Better Web browsing and feline physics: iPhone apps of the week

This week's apps include a full-featured alternative Web browser and a new physics puzzle game that gets its claws into you and won't let go.

iPhone

It's widely believed that Steve Jobs will announce the "iPhone 4G" at his keynote speech for Apple's World Wide Developers Conference on June 7. This is exciting for a number of reasons, but for me, it couldn't come soon enough.

My trusty iPhone 3G is still working as well as can be expected, but I'm noticing more and more that it struggles to keep up with some of the  resource-heavy games I download. Beyond performance, there's a crack from the base of my iPhone that goes up its back that has definitely grown larger, and the Vibrate Silence Switch is less likely to stay locked in position. I even have a large speck of dust that seems to be on the inside of the screen (maybe from keeping it in my pocket) that I've mostly trained myself to ignore. What I'm saying is, as long as the lines aren't too long, I'll be waiting just like everybody else soon after the launch.

I'm curious about other iPhone 3G users. How's your old iPhone 3G holding up? Let me know in the comments!

This week's apps include a full-featured alternative Web browser and a new physics puzzle game that gets its claws into you and won't let go.

Atomic Web Browser (99 cents) is a full featured replacement for Safari on the iPhone that has added features to make it worthy of checking out. Its features include the capability to create an infinite number of tabs, use ad-block to get rid of ads while you surf, and turn on private mode to disable history tracking and clear cookies when you exit the browser. Its customizable search lets you add or remove search engines so you can pick the ones you like to use most. You also can choose from several colored themes, lock the iPhone screen rotation, and run in full-screen mode for unfettered browsing.

Historically, I haven't paid much attention to alternative Web browsers because Safari does a fine job on its own. But Atomic Web Browser is fast, and the tabbed browsing and ad blocking make it a worthy download. The app has a huge list of settings you can play around with such as multitouch options to set up gestures for various actions; the capability to switch from tab to list view; bookmark scripts you can add that let you jump around a page according to your specifications and much more. If you find Safari a little light on features or if you like the idea of tabbed surfing and several ways to customize your Web experience, Atomic Web Browser is an excellent choice.

Cat Physics is a puzzle game that challenges you to pass a ball from one cat to another past obstacles and items that effect the trajectory of the ball. It has cute cartoon-like graphics and easy touch-screen controls that make this puzzler a fun diversion that's easy to pick-up and play. Though Cat Physics is very easy to understand initially, it gets challenging quickly.  It has levels that require you to use a number of tools to get the ball past complex obstacles and land right at the feet of the receiving cat. There are 50 levels to play through that become more challenging the farther up you play and it has a 3-star system to rate how efficiently you pass the ball using the straightest route possible.

Cat Physics seems simple for the first several levels, but you'll quickly realize there are a number of ways to reach your goal. You use movable little round icons with arrows to shoot the ball in the direction the arrow is pointing, and some levels have teleports that put the ball in a different area to help you reach the other cat. Some levels require you to press buttons to open doors and still others will have spinning objects you'll use to maneuver the ball through to the goal. You're not penalized for each turn you take, so trial and error becomes the norm as you figure out each level. Overall, if you like physics based games with challenging puzzles and plenty of replay value in a setting that's suitable for the whole family, Cat Physics is the perfect time waster.

What's your favorite iPhone app? Is your iPhone 3G on its last legs? Do you see yourself using Atomic Browser instead of Safari? What do you think of Cat Physics? Let me know in the comments.

About Jason Parker

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.

Member Comments

Conversation powered by Livefyre