In this week’s well-protected app round-up:
Good jams, streamed and downloaded!
Tron tanks, embattled!
French fiefdoms, established on the iPhone!
Social media links, elegantly arranged on the iPad!
Hard-hitting NFL games, pocketed on your Android!
And much, much more!
MOG: A new competitor in the subscription-based music streaming arena, MOG sets itself apart by letting you download as many songs as you want directly to your iPhone or Android device for local playback.
It also has a smart single-artist radio feature that lets you skip or repeat songs or see what's queued up. I wrote about the service at length, but basically if you're willing to plunk down $10 a month for a music subscription MOG is definitely worth investigating.
Also available for Android
Tron: With the movie still six months out, Disney has released the o-fficial Tron app, which they'll be continually updating with premium content until the movie hits in December.
For now, it's just a tanks-style game, but it's a damn good one, with some puzzle elements and plenty of neon thrown in for good measure.
The game is basically perfectly suited to make the transition from tabletop to touchscreen. It consists of a bunch of square tiles, each with features of a map on it. Elements include parts of roads, parts of cities and cloisters. You take turns placing the tiles down to create a finished map.
The actual competition comes in while you're making the map, as you're trying to complete various elements without letting your competitors complete theirs. So you're trying to build a big city or long road, while your opponents are trying to keep you from completing it or to hop on board to steal its points for themselves.
The iPhone version is a perfect translation of the game, one that improves upon the original with a solitary mode, very good computer opponents and the ability to see just what tiles are left and what moves are and aren't possible.
You can play either locally or online against friends or strangers, and a game can be banged out in about 10 minutes if you're playing against the computer or speedy opponents. It is incredibly fun.
I heeded his advice and bought the game, and it is indeed very fun.
Plunderland: A beautiful Pirate-themed side scroller with smart game play -- tilt controls, conventional aiming, good physics -- and a cool visual style.
Overall a very fresh experience, and one that's tough not to like. And, c'mon, it's pirates!
Dragon Dictation 2.0: Brian Barrett, who probably SPOKE this instead of TYPED it, because he is lazy, says:
Dragon Dictation has been our favourite speech recognition app for a while, and today's 2.0 update only strengthens that opinion. Not only does it bring the requisite iOS4 compatibility, but you can now speak your tweets and Facebook status updates.
You can also send your dictated words directly to your text messaging client, if you're tired of fumbling around with that on-screen keyboard. Plus, speaking your tweets aloud in a public space might win you a bunch more followers. Or possibly get a slushie thrown in your face. Either way, you're making connections.
Say it with me:
Skype: When Apple announced iOS 4's various flavours of multitasking back in April, two of the most compelling were background music (Pandora) and background VoiP (Skype).
With Skype's new multitask-enabling update, we're two for two! Still no videochat, though.
Risk: Mark, who has never completed a Risk game without at least one ill-fated attempt to conquer Asia, says:
However, those playing on the iPhone and iPod touch will have access to some interesting multiplayer options. Up to 6 players can share one handset to multiplay their way through a game, or up to 4 can join one another over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
But the one, missing feature I'd like to see is online play. No, I don't want to connect to anyone in realtime over the internet, but a slower-paced, push-notification-based style of play could be perfect for killing time through the day-like Warfish, just on my phone.
That's kind of a bummer. How am I supposed to conquer the world with no internet multiplayer?
Star Wars: Trench Run 2.0 Updating to Star Wars: Trench Run 2.0 gets you new levels -- defend Princess Leia, protect the Y-Squadron during the Battle of Yavin -- and new ships -- Darth Vader's TIE, the Millennium F-in Falcoln -- but best of all it lets you use your iPhone or iPod Touch as a controller for playing the game on your computer.
Turning your iPhone into a starship that can make the Kessel Run in under 12 Parsecs? There's a paid update for that.
$5 app, $1 upgrade
iBooks: iBooks has been updated with 'substantial performance improvements when reading PDFs' as well as the ability to include in-book audio and video content.
Because how will we make the next Great American Novel without the ability to embed YouTubes in it?
Zen Bound 2: Casey! Unwind:
Zen Bound 2, previously exclusive to the iPad, is now available for the iPhone. It takes advantage of the iPhone 4's retina display and gyroscope to bring butter-like smoothness to the beautiful game.
