Systems development (inc mobile apps), financial systems implementation, finances and tax, web development

Our highlights this week include a sequel to Beach Buggy Blitz, a fantastic YouTube app for Windows Phone and a way to create your own photo filters.

Tubecast

One of the cooler YouTube apps around, Tubecast is both a YouTube client and a casting app – and it’s got quite a few features. Not only is the app compatible with DLNA, Airplay and Chromecast, it’s also capable of playing and casting 60 frames per second video. I’m pretty sure YouTube’s official apps don’t support that yet. The only downside is that the higher resolution clips can take an absolute age to load at times though.

Tubecast is available for free on Windows Phone, with the free version being limited to 20 casts (watching on the app is still free though).

Shift

Sure, Shift is a photo filter app, but there’s a reason why it’s received quite a bit of attention upon its release. The app has preset filters, but its real strength is in the ability to customise filters completely, changing colours, brightness and more. And you can save your customised filters for later use as well.

Shift is free on Android and for R12 on iOS.

MX Player

I prefer VLC media player but MX Player is a fantastic player too – and it’s just received a major update. The update overhauls the visuals, bringing it in line with Android 5.0’s Material Design theme – but all the great video functionality is present nonetheless.

The new version of MX Player is available for Android, with a beta available for Windows Phone 8.1 too.

Biz Builder Delux

Coming from simulation game wizards Kairosoft, Biz Builder Delux is the latest title from the prolific Japanese developer. Biz Builder Delux charges players with becoming entrepreneurs, as you build a successful store or chain of stores. Be it a videogame store or fast food eatery, there are plenty of choices to make.

Biz Builder Delux is R48 on Android.

Evil Apples

Inspired by Cards Against Humanity, Evil Apples is a card game with a similar twisted vibe going for it. This nifty game features 1200 black cards and 250 red cards (the red cards essentially being question cards) – Android Central reckons it’s not quite as good as Cards Against Humanity but remains fun anyway.

Evil Apples is free on Android and iOS.

Beach Buggy Racing

Most mobile gamers know about racing game Beach Buggy Blitz, standing out thanks to its lush visuals at the time. But a sequel was also released a few weeks ago, bringing 15 tracks (thank goodness) and six different game modes.

Beach Buggy Racing is available for free on Android, iOS and Windows Phone.

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Microsoft is reportedly building an all-new browser in Windows 10.

The browser, touting the nickname ‘Spartan’, will support webpage annotations (similar to the Galaxy Note S-pen features) and tab grouping (such as work tabs and personal tabs), The Verge reported.

But the biggest feature has to be the introduction of the Cortana assistant. Already available on Windows Phone 8.1, Cortana is a voice assistant that’s also capable of delivering information as you need it. The assistant delivers reminders, sport predictions and results, traffic alerts and more.

According to the report, Cortana on Spartan will deliver personalised travel information, flight tracking, package tracking and other info.

The Verge also claims that Spartan will be available on desktops, tablets and smartphones.

Internet Explorer won’t be going anywhere however, with both The Verge and ZDNet claiming the browser will still be installed for legacy compatibility.

Yoh, what a long time it’s been… going to try and publish a few more of these and get back on track to do these more regularly again. Highlights include two publisher deals, a spiritual sequel to Flappy Bird and a nifty encryption app for Android.

Songbox

Spotted by the Nokia Conversations blog, this nifty little app lets you record yourself singing a snippet of your favourite song. That’s not all there is to it though, as you can then upload said snippet and have others rate your rendition. In other words, it’s kinda like Idols, I guess.

Songbox is available for free on Windows Phone 8.

Swing Copters

The latest game from Flappy Bird creator Dong Nguyen is pretty ace anyway. Swing Copters sees you controlling an ascending helicopter, charging players with moving left and right to avoid obstacles.

Swing Copters is available on Android and iOS as a free download.

Motorsport Manager

I had a ton of fun with Formula Legend, an F1 management game of sorts – and this game is more of the same. Designed by a former Hello Games (Joe Danger and No Man’s Sky) developer, Motorsports Manager sees you having to hire drivers, formulate pit strategies and more.

