Calendar app and sailboat-racing game: iPhone apps of the week

This week's apps include a simple calendar app for viewing more months at a time and a sailboat-racing game that's more than meets the eye.

iPhone
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As we get closer to the launch date of Apple's iPad (April 3), I can't help but ponder how each application I use might translate to the new device.

Games obviously will have a lot more flexibility with the added touch-screen space, and having more available screen room will probably make development of more complex control systems easier. Apps in every category will have a little more processing power to work with, taking away any delays we've grown used to on the iPhone and iPod Touch. But another noticeable difference for me is how I look at apps, now that I know the iPad is coming.

I try to imagine every productivity app, every digital-photo editor, and every game I review these days on the iPad. I ask myself, what would game developers add to the iPad version of this game? How would it look on the larger screen? Will we see a large number of pixelated ports of certain apps in the beginning while developers upgrade their offerings? Which app developers are likely to stick to developing only for iPhone and iPod Touch?

With so many apps at the App Store, it's tough to know which ones will be truly iPad-ready at launch, or how long it will take for developers to make the necessary changes. But I'd like know what you think: Which of your favorite apps are perfect for the iPad? Which ones aren't? Let us know in the comments.

This week's apps include a simple calendar app for viewing more months at a time and a sailboat-racing game that's more than meets the eye.

Years
Choose colors to signify specific events, such as the red circle for your birthday, for example. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Years is a simple, elegant calendar app that is useful for some things but needs some work to be great. Launching the app gives you a nicely laid-out full-year calendar, making it easy to plan for vacations or mark important dates.

To make it all visually appealing, Years shows four months at a time onscreen, but you can easily scroll to later in the year with a swipe of your finger. Buttons at the top let you see the previous year, or you can plan for the coming year.

Touching a month gives you a full-screen view. The app gives you four different ways to mark your calendar, accessed by tapping on buttons at the bottom. You can circle dates, cross them out, use a little scribble graphic, or add a star. There is no text input. When you're finished marking your important dates, you can e-mail the month or year image to remind someone of important dates, or copy the image for your personal use.

Years is quite a useful little app, even though there's not much to it. As long as you set up your own system for what each mark means, you can actually call out most of your important dates nicely. With that said, it would be very helpful to have things like text input for more detailed scheduling, day views for mapping out your busy day, and push alerts so you don't miss anything important.

Certainly the possibilities are endless, and there are many calendar apps out there that have those things, but maybe this is exactly the way the developers wanted this calendar app to be--a quick view of important dates with an elegant interface. Either way, Years will be useful to just about anyone, even without more advanced features.

Sailboat Championship Pro ($2.99) is the full version of a free sailboat-racing game, now with more options and courses. Sailboat Championship Pro uses the previous game (a separate free download) as the tutorial for the Pro version, so check out the free version to get a taste for the game.

Sailboat Championship Pro offers beautiful graphics and sounds, while challenging you to race through several regattas and later race against computer-controlled opponents. You'll be able to unlock new courses, as well as new boats, with varying strengths and weaknesses, as you progress. Whereas the free version was about taking on different roles on a sailboat to complete races, Sailboat Championship Pro focuses on being the skipper, and tackling difficult courses and changing wind environments.

Sailboat Championship Pro
Use the little yellow wind indicators to adjust your sail and maximize your speed. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Sailboat Championship Pro is a very well-thought-out game, forcing you to learn the best way to capture the wind with your sail in order to maintain speed while you navigate each course. The steering wheel in the lower right provides control over the craft, but you'll quickly realize that there are strategies for harnessing the most wind power, often by taking a line around a corner you wouldn't normally take in another racing game.

The game offers some options to help get you acclimated, such as the option to hire a sailor so you can concentrate on steering, but most of your success with this game will come through trial and error.

Overall, with beautiful graphics, realistic wind physics, and plenty of courses to test your skill, Sailboat Championship Pro is a fun game for those who like sailing and even those who never considered buying a sailing game.

What's your favorite iPhone app? Which apps do you think will be iPad hits, and which will stick to the tried-and-true iPhone versions? Does Years need the options that other calendar apps have, or is it fine the way it is? Are you surprised how fun sailing on the iPhone is? Let me know in the comments!

 

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