Friday, July 02, 2010

This Week's Best Apps [Apps]


This Week's Best AppsThis week's best apps!? You must mean the week's best iPhone apps, right? Nope, from here on out it's just the very best apps, every week, for iPhone, Android, and iPad.

If you want to read this in one very, very long post, click here. In fact, I'd recommend it.


This Week's Best AppsLandFormer: Puzzle games come a dime a dozen, and to have some staying power they have to be truly fun to play or exceptionally nice to look at. LandFormer is both. Basically you have to level a plot of land with increasingly complex sets of maneuvers, which starts off pretty simple but quickly runs into that classic Rubiks Cube problem of having one tile that needs shifting but only having tools that also alter the three squares around it. If the mountain look doesn't do much for you, you can purchase different themes in-app, as well as additional levels. The app is free to start, and an additional package of levels is free through July 5. Also works on the iPad

This Week's Best AppsPredators: Kudos to Chillingo for understanding, with their companion game to the new Predators movie, that I don't want to play as a Predator-hunting Adrian Brody but rather an Adrian Brody-hunting Predator—and that's just what they made me. The new game, which also works on the iPad, looks gorgeous on the iPhone 4, and lets you slash your way through people with all of Predators tech: wrist blades, cannons, net-guns, as well as transparency and thermal vision—that one's particularly awesome. Good controls, great gameplay, and all-around excellent human-slaying action. $3 Also works on the iPad

This Week's Best AppsIncrediBooth: IncrediBooth, a iPhone 4-only project from the makers of the much-lauded (and frustratingly not-yet-updated) Hipstamatic, turns your front facing camera into a beautiful, pocketable shopping mall-style photo booth. Remember how much fun you and your friends had mugging in front of Apple's Photo Booth when it came out? This is kinda like that, but anywhere. You snap shots in rapid succession, and then you can mail your snazzy black and white strip to friends, post it to Facebook, or save to your photo roll. At $1, it's worth having on your iPhone just to facilitate some drunk PDA down the line, if nothing else.

This Week's Best AppsPulse News Mini: The wildly popular visualized RSS reader for the iPad has been shrunk down for a palm size version on the iPhone. Their mosaic style of sorting through news isn't quite as compelling as it is on the iPad, and heavy RSS users will scoff at the 20-feed limit, but if you're just a casual RSS-er looking for an attractive way to sift through some image-heavy favorites, this is the way to do it. $3 Also available for the iPad

This Week's Best AppsOddy Smog's Misadventure: Help Oddy, a little ball of smog, escape from a factory by jumping and double-jumping from gear to rotating gear. The gameplay's simple but difficult enough to keep you involved, and the whole premise and aesthetic make this seem like some sort of weird spin-off starring those little dust dudes from Spirited Away. Obviously that's a good thing. $1

This Week's Best AppsDiacarta: I imagine there's a huge group of people, like me, who don't keep fastidious hour-to-hour calendars on Google or Outlook or whatever but whose days could benefit from a little more organization. Diacarta, a visual day planner, offers that type of organization (and offers it beautifully). The main screen of the app is a small clock that can be populated with icons for all manners of activity—sports, sleep, gold, dry cleaning, working out, etc. Just pick what you need to be doing and drag it to the time of day when you need to be doing it. It might not be quite full-featured enough for people who pack their days with activities like Tetris blocks, but for those who have just been managing by trying to remember where they should be, Diacarta's a beautiful way to stay on top of things. $2

This Week's Best AppsHulu Plus: OK, ok, Hulu hasn't started dishing out the $10/mo. beta invites just yet so your selection is limited to the fistful of free stuff they've coughed up for this early release—an episode each of 30 Rock, Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives and a few others, a Carl Sagan special, the entire movie of Super Size Me, etc.—but still, it's Hulu! On your iPhone! With commercials! Bummer on that last bit, but worth checking out to see if this whole mobile devices aspect of this Hulu Plus thing is something you personally could get excited about. Free. Also available for the iPad

This Week's Best AppsPixelPipe: Here's Mark:

The 720P video capabilities of the iPhone 4 are fantastic-really calling into question the need for a camcorder-but there's one gimpy limitation. You can't upload HD videos wirelessly….Pixelpipe is a free app that will upload your videos and pictures in full resolution to "over 100 supported destinations." Pretty much any social networking bloggish overshare service you could possibly use looks to be compatible. And you can even upload your files in the background while you check your email or something.

HD cat videos, directly to YouTube, straight from your iPhone 4. Free!

This Week's Best AppsRemodelista: Everyone wants cool stuff in their place, but when you're faced with redecorating it's easy to just get a bunch of decent stuff from Ikea, make a quick stop at Crate and Barrell and call it a day. Remodelista looks to at least inspire you to aim a little higher, showcasing everything from sofas that are too expensive for you to ever even consider owning to DIY projects that are actually decidedly doable. The interface still has some kinks to be worked out, but it's updated daily with new content and it's free, so it's at least worth checking out so you can feel less guilty when you do end up at Ikea. Also works on the iPad

This Week's Best AppsGetGlue: Take it away, Kat:

Instead of checking into pub after bar after pub, show your friends you're not just a boozehound on Foursquare, but quite the literary creature on GetGlue's free iPhone app, which lets you "check-in" to whatever media you're consuming.
This can be a book, film, TV show or even music-with the updates being shared across Twitter and Facebook (if necessary). Instead of earning badges, you can earn stickers for the amount of check-ins you make, with various partners such as Warner Bros, Random House, Universal Pictures, Wired and so on offering up rewards.



