New apps to check out
This week’s roundup includes—finally!—the arrival of a gaming favorite on Apple’s mobile platform. Read on!
Super Mario Run
Super Mario Run (free, iPhone and iPad) is finally out for iOS. Says Susie Ochs: “The side-scrolling game is designed to play with one hand. It’s an endless-runner game, so Mario runs all the time and you tap the screen to make him jump, or tap longer to make him jump higher. The only drawback is that the game will require a persistent Internet connection, which isn’t that big of a deal unless you’re hoping to binge it during a long flight or train ride. And this is no freemium title, either—you can play the first three levels for free, but the rest is unlocked with a one-time in-app purchase of $9.99.”
But don’t let the price stop you. In our hands-on review of the game, Andrew Hayward concludes: “It is a lot of fun, and if you love Mario and have a soft spot for Nintendo’s particular brand of gaming bliss, then it should bring you plenty of pleasure through the holidays ahead.”
Astra ($1, iPhone and iPad) is the iOS client for Amazon’s Alexa smart assistant. If you have a close relationship with Alexa, you can use this app to control your Smart Devices away from home, re-order products from Amazon, ask Astra to give you a Flash Briefing for your news, find out if there is traffic on your commute, and much more. The only question is: Will Siri get jealous?
Handle (free, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch) brings together your Gmail, calendar, and to-do list into a single app. Version 1.3.9 launched this week with a number of new features, including a new widget, planning tool improvements, a condensed calendar view, and a new drag-and-drop feature in calendar view.
Health Tracking by Gyroscope
Health Tracking by Gyroscope (free, iPhone) integrates with iOS’s Health Kit to display your health data. “See beautiful daily, weekly, and monthly reports of your life, and easily save them as images to your phone or share them on social media.” The app received some tweaks and bug fixes this week. You’ll need to subscribe: $7 a month or $70 a year.
Minimize ($3, iPhone and iPad) is the latest “Zen puzzler” for iOS: “Immerse your eyes, ears and mind in minimize, a beautiful game of simplification and foresight. Simply swipe to change gravity and minimize each puzzle to where no blocks remain.” Far out, man.
Weather apps these days tend to go in two directions: One way is to reduce the amount of weather information on a single screen to the absolute minimum; the other is to pack the screen with scads of information. Partly Sunny ($3) leans to the latter point of view, with day-by-day forecasts and hour-by-hour graphs predict temperature, precipitation, humidity, wind speed, and more.
Sweatcoin (free, iPhone) “pays” you for all the outdoor steps you take. (The reward is in the form of “sweatcoins” which you can use to buy goods and services through the app, donate to charity, or share with other friends and family use the app. Privacy advocates might feel uncomfortable; the app uses your phone’s GPS to ensure it counts only your outdoor steps—which means it’s tracking you all the time. Still, if you need an incentive to get moving, this app provides it.
Wildfulness 2 (free, iPhone and iPad) lets you relax to the sounds of a “soothing nature soundscape” while viewing illustrated nature scenes. You can also choose to chill out with guided breathing exercises, or drop $3 to purchase additional soundscapes that will help you feel at one with creation.
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