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Weekly App Store Picks: Aug. 1, 2009


The weekend has arrived, bringing with it the opportunity to reach that perfect state of iPhone-related relaxation: open the App Store and get ready to download the latest recommendations.

Before we get to the weekly picks, it’s time to take our usual look back at Apple (s aapl) news for the past seven days.

First up, more odd goings on with Apple’s utterly inconsistent App Store approvals process. This time round, Apple has chosen to banish Google Voice from the App Store. This means apps that allow users to access the Google Voice service, such as GV Mobile and Voice Central, have been disconnected from iTunes. An incredibly disappointing decision on Apple’s part.

It seems that some over-enthusiastic Chinese peripheral manufacturers have produced cases for Apple’s unannounced forthcoming Nano and iPod touch updates. As expected, we’re going to be seeing a camera-integrated touch and a Nano with a wider screen and smaller wheel. And let’s not forget the usual weekly rumor about Apple’s tablet too.

Staying in China for a moment — Chinese Apple fans have cause to celebrate this week as China is finally getting an official release for the iPhone. The device will be released via China Unicom, a carrier with over 135 million subscribers.

Our own David Appleyard posted a truly wonderful tutorial for those interested in customizing their Macs. David introduces BootXChanger, an application that allows you to change the default OS X Boot Icon. It’s an incredibly simple and potentially visually-yummy hack. So simple in fact that I’m considering replacing my Apple boot logo with Katamari Damacy.

From an unexpected corner of the portable media player galaxy comes news of the Zii Egg. The device, a handheld StemCell Computer running Android, is being touted as a serious competitor to the iPhone and iPod touch. It looks gorgeous and the specs are certainly up to par, however it’s worth remembering that it’s the content — namely the apps — that makes a device, not the hardware.

And finally, in its ongoing battle with the iPhone jailbreaking community, Apple has announced that jailbreaking could disable transmission towers. I’d have to side with Darrell that this sounds much like sensationalist scare tactics.

Moving on to the picks, this week I’ve been looking at Ghostly Discovery, Let It Sleep, The Secret of Monkey Island and Space Invaders Infinity Gene.

appicon-ghostly-discoveryGhostly Discovery (Free)
Ghostly International, electronic record label extraordinaire, just keeps pushing it forwards, signing Internet-electronica superstar Tycho, releasing a compilation album with Adult Swim as a free download and now creating their own music streaming app. The app allows you to decide what kind of music you hear (all of which is from Ghostly’s catalogue), based on your mood or how digital/organic you’d like the tracks to be. Best of all, this gorgeous-looking streaming music box is absolutely free — for folk who like their ambient synths, glitches and bleeps and other electronic noises, this is an absolutely essential download.

appicon-let-it-sleepLet It Sleep (99 cents)
Occasionally an app comes along that’s a bit of an oddity, and Let It Sleep falls in to this category. It’s not genuinely useful, but it is functional in a charming kind of way. Wrapped in John Lennon-inspired artwork (a reference to Let It Be), the app allows you to record your nocturnal noises. Using the iPhone’s mic, the app will start recording if you trigger the sound sensor. It’s very sweet and, for only a buck, certainly worth downloading. Especially worthwhile if you’re curious as to what goes on at night while you’re sleeping.

appicon-monkey-islandThe Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition ($7.99)
A classic of the point ‘n’ click graphic adventure genre, Monkey Island is fondly remembered by many for its painfully obscure puzzles, wit-infused sword play and laugh out loud script. Sure it was horrendously difficult for most kids (and many adults too), but it was all about the journey: becoming Guybrush Threepwood, grogging it up with pirates and locating Monkey Island. Now the original game has arrived on iPhone complete with the same bizarre puzzles. The control scheme is disappointing, given the potential for re-designing the interface around the iPhone, but it’s still the same classic adventure.

appicon-space-invadersSpace Invaders Infinity Gene ($4.99)
Another classic video game in this week’s App Store picks, except this one has been totally re-imagined and re-equipped for the iPhone. This isn’t your daddy’s Space Invaders as Infinity Gene packs in gorgeous vectorized graphics and an armory of fresh weaponry too. The game stays true to its roots though. It’s still 2D, the invaders are still as iconic as ever, but now the gameplay and visuals evolve as you advance. Japanese game shop Taito have built something special here, capturing the essence of the retro shooter while blending it with modern gameplay conventions.

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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