iPhone, iPad Games, Apps, Reviews, News Thu, 16 Jul 2015 12:57:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Affinity Designer for Mac Review: The modern graphic design app Sat, 28 Mar 2015 17:22:19 +0000 Read More]]> Affinity Designer for Mac is not just a regular vector drawing app, the developers of the application have set themselves on a journey to redefine the tools available for creative professionals. Whenever words like ‘vectors’ , ‘illustration’ or ‘creative professionals’ are used, Adobe’s creative suite of apps are probably one of the first set of tools one refers to. Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator are unquestionably the most popular applications used for creating web graphics, designing UI and much more. So, how does Affinity Designer stack-up against the most popular applications that have won the trust of so many users over last several years? Can Affinity Designer replace Adobe Illustrator? I will do my best to answer these questions in my review.

This review is not about Illustrator vs Affinity Designer. Neither will I mention every feature of the app. I will cover those features which stood out to me as I used the app over the last few weeks.

It’s not often that we get to see people challenge what has become a ‘norm’ or an ‘industry standard’. A quick search on YouTube or Google for tutorials on learning how to draw vectors, learn web design or UI design will lead you to professionals using Illustrator and Photoshop as their preferred choice of software. If Affinity Designer for Mac needs to make its presence felt in an area dominated by Adobe, it needs to prove to users that it is better at accomplishing tasks related to graphic design.

For any application its UI is crucial to its success or failure. However, if you take a look at Illustrator or Photoshop their user interface isn’t all that comforting for beginners, yet pro users seem to have got accustomed to it. Over the years Adobe’s  software suite has increased the number of features it has however, not much has changed in terms of its UI and UX (user experience).

Affinity Designer Review Pixel Persona

This is exactly where Affinity Designer makes its first big impression. The user interface of Affinity Designer for Mac is everything you’d expect from a modern app. While there is instant familiarity with the workspace from Illustrator, the user interface is more beginner friendly and is very intuitive. The software takes a more visual and gesture based approach rather than features being hidden deep inside menus.

The way we interact with software is increasingly changing. With the advent of touch based interactions on our smartphones and tablets, trackpads on notebooks and desktops, gestures have become a ubiquitous interaction mechanism. It’s great to see Affinity Designer embracing gesture based interactions. The software does this by creating active drop zones in the layer panel.

For example, you can create a clipping mask by simply dragging the object halfway under the main object. You can also mask a vector shape by dragging other vector next to its thumbnail in the layer panel. But, it doesn’t stop there as you drag the object in different drop zones the app shows you live preview of what a clipping mask or layer mask will look like. This feature is fantastic. If you never knew how these features work trying and testing with live previews makes experimenting a lot of fun.

Experimenting can only be fun if you can undo and get back to previous state in case you don’t like the changes. Affinity Designer features a modern take on undo function. You can slide through more than 8000 steps of history so there will never be a moment where you feel that you messed up your file.

Affinity Designer Reviews

It’s worth mentioning that Affinity Designers’ full compatibility with popular file formats such as .psd, .ai, and .pdf will play a critical role in its success. The developers spent almost four years in R&D while developing the software and compatibility with Adobe’s suite of apps is a great achievement.

Affinity Designer for Mac when under development carried a codename ‘Persona’. Although the app was named differently when released, Personas bring a new workflow to the mix. The app features three Personas, Draw, Pixel and Export.

Draw Persona is all about vector drawing however, you are greeted with a pleasant surprise when you click on Pixel Persona. The app geniously brings pixel brushes, selection and effects like smudging, blurring, erasing vector brushes, sharpening and more to a vector drawing app. Want to apply a grunge brush to your vector art? No need to switch the app you are using. Affinity Designer can handle both.

The developers didn’t just stop at adding pixel persona, they added an intelligent assistant to make your tasks easier and enable you to work in an intuitive manner.

If I switch from draw to pixel persona and add a pixel brush stroke to my artwork technically I would need to first add a ‘pixel layer’ however, with the assistant working in the background you don’t have to worry about it as it automatically does the needful. The assistant can also place mask layer inside the vector when erasing. It can rasterise vector layer and then apply other brushes, automatically add adjustment as child layer to selection and rasterise layer and then apply filters.

Even the layer blending modes have received some love and gained live previews. Scrolling through different blend modes such as overlay, multiply, soft-light etc. will show you a live preview of what your design will look like so that you can make better choice quickly. This feature again goes onto show that the developers have paid close attention to the details.

Affinity Designer features dedicated gradient and transparency tools. These allow you to apply multiple gradients in an intuitive manner without the need to open any dialogue boxes.

Once you’re done creating your graphic design you can use the export persona to export your design. You can choose to export your design as 1x, 2x and 3x which is important as you may be creating design for retina displays or even mobile devices.

Another feature I’ve really liked is continuous export, once selected it automatically updates the exported file in the specified format and setting even as you continue to make edits and make alternate design decisions. It’s great to know that your final artwork folder will always contain the latest file no matter how many times you choose to make changes. Since the exported file is always overwritten you won’t have to deal with any duplicates.

