Official Handz Studioz Review — The Best Apps of 2014

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You’re probably aware that there are a lot of apps out there. But do you know how many there really are? The facts are pretty stunning — Android users have access to 1.3 million apps via Google Play, and Apple users have access to 1.2 million via the App Store (data from July 2014)! That’s a lot of apps, so we thought we’d simplify things for you a bit. As the year draws to a close, Handz Studioz presents you with our list of the best apps of 2014. We’ve broken them down into the top three for each category (such as games, note taking, education, etc). Enjoy! (Please note that this is mainly geared towards Apple users, but most of these apps are available on the other platforms)

We all like to play, but sadly, work comes before play — so let’s get right into Category 1: Productivity.

First place: Pages, by Apple, Inc. It’s essentially Microsoft Word for Apple products, and despite many other word processors, Pages is still the cream of the crop when it comes to word processing.

Pages

Second place: iA Writer, by Information Architects Inc. This app replaces the default iOS 8 keyboard and adds a new row of keys that let you skip lines and individual letters, parenthesize and quote without switching keyboards, and more. All in all a very good application, although perhaps not quite as good a deal — it’s $4.99; Apple users with newer devices can get Pages for free.

iA Writer

Third place: Evernote, by Evernote. This app is great. It syncs with your Mac or PC, keeps checklists, notes, pictures (they have a neat feature that lets you search the text in an image), and can use your calendar to help you plan. As always, Evernote continues to impress, whether on the computer or the tablet.

Evernote

Now that we’ve done some work, let’s play a little in Category 2: Games. This category is a bit tricky since there are so many different genres of games to choose from, but we’ve decided to rank these based on aspects they all share, such as graphics, performance, etc. Plus fun factor — personally we find Trial Xtreme 3 more interesting and fun than Candy Crush Saga, but that’s open to debate I suppose…

First place: Temple Run 2, by Imangi Studios. The second installment in the Temple Run saga, Temple Run 2 is loads of fun — and that’s not all. Good graphics, high frame rates (we videoed gameplay with a slow motion camera [which we reviewed here], and found it to go up to 60 fps), and a nearly spotless performance record round this app out at #1 on our list. Users around the world enjoy these apps — the first version, Temple Run, is the ninth-most-downloaded app on the App Store!

Temole Run 2

Second place: any of the Angry Birds versions, by Rovio Entertainment, Ltd. Angry Birds comes very close to Temple Run 2 for first place. Ultimately the thing that decided it for us was the challenges that Temple Run 2 does, such as the Daily Challenge and the Weekly Challenges. Maybe we’re just goal-oriented or something, but that little bit of “zip” that a challenge provides tipped a nearly level scale. Either way, you’ll want to have both of these on your phone or tablet.

Third place: Deer Hunter 2014, by Glu Games Inc. Third on our list, Deer Hunter 2014 is king of the castle when it comes to graphics. Let’s back up a little and say that Glu Games is king of the castle when it comes to graphics — every game of theirs that we looked at has stunning visuals, and DH 2014 is no exception. Looking at performance, the app can be slightly frustrating. Occasionally there can be a timer error that means your energy (which you need to go hunting) doesn’t replenish itself over time like it is supposed to do. Luckily, this problem is easy to fix — just connect to a network and start the app. DH 2014 also can take a while to load, sometimes up to two or three minutes; it’s usually faster when connected to a network. As for fun factor, it depends on your taste. Our nearly all-male staff finds playing with guns and shooting animals in Africa to be quite enthralling, although this may not appeal to all audiences.

Deer Hunter 2014

Honorable mention: Clash of Clans, by Supercell. There are so many good games out there that we just had to do one more. Clash of Clans isn’t the most engaging game, and that’s one of the reasons it’s on our list — it’s still fun without requiring all of a user’s brain function in order to operate it. Graphics are good and performance is stable. The only problem we have had is server maintenance, which results in temporary inability to play…which brings us to another point: you have to be connected to the internet in order to play Clash of Clans.

Bonus! Hardest game: Geometry Dash, by RobTop Games AB. Download it (or the Lite version). Try it. Fail. Try again. ‘Nuff said.

Let’s move on to Category 3: Document Management. So much of our lives now revolves around our documents — resumes, essays, letters, and or just plain grocery lists all have to be stored and managed. Here are Handz Studioz’ top three picks for document management from 2014.

First place: Documents, by Readdle. This app handles everything — it’s pretty incredible! If you can name it, Documents can handle it. .pdf’s, .zip’s, pictures, audio, .doc’s — they all work with this app — you should definitely get this app going into 2015.

Documents

Second place: Google Drive, by Google, Inc. We’re talking about Google Drive here, folks. What can you expect other than seamless integration and performance? The app doesn’t dissappoint — it’s every bit as functional and useful as the online drive — we highly recommend it.

Google Drive

Third place: iBooks, by Apple, Inc. iBooks isn’t particularly impressive as document managers go, but it’s still our favorite for managing .pdf’s. The sleek new look introduced in iOS 7 and the bug fixes in iOS 8 make handling .pdf’s a pleasure in iBooks — it now comes standard when upgrading to iOS 8, so if you haven’t upgraded yet, it’s something to consider. We reviewed iOS 8 in two installments this summer. Check out the first one here.

iBooks

We’ve arrived at our last category. With all the new camera abilities on recent Apple products, we feel that we should mention Category 4: Photo Editing.

