Review of Touchgrind for the iPhone

If you are at all interested in both the iPhone and skateboarding you know about Touchgrind
icon. You’ve probably seen the trailer for it at least a couple of times, just like I have. But, you may be skeptical as to how good the game is, I was too.

The game currently costs $4.99 and allows you to skate around a skate park doing tricks on rails, ramps, and boxes. The interface for the game feels surprisingly good, you place two fingers on the board and slide, flick, and remove your fingers from the screen to do various tricks.

For the first 10 minutes of playing this game I had no idea how to do any tricks. Being the occasional gamer that I am and former hardcore gamer I thought I would be able to figure it out pretty quick on my own, but I quickly realized that it was a little more difficult than the trailer made it seem.

The game does feature some really well done tutorials, you are basically just watching a video of how to do things while an explanation is written across the bottom of the screen but it gives you enough information to be able to do it yourself when you go into a Warm Up or Jam Session.

I’m not going to explain how to do all the tricks here but know that it was only a matter of about 20 minutes before I was doing tricks with ease.

The game features 3 play modes, Warm Up, Jam Session, and Competition. In Warm Up you are basically allowed to roam around the skate park doing tricks with no time limits or goals of any kind. Jam Session let’s you do the same but in this one you are challenged to beat your best trick (my current is 89,396). Competition gives you a time limit of 100 seconds to get the highest score you can, with those higher scores you unlock new boards you can skate with.

There is only one skate park, which is a little disappointing, but there doesn’t seem to be any reason they wouldn’t add new ones in later updates. But the park that is in the game does have all of the obstacles to make sure you have a good time skating in it.

Another problem I’ve had with the game is that there isn’t a large distance between the front of the board and the edge of the screen, so you end up having to judge when to ollie on to something based on the indicators on the screen, but it is very difficult to judge when or for how long to turn so you are positioned just right going towards the obstacle and it is hard to know how close you are to it. They have tried to help with some of those problems by letting you tap the magnifying glass button at the bottom right hand corner of the screen to give you a birds eye view of the park but you find yourself going between those two view modes and eventually getting frustrated. And, you can’t skate while in the birds eye view mode.

The game is great and it does have enough depth to justify its $4.99 price tag, but hopefully with later updates they will fix the couple of problems I did have with it. If you are at all interested in skateboarding or skate games I think this would be a great buy.

Touchgrind – $4.99

Update All Option Returns in iPhone Firmware 2.2

If you remember back when iPhone firmware 2.0.2 came out an option was removed from the App Store, you could no longer “Update All” from the iPhone. This feature seemed to be disabled because it was causing some of the problems with buggy apps and nearly constant crashing (I didn’t have those problems of course).

But, with iPhone firmware 2.2 the option has returned (unless I missed its return in another firmware version). This doesn’t tell me a whole lot but Apple seems to be quite a bit more confident in the iPhones ability to install software cleanly.

Back when it was first removed I was certain that this was one of the major troublemakers for all of those crashes but I haven’t heard nearly the complaints that I used to about crashing apps and I think Apple is maturing the platform very nicely.

Guitar Rock Tour Hits the App Store

Guitar Rock Tour was recently released on the App Store and it is one heck of a game. The game is developed by Gameloft and is essentially a Guitar Hero World Tour clone, for the iPhone.

The game has two instruments to play, Guitar and Drums, 17 licensed tracks including Beat it, In the Shadow, Girlfriend, Message in a Bottle, etc. and a Rock Star career mode that takes you from playing in your garage to stadiums.

I’ve played most of career mode with the Guitar on medium and it is a really fun game. The graphics look great, the notes aren’t too difficult to time and the songs are good.

I do wish there were more songs in the game but you’ll most likely have to wait for Guitar Rock Tour 2 for the iPhone before we get any more songs. Playing the Guitar feels great but the Drums are terrible. there are only two notes that come from the top of the screen but you have 4 different buttons to press for them, from the tutorial it seems as though you are supposed to hit the cymbals when two yellow notes come down but having to reach up that far and then reach down again for an upcoming note is very awkward. I’ve experimented a little bit and it seems that hitting both of the bottom drum pieces at the same time will also be recognized as a successful note but it isn’t very clear.

The game costs $9.99 and I think it is worth every penny. In the past I’ve complained about the prices of apps in the App Store but this is one of the few that actually seems worth the price.

So, how does it compare to Tap Tap Revenge? It wins hands down, not only can you play multiple instruments on songs that you may actually hear on the radio the graphics and the fact that you can clearly tell whether you hit the note at the right time or not makes Guitar Rock Tour blow Tap Tap Revenge away. The only thing that Tap Tap Revenge has over Guitar Rock Tour is a two player mode.

Two player mode would work really well with this, especially since you can play with two different instruments. You could play guitar while a friend takes the drums, but I guess the developers didn’t want to go in that direction or just thought that implementing it would be too much work for what they would get out of it.

At the time of writing this the app was a little crashy, but not to the point where it was unplayable, if I had my iPhone on for a long period of time it would seem to crash shortly after launching but after a quick reboot of the phone it would work fine, so I won’t hold it against the game. I’m sure Gameloft is already working on fixing these bugs and will be releasing an update soon.

