Not so long ago, armchair astronomy used to involve lugging along stacks of charts and flashlights if you wanted to know the name of a star (aside from notables like Polaris and Betelgeuse). The advent of astronomy apps for iOS devices changed all that for the better, but until now, the best ones have emphasized utility over beauty. That all changes with Sky Guide, which achieves a remarkable balance of both.
Like its inferior predecessor, Sky Survey, Sky Guide relies heavily on a breathtaking mosaic of 37,000 nighttime images by photographer Nick Risinger rather than abstract points of light for stars – and they're now pleasingly nestled behind a fluid and intuitive interface. Still, the long exposures mean the imagery's much more detailed than anything most of us will ever see, and thus we're happy to see the option to "dim" the sky with a simple swipe of two fingers to mimic non-rural viewing. An optional ethereal musical track adds emotional intensity to the experience, as do a series of chimes that resound as you click on stars of varying magnitudes.
But Sky Guide isn't merely pretty; it's also surprisingly useful. Gone, for instance, are many dubious entries lifted from Wikipedia; in their place, Sky Guide offers meticulously researched articles penned by scholars for a stunning range of stars. Even the search option reveals surprises, such as dimmed names for stars that aren't visible and listings for their rising and settings.
To be fair, Sky Guide's usefulness is limited. One of the drawbacks of the stunning panoramic photography is that it captures thousands of more stars than Sky Guide provides data for; noted competitor Star Walk, on the other hand, includes data for near-invisible wallflowers like HIP 11117. Time controls are also missing, preventing you from seeing what your sky will look like at set times.
But for the intended audience, that should matter little. Sky Guide is aimed less at serious astronomers and more at dedicated enthusiasts seeking a viewing experience that's as emotionally moving as it is informative. In this regard it succeeds as no other app before it, and all for a price that won't leave a black hole in your wallet.
The bottom line. While lacking data for the most obscure stars, Sky Guide is a beautiful and informative app that should be a treasure for most astronomy aficionados.
Games are a relatively young narrative medium, and plenty of them boil down to punching and/or shooting the bad guys. But wherever you find a canvas, a painter can’t be far behind to turn it into a masterpiece. The App Store is no exception, and creative minds have already used the platform to tell their own interactive stories on the ubiquitous iOS devices. We’ve compiled a list of games to satisfy the story itch, from the playful to the spooky and downright bizarre.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. regulators are in the early stages of an antitrust probe into whether Google Inc, which dominates web display advertising, has broken antitrust law in how it handles some ad sales, a source told Reuters on Thursday.
Button-mashing brawlers make for a great time when you've got real buttons to mash, but they don't always translate so well to iOS touch screens. Rather than attempt to shoehorn all of the intense fighting action into a traditional arcade-style control scheme, indie studio The Game Bakers concocted a fresh touch-centric battle system for its quirky new face-pummeling fighter. Combo Crew's fast-paced fisticuffs and streamlined combo system hinges on simple swipe controls that are far more satisfying to wield than you'd expect from an iOS beat-em-up.
Thrashing baddies while scaling a massive tower one floor at a time – all in a quest to defeat the nefarious and humorously named Mr. Boss – proves an appropriately straightforward mission in Combo Crew's campaign mode. Choosing from a handful of freaky fighters, you dive into the fray with fists and feet swinging as you brutalize cartoonish goons in enclosed arenas. It's a fun romp that's bolstered by tons of unlockables, an endless challenge mode, and the option to summon buddies into your game to help knock some heads. But ultimately, it's the accessible fighting itself that'll hook you.
Basic attacks are pulled off by simply slashing your finger across foes on the screen, while swiping with two fingers (in one of four directions) delivers a combo maneuver. The direction of your swipe determines which combos you're delivering, but you can't block incoming attacks mid-combo, making timing your moves an important consideration. Without a means to manually move around, getting around the screen relies solely on which foe you're targeting. This can lead to some moments of initial confusion while you sort everything out, but it doesn't take long to get into a butt-kicking groove. Swapping unlocked combos adds variety to each match, as does playing with different characters, and the fluid combat feels punchy and exciting.
