Version: 1.2
Compatible: iPhone, iPod, iPad - iOS 3.0
Price: Free

There are a lot of small, free Apps that are either a waste of space, fun or a thing to show off. Handwriting is one of those types that I downloaded and forgot about until today. This wont take long.

It was free and is like Penultimate jr. Best used with a stylus unless you're a finger paint pro. The purpose is simple however, a small template of three or so lines is given to you. It zooms enough for you to handwrite a word and you two finger scroll across the page. When your note is done you can send it via e-mail, Twitter or Facebook.

Its pleasant and cute but hardly viable enough to be useful. Maybe to send little notes to friends but recieving them is an inconvenience if done on a daily basis.


Version: 1.0
Compatible: iPad - iOS 4.0
Price: $2

I'm still looking for the iOS substitute to Hexic, a game I very much enjoyed and wreaped the full extent of my initial XBox 360 purchase. I don't know how it'd play or if it'd be even possible but I still have some sort of remnant of hope and belief that I'll open the App Store to my amazement one day. However I will say that the search provides fruitful results and that brings me to the next in my line of sight. Fractal is a new hexagonal tile based puzzle game for the iPad that shows a lot of promise.

Fractal takes place on a board filled with hexagons and blank spaces, the objective being to push the pieces to make a floral pattern or 7 tiles altogether. The learning curve is jumpy seeing as the instructions were absolutely useless but with a bit of tinkering, the rules become obvious. The concept is definitely a recipe for success seeing as it requires more thought rather than a quick finger (like our good friend Hexic.) Mix an engaging gameplay element with styled graphics and a soundtrack that clicks into place and you have an experience that rivals that of Lumines and puzzle games of that caliber.

There are several modes to choose from. Campaign (play through the levels and scenarios,) Arcade and Puzzle (both of which I hope require no explanation.) I enjoyed this game and found great satisfaction from dropping myself into its world. The biggest problem and I'm probably bitching since it's a little newborn but it crashes. To high Hell it crashes when it's getting good or when I progress through the Campaign to the point where I'm terrified to play. And when I do play I'm begging to the little iOS pixies to see me through to the next level but they simply laugh at me and kick me back to the home screen.

I'm sure it's a matter of an update or two to bring it back to speed but for now give it your support so it can get there because this is a game that has a great amount of potential.

Dead Rising

Dead Rising
Version: 2.00.01
Compatible: iPhone (3GS/4), iPod (3rd/4th), iPad - iOS 4.1
Price: $2

Call me a dedicated fan of Dead Rising. It's a game that follows me around and twists my perception of reality. Going to any mall I look at all the prospective weapons all around me. In a crowd of people I put myself in the shoes of Frank West and wonder if push came to shove if I had the strength to clear the way to safety. Its a classic game on the XBox 360 and is one I highly recommend.

I walked into this mess expecting a disaster and what I got was a catastrophe of bullshit compressed to the point of pixels and megabytes. The name sold me, the impending screenshots and trailers were horrifying and disgraceful. In fact the name alone did not sell me at first, I waited for a sale and for this ridiculously priced pile of turd to be laughed at rather than to be regretted. $2 was still not low enough.

Lets start with the scenario. Its the same as Dead Rising 1, even using the same opening sequence. But as soon as the game begins you know you're in for some shit. The mall is nothing like Willamette which isnt necessarily a bad thing but its not like anything. Its forever cast in a murky fog of darkness. There are stores and randomly placed weapons but so few and in between. It only is recognized as a Mall because it's what you're told.

The story is a sandbox survival only, go wherever you please and take up random small missions in the horribly designed mall which is vacant and full of invisible walls. I say missions though I have yet to encounter anything beyond 'Kill All the Zombies' in the assigned area. Sandbox is fine but its not until I realized they implimented some sort of hunger system. It took me a few deaths to figure out that Frank West was starving to death virtually moments after his arrival. Brilliant.

Gameplay? Shit.

Next I'd like to rag on the controls. They are stiff, painful and more torture than fun. Moving Frank in this game is reminiscent of Lara Croft in the original Tomb Raider minus the satisfaction and gymnastics. Looking and playing the game wouldn't have been so bad if it was at least satisfying to kill these zombies. It's like everything is working its damndest against you which should be the case but not the damned controls too. That gives the computer an unfair advantage especially when you can't see enemies around you as well as where you're going in the first place. Send me to fight zombies with a bucket on my head, my hands hand cuffed in front of me and give me some ridiculous concrete boots and that'll give you an idea what playing this game is like.

Controls? They give me nightmares.

