When first setting up the LG Ultrawide 38UC99 Monitor it’s hard not to be impressed. With a 37.5-inch diagonal wingspan, a curved profile, and a sleek form factor, the LG monitor is nothing short of stunning. Moreover, it’s an imposing addition to any PC gamer or PC user’s setup – one that offers all the usual bells and whistles, and then some.
In terms of its set up, the LG Ultrawide 38UC99 may be large, but it is in no way bulky. The monitor is easy to remove from its packaging and simple to put together. More importantly, while the 21:9 monitor does offer a lot in terms of visual real estate, it does not leave a large imprint on the desk. Its smaller stand, with options to raise the monitor to various heights, ensures that PC gamers will still have plenty of room for their favorite gaming keyboards and mice.
The real appeal of the LG Ultrawide 38UC99 monitor, of course, are its visual reproduction and feature set, which are second to none. Boasting QHD, 3840×1600 resolution, the monitor can fit all the needs of a modern gamer. It may not have 4K support, but the LG Ultrawide 38UC99 still meets or exceeds any tests in its class. Top tier games like DOOM, The Witcher 3, and Battlefield 1 are all gorgeous and well represented on the monitor, and more immersive thanks to its dimensions and curved display profile.
Those who want to tweak will also find that the LG Ultrawide 38UC99 offers plenty of options to do so, and several presets to fiddle around with as well. The monitor has no problem accurately reproducing the vibrant colors that are necessary for immersive gaming experiences, from the varying tones of green in CG grass to the rich blacks in dark corners. There are also a few features to reduce lag time, like the 1ms blur reduction, support for AMD FreeSync, and dynamic action sync. The monitor even has high quality built-in speakers, which is a rarity for monitors these days.
Obviously not every game will have support for 3840×1600 or an ultrawide permutation, but those that do are stunning on the display. And even those games that feature borders on the sides still look impressive. Keep in mind, though, that the monitor is built for PC use and therefore not meant for console players.
Alongside top tier support for gaming, the LG Ultrawide 38UC99 monitor is also the perfect compliment for the home office. With so much real estate to work with, the LG Ultrawide 38UC99 gives users space to keep several windows open at appropriate sizes. This is especially useful for PC users that need a few reference or Photoshop windows open at a time.
The LG Ultrawide 38UC99 even offers a few baked-in options that make power using that much easier, like Screen Split options that determine how windows are arranged on the screen, and dual support for PC and Mac on opposing halves of the monitor. For someone that spends a lot of time managing tabs or simply staring at a monitor, the LG Ultrawide 38UC99 has nearly everything they could want, and even some features they didn’t know they needed.
In order to deliver all of these impressive features, however, the LG Ultrawide 38UC99 monitor commands a hefty price tag of $1499 at retail. That’s substantially higher than a bare bones display and a high-end PC gaming monitor. Truly, the LG Ultrawide 38UC99 is for a very specific subset of PC gamers and users looking for a device that fits a wide range of situations. At that price point, though, the monitor never disappoints, delivers crisp, clear visuals, and has bells and whistles that meet a variety of needs. If you’re looking for a centerpiece to your home office or high-end PC gaming setup, the LG Ultrawide 38UC99 monitor is well worth a look.
Episodes 1 and 2 of The Walking Dead: A New Frontier improve upon the series’ existing formula, offering an emotionally trying story and a new coat of gameplay polish.
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier is Telltale Games’ third core series entry to its take on the long-running graphic novel. Gamers who have played any of the prior iterations of the franchise will find that A New Frontier is familiar territory, following the same general formula of decision-making and emotional upheaval, but with enough tweaks to make the game feel a bit fresher than prior entries.
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier hands the reins to a brand new main character, Javier. Doing so was probably a risk, since players have become quite invested in the story of Lee and Clementine, dating back to the very first season of The Walking Dead. However, the hand-off is arguably a success, with Javier emerging as a likable guy who’s just trying to do right by his family in the walker apocalypse, while still retaining enough character flaws to be relatable.
Thankfully for series veterans, Clementine has a strong presence in the first two episodes of the game. Players are allowed to use their saves from season 1 and 2 in order to create a custom Clementine, or they can use a story generator to make decisions regarding her character development. As a result, Clementine is still the same girl players have come to know and love, although she’s become hardened from the events between the end of Season 2 and the start of A New Frontier. The Walking Dead: A New Frontier fills in these gaps with frequent flashbacks, also uncovering the fate of baby AJ, and Kenny or Jane, depending on who Clementine was last traveling with.
