Easy-to-read news and squad-based battle: iPhone apps of the week

This week's apps include a new (to me) news feed aggregator and a brand-new game from Freeverse that's on sale for a limited time.


How long does it take you to sync your iPhone? I have the 16GB 3G, about 9GB of music, almost 2GB of apps, and about 60 photos. My "Other" category shows up as more than 2GB (!) in iTunes, but that might be worthy of a separate post. In any case, from start to finish, syncing my iPhone on my Windows PC (it's where my music library is) takes almost an hour. A lot of that time is spent backing up or transferring purchases, but it just doesn't seem right that it should take that long.

A friend of mine uses his Mac for syncing his iPhone and he says it takes less than 10 minutes. Please let me know in the comments how long it takes you to sync your iPhone and what type of system you're using. Any tips for speeding up the process would be greatly appreciated by me and anyone else who suffers the same problem. Now, on to this week's apps!

This week's apps include a new (to me) news feed aggregator and a brand-new game from Freeverse that's on sale for a limited time.

Fluent News
Headlines and descriptions make it easy to find the stories you want to read. (Credit: CNET)

Fluent News (free) is a recent discovery for me and well worth the download if you're looking for a better way to get your news. Fluent News grabs exclusively mobile news content from all the top news sources including the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and CNN. Unfortunately, the app is primarily U.S.-centric so international users won't get the news they're looking for. But among the news apps available for iPhone, this one just might be the best I have seen yet.

The interface is easy to use, with tabs across the bottom for Top News stories and sections organized by category. But the layout is what makes Fluent News a standout app. Each story has the headline, which source the news came from, related stories, and a brief description of the story (like many desktop RSS readers). Even better, all the news stories are in mobile format so they're easy to read in the app's included browser. If you find a story you want to share, you can easily post the link to Twitter or Facebook, once you connect to your accounts in the settings menu. Overall, Fluent News is the best free newsreader I've found so far, and it's definitely worth a free download.

Warpack Grunts
Hitting an ammo dump with a grenade or rocket launcher results in impressive explosions. (Credit: CNET)

Warpack Grunts (99 cents for a limited time) lets you command a squad of four tiny soldiers for shoot-'em-up action in a top-down perspective. Touch the screen to move your squad around the map and double tap to fire your weapons. A few early tutorial missions help you get accustomed to the control system and the different weapons you'll find in the game. As you progress through missions, the game gets harder with more enemy squads to battle and other dangers like snipers and mounted machine guns. As an added bonus, you can play this game in landscape or portrait mode--Warpack Grunts easily switches views on the fly.

Warpack Grunts, like many titles from Freeverse, offers comedy relief with funny voices and sounds to keep the game lighthearted while remaining challenging. There are several items to find in the game like rocket launchers and sniper rifles, along with items that replace downed units (to bring your squad back to four) and increase your health. The missions are quite difficult later in the game and offer unique challenges to keep the game interesting. You can also choose the Zombie Survival gametype to blow away wave after wave of shambling undead. With a ton of missions to explore and the extra game type, Warpack Grunts is definitely worth more than the introductory price, so grab this one while it's still cheap.

What's your favorite iPhone app? Do you have a better newsreader than Fluent News? How long can you last in Zombie Survival mode? Got a secret way to make iPhone syncing faster? 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.