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Best apps and updates of the week: The Orchestra, Grand Theft Auto, and more

 Take a break from shopping for gifts for all your favorite people – and least favorite people that you have to suck up to – and do some shopping for yourself in your favorite app stores. Tons of great apps got updates and some very noteworthy apps made their debut this week. We’ve collected all of the best offerings out there that will bring some downloadable joy to your day. Check out this week’s best new and updated apps from December 2-9, 2012.

Updates

Zite (iOS)

The digital magazine that learns from your likes and interests and customizes content for you has been re-imagined for version 2.0. Now with a new, slicker look and some fresh features, Zite has entered into the zeitgeist as a more than capable news aggregator. An Explore page will deliver you new content you may have missed otherwise, while Your Top Stories has been redone to give an expanded look at the headlines that matter most to you. An added Facebook connection will also pull in articles based on your likes for improved personalization.

Gmail (iOS, Android)

Gmail has taken the jump from totally replaceable to totally redeemed with version 2.0 on iOS. A whole new layout that incorporates things like profile pictures and message lists. The ability to manage multiple accounts also makes its first appearance, a feature that has long been requested by Gmail users. Integration among Google’s other products, like its Calendar and Google+, are also available right in the app, making managing your information across platforms easier. The Android version has its functionality improved upon as well, adding a pinch-to-zoom feature and the ability to swipe to delete messages. 

Twitterrific (iOS

Twitterrific has been around since the dawn of time in Twitter client years. It has reinvented itself along the way a bit, but perhaps none have been as big as this update to Twitterrific version 5. Rebuilt from the  ground up, the new Twitterrific still has everything you expect from your Twitter client. That is unless you wanted push notifications, because it doesn’t have that – though they are said to be on their way. But the Windows 8-esque user interface and pretty animations between actions may distract you enough from this to make the update worthwhile. An improved in-app browser and a feature that allows you to save long articles in Pocket-like fashion are definitely welcome additions.

Kindle (iOS)

Amazon may have its own tablets but it wouldn’t miss out on an opportunity to deliver books to the non-Kindle owning masses. As such, it has updated its Kindle app for iOS to include its X-Rays for books feature. The X-Ray feature offers an extra look at the work you’re reading, providing information about the characters, setting, and story. It’s like having Cliff Notes built right into your books.

New Apps

This is Not an App (iOS)

So the name might be a little misleading, but the concept is cool. This is Not an App is actually an app, and a unique one at that. It contains 50 prompts that will challenge you to do things in a new way, think about a something you haven’t before, and create something new that you’ve probably never thought about before. It’s definitely a quirky download, but it’s something we haven’t seen before and offers users a new look at the world and themselves. Points for creativity.

Falcon Pro (Android)

We mentioned the Twitterrific app update for iOS earlier, but the popular Twitter client still remains absent on the Android OS. Have no fear, because Falcon Pro is here to fill the void. Fitted perfectly with a slick look and equally slick functionality, Falcon Pro is jumping head first into the Twitter app pool and making quite a splash. An in-app browser and easy to manage slide navigation round out a list of features that make this app work just as good as it looks.

The Orchestra (iOS)

The iPad is designed to be an all around performance product, but one probably wouldn’t expect it to perform as a full-blown orchestra. With The Orchestra, that’s exactly what it will do. Anyone with the least bit of interest in classical music will be well-served by the wealth of information that is housed within this app. Listen to full performances of some of the timeless classics, then slow it down and go instrument by instrument and watch as every note lights up, showing you how the sound is created. Extra facts about each piece are included, rounding out this musical app that will teach you in more ways than one. 

New Games

Grand Theft Auto Vice City (iOS)

It’s hard to believe that Grand Theft Auto: Vice City made its debut ten years ago. It’s even harder to believe that it’s just ten years later and now the game is available for a phone. Could you imagine going back in time and telling 2002 you that in ten years, you’d be playing console and PC games on a device with a five-inch screen without losing any performance? Then again, could you imagine telling 2002 you that a black president was elected – twice? This is exactly the game you remember but without the controller. Go backto Vice City and do it 80′s style all over again.

Allods Adventure HD (iOS)

A fortune has been lost and its up to you to find it. Head into a mythological world filled with crazy puzzles and equally crazy cast of character as you work through tons of puzzles to reach the legendary lost treasure of June. A full story plays out in comic book style as the narrative unravels with each puzzle solved. A total of 29 islands to work through and 48 critters to help along the way makes for tons of combinations and an equal amount of fun.

Heroes of Order and Chaos (Android, iOS)

Though it’s been available on iOS for a little longer, Heroes of Order and Chaos just made its debut on Android this week. Built in the style of the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena games that are dominating the PC gaming market at the moment, Heroes of Order and Chaos brings the popular genre to mobile platforms. Take on challengers with friends or go at it solo as you improve your hero’s skills and battle every baddie that is thrown your way. Thirty different characters are available to play right off the bat and the game utilizes the same free-to-play style that has made it so easy to pick up on the PC.