In this week’s rip roarin’ round up:
Windows, on your iDevice!
Stop motion animations, created!
Frogs, cared for!
Sims, following their dreams!
Cooking, made almost easy enough for me to do!
Google Voice, on your iPhone, and much more!
In Beyond Ynth (and Beyond Ynth HD, for the iPad), you play as Kribl, a chipper little insect who solves puzzles in four brightly animated worlds. But don't let the cutesy look fool you-these puzzles are tough.
Maybe it's just because I'm used to playing iPhone games that only require half my attention while I'm trying to keep from bumping into people the subway, but Beyond Ynth's unique brand of puzzles-basically tipping big blocks from one side to the next to strategically gain access to platforms and openings-require not only some precise tapping but some serious planning, too.
It can get frustrating at times-like when you tip a block one time too many, closing off some crucial entry point and forcing you to replay the entire level-but the puzzles are so cleverly constructed that you never have that sinking feeling that you have outsmarted the developer.
FDG Entertainment, the group behind the game, claims that it was 'one year in the making,' and while the graphics are very nice and the game has a high level of polish (nice little narrative, pleasant music, etc.) it definitely seems like a good amount of that time went into making sure the levels were tough enough to truly be challenging.
It'd be nice if it was a universal app, but such is life-Beyond Ynth is $4 and Beyond Ynth HD is $6
Place calls using your Google Voice number rather than your mobile number - enter number directly, select a contact from your device's contacts, or call back any number in your history.
• Send and receive text messages (SMS) from your Google Voice number.
• Listen to voicemails and recorded conversations right on your device (allowing you to pause, rewind, or fast forward to any point within the message) - voicemails will also show the transcription of the message when available.
• Mark messages as starred, attach notes to conversations, block/unblock senders, or delete conversations.
• Easily search in your history by contact, message, or note.
• Messages are stored on your device for offline access.
• Composing notes and text messages can be done in landscape mode.
• Quickly change various Google Voice account settings (call forwarding, do-not-disturb, message notifications, …) directly from within the application.
• Automatic checking for new messages while the application is active.
• Direct access to your device's contacts without needing to synchronise them with Google
• All communication is done with the Google Voice website directly, no need to hand over your account information to a third-party.
• Full support for fast app switching in iOS4 and high-resolution graphics for retina displays.
• GV Connect stores your account password securely in your device's keychain for faster login when launching the application - communication is done via secure connections (SSL) to the Google Voice servers and no contact information (other than the contact's phone number which is required to place a call or send a message) is sent to Google. All operations are fully synchronised with your Google Voice account.
Three bones. But it's the principle of it all!
We know how good the iPhone 4's camera is, but what else can it do besides snap pics? With the StopMotion app, makes some pretty kickass amateur stop motion movies. My own attempt was sad, but the app is powerful.
StopMotion works by laying out a viewfinder grid, allowing you to manipulate, bit by bit, whatever objects you're working with, keeping them more or less aligned. The app can either snap frames automatically (at adjustable intervals), or capture with a touch instead. (The app's dev told us a clap-activated feature is in the works, which sounds fantastic).
After capturing each frame, you're left with a 'ghosted' image of the previous one overlaid, making it easy to see how much or how little you wish to deviate, for varying smoothness of animation. If you mess up a frame, don't worry-you'll have the option of rotating or deleting it altogether after you're doing capturing. Once you're satisfied, send the video on its way through an impressive number of export options: email, YouTube, Twitter, or just to your camera roll.
The animation below-a commentary on mortality, love, and what it truly means to grow up in this crazy modern world of ours-took me only a few pathetic minutes of kneeling on the Gizmodo office floor playing with action figures. But I'm sure with some practice, you could string together some pretty neat flicks.
Justin.tv: Justin.tv's free iPhone app was just updated, allowing users to broadcast live right from their iPhones. Use the front or back camera, broadcast over Wi-Fi or 3G, and share links on Twitter and Facebook. Because oversharing is caring.
Traditional shoot'em Ups, shmups, are awkward on the iPhone, because your left thumb covers a quarter of the screen and your right thumb covers another quarter-bad when you need to see every single bullet heading for your ship.
So instead of having to drive your ship with your hand, you drive it by tilting your phone in the direction you want. It's less precise, but you do get to see the entire screen, which is vital for shmups. (You also have the option of using screen press mode, which you'll actually end up doing anyway, for more precision in flying.)
Also gone is the outdated strategy of having to repeatedly press, or hold, a button to shoot. Worldy Wings just has you shooting the entire time, something most players do anyway. You just tap the screen when you want to set off a lightning attack.
With only two difficulty levels, three planes and 5 missions, the game is way too short. But it's $2, and 1942/Raiden fans will love it.
