Thursday, October 31, 2013

Undiscovered App #45: Freshbox - Stop Wasting Food

FreshboxI just did a bunch of grocery shopping the other day, and when it came time to put all the new goodies in the fridge, I found myself digging into the very back to find things that had turned, um, a little unpalatable. This is a weekly ritual, and sometimes I wish I didn't have to keep wasting so much food. But that's what happens sometimes when it's out of sight, out of mind.

That's why today's Undiscovered App is so helpful. Freshbox puts an end to wasted food by helping keep track of what goes in your fridge or pantry and putting an expiration date on it, and giving you a heads up of what's coming due first. The interface is a little unintuitive in places, but it's simple enough to get a quick grasp of how to enter new food items and set up expiration dates and delete them altogether.

It has a pre-existing database that makes keying in data more efficient: there's nice shiny pictures, some additional background on how to best store the food, and a typical shelf life in case you already didn't know it. You can also override the suggested expiration dates if you have a better time frame in mind.

Basically, Freshbox has the potential to become a very useful app if you apply some diligence to your food shopping process. A dollar not wasted is equal to a dollar being earned, and in the long run, Freshbox may be one of the few apps out there that effectively can make you money by eliminating typical waste patterns that make us spend more money than we have to.

Freshbox has an average rating of 4 stars from 442 reviews. It is currently available to download for $0.99.

____________________________________________________________ because today is a great day to finally order that stuff sitting in your shopping cart!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Undiscovered App #44: Hangman2020 - Not Your Father's Hangman

Hangman2020 HD
Every once in a while I come across a game that I think might elicit a "Meh" just by looking at the app icon or screen shots, but then end up being totally surprised at its entertainment value. Today's Undiscovered App just happens to be one of those, and to make it fly under the radar even more, it's about a classic game everybody has played: Hangman.

I mean, just take a look at that app icon. It's about as generic as it gets, and you'd never be able to tell what the game is about just by looking at it.

But for all its graphical shortcomings, there's a few things about Hangman2020 that make it worth taking a look: the one that caught my eye the most was that even though it was called Hangman, there wasn't actually a man getting hung as you got the letters wrong. Instead, there were a number of animations of a cartoon character's impending doom, all dependent upon your ability to guess a word from the hint you've been given. With each wrong letter, you may find the cartoon edging closer to a giant circular saw, and if you're clueless or sadistic enough, you might just see him get ripped apart. Or in another setting, there's one where a fire gets bigger and bigger until, well, you get the picture.

Hangman2020 screen shot

One other interesting bit was that there was actually an educational aspect to it. The words you guess sometimes have educational clues, kind of like Jeopardy! - and it's up to you to guess what the clue is referring to. After you guess the word correctly or incorrectly, it sometimes links you over to a Wikipedia article so you can read more about it in depth.

There's also a little bonus timer that gives you extra points if you guess the word under a certain number of seconds, and if you don't get it in time, no big deal - the cartoon character doesn't edge closer to his death until you actually guess an incorrect letter.

Hangman2020 has an average rating of 5 stars from about 10 reviews. This is a surprisingly fun Hangman app that we recommend.

____________________________________________________________ because today is a great day to finally order that stuff sitting in your shopping cart!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Undiscovered App #43: Number Link - A Fun Mind Bender

Number Link
Today's Undiscovered App from TappsGames is called Number Link, and it challenges your ability to picture things spatially, in a TrainYard kind of way.

The premise is simple: You're given a set of numbers (1 and 1, 2 and 2, etc), all are placed on a board, and your job is to draw a line connecting the matching pairs. Sounds simple, right? There's a little catch: you have to draw the lines in a way so that they don't cross and there are no empty spaces left on the board.

Take this simple setup:

Now, try to figure out how to connect all the matching numbers together in a way so they 1) don't cross and 2) fill up the entire board. As you can see by the timer, this one had me stumped. If you've already figured it out, good for you! You're a lot smarter than I am. After I while, I was able to finally get it using the lines below:

After this level, I was hooked. I'm not used to this way of thinking, and maybe it would be good for me stretch my mind out this way some more. Hopefully you'll like it too.

There are two versions of Number Link, one is Free which has fewer levels, and the other one, the Pro Version, opens them all up for a greater challenge. It has an average rating of 4.5 stars from over 1,500 reviews. I think this should belong in everyone's Puzzle game stash.

____________________________________________________________ because today is a great day to finally order that stuff sitting in your shopping cart!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Undiscovered App #42: Rico - Castlevania Meets Mario Brothers

Rico - A Tale of Two Brothers
This is the tale of two brothers. The older brother - black as the night - was called Rico. The younger brother - white as snow - was nameless. 

Since the beginning of time, they were fighting each other. They were worthy adversaries, and their clashes always ended in a tie. Both brothers drew their powers from golden crystals which were scattered all across the world. Little did they know, their constant battle was the sole reason the world remained in balance.

One day, for reasons unknown, Rico finally surpassed his younger brother. While he didn't kill him, he stripped him of his powers, abandoning him to his fate. For he should live to watch Rico rule the world henceforth. The world's faith tipped and fell out of balance, and would soon perish if nothing was done.

This is the story of the unnamed brother on his quest to get his powers back and restore the balance of the world.

And that's how the story begins for today's Undiscovered App, called Rico by Maximilian Csuk. In its simplest form, it can probably be best described as the result of putting together the gameplay and look of Super Mario Brothers and Castlevania. Explore, gather crystals, get power ups, avoid obstacles and traps while trying to reach the end of each mini-world stage, with each mini stage getting you closer to the big battle with your darker half, all set in a 2D platform and a retro pixelated wrapper.

