Snapture: The best jailbreak camera app came to the App Store a few months ago, but it was missing a few things-specifically, tap-to-focus on the iPhone 3GS, the lack of which made it feel like a compromise, not a categorical improvement. Well, that's fixed now, and along with new camera filters, social network support, and the app's standard burst shooting, visible camera roll, full-resolution capture and full-screen tap-to-shoot makes Snapture's $2 seem much more reasonable.
ShopSavvy: This is one of the best barcode apps for Android, and now it's available on the iPhone. If you have a 3GS, you can sort of ignore the harsh reviews in the App Store, because a lot of them are written by people with iPhone 2Gs and 3Gs, neither of which have the autofocus capability necessary to scan properly. If you don't, well, good luck! At any rate, it's free, and the data-even if it can be sparse on some local searches-is invaluable.
Waze: Free, crowd-sourced turn-by-turn app Waze might not navigate quite as well as the Navigons and Telenavs of the world, but it's got one killer feature that they don't: cherries, to chomp with your car.
CatPaint: Within seconds of installing CatPaint, I felt like the Matisse of adding cats to photos. Within minutes, I was Leonardo da goddamn Vinci.
Sometimes the best apps are the simplest, and CatPaint is nothing if not simple. Cats can be added to preexisting photos or cat-scarce shots from the iPhone's camera, and either saved to your camera roll or sent via email. Using it takes a while to get used to: Once you've selected a cat from the app's animal palette and set the slider for size, each tap on the photo instantly splashes a new cat at the point of contact, which can't be edited, save for a temperamental shake-to-delete function. But seriously, not the point.
Voices: There are a few voice modulation apps on the shelves of the App Store, but none has captured Jesus' heart like Voices:
Retro tape recorder and microphone, cute icons, simple touch interface, and sharing via Twitter, Facebook, and email, so you can spook everyone with that infernal Reverse Voice effect. For $1, it's impossible to resist.
Stair Dismount: Sez known barbarian Jason Chen of this overdue iPhone remake:
If you're sadistic and enjoy seeing ragdolls get hurt, this is the game for you. The injury process is made all the more fun by the added Facebook Connect feature Secret Exit put in. You can only choose your friend's default profile photo, which eliminates a lot of your friends that don't just use their faces, but still gets you fun results, as seen in the screenshots above. Basically, you already know if you're the kind of person who would enjoy the game. Either you laugh at people getting hurt, or you don't.
Point Inside: Fact: stepping foot in a suburban mall can drain your vitality in a matter of seconds. And though I don't think a deep disdain for the concept of indoor shopping complexes and what they've done to the very fabric of the American town was the driving inspiration behind Point Inside, they're definitely onto something: With hundreds of mall maps that look a lot like those big directory signs, this app gets you in and out of your local mall as quickly as possible, all for free. Could use a few hundred more maps-some of my old tweenage haunts weren't there-but if yours is listed, PI is great.
Chorus: Hey, Apple, when people start making apps just to help people find new apps, take it as a sign that your App Store interface could use a little help. Chorus crowdsources the effort to cut through the endless jungle of trash. Chorus is a bit like Apple's native App Store app, except with drastically shifted emphasis: instead of giving category "Top" lists, which rank apps by overall download numbers, Chorus only pitches you apps that've been explicitly recommended by someone. These someones could include other friends who use Chorus, nearby Chorus users, or a stable of "App Mavens"-online reviewers and tech journalists, mostly. Free.
Flying Without Fear: My pops was a pilot, and the thought of being suspended 32,000 feet in the air in a tiny aluminum tube still freaks me the hell out. Flying without fear takes a two-pronged approach to soothing panicked passengers, with relaxation exercises on one side, and more importantly, detailed explanations of each step in typical airline flight, and the terrifying sounds that accompany them. Minor complaint #1: $5 seems a little steep for a branded app-this one is slathered in Virgin Atlantic's colors and logo. Minor complaint #2: Sir Richard Branson, who provides a video intro, is scarier than the worst transatlantic turbulence I've ever sat through. IT'S THE BEARD, BEARDO.
TowerMadness Zero: In the form of a story:
TowerMadness used to be a better-than-average tower defense game, rendered in 3D and priced at about $3. Then, there was a lightning strike. A developer was zapped in the skull, collapsed, and three hours later awoke, dazed. As he stood up and surveyed his charred surroundings, he froze as if he was having a stroke; his eyes, though, twinkled. He had an idea. When he finally spoke, everyone around him was stunned: "TOWERMADNESS SHALL BE FREE," he bellowed, "AND IT SHALL BE SUPPORTED BY ADS THAT ARE NOT VERY ANNOYING." Then he died, from the burns. Pointlessly dramatic fake scenario aside, this kind of thing should happen more often.