Play some beats and bring the house down: iPhone apps of the week

This week's apps include a music app to create your own beats and a demolitions puzzle game that challenges you to raze buildings as efficiently as possible.


For a friend's birthday the other night, we all went down to his rehearsal space (he's in a band) and played music, often switching instruments to see what we could come up with. Not everyone there was a musician, but with drums, guitars, basses, a keyboard, percussion instruments, and microphones, everyone found a way to get in on the jam. To add to the fun later in the night, my friend also had a cord to connect an iPod or iPhone to the PA system which meant I could try out some of my music apps. Among the apps we tried--all to great success--were iDrum Hip Hop Edition, FingerBeat (reviewed below), and I Am T-Pain (auto-tuning our voices was a big hit).

If you want to create music on your iPhone, there are a ton of music apps in the iTunes app store to choose from, even if you don't have a fancy PA system to hook into. Consequently, Leslie Katz wrote an article today at CNET showcasing a group of University of Michigan students who took the iPhone-as-instrument concept to a whole new level. Using apps they designed themselves, they created an ensemble performance as a way to finish out the semester. Though it's much more serious than playing beats and auto-tuning your voice like my friends and I did the other night, their performance makes me wonder what new musical creations people will come up with in the future as more iPhone music apps are released.

Update: I guess music is in the air, because I just found out Brian Tong and the folks who make the Apple Byte included the I Am T-Pain app in their latest episode (about 3 minutes in). It's definitely worth checking out.

This week's apps include a music app to create your own music and a demolitions puzzle game that challenges you to raze buildings as efficiently as possible.

Play the drums manually or swipe to the left or right for more tools (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

FingerBeat ($3.99) is a music creation tool that helps you flesh out ideas, create multitrack songs, and make beats wherever you are. The primary screen (upon launch) is where the drum pads are where you can sample some of the sounds available by touching each of the pads. Once you've created a basic loop, get into the more serious song-creation tools by swiping your finger to the left. This brings up a visual editor where you can add or erase sounds from your loop and change the pitch of each of the tones. You also can create beats with separate patterns to play in sequence by touching the pattern buttons on the left side of the interface.

FingerBeat offers excellent sounds on its own, but you also can record short samples on the iPhone microphone and include them in your songs. Once you're happy with your song, you can even add a singing part to finish your project. The interface is not incredibly intuitive, requiring a certain amount of trial and error to get to some of the more advanced options and to figure out how to use each tool. Still, once you get used to the various screens and what each function does, you'll be able to create cool sounding beats and save them to your iPhone.

Place the bombs on key supports before hitting the plunger (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Implode ($1.99) is a remake of an online flash game that translates extremely well to the iPhone interface. The object of the game is to demolish structures so that they fall below a designated height limit and within a certain amount of time. To start you can choose from 3 different skill levels and play through several building types for each level. Just like those buildings that you've probably seen demolished on the news, you're job is to place explosives in key points to blow up walls that compromise the structural integrity of the building. Drag bombs to the precise location you want them before you hit the plunger. You only get a limited number of bombs to place, so you need to make sure they will cause the building to topple before the time runs out.

Implode is surprisingly addictive, and the hand-drawn quality of the levels (like building drawings) makes it fun to move through each of the building types. As you start to get in to the more difficult levels, you'll be faced with huge structures and unique wall types that you can't blow up. As I was playing, I liked how each building presented a new set of problems I had to work out, and getting a large building to fall on the first try is especially satisfying. If you like puzzle games, Implode is a unique option that is really well done both in the way it looks and the intuitive interface.

What's you're favorite iPhone app? Do you have a favorite music app to share? What do you think of the FingerBeat interface? Do you like the unique challenges of Implode? 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.