Motorsport Manager is available for R60 on iOS.

BlackBullet

I love PushBullet, which allows you to push notes, links and other content from one device/browser to another. Now, an unofficial BlackBerry 10 version of the app is available, and it supports IFTTT functionality as well as smartwatch integration.

BlackBullet is available as a free download for BlackBerry 10, but do note that it’s still a beta release for now.

SNK Playmore titles

To celebrate the release of a new King of Fighters game, SNK Playmore has slashed the price of its library for a limited time. So you’ll have until August 26 to grab the Metal Slug franchise, Samurai Shodown 2 and several King of Fighters games for $0.99 each.

These SNK Playmore titles are available on iOS and Android.

Humble Sega Bundle

Android users are in for a treat thanks to the latest Humble Bundle, offering some fantastic Sega games. There’s something for everyone really, with Virtua Tennis Challenge, ChuChu Rocket and Sonic 4 Episode 1 included in the base package. Pay more than the average and you get Sonic 4 Episode 2, Crazy Taxi and Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing.

The Humble Sega Bundle is available for Android, with just over a week to go as of publication.

Secrecy

Ever wanted to encrypt and hide your sensitive files? Well, this nifty little app has been making waves online. Secrecy lets you encrypt and hide almost any file type, be it photos and videos or documents.

Secrecy is still in alpha, but you can download for free on Android.

Max Gentlemen

From the creators of popular title Organ Trail comes Max Gentleman – a game about stacking hats. The premise is ridiculously goofy, as you try to stack as many hats as possible in a level, while avoiding obstacles. Also, the studio’s name is The Men Who Wear Many Hats.

Max Gentlemen is available for free on Android and iOS.

Sitting down to play certain video games could enhance the ability to think on one’s feet, research conducted at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore says.

The process-of-elimination study examined the effects of several genres and found that a physics-based, complex puzzle game called “Cut the Rope” came out on top for improving executive brain functions.

The scientific designation “executive functions” is an umbrella term that implicates management of cognitive tasks such as memory, decision making, planning and problem solving.

“This finding is important because previously, no video games have demonstrated this type of broad improvement to executive functions, which are important for general intelligence, dealing with new situations and managing multitasking,” says study co-author Dr. Patterson.

The bad news for gamers is that not all games have this effect, for the study involved shooting game “Modern Combat,” arcade-style “Fruit Ninja” and real-time strategy game “StarFront Collision,” which were selected to diversify the genres involved.

None of the aforementioned games improved players’ executive function, according to Assistant Professor Michael D. Patterson, an expert in the psychology of video games.

In the study, a group of 52 non-gaming NTU undergraduates was asked to play one hour per day, five days per week for one month using their iPhone or iPod Touch.

Dr. Patterson and his co-author, PhD student Adam Oei, said that players of “Cut the Rope” demonstrated greatly improved executive functions at the end of the study, whereas players of the other games did not.

After 20 hours of playing time, players of “Cut the Rope” were able to switch between tasks 33 percent faster, adapt to new situations 30 percent faster and concentrate 60 percent better.

“This indicates that while some games may help to improve mental abilities, not all games give you the same effect,” says Oei. “To improve the specific ability you are looking for, you need to play the right game.”

Dr. Patterson’s take on why “Cut the Rope” has this unique effect is because it demands the player to change strategy, whereas other games follow the same general mechanics, advancing primarily in speed.

“This result could have implications in many areas such as educational, occupational and rehabilitative settings,” says Dr. Patterson. “In the future, with more studies, we will be able to know what type of games improves specific abilities, and prescribe games that will benefit people aside from just being entertainment.”

The study will be published in the academic journal Computers in Human Behavior this August and is available currently online.

We’ve got an unofficial MyCiti app, a third-party Tinder app for WP and Facebook Slingshot.

MyCiti Cape Town

Spotted by Bandwidth Blog, this nifty unofficial MyCiti bus app provides an impressive variety of features. From fare calculators and timetables to journey planners, commuters will find at least one feature they like. But the coolest feature is the ability to check your card’s balance by scanning it with your NFC-enabled phone.

