It's hard to keep up with all of the great television shows on the air these days. There's must-see programming airing almost every night of the week, and all those great shows are spread across so many channels that the old dial controls would never even get to them. Missing an episode means covering your ears—and avoiding Twitter, Tumblr, podcasts, or anything else remotely social—the next day to make sure you don't hear any spoilers. Luckily, these eight TV companion apps not only make it easier to stay caught up on your favorite programs, but also enhance your time in front of the tube—so you’re even more invested in the hopefully-great content you watch.
At some point in the ‘90s, every college dorm had a Magnetic Poetry set stuck to the front of someone's mini-fridge. Verses might have been limited to the few dozen tiles that hadn't fallen behind the vent cover, but the fun wasn't in creating Walt Whitman-worthy masterpieces—it was in seeing how your creation was twisted by other people. Magnetic Poetry eventually went out of fashion, but FridgePoems looks to bring it back. However, while there may be a certain sense of nostalgia evoked here, the digital representation loses quite a bit of the fun without the kitsch and collaboration of the original.
As a clear effort to emulate big-budget console shooters like Panzer Dragoon or Star Fox, Star Horizon is perhaps most notable for how true it stays to its vision. It's a game that takes very little influence from the usual iOS design trends, thankfully eschewing common devices like virtual sticks, tilt steering, or in-app purchases. As a result, it’s a mostly successful homage that shines particularly in its presentation, with the game serving as a showpiece for the iOS platform.
Replace trainers with keepers and Poké Balls for monster traps and you’ve got Monster Legacy, a game that offers a glimpse of what a free-to-play Pokémon could play like if Nintendo ever took its popular franchise mobile. This means fighting alongside a team of monsters, training them to evolve, and even completing missions for rare items. But before you dismiss this game for another creature-catching clone, Monster Legacy mixes in various clever elements and modes that make it more than just another Pokémon wannabe.
Anyone who’s ever been stuck at a nightclub, concert, or sporting event with spotty wireless connectivity knows the frustration of being unable to ping friends or family waiting nearby. That no longer has to be the case thanks to FireChat, a free messaging app for iPhone that takes advantage of the Multipeer Connectivity framework introduced with iOS 7. This service allows nearby devices to discover and communicate with each other using peer-to-peer Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, even in areas where an Internet connection is unavailable.
Cartoon Network’s mobile division—particularly that behind its edgier Adult Swim-branded fare—has historically been a pretty good fit for goofy, whimsical little arcade-style titles that focus on simple game design while still managing to be fun. Globlins doesn’t really fit that criteria, despite looking decent enough at a glance, with colorful storybook art and a cute, kid-friendly premise involving blotting out tiny microscopic organisms. Most of the puzzles require little to no skill or thought, while the wildly difficult boss battles feel concocted to nudge you towards spending money on power-ups.
You can always rely on Crytek to push graphical boundaries, and the Crysis developer’s latest iOS outing is no exception, with detailed and realistic environments that sparkle in all the right places. But beneath the glitz and the glam—and beyond a strong core, top-down arena shooter design—The Collectables suffers from a toxic progression system, which forces you to spend big or grind repeatedly through already-completed missions.
Despite the support of nearly every Hollywood studio, cloud locker service Ultraviolet has failed to gain much traction with consumers. Ultraviolet holdout Disney thinks there’s a better way, and the company has released an app to prove it. Disney Movies Anywhere is a free, universal app serving up more than 400 Disney, Pixar, and Marvel movies (no TV shows yet) to any iOS device. Digital-only purchases made via the app are handed off to the iTunes Store, but now include the same kind of Disney Movie Reward perks that DVD and Blu-ray buyers are accustomed to.
You would be forgiven for mistaking Steller for a Storehouse companion, but in actuality they're independent variations on the same social storytelling theme: simple, elegant narration. Like Storehouse, Steller doesn't overwhelm you with design options, but it gives you just enough to get your creative juices flowing while inspiring you to turn your life into art.
Although the verdict may still be out on whether mobile devices actually make us more productive, there’s no denying that gadgets like the iPhone help take some of the drudgery out of our daily lives—including keeping a journal of what we’ve been up to lately. Such is the premise of Rove, a free journal/diary app that promises to automate the thankless task of documenting our lives in excruciating detail. Similar to last year’s excellent Heyday, Rove uses geolocation data to keep a running tab on where we’ve been, importing new photos taken with the device to put a visual stamp on those memories.