Category: App Reviews

Iconic Toy Train Maker Lionel Goes High Tech with their First iPad Game


I spent an hour picking up my sister at the airport yesterday for an afternoon layover in Denver and then suffered through most of it when my car battery died and had to be replaced. On the way to drop her off last night, huge piles of railroad construction supplies caught my eye and I remembered that Denver is building a new rail-line from Union Station to the airport. It seems trains are back in style.

Lionel Trains has been around since 1900 and it seems they are making plans to be around much longer. In July they released an iPad app that can control their model train systems and this week they released their first game called Battle Train. It’s more than that though, because Lionel Trains is active on social media and their app website is brand new with all of the bells and whistles. Instead of relying on the past 100+ years of business they are trying to remain relevant in a digital world.

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Sequel to Popular iPad Game ‘Joining Hands’ Set for this Month

Joining Hands 2

It’s a breath of fresh air when a family friendly game is released and certainly a follow up to Joining Hands is something that is anticipated in my family. I certainly don’t mind it when my older kids play games like Infinity Blade or Minecraft, but I am always on the hunt for games that they enjoy which are both fun and clean.

This sequel is scheduled for release this month and promises more of the same puzzles as in the original version but with a number of enhancements and expansions. The game is made by 10tons Ltd., who also have released Sparkle 2, Azkend HD, and 21 other iPad games.

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Toon Hero Lets You Build Animated Stories on your iPad

Toon Hero

Toon Hero is a beautiful and easy to use animation app with high quality content from the likes of Jim Henson Company and National Geographic. Users of all ages can create animated scenes that can be intuitively shared using social media.

Characters, both free and paid, are animated using simple gestures to move, resize, and change their position in the pseudo ‘3D’ backgrounds. Perhaps the most intuitive part of the animation process is adding dialog which is accomplished when character recording is enabled and any sound the microphone captures triggers a mouth animation.

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New Shutterfly App Makes it a Snap to Build Multimedia Photo Books on your iPad

Photo Story

Shutterfly has released a free iPad app called Shutterfly Photo Story which can create photo books using 10 included templates. Photos can be easily imported from Facebook, Instagram, Shutterfly, and your iPad photo library and finished books can be shared to social media sites and as hard copies.

The primary difference between Photo Story and the book feature in iPhoto is that in Photo Story you can add audio recordings which can be accessed online when the book is shared on Facebook or through a QR code printed on the book’s cover when printed as a hardcopy.

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Second Life Developers Roll Out New Blocks Building iPad Game for Kids


Linden Lab has announced the release of Blocksworld, a new app which mixes fun puzzles with lego style designs and Minecraft type virtual worlds. Instead of just listing the features of this app and presenting a typical release, I decided to put it in the hands of the experts and see what they thought.

I interrupted my eight year old twins playing Infinity Blade II, installed Blocksworld, and let them loose with it. The first bit of good news is that they didn’t close it immediately which would have made this post quite short and instead they found it engaging. After 30 minutes of playing, one of them even came over to me and said thanks for the new game. Let’s look at what they found enjoyable.

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Ex-FaceBook CTO Takes Wraps off Quip – a Cool New iPad Word Processing App


Bret Taylor and Kevin Gibbs have announced the release of Quip, a modern word processor with a lot of mobile and social offerings. These guys have spent years in the trenches at Google and FaceBook and this release is a curiosity to see if Quip can succeed in a ‘Microsoft Office’ world.

At first glance Quip looks like a very capable mobile word processor and in fact some of the features certainly promise to be very useful but it represents a transition to a mobile paradigm that many companies aren’t ready for. This would be fine except that it appears the earning model for Quip is aimed at businesses and not with the free version anybody can download.

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First-Ever PLAY-DOH App Brings Learning and Fun Together — iPad App Review

playdohappPLAY-DOH is a timeless childhood toy that just debuted on the iPad. With PLAY-DOH Create ABCs, children can take PLAY-DOH practically anywhere and enjoy a mess-free virtual version of the real stuff.

While this app doesn’t replace the tactile experience of making noodles with the Fun Factory, it does a very good job of translating PLAY-DOH to iOS. The app is the first in a planned series of kid’s edu-apps from Hasbro and developer PlayDate Digital, and, based on the strength of this app, I look forward to seeing what else is forthcoming from this partnership.
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5 Apps Your Dad Wants More than an Ugly Tie this Father’s Day

Happy Father's Day from PadGadgetFather’s Day is upon us and to help you avoid a grievous gifting debacle we’ve decided to provide some ideas for apps that you can buy for your dad. If he doesn’t have an iPhone/iPad then it’s time to remedy that as well and if you feel the need to buy an ugly tie anyway then at least stuff it with an iTunes gift card. There are as many different types of apps as there are types of dads and so use this guide as a launchpad to find the perfect app for your pop.

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5 Apps Apple Just Killed with iOS 7

AppsThe iOS 7 announcement has come and gone and while many are celebrating the new features and design, there are some companies that are likely holding wakes to mourn the loss of their newly obsolete apps.

While Apple is bound by copyright laws and cannot blatantly steal ideas from app developers (because no company ever does that), there is certainly allowance for competitive apps and design functionality. However, how much competition is there really going to be when we’re talking about a flashlight app compared with a button in the newly announced Control Center? There are certainly apps that are going to fade into obsolescence. Here is a look at 5 apps that are now in competition with iOS 7.

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Apple Maps: More of the Same?

Apple Maps

Apple announced several new map features at this year’s WWDC but if you were hoping for evidence of a turnaround from last year’s mapping fiasco then you are not going to feel 100% satisfied. The new OS X app looks like an extension of the iOS app and while the ability to share routes directly to your iPhone is something that is designed with elegance and promises efficiency, it is a feature that doesn’t justify a switch back from using the superior Google Maps.

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