Sheriff_Bullock

Must Have iPhone Apps, Part 2

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* If you're bad/lazy at math, give QuickTip a shot. You set the percentage you like to tip, enter the bill amount, and then round up/down if you desire. (If you round down, for example, it will say your new tax percentage so you know how cheap you're being.) One caveat: You don't tip on tax, so if you enter the bill before tax and round, you have to add the tax back INTO the amount manually. The app pretends to get around this by letting you set a local tax rate, but you're not going to do that EVERY time. The app ought to geo-match your location to the tax rate, or let you enter the bill before tax, calculate the tip, enter the tax (according to what your receipt says), and THEN round to an even amount.

* You must try Translate by Google. After typing or speaking in one language, it gives you the words or audio pronunciation in another. It doesn't always work. If I say "thank you very much" in English the app will tell me "domo arigato gozaimashita." So far so good. If I say "domo arigato gozaimashita" right back, the app tells me "Arigatogozaim ashita us." Umm... what? But when it does work, it's genius. (The Jibbigo apps do the same thing, and are reportedly more accurate, but they're not free.)

* My favorite Japanese language apps are the dictionary Kotoba! (meanings, pronunciations, compounds, stroke animations--it's all there), the Hiragana and Katakana tutorial app iKana (practice strokes and memorization speed tests), the Kanji tutorial app--by the same author iKanji (flashcard repetition, practice strokes, and tests like fill in the missing character to form a compound word), and KanjiPop which makes a game of learning Kanji (English definition is displayed at top, touch the appropriate character below from a grid of characters--you have two minutes to clear the grid). (Here's a cool tip: Go to Settings > General > International > Keyboards > Add New Keyboard > Chinese - Traditional Handwriting and by pressing the globe icon next to the spacebar you can switch to a keyboard that lets you draw Kanji characters on your phone. Press the globe icon again to go back to English.)

* I love the push notifications courtesy of ESPN's SportsCenter which keeps me up-to-date on games I'm not able to watch on TV or in person. Start of a game, start of a period, goals for/against, final score--a must have app. I also recommend CBC Hockey and NHL GameCenter for scores, standings, and news across the league.

* Colloquy connects you to IRC chat rooms, and supports push. Tapatalk makes it easy to browse and post at message boards that have its plug-in installed. (Would that the site admins here would support Tapatalk because the mobile skins are lousy!) XBlaze is the best XFire app of the two (meaning it crashes less often), but it doesn't have multitasking or push (the other doesn't either).

* A lot of banks have apps that are preferable to using the mobile versions of their websites. For example, Chase and Compass.

* The eBay app makes it very easy to search/watch auctions, as well as manage your eBay account. Companion app: PayPal.

* Fandango is the app I use when I need to know movie times. It displays synopses, running times, and metacritic scores among other things. You can save theaters to your list of Favorites so you don't have to search by zip code every time. redbox lets you find a kiosk near you and reserve titles for pick up.

* Other shopping-related apps: Best Buy and Best Buy Reward Zone, Apple Store, GameFly (manage your Gamefly queue if you're a member), Kayak (search travel and accommodation rates), iQueue Free (manage your Netflix queue),Starbucks Mobile Card, and StubHub. Track packages with FedEx Mobile, UPS and USPS Mobile.

* A lot of news websites have mobile versions, but sometimes the app is preferable to browsing in Safari. Recommendations: CNet Reviews, CNN, Engadget, HuffPost, IGN, IMDb, Joystiq, NYTimes, and The Onion.

* Lastly, there are TONS of games in the App Store. More than tons. TONS of TONS of TONS. Here are some of the best: Infinity Blade is a slash-combat game with RPG elements. Stunning 3D graphics, and there's multiplayer over GameCenter too. There's nothing more amazing than playing a Street Fighter game on your phone. SF IV is an excellent portable adaptation of the best version of Street Fighter. Great animation and roster of fighters--if only they'd add El Fuerte! Doodle Jump and Flight Control are the two games you hand to people who don't play videogames, because they're so easy to play yet they provide hours of entertainment. I suppose Angry Birds is another of those games, but I don't like it. So, pfft. On you. I'd rather play iBlast Moki which has similar gameplay but is more appealing. One of the best board games is Carcassonne and it has turn-based multiplayer with push notifications. Pinball HD is several fully functional pinball tables with excellent, crisp graphics. I like the simplicity of creating elements in Doodle God. (Clay + Life = Golem. Life + Golem = Human. Fire + Human = Corpse. Life + Corpse = Zombie.) Speaking of zombies, you can kill zombies in Zombie Smash, abbreviated ZS. Lastly, there is something beautiful and serene about the puzzle experience known as Zen Bound 2. Btw, all of the games I just mentioned are GameCenter supported.

* GTA: CTW is the iPhone edition of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. This is an entire Grand Theft Auto experience in your pocket. Amazing. GF All-Stars is the super enhanced version of Godfinger, a God game similar to the PC classic Black & White. Harry Potter fans should try HP Spells. Cast spells with your touch screen. Expecto patronum! MC2 BP is short for Modern Combat 2: Black Pegasus, a first person shooter with multiplayer gaming over 3G. The same people made Shadow Guardian a total ripoff of the Uncharted games, but an impressive ripoff nonetheless. (PS: The game I've been waiting for is Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions due late July. Fingers-crossed it supports GameCenter and isn't sucky.)
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  1. Sheriff_Bullock's Avatar
    * Infinity Blade II was just released and it's pretty much the pinnacle of mobile phone gaming. Gorgeous graphics and addictive, though slightly repetitive, gameplay. Street Fighter IV Volt adds new characters and online multiplayer, and it's still an outstanding port of a console game. Scribblenauts is the critically acclaimed DS game with an iOS facelift.