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Weekly App Store Picks: September 12, 2009


The Beatles may not have arrived in the iTunes Music Store just yet, but it’s not all disappointing news: the App Store has been updated with a new look and a stack of new iPhone apps have been released. As ever, here are my picks from the latest additions.

My top pick for this week is Hitchcock, plus I’ve also checked out Newsstand, Blades of Fury and Rhapsody.

appicon_hitchcockHitchcock ($19.99)
There’s a fantastic range of apps on offer to budding iPhone-based photographers at the moment. Tools such as QuadCamera and ColorSplash make for fun and effective photo-enhancing toys, and, once you’re done touching up your latest masterpiece, you can share your photography on Flickr via their official app. For folk who want to take their photography a step further and start dabbling in film, Hitchcock has arrived. Don’t let the messy interface fool you, this is a powerful app that’s packed with seriously useful features. Essentially a storyboarding tool, the app allows you to drop in photos as panels, outline camera movement, set shot durations and even add audio notes. Once you’ve laid out your latest shoot, you can export as a PDF too. Possibly a tad pricey but potentially an indispensable tool for indie film directors.

app_icon_newsstandNewsstand ($4.99)
Byline might have been the most useful RSS reader on the block, but there’s a new news-gathering app in town and it’s got a great feature-set and good looks too. Newsstand incorporates a gorgeous newspaper rack style interface, fusing traditional with modern, allowing you to skim the latest headlines in style. Alongside Google Reader syncing, Instapaper support and sharing via Twitter, Newsstand also incorporates two essential RSS features: offline browsing and an embedded browser. I like to be able to open the app up and sync the latest news and happenings across the web for reading later. And for when I’m connected, an embedded browser is essential for those moments when I want to explore a story a little further.

app_icon_blades_of_furyBlades of Fury ($6.99)
There are two interesting things about this app. First up, this game is effectively classic Japanese coin-op and console beat-em-up Soul Calibur, shrunk on to the iPhone. It’s 10 medieval fantasy characters, each brandishing a different sort of pointy stick and an array of special moves. And secondly, Gameloft has seriously upped its quality on the iPhone. It’s heavily leaning on the ideas of other more-successful gaming franchise, like Gangstar‘s GTA-style gameplay and Modern Combat‘s Battlefield vibe, but it’s releasing good games nonetheless. Just like it’s predecessors, Blades of Fury is derivative, but that’s only noticeable because it does such a stunning job of re-creating Soul Calibur. The artwork and graphics are a true achievement, I’m surprised to see that the iPhone can be pushed so far and while the control scheme isn’t perfect, it certainly works well enough to make for a fun hack ‘n’ slash fighter.

appicon_rhapsodyRhapsody (free)
The joys of Spotify might not have reached the U.S. just yet, but that doesn’t mean that those of you who are stateside can’t enjoy the benefits of all-you-can-eat music streaming. Real Networks, the folks behind the wonderfully bloated ad-touting Real Player, launched its own iPhone app this week. Rhapsody hooks into Real’s music network, giving you wireless access to their gargantuan library, apparently touting more than 8 million songs. There are some neat music browsing features, like Rhapsody Radio and Charts, however, as our own Darrell Etherington noted, the sound quality isn’t so hot. It’s worth checking out though as, although you’ll need to be a paying subscriber to use the app on a regular basis, Real is currently offering a seven-day free trial of the service.

That’s all the picks for this week. I’ll be back in seven days with a fresh selection of App Store recommendations.

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

4 Responses to “Weekly App Store Picks: September 12, 2009”

  1. Why does nobody ever mention the Gazette newsreader application? I tried ByLine from early on and it was rubbish. Gazette has all the features you quote above except the unnecessary ‘fancy’ interface and is now a mature app. You might say it’s the RSS reader that should have come as standard.