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The best iMessage games

2017 February 21
by RSS Feed

When Apple took the wraps off the iMessage App Store last year, it quickly became evident that the messaging service would become the next playground for some weird and wonderful applications. Since then, developers have largely graced us with conventional stickers and app extensions, despite another under-represented category increasingly showing promise: iMessage games.

Almost half a year after opening the gate, it seems a good time to take stock of the games playable through Apple’s messenger and hand-pick the ones not only most captivating but also smartest at circumnavigating the limitations of iMessage. If you fancy the thought of challenging a friend to a duel on iMessage but don’t want to waste anyone’s time trialling potential duds, read on to find out about the current top performers on the iMessage App Store.

Rationalizing a subjective item like ‘fun’ is tough and bound to leave some room for controversy. In view of that, we will kick this off with a quick disclaimer on the criteria applied to filter out the winners below. Due to the restrictions of iMessage, most of the games on offer are turn-based games requiring one or more participants to take their turn and subsequently await the next player’s move.

Accordingly, favorable ratings were awarded to those apps either making good use of this sequence or games at least not completely crippled by the mechanisms. Further attention was paid to the circumstance whether or not an iMessage app would take up space on your Home screen or reside exclusively inside iMessage. With that out of the way, here’s to hoping that the app selection process below has become a little more transparent. Let’s begin.

The best games for iMessage

Four in a row

Because they unfold turn by turn in real life as well (until the person losing bumps the table that is), classic board games are arguably the most logical targets for iMessage game adaptations. This insight has not escaped developers and as a result a large share of games on iMessage emulate vintage games like chess, backgammon or a host of card games. They all function well enough to give them a crack, but sending invitations back and forth to proceed with the game will cost you time and eventually nerves. There is however one exception to the rule, mostly because it curtails the long-windedness: Four in a row.

Four in a row guarantees a good laugh and, best of all, completing one or two matches is not going to take you and your game partner close to a full day. It’s generally speaking the punchy games that excel in iMessage, or the ones eschewing the painful turn-based sequences (as you will find out below) altogether.

If you don’t follow our link directly, be aware that there is more than one app available for Four in a row. This one has made the cut on grounds of affordability (it’s free) and simplicity, as it does not come with what I consider bloatware in the context of iMessage apps (an Home screen icon on your iPhone). If you have relished playing the original game, this is a great substitute on the go.

  • Device support: iPad, iPhone, iPod touch
  • Cost: Free

Cobi Hoops

Shooting hoops on iMessage does not sound like a natural match at first, but turns out it is amazingly satisfying. Cobi Hoops challenges you to score as many baskets as possible in a thirty second window, providing little more than a dotted line to help with the trajectory of the ball.

To its credit, the game mechanics and ball physics would have been solid enough for a standalone app, which makes this one a bit of a secret gem in the ‘iMessage games’ category.

Cobi Hoops’ biggest flaw and also convenience come in unison: when you would expect a straightforward shootout mode against your friend, the game instead allows unlimited trials before sending out the high score to your opponent. While that chips away at the competitive character of the game, it at the same time basically offers a single player experience, as you are not required to wait for your iMessage buddy to react to every single streak of yours.

The game boasts an in-game purchase for $1.99, adding a bit of depth to the single player mostly, including a jovial bonus mode, fresh characters and new courts.

As hinted at earlier, it commendably enough does not dump an app icon on your Home screen, which is a plus in this category of games. If you have a penchant for sports (games), do not overlook Cobi Hoops.

  • Device support: iPad, iPhone, iPod touch
  • Cost: Free ($1.99 in-app purchase)

Quiktionary

Together with the board games category, word games and puzzles on iMessage share the numerical majority on the platform, arguably again for implementation reasons. Most of these games do bode well with the iMessage framework, which is not to say that they are automatically a thumbs up for casual players. In fact, most of the word games available are about as exciting as watching paint dry.

Enter Quiktionary, which thankfully comes to the rescue for the wordsmiths amongst us. In short, the app will ask you to guess a four letter word (minor clues are given) at your own pace, then challenge your game partner to undercut the result. What’s good is that unlike with most word games, you are given the leeway to solve the riddle by yourself first, completely free of pesky interruptions or back and forth invitations on iMessage.

