It's a black-and-white world: iPhone apps of the week

This week's apps include an excellent program to make old-time movies and a puzzle game that uses an interesting black-and-white color-inversion mechanic to create unique challenges.


We are a skeleton crew this week at the CNET offices with a huge number of our editors and camera crews taking on the tech gadget news avalanche that is the annual Consumer Electronics Show. Though the biggest tech conference of the year in Las Vegas generally has little to do with Apple, some news has managed to trickle out about a much sought-after product: namely, an iPhone for Verizon.

Many (including yours truly) watched the live stream of the Verizon press event yesterday hoping to hear word of Apple's smartphone coming to the network, but--even though there were many exciting new handsets and tablets--there was no mention of a Verizon iPhone.

Today we received word that Verizon is inviting people to a press event January 11. Though nobody knows for sure what Verizon will announce, it stands to reason that after introducing its entire product line for 2011, the only thing left to announce might be a Verizon iPhone. We'll just have to wait and see, but it's looking pretty likely that those waiting for a Verizon iPhone may soon get their wish.

This week's apps include an excellent program to make old-time movies and a puzzle game that uses an interesting color-inversion mechanic to create unique challenges.

8mm Vintage Camera
Choose from several presets to get the 8mm style you want, but all have that certain grainy feel. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

8mm Vintage Camera ($1.99) lets you make old-timey videos with some cool feature variations and effects. Right when I launched this app I was reminded of popular camera app Hipstamatic, because 8mm Vintage Camera offers a vaguely similar feature set, but is instead used for making stylized videos.

Start your project by flicking the wheel in the bottom right of the screen to choose from five different video effects like the black-and-white 1920s setting or the grainy '70s setting. Then, you can swipe the viewfinder in the upper right to choose from film effects like a shaky border (like old films) or a burning effect that makes the outer edges of the film seem to melt as you shoot. Different lens and film combinations give you several options for how your video will turn out.

Unlike Hipstamatic, 8mm Vintage Camera lets you adjust all your settings on one main screen. In addition to the film and lens choices, you have the option to use the iPhone 4 flash for brighter scenes, a button that gives your film a frame jitter effect, and you can switch between the iPhone 4's front- or rear-facing cameras.

When you're finished, you can hit the My Reels button to browse through your shot videos, and touching a specific project gives you options for saving your video to your photo library, sending via e-mail, or uploading directly to YouTube.

Overall, 8mm Vintage Camera is one of the best apps I've found for making old-timey movies in the iTunes App Store, with just enough lens and film variations to give you plenty to experiment with. Anyone who likes old 8mm films should definitely check out this app.

Shift 2
Use the Shift buttons at the top to switch from black to white in an effort to reach the goal. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Shift 2 (99 cents) is the sequel to Shift, a unique puzzle game that uses a Shift button to invert black-and-white objects letting you walk on different surfaces to try to reach the goal. Though difficult to describe, you'll quickly understand once you start playing, and Shift 2 takes the unique game mechanic to new heights across 120 levels. Like the original, you only have a couple of controls on the bottom for running and jumping, and then Shift buttons on both sides at the top to invert the colors.

To get you started, Shift 2 gives you onscreen hints to get you through the first few levels. As new challenges are introduced, such as the new rotator block in this sequel, the game will let you know how to handle each new element.

Once I got used to the controls, Shift 2 sucked me right in with unique challenging levels that offer a lot of room for experimentation to reach the door to the next level. Even after only a few levels, you'll quickly see how Shift 2 uses the inverting black-and-white mechanic to make for interesting challenges, all with an incredibly easy to pick-up-and-play control system. You can even challenge your friends' scores over either OpenFeint or Apple's GameCenter.

Overall, with a unique game mechanic, 120 new levels, new game elements, and the ability to scan bar codes (just like shopping apps) on the developer Web site for new maps, Shift 2 is a great option for those who like challenging puzzle games.

What's your favorite iPhone app? Do you have a better 8mm video app to share? What do you think of Shift 2? 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.