On top of all that it looks and sounds like a cake baked from turds, turd related fertilizer and salty piss. Frank looks like a block man and every step he makes, makes the same two hollowed out stepping sounds. Without fail. There are some mall songs taken from the game which is good but on top of all that selective hearing brings those hollow 'taps' over and over.

Graphics and Sound? They make me sad.

So whats good? I liked the menus. They reminded me of Dead Rising.

My Writing Spot (iPhone/iPod)

My Writing Spot
Version: 1.8.4
Compatible: iPhone, iPod - iOS 3.0
Price: $3

Previously I went on about ease of writing on the Mac platform, turning any MacBook or iMac into a free range, open minded page where all the user has to think about is the writing. I have the iPad and Mac covered and never ever imagined that the iPhone/iPod Touch could do the same. It does make sense however that it should but I never thought that it could be up to the task so well.

When I write I usually dedicate time after work at a coffee shop and create a mood. And even then I usually max out at 2 hours after getting settled in. Still I never thought that the iPhone, the one little know-it-all that always can to be so effective. My Writing Spot is an App in the same spirit as iA Writer but has the small developer feel (sometimes clumsy interface and odd graphics.)

Make a file, start writing and go with it. Easy as that. There are no folders but you can tag each piece with a coloured… spot? If you make Project A red then select red and it'll show all of Project A. It's odd but it works. Maybe this'll teach me to move further away from folders.

There are a fistful of fonts (3) and font sizes (also 3) as well as a reverse mode (white font on black) and an App lock mode to secure your files. Back up is done through Google which is hit or miss, I have an account but all I used it for was Gmail so now I've added another purpose to its reportoire. You can access it through the web at mywritingspot.com/write. If you want to add some of your already written files, prepare for a fair bit of copy and pasting.

When I started using it, I found that I started making further progress with my writing projects. It wasn't comfortable but somehow I had gotten lost in them. I used to use the iPad on the bus and such times but still found it to be uncomfortable so I began sketching instead. Having My Writing Spot available in those small pockets of time was surprisingly effective at maximising my efficiency rather than browsing or checking Facebook for the 10th time. It quickly moved onto my Dock and into one of those daily Apps that I'm finding difficult thinking about living without.

On the other hand if there are any other Apps as effective or even more effective than this I think that there is opportunity for discovery here for Apps in the same bane. As it stands now this App is absolutely incredible and will blow you away. Easy, dedicated back up and a writing template that will suck you in. Usually I put on a playlist solely for writing (lyricless, serene) but I didn't even notice I had some rock blaring in my ear when I'm writing away on this App and that's saying something.


Version: 1.4
Compatible: iPhone, iPod, iPad - iOS 3.0
Price: Free

Not all the games on the App Store are mindless fun, some are mindfully fun. Ignore mindfully for a second because I swear I'm good with words despite not laying down any foundations of proof on this blurb here. There are a small percentage of games that require a bit more thought whether it be word games or puzzle games that requires a sit down and think it through approach. Jangle (formerly Squabble) is a word game taking random letters and turning them into words.

You can either play and pass or play online against other players, taking turns to see who can make the better arrangement. The scoring is Scrabble words, just there is no Scrabble board to play on. As a result the game comes off as a quick fire round of Scrabble without the bickering and arguing over whose turn it is. There is also a 1 player mode against the computer for those ‘Forever Alone’ types.

There's not much to say other than that. It has a scoring system like on Yahoo games where each win or loss has your overall score going up or down. There is no Game Center support and it plays well on both Pad or Pod/Phone. Me and my Fiancee use it as a time killer when waiting for a bus, movie etc.

Here's the bottom line. Love word games? Got someone in the vicinity? Looking for a quick laugh. GO!


Version: 1.01
Compatible: iPhone, iPod, iPad - iOS 3.0
Price: Free

I love retro games. The new age of technology allows us to replicate games from two decades ago and without a hiccup in processing even on phones. On top of that they don't rely on graphics but rather use the sprites to a clever degree to get an eye pleasing look.

X-Baseball impliments this well. The sound as soon as you turn it on makes the living room NES from childhood come rushing back. Simple one button gameplay mechanics, hit the ball as much as possible without getting struck out. Bananas fly from the crowd, hit them and you'll lose one strike against you.

It plays well, short and sweet as most iOS games go. But it's not without its problems however. As bare bones as it gets it neglects the simplest essential that is absolutely inexcusible to exclude. A High Score save system. The way it functions is that it saves your highest score under your Game Center id to be measured against the rest of the world. It's absolutely bizarre that it lacks this but can't really complain since after awhile it never strays from the point of the game which essentially is to be a one off mini game where you just hit the ball.

Can't go wrong. I keep coming back for its visual charm and 8 bit sound.


