iPhone Weekly Digest: One-thumb Games, a Decent News App, Fishy Arcade Fun, and More


Left: Reuters. Top-right: Pudge. Bottom-right: Fare City.
Left: Reuters. Top-right: Pudge. Bottom-right: Fare City.

It’s time for our weekly digest of tiny iPhone reviews, courtesy of iPhoneTiny.com, with some extra commentary exclusive to Cult of Mac.

This time, we review Wivi Band Free, Thomson Reuters News Pro, Sjoelen, Lucky Day!, Lexulous, Pudge, Mr. Driller, Flick Kick Field Goal, Whac-a-Mole, geoFighter, SpringFling, and Fare City.

Reuters: Fast, reliable news app. Not the prettiest/nicest, but probably the best all-rounder on the App Store. 4/5 Free http://is.gd/8qT8i

Wivi Band Free: Virtual trumpet, oddly controlled by mic and touchscreen piano keyboard. OK, but no Ocarina. 2/5 Free http://is.gd/8qRWs

Sjoelen: Mild-mannered flick-based take on Dutch shufflepuck variant. Always good for a quick game. 3/5 $0.99 http://is.gd/8qZOe

Lucky Day!: Overpriced Magic 8-Ball variant starring a gormless panda. 1/5 $1.99 http://is.gd/906U0

Lexulous: Borderline competent and overpriced client for accessing the popular online Scrabble clone. 2/5 $3.99 http://is.gd/907ht

Pudge: Cute one-thumb iCopter-style game starring a Pixar-like cartoon fish. Best in class + has 2-player mode. 3/5 $0.99 http://is.gd/907GK

Mr. Driller: Decent port of the jolly, fast-paced digging game, marred slightly by lack of D-pad precision. 4/5 $1.99 http://is.gd/94JYD

Flick Kick Field Goal: Four flick-based kick challenges. Nice graphics & better than Paper Toss. 3/5 $0.99 http://is.gd/94LOY

Whac-a-Mole: Whacky Valentines: Reasonable fairground whack-a-mole with amusing retro-style mini-games. 2/5 Free http://is.gd/94MoL

geoFighter: Yet another dual-thumb Robotron rip-off. Colourful, but unremarkable, bog-standard stuff. 2/5 $1.99 http://is.gd/94MQ3

SpringFling: Vertical platformer with drag controls to fling spring hero upwards. Let down by reliance on luck. 2/5 $0.99 http://is.gd/94NiR

Fare City: Decent line-drawing take on Crazy Taxi. Two very different maps & nicely presented. Gets tough fast. 3/5 $0.99 http://is.gd/94Pvo

A barrage of games this week, some of which are good fun, including Mr Driller, the one-thumb iCopter vs Finding Nemo that is Pudge, Crazy-Taxi-meets-Flight Control Fare City, and Flick Kick Field Goal, one of the more successful flick-based games for Apple handhelds.

However, the Reuters news app is app of the week. It’s not the prettiest or the nicest news app, but it’s fast and has a good range of coverage. Localisation options for the USA, UK, Canada and India are also a nice touch.

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Top iPhone Game Orbital on the Way for iPad as Orbital HD


Top iPhone game Orbital is on its way for iPad.
Top iPhone game Orbital is on its way for iPad.

When researching a recent article for TechRadar, about great iPhone games that should be ported to iPad, I asked a few devs about their plans for the platform. Most remained tight-lipped, but Reto Senn was happy to spill a few beans regarding Orbital, an absurdly addictive one-thumb orb-destruction game that’s currently my favourite iPhone app, and which was seen demoed on iPad at Apple’s recent press event.

“It was a surprise for us that Orbital appeared on the iPad and was playable at the press event. We didn’t know about this beforehand,” says Reto. “We’ve looked into the possibilities [for iPad] and we’ve decided to create an iPad-specific release, dubbed Orbital HD. The new version will have pin-sharp textures so the game takes advantage of the higher resolution screen. We’re also re-designing the user interface, because the bezel, larger screen and weight of the device will have users hold the iPad in a different position to iPhone, in order to play Orbital.”

