Who doesn't love puppies? Nobody, that's who! That's why Cleaversoft LLC, the makers of the popular iPhone app "BeardWars," decided to transplant its successful formula for comparing and voting photos from beards to baby dogs. The result is "PuppyWars," a free game for iPhone, iPod Touch and the iPad, where dog lovers can finally answer the age-old question: Who has the cuter puppy?
Since it was released on May 2, PuppyWars has attracted more than 8,000 iOS users that have waged nearly 5,000 puppy wars with roughly 9,000 puppy pictures. Cleaversoft LLC is working hard on the next version of PuppyWars, where users will be able to take 20-second video clips out to battle.
"I really think it'll raise the bar on cuteness," said Rich Siegel, the project lead on PuppyWars.
Siegel said he was partially inspired by the addictive gameplay of his first game "BeardWars," but he also noticed that there was no "great" app centered around man's best friend.
"We saw other dog apps out there and wanted to blow them out of the water," Siegel said. "I think we have the best app for dog lovers on the App Store now."
Siegel built PuppyWars with the help of Mark Allen and Mark Spence of Transmogrify, who both wrote iOS code and the backend database, and Paul Davey, a.k.a. "Mattahan," who hand drew every UI element in PuppyWars.
"I've been following Paul Davey for 10 years," Siegel said. "His work on the Internet is unbelievable. After he made the icon for BeardWars I asked him if he'd like to paint all of PuppyWars. The Mark's [both] work for a local software group called Transmogrify and had worked with me on BeardWars, and so were a natural fit to continue on PuppyWars."
Besides its beautiful and simple design, the main reason PuppyWars is successful is it appeals to both dog owners and non-owners alike: Owners can snap photos of their puppies and upload them to PuppyWars to challenge other users' dogs, or they can simply make a slideshow out of their puppy pics. Non-owners can also get involved: By rotating the iPhone or iPad sideways, anyone can vote on user-uploaded puppy pics in a side-to-side match-up of canine cuteness. The puppy with the most votes is crowned the victor after three long days of adorable battling.
For uploading and voting on photos, users receive "bones" as a form of game currency, which allows them to wager on their puppies in battle. Users can buy extra bones within the app, and 5 percent of all Bones purchases go directly to the ASPCA.
"People are already taking pictures of their dogs on their iPhone and iPads, so I really think [PuppyWars] is the next logical step," Siegel said. "It's basically a social network built around dogs, featuring users' dogs."
But PuppyWars isn't just a game: It's a real service. One of the best elements of PuppyWars is the "Adopt A Puppy" feature, which lets users see dogs in their area that are up for adoption. The app has a dropdown menu that allows users to sort out the list of nearby dogs by breed, and users need only tap on the dog's picture to learn more information about the puppy, including its gender, age, size, location, behavior background and history.
The "Adopt a Puppy" feature is working beautifully: In just 12 days, PuppyWars saw more than 200 adoption inquiries to shelters as either e-mails or calls, a testament to how well the app works for non-dog owners.
"Getting everything to work just right, and smoothly, and getting every piece of art pixel perfect was certainly a challenge," Siegel said.
Siegel admits that he himself doesn't have a puppy -- his wife wants a Rottweiler, while he wants an American Eskimo mix that "looks like a Dire Wolf" -- but that doesn't stop him from playing his own game. Who knows? Maybe he'll participate in his growing "Adopt a Puppy" feature.
"If I had a puppy I certainly would be taking it to battle," Siegel said. "My friends have puppies that I already am battling with. My username is Puppy Master if anyone wants a challenge."
Siegel has every right to call himself the Puppy Master: PuppyWars is easily the best app -- for and about puppies -- on the iOS market. It works because it's not only smart and filled with features, but it's laid out in a simple and user-friendly way. Just rotate your iPhone or iPad to start comparing adorable puppies.
But PuppyWars is much more than a simple puppy app: It lets users feel like they're part of a greater cause. Besides sifting the cute puppies from those not-so-cute (for science, of course), users can build up bones for voting and even adopt puppies, which could be a standalone app by itself. Given the fact that this game is free, there is absolutely no reason you should not download PuppyWars right now.
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