Affinity Designer Export Persona

Can Affinity Designer replace Illustrator? The answer to this question will depend on whether you are doing a feature by feature comparison or questioning its capabilities as a graphic design software.

There’s no doubt that Illustrator wins when it comes to the number of features. However, this doesn’t takeaway the fact that Affinity Designer is a very promising and extremely powerful graphic design software for the Mac. If you never knew Illustrator existed and used Affinity Designer for your project, you’d be able to accomplish nearly everything.

Affinity Designer is not fighting a feature vs feature battle rather it sets an example of how keeping usability in the forefront can result in a more productive and intuitive experience. The developers have said no to many features and yes to the ones that don’t sacrifice usability and provide reliable experience without adding any clutter.

If you are a beginner in vector drawing and graphic designing, I would recommend that you start right here with Affinity Designer. If you are a pro user who has been using Illustrator all this while, give Affinity Designer a try (trial available) and you won’t regret it.

Even though the application overall has highly impressed me there are a few concerns. If you’ve been using Illustrator you’ve got accustomed to certain keyboard shortcuts. In Affinity Designer you may need to learn different shortcuts. The software currently lacks any sort of symbols management. You can’t type text on a path. The only way to work is with layers, there’s no support for pages or art-boards.

It’s important to note that Affinity Designer was released on October 02, 2014. With the set of features already available in V 1.x it’s exciting to wait and see how the developers expand the current feature set.

Another point worth mentioning is that Serif Labs has opted to sell the software for a one-time price and not a subscription model. This alone is a very attractive investment for anyone from beginners to professionals.

Affinity Designer for Mac brings a fresh breath of air to the traditional vector drawing applications. Its focus on usability without sacrificing on advanced features is applaudable.

Watch Affinity Designer Features Overview Video

]]> 0 Slidely shows how iOS 8 extensions can help you create video postcards Fri, 12 Sep 2014 10:10:26 +0000 Read More]]> One of highlight features in the upcoming iOS 8 software update is extensions, it allows developers to access core functionality of the iOS without sacrificing on intuitiveness or security. With extensions developers can tie into Apple’s sharing sheet, add custom actions, access iCloud drive, notification centre, enable custom keyboards and more.

Apple has introduced a dedicated API for the photos app called “PhotoKit”. Adding filters or editing photos has become increasingly popular practice. iPhone camera is the most popular mobile camera in the world so providing a new API to make editing photos easier is a great benefit for users.

iPhone most popular camera

The photography category in the App Store is filled with image editing apps and perhaps most users own more than just one. iOS 8 will allow developers to offer native user interface within the Photos app to embed third-party filters and editing tools.

With a tap of the Action button, you can do things like assign a photo to a contact or print a document. iOS 8 allows developers to extend those capabilities. For instance, a developer could make it possible to watermark documents, add something to a wish list, or translate text to a different language.Apple

Slidely is a video postcards app that allows you to select up-to 15 videos and photos, select a theme, music theme and create a video postcard for you. The developers shared a sneak peek of the upcoming update for iOS 8 with us.

The video shows launching the Photos app selecting few photos and videos and then creating a video postcard without ever leaving the app. This makes the entire workflow so easy that we expect people to become more creative with their photos on Instagram, Twitter and Vine.

Prior to iOS 8 if one had to apply any third-party edits, it would require importing photos into the third-party app, applying edits and then exporting it. The best part about extensions is that it does not require you to download any extra app from the App Store. If you download an app from the App Store supports extensions it will be automatically available for you to use.

iOS 8 will be available for download on September 17 just two days before iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus go on sale. The update brings many more enhancements that include all new Messages app, iCloud Drive, custom keyboards, Health app, continuity and much more.

What do you think about the demo video shared by Slidely? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

]]> 0 How I Got iWork Keynote App for Free on My Old Mac Wed, 23 Oct 2013 14:41:50 +0000 Read More]]> Keynote app for Mac

During the special keynote event yesterday Apple announced all new versions of their productivity and creativity apps for Mac and iOS. All new versions of iWork and iLife which includes Pages, Keynote, Numbers, iPhoto, iMovie and Garage Band are now free with purchase of new Mac or iOS device. These updates are also free for existing users who purchased the older versions.

I own a Mid 2010 27-inch iMac which has been serving me well all these years. OS X Mavericks the tenth major software release for the Mac was also made available for free to iMac models dating back to 2007. After multiple failed attempts to download the software update due to Apple’s sever overload and then finally succeeding I was able to install OS X Mavericks.

After installing the new software update when I launched the Mac App Store to download other software updates I noticed Keynote as one of the app among other apps listed that had available updates. Now, this was interesting to me as I never purchased Keynote app for the Mac.

When I purchased the Mac I downloaded trial version of iWork (Apple did not have Mac App Store back then) and then later purchased only Pages and Numbers app as a digital download. Keynote app was still installed but never worked as the trial had expired.

