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Showing posts with label app. Show all posts
Showing posts with label app. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

MiFon 9-in-1 Android Phone Security Suite

MiFon logo.
Image provided and used with permission.

MiFon 9-in-1 Security Suite is the answer to every Android phone owner’s security prayers. The app bundles security, privacy and tracking features in the one app. A limited version of the MiFon app is available for free from Google Play with a chance to try the fully featured Pro version as a free trial before deciding whether to buy it.

MiFon offers malware protection, auto backup, anti-theft, find me features and more. These features will work even without internet connectivity, making MiFon an attractive proposition for all Android users worldwide. Indeed, Indian phone company Intex has bundled the app with its newest phone as standard.

The nine areas of security, privacy and tracking covered by the app are:

Antivirus and anti-malware protection

This offers protection for those users who access their banking via their phone, have a mobile phone payment app such as Android Pay or PayPal enabled or who simply have the misfortune to encounter a trojan or virus.


Everyone should back up their phone regularly, to the cloud or to an alternative location. But for those who never get around to it, MiFon can automatically create backups of texts, contacts, photos and even some social media to a personal storage cloud.


This will clear the cache and free the memory.

Set and Forget

These three options above only need to be set up once and can then be forgotten. What could be easier?

Find me

Users who have lost or mislaid their phone can send an SMS text, even when it’s set to silent, to activate a loud siren sound. Once located - or not - users have the ability to choose to lock or wipe the phone if needed. This feature also allows users to enable phone status monitoring (battery life and so on) and receive email reports with details if the phone is not with them.

Panic button

This feature, only available on the Pro option, is the mobile phone equivalent of ringing the emergency services. It allows users to email emergency notification, location and photos to a nominated group of contacts.


A really important feature, this, given the number of phones which are left, forgotten or just plain swiped by someone on the make. It’s only available through the Pro version, but could pay for itself on its own. It will send the thief’s photo, track the phone and offer the registered owner full control over it, no matter where it is.

Geo-location for a specific group

This feature is under development but once available, users can share their location with a chosen contact group. This is designed for parents who need to know that their child has arrived safely in class, for instance, or perhaps for concerned friends looking out for a singleton on a blind date or a night out.

Remote activation and control

Users of the MiFon Pro option can set a passphrase and security locks so that they can retain control over their phone if it’s lost or stolen.

MiFon Pro is available to try for 15 days free following the instructions on the Google Play site. After that time users can revert to the free options or purchase a permanent full upgrade. Users with questions can contact the team through FacebookTwitter or helpdesk email.

A Smarter Smartphone thanks to MiFon.
Image provided and used with permission.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

PositiveSingles specialist dating app

PositiveSingles logo.Image provided and used with permission.

These days, there is an app for everything. Niche is king, and no matter what smartphone users want, there’s likely an app for it out there somewhere. When it comes to dating, it’s easy to find a specialist site and/or app that matches any requirement. I met my husband on one of those early specialist dating sites, and we’re not alone in meeting online these days as more and more sites and apps spring up.

PositiveSingles is a specialist dating site and app for those with STDs including herpes, HPV and HIV/AIDS. The company, registered in Canada, has been in operation since 2002, offering the chance of friendship, dating, relationships and romance to STD-positive singles worldwide. Like many other dating sites, most of the services offered are available to paid members only, with only a limited range of services that can be accessed for free. The trick is to get the subscription levels correct, a puzzle which not every app or site manages successfully.

Subscription-driven or not, there are 900,000 members on PositiveSingles in total, and the app has been downloaded somewhere between 10,000 and 50,000 times, so they must be doing something right. It offers the chance for members to interact with STD-positive singles from many different locations, religions and races. The free initial access provides pattern locking security and allows users to browse and match anonymously but sending messages is not included. Those using the app for free can send winks to those they like the look of, and reply to other members’ messages. Subscriptions start at a cent under $34 a month, 3 months will cost $70 and 6 months $110. For UK readers, that’s membership starting from around £26 a month.

Not everyone is happy, with the most recent reviews being more or less evenly split between praise and complaints. The most recent updates to the app seem to have caused some people to complain, as they are unhappy with the restriction on formerly free services. However, that is in the nature of things – developers can please some people some of the time but will certainly not please everyone and definitely not all of the time. That’s why there are so many dating apps, because everyone is different, with varying ideas of what is important to them.

For those singles facing the future living with an STD, PositiveSingles gives the chance of a relationship without having to explain their situation every time they meet someone new. Dating is difficult enough as it is, let’s be honest. PositiveSingles also helps those who simply need support from similar people in their neighborhood, by bringing them together as friends. A shared experience helps users of the app pool knowledge, offer support and build new networks of friends on- and offline. The buddy system may well have started in the military and spread to gym members, but in truth, finding someone similar reassures anyone that they are not alone, and allows discussion of situations previously faced without help. For that fact alone, PositiveSingles is an important app.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Bus Simulator Racing from Universal Games, free on Android

Bus Simulator Racing from Universal Games.
Image provided and used with permission.

From Universal Games comes the latest Android app: Bus Simulator Racing. And the home of the ‘tricky tapper game’ does not disappoint.

Bus Simulator Racing from Universal Games.
Basic instructions with female manga-style driver.
Image provided and used with permission.
Bus Simulator Racing was produced because the developer, like many people, loves the traditional and iconic London red double decker buses. I bet the drivers of the New London Routemaster buses never have to drive like this though! This is definitely a game, not a real life driving simulator. Players can see the whole bus viewed from above and behind the vehicle, rather than playing from the driver's viewpoint sitting at the wheel. As with all great games, the idea is simple – keep the bus on the road and chase the stars that are scattered in front of the vehicle. In practice, it is a test of dexterity and skill, and certainly not easy to play sitting upstairs on the local double deckers while jolting over the uneven town centre streets and twisty country lanes found in this area.

Bus Simulator Racing from Universal Games.
Level played in night mode.
Image provided and used with permission.
On the right hand side of the game screen are three handset buttons, on the left, the driving wheel. This is definitely a two handed game. The three buttons (right to left) are race, brake and handbrake. With sound turned on, there is a realistic engine noise as the bus sits on the road, engine revving, ready to depart. My tip for novice players is to turn the wheel in the direction of travel before hitting the race button. This will ensure that the bus is pointing in the right direction when it starts moving. And it moves fast! Players have to twirl the wheel with a finger or thumb while jabbing on the brake button with the other hand. This brings the rear brake lights on and results in the sound of tyres and air breaks squealing. I have had more than one Italian Job moment with the bus hanging off the edge of the road when I hit the brake too late, that’s for sure. As it is supposed to be a bus transporting school children from the depot to their school, this is not an ideal scenario. Just to add to the challenge the levels will show different weather conditions at random. This means players are having to drive in snow, rain or sunshine, as well as both day and night settings.

Bus Simulator Racing from Universal Games
Typical gameplay screen..
Image provided and used with permission.
This is a game best played with the sound on, as the in-game music is suitably upbeat, while the sound effects are rich and frequent. On one side of the road lies rocky terrain. When the bus crashes here, players will hear a depressing crunching noise. On the other side is water, and going over that side will freeze the level with the sound of an almighty splash and an image of a plume of water rising upwards as the bus hits it.

Bus Simulator Racing from Universal Games.
Racing the bus over the bridge.
Image provided and used with permission.
The help menu is presented by a uniformed manga-style female driver who explains the basic rules quickly and simply. Through the settings menu, the graphics display sharpness can be adjusted from low to high, although the medium default setting looks sharp enough on a mobile phone screen. The app is tablet optimized, and my guess is that if players have a suitable device to hook their tablets into a 50” widescreen TV or similar, they will be able to play the game on a big screen with cinema-level surround sound. There are also options to adjust the maximum steering lock and a choice of whether the accelerometer feature is on or off. For newcomers to the game, off is the default, and if players are not used to racing games, this is the recommended setting.

Bus Simulator Racing from Universal Games.
End of Level screen.
Image provided and used with permission.
The app is ad-supported, so at the end of each attempt there is at least one advertisement that players must dismiss or opt into if they want to continue the game. As with all of Universal Games’ recent offerings, this app is fully Google-integrated, allowing players to see the international best player rankings and enjoy multi-player games. Facebook login is an option too, so those players who are active there will be able to enjoy sharing their scores with their friends and perhaps challenging them to a round or two.

Bus Simulator Racing from Universal Games.
Image provided and used with permission.
Bus Simulator Racing is a game for the modern era. With tricky gameplay, high level graphics, slick coding and interactive multiplayer mode, it has been downloaded between 1,000 and 5,000 times since release in late June. The vast majority of reviews are positive, showing that Universal Games is gaining a reputation for producing quality, fun games with a twist.

Bus Simulator Racing from Universal Games.
Image provided and used with permission.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Surfin' Sam: Attack of the Aqualites, free Android or iOS game

Surfin' Sam: Attack of the Aqualites
Image provided and used with permission.

