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July 19, 2008

More iPhone app reviews

Well, there seem to be lots of people out there on the web looking for iPhone app reviews, and I've just acquired a pile more apps. Obviously they're not cheaper by the dozen. But there you go.

One general point about apps; many of the apps seem to run better if you reboot your phone first. Now, that's not very Maclike; but I think what's happening is that some apps are strewing cruft around where other apps trip over it. So this is worth bearing in mind.

Banner Free is free and feels like it could be very handy in those noisy, crowded places where it's difficult to attract people's attention or make yourself heard. It scrolls a banner message (like an LED banner sign) along your screen. Nice and big, you just type the message. Bubble Wrap is also free and simulates a little piece of bubble wrap. Handy when you're stressed out.

After I mentioned eReader, a friend told me to pay actual folding money for Bookshelf. This has several nice features; it reads several ebook formats already, with more to come; it loads books over WiFi by looking in the eBook folder on my desktop (desperately handy), and then transfers books onto the phone in a few seconds. I've read a novel using it, too, which was perhaps not as pleasant, but much more portable, than carrying the book. £5.99.

Critter Crunch is a very cute action puzzle game which has had excellent reviews on other platforms. I still feel like I'm learning and am making silly beginner mistakes; which often prove fatal. I do like games of these kinds but normally get the most fun out of them in that sweet patch between sussing them enough to play effectively and exhausting their normally limited strategy. £5.99.

Motion X Poker screenshotMotion X Poker is getting rave reviews everywhere. This is an implementation of that fine old standard of beginning programmers, poker dice. But what a version; dozens of gorgeous sets of dice each with their own sound effects and lovely rendering. You roll the dice by shaking your phone, and manipulating the dice to hold and release them is super quick. I bought it for its secondary mode, where you just roll dice; handy if you're one of those people who can never quite find a pair of dice when you need them. But in fact I've played the poker dice quite a lot; I just want to unlock all the dice sets now. £2.99 which is a total bargain. Everyone's asking for two-player support but top of my wish list is a big ask which would probably be a slightly different program; I would like support for rolling an arbitrary number of dice (more than the 1-5 now supported), but even more I would like support for the commoner sorts of polyhedral dice. Because frankly it would be easier to carry around an iPhone than a dice box.

Brain Challenge also has pretty good reviews, but for me the jury is out. I enjoy the 'daily challenge' on these games, but as yet I've unlocked very little and have little enthusiasm for repeating those minigames I've tried. I may review this one again in a few days. £5.99

iDrops looked quite pretty at 59p, and it is a very sharp implementation of a puzzle game that I've never liked; where you click on groups of squares to remove them; as you do so the squares squeeze up and you have to get rid of all the squares to progress. If there is any strategy here beyond blind luck I have never found it. But this is nicely done, with sweet jellied edges to the squares.

Guitar ToolKit is probably best value if you're a guitarist, but I bought it because it has a splendid electronic tuner, which is another of those things, like dice, which I want to keep in my pocket at all times. It also has a sweet metronome with a tap the beat feature; I would like it to have more better beats (at least 6/8 and 5/4 please, both of which I use quite a lot). The feature which I don't use but obviously would if I was a guitarist is a chord diagram library with over 200 chords in it; the feature that doesn't quite hit the mark for me is reference tones, where I could do with all 12 like a pitch pipe but instead this just has the strings of standard tuning. Which is a little odd as the tuner offers you, as well as 'any note', a choice of dozens of different custom tunings. £5.99

Posted by Alison Scott at July 19, 2008 12:25 AM


As long as computers can only generate pseudo-random numbers, I shall still carry proper dice... but a virtual dice box would be neat as a backup in a pinch!

Posted by: John Coxon at July 19, 2008 07:34 AM

John, I think you've missed the point; the program rolls virtual dice, which bounce around, have collisions and so on, and then come to rest to give you results. There's a good explanation with video on Gizmodo. Absolutely not pseudo-random numbers except on a much more basic level.

Posted by: Alison Scott at July 19, 2008 11:49 PM

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