Holiday App Guide (for iOS)



AppList

Well, it is that time of year when we all dip into our pockets a bit and give the gift of gaming and productivity to those around us (especially if you want folks to shell out the $9.99 to play Carcassone). This year, I started publishing my own set of App Reviews. I started publishing my own, when I realized that some of my favorite games were not covered by a lot of review sites. There was nothing out there to help me find the best SciFi games or games that you can learn from. There has been a lot of trial and error in my review process, but in general, I review apps in three broad categories: Games, Productivity Apps, and Education Related Apps.

This Holiday Season, I am choosing to highlight those applications that have a special place in my heart. The apps on this list have been with me for varying lengths of time, but they have all hooked my interest and kept me coming back for more. These are the apps that I have on my iPad after all of the gaming and productivity testing that this year brought. I hope that you find these apps as engaging as I did.


Games

Over the past year, I have played a ton of games on my iPhone and iPad. I tend to sneak in gaming when I have a minute between meetings or am sitting by myself at lunch or on the commute. This list goes beyond the games that I have highlighted and really looks at the apps that I routinely use, rather than the apps that have been released. These are the games that, for me, are the best investment. I find myself coming back to them more and more. This post is just a list, but if you want to see my review of each app, click on the links to be taken to it.

1. Craft the World

A great application! If you do not believe that this app is number one on my Apps list after a short week on the app store, check out my review and video.

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2. Hearthstone

The game that keeps on giving. With 20 Million world-wide players, it is hard to imaging this game not continuing to drive the deck building genre. Check out my review and video.

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

by Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.


This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
Free

iTunes Description

Requires an Internet connection and iPhone 4S, iPod touch 5th Generation, iPad 2 or newer.

DECEPTIVELY SIMPLE. INSANELY FUN.

Pick up your cards and ... Read more...

 

3. Fist of Jesus

It seems a bit blasphemous to be talking about Fists of Jesus during advent, but what the heck. It is a fantastic game. My video highlights the gameplay.

by




iTunes Description

... Read more...

 

4. World of Tanks: Blitz

What a fantastic game WOT Turned out to be. With the recent winter expansion, this is one of the best shooter games for the iPad. My review walks through the new tank line and basics of gameplay.

World of Tanks Blitz

World of Tanks Blitz

by WARGAMING Group Limited


This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
Free

iTunes Description

World of Tanks Blitz is a free-to-play mobile MMO action game developed by Wargaming, the award-winning online game developer and publisher of World of Tanks, the ... Read more...

 

5. BioShock

In the world of Console Ports, iOS is pretty lacking. BioShock hit the scene this year and is a fantastic game on a mobile screen. Check out the gameplay video here.

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iTunes Description

... Read more...

 

6. Galaxy on Fire 2

This game has been on my iPad for years. I love the mixture of pirate gameplay and an engaging – yet portable storyline. I took the time recently to do a decent review of this app for my Blog.

Galaxy on Fire 2™ HD

Galaxy on Fire 2™ HD

by FISHLABS


This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
Free

iTunes Description

[ Galaxy on Fire 2 HD is now fully optimized for iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6 as well as iPhone 4S (or newer), iPad 2 (or newer), iPad mini and iPod touch 5G. Download ... Read more...

 

7. First Strike

First strike came out just recently, but it has been a great game to play. I am happy to report that I have almost defeated the game – except for the new content of course. You can check out my review on this page.

First Strike 1.3

First Strike 1.3

by FEINHEIT GmbH


This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
3.99 USD

iTunes Description

====================

First Strike: Nuclear War, but it's Fun

The Top 10 Strategy Game in over 50 countries.

====================

**** - " ... Read more...

 

8. Faster than Light (FTL)

Another older game that is freshened up with some new updates and content. It was just released that a new major update will be coming our way soon. FTL is a great game and my review will show you why.

FTL: Faster Than Light

FTL: Faster Than Light

by Subset Games



2.99 USD

iTunes Description

***WARNING - Only compatible with iPad 2 or newer -- Will NOT run on iPad 1! ****

The award winning PC spaceship simulation game from Subset Games comes ... Read more...

 

9. Dustoff: Vietnam

This game just came out but it really does hit the spot when it comes to chopper games on iOS. No other game is quite as engaging or fun to play.

Dustoff Heli Rescue

Dustoff Heli Rescue

by Invictus


This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
Free

iTunes Description

"I need a Dustoff!" became an all-too-familiar call on the airwaves of the jungle wars. Now take off with your rescue helicopter and search and save the life of ... Read more...

 

10. Minecraft PE

Being able to create anything that you want on your iPad is a Miracle. I do not care if you are a fan of Minecraft or not, it is pretty amazing that we can have an open-world sandbox on a portable platform. I love it, and you can see why here.

Minecraft: Pocket Edition

Minecraft: Pocket Edition

by Mojang


This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
6.99 USD

iTunes Description

Our latest free update includes the new Candy Texture Pack. Sugarcoat your worlds and turn every texture into a syrupy snack!

Explore randomly generated ... Read more...

