Fresh iPhone Apps for July 2012

Jul 31, 2012

We’ve got some solid updates to start your Tuesday. Up first is a big update to Weather HD that brings a whole new version of the app, with 3-D maps and animations to bring you better weather information. Travel app HipGeo also received an update, adding video capabilities and creating travelogues based on locations from the experiences, photos and videos of its users. Finally, Jurassic Park Builder turns the 1992 classic film into a game in which you create your own dinosaur park, paddock by paddock.

Weather HD 2 Free (iPhone, iPad)

A big update to forecast info app Weather HD brings about a whole new iteration of the program, packing all kinds of weather information into a single place with a whole new design and experience. Weather HD 2 provides the elements the app had before, like forecasts for the week and even for the next 24 hours, plus coverage for tons of locations.

In the new update, Weather HD 2 (full version available for $0.99) brings 3-D weather maps in HD, push notifications that can bring you severe weather alerts, and a full range of new weather animations. You can also link in to a number of new social features, like sharing the weather near you and catching the weather your friends are experiencing to help you make plans, or following live weather tweets to bring you information from the ground from just about anywhere. You can also add in additional weather information from Accuweather and MeteoGroup with an in-app purchase, to make the app even more comprehensive.

HipGeo – Travel Blog and Trip Journal update (iPhone, iPad) Free

Travel app HipGeo is bringing new features to its app and website to help you see the story of your travels and those of your friends and family. The app was already designed for allowing users to share photos and stories from their travels, and includes capabilities that let you post from wherever you are. If you don’t happen to have a Wi-Fi or 3G signal, the app saves your updates for when you do.

HipGeo’s update brings video to the party, allowing users to shoot short clips and share them along with their other travelogue items. The HipGeo website and app also now gather all the photos, video and text from a single location and aggregate it together, so you can not only get the story of your friends’ travels, you can get a sense of what a place is like from the experiences of others.

Jurassic Park Builder (iPhone, iPad) Free

The latest in management building sims puts you in the middle of the 1992 movie Jurassic Park’s titular Costa Rican theme park, and it’s your job to build the attractions and fill the park with dinosaurs. The game includes all the characters you’d expect, plus some pretty great graphics and sound clips from the film series. Just like in the movies, you’ll need to be careful to keep your dinosaurs from escaping and wreaking havoc.

Jurassic Park includes more than 30 dinosaur species whose DNA you’ll need to locate and research before they can be added to your park. The game also includes Facebook connectivity, which means you can visit and contribute to the parks of your friends and they to yours, and Game Center connectivity for more social interaction.

PlayUp – Where Sports Get Social update (iPhone, iPad) Free

Just in time for the Olympics, social sports tracking app PlayUp has gotten an update that packs new content into the app, bringing you all the news you need from the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games. If you’re unfamiliar with the app, PlayUp allows you to track your favorite sports, athletes and events and get scores and stats from all of them. For the Olympic Games, that means you can track your country’s team, your favorite events, or even your favorite athletes, and share with your friends along the way.

The app allows you to send instant messages around any game for free, so you can talk about what you’re watching with others while you’re watching it. PlayUp includes stats across 36,000 games and brings you up-to-the-minute scores. For the Olympics, it allows you to personalize the app for the country you want to track. The update also brings user interface improvements as well.

10000000 (iPhone, iPad) $1.99

Occasionally, a developer will take a tried-and-true gaming formula and mash it together with another formula that doesn’t seem like it would work with the first. 10000000 is a game like that – it combines RPG elements with match-three gameplay. It’s not the first to do it, but it does mix two strangely disparate elements in such a way as to make a great, addictive experience in which you’ll need to match the right items in a grid in order to progress through dungeons.

Matches are made on the grid by sliding rows or columns with your thumb to make three or more of a single kind. But what you match matters, because while you’re matching, your character is running through a dungeon. If he hits a door, you’ll need to match keys to unlock it; if he comes across an enemy, you’ll need magic or swords in order to attack it. It’s a great way to mix up the standard match-three gameplay, and money and resources you earn in each dungeon run can be used to make your character stronger and last longer in the dungeon as you go through each timed run.

TheEndApp update (iPhone, iPad) Free (with $1.99 in-app purchase)

Temple Run-alike TheEndApp is free when you download it, but if you’re willing to pay $2, you can unlock the premium version of the game. Previously, that premium version was a little lackluster, but a big update to the game added a lot of new features that make it worth a second look and maybe a little money. In TheEndApp, players run through a post-apocalyptic city, jumping gaps and sliding under obstacles to see how far they can get.

TheEndApp’s update fixes a lot of bugs and other issues, and throws in new game modes. It includes extra challenges to add more goals to your runs and give you something for which to strive. There’s also the addition of new characters and music you can unlock through playing, and you can compete with your friends across Game Center leaderboards as well.

Facebook Messenger update (iPhone, iPad) Free

Facebook’s mobile app for interacting with your friends while you’re out in the world has just gotten better with a brand new update. The app previously made it simple for users to text chat with each other either on their mobile devices or with Facebook users on their computers, and now the app has been improved by making it easier to have more conversations with friends and to flip between them quickly.

Facebook Messenger also lets users have conversations with friends of their friends, expanding its usefulness to include a much wider range of people. You can also upload larger photos to share with people as you’re chatting with them. The app has been improved to run better as well, with bug fixes and other improvements.

