It’s the weekend, people, so prime your downloading finger and get ready to make good use of it as I guide you through the latest picks from the App Store.
Thanks to the release of OS 3.0 and the iPhone 3GS, there’s been a constant stream of Apple happenings. Before we get to the apps, let’s take a glance at the week’s news.
First up, good news and bad for the iPhone 3GS’s new video functionality. The bad news is that keen eared early adopting customers have discovered a high-pitched whining noise on their iPhone 3GS video footage.
However, the incessant whining (of the 3GS, as opposed to disgruntled amateur video makers) hasn’t stopped video uploads to YouTube, direct from the iPhone. Just six days into the device’s release and YouTube has seen a surge of 400 percent in daily mobile uploads, attributed directly to the iPhone 3GS.
With the official release of OS 3.0 also came an updated jailbreaking tool, enabling upgraded users to install non-Apple certified software on their device. I tested the jailbreak software earlier this week and, although it was surprisingly user-friendly, I couldn’t find a good reason to keep it: My iPhone now has copy/paste, tethering and more, straight out the box.
Speaking of tethering, Bryan Schuetz, one of our new arrivals at TheAppleBlog, posted a link to an excellent guide on how to activate tethering on your iPhone. I managed to test out tethering yesterday and had mixed results; it worked perfectly initially, until an hour in when I lost my data connection entirely. It makes me wonder if some carriers will be on the lookout for illegitimate tethering and throttle bandwidth accordingly.
Our own Sultan of Statistics and Maestro of Economic Mathematics, Darrell Etherington, posted news featuring a rather large and impressive number this week. Indeed, Etherington revealed that an utterly unprecedented 1 million 3GS iPhones were purchased during the first week of the device’s release.
And finally, Apple hasn’t been the only ones launching awesome, new products into the consumer nether. British dev studio UsTwo has updated MouthOff, a sound-reactive mouth toy, for iPhone. The MouthOff Signature series includes a selection of 37 weird mouths, including 12 specially commissioned mouths by artists including Jon Burgerman, Pete Fowler and, my fave, Mikko Walamies, the artist behind Rolando’s gorgeous graphics.
Check out the vid I tweeted of the app in action and, if you decide you want to get a new mouth on with MouthOff, then you can win a free promo code for the app. Simply leave a comment at the end of this post telling me why you should get your MouthOff to be in with a chance of winning.
Moving onto the picks, this week I’ve been looking at Jukebox, App Gmail, Star Defense and Taxiball.
Jukebox (99 cents)
My favorite feature back on those early iPods was the music quiz. With an ever-expanding collection of digital music, I loved to test my muso abilities with the Name That Tune-style game bundled with the iPod, courtesy of Apple. Come the release of the iPod touch and iPhone, the game was curiously absent from the new devices — despite the potential for an even-more muso-centric gaming experience. That is until now, thanks to the iPhone’s new 3.0 update, giving developers access to the music library. Jukebox is a gorgeous implementation of this old game, incorporating album artwork and custom gaming modes.
App Gmail (Free)
Apple’s own Mail for iPhone might do the job, but in the meantime, Google has been squeezing a raft of new features and improvements into its Gmail web app for iPhone. Navigational elements have been tweaked, making it easier to skim and sort messages, but the real head-turning feature is offline Gmail, via the web app. All well and good, but there’s still no dedicated app for Gmail, making accessing the web app via Safari feel a tad sloppy. App Gmail meets us halfway to solve the issue — embedding the Gmail web app within the app itself — ridding us of the Safari interface elements. It’s still not an official, dedicated app, but it’ll do the job for now and it’s free.
Star Defense ($5.99)
It may have come out earlier this month, but Star Defense is only just coming into it’s own, thanks to the iPhone OS 3.0 update. The game itself is traditional tower defense given a graphical overhaul — the game features all the usual staples of the genre — multiple towers, waves of baddies — but the 3D graphics and Mario Galaxy-esque palm-size planets make it a thrilling experience. The 3.0 update integrates ngmoco’s Plus+ network. Think of it like the iPhone’s version of Xbox Live, which means multiplayer mode, challenging your friends and gamer points. What’s more, if a friend issues you a challenge, the game sends you a push notification.
As a student, sharing a house with a bunch of messy guys, we’d settle cleaning disputes with a game of Virtua Tennis on Sega’s Dreamcast. The console, sadly, died a premature death, criminally under-appreciated for what it was and the games it offered. Aside from Virtua Tennis, one of my other favorite Dreamcast games was Crazy Taxi. For those who aren’t familiar, driving your cab against the clock, you had to race across town delivering folk where they needed to go. It was massive, thrilling, looked gorgeous, and played like GTA without the constant death or Good Fellas voiceovers. With that in mind, Taxiball replaces the taxi with a big, yellow ball and brings the game to the iPhone. It’s frantic and moreish, well worth checking out.
That’s all the picks for this week. I’ll be back in seven days with more news from the week and picks from the App Store.
In the meantime, what apps have you been using this week?