Recent App Reviews
One of the big surprises of the past couple years has been the popularity of Amazon’s Kindle eBook reader. Serious readers love it, but at around $350 it’s a bit pricey. So I was thrilled when in early March Amazon released a free iPhone app that lets you read any of the 240,000 titles you purchase from the Kindle eBook store.
This app lets you access the Shortcovers Web site and build your own digital library by choosing from thousands of bestselling books, chapters, news and magazine articles, short stories, blog posts, and more.
Phanfare is another photo-sharing Web site that lets you store your photos and videos online, and access them wherever you are. Their Photon app lets you take photos with your iPhone and upload them wirelessly to your Phanfare account. You can create albums, add captions, write album descriptions, and share your photos and videos with friends and family.
The SnapMyLife app for the iPhone lets you take pictures and share them with family or friends via the SnapMyLife photo site. You can share your day in photos, keep up with friends or family, or check out someone’s life on the other side of the world. Post a photo, comment on pictures, or make a “friends” list of people whose pictures you like. New features are added frequently—check it out!
I also played with Imagine Poker Touch, a crazy game that lets you play Texas Hold ‘Em with Lincoln, Napoleon, Mona Lisa, Little Red Riding Hood, and other historical or fictional characters. You compete as one of the initially-unlocked characters, with a stake of $200. When you beat the players at one table, which isn’t always that easy, you move on to another.
Virtual Pool is a great 3D pool simulation that’s available for a variety of platforms, now including the iPhone/iPod touch. Although it’s pretty easy to get started, you still have to get used to the look of the table. The cue ball always appears slightly larger than the ball you’re aiming it at, and you have to develop a “feel” for how hard or soft you have to hit it. You don’t win at your local pool hall by simply flicking your thumb over your phone—you have to figure out how to wield that cue stick!
Texas Hold ‘Em is Apple’s version of the popular poker variant. It includes near-lifelike videos of each player’s tics and tells as they decide whether to call, raise, or fold. Unfortunately, after playing with the same dozen or so characters, I still have no consistent feeling for who’s bluffing.
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The only drawback that I could find to Firemint’s Real Racing is the iPod’s small screen. The game graphics and special effects are so good that I was wishing I could play it on a much larger screen. The sights, sounds and detailed racing scenery are all exquisite. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Read more to find out why you will want to grab this fabulously intense racing game with on-line leagues, YouTube video syncing, WiFi head-to-head action and more.
I saw some decent reviews for this one in the App Store, and the price was low, so I figured I’d check it out. Armageddon Squadron is a decent game overall, and I warmed to it more with time. It offers a lot of play options and scenarios that are engaging. For example, gameplay is not restricted to a front aerial view. Some of the missions require you to switch to a top-down bomber view so that you can accurately place bombs on targets below.
Armageddon Squadron: Bogie at 12 o’clock (left), and bombing a supply factory (right).