As soon as a game between two players has ended, you will also unlock one of thirty collectable fun facts – nothing revolutionary I grant you, but a respectable attempt to increase the long term engagement with the app. On a final note, Quiktionary is the only apparent iMessage app in this article necessitating a place on your Home screen. If we want to remain consistent, this is a minus in the context of iMessage apps. With that said, if you’re having a good time playing Quiktionary on iMessage, chances are you will appreciate having access to the full-blown app as well.

  • Device support: iPad, iPhone, iPod touch
  • Cost: Free

FastThumbs

The synopsis for FastThumbs almost writes itself. As the name promises, it’s all about typing speed and showing off the insane(ly poor) muscle memory in those thumbs of yours. Choosing from a range of 5 (music related) topics, you are clocked on 10 random phrases or words you need to hammer into your keyboard. Thereafter, your skills are being evaluated, i.e. you are collecting points for speed and copping punishment for the pretty hilariously named ‘fatThumbs penalty’ aka typos.

I’m a big fan of speed typing and would never shy away from the odd duel with Blackberry users back in the days (mostly to make a case for the superiority of touch keyboards). Now that we have by and large all reached a level playing field, it is still animating to see who is fastest.

Besides, the fact that FastThumbs takes the notion of iMessage games literal by delivering a game on the act of typing itself is kind of tongue-in-cheek.

If you’re having a ball but your patience is starting to wear a little thin with the musical flavors, FastThumbs gives you the in-app choice to purchase other contents priced at $0.99 each. These packages are fine, but at the end of the day the point of the exercise is to be fast, irrespective of the words you’re cued to type. To cut a long story short, if you like the sound of flaunting your typing skills do give it a try, it’s definitely worth your time.

  • Device support: iPad, iPhone, iPod touch
  • Cost: Free (in-app purchases at $0.99)

Wit – What is this

On the face of it, Wit is just another puzzle game. Dig a little deeper though and you will quickly understand why this one stands out from the pack. Wit’s strongest suit is the personalization of puzzles, in other words you can pick any of your own photos or saved images as the blueprint for a puzzle your friend can chew over.

The fun and mischief you can have with that needs no extra mentioning, and it is furthermore very smart in regard to the creation of the mosaic. No matter if you would like to scatter a picture into 4 or let’s say 40 pieces, it is completely up to you and executed through one intuitive swiping gesture.

Once you’re chuffed with the riddle, you can kick up the difficulty another notch by blurring the pieces or using an enhanced shuffling option. Finish your work off with a Where is that/Who is that/What is that? tagline and send it to a lucky someone, who will in turn be able to realign the pieces and hopefully solve the mosaic (which is always the hallmark of a good puzzle, remember that).

Wit is personal, entertaining and – depending on the complexity of the puzzle orchestrated by you or your mate – a great game to fill either five minutes of your lunch break or its entire duration.

  • Device support: iPad, iPhone, iPod touch
  • Cost: Free

Mr. Putt

Everyone likes minigolf, right? Well, Mr. Putt manages to bring the fun to your iMessage chat, making this the second (and final) sports-related game to make the cut for our iMessage game charts. Mr. Putt looks sophisticated and aesthetically pleasing, plus more importantly plays realistically. The aim and power put behind your swings are comprehensible and contribute to an easy learning curve, which means the rivalry between you and your friend can quickly come to a head without suffering distractions over controls or game modes.

As much as this is an unadulterated adaptation from the real game of mini golf, it does – to our great benefit – do away with one of the etiquettes of (mini) golf: turn by turn play. The mode responsible for hours of time wasted sending game invitations back and forth is thankfully discarded in favor of each player finishing the course in one go. If this has become a salient theme in our game picks, that is because it makes that much of a difference.

Mr. Putt is up for grabs at no extra cost and features four polished 9-hole courses, which makes for a lot of ground to be covered before perhaps starting to feel a little repetitive. Considering the quality and contents of the game, this one is another no-brainer in our book.