The Sims 3: Ambitions: The newest Sims expansion pack to be miniaturized for the iPhone, you can now pursue one of many careers--firefighter! teacher! etc--which involve all sorts of mini-games (and, as with any job, punctuality). This new expansion also lets you have babies! Which you have to take care of while you're succeeding at your fancy new job. I kinda want the Unambitions Sims iPhone game, where you wear sweatpants and watch Food Network. $5
Pocket Frogs: One of those insidious freemium games that tease you in until you get addicted and just start pouring your money in, but instead of, like, farms, it's, like, frogs! Basically you collect frogs, breed frogs, feed frogs, and trade your frogs with your friends to enhance your frog collection--but all of this is strangely addicting, with nice looking froggies and all sorts of options to beautify your habitat. Just try to resist the in-app purchases!
MasterChef Academy US: An impressively full-featured cooking app that's tied in with the TV show of the same name, MasterChef definitely hangs with the best of the food apps in terms of the detail of the recipes and the quality of the presentation. There's a ton of great video produced originally for the app and advice on how to prepare stuff from entres all the way down to spices. I'm bad at cooking; this seems helpful! $5
Parallels Mobile: Parallels users, listen up! To accompany the recently-released Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac, the Parallels peeps have released Parallels Mobile, a free app that lets users poke around on their Windows machines right on their iPhones and iPads.
There's a little bit of lag involved, but otherwise you can start, stop, and access all the virtual machines you've set up through Parallels Desktop right from your iOS device. That means printing things to connected printers, checking what's up in Outlook, and, yes, seeing all those lovely Flash elements on all your favourite websites. Just don't expect them to be that snappy. The app is free, so if you're a frequent Parallels user it's definitely worth a look.
Also available for the iPad
Steve Young Football: In addition to having the best commercials ever Steve Young Football for the iPad is probably the most amusing (and liberal) take on pigskin we've ever tried. There's a huge number of unique 'fields' and its multiplayer--whether you're playing two people to one iPad or with two iPads on your home network--is especially fun. Hike! $5.
CBS News: The new CBS iPad app splits things up into 'News' and 'Shows' and offers a sea of thumbnails for each. You can save stories for offline reading and watch plenty of full episodes right in the app. MULTI-media, you see, and it's all quite well organised. Free.
My Generation Sync: ABC gets it. You're never just watching TV anymore--you're watching while surfing or texting or tweeting or something. ABC's new app listens for audio cues from their new show, My Generation, and displays accompanying content on your iPad.
Aside from the fact that they're basically admitting that their programming alone isn't entertaining enough to keep you watching, My Generation Sync is an undeniably clever solution for bridging two devices that are increasingly used at the same time, without any new technology.
The My Generation content looks like it's pretty light fare--they don't want you totally ignoring the show, after all--but there are undoubtedly some very cool things you could do if you matched the right show with the right type of complementary content. So maybe THIS isn't a best app, but it's an idea that could well lead to some very cool ones in the near future. Free.
Fruit Ninja: Fruit Ninja, another popular iPhone port, comes over to Android and brings the simple, addicting fun of chopping up fruits on your phone. The premise of the game is simple: fruits fly on screen and you slice them by swiping your finger. Slice as many fruits as you can while avoiding bombs. It has OpenFeint support too so you can see where you stack with the rest of the world. Lots of fun for $0.99.
Mini Info: A nice system monitor app/widget for Android that displays battery charge, memory, and/or SD memory information in the widget and more detailed analysis of CPU and RAM monitoring, network, brightness and volume. It's free so if you geek out over percentage levels and bytes, give it a run.
Comic Reader Mobi: Comic Reader Mobi supports RAR, ZIP, CBR, and CBZ files and you can stream comics from WebDAV server. What's neat about this app is that the whole page is always displayed on the screen, when you need to read the text you tap the specific panel and then an overlay thats optimally sized will pop up. That way you can still see the entire page but also be able to read the story. Mark Wilson calls it the 'best comic book app' available. It's on the expensive side at $14.99 but you should trust Mark Wilson.
PadMapper: An app that uses your location to display available apartments in your neighbourhood (the data comes from Craigslist, Apartments.com, ForRent.com etc). You can also adjust criteria such as size, rent, hardwood floors, etc and get results that fit your settings. It seems like a much easier way to find apartments than rummaging through Craigslist though it seems to work better in bigger cities. Free.
Bitbop: It's a subscription streaming TV service that costs $9.99/month, so it's kinda like Hulu Plus. But unlike Hulu Plus, there's no commercials and Bitbop even gives you the option to download a show to your device. I'd say check out the TV shows Bitbop offers before you buck up and pay the monthly. But it seems like a great service.