A utility suite for cheap and Madden football: iPhone apps of the week

This week's apps include an app that's a whole suite of useful tools and the football game that everyone has been waiting for.


Have you updated your iPhone to version 3.1 yet? Among the fixes and feature enhancements in the latest update, Apple added the Genius feature (formerly found in iTunes) to the App Store. Like its iTunes counterpart, Genius for iPhone apps looks at the apps you have on your iPhone and makes recommendations for apps you might like. I should point out that you need to digitally agree to Apple's terms and conditions, which you should read carefully before turning the feature on. The potentially objectionable part (that I have no objection to) is that Apple will track information, like which apps I use most and how long I use them, to make future recommendations.

With the app store now boasting more than 75,000 apps, this feature might be a good way to find stuff you like without having to sift through everything. If you're OK with the terms and conditions, check it out and let me know what you think in the comments.

This week's apps include an app that's a whole suite of useful tools and the football game that everyone has been waiting for.

AppBox Pro
Only one of many useful utilities, Battery Life gives the time remaining for various iPhone uses. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

AppBox Pro (99 cents for a limited time) gives you a whole slew of apps that cover basic functions like a Flashlight, a unit converter, and a tip calculator. In all there are 21 apps included in the suite and each is well made. There is nothing particularly flashy here, but there are plenty of useful items that just about everyone will need at one time or another. For 99 cents, AppBox Pro is a no-brainer.

To list some of the applications in the suite, there is a Battery Life app, to tell you how much battery time you have left based on whether your talking on the phone, playing games, or listening to music. You get a nice looking Clinometer (level) tool to help you hang pictures or perfect your home building project. For those who like to travel, there is a Currency Converter so you know you're spending the right amount on an item, for example, and you also get a Translator (for several different languages) so you can haggle the price. The System Info app shows you what is using up memory on your iPhone and lets you know how much space is left on your hard drive. You also get a few Web-based apps including Google Books, which will let you browse and read books from an enormous database. Overall, getting a huge suite of well-made apps for 99 cents is a steal. Grab it quick before the price goes up.

Madden NFL 10
Touch an icon to pass to an open receiver. Green icons mean your pass will more likely be caught. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Madden NFL 10 is finally here and I'm glad I told football fans to wait when I talked about NFL 2010 in an earlier post. Though the two games are pretty similar and NFL 2010 is still a worthy purchase, Madden NFL 10 offers smoother graphics and overall, better gameplay. Madden NFL 10 is fully licensed by the NFL just like the other game, so you get all of the NFL teams and every NFL player that's on each roster. Like NFL 2010, you control your player with an onscreen joystick, but instead of the contextual buttons that would put the game in a sort of bullet-time (slow motion) in NFL 2010, Madden always gives you the option to go into bullet-time, with more options for moves once the game has slowed down. Madden also has a button to give you a burst of speed that works great for getting out of tight situations.

It's difficult to describe how Madden NFL 10 is better than the NFL 2010 because many of the game mechanics are similar. It might be the smoother graphics, or it might be that the control system somehow feels more accurate. Whatever it is, Madden NFL 10 just feels more immersive; like I'm actually a part of the game. Both have enormous playbooks, both use similar controls, and both let you play through seasons, right up to the Super Bowl. But playing Madden NFL 10 is definitely closer to a platform experience and stands out as the better game. If you waited to find out which was the better football game for the iPhone, I highly recommend Madden NFL 10. It also doesn't hurt that John Madden makes comments on some plays--it's hard not to like that old pro.

What is your favorite iPhone app? Do you think the added Genius support for iPhone apps is truly genius? Have you tried out AppBox Pro? Do you have both football games and disagree that Madden is the better choice? 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.