Weekly App Store Picks: May 16, 2009


Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, even better, it’s a super selection of fresh picks, plucked from the App Store, especially for you.

But that’s not all I’ve got in store for you this weekend: After perusing the week’s happenings right here at TheAppleBlog, I’ve prepared a swift run-down of Apple (s aapl) news from the past seven days.

The folks over at Amazon (s amzn) kicked off the week by dropping an update to the Kindle for iPhone app. A few weeks back, Amazon acquired the company behind Stanza, the free e-Book reader. It seems as if Amazon is still pushing forward with the Kindle for iPhone app, rather than, as I would have expected, focusing its efforts, and considerable resources, on rolling Stanza and Kindle into one.

TheAppleBlog’s Henry Balanon helped melt away those Monday blues with a new iPhone Dev Sessions tutorial. For coders and tech-minded musicians alike, this should be a particularly interesting one, as Henry’s latest article is all about creating a drum machine app for iPhone.

On Tuesday, Microsoft (s msft) launched a shot across the bow of Apple’s iPod, with its latest Zune advertisement. The ad features Apprentice-losing certified financial adviser Wes Moss, explaining why a Zune is much more of an economically savvy purchase than the iPod.

Perhaps signaling the end of the line for the iPhone 3G, Apple has now made it possible to purchase the device online. It’s the latest in a long line of what seems to be inventory-clearing tactics from Apple, making way for the rumored iPhone refresh this summer. Potential buyers should consider holding out for a possible iPhone announcement in the coming weeks.

Also this week, David Klein posted an excellent tutorial on setting up Google (s goog) Sync for Mac and iPhone. This is essential reading, both for Gmail users looking to integrate their iPhone more closely with their Google account and for MobileMe users looking for a free alternative to Apple’s service.

Moving on to the picks, this week I’ve been looking at When Sysadmins Ruled The Earth, Guru Meditation, Resident Evil: Degeneration and Peggle.

appicon_sysadminsWhen Sysadmins Ruled The Earth (free)
Blogger, journalist, author and super-smart guy, Cory Doctorow, has had one of his excellent short stories brought to the iPhone, courtesy of Robot Comics. The story centers around a bunch of sysadmins as chance survivors of a global apocalypse. Although the comic book reader software is incredibly bare-bones, it doesn’t matter, as the story makes for incredibly compelling reading. For fans of short science-fiction stories, this is a must-have app for the iPhone and well worth checking out over the weekend.

appicon_guru_meditationGuru Meditation (free)
Whether you use your iPhone for work or play, it’s just as important to get away from the incessant flow of e-mails and PDFs, zombie apocalypses and pachinko-esque puzzles. If you want to relax but just can’t seem to break away from your iPhone, Guru Meditation could be just the app you need. Created as an homage to an old mythical Amiga game, Guru Meditation could be considered a game in the loosest sense; it’s more a tool for encouraging relaxation and calm, albeit with a retro Atari-style look. To play, you simply find a quiet place, sit in a comfortable meditative position and then hold the iPhone still for as long as possible.

appicon_resident_evilResident Evil: Degeneration ($6.99)
If meditating isn’t your bag, though, and you’re just on the lookout for another zombie head to pop, this may be just the app for you. Capcom’s Resident Evil: Degeneration is an incredibly faithful addition to the long-running series, featuring excellent 3D graphics, shake and tilt to fend off zombies or reload, and, of course, a panoply of disgruntled undead folk to unleash your sweet gunnishment upon. It’s a deep, action-packed experience, certainly ideal for fans of the series, and, at the moment, this is as close to console gaming as the iPhone can get.

appicon_pegglePeggle ($4.99)
We’re finishing up this week with Peggle — a pachinko-style puzzler, which is a genre that seems to be all the rage on the iPhone at the moment. Arguably one of the titles at the forefront of this genre, at least in the online casual gaming space, is PopCap’s Peggle. The iPhone version is astonishingly good value for money and an example of just how much of a better experience a little polish and attention to detail can bring. The game packs in 55 levels, various game modes, loads of score-modifiers, replays, and even an array of weird characters, all of whom give it an Adult Swim-lite vibe. Just like Rockchinko, which I reviewed earlier this week, it’s a brilliant game, but it could still do with downloadable levels and online connectivity.

That’s all the picks for this week. I’ll be back in seven days with more news from the week and picks from the App Store.

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