Apps

10 free-to-play mobile games for Android and iOS

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A good mobile game could save you from getting bored out of your wits. Mobile games land their charm in the portability your consoles and PCs don’t have and the availability of games your handhelds don’t own. Granted that some of these games end up incentivising in-app purchasing or dump a crap-ton of ads, they are still fun to play. 

With that, here are my top ten picks:

Magic Tiles 3

If you were playing Tap Tap Revenge when it was released around the early 2000s, Magic Tiles 3 isn’t a far cry. Magic Tiles 3 is a popular piano game that has you tap on black tiles before they reach the bottom of the screen. The game will seem simple at first but, once you get into the groove, it’ll get addictively difficult. Magic Tiles 3 has various quests that let you unlock more songs to try out and play. It even has a battle mode to compete against your friends and other players.

Vainglory

It’s one of everyone’s favorite mobile multiplayer online battle arena games. Having quickly built a community after its initial release late 2014, Vainglory manages to integrate the MOBA playing style and compact it into a snug mobile game. You can play the game on casual, quick-play, or ranked.

It makes use of touch controls, so I don’t recommend playing the game on a tiny phone, especially when you have stubby fingers. A tablet would be best for this one but, if you think your handset is big enough or has a good stylus, this is a must-install.

Hearthstone

Hearthstone is an online collectible card dueling game where you unlock cards, build decks, and duel other players. Hearthstone extends the already existing lore of the Warcraft series by using the same elements, characters, and relics.

This is one of my favorites on this list. I’ve been playing since around a year ago, and if there’s anything you should know about any card game, it’s to believe in the heart of the cards. If you want to test your deck out, you can go against bots. As for testing your skill with building decks on the fly, you might want to try out the Arena. Though Blizzard Entertainment sometimes trips out on silly tavern brawls and new card releases, the game is a whole lot of fun. Sign into your Blizzard account to play it on PC, tablet, or your phone without losing progress!

Super Mario Run

A game that simplifies the nostalgic platformer. Super Mario Run lends itself like the generic mobile platformer with taps and holds for jumping and leaping, just with a charming plumber with a red hat. You can time your taps to pull off mid-air spins, jumps, and wall jumps. You can gather coins and reach the goal just like the original Super Mario. Even if it can get frustrating because Mario is locked on running forward (you read that right: there’s no turning back in this one), it’s still a fun casual game.

Mmm Fingers

Need something to play while waiting? Don’t have mobile data? Mmm Fingers is a simple game that threatens your fingers from getting chomped on by hungry monsters. It’s a game from the creators of Small Fry and Flappy Golf. Mechanics are easy: touch and hold your finger against the screen as long as you can. Stay away from anything with teeth, and whatever you do, don’t lift your fingers. You can show off your score and compete against your friends. It’s that easy!

Eternium

Eternium is an action role-playing game resembling the awesome classics: Diablo and Torchlight. With touch and swipe cast controls, this game sticks out. Even if the game seems to be exclusively playable online, you can actually play it offline when the content download completes. The best part? In-app purchasing for this game is generally frowned upon, so playing more gets you farther than paying for it. Be careful: I’ve seen our producer get sucked into playing it non-stop. It’s a familiar game with lots of perks — definitely something you should install.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel

If you grew up playing the trading card game, Yu-Gi-Oh!, you’re going to lose your stuff with this mobile game. Konami stepped into mobile games with voices straight out of the anime, intuitive controls, and 3D animations on signature monsters.

Before I stop speaking coherently because of how much I love this game, let me tell you why this is something I am absolutely floored to play. During the Yu-Gi-Oh Trading Card days, it was tough to find original cards. There were too many fakes lying around; not to mention, maintaining the quality and simply not losing them were difficult. Now, a mobile game that allows you to play just like in the anime series including fancy animations? This game is god-sent.

Hungry Shark World

Hungry Shark World is perfect for when you feel like rampaging around and seeing your shark grow. In this game, you play as a shark and basically feast on everything and anything in the ocean with the probable exception of naval mines. You can upgrade your shark and customize items to give you an upper-hand on your next feasting. This is one of those games I find myself laughing maniacally to — I can’t help it. Sticking a rocket on your shark’s tail to give it a reliable boost out the water to munch on birds is a sight I’ll cherish from now on.

