iPhone 5 to debut Oct. 4

After being the subject of whispers, rumors and speculation for months, it appears the iPhone 5 is finally ready to make its debut.

Apple has confirmed plans for a press event at its Cupertino, Calif. Headquarters on Oct. 4, where it’s expected to unveil the next iteration of its popular smartphone.

Read more at Variety’s Technotainment blog

App review: Dead Space for iPad

Dead Space for iPad isn’t a game for everybody – and certainly isn’t one for children – but as a survival horror game, it’s masterfully done. Rather than retelling a tale from an older game in the series (or cramming the plot of the just-released Dead Space 2, which this is meant to promote, into an app), this is a completely new adventure. The story is a fun ride for those who have the stomach for the gore — well-paced and packed with jump-out-of-your-seat moments. The game is best played with headphones, instead of the iPhone or iPad’s speaker, as they make it a much more immersive experience. Graphically, Dead Space is superb and it’s one of the few iDevice titles that really feels like a console experience.

Read more at Common Sense Media

App Review: Scene It? Harry Potter HD

Even if you’ve seen all of the Harry Potter films and have a good knowledge of the series’ mythology, you’re bound to stumble across some head-scratchers in Scene It? Harry Potter HD. The app is a fun trivia challenge that will likely make you want to watch the films or read the books again and illustrates just how vibrant and rich a world J. K. Rowling has created. The use of local multiplayer is a fun one, as playing in the same room increases the intensity of playing against someone (versus an anonymous online interaction). The app’s in-your-face marketing of other products, though, along with occasional lock-up problems during film clips detracts from the fun — and starts to make the $4.99 price tag seem a bit high.

Read more at Common Sense Media

App Review: Over the Line?

As parents, we hope that our kids will come to us when they’re facing tough situations. But as kids get older, that doesn’t always happen. In an era of digital harrassment and sexting, kids are often too embarrassed or ashamed to talk to their parents. Over the Line? is a useful tool for them to learn that they’re not alone and to learn what others are going through. Beyond the community aspects, which are carefully monitored, it also offers straightforward information and resources to help kids in trouble. It’s not ideal, but if nothing else, it lets kids talk about their fears and situations that embarrass them in an inviting, anonymous forum.

Read more at Common Sense Media

App Review: Talking Rex the Dinosaur

There’s really nothing in Talking Rex the Dinosaur that Outfit7 hasn’t done in any of its six other “Talking Friends” apps. The main purpose of the series is for an animated on-screen character to repeat what you say to it in an altered voice. It’s a fun diversion, with a few features thrown in on the side — like feeding your dino a steak or playing a bit of catch with it — but it’s a one-trick pony that eventually does get old (generally much faster for adults than for kids). Still, the fierce T. Rex is bound to catch the eye of young dinosaur enthusiasts. The intensity of the animations might be a bit too much for the very young ones, though.

Read more at Common Sense Media

App Review: Jack and the Beanstalk 3D

Jack and the Beanstalk 3D is a fresh take on a classic children’s tale, with bells and whistles aplenty. And what it does, it does quite well. The animations are beautiful. The control given to users over how fast or slow those animations run is engaging. And the background music, from Richard M. Sherman (composer of “It’s a Small World”), is charming. We only wish that the story itself was given a little more prominence and the learning potential of the app was better exploited.

Read more at Common Sense Media

App review: Pecos Bill

The tall tales of Pecos Bill are entertaining enough without augmentation, but when you blend in Robin Williams’ enthusiastic telling of the story (with his inevitable bits of improv), good looking artwork, and the ability to customize the experience, it’s a perfect storm — and makes for one of the better video adaptations of a classic book in the app store. The Pecos Bill app can be enjoyed by both kids and parents, offering a good blend of education and entertainment. The price is, admittedly, higher than most, but this app comes with a fully animated movie rendition of the story, which is magical enough app that you won’t regret spending the money.

Read more at Common Sense Media

App review: The Velveteen Rabbit

The Velveteen Rabbit is a timeless story of the power of love, and this app does a wonderful job showcasing that to young readers and viewers. The artwork is soft and fits the story wonderfully, and Meryl Streep does a good job narrating the story. The app is priced a bit high, especially considering the lack of any real interactivity, but the classic story has the potential to engage and captivate children.

Read more at Common Sense Media

App review: iMut8r

iMut8r is an app that blends the creative and creepy to great effect. It’s certainly too intense for young kids, but for older teens and adults, there’s great fun to be had in transforming yourself or a friend into a ghoul or werewolf. Figuring out the steps is easy, even without reading the tutorials and because the effects change your picture so dramatically, it’s not critical to perfectly align your photo with the template. The price is right and the pictures certainly help older users get into the Halloween or horror spirit.

Read more at Common Sense Media

App review: Chuzzle

The team at PopCap Games knows how to make ultra-addictive, truly fun games — and Chuzzle is no exception. What’s ironic about that is the similarities between this and the company’s better-known Bejeweled are numerous (both are, at their heart, match-3 games), but ultimately Chuzzle feels unique. It’s charming, engaging, and very well designed. The game slowly ramps up the difficulty, but at such a methodical pace that it never seems to get too hard. It’s a bit expensive at $2.99 (but still worthwhile); keep an eye out for a bargain, as the game is sometimes discounted.

Read more at Common Sense Media