During these flashbacks, players take control of Clementine, but for the remainder of the game, Javier is the sole playable character. It allows for a bit of nostalgia for series veterans, but also helps to provide balance to characters’ capabilities. In season 1 and 2, the main character was often tasked with performing an action while the remaining NPCs stood around being generally useless. Here, Clementine often feels like an extension of the main character, even though she’s generally not controlled by the player. She often engages in actions while Javier is busy with something else, moving the story along and making it feel less like everyone except for the main character is helpless and utterly relying on the main character to do everything.
The basic gameplay in The Walking Dead: A New Frontier is nearly identical to the entries to the series that have come before it, but it’s been tweaked enough to feel more fluid and enjoyable. This is due in part to the fact that the game is primarily set four years after the beginning of the outbreak, so surviving characters are more skilled in survival and combat. As a result, combat is fluid, quick, and satisfying, although it does still essentially boil down to reactionary button mashing and point-and-click shooting segments.
In addition, the main character tends to spend less time slowly wandering around an area inspecting objects and talking with people to progress. While there are still plenty of opportunities to thoroughly examine and discuss everything should the player so choose, this process has been made less tedious. There’s less backtracking, and the areas players can explore are smaller and partitioned off so finishing a task takes less time.
Visually, The Walking Dead: A New Frontier has received a bit of an upgrade since Season 2 and Michonne’s three part mini-series, probably due in part to using the new game engine it and Telltale’s Batman both use. Although the game still sticks to a cel-shaded style to emulate the appearance of the graphic novels, lighting and textures have more depth now, giving characters a more three-dimensional appearance. Characters facial expressions are a bit more subtle this time around, too, which is an improvement over the sometimes over-the-top reactions that were prevalent in Season 1 and Season 2.
In terms of story, The Walking Dead: A New Frontier is just as harrowing as fans of the series have come to expect. Javier, his family, and Clementine are thrown into a series of events involving an antagonist group referring to itself as The New Frontier. Although the tension is palpable between characters prior to The New Frontier appearing on the scene, events quickly take a turn for the worse from their involvement, leading to some of the most shocking moments the game has to offer. Unfortunately, each episode clocks in at around an hour, leaving very little time to explore the motivations driving The New Frontier.
Overall, The Walking Dead: A New Frontier is off to a solid start. Fans of the series will definitely have plenty to enjoy here – and emotionally suffer through – and players who found the game to be too clunky and slow previously may appreciate this entry more. While The Walking Dead: A New Frontier doesn’t radically change the gameplay formula Telltale Games has developed, it keeps what worked all along and fine-tunes it further to create a genuinely enjoyable – albeit brief – gaming experience.
Welcome to Macworld’s iPad Pro 9.7in review for the UK. If you’d prefer a larger screen, read our iPad Pro 12.9in review.
Apple unveiled a new mid-size iPad at its ‘Let us loop you in’ March press event, as was widely expected, but what we didn’t expect was for this to be an iPad Pro. Rather than calling this the iPad Air 3, which it logically and visually appears to be, Apple is presenting it as a shrunk-down version of the 12.9in iPad Pro – and thereby attempting to position the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro as a work device suitable for replacing a laptop, and targeted particularly at designers and illustrators on the go.
But does it succeed? In our iPad Pro 9.7in review, we evaluate the latest iPad’s design and build quality, weigh up the pros and cons of its new features, put the device through the Macworld labs’ most rigorous speed benchmark and battery tests, and compare the value for money that the iPad Pro 9.7in offers compared to the other tablets on the market.
iPad Pro 9.7in review: Summary of review
Design: Physically the iPad Pro 9.7 is a close match to the iPad Air 2: weight and dimensions are identical, as is the general design (which remains sumptuous, of course). You now get four speakers – two at the top, two at the bottom – and the bottom speakers are spaced slightly further apart. This results in a much fuller, richer sound – not exactly surround sound, but a far more immersive audio experience than we’ve come to expect from a tablet.
Cameras: One other noticeable physical change is the rear-facing camera, which now sticks out and will scratch on the desk if you lay the iPad flat on its back. Slightly annoying, that, although any sort of case will remove this issue, and you do get the payoff of a heavily enhanced camera setup. The rear-facing camera now has a flash, and has been pushed from 8 megapixels (on the Air 2 and the Pro 12.9in) to 12Mp; there are also numerous smaller improvements to this component.
