3 Free Absolutely Cool iOS Apps You Must Have

| Free on iTunes

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.

Free on iTunes

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!!!!".

SedonaTaken 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]

Notable

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.

NotableLook 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]

Go Dance


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.

Go DanceShake 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]

Smash Hit

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.

Smash HitFlick! 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.

Comments

YankInOz

There you go again claiming to tell us about “free” apps. Cardiio is free to download, true. To derive full benefit of the app, you will need to payout another $39.60! To paraphrase Phil Shiller: “Free, my a$$!”

When will you start telling the truth about these apps that you have been paid to proselytize?

I am disappointed in this kind of pervasive fraudulent pseudo-journalism.

Maybe your standard of truth is different than mine. In my world, it is either true or it isn’t. Quite simple really. It does take a lifetime commitment to live it though. No dilly dallying, no fudging - just plain honest truth all of the time. Every time.

Free to see and then pay to play is not free. Tell it like it is, if you can.

ctopher

When was the last time you got anything of value for “free”. Maybe that happens in the land of Oz, but even the Wizard wanted payment for something that Dorothy could have done whenever she wanted too.

Maybe I’m a patsy, but I don’t think Mr. Seward is paid by the app publishers. His posts are usually entertaining and the breadth of apps and developers would seem to indicate that they are truly curated by him alone.

I also think he assumed that as an iOS user you would know about the freemium model and thus, didn’t need to break up his narrative with a listing of in-app purchases. (Which you can easily see at the app store before you even bother downloading the app!)

High quality apps cost someone time and money and I cannot blame them for wanting to make some of that back. In fact, a good deal of the app store uses the freemium model because they know people really don’t like to pay for apps before they’ve tried them.

So rave on YankInOz, give him hell. But when someone offers you 4 nights at a vacation resort, you may be shocked to find out they really want you to pay for it!

John Dingler, artist

Hi YankInOz,
Perhaps Vern should have said “free plus” but yeah, while the app is free in the sense that a toaster someone gave you is free, it’s not free in the sense that you would need to keep paying the electricity bill and an outlet so, in this sense, the app that Vern mentioned is not free.

Vern Seward

@YankInOz: I currently use Cardiio and I get great benefit from it, just as I explained in the article. I didn’t mention any of the for pay services because they are not free.

In fact, feature I’ve mentioned about every app I talk about in Free on iTunes are exactly that, free. If it makes sense to talk about premium bits I will mention it, but that’s not my focus here.

Apple offers free singles each week. These tunes are often part of an album or larger collection of work which you have to pay for to enjoy. Does it make the free song offered any less free? It’s your choice to buy more music, just as it is your choice to pay for more features.

Also, I don’t get paid by any app maker or artist and I get no more benefit than you from the apps I talk about.

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