Jake Underwood

62 posts on MacStories since December 2015

Jake is a contributor at MacStories, a public relations major at Ball State University, and an iOS app fanatic. His life is full of listening to podcasts and playing Nintendo games, as well as watching sporting events and spending too much money on Apple products.

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Moment Review: Get the Right Shot

In my early pick for 2017’s “App Description of the Year,” Moment’s Eun Seong Kim tells a story about his frustration and disappointment after the dreaded “Storage Almost Full” message caused him to miss an exciting moment at a Toronto Raptors basketball game. It’s an elevator pitch that ends with the question that drew me to Moment: “What if I could keep video recording but only capture the last 5 seconds?”

I instantly identified with Kim's hypothetical. When I’m shooting video, I’m often only looking for the 5 or 10 seconds of action, but I'm stuck with a multi-minute clip that I have to edit. Moreover, even though my iPhone has plenty of storage now, there’s a real chance I will run into the same problem in the future.

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Take to the Course with OK Golf

I’ve never had much interest in real golf, a sport that requires more money, patience, and dedication than I will allocate to anything besides my significant other and Apple products. I have to admit, though, that I’m a sucker for anything on the videogame golf spectrum, from the ultra-simplistic Desert Golfing to Wii Sports’ golf.

Much of what I enjoy about golf videogames appears in OK Golf, a zen, bite-sized take on the genre. It’s no mini-golf simulator, though, and its distinction will leave you immersed in a tiny world of varying terrain and challenging gameplay.

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LookUp Review: The Modern Dictionary

When considering a traditional dictionary, the words “fast” and “beautiful” don’t come to mind; even our digital dictionaries, sometimes coming in the form of iOS' Look Up feature when highlighting a word, don’t do a great job of looking good, providing all the relevant information, and appearing in enough time to make it worth the process.

With LookUp, I’ve found things to be different – it’s a dictionary app built on convenience, design, and lots of information.

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Vantage Review: A New Take on Calendars

In middle school, a friend and I would hang out on the weekend and live out our rock-n-roll dreams with Guitar Hero. As the notes would come down the line, we’d press sequences of red, green, yellow, and orange, jamming to songs in the iconic and aesthetically innovative game.

I haven’t thought much about Guitar Hero recently, but an app I downloaded a couple of weeks ago reminded me of it. However, it’s not a rhythm-based guitar game, or even tied to music at all.

It’s a calendar app called Vantage.

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TxtBck is an iMessage App that Makes You a Better Texter

Generally, I feel like I’m a pretty good texter. When I receive a message, I’m quick to respond and make sure that the important texts always take priority.

But for many people, managing texts along with countless other notifications on their phones is a tricky task. To help remind you to text back your loved one or coworker, there’s TxtBck, an iMessage app that I’ve been playing with for a few days.

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Apple Shows Off New Siri Features for the Super Bowl

With the Super Bowl less than a week away, Apple detailed today new and existing Siri functionality to learn about, and prepare for, the game.

Headlining the changes is a “Watch the Super Bowl” command for Apple TV, which will let users jump straight into watching the game live. Apple has rolled out other new commands centered around the players and teams and highlighted other existing Siri queries about stats, rosters, and odds.

Apple's examples include:

  • When is the Super Bowl and who’s playing?
  • Where is the Super Bowl being played this year?
  • Who is performing at the Super Bowl halftime show?
  • What channel is the Super Bowl on?
  • What channel is the Puppy Bowl on?
  • What is the Patriots record? What about the Falcons?
  • Who had more field goals this season, the Patriots or the Falcons?
  • Who has more rushing yards this season, Tom Brady or Matt Ryan?
  • How many yards did Matt Ryan have last week?
  • What college did Tom Brady play for?
  • Who is the coach for the New England Patriots?
  • Who won the Super Bowl last year?

Of course, Siri will perform other functions like keeping track of your shopping list, directing you to a friend’s house, or booking you a ride home from the bar.

You can check out Apple’s press release on Siri and the Super Bowl here.



Snapchat Adds Universal Search, Shows Off New Design

Snapchat, Snap Inc. introduced two major features in version 10.0.0 today.

Frequent Snapchat users will immediately notice the new universal search menu at the top of each view, which provides quick access to existing contacts as well as a way to find other users. By adding a mix of Bitmoji and ghosts to the contacts section, Snapchat has added a design language that it previously lacked.

For chatting or adding new friends, the search feature is a great convenience. However, if you spend most of your time taking pictures and sending them to the same group of friends, the new search capabilities won't get much use.

Snapchat has refreshed the design of its other sections with title cards with headlines too. The changes are small, but they clean up the app's interface and provide a greater sense of where you are in the app. In addition to labelling each of the three sections, the title bars include shortcuts to search and your snapcode. Snapchat also has new animations that makes the app feel more unified.

In total, I think that the update is a win for Snapchat's navigation, which has been a point of criticism in its previous iterations. Although there's much more work to be done, it's good to see Snap putting in work to make the app easier to use.

Version 10.0.0 is a free update for Snapchat in the App Store.


Downwell Review: Fall Safely

You’re in a park late at night when you stumble upon a large hole in the ground. Upon examining it, you realize that it is in fact a well – one that looks ominous in the darkness of the night. Of course, you wonder what lies in the well’s depths, but the echoes rising up from deep below send a shiver down your spine. What you’re hearing is not pleasant; it’s not human.

In this scenario, I’d venture to say that all of us would decide to ignore the well and move on with our night. But in Downwell, the protagonist must take a slightly different path. Instead of walking by, he straps on his gun boots and jumps into the hole, looking to defeat enemies and collect treasures.

And that’s where your action comes in – after guiding the character into the well, you’ll maneuver him to safety from stage to stage, hoping to minimize damage while capturing all the riches you can. All of this takes place in a retro-style, procedurally-generated game that’s incredibly addicting and one of my favorite iOS games I’ve played in a long time.

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