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AutoVerbal Talking Soundboard Gives A Voice To Those Who Can’t Speak


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Happy Friday! To celebrate the end of the work week, let’s break away from our traditional review of iPhone krapp and start the weekend off on a positive note. This next app is do good, feel good and all good … it’s a fantastic example of how iPhone technology can increase quality of life and make a positive impact on its users.

The AutoVerbal Talking Soundboard [iTunes $0.99 for a limited time] is an augmentative and alternative communication application. Know as AAC, Wikipedia defines it as “communication for those with impairments or restrictions on the production or comprehension of spoken or written language.” AAC is technology at its finest … opening doors and lifting the spirits of non-verbal individuals.

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Typically AAC devices cost hundreds of dollar … so at a mere 99 cents, the AutoVerbal Talking Soundboard is a ridiculous bargain and no wonder the #2 paid Medical application. And it gets better … the app is universal meaning it will run full-featured on the iPhone, iPod Touch AND the iPad … WOOT! 

Upon launching the app, the user is presented with 16 sideways scrollable (is that a word – is now) rows of picture buttons categorized by topic (medical, food, emotions, simple phrases, etc.) … resulting in hundreds of built-in audible phrases. The first row is for custom recordings … enabling the individual to program whatever they like. AutoVerbal Talking Soundboard is well thought out and developer No Tie Software did a great job organizing the categories and identifying the most common phrases used on a daily basis for quick and convenient play.

 

Although released less than a week ago, No Tie Software has already updated the app with landscape support, choice of big or small buttons, premium and standard voice options, custom wallpaper and more. No Tie Software is no stranger to customer service … we featured them back in May 2009, highlighting their over-the-top customer support. So rest assured, this is not some fly by night developer … No Tie Software will continue to enhance the AutoVerbal Talking Soundboard based on customer feedback.

Using the AutoVerbal Talking Soundboard is extremely easy. There are three ways to speak via the app … 1) choose from the hundreds of built-in phrases in 16 categories … 2) program the top row of ten buttons to speak any custom message (your name, address, “Go Lakers”, etc.) … 3) type any message and have it spoken using text-to-speech technology.

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Uh yeah, we know what your thinking … this app could be quite entertaining for non-medical purposes. See a hot chick at a bar – use the AutoVerbal Talking Soundboard to deliver a clever pickup line in a very original manner (thanks No Tie Software – you guys got us laid). Frequent places where foul language is frowned upon – let the AutoVerbal Talking Soundboard do the cussing for you. The possibilities are endless.

But all shitting aside, the AutoVerbal Talking Soundboard [iTunes $0.99] is indeed an all good app … a beautiful technology enriching the lives of non-verbal individuals and their caretakers. Just read the user review below from a special education teacher who works with non-verbal autistic children … now this is what the revolutionary iPhone is really about!

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Truckers Delight: Episode 1 – Um, Yeah, Wow, Um, Hey [iPhone Game Review]


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(written by guest author Tim Giron. follow Tim on Twitter @timgiron)

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Released just a couple of weeks ago by Mobigame, Truckers Delight: Episode 1 [iTunes $0.99  – on sale, was $2.99], would appear to have an unorthodox genesis. First, there was an electro pop song by Third Side Records artist Lionel Flairs. This was followed by a much-viewed, 8-bit style animated YouTube video by Jérémie Périn which instantly reminded me of the annual Spike & Mike’s Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation. If all of the segments of the video were given the app treatment, there’d be another 3 or 4 episodes coming your way though most of the later imagery wouldn’t pass the AppStore approval process. If you seek out the video, don’t say I didn’t warn you. [editor’s note – click here to view video … Tim warned you!]