Fibble update (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Puzzler Fibble is known for its great graphics and solid gameplay. Players use touch controls to “flick” a round alien called Fibble along paths to collect coins and reach a goal. It’s a lot like virtual miniature golf, with the power and speed of the flick determining how far Fibble goes. Scores for each level are kept on Fibble’s Game Center leaderboards.

A recent update to the game adds more levels to Fibble’s roster, adding a new area and a stack of new levels to play. Some of them are available from the get-go, and others can be unlocked by discovering secrets along the way. There’s also a new alien to meet in the new levels, and iCloud support to make your experience even better.

Doodle Fit 2: Around the World (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Doodle Fit 2 rounds out the day’s games selections with a different brand of puzzler. In each level in Doodle Fit 2, players are presented with the outline of a shape on the screen, and a series of Tetris-like blocks that can fit into it. The goal is to fill in the entire outline perfectly with the interlocking blocks. The faster you can solve each puzzle, the better your score will be.

There are more than 200 levels in Doodle Fit 2, spread across three different game modes. There’s also online multiplayer in which you can compete against other Doodle Fit 2 players. The game packs Game Center support for online leaderboards and achievements, and also includes a level creator so you can make your own Doodle Fit stages and share them with other players, or play the levels created by the rest of the community.

Foap (iPhone, iPad) Free

There are a lot of cool apps in the iTunes App Store for doing fun things with your iOS devices, but occasionally, there are some that help you to make money. Foap is just such an app – it lets you upload photos you take to the Internet, where they can be used by companies as stock images, allowing you to make some money.

Foap allows you to see the photos that other people are taking and take note of the ones that are top-rated on the site. You can also tag your photos into different categories to make them easier to search and more likely that people might buy them. You can leave comments on other photos and read them on yours.

Nihilumbra (iPhone, iPad) $2.99

Side-scroller Nihilumbra is about a character trying to escape a dark lifeless place called The Void. Upon fleeing, you’ll find yourself working through a number of lush worlds, avoiding enemies and escaping from The Void as it pursues you. In each level, you’ll gain abilities to add color to the world, and each new color has a different property. For example, blue adds ice to the ground that lets you pick up speed to avoid obstacles, while green allows you to bounce and leap over high walls.

Nihilumbra’s developers claim the game includes as much as 10 hours of play, and you’ll move through five different worlds and gain a new power in each one. Nihilumbra also includes two different control schemes, mixing either virtual buttons or tilt controls with touch controls for adding color to different areas.

Darkside (iPhone, iPad) Free

Take to your spaceship in Darkside and start clearing out asteroids. In each level of the game, your job is to orbit huge rocks and use your weapons to destroy other rocks trapped in orbit around them, as well as mines and enemies that mean to stop you. You’ll also find tons of power-ups for additional points and to increase your weapons and powers. Working through each level in Darkside, the goal is to avoid taking damage from bouncing off rocks for as long as possible as you clear out floating debris.

There are three different game modes in Darkside. In arcade mode, you work through as many levels as possible while trying not to get killed, and there’s a campaign mode with multiple levels to work through. The arcade mode is available in the free version, or you can upgrade to the paid version of the game (for $0.99) to unlock the campaign mode and an extra survival mode. There’s also Game Center support for achievements and leaderboards.

Cooliris (iPhone, iPad) Free

Cooliris is like having a personal social network for all of your photos. The app allows you to aggregate all the images you have on Facebook, Instagram and your iOS devices, and put them in one place. You can also browse photos from the web, and quickly share them with others straight from the app. The goal is that you’ll never have to go looking around for your photos again, because Cooliris keeps them all together.

The great thing about Cooliris is that, because it keeps all your photos together, it makes it easy to share them and comment on them among your friends. You can also easily view everything with the app’s pretty user interface and view them on your Apple TV or Mac with AirPlay. There’s no limit to the number of photos you can include in Cooliris, either.

Bubble Witch Saga (iPhone, iPad) Free

Video game aficionados will see elements of the popular Bust-A-Move franchise in Bubble Witch Saga. The goal in each level of the game is to shoot colored balls toward the top of the screen, where a number of balls are stuck together. Hitting a group of a single color with the same color from the player’s cauldron (the place from which the colored balls derive) clears them out, earning points and bringing the whole cluster of balls at the top of the screen closer to falling down. Your objective: Drop the balls down into cauldrons below, Pachinko-style, to earn huge points.

There’s an element of strategy to Bubble Witch Saga as well, because every time you make a big combo by clearing balls from the top of the screen, a spider descends from the ceiling that adds a multiplier to falling balls that bounce off it. But if you fire a shot that doesn’t clear any balls, a spider retracts from that same side – so you’ll want to be very careful about your shots and where you fire them. Your points on each level rack up to earn you stars, and how well you do on each stage is tracked on Game Center leaderboards.

Manos – The Hands of Fate (iPhone, iPad) $1.99

Based loosely on a movie considered to be “among the worst films ever made,” Manos – The Hands of Fate brings players into a retro game world reminiscent of offerings from back in the 1980s. You play as Mike, a man exploring a haunted inn, armed with only his ability to jump and a gun as he works through the game’s side-scrolling levels. It’s not unlike games like Super Mario Bros., but Manos has its own weird charm that sets it apart.

