This Week's Best Apps

In this week's totally radical app round up: wasting time on the mobile web, simplified; battleships, sunk; appointments, maintained minimalistically; monsters, evaded (and blasted); your childhood fear of puppets, worked through and much, much more!


Monster Dash: A new running game from Halfbrick, the makers of Fruit Ninja - do I even need to keep going? - Monster Dash sends you scurrying as a tiny little cartoon man blasting away at a whole army of vampires, mummies and other assorted baddies. Simple but highly enjoyable. $1.19.

Calvetica: For those who want to keep track of their appointments but don't want to have to stare at an ugly calendar to do it, Calvetica is a super simple, super graceful solution. It might not be feature rich enough for power-planners, but it joins Diacarta as iPhone calendars that are beautiful enough for me to consider actually writing my appointments down. $4.

Puppet Wars FPS: Puppet Wars, a first-person shooter which basically charges you with the task of brutalising a more generic version of the cast of Sesame Street, just got a major update leaving it more enjoyable and polished than ever. Now there are zombie puppets, ninja puppets and a survival mode, and it still looks wayyyy nicer visually than any game based on evil puppets has any right to be. Thank goodness for that! $2.49.

[img" size="legacy" align="center"] Photoburst: A rad little app for burst-shooting with your iPhone, Photoburst allows you to take up to 10 shots a second, adjusting the number of photos and the time between them. $1.19.

Stumble Upon: Finally, mercifully, Stumble Upon has brought its excellent time-wasting capabilities to the iPhone (the iPad app has been out for some time). Works swimmingly, allowing you to quickly cycle through pages and assign them thumbs ups or thumbs downs. Stumble Upon's database of cool web destinations is getting better all the time, so if all your shiny little apps have bored you, and you just want some good old internet action, it's definitely the go-to source. Free.

Also available for Android.


Trillian Beta: The decently popular desktop IM client Trillian now has its own Android app. Whitson from Lifehacker says:

The first and best thing about Trillian, at least if you're a desktop user, is that all you need to do is sign in with your Astra account to get all your accounts, custom names and avatars in your phone's IM client. Furthermore, Trillian already has photo sharing built in, as well as the ability to push notifications of new IMs to your email if Trillian is suspended.

Trillian supports AIM, Gtalk, Facebook, Yahoo, IRC and a whole lot of others. It also gives users tabbed chats and support for landscape mode.

Tumblr: It's Tumblr for your Android phone. The simple blogging tool gets simpler, pretty much. Like the iPhone version, Kat says with Tumblr on Android you can:

Post text, photos, links, video and audio to a Tumblr feed, as well as read subscribed Tumblrs within the app. At the moment, it sounds as though Tumblr hasn't included the same Twitter support that's included in the iPhone version.

Who doesn't blog these days? Android 2.1+

GetGlue: It's one of those Foursquare-type apps, but built for homebodies and couch potatoes rather than world travellers and bar hoppers. Why? Because instead of checking into different locations, GetGlue lets you check in to whatever TV show, music, movie and book you're watching, listening or reading at the moment. You can see what your friends are doing as well, so you can compare, you know, life experiences. If you're a big-time user, you can score points and "stickers". I... kind of like this idea.

Flash 10.1: He's got the whole internet in his hands. He's got flash videos and flash games in his hands. He's got the whole internet in his hands. Flash 10.1 is out of beta for the Nexus One. And that means you "officially" have the whole internet in your hands. Unlike that other phone.


Elements: Dropbox is our favourite way to keep files synced across multiple machines, bar none, but its apps sadly don't do text editing. The universal app Elements fills that role, letting you cleanly edit text and quietly keep it in sync.

There have been a few Dropbox-enabled text editors for the iPad, but none quite reflected the simplicity and polish of the Dropbox syncing itself, something that happens with blissful reliability and speed. Elements in the best yet.

It's is a fairly barebones text editor, focusing on one document at a time, but it has some features that make it a joy. First and foremost is the Dropbox syncing itself, which happens when you open the app or every 30 seconds otherwise. If you're offline, it'll sync the next time you've got a Wi-Fi connection. The app creates an "Elements" folder in your Dropbox, which means that you'll need to be sure to save text files you want to edit on the go into that folder specifically, but otherwise the syncing worked flawlessly (and supports access to file versions via the Dropbox website, if you accidentally save over your opus).

Elements also has support for TextExpander, an app that lets you create shortcuts for phrases you type with annoying regularity. You can pretty up your text with some fonts, sizes, colours and a file-info icon shows word, line and character count and the date on which the file was last modified. Another unique feature is Scratchpad - a little window, accessed by tapping an icon, for jotting down quick ideas that don't quite fit into a bigger document.

The iPhone app strips all the extra stuff away and leaves you with just plain old text editing.

The universal app is $6, a tick more expensive than some of the alternatives, but for those who already rely on Dropbox to keep files accessible on the go and have always wished they could edit those files on the go, it works beautifully.

Sound Prism: A radical, visual music-making tool, Sound Prism does all the harmonising for you, so even music noobs can make some beautiful music. It doesn't have many features to speak of - there's no recording your tunes, for example - but it's fresh enough for musically inclined (or I guess the uninclined trying to get inclined?) to check out. $5.

iSink U: Rosa, sink this app's battleship:

There's something incredibly satisfying about watching a torpedo shoot from your battleship and crash into your opponent's submarine with a booming sound. There's something even more satisfying about watching this happen from the safety of your iPad.

iSinkU is an iPad version of the good ol' Battleship game we've played for years. It's got incredible graphics, fitting sound effects, and logical controls. My only qualm with the game is that it's sometimes fickle when I'm trying to aim a shot, requiring me to drag the target icon instead of just tapping the spot where it should go.


The Photo Cookbook: Mouth-watering enough to warrant inclusion in the latest iPad TV spot, The Photo Cookbook not only shows you its recipes' finished products all nicely photographed, but each step in their preparation too. For someone like me who needs to check YouTube for a refresher every few months when tackling a grilled cheese, this is a godsend. The recipes can sometimes tend toward the foo-foo or overly simple, but for chefs with modest ambition, it's wonderful. $6.

We are so crazy about apps right now you wouldn't believe it. If you have recommendations, tips or just want to let us know about your own app, drop a note in the comments or shoot me an email.

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