When we talk about mobile apps that are based on word challenges, there are two key apps in the App Store that snatch the majority of the attention. The first is 2 Across and the second, Crosswords. While both apps are similar in execution and in terms of functionality, and both offer an endless supply of downloadable crosswords to grapple with, there are fine distinctions between the two that garner different followings. It appears that both apps have a popular following and the good news is that once downloaded, it is possible to use the app without WiFi access.
The developer of 2 Across, Eliza Block, is a graduate student in philosophy. She took up iPhone programming as a hobby, and ended up writing 2 Across for her own entertainment, as she was unable to find crossword puzzles to solve on her iPhone. This is her first foray into app programming. By contrast, StandAlone.com, the developer of Crosswords, is an established company that primarily focused on development of programs for Palm devices. Crosswords is their first iPhone app.
Head2Head: A comparison of app features between Crosswords and 2 Across
2 Across provides zoomable portrait views of the crossword puzzle. It is possible to simply tap on the number of crossword tile, in order to select the word to be solved. In addition, this app has a unique feature in the form of being able to type words in pen or pencil. This particular feature is an opportunity to lock in words that the puzzler is confident about, and to put in pencil words that may need to be changed later. For the newbie puzzler, this is ideal. There are also multiple views of the crossword available, although with the standard view, the keyboard remains hidden. It is also possible to check and reveal individual letters, and this is a great tool for individuals who want the joy of solving crossword puzzlers, but who may falter along the way. There is a Clue Bar available for players who need a little nudge.
By contrast, Crosswords provides a compressed keyboard that is onscreen throughout, and while solving puzzles, this is not obtrusive at all. A particularly unique feature is Crosswords’ landscape mode when turning the iPhone to its side. This provides a split view on one screen of a mini keyboard and a list of clues, and of course the crossword itself.
Comparatively, while Crosswords only provides the full word when requested, 2 Across assists players by providing hints by individual letters. For first time crossword players, this can be a boon as it builds on the scale of the crossword without interfering with the experience of play. In terms of play, Crosswords simplifies the use with a list view of all the clues. The problem with Crosswords when in landscape mode is that it is not possible to get any hints while there. If hints are required, it will be necessary to shift to portrait mode again. Since this is not difficult to do on the iPhone, there should actually be no issue with this.
While both apps enjoy a 4+ rating in the App Store, it is clear that Crosswords has upgraded its versions in order to fine-tune the app and this has enhanced its positioning. 2 Across too has enhanced its versions to make corrections to minor problems with the app. The biggest draw for avid puzzlers is the degree of connectivity to popular crossword puzzle platforms such as the NY Times and other related newspapers.
Currently, 2 Across is sold at $5.99 compared to Crosswords at $9.99.
In a nutshell
Both apps are great for crossword puzzlers, bearing in mind that both provide challenging opportunities. However for the crossword newbie, the better alternative appears to be 2 Across which provides more personalized support in the form of clues and individual letter hints. For experienced puzzlers, Crosswords will probably be the more mentally challenging app, although intrinsically the crosswords are the same, it is only the support that is different.
Bearing in mind that 2 Across is Eliza Block’s first foray into an iTunes app, it is really quite good. StandAlone of course has vast experience in this arena and have enhanced their offerings to Android as well. This is of course more expensive, and that is certainly a factor to be considered so my vote goes to the cheaper app for the amount of fun it brings.
Head2Head winner: 2 Across
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