 Surfin’ Sam: Attack of the Aqualites is the new game from Slyon Studios LLC. It’s a platformer style game that harks back to the great days of Super Mario and Manic Miner. It’s free on Android and iOS devices but does have in-app purchases.

Sam and his faithful hound Flip Flops must save the earth from the scheming Aqualites, who want to turn our green and pleasant land into a watery world fit for them but not for us. The design is simple, with left and right arrows on the left hand side of the screen and three buttons for dash, jump and fire on the right. Sam will walk if you press the left or right buttons but as each level is timed, he needs to run occasionally too. Being a surfer dude, he travels faster when he can jump on his board and rush away over the waves, either to engage with the Aqualites or get to a place of safety to avoid the machinations of their evil leader, Prong. Flip Flops the dog acts as a guide, offering tips on the game when the letter A appears over his head. Sam has to jump to trigger this advice, however. Double jump means twice the height, and the more coins players can collect on each level the better.

There are over 30 levels, and each level has a target. Levels are laid out on a map, treasure island style, so it’s easy for players to see where they are in the game and fun to see how far they’ve come. Every now and again players are offered the chance to earn free coins (everything from one coin to 255 coins). These can be put towards the items in the Sam Shop; shields and lasers, among other things. These Aqualites aren’t immune to the usual weapons, and some can even be killed by jumping on them – a very satisfying ending. The Surfin’ Sam webpage has a promo video and details on the voiceover artists featured in this game – Lani Minella and Dave Rivas.

The game has almost 3,000 reviews on Google Play, and is a runaway success with a rating of 4.7 stars. Over 2,600 of those reviews give it 5 stars, while less than 200 consider it is worth only one star. The latest update was only a couple of days ago, and features more lives and a better user interface. Surfin’ Sam has been downloaded over 10,000 times and seeing as it is smoothly coded and works well even on my not-so-new Samsung S4, I can see why. Surfin
Sam: Attack of the Aqualites evokes the carefree summer lifestyle of Slyon Studios’ home state, Florida, and is just one of a whole stable of family-friendly games from this prolific developer.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Koorier is crowdfunding a delivery and ride-sharing app

The Koorier logo.
Image provided and used with permission of developer.

Ride sharing apps are not new. Neither are adverts for car shares on long journeys. Relatives and friends have been delivering items to family members for years, packing clothes and foodstuffs into their luggage or cars to take to others around the world. For cash strapped students, frequent flyers and other entrepreneurial types who know where to look, the option to fly for less by offering to personally deliver an item to someone living in the destination location has been available for some time, although not widely known about.

Koorier aims to combine all of these options in one app and offer the opportunity for people and objects to be transported from point A to point B quickly and cheaply. Now open for fundraising on indiegogo, Koorier hopes to blaze a trail in delivery/courier services to allow people to bypass the often high costs of traditional organizations.

Founder Patrick Pernia says that he came up with the idea after finding out that he had a choice between sending something express for nearly $100 or paying less but having a delivery time of several weeks. The idea is that Koorier will be divided into two areas, sending items with someone from one location to another destination and taking people in a ride share from one place to another.

Parcel delivery
All items should be presented for carrying unwrapped, otherwise the delivery person (‘koorier’) could land in all kinds of trouble with customs or border controls. Other than the fact that all items offered for delivery should be legal to take into the destination country or location, the choice is open to the sender and koorier to agree a deal. The price is offered by the sender and accepted by the koorier. On safety grounds, it is advised that sender and koorier meet to finalize the arrangement and hand over the item in a public location.

Ride sharing

Just as people want to have goods delivered as cheaply as possible, so many want to travel for less money. The ride sharing aspect of Koorier plans to address that, with drivers offering spaces in their vehicle and travelers suggesting the price they are willing to pay to make the trip. Any form of road-legal vehicle is permissible, as long as it is made clear to the traveler wishing to take the space.

The Koorier website has much more information about how this app will work if successfully crowdfunded. It certainly seems as if Patrick has tapped into the sharing economy boom at just the right time, and it may be that, given a few years, the courier standing at your door with an eBay package is someone contracted by the seller of the item rather than a representative from a multi-national.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

My Location GPS Maps, free Android map, directions and location app

My Location GPS Maps logo.

My Location GPS Maps is a free app for Android. It is one any driver will appreciate, given that they all seem to spend a fair amount of time looking at maps to get an idea of the layout of places they’re visiting. That said, this app is accurate to around 15m and was giving me a very good satellite view of the area around the hotel we are currently staying in as I write this.

