Lightsaber Unleashed App – Feel the force on your iPhone

Written iPhone Game App Review

Lightsaber Unleashed is a free Star Wars light saber emulator for the Apple iPhone. It is one of the most popular and downloaded apps in the App Store.

Nearly every kid growing up has played “light sabers” at some point in time. Now every big kid around has the chance to turn their iPhone into that iconic Jedi weapon (well, kind of).

Lightsaber was developed by Lucasfilm Ltd. and is actually a very savvy marketing ploy for the new Star Wars game The Force Unleashed, which just so happens to be available on iPhone, amongst other platforms. Upon opening the app, an advertisement for the game pops up and lasts for almost 10 seconds before you can use the light saber. It is a little frustrating.

The in-your-face advertising aspect aside, Lightsaber is still a really cool app. Ultimately, it serves no purpose beyond the simulation of a light saber, but that is function enough for my needs.

Once loaded, the main screen for this app presents you with a few options. You can deploy your light saber by tapping once on the screen – which initiates a graphic and the characteristic sound from the movies – a novelty unlikely to ever wear out. The screen takes on the appearance (color) of your chosen light saber and begins to hum gently.

The Lightsaber app uses the built-in accelerometer to sense your movements. Slowly move the iPhone, and it will sound as if a light saber were passing through the air in front of you. Swing quickly and it responds with the sound of two light-sabers clashing. Very cool. By holding and maneuvering the iPhone in much the same way you would were it a real sword, you can generate the sounds of your own little light saber battle.

The other features that come with the app don’t really add much more to the functionality. There is dramatic music that you can turn on and off (which I actually thought was kind of neat), and there is also a character selection screen. You can choose from some familiar names like Darth Vader and The Apprentice or some not-so-familiar ones like Rahm Kota and Maris Brood.  The only real outcome of character selection is a change in the color of the light saber – Darth Vader of course has red, but other characters you can choose from have green, turquoise or blue. You can also create your own custom character and light saber if you so desire – you can use RGB sliders to create a unique color and there are four different hilts to choose from.

In the end, the “features” are just padding – but Lightsaber Unleashed is still a great app for the iPhone and a must-have for any Star Wars fan. [rating:4]

The best iPhone apps and the best iPad apps are reviewed by TheiPhoneAppReview.com

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iPint – Virtual Beer App

Written iPhone Game App Review

iPint is a fun little “beer simulation” for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Developed for Coors Brewers Ltd, iPint is a heavily branded piece of marketing for the Carling brand of beer. iPint features a “barslide” game in addition to the Carling virtual beer.

The object of the game is to navigate a pint down the bar into the waiting hands of an eager punter, whilst dodging bowls of bar snacks, bottles and other pub paraphernalia. If you can make it to the end, you’re prize is a virtual beer!

Its a simple game, but will amuse for a few minutes, and is really just an adjunct to the main function of iPint – the transformation of your iPhone into a cool glass of beer. When you start the iPint application you have the option of playing the barslide game to “win” a pint or you can just get straight down to business. Clicking on iPint will turn your screen into a frosted glass, complete with condensation and a Carling logo (but of course). Tapping on the screen will initiate “pouring” and your glass will fill up with a bubbling amber fluid from the bottom up, complete with foamy head.

iPint uses the built-in accelerometer to sense your movements, enabling you to “drink the beer” by raising your glass and tilting your iPhone, just as you would a real beer. Of course it serves no real purpose, but show your buddies and they’ll probably think it’s the coolest thing ever.

But just when you thought iPint might be seen to be encouraging, or even glamorizing alcohol consumption – iPint features a rather amusing disclaimer “You must be over your country’s legal drinking age to use this application.” So make sure you’re of age folks, because we wouldn’t want any unlawful underage virtual beer drinking. It’s bad for your health.

iPint is free to download and is available from the App Store now.

[rating:4.5]

The best iPhone apps and the best iPad apps are reviewed by TheiPhoneAppReview.com

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MiniPiano App Review

Written iPhone Music App Review

MiniPiano is a free piano emulation application for the Apple iPhone. It is available for download from the App Store.

MiniPiano is a stripped down version of the FingerPiano application, by developer Junpei Wada. As you’d assume, this app operates like a ‘real’ piano – you press down the keys on the screen with your fingers to produce an audible sound. However, this is really the only similarity with a real piano. MiniPiano doesn’t have any more functionality or other features that you might expect from a virtual keyboard.

MiniPiano in Action:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHtOXB_3m4o


MiniPiano’s features:

Firstly, let me say that “features” are non-existent. You are limited in the number of notes to one octave – this gives you 14 playable notes in total. Unfortunately, there are no options for customization or configuration either – you can’t move the octave up or down, or increase the number of keys on screen. This really limits you in terms of what you can actually play. A lot of music obviously utilizes a larger range than that which is provided by MiniPiano, meaning that while Mary Had a Little Lamb might be possible, Fur Elise is definitely out of the question.

Other draw-backs include

  • No recording feature
  • Low volume
  • Hard to hit black keys

The low volume problem isn’t entirely MiniPiano’s fault though – the iPhone in general simply doesn’t have a loud enough speaker. You will find it next to impossible to hear the notes you are playing unless you are in a quiet space. I found that while demonstrating the app to a friend in a semi-crowded room I had to hold the speaker up to their ears to show that MiniPiano was actually producing any sound at all. They were still amused by the app, however.

