Lara Croft GO ($5) — Square Enix Montréal follows up on last year’s Hitman GO with a new “GO” instalment similarly based on a popular console game franchise. Like its predecessor, instead of replicating the console game onto the iOS device, Lara Croft GO creates a turn based puzzle adventure game set in the same game universe. In a game that feels like a cross between Hitman GO and Monument Valley — another one of our favorite games of last year — Lara Croft GO has you exploring the ruins of an ancient civilization to search for objects, and solving puzzles to route your way through each level to uncover the myth of the Queen of Venom. The game includes more than 75 puzzles split across five chapters, and uses simple tap-to-move controls to navigate step-by-step through each maze, taking turns to avoid obstacles and unlock new paths.
Instagram (free) — With this update, the popular photo sharing network makes a departure from its traditional square aspect ratios, opening up the app to sharing photos and videos in both landscape and portrait orientations. While it may seem like a small, and perhaps obvious change, it’s kind of a big deal for the service that pretty much defined photo sharing as something to be done only with square photos.
Pocket (free) — Version 6.0 of the original “read-it-later” app expands the experience by adding a new recommendation engine to help provide additional articles of interest based on the history of what you’ve saved to Pocket previously. A new tab view now appears at the top, separating your own saved content (“My List”) from the new “Recommended” list. Suggested articles can be read right from this list, or easily saved to your main reading list using a “Save” button at the bottom of each one.
Scanbot (free) — With version 4.0, this sophisticated iOS-based document scanning app gets a major facelift and some useful new features to improve your scanning workflow. The new design makes the app more intuitive and frictionless, and new Workflows and Quick Actions use the company’s document intelligence technology to allow you to take advantage of automated processes for dealing with your scanned documents. A workflow could be created, for example, to automatically upload a scanned document to Google Drive and share it via email with a single tap. The new Quick Actions feature allows users to act directly on the information contained in a scanned document, through optical character recognition. For example, a phone phone number, URL, and address could be extracted from a restaurant receipt, allowing users to open the web page, call the restaurant, or get directions with a single tap. Scanbot also continues to support a wide variety of cloud providers to save scanned documents to the cloud, with version 4 adding support for Microsoft OneNote and direct upload to FTP servers.
Vine (free) — In recent years, music has become a central focus for many social networks and other companies, and despite Twitter’s failed attempt to bring social discussions around music with Twitter #Music, which the company shut down earlier this year, it’s now back with “music on Vine.” While the approach is different, the implied goal remains similar — to get users to bring music to their social and creative experiences. Users can browse through music-based vines created by other users, or create their own videos and add music from their own collection to their six-second clips. A “Featured Tracks” section lets you discover music that’s available on Vine, and when you’re watching a Vine with music, tapping the music note will show track info. When creating your own Vines, you can add loops from your iOS Music library, either choosing to automatically snap to the beat or pick your own loop from a given track. It’s an ambitious approach that will probably excite many Vine users and may even make the service more interesting for those who are merely casual users right now.