My Location requires Location to be active on the Android device it is being used on. It will then automatically find the device’s current location and display it alongside latitude and longitude calculations plus a map. This can be a satellite map, an Ordnance Survey-style terrain map or a combination with names of locations or streets. Where Street View pictures exist, these can often be selected to display too, for those devices running ICS-compatible versions. The Change Map Type button allows users to flip through the various styles of maps.

The app is fully integrated with Google Maps so can show directions for driving, cycling or walking, track a user’s current location, and display traffic flow speeds too. For the roundabout just outside the hotel, the amber lines indicate the traffic slowing as it navigates the roundabout then as the flow speeds up again, the lines go to green.

The reviews on the Play Store are mostly positive, because the app works well and ‘does what it says on the tin’. As usual with GPS-based apps though, it does drain the battery quickly so it might be best to use it while the phone is charging. I also found my Samsung S4 became very hot as the battery was working hard. For every negative review or low rating on the Play Store, the developer responded giving the email address for the reviewer to contact him with specific feedback on the issues encountered.

Other features of the app include the ability to share your location with friends, find nearby restaurants, hotels, ATMs and businesses and save favorite locations for future reference. Users can search for addresses through the app too, and being Google, driving directions can be provided.

When users tap on the map, an address will be shown corresponding to that location. There will be a number of options for viewing the chosen location, including showing the area in various views, saving the location in favorites, or navigating to it using a satnav or other external application. It is best to use this app as part of the preparation for a trip rather than while driving, unless using it with a passenger who can call the directions out to the driver.

My Location GPS Maps app is still in development and the comments on the reviews from the developer mention possible future additions such as a widget and height from sea level. For those who would like an app rather than the whole Google Maps experience, this app is ideal.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Pixel Robot Jump, free Android pixelated play

Pixel Robot Jump icon
Used with permission of the developer, Universal Ganes

One of my favorite developers, Universal Games, is back with a new free Android game.

Pixel Robot Jump Saga is a fiendish little game. Like many of Universal Games’ offerings, it’s a tapping game. And like their previous offering, Neon 2 Car Racing Saga, it looks simple, but actually is anything but.

It’s beautifully retro, with a lovely chiptune style bleepy-bloopy soundtrack and pixelated visuals in every shade of the 16-color rainbow. Black, white and color, just as it should be for a proper game, at least in my book. Plus it’s old school graphics in

new school smoothness, available on my phone. Mine to annoy the entire bus load of passengers with, over and over again, especially as there doesn’t seem to be any way to turn the sound off without muting the entire phone, and I’m hopeless at playing it, so my grand total is still 0, zip and zero. I hereby apologize to you if you catch my morning bus, but this little gem is bothering me and I need to try and score soon. The developers assure me that if I can make it to double figures, I am a master of the game.

Never mind talk of getting into double figures making a player a master. Any player who even manages to get Robot to jump out of the circle has beaten my best attempt by a long way. The idea is simple – Robot is in an incomplete, constantly rotating, circle. The player has to tap to keep
him from touching the sides of the circle until the break in the circle lines up with his upward flight and allows him to fly free. Then he has to return to the circle and start all over again. Each successful flight and return earns one point. Every new attempt shows up in a new color, and I must have circled the 16-color rainbow several times earlier trying to avoid having Robot hit his head on the circle while waiting for the break to swing round. The squeak he emits when he bashes his head on the circle is quite enough to make players want to try again so that he doesn’t hurt himself next time.

There is a short video available on YouTube to demonstrate the idea of Pixel Robot Jump, and several comments from regular players on the Google Play Store page indicating just how addictive the game is. All the links in the article show different colors of screen players will see, and the write up on the Store also indicates that it will not be the easiest game to master.

Don’t say you haven’t been adequately warned – Pixel Robot Jump from Universal Games is difficult to play but just as difficult to put down. Good luck!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

MyDroid PC Manager provides an Android-PC interface

MyDroid PC Manager logo.
Used with permission

MyDroid PC Manager, from the same developers who produced the Auto SMS / USSD / Call app, is another super-simple app for those who need an easy way to interface their technology. Like Auto SMS / USSD / Call, MyDroid PC Manager is free to Android users. It connects a phone (or even several devices) and a computer for wireless transfer of files, sms and text messages, contacts and photos. Users can also manage their phone from their PC, send links to read on the PC and much more. All users need to do is download the app to their device, then install the MyDroid PC Server files on their computer. 