The cool thing about Manos is how true to the retro feel it really is. With 8-bit graphics and a chip tunes soundtrack, it really does feel like a game from a bygone era. It also has some pretty challenging, engaging gameplay, providing players with regular boss fights and obstacles you’ll need all your skills to surmount. There’s also Game Center support for achievements and leaderboards.

Walking Dead: The Game (iPhone, iPad) $4.99

Telltale’s latest point-and-click adventure game has been out on PC and consoles for some time, but that doesn’t diminish the quality of the writing or the gameplay in the universal version that just hit iOS. Based on the graphic novel of the same name (and not the AMC television show), Walking Dead: The Game brings some great horror moments mixed in with lots of puzzles and interactions with other characters that will test your ability to think on your feet, act fast, and maintain your morality.

It’s important that we note that Walking Dead: The Game is definitely too adult-oriented and gory for kids, but it’s not all about killing zombies. In fact, the story is much more about how you choose to interact with other survivors; they remember what you say to them, how you treat them, and who you side with in an argument. This is the first of five episodes, but having already played the first two, I can’t recommend this game enough.

ORC: Vengeance (iPhone, iPad) $2.99

Isometric dungeon-crawler ORC: Vengeance will likely remind avid video gamers of PC title Diablo III right off the bat, and it does share some visual and gameplay elements with the extremely popular title. But ORC puts players in a role they don’t usually hold – that of one of the usual enemies in games like this, the hulking green orc. The game packs some awesome visuals and some great production values, as well as plenty of monsters to kill with your character Rok’s powerful attacks, executed through double-taps and swipes.

You’ll also spend a lot of time grabbing loot, upgrading Rok’s abilities and equipment, and increasing his stats as you gain levels through battle. There are tons of things to uncover, like lore books that fill in the backstory of ORC’s world, and iCloud support means you can sync your game with Apple’s cloud servers and have as many as four save files on one device.

Bucketz (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Physics title Bucketz is a bit like Fruit Ninja as it involves flying objects that players have to intercept before they leave the screen. The goal isn’t to slice them apart with slashes though, but to catch them and drop them into buckets. Those buckets are arranged on a fulcrum, so not only do you get points for depositing items into each one, but you need to keep the weight of what’s inside both balanced to beat each level and achieve maximum points.

Bucketz also throws extra stuff your way, like stopwatches that you can tap to slow down time, and smoke grenades that obscure your visibility should you hit one. You can also earn coins to spend on power-ups between each level and to pull down bonus points. Game Center support brings achievements and leaderboards, and Bucketz features a style similar to the hilarious You Don’t Know Jack in terms of presentation, which means it’s in good company.

ParaNorman: 2-Bit Bub (iPhone, iPad) Free

In time to promote the upcoming animated film ParaNorman comes 2-Bit Bub, a physics puzzler in which players take on the role of a bisected ghost dog as he attempts to prevent a zombie invasion. It seems Bub has been digging up bones from the graveyard, but those bones belong to zombies. If he doesn’t hurry and return them, the dead will rise and terrorize the living.

Each stage in 2-Bit Bub has players attempting to climb through the level, grabbing stars and eventually a bone to close things off. To do that, players can fling Bub in the air, using similar mechanics to Angry Birds. You’ll have to hit special rings from which Bub can hang in order to reach new heights and grab the bones. Your scores in each level can unlock extra content like posters and trailers for the film.

Viber – Free Phone Calls and Text update (iPhone, iPad) Free

Making calls and sending messages is even easier – and cheaper – thanks to an update to VoIP app Viber. Already, Viber allows users to call each other or send messages for free, using their iOS devices’ data connections rather than over their cellular networks. The result is free phone calls and messages to anyone else who has the app, including both iPhone and Android users.

The update to Viber brings in some new features, chief among them the ability to send group messages to multiple Viber recipients. You can also share photos and links with users through the messaging features, and zap invites to your friends to get them to join Viber’s 90 million other users. Along with the new features, Viber Media has tuned up the app’s alerts to streamline them and keep you from getting bombarded with notifications, while also keeping you apprised of who is contacting you and when.

Alligator at Saw Grass Road (iPhone, iPad) $1.99

Kids can learn a whole lot about some fierce reptiles in the interactive children’s book Alligator at Saw Grass Road. The app is part of the Smithsonian’s Backyard series, and that means that the information found within it has been vetted for accuracy by the institution. The storybook is designed for children, and so includes three different ways to get its story to a young audience: the “read to me” feature that plays audio and allows kids to follow along, the “read it myself” mode, which is like a traditional book,  and “auto play,” which reads the book and turns the pages.

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The story in Alligator at Saw Grass Road follows a mother alligator as she teaches her young how to hunt and stay vigilant for threats. It helps kids learn to read as well as learn about the animals found within it. Words are also automatically highlighted and read aloud when kids tap on them to help with word association, and the app is universal, so it’ll work on any iOS device you have, including the new iPad with its Retina display.

Radia (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Tilt-based arcade title Radia has a pretty minimalist art style, but it’s also an engaging one. You control a ring of light whose goal is to gather up small balls of light called radia that appear around the game screen. Grabbing them advances you to the next stage and you only have a limited amount of time to collect them on each level. The only problem: vicious, bouncing saws that will destroy you if you touch them.

Each level of Radia gets a little more complex and difficult as you play through it. First, you’ll find yourself combatting obstacles and level layouts that force you to move around in different ways, and before long, Radia will throw requirements at you that have you collecting more radia on each level. Many radia will often appear consecutively, and you’ll have a limited amount of time to collect each one. The game includes three play modes, and has Game Center support so you can track your progress through leaderboards and achievements.