After installing Mavericks I noticed under the “Purchases” tab it listed Keynote app with a purchase date of today. After the app was updated I launched it and it worked flawlessly.

In the past I’ve got lucky even with iCloud. Just when rumours about Apple announcing a cloud based service reached an all time high I registered for a free trial of MobileMe service. Since the trial was for 60 days and within a weeks time Apple announced iCloud I got extended storage of 25GB for one year without ever paying for the old MobileMe service.

iWork apps are also available on iCloud as web apps and now feature collaboration. The shift in Apple’s pricing strategy by listing its creative and productive suite of apps as free would certainly help in more customers experimenting with these apps and thus increasing its usage worldwide.

]]> 0 Apple Inc. (AAPL) Acquires HTML5 Web App Startup, Particle Mon, 22 Oct 2012 16:12:15 +0000 Read More]]> Particle Apple HTML5

On Wednesday, Apple Inc. (AAPL) acquired HTML5 web app company, Particle. AAPL has acquired other companies in the past in order to develop a key part of one of their projects or create an entirely new one. CNET initially reported that Apple acquired the San Francisco based startup and that they acquired the company for its talents in the industry as opposed to any specific project that they were working on.

The company has done HTML5 work for Google, Motorola, Amazon, Yahoo, Sony, and Apple. The group has also created some “labs” projects including, an asynchronous video interviewing project. […]

The deal went through late last month, though not all its less than a dozen employees stayed on to work at Apple. Those who did are listed as “creative technologists” as well as one “user interface engineer,” according to their public LinkedIn profiles.

The report goes on to mention that Apple’s new employees will be put to work specifically on projects such as Apple’s website, iAd, and Apple may also utilize the company for other projects, such as bringing more of the iTunes software over to the web, similar to iTunes Preview.

It appears Apple has already brought a few employees from Particle onboard already, with TechCrunch noting that several Particle employees have changed their employees on LinkedIn as early as September.

{Via MacRumors}

]]> 0 Mixel for iPhone Review – Produce Great Collage as Long as You Want to Share! Tue, 09 Oct 2012 17:48:27 +0000 Read More]]> Mixel for iPhone Review 3

Having the ability to take a good photo is one thing, being able to present it in an interesting way is a whole other thing, especially when you have lots of pictures that you want to display. This is where Mixel for iPhone comes in.

If you recognise the name then you may have used Mixel when it was available as a social collaging app on the iPad. However, as that app died, this app has cropped up and is already flying high in the App Store charts.

Mixel for iPhone Review 5The social aspect of Mixel is still there, in fact you can’t even create a collage without first signing in either with your Facebook or Twitter account, if you don’t have either of those then you can stop right here!

Once you have signed in you can select to follow or invite your friends and choose other users to users to follow too. This provides an Instagram style photo stream of Mixels that the people that you follow have created. This adds additional functionality to your Mixels as you can add to your friends Mixels.

The first thing you’ll want to do is create your own Mixel, this is easy to do, click the large plus in the middle of the task bar and you’ll be ready to start getting creative. Your first job is to select some pictures. If you’ve linked your Facebook and Instagram accounts you’ll be able to select pictures that you’ve posted to both of them as well as from your camera roll and photo stream if you have one.

Once you’ve selected your pictures they will be automatically imported into a collage and at that point you may decide that you are finished. However, if you want to you can start tweaking the design by shuffling the placement, zooming and moving the individual pictures.

Mixel for iPhone Review 4

You can also choose between 6 different styles. These styles controls the borders and and overall theme of the collection and can add a whole new perspective to your work. The results can be pretty impressive too regardless of whether you decide to just go with the default selections or micro-manage each individual picture.

Completing your Mixel will post it to your Mixel timeline so that your followers can view your creativity, once there you can choose to share it via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook as well as your Photo Stream.

Mixel’s from people that you follow can be expanded on. If you all go to the same event or place, or just a shared theme of pictures you can extend someone else Mixel by adding to the existing one. This is especially fun if you have a bunch of friends all using Mixel.

Mixel for iPhone Review 1

For style and ease of use Mixel rates highly as do the results. The reliance on social media integration and the fact that you have to post your work to your Mixel timeline to complete your work seems a little over the top.

That being said if you don’t mind the social media integration then Mixel for iPhone is a great way to add a new perspective to your pictures and is Free.

[rating: 3.5/5]

What we like

What to know

]]> 0 9 of the Best iPad Stylus for Professionals Fri, 05 Oct 2012 16:08:35 +0000 Read More]]> Stylus Review – Professionals

As we have previously seen with our stylus reviews for Artists and Children, Styli come in all shapes and sizes. They are also used by a variety of people and in this article we review styli that are aimed at the professional end of the market, for business people to use from the desktop to the board room.

