Weekly App Store Picks: May 23, 2009


What’s that, you say? You’re looking for iPhone app recommendations alongside a smattering of the week’s Apple (s aapl) news? Read, on my friend, I have just the article for you…

Before I present you with my four recommendations, hand-picked from the freshest apps to launch for the iPhone, it’s time to take stock and review this week’s Apple news.

As if Monday couldn’t get any grimmer, the big news to start the week was all about Microsoft (s msft). Specs and other info about its new Zune, apparently code-named “xYz,” have been doing the rounds. Perhaps presenting a genuine challenge to the iPhone and iPod touch handheld gaming throne, the device may even play XBox Live Arcade content. Very exciting indeed, considering the breadth and quality of games on offer via Microsoft’s online service.

Speaking of which, the big surprise of the week was news that Braid, the top-rated, critically acclaimed Xbox Live Arcade title, has been released on Mac. The game is a side-scrolling platformer, incorporating a host of headache-inducing time-twisting puzzles. Good fun indeed, and a worthy workout for cerebral gamers on the hunt for a challenge.

Coming to the U.S. in the very near future is Spotify, the legal music service that’s essentially like having access to the entire iTunes Store for free. The service has already been on offer in Europe since late 2008. Spotify’s founder, Daniel Ek, believes it’ll be officially available stateside by the start of 2010 at the latest.

While the Spotify iPhone app is still under wraps, Digg.com founder Kevin Rose has been impressed by the desktop version, “… playing w/Spotify, hot damn it’s responsive – plays pretty much any song on earth in <1 second.” Being stationed in Helsinki, Finland, I’ve had the pleasure of using Spotify for several months now — it really is as fast as Rose describes.

My favorite news of the week concerns the latest update to the iPhone. More rumors abound, as a fresh list of specs has been released. Notable possible enhancements to the iPhone include 32GB of storage in the high-end model, built-in FM transmitter, OLED screen, rubber tread backing and discontinuation of the metal band surrounding the edge of the device.

Moving on to the picks, this week I’ve been looking at Mover, Burger King Now, Lexulous and Flashback.

appicon_moverMover (free)
With Air Sharing (among others) firmly covering file-sending over the Net using the iPhone, there’s still no convincing solution for sharing with other users in your immediate vicinity. Those that are available are severely lacking in ease-of-use and appealing looks. Mover addresses both of these issues directly and, as such, is quite different from the solutions I’ve seen previously. Allowing you to share either contacts or images with other users on the same Wi-Fi network, you simply select the name or photo you’d like to send, then literally drag it across to your friend’s device. As developer Infinite Labs state, seeing is believing, so, before you pick up the app for free, check out the demo video of the app in action.

appicon_burgerkingBurger King Now: Phone Ordering (free)
Back in my student days, I lived off a hearty combination of Domino’s Pizza and McDonald’s. In fact, I accrued a sizable debt due to my adoration for fast food and apparent inability to cook. These days, I love to cook and, what’s more, meat isn’t really a part of my usual diet, saved instead for special occasions — like the meatballs at Ikea. Deep down, my junk food lust hasn’t left me: Upon discovering Burger King’s new app, my mouth watered and my heart sank to think of all the glorious grease I’d be missing out on. This may not be as oddly compelling as BK’s Subservient Chicken, but it’s a time-saving app that uses your iPhone to order a tasty trans-fat treat.

appicon_lexulousLexulous ($3.99)
Up until yesterday, I was under the impression that Scrabble-clone Scrabulous had dissolved under the threat of legal action from Hasbro. It seems, however, that the popular Facebook app has been reborn under the apparently less-libelous moniker of Lexulous. What’s more, the crossword gaming ante has been upped by the release of the Lexulous iPhone app. One of the joys of playing Lexulous via Facebook is challenging friends across the globe, something that both the official Scrabble iPhone and Facebook app don’t allow. With a solid iPhone app, Facebook integration and global challenges, Lexulous is a must-have for crossword game fans.

appicon_flashbackFlashback ($4.99)
Originally released for Amiga back in 1992, Flashback will bring memories flooding back for retro-gamers. The game featured Prince of Persia-esque rotoscoped animation, a sprawling alien jungle and a plot reminiscent of Philip K. Dick’s writings. The iPhone version is pretty tough, especially given that the controls have been ported to the touchscreen. But I’m not entirely sure of the legitimacy of the iPhone iteration; the app may get pulled from the store. If you’re interested in trying out this classic platform adventure, download now.

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?