Manage family schedules, play a 2D arcade game: iPhone Apps of the week

This week's iPhone apps include a family-oriented organizer and a 2D arcade game that's an excellent time waster.


If you've been reading this column for any length of time, it should come as no surprise that I decided to buy an iPad last week. After reviewing the iWork apps on the iPad Apple loaned us for review purposes, I found that I could use it for both work and play. Now that I've had it for a week, I'm extremely happy with my purchase.

To me, buying the iPad was a pretty easy decision knowing that I would already be reviewing iPad apps for iPad Atlas, and (as I wrote in an earlier post) I had already decided that once app developers had some time to develop for the new device, the app possibilities were endless. But another writer here at CNET didn't have such an easy time deciding to get Apple's latest device. David Carnoy wrote a three-part series in which he weighs all the pros and cons of the iPad purchase, and takes a trip to the Apple store to see the iPad for himself. Check out his entertaining decision-making process.

This week's iPhone apps include a family-oriented organizer and a 2D arcade game that's an excellent time-waster.

Cozi Family Organizer
The color-coded dots each represent a different family member so you know who is involved with each appointment. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Cozi Family Organizer ($1.99) lets you access your calendar, journal, and to-do lists from the Web site. The idea behind was to create a place where you could map out your busy family schedule, keep appointments, and make your family life easier. On the site you have access to Living Simply articles about family life and tools to help you maintain your home, plan meals and grocery shopping, and much more. The iPhone app ties the experience together, giving you access to to-do lists, grocery lists, and a helpful scheduling system to keep track of appointments for all your family members while away from your desktop computer.

The Cozi Family Organizer does a great job helping moms and dads keep track of day-to-day life with their families and offers useful tools to make even complex schedules much more manageable. A color-coding system lets you assign colors to each family member to make it easy to see at-a-glance what the day's schedule will look like. The app lets you add new appointments on the go and create and edit your grocery and to-do lists. Overall, with an intuitive interface and useful tools to keep track of your busy schedule, Cozi Family Organizer is a great addition to iPhone owners who know how hard it can be to manage the needs and schedules of an entire family.

Fill up the bar on the right so you can use the slow-motion bonus option later. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

StarCannon (99 cents for this weekend only) is a remake of classic arcade shooters of the past, with 2D shoot-'em-up action and challenging boss fights. The graphics are smooth even on my older iPhone 3G. The controls are mostly effective, but can sometimes feel sluggish using a touch-to-move system rather than an onscreen joypad. Your ship fires automatically as long as you are touching the screen so you can play the game using only one finger or your thumb.

You can acquire three different weapons as you play and, just like top-down arcade shooters of the past, StarCannon lets you upgrade each weapon with more streams of bullets and higher fire power. To help you when the game gets really chaotic, you have an option to slow down the action for a short time. Some aliens drop purple tokens that fill up your bonus bar. Once it's completely full, simply hit the button in the lower right to slow down the action, giving you more time to rain down destruction with your weapon of choice. Even if you're out of bonus energy, you have one more option with the devastating Super Bomb that will take out every enemy on screen. In true arcade shooter tradition, at the end of every level, you'll need to take on a powerful boss alien and even in the early levels, I found it to be very challenging.

Overall, if you like the arcade shooters of the past, StarCannon offers cool weapons, upgrades to make you even more powerful and wave-after-wave of shoot-'em-up fun.

What's your favorite iPhone app? Are you still on the fence about the iPad? Is there a better organizer app to manage the complex schedules of a family? What do you think of StarCannon? 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.