Last Day on Earth: Survival

Last Day on Earth is a massively multiplayer online zombie shooter survival and strategy game, where all survivors are driven by a single task: staying alive. You spawn with just your underwear and have to survive as long as you can in a zombie apocalypse. The game is simple and competitive. With lots of items you can pick up and use as weapons, it can get pretty silly really fast. If you’re up to beat up the undead, you should give this a go.

Titanfall: Assault

Titanfall is a mobile real-time strategy game where you deploy Titans, Pilots, Sim Ninjas, Boomers, and a ton more to siege the Frontier. If you think this strategy game is a walk in the park, think again. Titanfall: Assault takes the game to a whole different level because you’ll be playing against someone else in real time. You can collect and upgrade cards along the way, and have fun uniting with your guild and conquering the Front with your friends!

SEE ALSO: Best Video Games of 2017 (Q2 Edition)

Apps

10 good photography apps for your iPhone

Always get great shots

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Most photos we post and look at today are shot through the lenses of a handset. Gone are the days of big, bulky cameras and smartphones have replaced most shooters.

The great thing about shooting with your iPhone is that the creative process for your photo taking doesn’t end when you tap the shutter. There are so many things you can do with your photos; all you need is a good app.

Here are ten photography apps that you should check out.

VSCO

Price: Free!

Easily one of the most popular editing apps out there, VSCO is pretty easy to learn and simple to use. It allows you to edit photos, add presets, and even share your work to the VSCO community.

Download here.

Adobe Lightroom

Price: Free!

Think Adobe Lightroom on your computer but in mobile form. And yes, you get all the different tools and presets. If you upgrade to premium, you’ll be able to edit images across all your devices.

Download here.

Snapseed

Price: Free!

Another crowd favorite, Snapseed is an in-depth photo editing app. It can do all your basic editing on your iPhone, easy.

Download here.

Polarr Photo Editor

Price: Free!

Polarr boasts being an app that both photography pros and newbies can use. It has everything you’ll ever need for top-notch shots.

Download here.

Darkroom

Price: Free!

Another great app, Darkroom will level up your editing skills on mobile and give you tools to make sure your photos are always 👌🏽

Download here.

Afterlight 2

Price: US$ 2.99

This app offers basic editing, overlays, stylized filters, and even artwork text! It also provides free updates and new content monthly after that one time fee.

Download here.

Mextures

Price: US$ 1.99

Make photo editing easier with Mexture’s layered workflow. Add more texture to your photos and even edit existing formulas and presets with this app.

Download here.

Touch Retouch

Price: US$ 1.99

This app removes unwanted objects in your photos, easy peasy. Just trace the offending shape and you’re done! Definitely editing magic that you need.

Download here.

Portrait by img.ly

Price: Free!

Your portraits will never be the same again. Choose from different portrait styles, make selfie collages, and more!

Download here.

Enlight Photofox

Price: Free!

Not your basic editing app, Enlight not only gives you basic tools, it also allows for effects like double exposures, graphic elements, and even unique special effects.

Download here.

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Apps

What I learned about myself using Android Pie’s Digital Wellbeing Dashboard

Am I on my phone too much?

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When Android Pie was unveiled and released last week, I pretty much craved pie because everyone was talking about the delectable dessert. But, I was also very excited about one particular feature: The Digital Wellbeing Dashboard.

Image of me actually eating pie the day after the Android Pie unveiling

Announced earlier, this dashboard was supposed to be a ticket to a healthier lifestyle — well, at least in theory. In an effort to curb unhealthy phone user habits, a dashboard that tracks app usage is built in to Android’s newest operating system. Although not available to everyone as of writing, Pixel users (like yours truly) are able to try out the beta version of the dash. Since I’m a sucker for self-actualization and information that may potentially heal (and hurt) me, I tried it out for the last week or so and here’s what I learned.

I’m on my phone — a lot

No sh*t, Sherlock.

I know I’m always looking at these tiny screens but I didn’t realize I was literally living my life in front of it. A record day saw me looking at the screen for — get this — 11 hours and 55 minutes. That’s half a day! Legitimately, that’s the whole time I’m not sleeping. And take note, I review phones so this isn’t the only screen I look at in a day.

