Welcome to a new feature here at Appolicious in which we highlight noteworthy, recently released free iPhone apps. This inaugural column includes an updated NASA app, Marvel’s newest release and American Express finally bringing a banking app to its customers. Let’s dive right in, shall we?
Space exploration meets the iPhone
The NASA App isn’t new to the iTunes App Store, but I mention it because an update last week made a cool iPhone app even cooler. Much of the update had to do with social networking, adding Twitter and making it easier to share photos via Facebook. But the new update also added tons of new images, and I do mean tons – you are now able to search and view more than 125,000 images. The old goodies are still there, such as mission and launch information, as well as videos. The one catch is that the app requires a Wi-Fi, 3G or Edge connection. That’s about the only downside to NASA App, and it’s not much of one.
Marvel’s comic e-reader
Released earlier this month by Marvel Entertainment, Marvel Comics is, simply put, a comic book e-reader for your iPhone (or iPod Touch or iPad). While it’s a free download, you have to pay for the actual comic books, with most costing $1.99, though there are some free downloads offered. There really aren’t many negatives to this iPhone app, as it’s smartly organized, easy to use and the comics look great on it. The one unfortunate part of this whole deal is that it doesn’t work with the company’s Digital Comics service, so if you’ve downloaded comics through that subscription and you want to view them through this app, you’re out of luck. Aside from that, this is not only a handy app, but a promising sign that Marvel Comics is dealing well with the digital age.
Yahoo!’s latest fantasy app
First things first: I’m fiercely loyal to MyFantasyTeams, an independent iPhone app that allows you to track and manage your Yahoo! fantasy sports teams. I’m not the only one, as the iPhone app has gained quite the following. Still, Yahoo! continues to release similar apps for baseball and football every year, with Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball ’10 being the latest one. Slowly but surely, the company seems to be getting an idea of what users want from an app, as this one offers real-time scoring updates and allows you to edit your team. You’ll probably see a lot of people complaining about the app's look and interface, but they’ve actually improved since earlier versions, and an upcoming update that will allow you to add and drop players is essential. I still believe MyFantasyTeams is the better app, even when you consider it’s $3.99 price tag, but at least Fantasy Baseball ’10 shows Yahoo!’s getting better at this.
AmEx finally comes to the iPhone
Yes, I’m only mentioning this iPhone app so I don’t come off as too geeky; I get it, comic books and fantasy sports aren’t for everyone. But I digress, as American Express is a nice iPhone app that brings many services you’ll find on the company’s Web site to your phone, such as the ability to pay bills, view recent activity and check your balance. You can also view your rewards account, and the app allows you to manage multiple accounts. It works with consumer cards as well as many others; a complete list can be seen on the iTunes App Store page. There may not be anything here that will blow you away, but the iPhone app works and that’s the most important part. The only question is what took them so long.
Free lite game of the week
The timing of James Cameron’s Avatar Lite is certainly suspect – a more cynical reviewer might hypothesize that the release of this free iPhone app has more to do with promoting the movie’s DVD release than actually selling games. But regardless of the intent, it’s very cool that you now have the option to try this Gameloft game out before spending $6.99 on the full version. Avatar aims to bring the console gaming experience to your iPhone, and it does an admirable job. The game earns superior marks for its deep storyline and impressive graphics, with the main problem being a sometimes annoying game camera. The game play is good enough and there is plenty of action if that’s what you’re looking for, and this is an iPhone app you should definitely try out yourself.