Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

Tom Standage

A Game, a Gadget and an App

Time to get sorted – in space, with silly names, or on Earth, with to-do lists

Tom Standage | March/April 2014

A GAME Spaceteam 

“Soak Ferrous Holospectrum!” “Oscillate the optical refractor!” You’ll find yourself shouting this kind of “Star Trek” jargon with increasing desperation as you play Spaceteam, an unusual game that involves wirelessly linking up your smartphones and tablets with other players in the same room. You are the crew of a spacecraft who must co-operate to avoid disaster. Instructions appear at the top of your screen, with various stupidly named controls beneath (Shockcrane, Psi-screen buckle, Lustrous Prismneck). The catch is that instructions may refer to a control on another player’s screen, requiring you to shout them out in the hope that someone else will jump to it within the time limit. To complicate matters further, the control panels fall apart and become harder to read as your ship disintegrates. Asteroids and black holes require the entire crew to jiggle their devices in unison, and every so often a hyperspace jump reconfigures all the controls. As well as being great fun, Spaceteam emphasises real-world interaction and co-operation (some firms even use it for team-building). Who says games are antisocial?
Spaceteam for Apple and Android smartphones and tablets, free

 

A GADGET Libratone Loop 

At first glance the Loop looks more like a cushion than a loudspeaker. But its cuddly woollen exterior (available in a choice of eight colours) conceals a powerful and versatile sound system. You can plug your phone or music-player into it directly if you want, but the Loop is really designed for wireless streaming from a computer or mobile device, using either AirPlay or DLNA standards, or Libratone’s own PlayDirect system. It’s easy to carry around but requires mains power, so it’s not for outdoor use. It banishes pesky wires, packs a surprising punch, looks good standing on a surface or mounted on a wall and is a doddle to set up. Just don’t try to sit on it.
Libratone Loop around £360

 

AN APP Any.do

You might think that to-do-list and calendar apps are like screwdrivers or bottle-openers: you want them to do the job, and don’t much care what they look like. But Any.do, a to-do app for Apple and Android devices, could make you think again. It looks gorgeous and strikes the right balance between providing nifty features like voice dictation, deadlines and reminders, and keeping things simple and uncluttered. Its “moment” feature prompts you at a preset time each day to review your daily list and decide what you want to get done. And it integrates beautifully with Cal, an equally clever companion calendar app, now available for Android too. If you’re going to use an app every day, it might as well be beautiful as well as functional.
Any.do Task & To-do List and Cal for Apple and Android devices, free

Readers' comments

Sign in or Create your account to join the discussion.