Starting out as a mere widget to access Twitter feeds, developer Joaquim Vergès recently released a full-fledged Twitter client, attempting to take the crown from the likes of Plume, Tweetings and Tweetcaster. With some mighty-big shoes to fill, one has to ask themselves whether Joaquim was wasting time, or if this really could be the contender to take over the top-spot. How does Falcon Pro shape up? Read on to find out!
What started out as a beta based on a pre-existing widget, has now become the fully-realized Twitter client Falcon Pro. I decided, when asked to review this app, that it might behoove me to follow the same path as the app itself, so I started out using only the widget to see what I thought of Falcon Pro’s interface. The widget is a really great looking widget, and provides a lot of functionality that should be found in any good Twitter widget. Scrolling is fluid and fast, and the presentation fits in with the standards Google has put in place with JellyBean. Tweet counts are shown at the top, and the widget can be refreshed from within itself. The app has basic settings, which were carried over into the full app, and I have to say that this greatly pleases me. A lot of Twitter clients, especially for Android, seem to drown out their users in a myriad of settings, UI preferences, refresh rates, and other customization. Falcon Pro’s widget, and subsequently Falcon Pro, give you a few basic settings which reveal to the user that they probably didn’t need to set individual colors per tweet, or reveal real names vs. usernames.
It seems that Falcon’s developer set out to completely change everything that users normally look for in a Twitter client, from the interface appearance, to the way the app itself functions. It’s really tough to list all of the things that make Falcon Pro uniquely great, but rest assured that they combination of each individual aspect makes this one of the best, if not the best Twitter clients to come around as-of-late. With many clients falling by the wayside, and developers abandoning them altogether, Falcon Pro is a breath of fresh air in a seemingly-bogged down and cluttered market. Highlights of the app include features such as long-pressing on a tweet to allow quick actions (reply, favorite, retweet), swiping left and right to access trends and user information, and even jumping on-board with the rest of the apps that allow interactions in the notification tray. Falcon Pro is one of those apps that Android users have been, for years, warning iPhone users was coming that would be better, faster, and more enjoyable to use than their iCounterparts.
Is There ANYTHING Wrong With This?
Unfortunately, as this app is JUST out of beta, there are a few bugs to be found. They don’t seem to be consistent, and from what I can tell the developer is really good about responding to bug reports. In just this last week there have been at least 3 point-releases to fix issues, with individual users being thanked for their effort in finding the issues. I seemed to have a random force close bug, but as I’m a serial ROMer, there’s a small chance it could have been on my end. Don’t get me wrong, while Falcon Pro has a bug here and there, this app is a solid piece of work and really shines.
Let me be clear about this: You should go ahead and spend the $1.03 on Falcon Pro (for Twitter). This app is, without a doubt, one of the best Twitter clients to exist on Android, and quite possibly the best I’ve ever used across any platform. It completes my “must have features” list for any Android client (Auto complete hashtags and usernames, refresh rate settings, custom notifications, to name a few) and provides a really slick interface that is just as fun to look at as it is to use.
Ever had the urge to wipe civilization off the map? Ever had such a bad day that you wish you could develop the next big epidemic? From mobile game developer NDEMIC Creations comes the latest strategy game for the Android Platform. A game that has been around on iOS for a few months now, Plague Inc. puts you in charge of developing a virus hell-bent on destroying the world. How does this game hold up on Android? Does it run rampant across the globe, or is this just another common cold? The Gadget Gurus is here to tell you all this, and more!
The gameplay of Plague Inc. is fairly straight forward and simple. Through an interface of mostly pointing and clicking, the player makes choices to mold their disease to infect the most people across the planet, while at the same time protecting it from being cured. That, however, is where the simplicity stops. Plague Inc. is all about making the right choices, based on the current outlook of the world, to infect the most people and fight off science as long as possible. Players will select symptoms and abilities while trying to perfect a transmission method to spread the disease across the globe. I’m quite a fan of the gameplay. It’s a great game to sit down (on a chair, or couch, or toilet) and knock out a few minutes of gameplay, without a real strong need to pay attention at all times. Plague Inc. doesn’t require 100% of your focus, and that’s something I look for in a mobile game.
