This Week's Best Apps

In this week's ABOUT TIME app round up: Rage HD, finally released!!!; photos, shared with your closest friends; The Economist, making you look smarter; analogue synths, emulated; and much, much more.

iPhone

Rage HD: WOOOO boy. This is a big one. Matt likes games, let him tell you all about this one:

Holycrapit'shere. The splattertastic shooter Rage HD from id Software - you know, the Doom and Quake guys. The graphics are unbelievably good, the best of any iPhone game yet. It's a must-download if you love shooters-just look. It's nuts.

It's interesting that id's decided the best way to do a first-person shooter on the iPhone is as a rail shooter, almost like a throwback to old-school arcade shooters (for some reason, the quarter-devouring, Aerosmith-starring Revolution X and the T2 game come to mind). You don't move, you just point and shoot. And it's great. Mutant blood splatters everywhere. There's bonuses to be shot at as you move through the level, if your reflexes and aim are quick enough. The tilt controls feel tight enough on the iPhone, actually preferable to the faux d-pad on the iPad. (Check out what John Carmack has to say about it.)

All in all, it's surprisingly solid to play, combined with truly amazing-for-a-phone graphics. While it maintains the pick-up-and-playability iPhone games need to have, hopefully it's part of a coming onslaught of more serious iPhone games for serious gamers. Remarkably, it's only $2.49, and it's a universal app iPhone and iPad, so it's a genuine deal. Fair warning: It's a whopping 746MB. But it's easily the best $2.49 and gig of storage you'll eat up all day.

$2.49, also kicks just as much ass on the iPad.

Path: A buzzy social photography app a la Instagram that caps you at 50 friends - that way you won't feel sheepish about being your true, always-doing-something-embarrassing self. Free.

Astronut: Astronut, a new game from the app All Stars at The Iconfactory (Twitterific, Take Five), puts you in the space boots of an astronaut adrift in space. It's gorgeous and engaging throughout, from the graphics down to the smallest details in the menus and sound effects. Free, $2.49 in-app purchase for more levels.

CameraBag: The wait is over! FINALLY, CameraBag has been updated. Not like they OWE me an update or whatever, but it really did take a while. Anywho, ever since Camera+ got booted from the App Store, CameraBag has been many peoples' go-to app for applying some filters to their photos. The update brings Retina support and, uniquely, the ability to vary a given filter's effect by double tapping on the image. $2.49.

Boxcar: People stay pinging Matt Buchanan all day err day:

Currently, Boxcar is a most excellent app for that straightforwardly pushes notifications from services like Twitter and Facebook to the iPhone. Boxcar 4.0 is going to make your iPhone feel like it has a million, constantly connected tentacles.

Boxcar 4.0 not only adds support for a ton more services - Google Voice, Buzz and others - the app's been completely redesigned so you can actually manage all of those notifications, neatly broken down by service with an overhauled dashboard. And, you can do stuff about those notifications inside the app now, like reply to a tweet.

The net effect of Boxcar is that the iPhone feels less siloed and more connected to the outside world, which is one of Android's biggest strengths. (The iPhone's push notifications system could still use a less obtrusive Android, Windows Phone or Pre-style redesign, though.)

Free with ads; $6 without ads.Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner: How long have you wanted your pedestrian life to collide with the faraway galactic action of the Star Wars movies? WELL THEY JUST COLLIDED. $6.

Zombigotchi: Remember Tamagotchis? They had their charm! OK, that charm wore off quickly, but if there's anything that can make the Tamagotchi relevant again it's adding some ZOMBIE action in there too, right? Right! A cute little zombie pet for you to feed and stroke, right there on your iPhone. $2.49.

iPad

The Economist: The Economist, a magazine for smart people, is now available as a handsome iPad app. The app, also available for the iPhone, has all the content of the print version and is free to subscribers. But people can't really see what iPad magazine you're reading when you're sitting in a coffeeshop, so I guess you'll just have to hope that someone sees the icon when they're flicking through your apps. Free with subscription.

Edge: Edge, a block-tumbling iPhone favourite, has been optimised for the iPad. The clean retro graphics look better than ever on the bigger screen, and universal app's been tweaked for performance and bumped up for Retina support on the iPhone as well. $4.

Korg iMS-20: An impressively faithful iPad rendition of Korg's iMS-20 synth/sequencer/drum machine, the app is dauntingly complex to noobs (just like the real thing) but advanced enough to keep experienced music dudes busy for hours (also just like the real thing). Sometimes the iPad's screen is a wee bit too small to accommodate everything that's going on, but it's still a joy to noodle around with. $19.

Android

Pocket Legends: Pocket Legends has long been one of our favourite 3D MMO games on iOS and now it's on Android. Which means:

The Android version makes Pocket Legends the first cross-platform 3D MMO, so iPhone users and Androiders will finally be able to peacefully coexist, launching campaigns and amassing inventory in virtual harmony. At least in theory. The app's free to download with a slew of in-game purchases for new campaigns and such, and it'll run on all devices running Android 2.1 or higher.

Can't wait until Android fanboys and iPhone lovers fight it out in virtual reality.

Opera Mobile 10.1 Beta: Opera Mobile 10.1 beta recently got released for Android and it's offering easy tabbed browsing and promising faster speeds, especially with Opera Turbo which compresses data by 80 per cent. Additionally, 10.1 offers pinch to zoom, wireless bookmark sync with Opera Link and a decent-ish password manager. I ran into a few bugs but I guess I can't complain with that beta tag slapped on it.

Tether for Android: The popular tethering app on Blackberry has made its way over to Android, and impressively works with pretty much all Android phones (Android 1.5+). It's old school tethering - as in plug your phone into your laptop via USB - and it costs $US24.95 (more than some other options: PDAnet, EasyTether, etc) but you're not paying a monthly fee to carriers!

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.