The big news this week from the world of Apple was the discovery that iPhones have been tracking users' locations as they go about their daily lives. Apparently, whenever you use Google Maps, or take a picture, or do anything that consults the GPS, your location and a time stamp are recorded in a log file on your iPhone. Apple is not using this information for anything, but it's not surprising many people find this particular previously unknown feature pretty unsettling.
Like probably anyone who heard this news, I had a lot of questions about what was being recorded, why it's being recorded, and what Apple has to say about it. Fortunately, our very own Josh Lowensohn and Elinor Mills put together an extensive FAQ to help you get all the info about the iPhone location-tracking function. Apple has not yet commented, but it will be interesting to see what happens in the coming weeks and whether the company will strip this functionality from later versions of the iOS.
This week's apps are a DJ app that lets you mix music on the go and an artistic adventure game that is both challenging and very engrossing.
Djay for iPhone and iPod Touch (99 cents for a limited time) brings two turntables to your touch screen so you can beatmatch, scratch, and record mixes of music from your library. A unique interface lets you hold your iPhone sideways to view the turntables side by side, or you can switch to vertical and view a single turntable to adjust the EQ and BPM and get more screen area in which to work with your mixes.
Djay boasts a "hyper-realistic low-latency touch-screen interface," and I found that it definitely feels more precise than similar DJ apps in the category. As an added bonus, your cover art will show up on each record, making it easy to identify your music at a glance.
Along with the basic controls for selecting songs, playing, and crossfading between tracks, Djay comes with a few more controls that will come in handy for mobile mixing. You can match songs on your own and adjust beats per minute for smooth transitions or you can have Djay autosync BPM for you. There is even an Automix function to let the app mix your music automatically. The app recognizes your playlists as well, so just queue up a big playlist of dance songs, for example, and then let the app do all the transitions for you.
Among the many other features are the ability to create a cue point trigger to start the music on one track at a specific point; full visual waveforms, so you can pick out specific parts of a song quickly; and auto-cut scratching, which lets you use two fingers while scratching for beatmatched cutting.
Overall, Djay for iPhone and iPod Touch is probably the best low-cost DJ app I've seen yet in the iTunes App Store. The unique screen orientation feature that lets you view one or both turntables makes mixing and fiddling with settings easier, and automated mixing and beat-syncing features mean just about anyone can create a good mix.
Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP ($4.99) is a stylistically unusual and engrossing action and adventure game that focuses on artistic audio and visuals. Immediately upon starting the game, you'll notice it has a very distinctive style and you'll get onscreen cues that teach you how to control your character. As the story unfolds, you'll travel across a mythic realm and solve puzzles as you go.
Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery offers a unique experience and an interesting control scheme that sets it apart from other side-scrolling games. As you travel the world, you'll run across impassable areas that require you to solve visual puzzles before you can move on. The game is sometimes frustrating early on because it's a learn-as-you-go type of experience, but even though you may die a few times, the solution becomes that much more rewarding when you figure it out.
As a mythical knight, you have a sword and shield for when you need to do battle with occasional monsters. What's interesting here is that to wield your sword, you need to turn your iPhone vertically to get into battle mode. The buttons are a little bit awkward at first, but I really like the idea of turning the iPhone to switch control modes. As you get further into the game, you'll also unlock spells that will help you defeat your enemies and solve puzzles to continue.
Overall, Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery is an exceptional game for its artistic and musical style and interesting ways of presenting puzzles you need to solve. If you're looking for hack-and-slash or shoot-'em-up action, this isn't your game, but if you want to take in an audio-visual experience while solving interesting puzzles, this app is a good option.
What's your favorite iPhone app? Do you have a better DJ app than Djay for iPhone and iPod Touch? What do you think of using iPhone orientation as a way to switch control schemes in either app? Do you like the somewhat mystical and slower pace of Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery? Let me know in the comments!