App Updates – Highlight App, News.Me App & MLB

Major League Baseball fans can now access the 2012 version of the popular app, MLB At Bat.  MLB At Bat has stats, videos, radio broadcasts, and even television broadcasts, depending upon the subscription level.  The app is for iPhone and iPad, and is available through iTunes.  The basic version can be purchased for a one-time fee of $14.99, or on a subscription basis for $2.99 a month.  Those who have a premium subscription to MLB TV receive access to the app for free.

Subscribers will receive radio broadcasts of most spring training games, and batter-by-batter reports of all spring training games.  The app will also include the MLB news feed, with schedules, stats, interactive rosters, and breaking news for each team.  The app will also include a video library archive which can be searched by player, keyword, or team.  MLB has also announced that more features and functions will be available on Opening Day.

The overwhelming success of Angry Birds has produced hordes of developers trying to duplicate that success.  One app that is gaining traction is called Pizza vs Skeletons.”   Pizza vs Skeletons, produced by RiverMan Media, is an iOS app that works on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, and is available for $2.99.    The player uses the pizza as his or her game piece, and tries to run roughshod over various obstacles.  Among them are skeletons of various formats in the Gladiator Mode, and a giant skull in the Sumo Mode.  In the Wrecking Ball Mode, the player uses the pizza as a wrecking ball against a building with skeletons in every window.  Other modes include the Puppy Rescue Mode,   the Bounce Castle Mode, the Ski Slopes Mode, the Karate Mode, the Undersea Mode, and the Angry Mode.  There are a total of 100 levels, and each level has three challenges.  The user can customize his pizza, and even share it on Facebook and Twitter. Pizza vs  Skeletons shares a few similarities with Angry Birds, but is a lot more complicated and versatile.

Those who prefer arcade games and a little more engagement may prefer a new spinoff of Tobe’s Vertical Adventure, called Tobe and Friends Hookshot Escape.   Produced by Secret Base Pte Ltd, this game is another iOS app for iPhone, is available at iTunes, and costs $1.99.  Tobe and Friends Hookshot Escape reminds users and reviewers alike of classic arcade games.  It has four different play styles, four different characters, four different themes, and five character leaderboards.

News.me is a new social news aggregation app by startup company News.me.  The company includes people who have developed apps for the New York Times and GQ, and hopes that the experience within the company can separate its app from the many that are currently on the market.  News.me allows users to scrape their Facebook and Twitter contact lists and find news articles that have been shared by those contacts.  News.me has two unique features: an in-app commenting system and a prioritization system.  The app arranges apps in order of importance by putting those most shared or commented at the top of the list.  In addition to standard commenting, News.me also has five pre-programmed comments:  Sad, Awesome, Wow, Ha, and Really.  Unlike other news aggregation social apps, the comments stay within the system instead of going out to Twitter or Facebook.

The SXSW Interactive conference will be held in Austin, Texas on March 9-13, 2012.   Among the most-anticipated apps slated to be introduced there is the Highlight app.  The app will only be available for iPhone for now, but versions for Android and Windows Phone will be released later this year.
Users load their profiles into the app, and their phones give them profiles and locations of other Highlight users in their vicinity.  It will show, among other commonalities, how many friends the two users have in common, and how many times they have crossed paths before.  It will also notify the user if someone with a lot of commonalities is nearby.

The app is based on a person’s real identity and their mutual friends, and privacy settings allow the user to decide who is allowed to see his or her profile.  It also has a function that ignores people who interact with the user on a daily basis, because the odds are that they are either family members, roommates, or co-workers.
Many insiders are projecting this app to be the next Twitter or Foursquare, and are calling it a potential “game-changer.”

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