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Apps Review: Flight Controller, Marvel Comics and SoundHound Add to ...

A handful of Globe staffers rushed out in April to buy an iPad in the United States. So for the past month a few of us have had a chance to get to know the device and determine which apps are worth downloading. Here's a look at three apps that Technology Reporter Omar El Akkad really likes.

  • Here are globeandmail.com editor Kenny Yum's picks:
  • Here are mobile editor Matt Frehner's picks:
  • Here are Telecom Reporter Iain Marlow's picks:




Click here for a direct link to the app



I drained the battery on my buddy's iPod numerous times playing the original Flight Control. That's why when I got my hands on the loaner iPad, I scoured the app store for an updated version of the game. Sure enough, Flight Control HD exists, and is awesome.

In Flight Control, you play the part of air traffic controller in what must be the world's worst-designed air-spaces. Your job is to make sure the planes land in the right runways (both planes and runways are colour-coded). That's pretty much it.

The great thing about Flight Control is its simplicity. You draw each plane's flight path with your finger. A lot of game designers have produced god-awful iPad games by trying to either convert console games into apps, or trying to take advantage of every iPad function available. The developers at Firemint do neither here. My top score so far is 98 planes landed safely, and the score counter has room for five digits, leading me to believe that there are folks out there much more addicted to this thing than I am. Nonetheless, beware: this game is very, very addictive.

Click here for a direct link to the app

I know we're all supposed to gush about how the iPad is going to change magazines and newspapers forever, but the truth is I'm not a big fan of most media apps. There's nothing wrong with them, per se, but I tend to go to the New York Times or Wired because I like the written content more than anything else, and while I love the Times' graphics, newspaper and magazine apps in general feel somewhat ordinary.

Comic books, on the other hand: Wow.

Marvel Comics has created one hell of an app for the iPad. The software functions as a sort of comic books store, and once you buy an issue, you can read it using a brilliantly intuitive viewer. You can either scroll through pages and zoom in and out as you like, or you can switch to something called "guided view," which takes you through each pane with smooth transitions. The graphics are beautiful and the whole app makes it all feel like the iPad and comic books were made for one another.

Click here for a direct link to the app

I have trouble recommending music-related iPad apps because the music industry has done a mighty fine job of destroying all the good ones. When I got the loaner iPad I tried (somewhat unrealistically) to get Pandora to run. But after the app forced me to sign up, it recognized I was in Canada and immediately turned into a virtual paperweight.

I recommend SoundHound, however, because it does a pretty good job of combining a whole bunch of music-related elements (some of them hilarious) into one package.

SoundHound is essentially a music discovery engine. Pick a song or artist and it'll give you the lyrics, similar artists, various related videos and so on. The app isn't free of bizarre settings, undoubtedly created to keep copyright-holders happy. For example, the 30-second official album snippet of each song always sounds like it was recorded through a telephone, presumably so you can't copy it, or something.

But the best part of SoundHound is its ability to recognize the songs you sing to it and tell you what that song is. I'm as tone-deaf as a brick wall, and SoundHound went about 8-for-10 with me, recognizing my criminally off-key humming and returning the right song.

What's more, the app also allowed me to listen to snippets of other users' renditions of the songs I'd just tried singing. That part was unadulterated, voyeuristic fun. I'm sure SoundHound's song-recognizer was originally designed to help you figure out the names of songs you'd heard in a club or something, but it's just a lot of silly fun regardless.

Don't miss Globetechnology's regular Monday Hot Apps feature.

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