In this week's distracted app roundup: Grand Theft Auto, committed! Live video, streamed over 3G! Photos, psycedelicized! Blocks, stacked, smashed, and squeezed through holes! Casual gaming norms, subtly subverted! Spying spouses, caught! Songs, made with magic! Barack, Obama'd! And more...
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Chomp: Following in the footsteps of Chorus, Zensify Apps and Apple's own Genius, Chomp is an app for finding more apps. If you're a regular, well-rounded human, this may sound excessive! If you're reading this column, less so. Chomp brings a slick, consciously simple UI to the table, and has an extremely handy bookmarking feature. Here's how you should use it: once you find an app you think you might like, or that made you chuckle (see: Fishbate), bookmark it, and just wait 24 hours. Your wallet will thank me.
Crush the Castle: Too often on the iPhone, I see castles being defended. This is incorrect! They should be crushed. With trebuchets, if possible. This little gem's got decent graphics, a great physics engine and respectably deep gameplay. $2.
Finger Physics: An all-around fantastic stacking game, Finger Physics isn't the newest app in this roundup, but I'm pretty sure I've wasted more time on it this week than all the others combined. It's a very simple concept built atop a very simple engine: just stack your pieces, some of which have special functions, until you hit your goal. $1, though there's a meaty free version as well.
GTA: Chinatown Wars: I'm not sure what I was expecting, really, but this game came as a total surprise to me. I mean, I knew it was coming, I just didn't expect it to be so good. It's basically the exact same game you get on the PSP or DS—that is, a sprawling Grand Theft Auto title in a hybrid top-down/3D style, which costs around $30 on those platforms—for $10. Ignoring the character animations, this game is one of the most visually impressive I've seen on the platform, I've barely even explored the city after a few hours of play, and I've only scratched the surface of the available missions. $10.
iTrust: Displays a fake, dead homescreen, and records any attempted screen presses, so you can show your would-be phone snooper the evidence of their intrusion. I can't imagine a situation in which this app actually solves a problem, but I can think of plenty of people who'd use it anyway. So yeah, stick it right to that
stupid asshole! person you love! For a dollar!
PhotoTropedelic: Image processing apps are a dime a dozen, so in order to matter, a single-filter app has to be pret-tay, pret-ray, pret-tay cool. The trick here is that PhotoTropedelic doesn't just run a straight, predictable filter; it interprets sections of photographs and applies different filters to each. Instead of a mishmash of colors, you get stripes, stars, and other designs. Plus you can export to scalable PDF, which you'll probably want to do after seeing what kind of results you get. At $2, though, the price is a little steep.
Qik: Qik's video streaming app used to be tethered to Wi-Fi, which chopped its usefulness by about, oh, 99/100ths. Now you can broadcast video over the air, even from non-3GS iPhones. Free.
SkyBox: This is a simple concept, executed sparsely: you guide blocks of varying shapes as they fall through holes in walls of varying but generally accommodating shapes. So why is it so intense? I flinch every time my blocks are about to pass through another plane, even I'm sure they'll be fine. This potency pays of when you get better, making you feel like a REAL BLOCK HERO in the later stages. $2.
Voice Band: Hey, this doesn't seem like it should be possible! Sing, hum, or "DUURR" into your iPhone, and Voice Band will approximate your tones into a variety of instrument sounds, and if you have the time, a full track. $3.
White House: Do you love Barack Obama? Would you like to see and hear more of him, even when you're away from the TV or computer? Alternately, do you hate Barack Obama? Do you absorb his every word, only to spew it back in his general direction, drenched in venom? Or you really not care, but enjoy the occasional candid photo of a Portuguese Water Dog? Whatever, it's free.
This list is in no way definitive. If you've spotted a great app that hit the store this week, give us a heads up or, better yet, your firsthand impressions in the comments. And for even more apps: see our previous weekly roundups here, and check out our Favorite iPhone Apps Directory. Have a great weekend, everybody!