LOGiiX – Stylus Presenter – $39.95 – TOP PICK

Stylus Presenter

The Stylus Presenter by LOGiiX is one of their high end styli and it shows. A beautifully crafted pen, stylus and laser pointer combined into a single device that would look great in the boardroom to take notes on paper, scribble on your iPad or use the laser pointer to highlight something on the projector.

The fact that all three features are combined in a single device means that you not going to lose one part or the other. The pen and the stylus are combined in a unit which can be flipped around to whichever you need to use at the time, while the laser pointer is located in the top of the pen, activated via a button on the side.

The Stylus Presenter feels solid in design, comes with replacements pens and batteries to get you up and running straight out of the box.

LOGiiX – Stylus Platinum – $29.95

LOGiiX - Stylus Platinum

The Stylus Platinum is the little sibling to the previously discussed Presenter both in size, features and price. The device provides both a stylus and a pen on opposite ends of the stylus.

It’s a thinner shaft than the Presenter which will appeal to some and the pen can be retracted by twisting the barrel.

The addition of two pen refills is a good addition but the $10 price differential certainly shows itself in the inferior build quality

Arctic – Emote – $23.95

Arctic - Emote iPad Stylus

Four distinctive designs make the Emote stylus from Arctic certainly stand out from the crowd and will certainly appeal to a user who wants their stylus to stand out and be noticed.

This extra dose of style compared to some of the other styli in this category is not at the expense of features and functionality though as it offers both a pen and a stylus with a cap which will cover either when not in use.

The metal shaft feels good in the hand and it’s nicely weighted too, not too heavy and not too light. While the ink can be re-filled it doesn’t come with a replacement, instead a replacement stylus is provided.

It’s great value at just $23.95 and writes well on both paper and on your tablet device. Which design would you like? You can check out the different options here.

Arctic – Architect Stylus – $22.95 – HIGHLY RECOMMEND

Arctic - Architect Stylus

For a dollar less than the Arctic Emote Stylus you can get you hands on the equally distinctive and yet more understated Architect stylus.

While it may not have the glitz and glamor of its stablemate it’s modern design is not going to go unnoticed when in use. It does lack a pen but the design alone earns it a place in the boardroom or on your desk.

While I’m not sure how practical a stylus case is the Architect Stylus does provide one and it’s indicative of the quality of the stylus that the case is equally high quality. Use of the case would be reduced further if you use the cap that can be screwed to cover the stylus nib or onto the opposite end to provide extra length.

The Arctic stylus puts the style into stylus!

Elago – Stylus Ball – $25.99

Elago - Stylus Ball for iPad

The Stylus Ball from Elago provides both a stylus and a ball point pen in a sleek, compact design that is available in multiple colors which should provide enough options for everyone.

A replacement stylus nib is provided, as is a cap for the pen but no replacement ink refill is included although it can be replaced . It’s also disappointing that the cap for the pen will not fit onto the stylus end when the pen is in use and could increase the chances of being lost.

The compact design fits nicely in the hand when using it as both a stylus and a pen and the aluminum shaft feels solid and if a little slick.

iChic Gear – Calligrapher – $25.00

iChic Gear - Calligrapher for iPad

The Calligrapher is another dual function stylus and provides a stylish, ink pen looking pen that doubles as a stylus.

The default use of the Calligrapher is the pen which uses the barrel rotation method to be retracted. Unfortunately it only uses the tip of the pen to activate the pen and this is not as comfortable as being able to use the whole barrel.

To access the stylus the cap can be removed, unfortunately the cap can’t then be put on to cover the pen which changes the centre of balance between the two uses, it’s not a big problem but it would be nice.

At just $25 you get a great stylus both in term of style and functionality, add in the two spare pen refills and you’ve got even more of a bargain.

adonit – Jot Pro/Classic – $29.99/$19.99

adonit - Jot Pro Classic for iPad

We discussed the Jot stylus from adonit in our review of styli for artists and you can read more about them here. However, they deserve another mention as a potential stylus for the professional who wants a high level of precision in their tablet writing and drawing.

The Jot Pro and Jot Classic doesn’t include a standard pen, although it certainly looks like one, instead it provides a precision disc for writing on your tablet, which while it takes some getting used to provides a level of precision that the other styli can’t provide.

While the two devices are predominantly the same the additional $10 of the Jot Pro will get you a rubber grip on the shaft for comfort and a magnetized barrel which enables the stylus to be secured to your iPad.

Lunatik – Touch Pen – $19.95

Lunatik - Touch Pen for iPad

The unique selling point of the Touch Pen from Lunatik is the fact the while it includes both a pen and a stylus there’s no need to swap things out or turn the pen around as the nib of the pen comes out of the end of the stylus. This feature certainly makes it quicker to jump between the two so if this is a requirement then this could be the device for you.

The pen is activated as most retractable pens are with a click of the pen top and is retracted in the same way. While the pen retracts far enough to eliminate the risk of it touching the screen while the stylus is being used this won’t help you if you forget to make the switch as you change between paper and tablet.