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But, back to Episode 1, where the player, as the intrepid Trucker, pursues, as the name suggests, some Delight in the form of Alpha Chick, a buxom blonde in a hot red car. When you catch up to her, you get extra points for bumping her from behind. You need to avoid the other vehicles on the road, though, since they slow you down and you only have so much time to pass through each checkpoint. Particularly bothersome is the biker who inexplicably is able to divert your much larger vehicle off the side of the road. Strike him just right, however, and he meets an untimely end.

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Make sure you keep an eye out for the power up cubes as well. One of them gives you the extra power called Mr. Slurp, a big ol’ long tongue that can be used to enhance your, um, game play. Just make sure you keep your eyes on the road!

While the style faithfully reproduces the look of the video, the gameplay itself is pretty basic. Pedal to the metal, checkpoint to checkpoint, powerups along the way. One interesting twist to the visuals is that at some points along the road you encounter hills that obstruct your view of the traffic up ahead. This adds a bit of challenge as you dodge and weave at the last seconds.

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Normally priced at $2.99, the game is just 99 cents through Sunday, June 6 [iTunes]. The game appears to be very popular in Paraguay, for some reason.

 

Apple Loses One Million As Users Create 1,000,000 AutoRingtone Ringtones


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No Tie Software’s AutoRingtone service has created over ONE MILLION custom Text-To-Speech talking ringtones since November 2009. That means AutoRingtone apps have potentially cost Apple over ONE MILLION Dollars … considering that Apple charges up to $1.29 per ringtone. It’s no wonder Apple hasn’t featured the AutoRingtone app!

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The AutoRingtone service enables users to create their own talking "Caller ID" ringtones, that say exactly what they want – uncensored … "Hey Mike, Steve Jobs is calling. He needs your advice yet again about a lost iPhone. Should I let it go to voicemail?"

Users can select from dozens of professional (British Man, Woman, Old Man, GPS Gal, etc.) and funny voices (Jersey Girl, Valley Girl, Space Alien). They can use nearly 200 sound effects as an introduction, to get a user’s attention. There are no limitations… users can create unlimited ringtones and ringtones are completely uncensored. Indeed, many users are taking advantage of that feature (hint, hint).

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Ringtones are downloadable in both .m4r as well as .aiff format … so they can be created on an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad but used on iPhones as well as other phones.

To jump on the uncensored custom ringtones ONE MILLION bandwagon, check these out:
AutoRingtone Pro [iTunes $0.99
9,999 Ringtones Uncensored Pro [iTunes $0.99]
Auto TTS Pro Text-To-Speech Ringtones [iTunes $0.99]

For more information about the AutoRingtone service, check out the hysterical video below called … AutoRingtone: Behind the Curtain.

 

KRAPPS of Defense! – Crap Of Defense Review (Redundant)


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(written by guest author Tim Giron. follow Tim on Twitter @timgiron)

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I’m calling bait and switch on the developer’s of Crap of Defense [iTunes].  See, they lead off their description with "This is worst game ever!" and then they deliver a solid & entertaining tower defense game.  Emphasis on the singular tower – you only get one tank cannon to face off against wave after wave of enemies delivered in a unique, hand-drawn style.

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Featuring two separate campaigns, the original and the recently added Winter Assault as well as two modes of play, Missions and Survival and three different levels of difficulty, this one will keep you entertained for quite a while.  That single cannon also gets an assist from an impressive number of battlefield power-ups and special weaponry types that show up from time to time.  If you’re falling behind, you’d better hope that an airstrike or armaggedon power-up becomes available to turn the tide in your favor.

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In the Missions mode, you are faced with a series of different goals – clearing each one unlocks the next dossier of destruction.  Depending on your skill and performance, you may also obtain achievement medals to proudly display.  Some of the missions are easy, but they quickly progress in difficulty.  Utilizing the special weapons and power-ups to their full potential can be the key to victory.

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In the Survival mode, you are tasked with dropping as many enemy units as possible before a certain number of them get through.  As you level up, the enemy assault ramps up along with you.  Fingers will have to fly furiously to stay in the game.

