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Go Back   Thoughts Media Forums > APPLE THOUGHTS > Apple Software (iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad)

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Old 11-14-2008, 04:16 PM
Dyvim's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 676
Default The Official Paid Apps Thread

Let's have a thread where we discuss the paid App Store (iPhone and iPod Touch) apps that each of us have purchased and what we think of them. I won't cover free apps since everyone is free to try those out on their own, well, for free.

Here are the apps I have paid for, listed in chronological order of purchase:
  1. Etch A Sketch (paid $4.99, now $1.99)- drawing app. I bought this to entertain my 2-year old. Verdict: not worth it. The tilt-to-draw option is mildly entertaining, but the retro knob style drawing is lame and there's no full screen mode (knobs and frame eat up screen real estate).
  2. Squiggles ($4.99)- another drawing app. v1 was very primitive, but v1.1 added an impressive array of drawing tools. This is the app my son uses for finger doodling over Etch A Sketch, but for most people probably still not worth the relatively high price tag. There are plenty of free drawing apps out there now for casual doodling.
  3. Super Monkey Ball ($9.99)- needs no introduction perhaps? Great 3D graphics and first big name game for the iPhone, but for me it is marred by the accelerometer control. It is too dang difficult to make the ball roll where you want it and I end up falling off the platforms and dying repeatedly. You also need to tilt the device to such extreme angles that it makes it hard to see the screen (esp. on iPhone 3G with its reduced viewing angle as compared to the original iPhone). Verdict: not worth it.
  4. MotionX Poker (paid $4.99, now $1.99)- a dice poker game with realistic physics engine to simulate rolling dice. I bought this strictly for the dice rolling (as a demo of the iPhone's potential), partly due to this plug from Gizmodo- I care nothing for the actual poker play (as a former D&D and role-playing game junkie, I do have a thing for dice though). About 4 weeks later MotionX released a free dice rolling demo MotionX Dice that was really what I wanted and I have that installed instead and deleted the Poker app. Verdict: not worth it, get free MotionX Dice instead. (These 1st 4 picks were my opening forays into the world of the App Store bought on July 11- I just couldn't wait for reviews to pour in before jumping in; Result: I spent $25 on apps but regret all but $5 of it. Oh well.)
  5. Band (paid $9.99, now $3.99- boy, being an early adopter of apps does not pay, except for the developer). Also picked this up in the App Store's first week as potential entertainment for myself and my toddler. The multi-touch piano is cool although designed for smaller fingers than mine (I like playing chords on it). I don't really have any complaints about it, but I honestly haven't used it enough to justify the purchase price. Verdict: Probably worth it at the new cheaper price point if you like messing around with some casual music and you do get 5 instruments in 1 app.
  6. Koi Pond ($0.99)- great little Zen tranquility app. You get realistic swimming koi, which flee from your touch or nibble your finger if you hold it still. Feed the koi by shaking the phone. Make multi-touch ripples in the water. You can customize the water color, number of fish, number and position of lilypads, layer 4 different soundtracks (wind, birds, frogs, insects), and adjust volume and brightness. My son loves it and I dig it too. Makes a cool screensaver if you're going to put your iPhone in a dock. The developer addressed all of the criticisms and suggestions aimed at v1 with the v2 and 2.1 releases. Verdict: Worth it, probably one of my favorite paid apps.
  7. iEnvision ($9.99)- is a web image browser. It collects images from the internet and organizes them into easily browsable categories for you: Art, Space, Comic Books (including an extensive collection of Japanese Mangas), News, Children's Books, etc. Sure you could find all these images searching the internet from Mobile Safari, but this app brings them together for you. This purchase was prompted by this iLounge article. I thought (and still think) that it makes a handy art reference (want to quickly see some paintings by Degas? Vermeer? Titian? Rembrandt? no problem), and I dig looking at the latest front pages from newspapers around the world, and it gives me a source of (albeit old-fashioned) children's books to read to my son. This is the deluxe version which contains all types of contents. They also sell mini versions (just Art, just Space, just News, etc.) for $1-$4 and are continually adding new content categories (Paris, Travel, Holidays, London, Carols, etc.) with associated new mini apps, but the deluxe version gets all the content. Or you can just type in any topic and it will search the web for images and create a slideshow for you. The problem is that it is often slow to load the content from the internet. Verdict: Jury is still out for me, but I wouldn't say I'm disappointed. If you're just interested in art for example, get Art Envi for $1.
