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Steven Smith

Steven is a freelance writer hailing from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England. As well as writing for the iPad, iPhone, and Mac AppStorm sites, he also writes at his own site. He enjoys sports, reading and getting lost in science.

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When it comes to Apple’s iconic media events, the one thing that guarantees hype is new hardware. No matter what else is on the agenda, iPhones and iPads are the star attractions. Understandably, much of the other news interspersed between device unveilings is swept aside, perhaps given a whisper of coverage after the dust settles. For me, it is those tidbits I find tantalisingly mysterious, a mere breadcrumb hinting at a grander plan. Last week’s iPhone event was no different.

Prior to WWDC I’d have forgiven anyone for thinking iWork had been put out to pasture. With no desktop update since 2009, it’s fair to say the web app versions of Pages, Keynote, and Numbers came with more than a little intrigue. In a sense, Apple had just created its first multi-platform apps. Now, four months later, Apple has dropped another breadcrumb. All three iWork iOS apps are now free for purchasers of a new iOS 7 device — Apple’s strategy is beginning to come full circle with more than a little risk and reward.

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Growing attached to apps and services is something we have all done as iOS users — with Sparrow being a particular sore point. Difficulties can arise when developers attempt to improve upon their previous efforts in the name of innovation and improvement; however, as with Skitch, such plans aren’t so easily fulfilled. Therefore, upon hearing my favourite app of 2012 was being redeveloped, I listened with more than a little trepidation. As it turns out the team have released a brand new app filled with mind blowing audio and visuals, once again blowing my mind.

Again based upon Nick Risinger’s stunning cosmological photography, Sky Guide is the new iteration of Sky Survey — the most beautiful app in the App Store, until now. Like Apple, Risinger knows even the best products can be improved and with Sky Guide his team have brought a wealth of new material to give any astronomy enthusiast goosebumps. The idea may remain the same but there’s plenty of features to get excited about whilst scanning the Milky Way. Let’s take a look.

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Despite the many technological and social advances made so far in the 21st century, there are some areas in the entertainment industry seemingly undergoing a period of stagnation. The number of rehashes and remakes of classic film and gaming brands is ever increasing with largely mixed-to-negative results. Such failures beg the question of whether original works can be bettered? If Conquist 2 is anything to go by there may be hope yet.

Military strategy games have always been amongst my favourites, whether it be the classic board game Risk or the legendary Command & Conquer series. Conquist 2 takes direct influence from the former, Risk, boldly mimicking the title’s famous premise and daring to try and better it. Can it succeed? Or is another rehash destined to fail? Stick around to find out more! (more…)

As the App Store has swelled in size, it has become increasingly difficult to find those sparse gems — apps that can be a real treat to stumble upon. Sky Survey happens to be one of them. I first heard about the app while watching an episode of Horizon on the BBC iPlayer service and, utterly captivated by its premise and development, decided to track it down.

The cornerstone principle of the app is nothing new; in fact, you may have heard of Night Sky as an app that also details the many celestial objects on show above our heads. However, that’s where the similarities end. The end result of Sky Survey is derived largely from one man’s painstaking efforts to capture the Milky Way in unprecedented detail; an effort that has yielded some of the most breathtaking images I have ever seen. Stick around after the break to lose yourself in space. (more…)

As a writer with an easily distracted brain, I like to keep my process as simple as possible to avoid interrupting the creative flow. However, as a proponent of the traditional pen and paper approach to writing, carrying a plethora of notebooks and keeping them organised can be a nightmare. Consequentially, I am always on the lookout for ways to streamline the process in order to make writing that little bit easier — Writing App may well be the perfect solution.

Designed specifically for authors, Writing App combines useful research tools with the ability to use the app like a text editor. By incorporating both stages of the creative process together in one app, organisation quickly becomes a non-issue as all of your work is held in one location. All writers know that in order to produce your best work, your mind must be focused and clear to allow the creative juices to flow; Writing App does not claim to boost your creativity, but it may well be a boon to your productivity. Stick around after the break to find out more! (more…)

Unlike the vast majority of professions, Writing requires no qualifications of its purveyors — anybody can be one. The boundless level of expression afforded to authors of any genre is unmatched by any other art form. A level of expression limited not by talent or ability, but only by the imagination of the craftsman. It has been said that writing itself is not difficult, but rather the difficulty arises with forming good ideas.

Authors cannot be taught how to be creative or imaginative; it is for themselves to coax ideas out of their minds. What can be encouraged, however, is the development of those oh-so-rare seedlings of invention into fully rooted bougainvillea. Writers App isn’t designed to boost imagination, but it does provide the tools needed to help cultivate your ideas into flourishing works of literature. Intrigued? Let’s find out more. (more…)

As the iPad has developed, we’ve seen some of the world’s biggest publishers bring their most popular titles to the App Store, none more significant than EA Sports and Sega. The success of ubiquitous games like Tiger Woods PGA Tour & Football Manager Handheld on iOS, has shown that sports gaming is a viable concept on the platform, despite the high level of detail and complexity it demands.

However, one sport that hasn’t translated well into the world of computer gaming is tennis. Sure, there have been decent games developed for the major consoles, but even they haven’t managed to showcase the many intricacies and fluid movement of the real game as has been achieved with the likes of football and golf. With that thought, I present to you Sega’s Virtua Tennis Challenge. Can the iPad succeed where others have failed? Let’s find out. (more…)

The Olympic Games are, without a doubt, the greatest sporting spectacle in the world. Combining 36 major sports and only the very best athletes, the games also pose a logistical nightmare for organisers and spectators alike. If, like me, you aren’t fortunate enough to have tickets for the next big game, keeping track of specific events and where to watch them can be a truly thankless task.

For the Beijing Games in 2008, I drew up a shortlist of events I wanted to see — complete with times, locations and where to watch them — only to inadvertently miss Usain Bolt smash Michael Johnson’s 200m sprint world-record, one of the most spectacular moments in the history of athletics. However, thanks to the London 2012 Results app, it is almost impossible to make such a mistake again. (more…)

When the iPad first launched back in 2010 it is safe to say that I wanted, nay needed, Apple’s revolutionary new device, pronto. At the time however, as a student, such a purchase would have been wildly excessive and rather rash for what was, in essence, an unnecessary luxury. However, as I’m sure you’re aware, the iPad has since changed into a completely different device altogether, and not just physically. The changes made to iOS and the growth of the App Store have facilitated the iPad’s metamorphosis to a legitimate creative force, and, potentially, your next work device. (more…)

With over 400,000 apps available for download, the iOS App Store is an unforgiving marketplace, and one in which it can extremely difficult to set your app aside from the rest. Hard to believe then, that such a simple app as Cargo-Bot boasts one of the most unique accolades possible: the first game to be programmed entirely on an iPad.

If that’s not enough to get your attention, I don’t know what is. That fact alone was enough to peak my interest in this relatively simple game, or so it appears upon first glance. In truth, what I found was much more; a deftly created game that packs a real, challenging punch. Intrigued? Let’s find out more. (more…)

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