The Week in iOS Apps: Captain, courageous

This week's apps include an appearance by Marvel's superhero of the moment. Plus updates to Spotify, Fantastical 2, TextExpander, and other popular apps.

weekiniosapps copy

The Week in iOS Apps: Captain, courageous

This week’s apps include an appearance by Marvel’s superhero of the moment. Plus updates to Spotify, Fantastical 2, TextExpander, and other popular apps.

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier

This $3 game for iPhone and iPad lets you fight some of Cap’s better-known enemies—King Cobra, Taskmaster, Puff Adder, and the Winter Soldier—while occasionally calling in some of his friends, like the Black Widow, the Falcon, and even some Avengers. In-app purchases make it possible for you to upgrade Cap’s suit, research enemies more quickly, and advance in the game more efficiently.

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If you like drawing quietly in a sketchbook that’ll never see daylight, this app may not be for you. If you and your friends like trading sketches, though, might be helpful: It’s a drawing app that puts a real emphasis on sharing. Users can trade and share sketches using Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, iMessage, email, and AirDrop. iPad users can store up to 180 sketches at one time. And you’ll have a variety of drawing tools, ranging from crayons to fine-point marker and beyond.

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Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger was updated this week with two new features: First, the ability to create custom groups of the people that you chat with most. Second, you can now forward messages and photos to other Facebook users who aren’t currently in the conversation. We’re sure that adolescents will find no way whatsoever to abuse these features and cause hurt feelings.

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Fantastical 2 for iPad

We’ve long been fans of Fantastical 2 for iPhone. The new $10 iPad version is, well, bigger, says our own Dan Frakes: “Though it’s not quite the revelation the original version was for the iPhone, it gives you everything that’s great about the iPhone version along with an interface that takes advantage of the iPad’s larger screen.”

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If you like the New York Times—but you know, maybe not all of it—this iPhone app offers up bite-sized portions. For $8 a month (about half the price of a subscription to the full paper on your iPhone) you get selected Times stories, a morning and afternoon briefing, and stories aggregated by Times editors from the Web. It’s for news junkies who don’t have enough time for all the news.

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Spotify is now free to use on your iPhone or iPad. It’s not quite fully a song-on-demand service on the phone, however: You can play any artist, album, or playlist on shuffle. However, on the tablet, you can play any song at any time. The app has also been redesigned for iPhone, offering smarter playlist creation. Pay $10 a month and you’ll all get the music ad-free.

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This $5 text-expansion app for iPhone and iPad has seen a big overhaul in this week’s update, including a redesign for iOS 7; the addition of iOS’s sharing pane for copying, emailing, and tweeting; and new tools for organizing and ordering the snippets in your library of phrases to be expanded. There are also new swipe commands for touchscreen users and new keyboard commands for people who like to use their iOS device with additional hardware.

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The world is blessed with a million great note-taking apps: The $10 WritePro for iOS appears to be yet another one. It can recognize your handwriting, correct your spelling, save a document in a number of formats, or share via most cloud-based storage networks or social media services. Not to mention, WritePro can also translate documents to 16 different languages, aided by the Bing translator.

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Other apps of note

Day One (pictured) is now available with an iPad-specific interface … Tetris allows users to compare their scores with friends via Facebook … and Shazam has a number of updated features, including lyrics that scroll across the screen while a song is playing nearby.

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