The front-facing camera is even more dramatically boosted, going from 1.2Mp to 5Mp and gaining the Retina flash feature. We look at all this in more detail, and present a selection of test shots and comparisons, in the camera testing section, but suffice it to say that in some conditions you won’t notice the difference from the Air 2’s cameras, in others you’ll notice small improvements, and in others it’s in a whole different class.
Screen: The 9.7-inch touchscreen Retina-class display is in most respects the same as that on the Air 2: same size, same resolution and pixel density, same sharply responsive multitouch functionality. But it adds a new (and optional) feature called True Tone, designed to subtly adjust the screen’s colour output to account for environmental light conditions. And we do mean subtly – it’s a similar kind of idea to Night Shift, producing a warmer, yellower colour palette under electric lighting, but to a much less noticeable degree. We imagine most users will only be dimly aware that the screen seems to have good colour output without being sure why; we saw a clear difference only by sitting it next to the (non-True Tone) iPad Air 2 in various conditions.
Speed: Thanks to its A9X processor chip, the Pro 9.7 is significantly faster – at least on paper – than the Air 2, and in most tests very nearly as quick as the iPad Pro 12.9 despite having half as much RAM. For the time being you won’t notice much difference between the Pros and Air 2, but the older device is sure to get left behind as more and more processor-intensive apps and games are released with the newest generation of hardware in mind. s
Battery: Early battery testing was also impressive, with the Pro 9.7 lasting, surprisingly, 11hrs 11m in GeekBench 3’s highly demanding benchmark despite having slightly lower battery capacity than the Air 2 (which managed just 7hrs 40m) – although stay tuned for repeat tests. Both devices should last longer than that in general use.
Accessories: Crucially for its credibility as a laptop replacement, the Pro 9.7 has launched alongside a new keyboard case, a 9.7in version of the Smart Keyboard, and like the Pro 12.9 it features a port on its lefthand edge for connecting to and powering this accessory. It’s about as good as an ultraportable keyboard of its size could be, but nowhere near as accurate to type on as a conventional keyboard (and some way behind the larger 12.9 version of the Smart Keyboard, too). It does a job, but you’ll need to rely on either a solid autocorrect (like the one in Pages), frequent manual corrections, or just lots of practice.
You can also now use the Apple Pencil stylus, which is pretty wonderful, but expensive.
UK pricing: The Pro 9.7in starts at £499 in the UK, with prices rising to £839 for the 256GB cellular model. You’re paying a premium, then, and many Apple fans will baulk at the asking price. But we think there are enough enhancements here to justify it, and business users – if they can live with the smaller and harder-to-use keyboard attachment – will get a lot out of this device. It’s still a cool £180 cheaper than the Pro 12.9, remember, and that device doesn’t get the True Tone display or most of the camera upgrades.
That’s the summary of our iPad Pro 9.7 review, but let’s look again at each of those areas in more detail – before finally giving our definitive verdict.
Playing Hover Junkers makes for a pitiful scene: me, alone in my office, crawling around on the carpet, pretending to fire an invisible revolver like I’ve seen in the movies. I fire from the hip, behind my back, with the gun turned sideways (damn, so cool), blind over cover, crouching and bouncing around like Robert Redford’s Sundance Kid—all the stupid things I can think of short of Max Payne-style leaps that’d end in a concussion. Just from watching me in the other room my dog has probably sprouted the legal intelligence required to look into emancipation forms.
But she poops on the carpet so who cares what she thinks: Hover Junkers is so fun I’d have hopped around all night were I in better shape. It’s the best VR game I’ve played yet: a multiplayer shooter that keeps it simple but doesn’t feel like a proof-of-concept demo, and couldn’t exist without the HTC Vive.
It is simple, though: there are two guns, a basic loot system (just junk to use as cover), two modes (free-for-all and team deathmatch), up to eight players per match (six is default), unlimited ammo, and no frilly progression system or classes. Just moving, reloading, and shooting. I’d welcome more, but right now Hover Junkers can get by on just that, because even reloading is fantastic fun.
Can I move?
First off, though, a VR shooter needs some practical solutions, movement being the trickiest. With the HTC Vive set up for room scale in my office, I only have a space of about six-by-six feet in which I can realistically walk around without knocking over my plant. If this were the map, we’d all be standing inside each other (and we actually are in the cozy lobby, where bodyless hands float around throwing ketchup bottles at an exasperated robot bartender). A lot of games are solving this with teleportation—you magically hop from point to point, then walk around small areas—but Hover Junkers just went and gave us moving floors: the titular levitating junk barges. It works brilliantly.
