I was able to obtain an iPhone 5s last October, which set the stage for a zippy new experience and allowed me to download whatever I wanted with the extra power. There were definitely a lot of Facebook Ads trying to get me to download their games and apps, and I’ve stuck with some and deleted others. Here are some of the top Good and Bad Apps I’ve tried since Christmas day.
Lets start with The Bad Apps:
(1) Any Free Game that adds MicroTransactions and makes Gaming Excellence dependent on spending.
Examples: The Hobbit: Kindgoms of Middle Earth, Star Wars: Tiny Death Star, Warhammer Quest, Pretty Much any Free to Download Game with a good Logo
I’ve noted after putting down quite a bit of money (gifted to me in iTunes gift cards) that there is always someone who is willing to outspend you. Particularly The Hobbit, which is actually a fun game (as long as you have cash to spend), where I put down tons of money to advance quickly enough that I didn’t get trounced. At a certain point, I had to decide that I wasn’t going to spend my own money on it, and not on any other game either. I’d rather pay an app fee and have no more payments after that, than have to outspend everyone else on the internet. I think this is like gambling but actually more like giving tons of nearly free money to the game company. And I don’t and will never play Candy Crush! I’m intrigued by Clash of Clans, but again – I don’t want to spend the cash to be top dog.
(2) Snapchat – I just don’t get it. People send out pictures, I can’t access my photo album, so its all live, there are ticking clocks, and supposedly it isn’t very secure. I have it installed, but I’m about to completely rid it from my phone. Still trying to figure out why it is so interesting to so many people. Maybe someone can give me a tutorial in it sometime, but right now, I’m lost.
(3) Quick Office – I recently thought I would be a hotshot and write an entire article for our local paper on my iPhone. I ended up failing miserably, because I wasn’t as careful as when I’m on my laptop, partly because of the small atmosphere, but also because the menus and scrolling don’t work as nicely as they could. I ended up leaving out some quotation marks (ultimately a proofing fault of my own), which caused me to have a somewhat strained conversation about knowing how to attribute others works. I was incredibly embarrassed and won’t be doing that again. Back to the old fashioned Word on the Mac until I am able to see clearly and have a bit more clarity on how a .doc is supposed to work on mobile.
(3) iTunes Radio – I still use Pandora, but iTunes Radio has been getting better and better. I also think that the ads are more appropriate. On Pandora I was listening to symphonic video game music, and suddenly people were screaming about condoms. I was resting a bit and thinking, and it completely jarred me. iAds seem a bit less invasive and I listen when I decide to. Tends to be more normal conversation. Not only that, but the lists are getting better (I really liked the Christmas Pop Charts list, which I used for two youth group Christmas Parties without any mishaps). The only requirement is that you have internet access, so having wifi is a good thing so you don’t use too much data on your cellular plan, but I think Apple has done this one right.
(2) Flipboard – This is a news aggregate service that pulls in articles from all your social media networks (ex. Facebook, Twitter, LinkdIn, Instagram, Tumblr, etc.) and lets you browse news articles from sources that are already on the web (ex. New York Times, Boston Globe, various magazines) and subscribe to magazines made up of articles read and liked by other Flipboard users. The upside to this is that it gives you a very streamlined, quick and brilliantly HD way to read news that works well in iOS 7. There is one downside that I’ve mitigated, however, and that is that it uses an incredible amount of cellular data due to its ability to scan a news stream and download images prior to you flipping down and reading them. That means that its downloading all the time. I’ve personally turned off cellular usage on this app, and rely solely on wifi time at coffee shops and at my local church (which has campus wide wifi) to use this app. I have also set up several magazines myself (Geek Fun, Interesting News, What is Money, and a few others) and the Interesting News one now has almost 15,000 followers. That’s pretty cool. I highly suggest giving this one a try (and supplement it with “The Economist” digital download ;D)
(1) Games that do not require micro-transactions to enjoy to their completion. I’ve downloaded three games that I’m currently playing:
(a) Settlers of Catan with Seafarers Expansion – This is a game app based off of my favorite board game – The Settlers of Catan, in which there is an island made up of tiles composing various resources with numbers on them. It is a dice based game in which players collect resources, build settlements, roads and cities; and they compete among a limited landscape for those resources. The first person to 10 points wins. It can seem simple but becomes incredibly relational and strategic and can be intense. If you like the app, I recommend spending on the German Board Game that it is based on (and it is not written in German, but English in the US!).
(b) Limbo – This is an atmospheric adventure puzzler, in which a small boy is moving through a dark and moody world while incredibly low background noises of the environment get disturbed by violent and sudden death sequences when the boy walks into a trap. Items like bear traps, giant spiders, and lakes can kill, and so your job is to get the boy safely through the puzzles. I’ve been playing this a while and have found that it gets my adrenaline moving, but is also strangely beautiful. I don’t recommend this for anyone younger than 10 years old, due to the nightmare like nature of this one, but adults who played side scrollers like Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog back in the day who are looking for a spin on the genre may find this one enticing.
(c) Civilization Revolution (no add ons) – Another Strategy game based in Sid Meier’s Civilization universe. It is a turn based world conquest game that centers around starting as a tribe with a village, and you eventually build an empire with multiple cities, tanks, ships, and wonders of the world. This pared down version of the flagship Civilization games (Civ V being the latest on PC/MAC) is simple enough to beat in an hour or two, but hard enough to be challenged and possibly lose. You research technology, fight with other civilizations, build roads, phalanx military unites and siege empires. The maps are randomized, but there are also many scenarios to enjoy. I’ve played this quite a bit and think its worth the small price. There are a few add ons, but I’ve read reviews that they can crash the game a bit. I’ve not downloaded them, but haven’t needed them to enjoy the game thoroughly.
There are so many other apps that I’ve enjoyed so at the end of this blog I’m listing some of them. I can’t write about them all but I thought they deserved honorable mention. I hope you check out some of these apps. Some of them cost a little but they’re worth it. On the bad side, I hope you have some gift cards if you’re going to take risks downloading apps. Its awefully easy to just spend money and I hate waste – so try to download the best and do your research.
App Honor List:
Hootsuite – update all your social networks simultaneously
Pic Stich – Put pictures together into frames
InstaQuote – Add text to pictures easily
Google Drive, Maps – Two great apps that help with a lot in life
Varage Sale – a local garage sale like app that uses Facebook to connect buyers and sellers
Duolingo – learn a language in a visual and fun way
Papa John’s – Get Pizza and get rewards (free pizzas!)
Star Walk – Point your phone at the sky and see the sky mapped and learn the constellations – more
iTranslate – speak and have it translated, handy for travel
iMovie – easy and fun to create video clips
Sunrise – A Calendar apps that pulls in many social calendars (Facebook, GoogleCal, etc) to organize your calendar (Highly Recommended)
Accuweather – Great weather app
Sketchbook – A drawing app that works well with a rubber stylus for drawing on ipad/iphone
Dropbox – Best Cloud storage service out there