On September 21st, Apple released its latest generation iPhone to the public. Most customers and journalists gave much acclaim to the device, but there were some who saw the new 4-inch display as an issue. Developers and their designers, for example, must stretch or restructure elements of their apps for the extra 176 pixels the new display embraces. This can also affect the end user: apps that are not optimized for the new display have 88-pixel black bars at the top and bottom of the screen.
Given time, all developers, both active and passive, will work with their designers to amend their apps. Right now, however, there are only a few well-developed apps available that make use of the new iPhone’s display. Scouring through various sources, I’ve assembled a roundup of 15 essential apps that take advantage of Apple’s latest iOS device.
iOS 6 removed the preinstalled YouTube app that almost every user employed a few times a week. That meant it was Google’s turn to bring its own app to the App Store, but it hasn’t been updated for the iPhone 5. Enter Jasmine, a beautifully-named alternative that puts shame to the official client. There aren’t any ads in this free app and it looks and functions far better than Google’s at every task, not to mention there are more features.
Browse YouTube in a darker room with Jasmine’s night theme — it won’t blind you. You can also enjoy the smooth transitions throughout the app, check your subscriptions and enjoy landscape browsing. I reviewed Jasmine here on iPhone.AppStorm, so be sure to read the review if you want to know more about it.
It was nice of Apple to include a weather app with the iPhone, but it’s just not that great functionality wise. For one, the conditions come from Yahoo and they’re not usually as accurate as that of Wunderground. To add to that, the app is a bit on the boring side. Weather 2x, on the other hand, is far from boring.
If you enjoy apps that boast good design, one look at the user interface will make you want to buy Weather 2x. It sports a bit of skeumorphism with high-definition photography of all weather conditions it displays. The combination of pictures and information is perfect and the gestures alone make this a must-have for anyone who likes well-developed alternatives to Apple’s default apps. It’s also universal, so you can enjoy it on your iPad.
RSS readers are important to journalists and readers alike. They provide up-to-date news from as many feeds as the user has set up. This particular app uses Google’s Reader service to sync all feeds instantaneously between devices. It’s available on the Mac and iPad for people who are really serious about keeping up on the news and other readings.
For anyone who follows news — and a good many do — Reeder is a must. It offers intuitive gestures for fast navigation, support for Instapaper, Pocket and Readability, sharing to Facebook and Twitter, and image caching for reading things when an Internet connection is not present. It’s the best RSS reader available on the iPhone and a necessity for all who use the protocol. On an iPhone 5, even more content can be displayed on the screen, further enhancing the reading and browsing experiences.
Some people like to take notes, others like to write in their journal. I’m one to jot down my thoughts in Day One, a well-designed iOS app (There’s also a Mac version). The developer was quick to update it for the iPhone 5’s new display and give it a few extra features at the same time. It’s always being updated with great new features like photo support and YouTube video embedding, and there’s nothing to stop it from being the best journaling app for Apple devices.
Whether you need something to replace Facebook or Twitter or just want to jot down your daily thoughts, Day One will do perfectly. At $4.99 it is a bit expensive, but it has iCloud and Dropbox sync with iPad support so it’s worth it if you’re going to be using it daily.
Yelp has long been the best ratings app for restaurants and other businesses; it’s good at what it does. Alternatives are nice too, though. Forkly, for instance, gives you a different look at the restaurants around you and focuses on discovery rather than ratings. Users post pictures of their meal along with a caption and rating, helping you find the best place for whatever you desire, from an American hamburger to filet mignon.
Of course, the app’s ability doesn’t just stop at food — there are drinks as well. If you’re looking for a good coffee shop nearby, use Forkly as your resource instead of sorting through the list of ratings. The service is also social, too; you can add your Facebook and Twitter friends to fill your feed with more food and beverages as well as see what they’ve been eating. Forkly is the stereotype of what simpletons think Twitter is: a place with people taking pictures of things they eat and drink. It’s free, so give it a try.
