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Friday app roundup: Ultra Edition

Welcome to the Ultra Edition of Friday’s app round up. What does “Ultra” mean in this context? I’m glad you asked, it means that to make up for missing writing a bunch of articles last week, this Friday we’re giving you almost four times as many apps in the roundup.

So we’ve got a lot to accomplish this lazy, Friday afternoon, so without any preamble, this week’s roundup includes: a prison simulator game a la Roller Coaster Tycoon; an alarm clock app for the deaf; TellTale Game’s take on the popular Guardians of the Galaxy movie; a communication app for the deaf that includes VRS; a mysterious, magical, musical sword RPG; a pointillist-effect photo editor; a dating app based on friends setting you up on blind dates; a photo editing app that turns your pics into pencil sketches; an eSport-type take on the puzzle game genre; an app to help you pick the perfect distinctive guitar amp sound; a stylish guitar songwriting app; an app of thousands of writing prompts; an addictive brick-breaking game about “ballz”; and a mindfulness app based on realistic, real-world prompts.

App: Prison ArchitectPrison Architect app

OS: Android

What is it? Old school management simulator PC games like Roller Coaster Tycoon and SIM City already were a little bit dark, but this is the mobile game that stops sugar coating it. You are in charge on your own maximum security prison that you need to build and manage rom scratch. You’re in control of everything including prisoner morale, so be careful. Make sure they don’t go all Bastille Day on your ass.

Best review quote: Prison Architect: Mobile is a management simulator that lets you do what the title says it would – to build from scratch and manage your own maximum security prison. This means that you get to lay out the cell blocks and whatever facilities your prison might have for inmates. You also get to manage your staff, their pay, and the morale of the prisoners in your facility. – AndroidCommunity

Get it now: for your Android.

App: Deaf Wakedeaf wake iOS app


What is it? This is really useful app for anyone who is deaf or hearing impaired. It’s an alarm clock based on more than just an annoying noise. Like the default clock app, you can create multiple descriptive alarms at once. You can even choose from a few different clock faces and it is compatible with Apple Watch as well.

Best review quote: The Deaf Wake clock app offers LED, vibration, and visual-based alarms. You can choose from a camera flash, flashing screen, vibration, or sound, plus you can use more than one at a time. The app lets you create descriptive alarms, so you can easily use it for reminders too. You can pick from different clock faces and you can use your Apple Watch to set alarms. – AppAdvice

Get it now: for your iPhone/iPad.

App: Guardians of the GalaxyGuardians of the Galaxy universal app

OS: iOS, Android

What is it? TellTale has long since mastered the art of graphic-novel-esque playable adaptations of popular TV shows and movies and this time is no different. So while you’re eagerly awaiting Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and it’s sure-to-be amazing soundtrack, this game can help tide you over. You’re on an adventure with the whole Guardians of the Galaxy team to take on the big, purple, gem-collecting baddie himself, Thanatos. Expect each episode to cost about $5 each though or choose to buy a “season’s pass”.

Best review quote: Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series is now available via the Google Play store. More specifically, Episode 1 is now available, the episode is called “Tangled Up in Blue”. If you’ve played any of Telltale’s episodic point-and-click (point and tap?) adventures before, you’ll know what to expect – a well-written story with great voice acting and twists in the plot that you won’t expect. – AndroidCommunity

Get it now: for your iPhone/iPad or for your Android.

App: Convo – VRS app by signersConvo - VRS universal app by signers

OS: iOS, Android

What is it? This is simply put the best communication app for deaf people. It was built by and for the deaf community and is compatible with the types tech tools that deaf users might need like video relay services (a video telecommunication service that allows deaf, hard-of-hearing and speech-impaired (D-HOH-SI) individuals to communicate over video telephones and similar technologies with hearing people in real-time, via a sign language interpreter).

Best review quote: The Convo – VRS app by signers app was created by people who understand your communication needs. You can make VRS and point-to-point calls, use VCO, add contacts to your list, and connect with 3G, 4G, or Wi-Fi. The app also includes access to the Deaf Business and Community Directory for select cities. – AppAdvice

Get it now: for your iPhone/iPad or for your Android.


App: Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EPSword and Sworcery EP universal app

OS: iOS, Android

What is it? This is one of the best RPG games you can play on your iPhone. At its core it is an audiovisual marvel in which you (a wandering warrior monk) travel by moonlight and use a sword do battle and evoke sworcery to solve odd musical mysteries. You can even cooperate with your friends in the game using Twitter.

Best review quote: Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery is an adventure RPG game with a spooky story and a unique, rather intoxicating soundtrack.

