Weekly App Store Roundup: Nov. 29, 2008

This week at The Apple Blog, like a farmer with a gaggle of turkeys in the week before Thanksgiving, we’ve caught the juiciest news and posted it here for your consumption. Early in the week we heard about how a dodgy developer has been paying for fake reviews of his app. The week improved with the arrival of a Quicktime fix for HDCP playback and we even found time to tell you how to browse the net on your iPhone securely.

While our U.S. contingent have been preparing tender turkeys (or veggie equivalents), over in the UK I’ve been taste-testing the latest scrummy additions to the App Store.

This week I’m looking at MobileLinked IM, Project Polaroid, Touchgrind and lo-fi retro freebie Fire Engine.

MobileLinked IM (free)
In terms of iPhone IM clients, everyone seems to have their favourites. I dig Palringo – being able to send voice-messages and photos to my mates while I’m out and about feels like I’m living in McLuhan’s glittering global village. On the other hand, fellow TAB writer Darrell Etherington can’t get enough of Beejive’s sweet features. Choice is a good thing, so it’s wonderful that MobileLinked IM has joined the fray, yet, despite being free, it’s lacking in the features and polish of its older counterparts.

Project Polaroid (free)
The Apple Blog covered a cute desktop app called Poladroid a couple of weeks back. Chuck in a normal photo and it spits out a Polaroid-style processed version. Project Polaroid takes it to the iPhone, so you can get retro with your photos while you’re on the go. Frankly, I utterly adore this app — yes it’s as gimmicky as a diamond-encrusted toilet-seat, but I just can’t abide by the grainy cheap iPhone camera and Project Polaroid is the perfect retro-themed remedy.

Touchgrind ($4.99)
It’s a proper skateboarding game on the iPhone, packed with tons of moves activated through a deceptively simple control system. You’ll need seriously dextrous fingers to bust out impressive moves on Touchgrind, but getting your digits ’round the tough technique is worth it when you’re able to string together massive combo multipliers across the tiny skatepark.

The Classic – Fire Engine (free)
Back in the day, when the closest thing to an iPhone was a brick-sized cellular, the must-have handheld gaming gizmo was Nintendo’s Game & Watch. Now it’s pretty tough to track down of these desirable devices, so in lieu of the real thing, MG Interactive’s series of games brings Nintendo-flavored LCD goodness to the iPhone. Although it’s called Fire Engine, the game actually finds you rescuing escapees from a burning building and ferrying them to your nearby ambulance. Ever so slightly in bad taste yet undeniably classic fun.

As we scurry away from the week that was, there are but a few more moments to ponder an app I missed a few weeks back. Last week a fresh App Store oddity hit iTunes: developed by Yudo Games, SpyBugRadar finds you raising and lowering your iPhone to search for hidden bugs in the room.

SpyBugRadar is part of Yudo’s freshly launched series entitled, “1$ Games.” The game is like having your own piece of James Bond style gadgetry as you physically hunt around your room for the beeping bugs. And it’s free, for the time being, in the App Store. We need more developers like Yudo, designing games that are quirky and stuffed with tons of imagination, like lovingly prepared Thanksgiving poultry.

That’s all for this week, I’ll catch you next Saturday for more from the App Store. In the meantime, drop by the comments and let me know which apps you’ve been downloading.