For $19.95 you will get the entry level version which is made from plastic and is light, if you are willing to produce an additional $20 you can upgrade to an alloy build, which while not reviewed, may offer better quality. Both options come in a variety of colors.

PenGo Creative – Touchpen – $24.99

PenGo Creative - Touchpen

The Touchpen from PenGo Creative provides a more modern style on the stylus pen. It contains a non-retractable rollerball pen at one end and a stylus at the other, both of these can be covered with the lid.

The build quality of the device is excellent and feels well balanced in the hand. It also comes with replacement stylus nib which is nice.

However, getting a replacement stylus nib over replacement ink refills is an odd decision in my book as it suggests that they envisage that the nib will become unusable before the ink runs out.

$24.99 is another great price for a pen/stylus combo and the white, modern design looks great too.

Best iPad Stylus for Professionals – Gallery

LOGiiX - Stylus Platinum Arctic - Emote iPad Stylus Arctic - Architect Stylus Stylus Presenter Elago - Stylus Ball for iPad iChic Gear - Calligrapher for iPad adonit - Jot Pro Classic for iPad Lunatik - Touch Pen for iPad PenGo Creative - Touchpen ]]> 2 New Finding Nemo Universal Apps from Disney Fri, 05 Oct 2012 14:48:12 +0000 Read More]]> With the recent release of Finding Nemo 3D Disney have released two new Nemo universal apps for the iPhone and iPad in the form of Finding Nemo Storybook Deluxe & Finding Nemo Interactive Comic.

Finding Nemo Storybook Deluxe

Finding Nemo Storybook Deluxe

For those of you that have downloaded any of the Disney Storybooks before you know that you are in for a treat as they bring the books to life on the iPhone and iPad.

Across the 28 interactive virtual pages of the book you can either read the story, have it read to you by the narrator or record the words and have those played back. This is great for your children to practice and listen back to their reading of for a parent to ‘virtually’ read the book to thier child when their not around.

Each page is beautifully illustrated, animated and can be interacted while the narration is clear and easy to listen too.

The storybook also includes additional activities including a matching game, 6 puzzles of increasing difficulty, 6 paintings and a talking Dory which acts similar to the talking animal games that are available.

At $6.99 it’s not cheap but it is an engaging way to re-live the Finding Nemo story.

Finding Nemo Interactive Comic

Finding Nemo Interactive ComicThe Finding Nemo Interactive Comic re-tells the story of Finding Nemo in a panel by panel comic book. You can either have the panels automatically appear or tap and swipe the screen to move through the story.

For your creative children you also get a step by step guide to how to draw the four main protagonists and you can either draw them directly onto the iPad or use the skills you learn and draw them elsewhere too.

Finding Nemo Interactive Comic is a universal app and is available from the App Store now for just $1.99

]]> 0 Echograph Review – Get Creative with this Video / Photo Hybrid Mon, 27 Aug 2012 17:20:05 +0000 Read More]]> Echograph iPad

The iPad was introduced by Apple as not only a consumption device but also a creation device and there are many apps that certainly provide that functionality. However none do it with quite the ease and impressive results that Echograph for iPad achieves.

Echograph is part photograph, part video and it gives you the ability to manually control which part of the image is still and which stays in motion by simply touching the screen with your finger.

Each new project starts with a video, you can capture this using the iPad camera or use one that is already on your camera roll, this means that while Echograph is not a universal app you can still use movies captured on your iPhone by transferring it to your iPad.

Echograph Review

After grabbing your video you are limited to using a maximum 4 second snippet and so your next task is to confirm which 4 second section you wish to use. Again this is very easy and is completed using 2 slider controls along the bottom of the screen.

Next up you need to select a still image from the video that will act as the canvas for your creation, again this is easily completed by using the slider control.

Finally you are ready to animate the areas of the picture you wish to have motion. This is down by simply rubbing your finger across the screen to bring that portion of the image to life. You can control the size of your brush by pinch the screen so that you can be as accurate or as broad as you like.

The image that you are working with will dictate how much brushing you’ll need to do but with the brush size control it’s never going to take too long. However having multiple brush shapes or the ability to draw and cut sections out of the image would provide greater accuracy.


The resulting image then has to be produced and you can do this either in high or low definition depending on the quality of the results you require. You can then share your results via Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr, or submit it to Echograph, (registration is required).

You can view both your results, and those picked by the Echograph staff and some pretty impressive results can be seen here to enjoy and inspire.

At $3.99 it’s not the cheapest photography app in the App Store but with impressive results it’s certainly worth it if you enjoy getting creative with your photography and animation.

[rating: 4/5]

What we like

What to know

]]> 0 Nihilumbra Review – Art Project meets iOS Game Wed, 18 Jul 2012 09:28:56 +0000 Read More]]> Nihilumbra ReviewNihilumbra for iPhone and iPad is a strangely brilliant game. The unique gameplay environment provides a lengthy play. The extemely artistic backgrounds and creative world are met with a somewhat depressing prose. The game is sure to intrigue gamers who enjoy being immersed in the environment of the game.