It’s hard to go into too much detail without spoiling the experience, but here’s what I can tell you: Its 140-character story snippets are easy to toss on Twitter for co-op play. You can ask for help and lead your friends into the mystery of the Megatome and the Trigon Trifecta.

The pixel art and stick figure sprites work well to add to the atmosphere the game creates, because everything is supposed to be unclear. – iMore

Get it now: for your iPhone/iPad or for your Android.

App: PointillistedPointillised iOS app


What is it? Make your photos stand out from the crowd by channeling Georges Seurat and his distinctive pointillist art-style. The app is a simple, easy-to-use way to up your Instagram game and become the envy of your friends.

Best review quote: Be an electronic Georges Seurat! The Pointillisted app generates pointillist artwork using images from the Photo Library, including those shared in iCloud. – DigitalTrends

Get it now: for your iPhone/iPad.

App: Wingman+Wingman+ iOS app


What is it? This dating app’s gimmick to set it apart from the other dating apps is that it is based around the concept of a close friend introducing you to potential partners. As such, the app will not work without the cooperation of one of your close friends. They set up a profile for you, playing up your strengths (presumably with your full approval) and then select partners in the app that they believe match your values and the qualities you are looking for in a potential mate. It may seem like a tough sell, afterall you have to convince a friend to manage your dating matches for you, but my advice would be buy your pal a beer of their choice (for their hardwork and attention to this matter) and then hand them your phone. At the very least, you’ll find out what your friends think of your love life and your taste in romantic partners. Also be advised this app is still in beta testing.

Best review quote: Where most apps start by asking users to set up a profile and swipe their way to romance, Wingman lets friends weigh in on your best qualities. Think of it as a digital matchmaker where other people get to talk you up, then send you potential mates they approve. – TheVerge

Get it now: for your iPhone/iPad.

App: Pencil Photo SketchPicture Pencil Sketch Android app

OS: Android

What is it? This is another neat photo enhancing app. In this case photos you run through the app quickly become transformed into a nice colour sketch effect. So mix it up on your social media with some tastefully pencilled sketches of you and your photos.

Best review quote: Pencil Sketch is A powerful photo editor is also built-in within this app, which includes many useful and fast manipulations of your pictures. Pencil Sketch Photo Creates more attractive and beautiful photo. This app will automatically detect the picture content and apply the filter accordingly.In the next step it will apply a nice color sketch effect to your photo. – AndroidandMe

Get it now: for your Android.

App: BazooBazoo universal app

OS: iOS, Android

What is it? This is an action-based puzzle game where you need to hone your skills and then take on absolutely everyone else who plays Bazoo to become the high scoring champion. It’s a bit like a puzzle-based eSport of some kind. It’s both easy to learn and difficult to master. So dive in and prove your worth by besting online challengers.

Best review quote: Bazoo has three modes – Ladder, League, and Battle. The gameplay is simple, but pretty difficult to master. You will need to take down online challengers as fast as possible, solving puzzles, stacking up towers, hitting one combo after another. But not unlike all the arcade games you played before, Bazoo will reward you for skill – because each player gets the same number of blocks, in the same order. It’s now up to the player how to use them wisely. – AndroidCommunity

Get it now: for your iPhone/iPad or for your Android.

App: BIAS Amp for iPhoneBIAS Amp for iPhone app


What is it? Are you an avid guitar player? Well, this app is professional amp designer, modeler and processor that gives you a stunning replications of 36 of the most sought -after vintage and modern amps in rock ‘n’ roll history. It’s another tool in your belt for you to play around with so you can help your band find its sound. At the very least it can help you decide what kind of amp to buy for your electric guitar.

Best review quote: […] with Bias you can make your own custom amp head.

These apps are [sic] perfect for practicing. You can throw on a pair of headphones and play all night, and these amps sound good! You have amp models like Mesa Boogie to Marshall, Orange, and much more. One of the best features of these apps are the ToneCloud presets. You can download famous guitar players sounds and use them for your own playing! – ChasingSound

Get it now: for your iPhone/iPad.

App: Chord! – Guitar Songbook, Chords and ScalesChords! universal app

OS: iOS, Android

What is it? This other guitar-centric app is about writing your own songs by simply dragging and dropping chords. You can transpose it in any key, generate the fingerings with any tuning and generate printer-ready PDFs of your tunes. You can also use it to import your existing songs in text format, link audio tracks from your music library and play them at the same time as adjusting their pitch/speed. Really, it’s a must-have for any aspiring rock stars out there!

Best review quote: If you remember any of the Guitar Grimoire series of books, Chord is very similar to having a chord, scale, and tuning dictionary right in your pocket. You can build complex chords or scales you’ve never played before, use it as a quick reference tool, and so much more. This app is an invaluable resource for every type of player. I also heard as beautiful as this app is, it may be getting an overhaul, so stay tuned! – ChasingSound

Get it now: for your iPhone/iPad or for your Android.

