The 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 culminated with a thrilling victory for the rookie driver Alexander Rossi on Sunday. While most of us will never get to actually drive a racecar in real life, we can experience some of the drama through racing apps on our phones or tablets.
GT Racing 2 is one of my favorite racing apps because of the game’s attention to detail. If you ding the bumper of another car during a race, for example, it hangs off and bumps around just as the real thing would, and the engine sounds become convincingly echoey when the course goes through a tunnel. This realism makes the app feel as if it’s half racing simulator, half arcade game.
Among GT Racing 2’s arcade features are automatic braking and steering assistance. These keep players racing and stop collisions from happening too often, which is a common problem when playing a new racing game. The assistance features can be turned off when players are ready.
GT Racing 2 includes many different racing venues and styles, as well as the option to upgrade to different high-performance street cars or old, souped-up classics. It has a clear interface and not too many choices or controls, so when using the app people spend most of their time actually racing.
The game is free, but there are a few pop-up advertisements and requests that can become annoying, including some that pester people to buy in-app expansions or rate the app. GT Racing 2 is available for iOS and Android.
Fast and Furious Legacy, which is my second-favorite racing game app, has much more of an arcade-game experience. It has a story line that progresses as you race in street drag events, outrun police cars and so on. The app also has pop-up instructions and story details that include images of characters from the “Fast and Furious” movies.
The app automatically handles much of the “driving” of a car, and the controls are pretty basic — often just touching the screen steers a vehicle around obstacles. But it’s visually quite thrilling and lots of fun, and as the game advances, you can collect around 50 cars from the movies and add custom paint jobs and wheels.
Fast and Furious Legacy’s features include the ability to race head-to-head with friends who have the app, and even chat with them. It’s free to download on iOS and Android, but some extras, like special cars, cost around $3 and up.
Asphalt 8: Airborne is one of the most impressive racing apps for mobile users for one reason: stunning graphics.
This game is not a realistic racing simulator by any means. It’s full of crazy stunts and situations that owe more to the fiction of racing films than real-life high-technology racecars, with explosions and spectacular crashes aplenty. You race your chosen car using tilt controls, but the app automatically manages complicated things like selecting gears, so you can concentrate on fulfilling your need for speed.
The app is full featured, borrowing a lot of game design from the sort of racing apps found on gaming consoles. Complex features let you tune your engine, buy new cars and personalize the look and feel of the game. If you are impatient, you can speed through the settings to get out on the track quickly and into a race.
Asphalt 8 looks even better on a mobile device than on the television screen (where it’s already a popular Apple TV app). The interface is easier to navigate and the gameplay is even more satisfying — there’s something about having the screen in your hand as you race. The big display of an iPad creates an eye-popping experience that can be disorienting at first: You find yourself twisting your head left and right when speeding around freakishly tight bends.
The app’s amazing graphics and special effects are particularly exciting when zooming through busy city streets, or looping through unfinished tunnels beneath a mountain.
Among the many car racing apps out there, these three offer the most excitement and the best graphics. Fire them up and enjoy some digital high-octane fun.
Flo Music is a new attempt at creating collaborative music playlists — the sort of digital trick that could add a social angle to the tunes at your next party. Groups of as many as 10 people can connect their phones over Wi-Fi and add songs to a shared playlist from their Spotify or SoundCloud accounts, making everyone a party D.J. It’s free on iOS.