Game Day: Treasure Buster

Part 80s arcade game, part rogue-style dungeon crawler, and part pinball, Treasure Buster is a strange combination of game genres that work surprisingly well together. The result is an entertaining game that’s hard to put down.

You play as one of six heroes who must defeat a series of enemies. Each hero has different traits that affect their performance in battle. When you enter a room in a dungeon, you start a battle by pulling back with a swipe on the screen Angry Birds-style to launch yourself at your enemies. When you let go, you bounce around like a pinball slamming into enemies and obstacles, shaking loose treasure from your foes, and collecting the loot.

Periodically, the enemies will stage their own attack, which causes damage to your hero. Clear a room of enemies and you can move to the next part of the dungeon to face new challenges and the occasional boss. Treasure you collect can be traded for new abilities, helping you survive the more difficult later stages. The game ends when you run out of health.

Treasure Buster has two modes of play – Arcade and Endless. In Arcade
mode you move around a map exploring each room of the dungeon. Endless mode eliminates exploration of the map, moving you from one room to another automatically and setting the difficulty level based on a coin flip. Of the two modes, I prefer Arcade where I feel more in control of the part of the game I try next.

The art of Treasure Buster has a retro-pixel style reminiscent of old arcade games. There is a lot of attention to detail at each stage of the game, including a wide variety of enemies, treasure and other elements that keeps the game entertaining.

Treasure Buster is Universal and equally playable on an iPhone or iPad. The mechanics are simple enough to play one-handed on an iPhone and the game is enjoyable in short bursts, though I’ve found it hard to play just one round. If you play Treasure Buster long enough, it can start to feel a little repetitive given the simplicity of the mechanics, but as a way to kill time and take short breaks from something else, Treasure Buster is a good choice.

Treasure Buster is available on the App Store for $0.99.

Canvas, Episode 24: Workflow – Third-Party Apps

This week Fraser and Federico continue the Workflow series by looking at integrating Workflow with third-party apps.

In the latest episode of Canvas, our Workflow series continues with an in-depth look at third-party app integrations and several examples of our own workflows.

If you haven't listened to the previous episodes of the series yet, you'll want to go back and start from there.

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Improving Integration with Apple Music for iOS Apps

Allen Pike has a good summary of how limited the media player framework is on iOS, especially for developers who want to create apps that integrate with Apple Music:

In the meantime, these limitations mean that any music app that attempts to play Apple Music tracks will be seriously limited, require odd workarounds, and behave problematically depending on user behaviour. In the spirit of giving users a quality experience, we’re stuck with the same limitation that other sophisticated audio apps have today: no Apple Music.

The explanation is a bit technical in places, but I think we can all relate to some limitations he details: apps can't modify Music playlists on the user's behalf, queue management is severely limited, and fading a song out is a private API.

There could be an entire ecosystem of music utilities and alternative players based on the streaming service – think how professional DJ apps, tagging services like Shazam and SoundHound, or music discovery apps could take advantage of a direct integration with Apple Music. I hope Apple will consider some of these suggestions for next year.


Game Day Holiday Bonus: Don’t Grind

It's Thanksgiving Day in the US and there are games to play. Sure, those celebrating Thanksgiving should probably put their iPhones away and spend time with their families. But not everyone celebrates Thanksgiving, and even if you do, who doesn't need a break at some point over a long weekend?

Don't Grind by Laser Dog Games is the perfect game for just such a break. It's easy to get the hang of, playable in short bursts, and a whole lot of fun. The goal of Don’t Grind is to keep a character bouncing in the air above two rotating blades. You do that by tapping and swiping on the screen. How high you bounce with each tap depends on the length of the tap. Swiping sends your character in the direction of the swipe. Fail to stay aloft and you are ground up by the blades ending the game.

As you bounce around in the air above two blades, you collect stars, which are converted into medals when the round ends with your character’s inevitable death. While you collect the stars though, you also need to avoid lasers, rockets, blades, and other obstacles that can hasten your demise. After collecting a certain number of medals you unlock additional characters to use in the game. There are dozens to collect.


A game where your character is inevitably ground up between saw blades sounds gruesome, but it isn't. Laser Dog has kept the tone light and fun. That's accomplished through a bouncy, pop soundtrack and using silly inanimate objects as characters like a donut, banana, and boot. Each character has googly eyes that do a remarkable job of conveying dread and fear as the characters approach the blades. There are other nice touches such as the background scenery that matches the time of day you are playing, haptic feedback on the iPhone 7, and the ability to record and share gameplay.

