Blog Post

Weekly App Store Picks: May 9, 2009


You can’t have pizza without cheese, socks without shoes, a sandwich without bread, or a complete week without hearing about the freshest iPhone apps.

Before I present you with a hand-picked selection of the latest iPhone releases to hit the App Store, as is tradition, we’ll take a moment to review notable news and take stock of the week that was.

For iPhone supporters, the week seemed to start on somewhat of a downer as news broke that RIM’s BlackBerry Curve is the belle of the ball, surpassing the iPhone in popularity. Plus, darkening the mood a little more, it seemed that the developers gathered for our Monday App Store Roundtable were, understandably, none too pleased at the App Store’s review system.

By Tuesday, the week began to pick up with speculation that Apple may adjust their app approval policy upon the release of the iPhone 3.0 update this summer. In short, there’s a possibility that “adult-only” apps will appear in the App Store; perhaps tasteless topless images will become the new novelty fart sound maker?

Also this week,Bento, the personal database application for desktop, was released on the iPhone. David Appleyard was on hand to provide an excellent overview of the app. Although I use Evernote for collecting info on the move, users who need to go beyond lists and start making databases will find Bento to be an indispensable tool.

Midweek mirth was provided courtesy of Apple, when someone on the Cupertino campus inadvertently approved a listing for QuickPWN — the iPhone jailbreaking tool — in the official web app directory.

The other notable rumor of the week concerns a possible feature coming to new MacBooks in the future. Based on a job posting straight from Apple, it’s looking likely that the next Macbook will have integrated 3G. Although 3G may be the death knell for USB sticks touting the same functionality, on the flip-side it means less peripherals and more connectivity for Macbook-users.

Moving on to the picks, this week I’ve been looking at Offmaps, GadgetTrak, Kids vs. Zombies Lite and Battalion.

icon_offmapsOffmaps ($2.99)
Having Maps on your iPhone is all well and good, but when you’re out and about without a data-connection, the app is essentially useless. For frequent travelers (or even iPod Touch users) Offmaps compliments Google Maps perfectly. The app allows you to download specific maps directly to the iPhone, even allowing the user to set the zoom level — useful for those looking for a high level of detail. A worthwhile companion to the embedded Maps app, and surprisingly cheap given the excellent functionality.

icon_gadgettrackGadgetTrak (Free)
This seems to have been released back in August last year, and while I try to feature the latest apps, it’s occasionally worth rewinding a moment if I’ve missed something worthwhile. GadgetTrak is incredibly similar to Caught You! Both of the apps create a dummy icon on your iPhone which, in the event of your device being stolen, a thief will hopefully click. The dummy app then e-mails your iPhone’s GPS coordinates to you. Unfortunately, Caught You! seems to have gone AWOL from the App Store — I’ve checked both U.S. and UK stores, and it’s no longer available — as such, it’s worth checking out GadgetTrack as an alternative (and free) tracking tool.

icon_kidsvszombiesKids vs. Zombies Lite (Free)
Recommended to me by Larsonian, via the comments section of last week’s App Store Picks, I thought I should take a look at this game. In the midst of a zombie apocalypse, you take control of three kids who happen to be armed to the teeth. In terms of gameplay, it’s a coin-op-esque shooter, wrapped in gorgeous cartoony 3D graphics, with a sprinkling of the undead. Each of the characters have different attack abilities — close combat, long range and explosives — plus, you’re able to visit the Hardware Store and upgrade the weaponry for even more effective zombie devastation. Check out the free Lite version first and, if you enjoy destroying the living dead, upgrade to the full version for only two bucks.

icon_battalionBattalion (Free)
If you’re looking for a 3D shooter with a retro vibe, then check out Battalion. The game was originally developed for the Cave Automatic Virtual Environment, aka CAVE (I love a good recursive acronym), and found the player becoming a movie-style giant monster, literally stomping around a town and taking on the might of the military. The controls are incredibly tough to get used to, combining a mixture of tilting, tapping, double-tapping and even dragging, however, after an initial learning period, it’s good fun (and a strangely effective stress reliever). While this version is certainly not as immersive as the original virtual reality Battalion, you get to choose from one of four cute but angry B-movie monsters. Recommended for those looking for a free and fun new game.

We’re all done for the app picks this week. In keeping with our usual schedule, I’ll return next week with more news from the week and picks from the App Store.

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

7 Responses to “Weekly App Store Picks: May 9, 2009”

  1. Epson

    MacTrak is too expensive and runs only 1 year compared to other software in the market like undercover from and Phoenix from

    On another note, Battalion is really cool! Should go try it worth the download.

  2. If you’re interested in using the GPS capabilities of the iPhone, now is the best chance you’ll have in a while. The regularly $9.99 GPS Kit is (only for 1 week) now $4.99. Snag it. Use it. Review it. Oh, and compare it to the MotionX GPS app. Such a difference.

  3. Kevin

    Eric , I would think that it does not because on the Mac it has a cam in the front and so it can snap a photo but on the Iphone it has to first up the shutter but it also is on the back of the phone so there is really never a certain point to when it would now when to take a picture where with the mac the person using it is always almost facing the screen and therefore facing the camera where its backwards with the iphone the cam is away from the main screen

  4. Cool thanks, I didn’t know GadgetTrak has an iPhone app too. I have their MacTrak on my Mac and love it, takes photos of unauthorized users and gets the exact location ( not sure how they do that) I will download the iPhone App, do you know if it uses the camera to take a photo like MacTrak?