This Week's Best Apps

In this week's thank-goodness-it's-the-end-of-the-week app roundup: Goo, sculpted; TiVo, controlled; places to eat, discovered; Twitter, relaxed; history, revisited; PBS, appreciated, and much, much more.

iPhone

Megareader: Barret... WATCH OUT!!!

Much like Type n Walk shows you what's on the other side of your phone while you text, MegaReader creates a transparent backdrop for ebooks. Let's read A Tree Grows In Brooklyn in front of a tree growing in Brooklyn!

It's the first heads-up display of its kind for an iOS ebook app, and works on any iOS device with a camera that runs version 4.0 or higher. You can only read DRM-free books, unfortunately, which means that MegaReader's stash of 1.8 million free books is primarily classics and indies. But! They're classics and indies you can read on the go without bumping into things. Which, for a two dollar app, isn't half bad.

$2.49, but still probably a bad idea in general.

Time Shutter: A free app that puts historical San Francisco in your pocket, in the form of a geo-enabled map, historic photos you can overlay on modern SF, and more. Free! History! It's cool!

Trickle: A Giz App of the Day. Pretty simple: Designed for in-dock usage, Trickle shows you your tweets one at a time, as they come. You can tap one of two buttons to retweet or favorite a tweet, and you can swipe back through your timeline manually, but that's about it. Perhaps not ideal for Twittermaniacs who follow people by the hundreds, but for monitoring a well-maintained list of followers (or even a single source) it's pretty clever. And better than staring at your battery crawl up while your iPhone's in the dock, in any event. $1.19.

PBS: While Angry Birds may boost your self-esteem, it does not necessarily enrich your mind. The new iPhone app from PBS makes dozens of full episodes of shows like NOVA, Nature, and yes Antiques Roadshow available on your phone. Free.

Precorder: A Giz App of the Day. Precorder's a replacement for your iPhone's built in video-shooting app. It perpetually saves a few seconds of video before you actually hit the record button, so if you're filming a specific action, as opposed to a general scene, you can wait for the thing, whatever that may be, to happen and then add a few seconds of build-up after the fact. Say you're waiting for your dog to do something cute. You don't have to film him for minutes at a time and then whittle down the footage; you can just point your iPhone at him, wait for him to lick his balls, and then hit record. Precorder will back things up a and give you the previous 5 or 6 seconds of footage. $1.19.

Google Places: A Giz App of the Day. Once upon a time, Google tried to buy the restaurant-rating site Yelp. When that fell through, they decided they'd just build their own version. Google Places for iPhone, which includes Google's new restaurant recommendation engine, Hotpot, is a key piece of that puzzle, a polished resource for finding nearby restaurants, bars, and cafes when people are out and about. Places has been on Android for a minute now, natch, but the iPhone version opens the service up to tons more users (and soon, with the Verizon iPhone, tons and tons of more users). Free.

iPad

DesignScene: Apps for consuming web content on the iPad have largely shaken down into two categories: dedicated apps for individual sites and RSS readers populated with a users' selected feeds. DesignScene is something else entirely: a prepackaged bundle of all-things design.

It bills itself as "a real-time inspiration app for graphic designers drawing from myriad relevant sources", but it'll appeal to anyone interested in design, whether that means reading through Design Observer blog posts or just flicking through assorted images on Ffffound. It's part photo browser and part RSS reader, but by virtue of being both those things it's something more than them, too: it's the rare app that focuses on a single genre of content rather than a single model of presentation. Which is cool!

Six panels containing images from some 50 sites comprise the "visual" part of the app. Each panel is vaguely related-infographics, packaging, graphic design, etc-and can be flicked through on the app's main screen or jumped into for full screen viewing. The right side of the main screen shows an RSS-like list of aggregated posts from a collection of over 30 sites. In both cases, with the images and the text, the full post can be accessed with an in-app browser. $5.

TiVo Remote: A Giz App of the Day. TiVo's official remote app for the iPad. It has five "tabs", and lets you manage your recordings, find new shows to watch, look through the TV guide and basically browse through your TiVo interface as if you're actually browsing through the interface. It's independent of what's going on on the TV, so you can be watching a show and be doing all this simultaneously. Free.

World of Goo: A Giz App of the Day. Truth be told, there aren't a lot of iPad games that grab me in the can't-work-can't-sleep-I've-just-gotta-play-it kinda way. But I'm amazed I've gotten anything done since World of Goo came into my life this week.

World of Goo was not born on the iPad. It started as an immensely successful WiiWare game-garnering more or less unanimous praise-and is available for PCs and Macs. But the game, a pure physics-based treat in which you build structures out of little living goo balls, is right at home on the tablet; using your finger to sling goos into place as you make your way through the various levels, discovering new and strangely behaving species of goo, is immensely satisfying.

Android

Google Translate: An amazing new feature brings Google Translate alive. No, really. It translates what you're saying in English to Spanish or vice versa, on the fly, in a conversational mode. Let's let Kat explain:

It's as easy as pressing a key when the language is being spoken-let's say you're trying to order some food in Spanish. It translates what you say into the phone on the fly, and then reads the Spanish version out loud, so the waiter can understand. They can then respond in Spanish, and the phone will convert it to English, speaking it out loud.

It's only English and Spanish for now but you know more will be coming. Free.

ATM Hunter: I hate it when I can't find a good ATM and am forced to cash out at some seedy liquor store that sells FourLoko in the back room. With MasterCard's new app, ATM Hunter, you can find specific bank ATMs, surcharge-free ATMs, 24-hour ATMs and even wheelchair accessible ones near you. Users can even add ATMs to the app too. Free.

Kongregate Arcade: You get over 300 different flash-based games on your phone for free. Some of them have to be good! Oddly, it got pulled from Android Market but can still be had on their site directly. Requires Android 2.2 with Flash installed. Free.

Jet Car Stunts Lite: It's the free 'lite' version of the full $2.05 app, but it has eight courses that aren't in the full version, so it's almost like an expansion pack. It's a racing game that'll track your fastest time so you can brag to your friends. Quick and pretty damn addictive. Free.

ABBYY Business Card Reader: As old school as business cards are, people still love handing 'em out! But what to do with them when you get them? Type in the info? Uh, no. Use ABBYY's Business Card reader to take a picture of the card and let it do all the legwork for you. It uses OCR software to work its magic. $10.29.

NASA Spinoff: See everything that NASA has done in one purple Android app. Gary says:

If you can live with the app's bizarre purple layout-inspired by the Crab Nebula?-there's a good amount of content in here. A timeline of NASA innovations is good for boning up on what it's been up to since it was founded in 1958, plus there's a simple Google Maps tab showing where many NASA inventions can be found around you today. Plus there's an occasionally updated news feed.

Booty Symphony: Quite possibly the awesomest combo ever: T-Pain and butts. Kyle eloquently explains T-Pain's Nappy Boy's Booty Symphony :

It's not as crazy as it sounds! Just tap the various booties on the booty soundboard-including snippets from Nappy Boy songs like Tay Dizm's "Point Em Out" and Young Cash's "I'm a Freak"-to create a short, stimulating 30-second video. OK, maybe it's more crazy than it sounds.

Ah-mazing in an app. Free or $3.08.

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.