10 Favorite Apps of 2011
VidRhythm (Free, iPhone, iPad 2)
Why it stood out: A must-have app for budding Justin Biebers and Kanye West-wannabes alike, VidRhythm mashes funky fresh beats and mini performances by family and friends into hilarious music videos. Particularly brave performers will want to select the kitty cat-themed video option and immediately post their ''meow''-ing masterpieces to YouTube and Facebook.
The Amazing Spider-Man: An Origin Story ($6.99, iPhone, iPad)
Why it stood out: Narrated by Marvel Comics' legend Stan Lee, this interactive storybook boasts an eye-popping presentation complemented by cool sound effects, immersive music, and engaging mini-games. A must-have for seasoned Spidey fans and young wannabe web-slingers alike, it presents Peter Parker's familiar story in a fresh way. With great power comes one of the year's best apps.
Oink (Free, iPhone, compatible with iPad)
Why it stood out: Plenty of social apps allow users to rank restaurants and share the results with friends, but Oink takes the on-the-go evaluating several steps further; from your hometown's best buffalo wings to the world's wickedest haunted house, there's literally nothing — best bathroom graffiti, anyone? — that can't be critiqued by this squealing good app.
HBO GO (Free, iPhone, iPad, Android)
Why it stood out: While this palm-sized Home Box Office offers a brimming slate of films, its real draw is allowing subscribers to stream many of the cable network's best original series directly to their smartphones; catch up on Boardwalk Empire, relive True Bloods' goriest/sexiest moments, or offend fellow subway commuters with one of Al Swearengen's profanity-laced rants.
Band of the Day (Free, iPhone, compatible with iPad)
Why it stood out: A fresh alternative to all those me-too music streaming services fighting over the best way to deliver Lady Gaga's latest hit to the masses, this innovative app delivers a daily dose of new tunes to your iPhone. In addition to providing tracks, the head-bobbin' service highlights each day's buzz-worthy band with bios, reviews, and videos.
ComicBook! ($1.99, iPhone, iPad)
Why it stood out: Popular photo-altering apps such as Hipstamatic and Instagram allow users to tweak their pics with effects and filters, but only ComicBook! turns boring vacation snaps into thrilling — and hilarious — paneled superhero adventures. Sporting an intuitive interface and plenty of creativity-encouraging features, it can add some much needed ''POW!'' to any picture.
IntoNow (Free, iPhone, iPad, Android)
Why it stood out: A brilliant mash-up of social networking and television consumption, IntoNow's a must-have for anyone who ever finds themselves clutching a smartphone in one hand and a TV remote in the other. On top of sharing preferences through Facebook and Twitter integration, the seemingly magic app recognizes what's currently playing on your boob tube and feeds you relevant, real-time info.
Flixlab (Free, iPhone, compatible with iPad)
Why it stood out: If you're looking to graduate from simply editing videos to actually making mini motion pictures, then Flixlab is your new best friend. With a few simple-to-use tools, budding Spielbergs can cut their iPhones' music, photo, and movie libraries into professional looking productions — don't forget to thank us when accepting your Academy Award.
A Charlie Brown Christmas ($4.99-$6.99, iPhone, iPad, Android)
Why it stood out: Whether tapping Linus' piano keys or decorating Charlie Brown's Christmas tree, this interactive storybook lets fans of all ages relive — or discover — the holiday classic in ways repeated TV viewings just can't match. Magical, heartwarming, and endlessly engaging for the eyes, ears, and thumbs, it both enhances and honors Charles Schulz's beloved original.
iTunes Movie Trailers (Free, iPhone, iPad)
Why it stood out: Plenty of apps stream film teasers, but iTunes Movie Trailers trumps the competition with an intuitive interface, streamlined presentation, and interactive year-long release calendar. Toss in the ability to scan showtimes, purchase tickets, and view complementary content — featurettes, clips, images — and we're almost surprised it doesn't also dispense that delicious butter-flavored popcorn topping.