Ever been stuck at a family Christmas where the average age of each participant was older than you? It can get difficult finding things to talk about, and with the sheer volume of people, you may find it easier to sneak off to the smartphone or tablet for a brief escape from the festive fury. (This is especially helpful when an overnight stay is involved.) If you are able to access your mobile devices during the long days ahead, here are the apps we recommend picking up to help you muddle through.
The Room won Game of the Year in the App Store for 2012. In celebration of the sequel’s recent release, you can now pick up the original for dirt cheap, and believe us, you’ll more than get your money’s worth for the 99-cent asking price. Fireproof Games really knocked it out of the park with this intricate puzzle game that incorporates stunning graphics and fluidity with a mystery that keeps you guessing.
Play as yourself by utilizing the Photo Masque editing feature. Just snap a pic of your head using the guide, approve once you’ve got an image that doesn’t make you look like a pinhead, and start eviscerating non-glittery vampires that would just as soon tear your throat out as sneak up on you, all as yourself in this epic RPG.
Wrestling Revolution / Booking Revolution
The graphics may be cartoony and a tad amateurish, but these two classics from MDickie will still be on your iPad or iPhone long after all the others are beaten and deleted. That’s because of the full-on control and customization that it gives you. And pardon us for saying “it.” They’re really two different games, but only by objective. In Wrestling Revolution, you can customize any of 350 wrestlers across nine promotions and fight your way to the title. In Booking Revolution, same deal applies, except you’re the manager of a wrestling promotion, and it’s up to you to incorporate the right gimmicks, plan the TV and PPV cards for maximum effect, and, of course, be seen with the pretty ladies. Personally, I think Booking Revolution is better, but that’s just the control freak in me talking.
The greatest puzzle game of all time with awesome, incredible power-ups, a tournament or single-player mode, and plenty of coin-earning opportunities with each two-minute game. Lots of achievements, connect your Facebook account for lots of opponents, and brag to all your friends as you stomp them into the ground week-after-week.
All right, so it’s not a game. That doesn’t mean it lacks fun, particularly if you’re the type of guy that always has his mind on business and all the cool things you could be doing to make more money. Makr allows you to design business cards and a number of other things that can help you get ahead. It’s very fun playing with the features, and you can order copies cheaply through the app itself.
Want to brush up on those Spanish skills that have been lying dormant in the closet since college? (Those of you that use Spanish every day, you can put your headphones on now.) If so then Duolingo is the app for you. Duolingo goes beyond the Spanish language and covers the full Romance suite. You can start with the very easy and progress to hard, and it won’t cost you a dime. The quizzes are fun and effective at getting you to use the language and not just learn scraps of vocabulary here and there. Oh, and by the way, it won the 2013 App of the Year honor from iTunes. (Okay, back off with the headphones.)
No surprise here that Apple does a terrific music app! The ease of adding things to your wish list and finding plenty of stations to suit your interests right off the bat is a major recommendation. While your Pandora playlist is probably far more advanced from years of use, it shouldn’t take long for iTunes Radio to catch up. Listen to it. Favorite songs. Grow the types of music that you listen to organically until everything that flows in to your ears is pure music gold. You’ll love it.
Comes in the iOS 7 update.
Kindle / Amazon Instant Video Player
Two separate apps, but they really should go together if you are a fan of the Amazon cloud storage system. Keep all movies, books, comics, and magazines handy whenever you want them without having to own a Kindle Fire!
We’ve put a lot of news apps through the ringers around here, and the one we keep coming back to is Zite. This beautifully minimalist app has an attractive magazine display that clearly identifies all objects related to a given keyword. You can search the category you want to keep up with, favorite it, move on to the next, and then switch to your overall news feed for a well-balanced mix of every topic you care about. Zite learns you the more you use it, and strives to provide only results that are of interest. Cannot recommend this app highly enough to news hounds! And iPad owners, Zite is particularly stunning for you.
Okay, let’s not even pretend. If you’re stuck at a boring family holiday, you’re probably clamoring for some contact with the outside world, and there are few places better for such contact than Facebook. Zuckerberg and Company are often singled out for screwing up everything they touch with each new tweak they make to the website. But when it comes to the user interface and functionality of the Facebook app, they’ve got a winner, through-and-through! And anyone familiar with how crappy Facebook’s iOS apps have been in the past will be particularly pleased with the latest version.