Developer: Electronic Arts Inc.
Price: $7.99 Download on the App Store
Scrabble was invented by Alfred Mosher Butts, an out-of-work architect, during the Great Depression. Hmm, I wonder whether it's coincidence that Electronic Arts has just released its version of the popular word game for the iPhone, or a sign the economy is set to go further down the drain?
If you know how to work a crossword, then you know how to play Scrabble. How true is EA's version to the real thing? Pretty close, with a few extras mashed in.
The app's rules are almost the same as those of the Scrabble board game. Both rely on the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, 4th Edition. Some significant differences between the virtual and real: If you attempt to spell a word that's not in the dictionary, you can recall your tiles and try again. I didn't catch the computer making any mistakes for me to challenge either! Finally, there's a "best word hint" mode that leaves it to the computer to figure out the best combo of tiles you should play. No self-respecting Scrabble player would want those features.
Still, game play is high-class. You double tap to zoom the board and drag and drop tiles. You've got a shuffle button if you want to mix up your tiles automatically instead of manually. Shaking the iPhone scrambles the tiles in the bag. In sum, this Scrabble app takes advantage of all the iPhone's capabilities in a way that simulates playing the physical board game.
The one thing I'd like is to be able to pick up and drop a tile. As is, you can't point at a tile and then the square where you want it to go. It's not a deal breaker, but the option would be useful.
With Scrabble you can play against the computer or against another player over Wi-Fi. There are three levels: Easy, Normal and Hard. I'm a regular Scrabble player, although no where near expert level, and I found the Normal mode too easy. My iPhone average was 50-60 points higher than my board-game average.
Earlier, App Store reviewers complained about load times and flaky app behavior. I'm playing version 1.0.53 and find it loads in about 10 seconds. It hasn't crashed on me yet, either.