The MyCiti Cape Town app is available for free on Android.

6tin

Tinder’s developers have been taking their time to build a Windows Phone version, with prominent developer Rudy Huyn deciding to make an unofficial one last year. Huyn was forced to pull his app at the time, but now, with no signs of an official app just yet, he’s decided to republish it.

6tin is available for free on Windows Phone 8 – so grab it now before it gets pulled again.

Colossatron

Halfbrick Studios has been giving away several iOS titles for free recently, with many titles standing out, such as Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride. We have to give the nod to one of its latest games though, in the form of Colossatron – which sees you causing havoc as a giant armoured centipede of sorts.

Colossatron is available as a free download (as of publication) for iOS – so check it out.

Disney’s Castle of Illusion

The reimagined version of Disney’s classic Sega game hit iOS devices a few months ago, but now Android users can get in on the action too. Castle of Illusion for Android features the same platforming action and jazzed-up visuals as the iOS version. So that means 3D platforming sequences, five worlds and hidden challenges.

Castle of Illusion is available on Android for R107 and on iOS for R120.

Slingshot

Yes, Facebook’s leaked photo messaging service has officially been released – so is it just a Snapchat clone then? Well, its most notable quirk is that you can’t view a friend’s photo/video without sharing a photo/video first. It’s an interesting feature and one that Facebook hopes will increase sharing.

Facebook Slingshot is free to download on Android and iOS.

Crash Dive

As reported by hardcore mobile game website Pocket Tactics, Crash Dive tackles one genre that hasn’t exactly flooded mobile stores. Crash Dive places you in charge of a submarine, with the developer promising a good mix between simulation and arcade-like accessibility. Still, who doesn’t want to fire torpedoes at aircraft carriers?

Crash Dive is available for R90 on iOS and R74 on Android.

Sparks

GIFs have made a resurgence in recent years, with the likes of Buzzfeed, Twitter, forums and other sites supporting them. But Sparks offers a slightly different take on it, allowing you to add text to your favourite GIFs, while also supporting social media integration.

Sparks is available for free on iOS.

Kobo

The popular e-reading platform has seen huge growth in SA thanks to the e-reader devices, but you can grab the app too. The Kobo app lets you read and purchase ebooks, of course – but it also allows you to pick up where you left off, regardless of device.

Kobo is a free download for Android, iOS and Windows Phone 8 (the latter was just launched recently).

This time, we’ve got an Angry Birds RPG, a chariot racing simulation and a great way to get kids to the dinner table.

Witch Saga Volume 1

Who doesn’t love Choose Your Own Adventure books? You? Well… anyway, the Witch Saga Volume 1 is here in case you ever decide to get into the genre. The story sees you going to a sleepy little town, with something evil brewing beneath it all – so pretty standard fare. This interactive story offers a variety of options and choices, but you’ll need to consider your Life, Sanity, Manna and Cool meters too.

Witch Saga Volume 1 is available on Windows Phone 8 as a free download.

Qvadriga

We love a good quirky game, like Qvadriga, which sees you managing a Roman-era chariot racing team. Wait, wuh…? Pocket Tactics described the game as Football Manager for classic Roman chariot teams, as you recruit racers, fast horses and a crew of slaves. There’s more to the game than crew management though, as you’ll need to fend off rivals attacking you on-track and off and try to avoid accidents.

Qvadriga isn’t cheap, coming in at R106 for Android and R120 for iOS. But reviews have been very favourable, in case you’re still on the fence.

VVVVVV

Yes, the classic indie title has finally come to mobile devices – so what have you been missing out on then? The game, from the dude behind Super Hexagon, is a simple platformer, but it’s garnered a ton of awards since its original PC and console release.

VVVVVV is available for R35 on Android and R37 on iOS.

Orbit Run

The simplest mobile titles are often most likely to become the most popular sensations, and Orbit Run is as simple as they come. The game sees a dot revolving around a circle, but players will need to avoid obstacles by simply tapping the screen to switch the dot inside and outside the circle as needed.

