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Weekly App Store Picks: July 18, 2009


Once again, it’s that special time of the week when we all join hands, take a deep breath and exhale as we take a spiritual journey through the latest app picks for iPhone.

Before we reach app Zen, however, it’s time for a refreshing run through of the week’s iPhone news and Apple happenings.

Credit cards at the ready, the week opened with the resurgence of the Apple (s aapl) tablet rumor. Fueled by word from component suppliers in China, the rumor is that we could see an Apple tablet retailing by October this year.

One year on from the App Store’s launch and Apple is feeling particularly pleased with its paradigm shifting achievement. So pleased, in fact, that it dropped a big number in celebration: 1.5 billion App Store downloads in the first year. Impressive indeed. I wonder if Nokia, Palm (s palm) or RIM (s rimm) will ever catch up?

Our own Clayton Lai returned this week with “Jailbreak,” an ongoing series that’s all about getting the most out of your jailbroken iPhone. His latest offering explains how to spruce up your iPhone’s lock screen with calendars, Twitter feeds and more.

Still on the subject of jailbreaking, over on the iPhone 3GS there’s a new unlock in town: purplesn0w. It improves on the Dev Team’s ultrasn0w, providing a much more stable unlock, while improving battery life and Wi-Fi connectivity.

It seems that most users won’t notice any difference with the latest iTunes update, however Palm Pre owners are in for a surprise sandwich filled with the meat of disappointment: Apple has blocked Palm Pre syncing in iTunes. Pre owners, I adore your device, but it was bound to happen, it has happened, get over it.

And finally, Google (s goog) has brought local web search to the iPhone. The service makes use of the iPhone’s 3.0 software update, which now includes HTML 5 Geolocation API support in Safari. This basically means that web sites can determine your location and provide you with relevant and useful data. By which I mean adverts, lots of adverts.

Moving on to the picks, this week I’ve been looking at Worms, Spell Number, Zombies & Me and Tap Star.

appicon-wormsWorms ($4.99)
This brings me back to the old days — all the cool kids got their console fix with the SNES or Genesis, but I had an Amiga 500. For a time, I had very little interest in chubby Italian plumbers or a blue hedgehog with an attitude problem. It was all about British dev studios churning out classic games: Sensible Software’s Cannon Fodder, Ocean’s Robocop and, of course, Team 17 with Worms. Featuring a brigade of cheeky, well-armed worms, the game is a turn-based strategy, incorporating a bevy of weird weaponry, perfect for extended multiplayer gaming sessions. For the retro fanboys with a penchant for the Amiga, this is a definite download, but it’s also worth checking out for newbies looking for an explosive (and amusing) strategy fix.

appicon-spell-numberSpell Number (Free)
So you’ve updated your iPhone to OS 3.0, or you’ve taken it one step further and bagged yourself an iPhone 3GS. Either way, there are a few tweaks and improvements that may make your Apple device even more wonderful. One such tweak, provided by Spell Number, activates Emoji — colorful and scrumptious emoticons, available exclusively to iPhone users over in Japan. Simply download Spell Number, enter the number 91929394.59, then press the Home button, go to Settings ? General ? Keyboard ? Japan and activate Emoji. Unlike various other Emoji-activating apps for iPhone, this one is absolutely free and, notably, works for OS 3 and the 3GS. This is a definite download, especially for folks who would like to spice up their SMS and email messages with some Emoji goodness.

appicon-zombies-and-meZombies & Me (99 cents)
The slow-moving dinosaur of the game industry, EA (s erts), recently founded its own micro-game production studio to start churning out potential iPhone hits at a fast rate — one a month — while experimenting with new gameplay styles. Zombies & Me is the first release as part of this initiative and, surprisingly, it looks gorgeous, sounds scrummy and plays well, too. The premise is simple, Granny’s house is about to be raided by hungry zombies and it’s your job to dash around the garden, leading the undead in to various bombs, while trying not to have your brains sucked out. Serious kudos to EA for stepping away from the big brand franchise factory methodology and investing in something a little more experimental.

appicon-tap-starTap Star ($4.99)
Finally a viable competitor to Tap Tap Revenge hits the App Store. Created by Epic Tilt and with serious support from Sony Entertainment Music — clearly wanting to get in on the App Store game to leverage some of its content — comes Tap Star, a new rhythm action game. While Tap Star lacks the character and flair of Tap Tap Revenge, it makes up for this failing by bundling tons of tunes from Sony’s catalogue, including tracks from Elvis, Cyndi Lauper, Pink and Britney. I’ll be sticking with Tap Tap Revenge, it’s just so much richer, but fans of Sony’s catalogue in particular may want to check out Tap Star.

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?

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