HISTORY Here (iPhone, iPad) Free

HISTORY Here helps you find the history in the world around you by using your iOS device’s GPS capabilities to ping important places nearby, and connects to the Internet to find information about them. The app includes photos and information written by History Channel experts, and can bring you info from the city around you or from any place you specify through the app’s search function.

The app can provide points of interest by adding them to the map as you’re looking at it, and it can also stream History Channel video over a Wi-Fi or cellular data connection. You can customize your local points of interest and share the things you learn and the locations that interest you with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.

Office Politics (iPhone, iPad) Free (normally $1.99)

There’s only one way to climb the corporate ladder in arcade title Office Politics – you need to stab your coworkers in the back. You do that by quickly tapping them when they appear on the screen, or by swiping to spin them around if they happen to be facing you, and then hitting them when their backs are turned. The more stabs you rack up in a row without missing one or messing up, the more points you earn.

Office Politics includes seven different characters you can unlock, each one with a different set of special abilities. Those abilities can be used to quickly clear out colleagues you need to stab, or nab other bonuses along the way. The game also packs 18 different levels and four difficulty modes for players to work through.

STRUCT (iPhone, iPad) Free

STRUCT is a bit of a weird building title – it’s something like Tetris, but it’s also a game meant to teach users something about financial investing. There’s a lot of handy information in the app, but the gist of the game is about dropping various bricks into the right locations to complete a structure. In order to do that, you need to recruit different crew members, who carry bricks across the screen and will drop them in place when you tap.

How you build your team determines how fast the characters carrying bricks move across the screen, but it also has an effect on your score and the timer as you build your structure. Putting blocks in place in the correct spots is key to building a combo and completing a level, so you’ll want to be careful, but your higher risks are rewarded with better scores. STRUCT also includes Game Center support for achievements and leaderboards.

PlaySquare presents WordWorld’s Happy Birthday Dog (iPad) Free

PlaySquare lets you use your iPad to turn television shows interactive. The app’s first episode is the children’s show WordWorld’s episode “Happy Birthday Dog,” and it makes the show touchable, adding interactive elements that kids can touch to alter the story. The goal is to help create a surprise party by gathering up elements throughout the story, allowing kids to take part in the show as it unfolds.

WordWorld is all about reading, spelling and word comprehension, though, so as kids watch and play with PlaySquare, they’ll also be learning about different words. The app is designed for kids aged 3 to 6, and is also designed to be replayable again and again to help children continue to learn.

The Dark Knight Rises (iPhone, iPad) $6.99

Gameloft’s latest iOS release ties in with the last entry in director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises. Like The Amazing Spider-Man from earlier this summer, The Dark Knight Rises put players into a game that follows the events of the film, with the capability to fly around an open-world Gotham City completing missions and beating down bad guys.

TDKR gives players lots of Batman’s abilities, like that of gliding from building to building and using his grapnel gun to zip up to rooftops. You can also fight of multiple enemies at a time by countering their moves with expert timing. The game also features Game Center support that provides achievements to earn through the course of the story.

Electric City The Revolt (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Electric City is an animated series from the mind of actor Tom Hanks, and The Revolt is a tie-in game that brings players into the richly detailed world of the show. You take on the role of Frank Deetleman, a man working to help the resistance against Wire Central, a totalitarian entity that controls all communication in the post-apocalyptic Electric City.

Your job in each of Electric City’s levels is to gather certain resources while avoiding detection. The entire game is set up on a grid, with patrolling guards everywhere who can only see on the grid rows or columns directly ahead of them, so it’s your job to stay clear of their detection by ducking around corners and losing them by putting obstructions like buildings between you and them. There’s also Game Center support for achievements and leaderboards.

TED Books (iPhone, iPad) Free

Taking on the tone and style of TED conference talks, TED Books are compiled from the big ideas that drive the conferences to create short-form e-books that can be read quickly and easily. Each new set of books is produced in two weeks and based on content from the conferences, but the books are kept short – under 20,000 words – which means they generally can be read in one sitting.

The app is free, but the TED books themselves carry a sticker price of $2.99. You can also get them through a subscription, which will run you $14.99 and includes six books. If you join with a subscription within six months of the app’s launch, you can also download the “back catalog,” or old TED books, for free. The app has also been updated since its launch two weeks ago to add Retina support for the new iPad, and tune up some bugs, as well.

Great Big War Game (iPhone, iPad) $2.99

Turn-based strategy title Great Big War Game (the follow-up to predecessor Great Little War Game) puts you in the shoes of a commander ordering troops around a grid-based battlefield. Your goal is to take down your enemy, either by assassinating their generals or destroying their bases. To do that, you’ll need to capture buildings of your own, deploy forces of different classes, and use them effectively against your enemies to take down their vehicles, snipers and soldiers and win the day.

You get 50 levels to play through on your own in Great Big War Game’s single-player campaign, plus asynchronous multiplayer that means you can play against your friends (or random opponents) and take your turns at your leisure. There’s also Game Center support, which allows you to see how your scores stack up against other players on the game’s leaderboards.

Follow the Rabbit (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

You’ve got four directions you can move in grid-based puzzler Follow the Rabbit – up, left, right and down. In each of the game’s levels, your character, who is trying to pursue a rabbit through a series of doors, has to move around platforms in order to pick up coins before reaching the level’s exit. But because you can only move in four directions, and you’re scored on how fast you solve the puzzle and how many moves you use, you’ll want to move quickly and efficiently to get to the goal each time.