The graphics of Plague Inc. are fairly simple. Most of your time is spent looking at a world map (strangely reminiscent of Google Earth) with the occasional foray into the graphical representation of your disease. A strategy game like this isn’t really dependent on graphics, so the basic-ness of the graphics gets a pass. It’s not going to win any awards, but it gets the job done.
The music and sound, on the other hand, are a welcome addition to the game. Background music stays in the background, remaining eerie, while at the same time not distracting the player from their ultimate goal of mass destruction. The occasional sound effect also helps set the mood and really make the game enjoyable.
I should have probably started this review out stating that Plague Inc. isn’t going to be for everyone. Strategy games don’t often strike the fancy of mainstream gamers, and that especially holds true on the mobile platform. Plague Inc. is far from an Angry Birds, Amazing Alex, or Where’s My Water. But Plague Inc. does happen to fill a niche that is tough to fill on Android and iOS and for that I have to recommend you at least give it a try. The game is free (ad supported) and completely playable without spending a dime, but the paid version does offer a little bit more in the disease department. This kind of game is one I’d seriously think about paying for, because it’s different, and I like that a lot.
Gadget Gurus Recommendation: Give the free version a try, you can’t afford to miss this one.
Going out to dinner can be an exercise in confusion and despair. The longer you stare at a menu, the more you might just get up and walk out. With each restaurant fighting for your business, it can be tough to decide exactly what you want to eat. What’s a person to do when they just can’t choose? Try out Foodspotting, of course!
What is Foodspotting?
Foodspotting is the latest app attempting to find a niche in the ever-growing social media market, choosing to target the one thing on most humans that they just can’t say no to: their stomachs. Foodspotting allows users to review individual dishes at local restaurants or, if they don’t know what they want, read reviews from other users. Users are able to provide photos so you get an idea of what the food really looks like, rather than the glamour shots that you’ll find in most menus.
Foodspotting is an incredibly simple app. Users are able to mark dishes with a simple “Want”, “Tried”, and “Loved” and can then provide more information if they so choose. Location information is stored from the GPS, and users are able to sync the app up with any number of other social media tools (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Users are also able to get notifications within the app related to other users’ interactions, things related to dishes they might have tried and other various things.
Foodspotting makes a game out of eating, urging you to review dishes and rank up with your friends. You can explore dishes around you and, best of all, you can utilize Foodspotting to search for local specials. It is this feature, among all others, that is probably the most useful. Obviously with any review (maybe even this one) you have to take it with a grain of salt, but businesses are able to hook up with Foodspotting and provide specials information.
Foodspotting is a neat little app and, best of all, the app is free. There’s really no reason to not download the app on your Android device, iPhone or even your Blackberry, and start checking out dishes near your location!
Developer Runtastic has been charging full-steam ahead into the Android market, targeting the fitness section with a bevy of apps aimed at improving health while having fun. Their crowning achievement, and staple app, is their titular fitness tracking app, Runtastic. (Google Play Link) With a society hell-bent on improving their health but nobody their to guide them short of normally-expensive trainers, users have turned to low-priced apps to supplement their nine-to-five lives with a little bit of exercise, all in the name of better health and longer, happier lives. How does Runtastic stack up against the competition? Let’s find out!
In recent months, Runtastic has been on the warpath, recently releasing updates that aimed to improve upon an already stellar running/fitness app. The beauty of the mobile app market is that there’s always another developer with better ideas coming right behind the current group, set to improve upon their predecessors and usurp the champion, so current developers are forced to improve upon their existing base in an effort to keep their customers.
Runtastic has all of the standard features one has come to expect in a fitness tracking app including gps tracking, manual data entry, and social interaction. Runtastic allows you to log in using your existing Facebook account, which you’d almost be a fool not to do, allowing you to take advantage of what is, in my opinion, the heart of these apps. With a social media account, users are able to compare and compete with their Facebook friends, that competition being the driving force behind constant improvement. Runtastic takes great advantage of this feature, allowing users to post their runs, times, and other activities.