In terms of gameplay, Reto reveals that although gameplay will stay the same “so highscores will be comparable with the iPhone version,” there are plans in the works to add some unique features to Orbital HD: “We’re designing a two-player mode so it can be played like a table-top arcade game. Multiplayer is one of our favourite features of Orbital and the iPad is the perfect device for that kind of gameplay—with its large screen it’s like a portable table-top arcade game.”

For more on Orbital, visit www.orbital-game.com. The iPhone version’s available for $1.99 on the App Store and has twice received our ‘app of the week’ award.


UPDATED: Is Apple Preparing To Add An ‘Explicit’ Section To The App Store?



Over the past few days, Cult of Mac has closely followed Apple’s divisive decision to remove “overtly sexual” apps from the App Store. Some apps caught in the purge (such as videogame Daisy Mae and swimwear retailer Simply Beach) have been reinstated and others have not (notably iWobble). Although some welcome Apple’s puritanical stance, others (including this writer) claim Apple is being hypocritical in allowing Playboy and Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue to remain on the App Store, despite similar (and, in some cases, even less “overtly sexual”) apps being banned.

A developer writes to us and says this might all be academic soon: “Looks like Apple are adding a category called Explicit to the App Store,” he says, providing the following grab:

The developer adds: “It’s available for selection when adding a new app to iTunesConnect although I can’t see any sign of it in the actual App Store yet.”

Update: We’ve since been contacted by two sources that claim the category is gone. However, the information we posted earlier was independently verified by a number of other sources, some of which supplied other images, for example: Macworld, Recombu, 9to5Mac and MacRumors. Either Apple removed the category after it got widely reported after we broke the story or it’s only visible to some developers.

Update 2: The developer who originally contacted us says: “I can confirm that the category has been removed from iTunesConnect. Not sure what Apple was doing!”. Gizmodo corroborates this, quoting a developer who spoke directly to an Apple rep, who said that while the company is considering an explicit category “it’s not going to happen anytime soon”. Then again, knowing Apple’s back-and-forth approach on this subject over the past few days, it may well show up over the weekend. Make up your mind, guys.

Too Hot for iPhone: Apple’s Puritanical Anti-Sex Crusade Bans Swimwear Retailer’s App


Banned by Apple: a swimwear catalogue app.

UPDATE (23 February): The Simply Beach developer just emailed us to say that “Apple appear to have quietly reinstated the Simply Beach app this evening”. He notes that neither he nor his customer received any communication whatsoever from Apple.

Our recent articles on Apple’s decision to ban “overtly sexual apps” have caused plenty of arguments in the comments. Some (including your correspondent) think Apple’s being ridiculous, overbearing and taking a dangerous path in initiating a blanket ban on even extremely mild content, such as images of women (or, er, men) in bikinis. Others claim Apple should be applauded, and they can’t wait to see the back of apps with sexual content, no matter how mild.

However, Apple’s stance hasn’t only affected the likes of iWobble, as Andrew Long of software development company Exploding Phone explains: “One of our customers has fallen foul of Apple’s new puritan crusade—the crazy thing is, the customer is an online beachwear retailer, Simply Beach, that happens to sell bikinis via an online store and the accompanying iPhone app that we developed for the company.”

Andrew notes that Apple removed the app without warning. On Friday, Simply Beach received an email from Apple about the decision to remove any overtly sexual content from the store and that included the Simply Beach application. “The email also made mention to numerous complaints they had received from customers regarding ‘this type of content’ and implied it was these complaints which had led to the changes,” says Andrew, adding that his customer initially thought this was a hoax.

If this is what Apple considers 'overtly sexual' content, we fear for civilisation itself - and the entire company needs to get out more.

