Here’s a little racing gem with fantastic visuals from the App Store – CSR Racing on the iPhone.
Far from being an exact technical simulation of motor sport, CSR Racing provides a fun arcade experience focusing on the underground sport of street racing.
A wide selection of real life cars are provided and they look stunning with incredible models and beautiful lighting effects, in fact the whole game looks fantastic matching the visuals on home console games.
Plenty of Race Options are included
After you have chosen a car the game is controlled through a city map which highlights your potential races and process access through to mechanical services.
Races take several forms, including a daily challenge against a mystery challenger, regulation races against your own car and crew battles against a local street gang where you race 5 members of the gang through an increasing difficulty level.
The actual race mechanics are very simple but do take practice and skill to get right with steering being automatic and the main focus of the game on shifting up gear at the correct time. Getting off to a good start is also key to winning a race and you will need to experiment with the on screen accelerator peddle to learn how to get the best results. Optional Nitrous upgrades can also been used to give you a short lived speed boost.
Face & Furious Action
Each race only lasts a few seconds so this is definitely about short sprints rather than a long marathon.
Each car can be significantly upgraded in the garage to increase performance and this is vital as opponents get harder, winning races and sharing feedback through your social networks provides you with extra funds or in game currency can be purchase with real world cash. If you are very patient there is no need to spend real money which makes the fact that this game is free to download.
We have often talked about what makes a good mobile game, fun and quick gameplay along with touch screen centric controls are required to make mobile games fun and CSR Racing has this formula down to a tee.
CSR Racing looks incredible, is fun and is free to download so check it out.
Podcasts are audio or video recordings that are distributed over the Internet. They are generally released on a regular basis and some have very large followings of dedicated listeners. iTunes has provided Podcast subscription and management tools on computers for a long time but on the iPhone & iPad podcasts have been hidden away deep in the more section of the Music App, but this has now changed with the release of a dedicated Podcasts App from Apple.
The Podcasts App provides a user friendly way of accessing all of your Podcast subscriptions from your iPhone, including setting options for auto downloading new episodes, setting how many episodes to keep and when episodes get deleted. Previously it wasn’t possible to manage podcasts at this level from your device so this App is a welcome addition.
They are many many podcasts available, and getting started for the first time can be daunting, fortunately the Podcasts App can point you in the right direction. As well as providing direct access to the Podcast Catalogue the app provides access to a selection of ‘ Favourite Stations’.
The Favourite Stations section provides access to a small selection of highly rated Podcasts in many different categories, so by choosing a category that interests you, you are bound to find a high quality podcast to listen to, it’s a great feature and makes podcasts more accessible to everyone.
If you subscribe to Podcasts or are interested in giving them a try then now if the perfect opportunity to do so.
The Podcasts App can be downloaded free of charge from the App Store.
The iPhone and iPad become complete with one of the best and most usable virtual keyboards on any mobile device, but there are times when you need to enter a large amount of data where a physical keyboard is more appropriate.
Fortunately it is possible to connect a keyboard to the iPad and iPhone using their Bluetooth interface, turning them into powerful productivity mobile devices. Bluetooth keyboards come in many different shapes and sizes, some even double as carry cases, and generally there prices are reasonable.
To connect a bluetooth keyboard to your iPhone or iPad:
1) Make sure that your keyboard is switched on and then press the connect button to activate it.
2)From your home screen select the Settings App
3) Select the General option
4) Select the Bluetooth Section
5) The Bluetooth Options will now be displayed
6) Make sure that the Bluetooth option is turned on.
7) You should be able to see your keyboard listed in the list of available devices, select it.
8) You will be asked to type a number on the keyboard, simply follow the on screen instructions.
This will now pair your keyboard with your iPhone or iPad so that it will automatically connect in the future.
After you have connected to your keyboard, when you enter a text entry box the virtual keyboard will no longer be displayed on screen, instead you can just type on the keyboard.
One common problem when traveling abroad is the language barrier, impacting on activities such as business meetings and even reading a restaurant menu the inability to read a foreign language can cause embarrassing difficulties.
Fortunately if you have an iPhone then there is a great solution with the Worldictionary App.
The Worldictionary App provides a clever solution to this problem by using Augmented Reality to translate printed text across 26 languages.
Simply by pointing the iPhone’s camera at printed text, the App reads the word using OCR and translates the word, the translated word then appears on screen above the picture of the original word, and if you need to you can look up the meaning of words with a built in dictionary function.
The app can also play the audio of how a word is pronounced, which might be useful if you need to communicate with someone in a different language.
