We love new apps. It is one of the joys of our life to sift through the flood of apps that are published or updated every month and deliver the best or most interesting to our readers. November had some great apps for Android, the iPhone and the iPad. In our ongoing series of Apps Of The Month, we take a look at what November produced below. We are continuing for the third month with our list of app updates so you can keep track of what you need to update for functionality and security purposes.
The list, as always, is a bit subjective so please let us know in the comments if we missed an app or you have found one that you cannot live without.
Who better to tug on the heart strings of Christmas than Charlie Brown? The new app is a remake of the 1965 classic as an interactive storybook with original scenes and dialog, digitally remastered illustrations and music. You can play the piano, finger paint and participate in the Spectacular Super-Colossal Neighborhood Christmas Lights and Display Contest. With narrative from Peter Robins, the original voice of Charlie Brown, it is hard not to like what the Peanuts gain has produced. I know what I am going to get for my 3.5 year old nephew when I go home for Christmas.
You know those little helicopters you see at Brookstone in the mall? The ones that the sales reps fly around at the entrance to the store? Imagine controlling one (maybe not Brookstone specifically, but a flying helicopter) with your Android or iPhone. We saw something like this being demoed at Nokia World in London with a MeeGo smartphone but it was also able to track flight data onto a screen with sensors. Basically, it is a remote control for a toy helicopter. The funniest review in the Android Market was along the lines of "works great, until you get a call or a text."
Minecraft is one of those beloved games that people find absolutely addicting. It is now available in pocket-sizes on both iOS and Android. For a limited time, it is available for $0.10 in the Android Market as part of Google's celebration for hitting 10 billion downloads. Really hard to pass up Minecraft for a dime. The Pocket Edition allows you to play in randomized worlds, build with 36 different kinds of blocks, play with friends and save multi-player worlds.
To be fair, the Square Card Case came out for Android in September. We did not write about it then so we are making up for it by putting it into the cross-platform apps for November. That is because the Card Case came out for iOS this month to bring mobile payments to the iPhone. Square was our No. 1 mobile product of 2011 and the Card Case, among other variety of innovations, was a big part of that. We also wrote about how Square Card Case can enable users to pay by just saying their name, like a bar tab at your local merchant.
Dungeon Defenders: Second Wave (Free)
Dungeon Defenders: Second Wave was technically released in late October for Android and early November for iOS, but we figured that since it came to the Kindle Fire this month, we would give it an opportunity to be included in Apps Of The Month. This is a role playing/tower defense type of game that is more than just a 2D map that you load up as a maze to mow down would-be defenders. It is built off of a 360 degree level where you set up your barriers and fight through waves of attackers with your character. The best of both worlds, really. Dungeon Defenders is a popular series and this game makes it even classier, especially if you are looking for a good game on the Kindle Fire. It is available for Android devices as well as the iPhone and iPad.
Have you ever been that person that walked around with a tape recorder capturing your thoughts for posterity? Catch Notes is for you. Capture photos, take notes, record voice memos, map locations and set reminders from this app. Sync all your fresh media to the cloud for use wherever you are. It may be a touch outclassed by an app like Evernote but it does have interesting integration with Streams, a lightweight platform to share your thoughts or keep them private easily managed from within the app.
iPhone & iPad Apps
Kibits (Free - iPhone)
We had the pleasure of having a demo of Kibits from its Boston-based development team this week and it is truly an interesting app. Kibits is a dynamic social networking app that lets you create collaborative groups based where you are and what is around you. Kibits provides a real-time framework for sharing photos, chats, locations and documents (from Dropbox). It integrates with Facebook to share your Kibits to your social graph and can access all the photos you have been tagged in. This is what Color should have been.
AnchorFree (Free, paid subscription - iPhone)
AnchorFree Hotspot Shield was released in early November as a way of creating a virtual private network from your cellular device anywhere you are. Protect yourself from tracking in Wi-Fi hotspots or use it to help cut down on the amount of data you use on the mobile Web. Basically, Hotspot Shield is creating an HTTPS connection to any website through your iPhone. A one month subscription is $0.99 while a year will run the user $9.99.
Slice (Free - iPhone)
We wrote about the original launch of Project Slice in May and how it is a parsing engine that can track all of your online receipts and deliver them to an app within your email inbox. Slice is not out for the iPhone as a package-tracker and receipt backup app. The receipt backup is very useful, especially in the holiday season when you might want to return a gift and do not have the original copy at hand.
Infinity Blade II ($6.99 - iPad, iPhone)
This is one of those games that falls into the "are you freaking kidding me?" category. There is a reason that Apple rolls out Infinity Blade when it is announcing new iPad and iPhones. It is stunning and the game play has improved significantly over the first Infinity Blade. The storyline is improved and it is just as addicting, and frustrating, as the original Infinity Blade. If you are buying someone a new iPad for Christmas, make sure you load it up with the newest version of this game.
