iPhone Weekly Digest: The Best iPhone Fitness App and Loads of Games


Left: RunKeeper - better than Nike+. Right: the beautiful but frustrating Ramp Champ.
Left: RunKeeper - better than Nike+. Right: the beautiful but frustrating Ramp Champ.

It’s time for our weekly digest of tiny iPhone reviews, courtesy of iPhoneTiny.com, with some extra commentary exclusive to Cult of Mac.

This time, we review Showtimes, Space Deadbeef, UFO Kidnapped, Ramp Champ, IMDB, Air Hockey, Valet Hero, RunKeeper Free and RunKeeper Pro.

RunKeeper Pro: RunKeeper Free – ads + audio cues (stats via headphones) and training workouts. Best in class. 5/5 $9.99 http://is.gd/5Jbf0

Showtimes: Ad-infested cinema listings app. Borderline acceptable. Lacks the polish & stability of Now Playing. 2/5 Free http://is.gd/7P76d

Space Deadbeef: Great-looking and playable shooter hampered by single level and dreadful ship movement controls. 2/5 Free http://is.gd/7P2bX

UFO Kidnapped: Original but short-lived puzzle game based on beaming up specific numbers of humans to your UFO. 2/5 Free http://is.gd/7P7E4

Ramp Champ: Multi-ramp skeeball. Beautiful graphics, but flick strength seems arbitrary, making goals futile. 2/5 $1.99 http://is.gd/7P2u5

IMDB: Standalone app that offers nothing over the site in Safari – in fact, it offers less (no accounts/forums). 2/5 Free http://is.gd/7PdGz

Air Hockey: Bog-standard air-hockey game. Looks OK and offers several AI levels, but fails to excite. 2/5 $0.99 http://is.gd/7P4zL

Valet Hero: Fun, innovative, car-park line-drawing game. Undone by unfair collisions w/ cars you can’t control. 2/5 Free http://is.gd/89hFF

RunKeeper Free: GPS-based fitness app. Fantastic UI, features & website integration. Like Nike+ + + +. For free. 5/5 Free http://is.gd/89idy

Lots of 2/5 ratings this week, although, to be fair, a couple of the games are 4/5 games brought crashing down by single problems that stop them rating higher. Ramp Champ is an utterly gorgeous fairground ball-tossing game. The visual design is impeccable and the various ramps offer distinct, individual challenges. However, it comes to naught when the controls don’t feel robust. Having put about five hours of game time into Ramp Champ, I still never felt in control of where my ball was going to end up, and therefore achieving goals was too reliant on luck.

Valet Hero is another game with a single issue that causes major problems. The game is essentially Flight Control in a car park, but it offers enough innovation to be one of the best line-drawing games on the App Store. Unfortunately, it then ruins everything by introducing cars that cannot be controlled, which inevitably smack into one of yours, ending the game. In Flight Control, the medical plane in the Outback map isn’t a problem, because it warns of its approach and its path is defined before it enters the map. In Valet Hero, police cars arrive with barely a second’s notice, don’t pre-warn of their route, and there’s often no way you can get your slower cars out of their path. Games should always make it so your go is ended by mistakes on your part—you should realise where you’ve screwed up, think you can beat the game if you improve, and then try again. With Valet Hero, everything’s too random, and no matter how skilful you are, you may come unstuck because of poor game design.

But enough of games. My app of the week is the utterly fantastic RunKeeper Pro. This fitness app uses GPS to track your route during runs and walks. The interface is lovely, providing audio feedback, integrating live mapping, and enabling integration with your music. For times when you exercise in a gym or without your iPhone, there’s manual input. And for an added bonus your workouts are uploaded to the RunKeeper website, which you can use to access further data (such as elevation during runs), edit routes (for times when your GPS signal goes wonky), create a ‘street team’, and define how your runs are shared with the world.

There are perhaps better tracking apps on the store for ramblers, but to argue that is missing the point: RunKeeper isn’t about tracking alone—it’s effectively a replacement for Nike+, a full-on stats and tracking app for people wanting to get fit(ter). Although the Pro version’s extra features and great value get it the App of the Week award, the free version’s also an amazing app and boasts most of the features of its paid-for cousin, although there’s the inevitable integrated advertising to fund everything.