Stop-motion movies and racing on water: iPhone apps of the week

This week's apps include a fun tool to make stop-motion movies and a water-racing game sequel that is a huge improvement over the original.

iPhone (Credit: CNET)

It's probably not a good sign that the first thing people ask me when they notice I'm holding an iPhone 4 is always something about how I deal with the reception issues. I've said here before that I have yet to experience dropped calls or any other issues related to "Antennagate" (yeesh, will we--as a society--ever get over the whole "Whatevergate" meme?), but that's probably largely just luck; maybe I'm fortunate that where I go in my daily life is covered pretty well by AT&T. I suspect I could be a rare exception.

The interesting thing to me is that the reception issues and "Death Grip" have been all over the news here in the U.S., but reports trickling in from other countries are quite the opposite. An Australian publication, The Daily Telegraph, gave a very positive review to Apple's iPhone 4 today saying finally about the reception issues, "Is the antenna an issue? No it's not. Have I dropped calls? No, I have not." Another story out of Norway (via AppleInsider) had similar results, with the writer concluding that the issues are more about weak U.S. mobile networks than they are about the iPhone 4 itself.

So my question is, even though the "Death Grip" might reduce your signal by a bar or two, if Apple had announced a deal with Verizon (or some other carrier) at launch, would we even be talking about "Antennagate?" I think I know what Steve Jobs would say if he thought nobody else was listening.

This week's iPhone AppsGate includes a fun tool to make stop-motion movies and a water-racing game sequel that is a huge improvement over the original.

StopMotion Recorder

Tap the screen to take a shot, then move your subject before taking another.

(Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

StopMotion Recorder (99 cents) lets you create cool stop-motion movies where your only limit is your imagination. Featuring a fairly intuitive interface, StopMotion Recorder lets you set up your stationary shot, then has you tap the screen for each shot of your stop-motion film. The program provides an "onion skin" (a ghost of your previous shot) so you know just how to line up the next frame of your movie. You also get a grid overlay for even better alignment, and a "clap shot" feature that will take a picture when you clap so you can be closer to the action.

StopMotion Recorder has a number of different options that give you some choices for how the final product will turn out. You get a bunch of film styles that give your movie different effects like grainy old-timey shots and that old-school film strip border for that reel-to-reel feel. When you're finished, you can share your stop-motion masterpiece over e-mail, Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube, or you can just save the movie to your iPhone's camera roll. Overall, StopMotion Recorder is a neat way to make funny little movies that just about anyone could appreciate. Hopefully we'll see some good stop-motion movies from this app start to spring up on YouTube or Twitter soon.

Aqua Moto Racing 2 ($4.99) is the sequel to Aqua Moto Racing, and has plenty of improvements over the original, including better graphics, more tracks, excellent wave physics, and challenging AI. You can control your personal water craft (PWC) in a few different ways, with options for both accelerometer-based steering or an onscreen steering wheel.

Aqua Moto Racing 2

Hit the turbo boost before a jump to get maximum air for tricks.

(Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Much like the original, you'll be able to race in Quick Race mode and set the skill level, track, and number of opponents; or you can race through the championship mode and complete seven multirace circuits. As you race through championship mode, winning a circuit gives you more money and unlocks better PWCs with fixed stats. I actually prefer the setup in the original where you could adjust PWC stats for each race, but there's something to be said for just jumping in and racing.

While on the course, you'll race against five opponents through a circuit of buoys and jumps. Getting big enough air puts the game in slow motion, allowing you to hit trick buttons to pull off somewhat underwhelming tricks (maybe the animations are too fast?) that add to your turbo meter. It takes a few jumps usually to fill up the turbo meter so you'll want to wait for moments when you really need a boost. Also littered about each track are money bags and treasure chests that add to your cash total if you can get to them without letting your opponents pass you. If you get sick of the track layouts, you also can hit a "Mirrored" to make every track a different experience.

The best thing about Aqua Moto Racing 2 is the newly designed wave physics, that bring this title much closer to popular gamer favorite Wave Race (originally on the Nintendo 64).

Overall, with even better graphics than the original, the added wrinkle of big waves to contend with, multiple tracks, and upgradeable PWCs, Aqua Moto Racing 2 will appeal to anyone who likes unique racing games. If you want to check it out before buying, grab the Lite version (free).

What's your favorite iPhone app? Is the poor reception culprit really AT&T after all? What do you think of StopMotion Recorder? Am I crazy to say Aqua Moto Racing could ever touch the likes of Wave Race 64? Let me know in the comments!

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