Why the iPad is a waste of time

Tonight in San Francisco Apple announces its latest software for iPad, iPhone and Mac computers. The Independent will be there, but today David Phelan reports on the latest apps and has an early look at some that haven’t been released yet…

I don’t really want to be writing this. I want to get back to SpellTower, a lethally obsessive app recently released on the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.

It’s just a word creation game. That’s all, as I keep telling myself. But it’s cunningly constructed so you go back for more over and again. Create words in any direction – up, down, diagonally or any combination of directions are possible so you can manage a word in the shape of a bow tie if you’re lucky. The letters fall out of the grid when you’ve made a word. Three letters minimum, big scores for five letters and above.

You can play against friends on different iDevices, or face the treacherous and life-consuming Rush mode where an extra row of letters is added every minute or so. You can’t use a word more than once, there are all too many words it just won’t recognise and extra restrictions appear as you play. But it’s a perfect example of how to use a touchscreen for gaming (iPad’s extra space is the best) in a simple but compelling way. It costs £1.49.

Apps developers are nothing if not inventive. Whoever thought the App Store would just be a place for international clothing size charts and currency converters? Actually, I did. But now there are more than 600,000 apps all screaming to monopolise your spare time. Of course, games are a big part, and the latest iPad’s Retina Display offers such detail that game developers are releasing new titles to take advantage of this.

I had an early look at Infinity Blade Dungeons, out soon. It is the latest episode of a sophisticated sword and sorcery caper which tests out the graphic capabilities spectacularly from subtle shadow patterns to leaves that catch the light as they flutter to the ground. Another visual highlight this summer will be the multiplayer option called Party Play in Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy (£2.99), which makes aerial dogfights between players on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch an intense affair. The version I played had some jerkiness but this will be eliminated before release. You can also use Apple’s AirPlay feature so multiple players to throw the game onto a compatible big-screen TV, and everyone can see how badly they’re doing.

But if games aren’t for you, Apple has other ways to make you time-poorer. Barefoot World Atlas (£5.49) is an educational tool to teach kids, actually all of us, about countries and more. It’s an involving and fact-loaded app which takes its information live from Wolfram Alpha and describes populations, native fauna and more in hundreds of countries. It’s available now for iPad and has an iPhone version on its way.

There are lots of educational apps presented in dramatic ways, like Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomy (£9.99, iPad). This uses previously lost Da Vinci drawings to show parts of the body, switching at a touch from skeleton to blood vessels to a skin-clad body. The level of detail is intense, down to Da Vinci’s written notes which you see as his original backward-style script and in translated form. You can even enhance faded parts of drawings by turning on an ultra violet light effect.

If you like reading but prefer, you know, books, there are at least some striking apps which do things books can’t. Like the clever animations in the upcoming Star Academy, which looks glorious and will captivate children’s attention effortlessly. There’s no price yet but this looks great. It’s from Monster Costume, the company behind the charming Bartlebys’ Book of Buttons (£1.99).

Finally, there are even ways to waste time and keep fit. The new Nike+ Training app, free but not out until the end of the month, aims to be your own personal trainer. It comes with an electronic puck which slips into certain Nike shoes (not free, obviously). This measures your steps, speed and – get this – how high you jump. This is useful, and enormously fun to test.

Other app stores mostly lack the numbers of Apple’s. Android is the exception with hundreds of thousands of apps on the Google Play Store. But even so, it doesn’t compete in terms of range or quality. Though admittedly that means Android users may not waste as much time.

News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
Voices
A Siberian Tiger
voices
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Agile Tester

    £28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

    Senior SAP MM Consultant, £50,000 - £60,000, Birmingham

    £50000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Senior SAP MM C...

    SAP BW BO

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP BW BO - 6 MONTHS - LONDON London (Gr...

    Recruitment Resourcer

    £18000 - £22000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Recruitment Resour...

    Day In a Page

    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
    Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

    Edinburgh Fringe 2014

    The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried