Updown Fitness – Physical Trainer that’s Portable and Practical

Who has time to visit the gym and attend training session laid out by a trainer? Not only is it time consuming, it can get expensive. If you need the benefits you get from a trainer, but want it on your own time, then you need to download Updown.

Updown Fitness is an app that not only monitors your activity; it helps guide your exercise regimen so you maximize your results.

Download it on your iPhone or iPad and, voila, you have a personal training at your fingertips. And this trainer is like no other. This trainer will provide a program and guidance that a real personal trainer could never provide.

What’s really great about this app is that you feed it information about you, and it provides you with exercises and a program that fits your schedule, your fitness level, and what’s more exciting is that it adjusts to your fitness level as you progress.

It stays on par with what you need to stay challenged and to keep fit.

After downloading the app, you will be asked to register, which you can do now or later. Next, you will enter data about you. This means your weight, height, exercise habits, your availability, etc. The app will take all of this data and will design a schedule and exercise program that will get you started, not turn you off.

On the General Workout screen, you can choose a category of exercises. Your program will tell you what to do, so you just select that. Categories include: Core, Cross, Strength, and Stretch.

If you want to do a workout outside of your prescribed program, you can do that as well. Who doesn’t an extra stretch now and then?

After you select a category, the app asks if you for options specific to that category. For instance, if you are going to do stretches, did you want to focus on the Neck and Shoulders, the Forearms, or the Full Body?

After that, you punch in how long of a workout you can fit in and what the intensity should be.

Press GO and that’s it. The app will narrate what you need to do, and there will also be animations that show how to do it.

I really looked forward to working out using Updown. I have never felt more in control before. I used to drag my feet when it came to exercising, but Updown Fitness makes it so much easier.

The only thing I would change about the app is try to make the interface a bit cleaner. Right now, there is a lot happening on the screen, and it can take some time to filter through it.

But for now, I love using this app and I have noticed a big difference in how often I get the exercise that I need.

Hexlock App Lock & Photo Vault Protects Your Privacy

Smartphones have become an integral part of our daily lives and most people use these as a digital vault where they store everything from photos, videos, games, to sensitive information like online banking, debit/credit card information, etc. There are also dozens of other apps that people use everyday, for example amazon, eBay, that contain sensitive information which will need to be hidden from friends and family. Also, purchases from play store will need to be disabled when kids use devices to play games so that they do not make any in-app purchases or change any settings on the device and all these can be accomplished with one app, that is Hexlock.

Hexlock is the best app locker and safety vault for photos and videos, developed by a top developer Liquidum Limited and is available free for android devices. This app provides parental controls, customized profiles and data protection on the go. It has also hit the editor’s choice list on the play store.

Hexlock can be used to lock selective apps or all apps at once depending on your personal choice. It can even lock basic apps like messaging, chat apps and emails thereby helping you to take control of your privacy. A remarkable feature of this app is letting the user set up and customize profiles depending on which WiFi they are connected to and this app supports finger print recognition, but it is limited to only a few devices at the moment.

Once the user has downloaded and opened the app, it will request for a passcode type to be chosen; PIN or Pattern. The user chooses either one of these options and enters the PIN or pattern to get into the app. The user needs to remember the PIN or Pattern as they need this each time they open Hexlock or any app that is locked using Hexlock.

hexlock android app

There are initially 6 profiles set up by default; work, home, party, parental, school and café. The user has the options to change the names and icons of these profiles by tapping the edit icon on top right of the screen. They can also toggle auto activate on or off by tapping the ‘A’ icon on the top right of the screen. Tapping that icon takes you to a screen where you can choose to activate or deactivate that profile when entering a particular WiFi zone. The list of saved WiFi networks is populated for the user to choose from.

Adding apps to lock for each profile is pretty simple as the app guides the user to do this and also has the option to select certain apps to lock for each profile or select all apps to be locked for that profile. This means you can have different apps to be locked for different profiles. The settings on the app allow the user to reset passcode, change lock screen background, set delay to require passcode when reopening an app (that is immediately, after 10 seconds, after 30 seconds or after 60 seconds), uninstall prevention, notify to lock new apps and remove ads.

Hexlock locks apps in the device without the user not having to worry about friends and family having access to sensitive or private information if at all they borrow the device. The photo vault allows locking private photos and videos and the app lock allows locking any app or all of the apps in the device depending on the user’s choice. You can even lock your games and all the social network apps.

An interesting feature of this app is the auto switch feature (between profiles) in which you can set up profiles, where each app gets locked or unlocked depending on what profile is set to be activated when the device connects to a particular WiFi network. For example, when you are at work and connected to the WiFi at work, all the personal apps can be set to be locked on the work profile thereby letting you have peace of mind even if your friends borrow the mobile. Similarly, you can set the home profile to lock the work related apps and any other apps that you do not want your family to have access to and this can be set to happen automatically when your device connects to the home WiFi. You can create six such profiles, name them and personalize them according to your need.

Another important feature is, unlike many other apps, this app can be set to request for the passcode if anyone tries to uninstall this app and hence the user need not worry about data getting exposed to others accidentally. Since this app can lock any app on the device, you can lock the play store as well and prevent anyone from downloading unwanted apps or paying for any apps using your play store wallet. This app also notifies the user to lock newly installed apps if they had chosen this option in the app settings.

Hexlock is free and very light unlike other heavy apps, fast and does not affect multitasking, has different profiles, locks apps and media, prevents uninstallation and supports fingerprint scanning technology for some devices. The app does not affect the RAM or battery usage. The app also notifies the user as to which profile is active at one point in time and if not required, this can be disabled in the device settings as, Settings – Apps – Hexlock – Uncheck ‘Show Notifications’ check box.

Ads on the lock screen are a negative feature in this app, however, this can be disabled for a very small price. The app does not have the option to auto switch between profiles based on GPS location, which means, it needs an active WiFi connection to switch between profiles. Screenshot option while using locked apps may be temporarily disabled.

Find and Use Jamie’s Gold Club Deals On the Go

Dining out in style does not have to be difficult or expensive. If you are a fan of Jamie Oliver, you know all too the delectable delights that await you when you step through the doors of any of his restaurants.

Gold Club membership use to be cumbersome. Now, it’s all wrapped up neatly in an app that you carry with you, so there is no digging for a card, or remembering how many points you’ve earned.

Download Jamie’s Italian Gold Club and become a Gold Club member and start receiving special deals and discounts throughout the year.

Setup is simple. Enter information about your location, which of the Jamie Oliver Italian restaurants you like and frequent the most, and then being your dining adventure.

The app offers easy searches for restaurants when you are not close to the one you love. Let’s say you are out and about and are craving your favorite Chicken Piccata. No problem. Open the app and do a search. The app will pull up any restaurants that are nearby, including the exact address and distance from where you are. Note, you will have to turn on Location Services in order for this to be accurate.

jamies italian gold club

Once you locate the restaurant you want to go to, you can select that location from within the app and see what the wait times are. If they seem short enough and you want to reserve a table, you can do so through the app. That’s it. You are done. Now all that is left is making your way to your desired destination for that meal that you are craving.

The benefits don’t stop there. You can get the inside track on seasonal specials and menus, occasional specials and treats, and taster sessions where you get to try out what Chef Jamie has concocted.

When your meal has been completed, and you can eat no more, checkout is quick and easy with your app. Yup, you can pay the bill through your app, which means earning more rewards and specials is effortless.

Imagine a gathering of friends and family is on the horizon. You have nothing to fear, because you have Jamie’s Gold Club app. All you have to do is pick your date and use the app to see if there is availability for your party. Book it and then forget it.

The only downside to the app is that you can’t pick your table. You can say how big of a table you’d like, but you cannot choose the location of the table from within the restaurant; but, that is a minor inconvenience. It can easily be fixed with a quick phone call.

