Sunday, August 28, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Stellar Escape

written by: Nick Kosmides

The Amazon Appstore brings yet another 'stellar' game in the Running game genre.

A buck off today, this app hits the pavement running with smooth looking graphics that compliment the game's space ship theme nicely.  A slight jarring of the framerate was present in my experience on the Samsung Fascinate running Android 2.2 stock, but this didn't hinder gameplay much.  Though occasionally the jarring effect would occur right during the perfect timing zone before a jump, slide, whatever.

Casually long load times and a repetitive soundtrack create a narcoleptic experience.  Once in game, loading to the next level is next to nothing.  I did notice an issue with difficulty design.  I've done a lot of difficulty testing in my PlayStation testing years and this game does not gradually become harder, or remain simple during the introductory stages where getting comfortable with controls is more important.  I noticed a hike at level 5 making it quite difficult to complete within 5 tries.  No points for trying where I come from.

On a plus note, I can't express enough how Open Feint drives replayability on these small time consuming apps.  Mobile gaming will never replace pocket platforms or home consoles, but Open Feint for its achievement system and friends list can narrow the field of vision between them.  Making the gap appear smaller and defragmenting games is their strong suit.  Thank you for awarding me achievement points for not only completing a level, but also for earning a Perfect score.  And only a good game would do that.

Never said this was the best running game, but its definitely a good one.

Stellar Escape - $0.99 FREE

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - xScope Browser for Web and File

written by: Nick Kosmides

A veritable swiss army knife of a web browser, x-labs LLC brings xScope Browser for Android to the Amazon Appstore.

I'm not quite sure why this browser has so many unrelated functions contained within, but it does.  Giving users of xScope the ability to kill apps as well as transfer files without hitting the Home button once.  And although users having phones running Android 2.2 or higher have repeatedly been reminded of the unnecessary use of task killers, devs still feel the need to capitalize on the idiot populous.  Please people, device memory is meant to be used while your phone is on, and in the off chance an app is abusing the memory, then you can kill it.  Mind you, your phone already has a task killer, and if it doesn't then with xScope Browser it will.

Exploring your phones files with xScope is easy too.  Just tap the down arrow icon on the browser's bottom row control bar.  Tap the folder icon and you're done.  Now you're viewing the contents of the phone with the ability to edit or share just about anything.  One additional really nice feature this app has is an Exit button.

My early speed tests running xScope alongside the stock Android 2.2 browser has falling in favor of the stock browser.  Graphic heavy sites load faster in the stock browser and scroll smoother.  So I cannot with any bit of honesty side with the reviewers saying that xScope is a faster browser.  My connection at home is solid running slightly over 10Mbps on wireless.

If you're into the all-in-one box deals, the xScope browser is right for you.  Launch, kill, share.

xScope Browser - $0.99 FREE

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Overkill

written by: Nick Kosmides

Overkill is free today.

In summary, in very short summary, I did not like this game.  Very drab graphics, though sharp, were uninspiring.  Music is excruciatingly boring.  UI is acceptable.  And worst of all for my experience were the motion controls.  My ship was basically stuck at the top of the screen.  I'm not even interested in the game enough to wanna try the game again with better calibration beforehand.


Overkill - $1.99 FREE

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Trip Journal

written by: Nick Kosmides

Trip Journal is today's free app of the day from Amazon's famed Appstore.  So long as Apple doesn't get the best of them, we will continue to call it the "Appstore".

At only $0.99, I can't imagine what you couldn't live without with this vacation journal.  Given that you have a GPS signal where you are vacationing, you can use it to track yourself in-app.  While enroute, take pics, video and notes for location specific memories. Maybe your on an expedition and you use an SLR, Red video camera and pen and paper.  Well not anymore my friend! For only $0.99 or free today you can throw all that equipment you wasted about $20,000 on and do everything from your Android phone.

I kid, I only kid.  Seriously, I think thats what this app is telling us.  Maybe for the average Mac user, this is perfect.  Though given that this is an Android app, not sure how many people other than myself have an Android device and use a Mac at home.  Maybe more than I think.  Trip Journal has excellent sharing options including Facebook, Picasa (Google Photos), Flickr, YouTube and Twitter.  I'm not sure why you'd share with Google Earth, but that option is there too.

For the budding adventurer or Indiana Jones wannabe that has the time to snap of photo of his assailant before whipping him into shape, download Trip Journal to make a fancy mobile multimedia memory.

Trip Journal - $0.99 FREE

Monday, August 15, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Everlands

written by: Nick Kosmides

Free today is a game of high quality and stamina.  Everlands, an animal-centric strategy puzzle game with total Facebook integration.  High marks go to its ability to grab so many people who meant only to check if it works on their phone and have them find out they just played for over an hour without knowing.

Colorfully bright hexagonal shapes emboss the screen showcasing tiny animals, each with their own distinct powers and abilities.  Numbers line the edges of the pieces indicating strong and weak sides.  The given strategy is to place the pieces so that the weak numbered sides are not touching an enemy piece at all.  Ideally, the objective is to have more pieces than your enemy to win the game.

Noted at the bottom there are two versions of this game.  An HD and this FAAD SD version.  They are both free today, so do yourself a favor and grab them both so you are prepared for a titillatingly advanced graphical experience so long as your device can handle it.

Everlands - $1.99 FREE

Everlands HD - $1.99 FREE

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Memory Booster Ad-Free

written by: Nick Kosmides

Memory Booster Ad-Free is no charge today on the Amazon Appstore, and I wouldn't jump to get this one folks.

You may hear a familiar tune with yet another task killer of sorts being thrown at an unsuspecting population of frugal Android app shoppers.  If your devices is running Android OS 2.2 or higher then you do not need and should not download any task killers, let alone use them.  The reason for this is simply that your operating system is designed to manage its own memory in a way that optimizes battery consumption while allowing apps to run tiny sized files in the background for various reasons.  These background functions are commonly necessary for your phones day to day functions.

For example, most widgets are active widgets displaying some bits of information that may utilize the internet or GPS to show accurate info.  A clock, the Facebook widget, etc.  They require a small amount of your system RAM to function. If you were to kill all the apps running in the background to free up memory, these widgets would just start up again, and the process of stopping and starting can actually consume more battery than just running all day.

On a rare occasion an app may be behaving badly and is consuming an excess of system RAM and/or battery.  You can manual kill that individual app using your built in system resources.  For my Fascinate, I just long press the Home button to get the recently used apps pop up and hit the Task Manager button.  There I have access to kill active apps, uninstall package files (apps), manage the RAM for killing background or inactive processes, and see and summary of everything running.

Now you must understand that your phones RAM is meant to used.  While it is in your phone, having free RAM isn't necessarily a good thing.  It doesn't make your phone running much faster if RAM is not being taxed, though if you are taxing it and you go to open a big heavy hitting RAM users like a PopCap game or other, then you may experience some unpleasantries due to a lack of memory.  Though remember, Android 2.2 is smart about this and will find a way to give you the RAM you need to run what you choose to run.

Memory Booster is a fine app for what it worth.  It is attractive and simple in design.  This simplicity gets the best of it though as the app shows you ALL process running in the background, even the phone or OS specific programs that are required by the phone.  Killing these apps can cause some serious headaches to your phone potentially ending you up in a place with a non-operational phone.

When you download this app I will automatically put itself into auto-task killing mode.  It calls it Memory Boosting but we all know better.  This app will run in the background killing the same apps all day long because they just keep reopening.  In the end, don't download this app and don't get into the habit of killing apps.

Memory Booster Ad-Free - $2.99 FREEa

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Flick Kick Football

written by: Nick Kosmides

The title may be misleading for most American's because this is not American football, its soccer in fact.  Flick Kick Football is free today on the Amazon Appstore.

Many reviewers are reporting a great game, at least the first time it was loaded.  Upon loading it the second time they were confronted with endless force closes.  Now I've played this thing once so far and am extremely compelled to boot it up again to see about these force close stories.

As for the app itself, it has an arcade style to it that will keep you entertained for minutes to come.  It is not Zenonia, and I've said that before about other apps I know, but there is something about kicking a soccer ball past randomly placed cardboard cutouts of soccer players and moving goalies that keeps me coming back for more.

I've played Flick Kick Field Goal and had an awesome time with it.  Varying up the distance from the field goal and shifting winds brings the same sort of arcade draw to it.  And the one thing that both of these games have that I've said over and over is the major omission in most games, Open Feint for achievements and social gaming.  Love it.

Anways, recommended download but don't be surprised if it doesn't last past the first playthrough.

Flick Kick Football -

Friday, August 12, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - WiFi File Explorer PRO

written by: Nick Kosmides

WiFi File Explorer Pro is free today.  Said by's own Chris Chavez as being one of his favorite apps and a proper solution to file sharing to your Android device from the internet of any PC.

Not sure what actual limitations there are, but since one reviewer mentions using this app to transfer a 250MB movie to his phone from the computer while they are on different floors though on the same WiFi network, I'd say thats pretty cool.  No cables required, no bluetooth pairing, no hassle.  Just use a custom web address to send the files and tada, you've got instant local file sharing.

If this fills a niche or necessity dear to you, hop on over to the Amazon Appstore before midnight tonight to receive your 100% discount.

WiFi File Explorer Pro - $1.49 FREE

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Pinball Ride

written by: Nick Kosmides

Don't know that this gives anyone enough time to jump on a game tonight, but if it does Pinball Ride is a good one to jump to.

Though its just one pinball table and not a collection like most pinball games, even on Android in a game called Pinball Deluxe.  In Pinball Ride's Story Mode you play as a character who does a lot of driving and picking up women.  You can collect contacts by hitting bumps, engage in races with anonymous drivers or gangs.  Ram them off the road by hitting all the lit ramps.  Collect a ton of achievements, but that is where the fun ends.

To ding this game is not fair, because it is a good game.  Very nice graphics, solid controls - a few times the touch controls didn't work and it cost me a ball - and a ripping soundtrack that I'm sure would get old if played too long.  If you're going to bring attention to achievements and put this much time into them, it doesn't seem wise to me to not include Open Feint.  They provide developers with the codes necessary to tap into their well established online network of users, not to mention the achievements that have attracted so many mobile users to all sorts of crap games.  Its XBOX Live or PSN for Android/iOS devices!  Win-win if you ask me.

Anyways, go grab the game before midnight, or don't.  Its now up to you.

Pinball Ride - $0.99 FREE

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - New York Post

written by: Nick Kosmides

Free today, not tomorrow, is the official app of the New York Post.  Amazon Appstore has introduced many new mobile apps, developers and users to their world.  This marks the first time thus far that the app being introduced comes from a place older than most of the dirt we stand on.  Unless you are reading this from New York, then its the same dirt.

Speaking of dirt, the hype reads all about it.  Since 1801, the NYP has delivered the news, and now they are sort of the middle man to the newest source of all information and technology - Android.  Of course, NYP also provides a handy section especially for celebrity gossip.

Reviews are pouring in two at a time.  As of this writing (12:24am) there are exactly two reviews.  Both of which are loosely positive.  Outside of the fancy smancy CNN news app, I can't see where any developer could screw up bringing the news to an app.  It works to bring all facets of news to your device with an aesthetically pleasing UI and plenty of text to read.


New York Post - $1.99 FREE

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Refraction

written by: Nick Kosmides

Game time people!  Refraction is free today on the Amazon Appstore for Android.

A puzzler involving connecting colored lasers to a matching circle using prisms or mirrors.  Combine colors to form new colors when the solution requires it.  How many mirrors or prisms you are allotted is controlled by the particular level you are attempting to solve.  Have you a red and yellow laser but only an orange circle?  No problem, combine to form orange and voila!

There are 120 levels to beam through.  The game has a screen shot utility that saves to the SD card.  They explain the permissions needed to execute this on Android so that it is clear what the intent is behind the permissions.

Check out the YouTube video review done up by the guys at TheAppInformer.

Refraction - $0.99 FREE

Friday, August 5, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Alarm Clock Xtreme

written by: Nick Kosmides

Alarm Clock Xtreme is free today on the Amazon Appstore.

If you've been unhappy with your stock alarm clock and are curious what the difference would be with a different alarm clock, this is a good way to find out.  Alarm Clock Xtreme has quite a few features, most of which aren't in the stock clock.

How about when your alarm goes off at the crack and you can't find the snooze button?  Alarm Clock Xtreme features a humongous snooze button.  Just smack your screen and snooze away.  Everything within is customizable of course.  Create as many custom alarms as you desire.  No limit.  Set the alarm to use local music files instead of the in-app sound files.