Guitar Rock Tour – $9.99

Quake Could Be Coming to the App Store

The developers at ZodTTD have submitted a version of Quake to the App Store. In a few days we will find out if the incredibly popular Jailbreak app will be available in the official App Store.

If the app does get approved it will have network play options, downloadable content and more.

I wouldn’t suggest anyone get their hopes up though because I don’t know how likely it is that the game will actually make it to the store. One can still hope, and since the game looks super fun and would be free it would be a big win for both Apple and iPhone users alike.


Adobe Creative Suite 4 Crack In Less Than 2 Weeks

With every new release of Creative Suite all of those clever hackers spend countless hours finding ways of getting around all of Adobe’s anti-piracy systems.

This time around it took hackers a little less than two weeks to release a crack for Photoshop CS4. Both Windows and Mac versions of the entire Creative Suite are now available on various torrent trackers and many of them even contain the files necessary to crack the applications in the suite.

The first crack came in the form of a keygen that would let you use the CS for a full year before the software would deactivate itself but newer cracks actually modify your computers HOSTS file so that the application can’t actually access adobe’s servers and therefore is unable to deactivate itself.

The game of cat and mouse continues and it seems that no matter what Adobe does someone out there will be able to crack it.


CodeWeavers Offers Free Software For Today Only

Jeremy White, CodeWeavers CEO made a promise 3 months ago. That promise was to offer CodeWeaver products free for one day if George Bush was able to achieve one of Jeremy White’s “Lame Duck” goals.

It seemed as though these goals were never going to be met but then the price of crude oil started to drop and eventually the cost of gasoline in Minneapolis dropped down to the target $2.79 level to meet one of White’s goals.

So today only you will be able to grab all of CodeWeavers products for completely free. There is a one license per customer limit (I haven’t been able to access the website yet so I don’t know if you will be able to get more than one product for free or if you have to choose one of those products).

The offer runs from midnight to midnight CST so head on over to the site and pick up your free copy. I’m probably only going to grab the game specific version but I might grab all of them because they are free.


Finally a Good Reason To Hack Your Apple TV, Hulu

The Apple TV is a great device and I absolutely love mine but I haven’t really had much of a reason to hack it. Yes, the idea of being able to watch unsupported formats on my Apple TV sounded nice but honestly I have just much rather spent the time to convert those files to supported formats to keep away from that whole hacking mess.

But now I may be changing my tune. The wonderful media center software “Boxee” now supports the streaming of Hulu content through the Boxee interface and now that you can install Boxee on your Apple TV that means you can get Hulu content on the Apple TV (obviously, if A=B and B=C then A=C).

Along with this announcement Boxee has also announced that they have added to their internet video sources.

What does worry me about this is that Boxee has not actually partnered with any of these content providers, so it is possible that these content owners would be able to block access to the content from Boxee essentially making this new features useless. I don’t really know why they would want to do that but seeing as how these guys are always so careful with where their content goes it isn’t out of the realm of possibilities.


Comment on Some apps & games stay on my iPhone out of guilt

I commented on a 5ThirtyOne post talking about some flaws in the App Store. Since I haven’t talked much about the flaws of the App Store I thought I would also post the comment that I left on their blog here. My opinion of the App Store is pretty firm, it seems like it is a great job for a first time, there could be some things fixed but I really think that the majority of people who are complaining need to just calm down and rethink their arguement.

Here’s the comment:

I do understand why a 24 hour return policy for apps would be a good idea but quite frankly I don’t understand why more developers don’t release free “lite” versions of their applications and release paid for versions with much more functionality, it just seems logical to me. I have spent my fair share on applications too (probably around $120) but I quickly realized that I need to be a little bit more careful when deciding whether or not to buy an application. I read a lot of reviews on sites like TouchArcade before I make my decision but lately I haven’t been buying a whole lot of apps.

I currently have 6 applications on my iPhone and I use all of them daily (except for a couple of games that I only open once or twice a week when I’m stuck in a situation where I have nothing else to do). All of those applications are for pay (with Twitterrific as an exception). Many of the other applications that I’ve purchased or downloaded I just don’t need and/or wouldn’t use even if they were on my phone. Most of those applications were purchased early on in the App Store when I was just anxious to play around with them but a lot of them were just purchased/downloaded when the app was on sale or temporarily free and I thought there was a possibility of some useful functionality there down the road.

But I truly think that people should stop complaining about the App Store. There might be some things that Apple could do to make it a little more user friendly but I think that most of the fuss over the App Store is from a whole bunch of people who should just start taking responsibility for clicking that “Buy” button. Maybe the app is useless but at the same time, maybe you should have read some more reviews before purchasing the app.

Some apps & games stay on my iPhone out of guilt – 5ThirtyOne

My 10 Geekiest iPhone Apps

These are no particular order and 2 of them aren’t able to be purchased anymore.