The bottom line. An intuitive control scheme and loads of cartoonish charm make Combo Crew's brawling action a real treat for your fingertips.
- Drive on Android scans receipts, adds Cards
- Google Drive triples free storage to 15GB
- Add expiration dates for shared Google Drive folders
Do you keep the receipts for everything you buy? Like me, you've probably noticed that the ones printed on thermal paper can begin to disappear over time. Soon, you're left with only a blank piece of paper that can't act as a proof of purchase or help you at tax time.
Today's update to Google Drive on Android lets you easily store all of your receipts and even search through them. Doesn't a nice digital archive sound better than piles, folders, or boxes of receipts all over your home? Here's how to get started:
Note: This new version of Drive seems to be having issues on several devices, particularly the Galaxy S III. Although I didn't reach out to Google for comment, the amount of comments on its Google Play app entry and Go... [Read more]
Sometimes you want all new Mac goodness and sometimes you want a little upgrade or accessory action for that Mac. We've got you covered in both cases this week, along with the usual bevy of iOS accessories, especially if you drive a car from the 1990s.
15.4" Retina Display MacBook Pro Quad-core Intel Core i7 2.7GHz
Holy smokes this brand new machine is a beauty and it's price cut $499 off bringing it down to $2,699.
13.3" Retina Display MacBook Pro Dual-core Intel Core i5 2.5GHz
$519 off the cover price of this slightly smaller but super powered device takes it down to $1,479.
13.3" Retina Display MacBook Pro Dual-core Intel Core i7 2.9GHz
When you save $399, you get this steal of a deal for $1,799.
13.3" MacBook Pro Dual-core Intel Core i5 2.5GHz
Sure, it's only $86 off, but this still is a honey of a deal at $1,112.
Onde Screen Capture for Mac and W3Capture
Screen capture goes awesome with this accessory, nailing you some full page screenshots and more. Down from $43 to just $10.
The Mega Design Bundle Upgrade
Save over one cool grand with this bundle that will give you design tools like nobody's business and all for only $49.
Tunes Cleaner For Mac
Over time, your iTunes library gets a bit messy and so Tunes Cleaner comes to the rescue for a fraction of its cost at $7.
Optical to SATA Drive Converter Bracket Solution
Now here's an interesting deal. We like the idea of upgrading our hard drive, but we're a little leery of doing so but with all the right tools and instructions? Now that's a different matter and for $45, this kit will set you up.
Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad mini
Only $79 and you are good to go with typing not on a screen but a real clickety clack keyboard.
URGE Basics Sliding Bluetooth Keyboard Case - iPhone 5
For just $25 you can grab this keyboard that will give you that tactile sensation that on-screen typing just can't replicate.
iPhone 4 / 4S Bluetooth Keyboard Case
But but but you say, I only have an iPhone 4S. Never fear, for $15, you too can hear the soothing tickety tack of keys.
F22mm Extended Telephoto Lens
Hook up the shutterbug action with this telephoto lens for more than half off at $24.95.
HD Accessory Bundle Kit for iPad Mini
Everything you need to keep your iPad mini alive and filled up to the brim with full battery power is right here for only $22.95.
Luxury Quilted Leather Portfolio Smart Case for iPad Mini
Go fancy but do it on the cheap with this $20.95 leather portfolio protector for your little guy.
Digital Sound Generation Car Cassette Adapter
Someone out there is rocking it old school and new and needs this 20th century cassette adapter for their 21st century phone. $4 hooks you up, time traveler.
Really Darn Cheap
Motorola Stereo Wired Headset
It's one of our regular comments, but you really do need to take advantage of headphone deals when they come along, like this pair for $2.95.
SAN FRANCISCO/DUBLIN (Reuters) - Apple has operated almost tax-free in Ireland since 1980, welcomed by a government keen to bring jobs to what was then one of Europe's poorest countries, former company executives and Irish officials have said.
Following right behind Google’s announcement of the Galaxy S4 Google Edition, it seems HTC is considering a stock Android variant of the One for release in the US. HTC certainly put their best…
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Activist investor Carl Icahn and Southeastern Asset Management Inc have initiated talks with banks and asset managers to line up commitments for as much as $7 billion in bridge loans to back their leveraged recapitalization proposal for Dell Inc, banking sources told Thomson Reuters LPC on Thursday.