The puzzles in Follow the Rabbit use swipe controls to move your character around, and you can slide side to side or jump upward to new platforms, but you can only drop down when you find a gap. You’ll need to manipulate platforms, dodge enemies and ride balloons and clouds to get through each puzzle, and you can unlock more stages with the coins you earn along the way, to play through a total of more than 100 puzzles.

Fieldrunners 2 (iPhone, iPad) $2.99

Defend bases against hordes of soldiers, motorcycles, tanks and helicopters in Fieldrunners 2, the sequel to the popular tower defense title. The game includes some 20 towers to unlock, purchase and upgrade, plus plenty of soldiers to take down across lots of levels. Fieldrunners 2 packs some great graphics to go along with the action, as well.

You’ll get a campaign with some 16 maps to work through, with more on the way, according to the developers. There’s also Game Center support, which brings achievements and leaderboards that let you track your scores against players all over the world.

Synesthetic (iPhone, iPad) $1.99

Rhythm title Synesthetic’s first cool gimmick is that it allows you to use the music tracks on your iOS device to create its levels. In each level, your job is to roll around the outside edge of a round cable, avoiding objects to the rhythm of your song. You’ll use either tilt controls or touch controls to avoid objects as you move around the cable.

Synesthetic includes three different game modes for each level, and also includes multiple color themes with which to play around. It also packs Game Center support, which means you have leaderboards for every song out there, and support for the new iPad’s Retina display.

Pocket Minions (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Your medieval territory needs a tower to house your minions, so you’ll need to construct it – floor by floor, room by room, in Pocket Minions. The game is similar to simulator titles such as Tiny Tower, in which you’ll need to recruit people to live in your tower and then fill it with various types of rooms, like maids’ quarters, hunting lodges, furnaces, latrines and more.

You’ll need to build multiple levels and recruit more and more minions to protect your tower against attacks from enemies such as dragons. You’ll also need to manage your tower well in order to keep your minions happy and working hard. Pocket Minions includes 10 levels to play through and lots of different kinds of minions and buildings to make use of along the way.

Speakeasy Cocktails: Learn from the Modern Mixologists update (iPhone, iPad) $9.99

Speakeasy Cocktails is like having a bartending class in your iOS device. It brings you tutorials, instructions, drink recipes and even as many as 40 videos (that total up to 90 minutes, all in HD) that show you how to mix the perfect cocktail, with hundreds of varieties from which to choose. All you have to do is provide the alcohol and the glasses.

The latest update to the app brings a number of new speakeasies to the app’s “World Tour” feature, along with three new videos of cocktail tutorials – including a new original one. Speakeasy Cocktails is now universal, so you can purchase it once and use it on whatever iOS devices you have, and it supports Retina displays on the new iPad and the iPhone.

SoundGecko (iPhone, iPad) Free

Turn articles you find on the Internet into audio files you can listen to hands-free with SoundGecko. The app allows you to put links to articles into the app, which then converts them into MP3 files that you can play with various devices. The process is quick and painless, allowing you the ability to catch up on things you want to read on the Internet when you can’t actually do the reading.

You’ll need to create a SoundGecko account in order to make use of the app, but once you do, you can bookmark articles in your Chrome Internet browser or email them the files in order to access them.

Gets to the Exit (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Part Amazing Alex, part Lemmings is Gets to the Exit. Your goal in the game is to help some rather stupid cavemen to get to the exit of each level. You can do that by manipulating the terrain around them, either raising or lowering sections of the ground to make a clear path. But there are lots of things along the way that can kill your cavemen, so timing and speed are essential to solving each level and getting a high score.

Gets to the Exit includes 55 different levels to work through and you’ll need to manipulate 16 different kinds of movable platforms to solve its puzzles by the end. It features simple touch controls, which you’ll be able to pick up and learn almost immediately, and there are even nine “bosses” to deal with along the way.

Qello – Watch HD Music Concerts update (iPhone, iPad) Free

You can’t always get to the concerts you want to see, so Qello brings the concerts to you. The app allows you to stream video and music from all kinds of different shows; you can get tracks from each show featured for free, or invest in an “All-Access” subscription to get full concerts streamed to your iPhone or iPad.

Qello’s latest update adds a newly redesigned user interface, plus additional Facebook integration that makes it easier to share the things you like in Qello with other users. There’s also a New Releases section that’s been added to the app which makes it easier to find new things and push notifications, as well as lots of bug fixes to make the app run better in general.

Metal Slug 3 (iPhone, iPad) $6.99

The well-loved Neo-Geo title Metal Slug 3 has jumped to iOS devices, using virtual controls and bringing all the side-scrolling action that made the original such a hit. Players take on the role of one of four soldiers who must blast away at hordes of enemies, ranging from robot crabs to zombies. You’ll also snag power-ups and weapons along the way to make yourself even more powerful.

The new Metal Slug 3 includes the classic arcade mode that the original sported, as well as a new mission-based mode in which players can work through different levels and practice on the ones that give them trouble. The game also includes Bluetooth functionality so you can play cooperatively with friends.

