Read the news and blow away monsters on the run: iPhone apps of the week | The Download Blog - CNET Download.com

Read the news and blow away monsters on the run: iPhone apps of the week

This week's apps include an easy to use news reader and a game that challenges you to run the longest distance while killing off monsters.

iPhone (Credit: CNET)

Even with the huge success of the iPhone 4 and the iPad, we all know Apple hasn't been resting on its laurels. We still have a big hardware event to come this fall with Apple's now annual iPod launch event. Among the rumors and speculation around the Web, some news Web sites are saying we might see a full revision to the iPod Touch, a new iPad, and maybe a completely rebuilt Apple TV.

The guys over at AppleInsider uncovered a particularly interesting tidbit by studying the "Configuration Descriptors" within the USB configuration files of the most recent iOS 4.1 beta. Apparently, by following Apple's past releases, they were able to pick out new versions of devices by the code names Apple uses for its products. Check out the story linked above to see how they figured it all out. Especially interesting is the "unknownHardware" named in the third configuration file--could this be the smaller iPad people have been talking about or maybe the Apple TV?

Like everything Apple, we will not know what the company has in store for new hardware until the event (oh, the drama), but it's always fun to watch the rumors unfold on the many Apple rumor sites.

This week's apps include an easy to use news reader and a game that challenges you to run the longest distance while killing off monsters.

Pulse News Mini

Tabs show you which news site the stories are coming from. Swipe to the left to see more stories.

(Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Pulse News Mini ($1.99) gives you all the news from your favorite Web sites laid out in an intuitive interface. News sites are laid out vertically so you can swipe up and down to the latest news from all sites quickly, or you can swipe horizontally to read more stories from the same site. Each story heading has the headline and an included graphic, making for a more elegant approach than other news readers that show only text links. Touching a story heading gives you either a text-based summary, a mobile-optimized version for easy reading, or a way to view the story on the Web, depending on the news provider. The app comes with several popular Web sites you can add to your Pulse home screen or you can use the search function to find feeds from your favorite sites.

Pulse is not the first iPhone app that helps you collect news feeds, but the layout of this app is especially intuitive, making it easy for people unfamiliar with newsreaders to get started quickly. Your Pulse home screen is completely customizable so you can reorder your feed list to show your most read sites first. If you've spent some time reading through stories and want something new, you can always hit the refresh button at the top of the interface to see if new stories have been posted while you were reading. Overall, if you want a slick and elegant way to quickly read news stories from all your favorite Web sites, Pulse News Mini takes only a little bit of setup to have the latest headlines laid out for you when you launch. For big screen news reading, grab Pulse News Reader for iPad.

Monster Dash

Watch out for monsters that appear near where you want to land.

(Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Monster Dash (99 cents), from the makers of hit iPhone game, Fruit Ninja, challenges you to jump from building to building to go for the greatest distance, all while monsters try to thwart your mission. The game mechanics in Monster Dash are much like the popular Web game Canibalt (also available for iPhone and iPad), in which your character automatically runs while you carefully time your jumps from platform to platform. But with Monster Dash, you're also given a fire button so you can shoot monsters that get in your way while you struggle to stay alive.

Monster Dash is a very easy game to pick up and play because of its simple game mechanic, but the developers of the game added plenty of variation by including themed areas (all randomly generated) so you won't get tired of running through the same location again and again. You'll fight zombies, demons, and vampires as you travel through well-designed levels that each give the game a different feel. You also can find weapon pick ups as you run through the levels including Mr. Zappy (a lightning gun) and The Pacifier (a large handgun), as examples. To keep the game interesting as you run, your character (did I mention his name was Barry Steakfries?) teleports to a different themed world every 1,000 meters you run, making for varied gameplay as you advance and the pace gets faster. Overall, if you like running games like Canibalt, or just want a simple, but fun game with tons of variety, Monster Dash is a challenging and addictive option.

What's your favorite iPhone app? Any guesses for what the unknown hardware might be? Do you have a better newsreader than Pulse News Mini? What do you think of Monster Dash? Let me know in the comments!

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