This week's roundup of iOS apps is full of old favorites: Cookie Monster gets an app of his own, the creator of Angry Birds returns with Amazing Alex, and the popular Tiny Wings gets an update.
Already this week we told you about a new magazine-reading app called Next Issue, the new TED Books app, a new cloud storage service from Neat, and an updated offering from Stay.com--and we also brought you a roundup of the best comic-reading apps, just in time for Comic-Con.
Here are other new and updated apps that caught our eye this week.
Amazing Alex: The creators of Angry Birds have unveiled a new game that features neither rage nor avians. Amazing Alex is a $1 game for iPhone that features a "whiz kid"--one who comes up with Rube Goldberg-style chain reactions to do chores like cleaning his room. As Alex, you get to devise just how those creations will work, and share your most successful ideas with friends. There are 35 "interactive objects" to build with, and more than 100 levels to challenge players. Users can also download and play levels created by other players. None of those levels, however, involve destroying pigs.
Corel Cinco for Painter: This isn't a standalone app, but artists and graphic designers may find it useful nonetheless: Corel Cinco for Painter is a free iPad app that makes your tablet into a companion tool for users of the desktop Corel Painter 12 program. The app lets users drag and drop buttons onto the screen--for sketching, accessing a color wheel, and other activities--to let users complete projects efficiently. The button placement can be customized according to your hand size and finger placement. Corel promises the app will make it easier to create an uninterrupted workflow by spending less time in Corel Painter clicking on icons and hot keys.
Google+/Twitter: It was a big week for social networking services on iOS. Google+ updated its free iOS app with full iPad support, the addition of the new Events feature, the ability to attach photos to posts, as well as the option to start and join Hangouts. Twitter's free app, meanwhile, offers a range of updates: Avatars are now tappable, so that user profiles can be viewed more easily, and users can now set up notifications that let you know when particular people have tweeted. There are other improvements and changes, including a new Twitter bird, as well as an enhanced ability to see media posted to the service's partner websites.
The Great Cookie Thief: COOKIES!!!!! Omnomnomnomnom! The folks who gave the world The Monster at the End of This Book have returned, shifting their sights from Grover to the Cookie Monster. The Great Cookie Thief, a $1 offering for iPhone and iPad, looks at first glance to encourage both obesity and larceny--but of course, there's more going on here. Unlike its predecessor, The Great Cookie Thief is less narrative-driven and more focused on activities: Users can make wanted posters in their efforts to track down the thief, just one of a number of tools designed to help children build their visual identification and observation skills. There are also tips for parents on how to help their kids use the app. But no, the app does not include Cookie Monster's "Call Me Maybe" parody video.
Spacecraft 3D: We'll admit to worrying that NASA might be getting better at producing awesome multimedia than it is at putting astronauts into space. Luckily, that multimedia is really cool. Have you seen the Seven Minutes of Terror video about the latest Mars probe? Now there's Spacecraft 3D, a free app for iPhone and iPad from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which gives users an up-close-and-personal look at the variety of satellites being used by NASA to explore the solar system and beyond. The app lets users see how the probes move, as well as get a look at the engineering feats used to construct them. Spaceflight is cool.
Tiny Wings: Macworld's Phil Michaels called an earlier version of this $1 iPhone game "sneakily challenging and frighteningly addictive." Now developer Andreas Illiger has updated Tiny Wings to version 2.0, adding a new Flight School game mode in which you compete against AI opponents, as well as 15 levels of gameplay, and upgraded graphics for Retina display. There's also now iCloud support, allowing users to sync the game with its iPad version. (Said iPad version also includes a local split-screen multiplayer mode.) The fundamentals of gameplay remain familiar, however: The birds have (natch) tiny wings, and use hills and momentum to give them flight throughout the game. Fly, little birds, fly!