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

Tom Standage

A Game, a Gadget and an App

Steer a princess through a world of beautiful paradoxes. Plus a neat USB cable and a new way to publish your pictures

Tom Standage | July/August 2014

A GAME Monument Valley 

This is a gorgeous game, consisting of a series of enchanting puzzles inspired by the geometrically paradoxical drawings of M.C. Escher (1898-1972). You must guide a princess called Ida to the end of each level, tapping the screen to tell her where to go. New and impossible-seeming paths are revealed by rotating the architectural models to change your perspective, or by sliding and turning particular elements. There is no time limit and Ida cannot die, making the gameplay nice and relaxing. Each level adds a new twist to the Escher-like puzzles, some of which are breathtakingly clever. Escher fans will appreciate the references to some of his classic drawings, and there’s a built-in camera to encourage you to create your own pictures of this charming world. With only ten levels, this is a game you will actually finishand the final puzzle is particularly satisfying. Released in April, “Monument Valley” is already being hailed as a classic. Escher himself would surely have approved of the way it brings his visions to life.
Monument Valley for iPhone, iPad and Android: £2.49

A GADGET Nomad Chargekey 

Everyone knows what it’s like to have a flat phone battery. But nobody wants to take a charger everywhere. The ChargeKey is an ingenious solution: a tiny, rubbery, rugged, USB-to-smartphone cable that goes on your key ring. It’s available in both iPhone (Lightning) and Micro USB formats, the latter suitable for charging non-Apple devices. At work, in the car and even on some planes, wherever there’s a USB socket, you can plug in and recharge without having to carry a charger at all times, or keep a spare one in your desk. Some hotels are even starting to fit USB wall sockets. As USB gradually becomes ubiquitous, the ChargeKey ensures you can take advantage of it wherever you find it.
Nomad ChargeKey (Lightning or Micro USB): £20

AN APP Steller 

Instagram has become part of popular culture, with its endless stream of selfies, holiday snaps, arty landscapes and snaps of your lunch. Steller works in a similar way, but instead of being based on a stream of single images, it lets you publish groups of images in a flipbook format with swipeable pages that can include text, captions and video. The app limits your design choices in a good way (a few simple layouts, no cheesy fonts like Comic Sans), so you can quickly put together an elegant narrative. Steller’s small but fast-growing community of users have used it to create everything from holiday albums to mini-documentaries, all of which can also be shared on the web. Use Steller for a while and Instagram seems oddly limited and one-dimensional by comparison. The only drawback: there’s no Android version yet.
Steller for iPhone: free

Readers' comments

Sign in or Create your account to join the discussion.