According to the App Store, the holiday season has begun proper, with a deluge of Christmas-themed goodies up for grabs. However, that hasn’t hindered happenings in the greater world of Apple this week.
In a disappointing but somewhat expected turn of events, was Apple’s official announcement of their final attendance at next year’s Macworld. Next up, Orange and Apple’s iPhone exclusivity deal was ruled unfair by a French watchdog. And, as if to counteract the apparent gloom of their Macworld anti-news and jurisprudential japes over in France, the folks at Cupertino also released a fresh pair of very special seasonal Get a Mac ads.
Over at the App Store, things are looking somewhat rosier, as I’ve hand-picked a charming selection of new releases from the past week.
This week I’m looking at i Love Katamari, QuickPic, 3banana and Mint.com.
i Love Katamari ($7.99)
Seasoned console gamers with a penchant for Japanese classics should already be familiar with the Katamari Damacy games — a series that finds you taking on the role of, what is essentially, a super-cute intergalactic dung beetle. Just like the console titles, the game looks gorgeous and, in terms of controls, it’s as if it was designed for the iPhone and touch. However, enjoyment of the title is hindered somewhat by serious slowdown issues. Could be wonderful, so I advise that you avoid until an update fixes it.
This app does one simple yet clever thing — take a photo (or choose one from your iPhone album) and send it to a PC or Mac in the vicinity. It works in a similar way to the various file-sharing apps — such as TAB favorite Discover — by launching its own little file-server accessible via an IP address on the same wireless network. Granted there may be few instances when many of us would actually need functionality like this (given that you could just mail the image from the iPhone quite easily) but, for those rare occasions, QuickPic is a useful and reliable tool.
The icon is horrid and I don’t suffer aesthetically-challenged icons gladly, however 3banana’s functionality redeems itself, even in the face of poor visual design. The app allows you to store photos and take notes — automatically backed up to the 3banana online service — and, here’s the clever bit, post your note via email, Facebook or Twitter. While it’s no replacement to the life-organizing powerhouse that is Evernote, the ability to post out a note or image to your social network of choice is a stroke of genius.
Long-awaited by users of this much-celebrated personal finance service, the Mint.com app has finally hit the App Store (in the U.S. only, for the moment). It’s got all the bells and whistles you would expect, automatically syncing with your Mint.com account, providing an overview of your budgets, investments and spending. Plus, the visual design is, as expected, gorgeous and in-keeping with the main website. Straight out of the gate, this is a winner: highly recommended for users of the Mint.com service.
Like Bruce Banner after his weekly Hulk adventure, it’s time for me to wander off in to the sunset. But, before I disappear, only to return next week with another handful of rescued apps, I’ve got a few moments to tell you about other App Store-related happenings.
It’s been an interesting and incredibly promising week for touch and iPhone gaming. Konami, the game publisher behind some of the biggest titles in console gaming, including Castlevania, announced that they would be bringing several of their most popular titles to the iPhone and touch.
Next year will bring platform-specific versions of Konami’s Metal Gear Solid, Dance Dance Revolution, Silent Hill and (in a retrotastic twist) Frogger to the App Store. This move by the Japanese gaming giant should cement the image of the iPhone and touch as serious contenders in the handheld console world; as such, it shouldn’t be long before we see some of the other big players giving touch makeovers to some of their global franchises.
And, if you just can’t wait to get your paws on some quality iPhone gaming, the folks over at ngmoco:) (yes, that’s their name, with simultaneously endearing yet pretentious smiley included), finally squeezed out Rolando — stay tuned for a review on the TheAppleBlog. They have also dropped the price of all previous App Store releases, including tower building puzzler Topple, which is now free.
That’s all for this week, I’ll be back next Saturday with more apps, in the meantime drop me a comment and let me know what you’ve been downloading this week.