 


 Productivity

As this year progressed, I found that I was becoming increasingly less productive when I was using technology (I really hit Technology Overload). In order to help curb my downward productivity spiral, I started looking at the systems I use to be productive. My systems were broken and isolated. As the year went on, I started searching for integration platforms to help me manage my workload. Eventually, I found a slew of services that work with my technology needs to make me more productive. These apps are key pieces of my system.

1. Todoist

Over the past few months, Todoist has revolutionized the way that I approach my Tasks. With integration from IFTTT and a wide range of other partners, it is the perfect Task List for a mobile professional.

Todoist: Todo List for Organizing Work and Errands

Todoist: Todo List for Organizing Work and Errands

by Doist


This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
Free

iTunes Description

Keeping life in order shouldn’t be this hard. Todoist helps you organize and prioritize your tasks and projects so you can stress less and achieve more.
< ... Read more...

 

2. CloudMagic

Todoist, Evernote, Pocket, and Trello integrations from your inbox. Send messages directly to your task list or projects. If CloudMagic had a web-app, it would be the perfect platform.

Newton Mail - Email for Gmail, Hotmail & Exchange

Newton Mail - Email for Gmail, Hotmail & Exchange

by CloudMagic, Inc.


This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
Free

iTunes Description

Newton is a subscription-based service that supercharges your email with power features like Read Receipts, Snooze, Send Later, Undo Send, Sender Profile, Connected ... Read more...

 

3. GNEO

This was the first integrated task list that I started using on the iPad. It was fantastic. With Evernote integration and GTD/Eisenhower grids, it is a great todo list app. If it integrated with more services, I would still be using it.

Gneo:  To Do Task List and Calendar Manager

Gneo: To Do Task List and Calendar Manager

by Keane and Able Limited


This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
8.99 USD

iTunes Description

App Store Editors’ Choice & “Best of 2013.” Featured on TechCrunch, Inc., Business Insider, MacWorld, and more.

Gneo seamlessly brings together task ... Read more...

 

4. Trello

I use Trello to track on-going projects both at-work, and at-home. With integrations from common partners, it is a great service to track all aspects of a project with a team.

Trello

Trello

by Trello, Inc.


This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
Free

iTunes Description

Trello gives you perspective over all your projects, at work and at home.

Whether it's managing a team, writing an epic screenplay, or just making a grocery ... Read more...

 

5. Calendars 5

Simply the best calendar app on the iPad. There is nothing else to say.

Calendars 5 - Daily Planner and Task Manager

Calendars 5 - Daily Planner and Task Manager

by Readdle


This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
6.99 USD

iTunes Description

Calendars 5 is complete re-imagining of what the best mobile calendar experience should be.

Calendars 5 is smart, excels in both tasks and events and runs ... Read more...

 

6. Dolphin Web Browser

I am still on the fence a bit about this one, just because iOS 8 added some great Evernote features. It is on my list for the “Send to Mobile” integration, and the Wifi Broadcast capability.

Dolphin Web Browser for iPad –Ad-Block Extension

Dolphin Web Browser for iPad –Ad-Block Extension

by MoboTap Inc.



Free

iTunes Description

Simplify your mobile life. Let Dolphin do all the work so you don’t have to. Use Dolphin’s tabbed browsing and share any web content instantly to your favorite ... Read more...

 

7. Buffer

You may have seen this post through my buffer feed… enough said.

Buffer: Schedule Posts for Twitter & Instagram

Buffer: Schedule Posts for Twitter & Instagram

by Buffer, Inc.


This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
Free

iTunes Description

Share to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn – all from one place, on your schedule.

Any link, text, picture or video you want ... Read more...

 

8. Evernote

My Digital Horde. I keep everything that I use and reference in Evernote. I am waiting for the day that “Digital Horders” breaks down my door and makes me purge.

Evernote - stay organized

Evernote - stay organized

by Evernote


This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
Free

iTunes Description

Let Evernote change the way you organize your personal and professional projects. Dive in: take notes, create to-do lists, and save things you find online into ... Read more...

 

9. Blogsy

After trying most of the WordPress programs for iOS, Blogsy is my clear favorite. Which basically means that there needs to be more competition…

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iTunes Description

... Read more...

 

10. Diet Coda

I am a coder, and having FTP, HTML, and CSS access on my tablet has been invaluable. Sometimes you just need to fix that image.

Coda

Coda

by Panic, Inc.


This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
24.99 USD

iTunes Description

THE INCREDIBLE, POWERFUL TEXT EDITOR YOU CAN TAKE WITH YOU.
Includes Panic Sync, our secure, super sync service — for FREE.

THE SHORT VERSION:
• ... Read more...

 


 

Education

Education is why I got into this business of reviews in the first place. In previous years, there were tons of apps that had historical or simulation bends. This year has been pretty bleak for Education related apps on iOS. Several great apps series were phased out when iOS 8 came out, and several others have shown such promise and ultimately been let downs. The shining light this year seems to come from Medical and War simulations, which have become simply amazing over the past 12 months. These apps are the best educational apps that I have seen on iOS over the past year.

