2010 was a banner 12 months for the App Store, with even more top-grossing and record-breaking apps than any previous year. Can 2011 top it, though? Here are our top ten apps and games from January that might just help Apple’s download market pull it off.
1. British Library: Treasures
British Library: Treasures is a virtual collection of some of the most revered artifacts known to man, as well as great works from the likes of Leonardo Da Vinci and Charles Dickens.
Dig in and you’ll find over 100 highlights from around the globe, from the oldest world’s oldest Bible to an original Magna Carta of 1215, all sorted in categories spanning literature to science. There’s even room for an evolving English section for all you fans of Dream of the Rood and its ilk.
Items are accompanied by over 250 high-resolution images, plus 40 videos with expert commentary to school even the most learned history buffs.
For an outlay of just £2.39, you’re looking at an app of rare quality. Make sure you don’t miss this.
2. Tube Alarm
Tube Alarm, if the name didn’t make sufficiently clear, is an alarm app like any other, except better.
Why better, I hear you ask? Okay, I can’t, but that’s not the point.
It has all the standard features of an alarm clock – recurring alarms, snooze, even an LED display. But its USP is that it also comes with the ability to wake you up early in case there’s trouble brewin’ on your normal travel route in the morning.
And it does this not by witchcraft, as some would allege, but by allowing you to select up to three underground lines that you most frequently travel on, which the app can then use to automatically pull live status updates from the official Transport for London (TFL) feed. If there’s a minor or major disturbance in the morning, the alarm will simply go off early depending on your settings.
Better yet, you can also set it up to play your favourite wake-up music. Just don’t expect it to make your breakfast too.
3. PlayStation Official App
Love PlayStation? Of course you do. And with the official PlayStation app for iPhone, you can love the big P even more.
But let’s clarify first that this does not play games, nor does it do your laundry. What it does is give you instant access to your PlayStation Network (PSN) profile, including all your bling, aka trophies, coz you know your street cred is at stake without em’.
And you can also do things like catch up on the latest news in gaming and browse every PS3 title released to-date, including downloadable ones. But best of all is that you can see what your chums are playing, so that you can decide whether it’s worth rushing home to get involved or not.
4. Hysteria Project 2
Video games, at least in the last decade, have frequently straddled the fine line between ‘game’ and ‘movie’. While games have become increasingly better at telling stories and immersing players in the world in which that story is set, a rare and dying breed of games try to do it the old-fashioned way: through the use of ‘full motion video’. Or more accurately, live action footage.
Hysteria Project 2 is one of them. Because instead of placing you in a hand-drawn or computer generated world, the entire setting of this “game” is shot on film. You’re able to move about in it and interact with it to make sense of what the hell is going on. In this case, you wake up tied to a bed in a mental institution and your goal is the same as any crazy person: escape.
It’s not a game in the traditional sense, but more of an interactive movie where your input is required to keep the story moving forward. You won’t understand fully until you’ve tried it and for the sheer weirdness alone we recommend that you do. Better still, check out the trailer.
5. Bubble Ball
A confession: this one actually came out two days before we bid adieu to 2010. But we felt it still deserved inclusion in our first round-up for the New Year. Not just for the fact it was made by a 14 year old, but because it is actually very well done, too.
Bubble Ball is a simple, but truly enjoyable physics-based puzzle game that involves getting a ball to travel across a level to a finishing point, marked by a flag.
Your goal is to strategically place a bunch of shapes – rectangles, triangles and what have you – that the game generates for you in each level, so that the ball can safely reach its destination. If you’ve played titles like Crayon Physics and Line Rider, you’ll be right at home here. And although the concept is basic, it’s a title even Sir Isaac Newton would have been proud of.
6. Dead Space
Dead Space, for those unfamiliar with the series, is a survival horror title, set in space. Aye, space – the final frontier for life on earth. Except it’s full of dead things. Murderous, stabby dead things to boot, called Necromorphs that want to shred you to pieces for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and sometimes supper.
Set somewhere, sometime after the events of the original Dead Space on consoles, the iPhone edition takes players on a brand new freight fest with its own little story that sets the sets the scene for Dead Space 2.
To help you make it through this rough part of the galactic neighhourhood, you’ll be armed with some badass weaponry, including the iOS exclusives Plasma Saw and Core Extractor. The former shouldn’t require much elaboration. The latter though, we won’t spoil as discovering it is one of the joys of the game.
Pick up Dead Space now for just £3.99 from iTunes and get ready to scream like the little girl you really are.
7. Bandwidth Pro
Ever wondered how much bandwidth you’re hogging while you’re watching those countless YouTube clips, surfing the web and downloading apps, games and music on your iPhone?
Your contract might say ‘unlimited’ internet. But that is only half the story as your carrier will almost always cap your download speed when you’ve reached a certain bandwidth threshold, or worse, suspend your account until you’ve seen the error of your ways.
Or maybe you have a capped download limit to begin with, which could lead to extortionate bills if you’re not careful.
Enter Bandwidth Pro: an app that tells you exactly how much data you’ve used. Even more helpfully, it also lets you set a limit for yourself and see your usage in real time so you can be more sensible about the way you make the most of your plan.
It’s that simple and for an investment of just £1.19, you’re looking at potentially saving hundreds over the course of your contract.
8. Legendary Wars
Legendary Wars is not an easy game to describe. That’s chiefly because of the dizzying amount of variety it throws at you that can be a little overwhelming coming from an iPhone title. But if we were forced to try and put it in a nutshell, we’d call it an action, real-time strategy, role-playing game - all rolled into one beautiful package with gorgeously rendered cel-shaded graphics. Snappy, eh?
You take on the role of a heroic knight named Lucas and his army of elves, golems, wizards and unicorns in a quest to stave off scores monstrous creatures of the Netherworld approaching Legendaria. We’re talking undead skeletons, zombies, vampires, werewolves, trolls, gargoyles, dragons, the lot.
The gameplay is almost entirely in a side-scrolling perspective, with mission types that involve attacking enemy forces, defending castles – all in real-time while you build your forces, give commands and manage resources.
It’s the genre-spanning variety alone that makes Legendary Wars a worthy recommendation. And for a price of just £1.79, it’s hard not to.
9. Tap DJ
Fancy yourself as a DJ, but lack the resources or the musical knowhow? Fret not. Tap DJ brings together in virtual form all the necessary components of DJ-ing, from turntables to mixers, right on your iPhone, so you can finally satisfy that unfulfilled urge to scratch and beat match whenever, wherever you feel like it.
It packs an incredible array of options, with a ton of samples to get you started, plus the ability to add your own music from the integrated iPod library. You can also tune, scratch, equalise, throw in effects, cue points and loops to come up with complex pieces of music with little very experience.
Whether you’re a professional DJ or just a fan of music, Tap DJ is a brilliant and incredibly cheap way to get creative on the move.
BEP360 is a 3D Augmented Reality (AR) app from none other than the Black Eyed Peas that lets you, virtually at least, become a part of the hit ‘The Time (Dirty Bit)’ music video in full 360 view.
Like most AR apps, it uses the iPhone’s camera and gyro sensors to give you the illusion that there’s something in front you when there isn’t. But what sets it apart is how well it’s implemented. In addition to dancing with chicks that aren’t really there, you can take part in a virtual photo shoot with your chums and the Peas. That’s a boon if like us you lack the Hollywood player creds to get you past the virtual velvet rope.
If you love BEP, it’s a must-have. Even if you don’t, it’s still a damn cool app to show off to people, and by that I mean lord over your Android-toting mates. Nothing gets those Fandroids more ticked off than being shut out of all the cool parties, even the virtual ones.