Alarm Clock Xtreme includes the gentle alarm which was highlighted in another free app of the day on Amazon called Gentle Alarm.  It is an alarm that slowly increases the volume so as not to startle you out of your peaceful slumber.  Said to reduce morning stress and help you transition more smoothly from a deep sleep into awareness mode.

Wanna wake up smarter than you were when you went to bed?  Use the apps built in math alarm.  A little like torture if you ask me, the alarm requires that you correctly answer a math problem before it rewards you with snooze.  Since snooze duration and number of snoozes are customizable, you could be either late for work or asking for some serious wake up punishment.

A whole lot of snooze options and automatically dismissing alarms based on your GPS location rounds out this highly customizable and highly appreciated app.  If you missed the freebie window, this may be one of those apps worth paying for.

Alarm Clock Xtreme - $1.49 FREE

Thursday, August 4, 2011

UPDATE: Amazon's Free App of the Day - A Game With Balls

written by: Nick Kosmides

You may be thinking that I didn't put the app title in the blog post title above but I did.  Today's free app is called A Game With Balls.  That's not just an accurate description of the gameplay but the actual title.

Very sharp graphics with unique gameplay sort of reminded me of Bust-A-Move.  The biggest difference is that this game is not a puzzle game as much it is a game of survival.  Shoot small or big balls out of your ball shaped cannon at various sized squares and circles that are falling down toward the bottom of the screen.  The object is to use your balls to redirect the falling objects so they do not collide with your cannon positioned at the bottom center of the screen.

This game gets high marks from me for a beautifully simply UI, sharp graphics, original game design and Open Feint.  Achievements and leaderboards are fully supported with the use of Open Feint, the cross platform social api that all games should be using.  Well, all good games at least.

Please go download this game and let me know how it does with you.

UPDATE: While conducting this review I had the game soaking on the title screen.  Just before I went into Open Feint and looked at the achievements before returning to said Title screen.  It soaked for approximately five minutes and then force closed.  I had to pull the battery to restart my phone.  NOT GOOD.

A Game With Balls - $2.99 FREE

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - iCooking Barbecue

written by: Nick Kosmides

At this point with all the lawsuits out there hosted by Apple, I'm surprised they haven't been suing small app developers who have the prefixed "i" in the title of the app.  iCooking Barbecue is free today from the Amazon Appstore.

The name implies quite alot which is good, but in this case the app doesn't live up to anyone's initial expectations.  No matter the price, I feel we can all agree that when you are on the hunt for a particular app there are a list of demands that must be met.  I would hope we share many bullet points between all our lists, but this developer seems to have missed quite a few.

The user interface (UI) is a bit on the garbage side.  What looks like gorgeous screen grabs is merely shopped images with a extremely poorly conceive interactive interface.  On many screens it is not clear when you are supposed to press, swipe, tap, whatever to get to where you're going.  The intermitted need to hit the phone Menu button is always a confusing pleasure.  Then back to swiping left to right with images.  Call it a hosh posh control scheme barely meeting the terms of the word "scheme".

The content leaves much to be desired.  As other users have pointed out, this so called barbecue app shares no BBQ tips, tricks are methods with its apps or otherwise.  You'd expect to see an entire section based on charcoal vs gas, or how to smoke your meat.  That sounded bad when taken out of context.  All I'm saying is a novice would have a beauty of a time relying solely on this app to get the results as pictured.  Good luck!

This is another cooking app, but unfortunately updates would not cure this meat.  A complete overhaul is what is needed.  Though Food Network has a couple sweet apps in the Android Market, featuring Bobby Flay amongst the staff of top chefs.  Happy grilling!

iCooking Barbecue - $0.99 FREE

Facebook Diehards Launch Anti-Google+ Movement

written by: Nick Kosmides
As it turns out, Google doesn't like it when you figure out a way around their rules.  A group of random Facebook users are determined to prove this can be done from within Facebook.  The challenge for them evidently came from Circles, the Google answer to everything wrong with Facebook.

The problem is when you post something to Facebook, all your friends see it.  The Facebook definition of friends is anyone you allow into your Facebook world.  Outside of Facebook Groups which is not the most user friendly experience like Circles, there is no way of disallowing your boss and coworkers from the posts about most useful sexual position or your awesome frag-fest on Call of Duty until 2am and how you will call in sick to play more.  There is no way to post a clip of your most recent hunting trip without your vegetarian friends from seeing it.

