Weekly App Store Picks: March 7, 2009


It’s the first Saturday of March, which means one thing: grab your iPhone, prime your mind, and focus your eyeballs, because I’ve got another selection of fresh App Store picks for you.

Before we get to this week’s apps, there’s a stack of Apple (s AAPL) happenings to run through. In App Store-related news, game development outfit Last Legion announced a Watchmen MMO will be hitting the iPhone and iPod touch soon.

TheAppleBlog also kicked off the App Review series last week. I’ll be reviewing new apps several times a week from here on in, and so far I’ve checked out Caught You, Smack Me and Tap Tap Revenge 2.

The folks over at RIM (s RIMM) have launched App World for the BlackBerry. Notably, there’s a $2.99 lower threshold in terms of the pricing point; this could be handy in keeping out the riffraff. Despite this news, I’m thinking that RIM has some serious catching up to do with its devices over the next year, particularly in light of both the iPhone and Palm’s Pre.

Of course, the big news this week was Apple’s curiously low-key product line refresh. We covered it all right here at TheAppleBlog, and so there are dedicated articles for the new iMacs (I’ll be getting one!), new Mac minis, refreshed Airport Extreme and Time Capsule, plus updated processors, keyboards and hard drives.

Moving on to this week’s app picks, I’ll be looking at Inquisitor: Simple Web Search + News Search, Kindle for iPhone, NYTimes, Remix DJ: Speak EX and Papaya Premium.

inquisitorInquisitor: Simple Web Search + News Search (free)
Up until two weeks ago, I had Inquisitor installed on OS X. It gave Safari 3’s search functionality that added boost, incorporating all the features (and a couple more) that I had come to rely on when using Firefox. However, updating to Safari 4 meant no more Inquisitor — I just don’t need it, what with 4’s much improved search functionality. Over on the iPhone, I’m still not entirely convinced how useful a dedicated search app would be — I certainly don’t use Google’s app, instead making use of Mobile Safari’s integrated Google search. The Inquisitor app certainly looks good, and it handles news too, but I think I’ll be holding out for Mobile Safari plugins (one day in the far future).

kindleKindle for iPhone (free)
Some of you may have missed this, but earlier this week Amazon brought Kindle to the iPhone. The app allows you to access and read e-books purchased via Amazon’s Kindle Store. The big downside is that it’s not as feature-rich as Stanza, in particular, there’s no downloading of books from within the app and thus no direct access to free online libraries. Despite that, it’s a solid little app and the major attraction is access to a massive, growing library of books to purchase via Amazon. Our own Weldon Dodd had a good look at Kindle for iPhone earlier this week, so hit up his article for an in-depth analysis.

NYTimesNYTimes (free)
It’s the New York Times on your iPhone or iPod Touch and, especially for those outside the U.S., it’s a must-have window into Stateside goings on. This app isn’t strictly a new release, but that it’s been bumped up to version 2.0 in the last week is certainly notable. The original version was plagued by regular crashes and general instability, utterly undermining the app’s functionality. This version, however, promises improved stability, faster content downloading and updated navigation. A definite must-have download thanks to the latest update.

remixdjRemix DJ: Speak EZ (free)
There are so many novelty sound apps in the store, I’m expecting Apple to open up a dedicated section at some point. Browsing the store earlier today I noticed that, in among the wide-screen browsers and currency converters, several fart apps have made their way in to the Utility section. What kind of person uses a fart app as a utility? “I was looking for a full-screen iPhone browser but then discovered that the sound of flatulence perfectly fulfills my web-surfing needs.” Remix DJ: Speak EZ is the only novelty sound app I’ve come across that I would gladly recommend, allowing you to trigger various words as read by an old-school Speak & Spell. Brilliant!

papayaPapaya Premium ($4.99)
Way back in October of last year, I featured the free edition of Papaya in one of my Weekly App Roundups. The app mixes an IM client with a selection of simple multiplayer/community games. Unfortunately, I didn’t have good things to say, specifically I described it as, “… woefully ugly… worth avoiding like rotten fruit.” Not so good then. Things are very much different with Papaya Premium though, integrating an IM client with several seriously polished games including Black Jack, Chess and an unofficial but nevertheless fun Puzzle Bobble.

That’s all the apps for this week, I’ll be back during the week looking at more iPhone and touch apps with the TheAppleBlog App Review, plus next Saturday with more picks. In the meantime, drop by the comments and tell us what apps you would recommend.