  • Device support: iPad, iPhone, iPod touch
  • Cost: Free

Honorable Mentions

Checkmate! 

All grievances about the conventional turn-by-turn board games aside, the popularity of chess games on iMessage cannot be denied. Out of the wealth of contenders for honorable mentions, Checkmate! brings home the bacon, mostly on accounts of looks (I mean come on, it’s a chess game). At the price of $0.99, Checkmate! boasts ‘handcrafted’ chess pieces and various color themes including a vibrant red one bestowing each knight with an adorable Christmas hat.
As far as chess games on iMessage go, this is a good one to swoop for, not just because of the hats.

StickyMonster

Some iMessage apps straddle a fine line between qualifying as games and sticker apps, StickyMonster being illustrative of such category. The appeal of this particular one is that it gamifies stickers in that you and your iMessage friends get to create the most grotesque figures together and turn-based, meaning somebody starts drawing the head and afterwards passes the sketch on for the outlining of the torso and so on and so forth. Everyone partaking in the drawing is able to immortalise the end product in their sticker drawer afterwards, which is neat and promises ample nostalgic LOL moments down the road.

Have anything to add to our list?

At long last, we have made it to the end of our list of best games on iMessage. Since it is such a particular discipline, one which is arguably still trying to find its feet, more often than not the games will feel iffy, bumpy or simply fall just a little short of expectation. The good news is that this does not hold true for the six nominees shortlisted above, so by all means do give them a spin.

Because whenever you are lost for words while chatting, sometimes a little iMessage game can do wonders.

Source link: http://www.idownloadblog.com/2017/02/21/the-best-imessage-games/

How to use Google SafeSearch to filter explicit web search results

2017 February 21
by RSS Feed

Whether you’re a parent trying to filter explicit content from the limitless Google searches your child could be searching on the web, or you’re simply trying to figure out why it seems like certain images or web results are being filtered from your Google search queries, chances are Google SafeSearch is the answer.

In this tutorial, we’ll show you how you can toggle Google SafeSearch on or off, depending on whether you need to start filtering explicit search results from your queries or stop doing so when the feature is already enabled.

What does Google SafeSearch actually do?

According to Google, the feature is mostly intended for immature audiences, like children, and helps to keep known explicit sources from showing up in Google search results. This includes images, videos, websites, and more.

Most explicit content falls under the category of pornography, but there are other forms of “adult content” that may be filtered out as well, despite not being spelled out by Google in their examples.

Obviously, this feature can’t filter out every single thing on the face of the web because the internet is constantly changing from day to day. That said, some things will inadvertently make it through the filter now and then, so don’t be surprised if it only works 99% of the time.

You can use the feature on any of your computers, smartphones, tablets, or any other internet communication devices you have that can access Google.

How to turn Google SafeSearch on or off

There are two ways to turn Google SafeSearch on or off, and it depends on how you’re accessing Google: from a web browser, or from the mobile app.

Toggle Google SafeSearch from a web browser

If you’re trying to toggle Google SafeSearch on or off from a web browser on your computer, smartphone, or tablet, then you will need to follow these simple steps:

1) Load the Google website in your favorite web browser.

2) Click on the Settings button at the bottom right of the page.

3) Click on the Search Settings button in the pop-up menu.

4) Choose one of the steps below depending on your situation:

  • Put a check mark in the Turn on SafeSearch box to enable SafeSearch if it’s turned off
  • Uncheck the SafeSearch box to disable SafeSearch if it’s turned on

5) Scroll down and click on the blue Save button.

Google should now alert you that your changes have been saved; click on the blue Close button.

Now your settings should be saved and will be effective immediately.

Toggle Google SafeSearch from the mobile app

If you’re trying to toggle Google SafeSearch on or off from the free Google Search mobile app on your smartphone or tablet, you’ll have to follow these alternative steps instead:

1) Launch the Google app from your Home screen.

2) Tap on your profile picture in the top left of the app (this will be a Settings button if you’re not signed in).

3) Tap on the Search Settings option.

