This Week's Best iPhone Apps

In this week's distracted app roundup: Grand Theft Auto, committed! Live video, streamed over 3G! Photos, psychadelicised! Blocks, stacked, smashed and squeezed through walls! Casual gaming norms, subverted! Spying spouses, caught! Songs, drawn from thin air! Barack, Obama'd! And more...

Chomp: Following in the footsteps of Chorus, Zensify Apps and Apple's own Genius, Chomp is an app for finding more apps. If you're a regular, well-rounded human, this may sound excessive! If you're reading this column, less so. Chomp brings a slick, consciously simple UI to the table, and has an extremely handy bookmarking feature. Here's how you should use it: Once you find an app you think you might like, or that made you chuckle (see: Fishbate), bookmark it, and just wait 24 hours. Your wallet will thank me.

Crush the Castle: Too often on the iPhone, I see castles being defended. This is incorrect! They should be crushed. With trebuchets, if possible. Decent graphics, a great physics engine and respectably deep gameplay. $2.49.

Finger Physics: An all-around fantastic stacking game, Finger Physics isn't the newest app in this roundup, but I'm pretty sure I've wasted more time on it this week than all the others combined. It's a very simple concept built atop a very simple engine: just stack your pieces, some of which have special functions, until you hit your goal. $1.49, though there's a meaty free version as well.

GTA: Chinatown Wars: I'm not sure what I was expecting, really, but this game came as a total surprise to me. I mean, I knew it was coming, I just didn't expect it to be so good. It's basically the exact same game you get on the PSP or DS - that is, a sprawling Grand Theft Auto title in a hybrid top-down/3D style, which costs around $US30 on those platforms - for $13. Barring the character animations, this game is one of the most visually impressive I've seen on the platform, and I've barely even explored the city after a few hours of play, and only scratched the surface of the available missions. $13.

iTrust: Displays a fake, dead homescreen, and records any attempted screen presses so you can show your would-be phone snooper the evidence of their intrusion. I can't imagine a situation in which this app actually solves anyone's problems, but I can think of plenty of people who'd use it anyway. Stick it right to that stupid arsehole! person you love, for $1.19!

PhotoTropedelic: Image processing apps are a dime a dozen, so in order to catch my eye, a single-filter app has to be pret-tay, pret-ray, pret-tay cool. The trick here is that PhotoTropedelic doesn't just run a straight, predictable filter; it interprets sections of photographs and applies different filters to each. Instead of a mishmash of colours, you get stripes, stars, and other designs. Plus you can export to scalable PDF. At $2.49, the price is a little steep.

Qik's video streaming app used to be tethered to Wi-Fi, which chopped its usefulness by about 99 one-hundredths. Now you can broadcast video over the air, even from non-3GS iPhones. Free.

SkyBox: This is a simple concept, executed simply: you guide blocks of varying shapes as they fall through holes in walls of varying but generally accommodating shapes. So why is it so intense? I flinch every time my blocks are about to pass through another plane, even when I know they'll be fine. The intensity pays of when you get better, though, making you feel like a REAL BLOCK HERO in the later stages. $2.49.

Voice Band: Hey, this doesn't seem like it should be possible! Sing, hum, or "DUURR" into your iPhone, and Voice Band will approximate your tones into a variety of instrument sounds. $4.

Do you love Barack Obama? Would you like to see and hear more of him, even when you're away from the TV or computer? Alternatively, do you hate Barack Obama? Do you absorb his every word, only to spew it back in his general direction, drenched in venom? Or you really not care, but enjoy the occasional candid photo of a Portuguese Water Dog? Whatever, it's free.

This list is in no way definitive. If you've spotted a great app that hit the store this week, give us your firsthand impressions in the comments. And for even more apps: see our previous weekly roundups here, and check out our Favourite iPhone Apps Directory. Have a great weekend, everybody!

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