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App Friday: Best iPhone 4 apps for showing off your gyroscope

When Apple unveiled its iPhone 4, much of the attention was hogged by its Retina Display, FaceTime videocalling and that antenna design. However, many developers were as excited about iPhone 4’s gyroscope.

It’s early days in terms of how it’s being used in apps, but there are a number appearing on the App Store that make use of the gyroscope.

Some are what you could describe as novelty apps, while others are more serious apps and games getting a boost from gyro-controls. Here’s our pick of ten to try.

Eliminate:GunRange (pictured above) was released alongside iPhone 4 to showcase the gaming potential of the gyroscope. It’s a virtual gun range, where you aim by tilting your iPhone – something made significantly more precise thanks to what publisher ngmoco calls its ‘G-scope’ controls.

Nearest Tube is one of the most useful augmented reality apps available for iPhone, letting you find your nearest tube station in London via the camera. Its latest update supports the iPhone 4 gyroscope for finer controls. Plus, developer acrossair has put similar functionality in its apps for other cities.

Magic 3D Easter Egg Painter isn’t exactly topical – well, not until next Spring – but it’s an amazing app nonetheless. The name tells you what it does: you get to paint a virtual Easter Egg by moving around it. It doesn’t require the gyroscope, but is much better with it.

Gyroblox 4 is Jenga in all but name – and so far, hasn’t been whipped off the App Store due to any legal problems. It’s been designed specifically to demonstrate the capabilities of the gyroscope, letting you touch and drag blocks with precision. Apple boss Steve Jobs showed it off at WWDC, and now you can play it.

iSetSquare is a more practical app – a goniometer tool (we had to look that up too) that makes use of iPhone 4’s gyroscope. It lets you measure relative angles, but also includes a scrollable ruler. Perfect for the geeky iPhone 4 owner who wants to bring a high-tech element to their shelf-building…

Gyro Air Drums isn’t an app to be used in public, unless you’re happy to make a spectacle of yourself. It lets you air-drum, with the gyroscope used to sense which bits of your kit you’re hitting. Bass drum, snare, hi-hat, high tom, low tom, crash, taiko drum and – best of all – cowbell. B’dum tish!

Gyro Guitar takes that idea and applies it to a different instrument: the humble RAWK AXE. It’s a playable fretboard guitar app to be specific, where the gyro controls let you move up and down the fretboard while strumming.

MovingPhotos3D is a different way to view the photos stored on your iPhone, where they’re displayed on-screen mapped onto a 3D cube which you can whizz around by tilting the handset. Novelty? Yes, but very impressive with it.

AR Wars 4 is another augmented reality app, but this time focused on gaming. You point your iPhone 4’s camera at the sky, and see spaceships attacking the Earth, to be shot down with your lasers. The gyro controls help ensure your aim is true – another good geeky way to show off your iDevice.

Gyro Draw is an intriguing app that claims to let you ‘sketch via motion’, using both the gyroscope and the accelerometer to help you scribble away to your heart’s content. It’s hard to explain without trying it, but trust us: you quickly forget about the technical wizardry, and just think about the doodling. Which is as it should be.


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