20 best iPhone and iPad apps this week

It's time for our weekly roundup of brand new and notable apps for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices.

It covers apps and games, with the prices referring to the initial download: so (free) may mean (freemium) in some cases.

There's a separate roundup for Android apps, which was published earlier in the day. There's also a recently-introduced format change, separating out games and non-game apps. For now, read on for this week's iOS selection (and when you've finished, check out previous Best iPhone and iPad apps posts).


The Hobbit: Official Visual Companion (£2.99)

With good timing for the release of the second in Peter Jackson's movie Hobbit trilogy, this app from HarperCollins offers a giant 3D map of Middle-earth, articles on places, people and items, and a quiz on all things Hobbity. It's a very well-done companion piece to the films (and books).
iPhone / iPad

Journeys of Invention (Free)

Journeys of Invention is a marvellous, marvellous app: developed by Touch Press for The Science Museum to tell the stories behind 80 of its objects, from the Apollo 10 Command module to the Enigma cipher machine. Text, photos and video tell the stories engagingly.

John Lewis for iPad (Free)

There hasn't been much fuss made about John Lewis' iPad app – maybe they're distracted by the bear and hare business. Still, this will be useful for shopping beyond Christmas: the retailer's full catalogue of products, with browsing and buying elegantly easy.

FLTR: Smartphone Photography Magazine (Free)

Here's a sign of the times: there's now a magazine all about smartphone photography. Naturally, it's on iPhone rather than a print product. FLTR is interesting too: produced by the British Journal of Photography, it's part inspiration and part practical tips on taking snaps with your smartphone.

Popbitch Magazine (Free)

Popbitch is 13 years old, which as a longtime lurker on its messageboards, makes me feel old. Its iPad app is excellent though: it takes the ethos of the British gossip website and translates it into a sharp, thought-provoking digital publication. With otters.

Sago Mini Music Box (£1.99)

Sago Sago is the sister studio to Toca Boca, one of the most trusted children's app publishers. Its focus is more on toddlers and pre-schoolers, with this being a fun, accessible music app that gets kids tapping along to Twinkle Twinkle and Row, Row, Row Your Boat.
iPhone / iPad

Writer Pro (£13.99)

As a journalist, I've been using the iA Writer word processing app for a while now. Writer Pro is a step on from the same developer though: a similarly-minimalist writing app, but with more tools for professional writers (and hacks!), synchronising everything across iOS devices.
iPhone / iPad

Batman: Arkham Origins (Free)

Not a game, as such, but a "MultiVerse story" – a planned series of eight interactive comic stories based on Batman, with chapters available as in-app purchases. It's a bit like Choose Your Own Adventure, as you choose plot branches to explore the stories – and consequences.

Replay (Free)

You might have had your fill of photo-sharing apps on iOS this year. Replay is worth a look though: it takes photos from your Camera Roll and turns them into video slideshows, complete with themes, filters and music. Everything is shareable to various social networks, of course.

Tilly and Friends (£1.99)

Tilly and Friends is a popular series of books, and now a TV show on children's channel CBeebies. Now it's an app too, with 32 mini-games starring Tilly, Doodle, Tumpty, Pru, Tiptoe and Hector, with a light emphasis on educational concepts like sorting, matching and spelling
iPhone / iPad


Walking Dead: The Game - Season 2 (£2.99)

Developer Telltale Games' first Walking Dead game was a justified hit, packed with atmosphere (and zombies). This follow-up is thus hotly anticipated, and early indications are it's well worth the hype: impressive action, but it's the creepy feel that stays with you.
iPhone / iPad

Cut the Rope 2 (£0.69)

There have been a succession of Cut the Rope games in the last few years, but this is the first proper sequel: 120 levels of rope-slashing puzzle action, as you try to guide sweets into cute monster Om Nom's mouth. This time round, there are new gameplay elements – "nommies" – to push the gameplay on.
iPhone / iPad

Republique (£2.99)

Another app with a lot of excitement pre-launch, which is turning out to be justified. This is a stealth-action adventure with startling graphics, properly challenging puzzles, and a storyline that draws you in. The Metal Gear Solid of iOS? That sounds like hyperbole, but this game has a shot.
iPhone / iPad

Ridge Racer Slipstream (£1.99)

Here's a famous console brand with its latest mobile conversion. Ridge Racer Slipstream offers 12 cars, lots of vehicle-pimping, and a decent challenge in its career mode. The feel isn't quite classic slippy-car Ridge Racer, but it's a very polished driving game nonetheless.
iPhone / iPad

Tomb Raider I (£0.69)

Talking of popular console games, this is an accurate conversion of the very first Tomb Raider, as Lara Croft goes artefact-hunting. Selling points include two new chapters, support for iOS game controllers, and a healthy dash of gaming nostalgia.
iPhone / iPad

Colossatron: Massive World Threat (£0.69)

Best known for Fruit Ninja, developer Halfbrick's latest game gets you to "take control of a giant robotic snake and smash through cities with ease". Marvellous fun, like Snake meets Katamari Damacy (a bit) with bags of character and plenty of depth.
iPhone / iPad

Disney Hidden Worlds (Free)

The hidden-objects game genre is tailor-made for touchscreens, and this new game from Disney shows why. It presents famous scenes from Disney movies and gets you to find the hidden objects. Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Tangled and other films play starring roles.
iPhone / iPad

No Brakes Valet (£1.99)

I first played this game on the Ouya micro-console, but now it's made the leap onto handheld devices, including iOS. Your job is to park cars in a top-down-view car park as quickly and efficiently as possible. Although very soon, the latter goes out of the window in favour of blind, crashy panic.
iPhone / iPad

Moshi Monsters Village (Free)

Children's online virtual world Moshi Monsters is going mobile, although this is a standalone social game based on its characters. Kids build a village, rescue Moshlings monsters, play mini-games and check out friends' efforts. Parents, note the in-app purchases though: set your restrictions before handing your device to your child.
iPhone / iPad

Super Mega Worm Vs Santa Saga (£0.69)

Finally, one of my favourite older iOS games – Super Mega Worm – gets a Christmas-themed spin-off. You still play a giant worm (with distinct shades of film Tremors) munching everything in your path. Except this time, the end-of-game boss is Father Christmas. Very fun.
iPhone / iPadPowered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Stuart Dredge, for theguardian.com on Friday 20th December 2013 22.53 Europe/London

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image: © Brad Flickinger