Before I get to the iPhone apps of the week, I want to share with you an interesting tidbit I read over at AppleInsider regarding the long-awaited Mac tablet. It's one of those cloak-and-dagger-type stories, where an unnamed, (possibly) credible source made a mysterious phone call to an editor about new hardware from Apple. It all sounds kind of fishy to me, but the source apparently described how he had been at a meeting with Apple and had handled what looked like an iPhone (touch screen, black back panel, home button, and all), except it had a 10-inch screen. The speculation is that it would be priced somewhere between the top-end iPhone and the MacBook and would become available in the beginning of 2010.
Though this is one of the many Apple rumors floating around (there are always so many!), I can't help but think the Apple tablet would be the perfect product for Steve Jobs' return. I think he would try to come back with something big, and the Apple tablet has been on a lot of people's wish lists for a long time. Steve is expected to return for the annual September event (usually used for iPod or iTunes updates), so the timing is probably off for the Apple tablet, unfortunately. With that said, Apple has certainly surprised us before. While we wait to find out what's in store next for new Apple hardware, have a look at this week's apps.
These apps include a handy tool for those manning the grill in the last days of summer, and a new NFL football game to get us excited for fall.
Weber's On the Grill ($4.99) takes over 250 recipes from the company's popular grilling books and adds some handy tools to make this app an almost perfect grilling companion on your iPhone. Start by picking the type of meat you plan to grill by opening up a large list of recipes with mouth-watering pictures to pique your interest. From there, you can add the ingredients to an included grocery list in which you can check each ingredient off while you shop. When the coals are hot, use your knowledge gained from over 100 grilling tips and set the included timer so you know your meat will come out perfect. Weber's On the Grill also comes with a grilling guide for each type of meat so you know approximately how long to cook your steak and when to take that chicken off the grill.
Weber's On the Grill offers an intuitive interface for finding recipes, big clear pictures of recipes you want to create, and plenty of tips for grilling each type of food. But I did encounter a couple of minor problems as I put this app through its paces. The grocery list feature is a great way to make sure you have all the right ingredients at the store, but there's no way to send the list to someone else (whoever might be doing the shopping). Also, as you grill, it seems like you should be able to launch the timer straight out of the recipe you're using so you don't have to switch back and forth. In spite of these minor problems, Weber's On the Grill is definitely a worthy grilling companion as the summer draws to a close, and I imagine there will be updates to smooth out the rough edges in the future.
NFL 2010 is the first fully licensed, completey 3D football game for the iPhone, and there's a lot here for football fans. The game plays like a console football game, with mostly smooth 3D graphics, an enormous playbook for most any gametime situation, and the sounds are quite good for an iPhone game. You can play a single game or pick your favorite team and play through a whole season, on up to the Super Bowl. The NFL license means you can play any team in the NFL and even sub in actual players from the sidelines.
The most striking thing about NFL 2010 is how closely it matches older-generation console football games, but the absence of an actual controller makes quick, juking moves impossible. To remedy this, NFL 2010 uses a kind of bullet-time (slow-motion) feature so that when you're running back is about to be tackled, for example, a couple of contextual buttons appear so you can spin or dodge charging defense men. Passing in this game is quite good, however. After hiking the ball, icons appear over the heads of each eligible receiver, requiring you press the icon to deliver the pass. This makes for some interesting ways to hold the iPhone, as you call certain plays and plan to pass to specific receivers.
NFL 2010 does not yet offer any sort of multiplayer option, Wi-Fi or otherwise. But even as a single-player game, with a season mode, there is plenty of replay value. Madden 2010 is supposed to come out soon for the iPhone, so while NFL 2010 is a great game that's worth $4.99 (even with the unique control system) you may want to wait to see which one is the best football game before buying.
What's your favorite iPhone app? Have you used Weber's On the Grill at a barbecue yet? Are you going to wait to buy NFL 2010 or is it good enough right now? Let me know in the comments!