Standing on the deck of my junker (there are a bunch of different sizes, so you can play even if you only have a small space to stand), I use the Vive controller in my left hand to pilot, pointing it in the direction I want to go and holding the trigger to putt along smoothly like I’m on a giant Segway. I forget I’m even doing it after a while, and the junker stays stable, so I never feel seasick. In fact I didn’t notice any motion sickness at all, though I’ve got a pretty strong stomach, so your vestibular systems may react differently.
With my left hand piloting, the controller in my right hand is my gun, and that can be switched up for left-handed players, or I could stop piloting altogether and dual-wield. The rest of the movement is me tumbling around my deck, hiding behind hardpoints, looking for shots as I gently collide with other junkers while their pilots likewise crouch and dodge and shoot back at me. In team deathmatch (which the small playerbase never seems to want to play), you can also choose to spawn on a teammate’s junker, which is great fun so long as they’ve chosen a deck big enough to keep you from clipping through each other constantly. VOIP is built in, but one teammate and I took to communicating non-verbally, giving thumbs up when we were ready, instinctively switching firing positions while the other reloaded. It was thrilling and I felt truly upset when my missed shots directly lead to the avatar in front of me crumpling to the floorboards.
VR AND PERFORMANCE NOTES
Hover Junkers ran well on my system (Core i5-3570, 8GB RAM, GTX Titan), maintaining a healthy framerate for VR and causing me no motion sickness. It did occasionally hang, the world halting in front of me, which is jarring and uncomfortable, but that was mostly when I was fiddling with screen capture solutions. There are a few bugs, as well, though I’m not sure which to attribute to the Vive and which to the game. Once, for instance, the floor leaped above my head, and I had to reboot the headset to fix it.
As this isn’t a review of the Vive itself, I won’t get into any deep criticism of the headset. I love using it, but it’s still early days in the development of VR, so we’re putting up with glitches and limitations such as a relatively low resolution, and that does affect game design. It’s important to note, though, that the screenshots you see here are poor reproductions of the real experience: you’re either seeing a small portion of my vision, or a flat representation of both eyes, and neither capture what it’s like to duck and lean around cover, or aim down the sights of a revolver.
Movement solved, we’re left with shooting and reloading. Here’s something I’ve never said about another shooter: reloading is more fun than shooting. The reloading is great! For the revolver, a press on the Vive controller’s trackpad flips open the cylinder. Circling the pad with my thumb plugs in bullets— thwap thwap thwap thwap—and then I flick my wrist to slam it shut. It’s not the one-to-one reality merge of further-off VR tech, but my mind happily accepts the idea that I’m holding a gun anyway. I give my revolver credit for more weight than the controller in my hand actually has, flicking it hard to make sure the cylinder locks in.
The break-action shotgun isn’t quite as fun (press the trackpad to eject the shells, then again three times to load it, then snap it to close), but both are cartoonishly convincing and put reloading at the center of combat. I have to remember how many shots I’ve taken because there’s no counter on the screen, and I can’t just hit a button to reload after every bullet I spend. I have to hunch down to the floor to stay in cover, then mindfully go through the actions. It’s becoming second nature as I play more, but never mindless, and always satisfying when I demonstrate my skill to myself with a quick reload.
It also feels ridiculously cool to stand up in the middle of a fight, smoothly dump my empties and fill the cylinder, then immediately squeeze off a headshot. I only did something as badass as that once, making the lack of a replay system a small disappointment.
It feels ridiculously cool to stand up in the middle of a fight, smoothly dump my empties and fill the cylinder, then immediately squeeze off a headshot.
The shooting itself is a little disappointing, too. The guns are fun as stand-alone toys, for sure: the revolver fires straight out of a lowset barrel, striking near where my iron sights point. Firing without the sights scatters bullets in a wider radius, and it’s delightful to know that this isn’t just because of some bullet spread variable but also my own shoddy aim. The shotgun is tricky, too, with a loose spread that I tend to fire crooked. What’s bothersome is a technical limitation: the Vive’s resolution is too low for much practical distance work.