Goal Defense (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Tower defense gets a sports-based spin in Goal Defense, a game in which a group of weakling athletes have to defend a huge trophy from a parade of awful jocks. Players find themselves on a football field that has a hexagonal grid laid over it, allowing them to assign defenders to different spots in order to force enemies along certain paths and take them down.

You’ll get access to lots of different classes of athletes to serve as your defenders, and you’ll also be able to upgrade them over time in Goal Defense to make them more powerful. Goal Defense includes 40 levels to work through, plus Game Center support for achievements and leaderboards to see how you stack up against other players.

NBC Olympics and NBC Olympics Live Extra (iPhone, iPad) Free

NBC has not one, but two apps for covering the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England, this month. The first, NBC Olympics, includes a wide range of basic Olympics coverage and information to help keep you informed. It packs rundowns and the state of all the events in the Games, plus news, athlete profiles, photo galleries and more. You can even use Twitter and Facebook to link up with other fans.

NBC Olympics Live Extra, on the other hand, focuses on live videos that can be streamed to your iOS devices, and will include video from every event in the Games for free. That means you can watch events live, catch replays and video recaps of the day’s developments, and even see alternate camera views from events that might not have been shown on TV.

Knights of the Round Cable (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Simple physics and high-scoring action make Knights of the Round Cable so compelling. You play a knight in each level of the game, who is tasked with grabbing gems that appear around several pegs. For some reason, you’re an especially bouncy knight, which allows you to spring around each stage to grab the gems. To navigate, you can throw a rope to each peg, allowing you to swing around it to grab gems or rocket yourself in a different direction.

Grabbing gems, saving princesses locked in cages and knocking out evil gem-stealing chickens all result in higher scores in Knights of the Round Cable. You’ll also need to dodge various bad guys who fly around each stage, hoping to get in your way, and try to build combos by snagging whole sets of gems from around a particular peg. Knights also includes Game Center achievements and leaderboards on which to track your progress.

Professor Pym and the Secret of Steam (iPhone, iPad) Free

Another casual arcade title that involves spinning, Professor Pym plays a little like Knights of the Round Cable, except that it’s more of a vertical scrolling title. Playing as Professor Pym, you have to escape from an ever-rising cloud of toxic steam by launching from spinning cog to spinning cog as you go upward, collecting coins along the way.

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The goal in each level of Professor Pym is to grab as many coins as possible and get to the finish line at the top of the stage in as little time as possible. You’re scored based on those two criteria, and each level has goals to meet; beating them earns you stars. Professor Pym include Game Center support for achievements and leaderboards, too, which means you can compare your score in each level against those of players from around the world.

Slice – Shopping Organized update (iPhone, iPad) Free

Slice is an app for keeping track of your online shopping, and specifically, the packages shipped to you from various locations. The app also lets you keep track of your e-commerce receipts all in one place, as well as discount opportunities from service like Groupon, Living Social and others to make buying things online easier, more convenient and cheaper.

The latest update to Slice supports more kinds of email accounts, including Hotmail, and allows you to manually input information about packages that Slice doesn’t track down from your email accounts automatically. You can also track your spending online and analyze what it says about you, and edit the categories for your purchases to better keep track of how you’re spending your money.

Audio Xciter – DSP Enhanced Music Player (iPhone, iPad) Free

Audio Xciter’s free app enhances the quality of the music players in your iOS devices. The app provides users with three professionally-made tuners that optimize your device’s output to make your music, podcasts and other audio tracks sound and work better through headphones and speakers.

The app makes it easy to search through your audio tracks and scans your music files without any delay. Audio Xciter’s interface is easy to use, and the app includes full support for AirPlay, which means that you can make use of its optimizations regardless of what speakers or other equipment you’re using to play your music or podcasts.

Jewels With Buddies (iPhone, iPad) Free

Multiplayer title Jewels With Buddies takes a page from Zynga’s playbook to create a quality competitive experience that’s all about taking on your friends in games you’re used to playing alone. Jewels With Buddies is a match-three game at its core (like Bejeweled, for example), but played against friends from Facebook or random opponents.

Jewels With Buddies is an asynchronous game, which means you can take your turn whenever it’s convenient and you can run multiple games at once. You can also use Jewels With Buddies’ in-game chat function to heckle your opponents, and enable push notifications to keep you up to date with your various games and when it’s your turn to play.

Amazing Alex (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Angry Birds maker Rovio Mobile’s newest intellectual property, Amazing Alex, is finally available, combining the physics puzzles the developer has come to be known for with Rube Goldberg-type machines that players construct, piece by piece. Each puzzle has a goal players need to meet, like knocking books off a shelf or a ball into a basket. You’ll need to add components to each machine in order to make sure everything works correctly.

Each of Amazing Alex’s 100 levels includes three stars that players need to try to snag with the moving parts of each machine in order to get the best scores. Amazing Alex also includes Retina display support on the iPhone 4, 4S and iPad 2, and you can also create your own levels and share them with the community of Amazing Alex players, or download player-created levels to test your skills.

Tiny Wings 2.0 (iPhone, iPad) $2.99

The sequel to the super-popular hill-ramping endless runner Tiny Wings is actually an update to the original game – which means if you already own Tiny Wings (and you should), you get the new game not as a new app, but just by updating your old one. And there’s good news if you’re an iPad owner, because Tiny Wings 2.0 also has a proper, Retina-enabled iPad version just for you.