In addition it’s possible to capture a photo and translate it at a later time, this comes in handy if you are in a rush and need to translate text when you have a bit more time available, you can also load an image from your photo library.
You will need to remember that The Worldictionary App requires an activate data connection to perform the translation process although English and Chinese languages are available offline.
The Worldictionary App is a very useful and easy to use App for those who travel abroad frequently or for those about to go on holiday. You can download it from the app store or by clicking here.
Ebooks are becoming common place and mobile devices like the iPhone or iPad provide a natural home for your mobile library, in this previous article we looked at how you can read your Kindle Library on your iPhone.
Now it’s possible to create your own Ebooks on the iPhone with Book Writer
The Book Writer app is an easy way for you to create Ebooks for either distribution or for your own personal iBooks account by providing you with a friendly interface for creating your content.
Creating a book is easy, simply choose one of the supplied templates to select the orientation and size of the book, photos can be added from your media collection, text can be entered directly onto the page and you can even insert videos into pages. On-page objects can be moved and resized to your requirements and you can format text as you expect to do in any text editor. You can also alter the quality of the images in your book if you want to reduce the file size and you can even add background music. Ebooks have gone multimedia.
The process of creating your books is easy and results can be stunning, especially when creating photo heavy books.
The app mimics that of a traditional Apple app, for example Pages, which means that you should find it easy to navigate through.
When you have complete your book you can share it in a number if ways.
The ability to create a PDF is a useful one as this opens up the possibility of mass distribution but I also like the option of interacting with Apple services like iTunes & iBooks do that your books are integrated into your iPhones file system.
The book writer App lets you create your own high quality ebooks allowing you to be creative on your iPhone.
You can download Book Writer from the App store or by clicking here.
As an increasing number of business minded people start to use iPhones in their workplace, the possibility of becoming paper light becomes a reality, but what to do with those remaining papers that you pick up at meetings, with Snap2PDF you can turn them into PDF’s for digital storage.
Snap2PDF is a great tool that’s easy to use and creates impressive results, effectively turning your iPhone into a scanner,
creating a PDF is simple, all you need to do is press the camera icon to be given the choice of taking a photo or using a photo from your library, this process creates a PDF document and inserts your photo into it, you can keep adding photos into the document until you have scanned all your papers.
Clicking on Done finalises the PDF document and let’s you name it and add a little meta data.
After you have created the document there are a couple of options for sharing the document, you can either email the PDF’s as attachments or you can upload them to DropBox – a very useful feature.
The App also includes basic OCR functionality but the real power of Snap2PDF is the ability to create PDF’s on your iPhone. In a world were carrying paper adds complications and is a pain in the neck, Snap2PDF provides a true mobile solution for scanning your printed materials, and this APP would be a welcome addition to any mobile workers productivity Apps.
You can download Snap2PDF from the App store or by clicking here.
With Apple starting to move some of it’s key services away from Google to in-house a sense of competition has started to appear between the two companies in the iOS app space.
Playing it’s part Google has started into introduce more of its high profile apps into the App store, including it’s Chrome Browser.
Chrome has become a popular browser on desktop devices, with it’s simple interface and fast web page rendering engine it’s raised the bar for browsing, but how does it’s iPhone mobile counterpart compare.
Firstly the bad news, due to Apples App Store rules Google hasn’t been able to bring its rendering engine to the Chrome App so the actual display of web pages is pretty similar to that of the default Safari browser.
Now the good news, Google have done a great job of bringing it’s streamlined interface to the iPhone.
The Chrome start page will look familiar to those familiar with the desktop browser, with your most popular sites listed as snapshot icons.
In a similar way to the desktop version Minimum space has been used on the interface leaving as much real estate for the web page as possible, drop down menus are activated through only two small icons.
Google Chrome supports tabbed browsing, with the mechanism, ease and speed of switching between tabs being very impressive. Pressing the tabs menu displays all open tabs in a tiled format allowing you to swipe and jump between tabs.
Whilst it may not improve the speed of page rendering, Google Chrome Browser is a fantastic mobile web surfing experience, and many will adopt it as their default iPhone browser.
You can download Chrome Browser for iPhone by clicking here.
Originally released in 1999 Sega’s Virtua Tennis series of games have found success over the years. It’s blend of highly detailed graphics, fluid animation and TV style presentation proved to be a hit with gamers.
Whilst not as realistic as some of its competitors it’s arcade friendly gameplay and quick learning curve meant that it provided unparalleled accessibility to both tennis and sports fans, and now the game has arrived on the iPhone.
