Weekly App Store Picks: July 4, 2009


It’s that time of the week — when we welcome you to the weekend with a selection of the freshest picks for the iPhone from the App Store.

Hold your horses, though, because before we dive headfirst into a glorious ocean of iPhone apps, I’ve got a roundup of notable Apple news from the past seven days.

We’re starting the weekend by giving you the chance to win a free game for your iPhone, courtesy of Poppy, an excellent one-man game studio in Japan. The game in question, Brave Man, is reminiscent of Bishop’s knife trick from Aliens, except instead of an interstellar synthetic, you play a lumberjack trying not to cut his hand with a knife. Want to win a promo code for Brave Man? To be in with a chance, leave a comment at the end of this post telling me about the bravest thing you’ve ever done.

Some unexpected bad news for early adopters of the iPhone 3GS this week when their new devices became literally too hot to handle. It turns out that the 3GS suffers from an overheating problem that is so bad that apparently white iPhones have been turning pink. Is that going to stop me from purchasing a 3GS? Absolutely not, I’ll take mine in limited edition blazing hot pink, please.

The latest update to the iPhone software, OS 3.1, has been rolled out to developers. This also means that it’s probably not too long before it’s pushed to regular iPhone users, too. Expect a raft of fixes and updates to the OS, including improved boot time, fraud protection in Safari, and the potential for video editing in third-party apps.

There’s been a slow drip-feed of app’s hitting the store that support OS 3.0’s new features. Notably, Remember The Milk is the first to-do app supporting push notifications. This means that, even when the app isn’t running, it’ll ping you with a reminder for forthcoming tasks that need completing. It’s a premium service, available only to subscribers, but one that may prove essential for iPhone-toting productivity connoisseurs.

Over in the EU, several phone manufacturers, including Apple, have agreed on a standard charging interface for all cell phones. The news of Apple signing up for this standard comes as a surprise. At first glance, it implies that it would be dropping its traditional proprietary dock port from the iPhone. An Apple representative cleared up the confusion, stating that the iPhone will, at some unspecified point, start shipping with a micro USB adaptor.

And finally, potential purchasers of the iPhone 3GS should head on over to Apple’s brand-new 3GS availability page. After serving an astounding 1 million devices in the opening weekend, sales are clearly going strong enough to warrant launching this handy inventory tool.

Moving on to the picks, this week I’ve been looking at Jamble, Birdfeed, Rolando 2 and RunPee.

appicon-jambleJamble ($5.99)
I just can’t get enough musical toys for the iPhone. I’ve even got an entire menu screen dedicated just to sound-related diversions. My favorites include Brian Eno’s ambient music app Bloom and, of course, Leaf Trombone World Stage, winner of TheAppleBlog’s coveted Golden Apple Award. Jamble, a clever creative toy for making your own mash-ups, may be another welcome addition to my sonic collection. The app takes a bunch of loops from artists including Gorillaz and David Bowie, then lets you seamlessly blend them together to create your own mash-up masterpieces.

appicon-birdfeedBirdfeed ($4.99)
Not even a month after we get hit with Tweetdeck for the iPhone, (which, you should note, is available for free) comes another potential challenger to Tweetie’s Twitter-client throne. The app is called Birdfeed, and it’s got a stripped-down, simple aesthetic, à la Tweetie, but unfortunately, no Tweetdeck-style groups. If you’re already comfortable with Tweetie, this may not be the app for you, but frequent tweeters looking for a change of client should definitely consider checking out Birdfeed as a simple, stylish and functional Twitter solution.

appicon-rolando-2Rolando 2 ($9.99)
iPhone gamers, let us collectively rejoice. It’s the second coming of Rolando in the App Store. Indeed, the app I’ve been waiting many months for has finally arrived at the App Store, albeit for the slightly pricey sum of 10 bucks. The sequel takes place on a tropical island, updating the artwork with a semi-3D view and introducing tons of new gameplay quirks, including weird contraptions for destroying the bad guys and special floating characters. There’s even a special shack dedicated to Manchester’s funky beat maestro Mr. Scruff, where you can listen to all the tunes contributed to the game. We’ve got a full review coming to TheAppleBlog next week, so stay tuned.

appicon-runpeeRunPee (99 cents)
We’ve all experienced those extended sessions of torture, watching a movie, squirming in your seat, desperate to go rest but afraid to miss a critical moment. RunPee is a quirky stroke of genius and an app which will prove particularly useful for those with small bladders. The RunPee database contains a listing of the latest movies. Just pick the one you’re watching, and it’ll provide a number of opportunities for which you can discreetly exit the movie theater for some much-needed relief. While you’re away, the app gives you a countdown, to make sure you’re back in time, alongside a plot summary for whatever you’ve missed.

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?