App: PromptsPrompts iOS app


What is it? Flex your inspiration with these unique writing prompts. You can use these rando ideas as mini writing exercises to keep your creative juices flowing or as a jumping off point for a sprawling five-book epic. Either way, it’s a fun, resource to have to liven up your journal entries.

Best review quote: More than 300,000 unique writing starting lines and creative writing prompts to inspire you and give you ideas for creative writing. Whether it’s poetry writing, journal writing, storytelling, or anything else. – DigitalTrends

Get it now: for your iPhone/iPad.


App: Ballz

OS: iOS, AndroidBallz universal app

What is it? This is a highly addictive mobile game brought to you by the minds behind 2048, Stack, Escape and Light On. The game play is pretty simple, you’re swiping your finger to throw balls to break the bricks. You need to make as many bricks as possible before they move to the bottom. You can also collect items to gain additional balls. The level of bricks increases after each round that you throw balls. Remember that the hitting the right angle is the key to winning.

Best review quote: “Ballz” is similar to “Breakout,” where you use a ball to break through layers of tiles or “bricks,” but with a few twists: Each block has a number, and you must hit the block that number of times in order for it to break. – BusinessInsider

Get it now: for your iPhone/iPad or for your Android.

App: Sway

OS: iOSSway iOS app

What is it? Sway is a self-described “interactive meditation” app. It includes six unique levels designed to help you practice more mindfulness in your everyday life. Activities vary from the simple, moving your phone in your hand while sitting down or lying in bed, to gently swaying your body in place to slowly walking around the office. It gives you a series of activities to help you capture your ever-elusive bliss.

Best review quote: “Direct your attention to the movement,” the app Sway told me as I unconsciously sped up the rhythm of my languid to-and-fro. “You were going too slow,” it prompted me a few minutes later when I accidentally dozed off. After five minutes of this repetitive motion, a gentle chime sounded, and a notification popped up telling me I had met my meditation goal for the day. – WIRED

Get it now: for your iPhone/iPad.

Sources: AndroidCommunityAppAdviceAndroidCommunityiMoreDigitalTrendsTheVergeAndroidandMeAndroidCommunityChasingSound DigitalTrendsBusinessInsiderWIRED

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How to get Siri and Google Maps to play nice

When it comes to the major smartphone camps, Apple and Android, while there are some rabid fanbases on bothGoogle Maps Android and Apple sides, many consumers just wish products from the two behemoths would play nice with each other. For instance, there used to be a way to get Siri in older versions of iOS to play nice with Google Maps. Sadly, that trick is no more, but there is a new workaround you can use.

Before we give you show you this useful trick, we’d like to remind you that fines for distracted driving in MetroVan are at an all-time high, so proceed with caution.

Okay, so to make Siri play nice with the crippled version of Google Maps available in iOS, you need to make sure the app is able to access the microphone. So go ahead and open up your Settings app, and then scroll down and tap Privacy, followed by Microphone. Then make sure the toggle next to Google Maps is in the On position (that is to say, green.)

(You should also keep in mind that if you’re using Siri Eyes Free or Car Play, this trick won’t work. The car version of Siri doesn’t let you open apps using voice commands.)

Now that everything is set up, you can go ahead and hold down the home button to trigger Siri. Then say “Open Google Maps” and then hit the microphone in the top left corner to trigger Google Maps’ voice commands. Then recite the address you want directions to. From there, Google Maps can take the reins and start giving you driving directions.

You should also keep in mind that the types of queries Google Maps can understand aren’t all that complex. It can help you find restaurants nearby, but asking it for directions to the Newton Busloop via transit is probably going to throw it through a loop.

For now, this is as close as Siri lets you get to full support for mapping apps. Fingers crossed that she gains that magical ability in the near future.

Sources: iMore

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Friday app roundup: GIFs and animation

Welcome to the weekend fellow Vancouverites. If you don’t have anything to keep you entertained this weekend, don’t worry, we have just the thing for you.

This week’s app roundup includes: a classic Nintendo game remade for mobile; an app to help you bring your drawings to life; an app to help teachers keep parents up-to-date on their kid’s classroom progress; and an app to help you create your own GIFs.

App: Super Mario RunSuper Mario Run universal app

OS: Android, iOS

What is it? Not only does Super Mario Run bring the classic Nintendo game to your mobile. It also lets you create your own levels. You can try a couple levels for free, but really you’re going to want to go ahead and purchase the whole game. So run along and rescure the fair Princess Peach from Bowser’s castle.

