tune is played and as with any seascape a relaxing bubble filled, swaying, tide like whooshing sound is constantly audible!  Sound score, 8 out of 10.

Baby Aquarium – my first colors requires iPhone iOS 3.0 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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Transform Your Device into a VoIP Phone with Tribair

Tribair iPhone app review

Reviewed By A. Papachristos

Price: Free  —  Rating: 8/10

For those wishing to turn their mobile Apple device into a dependable VoIP phone, a new alternative awaits.  With Tribair – Free Phone Calls by Tribair, users can make free and paid phone calls over the Internet without roaming charges using one of their over 250,000 Wi-Fi spots all around the world.

Tribair Features and Functionality – 8/10

With the promise of low-cost calls to non-members and practically any country you can think of, Tribair also provides free calling, image sharing, video chats and live text chats between members.  And with Tribair for iPhone, compatible Apple devices, and Android (with Blackberry, coming soon), users will hopefully be able to convince their friends to install the app so they can chat for free!  Using Wi-Fi uses absolutely none of your minutes and removes the roaming charge nuisance, while accessing the 3G network doesn’t use minutes, but may incur roaming charges.

As an added bonus,  if you register you Wi-Fi network with the Tribair community, you can earn up to 20% of all paid calls made using the application, perhaps making money in the long run. Keep in mind, however, If this service does catch on, and you’ve shared your Wi-Fi as a hotspot, you may see a slow down in your Internet’s speed.

Tribair in Action – 8/10

Upon startup, you will see a number of tabs at the bottom of the screen.  The TribM tab allows you to update your status, access voicemail, send a test call and update your Blocked and Friend lists.  The Call tab provides users with the keypad, though they may also track their credit total next to the Send button.  (Users are automatically given $.25 worth of credits just for installing the application.)  The Wi-Fi tab allows you to register your location, search for Wi-Fi connections in the area and view the hotspot map.  The More tab leads you to a page that allows you to examine the details of the application: My Account, My Wi-Fi, Recent Calls, How It Works, Options, Traveling Tip and About.  Users will also find the button that allows them to buy more credits and view the per minute rates to various countries.

For a video demonstration of how Tribair works, click here.

Tribair [ 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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Penelope the Purple Pirate Promotes Early Learning and Reading Skills

Reviewed By A. Papachristos

Price: $1.99   —   Rating: 8/10

For those who love books, the budding digital age may be devastating.  Bookstores, even famous chains, continue to file for bankruptcy and close their doors all because the Internet and digital devices have replaced people’s need for physical reading material.  And while actual books do still exist – the kinds with pages to flip, not swipe – technology makes it harder and harder to teach children what it once was like to fall in love with the shelves at a library.  Thankfully, eBooks like Penelope the Purple Pirate by PicPocket Books do their best to incorporate the old-fashioned reading traditions with the growing trends of today.

Written by Melissa Northway and illustrated by Paul Johnson, Penelope the Purple Pirate caters to children ages 4-8.  Penelope, a small girl with a big imagination, joins together with her imaginary sea creature friends to set sail for unknown territory in search of treasure.  A fantastic tale that encourages imagination and exploration, Penelope the Purple Pirate in no way lacks storytelling depth.

When you begin, users will notice a small ‘i’ in the bottom corner.  Here, you may turn the audio on or off, as well as the highlighted words.  You see, an audio recording plays as the child reads along with Penelope.  For each spoken word, the corresponding written word becomes highlighted so children will learn to connect the sounds and spellings.  Designed to promote early learning and develop independent reading skills, Penelope’s audio even encourages an interactive reading experience with sound clips hidden throughout the story.  Much like those children’s books with the soundboard buttons on the side, users can tap the seagulls or the water to hear the sounds of nature.

With Penelope, users need only use the intuitive page swipe feature, which substitutes the physical flipping of a page one would have if actually reading the book’s print counterpart.  At the end of the story, parents and teachers will then find a collection of discussion questions, fun facts about Penelope’s sea creature friends, and interactive ideas that emphasize reading comprehension and promote further learning after the story is over.

As a member of Moms with Apps, which promotes quality applications for children and families, Penelope the Purple Pirate contains all but one key component – the parent.  While I do support this applications approach to bringing children’s books into the digital age, it is my hope that busy parents will not abuse this convenience.

For a video demonstration of how Penelope the Purple Pirate works, click here. And for those who desire the paperback version, the book will be available at the end of March via Amazon.

Penelope the Purple Pirate [ iTunes Link ] requires iPhone OS 4.2 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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The Popes New Technology Stance is Tested via a Confession App

As technology advances the Vatican seems to cautiously acknowledge this fact.  In 2009 the Catholic church celebrated its World Communications Day with a theme of “New Technologies, New Relationships: Promoting a Culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship.”  The Vatican actually emailed its message to 100,000 young Catholics globally, indicating that they desired the recipients to either forward the message or publish it directly on their websites. In its message the Vatican also announced that it would take indeed be taking proactive steps to embrace the Internet and social media, indicating that soon they would offer videos of the Pope on YouTube!

In his message, Pope Benedict stipulated that if used properly, by taking a creative and correct approach, the current and evolving technology could help people, who desire connections with others, share in the search for goodness, as well as beauty and truth.

Put to the Test!

Now there is a company that has created an iPhone app that may clash with the Pope’s “New Technology” stance.   The U.S. based company Little iApps LLC has created an app designed to allow confession into a cell phone.  The “Confession: A Roman Catholic App” allows the user to essentially make a confession through a “personalized examination of conscience for each user, password protected profiles, and a step-by-step guide to the sacrament.”  By entering personal data such as sex age and marital status the user is presented with a list of check boxes to describe their sins and who they might have offended.  Imagine if it directly dialed that person for an on the spot apology!  Now that’s an app!

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Discover US National Parks With Fotopedia

Fotopedia National Parks app review

Reviewed by S. Campbell

Price: $4.99  –  Score: 10/10

Featuring some 3,000 high-resolution photographs by professional photographer Quang-Tuan Luong, Fotopedia National Parks lets you explore the great outdoors, from Yosemite to the Grand Canyon, all in impressive detail and from the comfort of your own home.

Published by Fotonauts, the developers behind impressive free iPhone/iPad application Fotopedia Heritage, Fotopedia National Parks is the perfect app for research, trip planning or just leisure. The app lets you delve into the beauty of all 58 US National Parks on your iOS device, with a user interface that is both powerful and easy to use.

To begin, you can start your own photographic ‘journey’ from the home page, begin a slideshow that will display an almost endless collection of photos or you can discover a new region suggested to you by the app. Each photo in Fotopedia National Parks comes with a complete description, obtained by tapping on the information icon to the left of the screen.

Using the other tools in the sidebar, you can view the exact location that the photo was taken via Google Maps (satellite view) – perfect if you want to visit there one day yourself! You can search for photos from a particular area or park, if there is a place that strikes your interest or you would like to learn more about.

Easy sharing lets you send photos via Twitter, Facebook or email to friends and you can even save the photos from within the app to use as your device’s wallpaper.

A real pleasure to use and a great resource for all travelers, Fotopedia National Parks is worth every penny of the $4.99 asking price.

Fotopedia National Parks is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.1.3 or later. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.

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