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

Tom Standage

A Game, a Gadget and an App

A rectangle to root for, a boost for your battery and a way to all our yesterdays

Tom Standage | September/October 2014

A GAME Thomas Was Alone

Modern games consoles can draw squillions of polygons per second and produce almost photorealistic images, so a game with deliberately simple graphics and a cast of jumping rectangles does not, it must be said, sound terribly promising. But play “Thomas Was Alone” and you’ll be amazed to find yourself rooting for Thomas, a red rectangle, and his quadrilateral friends. The wry commentary provides a surprising depth of characterisation as Thomas and pals use their complementary abilities to reach the end of each level. It’s a satisfying puzzle game, but also a none-too-subtle critique of a video-game industry obsessed with fancy graphics over characterisation and plot. Originally an indie-game hit on Windows and Mac, “Thomas Was Alone” has since been made available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita and now, finally, on the iPad. You’ll actually find yourself feeling sorry for a yellow square. Genius.
Thomas Was Alone for iPad: £3.99. Also on Mac, PC and PlayStation 3/Vita

A GADGET Anker Astro E5 Battery

If you travel with several electronic devices, and especially if some of them belong to children, then you need back-up in the energy department. This behemoth of a portable battery (15000mAh is a lot of juice) may not be very sleek or pretty, but it can recharge an iPhone up to seven times, and can also handle Android phones, Kindles, iPads or anything else that plugs into a USB socket. In fact, it can recharge two devices at once. It also doubles as a torch, which can come in handy. Being able to revive a dying device on a long family journey can be a lifesaver. If only it could recharge parents too...
Anker Astro E5 15000mAh Portable Power Pack: around £40

AN APP Timehop

We are all diarists now, thanks to social media. More people are writing down more details of their day-to-day activities, moods and thoughts than at any time in history. Admittedly, the results are probably more Adrian Mole than Samuel Pepys. And looking back at what you were up to years ago is fiddly: Facebook and Twitter make it easy to see what just happened, but digging into the past is hard. Install Timehop on your phone, however, and it will mine your Facebook and Twitter archives, and the photos on the phone, to show what you were doing on this day in years past. It’s like being sent a little time capsule every day, so you can see what has changed—and what hasn’t. Just don’t feel you have to share it.
Timehop for iOS and Android: free

Readers' comments

Sign in or Create your account to join the discussion.