Weekly App Store Picks: May 2, 2009


Who’s that knockin’ at your door? Why it’s none other than the freshest pickings from the App Store, joined by a smattering of Apple (s aapl) news.

Before we get stuck in to this week’s iPhone picks and recommendations from the App Store, let’s shift our focus for a moment and have a quick recap on what went down this week.

There’s so much to get through here, so let’s kick off by rewinding back to Monday where Apple launched a new iPhone OS 3.0 beta, sliding in a selection of new features including settings for push notification and audio scrubbing in the iPod app. Plus, David Appleyard took a look at iStat for iPhone. The $1.99 app is a useful tool for remotely monitoring your system performance and resources.

The very next day, Amazon swallowed up iPhone developer Lexcycle. A significant purchase indeed because Lexcycle is the brains behind Stanza, a wonderful — and absolutely free — eBook reader for the iPhone. Also on Tuesday, our own Clayton Lai continued his Jailbreak series, looking at how to jazz up the sedate iPhone lock screen.

Rumors abound as Verizon CEO Lowell McAdams has apparently, “talked to people at Apple.” Speculation has turned to the possibility of two new Apple products: an “iPhone Lite,” and apparently a “media pad.” The latter of which would essentially be an oversized iPod Touch.

The latest addition to TheAppleBlog’s journalistic lineup, Gavin Bowman, launched the App Store Roundtable article series. His first post brings several developers together to look at the growth of the App Store and the initial gold rush. And finally, Apple stealthily launched Live Chat support for MobileMe. (It’s still not going to convince me to move over from DropBox, though.)

And in other news, UK-based artist Jon Burgerman has teamed up with UsTwo, the app developers behind Steppin and MouthOff. The team are currently cooking up an iPhone music toy, titled Inkstrumentals, featuring a crowd of Burgerman’s odd and awesome characters.

Moving on to the picks, this week I’ve been looking at Pixel Contact, Wolfenstein 3D Lite, MusicNeon and Lilt Line.

Pixel Contact (99 cents)
Since purchasing my iPhone, I’ve been disturbingly fastidious when it comes to keeping my Address Book tidy. It’s particularly important to me that I have an image for every single one of my contacts. The problem is that when swapping contact details, it can be somewhat awkward to ask someone I’ve just met if I can take their photo. Can give the wrong impression, you see? This app allays an awkwardness by providing an array of pixellated people that you can assign to your Address Book contacts. It’s super cute and incredibly useful, too.

appicon_wolfenstein_3d_liteWolfenstein 3D Classic Lite (FREE)
The original PC-based Wolfenstein was, I’m proud to say, my first FPS. The seemingly massive environments, the strange new control scheme, stealing weapons from dead enemies — it was a fresh and exciting challenge, something I’d never experienced before and, crucial for me as a young lad, it felt like games had started to grow up. Doom would, of course, take all of this even further for me, but until then, Wolfenstein reigned supreme. The iPhone version hit the App Store a couple of months back for only $1.99; those looking to try before they buy, download this free version and try out three levels.

appicon_musicneonMusicNeon (FREE)
Burgerman’s forthcoming Inkstruments toy for iPhone got me on the hunt for music games in the App Store. After searching for something fun but also free, I tracked down MusicNeon. Coming from the collective mind of Shanghi Gokei, an app development outfit from Japan, MusicNeon is a nonsensical sound toy meets Bejewelled-esque puzzle game. As the clock counts down, it’s your job to link the glowing neon tubes up from left to right, ensuring you trigger the seemingly useless bonuses along the way. The gorgeous glowing visual style, paired with the jaunty music selection (including a few Christmas classic, for no apparent reason) make this a tongue-in-cheek but nevertheless fun game.

appicon_lilt_lineLilt Line ($2.99)
However, fans of music games looking for some serious action should perhaps skip the weird Japanese oddity that is MusicNeon and skip straight to Lilt Line. The game combines a deliciously messy Dubstep soundtrack — courtesy of London-based crew 16bit — with retro high-speed shoot-em-up action (except without the shooting). As a white line glides through empty neon caverns, you play by tilting the iPhone left and right and tapping the screen to the shuffling groove. Developer Different Touch describes the game as, “hack’n’slash dubstep vehicle synthesis simulation action.” Whatever it’s meant to be, it’s one of the most original games to hit the App Store so far and is highly recommended.

That’s all the picks we’ve got time for this week. Meet me right here, same time, same place, next week for more of the week’s news alongside fresh picks from the App Store.

In the meantime, what apps have you been using this week?