Share text files and kill all humans: iPhone apps of the week

This week's apps include an iPhone/iPad text editor that automatically syncs up with your desktop, and a game in which you control a man-eating giant worm.


When Josh Lowensohn bought and wrote about the TyPad--the Bluetooth keyboard and iPad case combo--I knew that I had to have it. Though it's a bit expensive for a case ($129), the included black keyboard and fold-over leather case just seemed too convenient and classy to pass up.

I just received mine today, and I'm already glad I bought it, but it does have some minor annoyances. There is no right-Shift key, for example, which will be tough for formally trained typists to get used to. It also makes it difficult to play a lot of games because with the added keyboard it can be pretty unwieldy. Still, the ability to quickly convert my iPad into a laptoplike experience will be better for working than using the onscreen keyboard, and the controls for music, cursor arrows, and tactile typing make the case worth it to me.

What do you think? Does the TyPad seem like a good deal to you or should I have just bought a laptop if that's what I wanted? Is there a better case/keyboard combo you know about? Let me know in the comments.

This week's apps include an iPhone/iPad text editor that automatically syncs up with your desktop, and a game in which you control a man-eating giant worm.

Elements - Dropbox powered text editor
Quickly browse through text files by modified date or name. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Elements - Dropbox Powered Text Editor ($4.99) lets you share and edit text (TXT) files on your iOS device via Dropbox. Dropbox is a free program (Windows, Mac, iPhone) that lets you quickly transfer files between platforms with a folder that automatically syncs up between the devices to make moving files a breeze. You'll also need to register with Dropbox in order to use Elements. But with Elements, you'll now have a separate folder in Dropbox where you can place text files and edit them on your iPhone or iPad. Any changes you make will be automatically synced to your desktop computer's Dropbox, making it easy to work on the go.

Elements is an excellent--if a bit expensive, in iPhone app terms--app with several features that will be useful to those who use text editors for writing, coding, or taking notes. The advantage of text editors over standard word processors is that they are flexible, fast, and totally cross-platform. Added features in Elements include full text search of all your files; a handy info pane that tells you word counts, line counts, and character counts; a separate Scratchpad where you can take quick notes; and TextExpander support so you can bring in your commonly used text snippets to save time. Overall, if you use text editors in your work, or just want a way to sync up text files across your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and desktop computers, Elements is a great choice.

Super Mega Worm
Killing multiple enemies in a row gives you bonus multipliers for more points. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Super Mega Worm (99 cents) is a fun and unique 2D side-scrolling game where the mission is to "Destroy all Humans!" You play as the Super Mega Worm (think "Tremors" or "Dune") and burrow through the ground only to come up for food and to take out humans. There is a certain degree of cartoon violence--there's no shortage of blood and guts--but it's on such a small scale that it shouldn't gross too many people out. The default control system is a slider on the left for turning the worm, and a button on the right that performs various actions based on what you're doing in the game at the time. Later you'll earn another button on the right for using the EMP (electro-magnetic pulse). I found it easier to control the worm by switching the controls to a d-pad in the settings, but you should experiment to see what works best for you.

In Super Mega Worm, each level requires a set number of kills to advance to the next level. The game is continuous, so there are no breaks in the action between levels, but you can pause the game and close the app and still return to where you left off. As you advance, your worm will grow longer and you'll earn new skills including a "spit" weapon you can use when above ground; an EMP to disable machines; and a turbo option to gain speed--all of which are activated using the same button (on the right) under different circumstances.

Super Mega Worm is mostly a fun game, but it suffers a bit by being somewhat repetitive and there are a limited number of enemy types. It's also fairly short; you can finish the game in one marathon sitting or maybe over a few sessions. Still, once you choose the controls that work for you, Super Mega Worm is a fun and unique time-waster, even if it is a bit short.

What's your favorite iPhone app? Do you have a better text editor than Elements you want to share? What do you think of Super Mega Worm? Would you consider getting the TyPad? 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.