20 best iPhone and iPad apps this week

It's time for our weekly roundup of the best new iPhone and iPad apps and games to have emerged on Apple's App Store.

This week's selection includes monsters, calendars, scanning utilities, Family Guy photo-snaps, Mr Tickle, beautiful puzzler Monument Valley, and the quietly-launched new game from Candy Crush Saga publisher King.

As ever, prices are correct at the time of writing, but may have changed by the time you read this. (Free + IAP) means in-app purchases are used within the app.

Want more apps? Browse previous Best iPhone and iPad apps roundups on The Guardian. And if you're looking for Android apps instead, browse the archives of the weekly Best Android Apps roundups.


Sago Mini Monsters (£1.99)

Sago Sago is the preschool-focused sister studio to acclaimed children’s apps developer Toca Boca, and its latest app continues its colourful, playful run of form. Aimed at toddlers, it helps them create, colour and feed a monster, before saving snapshots of their favourites.
iPhone / iPad

Fantastical 2 for iPad (£6.99)

On iPhone, Fantastical 2 is one of the best third-party calendar apps: an alternative to Apple’s default iOS datekeeping app. Now it’s been upsized for the iPad too, with a useful mix of reminders, contextual details for your appointments, and a simple system for entering new ones.

Scanbot (£0.69)

Scanners – whether handheld or part of printer/fax combos – are still A Thing in 2014, although a number of apps are trying to kill them off. Scanbot is the latest: an impressively-slick app that scans documents using the camera at up to 200dpi resolution, then can save them to Dropbox, Evernote and other cloud services.

Family Guy Photobomb (Free + IAP)

Snoop Dogg made a killing selling virtual stickers in his Snoopify photo-sharing app last year. Now animated sitcom Family Guy is getting in on the action, with the same developer. This helps you add Peter Griffin and friends/family to your photos, then share them to social networks. A set of stickers is free, but others are sold in packs for 69p a pop.
iPhone / iPad

Shapematic (£0.69)

More scanning here, but this is a distinctly 2014 variety. Shapematic is an app for taking pictures of 3D objects, which it then tries to reconstruct virtually. The hook: they can then be ordered as 3D-printed models. It’s a bit of a novelty, but also an interesting glimpse at the potential for apps, smartphone cameras and 3D printing.
iPhone / iPad

Postcards by Lonely Planet (Free)

One for travellers of all stripes, this, even frustrated ones who spend more time on the sofa thinking about marvellous places they could go. Lonely Planet is promising a new photo of somewhere exotic every day, with the story behind it. The snaps are taken from the Postcards section of the Lonely Planet Traveller magazine.

IFTTT (Free)

IFTTT has become an increasingly useful tool – whether on web or smartphones – for connecting up other web services, from backing up photos to your cloud storage through to shifting bookmarks between different apps. Now it has launched a native iPad version, where it’s easy to create and browse your “recipes” on the tablet.

Mr Tickle Storybook App (£2.49)

This new children’s book-app from publisher Egmont stays faithful to the original Roger Hargreaves tale of long-armed tickly behaviour. It does have some tablet-friendly bells and whistles though: animated scenes, colouring and character decoration, and a diverting Whack-a-Worm mini-game.

Comedy Central (Free)

Only available in the US for now, this is an official app for the Comedy Central network which – bucking the trend for this kind of channel app – offers full episodes rather than just clips. Featured shows include South Park, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, with episodes available the day after they air.
iPhone / iPad

Gig Buddy (Free)

Gig Buddy is an intriguing idea for music fans in the UK: an app that aims to bring a bit more to gigging than simply buying a ticket then seeing a band. The promise here is of pre-sale tickets, exclusive videos, information about support bands and on-stage times, and a built-in music’n’merchandise store – as well as suggestions about where to eat, drink and stay around concerts.

Doughbot (£0.69)

Mmm, doughnuts… This is a very simple idea at its core: find the nearest doughnut shops “whether you're looking for old-school shops or hipster-hyped cronut purveyors”. It pulls in reviews from Yelp and photos from Instagram, with a simple, attractive user interface.

Blab – Video Walkie Talkie by Bebo (Free)

Finally, can once-big social network Bebo make a comeback with… well, a “video walkie talkie” app? That’s its hope: this is about sending video messages to friends, who can then watch and reply even if they don’t have the app. It’s pretty fun, but will stand or fall on the viral effect: if your friends aren’t fussed, neither will you be.


Monument Valley (£2.49)

The word “beautiful” is hugely overused in connection with apps: usually it means “has nice menus”. Monument Valley really is beautiful though, almost as much an artwork as it is a game. It’s a really good game, mind: inspired by the art of M.C. Escher, it’s a collection of impossible-architecture puzzles, which you twist to explore.
iPhone / iPad

Keyword VS (Free + IAP)

Amid the flurry of interest in Candy Crush Saga maker King’s recent IPO, it took a few days for people to realise the company had quietly launched a new app. And no, it’s not a Saga. Instead, it’s essentially Boggle With Friends: you have to find words in a grid of letters, competing against Facebook friends in three-round battles. In-app purchases are used to buy coins, which in turn can be exchanged for boosters.
iPhone / iPad

Word Explorer (Free + IAP)

Another word game here, but from a developer whose name will bring a nostalgic glow to gamers of a certain age. Jon Hare – of Sensible Soccer and Cannon Fodder fame – has created this “epic word game” based on exploring the world. Solo and multiplayer modes, along with a clever photo-collecting feature, mean it’s looking like a keeper even at this early stage.
iPhone / iPad

Flappybalt for iOS (Free)

Yet another Flappy Bird clone, you might think. But this one is a port of a game by Adam ‘Atomic’ Saltsman, who previously made Canabalt. He made the original as part of the global “Flappy Jam” celebrating the original Flappy Bird’s fleeting success. “Features: Flapping. Spikes.” as the App Store listing puts it. But with the visual aesthetic of Canabalt too.
iPhone / iPad

Polar Bowler (£0.69 + IAP)

There’s a long history in mobile gaming of trying to spice up ten-pin bowling. Polar Bowler does it with a garishly-dressed polar bear, icy lanes and explosions in this game from WildTangent. The game is structured into 70 levels, with good variation as you progress through.
iPhone / iPad

Lightbringers: Saviors of Raia (Free + IAP)

As genres go, “cross-platform, drop-in/drop-out, real-time multiplayer co-op, hack 'n slash game” is pretty specific. Thankfully, it also looks pretty fun in the case of Lightbringers, which packs the screen with enemies, syncs up with the Android and Facebook versions, and lets you play with up to three friends at once.
iPhone / iPad

Fairway Solitaire Blast (Free + IAP)

Solitaire meets golf, as you may have worked out from the title. The combination sounds ridiculous, but actually works well as you play your way round courses using your solitaire skills alone. Well, I say “alone” – power-ups are a key part of the gameplay and yes, in-app purchases are part of that structure too.
iPhone / iPad

Paranormal Agency: The Ghosts of Wayne Mansion (Free + IAP)
Publisher G5 Entertainment has found its niche in strategy and adventure games, with this a sequel to its original hidden-object game Paranormal Agency. Your job is to find objects in nearly 100 scenes, while playing mini-games and solving a suitably-spooky mystery based on a haunted mansion. The link above is for iPad, but here’s the iPhone version.
iPhone / iPad

Those are our picks, but what have you been enjoying on iOS this week? Post your recommendations (or feedback on these) in the comments section.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Stuart Dredge, for theguardian.com on Friday 4th April 2014 09.00 Europe/London

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010