Easy dictation and console-like skateboarding: iPhone apps of the week | The Download Blog - CNET Download.com

Easy dictation and console-like skateboarding: iPhone apps of the week

This week's apps include a full-featured dictation recording app and a popular console skateboarding game that's now available on the iPhone.

iPhone (Credit: CNET)
As we know, Apple is notoriously tight-lipped when it comes to upcoming releases. The strategy of making everyone wait until the big announcement from Steve Jobs at a carefully timed event has paid off well for Apple over the years, with relatively few foul ups. That's why it's especially shocking to see the iPhone 4G hardware leaked not once, but twice.

By now most people are aware of the details surrounding the iPhone 4G left at a bar by an Apple engineer and the aftermath at Gizmodo. After a fire drill like that one, I would never have expected it would happen again. Yet now we have new photos and video from Vietnamese forum Taoviet, showing the iPhone 4G with further refinements and proof that the device uses the same A4 processor used in the iPad. Check out the photos and video over at AppleInsider.

Thinking back to all the Macworld keynotes (and later Apple events) I have covered, I can't think of one where something was leaked beforehand to the extent that the iPhone 4G has. Maybe someone reading this can refresh my memory, but it seems like this is the biggest yet. In any case, the photos and video have definitely made me want the new iPhone even more, so if this is some kind of secret Apple marketing strategy, it's certainly working on me.

This week's apps include a full-featured dictation recording app and a popular console skateboarding game that's now available on the iPhone.

HT Professional Recorder is a dictation-recording software with several useful features for recording your thoughts and comments. Though the iPhone comes with a voice memo app, with HT Professional Recorder you get tons of options for serious dictation recording. The interface has a unique swooshlike design with buttons across the top for creating a new recording, starting your recording, playback, and pause. There also are buttons to advance or "rewind" the playback in 5 second increments so you can scan for specific parts of your recording. On the bottom of the swoosh design, you also can use a slider to get to any part of the recording you want. Useful tools let you cut out periods of silence, speed up or slow down the recording, and bookmark specific parts. Recordings can be just for a few seconds if you want to give yourself a reminder, for example, or you can record up to 30 minutes of continuous audio.

People who prefer to record their thoughts and ideas will appreciate HT Professional Recorder's management system for storing the audio files. You can browse the library by most recent or you can name recordings so they're easy to find later. There's a folder system so you can group specific recordings together and you can playback from the folder screen if you want to make sure you have the right recording. You can even share your dictation via e-mail or a Wi-Fi Web server if you want to send your dictation to an assistant or make it available for when you get to a different location. Overall, if you're a person who likes to record thoughts and ideas for later use, HT Professional Recorder has all the features you need.

Skate It is the handheld version of the popular EA game Skate that most will recognize from console versions. On the iPhone, your control system includes using the accelerometer to turn your skater, a couple of buttons for kicking and grabs, and various swipes of your finger to pull off tricks. Having played the console games quite a bit on the XBox 360, I was amazed at how many of the original locations are available on the iPhone version. The graphics are predictably not as good as on console versions of Skate, and my older 3G seems to struggle to keep up at times, but Skate It still manages to look and play (mostly) better than other skateboarding games at the iTunes app store.

Skate It comes with 20 locations, which all will be familiar (though a little watered down) to those who have played the console version. Each of the areas are unlocked by completing challenges in Career mode which usually require you to pull off specific tricks so a magazine photographer can get a good shot. Getting tricks just right is often the most challenging part of the game, but thankfully there is a trick library that shows how to do all the various grabs and flips required to complete challenges.

Like many games of this type on the touch screen, you'll long for a real joystick for some of the more complicated maneuvers, but I was able to get the control system down pretty well after about an hour of playing. Overall, if you like skateboarding or have played Skate on consoles, Skate It offers a ton of locations, a unique and effective control system (with practice) and plenty of challenges to keep you coming back for more.

What's your favorite iPhone app? Can you think of another hardware or software leak in the past that compares to what's going on with the iPhone 4G? Do you have a better dictation app? What do you think of the control system in Skate It? Let me know in the comments!

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