Articles by Ryan Blundell

100 copies of the game Grid up for grabs!

Some of the best types of games are the ones that you easily pick up, put down and pick up again. BlackBerry World is just ripe with games that fit this concept, not all are addictive enough, yet alone difficult, to take advantage of this idea. If you're looking for a new game to challenge yourself with then take a look at Grid. This recently released game is played with cards and grids (initially a 5x5 grid). Your goal is to fill said grid with said playing cards, the faster you fill the grid the better; but it's not as easy as that. Where's the fun if it doesn't really grab your attention?


It's cookies galore in Agu's Adventure for BlackBerry 10

Not too long ago, BlackBerry World was invaded by an odd little alien named Agu. Initial reports cannot confirm whether this extraterrestrial being is hostile or not; but they do indicate that he has an extremely poor diet. Sure we've seen plenty of side scrolling runner/flyer games on our BlackBerry 10 smartphones but few are as odd as Agu's Adventure. This game is available on BlackBerry 10, iOS, Android and Windows and is also geared to hit PlayStation Vita soon. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there's something about it that is very intriguing and addictive. Perhaps it's the cookies…confused? Read on and I'll explain.


We take a closer look at Meetup for BlackBerry 10

Last week, we saw the launch of an unofficial but native Meetup application for BlackBerry 10 smartphones. We promised you an in-depth look at the application and we're doing just that. To be honest, I never used, nor have I even considered using the services of Meetup to discover and manage groups and events in my city. Sometimes, depending on your situation, you'll find it hard to do so; to reach out into the community in search for something new or someone to share similar interests or needs. Meetup provides a pressure-free way to choose which interests you want to focus your energy on and with whom.

After having a look at Meetup App for BlackBerry 10, users will be even more excited to check out what's going on in their community. Who knows, perhaps with your BlackBerry 10 smartphone in hand, you'll start a worthwhile community group with an even greater cause on your own.


Get Guardians of the Galaxy: the Universal Weapon on your BlackBerry 10 smartphone

Marvel Studio's Guardians of the Galaxy film opens in theatres on August 1st, but you can use your BlackBerry 10 smartphone to get into the interstellar action with Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon game. If you're up to having a hand in saving the universe, pick this one up from the Amazon AppStore. I was browsing through Marvel's site, looking for information on the upcoming movie, when I stumbled upon the details of this game. So being a fan of anything superhero related, I installed this game faster than you can say "I am Groot".


Carlulu for BlackBerry 10 review: track your vehicle service records

Carlulu for BlackBerry 10 smartphones helps you record fill ups and tune ups. With our SUV starting to get a little older, I noticed that the trips to the repair shop were becoming more frequent and more expensive; neither of which came as a surprise. We've amassed a small pile of invoices and repair records that is only expected to grow. These are then filed away for safe keeping and for reference, not for ease of access on the go. That being said, obviously I opted to look for another method of tracking automotive repairs than just on paper; especially for when I'm away from home, possibly stuck on the side of the road. Carlulu offers just that; the ability to track how much gas (and money) your vehicles are guzzling from the tanks (and your wallet).

Understanding that it shouldn't replace the physical records I've collected, nor the service records at the repair shop, I decided to take Carlulu for a test drive to see if it ran smoothly on my BlackBerry or if it needed a tune up.


Best BlackBerry apps for hitting the gym and lifting weights

Mobile Fitness continues all throughout June; hopefully you've decided to jump aboard and have kept working towards your fitness goals. If you're trying to lose weight, make sure you also build your muscle mass. You'll help yourself burn more calories by increasing your metabolic rate. You'll also strengthen your connective tissues. I could go on, but instead, we present you with a list of the best BlackBerry 10 apps you can use while you're at the gym.

myTrainer

This built for BlackBerry app puts you in charge of your workout routine. myTrainer includes over a dozen exercises to choose from to perform individually or group exercises for your personalized workout. The application also acts as a workout journal, where you can quickly scroll between dates and see what you did for that day. Adding exercises for the day is as simple as tapping them; after that, you just record the information that is pertinent to you. These could include the number of reps, distance, elapsed time and weight; all of which can be viewed in progress graphs so you can see how far you have come. The values are expanded so you can see average and max weight per reps and 1RM. Speaking of weight, myTrainer is equipped with a weight tracker that acts a journal, so you can see how you're bulking up, or slimming down. Although the native clock app has a stop watch, myTrainer includes one as well, so you don't have to switch between applications.