Fruit Ninja: Puss In Boots ($0.99 - iPhone, $1.99 iPad)
I have a couple friends that are absolutely obsessed with Fruit Ninja. I have not introduced them to this newest version with everybody's favorite feline friend for fear that they would never leave their apartment or engage in conversation with the rest of the world. If you are familiar with Fruit Ninja, the Puss In Boots version is just a plus that adds the new Bandito mode and a variety of new fruit cutting fun. To be honest, that may be the weirdest sentence I have ever written.
World War II Interactive ($4.99 - iPad)
Another interactive book makes our list, this time as a compendium of World War II knowledge for the history buff in all of us. Really, even for those that are not really interested in history, World War II Interactive is a very interesting app. We are starting to see more of these apps, especially surrounding history. We wrote about Kings and Queens, a book by historian David Starkey, as an iPad app in July. With WWII Interactive is "rich text" at its finest, with audio, video, photos, maps and timelines. The fundamental concept of the book is changing and it is odd to see history specifically being an influence of this change.
Undelete Beta (Free)
Undelete is a beta application designed to recover deleted information from your SD card or smartphone's internal storage. It uses fast scanning logic, works with images, videos, music archives and binaries and has the ability to wipe/shred files. It is only available on a certain amount of devices as is to be taken "as is" without any kind of support coming from the company. We see the benefits of Undelete for enterprise usage where companies do not want employees deleting certain files or videos that could be used for legal reasons at a later date. We also see potential abuse for this app if it was preloaded onto devices and can be accessed through digital forensics looking for material that a person would rather stay deleted or hidden.
Tiny Tower (Free)
Tiny Tower is kind of like Sim Tower, a popular PC game in the mid-to-late 1990s and is amazingly addictive. It has been available on iOS for a while but it finally came to Android at the end of November. Basically, build a tower, put some people and businesses in it and grow your empire. The graphics are look like they come out of an 8-bit Nintendo game, which should give the hipsters and endearing old school feel while playing on a dual-core powerhouse super phone.
Great Little War Game ($1.99)
Another addicting iOS game come to Android and this is also one of the apps currently on sale in the Android Market for a dime. It is like mixing Final Fantasy Tactics with Army Men on your Android. This, along with TinyTower, shows how Android is starting to catch up to iOS in the games department, which is one of the selling points for many tablets and smartphones. Check out the video below for a sample of the game play.
360 Panorama ($0.99)
360 Panorama is an app that will allow users to take panoramic pictures with a sweep of their smartphone across a landscape. Trying to show Mom the apartment you just moved into but cannot capture the feel of the space by taking pictures at different angles? Use 360 Panorama. This type of functionality will also be baked into Ice Cream Sandwich devices when the newest flavor of Android becomes available on the Galaxy Nexus. Everything gets geo-tagged with location and can be shared to Facebook, Twitter or email.
Remember, the safe driving distance is from the car in front of you is minimum two seconds. This app uses the camera on your phone to warn of collisions if you are following too close at a certain velocity to the car in front of you. Uses the camera and algorithms to determine if/when you are in danger of getting into a fiery wreck. It also can read you your incoming texts (free for a limited time). It uses the phones GPS, so if you have it running constantly, you might want to have a battery plug in your car.
Notable Updates For November
It is always important to remember to go into your device and update apps on a regular basis. Updates provide new functionality, performance and security upgrades and make sure that the bugs from the last version have been taken care of.
Notable iOS Updates:
- PlainText, Pandora, Instagram, SportsCenter XL, Google+, Google Search, Yahoo Messenger, Washington Post, Sovereign: Kingdoms, Google Shopper, Zaarly, NYTimes for iPad, Skype, HeyStaks Social Search, Evernote, Bank Of America Mobile, Ancestry, Angry Birds Rio, ABC Player, Read It Later Free, Qwiki, NPR For iPad, Flipboard, Quora, Foursquare, Facebook Messenger, Google Catalogs, Flixster, NHL GameCenter, Rdio, Yahoo Fantasy Football.
Notable Updates For Android:
- LinkedIn, Kindle, Endgadget, Conan O'Brien Presents, Words With Friends Free, WordPress, Tumblr, The Weather Channel, Spotify, Angry Birds Rio, Barcode Scanner, Dolphin Browser HD, Drunk Man, ETrade Mobile, Evernote, Firefox, FxCamera, Google Goggles, Google Maps, Google Music, Google Reader, Hulu Plus, IMDb, Lookout Security, Norton Mobile Utilities, Flixster, Netflix, Opera Mobile, Pandora, Pulse, Skitch, Skype.