By Daniel B. Kline
Trivie offers fairly basic trivia action in a game show-style format. Players must either create an account or log in through Facebook to play, and all games are head-to-head against either a friend you invite or a stranger you are matched against randomly.
The basic game play has players competing in a four-round match where the early rounds are multiple-choice questions and the final round is a single question a la Final Jeopardy. There are rotating free categories as well as a selection of topics that can be paid for. You can also buy other items in the game like fancier avatars or the ability to earn credits to buy even more stuff faster.
Trivie works much like Words with Friends or an online board game like chess or checkers in that once the first user completes a round, he must wait for his opponent to play before scores are compared and the second round becomes playable. This makes for somewhat unsatisfying game play as playing a round takes longer than many games with similar styles of play.
In addition, over the handful of games I played with strangers, it seems that if one player builds a commanding early lead, the other tends to not come back to finish. If that happens, instead of a forfeit victory, the player in the lead is simply stuck in an unfinished game. And, since Trivie does track how many victories a player has, creating a big lead only to have your opponent not finish can be somewhat frustrating.
Trivie's website claims the app has more than 75,000 trivia questions and in frequent play, I did not see a repeat very often. The questions are somewhat easy in general and the game is more aimed at the Wheel of Fortune audience than the Jeopardy crowd.
Trivie is a decent, but not great, app that suffers from the intermittent game play. A single player option would be nice, as would faster gameplay.
By Daniel B. Kline
Available on: iPhone, Android
Price: Free (paid version available without ads for $3.99 a month)
Should you get it? Yes
Pandora knows my musical tastes better than I do.
The app/website works off a simple premise: Tell it an artist or two whose songs you like, and Pandora feeds you music it thinks you will enjoy. Give a song a "thumbs up," and Pandora serves you more like it. Give a "thumbs down," and not only does the song stop playing, but Pandora knows to steer its choices away from that type of music.
I signed up for Pandora after downloading the free app in the iTunes store on an iPhone 4S. After a simple registration, I built a "radio station" by inputting a few bands I liked, starting with Buffalo Tom, The Lemonheads, The Replacements, and John Hiatt. Pandora used that info to start serving me songs from those artists and others its extensive database thought I would like.
Even the initial mix was pretty good, delivering me cuts from my selected artists along with some songs I had never heard, but liked. Yes, I gave the thumbs down when there was a little too much Weezer and my selection of Hiatt led to a bit too much country for my taste, but the choices were 80% accurate, and Pandora learned my tastes very quickly.
Since I had a free, not paid, account, Pandora served an audio ad every six songs or so and the app had plenty of graphic-based ads that got in the way when I glanced down while driving to see what song was playing. Non-paying customers also have a limit on how many songs they can skip in an hour. (A Pandora subscription offers an ad-free experience for $3.99 a month.)
Pandora has almost no learning curve. It's a very simple app to use, and while I appreciate that it gave me songs by my favorite artists, I also enjoyed that the app exposed me to bands and artists I was unfamiliar with whose work I now plan to explore further. This piece actually elevates Pandora above other music services as it does not merely play a mix of stuff I already like; it broadens my musical horizons in a way that rarely happens to a 39-year-old guy who never listens to music radio (and who wouldn't like much of what gets played anyway).
By Joel Abrams
By: SVEN Studios
Should you get it?: Yes, if you want to heroically swipe words
As the Schoolhouse Rock song about zero taught me many years ago, there are all kinds of heroes. A word hero is apparently someone who can find words in a four-by-four grid and quickly swipe them. The mind boggles at this definition.
Playing [WordHero], you test the speed of your brain and your fingers against hundreds of people around the world, all looking for as many words as possible in the same arrangement of letters.
The app puts you in a league based on your average score, so beginners don't end up competing against folks with freakishly large vocabularies. The app does validate your words against a dictionary that is quite sizable.FULL ENTRY
By Swati G. Sharma
It's Friday night. As usual, I have plans with a group of friends, and again, as usual, no one can decide where to go.
But no worries - it's the Matchbook app to the rescue!
I open the application on my iPhone, and voila! A list of restaurants that I jotted down - either recommended to me by a friend or a spot I walked past at some point - appears on my screen.
The Matchbook app provides a simple service: It keeps track of restaurants, bars, or cafes you wish to explore at a later date.FULL ENTRY
By Joe Allen-Black
Reviewing: Hello Vino
By: Hello Vino
Available for: iPhone and Android
Should you get it? Yes, if you don't know where to begin in picking out wines.
Pairing food and wine is an art that I wish I were good at on my own. Sure, I can do the basics of making sure to pair my meat with something red, and fruit with whites. But anything more advanced (like exactly WHICH red to pair) is not my specialty.
Now, thanks to the app Hello Vino, it doesn't have to be.FULL ENTRY
By Michael Warshaw
There was a time, decades ago, when it was a thrill to stay up late at night with the old family radio, listening to distant voices through crackling static.
If only we had smartphones in those days, and the TuneIn Radio app.
TuneIn is, very simply, an Internet radio app that boasts access to at least 50,000 on-air and Internet radio stations, not to mention program feeds and podcasts. But what makes this app so valuable is how easy it is to find the music, talk show, station, or stream that you want to listen to.FULL ENTRY