Though this isn't a roundup of running apps, I should also note that myTrainer has a speedometer that allows you to set an LED alarm if you hit a minimum and maximum speed while running. Visual themes have nothing to do with fitness, but it's good to see that you can choose between a light or dark theme.

myTrainer is free and is compatible with all BlackBerry 10 smartphones.

Learn more / Download myTrainer

Commando Fit

The description of this app states that the developer has over 25 years of experience in the fitness industry; specifically training military personnel and first responders. Commando Fit provides users with nearly a years worth of daily workout routines that are divided into 4 categories; endurance, cardio, strength and tactical. These workouts are divided into 50 blocks of 7 days, which also includes which days to rest.

Workouts include a description and basic visual examples and advice on alternate equipment, in case you're not sure what to do. Now besides workout examples, Commando Fit lets you record the weight you are working with, the number of reps and your rest intervals. Additionally, you can record your weight, age, fitness level and change units of measurement.

Commando Fit is available for $1.99 and is compatible with the Q5, Q10, Z10, PlayBook and the Porsche Design P9982.

Learn more / Download Commando Fit

Cardio Fitness Pro

With Cardio Fitness Pro, not only do you get workouts and routines, but you are additionally challenged with different intensity levels. As you get closer towards your fitness goals, you'll need to push harder than ever to make any progress, so having varying levels of intensity is a great bonus. At a glance, each workout in the list will tell you if any equipment is needed; most require none and the few that do only need items like lightweight dumbbells, a stability ball or Bosu. Each workout has a brief description and a photographed example to accompany. Cardio Fitness Pro has 3 programs to follow that use the individual workouts, again with each having 3 levels of intensity. The difference between the individual workout view and the program view is that the program view will tell you how many sets you must do and for how long. These programs are then used throughout an included 6 week training schedule.

Cardio Fitness Pro provides users with weekly health tips, as well as healthy recipes of the day which are taken from HealthFitnessRecipes.com.

Cardio Fitness Pro is free and is available for all BlackBerry 10 smartphones and the PlayBook.

Learn more / Download Cardio Fitness Pro

Gym Workout

Gym Workout is another built for BlackBerry app and offers hundreds of exercises that target specific muscle groups. I should clarify that while initially free, Gym Workout will only display abdominal workouts until you purchase the full version priced at $2.99. Besides abdominals, the other categories are arms, back, chest, legs, shoulders and cardio. As you delve into each category, you're presented with dozens of individual exercises. Tapping on one brings you to the detailed description where it first shows you a rather Hulkish looking character which muscle groups are being focussed on and simple animated examples of the exercise. You can then choose to add the exercise to a group/routine or add to the native calendar.

As I mentioned, Gym Workout is free with access to abdominals only and can be upgraded to the full version for $2.99. It's available for all BlackBerry 10 smartphones.

Learn more / Download Gym Workout

Exercise Timer

Depending on how you work out, you may make use of a timer. Granted we have a timer included in the native clock application but when it comes to workouts, you need something more robust. Exercise Timer does just that as it allows oyu to create multiple timers that break down the total time into segments. This means you can set your warm up time, number or rounds, workout time, rest time and cool down time. Once you're ready to go, tap on preferred timer set and press play. Exercise Timer has audible queues letting you know when to begin warm up, each round and so on. You can also choose an audible queue to let you know that you're entering the last minute, last 30 seconds and also a countdown of the last 10 seconds. If you prefer not to have a voice for reminders, you can choose alternate sounds such as a boxing bell or beep. With each session type, the colour of the numbers will change, giving you a visual reminder of what you should be doing, perhaps if you decide to have a timer with no sound. In this case, rest periods can be in green and workout can be in blue. Additionally, you can utilize your LED indicator to blink the same colour as the current session, or have your BlackBerry smartphone vibrate at each interval.