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Perhaps the hot weather here in AZ is the reason, but the Winter Assault campaign has become my favorite.  Each campaign offers different types of enemies, power-ups and goals.  The game also sports appropriately quirky sound effects and music that sounds like it belongs in a war-time newsreel.

 

Stick Skater – Insane, Addictive & Realistic iPhone Skateboarding Game


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If you’ve been paying attention to the App Store’s top paid and free iPhone app rankings,  you’ll notice that a certain stick figure game has recently rocketed to the top of each chart. And for good reason – Stick Skater is an addictive skateboarding-themed side scroller containing a whopping 30 different levels … over 1,000 different trick combinations … and five world famous skate locations. At one point, the free Stick Skater Lite [iTunes Free] was the #1 overall free app, while the full version Stick Skater [iTunes $0.99] sat in the #2 spot for overall paid apps.

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The beauty of Stick Skater (aside from its ridiculously low price of 99 cents) is the fact that it’s easy to play … yet hard to master. This Ying and Yang nature of the game makes Stick Skater extremely challenging and addicting. We’ve spent an embarrassing amount of time playing Stick Man … and currently attempting to complete level 26, Wilshire.

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Similar to Canabalt, Stick Skater requires players to get past certain obstacles … but instead of just jumping over them (boring), users perform radical skateboard tricks. Don’t jump a trash can … clear it by sticking a gnarly Popshuvit. Stair rails become the perfect place to throw down a killer Frontside Boardslide.  You can Ollie, Nollie, Kick or 360 Flip … like we said, over 1,000 different trick combinations.

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There are five coins to collect at each level. The player’s score is based on coins collected, coupled with how well tricks are landed. For the agro competitive freaks, there is an online leaderboard located at the Stick Skater website.

Within Stick Skater, there are two different game modes based on difficulty level, each having a unique control. The basic mode features a general trick button that when pressed, performs a random trick. In the advanced mode, the player slides the trick button in one of eight directions to lay down a different trick. Both modes have a push button that increases your speed … essential for clearing obstacles and gaps. Game controls are very intuitive and easy to use … you’ll be landing all sorts of insane tricks in no time. 

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Stick Skater was developed and published by Traction Games (an Indie development house) who are skaters themselves. Their goal was to create a realistic skateboarding game which would appeal to both hardcore skaters and non-skaters alike … while paying tribute to top skateboarding spots such as Hollywood, Dogtown, Carlsbad, Wilshire and Love Park.

Anti-Krapps-Seal-v2GIF Even though Stick Skater appears to be a fairly basic stick-based platform game, there is a lot of attention to detail that the skate community appreciates. Skater forums are giving positive feedback regarding game physics, trick animation, replication of skate spots, etc.

Traction Games has definitely accomplished its goal … Stick Skater is a realistic skateboarding game that absolutely rocks. And judging by its high App Store ranking, has a broad appeal. Stick Skater [iTunes $0.99] is a total steal at 99 cents … and without a doubt, 100% anti-KRAPPS Certified!

 

Linkin Park Wants YOU to Join the 8-Bit Rebellion!


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(written by guest author Tim Giron. follow Tim on Twitter @timgiron)

Linkin-Park-iPhone-Title Somewhere in India, a phone rings …

Apple Dude: iPhone/iPad service hotline, how may I help you?
Fanboy: Yeah, um, both my iPhone and my iPad have a problem with the built-in speakers

Apple Dude: Can you describe the issue?
Fanboy: Yeah, so these advanced devices currently sound suspiciously like my old Nintendo

Apple Dude: Both of them, eh?  So, tell me, have you purchased any new games lately?Fanboy: Yeah, I was just playing "Linkin Park 8-Bit Rebellion!"… that’s when I noticed the sound thing.  See, I know every Linkin Park song by heart and…

Apple Dude: Every one?
Fanboy: That’s right, every one, and these just sound a little, like, different.

