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New App Review Series 1: ’45’ Demonstrates How Fun Simple Apps Can Be

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Welcome to Hacked’s first series, which is yet to be named. This series will focus on reviewing new (mainly indie) mobile applications, with the hopes of encouraging indie developers to create apps. I will write new reviews for this series periodically, likely every other week. The first review will be on the application ‘45’, available in the App Store. This review will be on v1.0 of the iPhone application.

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Objective & Background

A screenshot of an iPhone. There is an advertisement at the top of the screen for a game (whose name is blurred out). The actual game has 10 variously-colored rectangles, and a timer at the top of the game shows that there are 15.78 seconds left in the game. Above the timer is a text box saying that the player has 25 points, and another text box to the right of that says that the player is on level 5. A button to the top left of the game has two bars, meaning that the player can tap this to pause the game.45 was released to the App Store on January 3rd, 2015, so it’s very new. It was developed by a developer named Vince Kramers, founder and CEO of Limitless Development.

Also read: Mobile Application Wakie Starts Your Day Off Right

While 45 may look fairly complex, once you figure out how to play, you’ll see how simple it is.

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The game opens with a screen filled with rectangles of various colors. When the player taps on a rectangle, it changes color. The colors change in a pattern: purple, beige, orange, brown, yellow, red, blue, and finally green. The goal of the game is to tap each and every rectangle enough times to get them to the green-colored rectangle. When every rectangle on the screen is green, the player advances to the next level. The player is given 45 seconds to make as many rectangles green as they can.

45 utilizes Apple’s Game Center for keeping track of high scores. The current high score is tied at 57 points (you get one point per green rectangle). I am ranked fourth, with 51 points. The Game Center provides friendly competition with other players around the world.

Review

45 is an addictive, yet very simple game, which is somewhat of a pattern in mobile applications (e.g. Doodle Jump, Flappy Bird, Temple Run, and many others). A major similarity of all of these games is that the player restarts from the beginning when they lose, which usually happens fairly quickly (within a minute). This keeps the player wanting to improve their score, especially since they can attempt to do so every minute.

A significant difference from 45 and the apps used as examples above is that 45 is not an endless running game, a game that theoretically never ends and newly generated obstacles are placed in the player’s path. With 45, the game will end in 45 seconds regardless of what the player does. The player needs to tap quickly, and practice certainly makes them better.

Here are a few strategies I’ve utilized:

  • I know that tapping blue once will get me to green, tapping red twice will get me to green, and tapping yellow three times will get me to green. I attempt to get all of my rectangles to these colors so I can quickly know how many times to tap them.
  • If there is only one rectangle left to fill in (every other one is green), just keep tapping it. When it turns green, you will advance to the next level. You don’t need to be careful on the last rectangle.
  • If you want to increase your scores, I highly suggest trying to use two (or more!) fingers. I am currently only using two, but a major way to improve your score in 45 is to be able to focus on more than one rectangle at once. You need to be able to change more than one rectangle at once if you hope to hit a score of 50 or higher.

One thing I noticed that interested me was the lack of instructions. Sure, there is a basic explanation in the App Store, but I actually prefer the obscurity. The only instructions in-game are when you tap the play button, you are given a countdown from 3 to prepare yourself to play and the text “make all the tiles green!” appears on the screen. These scarce instructions encourage the player to figure out how to play the game themselves, which shouldn’t take more than a minute. I appreciate this, and I’m not sure whether it was intentional by the developer. Another thing I’ve been pondering is how the app could be improved. I can’t decide whether adding additional minigames would make it more fun or take away from the simplicity that makes me admire it.

Overall, I am impressed with this app. I have not found a single bug, and this is its first version! The app is free, but it has banner ads at the top of the screen. Fortunately I’ve found these ads to not be intrusive of gameplay, and I don’t even realize that they’re there during the game. I have fortunately yet to accidentally tap on an ad during a game.

The next installment of this series is scheduled to be published in two weeks, so be sure to check back if you enjoyed this review!

Images from ’45,’ Simone Mescolini and Shutterstock.

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Artificial Intelligence

Students Create Doom AI Which Learns Visually and Kills Humans in Deathmatch

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Two students from Carnegie Mellon University recently placed second in an artificial intelligence competition for their submission of a program that was able to learn the game Doom the same way humans do – by playing.

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Communication

Sony Introduces 2FA for PlayStation Users

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In a long-awaited and overdue move, Sony has finally introduced two-factor authentication to PlayStation users who can now enable the security feature on their PlayStation Network (PSN) accounts.

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Five years after suffering a devastating hack that compromised the user details of some 77 million PlayStation Network users, Sony has introduced two-factor authentication (2FA) on PSN accounts. Sony confirmed the news with a tweet last night, explaining how the feature works.

“By requiring two forms of identification for sign-in, your account and personal information will be better protected.” Sony wrote in its blog.

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Users will be asked to provide a verification code that will be texted to their mobile phones at the time of signing into their PSN account. While the feature isn’t hack-proof (nothing is, really), it provides a much-needed extra layer of protection that a large platform like the PlayStation Network, with over 100 million uses, deserves.

Sony PS 2FA

Sony added:

Passwords can be compromised if you use the same password for multiple accounts, click on malicious links, open phishing emails and other methods.

If your password is compromised and becomes known to someone other than yourself, your account will still require a verification code to gain access when you activate 2-Step Verification.

With the feature, Sony caught up with its console rival Microsoft. The Redmond-based software giant had introduced 2FA for Xbox back in 2013, during the days of Xbox 360. Other platforms which sees millions of users such as Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter and others have been offering 2FA security for years.

It is perhaps baffling that Sony took as long as it did to introduce 2FA security, after the 2011 breach. At the time, the hack had Sony admitting that names, email addresses, billing addresses, account passwords and some credit card numbers were all exposed. The fallout saw Sony fined by the UK government. Furthermore, Sony also agreed to a settlement in a class action lawsuit, worth millions, granting PSN users in the United States the means to claim damages if they suffered identity theft as a result of the data breach.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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Fun Hacks

British Whizz Kid Hacks Pokemon Go; Catches Monsters Without Breaking a Sweat

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Pokemon Go

A 25-year-old British former computer science student has discovered a loophole in the popular Pokemon Go allowing him to catch Pokemon without leaving the comfort of his home.

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According to reports, players of the game have resorted to donating thousands of pounds to keep Mark Gore’s ‘bot’ running. Five lawyers are alleged to have urged him to remove the programme.

Mr Gore has stated that his loophole wasn’t designed to take the fun out of the game, which is reported to have seen users harassed by police for walking into restricted areas, according to the British tabloid newspaper, the Sun.

He stated that it was easy exploiting the game, which was created by Niantic. Gore said that over 24,000 people worldwide had been using his site to take advantage of his ‘bot’.

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He said:

I don’t think I’m spoiling people’s fun. If you look at the age bracket of people playing this game, it’s not all teenagers playing. There are a lot of people who work all day and don’t have the time to spend hours each day going out and catching Pokemon.

He added that those who want to can run the program in the comfort of their own home for two hours a day and still maintain the same level of fun to those who walk around collecting Pokemon.

While it certainly adds a level of safety to the game, does it not take away the authentic feel of it too?

Featured image from Matthew Corley via Shutterstock.

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