Iran sucks at censoring apps, so the Persian diaspora is using them for unfiltered political discussion

With a (symbolic) (but it's a potent symbol) election looming in Iran, the global Persian diaspora is not lacking for news organs that are producing the kind of unfiltered political news that would get you jailed or killed in Iran. Read the rest

Hexels: grid-based art app for painting pixelated worlds

Hexels is a charming and powerful art-making app built around grids: perfect for making isometric worlds, geometric illustrations or traditional pixel art.

Hexels is an exciting grid-based painting tool that enables you to effortlessly create brilliant works of art. Whether you’re a pint sized pierogi, a professional cuddler, or my imaginary friend, Hexels’ shape-shifting personality will captivate you. We’ve added advanced features like animation and layers, a sharp, customizable interface, refined painting tools, and a slew of other improvements to bring you the most dynamic version of Hexels to date!

Here's a video that makes clear how it works:

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Apple finally allowed drone strike alert app, then removed it again

Josh Begley doesn't give up easily. After 12 rejections, Apple finally allowed his app Metadata+ to be sold on iTunes. But what the App Store giveth, the App Store taketh away. Read the rest

Why just four seasons? Ancient Japan had 72 microseasons

Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Boring. Ancient Japan had 72 microseasons each lasting about five days. They each have wonderfully evocative names like "Spring Winds Thaw the Ice" and "The Maple and Ivy Turn Yellow." We just finished “The Bear Retreats to its Den,” and this microseason 64, falling immediately after the solstice, is called "The Common Heal-All Sprouts. Read the rest

Web companies can track you -- and price-gouge you -- based on your battery life

In Online tracking: A 1-million-site measurement and analysis, eminent Princeton security researchers Steven Englehardt and Arvind Narayanan document the use of device battery levels -- accessible both through mobile platform APIs and HTML5 calls -- to track and identify users who are blocking cookies and other methods of tracking. Read the rest

OverType, a typewriter simulator on the web

OverType simulates, to an undesirable degree of accuracy, the experience of using a mechanical typewriter. You can have three fonts, one of which is IBM's classic Courier, set the degree to which you want your typewriter to be broken, and the state of your ribbon ink. You cannot delete—but there is correction paper! Read the rest

World's first app-turned-movie reveals why those birds are so dadgum angry

This weekend Hollywood is about to make history with The Angry Birds Movie, the first feature film ever to be based on a smartphone app.

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Proselint is a "style checker" for your writing

Proselint isn't a grammar checker. It's a "style" checker, warning writers when their work is hackneyed, inconsistent or very obviously not great.

proselint places the world’s greatest writers and editors by your side, where they whisper suggestions on how to improve your prose. You’ll be guided by advice inspired by Bryan Garner, David Foster Wallace, Chuck Palahniuk, Steve Pinker, Mary Norris, Mark Twain, Elmore Leonard, George Orwell, Matthew Butterick, William Strunk, E.B. White, Philip Corbett, Ernest Gowers, and the editorial staff of the world’s finest literary magazines and newspapers, among others. Our goal is to aggregate knowledge about best practices in writing and to make that knowledge immediately accessible to all authors in the form of a linter for prose.

It's in rudimentary form at the moment, but expect it to turn up in web-based form fields and popular apps soon. See also Hemingway App, which does a similar thing but with an eye toward concision and brevity rather than general style. Read the rest

Great, weird, and bad examples of Empty States in apps

Emptystate.es celebrates "Empty States," those moments in a user's app experience where there's no data to display yet, or an error has occurred. Empty States are actually a great moment to delight or engage the user yet this piece of UX design is frequently left as an afterthought or blown off entirely. (Thanks, UPSO!)

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Woman shot dead by drug gang after following Waze app's directions to wrong destination

In Brazil, a 70-year-old woman was killed when directions she followed from the driving app Waze led her and her husband into a neighborhood controlled by a violent drug gang. The destination they meant to go to? A beach area popular with tourists, which was in the opposite direction. Read the rest

Apple removes an app that tracks U.S. military drone strikes from its store

The Metadata+ app which tracks U.S. military drone strikes by was created by Josh Begley, research editor for The Intercept. Begley changed its name from Drones+ after it was rejected as "objectionable" by Apple five times. Read the rest

VHS Camcorder app makes iPhone video look like 1980s tape

Record the world through a 1980s lens with Rarevision's VHS Camcorder app, currently available for iOS with Android coming soon. Don't forget to please be kind, rewind.

App for subscribing to a network of clean NYC bathrooms

For $25/month, you can soon have access to a network of guaranteed clean bathrooms in New York City through a new app called Looie. The service launches in July with seven bathrooms at cafes and restaurants in TriBeCa. Read the rest

Play the number puzzle that launched a thousand clones, now free

One year after the puzzling and provocative Threes cloning controversy—where free clones ultimately reached many more players than the premium original—the developers are offering a new free, ad-supported version of the game.

Apps bring new possibilities to board games

Matt M. Casey on Golem Arcana, one of the new offerings whose gameplay leaps from tabletop to tablet.

Reddit AMA now in app form

Reddit launched its official Ask Me Anything mobile app for iOS and Android. Read the rest

Geometry Dash: jump, fly and flip your way through dangerous passages

This episode of Apps for Kids is brought to you by Shoparoo - start earning for your school today.

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