I have no qualms about this app and cannot wait for it to be available for his non-Italian restaurants. I am so ready to try all of his locations, but I want the app to take me there.

Download Jamie’s Italian Gold Club today and start enjoying Jamie’s Italian creations with easy benefits.

Space Wars – A Challenging Retro Arcade Game

Space Wars is a very simple game and anyone who is not familiar or has the least knowledge about the game can begin playing this in no time. The player needs to guide the spaceship around the screen shooting the invading enemies and avoiding bullets while collecting power-ups. There are different power-ups and the player gets to keep the power unless they are hit by a ring that defaults you back to the basic weapon. Losing life before level 25 also degrades all power-ups earned.

Space wars is a fun and addictive game can be played by starting off with the basic weapon. One does not need any guidance or tutorials to play this game. The player guides the spaceship to the left or right of the screen using either left and right arrows on screen or using the accelerometer; that is by tilting the screen. The player can enable auto-fire in the options or can shoot by just tapping the screen so that they have control over when to shoot.

You need to guard the spaceship from the bullets dropped by the enemies. Killing certain type of enemies gives you different types of power-ups that can be picked to increase gun power. You need to stay away from the rings that keep falling down as they will degrade your ship to one with a basic weapon. At times a mother-ship may pass by and shooting it enables the chance for a blue colored bomb. Picking up this bomb will wipe off all the enemies on the screen and the level will thus be completed automatically. Sometimes there are falling spaceships and if collected will give you an extra life. So watch out for the blue bomb and falling spaceships as they enable you to play longer.

space wars

You need to try and be quick in shooting off all the enemies on the screen strategically because as the time increases, the enemies start descending which means you have very little space to move around and to escape the dropping bullets. When there are the last few enemies left on the screen, they can move around at a greater speed while dropping bullets making it a bit difficult for the player to shoot them.

The graphics in the Space Wars game gives it a classic or vintage look and the music gives it a nostalgic feel. It is smooth to play with and the features are not complicated, but very straightforward. It has 50 challenging levels and 6 power-ups which are twin gun when you pick up a green power-up, laser for a red power-up, 8 bullets for a blue power-up, shield for a yellow ring power-up, bomb and additional life.

The game becomes increasingly difficult as you progress each level. There are 8 types of enemies that swarm the arcade. In the first 25 levels, you loose all the weapon upgrades on the spaceship if you lose your life, but after level 25, the weapons do not degrade on death. There are two control modes to guide the spaceship; an accelerometer that works based on motion sensors where you tilt the device to guide the spaceship in the direction of tilt or by using buttons to guide the spaceship left or right.

You can share your score with your friends on Facebook or compare your score with other players on the leaderboard that can lead to taking up game challenges. Players who like to be competitive can take advantage of the feature that Space Wars has included. It has a leaderboard that features your own high scores, worldwide overall high scores, and worldwide daily high scores. It also gives you numbers on how many games you have played and how many games have been played by people around the world.

Ads on the main screen are a disadvantage but are not very distractive. There are also ads that pop up on the screen in between levels. These can be removed for a small price.

Defense of Egypt – Cleopatra mission

Defense of Egypt is a game of the genre Tower Defense, as the setting is of ancient Egypt and the warrior defends the Egyptian land from the Roman troops. The player is the warrior who is appointed by Cleopatra, takes commands and sets up weapons in different units to defend Egypt from the endless waves of enemies, the Roman army. The game takes defense to a whole new level where you build powerful weapons and plan strategies to protect the Egyptian land from the Romans. This game is free to play.

Egypt is ruled by Cleopatra when she hears that the Roman ships are approaching to invade the Egyptian land. She appoints a warrior to fight against the Roman troops whose ships are approaching the shore. Cleopatra wants the warrior to throw them back into the sea and hence teaches the warrior the basics of defense.

