October 28, 2010

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Appy Alloween
Dress up as a dork this year
By John Andrews  jandrews@hippopress.com

OK, let’s see if this train of thought makes sense. Halloween candy is dessert, right? Dessert comes after meals. What comes before meals? Appetizers, you say? And how might you abbreviate the word “appetizers”?

Apps.

Oh boy, are there Halloween apps. You could spend every waking moment between now and All Saints’ Day downloading apps to your smartphone, casting a ghostly glow on your face from the LCD screen, and still not experience them all. The good news is that there are tons to play with that won’t cost you a dime.

• iPhone: Of course the big player in apps is Apple. A quick search of iTunes turns up a ton of creepy, crawly little programs for your amusement. How Halloween-related they actually are varies greatly, though.

Choc Tap Deluxe, for example, is just a memory game with a boxed chocolates theme that’s being given away free right now. Flashlight just lights up the whole screen so your iPhone can act as a, well, flashlight, but it’s getting more and more “themes” for holidays that aren’t really that useful for illumination.

But then there’s Halloween Spooky Sounds, Scary Piano Free, Halloween Sound Box, Screams in a Can and a ton of other noise-making apps for irritating your friends. Ghost Capture, Spooky Photo and PhotoWeen Lite integrate with your camera to make silly pictures and e-cards.

And of course there are games — everything from Pumpkin Blast to the deceptively named 666 Spooky Games, which includes only six games, although one is called 6ic 6ac 6oe, so … yeah.

• Android: Games, soundbanks and photo manipulation programs abound for Android phones, just as they do for iPhones and iPads. A few creative apps stand out from the crowd, though.

For instance: The Mask. Rather than add goofy masks to your photos, this app includes a selection of masks that simply display on your Android device’s screen. Hold it up to your face and, voila, instant costume. There are separate eyes and mouths, so maybe borrow your friend’s phone if you want total face coverage. The mouths even react to your voice, so it looks (kinda) like your mask is actually speaking. Download extra mask packs to supplement the few default ones.

There’s also Halloween Coloring Book, which, you guessed it, gives you line drawings that you color in with your finger. The “Line Help” setting seems like cheating, though, since it forces you to stay within the lines. What fun is that?

• BlackBerry: It’s trying to get hip, but BlackBerry is still the “serious” kid on the smartphone block, so there aren’t many fun, free holiday apps out there. You can download two free animated themes from Mobstar Media, but then there’s the BEIKS Halloween Recipes. It seems to be a subset of a larger dictionary app, with dozens of gross-sounding (in a good way) recipes.

“Butchered Snake Bits with Barbecue Sauce” really doesn’t sound much more terrifying than Rattlesnake Pasta, which is only scary if you’re afraid of peppers. “Monster Slime Juice” is a completely logical name for Kool-Aid and orange juice concentrate mixed together, and “Worms au Gratin” sounds perfect for getting a delighted “EWWWWW!” out of your pint-sized gourmands. “Chunky Cat Barf,” on the other hand, is already a choice dish for my dog, right after the Litter Box Buffet (not in the app). Sometimes reality truly is more horrifying than imagination.


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A browser is to a car as ...

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