Zen Bound 2 carries the same premise as the original Zen Bound: wrap up floating, rotating figurines with a rope. With the gyroscope involved everything feels slightly silkier and roping those damn totems now feels even more natural (not like I know what that really feels like). And the improved graphics are noticeable thanks to the Retina Display.
Everyone realised how awesome the idea was, rushed to try it out, and subsequently no one was able to actually plug in their Facebook or Twitter info to use the thing.
That was the first bummer. Then Joel wondered if they were scraping a little more information than they were allowed to scrape. Could be!
But in terms of what we've seen so far, FlipBoard looks like a very promising way to beautify all those retweets.
ABC News: Did you know that news is just the plural for new?
And there are new things all the time, so you can never have too many ways to keep up with it all. ABC News' new iPad app has a kinda-swanky, kinda-gimmicky globe feature to navigate through stories, but definitely worth checking out for news junkies and globe lovers.
Sky Writing HD: It's kind of one of those party trick apps, but it pulls it off well enough to be worth a mention -- Sky Writing provides a number of international skyscapes (the sky above the Statue of Liberty; the sky above the Eiffel Tower; the sky above Big Ben) and lets you draw an aeroplane trail message that slowly wafts away just like a real cloud.
$3 is pretty steep for the novelty, but it is uniquely soothing.
Green Eggs and Ham: It's the good Dr. Seuss' timeless classic, updated superbly for the iPad.
The drawings look great, the text is read aloud, and you can choose background audio for each scene.
If you can even conceive of a time in which your iPad will be close proximity to a small child, it's probably worth plunking down $4 to make their 21st Century day.
Zenbe Lists: Says Jason, who is prodigiously organised:
Zenbe has become my de-facto todo list-beating Google's and any sort of Apple solution-for two reasons: Ease of use and cross-platform compatibility. I can make grocery list on the computer and check them off on the iPhone at Safeway.
And, if you already have the iPhone version, you get this for free. It's $3 for both otherwise.
NFL Mobile: Verizon just overhauled their NFL Mobile app and it's hands down the best way to follow America's favourite sport.
The basic version of the app lets you keep track of scores, news, stats and has live audio feeds of every game. Pony up $10/month for VCAST and you'll get to watch the RedZone channel, NFL Network, and both Sunday Night and Thursday Night games.
MOG Mobile: An awesome $10-all-you-can-eat music streaming service that's even awesomer because you can download songs. Single songs, entire albums--as many as you like.
This is a big move for MOG; Rhapsody currently only lets users download playlists curated on the computer, and Rdio's buffet download service is still in its invite-only phase.
But that's not the only thing that MOG has going:
Another clever feature unique to MOG is its flexible radio stations that can be customised by song. You can pick and play an artist-only radio station and it will populate your music queue with the songs from that station, which than can be browsed, skipped, replayed, or downloaded to your library, just like music you would've searched for.
Vlingo SuperDialer: Vlingo SuperDialer is an incredibly useful voice search app that returns local results. Think of it as a new age 411.
Say 'Chinese food,' for example, and SuperDialer will provide a list of the closest places to grab some lo mein on the way home-along with a quick link to call an establishment, and the option to view each on a map with directions.
Groupon: Groupon, the city-specific daily deals website, is now available on Android.
You can purchase the deal of the day, keep track of previously purchased Groupons and redeem Groupons in person all through the app.
Nook for Android: Nook for Android is critical if you're a nook user, but it's barebones on the features front.
Nook for Android has many of the ebook app standbys: turning pages just takes a flick, and there are 8 fonts and 5 sizes for making your text just right. No magazines or newspapers available yet, though, which is too bad
Micdroid: It's like the T-pain app on the iPhone but with less pizazz and bling, and for Android.
It's still in the early phases of development so things might get wonky but hey, if you're auto-tuning your life, things are supposed to get wonky. Yaaayehyeaa.
Edwin: A pretty flippin' sweet speech-to-speech app:
If you ask a question, the app will answer you right back.
You could ask for the weather, where the closest movie theatre is, what the definition of a word is, tell it to launch an app, or pretty much anything.
The voice is a little robotic, but it's a neat idea, especially for those eyes-free situations.