Occasional users can make use of the app to transfer photos from their phone to a laptop or desktop. MyDroid PC Manager offers the functionality to view, rename and delete photos, then send only the best photos to a PC for backup. For people like me who always manage to mislay a phone-to-USB connector at that crucial moment when their phone’s memory is full, this app is a simple solution. It can also be used to send links to the PC to read rather than having to wade through the equivalent of a Guardian newspaper ‘longread’ article or some amazing photo clickbait on a phone or tablet (and thereby use up data allowance and battery life).

In addition, MyDroid PC Manager is useful for people who like to backup their phones elsewhere. Creating a decent contacts list is a breeze with this app, plus it has the functionality to find duplicates so they can be easily deleted before sending the whole list over to a PC for backup to an external hard drive. It is also possible to program messages and sms to be sent from the phone to an entire mailing list.

Many offices may not allow this option, but MyDroid PC Manager can be set to have phone notifications show as pop ups in the corner of a PC screen. I can see this functionality being used in shift workers’ families, where a daysleeper is trying to catch some essential shuteye while others in the house go about their normal daytime lives as quietly as possible. For small business owners, MyDroid PC Manager is a connectivity tool to link Android devices into one network. It will connect to several devices together, allowing seamless transfer of files between them and a PC. Users can also type up emails and other mailings to share via the connected devices.

MyDroid PC Manager is fully accountable, keeping records of the number of texts and the duration of calls. By accessing the app on a PC users can also control apps on their phone and see what permissions they each have.

MyDroid PC Manager is perfect for people who hate wires poking out of their computers (looking at you, dad!) and for Android phone users who often need to transfer files to their PCs for backing up and safekeeping.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Cofie - A Selfie with Friends

Cofie app logo, taken from Google Play page

‘Selfie’ was recognized as the Word of the Year by the Oxford Dictionaries in 2013. Since then an entire lexicon of similar words has been coined. There’s ‘belfie’ (a selfie of the photographer’s rear) and ‘lelfie’ (a similar version of the photographer’s legs), both usually taken to highlight how shapely, fit or toned the photographer’s particular body parts are. Unsurprisingly, celebrities are leading the way with these trends, but now ordinary mortals can get in on the act too.

Now there’s another word to add to the glossary of mobile phone images taken with the intention of sharing on social media: ’cofie’.

Cofie is the name of a new free Android app available in beta version from StillWater International Inc. The app takes the idea of a selfie one step further. To take a cofie, or collaborative selfie, once downloaded, users send their friends, who also need to download the app, an invite at a suitable time. Then, when everyone is ready, they can take a selfie remotely but together. The result is a conglomerate photograph of two or more friends in different locations, yet by the power of the app, displayed in the same image.

This app is still in beta testing phase, so it may not work fully on every handset. The list on the Google Play Store page gives the handsets it has been tested on so far, together with a request for anyone testing on a mobile not listed yet to send in their feedback. Many other features are promised as the app is further refined, according to the developers. From the screenshots on the app instructions and the Google Play page, it looks as if the selfies taken as a cofie appear side by side in the same frame rather than as an amalgamated image, so they are separate photos that happen to be taken at the same time rather than a Photoshop style montage of various people in one photograph.

For those who want to try it, signing up is ridiculously easy, you have to provide your name, email country code and mobile number, plus an optional profile image. A verification code will be sent by SMS text message which may incur a charge from your provider. Once users and their friends are signed up, a simple message to your friends when you’re ready will allow the cofie to be taken and made available to all participants. This app carries a Parental Advisory due to the type of media being shared. It is licensed for use by those of age 12 and over only.

As with many of these newly released apps, the developers are always keen to hear from those who find a bug. In the case of an app like Cofie, which is still at beta stage, this feedback is invaluable to allow for development of the code, tweaking of the app and overall improvement of user experience.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Imypath: social media for today

Imypath logo. Image provided by developer and used with permission.

Imypath social networking platform, designed by Mark Alonzo Alexander, offers users a chance to build professional or social media networks based on interest, location and employment.

It’s easy to sign up; think up a screen name, provide an email address and birthday plus a couple of category choices as description. Once logged in, members can search and ‘support’ people in any of the vast array of categories. They can comment on and rate posts or images, share via email and see which posts have been rated by others. There are both audio and video functions as well as the ‘status’ field so beloved of Facebook users. Users can rate the profiles of other users in addition to their posts.

The unique selling point of Imypath is that users can choose to follow people specifically by interest, rather than just because the other user has followed them. In that way, Imypath is positioning itself as somewhere between the professional networking evident on LinkedIn and the purely social networking of platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. It’s perhaps closest to somewhere like Tsu, except that there is no payment here apart from enjoyment.