At the time of writing, Apple has yet to respond, and Andrew resubmitted the app with a much increased age rating, although he states: “Neither we nor our customer believes that the content warrants a rating.” The app also has some heavy investment by the swimwear company, and was soon to have had a revision including multi-currency pricing and video streaming. “This upgrade is now under threat until we find out where Apple’s puritan values lie,” said Simply Group MD Gerrard Dennis in a press release. “This has put people’s jobs at risk as we rely on all income streams. We are not Apple, we don’t have billions sat in our bank account! It would have been better to have had some warning or discussion before removing the app. I assume all clothing retailers that sell anything other than overcoats will now have to be removed from iTunes?” (our emphasis)

“Personally speaking, I think the decision is ludicrous, but to be honest not much that Apple does surprises me any more,” says Andrew, stressing that his views don’t necessarily reflect those of his customer. “As an iPhone developer you have to be prepared for the goalposts to shift unendingly and be as dynamic as you can in changing to meet the new way of life.” However, in this case, Andrew thinks it’s clear the content is not ‘overtly sexual’: “Apple has clearly been overzealous and inconsistent in trying to rid the App Store of ‘bikini blight’. It makes a mockery of the rating system, too, which is surely there to ensure that questionable content doesn’t get into the wrong hands.”

To add insult to injury, Andrew notes that his customer sells some of its goods through an Amazon feed, which is still available through the Amazon iPhone app. “And I’m sure if you searched that app for more fruity items, you’d find many images available which are much worse by the average person’s moral compass.”

At the time of writing, Apple hasn’t responded to our request for a comment. We also note that there’s not a total bikini ban—you can still get the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, perhaps because Apple didn’t want to piss off Time magazine? (Hat tip: Nicole.)

Sexgate II: Apple Says No to Sex, Sexual Content, Bikinis, Innuendo, Anything Arousing, and Implications of Sexual Content


Too hot for Apple. But why is Apple clamping down on so-called 'sexy' apps?
Too hot for Apple. But why is Apple clamping down on so-called 'sexy' apps?

Nicole reported on Friday that sexy apps have been pulled from the App Store, and I followed up over the weekend with Apple Censorship Reaches New Level of Stupid: Daisy Mae Pulled (FNAR!), a story about Robotron-style shooter Daisy Mae being removed because—horrors!—it has shocking content such as innuendo and a women in a pair of short shorts.

According to the developer of Wobble (which Apple seemingly considers an utterly filthy, disgusting and horrible app that enables you to add wobbly bits to any iPhone picture, which therefore has the potential to bring down civilisation as we know it, and not—as you might have thought—a little bit of harmless fun), prudes the world over will be delighted by the finer details of Apple’s stance.

After speaking with Apple, Wobble’s creator reveals that he spoke to Apple and was told what is now banned:

1. No images of women in bikinis (Ice skating tights are not OK either)

2. No images of men in bikinis! (I didn’t ask about Ice Skating tights for men)

3. No skin (he seriously said this) (I asked if a Burqa was OK, and the Apple guy got angry)

4. No silhouettes that indicate that Wobble can be used for wobbling boobs (yes – I am serious, we have to remove the silhouette in [the Wobble pics shown above])

5. No sexual connotations or innuendo: boobs, babes, booty, sex – all banned

6. Nothing that can be sexually arousing!! (I doubt many people could get aroused with the pic above but those puritanical guys at Apple must get off on pretty mundane things to find Wobble “overtly sexual!)

7. No apps will be approved that in any way imply sexual content (not sure how Playboy is still in the store, but …)

This explains why Daisy Mae got the boot—even if you ignore the ‘bikini’ rules, it would have breached rules 5 and 7. In other words, even innuendo is too strong for Apple when it comes to sex. We’d best set fire to Duke Nukem, GTA, The Sims, and a whole bunch of other games, then, including Vancouver 2010.

What this doesn’t explain is how Playboy’s so far escaped the ban, nor why Apple’s doing this in the first place. The App Store has a ratings system in place. Sure, it’s somewhat broken, but it’s at least there. There’s no reason why Apple can’t just enforce a 17+ rule for apps of this type and get on with things as usual.