I can hit targets in the shooting range just fine, but the three available character models don’t stand out among the grayish pixels of the junkers and the dullness of most maps, so real engagements are usually at short-range, peeking at each other through gaps in our hulls. I’ve gotten a couple kills from 20-or-so yards, but I might chalk that up to luck more than me being a deadeye. And hitting a moving target—if someone decides to retreat with their junker, for instance—is hard as hell, which is probably because doing it with a real gun would also be hard as hell. It can be a little exasperating when players run away instead of engaging, neither of us able to hit each other.
It’s also a drag to have only two guns. I’m dying to know what a scoped weapon looks like in VR, or how two-handed rifles in general might work. The good news is that more is coming—Hover Junker’s robot guy (voiced by Rick and Morty’s Justin Roiland, if you thought the tone might be serious) specifically teases scoped weapons, and a couple of guns appear in the menu as ‘coming soon’—but right now the overall simplicity and lack of variety does dampen Hover Junker’s long-term appeal. My rounds and kills are never spectacularly different: I glide toward a traffic jam, shoot someone in the back, then scramble around while more join the fray. As a contrasting example, I feel like I could play Rocket League forever because each match and goal has a different story, with multiple plays chained together, bounces, passes, finesse, my teammates and opponents all factors in punting the ball past the goalkeeper. There’s not a whole lot to say when recapping a messy firefight (well, we both shot at each other a whole lot!), and Hover Junkers doesn’t offer much pomp and circumstance when I score a kill, casually exploding the vacant ship.
But even though matches feel samey, they’re great fun in the short term: a giddy merging of make-believe play and game rules, where score is kept but winning isn’t as important as the inherent joy of playing ultraviolent peekaboo, rolling around on my carpet like an idiot. Sometimes I even add my own recoil in, pulling my arm back as if there were actually force to my shots. I bounce around more dramatically than I need to, and pretend I can’t just put my arm through the hunks of metal I’m hiding behind.
It makes me feel like I’m an actor in that ridiculous Hot Pockets VR commercialand having just as much fun as those kids are pretending to (except without the disgusting breadbags of hot goop they love so much). With the currently limited selection of VR games, if you own a Vive and want to use it and have fun, I heartily recommend Hover Junkers. It’s not highly populated right now, but I’ve never had trouble finding a few other kids to play pretend gunfight with.
If you want access to the media sitting on your PC or Mac, on your iPhone or iPad, then the Plex solution is a rather neat one you can use.
PLEX FOR IOS RATING 70100
If you want access to the media sitting on your PC or Mac, on your iPhone or iPad, then the Plex solution is a rather neat one you can use. The client on the desktop is simple enough to configure, and once you point it to the media folders, you get all that on your iPad via Wi-Fi. Yes, it will work on 3G as well, once you have signed up for the MyPlex service. Streaming quality is very good, and it doesn’t throw any tantrums with regards to which video formats it handles. Encoding done on the fly, when needed, and even 1080p videos stream perfectly. Desktop client can act a bit weird at times though, when it comes to categorizing media. But that is just a small issue, because as a whole, things work well.
Simple to set up
iOS app immediately detects new content from PC
Smooth stutter free streaming
Handles wide variety of video formats
Music streaming via iTunes is a huge bonus
Desktop software (Windows) is a bit clunky
Streaming on 3G will result in a great data bill
Plex for iOS: Detailed Review
For all its positives, Apple’s iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad have frustrated users by equal measure, thanks to their insistence at only playing back limited video formats natively. For anyone who has a whole collection of videos in various formats that iDevices refuse to accept, it will be a major pain to convert them all first and then play back. But that is not the only reason why solutions like Plex are needed.
The App: How it works
Apart from the ability to play back almost every video format, Plex also gives you the convenience of accessing the entire video and music library that sits on your PC, on your iPhone or iPad, without having to bother with transferring the content to the device. Limited storage on the device, the effort of deleting old stuff to prevent memory overload or the effort of syncing new files won’t be of consideration anymore.
The app set up is two pronged. You need to download the desktop client, available for both Windows and Mac. Thus client is free to download. Then, you need to download the Plex app on the iOS device you want to configure. Both devices need to be on the same Wi-Fi network, needless to specify. Once you have installed and gone through the initial setup on the desktop, tap refresh on the iDevice app’s interface and the desktop client will be detected. Now, whatever changes you make – adding media, modifying media details etc. – will be immediately reflected on the iDevice.
How we tested: To the core!