Exercise Timer is free, but it is a try before you buy type of free. The full version is $0.99 and is available for all BlackBerry 10 smartphones.

Learn more / Download Exercise Timer

What's your favorite?

Well, there you have it. Perhaps you'll find one of these apps the next time you hit the gym. Are you using one of these apps already? Which one do you think is the best? Vote for your favourite in the poll below and make sure you share your thoughts in the comments. Don't forget to hit the #MobileFit hub.

Question: Which gym app is your favorite?

We take a look at MACE tower defense for BlackBerry 10

Well soldier, did you follow your orders from James to take a look at MACE tower defense? I know some of you obeyed, played the game and reported back to him. For those that did, I'm glad you made it back; trying to prevent an alien invasion is no easy task. MACE tower defense is one in a long line of tower defense type games; but it stands out with impressive graphics and an in-game purchasing or upgrading system that continuously tempts you to get stronger; more efficient at holding back an extraterrestrial onslaught.

Find the most strategic tower placements and the best combination of tower types to push them back. It's all up to you how you want to defend the Earth, just so long as you don't let those aliens successfully make a mad dash to the finish line. For those that didn't follow orders, consider this a debriefing of sorts. There's still time to join the fight; the people of Earth are counting on you soldier, so start building!


Hey space cadet, prevent an alien invasion in MACE for BlackBerry 10

MACE, which stands for Military Alliance of Common Earth, is a great take on classic gaming. I'm a sucker for the classics, as it takes me back a couple of decades to my youth (geez, am I aging myself enough?). Since I don't have my old Atari to play them on anymore; I tend to find flash versions of the classics online on my PC. Being a particular fan of classic space shooter games, like Galaga or R-Type, MACE is right up my alley. This is especially true since I can take it with me on my BlackBerry 10 Smartphone rather than carrying pockets full of quarters and going to an arcade.

You enter a world sometime after the year 2054, when the Earth was invaded by Aliens. The people of Earth band together in a military fashion to push back these invaders and protect humanity from future invasions. Who wouldn't want take the fight to the stars in top scrolling, 2D graphic gameplay? Are you up to the challenge?


You'll be cleaning zombie guts out of your grill with Zombie Derby for BlackBerry 10

Ain't no derby like a Zombie Derby! Zombies have been all the rage in recent years. I've been a huge fan of the Walking Dead TV series since day one and I'm eagerly awaiting the start of season 5. I don't mind some of the more…cheesier zombie flicks I've come across online but I honestly haven't played too many games that involve zombies. So when I came across the name Zombie Derby in BlackBerry World, I did raise my eyebrow.

In a nutshell, your goal is to drive from point A straight to point B, trying to obliterate as many of the undead as you can all the while upgrading your vehicle with weapons and other enhancements. It's gore galore and vehicular (undead)manslaughter in Zombie Derby. Do you have the guts to spill their guts? Can you make it to the safety of the fort found at the finish line? Fill up with gas, and windshield washer fluid, and start your engines.


Thank you BlackBerry

Thank you BlackBerry; honestly and truly, thank you. I know it's an odd statement to make, though if you think about it, we all kind of share our kind sentiments and gratitude in some manner to our smartphones, no matter how small. In the struggle many may face when it comes to attempting to unplug ourselves from our devices, it's almost inarguable to say that without them, and we would sometimes be at a loss.

Thankful; I've wrestled with this idea for quite some time. I have to admit it's not easy to feel that way these days. I feel lost without my son Keian who passed away from T-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia on January 1st 2014. I cannot even think of how to convey my grief. What he enjoyed. What he did for others. How we tried everything to protect him. Amongst countless emotions and thoughts; we are thankful for our time with him, albeit brief. We are also thankful for anyone and anything that helped us spend as much time with him as we did.


