We’ve published close to a thousand app reviews over the last decade, and we’re feeling reflective – so we’ve asked our brilliant review team to look back over their old articles and each pick three favorites that stood the test of time. It’s a great chance to revisit some amazing titles you might have missed the first time around.
Note that this is not a selection of “the greatest apps ever,” but rather a subjective look at the reviews that felt important to the people who wrote them. Which apps stuck with our team long after the final verdicts were dished out?
Today, we’re looking at the top choices from lead contributor Craig Grannell. For each choice, he’ll explain what made the app so interesting – and we’ll include links back to the original reviews if you want to read more. Enjoy!
It might have sounded hyperbolic and a touch previous when my 2014 review called Device 6 “one of the finest moments iOS gaming has ever seen”. But six years later that claim stands up. This Simogo marvel fully embraced the nature of the touchscreen, having you twist and turn your device while navigating a mysterious island whose geography was literally fashioned from the narrative. Its weird world of words was peppered with brain-smashing puzzles, stylish visuals, gorgeous audio, and a clever meta-story that on completion of the game made you rethink the entire experience — and want to play again.
It’s no good stuffing an app with features if the most important element of the core user experience isn’t perfected. Podcast app Overcast understood this on its original release, which I found had shortcomings in terms of the interface and usability, but knocked it out of the park regarding playback. It was the first podcast app to have smart speed, shortened silences, and voice boost functionality, all of which vastly improved the listening experience of talky shows. Subsequent updates fixed everything else, which today has resulted in a free podcast app that I consider leagues ahead of its rivals.
An app described as ‘Bach in a box’ might not seem terribly exciting. It certainly doesn’t sound modern. But Fugue Machine dazzled me on its 2015 debut, effortlessly marrying compositional techniques from Baroque music and a stripped-back, trendy interface. The magic was in its four independent playheads, which could be set to flit back and forth across a piano roll at varying speeds and using different pitches. The interplay was mesmerizing, and it was unlike anything else on the App Store. In fact, it still is — Fugue Machine remains a superb alternative to conventional fare for music app newbies and seasoned musicians alike.