Monitor your battery and battle it out in the air: iPhone apps of the week

This week's apps include an iPhone battery power management app and a fun and challenging 2D airplane dogfighting game.


If you've been following the latest Mac news, you already know that Apple is having a special event later this month. Most people believe that we will finally see the long-awaited Apple tablet--a multitouch device that's rumored to fall between the form factor of the iPod Touch and Apple's smallest MacBook laptops. Complete with touch-screen capabilities and rumored compatibility with iPhone apps, the new Apple tablet could be the mobile device a lot of people have been waiting for. Rick Broida wrote a post today saying iPhone OS 4.0 is imminent and it looks like he might be right. The release of an Apple tablet will likely mean an upgrade to the iPhone and iPod Touch OS, adding features that will run across all three devices. Though Apple is as tight-lipped as usual regarding any future releases, it will be exciting to watch over the next couple of weeks, as we get closer to the Apple event.

This week's apps include an iPhone battery power management app and a fun and challenging 2D airplane dogfighting game.

The time left until your iPhone is done charging is a handy feature (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

BatteryDoctor (99 cents) helps you lengthen the life of your iPhone battery and offers several tips to maximize your charge. Anyone who owns an iPhone knows that part of having all these cool apps and features means you need to watch your battery life closely. Unfortunately, a lot of these games I recommend are some of the worst offenders when it comes to using up your charge, so having an app to monitor your usage is extremely handy. BatteryDoctor helps you keep track of battery usage and gives detailed information about how much power is used up by common iPhone uses.

The interface for BatteryDoctor includes tabs across the bottom of the screen for battery status, maintenance, and usage tips. The battery status shows how much charge you have and how much time you have for various iPhone functions such as talk time, browsing the Internet, and using battery-intensive iPhone apps like games. The maintenance tab focuses on giving your iPhone or iPod Touch a "Full Cycle Charge." This section gives you instructions for how to maximize your charge and performs maintenance to give your battery a longer lifespan. The tips section gives you (mostly obvious) information to prolong battery life through settings like turning off push notifications and adjusting brightness. Overall, BatteryDoctor is a fairly good app for monitoring your battery, but I wonder how useful this app will be once you've absorbed all the information presented. Either way, for a dollar, I think this app is worth the money.

You'll have to pull off some acrobatic moves to shoot down some enemies (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

MiniSquadron ($2.99) is a game that came out last year that was recommended to me by many people after writing my best iPhone games of 2009 post. In MiniSquadron, you battle it out through several waves of 2D dogfights with a number of different enemies and various landscapes. The control system consists of an onscreen joystick in the lower left of the screen to control your plane and a fire button in the lower right. You'll need to complete several waves of attacking aircraft, all with unique weapons and strategies you'll have to figure out in order to complete each wave. The levels are divided up into selectable areas across an island, each with different backgrounds and enemy types to contend with.

MiniSquadron's frenetic gameplay alone is addictive and challenging enough to keep you playing, but you also can unlock new planes (56 total) with different armor types, maneuverability, weapons, and imaginative cartoon-like designs. When you feel confident with your piloting capabilities, you can play a survival mode with wave after wave of enemies to see how far you can get, or play multiplayer games with friends on a shared Wi-Fi connection. Overall, MiniSquadron's smooth cartoon-like graphics paired with challenging gameplay and replay value make it one of the better 2D action games for iPhone. Once you start collecting new (and strange) planes to fly, you will quickly see how this game will keep you coming back for more.

What's your favorite iPhone app? Do you think BatteryDoctor is worth the money for monitoring your charge? What's your secret for getting past the most waves in MiniSquadron? Would you consider buying the new Apple Tablet? 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.