Been awhile, but as promised, let’s continue onto something more interesting for iOS, the apps.

Gaming

I have yet to find a story-driven epic comparable to those found on “proper” gaming devices. But for $5, I’ve found three epically satisfying games: Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, and Infinity Blade.

Angry Birds
Angry Birds is a lot of fun when its questionable physics aren’t being frustrating. Couple that with the grunting laughs of the pigs in their nigh-impenetrable fortresses and you get an incredibly cathartic rush when you beat a level.

Cut the Rope
Cut the Rope is a simple puzzle game wherein you feed a cute monster candy by, you guessed it, cutting a rope. The deceptively simple puzzles, calming music, and cute graphics make it a great game — more than worthy of a $1 price tag.

Infinity Blade
I bought Infinity Blade on sale for $3. I think that its only purpose is to show off what the iPhone 4’s A4 processor can do, which is render a gorgeous game. The game play is best described as “Punch Out with swords”, and relies heavily on timing and countering the opponents telegraphed attacks. If you’re running multiple apps in the background, the game can suffer terrible slowdowns, making timing difficult. But once you get around that, everything is smooth and beautiful. Unfortunately the “story”, if you can call it that, is practically nonexistent. Penny Arcade summarizes it well:

The Perils of Lineage

Productivity

Email
Having email everywhere is quite nice. The strange thing is that to get push mail from Gmail onto the iPhone, you can’t use the built in Gmail settings in the Mail app. To get true push email, you have to set up your Gmail account as a Microsoft Exchange account (Instructions here). It’s strange, but once it’s done, it works pretty well.

Evernote
I tried Evernote, and it’s just not for me. Evernote is basically a note taking system that can sync between different devices. You can take pictures, clip things from the web, or just write simple to do lists. Things that you do on your phone will sync to your computer and vice versa.

For work, I use my trusty notebook. For school, I could never use my iPhone or computer for notes. When the majority of my notes are equations or diagrams, why bother with a keyboard input? The only time I end up using Evernote is for small piddly things like groceries. But how hard is it to remember to buy 3-4 items?

Like I said, Evernote could be useful, but it’s just not for me.

Gas Buddy
I really enjoy Gas Buddy. This app allows you to find the prices of nearby gas stations. Prices updated by users who gain points whenever they update a gas station’s prices. To motivate users to update gas prices, Gas Buddy uses a raffle system. For every thousand points, users get one ticket for a raffle which would let them win free gas. It’s a really useful app to have, especially when gas prices have been steadily increasing.

Audio

iPod
In a previous post, I said one of the selling points of the iPhone was that my entire music collection revolves around iTunes. As an iPod, the iPhone is fairly good. Plugged into my everyday cans, the sound quality is decent, not great. One addition that would improve the audio quality would be the ability to fine tune the equalizer settings; you can only choose preset settings and not set your own.

Another complaint with the iPod app concerns sorting. In iTunes, I sort my music by “Album by Artist/Year”. Scrolling down, the albums are chronologically grouped by artists. The best part is that if there is a track or two where the artist name is different than the rest, that track isn’t separated from the album. The iPod app, however, does not have this album-artist grouping functionality. If I want to listen to an album with different artists on every track, then I have to find it by the album name. It’s a fairly specific problem, but an annoyance nonetheless.

Shazam
The first five times I used Shazam, it was a really cool experience. When you activate Shazam, it’ll turn on the microphone and start listening to whatever music is playing. Once it records a clip, it’ll figure out what song is being played and give you information like the song and artist name. It’ll also give you things like lyrics and the option to buy the track on iTunes. What sucks is that the full version of the app is $6 which allows you unlimited uses. The free version only allows five uses. I’m on the fence about buying this one, but being able to quickly and easily pull song lyrics while you listen was pretty enjoyable while it lasted.

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