Challenge yourself to a war of words with WordHero for the BlackBerry PlayBook

WordHero for the BlackBerry PlayBook will easily put your mastery over the English language to the test. The game play is somewhat similar to Word Mole on BlackBerry smartphones, where you have to create words from the letters given. In this case, you are limited to letters in a 4 by 4 grid (and they don't disappear after being used either). Every word tile can be used twice – get bonus points for doing so. A green dot on a tile is worth 25 points and an orange dot is worth 100 points. What you have to do is spell words by sliding your finger forwards, backwards, up, down and diagonally on the game board. Your list of found words will appear to the right of the game board, along with their score values. Hurry up though, as you are playing against the clock

What I like about it is that, even though it seems like you are playing by yourself, it's actually a multiplayer game. Everyone is playing the same game tiles at the same time. After you finish the game, you can then view your results average score, best score or words found, words missed, as well as how you rank on the leader boards) If you look at the description on BlackBerry App World, it's said that you'll experience a black screen bug until you upgrade your PlayBook to 2.0.1, but the issue will persist regardless, albeit infrequently. I'm not sure where the developer gets their list from, but some common words, such as neon, are not recognized. I'm hoping that their own vocabulary will increase soon. Regardless, WordHero is a great way to kill time, train your brain and be competitive with other would-be word smiths. You can get Wordhero, for free, from BlackBerry App World.

More information/download of WordHero for the BlackBerry PlayBook


PlayCloud is the best way to manage files on a BlackBerry PlayBook

I love how easy it is to browse through files on the BlackBerry PlayBook. I actually prefer to bridge my BlackBerry smartphone and scroll through files through the File Manager than on my BlackBerry alone (with the exception of pictures, of course, since they just show up as a list anyway). The problem with this is that the File Manager is more of a file viewer. Sure you can search or delete, but it isn’t true file management is it?

Enter: PlayCloud for the BlackBerry PlayBook. It offers a much different and refreshing view of your files. This covers files on your PlayBook, BlackBerry smartphone and, more recently added Dropbox support. On top of this, you can also access files through Google Docs (very limited) as well.

Features:

  • Local Documents browsing
  • 2System browsing (to browse whole the file system)
  • Bridge browsing (the bridge has to be enabled)
  • Dropbox support
  • Configuration from swipe down menu
  • Launch the default application from the file type
  • Single or multi-select mode
  • Order feature
  • Embedded help pages
  • Rename, create files or directories
  • Copy, paste and move files or directories
  • Delete files or directories
  • Show file details

With PlayCloud I now have the option to create, delete, rename, copy, paste and even move files or directories so I can store files MY way. The application also provides file details such as; file size and date created at a glance. For quick organization PlayCloud gives you one click access to sorting options, choose from sorting by date, filename or file size.

Now while I typically jump into apps right away, I decided to check out the included tutorial first. I’m glad I did, as it made me appreciate the layout and the ease of use even more. DropBox support can be requested from within the application and only takes a minute to complete. I love how dead simple it is to access DropBox, grab a file and move/copy it as a local file – or even vice versa. That’s not just file management; that’s power file management. To be honest, I find uploading to DropBox from PlayCloud a little quicker than from the DropBox application. You can grab PlayCloud for $0.99 from BlackBerry App World.

More information/download PlayCloud for the BlackBerry PlayBook


Best personal safety apps for BlackBerry

Sure your BlackBerry can help you connect with important contacts, but how can you use it when you really need help?

Your BlackBerry smartphone or PlayBook just might save your life. Ok, so it doesn’t double as an AED, nor will it even attempt to give you a Heimlich, but it can be used to give you that extra sense of personal security. It’s there when you need to look something up, compose an email or make a phone call, but is it really there when you need it the most? Sure it is! If you are unable to communicate for yourself, your ICE (In Case of Emergency) numbers can be easily programmed to each and every letter on your BlackBerry keyboard. You can mark contacts as important in your address book. Heck, a 3 year old can be taught through song to call 911 green or press “green green green”. That’s one BlackBerry advantage that is easily overlooked; easy access to a simple phone call - a call that could save your life. There’s no fumbling around to find a phone app, it’s ready to go at a moment’s notice. If you take a look around BlackBerry App World, you’ll find plenty of applications that should help to keep you safe as well. Let’s see what can be of use.


Today only - get NFCShortcuts for only $0.99!

