Gimmicky apps certainly have their place on our iPhones. At some point, we've all been suckered into plunking down our hard-earned pennies for an app that seemed like a great idea (iBeer, iSteam, etc), but ultimately they end up in one of those folders that rarely gets opened – or worse, deleted outright. Cycloramic might not seem like it belongs in that class, but after a few attempts to make a panoramic photo, it becomes clear that this phone-spinning app is mostly a short-lived diversion.
We've seen so many slick and beautifully manicured iPhone apps over the years that it's rare to be wowed by a newcomer. However, Vine does just that when you first pop it open, immediately launching a brief shared video clip without hesitation. And assuming you have a half-decent Wi-Fi or cellular signal going, it simply doesn't stop as you scroll down the feed, with each subsequent six-seconds-or-less clip loading quickly and without prompt, giving you a very small window into the life of whoever was on the other side of that iPhone. Finally, somebody nailed the Instagram-for-video concept. Granted, that "somebody" is Twitter.
Most image editing apps for iOS are built to enhance photos or add artistic flourishes such as filters and frames, but what about using text to get your message across? Swipe makes it fun and easy to adorn your pictures with type and quickly share them with the world. The app is a model of simplicity: Merely swipe your finger across the screen wherever you want to add text, tweak to your liking, and then whisk the results off to most anywhere you’d like.
It's tough to believe that Wave Trip would exist in a world without Sound Shapes. Like that brilliantly experiential PlayStation 3 and Vita platformer, Wave Trip merges music-making with a new take on a well-worn gameplay style, with both allowing users to create and share their own stages using the existing level elements on a simple grid-based layout. The similarities extend into music styles and visual design, but using that framework with a side-scrolling runner makes it feel like more than just a noteworthy imitator, with a stronger focus on skill creating a much different overall tone.
Back when it was first released on the Nintendo DS in 2009, Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes' highly engrossing mix of match-three puzzle gameplay and RPG combat made it the surprise sleeper hit climbing its way onto year-end best games lists. While the low-resolution original was spectacular on its own, the fact that Clash of Heroes on iOS is a port of the updated HD console version is even better news for puzzle nerds.
Doing 30-plus laps while meticulously avoiding collisions and penalties won't appeal to most, but F1 2012 is meant for those interested in a tiny taste of what it's like to drive the most extreme vehicles on earth. The game requires patience, precision, and a steady hand to win, but still manages to be a good entry point for players new to the simulation racing genre.
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.
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.
A dark, moody atmosphere and a mysterious safe filled with complex puzzle-box curiosities lie at the heart of The Room, an enthralling puzzler that balances intrigue with challenge. Much like a set of Russian nesting dolls, cracking the outer shell of the massive iron box awaiting in the center of this grim abode only leads you deeper down the rabbit hole of mechanical conundrums to solve. Locked in single room and left with a peculiar note hinting at the powerful artifact tucked away within the huge safe, your task is to unravel the winding puzzle-filled path to this ancient device.