Wunderlist / Wunderlist HD
Version: 1.2.3 / 1.1.2
Compatible: iPhone, iPod - iOS 3.2 iPad - iOS 3.2
Price: Free

Although I'm reviewing the Wunderlist iOS Apps, this is more a look at the Wunderlist service as a whole which can be accessed via the web, a desktop Mac or Windows App, Android App as well as the following. Although I have not used those variants (with the exception of the desktop Mac App) I can be fairly certain they do all the same things seeing as what Wunderlist does is an extremely simple and capable service.

Wunderlist is a task master App and isn't extremely complex. You set a project (folder) and within that folder set the objectives, goals or tasks you wish to achieve with them. You can set dates when they need to be done by and it will remind you when the deadline is nearing. When you finish a task, you check it and its done. Boom. That's it.

What places this App on my Dock on my iPhone and iPad is the syncing done right aspect. As I was adding tasks when starting it up and getting used to it, I let the desktop and iPad variants download and install. When they were done all I had to do was sign in and they updated double quick. Update one area and the rest get updated too. The cloud done right.

I could bitch about little things but I don't know what little things there are. It's free. It's social with other peoples wunderlist accounts, sending over tasks of their own saving from you inputting it yourself. There's detail options so it's not a brief summary task. Lord, I'm looking here and can't find any concievable errors I might have ignored or graced my mind.

What I'm saying is it's a good App to have even if you didn't want to sync it across numerous devices. It's a good App even if you're just making a grocery list. It has no boundaries too big or small and it does stuff I would pay to integrate over all my computers but it does it for free. All you have to do is sign up for an account.

Short. Sweet. Like the App.

Discovr Apps

Discovr Apps
Version: 1.3
Compatible: iPhone, iPod, iPad - iOS 4.0
Price: $1

The App Store is a deep well which has a cave at the bottom of which leads to many smaller, deeper crevices. You might find gold in these crevices. Or you might find a nest of hungry bats waiting to devour you or shit all over you. Browsing the App Store can be somewhat tedious and following those that aren't recommended or too well known occasionally leads to a regretful purchase. Genius as good as it is never has any good suggestions for me so I tend to stop using it. The top charts are usually all the same except for a new App which everyone is already all over but that usually gets the top anyway despite being on the What's Hot page. Tried and true Apps get boring sometimes and there's always the thrill of finding something new, exciting and somewhat unknown. But browsing the App Store is as fun as the actual Apple Store on a Saturday in a crowded mall… Hell.

Discovr isn't something new or unknown and is completely contradictory to all that I said before. What it does however isn't. It makes App Shopping somewhat amusing, exciting, even fun. And it's all very simple and quick. You start with an App, it can be one you already own, are recommended or one you search for. From there it recommends several just like it that you might like. If you're a veteran, you'll be likely to have some of them already. Tap one that interests you and it'll provide more options that are similar. This leads you to a web of options and possibilities, like a visual version of the App Store without the clutter and load times.

What I especially love is that double tapping the App brings up its info and screenshots. It doesn't take you to the App Store or stops the experience to force a purchase page on you, instead it accesses it through itself. You do have that option if it's what you're looking for so everyone wins. There are such features as recommendations, wish list and view by ratings/price/device which make the App all the more lovable.

My only problem is the recommendations aren't so good but that might be because I've gone over a lot of these recommendations from the actual App Store loads of time. What I do appreciate is that its made the search all the more bearable. Come on, who doesn't love that? Better than window shopping.

Appstravaganza Showdown: Byword v. iA Writer v. Ommwriter

Appstravaganza Showdown!
Byword v. iA Writer v. Ommwriter

The battle for simple, mind clearing word processors is here and the claim for your souls will be made here. All hell breaks loose as the three contendors for the best of the best of these giants of text Apps crawls from the charred remains of this broken earth to claim the title of GOD!

As stated in my previous review for Byword, Pages, Microsoft Word, OpenOffice and the myriad of brothers and sisters that spawned in their wake are all good for word processing. That is they are good at processing words to a great degree, editting them, designing them, pasting images around them (and so on and so forth). For those who want to return to those typewriter days of yore and just write, there is a growing market which paves the way for simple Apps which takes away the tool bars, margins, fonts and strips it down to the bare essentials. A God send if you ask me.

Or maybe I’m just too lazy to put Pages into full screen and zoom in on the paragraph I’m working on. But there’s a lot more to it with these Apps. They have a certain charm in their appearance which brings serenity to the mind. Relaxation releases the tense entangled thoughts which strangles the core ideas before but now slip out and slide out through the fingers.

Feels good man.

