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Tech Review: Classic party games get updates with apps

The Charades! app is free on iOS and

The Charades! app is free on iOS and Android. Photo Credit: Google Play

As winter's icy grip continues its hold on Long Island, outdoor fun is only for the hearty. These party games can help combat cabin fever by keeping family and friends entertained while they wait out the winter in the cozy comfort of their living room.

Charades!

(iOS, Android; free)

The classic party game gets an electronic makeover with this app that will keep you hopping. A player puts the phone to his or her forehead, where a word or title is displayed. Team members yell out hints or are prompted to physically act out clues. Cards are in decks grouped by several themes, including trivia, TV shows and dance moves. There are several apps using the name "Charades," but the one tested here is from developer FatChicken Studios.

Heads Up

(iOS, $0.99; Android, free)

A spruced-up alternative to the standard charades game, Heads Up got a big boost from Ellen DeGeneres, who plays the game with guests on her TV talk show. Heads Up plays similarly to the Charades! app -- players hold their phones to their foreheads while it displays a card from a deck, prompting others in the room to yell out clues. Several decks are included, and others are available as in-app purchases.

Truth or Dare

(iOS, Android; free)

Want some information about your friends? This version of the classic party game from developer Tiggel will probably give you a little too much information. Players can answer potentially embarrassing questions or opt to act out a "dare," which may prove to be even more embarrassing. There are several game modes, including one that is safe for kids and one that has challenges that, truthfully, we dare not describe.

Party Doodles

(iPad, free)

This iPad-only game is fun for those who have artistic ability, and even more fun for those who have none. Players pick an object from a deck of included cards, and doodle it on a virtual chalkboard while members of their team try to guess what it is. For those with an Apple TV box, the game can be cast to your big-screen television. Additional packs of cards are available for an in-app purchase of 99-cents each.

 

Tech bytes

 

Facebook adds Amber alerts

Facebook has begun sending Amber Alerts to members, hoping its enormous user base can help find missing children. The alerts are localized, with the target area determined by law enforcement, so not all users see all alerts. The alerts appear in a member's news feed, but Facebook says when one is sent it will not trigger notifications on a person's phone. -- PETER KING

Bon voyage

Planning an international trip? Google has added features to its Translate app (iOS, Android; free) that can make the journey easier. Users focus their smartphone's camera on a sign or text, and the words are instantly translated on the screen. Only French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish to English translations are supported, but Google says the feature will expand to other languages. -- PETER KING

Swift growth, without Swift

Spotify added 2.5 million subscribers in the last two months of 2014 to reach 15 million subscribers overall, the music streaming app said. Pop star Taylor Swift pulled her music from Spotify in November, expressing concerns that the service harmed the value of music, but that didn't slow Spotify's growth. The service has 60 million active users. Spotify had 24 million active users and 6 million subscribers in December 2013. -- Los Angeles Times

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