3 Cool iPhone Apps
Flipboard, the popular news aggregation app that has long been an iPad-exclusive staple, has finally made the transition over to the iPhone. The question is, does it translate well to the smaller screen size? Yes and no. All of the same features, are there for reading a large selection of content, but the magazine-style layout that Flipboard is famous for is conspicuously absent from the iPhone version. It uses many of the same conventions like large typefaces, pull quotes and nicely-laid-out images and video, but the limited screen space means only 1-3 stores can fit on each page, and you don’t get anywhere near the same variety of layouts.
Regardless of which device you use for accessing Flipboard, it’s easy to spend hours in the app just browsing through all the content. You can add your Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Tumblr and Google Reader accounts (among others), view stories in different content categories, and add custom Flipboard channels including Wired, Mashable, Forbes. BBC News, Huffington Post, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, Marie Claire, National Geographic and Lonely Planet. Tapping on an individual story gives you the option to add it as a favourite, view the profile of the poster (for social feeds), and share the story, and there are custom controls for particular social networks like retweet for Twitter, Like for Facebook and comment for sites that support it.
Moving between pages is a little awkward, as it involves an upward rather than sideways swipe – not exactly intuitive, given the usual convention is to swipe across the screen to mimic the action of turning a page. We can only imagine the developers thought t would be better as there’s more room to swipe up on an iPhone screen, but it feels wrong. We were also put off by the look of landscape view, which seems like a missed opportunity, as it could have allowed for a more magazine-like view similar to the one on the iPad.
The original Infinity Blade set a new benchmark for smartphone gaming, and its sequel raises the bar even higher by taking advantage of the extra graphics muscle in the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S (although older iPhones and iPads, as well as the iPod touch, can run it as well). Everything has been improved, from the combat mechanics and weapons to the character building and unlockable content, and you can sync game states through icloud and pick up where you left off using any device. It’s still a ‘game on rails’ (i.e. the story line takes you down a pre-determined path), but the stunning graphics and immersive gameplay nevertheless make it one of the best smartphone/tablet gaming experiences available.
As handy as digital music play lists are, they’ll never replace the analogue appeal of a painstakingly-put together mixtape. But what if you could have both? That’s the idea behind AirCassette, an iPhone app that lets you queue up music and play it through a customizable cassette tape interface, with 12 different cassette faces to choose from. The interface is a little confusing at first, but a built-in help guide demonstrates where all the controls are and how to add songs to the queue. The tape spins while songs are playing, just as it would on a real cassette, but it’s still lacking a little in authenticity, as you can can’t create a B side, and there s no support for adding liner notes. Still, with AirPlay support for sending music wirelessly to compatible speakers, it makes a nice change from the standard music player interface.