Apple Dude: Sir, what you are hearing is the carefully crafted sound of "retro" beautifully rendered through your wisely chosen next generation devices.  But, I have to question whether or not you truly know every Linkin Park song by heart.
Fanboy: Huh?

Apple Dude: See, once you complete the game, you’ll unlock a brand new, exclusive track.  So, until you’ve mastered the game, there will be one song that you won’t yet know.
Fanboy: Well, then I guess I better get back to it, thanks!

—————————————————————————————————————————-

Linkin Park 8-Bit Rebellion! for iPhone [iTunes $4.99] and Linkin Park 8-Bit Rebellion! iPad Edition [iTunes $4.99] were developed by Artificial Life, Inc. in collaboration with the band.  Featuring 8-bit versions of eight songs, including One Step Closer and my personal favorite: New Divide.  The 8-bit songs are fantastically re-imagined (there is a media player so you can listen to them at your leisure as well).

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It took me a little bit to figure out the game side of things.  One key observation:  it’s important to pay attention to the current mission objective since character interactions will be different depending on whether or not you’ve completed the current goal.

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I found the iPad edition to be easier to play overall, but that’s likely to be attributed to the fact linkin-park-rebellion-55 that my iPhone is a 3G so it’s a little sluggish with the bigger apps.

If you’re interested in the background of how the app came together, I encourage you to check out the blog of Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda –> http://MikeShinoda.com … and if you want to sport one of these cool 8-bit avatars (mine’s got a lot of orange on it since I am a Phoenix Suns fan), head on over to http://www.8bityourself.com.

 

[heads-up … tomorrow we’ll be announcing a Linkin Park 8-Bit T-Shirt giveaway. It’s a very cool shirt and you will not want to miss it … stay tuned] 

Sonic The Hedgehog 2 – Sequel Even Better Than The Original


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(written by guest author Connor Coghlan. follow Connor on Twitter @Condawg)

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I grew up on Sonic the Hedgehog. It was one of the very first console games I ever played. (first videogame ever was SkiFree … couldn’t get past the damned yeti.) And let me tell you, I played the hell out of every single Sonic game (up until they started sucking).

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was by and far my favorite. It introduced the ability to rev up and roll fast as hell … which I love. So, as you can imagine, when Sonic the Hedgehog 2 [iTunes $5.99] was released by SEGA for the iPhone and iPod touch sometime last week, I bought it instantly.

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Sonic 2 plays like a champ on iDevices. The emulator that SEGA made to allow this port is fantastic. I’ve never noticed any lag and it just feels like I’m playing it natively. It gives you a virtual d-pad and "A" button (only "A" because that’s all you need). In-between zones and levels, the buttons disappear to show you the title slide … which is a very nice feature that makes it feel more like a native game.

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Plus Sonic 2 has an awesome savestate feature. This means that if you get interrupted by a call, you can just resume your game right where you were. Or even if you just close the game and come back to it later, you’ll be RIGHT where you left off … it’s awesome.

All-in-all, if you’ve ever played Sonic 2, you get the gist of this game. The gameplay transitions perfectly to a mobile device and how well they pulled this off just gets me even more psyched for the upcoming Sonic 4. (if you’re not aware, Sonic 4 will be a 2D sidescrolling, episodic Sonic game … brand new game, but it’s going back to its roots. It’ll be pretty sick.)

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Running around at mega-speed and stomping enemies is just as fun as ever. Robotnik’s complex machinery still fails to kill you (which makes me wonder why the dude doesn’t just, like… make or purchase a firearm … that would be much more effective).

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If you’ve ever played and enjoyed a Sonic game, you shouldn’t be thinking twice about giving this a purchase. If you’ve never played a Sonic game… what the hell is wrong with you? Well, you’ll never have a better opportunity to start. Sonic 2 is currently #53 in Overall Paid Apps … buy this game and help it climb a notch to #52 [iTunes $5.99].

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