  8. Spore Origins (paid $9.99, now $7.99 but try the Free Spore Origins LE demo first). Navigate your creature through primordial ooze eating smaller critters while avoiding larger critters. The ability to evolve (customize) your organism helps keep the gameplay fresh. IMO this is accelerometer-based gaming done correctly- the controls aren't overly sensitive like Super Monkey Ball and mis-steering doesn't have such disastrous consequences (at worst you take a hit but most of the time not even that). A great way to kill time while waiting. Verdict: Worth it, esp. at the new lower price. While it is limited, the quality is excellent and you can try the free demo to see if it is your cup of tea.
  9. Star Wars The Force Unleashed (paid $9.99, now $7.99) Use force powers to defeat enemies playing as Darth Vader's apprentice on a secret mission. The unique interface of drawing gestures on the screen (which power you wish to use) has a lot of potential for future iPhone games. Unfortunately the game play is limited (your character moves himself and you don't even get to swing his lightsaber) and the storyline is short. I think of it more as a demo on what the iPhone can do and how future games might develop. I like that all screens can be played in either portrait or landscape mode (each mode showing slightly different details of the scene). Verdict: worth it if you like Star Wars and flinging enemies off platforms, into pits, etc (which is somehow oddly satisfying); the slightly lower price helps. Anyway, I'm much happier with this purchase than Super Monkey Ball, but not as satisfied as I am with Spore Origins.
  10. ReaddleDocs ($14.99) lets you store and read documents offline. Integrates with (free or paid) online storage and also with iDisk if you have MobileMe (free trial). Lets you email stored docs or you can also email docs to your Readdle account and then download them to your phone. I started out using their web app and free online storage as an eBook reader for the phone. They had a clever mechanism whereby docs less than 100KB could be saved as bookmarks (or homescreen web clips) on your iPhone and thus accessed offline. But as they developed their business model they began removing features from the free accounts (like the offline bookmark process) and reserving it for their paid accounts. This eventually led me to purchase their AppStore app (which is cheaper than signing up for their monthly service and has other advantages). Their reader has landscape and portrait modes and also a full screen mode, which is nice, and remembers where you are in the doc and allows bookmarking. Before the AppStore I experimented a lot with reading .html eBooks in Mobile Safari or even as Mail attachments, but had the following issues: (a) offline access (partially solved with the bookmark trick above but my eBooks are 600-800KB each so needed to be manually split into 6-8 separate files to make this trick work), (b) Mobile Safari would often choke on large (800KB) html files, (c) accidentally touching the top of the screen in Safari scrolls you to the top of the web (i.e. beginning of the book) and you have to spend a lot of time finger flicking back to where you left off. ReaddleDocs addresses all 3 of these issues plus gives you the full screen mode (no top or bottom toolbars). Verdict: this is the most expenisve app I've purchased. It is worth it to me as I read eBooks on it daily and this is my most used 3rd party app and I enjoy the reading experience. But if you just want an eBook reader there are other options such as Stanza (free). May also be worth it if you need document access for work, esp. if you have an iDisk, although there are free solutions for that too (MobileFiles). Mostly I chose this one over the other alternatives because I had already been using their Web App and free online service for several months.
  11. Ocarina ($0.99) turns your iPhone into a wind instrument. Blow into (or across) the microphone and use your fingers to cover the 4 holes (multi-touch enabled of course) while the angle you hold your iPhone adjusts the vibrato. Lots of options to adjust the key and harmonic scale of your instrument. There's also a social aspect where you can view all online Ocarina users on a spinning 3D globe and listen to and rate other players (and other users can rate your playing as well if you choose to share). For me the blowing aspect is a clever interface and separates it from all other iPhone music apps I've seen to date. I s*ck at playing my Ocarina (but I can play Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star), but I find this app extremely cool nevertheless; a lot of thought and programming went into this app for just a buck. Verdict: totally worth it (not hard for just a dollar).
Wow, until I made that list I hadn't realized how much money I've already spent on the App Store: $82. Curse you iTunes! (I figure about $18 of that was early adopter tax in apps that either subsequently dropped in price or came out with good enough free versions.)

So, now it's your turn. Tell me which apps you've bought and what you think of them, so we can find out which apps people are enjoying (and make more informed purchasing decisions than I've made so far).
64 GB iPad 2 WiFi, Apple TV 2, 32 GB iPhone 4
Early 2011 MacBook Pro 13" (dual boot with Windows 7), Early 2009 Mac Mini
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