The warrior takes commands from Cleopatra and also with the help of the Gods, sets up units and uses different weapons to defend Egypt from the Romans. There are a lot of new inventions and Cleopatra wants the warrior to use them against the Roman troops. To improve defense in the game, you must constantly be increasing the power of weapons which are the most effective at the highest level. You get rewarded for accomplishing the tasks given to you by Cleopatra.

You can complete the pilot level to familiarize yourself with the game and there is also a bonus level that can be played at any point. The player who is the warrior starts from the default ‘complexity’ mode which is ‘Normal’ and then improves their strength further depending on how they play to progress to other modes.

In order to start the fight, click the call button on screen that looks like crossed swords. Icons on the right panel labelled ‘i’ that appear when the Romans enter, give you information about the different types of warriors in the troop; for example, archer, legionnaire, infantrymen, etc. and also about the units and weapons. The warrior builds a defense area where he places various weapons like ballista, catapults on the path of the Roman troops at important spots on the map.

As the troops march into the Egyptian land, these weapons are used to destroy them and to prevent the troops from destroying the city. There are treasure chests that appear at times and if collected will earn you points. Killing the enemies and sometimes cutting down the trees will help you earn coins. Weapons need to be upgraded whenever possible in order for them to be efficient.

Opening the box on the left bottom corner reveals lightning, tribolos, and other instruments that can be used to kill the enemy. The warrior can participate in the battle by throwing tribolos in the path of enemy troops or by calling for help from the Egyptian Gods. You can speed up or slow down the battle by choosing the arrow button on the top right corner of the screen. You can improve gears after each stage.

The game has good graphics and sound with an interesting historical story behind it that makes it an interesting game to play. There are a large number of units in each level that can be loaded with different weapons depending on the strength of the enemies in the field at that time. Each weapon has a different strength and speed. The battle fought is interesting with many strategic actions that can be used to complete each level. The power and coins that you earn at each level can be used to improve the weapons that you use. The warrior makes decisions and responds quickly with the help of the Egyptian Gods to protect Egypt from the Romans.

Defense of Egypt has several levels, that is more than 60 and each level has varying difficulty and accomplishment. There are also 16 types of enemies each with different power and armor.  When it comes to weapons, there are 6 types of weapons that can be upgraded and 5 types of gears for combat vehicles that can also be improved. The player can get involved in the fight by using grenades, tribolos, fire, lightning, and frost that can be found in the box at the bottom left of the screen. Overall this game will be liked by both children and adults. There is support for a few other languages as well other than English.  The game score can be shared on Facebook.

During the gameplay, although a lot of commands and instructions are given by Cleopatra, it would have been better to have a few more onscreen instructions for novice players to understand and catch-up on the game easily and quickly. There could be some free power-ups to improve vitality instead of the in-app purchases.

VigCal – Stay Organized and Get Things Done!

Life is too short to waste time trying to figure out what you need to do, what you’ve completed already, and where you need to be. We all have so much going on that sometimes it gets really difficult to keep up.

What helps is an app that keeps you on track. Download VigCal now if you need that help. It’s loaded with features that make it easy to put your life in order. Not only can you organize your work items, it can help you organize your family!

After downloading the app you will see a calendar, pretty similar to others you’ve seen. At the very top of the screen, you’ll see today’s date and five icons:

  • Actions – This takes you to the Actions screen which provides access to the Settings icon and allows you to sort your calendar view by setting different options. From the Settings icon, you can choose a myriad of options ranging from font size to creating different calendars. It is from here that you can make the in app purchase for the full version, which costs $9.99.
  • Location Settings – this shows your events and to-do items on a map, if you have provided that information
  • Search – if you cannot find a task or event, you can search for it
  • Add New Event – create new events or tasks

The app visuals are really what got me hooked. The interface is clean and easy to use and organization of different types of tasks is inherent as you can set different colors for different calendars – one for personal tasks and appointments, one for work, one for the family, one for your spouse’s items, and more.

vigcal screenshot

You can combine the different calendars so you can see at a glance everything that is going on and coordinate easily, or choose which calendars you wish to view.

