With the exception of flesh-eating undead and the truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife, our apps today are all about utility. So put on your to-do list: how to escape having your brain eaten, how to stay in shape to escape shambling hordes of zombies, and how to get your Mr. Darcy to finally pop the question. Then get tapping at the App Store.
January is National Hobby Month, and while the month itself is almost over, it's never too late to pick up a new personal pastime. Whether you want to take up a new skill, dust off an old interest, or just need a diversion that you can turn to, it's good to have a leisurely pursuit to partake in. Once you've picked your great escape, let us help you turn it into a full blown obsession. We've compiled eight apps geared toward the most common hobbies, which are designed to help you indulge yourself in your acquired interest. These apps will turn you from dabbler to hobbyist and potentially even enthusiast in no time.
Bit Dungeon brings together The Legend of Zelda’s top-down dungeon stomping, Diablo’s loot lust, and the unforgiving difficulty of roguelikes within a slick retro-style quest. Fresh from developer Kinto Games, this hack-and-slash action RPG distills the allure of classic gaming into an addicting mobile adventure. Between the simple mechanics and incredible challenge, you may find Bit Dungeon's stat-building pull difficult to resist, even if a couple of issues rear their head at times.
Digisocial is the latest free iPhone app with ambitions to become its own mobile social network. Instantly familiar in design to anyone who’s used Instagram or Path, Digisocial adds the ability to send and receive HD-quality voice messages, and even record audio to accompany uploaded images. It’s a clever idea that mostly works as promised – the app is fast and responsive at sending text or voice messages, and it’s quite entertaining the first few times you use it. Unfortunately, I can’t help but think Digisocial is just one announcement away from obsolescence, should an existing rival decide to incorporate the same concept.
Chances are, if you grew up playing Final Fantasy in the ‘90s, you’ve probably got a soft spot for at least one of the old-school entries in the venerable RPG series. Assuming that’s true, Square Enix’s latest iOS spin-off is aimed squarely at you. Don't believe the hype — on paper, the premise behind Final Fantasy All the Bravest sounds interesting, but banal design and a complete reliance on in-app purchases make for an insidious attempt to prey on nostalgia.
The App Store is filled with ways to write on the iPhone. Some are clean and quick, others are overly designed digital notebooks with features that mostly get in the way. None of them are perfect. I use several writing apps throughout the day depending on my mood and need, and judging by the overlapping reviews in the App Store, it would seem I'm not alone. At least one iPhone developer was fed up enough to do something about it.
When Temple Run hit the App Store in summer 2011, it didn't look like much -- no thanks to its pixelated, original PlayStation-level graphics and unremarkable visual design. But the old adage about not judging a book by its cover holds true with free iOS games, as well, as its genre-shifting 3D twist on the traditional side-scrolling runner made it an absolute sensation, racking up more than 170 million downloads in the time since. With new sequel Temple Run 2, Imangi Studios needn't worry about making a bad impression, thanks to dramatic visual improvements and welcomed gameplay enhancements.
Lode Runner should be instantly familiar to anyone who spent much time on computers during the '80s. Originally released in 1983, it focuses on the adventures of a lone stick figure out to get rich while evading sinister guards. Lode Runner Classic offers up a faithful, mostly unchanged port of the 30-year-old original — but while the game itself is still mostly fantastic, the iOS shell that's been built around it leaves something to be desired.
With such a wide array of options available, loading up your iPhone with the best and most essential free apps can be a process of trial and error, whether you're new to the App Store ecosystem or a longtime user. We're here to help. While some of these picks might seem obvious to a hardened iOS fan, others are lesser-known and smarter tweaks on incredibly useful concepts. Best of all, everything on this list is totally free to download and check out, so there's no harm in trying a new app and discovering whether it's for you. Here's our list of the 25 best free iPhone apps, all of which are ready and willing to improve your everyday routine without requiring a penny in return.
A little something for everyone this week. Whether you're cleaning up your computer for the new year (still), whether you're mastering the art of GTD, or whether gaming is your gig (TORNADO 92!!!!), we've got the hook up. Some great free apps and nothing over one sweet dollar. How's that for dealin?