Orbit Run is available as a free download for Android.

(R)evolve

We like the premise of this game by Worms developer Team17, which sees you having to protect an alien planet from meteorites and other threats. You’ll need to protect the planet and its constantly evolving inhabitants by simply spinning the planet to avoid danger.

Best of all, (R)evolve is available for free on iOS.

Google My Business

Keeping your business details up-to-date on the likes of Google Maps and Search can be a chore, but the web giant has since released a tool for this purpose. Google My Business serves as an easy way to keep your business information (such as address and operating hours) updated. Additionally, you also have access to page insights, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Google My Business is available as a free download for Android.

DinnerTime Parental Control

Spotted by AndroidPolice, this parental control app locks down your child’s mobile device for a set amount of time. As the name implies, this polished app is ideal for getting your kids to the table for occasions like supper.

DinnerTime Parental Control is available as a free download for Android and iOS.

Angry Birds Epic

There’s a new Angry Birds game, and much like the kart-racing title, it’s a slight change from the usual bird-flinging formula. Angry Birds Epic is essentially a turn-based action RPG, with a variety of weapons and upgrades available for players.

Angry Birds Epic is available as a free-to-play title on Android, iOS and Windows Phone 8.

This time, we’ve got an Angry Birds RPG, a chariot racing simulation and a great way to get kids to the dinner table.

Witch Saga Volume 1

Who doesn’t love Choose Your Own Adventure books? You? Well… anyway, the Witch Saga Volume 1 is here in case you ever decide to get into the genre. The story sees you going to a sleepy little town, with something evil brewing beneath it all – so pretty standard fare. This interactive story offers a variety of options and choices, but you’ll need to consider your Life, Sanity, Manna and Cool meters too.

Witch Saga Volume 1 is available on Windows Phone 8 as a free download.

Qvadriga

We love a good quirky game, like Qvadriga, which sees you managing a Roman-era chariot racing team. Wait, wuh…? Pocket Tactics described the game as Football Manager for classic Roman chariot teams, as you recruit racers, fast horses and a crew of slaves. There’s more to the game than crew management though, as you’ll need to fend off rivals attacking you on-track and off and try to avoid accidents.

Qvadriga isn’t cheap, coming in at R106 for Android and R120 for iOS. But reviews have been very favourable, in case you’re still on the fence.

VVVVVV

Yes, the classic indie title has finally come to mobile devices – so what have you been missing out on then? The game, from the dude behind Super Hexagon, is a simple platformer, but it’s garnered a ton of awards since its original PC and console release.

VVVVVV is available for R35 on Android and R37 on iOS.

Orbit Run

The simplest mobile titles are often most likely to become the most popular sensations, and Orbit Run is as simple as they come. The game sees a dot revolving around a circle, but players will need to avoid obstacles by simply tapping the screen to switch the dot inside and outside the circle as needed.

Orbit Run is available as a free download for Android.

(R)evolve

We like the premise of this game by Worms developer Team17, which sees you having to protect an alien planet from meteorites and other threats. You’ll need to protect the planet and its constantly evolving inhabitants by simply spinning the planet to avoid danger.

Best of all, (R)evolve is available for free on iOS.

Google My Business

Keeping your business details up-to-date on the likes of Google Maps and Search can be a chore, but the web giant has since released a tool for this purpose. Google My Business serves as an easy way to keep your business information (such as address and operating hours) updated. Additionally, you also have access to page insights, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Google My Business is available as a free download for Android.

DinnerTime Parental Control

Spotted by AndroidPolice, this parental control app locks down your child’s mobile device for a set amount of time. As the name implies, this polished app is ideal for getting your kids to the table for occasions like supper.

DinnerTime Parental Control is available as a free download for Android and iOS.

Angry Birds Epic

There’s a new Angry Birds game, and much like the kart-racing title, it’s a slight change from the usual bird-flinging formula. Angry Birds Epic is essentially a turn-based action RPG, with a variety of weapons and upgrades available for players.

Angry Birds Epic is available as a free-to-play title on Android, iOS and Windows Phone 8.

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