Emerging Top Free Apps on iOS: Classic Games, Social Mechanics, and Conveniences Rise This Week

Even though it appears that Apple has reverted many of the ranking algorithm changes it introduced two weeks ago, many older applications and games for both the iPhone and iPad devices have resurfaced on the top charts. A couple of developers that have historically been beneficiaries of pay-per-install campaigns like Andreessen Horowitz-backed TinyCo and Sequoia-backed Pocket Gems have also pushed titles into the top of the charts.

New Titles Within Top iPhone Free Apps List

StickmanStickman Cliff Diving — There is a new #2 application this week called Stickman Cliff Diving. A slightly older app that was last updated April 19th, the title is a simple arcade-like game where users perform stylistic tricks and jumps as they jump off higher and higher cliffs. Typically a paid app, the game has rising due to becoming temporarily free via FreeAppADay. The game’s developer is Heiko Hufnagl, but little information is available other than this iOS developer hosts seven different apps and games for iPhone. There is not even so much as a functioning website. However, he does appear to be a part of Austrian developer Djinnworks.

Paperboy: Special Delivery — Another old game (last updated November 18th) from Glu Mobile rises up the charts, slowing down at #3. The app is Paperboy: Special Delivery, and it is a remake of the classic arcade title where users attempt to deliver papers along a rather hazardous route. Typically, the game is a paid app, but is free for a limited time. San Francisco-based Glu Mobile is one of the larger developers in the mobile space.

Color EffectsColor Effects — A much older application by the name of Color Effects has suddenly spiked in the number of iPhone downloads. Out of seemingly nowhere, the app has risen to #4 on the top free app charts, yet its last update was March 1st. The title allows users to alter the colors within photographs with surprising precision, add effects, and share creations via social feeds. Color Effects is created by a single individual, Daniel Cota, who already hosts a respectable number of apps for both iPhone and iPad. The app monetizes via an in-app purchase to remove advertisements.

Tap Pet Hotel — It was #2, yesterday, on the top grossing iPhone charts, and now Tap Pet Hotel is #6 for the top free charts as well. Developed by Pocket Gems, this free-to-play game tasks users with the creating of their own virtual pet hotel as they care for a wide variety of domestic animals. Since it is free-to-play, the game monetizes through in-app purchases of both earnable in-game and virtual currencies. As for Pocket Gems, it is also a San Francisco-based iOS developer whose casual and social style games have earned it more than 28 million downloads. Tap Pet Hotel was released April 21st.

Tiny Zoo — TinyCo has released a successful app in the form of Tiny Zoo (last updated April 26th). Currently #7 on the top free iPhone charts, the game monetizes via in-app purchases of virtual currency and earnable in-game currency. As the name suggests, players create and manage a virtual zoo. TinyCo is a young, San Francisco-based mobile developer, formerly known as Brooklyn Packet, with a valuation of around $100 million. In fact, it recently raised $18 million and has been called the “Zynga of Mobile.” It is also worth noting that Tiny Zoo is also #12 for iPad’s free app list as well.

New Titles Within Top iPad Free Apps List

TerraTerra — Terra is an iPad app that we’ve seen before, but this web browser is now the new #1 application on the top free app charts. A competitor for Safari, the app is a gesture friendly app that was recently updated April 17th. This new version allows users to open various file types (.doc, .docx, etc.), import bookmarks, or access iTunes files within a Documents folder. Its developer is Readdle, a roughly four-year-old company who has made their living off developing iOS applications for computing basics (calendars, .pdf readers, browsers, etc.) before a standardized app is made available.

NFL ’11 for iPad — Recently updated with general bug fixes (April 26th), NFL ’11 for iPad is the official companion app for the NFL Draft. Currently sitting at #3, the application allows users to watch live video streams of Draft coverage from NFL.com, set up alerts for updates from favorite teams, or view the upcoming 2011 schedule. As it is an official app, the title is created by the National Football League themselves.

QwikiQwiki — Qwiki is a new title to the free iPad apps charts (updated April 24th) and is currently #4 on the list. Qwiki is an interactive knowledge-base that pulls accurate information from a myriad of sources to present users with images, videos, articles, and so on on virtually any topic in an interactive way. Its developer is also dubbed Qwiki, a startup of under 20 people that seeks to changing learning from random Internet searches to more of a story. Qwiki recently raised $8 million as part of a Series A venture round.

Braveheart HD — In at #9 is Braveheart HD. An older game from Gaijin Entertainment, this title appears to only be free for a limited time (despite monetizeing through in-app purchases). An action role-playing game, players control the knight Richard in his quest to find the Holy Grail. As for its developer, Gaijin Entertainment has developed games across both iOS and console platforms and holds offices in both Moscow and Alexandria, Virginia. A veteran developer, Gaijin has been in business since 2002. Braveheart HD was updated last on April 22nd.

Words With Friends HD Free — Words With Friends  HD Free is an older iPad title that allows users to play a social word game that is not terribly dissimilar to Scrabble. It’s current position on the charts (#15) is likely due to its April 20th update that added in the ability for players to like their mobile account with their Facebook account. Its developer is Newtoy, now known as “Zynga with friends”, was acquired by social giant Zynga last December.