The game has a dark tone to it that permeates its way through the entire game. You start the game as a black blob born from nothingness. No, you’re not a Nihlist Big Lebowski fans, just a simple black blob. You find yourself in a place called the Void, ominous sounding huh? There are five worlds that you will journey through during the course of the game. You will make your way through icy mountains, forests, deserts and volcanic lands keeping a constant change in scenery which is always nice. The beautifully artistic environment adds to the overall dark atmosphere this game creates.

The lands you encounter are creative and beautiful. Unfortunately they are gobbled up by the Void after you make your way through them. Enemies are continuously thrown at you by the Void that eventually consume each land. You are continuously rethinking your selfish actions in this game which has a way of pulling you in to the environment and situations. Definitely one of those games that is easy to get engrossed in if you’re playing on your couch late at night with only the light of the TV.

Nihilumbra is a puzzle game at heart that utilizes touch controls to pull you in and keep you involved. The game grants you powers at the beginning of each of the five worlds. Gathering these powers enables you to interact with your environment by granting surfaces new properties. For instance, the blue that you gather on the frozen mountain tops of the first level allow you to make surfaces slippery, increasing your jumps and making edges slippery to enemies.

Despite the game having an artsy feel, the enemies are pretty cool. The way they interact adds to the overtones in the game and give them character. The are a bit dumb but in a world created of nothingness, that makes a little sense.

Overall the game has a ton to offer and looking at the screenshots will give you a better idea of just how awesome the environment is. It isn’t perfect, as there are some issues here and there but none important enough to mention. The game boasts about 10 hours of gameplay and after beating the game you get the option to play through the game again with added difficulty. Not just added difficulty either, it adds new enemies and mechanics which is uncommon but awesome.

Check this one out… It’s a blast.

[rating: 4/5]

What we like

What to know

]]> 0 iCoverSkin Review – Stylish iPhone Skins (50% Discount Coupon) Mon, 23 Apr 2012 19:52:46 +0000 Read More]]>

iCoverSkin Review

The are more cases on the market than you can shake a stick at but for some people adding bulk to their iPhone is not an option, yet they still want to add some individual creativity to their iPhone to make it unique or add protection.

For those people there are skins, thin, sticky covers that adhere securely and can be as creative as any mind can be.

One company that provides such things is iCoverSkin who not only provide skins for iPhones but also for iPads and MacBooks as well as other non-Apple products too.

Their latest range of skins are the brushed metal and carbon fiber range which give a great look and feel to your iOS Device when applied. They also come in a range of colors, blue, black, titanium, steal and even brushed gold if you want to go for some serious bling.

Applying them is easy too, just four easy steps, clean, peel, align and apply will have your new skin on in next to no time. I use a screen protector with my iPhone and while advises that you can apply the skin over the screen protector I chose not to and applied it directly to my iPhone 4S. An option to have a screen protector cut to fit or included with the skin would be a nice option.

The iCoverSkin’s use quality 3M products which provide great adhesion to your iPhone and yet if your placement is initially off a little you can easily re-align it with no problems and without spoiling the look. In fact this is exactly what I did and even after 3 attempts to align the skin correctly it still stuck securely and looks great.

What’s really nice about iCoverSkin is that you can purchase as little or as much of the skin as you need. You can buy just the back, back and front or the complete kit which will provide front, back and side skins.

As you would expect all relevant cut outs are provided including a cut out for the Apple logo on the back of you iPhone which is a nice touch and leaves everything accessible.

The skins change the texture of the iPhone and while it’s debatable as to whether or not it provides you with more grip it’s certainly a nice change to the naked feel of the ‘nude’ iPhone.

If you are looking for a stylish and easy way to customize your iPhone without the bulk of a case then head on over to now and pick yourself out a style and design that suits you.

Prices for the iPhone Carbon Fiber and Brushed Metal skins start at $29.95 and can be purchased from for immediate delivery.

[rating: 4/5]

What we like:

What to know:

For a limited time readers of Touch Reviews can get 50% off of any skin from To redeem the coupon:

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  7. Provide credit card information.
  8. Enjoy!
]]> 2 Lego: Life of George Review – Two Huge Brands come together and Create Loads of Fun Mon, 19 Mar 2012 22:18:26 +0000 Read More]]>

Lego: Life of George Review

There are times when two things that you hold dear collide and instead of becoming even greater than the sum of their parts they become a monster. Take my love of all things deep fat fried and Cadbury Creme Eggs, put them together and it becomes a sickly sweet mess. But then you can take miniature things and ponies and you get miniature ponies which are simply delightful.

Therefore when I saw that Lego had brought out a game that included physical Lego blocks and an iPhone app I was hoping that it would fall under the latter category rather than the former. The iPhone / Lego combination has come together in ‘Life of George’ a $30 Lego set that works with a free iPhone app with the same name.