AT&T's rivals could start seeing red over the carrier's exclusive lock on the Samsung Galaxy S4's latest hue.
The Aurora Red shade of the 16GB Galaxy S4 goes on sale to AT&T customers starting June 14, though pre-orders begin May 24.
AT&T seems to have a special affinity for red shades; just about a year ago it also scored exclusive U.S. rights to sell the GS4 predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy S3, in a shade of red. Later, that color and others became available globally.
Samsung's Galaxy S4 starts off with a 5-inch HD display, a 13-megapixel camera, an integrates TV remote control option, and a fast processor for better gameplay. Read all about Samsung's superphone in our full Galaxy S4 review.
Samsung's Galaxy S4 powerhouse[Read more]
(Reuters) - ChannelAdvisor Corp shares soared more than 40 percent in their market debut on Thursday as investors bet the e-commerce software company will benefit from the rapid global spread of online buying and selling.
If these two phones look almost exactly the same, should you choose the Samsung Galaxy S4 over the Galaxy S3? Or should you just save your money and hold on to the GS3…
(Reuters) - GameStop Corp raised the lower end of its full-year earnings forecast on Thursday after beating fourth-quarter estimates, counting on a boost from new gaming consoles due later this year and further growth in digital and mobile sales.
We live in a mostly wireless world these days, but there are times when a good old-fashioned wired accessory works best -- such as an external keyboard for the iPad when used in the classroom.
Logitech announced its Wired Keyboard for iPad this week, a first of its kind accessory targeted for the classroom. Available with either Lightning or 30-pin connectors to support all iPad models, the keyboard will retail for $59.99.
But why have a wired keyboard at all when the iPad is clearly such a mobile, wireless-centric device in the first place?
“Schools are increasingly purchasing iPads for use in the classroom,” said Mike Culver, vice president and general manager of mobility at Logitech. “While tablets are enabling new ways of teaching and testing, there’s a challenge when a teacher needs to simultaneously pair multiple iPads with multiple wireless Bluetooth keyboards. We developed the Logitech Wired Keyboard for iPad to specifically solve this problem, so students can now simply plug it in and start typing.”
But the Logitech Wired Keyboard for iPad doesn't just solve a problem: It's also built to be durable enough to withstand students spilling drinks on it or even banging away at the keys for long periods of time. (Logitech claims it has a key lifespan of more than five million strokes.)
The Logitech Wired Keyboard for iPad with the Lightning Connector will be available first in August, with the Logitech Wired Keyboard for iPad with the 30-pin Connector following closely behind in October.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter
Chances are you have at least a handful of online accounts you login to on a regular basis. The security on offer for each of them will vary greatly, but one service that…
Plagued with high-profile hacks in recent months, Twitter is finally getting serious about security with a new two-step login verification -- but users will need to actually enable it first before they'll be protected.
Twitter announced Wednesday that the microblogging service now has a "login verification" option available to users. That's basically their fancy way of saying two-step authentication, a feature that has been making headlines after being adopted by the likes of Google and Apple.
Login verification is a method to prevent email phishing schemes or password data breaches from affecting Twitter users. Once activated, any login will require a six-digit code in addition to the password, with the password only being sent via SMS to your cell phone.
While that method works great on Twitter.com, users will need to actually generate a temporary password to log in from third-party applications, which can only be done from the dedicated applications page.
To activate login verification, users must first head to their account settings on Twitter.com and check the "require a verification code when I sign in" option near the bottom of the screen. Add a phone to your account and you'll be good to go.
Login verification may have been the big Twitter news on Wednesday, but the company also pushed out another update to its Mac application, finally adding Notification Center integration. The update also adds a number of big fixes for Growl, composing tweets and more, so be sure to download version 2.2.1 from the Mac App Store today.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter
Messaging is perhaps the hottest category of app around, so it's little surprise developers keep finding new ways to enlist new users while retaining those already hooked -- and imo's new Broadcasts promises to do just that.
imo.im announced Thursday that its iOS and Android apps have been updated with a new mobile Broadcasts feed, part of a bigger push to make its imo Network a more social experience for users.