Imypath reminds me strongly of the days when I used to have many penpals. These were people I wrote to because we had hobbies and interests in common. We liked the same music and had the same hobbies. Some of them lived in places I’d visited, so we’d meet up when I went back for my next holiday. We would send each other prints of our favorite photographs and share tales of our lives. It was better than any history or geography lesson, by far.

Where Imypath differs from many of the other social networks is that users can support people who are local to them too. This support may well cross the divide between ‘professional’ and ‘social’. For instance, a member can support someone who is in their church or neighborhood association, as well as supporting a former coworker whom they meet with for coffee every month. Those users with a very specific idea of how best to describe themselves or their jobs can add categories too, and the number of categories a user can belong to appears to be uncapped.

Mark Alonzo Alexander, developer of Imypath (and
for those old enough to remmeber, Roland Gift lookalike.)
Imypath is a great little app that is aiming to find a niche in the social media market. It offers as much functionality for posting as Facebook and Twitter, but also much more locally-specific functionality too, so if community groups or coworker teams want to use it, they will be able to without any problems. Plus, unlike Facebook or Twitter, it was designed for use on a mobile device so it is already completely configured for today’s increasingly mobile world. What’s not to like? Social media just found its new future. It’s purple, it’s Imypath.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Cosmic Cow! asteroid shooter game from Harebrain Software

Cosmic Cow. Image provided by Harebrain Software and used with permission.
Cosmic Cow!, the new Android game from Harebrain Software, is a very unusual game for me to have on my phone. For a start, it’s not a traditional card game, a bubble shooter or a match three. It’s also possessed of slick graphics, the kind I normally run a mile from as they bring to mind first person shooters and modern video games.

However, Cosmic Cow! is very much in the old school vibe. It’s a side scrolling asteroid-shooter, just like the traditional arcade games. In the same vein as many early computer games, there are cheats available for players keen to progress through the levels. These include being able to watch videos to gain coins or an extra life and buying extra lives or different characters with in-app purchases.

The story is that Cosmo the Cosmic Cow and the rest of the herd must defend the Earth against invading aliens with asteroids as missiles. Each character has a secret weapon, and there are thirty different animals to choose from. Progression through these characters can either be earned after every 100 points or bought for $1.99. The player controls the character, either by tapping or sliding their left thumb to move them up and down the screen, while their right should remain firmly on the fire button to destroy incoming invaders and fast-moving asteroids. Energy is provided by colourful food such as ice cream cones and donut rings, which also have to be caught during the game. Lives are measured by how many waves of attack players survive. Points are awarded for successful hits and can be exchanged for lives or saved for use later in the game. Videos are on offer at random points for players to gain extra lives or to open the Upgrade Chest for a one-time only immunity boost or special superpower. In Wave 1, Cosmo has one life and can only access the fire button. Safely negotiate that and players will face subsequent increases in difficulty, but will also be able to access more hacks for extra assistance.

The game is easy to get to grips with, and the slick, colourful graphics add an extra enjoyment to gameplay. I was playing it on my phone, but it would look even better on a larger screen such as a tablet. If you have a tablet suitable for use with a TV, that would add whole new dimension to the game too. Once logged into Google, players can check out the leaderboard or  share both a link to the game and their success on social media. There are hints available at the start of each new game, and at the end, players have another chance to earn extra lives or coins. The in-game music is fast and upbeat, just the right kind of background to keep players focused on taking out the invaders.

Cosmic Cow! is presently available only on Android, but hopefully will be coming soon to iOS. It’s a brand new game app, only released last month (December 2015), and with less than 500 downloads so far. Hopefully the fact that it shares its name with the developers of the Cubic Castles game is not impacting popularity. As this is version 1, Harebrain Software is still ironing out some bugs, and the developers are grateful to those players who take the time to let them know about glitches. As with all mobile games, it will play better on a stable wifi connection, especially as some of the strategy involves watching videos to gain bonuses. These are entirely optional, as are the in-game purchases, so no outlay is required to download and play the game for starters. What’s stopping you? Why not download Cosmic Cow! now and try it today?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Tap Master: Simple, Colourful and Fun Free Tapping Game for Android

Tap Master intro screen.
Image provided by developer and used with permission.

Tap Master is that rare tapping game, one I can play. It has to be said that I’m worse than useless at all these side-scroller or up-scroller games where players have to guide their character through a maze of obstacles. Maybe it’s because I didn’t have a smartphone at the time Flappy Bird came out, or maybe it’s just because I’m hopeless at tapping games, who knows?

