Fresh iPhone Apps for Feb. 24: Popcornflix, Awards Hero: Oscars Edition, Ziggurat, Little Acorns

by Phil Hornshaw

This weekend is the Oscars, so we’ve got a couple of apps to help get you into the award ceremony spirit. Popcornflix lets you stream movies for free to your iOS devices, while Award Hero: Oscars Edition makes it easy to watch trailers for nominees and weigh your Oscar picks against those of your friends. We’ve also got some games for you to play during commercials. Ziggurat, in which you have to shoot aliens with a blaster before they finally overwhelm and kill you, and Little Acorns, a platformer in which you race the clock as a squirrel, trying to gather food.

Popcornflix (iPhone, iPad) Free

The Oscars are this weekend, which means plenty of people have movies on the brain. Popcornflix helps deal with your obsession by allowing you to stream films from a pretty decent selection straight to your iOS device for free. The app is ad supported, dropping pop-ups on its menus and ads in front of features before you stream them, but a few seconds is a small price to pay for free films on your phone.

Popcornflix gets at least one new video uploaded every day, and includes the ability to share them with your friends through Facebook and Twitter. The app also allows you to stream over both a Wi-Fi connection and 3G, although if you opt for 3G, be sure to keep an eye on your data usage so you don’t get charged by your carrier.

Awards Hero: Oscars Edition (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

It’s the big weekend: the 84th Annual Academy Awards. And if you’re getting into it with your friends, you’ll want to give a look to Awards Hero: Oscars Edition, an app filled with information about the nominees and the ability to square off against your friends to see whose best at picking winners.

Awards Hero allows you to watch trailers for the nominated films, bet against your Facebook friends and create pools with your pals to easily see who can best guess the whims of the Academy. It also packs a ton of information and even clips from past Oscar winners, so you can bone up on your movie history during commercial breaks.

ZiGGURAT (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Ziggurat’s simplicity makes it both tough and interesting. You’re a lone space marine trapped atop a pyramid-shaped mound – a ziggurat – and skeletal alien freaks are bearing down on you. They’ve already killed everybody, and there’s no way you’re going to make it out alive. You just have to take as many of them with you as you can. That’s enough to make Ziggurat a compelling game of seeing how much damage you can do before you’re overtaken, one that keeps players coming back to best their top scores.

Part of what makes Ziggurat appealing is its slightly weird aiming system. Rather than tapping where you want your energy projectiles to go, you’ll need to slide your finger along the bottom of the screen to direct your space marine to fire in at different points in an arc. The longer you hold your finger down, the stronger your projectile’s charge, but gravity affects where your shot will go, so you’ll have to plan carefully. Facebook and Twitter integration for bragging rights will give you plenty of reason to challenge your friends.

Little Acorns (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Platformer Little Acorns is all about moving fast. You control a squirrel gathering food for the winter, among other things, including rounding up your squirrel babies, procuring fruit and fighting off evil bugs. The key is to get through each level as quickly as you can. You can’t leave each stage until you get all the acorns, but to get the best score, you’ll need to collect everything.

Little Acorns packs 60 levels, each with a design more dastardly than the last. Several of the stages pack power-ups you can snag along the way to amp up your squirrel’s abilities and help you finish more quickly. Your scores are saved on Game Center’s leaderboards so you can see how you compare to other players, and you can also earn achievements for your squirrely diligence.