Holycrapit'shere. The splattertastic shooter Rage HD from Id Software-you know, the Doom and Quake guys. The graphics are unbelievably good, the best of any iPhone game yet. It's a must-download if you love shooters-just look. It's nuts.
It's interesting that id's decided the best way to do a first-person shooter on the iPhone is as a rail shooter, almost like a throwback to old-school arcade shooters (for some reason, the quarter-devouring, Aerosmith-starring Revolution X and the T2 game come to mind). You don't move, you just point and shoot. And it's great. Mutant blood splatters everywhere. There's bonuses to be shot at as you move through the level, if your reflexes and aim are quick enough. The tilt controls feel tight enough on the iPhone, actually preferable to the faux d-pad on the iPad. (Check out what John Carmack has to say about it.)
All in all, it's surprisingly solid to play, combined with truly amazing-for-a-phone graphics. While it maintains the pick-up-and-playability iPhone games need to have, hopefully it's part of a coming onslaught of more serious iPhone games for serious gamers. Remarkably, it's only $2, and it's a universal app iPhone and iPad, so it's a genuine deal. Fair warning: It's a whopping 746MB. But it's easily the best $2 and gig of storage you'll eat up all day.
$2, also kicks just as much ass on the iPad.
Path: A buzzy social photography app a la Instagram that caps you at 50 friends—that way you won't feel sheepish about being your true, always-doing-something-embarrassing self. Free.
Astronut: Astronut, a new game from the app All Stars at The Iconfactory (Twitterific, Take Five), puts you in the space boots of an astronaut adrift in space. It's gorgeous and engaging throughout, from the graphics down to the smallest details in the menus and sound effects. Free, $2 in-app purchase for more levels.
What you can see is that Google, although making the app barebones, made it pretty slick and fast. Texting and calling work exactly the way you want it to, but you can't really change a lot of settings from the app. There's no way to add new phones or change calling groups or schedules or anything. But for the very basic functions, this is a winner. And it has push notifications as well as dialing from Google's direct access numbers for decreased connection times.
CameraBag: The wait is over! FINALLY, CameraBag has been updated. Not like they OWE me an update or whatever, but it really did take a while. Anywho, ever since Camera+ got booted from the App Store, CameraBag has been many peoples' go-to app for applying some filters to their photos. The update brings Retina support and, uniquely, the ability to vary a given filter's effect by double tapping on the image. $2
Currently, Boxcar is a most excellent app for that straightforwardly pushes notifications from services like Twitter and Facebook to the iPhone. Boxcar 4.0 is going to make your iPhone feel like it has a million, constantly connected tentacles.
Boxcar 4.0 not only adds support for a ton more services-Google Voice, Buzz and others-the app's been completely redesigned so you can actually manage all of those notifications, neatly broken down by service with an overhauled dashboard. And, you can do stuff about those notifications inside the app now, like reply to a tweet.
The net effect of Boxcar is that the iPhone feels less siloed and more connected to the outside world, which is one of Android's biggest strengths. (The iPhone's push notifications system could still use a less obtrusive Android, Windows Phone or Pre-style redesign, though.)
Free with ads; $5 without ads.
Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner: How long have you wanted your pedestrian life to collide with the faraway galactic action of the Star Wars movies? WELL THEY JUST COLLIDED. $5.
Zombigotchi: Remember Tamagotchis? They had their charm! OK, that charm wore off quickly, but if there's anything that can make the Tamagotchi relevant again it's adding some ZOMBIE action in there, too, right? Right! A cute little zombie pet for you to feed and stroke, right there on your iPhone. $2