  1. Air Sharing ($6.99) – Air Sharing is one of the applications on this list that I actually haven’t had much use for. I originally downloaded it when it was first released to the App Store because it was available for free then and I figured I should download it. The app is very interesting, it allows you to share files with your iPhone over the network so essentially it turns your iPhone into a wireless network drive with the ability to view those files on the device itself. I haven’t had much use for it though becasue I surprisingly don’t spend a lot of time with documents. Most of my work is done in the browser and the rare occasions when I use any type of document it doesn’t really make much sense to really take that on the go with me. But, you can’t deny that it isn’t geeky.
  2. Byline ($9.99) – Byline is an RSS reader that syncs with Google Reader. The greatest thing about being a geek is always knowing what’s going on in the particluar space you are a geek for (like tech) I spend hours reading about the latest and greatest and Byline helps me do that wherever I am.
  3. NetShare (Unavailable) – NetShare might be the ultimate in geeky iPhone apps, especially since it is no longer available in the App Store. NetShare let’s you share your iPhones internet connection (EDGE, or 3G) over Wifi with other computers. It’s a little difficult to get it set up with all the applications that you may use but once it is working it is almost magical.
  4. Pandora Radio (Free) – All the geeks I know love music and one of their primary ways of discovering new music is through Pandora. Just put in the name of a song or band you like and Pandora will make a custom internet radio station with songs similar to your input.
  5. Podcaster (Unavailable) – Podcaster was actually one of those apps that was rejected from the App Store but if you were lucky enough to purchase it before Apple took the developers ability to distribute away you are probably one happy camper. The app let’s you take iTunes out of the equation in regards to podcast aggregation, downloading the podcasts directly to the device rather than to your computer then syncing with your device. It makes podcast consumption just that much easier.
  6. Remote (Free) – An Apple developed application it lets you control your iTunes library over the network, almost mimicing the iPod app on the iPhone except the content is played through the computer iTunes is installed on. Combining this with a couple of Airport speakers makes whole home audio a breeze.
  7. Simplify Media (Free) – Simplify Media was one of those cool apps on the desktop that let’s you share your iTunes library with your friends over the internet, but with the iPhone app you can view those shared libraries on your iPhone. Listen to music on your home computer over the internet or listen to a friends iTunes library instead.
  8. Spore Origins ($9.99) – All of us geeks seem to love Spore (that is unless they are hardcore gamers, in that case they criticize the game for being 5 poorly made games slapped together into one box) but Spore Origins is the mini sized version of that game (only allowing you to do, in my opinion, the second most fun part of the full game). Spore Origins lets you do the entire cell section of the game, with beautiful graphics and great sound it’s the go to demo for the geek who wants to show off their cool gadget (and we all know we like showing off our cool new gadgets).
  9. Star Wars The Force Unleashed ($9.99) – It’s a Star Wars game, on the iPhone, do I have to explain why this is geeky?
  10. Summizer ($2.99) – Twitter, Twitter, Twitter, all day long, but what if you not only want to see what your friends are saying but want to know what everyone is saying about a specific topic, that’s where Summizer comes in. It let’s you search Twitter from your iPhone and save those searches that you perform regularly. Want to know what people are saying about Sarah Palin? That’s exactly what Summizer is for.


Kroll Is Released In App Store

Digital Legend’s Kroll has finally been released to the App Store. The developer provides this feature list:

  • KROLL will immerse gamers in amazing 3-D action with its groundbreaking technology built explicitly for the iPhone touch screen with its full graphics capabilities.
  • Epic environments enhance the iPhone gameplay experience with hectic fighting at the mountainside, inside molten magma mines, and high above active volcano in magical floating prison. To learn the secrets behind the legend of KROLL, gamers must conquer mythic enemies and creatures.
  • Bash’n’Crush your way through nine hectic levels destroying ever increasing amount of enemy hordes and play through awesome cinematic boss battles.
  • Extend your experience through 3 difficulty level (Normal, Hard and Insane) for more and more crushing action. Scoring system keeps track of your progress.
  • iPhone and iPod touch special features: Use the accelerometer of your device to activate special attacks and the touch screen for controlling your character.

The game looks gorgeous but one of the problems I am having with it, in regards to my decision on to buy it or not, is that I haven’t seen anyone talking about gameplay. It seems everyone is spending all their time talking about how this game is the best looking game for the iPhone but I haven’t seen anyone talking about how fun it is to actually play. If this game is fun then that is one thing but I’m not going to spend $7.99 on a game thats only purpose is to show off your device.

Kroll ($7.99)

Office 2007 Priced at $29, in China

In an effort to combat piracy, Microsoft has finally begun doing something that will actually help. Instead of putting more and more anti-piracy measures in Office they have lowered the price to the equivalent of $29.

Microsoft has tried similar tactics in the past, like when they sold Office to college students at a drastically reduced price. What’s surprising (to me at least) is that this seems to be working. retailers have stocked up on inventory for the new promotion and they have been selling incredibly well.

Many would argue that piracy is the reason for raising prices on software but with all of the figuring I’ve done it seems that if you lower the price piracy will practically go away.

But, this will hopefully show Microsoft that they can make as much, if not more money from their products if they lower the price rather than keeping it high and trying to put more and more restrictions on the software.