Every week the editors at iMore carefully select some of our favorite, most useful, most extraordinary apps, accessories, gadgets, and websites. This week's selections include a few games, an alternative to iTunes Match, a scientific discovery app filled with illusions, and some simply smashing weekend reading.
When it comes to games on my iPhone or iPad, I tend to prefers ones that I can pick up quickly and then leave just as quick. While I don't have a ton of time to play them I do enjoy being able to wind down at night and relax with them or have something to do when waiting for an appointment or meeting. SongPop fills that gap along with being highly addictive.
The premise is that you play against your Facebook friends in fast rounds of "name that tune". You can choose from many playlists and types of music and you'll be given 5 songs at a time. The point is to guess them not only correctly but faster than your opponent. The person with the most points at the end of the 5 songs wins that round. You'll alternate picking playlists each time.
SongPop comes with several playlists to choose from or you can get more by using the coins you earn by winning matches or as an in-app purchase. If you haven't checked it out already, I highly suggest that you do. When you get super addicted and your productivity tanks, just don't blame me!
If you use Google Music you must check out this awesome app for the iPhone and iPad. I started off my journey of trying to store my music in the cloud using iTunes match but found it to be buggy, slow and always missing album artwork; even though my collection on my PC was perfect. It got to the point where I just couldn't use it any more so I looked for another solution. Google has launched its Music service in the United States but hadn't rolled it out anywhere. Luckily, with a bit of jiggery pokery and a United States IP address, I managed to get it activated on my UK account and uploaded all of my music. Everything went up there without a hitch and all my artwork was perfect.
Google hasn't released a music app for iPhone as of yet so you are stuck with using third party apps, when I say stuck that really isn't fair as the one I found is awesome! gMusic offers everything that an official app could offer and probably much more too. It works seamlessly with my stored music, organises everything by Album, Artist Genre etc. and displays all the artwork in a very elegant manner. It streams the songs without downloading them (although you can set it to download them if you like) and they are very quick to start even on a 3G connection. To be honest, it blows iTunes Match away and I will never go back after experiencing this great app and the Google Music combination.
If you want to store your music in the cloud and access it in the easiest way possible, forget iTunes Match and look at Google Music and the gMusic app, I can't recommend it enough. Thanks go to my brother @andyoldroyd for tipping me off on this one!
Splice is a fantastic game based loosely on genetics. The idea is that you have to assemble cells of genetic material into a specific strand. Each cell can only fork off into two others below it. Meanwhile special cells can alter things more dramatically by erasing (or doubling) all the cells after it or shooting out an extra single cell. You only have so many moves (or splices) in which to solve each puzzle. If you go over, you'll have to backtrack as many steps as you need to figure it out. If you solve the puzzle under the minimum, players earn "Angelic" status on specific strands.
What really makes splice fantastic is the music and art style. There's this pensive, deep piano music playing throughout the game which switches up every 7 levels or so (each batch is called a sequence). Even just flipping through the level browser is an experience. While I can't vouch for the scientific accuracy of the whole affair, Splice is an addictive, immersive game that will have you engrossed for hours.
Color Uncovered is a fun interactive app that teaches about all the wonders of colors including a lot of optical illusions all developed by the Exploratorium in San Francisco. How is Monet like a honeybee? What color is a whisper? Why is it so hard to find your car in a lamp-lit parking lot? -- These are just a few of the topics that are addressed in Color Uncovered. In addition to the optical illusions and other facts presented in Color Uncovered, it also gives instructions for performing your own experienced at home with items like a CD case, a drop of water, and a piece of paper.
Color Uncovered is a free app, so there really is no reason not to pick it up. Whether you're 10 years old or 65 years, you're bound to find the information and illusions in Color Uncovered interesting and fun.
Writing the review for Marvel's new Avengers Initiative game, I ended up making several references to Greg Pak's epic Planet Hulk series from Marvel Comics. For those interested in the chronology, it preceded Marvel's Civil War storyline and was basically designed to get the Hulk out of way so they didn't have to worry about incorporating him into the Captain America vs. Iron Man show down. He would have swung the balance of power, or created too much chaos, for the story they wanted to tell. So, banishment.
What Planet Hulk turned into, however, was so much more. Hulk is sent off-world, supposedly to an idilic place free from the stresses and annoyances of earth. But something goes wrong, as it always does, and Hulk ends up on a brutal world, Sakaar, run by a tyrant dictator, the Red King. Weakened and confused, he's captured, enslaved, and put into the gladiatorial arena. And all sorts of green, gamma-irradiated hell follows from that.
The writer, Greg Pak, creates an amazing world with mythos enough to put a smile on Joseph Campbell's face. It's epic fantasy meets epic sci-fi, and it puts the Hulk fully through his hero's journey, but leaves him in a very, very dark place. (The story after Planet Hulk is called World War Hulk, so you get the idea.) In fact, it's the power of the mythology Pak instills that makes the series so compelling.
Planet Hulk begins and ends simply, poignantly, devastatingly.
"This is the story of the Green Scar, the Eye of Anger, the World Breaker... Harkonan, Haarg, Holku... Hulk. And how he finally came home…"
That should be enough to convince you. If not, download the sample from iBooks and take a look. (Don't get the animated movie version, though, it's nowhere near as good.) If you prefer physical goods, you can grab the paper off Amazon.
Now that we've chosen our favorites for the week, we want to hear yours! Did you pick up a killer app, accessory, or game this week? Tell us about it!