The tablet PC, more specifically the iPad, has spawned an entire generation of entertainment and gaming Apps making it a serious contender to handheld consoles. Karthik Subramanian samples some of the free Apps and lists the top 5.
When Steve Jobs listed the possible uses of a third device while introducing the iPad at an Apple event in 2010, the ‘games' category was just a passing mention. No one ever anticipated the iPad, in particular, and tablet PCs, in general, to create a new genre of gaming and entertainment Apps.
But that is precisely what has happened over the past two-and-a-half years. There are several mobile Application developers across the world developing games that exploit the capabilities of the touch-screen tablet PCs. There are inspiring stories of small companies striking gold in the category, with the likes of Finnish company Rovio becoming a global phenomenon overnight with Angry Birds. Earlier this month, Rovio announced the one-billionth download of Angry Birds, which is probably why we are keeping Angry Birds out of our list in this article.
Cut The Rope: Combining arcade fun with puzzles, ZeptoLab UK's Cut The Rope has been a viral phenomenon over the past year. The objective of the game is to feed candies to the cute monster Om Nom in a trap room using ropes, rockets and other crazy contraptions. It is a throwback to the days of the earliest arcade games of Nintendo and the PC but with HD goodness and appeal of the new generation tablets.
Already downloaded by over 60 million users worldwide, Cut The Rope is the true successor to Angry Bird's legacy on mobile devices. While a free ad-supported version is available for download in both the Apple iTunes App Store and Google Play, Cut The Rope Experiments with 75 free levels is available as a limited-period free download in the newly-launched ‘Free App of the Day' on iTunes.
App: Cut The Rope
Publisher: ZeptoLab UK
Genre: Arcade Gaming
Aby Escape: Most smartphone and tablet gamers must have surely played Temple Run on their mobile devices, featuring an Indiana Jones type explorer jumping, sliding and escaping from cannibalistic monkeys in Inca ruins.
Spanish mobile game publisher Pixel Ratio's Aby Escape is probably an improvement in the genre, and unlike Temple Run, which can get a bit repetitive and monotonous, Aby Escape has varied landscapes and even better music. The game has recently been published in English by U.S.-based game developer and distributor Bulkypix. The objective of the game is to help raccoon Aby escape from hunters, cops and even football players, as he makes good his escape through a forest, a city and a highway full of motorcyclists. The game comes in two modes: the unending run and a story mode. It gets interesting as it presents new challenges for every mode unlocked. Aby Escape was published only in April and it is possible that the game will become a cult hit. Aby Escape is currently available only on the iOS platforms but one can bet it should be making the Android cut soon.
App: Aby Escape
Publisher: Pixel Ratio/ Bulky Pix
Genre: Never-ending game
Songify: Music is one of the more successful and fastest growing sub-genres in the entertainment Apps category for mobiles. Although mobile devices have succeeded in making music and musical instruments more accessible by way of apps, those who have not had any formal training still have some barriers to break. Songify is a wonderful free app that may not necessarily awaken the musical talent in a person, but by converting any spoken word into a song, it is guaranteed to bring a smile.
Khush, developer of the App, has recently been acquired by another hugely successful social music App developer Smule. All users need to create a song using Songify is to speak a few sentences into their mobile devices. Songify identifies the tempo of what is being spoken, and converts the spoken word into a song with a fairly plausible tune. The App is available for free on both the Android and the iOS platforms.
Publisher: Smule/ Khush
Fotopedia: With increasingly better displays, tablet PCs are the best medium to enjoy photographs. With Fotopedia, everyone can enjoy a rich quality coffee table book-like experience for free. Apart from producing free electronic photo books, Fotopedia has been offering a platform for professional photographers to present their projects and make money through in-App purchases. The App's user interface and aesthetic appeal on the tablet PC platform is so jaw-droppingly good that it has raised the bar for content distributors the world over.
Right now, Fotopedia is available only on the iPad and the iPhone platforms as App. On its forums though, Fotopedia has announced the beta testing for its Android App. So one can keep an eye open on Google Play for the App very soon. The Fotopedia website has been designed on HTML5, and browsing it using a web browser on a personal computer is in itself an experience that replicates viewing the App. Try www.fotopedia.com/magazine.
Genre: Photo book publisher/ platform
Halftone: There are plenty of photo and video editing mobile Apps that add layers and effects. And especially popular is the retro look that most Apps promise. Halftone is perhaps the App that does it most innovatively by allowing users to create pop-fiction style comic book albums out of one's photos. There are enough panels, effects and layouts even in the free version of this App that makes it worth checking out. Users can also share their comic panels created using Halftone on Facebook and Twitter through the App.
Halftone is currently available only for the Apple mobile devices but in a blog post in March, the developers at JuicyBits Software talked about possibly considering an Android iteration.
Publisher: JuicyBits Software
Genre: Photo editing