First place: Autodesk Pixlr, by Autodesk Inc. This app is pretty nice, especially for the price ($free). While it’s certainly not Photoshop or Gimp, it gets the job done quite nicely on your devices. The UI is simple to use and powerful, with a wide range of effects, overlays, text, collages, and more. We highly recommend this to just about anyone, and it certainly suffices for the needs of the average consumer.

Autodesk Pixlr

Second place: Sketchbook Pro, by Autodesk Inc. This app might not be on the App Store anymore, unless it has been replaced with another name. Regardless, it’s pretty powerful, and we highly recommend it. Why is it second place? The UI is not helpful at all…there are no labels with the buttons, so you kind of have to guess at what they do until you learn them all. Other than that, it’s great.

There is no third place for this category. If you have a suggestion, please comment below. One app that we have not looked at is Apple’s App of the Year, Pixelmator. It’s a highly rated photo editor that we may look into eventually. If anyone has looked at this in depth and has any feedback on it, please let us know in the comments.

That concludes Handz Studioz’ Best Apps of 2014 Review! We hope you enjoyed this post; please share Handz Studioz with others in your community (online or physical). Disagree with any of our choices? Let us know in the comments!

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-The Editor

Apple’s Upcoming: iPhone 6 and iOS 8

Since Apple recently announced the dates for their annual Developer Conference (WWDC, June 2 2014) there has been much speculation about the unveiling of Apple’s rumored newest products: the iPhone 6 and iOS 8. What will they be like? Will the iPhone get a bigger screen? Will iOS 8 get Adobe Flash? Currently, this information hasn’t been released to us, but the big unveiling is scheduled to be at WWDC.

From some research I’ve been doing, I’ve drawn some pretty interesting information from sites like MacRumors, as well as some conclusions I’ve drawn myself.

MacRumors has some “specs” for the iPhone 6 on their website, and although we don’t really know anything for sure, they came up with some plausible specs for a new iPhone:

  • 2 models, one with a 4.7″ screen (due for release in September), the other (following a little later) with a 5.5″ screen.
  • A sapphire crystal screen (as opposed to the Gorilla Glass II formula used in previous models). This would make it very hard to scratch the screen, as well as giving it better drop resistance.
  • “A faster and more efficient A8 chip”

On their website, MacRumors has this picture of what they speculate the new iPhone will look like:

iPhone 6 (image from MacRumors.com)
I do not own this image. Image courtesy of MacRumors.com.

Personally, I agree with almost all of the “specs” that MacRumors put out, but there is one that I don’t agree with MacRumors on. I’m going to go over what MacRumors put out, and add some comments of my own.

I definitely agree with MacRumors on the upgrade in screen size. Since Samsung has put out their S4 and S5 models, phones have simply gotten bigger, and people like the larger screen size. In order for Apple to stay in the game, they need a bigger phone.

I also agree with the A8 chip specification. People will always want faster and more powerful, and Apple will almost definitely take advantage of that.

Now the specification that I’m not sure about is the sapphire crystal screen. In previous Apple devices, the ‘Gorilla Glass’ formula has been used. Gorilla Glass is an extremely tough glass that can withstand shocks such as being shot with a paintball gun (the Slow Mo Guys on YouTube did a video on it) or being dropped. Although it’s not indestructible, it is pretty tough, and not very expensive. Sapphire, on the other hand, is NOT cheap. If you’ve seen watches with sapphire crystal display covers then you know what I’m talking about. Making a phone with 4.7″ or 5.5″ of this material would raise the production cost significantly. Since I personally don’t think Apple would want to raise their production cost (or the consumer price which would lower sales), I think Apple will probably stick with their Gorilla Glass II screens they have been using.

Now I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on the iPhone 6 part of this post, but I’m going to move on to iOS 8 speculations, (possible) new features, etc.

Leaked iOS 8 screenshot from MacRumors.com
I do not own this image. Image courtesy of MacRumors.com.

MacWorld says that one of their biggest frustrations over iOS 7 is the Mail service. Although Apple revamped the application for iOS 7, people continue to have issues with this service. New additions to the Mail App in iOS 8 might include sending all types of files, on-device spam filtering, mail groups, better security, and more.

TechRadar speculates that Apple will add an app called Healthbook, which will track your weight, sleep, exercise, or whatever else you enter into it. It would be similar to the fitness apps on Samsung devices. Other speculations from TechRadar and other sites say that Apple will add TextEdit for more powerful document editing, and Tips for better usability of the device. Speculations suggest that Preview will also be added. TechRadar suggests that Apple might add compatibility for an iWatch that could appear in 2015, getting rid of Game Center, and adding split-screen capability (multitasking) for iPads.

MacRumors concurs with the other two sites, also saying that a revamp of Apple Maps is in store for iOS 8. Apple Maps went downhill due to its lack of functions when compared to Google Maps or other applications. MacRumors speculates that Apple will upgrade its iTunes Radio function as well as add HD Audio.

Thanks for visiting Handz Studioz and we hope that you come back for more!

Don’t forget to Follow to be notified of future posts!

-The Editor.

External Links:
MacRumors: “iPhone 6: Apple’s 2014 Phone”

Macworld: “iOS 8 Changes We’d Like to See: Mail”

TechRadar: “iOS Release Date, News, and Rumors. Everything You Need to Know About the Upcoming OS”

MacRumors: “iOS 8: Healthbook and Much More” Check out this article for a timeline of iOS 8 activity.