I blame Brian. There I was, happily spending smoko chatting and sipping my coffee and he was jotting numbers down into these boxes in the morning paper. I became quite curious as to what he was doing. Sudoku he said. What is that I said? You know how it goes. In short I was addicted.
I tried a number of sudoku games on the iPhone and some where better than others. It is not an easy game to get right on such a device and a lot depends on how the number input is implemented. It also depends on the puzzle sourcing. Many have inbuilt pre-defined puzzles while others auto generate puzzles. The difficulty varies as well. Very easy on one version may be medium on another.
Sudoku Grab has excellent numeric input, is easy to see to those with dimming eyes and has all of the hint and auto solving options that one would want. All of this is well implemented but what makes Sudoku Grab different from other sudoku games is the sourcing of the puzzles. With Sudoku Grb you take a picture of the puzzle, and the game uses optical character recognition to generate a sudoku from the picture. So you can buy puzzle books from book shops or newsagents or do as I do and source them from your local paper.
My cafe has three papers every morning which contain four unique puzzles so I get four puzzles of varying difficulty every day.
To input a puzzle you start up the app and select Grab a Puzzle which will take a picture or allow you to select from your Camera Roll. Once you have you image select Use and it then marks out the puzzle area. You have an opportunity to alter the selected area but it usually selects the area correctly. Once complete select done and it does its OCR business and places numbers where it thinks they should be. You may then correct these numbers. If the puzzle is unsolvable the numbers are all red and you can select individual numbers and change them using the digits at the bottom of the screen. Once the puzzle is correct the done button appears and you can then solve the puzzle, sent it to a friend via email or any of a number of other options. Once you friend recieves the puzzle in their email (on their iPhone of course) they select the embedded link and the puzzle opens up in Sodoku Grab and automatically saves to their puzzles and attaches the tags it was sent with. They can then go on to solve the puzzle there and then or save it for later. There is a small bug in the tag name in that spaces appear as 20% but this is only cosmetic.
The actual mechanism used to enter hints or numbers is quite good. Select a cell and either select the hint or enter button at the bottom (hints can be various colours) and select the number. Hints appear as small numbers spaced around the small squares, 1 at the top right through to 9 in the bottom left. Once you enter your guess the number will appear red and vibrate the phone if the number is incorrect. If the number is correct then it will be blue. Hints can be turned off of course.
Overall the program is easy to use and the mechanism for entering puzzles via the camera is easy to use. The accuracy on the iPhone 3GS is better than on the 3G due to the better camera and the better the light the better the accuracy as well although I have taken puzzles under poor incandescent light on the 3GS and had few problems although it is more finicky under these conditions.
Once the recipient of the emailed puzzle receives the puzzle on their iPhone they can click the link in the email and the puzzle opens up in Sodoku Grab and automatically saves to their puzzles and attaches the tags it was sent with. Of course the recipient must have Sudoku Grab installed. They can then go on to solve the puzzle there and then or save it for later. Puzzles sent from the old version of Sudoku Grab do not have the tags attached. There is a small bug in the tag name in that spaces appear as %20 but this is only cosmetic.
If I am stuck for a Sudoku fix and I have run our of captured puzzles then I open another free Sudoku app with a puzzle generator, start a puzzle, do a screen capture and load it in Sudoku Grab. I know, I am a sad individual. What can I say!
This is definitely a five star app. The nice feature of capturing puzzles, ease of input, nice hint system and easy numeric input this has to be one of the best Sudoku puzzle games in the app store. He also has a free lite version, Sudoku Grab Lite that you can try with limited features. He also has what looks to be a nice retro shoot-em-up called Aliens Invade which fans of the genre may want to check out as well. If his UI skills with Sudoku Grab are any indication it may well be woth a look.
My Rating, five stars.