George is a frequent flyer and on his travels he takes a lot of pictures of the things that he encounters and he presents these things via the Life of George app in the form of photo albums. Each set of pages consists of 10 hidden items and by tapping on any of the 10 blank pictures reveals the image that you have to build out of the real Lego bricks that come as part of the set.

You are up against the clock and things can get a little tricky especially with the smaller pieces and in your hurry you can often find that what you are building falling apart. As soon as you have built your matching creation you can tap the screen, place the creation on the supplied display board and snap a picture.

You need to make sure that the board is positioned correctly and that there is no glare on the picture to ensure that the app can compare it correctly, but given that you’ve done that then you are scored based on speed and accuracy.

With 13 different locations and 10 creations per page there is a lot of building to be done and that’s before you include the 30 levels that have been added with the Christmas update and 50 spaces that are made available for you to create you on creations to play with. These My Life creations are great fun and really bring out the creativity in the ‘child’. The only tricky part is getting the lighting right when taking the photograph to add your creation to album. The accuracy is pretty great but if there is any glare in the picture it can be seen as there being no block there at all.

Of course all the creations are flat 2D creations, and while I would love it to be possible to include 3 dimensional creations to build I don’t see how an app would be able to record the accuracy of that!

There is also a two player option where you can go head to head on a single device on 5 randomly selected creations taking it in turns to see who has the overall best speed and accuracy. It would be nice if you could share your own creations with other players either via a code or uploading them a website as would GameCentre integration to compare your high-scores with other players around the world.

If you are a fan of Lego and have an iPhone or iPod Touch then Life of George is an excellent combination of the two and well worth the $30 price point. Life of George is available at all good Lego stores and re-sellers and via the Lego Website.

[rating: 4/5]

What we like:

What to know:

]]> 0 FX Photo Studio Review : Add Some Polish to your iPhone photos Thu, 11 Nov 2010 22:25:59 +0000 Read More]]> FX Photo Studio [rating: 4.5/5]

iPhone photo apps are probably the most popular genre of apps, if my social circle on Twitter is anything to go by. And I have to admit that since upgrading to an iPhone 4 as my day to day phone I am finding the much improved camera (over that in my long suffering iPhone 2G) is an essential tool in my daily life. I can actually take photos of documents (which people can read), and small intricate things I want to email to someone quickly for an opinion. But I can also take some rather nice HDR photos of moments in everyday life I come across, confident in the knowledge that the iPhone’s camera will almost always capture the detail I want.

FX Photo Studio iPhone_1But the photos I take, overall, are still a little bit flat. I don’t have a snap on lens with filters for my iPhone 4, although I know a girl who does. And often times it’s not so easy, when capturing quick shots of things that take your fancy, to get the lighting right, or catch the mood you wanted. So what we need is some post processing…

Enter FX Photo Studio 3.0 for the iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad…

FX Photo Studio 3.0 (which is a bit of a mouthful so I’ll just call it Photo Studio from now on) has been around for a while, and has been updated frequently. It boasts the “most high quality photo effects and filters on the App Store”. I don’t dispute it! And the app is certainly well put together.

Here is some of their own blurb about the kind of effects in the app..

FX Photo Studio 3.0 features three new categories: Groovy Lo-Fi (with effects simulating analog photos from 70s, 80s, and 90s), Grunge (such effects as Grunge Rays, Stencil Graffiti, etc.), SFX (such effects as X-ray and Night Vision Cam); old categories have also been updated with new effects. Three more categories – Color Lenses, Color Strokes, and Hollywood FX – are available as in-aps and include 33 more effects, raising a total amount to 204 high quality effects and filters.

There’s a lot to choose from, and even the downloadable content, which they don’t bug you about in the app (unless you ask) looks good too. These guys have been doing this for a while, relatively, and it shows.

The splash screen is really pretty, and I loved the little reflection of a view from the front camera on my iPhone 4, in a lens in the centre of a flower of multi-colour petals. I could have played with that for a while, all by itself, if I didn’t have to check the rest of the app out!

FX Photo Studio iPhone_2The user interface is smooth to respond, every option sliding a page one way or another to bring in more functionality. And on the most part it all flows and makes sense. For some reason, even on my iPhone 4, there was the occasional delay between pressing any button, and the interface responding. This made me double hit options, or hit the wrong options when I was incorrectly reacting to what I thought the interface would do, only to have it stutter. Why do I labour this point? Well, because in an app so polished it really stands out as a glaring flaw. But it’s not a deal breaker. Just surprising.

The choice of colour, style of the informational popups, and scrolling of menus of filters and effects are all superb. Taking a photo, or pulling one in from your photo library is seamless and easy to do. And the whole time with the constant theme throughout, even down to camera control options, you feel like you are in a stylish, cohesive pro app. And that helps make you feel creative. I found the entire experience in this app more fulfilling (and less frustrating) than in Apple’s own iMovie for iPhone, to give you some comparison.