Best review quote: new kind of Mario game that you can play with one hand. You control Mario by tapping as he constantly runs forward. You time your taps to pull off stylish jumps, midair spins, and wall jumps to gather coins and reach the goal! Super Mario Run can be downloaded for free and after you purchase the game, you will be able to play all the modes with no additional payment required. – Android and Me

Get it now: for your Android or for your iPhone/iPad.

App: Animation Desk ClassicAnimation Desk Classic iOS app


What is it? iPads have long been touted as excellent ways to produce digital art. Animation Desk Classic takes it one step further and allows you to animate your creations. You can even add your own music to your hand drawn creations. It may not be quite at the professional level, but it is still a handy tool for budding artists.

Best review quote:  Animation Desk Classic lets you create hand-drawn animations. You can choose your frame rate, apply a dynamic background, add music or sound effects, and insert pictures or shapes. You will also enjoy being part of Anizone, which is a YouTube platform for Animation Desk Users to explore and share their creations. Note that some features may require a subscription. App Advice

Get it now: for your iPhone/iPad.

App: Class DojoClass Dojo universal app

OS: iOS, Android

What is it? ClassDojo is an app for teachers designed to make it easier to communicate a student’s progress to their parents. As an educator you can share a variety of activities like videos of achievements and photos with parents, so they can see just how their child is doing. You can also set up a portfolio for each kid where they can keep a record of what assignments they’re working on and which ones they’ve completed.

Best review quote: Class Dojo is an app for educators that will transform the way parents and teachers interact. With this app, teachers will be able to contact parents from right within the classroom, sharing photos and videos of achievements, fun activities the kids are doing that day, and important announcements about events and projects. Another awesome feature is that each child has their own schoolwork portfolio where they can add what they are working on and have completed, and their parents have access to this portfolio so that they can stay up to date on exactly what their kids are learning. Not only does Class Dojo bring another element of fun into the classroom and a new way for teachers to connect with parents, but it also allows parents with even the busiest of schedules to keep up with what their children are learning about in school. – TalkAndroid

Get it now: for your iPhone/iPad or for your Android.

App: GIF Me!GIF Me! universal app

OS: iOS, Android

What is it? Why take a boring photo when you can create your own animated GIF? This app lets you create your own GIFs or even short videos, without having to upgrade to a newer smartphone. It’s a simple way to add more life to your photos. You can even add filters to your creations. This app makes creating and sharing GIFs a breeze.

Best review quote: Gif Me! is the best way to create and share short video in animated GIF or MP4. It’s easy: capture a small moment with your built-in camera, and share it on social networks. You can apply an image filter, too. – DigitalTrends

Get it now: for your iPhone/iPad or for your Android.

Sources: Android and MeApp AdviceTalkAndroidDigitalTrends

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Use these tricks to get more out Slack

Slack is an excellent tool for both work communication and totally ignoring the work you’re supposed to be doing. So you should know these tips to allow yourself to do more with it.slack chat app logo

For instance, did you know that you can customize your emojis on Slack? You can and here’s how open up the main Slack menu on the web and choosing Customize (please note: the options you see here will vary depending on how your team’s account has been set up). You can add customized loading messages from here too.

From that point you just need to add a picture of the emoji you want to add and a shortcut name for it. Keep in mind that any emoji you add will be available to all your team members.

Next up, you need to know how to take advantage of Slack’s inherent searchablity.  To improve your searches, you can use operators to narrow down your searches in Slack (very helpful for those busier channels). For example, type has:star inside the search box to look for all starred messages or try from:username to look for messages from a certain person.

If you need to see all the search operators at your disposal, just type + into the search box, then you can see all the specifications you can add to your search like specific dates and messages with links in them.

Also, if your team’s Slack channel is any good, you probably get too many notifications from the app. Notifications are essentially useless, if your phone is busy buzzing with a new notifications every couple of minutes. So you probably need the ability to ignore Slack notifcations at least some of the time.

When Slack’s Do Not Disturb mode is activated, you won’t get any sounds or notifications on any of your devices, and your co-workers will see a little sleeping symbol at the side of your name.

So click the bell icon (top left) to choose a time duration, or click on Do Not Disturb schedule and you can have it turn on automatically—very useful if you’re in a different time zone to everyone else. You can also activate Do Not Disturb by typing /dnd followed by a time period into the Slack chat field.

You should also know you can set up reminders within the Slack app. Head into your direct message conversation with Slackbot, type /remind into the chat field and then leave some reminder text and a time. You’ll see a confirmation message on screen.

You can also leave reminders for other people and specific channels (just type /remind on its own to see various ways in which you can leave messages). If you want to see all of the reminders that are currently active, type /remind list into the chat field (you can delete them from here too).

Hope this helps you improve your Slack experience.

Sources: FieldGuide

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