This will be our last iPad App Store recap of the year since Apple's iTunes Connect will be shutting down December 22-29. We would like to take this time to wish everyone happy holidays and a happy new year! Here are this week's most noteworthy iPad app releases, updates and news for 12/14/14 to 12/20/14. Apple's Free App of the Week is Brushstroke. The photo editing app will be free on the Apple App Store until 12/25/14. Also don't forget to check out our App Store recap every Saturday for all the weekly universal releases, jailbreak tweaks, App Store news and important app updates.
Apple's iPad app of the year, Pixelmator, was updated to version 1.0.2. The update added new features like sliders for opacity, more brushes, new brush sizes and more. The app is available for $9.99 on the App Store.
Microsoft PowerPoint for both the iPad and iPhone has been updated with support for landscape mode. This allows users to edit and view presentations no matter which way they're holding their device.
Reliance Games' new action title, Ultimate Robot Fighting, is now available for iOS and Android devices. Fans of Real Steel will want to check out this new single-player robot fighting game. In URF, you're a human pilot who must fight through 250 robot and boss battles to prove you're the ultimate champion of the ring. The game features 45 cybernetic characters, each with their own personality and own fighting style, to help you take on the sentient AIs who now rule the world of Ultimate Robot Fighting!
The game features plenty of upgrades to help you design the perfect robot fighting team, nine environments, a dynamic day and night cycle, and achievements for winning matches. The game also promises to deliver " intuitive gesture controls, high-resolution 3D graphics, cel-shaded art design and detailed lighting and particle effects".
When you think about it Telltale Games and Mojang kind of make an odd pairing; one creates interactive episodic video games, while the other is the developer behind the most popular free-to-build sandbox game in existence. But that's not stopping the two studios from teaming up to release an "all-new narrative-driven game series" based on Mojang's popular Minecraft title.
In case you didn't already know, Telltale is the developer behind the hit interactive video games based on the popular television shows Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. The developer also recently launched its first series based on a the console game Borderlands. Telltale's games are released in episodes and are akin to a choose your own adventure where the narrative is driven by a players choices instead of their actions. Minecraft: Story Mode will also be an episodic series with its own original story set in the Minecraft world. The game will not be an "add-on for Minecraft, but rather a separate stand-alone product that will premiere in 2015 on consoles, computers and mobile devices," according to the official announcement.
Here are some last minute shopping ideas for the iPad owner in your life. All the items listed are shipping in 1 to 3 days (at the time of this post, subject to change) and should arrive before Christmas if you order soon. We've also included Amazon links when available.
For the Artist... It may not look like much, but Pencil by FiftyThree is a top of the line stylus that works with the iPad 3 and later. Artists, fashion designers and anyone who likes to sketch on their tablet will love Pencil and its companion app Paper. The stylus features all the latest technology, such as palm rejection, and it even comes equipped with its own built-in eraser. Pencil connects to your iPad using Bluetooth and can be easily charged off any USB port in under 90 minutes. Pencil is available in Graphite and Walnut starting at $49.95 through Amazon.com or directly from FiftyThree.
As noted in our weekly iPad games recap, the hit PC game Papers, Please was released to the App Store without its full nudity option because Apple originally rejected it for containing "pornographic content," but on Monday the game was updated to include the uncensored version.
Papers, Please takes place on the border of the fictional state of Arstozka. Players act as an immigration inspector who must keep out the numerous immigrants and visitors trying to enter the country. Players must check passports, run fingerprints and sometimes perform invasive procedures such as full body scans which do contain nudity when the option is enabled. The game was originally released to the iPad with censored nudity, but after an internet uproar developer Lucas Pope decided to rethink his own position and contacted Apple about resubmitting the game.
Amazon on Monday updated its Kindle app for iOS with a variety of new features in anticipation of lots digital book sales for the holidays. Book Browser allows iPad users to easily get additional information on any book available in Amazon's massive library. Users can now pull up a book's description, customer reviews and other information by simply tapping the cover of the title they would like to preview.
The Kindle app has also been updated with Goodreads integration. Goodreads allows users to share their reading progress, favorite quotes and so on with other members of the social cataloging community. The "Before You Go" screen also allows users to announce they have finished a title via Goodreads, and will now give information on the next book in a series.
The popular app Foursquare has been updated with iPad support after being revamped this summer. The app's main focus became about recommendations in July, and its original check-in feature was pushed to Foursquare's second app, Swarm. The revamped Foursquare app allows users to receive personalized suggestions on places to go based on their personal taste profile and friend recommendations. Users can now use both their iPhone and iPad to find local restaurants, coffee shops, nightclubs and so on, or use the app to search individual cities when planning a trip.
The app was also updated earlier this year with display support for the larger iPhone 6 models, Interactive Notifications and 1Password integration. The new notification feature allows users to quickly save, like, and follow updates from notification banners they receive from the app.
iOS users should expect a busy holiday season on the App Store as developers race to get their new apps released before Apple's 2014 iTunes shutdown takes place on December 22nd. There will most likely be a flurry of apps and games released next week, which is good news for anyone stuck traveling to boring family gatherings. There were also a few big universal titles released this week, such as Marvel Contest of Champions and The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies - Fight for Middle-earth
As you also probably already know, Blizzard released the first expansion to its collectible card game Hearthstone on Monday. The new set called "Goblins vs Gnomes" includes 120 cards that players can purchase for gold or real-world currency within the game. You can learn more about the popular strategy game and the expansion by visiting Battle.net.
If you have been kicking yourself for missing out on all those great iPad Black Friday sales here's your chance for redemption! Best Buy is offering discounts on all iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 models. You can save $50 on all iPad Air 2 Wi-Fi models or $100 on any cellular model with a new two-year agreement with Sprint, Verizon Wireless or T-Mobile. Although it does not look like all T-Mobile models are available online.
The iPad mini discounts are based on storage starting at $50. So you can save $50 on all 16GB models, $75 on all 64GB models and $100 on all 128GB models. These deals apply to both the WiFi-only and cellular versions in any color.
Sons of Anarchy will live on after its seventh and final season wraps up on FX tonight. Orpheus Interactive has teamed up with Fox Digital Entertainment to develop an iOS game based on the hit television show. The game, titled Sons of Anarchy: The Prospect, will be an interactive episode-based title, like Telltale's popular Walking Dead and Game of Thrones series.
Fans of the show will be able to explore an entire new story involving another chapter of the infamous Sons of Anarchy motorcycle club. The game promises to deliver the same "treachery, graphic action, intrigue and life and death decision making" that fans have come to anticipate from the show. Kurt Sutter, the creator of Sons of Anarchy, even tweeted that that the game is "pretty f**king awesome.“