Words With Friends: Like Scrabulous for iPhone!

Actually, it's better than Scrabulous, because you can play it anytime, anywhere, without being tied to Facebook. There's even a free version. Goodbye, productivity!

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read

Remember Scrabulous, the Facebook-powered Scrabble knockoff that was all the rage a couple years back? I was a serious addict, but lost interest after all the name changes, lawsuits, redesigns, etc.

Thanks to my evil friend Denny, my addiction is reborn--and mobile. Words With Friends is a two-player crossword challenge that offers turn-based, Scrabulous-like competition. It's not perfect, but I'm loving it.

So I'm getting creamed. Can I help it if I draw bad letters? Rick Broida

The game lets you complete online against random players and/or friends. (Built-in Facebook/Twitter links let you post an invitation as a status update.) You can have up to 20 matches going at once, with push notifications letting you know when it's your turn.

There's also an in-game chat option. You can tell when an opponent is online when you see a pair of eyeballs next to the Chat button.

The game itself plays much like Scrabble, though with a slightly different distribution of the bonus squares (double word score, triple letter score, etc.). A double-tap is all it takes to zoom into the board for easier tile placement or back again for a full-board view.

It would be nice if WWF had a few more amenities, like a button for clearing your tiles or a list of legal two-letter words. But my big complaint is that the game doesn't keep a tally of your potential word score as you place your tiles. It's only after you make your play that you find out your total for the turn. (What, I'm supposed to do math in my head?)

WWF also suffers from some performance issues, like seemingly endless lag when attempting to submit your turn. Most of the time, the game worked fine, but it's frustrating when it doesn't.

Developer Newtoy offers a free, ad-supported version of Words With Friends and a $2.99 ad-free version.

The ads get pretty annoying pretty quickly, so I may just bite the bullet and pay my 3 bucks. On the other hand, Words With Friends is such a distraction (albeit an incredibly enjoyable one), the smarter move would be to delete it altogether.

Eh, I'm probably not that smart. In fact, my username is justrick if you want to challenge me to a game. Update: Too many challenges! Sorry I can't accept them all. In the meantime, check out "Five perfect puzzle games for the iPhone."