The App Roundup: Oct. 18

Oct. 18, 2010, 12:00 p.m.

The App Roundup: Oct. 18
Trainyard bends both steel tracks and the mind. (ISAAC GATENO/The Stanford Daily)


If you enjoy physics and puzzles, then here is another game for you. In Trainyard, players must lay down rails to connect the train’s place of departure to its destination. Sounds easy, right? What makes Trainyard awesome is the timing element: in gameplay, the way you time the trains by making their tracks longer or shorter affects whether the trains will crash or not. Turns out, sometimes you want the trains to crash. Suppose you have a blue train and a red train but you only have space for one purple train at the station – here, traffic collisions are encouraged.

Gameplay is really simple, just make a path with your finger where you want track to be laid. The game shows you more advanced techniques as they are required, but it lets you figure some things out on your own. All in all a very fun game with a nice degree of difficulty. There is a free demo version called “Trainyard Express” and the full version costs $0.99.


Nike+ GPS

Been wanting to join the Nike+ community but unwilling to drop the money to invest in Nike+ shoes? That’s no longer an issue with the new app from Nike, Nike+ GPS. For only $1.99 (as opposed to $100 for a pair of shoes plus $30 for a sensor) iPhone and iPod Touch users can track their runs using just the GPS and accelerometer built in to their devices.

The app includes the same functionality as the original Nike+ system, including reporting your speed, pace, distance traveled and “PowerSong,” but also adds some new features. Runs are now automatically plotted onto Google Maps and can be uploaded to the Nike+ site right from the device. Additionally, you can broadcast your stats on Facebook or Twitter, allowing you to post when you’re about to run to get some extra cheers from your friends. And of course the app still includes the words of encouragement from athletes like Lance Armstrong and Tiger Woods to help you go that extra mile.


Take Five

I love simple apps that do one thing well. Take Five is a very good example of this. When you are listening to a song on your iPhone you can use Take Five to pause the song on a timer that goes as short as a few seconds to as long as 30 minutes. It’s perfect for when you want to pause your music while you want to pay attention to something like a video or a real human interaction (they happen, I promise) and don’t want to forget to turn your music on again. Take Five works in the background so even if you navigate away from it, your music will softly fade back in due time.
You know that you’ve found yourself wearing silent earbuds even though you don’t want to admit it. It’s OK. It happens to everyone. Now go download Take Five and hide it in a folder within a folder so your better half doesn’t find it when they go through your iPhone.


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