In terms of gameplay, Tiny Wings 2.0 adds a second chapter to the game that changes the terms of how you play. In the first chapter of the game, players help a flightless bird gain altitude by skiing down hills and launching up their slopes. In Chapter 2, things get escalated, with players racing against other birds in an attempt to get to the end of each stage fastest. Where Tiny Wings was originally about finesse, the second chapter focuses on speed, changing the game. Best of all, the update is free.

Fishing Joy II (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

At its heart, Fishing Joy II is actually a turret game. You man a big laser gun that’s used to incapacitate fish and capture them. The turret packs a number of weapons in it, each suited to a different size of fish, and each requiring a different amount of “coins” to fire. The strategy comes from trying to aim and hit fish with the proper weapons to earn more coins than you spend to avoid running out of ammo.

Fishing Joy II includes two undersea areas to explore, and two more that will be available sometime in the future through updates. It also includes features that let you snap photos during the game and share them on Facebook and Twitter, and you can purchase more ammo through the in-game store with in-app purchases. – Social City Guides, Offline Maps (iPhone, iPad) Free

Help plan your next trip with the help of’s new app, which aggregates recommended attractions from the site’s experts to help you pick the best restaurants and activities while you’re on vacation. The app brings you recommendations and allows you add your own personal hotspots to the maps of cities you visit. lets you share your trip itineraries and maps with your friends, who can also add to it. You can see where your Facebook friends have been and let them suggest places to go and things to see. lets you access your maps in offline mode as well, to save on data charges.

Scriblist (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Drawing app, Scriblist, allows you to use your fingers as pens, pencils and markers, turning any photo you have in your device’s camera roll into a canvas. The app lets you draw with several different implements and colors on your photos, as well as add text to them. It also includes the ability to alter things like the thickness of your lines to help you create quick drawings, but simplicity and ease of use are king.

Scriblist makes it easy to share your creations with others. You can save your altered photos to your device, and then email them or send them to Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr. You can also do things like create short lists for things like groceries and share them with friends and family.

Comedy Central’s Indecision Game (iPhone, iPad) Free

As election season grows near, Comedy Central and its flagship news satire program The Daily Show are again teaming for coverage. This year you can engage in political combat in a branded trivia game from the Indecision team. Comedy Central’s Indecision Game lets you take on players from Game Center or Facebook in politics-focused trivia competitions.

Winning a round of the trivia game, each of which features three questions, earns you “voters” that you can add to your party and to the map of the U.S. You can then assign those voters to different states to earn points and use them to take down your opponents. You can also customize your avatar as you earn money from competing and leveling-up your character.

Figure update (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Touch controls in music app Figure make it possible to create your own looping tracks composed of bass, drums and lead synthesizer sounds, all with your iPhone or iPad. It’s surprisingly easy to make tracks, building on loops that you can record and add to and then tweak by affecting elements such as timing or pitch.

The update to Figure adds the ability to not only make tracks, but to record and save them to your iOS device and upload them to the Internet. You can also adjust the length of the loop to make longer or shorter pieces for each sound. Figure is surprisingly easy to use, and it only takes a few minutes to create a track.

Left2Die (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Twin-stick shooter Left2Die, like many games in the iTunes App Store, tasks players with fighting through hordes of zombies in various levels. You get access to three weapons for your character – a primary gun like a double-barrel shotgun, a backup melee weapon like a baseball bat, and a super-weapon you can only use after taking out enough zombies, such as a chainsaw. The idea is to stay alive as long as you can, racking up money you can use to buy better weapons and other upgrades.

The thing that sets Left2Die apart from other zombie shooters is its multiplayer element, which allows you to join up with a friend either locally or over a Wi-Fi Internet connection. You can cooperate to take down zombies as a team, or square off in deathmatch mode. There are also 60 missions to play through by yourself, as well as an endless survival mode to master.

Bio Crisis (iPhone, iPad) $2.99

The developers of Bio Crisis seem to have an affinity for marrying old-school visuals and play styles with new-school concepts. In Bio Crisis, they put players in a top-down shooter like something you might have seen at an old arcade or on the Nintendo Entertainment System, and adds late-generation concepts like taking cover and rolling to avoid damage. The result is a game that gives a sense of nostalgia while also feeling fresh.

Players move through levels in Bio Crisis on their route to the end, diving behind cover and using it to take down enemies from safety. You’ll also have to avoid mines and conserve ammo, because while you have a number of weapons, your supply of ammunition is limited. You can grab more ammo from special supply depots scattered in different levels, or make in-app purchases to get more. Strategy is key, though, in order to make sure you can best your opponents without your gun going dry across Bio Crisis’s 36 levels.

Caveface (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Photo app Caveface, developed from the imagination of YouTube star Philip DeFranco, allows you to make cave-people of your friends and of yourself. The app alters your photos by stretching the faces of their subjects to make them look a little more like Neanderthals, creating some hilarious images you can share with your friends and family through Facebook and Twitter.

Caveface allows you to choose how your photos will be altered, and you can choose shots from your camera roll or snap new ones. You can also pull photos directly from Facebook to mess with, and send your shots to Philip DeFranco directly.

Ski Safari update (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Endless runner Ski Safari is among my favorites in the genre, and when it first launched a few months ago, I played it to completion, maxing out every challenge and grabbing all the high scores I could. Players ski down hills ahead of avalanches, using a single touch on the screen to jump and holding down to make their character backflip. The idea is to execute stunts to pick up speed and jump on penguins, yetis and snowmobiles to keep your speed up as you score points and grab coins and avoid getting squashed by falling snow.