Casual games that can be played one-handed are great for short breaks that can easily become long breaks as you try to beat your high score and climb the Game Center leaderboard. Don’t Grind succeeds with a challenging game that immediately endears itself to you with its quirky sensibilities and cute characters that have kept me coming back try to collect them all.

Don’t Grind is available as a free download on the App Store. A $1.99 In-App Purchase removes advertisements from between rounds of the game.

#MacStoriesDeals Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2016: The Best Deals for iOS and Mac Apps & Games

Every year, thousands of iOS and macOS app deals are launched for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. At MacStories, we handpick the best deals for iOS and Mac apps and collect them in a single roundup with links to buy or share discounted products directly. You don't have to be overwhelmed by app deals; we take care of finding the best ones for you.

Bookmark this post and come back to find updated deals starting today through Monday. Updates will be listed as new entries at the top of each section; iOS apps are organized in sub-categories for easier navigation.

For real-time updates, you can find us as @MacStoriesDeals on Twitter.

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Connected, Episode 118: Master Transclusion Table

This week Federico and Myke discuss the Google Daydream VR headset, how Instagram is becoming even more like Snapchat, Apple's Holiday ad, the advancement of the iPad Pro, and iA Writer.

On this week's Connected, Myke and I had a good discussion about what we still want from the iPad, plus iA Writer 4.0 and why I'm always looking to optimize the way I work from iOS. You can listen here.

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Infuse 5

I watch a lot of TV shows and YouTube videos on my iPad Pro. Thanks to the 12.9-inch iPad's large screen and four-speaker system, watching directly on the device is a pleasure (I tend to prop up the iPad with the Razer keyboard I reviewed here) but I've also been streaming to Google Chromecast and Apple TV depending on what I want to watch (Chromecast is great for YouTube).

Every time I want to watch something, I use Infuse. I've been an Infuse Pro customer for years now and I like the app because it can stream videos from my Synology NAS and it can play anything I throw at it without issues. Yesterday, Infuse graduated to version 5, which is a separate app with a new subscription model at $6.99/year. I don't mind paying $0.58/month for an app I use several times each day, and the new version brings some welcome additions that will save me a lot of time going forward.

Infuse 5 supports Split View and Picture-in-Picture, two features that were strangely missing since the launch of iOS 9. Infuse also uses iCloud now to keep shares, favorites, metadata, and other settings in sync between devices; I don't use Infuse on my iPhone, but it's good to know I won't have to set it up from scratch. In terms of other native iOS features Infuse 5 supports, there is integration with the document picker to download files from external apps and optimizations for video playback on iOS 10.

More importantly for me, Infuse 5 can automatically download subtitles from Open Subtitles and stream videos from a connected Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive account. The first option is welcome for those times when I have some friends over who want to watch a movie in English audio and subtitles, which I usually keep disabled. Now I don't have to go looking around the web for the right version of subtitles as Infuse seems to be doing a decent job at picking up the correct .srt file from the popular subtitle service. Cloud streaming means I have an easy way to beam work-related videos from my Dropbox to my Apple TV or Chromecast while retaining the benefits of Infuse's UI.

Infuse is the only video app I keep on my iPad Pro. Unlike other video apps, Infuse combines an elegant interface and intuitive controls with powerful functionalities and integrations, which is what I need when I'm done working and want to relax at the end of a long day. Infuse 5 is available on the App Store; a paid upfront Pro version is also available at $12.99 if you don't want to subscribe annually.

Instagram is Rolling Out Live Video and Enhanced Direct Messages

Instagram announced two new features today. The first is live video in stories. Swiping right opens stories mode, a feature similar to Snapchat stories, which was introduced in August. Instagram is rolling out live worldwide video over the next few weeks. When you begin broadcasting live, your followers may receive a notification that you are live. In addition, Instagram says that:

When someone you follow starts a live story, you’ll see “Live” under their profile photo in the stories bar. During the broadcast, you can comment and like as much as you want. You can also check out new live stories on Explore. Tap “Top Live” to see exciting live stories happening at that moment and swipe right and left to easily skip around.

Comments can also be turned off altogether. When you are finished recording, your live story disappears.

Images courtesy of Instagram.

Images courtesy of Instagram.

The second feature rolled out by Instagram is disappearing photos and videos in Instagram Direct. Regular direct messages, which have been around since last year, will continue to work as they have in the past, but now you can also take a picture or video from within the stories UI and tap the right-facing arrow button to send it to a friend or group. After the photo or video has been viewed, it disappears. If the recipient takes a screenshot, you are sent a notification.