Tap Master game screen.
Image provided by developer.
Used with permission.

But Tap Master is different. A 5 x 5 square of coloured dots, and all players have to do is tap all the dots of the same colour as indicated. No moving screens, although the dots change colour when they are tapped, assuming they’re the colour the player is supposed to be tapping. The further on in the game, the more dots are the same colour, it seems to me. That does at least make tapping them easier, as there is more margin for error on the part of fat-fingered players. Each round is against the clock though, so there’s no time to hang around.

Scoring screen from Tap Master.
Imge supplied by developer.
Used with permission.

For those in the know about gaming, it will not be surprising to learn that the developer of this little gem is based in Kazakhstan. The mighty Tetris was developed by Alexey Pajitnov from the then USSR over 30 years ago, and its influence still resonates in the former Soviet areas today. Tapping games are also ideal for mobile phones, as the tap or swipe reflex is intrinsic in the use of these touchscreen devices.

Certainly Tap Master adheres to the standard rule that a game should be easy to learn and difficult to put down. The highest score at time of writing is 264, although it is not clear whether this is on the current version of the game or not. The latest release from late December 2015 has a start timer of 10 seconds per game, so this will naturally limit the score per game that players can achieve, at least for starters. If the high score is taken from the cumulative number of game or taps, this would be a much easier figure to reach than the number of points possible in a single game.

Tap Master is an ideal coordination game for all ages, and I can imagine it being used in preschool to teach young children about reflexes and colour recognition, or in a recovery and rehabilitation program for people with dexterity issues or brain injury. In-app purchases are available, so long as players reach that stage. Most of the reviews so far are 5* positive, perhaps not unusual for a game that is so easy to play. This game should not be confused with the similarly named Tap Master Modrian or Tap Tap Master. If it doesn’t have dots, it’s not the game I’m writing about here.

The developers reckon Tap Master is a good brain training game, as well as improving hand-eye coordination. No matter a player’s level, once signed in with Google, there is a leaderboard and social media sharing buttons. Due to the speed of levels, it’s great for playing on the move, when waiting for a bus, or in a few spare minutes before a meeting. It’s certainly a good game to play when smartphone users are bored, needing a quick break from something more important, or looking for a game they can leave or finish quickly.
Tap Master logo. Image supplied by developer and used with permission.

Tap Master: the addictive game players didn’t know they needed until they tried it.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Android App Review: Random Quotes App and Widget

Random Quotes logo. Supplied and used with permission.

The Random Quotes app, available for free on Android through Google Play, features inspirational, knowledge-enhancing and humorous quotes on various topics.

Instead of needing to follow a Facebook or Twitter feed, Android phone owners can have the app (also available as a widget) on their phone and set it up just as they want it. Users can select quotes by author, topic or keyword and have the opportunity to change font and background with a few clicks. A word of advice though; the demonstration video suggests the settings tab is at the top right within the app, whereas on the version I downloaded, Settings was accessed via a tap on the shortcut button on the phone, bottom left.

Random Quotes has been available for at least 18 months and is now on version 5.6, which was released at the end of November with fixes for minor bugs and improvements, according to the developers. On the Google Play page, there is a video demonstrating how easy it is to use and showing how to access the various areas to search and change settings. Android phones with version 4.2 and above can use the app as a daydream setting when charging. A new quote will be displayed every hour. Users simply need to enable the app as a source for the daydream stream in the appropriate settings on the phone.

Reviewers mainly seem pleased with this latest version. Any lower starred reviews are for earlier releases and as the developers have made changes, so the bugs have been ironed out slowly. The daydream setting, accessible while charging the phone, is popular, as is starting the day with a quote. It is easy to share favorite quotes via social media, with links to all the major platforms. The author attributions are also hyperlinked so interested readers can research more about the origins of the quote as needed. Quotes come from a wide variety of sources, including Shakespeare’s plays, the works of Dickens, ancient and modern authors, scientists, philosophers and celebrities.

This piece is just one of several reviews of this app available on the web. Downloaded between 5,000 and 10,000 times across its history, the app has generally received positive reviews for the amount of work which has gone into it. Random Quotes has an extensive database of quotes with simple customization to make it feel a little more personal. The app runs smoothly with an uncluttered layout and is easy to work once users have found out where all the menus are.

For anyone who needs a ‘Quote of the Day’, an inspiration to meditate over, something to inspire an article, or just an interesting few minutes, Random Quotes is recommended as an easy way to find that quote.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Android app review: Endless Rotating Wallpapers

Endless Rotating Wallpapers app logo.
Image suggested and used with permission.

