Weekly App Store Picks: March 21, 2009


It’s the weekend, traditionally a time for quiet contemplation of the freshest iPhone releases, welcome to the App Store Pick.

Hang on there one moment though because before we run headlong in to a stack of apps, we’ve got but a few moments to look at the latest happenings on TheAppleBlog this week.

First up, Neil Gaiman’s creepy Coraline just hit the App Store in eBook form. It’s available to download now for $5.99 but we’ve got four Coraline promo codes to giveaway. If you’d like to bag yourself a copy of Coraline, just drop a comment at the end of this post (and make sure to leave an address for us to email the code to), we’ll dish out the promo goodness on a first come first served basis.

Over in iTunes, HD movies are now available for sales and rental too. It’s great that we can reap all the benefits of HD via download, however the price point, $19.99, seems super expensive and thus utterly ill-considered to me. In other film-related news, in a rare publicity move, Apple has opened an official Twitter account, specifically for new trailers, check it out at twitter.com/itunestrailers. Those who doubt the account’s authenticity should check out the Apple Trailers site which now sports a Trailers on Twitter link.

None of this matters though when we consider the real Apple news this week: the long-awaited ├╝ber-happening that was Apple’s iPhone OS 3.0 event; and though they may be Jobless, that didn’t stop a flurry of rumor-mongering activity and excitement focused on the unveiling of the latest iPhone software update, arriving this Summer.

For me, it didn’t disappoint, while there’s still no mention of Flash coming to the iPhone, cut/copy/paste will finally arrive, as will MMS and push. There’s also an array of awesome new features beyond those must-haves. For instance, there’s the iPhone’s new Spotlight page — it brings search to the iPhone — meaning you can simultaneously hunt through contacts, messages, mail and music.

For developers, there’s some serious potential for advanced apps that the iPhone update’s APIs will bring. In particular, access to the iPod library for apps — potentially bringing an added dimension and layer of interactivity to our music collections: think Tap Tap Revenge creating new levels with your iTunes music library.

Moving on to the app picks, this week I’ve been looking at Nimbuzz, Yamanote Soundrop Lite, iGamesDev and Cardsnap.

picture-117Nimbuzz (free)
Over at GigaOm, Om Malik mentioned that he’s looking forward to checking out Nimbuzz, a super communication app that touts just about every major IM service, alongside VOIP too. On first look this app is undeniably impressive — setting up is quick and easy, even providing a degree of control over the buddy list — essential for users with tons of contacts over several services. The app looks and sound great too, even — quite unexpectedly — flipping in to landscape mode when needed. For me, and I suspect many others, this is an essential download and has already taken pride of place on my Home screen.

yamaYamanote Soundrop Lite (free)
I’ve got a soft spot for absurd apps that seem to slip in to the App Store, created by developers who seem to have no notion about who their target demographic might be. I think this is a good thing — it shows that there’s still a spirit of fun floating amidst the dirge of quick-buck, sound-fx apps and useless business tools. This app plays the music from various stations on what I think is a Japanese train-line. With its absurdly long twinkly melodies, this app is useless and cute and, as such, made me smile.

picture-35iGamesDev (free)
The concept behind this convoluted game of cards is fantastic. The app is intended as a witty critique of the iPhone game development. The game itself, though, is crazy complicated — resembling something more akin to The League of Gentlemen’s Go Johnny Go Go Go Go, with its nonsensical myriad rules. Unfortunately, the game ends up being amusing only because it’s ironic that this iPhone game about iPhone game development is so poorly coded.

picture-44Cardsnap ($9.99)
I’m always interested to know if the expensive apps are actually worth it or if the price is simply the developer’s wishful thinking. Cardsnap — an app for snapping images of business cards which are then processed server-side and synced to your address book — isn’t really worth the price but I imagine business-folk will buy it anyway. The big issue is that the iPhone camera immediately fails when it comes to taking pictures of business cards. The idea is great but the iPhone just ain’t up to it yet.

That’s all from the App Store for another seven days. I’ll return during the week with TheAppleBlog App Review and, as always, on Saturday with my Weekly App Store Picks.

In the meantime, what apps have you been using this week?

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