2011 has been another stellar year for the App Store. From great practical tools to excellent time-passers - there's been a rich variety of software that kept us glued to our iPhones. We picked ten that stood out most.
1. Infinity Blade II
The sequel to ChAIR Entertainment’s critically and commercially acclaimed action RPG ups the ante with even better visuals, meaner enemies and a brand new story campaign that takes players on a quest to discover the secrets of the legendary Infinity Blade itself.
Continuing on a similar semi-repetitive narrative structure of the original, Infinity Blade II plays much the same too, but with a greater variety to the meticulously crafted world and the ability to dual wield weapons.
A technical masterpiece by any definition, this is the kind of game that you can show off to those who still doubt the iPhone’s credentials as a serious gaming device. Be sure to add it to your collection.
Photo manipulation apps on the iPhone are about a dime a dozen. However, few offer such a wide variety of editing possibilities as Pixlr-o-matic.
Boasting dozens of professional-looking filters, borders and lighting effects that blend in together amazingly, this simple darkroom app lets you add a bit of vintage magic to your otherwise drab snaps. And the best part of it is that it doesn’t cost a penny.
WhatsApp is a cross-platform instant messaging application that lets you send free text, photo, video and audio messages to anyone using an iPhone, Android, BlackBerry or Symbian phone. It’s an excellent way of staying in touch with family and even better for catching up with mates thanks to the a group chat option.
You get notifications for messages, which be customised for individual conversations, so you’ll know instantly where new missives are coming from. Better yet, there’s no lengthy registration process involved, just your number, which the app can use to automatically identify contacts already using the service – making it that much easier to get on board.
4. 360 Panorama
360 Panorama does exactly what it says on the tin. It lets you capture an immersive 360-degree view of your surrounding by simply tapping the camera button and panning your device in any direction in a single smooth pass. Whether you’re on top of a mountain or inside a great architecture, this is a brilliant tool to capture all the amazing places you visit and share them instantly with anyone around the world.
5. Amazing Breaker
The best way of describing Amazing Breaker would be to call it Angry Birds-meets-Fruit Ninja. In case you’re still wondering what that means, it’s a physics based puzzler where the goal is to blast away random ice sculptures by slinging tiny bombs at them. The aim is reduce the object by a minimum 90 per cent before you run out of bombs.
It’s not an overly complex concept but requires some level of strategy to maximise your damage and pass the levels which get progressively harder. If you want something to pick up and play, you can’t go wrong with this gem.
6. Grand Theft Auto III
Whether you’re an experienced gamer or a beginner, most of you’ll be familiar with what is arguably one of the biggest franchises in gaming and the best in the sandbox action-adventure genre.
This 10-year anniversary edition of Rockstar’s third instalment in the series and the first in a fully realised 3D world takes players back to Liberty City – a metropolis loosely based on New York City where crime pays and after a bank heist goes horribly wrong, a silent, nameless protagonist must rise from the ashes to avenge a betrayal that almost got him killed.
As outstanding as it was when it first graced our screens in 2001, GTA III is all the more impressive on the iPhone, not least for the fact you’re playing it on a phone, but because you’re playing it entirely using a touchscreen and realising just how well it plays.
7. Tiny Wings
The brainchild of one-man production Andreas Iliger, Tiny Wings is a casual platformer starring a cute little birdie who’s always dreamed of flying but has unfortunately minute appendages that makes his aspiration slightly more than impractical.
Fortunately the tiny fella is surrounded by giant, curvaceous hills, which he can use as impromptu ramps to achieve flight. The objective is to help the chick flap his wings at the right moment to maintain his momentum, helping him to glide across oceans and reach new islands far away from home.
With a simple but unique take on the platform genre and superb presentation, Tiny Wings genuinely won our hearts and minds much like Angry Birds did the year before. If you want something that everyone in the family can enjoy, you could do worse.
If you’re one of those workaholic types who need access to their home or work computers even while they are on the move, LogMeIn’s Ignition and your iPhone might be a match made in heaven.
This indispensable tool gives you remote control of your PC or Mac, plus the ability to view, transfer and save files directly from your iPhone. It’s like having your computer in the palm of your hand, so you don’t have to lug around a laptop every time you’re away.
The only drawback is the app comes with a pretty hefty price tag. But it works and is incredibly stable. So provided it’s something you need, you’ll get your money’s worth.
9. Wall of Sound
Wall of Sound is an app that lets you discover new music in a way that you can’t do in real shops or even online stores. It’s a multi-directional interface that automatically populates the screen with stacks and stacks of album covers from a wide variety of artists and genres. You just tap on one and start listening.
Alas, it doesn’t let you listen to whole songs, but at least you get to try music that you might not have done otherwise. And there’s direct integration with iTunes, too, so if you find something you like, you can purchase it right away.
10. Retina WallpapersHD
Let’s face it - customisability is still not one of iPhone’s strong suits. Other than jailbreaking, which isn’t something for everyone, your only convenient option to jazz up your beloved iKit is a slick new wallpaper every now and then.
Well, Retina WallpapersHD has those in spades - more than 11,000 and counting high-definition backgrounds spanning 30+ categories to adorn your home and lock screens. Sure, it’s not the only app of this kind out there, but it’s one we’ve enjoyed using the most.
It’s free too, so there’s that.