In Pictures: Top 15 iPhone Apps of 2012, so far

The best of 2012’s apps for your iPhone and iPod Touch, so far, include fun apps for wasting time, image and video editing apps, and utilities that speed up common iPhone tasks.

  • New Cool Apps What's new, so far, with iOS apps in 2012? The improved camera on the latest iPhone models led to a lot of cool photography and video apps. Gaming has also been huge (no surprise there). There’s a bevy of new addictive games, along several useful apps for being more productive on your iPhone or iPod. I took a look at the fire hose of new apps released so far in 2012 and whittled a list down to just the best and most addictive 15 apps worth checking out.

  • Sparrow Sparrow is a sleek gesture-based email client worthy of replacing your Mail app, as long as you have a Gmail, Google Apps or IMAP account. You can refresh your inbox by pulling down the inbox list or swipe across a message to reveal actions like replying, archive and delete. You can also swipe up or down in a message part of a thread to move through the conversation and Sparrow has full support for Gmail’s archive, labels, and priority inbox features. Sparrow would be the perfect email client, but so far, due to technical limitations, it lacks push notifications support, a feature promised by the developers later this year.

  • Clear Clear doesn’t look like your typical iPhone app, but it makes use of gestures in a very Apple-esque way to manage your task list. List items are displayed in a heatmap by priority and you create new items by pinching items apart, dragging from the top of the list or tapping at the bottom. To mark items as done you just swipe left or right. Clear is very intuitive and there are no buttons or switches, which also means it’s suited for those who want a simple task manager without advanced features like setting time or location-based alerts.

  • Draw Something Draw Something is like Hangman meets Farmville and Scrabble. You challenge your friends to guess the word you are drawing and you get game currency for each guess, depending on the word difficulty. You start with simple sketches, and as you earn coins, you get more colors and drawing tools for your Draw Something masterpiece. The game is hours of fun for kids and adults alike, and if none of your friends are around to play, you can get automatically partnered with gaming buddies.

  • iPhoto iPhoto for iPhone completes Apple’s lineup of iLife apps, although it doesn’t match its desktop counterpart feature for feature. iPhoto is packed with effects, filters and adjustments for your photos, including some smart tools like a loupe, auto horizon detection to straighten photos and skin tone color balance. The app organizes your mobile photo library and integrates with Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. You can also send photos wirelessly to other iOS devices running iPhoto in the foreground with the wireless beaming feature enabled.

  • SloPro SloPro lets you shoot slow-motion video with your iPhone 4S, without the need of expensive equipment. The app takes 60fps slow-motion video in 720p HD, basically doubling the frame rate on the 4S. You capture the footage as normally with the app and then the built-in editor allows you to select in an out points where the video will be slowed down. The results are smooth videos with no choppiness, and for a $1.99 in-app update you can remove the watermark and export results to the camera roll or iTunes.

  • Frameographer Frameographer helps you create stop motion and time-lapse videos in a simple and straight-forward way. Since staging such videos can be time-consuming, the app lets you stop a project and resume it at a later time. You can easily delete unwanted frames and change the frames per second, although you’d want to use a tripod for time-lapse videos for best results and have the wall charger close by, as it can eat your battery quite quickly.

  • N.O.V.A. 3 - Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance N.O.V.A. 3 is probably the most polished first-person shooter in the App Store. As you would expect, the game is heavy on action and aliens, with up to five hours of guns blazing for a single-player campaign. The game is more fun in online multi-player mode, where you can take on up to 12-player battles and fight along your teammates in objective-based battles or against them in death matches.

  • Flipboard The popular social Flipboard reader is not iPad-only anymore, but the app is not just a small version of the tablet counterpart. Flipboard for iPhone still keeps those pleasant flip gestures, but it’s designed to be used with one hand and flip pages upwards with your thumb, with the bottom half folding over the top. The app also has a new Cover Stories section that highlights popular articles from your sources, be it Facebook, Twitter, RSS or content partners – an ideal way to catch up on the news on the go.

  • The Daily for iPhone The iPad-only newspaper has also transitioned to the iPhone this year. It’s a separate, less expensive to subscribe version of The Daily, which is free of charge if you already subscribe to the iPad version. The layout is like a mix of Facebook and Sparrow, and unlike the tablet version, you also get a selection of free ad-supported stories every day.

  • Launch Center - Tap. Tap. Go! Launch Center is an app launcher that allows you do more with less taps for frequent tasks, such as sending an email or message directly to a specific contact, Google text on your clipboard, open Instagram’s camera, or add a new item to your task list. Perhaps one of the most useful features of Launch Center is the ability to create one-tap shortcuts to certain controls, such as the brightness, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi toggles, which save you time dipping in and out of the Settings panel, earning the app a place in your springboard.

  • Gifture Gifture is like Instagram for making animated photos – it allows you to take a series of photos, stich them together, apply filters and effects and create a brief animation. You choose your sequence of photos, either by taking photos one by one or using the auto mode for a video-like effect, and place them in any order you like to create your animated GIF to share on Twitter and Facebook (with a link instead of direct animation, as Facebook does not allow animated GIFs).

  • FreezePaint FreezePaint is a fun and unique way to merge parts of a photo with another. You simply take a photo, swipe your finger on the part of the picture you want to keep and then take another picture with the chosen frozen parts overlaid. The results depend on your creativity, from funny collages of mixed-up heads and bodies to surreal scenes where you can repeat the same element.

  • iTranslate Voice The Star Trek-like concept of on-the-fly translations is one step closer. iTranslate Voice looks a bit like Siri, but with flags which let you choose the languages you want to translate. You then press the flag button and speak what you would like to translate. The app gives fairly accurate results as long as you keep your sentences simple and you can also type text to translate. The app has some 30 languages, but needs to be connected to the internet in order for it to work, which makes it unusable if you are abroad with no data roaming.

  • Max Payne Mobile Max Payne Mobile is the conversion of the 11-year-old classic game, keeping a lot of the elements that made the game popular, like the bullet time slow motion combat to help you better align your shots and the action-packed revenge story. For the lack of a mouse and keyboard, the controls seem clunky at first, but you can customize them to your liking as well as resize and rearrange buttons for optimum game play.

  • Angry Birds Space Instead of just making more themed levels for Angry Birds, the developers of the popular game went all out and came up with a totally different game play, where the birds are -- you guessed it -- in space. As before, the pigs are lurking in various structures, but the novelty comes from the setting – space – which means that your birds are subject to the planet’s gravity, making the gameplay more challenging. There are 60 levels to complete and along your way you’ll also get to play five classic mini-games that you unlock by blasting five golden eggs in the main levels.

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