Given these numbers, I’m honestly unsure how I get anything else done in my life.

I get a ton of notifications

I mean sure, technology connects people, but I didn’t realize just how connected we are.

According to my data, I get around a minimum of 250 notifications per day and this number varies. At some point, there was a whopping 620 notifications. Let’s think about that for a minute; that means around 51 messages per hour in a 12-hour day. There are only 60 minutes per hour so that means almost a message for each freaking minute.

On average, Facebook Messenger tops the list for these notifications followed by Gmail and Telegram.

I check Instagram more than I should

Now, this is funny because as you just saw, Instagram isn’t on that list of top app notifiers. But, this might also be because I turned off IG notifications because they were distracting me (yay for being self-aware?). This health dashboard tells me that I unlocked my Instagram app most, with as many as 153 times in one day. This was, on average, followed by Facebook and Twitter.

The top three apps I spent time on are Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, which just tells me that I’m ‘gram crazy and I’m on social media too much (which isn’t really news to anyone).

Grayscale is annoying and I hate it

Part of the dashboard is a feature aimed at curbing being on your phone before bed (which I do a lot 🙄). Wind Down allows you to set such times and then gives you an option to turn on Do Not Disturb and a Grayscale that makes browsing less desirable for people who should be sleeping and not looking at their phones.

The mess of an app IG becomes on grayscale

Reading tweets on grayscale is weird and browsing through Instagram is just plain wrong. I guess, in that way, this function is effective in getting me to stop being on my phone — until I turned it off the next day and never turned it on again.

I refuse to turn on the app timer as I justify social media use as work

Say what you want because it’s true. 😅

See, there’s a timer option on the dash that allows you to limit app usage time. Thing is, I’ve never turned it on. Why? Because I work on the internet and turning it on may amount to catastrophic consequences.

I will keep using this to justify my action of disallowing app time limits, so what’s your excuse?

It must be noted that, as mentioned earlier, I use more than one phone on a daily basis and am on social media on my laptop a lot, too. That being said, it’s worth pointing out that this still isn’t a complete picture of my daily phone and internet habits. Even though this data only shows a fraction of the grand picture, it already says a lot.

As with everything in life, the choice is in your hands (er, on your phone). Though I am ultimately left to decide what to do about my phone habits, knowing is always the first step.

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Apps

US FDA approves first contraceptive app

Can an app stop you from getting pregnant?

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I now truly believe that there’s an app for everything. 😱

Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the very first app to be marketed as a method of contraception. Yes, ladies, you read that right. Not a period tracker, but an actual birth contraception method.

Natural Cycles is a phone application from a European startup. For EUR 65 per year, it works by using the fertility awareness method via basal body temperatures and menstrual cycle information to tell whether a woman is fertile or not. It then advises which days you should “abstain” or “use protection.”

According to the US FDA, “consumers are increasingly using digital health technologies to inform their everyday health decisions, and this new app can provide an effective method of contraception if it’s used carefully and correctly.” They report that clinical studies have shown that the app has a “perfect use” failure rate of 1.8 percent (meaning 1.8 in 100 ladies get pregnant in spite of using the app correctly) and a “typical use” failure rate of 6.5 percent (which accounts for wrong app usage, etc).


To put in context, the US CDC pegs the typical use failure rate of birth control pills at nine percent and condoms at 18 percent. Interesting enough, this same information gives fertility awareness-based methods, the same method being used by Natural Cycles according to the FDA statement (though, in this case, unassisted by apps or algorithms), a typical use failure rate of 24 percent.

The FDA warns that “no form of contraception works perfectly, so an unplanned pregnancy could still result from correct usage of this device.”

The contraceptive app is not one without their share of controversies. Early last year, they were certified as the very first contraceptive app by the Europen Union. It has since been reported, however, that out of the 668 women who sought abortions from September to December 2017 at one of Stockholm’s biggest hospitals, 37 were relying on Natural Cycles as a contraceptive method.

Natural Cycles claims that they are “responding to each reported case,” and that “as [their] user base increases, so will the number of unplanned pregnancies coming from Natural Cycles users. This is an arithmetic truth applicable to all contraceptive methods.”

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