Amazon Music arrives
Amazon’s old cloud player evolves into something more like Spotify, creating even more competition in the growing streaming music sector. Plus: apps for gaming, organizing, and more.
The old Amazon Cloud Player app has morphed into Amazon Music for iPhone and iPad, evolving beyond its old cloud-player experience. The service has become more Spotify-like, giving members of Amazon Prime free access to more than a million songs, which can mean only one thing: The streaming music competition is heating up even more.
This free iPhone app makes listening to the radio a social networking experience: Just choose to tune in to one of 20,000 stations—including music, talk, sports, and more—then let your friends know what you’re listening to. They can click to “hitch” a ride with you on your streaming station, ensuring all of you get to share the listening experience.
Here’s a development we’ve hoped for since the appearance of the first Kindle app for iOS: This week’s update will play the Audible audiobooks version of a book that app users own in both Kindle and Audible formats. (Audible is an Amazon company.) That lets you seamlessly switch between reading a book to listening to it—without ever leaving the app: You can also read and listen to a book at the same time, with pages turning automatically.
You already know that we love space- and science-related apps. Kiwaka, a $3 offering for iPhone and iPad, turns learning about stars and constellations into a game. You begin your adventure in the African jungle; your job is to catch fireflies that will light the stars in the sky, naming and explaining the constellations.
Launch Center Pro
When Launch Center Pro first appeared two years ago, Macworld said the now-$5 iPhone app “affords power users an impressively clever way to navigate the iPhone or iPod touch more quickly.” This week’s update adds functionality, including location triggers, IFTTT integration, the ability to search for and share GIFs, and more.
One of our favorite weight-loss apps is expanding its universe: Integration with Nike Fuel, Jawbone, and Fitbit activity-tracking services have all been upgraded, “to make it more clear how many calories you've burned as well as the bonus that you have coming after a hard day's work.” The updated app also includes a number of small bug fixes.
Pimsleur Course Manager
This iOS audio app for international language learners can help you, with one 30-minute lesson a day. The latest upgrade to the app makes it even easier to use, giving you access to audio controls—play, pause, and more—from your device’s lock screen, meaning you’ll spend less time fumbling with your iPhone and more time learning to say “I love you” in Italian.
Small World 2
The popular $10 world-conquest board game for iPad has received an extensive update, adding an online arena where you can actually chat with opponents as you set up matches. A new player clock adds a sense of urgency to the proceedings, limiting how much time any given player can spend during the game. Single-session games can now be played live, in real time, with AI that takes over when a user quits; and new multi-session games add more advanced options for matches. Plus, you'll now get stats about your (and your opponents’) performance in a game, to help you improve your skills.—Dan Moren