Choosing effects is made easy with lots of options. You can just roll a dice, almost literally, by hitting a dice button to pass your image through a random filter. Or you can scroll through a very smooth and responsive (I knew they could do it – so why not elsewhere in the app?) illustrated column of effects, with a brief description and a sample image for each. Or you can step through each effect one by one. It is also possible to layer effects, so once you’ve processed an image, you can overlay another effect, and another, and so on.

I didn’t find any undo options. But this is not a huge issue, as you are working on an independent copy from your original image. But undoing the last effect would be a nice feature, even though I acknowledge you also have previews to make decisions based on.

Some effects relay on your image being a certain orientation, and the tools are there to manipulate that too. Although when a picture is landscape, and when it is not is not clear in iOS, or this app. But that is not Photo Studios fault! And you soon figure it out. Do any of you guys or girls out there find yourself fighting with auto-rotate on images, when going between landscape and portrait on the device? Or is it just me?

You can also crop and resize images, and so forth.

FX Photo Studio iPhone_3All the effects are governed by a global set of parameters which describe the size of image you want to work on. So if you are just producing email thumbnails, or a cool avatar you can downsize larger images. But conversely you can also thrash away on full size HD images with complex effects, and the app makes it very clear that your iPhone or iPod is not a Cray Supercomputer, and some processing may take a while. It’s very clear when processing is going on, and even on high quality pictures I didn’t have a problem with the processing time at all. It’s fairly quick for a smartphone.

The range of effects is diverse, and they are all of good quality. Some are a bit kitsch, so Facebook people will like those, and others are quite arty. But they are all customisable real time on a copy of the image you are working on. So the level of the effect can be varied, as well as other parameters which are effect specific. You can see the changes previewed in real time, as I mentioned before. After that you commit the image to be processed and wait short while.

Ultimately you can send the image just about anywhere, by any service. You know the drill. And the app will walk you through it.

At around $2.00, depending on your exchange rate, Photo Studio 3.0 is a quality product, that the developers know will be popular, and have priced very reasonably. And they can afford to because it will sell in large numbers.

If you want to sepia tone your iPhone shots, add fire or rain, a skull, love hearts, or simply affect the hue and tone to enhance a sunset in a panorama, Photo Studio can do all that.

If you are an iPhone Camera enthusiast FX Photo Studio is a must have app.



$2.99 (View in iTunes)
Category: Photography
Updated: Nov 09, 2010
Current Version: 3.0.0
3.0.0 (iOS 4.0 Tested)
34.6 MB
Language: English
Seller:, LLC
© 2009-2010 MacPhun LLC
Rated 4+
Requirements:Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later

]]> 3 Review Lifestrips: Be Creative! Tue, 26 May 2009 20:31:51 +0000 Read More]]> review-lifestrips-iphone-app-vivid[rating: 4.5/5]

Become comically creative with Lifestrips

Lifestrips uses Lifecards visual engine to enable you to freely pan and zoom the strip while you are creating it. Photos can be translated, rotated, and zoomed within the panels of the strips by sliding your fingers on the screen or pinching.


– Strip templates with 1 to 4 photos
– Control scale, position and rotation of photos
– Advanced visual engine allows you to freely pan and zoom the strip while you work on it.
– 8 different balloons
– Facebook upload support
– Save strip to finish it later
– Basic image filters for photos
– Automatic save and restore of strip when you exit and reenter the application

I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was for me to quickly create an impressive cartoon strip featuring some random pictures that I had on my iPod Touch. While the instructions within the app are clear, expansive and helpful, like most people I just jumped right in.

The first task is to select a template from the over 20 that are available. From a simple 1 shot frame to twin, triple and even four shot frames there are plenty of options for all requirements. For my first strip I used a simple 3 pane frame and moved onto the next step of adding the pictures to each of the frames.

Selecting pictures is simply done by clicking on the appropriate frame and selecting the picture you want from your saved pictures folder. Once selected you can zoom, rotate and reposition the picture, however, this is only the start. Clicking on the Filter option allows you to add multiple effects to the selected picture from a sepia or comic effect to sharpening or inverting the image or a combination of them all!

Once you’ve added and adjusted all your pictures you can start adding your speech and thought bubbles to the comic strip. Clicking the Add button brings up the 8 built in options for adding text to the images, and it’s so simple. After adding the bubble just double tap to enter text, or with the bubble selected change the style, font, size, text color even the outline of the bubble itself.

The great thing about this app is that not only does it have a great range of features and options to get your comic strip just as you want, it’s also really easy to use.

Once you’ve completed your masterpiece, which for me took no more than 5 minutes, you can either save the file within Lifestrips, to your photo album or directly upload it to your Facebook account. I did have a couple of issues where the text would not be saved in the bubble correctly but it’s a minor issue.

If you’ve ever wanted to create your own comic strip or simply want to add some creativity to the pictures you’ve taken on your iPhone you can’t go wrong with Lifestrips.

iphone-app-reviews-promo-codes-official-app-store-badge_touch_4Price $2.99

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Reviewed by: @CraigWillis

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