Runtastic is incredibly easy to use and figure out, but doesn’t sacrifice any of the more complex features you might expect (or hope for) in a fitness app. I’m a big fan of Nike+ and the feature that their original iOS app offered that had voice feedback during your runs. Runtastic provides audio cues to let you know where you are in your exercise routine, how much longer you have, and provides words of encouragement during your most crucial exercise moments. Runtastic also offers a plethora of post-exercise features, allowing you to comment on the weather, conditions, feelings, and a multitude of other things that a user might want to track while they work out. Want to see how well you perform when it’s cloudy out? Runtastic keeps track of that information, allowing you to go back to it at a later date. Want to see how your run looked on a 3D map? Runtastic takes the GPS data and gives you that visual display. Runtastic even allows you to enter your data manually, just in case you happened to have worked out on a treadmill, hit the links for a bit, or did some other activity with no real tangible GPS movement.
I like Runtastic a lot. In the interest of transparency, I did not pay for this review copy (it was provided to me for review), and I do tend to think that $3.99 for an app is a bit on the steep side. However, at that price it comes in a dollar less than its main competitor Endomondo, and is less than a cup of coffee that you’re not going to drink because you’re too busy running with the app! I would definitely recommend Runtastic to anyone that is really serious about tracking their runs and all of the data associated with it. It’s a lot of fun and provides tangible data that might make getting up that last hill a little bit easier.
I’ve spent a few days playing McPixel, trying to come up with the best way to classify the game. The best I was able to come up with was “MacGyver meets MacGruber meets Maniac Mansion with a mix of just-plain-stupid thrown in” and I’m still not quite sure if that’s a good enough way to describe. It’s an oddball adventure, but is it fun enough to shell out $2.99 in the Play Store? Let’s try to diffuse this bomb and find out.
McPixel is the latest release from indie developer Sos and is currently available for…just about any platform you can think of including, but not limited to, PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android and even (allegedly) Commodore 64. It’s a short-level point and click adventure where you play the titular character, McPixel, in an attempt to find and diffuse a bomb in each level. Diffusing the bomb is usually done by clicking one or two points on screen and interacting with various characters and objects. It’s incredible simple to play but quite the opposite to master. McPixel is unique in that each stage is a part of a group that will loop until the player has completed each stage. This means that, even if you fail one stage, you move on to the next until you’ve diffused the bomb in each level. Once you’ve done that, you can then go back and attempt to interact with every single aspect of each level in an effort to earn a gold badge, which then unlocks a bonus level at the end of each group. This gameplay requires you to remember what you’ve already tried in previous attempts, well after you’ve failed the stage, and provides a unique challenge to players.
By design, McPixel isn’t anything flashy or special to look at and enjoy. It’s styled after the 8-bit games of yesteryear, so the graphics aren’t really going to utilize the latest and greatest hardware and displays. This doesn’t mean, however, that the game isn’t fun to look at. The beauty of McPixel is in its simplicity. Graphics go along with the idea that McPixel is pretty much a bumbling idiot, and really only saves the day through pure luck. Gameplay design is also fairly nice. I won’t say that it’s the best way to go about playing a game, but it’s a nice throwback to point-and-click adventure games of the late 80′s and early 90′s. There’s very little instruction, with players instantly being thrown into the game to figure out how to fend for themselves. I guess that the lack of instruction is what essentially teaches the player how to play the game, but this can certainly detract from ones initial experience, and may drive some players off.
Again, McPixel’s sound is a direct reflection of it’s tribute to P&C adventure games, sounding very chiptune-ish and 8-bit. It’s fun to listen to, but can vary depending on your game experience. If you take a lot of time to complete puzzles, the music and sound design may get frustrating, as it just loops during each level. It’s not necessarily a bad game, as there aren’t a lot of levels that you won’t be able to “dumb luck” your way out of. McPixel’s sound certainly isn’t the worst of all of the games I’ve reviewed, but it’s not anything to call home about, either.
McPixel is a fun game, and definitely one you should at least try, but I’m not quite sure you should go dumping $3 on the game quite yet. It’s fun, that’s for sure, but I’m not quite sure that fun carries throughout the rest of the game, and that there’s enough non-repetitive humor and gameplay in it to warrant spending that much money, especially on a mobile game. Get the free version and try it out, and make your decision based upon that.
Gameplay: 7/10 (Fun, but repetitive at times)
Graphics/Design 8/10 (8-bit graphics are nice, but make the game seem a bit “meh”)
Sound: 7/10 (Didn’t really blow me out of the water. Nothing special)