4) Choose one of the steps below depending on your situation:

  • Select the Filter explicit results option if you want to enable SafeSearch
  • Select the Show most relevant results option if you want to disable SafeSearch

5) Tap on the blue Save button.

How to lock your Google SafeSearch settings

If you’re a parent and you’re seeking to enable Google SafeSearch for your child, then you’re probably well aware that your child can be far more crafty and tech-savvy than you. It’s just the day and age they were born into. In fact, they might even stumble upon this tutorial and try to disable it on you without you knowing.

Fortunately, Google includes a feature that lets you lock your SafeSearch settings for your Google account, which prevents these settings from being changed without your permission. It will require the Google account holder’s password to disable SafeSearch.

Doing this will store a small file on your machine called a cookie, so make sure you’re accepting cookies in your web browser and that you’re not setting this feature up in some kind of private browsing mode in your web browser.

To lock your Google SafeSearch settings, follow these steps:

1) Load the Google website in your favorite web browser.

2) Click on the Settings button at the bottom right of the page.

3) Click on the Search Settings button in the pop-up menu.

4) Click on the blue Lock SafeSearch link.

5) Sign in with your Google account when prompted.

6) Click on the Lock SafeSearch button.

Your settings should take effect immediately and you should now see the following indicator in your search settings:

If you see anything else, make sure your web browser is configured to accept cookies from Google.

You might also be interested in:

How do you have your Google SafeSearch settings set and why? Share in the comments below!

Source link: http://www.idownloadblog.com/2017/02/21/filter-explicit-web-results-google-safesearch/

See how Alexa compares to Siri with Reverb

2017 February 20
by RSS Feed

If you missed our post nearly a year ago about a web app at Echoism.io that lets you try out Alexa in a web browser, you’re going to like a new app, called Reverb, that brings Amazon’s personal assistant to your Mac desktop, as well as iPhone and iPad.

The brain child of developers at digital consultancy agency Rain, Reverb is available at no charge from App Store and Mac App Store or in your favorite web browser.

Reverb takes advantage of the fact that Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service is now available as a web service to access through a web browser and other thin clients, with the recent API 2.0 update having enabled a richer set of features.

After signing in to link Reverb to your Amazon account, you can start conversing with Alexa. Simply tap/click and hold on the ring and say whatever you’d like. Let go and Alexa will in most cases respond with an appropriate answer. Unlike Siri, Reverb always speaks out answers and doesn’t display any results on the screen.

Here are some of the basic things you can ask Reverb to do on your behalf:

  • Answer questions
  • Google anything you’d like to know
  • Get weather forecast
  • Check the traffic
  • Get sports scores and schedules
  • Retrieve news flashes
  • Set timers and alarms
  • Enjoy audiobooks and other longform audio content

Additionally, Reverb lets you interact with Alexa-compatible devices like switches, lights, thermostats, smoke detectors, blinds and other smart home hardware that’s compatible with Samsung SmartThings, WeMo, Philips Hue and others.

Due to restrictions on using Amazon Music in apps, you cannot ask Reverb to play music.

Here are some choice queries you can run through Alexa:

  • Alexa, set a timer for 5 minutes.
  • Alexa, set volume to 4.
  • Alexa, set an alarm for 5 pm.
  • Alexa, why is the sky blue?
  • Alexa, how many ounces are in a cup?
  • Alexa, how far is the moon?
  • Alexa, tell me a joke.
  • Alexa, what is 16 plus 41 multiplied by 24?
  • Alexa, do you know Siri?
  • Alexa, sing happy birthday.

The app supports interactions with third-party apps, known as Echo Skills.

Because Reverb integrates with Amazon’s Alexa for iOS app, any new skills added through that app are instantly available in Reverb for iOS and macOS. For instance, you can ask Reverb to “Enable Campbell’s Kitchen” before saying something along the lines of “Alexa, ask Campbell’s Kitchen what’s for dinner.”

Like Siri, Reverb requires an Internet connection.

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Grab Reverb for iOS and macOS for free from App Store and Mac App Store.

Have you tried Reverb yet and if so, how did you like it? Is it better than Siri for the most common types of queries, do you think? Do chime in with your thoughts in the comments and give Reverb a while if you haven’t already.