To get the best possible experience, we are testing this app on an iPad, because the bigger screen makes it simpler to understand the UI and see how good the media streaming quality is. To see how good the streaming quality is, in the event the router isn’t the best, we were using the Beetel 450 TC1 wireless “G” router. This is a fairly limited in-between device, and usually, it can only handle SD content streaming from the PC to the WD Live or the PlayStation 3. The idea is to find how low the set up can go, till the service works. It is a given that streaming will work brilliantly on a good quality Wireless “N” router, but then again, not everyone has that kind of set up available.
The Interface: Neat, and it works
This application, as a package, has two aspects. One is the desktop client, either on your PC or Mac. The second is the app that sits on your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.
We will take a look at the desktop client first. We were using a Windows laptop for this review (mere mortals, you see!), and the one being pictured here is the Windows desktop client. The interface on the desktop version is very neat. You get to sign up the first time, and then proceed to add sections of content based on the genre you wish – Movies, TV, Music, Photos or videos that you may have recorded under the section “Home Videos”. Fairly well segregated content, and we appreciate the simplicity and convenience it potentially offers – particularly when the library becomes big over time. You can add more than one folder under a particular content genre, and that is again very useful if you happen to have content spread across partitions on your hard drive and an external drive.
Once you are done with pointing Plex to where your content sits, you head to the home screen of the app – this is the screen that you will start with from now on, since you are always signed in. At the beginning are big icons for the Library categories. Below that are the recently added videos, irrespective of the genre they may be falling in.
The movies are listed with their cover art, and clicking on them takes you to the details page, all of which have been automatically downloaded. The TV shows get listed by each episode, complete with a thumbnail image and the summary.
Now shifting to the app on the iPad, and the similarity of the interface is very similar. You have the similar sections as the desktop version, with the real addition being streaming channels that you can add. All the information that is visible, per piece of content, will also be visible on the iPad.
Getting content set up on the desktop is a fairly simple task. After pointing the client to all the folders that house the relevant media content, the app usually automatically refreshes the view to show the new stuff. This is very neat and helpful, particularly for if you are handling a lot of different TV series’ and their episodes. However, we did notice that a couple of times, that didn’t happen. Helpfully, there is that refresh option on the top right. While most content was segregated properly, we did notice that there was a consistency issue with the movies section. Of the four movies that we added, three showed up immediately under the correct genre cluster. However, the Last Passenger refused to be categorized under Movies. While Plex itself scraped all the movie data (plot summary, cover art and fan art), it still didn’t categorize that particular file in the movies section. That was a tad weird, and no matter that we removed that movie and added it again, it still refused to be categorized properly.
Apart from this niggle, setting this up and getting it to work was a breeze. The moment new content is added on the desktop version, the iDevice will immediately refresh as well. There are two ways of playing back stuff on the iPad – either you direct the desktop software to play the video on the connected Apple device, or you can select from the device itself. Both ways, the video starts after a 3 second wait. And the playback is very smooth. We tried a lot of different videos – SD content, 720p MKV, 720p MP4, 1080P MKV and 1080P MP4, and all played back without any issues. The Plex desktop software will recode the videos on the fly, so smoothly that you won’t even realize when that is being done.
As we had mentioned earlier, we were using a router with rather limited capability, and it was a surprise to see how well the streaming worked on that. Even skipping through the timeline of a traditionally big 1080p MKV video didn’t induce any stutter, only a 2 second wait before the video began without any skipping or audio video mismatch.
Incidentally, this is the same router that is hardly able to handle media streaming of any kind – between PC and PC to WD Live.
This is a rather simple app that you can get for yourself, and enjoy all the media that sits on your PC, anywhere in your home, on your iPad, iPhone or the iPod Touch. No risk of running out of space on the device, or having to sync data to and from the iDevices every time you fancy watching something new. The desktop client is free, and we believe the money you spend on the iOS version is totally worth it.
Price: Rs. 270
Publisher: Plex Inc.
Compatibility: iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 5.1 or later. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.
Probably the best thing for all users who wished to switch platforms, but the BBM friends list held them back. BBM is a great IM client for all iPhone users irrespective of whether they’ve used it before or not.
