Several people have followed my call for peer reviewing each others apps. With a US iTunes account you can take part in this networking activity yourself. You might get much more valuable feedback then from regular customers.
Here are all the apps I had a look at so far. Sorry guys for taking so long, but my US iTunes account is on my Windows PC which I avoid to turn on whenever possible.
Gameplay: The objective is to remember more and more flashing lights plus their distinct tones. This is simple and fun to test your short term memory, but you probably lose interest after having found your limit. Probably a less steep progression of the difficulty would increase long term fun. Like have the same number of flashes for several levels, only with increasing speed.
Technology: Very simple app, only a few screens. The game screen uses a fading effect for the flashing plus well selected sounds. Unfortunately the German translation is done poorly, sounds like Google Translate. You could have called me to do a proper German translation. I could have done this app in less than 2 weeks. Then again, it’s very first app of this developer, so congrats on getting this done and into the store!
Magnetic Block Puzzle
Gameplay: Addictive! The game mechanic is original, I’ve never seen it before. You get into it very quickly, only one page of instructions. Also you can play with swipes or the accelerometer. The objective is to get colored boxes attached to each other as if they where magnetic, but most of the time you have to plan ahead because otherwise to attached boxes might block the path between two to-be-attached boxes.
Technology: A touch of 3D, probably Open-GL makes it stand out. The game engine itself works in 2D, but going the extra mile of having display in 3D gets extra bonus points. Also the dialogs are all designed beautifully. The sounds are fitting, though there is no real soundtrack. He gets full marks on all my scales.
Bird & Snail
Gameplay: It’s clearly for kids. Haunted House has taken the same artwork and created a multitude of variations of it which you can either purchase by themselves or in the one dollar higher priced deluxe version which bundles all of them together. You get two versions of a coloring book, a story with active parts, story just to listen to and a memory puzzle. The latest (and only free) app is a sliding puzzle in the same style. The artwork is the definite strength of the set and also makes it unique.
Technology: A tip of the hat has to go to the beautiful integration of graphical art and synchronized sound effects and/or narration for the book variants. Having so many different editions probably has marketing reasons. There cannot be a technical limitation as there is a deluxe version with all the parts combined. Apart from this it is not a technological marvel, but a solid translation of multiple childrens books into the iPhone realm.
Astronomy Picture of the Day Viewer
Usability: Search for pictures, add them to your favorits, get the picture of a specific day or a random one. No clutter, you get what you expect. I cannot imagine any other way to access this publicly available source of fabulous astronomy-related images.
Technology: Nice UI, rotates to make use of a wider screen in landscape. Makes good use of the tab bar. Nice effect of making the picture description larger with the touch of a button. Why does he abuse badges as counters instead of notifications of something new?
Wake!Simply & Wake!Gently
Usability: A settings page and the clock, rotatable between landscape and portrait. That’s all there is. The Gently variant also has slowly increasing volume for the alarm. Why there are two versions of essentially the same app can only be explained by marketing.
Technology: I know from my own experiments with the built in LED-font how difficult it is to properly place the letters because they are proportional. You either have the letters as graphics or you have right-aligned lables for all the digits. Makes also great use of implicit animations for flashing the colons. Kind of minimalistic if you ask me.
Dodgers & Red Sox & Yankees
Usability: There is one app per team, a marketing ploy? Or do Americans generally only root for “their” team? Then this seperation might make sense. You have a couple of pages with baseball related stats and news. Something only an avid baseball fan might find useful. That’s why those apps came out when baseball season started.
Technology: A navigation view with 3 screens, plus some code for loading the stats and news from a site. Somewhat barren I should say. Nothing that has not been done before. Retrieval of data is rather slow, but beggers can’t be choosers. Most likely the data is scraped from an official site.
Usability: Simple interface, make good use of the tab strip. Though the icons on the tabbar could be improved. But the retrieval of a random cam was very fast and convenient. So fast, I was astonished to already see an image.
Technology: Though I don’t think it is regular UI practise to have 0 on badges, only values greater than zero make sense there. Also badges are meant to show something NEW as to alert the user that there is new content. In this app this concept is abused for counting the content. This is a minus for otherwise flawless execution.
Gameplay: This game mimicks a vertical scrolling shooter like you have probably played on in arcades. But several twists make it more playable on the iPhone. You don’t need to worry about shooting, you have auto-fire. Otherwise the plane follows your finger and combined with additional fingers you have special abilities. Easy to get into, though the boss battles last maybe a tad to long.
Technology: The author visibly mastered several basics needed to create such vertical scrolling shooter. Sprite Graphics, Collision Detection, Power Ups, Auto-Fire, and many many more. There is a slight 3D effect but obviously the developer wanted to retain the retro style with sprites. The maker has all right to have this in the “Game” category of the app store unlike many other wannabes.
If you want me to also review YOUR APP, then send me a promo code or let me take part in your ad-hoc BETA.
Categories: Peer Review