After reading through the description and reviews of over twenty fireworks apps, I tried out a little over a dozen of the best to come up with a few good choices for your Independence Day festivities. I tested apps designed specifically for the iPad, and tried to find ones that come with TV-out capabilities, so that you can share your fireworks display with the whole family.
Basic fireworks apps
My number one pick for a traditional fireworks app would have to go to iLoveFireworks. It looked the best on a large display, supported multi-touch, and had a good variety of random firework bursts. It can also record a show that can be played back in a continuous loop. I almost liked Fireworks Arcade, as it added a sort of fruit ninja gaming element to the show, but it would only work in portrait mode, which detracted from the big screen appeal I was looking for. If you’re looking to add your own photos or artwork as a backdrop to the fireworks display, FireworksToy works well, but does not have the same variety or attention to detail offered by iLoveFireworks when it comes to the fireworks themselves.
Putting on a light show
Plain old fireworks can get boring. Luckily, there are alternatives that offer lots of variety for your light shows, including a great collection from a company called Elements of Design. Spawn Illuminati HD, one of the standouts, was designed specifically for attaching to large screen displays. With Illuminati, you can take control of the visual aspects of the show in ways you can’t with standard fireworks apps. On the big screen, it’s like the modern-day equivalent of the psychedelic liquid light shows of the 60s and 70s.
Putting on an engaging visual show can extend to games, too, like Osmos for iPad. You will find that people will quickly pick up on the physics behind the game, and should have fun either playing themselves or even just watching. Equally fun, and a little more Mr. Wizard, is the instantly addictive Ions app. With this app you can add positive and negative points on the screen as well as change gravity effects on ions as they shoot across the screen, which makes for intensely interesting visuals.
If you can’t see the real thing, or you just want something extra to supplement it, the three best indoor replacements for a good old fashioned fireworks display are iLoveFireworks, Illuminati, and Ions. Set these three to music and let your guests interact with the show in ways they can’t outdoors.