Finding bargains and splitting lanes: iPhone apps of the week

This week's apps include a well-designed barcode scanner and a game that challenges you to race through traffic on a motorcycle.

iPhone (Credit: CNET)

Since the launch of iOS 4.3, several iPhone users have complained their batteries are draining much faster. I haven't personally noticed a difference, but for those of you who have, you'll happy to know that iOS 4.3.1 unexpectedly launched today. (It was rumored earlier this week that it might launch in two weeks).

Though there aren't many details about the release besides minor security and maintenance updates, it is likely that this early launch for the iOS means that Apple is trying to smooth out the bugs and hopefully take care of battery drain quickly.

Please let us know in the comments if you've experienced issues with iOS 4.3 and whether you noticed a difference in this latest update.

This week's apps include a well-designed barcode scanner and a game that challenges you to race through traffic on a motorcycle.

Shopping Savvy Premium Barcode Scanner

Browse through your scanning history and tap to find places to purchase products.

(Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Shop Savvy Premium Barcode Scanner (99 cents) is certainly not the only barcode reader in the iTunes App Store, but it offers some unique features to make it a handy shopping companion when checking prices. Like other apps in the category, ShopSavvy lets you use your iPhone camera to "scan" a barcode then view the item and prices from various locations. The interface is set up to be as simple as possible, but it offers nice touches such as the ability to initiate a scan by swiping upward on the product display screen.

After a barcode scan, you're presented with an image of the item and given places to shop for it online, at nearby stores (Shop Savvy uses your location), online reviews of the product, and the ability to share your findings via e-mail, Twitter, or Facebook. Shop Savvy keeps your search history so you can go back and find things you wanted to buy, but you also have the ability to categorize your items in lists that are neatly arranged in folders you create.

Overall, Shop Savvy is a great barcode scanner with a slick interface that's easy to use. If you're out making a big purchase and want to check prices in other locations, this app is a great thing to have on your iPhone.

Lane Splitter

Even in the early part of the game you'll need to watch out for signaling drivers.

(Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Lane Splitter (99 cents) is a fun distance game that challenges you to weave through traffic at high speed on a motorcycle. The graphics are crystal clear on the iPhone 4, with well detailed cars and interesting scenery as you blow by on your motorcycle. The idea is that you're late to your wedding, and you must speed through traffic wearing your tux in order to make it on time. The game uses the iPhone accelerometer for steering and touching the screen gives you a burst of speed that results in a wheelie and less control--perfect for getting out of the way when cars merge into your lane as long as you're careful.

Lane Splitter starts out fairly easy with only a few cars to avoid that mostly stay in their lanes. As you progress, the game gets faster and you'll see more cars signaling lane changes forcing you to act quickly to keep going. Later in the game, you'll encounter traffic jams and get bonus points for slipping between cars (lane-splitting). I was able to get quite far after only a few tries, but a look at the leaderboards (accessed within the game) told me I have a long way to go.

Overall, with smooth, good-looking graphics, excellent accelerometer controls, and changing traffic conditions as you race, Lane Splitter makes for a fun time-waster.

What's your favorite iPhone app? Do you have a better shopping companion app than Shop Savvy? What's your best distance on Lane Splitter? Let me know in the comments!

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