What seems more likely is that Apple is using the claim that many people (who, frankly, need to get a life) have complained about ‘sexy’ apps (which, presumably, includes ones that aren’t actually sexy in the sense that normal people would use the word) to create a ‘safe’ (read: sanitised) environment for advertisers and education. In the former space, it’s clear advertisers—particularly in the USA—are often against being aligned with sexual content, no matter how mild. In education, there have already been cases where schools have ditched plans to provide students with Apple handhelds, due to them enabling access to smut. That said, with parental controls in every device and App Store ratings, Apple’s current decision seems absurd in the extreme, not least because the app that provides the fastest access to sex, sexual content, bikinis, innuendo, anything arousing, and implications of sexual content is Apple’s own Safari.

Apple Censorship Reaches New Level of Stupid: Daisy Mae Pulled (FNAR!)


SHIELD YOUR EYES! Apple considers this game too racy for iPhone and iPod touch owners!
SHIELD YOUR EYES! Apple considers this game too racy for iPhone and iPod touch owners!

UPDATE: Daisy Mae has returned to the App Store. It is unclear what if any changes have been made to the game. The game is currently rated 12+.

Nicole posted on the 19th that Apple is pulling ‘sexy’ apps, due to deciding that it’s operating out of a fictional puritanical Victorian utopia, rather than the USA. While Apple’s making the case by saying it doesn’t want porn on the iPhone, it’s now decided that ironic cartoon smut within a videogame is also a step too far. Yes, Touch Arcade reports that IUGO’s Daisy Mae has been unceremoniously pulled from the App Store, because—SHOCK!—it features a sassy cartoon woman with a penchant for short shorts as the lead character. Seriously.

***SARCASM WARNING!*** You know, Apple should really deal with this by coming up with some kind of system on the App Store for rating content, so you know whether an app is suitable for someone of a certain age. That would deal with games like this that you don’t want to warp fragile little minds (even though they almost certainly wouldn’t, because any kid with an iPhone who wants to look at boobs just needs to use APPLE’S OWN SAFARI)! ***END OF SARCASM WARNING!***

So, iPhone developers, the message is clear: don’t have any women in your apps unless they’re covered in some kind of burqa-style clothing, otherwise Steve and Tim and Phil will kill it until it’s dead (with virtual knives, guns, bombs and death-rays, all of which are fine, unless they are associated with any kind of vaguely risque clothing that’s within forty feet). And don’t even think of a game startting Jessica Rabbit, unless you turn her into an actual rabbit.

Giana Sisters – How a C64 Platform Game Banned By Nintendo Came to iPhone and iPod touch


Giana Sisters for iPhone and iPod touch.

In the 1980s, a Mario-like platformer was reportedly brutally slain by Nintendo lawyers. Two decades later, the game has made its way to iPhone and iPod touch (and, presumably, Nintendo’s lawyers have chilled out a little). The game in question: Giana Sisters. Cult of Mac spoke to Nico Kaartinen of developer Bad Monkee about how and why a cult 8-bit classic was remade for Apple handhelds.

iPhone Weekly Digest: Drum Machines, Games, a Weather App, and a Dog Piano. No, Really.


Clockwise from top-left: Trace, easyBeats LE, Revs!, and Twin Blades.
Clockwise from top-left: Trace, easyBeats LE, Twin Blades, Revs!

It’s time for our weekly digest of tiny iPhone reviews, courtesy of iPhoneTiny.com, with some extra commentary exclusive to Cult of Mac.

This time, we review Card Shark Solitaire Free, DigiDrummer Lite, Dog Piano Jr, easyBeats LE, Met Office, Revs!, Rudolph’s Kick n Fly, Spoke Groove Machine Free, Trace, and Twin Blades.

iPhone Weekly Digest: The Best iPhone Fitness App and Loads of Games


Left: RunKeeper - better than Nike+. Right: the beautiful but frustrating Ramp Champ.
Left: RunKeeper - better than Nike+. Right: the beautiful but frustrating Ramp Champ.

It’s time for our weekly digest of tiny iPhone reviews, courtesy of iPhoneTiny.com, with some extra commentary exclusive to Cult of Mac.

This time, we review Showtimes, Space Deadbeef, UFO Kidnapped, Ramp Champ, IMDB, Air Hockey, Valet Hero, RunKeeper Free and RunKeeper Pro.