Now Ski Safari is back with its first major update, adding a whole new area called the Howling Hills and a new animal to ride: a wolf. Even cooler, there are 30 new challenges to tackle, so players will have a reason to keep at it other than hitting high scores on the Game Center leaderboards. There’s also a new in-game store to spend all those coins you collect throughout the game on new clothes and power-ups for your character.

Frankenword (iPhone, iPad) Free

Word puzzle title Frankenword is all about creating portmanteaus, or combinations of two single words to create a new word. The idea is to make a word by figuring out a pair of clues: for example, one puzzle gives the clues “buddy or pal” and “shellfish,” with the answer being “homeboyster.” Each puzzle also provides players with a group of letters to choose from to use to solve them.

Frankenword packs 50 puzzles for free, with more free puzzles coming in August, according to the developers. More puzzles are available through in-app purchase, as well. The developers state that the game includes more than 600 puzzles available for purchase, and more are on the way. The game also provides a series of hints you can use to help you when you’re stuck in a puzzle, and you can earn more of them by sharing your puzzle solutions on Facebook and Twitter.

Etch-O-Matic for Sphero (iPhone, iPad) $1.99

Turn your iOS devices into an Etch-A-Sketch with Etch-O-Matic. The app allows you to emulate the experience of turning knobs to make pictures, just as you would with the old plastic drawing toy. The difference is that with the power of an iPhone or an iPad, Etch-O-Matic can give the feeling of an Etch-A-Sketch but add things like color and other capabilities. You’ll need to own (or purchase) the separate Sphero device to use this app.

Etch-O-Matic allows you to adjust the way you make your drawings in a variety of ways, such as by speeding up or slowing down the speed of the cursor as it adds lines to the drawing using the Sphero. The app allows you to create more involved drawings than you otherwise would be able to on a real Etch-A-Sketch. You can also shake your device to clear it, and share your drawings through integration with Twitter.

AXL: Full Boost (iPhone, iPad) $2.99

Futuristic racer AXL puts you in control of powerful, fast hover cars that are controlled by tilting your device left and right. In each race, you need to avoid walls and do your best to log the top times you can by gathering power-ups that allow you to fire powerful booster engines. When you use up your boost fuel, other racers can gather it to give themselves an edge, so you have to be careful about when and where you make use of the power.

AXL packs 71 races and three different game modes to work through, including a story mode and a free run mode. It also includes a great futuristic art style and solid 3-D graphics. You can also unlock other “shifters,” or race vehicles, to take with you onto the track, and AXL includes Game Center support to provide achievements and leaderboards.

Outwitters (iPhone, iPad) Free

Outwitters is a free-to-play asynchronous strategy game, which means you can fire it up and take on opponents that don’t necessarily have to be ready to play right when you are. Players take turns summoning various troops and moving them around a hexagonal grid to attack enemy soldiers. The goal is to reach a generator on the opponent’s side of the map and destroy it, but you have to make your actions carefully because attacking, moving and adding to your army costs “wit” points, and you might need more of them later on.

Outwitters is free to play and allows you to take on your Game Center friends or battle against random opponents. It supports either one-on-one or two-on-two game types, and has three different game modes: an exhibition match against other players, a pass-and-play local multiplayer mode, and a “league” mode in which players can compete in ranked matches.

Corn Quest (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Corn Quest is another tower defense title for your iOS device, but with a more active and real-time take on the genre that has you building your defenses on the fly to defend corn fields from ravenous bugs. At the start of each level, players have an “energy” reserve that recharges and gets used as players place defense forces. The strategy comes from placing troops well to stop incoming forces from getting through each stage.

Part of the more active nature of Corn Quest is that energy recharges, and that you can also gather it from enemies you kill, so you’ll find yourself tapping away to get more energy and place more troops as time goes on. It makes for a frantic experience that includes three different game modes: a campaign, a survival mode and sudden death mode.

Globulous (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

As you might guess from its title, puzzler Globulous concerns a 3-D globe. That globe is covered in blocks of different sizes, shapes and colors, and the goal of the player is to clear out those blocks by matching them in order to score points. To clear out blocks, you can move them into position around the round surface of the globe to make combos and then tap them to knock them out, or add blocks over time to create new combos of your own.

Speed and high combos are key to a big score in Globulous, so you’ll want to swipe around the globe to put together the biggest combos before more blocks get dropped on the globe. Five “bad drops” in which a new block is added but doesn’t create a combo results in a game over, but knocking out blocks quickly reveals the core of the globe to end each level and score bonus points. Globulous includes 49 levels for players to work through, plus Game Center support.

TheEndApp (iPhone, iPad) Free

Endless runner TheEndApp uses the behind-the-back perspective for its title that made Temple Run so famous, and on the whole TheEndApp is pretty similar to that title. Players control their character, who runs through a post-apocalyptic wasteland, by tilting left and right to dodge obstacles and by swiping up and down to jump over or slide under them. When you hit a corner, you can turn to avoid slamming  into buildings.

The slight difference with TheEndApp is that it features a number of challenges that you can choose to work on as you play the game. In each attempt, your job will be to collect duct tape and avoid obstacles to score points. The further you get in a run and the more duct tape you collect, the better your score, and you bonuses are awarded for taking on challenges. Your top scores get placed on TheEndApp’s Game Center leaderboards.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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