Despite the aforementioned drawbacks, the reality is that MiniPiano is a free application. It is definitely basic, but it still allows for a little bit of creativity and fooling around on-the-go. If you are looking for more advanced options and more functionality, take a look at FingerPiano – its also available in the App Store for $2.99.

[rating:2.5]

The best iPhone apps and the best iPad apps are reviewed by TheiPhoneAppReview.com

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Review of Shazam for iPhone

Written iPhone Music App Review

Shazam is a free application for the iPhone, available for download from the Apple App Store.

What Shazam aims to do is to identify music (song name, artist, album) that is playing around you – on the radio, on TV or at the cinema. Almost everyone has experienced that moment when you hear a great song for the first time but don’t know what it is, or how to find out. This is where Shazam comes in.

How does Shazam work?

Shazam records a 15 or so second sound-bite from the song and then sends that information to a large music database. This database will either “tag” the song, returning information on the title and artist, or it will return a “sorry, no match could be found” message. If the song is located, you have the option to save the “tag” for future reference, buy the song directly from iTunes, view related YouTube videos, take a picture to accompany the tag and also email the tagged song to friends.

In order for Shazam to work, the iPhone must have access to the internet – via 3G, edge or Wi-Fi. The downside to this application is that it doesn’t really have any functionality for those people on phone plans without a data package or 3G network access. Unfortunately Shazam does not have the facility to record the sound-bite to submit at a later point in time.

Does Shazam actually work?
In short, yes – most of the time.

I tested the following seven tracks at a medium noise level in a quiet room:

ACDC – Highway to Hell
Kings of Leon – Revelry
Eric Prydz – Pjanoo
John Coltrane – Giant Steps
British India – Run the Red Light
Tiesto – Lovestoned (Justin Timberlake) remix
Bach – Cello Suite

The Results:
Shazam correctly identified the first four songs, but couldn’t identify British India, the Tiesto remix or Bach. These songs may not be particularly mainstream, but they certainly aren’t completely obscure. After doing some further testing, it seems popular and contemporary music is much more readily identifiable. Although unable to identify all the tracks, I was quite impressed by the accuracy of Shazam, none of the songs were mis-identified.

I found that Shazam had issues identifying tracks when there was a lot of ambient noise in the room or if the volume was very low.


Worth the download?
Definitely – if you have 3G internet access on the go. Still worth a look if you don’t – it’s free, so you can’t really go wrong. It doesn’t work all the time, but I’d still highly recommend it for music fans.

[rating:3.5]

The best iPhone apps and the best iPad apps are reviewed by TheiPhoneAppReview.com

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Ocarina App for iPhone

Written iPhone Music App Review

The Ocarina application by Smule is the first true native instrument designed specifically for the iPhone, and currently one of the most popular paid downloads in the Apple App store.

If you have never heard of an ocarina before, you’re probably not alone. It is the instrument made famous by the hugely popular Zelda game on Nintendo 64, The Ocarina of Time. It’s easiest to imagine the instrument as something resembling a small flute.

How does it work?

The Ocarina application essentially turns the iPhone into a digitized version of this instrument. When you open the Ocarina application you are presented with the ‘Ocarina’ screen which is the format in which you can generate music. The screen presents four circles or “holes” – placing your fingers over which, in different combination’s, create different tones and notes.

Blowing into the microphone generates sound, and this is how you produce a note. It is remarkably sensitive to how hard you blow. Blow softly or from further away, and you will get a quiet note. Blow hard and you will get a louder note. To play a song you simply hold down the touch-sensitive circles on the screen in different combination’s. As mentioned, there are four “holes” on this instrument – giving you a total range of 16 notes.

You can also tilt the iPhone forward or to the side to create a vibrato quality to the sound.

Features and Impressions:

I had a play around with the Ocarina for awhile, but trying to work out a song is rather difficult. Thankfully Smule’s website (http://ocarina.smule.com) has a large collection of user-generated songs that have been tabbed specifically for the iPhone Ocarina app. You will find everything from the Star Wars theme to The Beatles. The Ocarina “sheet music” is very easy to read and simply shows the finger positions for each note in the song. Thrashing out the Imperial March was rather amusing, and not really as hard as I’d initially thought it would be. What’s hard is being able to play any of the tunes without the music in front of you!

You’ll find that many of the songs on the website are set in a different key, i.e in G or in E sharp – and also in a different modes, Ionian, Zeldarian etc. Both the key and mode of the Ocarina can be changed within the application, and it’s necessary to do so if you want to be able to play certain songs.

Another cool feature of the Ocarina app is the ability to view a virtual 3D map of the world, and hear in real-time what other users are playing. You can skip between users, and the globe will rotate to show the position of the person playing, with virtual notes emanating skyward from their location. You can, if you like the tune, show them some “love” by touching the heart shaped icon on the screen. Others can do the same for you – although I am sadly yet to receive any.

The Ocarina App by Smule is available in the Apple App store online, and is priced at $0.99c.

It’s more of a massive novelty than anything else, but at that price – I’m sold.

The best iPhone apps and the best iPad apps are reviewed by TheiPhoneAppReview.com

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