While NFC technology has been around for nearly decade, it’s only been within the past couple of years that we’ve seen it being supported in the mobile world. In this form we see NFC having many different uses, some as simple as checking in with Foursquare, assisting with Bluetooth pairing or even to make a mobile payment. A few months back, Fonware released NFCShortcuts, which allowed users to set up shortcuts or applications to launch with a simple tap against an NFC tag. Additionally, you can pair NFCShortcuts with Fonware’s ShortcutMe to create a marco-tastic NFC experience, such as sending off SMS or emails for you, changing your sound profiles and more. Imagine tapping your BlackBerry smartphone against your desk at work to turn on and access the company WiFi or using a tag on/in your car to turn on Bluetooth – it’s quick and convenient. The next thing you know, your home or office will be littered with tags and you’ll find yourself becoming a tapaholic. Earlier in the year, Adam had a blast discovering how easy NFC was to use and how far you could potentially go with it.

Normally, NFCShortcuts would go for $2.99 in BlackBerry App World but, for today only, you can get it for a mere $0.99. Keep in mind that this covers the NFCShortcut application only, not the NFC tags that are required. Fonware suggests that you pick up Mifare Ultralight tags. With this kind of power in your hands, what would you use NFC for? Let us know! Check out an NFCShortcuts video after the jump.

More information/Download NFCShortcuts


13,000 developers make use of the iSpeech platform, should you?

How many of you rely on applications that use voice recognition or text to speech technology? It’s pretty safe to say that most of you do, and with good reason. I see a lot more people use their voice to ask their phones to find something for them or to help them manage their messages. Especially with the ever increasing, but necessary, hands-free regulations while driving, you need to make sure that you can safely operate the car and your smartphone at the same time. You may have heard of the company known as iSpeech inc, which is one of the leading providers of such technology. If you haven’t, you may recognize one of their most popular applications DriveSafe.ly which reads incoming messages for you and allows you connect with the sender through a message or a phone call.

Recently, iSpeech announced that it now has 13k developers using the mobile speech platform, making them the largest mobile speech developer user-base. They’ve also released updates to their Web API and SDKs, in order to provide faster and a more reliable performance. iSpeech has gone as far as announcing that they’re also releasing a “Siri-like” speech recognition model, that allows them to recognize almost any question, or anything people would ever ask Siri. We’re already being used in a few major Siri competitors, such as SpeaktoIt (which is hopefully coming to the BlackBerry platform soon). According to iSpeech, as of now, there are only two companies who can do this, iSpeech and Nuance. iSpeech technology is also being used by companies such as Telenav. As time goes on, I can see a huge increase in applications that make use of voice recognition technology; think of the ease of use you’d see when composing a tweet or following a recipe. Which apps would like to see make use of this technology? What are you using now?

Check out the lineup of apps from iSpeech.org


Avatar Animator brought my BBM to life in this review

As you have gone through your BlackBerry Messenger contacts, you may have noticed that their avatars have become alive. I’m not talking about something colorful, wild or risqué, I mean truly animated. If you didn’t know before, your BlackBerry already has a number of animated emoticons you can use as your BlackBerry Messenger Avatar. You may have noticed a few of your contacts on BBM have some unique avatars. I’ve seen them wave at me, laugh or dance.


Card-based battles without the cards with Urban Rivals for the BlackBerry PlayBook


If you're a fan of Mass Multiplayer Online games, or a fan of card based games, you should check out a recent addition to BlackBerry App World called Urban Rivals. Based in the apparently ultra violent Clint City, Urban Rivals features over 700 characters which you can gain, fight with and trade. This game is also available for iOS, Android, urban-rivals.com and through Facebook- you can compete against well over 20 million registered users.

Your "fighters" consist of a series of cards featuring unique character designs; you must have a deck of 8 to fight, but only 4 are selected for a battle. One at a time one fighter is matched against your opponents fighter; a card can only be played once per battle. Your ultimate goal is to reduce the number of life points of the opponent so you can declare victory. Each card will indicate the power, and damage level of the character, along with any additional bonuses, such as support attack or increased damage. If you're worried about your fighter being too weak to win, you can give them "pillz" before the battle. These pillz, which are hopefully legal and not habit forming, increase the attack power.

