ESPN Local apps, the Onion News Network among this week’s free iPhone apps

Jul 19, 2010
Tech

This week’s list is heavy on multimedia content; whether you want access to sports talk radio, satirical videos, music stations or television shows, you’ll find something here. It’s an eclectic group, but all are great for iPhone users who want to sit back and relax with some non-interactive entertainment. And then there’s our free lite […]

This week’s list is heavy on multimedia content; whether you want access to sports talk radio, satirical videos, music stations or television shows, you’ll find something here. It’s an eclectic group, but all are great for iPhone users who want to sit back and relax with some non-interactive entertainment.

And then there’s our free lite game of the week, Wolf Boy Lite, for those of you who crave action. So put away your wallets and get ready to download this week’s top free apps.

New apps from the Worldwide Leader in Sports

ESPN’s (mostly) impressive roster of apps has two new additions in ESPNChicago.com and ESPNLosAngeles.com, both of which bring the respective websites to your iPhone for free. The apps give you what you would expect, such as an easier-to-navigate version of the website, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much was included in the app. They provide access to the local ESPN radio station (especially great when you consider the ESPN Radio app costs $2.99) as well as audio and video versions of local SportsCenter. Aside from that you also get news stories, schedules, team blogs and stadium information; none of which will blow you away, but they’re all nice features to have. If you’re a sports fan in one of these markets, this is a must download, as it’s as good a local sports app as you’ll find.

Another free Onion app

I’m not sure I understand why the Onion needs two apps – one for those who want to read stories and one for those who want to watch videos – but it doesn’t really make me like the Onion News Network any less. ONN focuses on the satirical organization’s video clips, with a good deal of hilarious two-to-three minute reports, such as “Boston Globe Tailors Print Edition For Three Remaining Subscribers” and “Soccer Officially Announces It Is Gay”. The app conveniently divides the videos by six different shows, such as “Today Now!,” “In The Know with Clifford Banes,” “Tech Trends” and “Onion Sports Network,” as well as an “Editor’s Choice” section. Like the news app, you’ll have to deal with a whole lot of Jack Link’s beef jerky advertisements, but it’s a free app, so you should expect some kind of ads going in. It’d be nice if the Onion could just combine their two fantastic apps, but given the price of each, it’s hard to complain too much.

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Music, National Public Radio style

NPR Music is not the station’s first foray into the app world, and while so far it hasn’t been as popular as NPR News, there are still plenty of cool features in this app. The main menu divides music by genres, though you can also access 20 of NPR’s musical programs, such as “All Songs Considered” and “World Café.” You can also stream more than 75 hand-picked stations from all over the U.S., or browse you favorite artists and listen to songs and interviews, and also read bios. The most common complaints seem to center around a lackluster background mode (which only work with the iPhone 4 and the 3GS with the software update) and all-around lengthy load times, something I unfortunately encountered plenty of. There’s still plenty of potential here, and even with the frustrating parts, this is a solid music app.

A television app, done right

The Smithsonian Channel, which I promise is a legit cable station, surprisingly has one of the most impressive television apps around. While many similar apps offer info on shows and the occasional preview clip, this app has full episodes – and lots of them. I won’t pretend I’m familiar with anything I watched on this app, but there was a wide array of shows dealing with serial killers, monkeys and aircraft carriers. The videos are searchable by subject matter and television show, or you can just look at the most recent and most popular. Of course, there’s also a schedule in case you want to know when you can watch the Smithsonian Channel on an actual television, but given the incredible amount of video content included in this free app, why would you want to?

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Free lite game of the week

There’s nothing I like more than brand new games that also release lite versions, so there’s no way I was getting through a free app list without mentioning Wolf Boy Lite. The game puts you in control of Toto, a young boy who’s girlfriend has been kidnapped by the evil monkey Monk, and you must make your way through the “Forest of Demons” to get to the bad guy’s castle. While it’s not a great storyline, the game’s fantastic graphics and nice gameplay more than make up for it. You control Toto with four buttons (left, right, jump and attack) and a moon gets fuller and fuller every time you defeat an enemy. Once it’s full, you tap the moon and become a werewolf, with your skills improved in the process. There’s also an RPG element to the game, as you get to improve your speed, health or power after each level. The lite version allows you to play through the first three levels of the game, and the full version will only cost you 99 cents.

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