3D sound and 3D snowboarding: iPhone apps of the week

This week's apps are an audio-enhancement app that gives your music 3D surround sound and a snowboarding game that might be the best in the App Store.

iPhone (Credit: CNET)

A couple of days ago, some long-awaited iPhone hardware news finally hit the Web. No, it's not the iPhone 5 (which some are saying won't be released until fall). The big news out this week is that the white iPhone 4 will finally become available as soon as by the end of this month.

I have to admit that the white iPhone 4 looks pretty cool, but I can't imagine anyone waiting to take the plunge to buy an iPhone based on the color of the device. Is it just me? If anyone reading this has been waiting for the white iPhone 4, let us know in the comments.

This week's apps are an audio-enhancement app that gives your music 3D surround sound and a snowboarding game that might be the best in the App Store.

3D Music Player Pro

Hit the 3D Sound button for immediate results or hit the gear icon in the upper right to tweak sound settings.

(Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

3D Music Player Pro ($2.99) gives you some interesting options for enriching the sound of your music, and it does a pretty good job with only a few flaws. Upon launch, use the plus sign button in the upper left to add a couple of songs from your music library and test the various effects. Once they're queued up, you can play a song and then touch the 3D Sound button to hear the basic audio enhancements in the app. I noticed a difference immediately in my testing, with the app adding a much fuller and warmer sound to my songs.

Beyond the main button, there's much more to play around with in 3D Music Player Pro. Hit the gear icon in the upper right to bring up the settings screen. From there you can fiddle with all of the app's sound enhancements individually and turn them on and off to hear the results. The 3D.STEREO control lets you turn on surround sound and adjust bass output for a 3D stereo listening experience. The G.EQ control lets you adjust the levels for songs like a regular equalizer, and the ON.STAGE control gives you three options simulating the sound and reverb effects of playing the song in a studio, a concert hall, or a stadium.

3D Music Player Pro's features are fun to play around with and each of the effects definitely enhances the way your music sounds, but the app is not perfect. When I added my entire music library the app seemed to choke on the approximately 8GB of music. After a restart I was able to get all my music to show up, but 3D Music Player Pro doesn't share your iPod's ability to let you search through your music quickly (think of the alphabetized strip of letters on the right of your iPhone music library that allows you to jump to different parts of the alphabet). This means that you'll spend a lot of time scrolling to listen to specific songs. An even bigger issue is that when you quit the app and relaunch, your previously uploaded music will no longer be listed. This is definitely a bug the developer must have overlooked and will probably be fixed soon.

Overall, 3D Music Player Pro is a unique app that lets you mess around with audio settings to give your music a much warmer sound. With the right bug fixes and some slight interface enhancements, this app will be a great way to get more out of your music.

Snowboard Hero

The graphics are silky-smooth as you navigate through the gates during a slalom race.

(Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Snowboard Hero ($4.99) is a 3D snowboarding game that might be the best yet for iPhone--once you get the settings squared away. Start by choosing between Career and Record Chaser modes. In Career mode you'll start by playing as the default character, "Dude," but after racing and beating specific challenges, you'll be able to choose from six different characters with varied skills. Start by going through the tutorial, which gives you the basics for jumping, grinding rails, and performing tricks. From there you'll need to complete challenges that vary from going down the hill as fast as possible to trying to pull off the most tricks as possible to get a high score. Earn money by pulling off tricks and grabbing pickups as you speed down the hill.

After a few races you'll earn enough money and unlocks to buy new clothing. You'll also be able to purchase new boards that have varying strengths and weaknesses. Part of the fun in Snowboard Hero is choosing the best board for the challenge at hand. Later you'll be able to unlock new characters, each of whom has higher stats than the last, and you can buy new tricks for bigger scores.

When I first hit the slopes in Snowboard Hero, I thought the game looked great graphically, and I liked the onscreen trick controls that include pressing the screen and swiping in a direction for more complex tricks. My only issue was with the tilt-to-steer controls, which felt far too stiff. I highly recommend exploring the options to set the sensitivity to about 80 (out of a 100) for a more realistic turning experience. After I tweaked the settings I found Snowboard Hero to be one of the best of its genre in the App Store, so I think it's crucial to try changing the sensitivity early before you judge this game.

Overall, Snowboard Hero offers great-looking graphics, solid controls (once you tweak them), and enough challenges and unlocks to keep you coming back for more. If you've been looking for a good 3D snowboarding game, Snowboard Hero is the game to buy--even at $4.99.

What's your favorite iPhone app? Are you impressed with the enhanced sound quality in 3D Music Player Pro or do the bugs outweigh the cool features in this app? Do you have a better 3D snowboarding game than Snowboard Hero? Let me know in the comments!

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