A separation screen allows you to see where your downtime is, so you can schedule in some “me” time, or shift things around if needed.

What is really neat about VigCal is that you can set the start of your week using whatever day works for you. Some folks’ week starts on Sunday, while others’ start on Monday.

The Search tool is really nice, because it allows you to find an event. This may be a meeting or birthdays. Imagine being able to search for the word “birthday”, and containing it to just the month of October. It will allow you to find all the people for whom you need to by cards for in that month.

Connectivity is another great feature. If you have an Apple Watch, you can view tasks and reminders on your watch and confirm them. The app also coordinates cleanly with Google Calendar, iOS Reminders, and Toodledo.

The only downside to the app is that you need to make the full app purchase if you wish to have the Settings option, which allows you to choose the start day for your week, and many other neat options.

If you are ok with making that in app purchase, then VigCal is a definite download. You will wonder how you were getting things done and managing your time before you used the app.

Singapore Maths – Gaming Adventure to Strengthen Math Skills for Young Scholars

Many kids simply don’t like math. Maybe they don’t have a good background. Maybe they have a hard time understanding the teacher and how the concepts are presented. Whatever may be the case, math is in our day to day lives as adults and having a strong grasp of mathematical concepts puts you head of the game. Singapore Maths from Kids Academy Co delivers just that.

If you are a parent of a child between the ages of 6 and 8 who is struggling with math or just want to further strengthen the skills your child currently possesses, there is an easy to way accomplish that does not involve trips to a math tutor or education center.

Singapore Maths uses a proven three-step process that has been specially formulated for kids, so they stay interested and grasp concepts quickly. The app’s design was developed in Singapore as a tool to help kids learn math easily. In its adoption into this app, the design was enhanced to comply with Common Core standards that are currently in place across the nation.

For parents, there is the most important assurance that the app is free from pop-ups and ads, something kids do not need to see.

So, what does Singapore Math have that makes it so special? It’s presents math through games, videos, interactive worksheets, activities, and adventures. When kids open the app, they will see an adventure map that outlines their starting point, intermediate goals to achieve along the way, and their final destination. 

No more packets with repetitive problems. Math becomes a challenge of explorations and dare, urging kids to take on the mission and forge forward.

Be aware that the app’s content is accessible only through a paid subscription. You can download the app for free, but you must choose a membership in order to play. Fees are $7.99/mo or $49.99/year with a 30-day free trial.

The app aims to teach kids the following math concepts:

  • Count and trace numbers – younger kids learn their numbers and how to write them
  • Foundational numeracy skills – know what the numbers mean
  • Math operations – add, subtract, multiply, and divide
  • Geometric shapes – basic figures and features
  • Patterns and sequencing – understand the relationship between multiple items and identify patterns

You can purchase one subscription and let multiple children in your household use the app. What is really neat about the app, and this is really important for those parents who don’t want their kids on devices all the time, is the ability to print, for free, worksheets that kids can complete, anytime and anywhere.

I don’t think there is anything about this app that I did not like. I would be nice, however, to try out one or two games and print a worksheet as a sample to see if the app would work for the child.

Barring that, Singapore Math is a must download if you have been struggling with your child, trying to help them master math at whatever age they are. Elementary math forms the basis for so much in a child’s later years of education and adult life; it’s important to make sure that the foundation is solid, and Singapore Math can do just that. Get printable worksheets for kindergarten here.

Pegs ‘n Holes – Puzzle Fun That Strengthens the Mind

Love to solve puzzles and match pieces into a pattern? Give Pegs ‘n Holes a try. It’s a unique game that presents a neat puzzle frame full of holes that need to be filled with pegs. Sounds simple, but it’s far from it.

When you open the app, you will see a grid of boxes and circles. The background is a clean slate of black, and the boxes and circles are multicolored, making for a display that is easy to read and pleasing to the eye.

