I’ve never really been into making New Year’s resolutions. Much like Valentine’s Day or other internationally-recognised special holidays, I figured if I was ever going to embark on a journey of self-improvement (or bestow gifts upon my loved ones or that special friend), I was going to do it for no particular reason, “just because”. Sure, Christmas and birthdays are always nice reminders, but special occasions don’t preclude being nice to people the rest of the time. New Year’s resolutions, I told myself, were for those that liked to make hilarious jokes about what resolution their computer monitor was (mine is 3840×2160, thanks for asking), or for those that needed the extra motivation of a new year to change an aspect of their lives.
That all changed last year, when I told myself I’d eat less fast food. Depending on who you ask, “fast food” can have a pretty broad definition, but giving up McDonalds and KFC seemed like a good baseline, and the beginning of 2014 seemed like a good a time as any to start. Over the past year, I can count the number of times I’ve eaten Maccas or KFC on one hand — hardly impressive, I know, but goals work better if they’re both realistic and achievable. Besides, I’m new to the whole “New Year’s resolution” thing, remember? Small steps.
While Santa was making his own list and checking it twice this year, I was also making a list of my own. A list of the best iOS apps and games of the year — a look back at what occupied coveted spots on my home screen, or what app used the most battery life on my iPhone or iPad. As the curtains fall and 2014 draws to its inevitable end, and in lieu of any actual look back at the year gone by from an Apple perspective, these are the best iOS apps and games of 2014.
In no particular order…
I’ll be honest with you: I’ve never really gotten into the whole “iOS productivity” thing. When I’m out and about, I mostly use my iPhone as a portable Twitter machine, for emails, and that kind of thing — you know, the normal stuff. And when I’m at home, I have my trusty Mac for everything I need to do. But in saying all that, I recognise the kinds of innovative things people are doing with apps like Launch Center Pro and more recently, Workflow. We’ve come a long way since the days of no copy and paste on iOS, and now people are creating workflows for every imaginable thing. If you’re not into iOS productivity because it all just seems a little too hard, or like me, lack the imagination required for getting stuff done on your iPhone or iPad, there’s plenty of beginner’s guides to sink your teeth into. Or you can check out the built-in gallery for a few ideas to get you started.
Workflow is $3.99, on the App Store.
Before Hyperlapse, it was pretty easy to tell when someone had recorded video from an iPhone. There was always a telltale shakiness to the footage that gave it away, and no matter how steady you thought you were holding your iPhone, any movement resulted in the shakes. Then Instagram released Hyperlapse, and mobile video changed forever — and while that might sound a little melodramatic, ask anyone that’s used Hyperlapse for recording video and they’ll tell you how true it is. Hyperlapse’s incredibly impressive video stabilisation tech means there’s now no excuse for shaky video footage. I’ve started recording all my videos taken on my iPhone in Hyperlapse, and it’s basically indistinguishable from steady cam rigs costing much, much more than my iPhone. Hyperlapse isn’t integrated with Apple’s built-in camera app and does require additional processing time after you’ve recorded your footage, but those are small sacrifices to make for perfectly smooth video. Hyperlapse is so good, I often wonder how it’s even possible. The only thing it doesn’t do is prevent you from taking vertical videos.
Hyperlapse is free, on the App Store.
The first time I heard of Framed was early last year, when it was just a game under development by Australian-based Loveshack Entertainment, a company by three designers and developers from Firemonkeys who had decided they wanted to do their own thing. The first time I played the game was at the inaugural PAX Australia, and from that point on, I knew Framed was something pretty special.
The premise of Framed is simple. The game presents you with a particular scene — presented not unlike a page from a comic book, with multiple panels — in which your character is expected to escape and progress to the next scene. You’ll run into policemen, armed with pistols and the ability to stop you in your tracks. By re-arranging panels in the scene, you can change the order of events — this lets you sneak past policemen, take them out with a quick swing of your briefcase, or at one point, a disguise.
It’s easy to describe The Wolf Among Us, especially if you’ve played previous games by developers Telltale Games. Topping that list is The Walking Dead, a game which brought episodic content to the masses, although it was far from the first title to do so. The Wolf Among Us follows the same cell-shaded, episodic content interlaced with quick-time events formula that The Walking Dead brought to the table, and even though it’s a very different game from The Walking Dead, the core gameplay elements remain the same.
In The Wolf Among Us, you play Bigby Wolf, the big bad wolf of fictional Fabletown. You’re introduced as the Sheriff, the one that keeps the peace, and puts the Fables in order when they step out of line. Right from the get go, it’s immediately clear you’ve got something of a reputation among the folk of Fabletown, who themselves blur the line between fairytale and cold, harsh reality.
Back to the iPhone: Features Versus Implementation And The Truest Words You’ll Ever Read About Android
Number sixty three on my list of things I love about Apple is their announcements. It’s always “here’s a thing, here’s what it does, here’s how much it costs, and here’s when you can get it”. And then boom, just like that, a week later, we have the new shiny in our hands. Apple Watch notwithstanding1, it’s how the vast majority of Apple products in recent memory have been launched, and it’s easily one of the best things about the company.
This is new iPhone week, where the larger screened iPhone 6 and even bigger-screened iPhone 6 Plus will become available to everyone in Apple’s first tier release countries. This Friday, Apple aficionados all across Australia (along with the US and eight other countries) will be able to get their hands on the first larger-screened iPhone since the iPhone 5 in 2012. It’s been a long time coming, but this time, it’ll come with Touch ID, a better camera, a faster processor, and iOS 8, Apple’s latest and greatest iteration of their mobile operating system.
I. Cannot. Wait.
Not because I’m particularly excited about a new iPhone per se, but mostly because I’ve been iPhone-less since June. Using Android as my smartphone platform of choice gave me a chance to experience life on the other side of the fence, so to speak, and as a longtime iOS user, it’s really opened my eyes about what Android is like in real-world day-to-day usage. And let me tell you now, it’s not all cutesy codenames for versions of Google’s mobile OS.
I know what you’re thinking. There’s a certain sense of vanity or narcissism that comes with the territory of using an app to track Twitter statistics, and while Birdbrain can be used for those purposes, I use it mostly out of curiosity rather than anything else. At its core, Birdbrain is an app for tracking Twitter statistics. It’s been around for a while now, and while it hasn’t always been the fastest app to get updates, the recent update redesigned for iOS 7 is worth looking at.