Digital postcards and an online flight sim: iPhone apps of the week

This week's apps include a fun program for making digital postcards (utilizing some nifty new iPhone 3.0 features) and a 3D dogfight flying game you can play over Wi-Fi.

iPhone (Credit: CNET)

Of all the great enhancements, fixes, and goodies in iPhone OS 3.0 (video overview here), I quickly realized there was one glaring omission. With the useful addition of a Voice Memos app, an old problem reared its ugly head. The update put the Voice Memos app icon on the home page, pushing whatever lone app icon that sat in the lower right of the homepage onto its own screen on the next page. This meant that in order to maximize my use of page space (I have a lot of apps!), I now had to rearrange my apps on the last page to fill the mostly blank second page. If you've ever tried to move lots of apps, you know how frustrating it can be to slowly drag each jiggly icon across several screens to its new home.

After a little research I found a slightly less time-consuming solution, but I'm hoping a later iPhone OS will provide an easier way to move several icons. The method I found is to go to your last page of apps, then drag your Dock icons (Phone, Mail, Safari, and iPod) onto their own screen to the right of the last page. With these safely tucked away, you can grab groups of four icons, drop them in the dock, then unload them on your mostly empty second page. When you're all finished, slide your original icons back on to the Dock and hit the Home button. It's not a perfect solution, but until Apple offers some sort of cleanup option, moving four apps at a time is better than just one.

This week's apps include a fun program for making digital postcards (utilizing some nifty iPhone 3.0 features) and a 3D dogfight flying game you can play over Wi-Fi.

Postman

Use your location (top center) to use the iPhone map complete with pinch zooming capabilities.

(Credit: CNET)

Postman (99 cents) lets you send digital post cards to your friends and family, with some nifty features to make it fun for everyone. We've seen post card apps before, but Postman takes advantage of some of the new features in iPhone OS 3.0 to make it even better. To create a postcard, take a photo from within the program, choose an image from your library, or pick from several generic templates. You can also add basic effects like sepia and black and white to give the image the feel you want. For something a little different, Postcard also lets you take advantage of the new iPhone OS by letting you use an image of your location with the integrated maps features.

To personalize your postcard, add some text to your image using one of several available fonts and colors. When your satisfied with the front of the postcard, hit the Back button to flip it over and write your personalized message. When you're ready, use the Share button to show off your work on Facebook, Tumblr, or Twitter, or you can simply e-mail it to the intended party.

Postman is a unique app for sending messages to friends, but we would have liked to be able to resize and move the text on the front for more interesting design possibilities. Either way, as a 99-cent app, Postman is difficult to pass up.

F.A.S.T.: Fleet Air Superiority Training

Read the instructions first to find how to use all the onscreen controls.

(Credit: CNET)

F.A.S.T.: Fleet Air Superiority Training ($5.99) lets you take to the air and experience the thrill of flying in full 3D as you blow planes out of the sky. It helps to read the instructions first so you know what each control does before starting. Play one-player missions to get the feel for the controls and to unlock new advanced fighter aircraft (there are 10 in all). Maneuver your plane by tilting your iPhone, and use onscreen controls for missiles, afterburners, and flares. F.A.S.T. also lets you play online with Wi-Fi against one opponent, head-to-head, or 2-on-2 matches.

One thing I would like to note about F.A.S.T. is that I wasn't very impressed when I first started playing--the graphics aren't as amazing as other titles, and the maneuverability of the plane seems kind of muddy without practice. But once I understood the controls, went on a few missions, and started joining up with people online, the game became a lot more fun. I guess my point is, if you don't like it at first, give it some time. Overall, I think F.A.S.T. is an excellent dogfight sim for those who like flying games and--with online action--offers plenty of replay value.

What's your favorite iPhone app? What do you think of the iPhone OS update so far? Got a better way to move app icons? Let me know in the comments!

Update: As some savvy readers have pointed out, simply grabbing the lone app icon and moving it to the next page solves the problem in my example. But I still wish there was some sort of clean up button for when you have spaces on several pages (after deleting a few apps, for example) to make your apps fill in the open spaces automatically.

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