 

1. Plague Inc.

Embrace your inner virus and destroy humanity (in conjunction with the CDC).

Plague Inc.

Plague Inc.

by Ndemic Creations


This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
0.99 USD

iTunes Description

Can you infect the world? Plague Inc. is a unique mix of high strategy and terrifyingly realistic simulation.

Your pathogen has just infected 'Patient Zero ... Read more...

 

2. Bio Inc.

Just incase Plague Inc. is too “global,” you can attack a single human in Bio Inc. This app is great at discussing precursors and medical conditions that make you more susceptible to disease.

Bio Inc. Platinum - Biomedical Plague

Bio Inc. Platinum - Biomedical Plague

by DryGin Studios


This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
2.99 USD

iTunes Description

Bio Inc is a biomedical strategy simulator in which you determine the ultimate fate of a victim by developing the most lethal illness possible.

*** Download ... Read more...

 

3. Democracy 3

Mind blown! I have a friend who writes for the Center for Responsive politics, and I bet he would fully understand and beat this app. It makes my mind feel like eggs in a frying pan (“This is my brain on Democracy 3”). Great application to US Government classes.

Democracy 3

Democracy 3

by Positech Games



4.99 USD

iTunes Description

Ever wanted to run the country?

Have you ever wanted to be president? or prime-minister? Convinced you could do a better job of running the country? Let' ... Read more...

 

4. European War 4

Napoleon, revolution, war, cannons, and red-coats. All you could want (except for battles in Lexington and Concord).

European War 4: Napoleon

European War 4: Napoleon

by EASY Inc.


This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
Free

iTunes Description

Your Excellency, Commander! Welcome to the 18th century, the Age of Napoleon. It’s an entirely
new gaming mode, adding general skills and a new item system ... Read more...

 

5. iStudiez Pro

If you want an updated digital version of a student planner, this is what you need.

iStudiez Pro – Homework, Schedule, Grades

iStudiez Pro – Homework, Schedule, Grades

by iStudiez Team


This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
2.99 USD

iTunes Description

This is one of the apps you’ll really USE in your daily school life.
See how your grades go up as you stick to this app daily when planning your studies.
Read more...

 

6. iTeacher Book

Works with iStudiez Pro to allow teachers to manage their classrooms. Would be higher on the list if it was updated more regularly.

iTeacherBook

iTeacherBook

by iStudiez Team


This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
4.99 USD

iTunes Description

Welcome iTeacherBook, most comprehensive planner for teachers exclusively!

iTeacherBook is a sister app of iStudiez Pro and mutual integration of both is ... Read more...

 

7. Move the Turtle

Do you want to teach programming to a 3 year old? This is the way to do it! I am not joking!

Move The Turtle. Programming For Kids

Move The Turtle. Programming For Kids

by Next is Great


This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
3.99 USD

iTunes Description

*** Winner of a Parents’ Choice Gold Award
_______________________________________________
"I highly recommend it for all kids, whether or not they want ... Read more...

 

8. iTunesU

Simply the best reference library on the iPad. Has hundreds of college courses for free in a wide range of fields.

iTunes U

iTunes U

by Apple


This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
Free

iTunes Description

iTunes U provides everything an instructor needs to bring the classroom together on iPad—build lessons with apps and your own materials, collect and grade assignments ... Read more...

 

9. Otus Teacher

This looks amazing. What I have seen teachers do with this app is remarkable. I am looking forward to using it with my students next year.

Otus-Teacher

Otus-Teacher

by Synvata LLC



Free

iTunes Description

Classroom teachers are surrounded by student performance data and are being asked to make instructional decisions based on that data. Without a tool to connect ... Read more...

 

10. Explain Everything

Videos, photos, and voice over. In an easy to use and easily exportable format on the iPad.

Explain Everything™ Classic

Explain Everything™ Classic

by Explain Everything sp. z o.o.


This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
7.99 USD

iTunes Description

This is the original version of Explain Everything, first released in 2011. Please visit https://explaineverything.com/classic-pricing to read important information ... Read more...

 


 The Greatest

In the world of apps, I must say that I have seen a lot of tools and resources come across my iPad this year. The app store followed its usual pattern of ups and downs, with education related products being the worst hit. While I am a big fan of a lot of the apps and games that came out this year, there is one that sticks out in my head as the Greatest. Luckily, I am not alone in this opinion as it was just named Time’s Game of the year.

This is an education game to its core. When I first started playing 80 days, I did not know what to expect, but it reminded me of the old “Carmen Sandiego” games that I played as a child. After a few short journeys into the app, I was sold. Educationally, students have to engage in and travel the world. It is a fantastically engaging geographical app for the iPad, and is simply one of the best interfaces that I have seen in a long time.

80 Days will be my favorite, and most highly recommended iOS Education app until we see an honest port of the original “Carmen Sandiego” or “Oregon Trail” hit the App Store.

80 Days

80 Days

by inkle


This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
4.99 USD

iTunes Description

1872, with a steampunk twist. Phileas Fogg has wagered he can circumnavigate the world in just eighty days.
*** Four BAFTA-nominations -- TIME Game of 2014< ... Read more...