There's a lot to like about my iOS devices. The stuff these thin, little gadgets can do constantly amazes me. It's not just what I can do with it, I get completely blown away by the stuff others are doing with them as well.
Take my friend Carmen, she went on a trip out west recently and didn't bother taking a dedicated camera. She took her new iPhone 5s. She's not a photographer, but the photos she took of the sites in and around Las Vegas were impressive. I was especially taken by the pix of rock formations near Sedona.
Maybe it's because bridges double as hills here in Central Florida, and we actually have to import anything that might be considered a boulder. Seeing formations like the one in the photo below is enough to make me and most folks I live near say, "Oooooooooooohhhhhh!!!!".
Taken by Carmen somewhere in Sedona, AZ
Ok, they are rocks, but look at the photo. Not so long ago no phone could have managed a shot of that quality.
Not impressed? Ok. A few articles back I mentioned an app called Cardiio which takes your pulse with the FaceTime camera, and does it quickly and accurately. It took brainiacs from MIT to conjure up that bit of technological juju and they offer it for free. Apps like Cardiio proves that there's all sorts of coolness that can be done with the iOS platform.
Still not impressed? (Tough audience.) Well, how about an app that teaches you to read and play music? Or one that lets you play and compete in dance competitions with nothing more than your iOS device as a sensor? Or maybe an game that is so deceptively simple yet visually stunning that it becomes an addiction? Cool, huh?
That's what we're going to take a look at in this week's Free on iTunes, cool apps. So lets get to it.
Notable [20 MB, all iOS devices capable of running iOS 6.0 or later, Maker: Trivato]
My friend Carmen can read music. I can't, and at times it makes me feel like a neanderthal. She picks up a violin, flips open a book of sheet music and starts playing. When I look at the pages of notes I may as well be staring at pages written in Chinese (which I can't read either, but neither can Carmen...at least I don't think she can). I would at least like to be able to read music with the proficiency of, say, a third grader, and I'd like to learn on my own time. Lucky for me and those of you like me who want to learn to read music, there's Notable.
The basic app is, well, basic. It offers lessons, a practice mode, and a Simon-like game where you listen to notes and sequences and repeat it. Basic, in this case, is a good thing. What we're actually trying to accomplish is to learn a new language, and like any language there are rules and syntax and so on. Once you understand the basics the rest becomes easier.
Look Ma, I'm reading music!!!
Notable does exactly that, teaches you the basics in easy to digest lessons. The free app gives you fundamental and advanced music theory and time lessons. That covers a lot of ground. You can buy more lessons or just practice what you've learned, or see how far you get in the game.
It's true that a little bit of knowledge can go a long way. After a few lessons I don't feel so brutish when Carmen breaks out her sheet music. If you long to learn to read music Notable is a good place to start.
Sega: Go Dance [85.3 MB, all iOS devices capable of running iOS 6.0 or later, Maker: Sega Corporation]
Reading music isn't the only thing Carmen is good at. She dances like she was born to it. In this, however, I can hold my own. I won't be dancing with the stars, but I do ok on a dance floor. Which of us is the better dancer? We could compete with Sega's Go Dance and find out.
If you've ever been in an arcade or someone's home who owns a modern game console then you've likely seen kid bopping and hopping about in sync with music and onscreen characters who they try to emulate. The arcade version has large floor sensors and other motion sensors to figure out how well you move. Consoles have different methods of sensing movement of players. So how does your iOS device sense player movement? With its camera, of course.
You stand about 6 feet away from your device. When the game starts it calibrates itself to you. After a few seconds the music starts and your onscreen avatar start showing you some moves. You do your best to copy them in time with the music. The better you are the better your score.
Shake your booty with Go Dance
There are several free songs to dance to and of course you can buy new songs, dance stages , clothes for your avatar and more. You buy stuff by either earning stars and hearts, or you can get more stars through in-app purchase.
I'm impressed with how accurate the app is in sensing my moves. I also like that you can mirror your screen to Apple TV so others can see the action and hear the music. Go Dance is this week's Free App of the Week so grab it now.
Smash Hit [48.4 MB, all iOS devices capable of running iOS 4.3 or later, Maker: Mediocre AB]
Ok, this game is so simple you'd wonder why anyone would bother downloading it, but download it anyway and give it a whirl.
In Smash Hit all you do is flick virtual metal balls at glass objects while you move through a visually arresting 3D geometric world. Some objects you smash give you more balls, some block your way and running into them will cost you balls. There are also neat power ups too. You go until you run out of balls. Simple, but oh so much fun!
The further you go the faster you go and the faster and more random the objects blocking your path becomes. The music that plays as you sail through this crystalline world is original and infectious, and I love hearing the sound of breaking glass.
Flick! Crash! Joy!!!
If you want you can unlock the game which will allow you to start at a check point, otherwise you always start at the beginning.
That's pretty much it. Very simple, but it's done so well that I keep coming back for more, especially when I'm frustrated and want to break something. Ahhh! Such satisfaction.
That's a wrap for this week.
I've already mentioned this week's Free App of the Week, Sega: Go Dance. There are two Free Single of the Week tunes this week! Believer by American Authors and City of Angels by Thirty Seconds to Mars.