Listen to the rain and move to shoot: iPhone apps of the week

This week's apps include a strange interactive storytelling app and a shooting game that cleverly uses the iPhone 4's gyroscope technology.

iPhone (Credit: CNET)

According to a recent study by IDC, the iPad has definitively dominated the tablet market, accounting for almost 90 percent of tablets shipped worldwide in the third quarter of 2010. It stands to reason that fourth-quarter results will probably be even higher after the big holiday season. Now that many of the early naysayers have come around to the larger iOS device, I have to think the launch of the iPad 2 in April will be leaps and bounds more successful right out of the gate.

I got the first-generation iPad when it came out for obvious reasons, and probably won't be buying the new iPad personally at launch time (though we will certainly have them here at CNET for testing). But what about you? Are you one of those who decided to wait for the second-generation iPad?

As usual, Apple is not telling us much about its shiny new device, but there have been plenty of rumors regarding a higher-resolution screen, front- and rear-facing cameras, and much more at the various rumor sites.

I'm interested to see who is planning to pull the trigger on the new iPad in April. Let us know your plans in the comments.

This week's apps include a strange interactive storytelling app and a shooting game that cleverly uses the iPhone 4's gyroscope technology.

Strange Rain

Each time you press the screen you'll reveal more of the story in Story Mode.

(Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Strange Rain is pretty hard to describe without actually playing with it, but it's so unique I couldn't help but talk about it here. The primary function of the app is to give you a break from your hectic life by displaying a mesmerizing scene of rain falling from the sky. The iPhone screen acts as a skylight, so you're looking straight up as rain drops fall and hit the screen. You can slightly affect the raindrops as they fall by touching the screen and moving your iPhone, and tinkly music from a haunting melody plays amid soothing storm sounds, every time you touch it. As you can probably tell, there's a good reason why "Strange" is in the name of this app.

Strange Rain is not just a rain simulator, though. It has three different modes to play with, including the Wordless mode that simply displays the drops falling from the sky and lets you touch the screen and move your iPhone to affect their trajectory. Whisper Mode is mostly the same, but sometimes when you touch the screen you'll see rain-related words spelled out. The third and most interesting mode is Story Mode, in which a story plays out through the thoughts of a protagonist, which are printed onscreen in bits and pieces. The more you touch the screen, the more of the story you'll learn as the rain continues to fall from the sky.

The other interesting thing about Strange Rain is that it gets incrementally weirder after each play-through of the haunting melody--airplanes will fly overhead, clouds will change formations, and more. If ever you want to reset to the beginning, you can touch the screen repeatedly with all your fingers causing a falling-through-the-sky effect. Needless to say, this app is truly unique.

Overall, Strange Rain is a relaxing diversion even if it is a bit odd. I was quickly mesmerized by the Story Mode, and I have to admit the rain sounds and droplets did have a relaxing effect. If you have any interest in a new way to tell an interactive story, this unique app might be right up your alley.

Clay Shooter Mania

Make sure to line up your shot before you pull the trigger.

(Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Clay Shooter Mania (99 cents) is a clay-pigeon shooting game that uses the iPhone 4 accelerometer and gyroscope features to make for a unique gaming experience, but you're going to need room to move around to play it.

One of the more-amazing features of the iPhone 4 when it came out was the gyroscope, which enabled users to move the device and view an object as though the iPhone screen were a window into a different world. There have only been a few apps so far at the iTunes App Store that take advantage of this feature (Eliminate: GunRange, for example).

Clay Shooter Mania lets you shoot clay pigeons with a shotgun and uses gyroscope technology to give you a window into its target-shooting world. When a clay pigeon is launched into the air (Pull!), use the 3D radar in the upper right to determine which way you'll need to turn the iPhone (and your body) to take the shot. As you progress through levels, you'll be challenged to hit more clay pigeons in one pull, and some variations fly faster than others. Fortunately, you can use a bullet-time-like option that slows down the action for particularly difficult shots. Later, you can unlock the machine gun, which lets you hit more targets faster.

Clay Shooter Mania is a fun game when you have some space to play, but is not a good game (for obvious reasons) during your commute or really anywhere you're in a tight space. If you'd like to try a game that makes great use of the iPhone 4's gyroscope features or if you are a skeet-shooting fan, you should definitely check out this game.

What's your favorite iPhone app? Are you fascinated by the possibilities of interactive storytelling like in Strange Rain? Are you the type of person who would stand in the middle of your bus commute shooting clay pigeons on your iPhone? Let me know in the comments!

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