Your goal is to place pegs in the correct box to remove them from the playing field. The game is deemed a success if you can clear all the boxes.

You do this by matching colored pegs into their corresponding colored squares. It doesn’t make sense when it’s described that way, but each colored square has a hole in the center where the peg fits. Tap on the peg and it will move to its matching square and the square will disappear from the grid.

Keep in mind that tapping randomly may not get you to a successfully cleared grid. You need to figure out what the sequence is in order for all the squares to clear. At times you will see that even though you fit a peg in a square, it may not move from the screen.

Pegs N Holes app

A really useful and valuable feature of the game is the practice games.  This allows you try things out and see how the game works before diving in and competing. If you need help, there’s an icon for it at the top right corner.

Game grids for practicing come in the following sizes: 4×4, 5×5, 6×6, 7×7, and 8×8. Times to complete the puzzles will be kept in your gaming stats and not on the online competition arena.

When playing in online mode, all of your gaming grids will be 7×7. As you play, the app keeps track of how long it takes for you to complete the puzzle, as it does for other players who will be working on the same grid – just their own copy of it. Once you complete the puzzle, your time gets tabulated and added to the leaderboard for all to see. It helps you see where you stand against others and what you need to improve on. 

If you turn on the hints, the app will give you suggestions on which pegs to tap. If you feel you want to undo a move you made, you can do so with the UNDO button.

Options to do different things and to change settings can be found from the main menu. You can turn sounds ON/OFF, choose to have hints ON/OFF, and you can choose to have the structure of the puzzle be based on shapes rather than colors.

I can’t say that I found anything wrong with the game. I did find it a bit frustrating when I was unable to find the sequence that would unlock success. Stepping away from the game helped a bit, but it sure is hard to do that when you are worried about your timings.

If you can look past that, then you will have hours of fun playing Pegs ‘n Holes. I think it’s a great way to keep the mind flexed.

Totem Rush – A Match Game Like No Other

Most match games offer one basic thing, the challenge to linearly assemble items that are the same, whether it be horizontally or vertically. It’s fun for a while, but when you grow past whatever excitement you initially felt, the game tends to pale in the light of others.

If you just can’t let go of playing match games, but want something more than just a grid with icons that you need to clear, download Totem Rush.

Immediately you may wonder what the “rush” means, but as you play and move more into the game, you will discover why.

In Totem Rush, you are the protector of an archipelago of islands. Your ultimate goal is to protect each of these islands from war mongering invaders. OK, well, they aren’t as vicious as that, but they are invaders that want to take over your island.

They do so by trying to capture your ship, make their way to your island, and overtake the settlement.

Totem Rush

You are challenged by the game to protect a series of 19 islands. Each island represents a phase of play. Conquer the challenge presented at each island, and you move on to the next phase, or island.

I have never seen a game so involved as this. It provides a complex blend of simple game play – a match game – with a more involved and strategic test – to defend an island.

Just when you think you will get bored with the matching, you are transported to another part of the app and find yourself building up defenses and keeping invaders at bay.

What I found helpful were the hints and suggestions on what to do.  Every so often, there would be a finger pointing to an object, asking you to move it this way or that.

Totem Rush itself does not have a main menu or screen, so there is no information page or overview. You have to dive in and figure things out on your own.

What puzzled me most in this app was that at one point, I was shown the series of islands and my progress. It looked as if I needed to complete the games on island number two, but I had no idea how to start those games. I tapped on the island, on the cards that sat beside the island, and on various other icons, with no luck. It was confusing and I was not sure how to proceed.

Nonetheless, I did have fun playing the match part of the game. When it transitioned to the building part, I became confused because it did not seem like I was doing much and I really did not know if I had succeeded or failed.

I will continue to play and try different things to unlock the mystery and get to the next island – it is much too tempting to be left alone. Totem Rush is also available on Android.