By Kristi Palma
Reviewing: Fruit Ninja Free
By: Halfbrick Studios Pty Ltd
Available on: Android
Should you get it? Yes
My kids love fruit. And they love ninjas. So I figured a game called "Fruit Ninja Free" would be right up their alley. And I was right.
I downloaded it for free on my Kindle Fire. It's not new, but it's new to us. The point of the game is to slash fruit with your finger as it flies across the screen. You can choose from three different modes: arcade (fast-paced), classic (no timer), and zen (no bombs = "peaceful and relaxing" ninja action). My kids love the fast-moving arcade mode because of the power-up bananas. They love bananas. And these special glowing bananas do things like double your points and send eruptions of more fruit.
When I read the reviews for this app, the biggest complaint was all the ads on the free version. But I haven't found the ads to be too intrusive. Sure, an ad pops up now and again. But my little gamers know how to hit "skip" quickly and make them go away.
At 3 years old, my daughter takes joy in the simpler aspects of this game. The graphics are pretty good. She loves the splatter action and giggles when the juicy-sounding fruit - watermelons, coconuts, strawberries, and more - splatter on the wall after she cuts them. I mean, c'mon, kids love making a mess with food (even a virtual mess!).
Now my son, who is almost 6, pays attention to the points. He has this technique where he scribbles on the screen with his pointer finger to slice multiple fruit at the same time, which scores combos and earns bonus points. But he has to watch out for the bombs mixed in! If he hits those, they will subtract 10 points.
There are more levels to this game that my young kids haven't used and that adults and older kids probably enjoy. Fruit Ninja Free offers OpenFeint support, which lets you post your scores online. You can go into the dojo and unlock swag with enough points. There are fun facts about fruit. You can find your friends by importing them from Facebook.
But my kids simply love slashing fruit.
And that works for me when I'm stuck waiting at the doctor's office and need something to keep them happy and still.
By Martine Powers
By: Adair Systems
Available on: iPhone
Price: 99 cents
Should you get it? Yes, if sunlight is kind of your thing.
The "Sunrise" app is so bare-basics, it feels like it should come pre-uploaded on every iPhone, a la "Weather" and "Stocks."
It's been a staple on my iPhone for years, but I was flummoxed when a co-worker - brooding about daylight savings - announced that she'd never even heard of the app, which functions as a solar calculator.
The concept is simple: "Sunrise" uses your GPS coordinates (or one of hundreds of pre-uploaded locations worldwide) to determine the exact moment of sunrise and sunset at your spot, as well as moonrise and the end of twilight.
Since I downloaded this almost-freebie, I use it way more often than I ever anticipated. Will you have time for a post-work run before it gets too dark? Trying to time your lighthouse visit to coincide with a romantic sunset? Planning a road trip and want to hit the road before dawn? This app has answers.
And there are a few features other than sunrise and sunset: Data on lunar phases helps plan when to go on that moonlit walk. And I'm not really sure I ever cared to know when "solar noon" takes place, but it's a fun fact to have handy!
"Sunrise" is particularly helpful for travel or hiking. If you choose one of hundreds of pre-loaded locations around the globe (rather than your real-time GPS location) the app has saved a database of solar data for years to come. That way, even if you're in a place with 3G or wi-fi access (think: a remote Caribbean island or the wilds of the Berkshires) you can still get the stats to maximize your daytime.
Of course, if you download the app, you'll discover that - surprise! - the recent "fall back" in daylight savings time means the sun now sets at 4:35 p.m. Which is kind of depressing. Seriously.
But at least you'll know that solar noon takes place at 11:29 a.m.!
By Robert S. Davis
From a viewer's perspective, there are few things more dramatic and immersive than a panoramic photograph. But for photographers, the production of such sweeping images can be an onerous task that at first required specialty cameras and film as well as time and expertise.
Digital photography facilitated production, allowing photographers to stitch together many photos in an image editor or via a camera's built-in software. And now app-laden smartphones that rival the image quality of point-and-shoot cameras make producing stunning panoramas easier than ever.
At 99 cents, Occipital's 360 Panorama app offers iOS and Android users a powerful tool to create not only standard panoramic photos, but truly immersive, 360-degree images with sweeping views from sky to shoes. Image quality is often excellent and the app offers several options for sharing photos.FULL ENTRY