Following the Fourth of July weekend, we’re back with App Recap – our popular daily column dedicated to highlighting the best new apps while telling you all there’s to know about the biggest app updates and not-to-be-missed deals.
As Joe Rossignol is no longer associated with iDownloadBlog, I’ve volunteered to take over App Recap from him. I hope this will be on a daily basis as I’m still trying to figure out the best format for the column which won’t steal too much precious time from my news reporting…
Threes, the award-winning puzzle game by Greg Wohlwend and Asher Vollmer, has gone free at Starbucks. Apple’s Design Award Winner at WWDC 2014, Threes is regularly a $1.99 download for the iPhone and iPad but you can now grab it free of charge through the official Starbucks iOS app as its Pick of the Week, with cards with free download cards available in US stores now. A small Threes update last week has fixed the game for the iPhone 4/4s players.
Ginger Page is a nice writing app, translator and dictionary, all folded into a single iOS app. The new version 2.0 update has made it a whole more useful for blogging and writing on the go by finally enabling the native iPad interface. In addition to iPad support, Ginger Page 2.0 contains bug fixes and includes the ability to customize writing theme with custom backgrounds and font sizes on the Apple tablet. Download Ginger Page 2.0 free in the App Store.
Skype 5.2 for iPhone is now available and it brings back some of the missing features since Microsoft’s remastering of the popular VoIP software on iOS around a Windows Phone-like interface. Specifically, contact profiles and voice messaging have been reinstated in this Skype release. In addition to unspecified “general improvements,” you can also add participants to the existing conversation at any time and remove contacts without having to block them. Skype for iPhone is free in the App Store.
Wink smart home app by Quirky has received a major update adding support for a whole ecosystem of connected products in categories like lights, locks, thermostats, smoke alarms, cameras and sprinkler systems. The updated interface in Wink 2.0.1 allows you to create shortcuts for quick access to preferred settings and robots for automating interactions between products. Wink for iPhone is free in the App Store.
Google Play Music has been bumped to version 188.8.131.520. The biggest news is support for gapless playback, the ability to download whole playlists for offline playback and viewing your downloaded music in a single interface. You’ll need gapless playback to enjoy albums “Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd and many classical and live albums without a silence gap between tracks. Grab Google Play Music free in the App Store.
Google Play Movies & TV has received a nice little maintenance refresh bringing out several new features and enhancements. If you own Google’s $35 Chromecast, the app now offers bette controls for the HDMI dongle. Many new languages have been added as well to help push the app internationally. People with disabilities will appreciate several accessibility improvements and everyone else will benefit from stability improvements and bug fixes. Grab Google Play Movies & TV free in the App Store.
Opera Mini web browser for the iPhone and iPad has received a maintenance update bringing the app up to version 8.0.1. The single-column view is now back, the app fixed an occasional issue with virtual joystick and there are several stability and performance improvements. A major 8.0 update which arrived last week brought out a surprise overhaul loaded with cool new features like QR code scanning and Opera’s improved Turbo technology that use compression to cut down on cellular data use. The universal Opera Mini app is available free of charge.
Real Racing 3 recently gained Le Mans prototypes, night racing, split-screen multiplayer and other notable new features. Today, the premium racing title introduces additional gold payouts for leveling up, a new Bonus Series featuring cars with one defining trait – phenomenal grip – and new cars like the Ferrari F40, Ferrari F50 and the classic Ferrari Showdown Series between the agile F40 and the technologically advanced F50. Real Racing 3 is a freemium download for the iPhone and iPad.
On Sale Apps
CineXPlayer HD comes in handy if you want to watch personal videos and ripped movies in iOS-unfriendly formats like MKV, AVI and DIVX formats. The app is Dolby Mobile enabled and lets you enjoy high-definition movies without conversion. It will do subtitles, can output video to TV/VGA/HDMI via an adapter, is compatible with Google’s $35 Chromecast dongle, supports AirPlay, comes with the included downloader, live channels and more. Grab CineXPlayer HD for iPad for 99 cents (regularly $3.99).
Pocket List to-do app for the iPhone and iPad has gone free for a “very limited time”. This premium piece of software supports gestures and lets you organize with notes, priorities, check lists, due and recurring options for both to-dos and entire to-do lists, sleek interface and a unique ability to collaborate on to-dos over Wi-Fi or via Bluetooth when no Internet connection is available. Download Pocket List for free (regularly $4.99).
Thoughts 2 version 2.1.2 is one of the finest note-taking applications on iOS and it’s now available free of charge for a limited time. The app accompanies your text cursor by a text grabber that can be moved around by tapping and holding, or hitting the arrows on the grabber itself. It lets you select a word by double-tapping, modify the selection by dragging or tapping the grabbers swipe from right to left to reveal the edit menu and more. Grab Thoughts 2 for free (regularly $1.99).
iPad Calculator 2.0 has been slashed from $0.99 to $0, valid for a limited time only. I’ve always hated that Apple does not provide a stock Calculator app on iPads so this is a nice replacement for Apple’s missing app. Features include basic/scientific calculator in portrait/landscape, two custom skins for the fans of skeuomorphism, keyboard layout that changes with usage frequency, display of calculation steps and more. It’s much like Apples Calculator for iPhone, only for, you know, the iPad. Download iPad Calculator free for a limited time (regularly $3.99).
Weathercube is a gestural weather application for the iPhone and iPad which wraps a lot of functionality around a sleek, touchable experience. There are no buttons – just swipe, pinch and tap your way through the weather. Previously Apple’s FreeApp of the Week and listed in the App Store Best Of 2012, it’s gone free so you may want to download it now before it goes back up. Grab Weathercube free for a limited time (regularly $3.99).
And here’s Weathercube in action.
iOS 8 Beta 3 released earlier today with several changes such as a new Handoff toggle in Settings, new wallpapers, a tweaked UI for clearing notifications, access to iCloud Drive and the stock Camera app’s ability to show how many days until a photo gets deleted from iCloud Photos, among other changes and refinements.
OS X Yosemite Developer Preview Beta 3 has gone live, too. New features include a Dark Mode UI (pictured below) accessible via Settings app, a new QuickTime icon, redesigned Mail icons, tweaked interface in Settings and iCloud Preferences and enhanced notifications with larger app icon badges and a more legible typeface.
iOS 8 Beta 3 wallpaper – The third beta of iOS 8 comes with several new wallpapers, among them a simple yet effective image that can easily be mistaken for a slightly grayer version included with iOS 7.
Our resident Jim “Wallpapers of the Week” Gresham took it upon himself to make available this nicely done wallpaper for download to your iPhone 5s/5c. Also included, for those that missed it earlier, is the main iOS 8 water wallpaper.
I hope you guys like today’s selection of apps, updates and discounts. If you appreciate the effort, do point me down in the comments to other apps, updates and deals you’d love to see features here and I’ll consider adding them to future App Recaps.