Version: 1.3.1
Price: $10

I reviewed this before but it went through an update to keep up with the big, furry cat. The changes aren’t noticeable since it always had the fullscreen support and it taught me about versions which threw me for a loop. Whether its because I was grounded and instilled with Windows or that I’m absolutely anal about my files, I thrive by Finder and saving my own back ups. With these reviews (written with Byword I’ll add here) I have a blank template so I fill in the version, compatibility and all that jazz, however when I saved over that blank template I didn’t realize the change. I didn’t see any sort of save as and got a little lost.

Shortly after reading up I found that I have to open the blank template and go to a previous version. It’s not really the App but the new OS I have to get used to and change my system up and around a bit. Otherwise all I stated before is still there, a fantastic interface, faithful and easy to use. At the center of it all that’s what you’re here for despite a price that could be better.

iA Writer
Version. 1.0.1
Price: $18

iA Writer definitely has an unusual name that I keep mistaking over and over again and was a long time coming since I'm a huge fan of it's iPad cousin. I eagerly anticipated its arrival for months, hoping and waiting to link the two as a sort of family business I'd be faithful too but lost hope and sunk my money into Byword. Pricewise I don't regret it at all. For the purpose that it serves I don't believe I'm missing much.

What iA Writer does well however is its interface and appearance. It has a lot of neat options, functions and commands even I can remember, clearly there was a lot of work put into this App to design in a way that strings out your cranial functions to bring out the best in your work. It advertises that all you need is the keys and no mouse and now that I think about it, such a thing is incredibly liberating. Scrolling between sentances is as simple as cmd + left/right. It may sound tedious to move between large spaces of text but surprisingly its like scrolling a typewriter wheel to gather the full extent of the page.

Appearancewise, I personally prefer it. I love the flashing blue line and dig the perfectly sized text that fills just the right amount of screen capacity. Somehow I just get lost in the writing task at hand which is a surprising feat for a simpleton such as myself who easily gets distracted by menial doubts and such. I can't take my eyes away and I just get lost.

What I severely regret is the price. It costs almost as much as the full Pages application. In contrast to that however we are looking for something unlike Pages, and as the saying goes 'You get what you pay for'. I can say you're paying for work paved to be completed which will save time and maximise efficiency. Coming from me that's saying something.

Side note: After seeing how iA Writer filled out the page well with bigger, more eye pleasing text, I tested the same for Byword and found that the text editting features make it possible to replicate the overall look to a personal degree. However that makes a personal journey of finding the best look and feel while iA Writer has it set up you from the get go.

Ommwriter Dana II
Version: 1.0
Price: $5

A strange App that I immediately overlooked when it was between Byword and Ommwriter. The screenshots were strange and I only had one shot with the purchase. $5 here or $10 there? Bywords advertising was simple, words (that's it). Ommwriter had a little bit more to say by offering an experience of serenity that seemed off putting. I have my own music. I have my own methods. It showed a text box in the screen shots which were all over the screen. Was it a text editor or a post card/poetry writer? I wanted a bit more control of the writing and not the other senses. After obtaining the big dogs, I had to see what all the fuss was about.

My first impression was as stated at first. I had to test things to see what they do. My first thought was the interface was well done. In the middle is a text box which you can expand/shrink or move about over the blank screen as you please. When you move the mouse the interface appears and shows the options I just mentioned as well several little buttons which have a few but simple tasks.

1- Choose text font
2- Change text size
3- Change between several backgrounds
4- Choose background music (looping serene/meditational songs, there is an option to turn it off)
5- Keyboard sounds
6- Export/saving options

The first four are as obvious as they sound. As for the keyboard sounds, they were definitely a big miss for me. Right now I'm alternating between them and they are really bugging the hell out of me. The first one I can't hear, or maybe it's just blending with the background music naturally. But for the second, it sounds like dripping water. I'm a fast typer and that's a lot of dripping water. The last thing I want when writing is to be constantly nagged that I need to pee. As for the last one, it sounds like crickets chirping or popping or something. This one makes me feel like there's a gasious lump in my throat or that I have to crack my knuckles. Either way, sound off.

The music's not so bad if you're open minded or into the yoga/nature/white noise backdrop. I personally liked it but found it straining over time. But of course so does selecting my own music when I get into a frustrated block.

My final verdict is it's not as bad as I originally thought. It's certainly capable and all the options I mentioned with the sounds and backgrounds can be shut off to make it virtually identical to the others. The price is definitely a big plus in its name.

So who is the best of the lot? Put on the spot I’d say iA Writer definitely.  But if the price is definitely wrong then there is absolutely not a huge loss in going with Byword or Ommwriter. All are very capable machines and if you’re in the market for a writing App, choosing either of the three won’t lead you wrong but I don’t recommend more than one. If you have one bullet in the chamber, iA Writer is the way to go and it will not disappoint.