“Social discovery is an important feature,” said Ralph Harik, CEO of imo.im. “We want users to find relevant and useful information, people, news and other content that will make their lives better. imo Broadcasts is a platform to achieve that.”
Broadcasts is a channel where users can discover news, topics and information they care about as well as other people to share it all with. Users will be able to upload photos directly to Broadcasts and share them with others, all without having to search for friends or topics of interest.
imo uses a proprietary algorithm to rank Broadcasts content based on each users' interests, in turn generating connections with other like-minded users or even entire groups of people based on their activity within the imo Network.
imo.im is available as a free app for iPhone/iPod touch or iPad on the App Store, and is also available for Android devices.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter
The week may not be quite over, but most Americans are looking ahead to the extended Memorial Day weekend. And what better way to enjoy three days of fun and sun than with some app updates and improvements? We've got a few of those for you in our Thursday recap, along with some bold words from BlackBerry's founder on BBM's chances for survival with iPhone users, so read on for more.
Shazam Encore 6.0 Adds Interactive Maps, Universal iPad Support
Sure, the media recognition app Shazam is available free, but those of us who consider ourselves tagging pros think little of dropping $6.99 to nab Shazam Encore, which has just been updated to version 6.0. In addition to finally adding native iPad support (the app is now a universal build), the update adds interactive maps for discovering what's popular elsewhere on the planet. Shazam Encore now runs in the background so it can tag content while you're composing an email or even playing a game, and a new home screen serves up real-time updates of what's being tagged for U.S. television viewers. The update is free for existing users, and available now in the App Store.
MediaFire Adds Support for Native Music, Video Streaming
The folks at MediaFire have always been pretty generous with the free cloud storage space (50GB is nothing to sneeze at!), but it's been hindered by the inability to stream music and videos from its client software. That changes Thursday, as the company's blog announced a milestone of 30 million registered users who will now be able to natively stream video and music via the web, iOS or Android. For existing users, the celebration comes with one added bonus: 50 percent off a first-time purchase of Pro or Business storage plans, which start at $2.49 per month for 100GB of cloud storage.
BlackBerry Founder Confident iPhone Users Will Flock to BBM
The man who gave birth to Research in Motion (now BlackBerry) may be gone from the company he founded, but he's got a few things to say about its chances for success. Bloomberg reported Tuesday that Mike Lazaridis has gone on the record with his confidence that iPhone and Android users will drop their existing messaging apps in favor of BlackBerry Messenger, which will be available this summer for the first time outside of BlackBerry hardware. “BBM is by far the most compelling wireless experience and wireless social-networking environment,” Lazaridis said. A favorite of 60 million BlackBerry customers around the world, the free BBM service sends more than 10 billion messages each day -- but will iPhone users be willing to drop iMessage or any number of other services to use it?
Clear for iOS, Mac Updated Email Lists
Realmac Software announced Wednesday that it's scratched another item off its own to-do list by adding the ability to email Clear lists on the iPhone or Mac. The new feature can be found in the Actions menu on the desktop version, or simply shake your iPhone to call it up. The developers claim emailing lists was "a feature we've received a lot of requests for," so it's likely more than a few readers will also be scratching it off their wish lists this week.
Amazon Kindle Fire HD Now Available in Over 170 Countries
Americans take for granted their ability to saunter over to Amazon.com and pick up a Kindle Fire HD, but starting today, customers in more than 170 countries around the world can do the very same thing. Shipping on June 13, the Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HD 8.9 are Amazon's best-selling item since launch, now available to order for customers in Ireland and Gibraltar from www.amazon.co.uk; for customers in Austria and Luxembourg from www.amazon.de; and for customers in Monaco from www.amazon.fr as well as "various retailers" around the world.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union is pledging 5 billion euros ($6.5 billion) to boost research on semiconductors and other electronics items used in everything from smartphones to cars, in a bid to boost the sector which is lagging U.S. and Asian rivals.