To read later has become a habit of many people. Articles are often posted during work and the reader isn’t in the position to peruse it, so they put it in their Pocket, Readability or Instapaper queue. The last one has been the most critically acclaimed, and for good reason. Marco Arment, its developer, is devoted to the app’s well being and issues updates as soon as new hardware is released.
As for the functionality itself, the app has a night mode, supports storing up to 500 articles, includes an integrated browser, offers a wide selection of fonts and is universal. The price may seem steep, but the app is quality and always growing. The aforementioned alternatives are always available for free if the money isn’t at hand, but this app is still the finest in the business.
Nearly everyone has used Wikipedia at one time or another as a free resource. It has a mobile website, but some users think it’s not as friendly as an app could be. Robert Chin is one such user, and he developed Wikipanion for iPhone and iPad to mend the disconnect. As the name implies, this is the one and only Wikipedia companion app on your iPhone that you should be using. It has all the features you’d want, from history to image saving to maps to a cleaner experience than Safari.
Wikipanion is free, but there’s a paid version that offers a queue (a reading list alternate) and offline reading. It’s for people who plan to do a lot of reading on vacation when there’s no Internet connection available. If that doesn’t interest you, the free version is perfect.
Remember Minigore, the square game mostly made up of John Gore wreaking havoc? Mountain Sheep, developer of Bike Baron (the title name character made an appearance in Minigore), has adopted the square style for it’s latest title — it released in December 2011 — Ice Rage. Avid fans of the sport hockey will enjoy this game the most because it’s brought the classic 8-bit hockey experience to an iPhone.
Ice Rage is a universal app that’s meant for challenging your friends. Instead of having two devices, you play on one, each player holding one side of the screen. There is, of course, a single player mode for practice, but after you complete that at the hardest difficulty, you should ask a friend to challenge your talents. It’s a fun social game with classy graphics and lots of anger.
Optimizing a game for the iPhone 5’s display is harder since the environments change a lot and other such variables are a challenge. With FDG Entertainment’s Beyond Ynth, that’s not so. It’s a game concerned with appearance as much as gameplay. The puzzling masterpiece has 80 levels of intriguing madness in which your ladybug will fall into lava, get squashed, freeze and slide on ice. Those are only a few of the worlds you’ll encounter in this game.
The gameplay is similar to all the other side-scrolling platformers out there, but instead your character, Kribl, is limited to moving boxes and collecting the crystals in order to save his world. You’ll even encounter pirates — at least, on an archaic scroll. High scores can be achieved by collecting the crystals faster, the process of which can often lead to death. Be careful — for the most part — and have yourself an adventure: play Beyond Ynth.
Cars are a lot of fun to drive, but most people don’t have the money to take a Bugatti Veyron for a spin. Games are always good at offering a virtual experience, and the iPhone has a great selection. Need for Speed made its way to the platform, along with Asphalt and other popular mobile titles. The Real Racing franchise is still the best graphic experience out there, but what about an alternative, for free, perhaps? CSR Racing is most promising.
As a free game, it’s supported by in-app purchases of cars, which are expensive. There are a lot of models from top names like Audi, Nissan and BMW included with the app for free though, so give those a spin first. The game even has 1080p output support so you can throw that PS3 in the green bin where it belongs — welcome the mobile gaming experience. And after an 82 MB download, you’ll be off to racing in no time.
After reading the title of this game, you’d expect it to be a Super Mario spoof of sorts. But no, this is a real game, and a classic at that. It doesn’t try to look like Super Mario, or any other platformer for that matter. Instead, the beautiful pixelated experience that Superbrothers offers is completely unique.
The gameplay is simple, the story equal. There’s nothing like the soundtrack and art, and a play of the game explains it. Things get social along the road too, when you connect your Twitter account and cooperate with friends. Superbrothers is a game for lovers of old-school pixelation and mystical gameplay that is an art. It’s an acquired taste and an appreciation. Check it out.
Have you found any great apps for the new iPhone? Let us know in the comments.