Features:

  • Intense and strategic fights
  • Over 700 characters available
  • Numerous game modes
  • In game tutorial to easily learn the rules of the game
  • A market to trade your characters with other players
  • over 20 million registered users means you'll find opponents online 24/7

As you play, your fighters gain experience and eventually level up, or evolve, and get stronger. You also gain money known as Clintz, which you can use to buy more fighters. Alternatively, you can use your own money to buy credits via BlackBerry App World. While the battles themselves are quick, the pre-battle prep (players selecting the cards, adding pillz, etc) can be slow and irritating. The fantastic graphics and animation do make up for it though. Make sure that you're connected via WiFi, or else you will not be able to start the game- there's no offline mode. You can grab Urban Rivals, for free, from BlackBerry App World.

More information/download Urban Rivals for the BlackBerry PlayBook


LittleBrother updated to include BBM integration

Looking for an effortless way to announce your arrival or departure to those who are important to you? How about doing so without causing a huge demand on your monthly allotted data plan? The utility app LittleBrother is one such app, which we just so happened to have covered in the past. Imagine having an app that sends out an automatic email or SMS to specific contacts that let them know if you are leaving from, or arriving at, a particular location. It’s a low profile app that doesn’t suck the life out of your battery, as other GPS apps do. LittleBrother says no to GPS and instead relies on Cell Tower location. It allows for around the clock uptime without draining the battery. Unless you’re using GPS to get directions while you’re commuting, then LittleBrother is the perfect tool for you. It’s also a time saver, as you no longer have to send the standard “I’m here” or “I’m on my way” – it does it for you. Not only that but, if you’re a foursquare user, you can set up LittleBrother to check into venues for you. Check out the details of what LittleBrother offers to see what can really do. Recently, LittleBrother was updated to version 1.0.1.2 to include BBM integration.


Wiggly fun with Scribble Worm for the BlackBerry PlayBook

Scribble Worm for the BlackBerry PlayBook is a highly addictive game that will keep you on your toes – wait, most worms don't have toes…or feet…or legs for that matter. I'm not sure what it is about games stylised in scribble or a hand drawn manner, but I find them entertaining and makes me reminisce of my own scribbles from years ago. Your goal in Scribble Worm is to get those little green guys to that shiny red apple at the end. Is it a MacIntosh? A red Delicious? Don't worry about that, just worry about drawing a safe path for the worms to follow. Obstacles come in the form of walls of three different colours – use the blue walls to bounce off of, avoid the red walls at all costs and slowly slide along grey walls. Some are stationary, some are not, so it's all about angles and timing. Worms will either go in the straight line you drew them in or will turn if you draw them with a curved line. If you're having trouble, the game has a Hint option with will help you point your green fruit worm in the right direction

Now you may be tempted with drawing a grovelling of worms to flank that fruit, but keep in mind that Scribble Worm is also keeping score. Each level has a par, so as long as you match it, you'll get a perfect score, and a 4 star rating. Like me, you'll probably find yourself playing again and again to ensure you get 4 out of 4 stars.

Scribble Worm groups its puzzles into Puzzle Books; 6 books in all, with 8 levels in each. The game also includes a multiplayer mode, where you and a friend must race head to head to be the first to the apple in the center. In this game mode, the scores are simply a tally of how many apples each player has gotten. It's a great game that will guarantee to challenge and entertain those of almost any age. You can grab Scribble Worm for $0.99 from BlackBerry App World.

More information/download of Scribble Worm for the BlackBerry PlayBook


Cooklet for the BlackBerry PlayBook gets cooking in this review

Cooklet was a big winner at the AppCircus at BlackBerry Jam earlier this month in Orlando Florida –and with good reason. Winning for application in the Adobe AIR category, the Cooklet application for the BlackBerry PlayBook has been downloaded nearly half a million times since October 2011. Now it does provide countless savory recipes to try out, but it’s also an access point to a vast number of foodies with whom you can chat and share ideas for your next meal. It only makes sense, as people typically love to include food (preparation and consumption) and socializing. I’m seeing a trend, where getting together over a nice meal is slowly moving away from restaurants and more towards gathering around the dinner table at home. Recipes are swapped, critiqued and everyone goes home filled with fun and food. With the Cooklet application, the same can be had by asking someone to pass the Playbook, rather than the salt. Let’s get cooking, shall we?


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