The solution in Google's eyes is called Circles.  Make as many circles of friends as needed and when you post a comment, link, image, whatever on Google+ you can choose which Circles will get the awesome privilege to see it.

The group claiming to have the solution on Facebook has come out in droves to show as many users as possible that they won't make the switch to Google+.  They've kept their solution a mystery until the right time arose, and that time is now.  The group claims their secret weapon trick is to make only post which cover all the demographics of their friends.  If they cannot make this happen, then they say the only solution is to unfriend those that don't fall inline with their views.

When asked for an example, they showed me a picture of a puppy holding a shotgun with a speech bubble that read "Puppies don't kill puppies, guns kill puppies.  Pro-life.  Save Greece.  Fish are friends, not food."  At first I didn't get it.  The puppies kill puppies part was funny and relevant to the image, but the rest was a blur.  The anonymous socialite explained that the picture was altered to include other views shared by nearly all her friends.  So in a way, the post was meant for everyone in her Friends list, and not one group or another.

When asked for further comment she ran away peeing so as to throw off her scent.  It actually made it easier, I found her within 5 minutes behind the counter of the local Starbucks serving lattes.

Is there really a Facebook group claiming to have dissolved the need for Google+?  What would their answer be to the other social features within the Google+ umbrella like Huddle, Sparks or Hangouts?  We may never find out.  My gut tells me this is a smoking gun.  I'll just wait here where its dry while you go run in the rain to get the car.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Sporcle

written by: Nick Kosmides

Sporcle is free today for all your quiz needs.  Known as a website and iOS app, now available for Android through the Amazon Market.  Previously, Android users could only get their question/answer needs fulfilled through the Android Market, but always for a price.

Amazon has you covered, though for only 15 more minutes.  Why do I bother, simple, because I care.

Read the reviews from other downloaders and you'll see that with slow reflexes or subpar smartphone typing skills, you will not have too much fun with this app.  Its probably best to stick with the site.

Sporcle - $1.99 FREE

Monday, August 1, 2011

Amazon's Free App of the Day - Guitar Hero 5 Mobile

written by: Nick Kosmides

Where shall I begin?  Oh, I'll do this review as if it were a Quentin Tarantino film.

In the near future:

You just uninstalled Guitar Hero 5 Mobile after downloading it for free from the Amazon Appstore for Android.  You really want that five minutes of your life back.  A voice in the back of your head says, "I can't believe you thought it was going to be good.  Man, you got owned by an app.  That thing is making you want to throw my Android out the window and go get the iPhone like a drone."


Back to right now:

If you visit the Amazon Appstore for Android you too can get an amazing deal on an $8 app, because its free, but only for the remainder of today.  Though I should warn you to exercise caution before pelting your screen with excessive thumb smacking in the name of shoddy music games.  By encouraging you to visit the comments made by other dumb asses who've already made the mistake of not only downloading this piece but also playing it.

What is wrong with the game that would merit preventative measures such as reading comments before downloading you might ask.  Three things.

1. The game sucks on many levels.
2. These many levels are vast and cannot be summarized in three steps.
3. You are guaranteed to wanna download this app after having played it the first time.

I will list a few of the most obvious issues then let you go like a puppy no one wants.  When you boot Guitar Hero 5 Mobile you will be asked which language you speak.  This will come up each and every time you boot the app.  You will also be prompted to download the high quality versions of each of the 20 songs.  They aren't much higher in quality in fact.  You will not reach the end of the song.  This is because the songs included in GH5: Mobile do not have the end of the song.  The game only features three out of five of the colored buttons to play the game.  This makes Expert mode a ton easier actually.  There is no multiplayer; thank god!  Drums are so dumb, you press any of the buttons to hit the purple kick.  I missed so many of those looking for a kick button until I figured that out.

The game doesn't work on tablets as you would expect it to.  It also auto-orients itself in case you rotate the device which can cause you to miss notes during gameplay.  Some people are complaining about lag, works with zero lag on my Fascinate with 2.2, btw.  In the end, the game does not come close to resembling Guitar Hero 5.  Its a wonder why they went with that title instead of just calling it Guitar Hero Mobile: Piece of Shit Edition.

With four updates already delivered making this app better, doubtful, lets hope they get the hint and either stop updating or replace it with Rock Band.  Tee hee.

Guitar Hero 5 Mobile - $7.99 FREE