Applications can turn your iPhone into a headset for your computer or just transform you into an unpaid car parker, just workin' for imaginary tips. Here are some iPhone applications and games, some of which win favor and others that simply fall flat.
The Mobiola Headset from SHAPE Services is absolutely a good idea from its inception, but it does come with a certain amount of baggage that makes it difficult for new iPhone users. The Headset iPhone application, which costs $0.99 at its "introductory" price, is intended to make your iPhone available as a wireless headset for things on your computer. To do this you first install Headset onto your iPhone, then go to www.mobiola.com and download the desktop application for your computer. You can then sync your computer to your iPhone and use your iPhone headphones as a headset for various computer applications. This is incredibly useful for programs like Skype and MSN, especially since you can move around quite a bit. The price of Mobiola Headset is also not really a problem because a regular attached headset would be much more expensive anyway. The only real issue that comes up with Headset is the work that it takes to get this going. It is not so much out of the question but instead a matter of usefulness for the effort. Most people will not want to go to the trouble of actually using Mobiola Headset on a regular basis, and the set up itself is already troublesome. For Mac users the idea of using a headset in general is fading out as you can easily use the on board microphone, which is why Headset is geared more toward PC users. Even though these are drawbacks, Mobiola Headset is still a nice iPhone application that really seeks to extend what the iPhone can be in your everyday life. This type of application ingenuity should be commended, even if it is a little too much work for you.
Four out of five stars.
Some iPhone games are so ingeniously simple that they can only make you smile when you play them. Pollywog is one of these and is on the winning side of the iPhone game machine. Here is a title that, while it does not attempt to bring a full console gaming experience to the iPhone, does seem to utilize the iPhone's motion features in a way that allows it to dominate gameplay. You start as a small tadpole that is being forced forward by the stream. Your goal is to simply avoid lilypads and get as much fruit as possible, which can really just be a colorful exposition on human existentialism. There is a graduating system of levels that requires you to complete one to move on to the other, which allows for a bit of gameplay depth. Pollywog can get old after a while as the relatively simple gameplay can only be presented in a limited number of fresh ways, but that can be fine in certain cases. For a cheap iPhone game clocking it at only $0.99 you are going to end up with enough enjoyment to justify the minor inconvenience you have to go through to actually get it from the App Store to your touch screen. Pollywog is a good example that even though there should be a diversity of titles ranging from minor distractions all the way to fully realized epics, there is always going to be a place for animated characters and easy to learn tilt mechanisms.
Four out of five stars.
Since Harvest Moon, The Sims, and Second Life have popularized simulated work under the guise of gaming almost any concept can optioned by developers. Valet Hero is a new car parking game, which just screams fun right from the start. This free iPhone game is presented by the growing OpenFeint gaming network, whose tagline is "the coolest thing since awesome." Once you actually go through the process of signing in to OpenFeint you will be given what is essentially a bird's eye view of cars in parking lots, which is actually reminiscent of the very early Grand Theft Auto titles. This would be fine if it was simple a driving game that gave you awkward obstacles such as parking cars in difficult situations. Instead it has its own control system that is confusing at best. You must drag a course for the car to go, which is shown as a dotted line protruding from the front of the vehicle. You use this to then get it into a parking slot in a way that does not damage the cars. This is hard and annoying as it takes a little bit of mastery to do this in even the most basic practice situations. Once you actually get this down you can move on to more involving levels, but they are all still based on this bizarre format of dotted line pathways. It is nice to see that the iPhone developers of Valet Hero are thinking outside of the box when constructing this game, but that does not mean that it is going to work in the end. Feel free to try it out for yourself, especially since it is still a free iPhone game. The free version of Valet Hero is not, however, the full version. This full version, which was named Valet Hero Pro by some kind of marketing genius, adds more content but nothing to fix the base fundamentals. Do not spend $0.99 on the full version, and the free iPhone game version is still questionable.
Two out of five stars.