This Week's Best Apps

In this week's awesome blossom round up: Apple's Remote, finally updated; The New Yorker, digitised on your iPad; Wine, discovered; weather, beautified; Vikings, glorified; Beejive, Android bound and more!

iPhone

Viking Row!: I've always had an appreciation for Vikings. Now I can pretend that I was there rowing the boat with my bulging biceps, snazzy beard and horn helmet. The game is simple; you row your ship by strategically swiping the screen with two fingers to grab as many coins you can while keeping your men alive. It's harder than I thought (to be a virtual viking), which means it was a whole lot of fun. $1.19.

Tango: Rosa says Tango is the best way to make video calls over 3G. Why? Because it has the best video quality (over 3G) and you can use it for cross-platform video chat. Yes, that means iPhone users can see Android folks. iPhone to iPhone and Android to Android obviously work too, and it's pretty simple to get rolling so I'd say get to Tango-ing with anyone with a front-facing camera.

Weather HD: We rounded up the best apps for checking the weather, but some people (I'm looking at you, California) don't ever need to check the weather. Enter Weather HD. It's just pretty. Jason, a Californian himself, says:

It's a weather app for people who don't really care about the weather. Just like on the iPad, Weather HD shows you your current temperature, the high, the low, humidity, change of rain and wind speed/direction on top of a soothing video representation of your current weather conditions. If you were interested in just the temperature, you'd bookmark the weather forecast search on Google, which spits out the current temp in text-based form. You're using this app for the awesome animations. $1.19 gets you the app.

Apple Remote 2.0: It's finally here! We've all been waiting for an update to Apple's Remote app for oh so long, and it's optimised for the Retina Display of the iPhone 4 and new iPod Touch and brings a whole new interface for the iPad. Jesus says that the Remote app looks like the native iPod app on the iPad, so much so that it seems like having a "lean and fast version of iTunes on a touchscreen". On the iPhone it's the same good stuff from Remote 1.0 with more polish and better visuals.

Snooth: I'm no wine drinker, but I think I'd use Snooth any time I drank a sip of that fermented grape juice. Basically, it's supposed to be a Shazam for wine. You snap a picture of the wine label, and it shoots you back all the information that less classy folks like me might not know: pricing info, where to buy it, what grapes are used and things of that nature. The one problem? It's not nearly as good as Shazam at the moment, but the database is growing (currently at 820,000), so I'll assume it'll improve over time. Maybe I'll be into wine then. $6.

How to Cook Everything Essentials: This is the free version of Mark Bittman's "How To Cook Everything" (that one cost $6), but this free one still has over 100 recipes. They're calling it Essentials, which to me means, hey, you're not really a cook, anyway. Here's what you can do to get by. And that's completely fine by me. The app has presumably good recipes, shopping lists and a timer to keep you don't turn medium rare into a house burning.

Android

beejiveIM: Beejive, the best instant messaging app on those other smartphone platforms, has finally made its way to Android and though it costs 10 US bucks, it's as nice and feature-packed as IM clients go (it has a conversation drawer!). Beejive supports AIM, MSN, Yahoo, Google Talk and other clients, while allowing file transfers between users as well. There are other free options available for Android so you may not want to drop $US10, but Beejive is definitely worth thinking about, at least.

Bloomberg: If you geek out on financial news and stock prices, you'll be thankful to know that Bloomberg has finally released an official Android application. It's been on the iPhone and Blackberry for a while now, but this version comes complete with two homescreen widgets. I'm no business-type myself, but it seems like Bloomberg hits all the black numbers and bidness coverage that the suits love.

Foursquare: Foursquare just got a 2.0 update and it's a major one. 2.0 is bringing a prettier version of Foursquare that's much smoother to use and more similar to the iPhone version (in this case, that's a good thing). There's new To-Do and Tips tabs, which make the experience of checking in to places that much more accomplishing.

Car Home: Google just put out Car Home in the Android Market, and the updated app finally brings some customisation to the driving-friendly app, meaning you can re-arrange the shortcuts, remove shortcuts, change the wallpaper and add new application shortcuts. It's nice that Google releases their apps in Android Market so anyone can download them; it just sucks that most their new apps require Android 2.2, since carriers are slow to push out.

SayMyName Dessert: It's a basic app that simply reads the name of the person who just called, texted or emailed you out loud. Not only that, SayMyName Dessert can read out email subjects and read entire text messages.

Tawkon: Tawkon is an app that promises to monitor your phone's radiation levels. I'm not sure how accurate it can be, but here's what they do, according to scared-of-radiation-old-me:

Tawkon analyses how your phone's antennas (strength, direction, angle) deal with various issues with your network coverage (distance, weather, terrain) and spits out whether it's at a safe level to talk. I'm sure there's much more analysis that goes into accurately reading radiation levels than what Tawkon is doing, but giving a loose-ish estimation is better than being left in the dark. I think.

It's a rather swell idea to try to give us the deets on radiation (in our phones), since no one else seems to care!

IP Webcam: I'm not exactly sure how useful this is on a day to day basis but I dig the idea. IP Webcam turns your Android phone into a wireless camera that can stream video to your computer. Jason from Lifehacker says the setup is easy:

Install the app, tweak the settings (login/pass, resolution, image quality), and then simply load up the URL it gives you in a web browser (I used Chrome for testing) or a client that accepts streaming video (I used VLC).

iPad

Coca-Cola Heritage Timeline: I'm a Coke guy through and through. Every other soft drink can disappear for all I care. I also love to learn about the things I love, and Coke has put out a snazzy iPad app that tells Coke drinkers the history of their bubbly cocoa syrup. It covers the 124-history of Coke and throws in a few videos as well. No word on whether they mention cocaine in the secret formula, though.

New Yorker: If you want to get your fancy, smarty-pants reading on, the New Yorker is on the iPad in full fledged, $6/issue form. Barrett says:

As for the app itself, it uses the same template as Wired - which makes sense given that they share a parent company - and includes digital touches like a cover drawn with an iPad.

They're promising more improvements (and hopefully Apple settles on a subscription payment method) in the future, because $6 per issue sorta seems like a lot.

iStreamer: Here's Sam I Am Biddle explaining the app:

It's a social feed service which displays tweets, RSS feeds and other updates in a timeline, scrolling cross-ways like a nice desk dashboard accessory. Virtually any type of update can be added to the timeline, even search keywords. If you set up an alert for "alligators eating toast" you'll see updates - however infrequent - scrolling across the screen automatically. You can catch up on updates you may've missed if you popped out, by scrolling tactile-ly yourself.

It's five buckaroos.

Super Mega Worm: The iPhone version has been out for a while now, but Super Mega Worm just went universal, which means you can get some big screen, angry worm, human-killing fun on the iPad. Which means, it's even more super and more mega. It's a lot of fun, if only to see the cartoonish humans explode because of a giant worm that looks like poop.

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 or Casey an email.