Posts tagged Monument Valley

Best Apps Of 2014 – Top 5

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Nobody can doubt that we have entered a new era of technology: one recent study showed that the world now has 7.1 billion cellphone subscribers, 90% of the global population. By 2015, the study says, the number of cell subscriptions will surpass the number of humans buying them.

Increasingly, as complete the transition from the flip phone era to the smartphone era, we approach a point where you can’t really live without one. And what makes an OS for a smartphone good? The apps. Apps are the single and only thing that brings the best parts of an OS alive, giving you the freedom to do an almost infinite amount of things with your phone. So, with an enormous market, low barriers to entry, (e.g., a $100 Apple developer account and some programming experience) and the ability to go whatever your creative mind wants, there’s no telling how many great apps will pop up. Well, let me tell you: there are tons. So many good apps, in fact almost too many, that you really do need to search for the very best of them. So here I have listed my favorite apps from 2014, all ones I like and use frequently:

Winner: 1Password

Everyone has heard of the privacy and security scandals of this year: Sony, the NSA, iCloud – the list goes on and on and has made many nervous about their online security. If you’re like many, you probably changed your bank password and moved on. But in the back of your mind, you know having unique, strong passwords for each of your online accounts would greatly help your security. That’s where 1Password comes in.

The app is available on your computer, as a browser plugin, and as an app, and will let you enter all of your passwords, concealed all under one single, very strong password of your choice. Hence, “1Password.” Once you input your passwords, credit card info, and logins, 1Password will securely hold them for your use, making them available at your fingertips (literally – since you can enable Apple’s TouchID as an alternative login to the app).  The software can even generate a extremely secure password whenever you need to change passwords or create new accounts. I use it all the time, and it’s a great alternative to just remembering them. As it gets easier and easier to hack into personal information, it’s important to have secure passwords, and 1Password will certainly help you do that.

 

#2. Instagram

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Instagram is one of the most well-designed and user-friendly social apps in the App Store.  As someone who uses Instagram on a regular basis, I’ve found that there isn’t much that I dislike about the iPhone app.  While some just don’t get the appeal of constant photo-sharing, and I get that, but what makes Instagram so great for me is that I can connect not only with my network of friends, but also follow artists, sports teams and other interesting personalities.

But there are so many features that make the app so great: the top-class photo editing software; easy DMs; the ability to tag and comment people; the list goes on. I’m going to make this short, but if you want to read more on Instagram, read my full reviews HERE and HERE. But, in brief, assuming that you know at least 10-20 people already on the app, all the great social interaction features will surely make Instagram your favorite social media for interacting with friends.

#3. Monument Valley

This Escher-style groundbreaking game defies the common thought that video games can’t really be artistically beautiful. All the amazing optical illusions in this game really works your brain as you seemingly fly through a plethora of amazing scenes and places in the storyline. The great story combined with the beautiful art and easy gameplay makes, in my opinion, Monument Valley one of the best games ever for mobile. In fact, the only one thing bad about it is the short play length; playing non-stop, you can finish it in a couple of hours. Although, most of these complaints were squashed when the creators released an extra eight-level add-on called The Forgotten Shores. The game doesn’t have very much replay value, but while you are playing it, you feel like you’re reading a classic, timeless book. Only better.

 

#4. Drafts.

To start, I have to mention: Drafts is one of my most used apps, earning its position in my dock. There couldn’t be an easier app to take your thoughts, ideas and notes and export and send them wherever on the Internet you need. Simply, the amount of places you can quickly and easily take your plain-text notes and export them (e.g., as emails, as messages, to Twitter, to Evernote, to Dropbox, etc) is incredibly helpful and customizable, so much so that I rarely spend more than 10 seconds during each use, saving an incredible amount of time. It’s what productivity apps are supposed to do, and Drafts does it perfectly: saving your in-between time for working, relaxing or socializing, and making it easier to get your notes and ideas wherever you need them.