Source link: http://www.idownloadblog.com/2017/02/20/reverb-amazon-alexa/

macOS 10.12.4 beta 3 seeded to developers

2017 February 20
by RSS Feed

Aside from watchOS 3.2 beta 3, tvOS 10.2 beta 3 and iOS 10.3 beta 3 with a new name and shame list for legacy apps,  Apple today seeded a third beta of what would become the fourth major update to Sierra since its launch last fall. macOS Sierra 10.12.4 beta 3 (build 16E163f) with Night Shift Mode and other perks is now available to registered developers.

You can deploy the latest beta over the air on your Mac through the Mac App Store’s Updates tab. Today’s release is only for developers but a version aimed at public beta testers should drop in the next 24 hours.

“The macOS Sierra 10.12.4 update improves the stability, compatibility and security of your Mac,” according to Apple’s official release notes accompanying the download.

Night Shift Mode comes to Mac

Night Shift Mode, introduced on iPhone with iOS 9, is coming to your Mac.

On iOS devices, Night Shift lets you adjust the display’s temperature from cool to warm based on the time of day. On your Mac, Night Shift works pretty much the same way.

With Night Shift Mode, your Mac’s display gradually shifts from blue to yellow to cut down on exposure to blue light, which is believed to cause sleeping problems.

You can access Night Shift in System Preferences, Notification Center or via Siri.

Other changes in macOS Sierra 10.12.4

Aside from Night Shift, the forthcoming software update brings Dictation support for Shanghainese, an updated PDF API that fixed some annoying bugs and iCloud Analytics options.

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Lastly, Siri on macOS Sierra 10.12.4 is able to look up Cricket schedules, scores and rosters for two new cricket leagues.

Will you be using Night Shift mode on your Mac when 10.12.4 drops?

Source link: http://www.idownloadblog.com/2017/02/20/macos-10-12-4-beta-3-seeded-to-developers/

New in iOS 10.3: name and shame list for outdated 32-bit apps

2017 February 20
by RSS Feed

Apple today seeded a third beta of iOS 10.3 to members of the Apple Developer Program. It’s nothing to write home about in terms of new stuff, with the notable exception of a curious new section suggesting that iOS 11 is likely going to be 64-bit only. The first beta of iOS 10.3 introduced a reworded prompt when launching 32-bit apps.

In iOS 10.3 beta 3, there’s now a dedicated section within the Settings app where any outdated apps installed on the user’s device are named and shamed.

If you venture to Settings → General → About → Applications, you’ll notice the newly added section, aptly titled App Compatibility.

It’s a shame list of sorts designed to give the user a clear overview of all the legacy apps installed on their device. Hopefully, it will give developers a pause and remind them that leaving apps languishing without compatibility updates isn’t very user-friendly.

“These apps may slow down your iPhone and will not work with future versions of iOS if they are not updated. If no update is available, contact the app developer for more information,” reads the feature’s description.

Tapping one of the listed apps brings up its App Store page where you can see information like version number, when it was last updated and so forth.

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iOS includes separate 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the system frameworks. Legacy 32-bit apps affect the performance of 64-bit iOS devices (like iPhone 5s and iPad Air onward) because they cause iOS to load 32-bit versions of the kernel, libraries and drivers on top of their 64-bit counterparts which are loaded by defauly.

When all apps running on a device are compiled for the 64-bit runtime, iOS never loads 32-bit versions of the kernel, libraries and drivers. In other words, the system uses less memory and launches apps more quickly.

Because Apple’s stock apps already support the 64-bit runtime, it is to everyone’s benefit that all apps running on 64-bit devices be compiled for the 64-bit runtime, especially apps that process data in the background.

As of June 1, 2015, Apple requires that app updates be submitted with full 64-bit support. Apple’s transition guide details porting apps to 64-bit architecture.

Are you excited for the new App Compatibility name and shame section in iOS 10.3?

Source link: http://www.idownloadblog.com/2017/02/20/new-in-ios-10-3-beta-3-name-and-shame-list-for-outdated-32-bit-apps/