Editor’s Apps of the Week

Tim Grey
4 February, 2011
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Every week there’s another new wave in the ocean of iOS apps, although sadly there’s a heavy layer of scurf. In the interests of the iPublic Good, each Friday we’ll be distilling the best apps of the week for your downloading pleasure.

Discovr ($3.99) works on the simple premise that’s driven pop music since time immemorial: ergo, if you’re into Chuck Berry, you might be into this wild new band called the Beatles. These days it’s a little more complicated, however, as tastes run far afield from the manageable dialectic of rock and not-rock. You’ll need a more sophisticated recommendation method, say, if you’re into Normal Filthy Dubstep but you just can’t stand Skull Disco Eight-bar Eskibeat. That’s where Discovr comes in. Enter the words ‘The Clash,’ for example, into its splash screen the app generates a little solar system, with the Pogues, PiL, Stiff Little Fingers and Tre Allegri Ragazza Morti orbiting around that small sun you already love. Should any of these satellites catch your eye, a double-touch will unfold a bio, blog, review and link, accompanied by a suite of YouTube examples of your as-yet-undiscovered band. Yep, it’s essentially allmusic, but it’s such an elegant example of aggregation and smart recommendation that Discovr’ll happily get you out of your comfort zone.

Joining a longish line of photo editing apps for the iPad (an odd phenomenon for a device without a camera or USB input) is Photogene ($4.99). Despite being a late entry, it moves directly to the head of the queue, overtaking even former frontrunner, Photoshop Express. In fact, Photogene is comparable to another excellent Adobe program, Lightroom; an adjustment bar provides fine control over the usual suspects – crop, exposure, saturation and contrast – along with more complicated factors like colour temperature, highlights and shadows, noise, RGB levels, sharpness and curves.  Extras like texts or frames can be added from the same interface, and there’s even an incredibly streamlined retouching tool that lets you heal, clone and blur as easily, or more easily, than you can on Photoshop. As AMW’s Dave Bullard observed while staring into its shiny screen, it just goes to show how the iPad’s actually a tiny but powerful computer. All it takes is for someone to develop an imaginative app.

And lastly is Dead Space ($8.99/$12.99), which is the no-brainer App of the Week.  There’s no more impressive looking game on the iPad or iPhone than this sci-fi thriller at the moment. It’s also figured out how to use the device’s touch screen controls in a sensible manner. In fact, it’s the best looking game on iOS yet. You should probably play it.

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