Rico screen shots

It's the execution, finesse, and attention to detail that made Rico stand out so much. You can run, jump, swim (you have an oxygen timer), and even fly (don't land too hard because the physical impact could kill you). All while enjoying a cool music soundtrack. The controls were perfect and responsive, and adapted to the type of movement you were performing. For example, acceleration and deceleration physics came into play when you're flying.

The game allowed you to set the difficulty level appropriate to your preferred challenge/patience level. Easy, Medium, Hard, and Insane allows you to basically tune the following factors: the number of lives, fall damage, hit points, and the frequency with which checkpoints appear.

I went Old School and chose Hard, then promptly forgot the setting I had used, and after a few runs at it, getting blown up by mines and getting impaled by stalactites, I thought to myself, "This is hard!" then remembered my good old Castlevania days and went back at it again. (For what it's worth, it might not be so hard for others, but specifically for me, these traps were in red and green hues, unfortunate for someone like me who has red/green colorblindness!)

The boss battles were fun and rewarding, especially since it took a fairly long time just to reach them, but after you beat your brother, you move on to the next world and encounter a different set of challenges to work your way up to yet another battle.

Rico is one of the true undiscovered gems that I've come across, and I'm not alone in this assessment. When I've had discussions about some great games people just haven't heard about, this came up enough times that I had to give it a look. It has an average rating of 5 stars from 57 reviews. If you liked Castlevania, Metroid, or Super Mario Brothers, give Rico a good hard look. It's available to download for $2.99. And yes, it's worth it.

____________________________________________________________ because today is a great day to finally order that stuff sitting in your shopping cart!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Undiscovered App #41: YoWindow - Horrible Name, Great App

Today's Undiscovered App is a cool variant of your typical weather app. Yeah, weather's boring and it's hard to imagine anything new can be done with an app, but this one is worth checking out.

YoWindow by Pavel Repkin takes the concept of time lapse photography and integrates it into a weather app concept.

Imagine you want to know what the weather is going to be like today. Well, with YoWindow, the main page shows you a simulation of what the weather is at the moment, then, if you want to move forward in time, you can slide your finger across the screen and you'll see the time stamp move forward as if you're in a time machine. As you keep scrolling, the temperature shifts, the clouds move, the sun rises and falls, and then the moon rises and falls also. If there's some rain due, rain clouds come in, and the showers come down. Even the rain has different degrees of strength. It's nice since you can keep scrolling to see when the rain will roughly end, or when the sun will rise or set. Even the seasons change with the time of the year.

There are different Landscapes you can choose as well: Village, Seaside, Airport, Oriental, and Sky. And each has its own different soothing ambient background sounds. Check out the video below to see how it works:

The interface is intuitive, very pretty to look at, and is enjoyable to use. I've never looked forward to checking out the weather before until I came across this.

YoWindow is currently available to download for $1.99. It has an average rating of 4.5 stars from 131 ratings. We definitely recommend this Universal app for a download.

____________________________________________________________ because today is a great day to finally order that stuff sitting in your shopping cart!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

iTunes Is Down

EDIT: All appears to be working well again as of this morning.

I bet I'm not the only one having problems with iTunes. In case you're wondering, something is up with Apple, and many people are getting an error message saying, "503 Service Unavailable HTTP/1.0".

Problems I've encountered include: not being able to log into my iTunes account, not being able to redeem promo codes, not being able to update apps, and not being able to see apps on iTunes when I'm being redirected from the app info page.

So don't worry, you're not the only one miserable. In the meantime, I found this site called that shows you the number of problems iTunes has had in the past 24 hours. It seems like there has been a recent spike of problems for the second time today (interestingly, both happened when I was most actively using the service).

This might be a good time to rent Iron Man 3so you can find something else to do until the problems get resolved.

____________________________________________________________ because today is a great day to finally order that stuff sitting in your shopping cart!

Undiscovered App #40: Lift - Socially Supported Goal Setting

LiftHow many times have you ever tried to create a well-intentioned habit, only to have it fail after a couple days or weeks? If you've ever wanted to be more consistent with say, flossing your teeth, or exercise, or reading, we found an app that you might like.

Today's Undiscovered App is called Lift (check out the website), and the idea is to have you achieve your goals in the company of others who are trying to do the same, whether it's a friend or another person out in the internet. Studies show that when you're trying to achieve goals, there is nothing more effective than doing it with a friend.

If I had to generalize, Lift is kind of like a Facebook / Twitter for goals. You can see what other people are doing through a feed that's relevant to your specific goal, see their comments, post comments of your own, and you can even give them a "Prop" (their version of "Like"). And if there's someone who motivates you, you can follow them. There's a calendar that shows you what days you hit your goals, and once you start working on them more consistently, you start getting Streaks and Milestones to give you some added motivation.

Lift screen shots

It was fairly simple to use and understand, and best of all, Lift is free to download. It has an average rating of 4.5 stars from 474 reviews. Give it a try; your life might just improve in some little way.

(By the way, ever since I got this flosser,the number of times I've actually flossed has doubled. I hate that stringy stuff, and wrapping it around my fingers and jamming it in my mouth is always cumbersome since I have big hands. Try it, you'll thank me.)

____________________________________________________________ because today is a great day to finally order that stuff sitting in your shopping cart!