In this house, we have two identical phones, often charging side by side. The only way we can tell them apart is by the wallpaper. My husband’s wallpaper is a picture of his favorite actress. Mine is a photograph of my high score on my favorite retro computing game.

However, for those people who prefer stock photos for their wallpaper, then Endless Rotating Wallpapers (with images supplied by Wallhaven images) may be an app to consider. There are almost 150 selections of wallpaper to choose from, and users can exclude as well as choose to select keywords. After selecting the keyword/s, users have to make sure they check the settings (bottom left touchkey on the phone on mine) to make sure it takes the selection. The resulting wallpaper images should scroll around, changing at the frequency set (anything from a minute up to a day) and displaying random images tagged by the chosen keywords on Wallhaven.

I have to say that on my phone, an S4 Mini, it is not great for multiple selections, but works really well on one or two choices. Users have the option to choose many different options, basically grouped into people, animals, landscapes, fashion or abstract themes. The option for paid content is available, so I am wondering whether the more discerning will end up paying to save their favorite images and build up their own unique rotating screensaver in due course.

Many of the selection criteria are slanted towards a certain human trait, such as hair or eye color, style of dress or similar. This does make me wonder whether the target audience is a certain age group and male. But then I see keywords such as ‘cats’ or ‘landscape’ and I have to wonder. The instructions on the Google Play page state that scrolling wallpaper images should be enabled to make the best of this app. If this is not set as standard then the advice is to try a different launcher.

Wallhaven has thousands of high definition wallpaper images, constantly refreshed and updated. The site (and therefore also the Endless Rotating Wallpapers app) has more images being added each day, so users will potentially see new choices regularly too. Unlike some apps, which drain the battery constantly scanning for updates, with Endless Rotating Wallpapers only one wallpaper will be downloaded when the screen is off. The app is designed for both phones and tablets, and can download new images over wifi and/or 3G – user’s choice whether it downloads on the move or not.

Personally. I’m still on the fence about this app, mainly because I’m attached to my own images as wallpapers. But for those people for whom a phone is a necessity rather than a personalized accessory, Endless Rotating Wallpapers will be ideal for expressing just enough about them to make owning a phone fun.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Android App Review: Beyond Pool 3D (Hole-in-One)

 Video from Beyond Pool 3D (Hole-in-One).
YouTube link supplied and shared with permission.

You too can become a pinball wizard, a pool champion or a billiards king with the latest version of the Android game app Beyond Pool 3D (Hole-in-One). Playing alone or, soon, in Challenge mode with others online, players must attempt to dodge walls and other obstacles, catch stars and still land the ball in the pocket at the far end of the game table, all on one pull.

The game has many different variables, where players can adjust brightness, sensitivity, vibration, tracking and even camera angle. For the first time player there are tutorials on the first four levels indicating how to best approach each layout, and the number of adjustments players can make more or less guarantees some degree of success.

Beyond Pool 3D (Hole-in-One) is a well coded game which runs smoothly and copes well with being played on a phone or in a low signal area. As it’s a point and pull game rather than a tapping game, it’s easier to control the direction of the ball too, making it very satisfying for both casual and serious gamers alike. The technique is similar to a bubble shooter game, while the look of the game is decidedly retro and calls to mind the classic pinball arcade games of the 70s and 80s. There are also elements of the skills involved in playing pool, billiards and snooker too.

The aim with each level is to hit the star and then hole the ball. Preferably on the first attempt. Two points are awarded each time the ball hits a cushion, and 100 points when the ball is holed. Players have five attempts to nail the level, then can refresh the screen for another five, as many times as necessary. They can view their progress on the menu and also see their best score for each level. There doesn’t appear to be any finite number of times that players can try one level unsuccessfully either. I needed fifteen attempts at one level so perhaps that’s just as well.

Beyond Pool 3D (Hole-in-One) has just undergone an upgrade, with hundreds of new levels available and a tie in with Giftiz, a site which offers the chance to win real gifts through gameplay. In addition, players will be offered the chance to get hold of levelpacks when they reach the higher levels of available play on the standard game. Earlier glitches and bugs reported by reviewers appear to have been fixed in this release.

The developer, NLightniN, has a Facebook page, a Twitter feed, a Google+ profile and a YouTube channel. They are proactively developing the game and welcome feedback from players. If you choose to download Beyond Pool3D (Hole-in-One), be ready to share your thoughts, as the latest update is less than a month old and the team is still working on improvements.