This Week's Best AppsMoviesNow HD: A few weeks ago I wanted to check out movie times and had an awkward moment where I deliberated which device to go to—my iPad or my laptop. I ended up checking out the iPad app offerings for this sort of thing and couldn't find one that quite gave me what I wanted: a slick, simple interface to access movie times by time, location, or film. MoviesNow does just that, and I give it two thumbs up. Its uncluttered interface will take you all the way from browsing movie posters to watching trailers, finding a theater, and buying your tickets. $2 Also works on the iPhone

This Week's Best AppsNFB Films: The National Film Board, Canada's public film producer and distributor, has a new app that lets you tap in to their expansive library of over 1000 films, documentaries, and animations, and the stuff you pick is stored on your iPad for 48 hours so you can watch offline. So next time you have a long flight somewhere, peruse through the NFB's listings, find a few you like, and get to know what Canada's really like. Free!

This Week's Best AppsThe Colbert Report's the Word: Every "The Word" segment from every episode of the Colbert Report ever aired—you either know you need to get this right now or will figure out you need it at some point in the future. A little crashy at the moment but presumably Colbert himself is slaving away over the code to fix it for an update. $3

This Week's Best AppsCompass HD: The iPad doesn't come with a standard compass app, which is a shame, because as Compass HD shows, having a huge slate of a compass can be a pretty awesome thing. In addition to the four swish designs, Compass HD has Google Maps integration, tagging, and distance calculation. OK, I'm not sure exactly when or what I'll use it for, but all I know is that I'm not going to be the one kicking myself when I'm short an iPad compass. $2

This Week's Best AppsKindle: Kindle on the iPad ain't nothin' new, but this week's update brought support for embedded audio and video, putting Kindle on the same level as iBooks for reading multimedia texts on the iPad. Looks like Matt was right: Amazon's more concerned with where you're buying your ebooks than what device you're reading them on. Free


This Week's Best AppsIMDB: Who's that guy? Where's he from? Should I even watch this movie? Solve all your movie questions with Android's official IMDB app. The IMDB app is basically IMDB's website optimized for your phone—that's a good thing. Along with all the movie info, you can also watch trailers, see the top 250 movies of all time, find local movie and TV listings and even add IMDB to Android's universal search. Free. Android 1.6+

This Week's Best AppsWunderRadio: WunderRadio, a beloved radio streaming app on Windows Mobile and the iPhone, gives you access to over 36,000 radio stations on your Android phone. You can tune in to AOL Radio, Bloomberg, BBC, or search for more stations manually or by your location. It's different from Pandora, in that you're actually listening to real stations and not customized playlists. $6.99. Android 1.6+

This Week's Best AppsKindle for Android: As Matt says:

One of the last major apps I've been waiting for on Android is finally here: Kindle. It syncs all of your Kindle books, as you'd expect, though it's missing features like full text search and in-app purchasing.

Free. Android 1.6+

This Week's Best AppseBooks by Kobo: Kindle's not the only ebook game in town. Kobo, Border's horse in this race, is now offering its 2 million ebook library to Android users. You can tweak font types, change background colors, and buy books in the app. If you're anti-Kindle, this is the one to get. Free

This Week's Best AppsSoundhound: Like Shazam, it's an awesome music recognition app that'll tell you what song is playing on the radio. Unlike Shazam, you can also sing or hum a song and it'll give you the results complete with videos, lyrics, and a link to the Amazon MP3 store. Sadly, the free version limits you to 5 song tags a month. If you need more than that, you'll need to pony up $5 to get the unlimited version. Free, $5.

This Week's Best AppsSlingPlayer Mobile: Slingbox can now stream whatever is on your home TV to your Android phone. With the Android app, you get full control over your at-home DVR box and remote, so you can pause, fast-forward, rewind the live and recorded shows you're watching, and even schedule DVR recordings. Works over 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi. $29.99. Android 1.5+

This Week's Best Apps Mark the Spot: AT&T is (slowly) getting more Android phones so it's as good a time as any to release their "tell us where we suck" app. Mark the spot lets you pinpoint the exact location of your dropped your call, failed call, slow data, and other areas of suck. The app itself is kind of ugly, but pointing out where AT&T fails can feel oh so good. Free.

This Week's Best AppsWi-Fi Analyzer: It shows you the quality of the Wi-Fi hotspots around you in a nice little graph. So you know which Wi-Fi is speedy and which one has too many people connected to it. Sadly, you can't connect to the Wi-Fi network from the app.

This Week's Best AppsKellog's Recalled Products: KNOW YOUR CEREAL (and other Kellogg's products). Kat says:

It lets you scan the barcodes on Kellogg's items, with the results compared against a recalled products database-so you know what's edible and what may contain traces of glass/metal/human skin.

Apps! We love 'em, and we know you all do too. So we're going to try to bring you the best apps, for every platform, every week, right here. If you come across any—or are a developer who's making your own—that you think we should check out, post 'em in the comments here or shoot me an email. That goes for WebOS and Blackberry apps, too!