Apple iPhone app round-up: Clipster, Spawn Illuminati, World Customs & Cultures, Dark Nebula, Gossip Junkie, 3D Brain review

This month's round-up of iPhone apps
Photo of Apple iPhone app round-up: Clipster, Spawn Illuminati, World Customs & Cultures, Dark Nebula, Gossip Junkie, 3D Brain
from free to £0.59

Welcome to this month’s round up of new, notable and need-to-have apps for the iPhone. This time around we’ve got hi-tech intergalactic marbles, a neat, useful clipboard utility, things that blossom and sparkle, a celebrity gossip aggregator, dos and don’ts from around the world, and the inside – ew – scoop on your brain. As usual, they’re all available from the App Store.

Although the iPhone’s soft keyboard is remarkably responsive, it’s still not everyone’s idea of a good time, so we’ve been using Clipster (£0.59) to keep lists of all the e-mails and text messages we’re always sending to people (‘Sorry, running 20 minutes late’ and ‘Rehearsal this Sunday at the usual time, guys’) so that we can simply copy them from the clipboard whenever we need them. Of course you could rig up something similar yourself using the iPhone’s Notes app, but Clipster adds several useful features: it’ll delete a clip automatically after a set number of days, for example, and clips can be ordered so that favourites are always at the top. The result is a timesaver that looks good, too.

When it comes to apps that attract attention, Spawn Illuminati (£0.59) is currently top of our list. It’s an app that creates a light show of dancing particles that you control via the world’s most bizarre interface: it’s almost a game in itself. Set the spread, speed and appearance of the light show, make it follow your finger or scatter away from it, watch the particles react to the sounds picked up from the iPhone’s mic, turn it into an old-fashioned kaleidoscope, snap your favourite particle pictures and turn them into wallpaper and much more. Peerless, pointless fun.

If you’re more concerned about clear communication in the modern, multicultural world, check out World Customs and Cultures (free). Countries are listed alphabetically (or you can use the iPhone’s GPS to determine where you are) and customs are divided into categories like greetings, personal space & touching, gestures and gender issues. You can also explore customs and countries using the Random feature. We learned a lot, especially about the Mongolian approach to timekeeping (hint: they’re not that bothered). It’d be nice if the Travelocity links did more than just take you to that site’s front page, but it’s easy to use and and the info’s generally sound.

If you really want an exciting travel experience though, we’d suggest Dark Nebula: Episode One (£0.59). Set in outer space with a superb orchestral soundtrack and steamingly good sound effects, this top-down game involves rolling a sci-fi marble around various platforms, gathering power-ups, shields and extra lives while avoiding giant metal rollers, static spikes, rotating spikes, vertigo-inducing sheer drops, cannons and heaven knows what else because we haven’t finished it yet. Ten levels, grade-A graphics (at various points the marble is catapulted up into the air towards you) and the simplest controls ever (just tip the iPhone in the direction you want to go) make this the start of something big.

There’s news and then there’s celebrity news and for those interested in the latter, there’s Gossip Junkie (£0.59) which aggregates the latest celebrity skinny from sites you’ve heard of, like Perez Hilton and E! Online, and those you haven’t, like our personal favourite, the hilariously bileful ‘The Superficial’. You can add or delete sites, set one as your home page and pretend to care about the exploits of K Fed, Kim, Lindsey, Pam, Amy, auntie Madge et al.

And finally there’s 3D Brain (free) which displays a fully rotating, three dimensional, annotated (or not; you choose) human brain. Use the Structures feature to highlight a specific area of the brain like the Basal Ganglia or the Perirhinal Cortex and then find out who discovered it, what it does and what happens when it goes wrong. The graphics are great (though the links to external web sources aren’t always iPhone-friendly) and it can also be used as the basis of a great trick: load the program, point the iPhone’s camera at a friend and tell them you’re doing a cranial scan (because there’s an app for everything). You’ll be amazed how many people think they’re looking at a scan of their own brain. Or maybe you won’t.

Company: iPhone


Verdict

As above. All the apps are available from the App Store on iTunes.