Emerging Free iOS Apps: A Mixed Bag of Sweet Treats, Social Networks and Competitive Racing

This week the free iOS charts were all over the map, with new games from Fluik, Bluebear, SGN and 2XL all coming out of the gate strongly and old offerings from Miinu and Mobigame rising up the charts after going free. A handful of other apps also made the roundup this week, with Google+ representing social networking, My Sketch representing photo editors and the brand new Houston Chronicle app flying the flag for digital newspapers.

New Titles with the Top iPhone Free Apps List

Cross Fingers – Puzzle game Cross Fingers is the #1 iPhone app this week, thanks to a sale from developer Mobigame that has made it free until September 29th. Originally released in 2009, Cross Fingers combines sliding block puzzle elements with tangrams: players must move blocks into place to form specific shapes, but cannot freely manipulate those shapes. For those who tire of the traditional puzzle mode, there is also an arcade mode where players must race the clock and rack up a high score.

Office Zombie (Update) – The #5 free app is the game Office Zombie, a new Halloween themed update from Canadian developer Fluik Entertainment of their old hit Office Jerk. The gameplay is still the same; players use a makeshift arsenal to inflict much-deserved punishment on their (now undead) co-worker, usually with ridiculous and violent results. Office Zombie is an ad-supported game, but it also monetizes through in-app purchases of extra items and has a $0.99 ad-removal option.

Cotton Candy! – If you’re a lover of the fluffy, diabetes inducing treat, #12 app Cotton Candy! is the game for you. Released on September 24th, the game has a simple premise; players create their own totally customized stick of cotton candy. The app is free, but users can unlock extra content through an optional $2.99 in-app purchase. Cotton Candy! is credited to Martin Harte, aka, small Irish indie studio Bluebear Technologies.

(Update) Google+ –  Google’s brand-new social network moved into open beta on the 20th, and the influx of new users has pushed Google+ back up the free charts. Currently ranked at #15, the app was updated on September 23rd to add a whole raft of features. Users can now join hangouts from the mobile app, send photos in messenger, leave +1s on comments, share posts with specific people and more.

Dress Up! Makeover – The #21 app this week is Dress Up! Makeover. Released on September 22nd, Makeover is an expansion of the Dress Up! series, where users can add makeup to virtual models, and share their creations via Facebook, Twitter and email. Dress Up! Makeover is very likely the app MindJolt’s CEO Chris DeWolfe was referring to in a September 14th announcement where he revealed his company would release seven new games in the coming months, the first of which would be out in a couple of weeks. The game is credited to developer SGN, but is actually based on IP from Hallpass Media. Both companies were acquired by MindJolt in April of this year to bolster the company’s presence in mobile gaming and virtual goods. Dress Up! Makeover is free, but additional content packs can be purchased for $4.99 each.

New Titles with the Top iPad Free Apps List

My Sketch – First up on the iPad charts this week the #3 app My Sketch, a simple editor that applies sketch effects to photos. Users can either import and edit existing photos, or take new photos from inside the app, and once they’ve created their masterpiece, it can be shared through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and email. Credited in the app store to Wilson Tjoa, aka, indie developer Miinu, My Sketch normally costs $1.99, but is free for a limited time.

(Update) NBC – TV is still dominating the free iPad app charts, and #7 ranked NBC is the best performing of all the free TV apps, beating offerings from HBO, TNT, TBS, ESPN and ABC on the free app charts. Updated on September 23rd with performance enhancements, NBC Universal’s app allows users to watch full episodes of their favorite shows, see exclusive photo content, check their local schedule, and play a variety of branded games.

Ricky Carmichael’s Motocross Matchup Pro – The #10 app is Ricky Carmichael’s Motocross Matchup Pro, the latest offering from Phoenix based 2XL Games. A competitive racing game, Motocross Matchup Pro pits players against real online competitors. Players are racing not only for domination of the online leaderboards, but for real world prizes such as T-shirts and cameras provided by the service Real Rewards. Motocross Matchup Pro was released on September 22nd, and monetizes through in-app currency purchases.

Easy Bake Cupcakes – The classic Easy-Bake Oven is has gone digital with Easy-Bake Cupcakes!, the #16 app. Released on September 21st to promote the new light bulb-less Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven, the app lets users bake, decorate and share their virtual cupcake creations through Facebook and email. Easy-Bake Cupcakes! was developed for Hasbro by Maverick Software, the one-woman company of Glenda Adams that started life in 1990 as a Macintosh shareware developer, and later made the leap to iOS.

Houston Chronicle for iPad – The final app in our roundup this week is the #46 ranked Houston Chronicle for iPad. Released yesterday, the app mimics the look of the printed paper, but gives readers access to customizable traffic and weather reports, content searches, expanded photo galleries, and a cycling seven day archive of the previous week’s papers. The app comes with a 14 day trial, and users can continue to subscribe for either $5.99 per month or $59.99 a year. The Houston Chronicle for iPad is the latest digital newspaper from Hearst Newspapers, who seem to have embarked on an aggressive mobile strategy, releasing 11 publication apps on iPhone and iPad since August 29th.