The first thing that hits you about the game is the incredible visuals, the graphics on the small screen look as good as on a console, and it remains smooth on the iPhone 4s in singles matches, although looking through the App Store reviews older models may struggle, and on the 4s in doubles matches you do occasionally see a little slow down. Hopefully this will get resolved in future updates as the games looks incredible.
Virtua Tennis had managed to keep its accessibility in translation to the touch screen iPhone, several virtual joypad options are included but the new touch control scheme works best of all. Tapping the screen causes your player to run to the point you tapped whilst swiping the screen will make your player hit the ball in that direction. It takes a little getting used to but very quickly you’ll pick up how to pull off a variety of shots.
There are several game modes to choose from, if you fancy a quick game then you can play an exhibition match where you play either a singles or double match against a CPU opponent, but the main meat to the game is in SPT World Tour mode.
In the World Tour mode you have a choice of 3 tournaments per real world day, each tournament has an entry fee and a prize fund, the more cash you have in the bank the bigger tournaments you can enter.
There is also an Internet multiplayer mode where an appropriate opponent is chosen for you for an online match. Online play works well although you’ll need to get used a tiny bit of added lag in the game.
Virtua Tennis is a big name and a big game, and if you have the device to run it then it’s a fantastic arcade experience in the palm of your hand. I only hope that future updates include optimisations for lower end iOS devices.
Rummikub is a popular classic tile based game for 2 to 4 players where the objective of the game is to get rid of all the tiles in your hand before your opponents get rid of theres, and now Games Factory Online has brought Rummikub to the iPhone. Providing 1, 2 or 3 computer controlled players Rummikub certainly provides an engaging challenge.
To remove the tiles from your hand, you are required to organised your tiles into sets of Groups and Runs. Groups are
three or four same value tiles of different colours, Runs are sets of three or more same coloured tiles in consecutive number order. After your initial move, which must value a combined total of 30 or more, sets can be made from either the tiles in your hand or from the tiles on the board, If you can’t make a move then you have to take a new tile and add it to your hand.
The iPhone version of Rummikub is well implemented, with clear tiles and crisp graphics, although given the nature of the game the graphics are only ever going to be functional. If you aren’t familiar with the game then it might take you a while to learn the rules and strategies of the game as the included rules aren’t very user friendly for the novice,but stick with it as after you get into it, Rummikub becomes very addictive.
This is one of those games where because of the set up time of the original the computer version has advantages over the real world counterpart, and whilst the computer opponents provide an engaging experience, even better is the inclusion of game centre functionality and multiplayer challenges.
Game Centre will automatically find you an opponent and then go one step better, because Rummikub is a turn based game it will give you a notification when it’s your turn, this means that you don’t have to sit waiting around waiting to play you can just return to the game when it’s your turn, this is a great feature of the iPhone version. If you are into classic games then you should check out Rummikub.
You can find Rummikub in the Apple App store.
Emulation is a popular method of playing games from older systems on your current device. Traditionally emulation involves the copying of game files or Roms from your computer but on the iPhone due to Apples App Store policies emulation works in a slightly different way.
On the iPhone it is more common for you to buy an emulator with games included, this guarantees that the files are legal and don’t breach copyright, it also provides a legitimate way for those in search of classic games to purchase a digital copy.
The Sinclair ZX Spectrum was a popular home computer which holds a place in the heart of many gamers and is a much emulated system. The Spectrum has also recently celebrated it’s 30th Anniversary and to celebrate the event Elite Systems have released a special 100 greatest hits emulation package.
Many Classic Games are included
The package contains several top spectrum games from several top Spectrum Publishers and there are some true classics here including Chuckie Egg, Manic Miner, Skool Daze & Barbarian. The quality of emulation is superb, the games look and feel exactly like they did on the original Spectrum Hardware, which is its strongest strength and also it’s biggest weakness.
Game control is performed through on-screen virtual controls, and by default this method has a few problems as important sections of the screen
are covered by your figures during play. To help improve this, Elite have included the iDaptive toolkit which allows you to edit the size and layout of the screen on a game by game basis, this allows you to optimise the controls for each game.
This highlights the problem of emulation though, games have come a long way in 30 years and some old games just don’t stand up today. This is especially true of some of the coin op conversions like Dragon Ninja which did the best it could with the available hardware but it wasn’t great 20 years ago and today is a frustrating unresponsive mess.
True 8 bit classics running on the iPhone
It’s not all bad though, the Spectrum classics that were designed around the hardware tend to be simple and fun to play and games like Manic Miner still retain their classic status.
If you are a fan of the Spectrum and want a mobile method of accessing your games or are looking for a cost effective way to see some proper gaming classics then Sinclair ZX Spectrum 100 Greatest Hits is a great way to do it.