 

#5. Pocket Casts

I bet you’ve heard of the Serial podcast, and maybe even Start Up. Both are podcasts, one about a murder and the other an ongoing story of a startup podcast company. These two shows have reached far more people than the traditional podcast audience, with Serial even featuring in recent SNL and Funny Or Die parodies. I listen to both, and while I am, I’m realizing that there are many more podcasts available about pretty much anything, many of them very well produced. Thus my need for an app that helps me find, download, organize, and listen to them. My favorite is Pocket Casts.

Pocket Casts easily lets you find new podcasts, subscribe to them (alerting you and even auto-downloads the new podcasts) and listen to them, complete with reviews and summaries. A medium such as podcasts demands an app that’s easy to navigate, because just like music and TV, you want to get to your content as fast as possible, and Pocket Casts does a great job of doing that.

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Honorable Mentions:

Wordbase

Hyperlapse by Instagram

Clips

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Best Apps By Category For 2014 – Games

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Video games have always been a big market, from the times of pinball all the way to nowadays upcoming virtual reality helmet games. So, when a portable, always available platform popped up onto the scene, the gaming industry took full advantage. In Apple’s 2014 roundup list, 6 out of the top 10 paid apps are games, and 9 out of the top 10 grossing apps are also games. But, mobile gaming has reached a point that not just any game will make it big on the App Store. The standard of hit games have been increasing in quality, even to a point where is a company does a good enough job on a game, they can make a fortune previously only thought of for esteemed stock investors or successful business people. So, here are my favorite games from 2014:

Winner: Monument Valley

Combining MC Escher-like optical illusions and games, Monument Valley is a groundbreaking app in terms of UI and gameplay. The game follows Ira, white character donning a simple white pointed hat. You control this character, occasionally along with a tall, yellow character, to navigate through the optically riddled world of Monument Valley. To get from one stage to another, you usually have to fight your rational mind and get used to the optical illusions defying perspective and, well, everything, to get to the end of the journey. The art is just as beautiful as the game is fun to play, which is saying a lot, since this game was and still is my favorite iOS 8 game. Along with the first 10 levels, the makers of Monument Valley created a short expansion update to the app,($2 in-app purchase) adding an additional 8 new mesmerizing levels to explore and play.

Runner Up: Wordbase

Out of all the word games on the app store currently, I would say Wordbase is the best. I know, I know, that’s a big claim to make as there are already many popular word games out there. Just let me explain. Wordbase starts out looking like a regular word game, with on a bar of orange on one side and one bar of blue on the other, with squares of random letters in between. The goal is to, using stretches of connecting words via the random letters, to get to the other side. But, the trick is that you’re playing against a real opponent. When you make a move, you have to wait to see what move they make. Also, Wordbase adds a great strategical element when you consider that you can cut off your opponents word stream, so to say, by having your stream cut across theirs. I’ve been playing this game consistently for around three months, and each new game and its chess-like strategy keeps bringing me back. It’s a great game, and definitely one of the best of the year.

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Other Best Games:

80 Days

80 Days, the crowned jewel of developer Inkle’s collection, is a great app that stretches the boundaries between games and stories, reliving Jules Verne’s classic Around The World In 80 Days. While playing this brilliant game, you hop from city to city, trying to get around the world as fast as you can. While in each city, you can explore in a choose your own adventure type way, reading each scene and then deciding what to do. Also, you can choose which cities you want to go to, what type of transportation, etc. There are many parts of the story that makes it unique, and it’s certainly a revolutionary game in many ways.

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Out There

Out There, although not a particularly popular games, is one of the best strategy space games out there, along with games like Faster Than Light. Out There is more of an arcade variation of the classic ship managing game, where you have to keep the oxygen levels up, the fuel filled, and more. You do all that, along with collecting resources, following a quest to a certain star, meeting aliens, but none of these games last more than a couple days, depending on how good you are. For me, 9 out of 10 times I just accidentally don’t collect more fuel, but however you die, the game gives you a score based on a lot of different stats about your journey. Then you can try it again, to beat your record. The great thing about Out There is that the replay ability is higher than you would think, as every time you play the game, the story changes. The planets are different, the stars are different, and the whole gameplay experience is different. Out There is my favorite space game, and maybe even my favorite strategy game for mobile.

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Check back here soon to see the complete list of top 10 apps of 2014!

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