BBM FOR IPHONE RATING 90100
Not a revolutionary messenger app by any means, but in an ecosystem filled with messenger clients, it comes across as one of the slickest options. This probably is the best thing that could happen to all users who wished to switch platforms, but the BBM friends list held them back. Equally, the friendships can be rekindled with those who stayed back, while you moved on to an Android smartphone or an iPhone. Initial issues remain, but the BBM client on the iPhone is very similar to what we saw on the BlackBerry Z10 – which means functionality and usability will be a breeze. You cannot download BBM right now on iOS and Android due to various issues, but the moment it becomes available again, we would urge you to give it a shot.
Messenger is no longer restricted to a BlackBerry smartphone
Message delivery over 3G is a tad quicker than on Whatsapp and iMessage
Feature set at par with Whatsapp
Stock iOS keyboard behaves differently when auto-correcting
Needs voice & video calls to get an advantage over rivals
BBM for iPhone: Detailed Review
The skeptics have said that the multi-platform version of the BlackBerry Messenger is arriving too late. However, the fact that 1.1 million Android users were ready and waiting, and in fact lapped up the leaked .apk that led to the series of unfortunate events, proved the “experts” wrong. In mobile ecosystems so full of IM clients anyway, the fact that BBM is getting so much attention on iOS and Android just proves – more is better! In this write-up, we specifically look at the iOS version of the BlackBerry Messenger.
Setting it up
While the going was good, I managed to download the BBM from the Apple App Store. Before this, I was using BBM on a BlackBerry 10 smartphone, and already had a BB ID and password ready, with an active BBM account. Post download and install, all I needed to do was sign-in with the same ID and password. The prompt informed me that the ID was already linked to another phone. The options available here were – Cancel (and register / sign in with another ID) or continue with the Switch BBM option from the existing device to the new device, the iPhone in this case. I selected the latter, and the sign in process took exactly a minute. All existing contacts were shifted over without any hassle, which is rather neat.
If you need to invite more people to try out BBM, you can do so via email and SMS, and more users can be added to your friend list by either punching in their messenger PIN or by scanning the barcode.
The User Interface
For anyone who hasn’t experienced BlackBerry 10 as an OS, or used BBM on it, this UI is something that you need to get used to. While it looks fairly standard for the most part, the side swipes throughout the app add a different realm of access and functionality. A tab on the bottom of the screen lets you navigate between chats, contacts and groups. Your BBM profiles can be accessed via the bar on the top of the screen, where the profile picture and the status update sit.
Throughout the app more options can be accessed from the left and right-hand side menus, that can be pulled out and pushed away. These offer fairly basic options at the moment, but with voice and video calls as well as screen sharing on the way, these options should show up here soon enough.
The app has enough visual elements to keep you interested, with the mix of black, sky blue and white contrasting well. The contacts list can either be a list with small contact images, or thumbnails with the highlight being the images your contacts have set as profile pictures. There’s no quick toggle to change this, and you need to go into the full settings menu to change that.
Chats – Individual and group
The text based chat experience is exactly as you would expect – same method of starting a chat, and individual chat windows for each contact. The on-screen keyboard on the iPhone is the conventional keyboard seen across all apps, including iMessage. The options bar above the keyboard and below the chat window offer stuff like adding more contacts to a particular chat, attaching a photo or a voice note and using the send key there rather than the one on the keyboard.
Like almost every other messenger app, BBM also offers the group chat option. Incidentally, the only way to add people to the group is via their PIN or barcode, but not by an invite via email or SMS. The groups I had on BBM on the BlackBerry smartphone were carried forward as is, but you need to manually reactivate your presence on each group on the new device.
There’s no video or voice call support at the moment, but that is slated to arrive in a future update. Message delivery, inside a chat, is almost realtime. BBM for iPhone utilizes the background data option, which Whatsapp cannot, for example.
Yes, the most important question – what about them smileys? Yes, they are very much there, just like on BBM as ever. Facebook Messenger users would probably miss the stickers option.
While the on-screen keyboard within BBM is the stock iOS one, there is a major behavioral difference. If the auto spell-check corrects a word, you need to tap the space key twice to get the desired result and proceed to typing another word. This is somewhat reminiscent of the BB10 keyboard, but fairly disconcerting for iPhone users. Maybe an update can solve this, and maybe also bring the word recommendations from BB10’s keyboard.
Download or not?
Absolutely, download the moment BBM reemerges on the Apple App Store (and the Google Play Store, depending on the device). Among the dozens of instant messaging apps, BBM does retain its sophistication, and offers one of the most non-intrusive chat experiences. On my phone, BBM, at the moment, sits side by side with Whatsapp. Let’s see if one can replace the other, or both can exist side by side.