11 cool new apps for the iPhone

It's the third-party software that makes it rock

1 2 3 4 5 Page 5
Page 5 of 5

Super Monkey Ball ($9.99)

This is easily the most addictive iPhone application yet. I've watched this one with great interest since it was announced during Apple's iPhone 2.0 event in March, and it hasn't disappointed me now that it has finally been released.

The game itself is simple: guide a monkey in a ball through 3-D levels while picking up bananas along the way without falling over a ledge. This simple premise hides the true challenge of the game: navigating said monkey using just the iPhone's accelerometer. You move the phone around to move the monkey.

The game's layout is easy to navigate, and the action is fun. Sporting over 100 levels, this game uses the accelerometers to great effect. The graphics and motion are surprisingly crisp and well done. There are several game modes included, from the Main Game option, to Instant Play and Practice. Start in Practice mode, because this game relies on a specific landscape angle to start, and there's no way to calibrate. Getting used to this specific position is key to enjoying the game, and you should know that the iPhone's accelerometer is very sensitive; wild, Wii-like movements aren't necessary.

Super Monkey Ball is what great, fun gaming is all about: simple enough to pick up and play; challenging enough to keep you coming back.

A few App Store caveats

As wonderful as these apps may sound, there are still a few niggling questions about what can't -- or won't -- be allowed at the App Store. For instance, even though the ability to record video was available via third-party applications on a jailbroken previous-gen iPhone, no such utilities exist in the current App Store. Given that the iPhone's camera is capable of recording video, the lack of such an application is glaring. There's also a suspicious lack of navigation utilities featuring spoken directions, and a surprising lack of multimedia messaging service applications. I can't imagine Apple didn't see a need for this, and like video recording, MMS capabilities were available on an application repository for jailbroken iPhones.

It's too soon to tell whether such applications will eventually make their way to the App Store, but their absence shouldn't detract from the fact that the App Store opens the iPhone up to so many new, innovative and entertaining third-party possibilities. Maybe Apple froze them out because it's working on similar apps itself.

Easy to navigate through iTunes and on the iPhone/iPod touch, the App Store is skillfully designed to the point of being nearly effortless to use. Apple has even made it easy for people who may have accidentally deleted an application. Just re-download the app! The App Store will check your purchase history, see that you've already bought the item and allow you to transfer the file again at no cost. It's all automatic and behind-the-scenes.

My only problem with the App Store is also it's greatest strength: It's incredibly simple to browse through and purchase software without thinking twice. As my iPhone's abilities expand, my bank account decreases. It's a testament to the efforts of the third-party developers and a warning to you: Keep an eye on your spending.

My last piece of advice? You're going to want a mobile charger. With everything that you can do on the iPhone and iPod Touch now, you might find yourself reaching for these devices often. Trust me: you're going to want that extra juice.

Michael DeAgonia is a Neal Award-winning writer, computer consultant and technologist who has been using Macintoshes and working on them professionally since 1993. His tech-support background includes tenures with Computerworld, colleges, the biopharmaceutical industry, the graphics industry and Apple. Currently, he is working as a Macintosh administrator at a large media company.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

1 2 3 4 5 Page 5
Page 5 of 5
7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon