Creative image projects and driving with zombies: iPhone apps of the week

This week's apps include an image collage maker with tons of features and a driving game where the undead are on a mission to make you crash.


The big news this week in the world of iOS devices is that we are drawing ever closer to iOS 4.2, the update that will add new features and bring the iPad up to speed with the feature set on the iPhone 4.

As noted by our own Josh Lowensohn a couple of days ago, iOS 4.2 for iPad has been seeded to developers so they can get started bringing their apps up to date. With iOS 4.2 on your iPad, you'll be able to multitask like the iPhone, make folders for your apps, get connected with Apple's Game Center, and get an updated interface for iPad e-mail. Josh also pointed out in another story this week that the 4.2 update will turn the iPad's rotation-lock switch into a volume-mute switch just like on the iPhone.

Even more exciting, both the iPhone and iPad will receive AirPrint, a service that automatically locates connected printers on a network and over Wi-Fi without additional driver software. iOS 4.2 will also bring AirPlay to all iOS devices, letting you stream all of your multimedia to multiple TVs, computers, and set-top boxes.

iOS 4.2 is set to be released in November, but you can bet that Apple will have more tweaks before then.

This week's apps include an image collage maker with a ton of features and a driving game where the undead try to make you crash.

Select a border, color correct, and adjust your images during the Edit phase. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

PhotoShake ($1.99) is an easy-to-use program for creating various types of collages with your images complete with effects and plenty of ways to customize. Start by picking the theme of the project you want to make: Single photo for single shots; MultiPhoto for collages of about six images; Grid photo for larger collages of images; Widephoto for a stylish strip of images; or WallPaper to make a background for your iOS device. Then, choose photos from your library, take fresh photos with your camera, or paste an image into the app that you previously copied. At this point you're directed to shake your iPhone to quick preview the result of your theme and photo selections. I have to admit the physical shaking of the iPhone seems a bit unnecessary to me, but multiple shakes will bring up different looks to give you more options. It just seems like a button would be better here, but I guess they would have to change the name of the app...PhotoButton doesn't really have the same ring.

Once you have the basic project in front of you, PhotoShake goes into Edit mode giving you a number of options to edit your images and adjust how they are displayed. You can adjust the framing of each image in the collage, color correct each image, change the border type color and how they line up, add effects and color tints to images, and much more. I wasn't too excited by the choices for borders (they seemed simplistic in most cases), but otherwise the multitude of options for adjusting your images are great. Once the colors are how you like them, you can add speech and thought balloons in various shapes and even select fonts.

The final step in PhotoShake is to choose what you want to do with your project. You can preview the final product, save it to your device, or share on Flickr, Twitter, FaceBook, tumblr, or me2DAY. Overall, PhotoShake provides an easy way to create quick collages of your photos and either save them or share them quickly on popular social Web sites. If you want to make something more out of your images, check out this app.

Zombie Highway
Touch the red arrows on the sides of the screen to shoot the corresponding zombie on your car. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Zombie Highway (99 cents) is a very silly idea made into a great game and if you love zombie-related games (I do!), this app makes a nice addition to your app collection. The object of the game is simple: drive as far as you can on a post-apocalyptic road strewn with broken down cars while zombies try to jump on your car and run you off the road. Drive your black SUV by tilting your iPhone to steer--there are no buttons in this game for gas or brake. As you drive, zombies will jump from the side of the road and latch on to the sides of your car. If you fail to remove the zombies from the sides of your car, the undead will rock your car back and forth to try to make you crash.

Zombie Highway is very addictive, mostly because the steering controls are so fluid and it's fun to begin to master the various ways of removing zombies from your car. You can steer close to crashed cars to side-swipe the zombies off, or you can use one of several unlockable weapons to slowly shoot them from their perch. Everything from 44 revolvers to machine guns can be used to dislodge the zombies. I think they missed an opportunity by not including a flame thrower, but maybe that will come in future updates.

You're not up against just one type of zombie either. As you drive, stronger zombies will jump on your car that take much more to shake free--often making you side-swipe cars multiple times to dislodge one. Your game ends when either the zombies have managed to flip your car over or you lose control and slam into a crashed car.

Overall, Zombie Highway is not terribly complicated and doesn't offer much beyond the basic mechanic--fortunately, the basic mechanic is very fun and addictive. Anyone who likes zombie games and wants something different from the usual first-person shooter fare should check out this fun (and cheap) game.

What's your favorite iPhone app? What do you think of PhotoShake? Does Zombie Highway have enough variation with weapons and zombie types to keep you coming back for more? 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.