The Week in iOS Apps: Good grief!
You’ll laugh! You’ll cry! You’ll commit untold violence! This week’s roundup of iOS apps offers users the full range of human emotions.
Already this week we brought you reviews of the latest versions of Twitteriffic and Apple Remote as well as news of the improved Gmail app and updated Sonos app. Here are other new and updated apps that caught our eye.
Bubbsie: You can haz your cheezburgers: The free Bubbsie app for iPhone helps you create your own meme-able moments by taking pictures, adding speech and thought bubbles to create amusing text, then letting you post to a variety of social networking websites, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr. This week’s update offers users the ability to create captioned photos on their iPhone without sharing to those networks; it also adds a number of creative options and support for the Retina display on later-model iPhones.
A Charlie Brown Christmas: Time to be honest—there’s not a ton new in the recent update $5 app for iPhone and iPad: It is now optimized for iOS 6 and the iPhone 5, and there are some updated doodads here and there. But this app (like the beloved television Christmas special that it’s based on) is already such a holiday classic that we’d be remiss if we didn’t remind you that it’s out there: It combines music, voices, and animation from the animated special into something wholly new and native to iOS. Phil Michaels wrote last year that the app “really draws the reader into the Charlie Brown Christmas experience,” and that remains true today.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City: If you want to skip the meaning of Christmas and instead would like to explore the meaning of violent, bloody, unconscionable crime, you’re also in luck! Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is already familiar to owners of Xbox and PlayStation consoles; now it’s available as a $5 game for iPhone and iPad. A crime story that mixes elements of Miami Vice and Scarface, Vice City takes players deep into the underworld of 1980s Miami, a time and place of two days’ stubble, big hair, pastels, and Don Johnson solo records. It wasn’t a great decade. If you like mayhem, you’ll love this game.
The Orchestra: We love how the iPad lets us dive deep into some of our favorite activities. The Orchestra is a $14 app that shows how classical music is created, showing the conductor at work along with the real-time score that the conductor is working from and commentaries from various musicians in the orchestra. See the trailer for a demonstration; this is one of those apps that really shows off the iPad’s impressive range of capabilities—and in turn offers a rarely seen look at an orchestra and its full range of capabilities. It’s brought to you by Touch Press, the same folks who did The Waste Land, and Elements: A Visual Exploration for iPad, among other highly regarded apps.
This Is Not an App: Yes it is, but what kind? That’s the decision you make in this $5 offering for iPhone and iPad.
Zite: This free app—which creates a “personalized magazine” based on the interests you demonstrate on Facebook and Twitter—has been completely overhauled with an entirely new look and new ways to find and shape the content you see. There’s more content to explore: The number of categories has expanded from 2,500 to 40,000. And now users can now rate stories simply by swiping up or down on them. This was already one of the best news aggregation apps; now, it’s even better.
Other apps of note: WritePad for iPad has been updated with an improved handwriting-recognition engine … Kindle for iOS now has better rendering for manga books and adds in the much-touted X-Ray feature from Amazon’s e-readers … YouTube has been updated with AirPlay compatibility and a native iPad interface.