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Social trivia that keeps you coming back

QuizUp (Android | iOS) is a trivia game that tests your knowledge of TV show quotes, world geography, cooking, and hundreds other topics (433 to be exact, according to the developers). You can challenge random strangers, or go head to head with your Facebook or Google+ friends to earn more points and level up.

With an overwhelming number of topics, you’re bound to find at least one that you can conquer, whether it’s grammar and spelling or baseball and Disney movies. While it’s much easier to battle against strangers, it’s far more rewarding to challenge your friends, obliterate them in the “Name the Pop Star” category, and brag about it endlessly. But maybe that’s just me.

Get social
Since this is a social trivia game, the easiest way to get started is to sign in with either your Facebook or Google+ accounts. One downside to this is that you need to have the Facebook app installed on your phone to use your account to login, you can’t just enter your credentials in the app. It’s easier to sign with your Google account, since you can use whichever account is tied to your phone. Once you’re signed in, the game will find your friends who also play QuizUp.

If you don’t want to tap into your social networks, there’s an option to sign up with a email address too, but that makes it harder to find other friends who use the app to challenge, because you haveto manually connect with them.

Design
One of my favorite parts about QuizUp is its design. It’s clean, colorful, and mostly easy to get around. The main screen has groups of trivia categories, each with bright backgrounds.

When you start a new game, you see your social media profile picture and cover art, which are pulled from either Facebook or Google+, if you connect those accounts. That’s a nice touch that makes the app feel polished. There are also other small design touches throughout the game, including fun achievement badges, funky animal-themed avatars, and animations.

 QuizUp shows new themed trivia topics on the home screen each day (left). You can also keep track of how you’re friends are doing in the game (right).Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Get online
Like many social games, such as Words with Friends or Draw Something, you need to be online to play QuizUp. That’s because you need a connection to play in real time against other players.

However, the app won’t even open if you’re offline, which is disappointing. That means you cannot view your high scores or browse topics without a data signal or Wi-Fi. There’s also no way to play against a computer. And, if you have connection problems during a game (say if you’re commuting on the train and lose your signal for a few seconds) the app can get stuck or force you surrender a match accidentally. More than once during the game, either I or my opponent had connection problems and the app froze.

Test your trivia knowledge
When you do have a connection, you can pick from hundreds of trivia topics to play. The main screen shows your favorite topics (those you’ve play the most), plus that day’s themed topics, such as “TV Tuesday” or “Middle Earth” for some J.R.R. Tolkien-themed trivia. Though popular categories are updated frequently, but I would often get the same question over and over, which made the game feel stale. What’s worse is you need to replay the same categories to reach higher levels and earn achievements, so you’re bound to encounter the same question at least once or twice.

For each topic, there are two game modes. You can either choose to “Play now” and be matched with another player you don’t know, or you can challenge one of your friends. If you choose to get matched, the app will take a few seconds to find you a challenger. I’ve played against people from all over the world, from Saudi Arabia to Finland.

If you challenge a friend, they’ll get a notification that you want to play. What’s nice is that you get the option to play on your own now and your friend can play against your answers later, whenever they want. Once they finish the game, you’ll be notified of the outcome — whether you were victorious or not.

You’ll get six rounds of multiple choice questions, and some even include images, such as for the brand logo or celebrity categories. You have 10 seconds to answer the question, and the faster you respond, the more points you earn. That adds another layer of difficulty to the game, because you only get a few seconds to read the question before the answer choices appear and the countdown begins. If the other person knows the answer, you run the risk of not buzzing in fast enough and missing out on a few points, which could mean the difference between winning and losing.

If you tap the right answer, your points counter on the side of the screen will flash green and start to fill up. You can see your total points at the top of the screen, next to your name and profile picture. Tap the wrong answer and the counter flashes red. After both contestants have buzzed in, you can see which answer your opponent chose.

Each game has six rounds of multiple choice questions. At the end of the match, you see a summary of the points you earned.Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

The last question is a bonus round that gives you twice as many points and can help save you if you’ve fallen behind. After the match is over, there’s a summary screen that shows how many total points you earned, including bonuses for winning, completely the match and more. Even if you lose the game, you’ll still earn points, which help you level up in that topic. However, it’s not clear what your level actually means in the game.

Scroll down on that screen to view every question in the match, plus stats on your and your opponent’s performance. You can also report a question if you think the answer is wrong.

At anytime during a game, your opponent can surrender. If they do, you still earn points and can level up. Unfortunately, you can never pause a game once it starts, so if you can’t continue to play, your only option is to surrender, which means your opponent will earn points, but you won’t.

Extras and upgrades
There are many more extra features in QuizUp than I can’t detail here. Casual players only need to worry about the trivia categories, but if you want to dive deeper, it’s worth exploring the discussions for each topic, player rankings, achievements and statistics on each match, and your overall performance.

QuizUp is free, but there are in-app purchases that help you gain more points so you can level up quicker. Thankfully, these are hidden away in the store menu, instead of constantly bombarding you while you play the game. They’ll cost you between $2.50 and $7.50 to boost your points.

Conclusion
QuizUp is a beautifully-designed social quiz game that takes your seemingly useless knowledge about “Breaking Bad” characters or Asian geography and makes it, well, useful, so that you can challenge strangers and friends for bragging rights.

The game also has a great design and enough categories so that you keep coming back to play more and more rounds. Despite the fact that there’s no way to play offline, QuizUp is a fun pub-style trivia game that can easily keep you entertained for a few hours.

About the author / 

Jane Gonzales

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