Across Lite Crosswords by Literate Software recently made the leap from Mac/PC to mobile with the release of a new app for iPad. The app, which is free to download, offers all of the features of a paid app, such as Crux HD (PadGadget = 4.5 stars). Across Lite adds a feature that many other crossword apps (and most paper puzzles) lack: the ability set the app’s level of difficulty. While this may not attract logophiles who do the Saturday New York Times crossword in ink, it does allow for anyone who finds crossword puzzles intimidating to give them a try.
The “Lite” in the title is deceptive, for unlike many free apps, this one is substantial. In addition to the 10 puzzles included with the app, users can easily download free, high quality puzzles from a wide range of sources including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and (my favorite) The Onion. A Wi-Fi or 3G connection is needed to download the puzzles, but not to complete puzzles that are already stored within the app.
After setting the user mode to beginner, intermediate, or expert, solving a puzzle is an enjoyable affair. Users have a choice of pen or pencil, handwriting or type font, and can view the puzzle in portrait or landscape orientation, as well as in “page” or “list” view. List view shows all the clues at once, while page view focuses on the section of the puzzle being completed.
One big difference between solving a puzzle with Across Lite versus solving one on paper is that the app can be configured to instantly tell the user if a letter is incorrect. Users can also check or reveal a correct letter, word, or even the entire puzzle — but where would the fun in that be?
Notably, the app doesn’t automatically move through all of the across clues in sequence before proceeding to the down clues. Instead it uses what Literate Software refers to as SmartMove™ which they suggest, “captures a method experts instinctively use to solve in a criss-cross manner leveraging previously entered letters.” Solving with SmartMove™ will lead the user to complete the puzzles upper-left corner first and lower-right corner last, assuming she isn’t stumped by a clue.
Across Lite is available as a free download from the App store.
For an additional $4.99, users can purchase a premium pack that allows them to trick out the app with different background colors, touch sensitivity settings, and more perks. Lit Soft hasn’t forgotten those users who really want to improve their puzzle solving skills either. For those users seeking more instruction can download Across Crossword Trainer for $6.99 and learn how experts approach the task of finishing even the toughest puzzles.
What I liked: The UI was intuitive.The choice of puzzles was broad.
What I didn’t like: The lack of a full-featured keyboard, and general need to tap out letters on the side of the made the app less enjoyable to use. The UI also leans a bit toward the juvenile. For example, one needs to tap the “magic pencil” in order to access many of the features. Just because users are crossword novices doesn’t imply they are also incapable of navigating through an app.
To buy or not to buy: As a free app, Across Lite’s features are as robust as many similar paid apps, and most users won’t need to upgrade to the premium version. The ability to adjust the difficulty level means that most people who want to do crosswords should be able to find just the right level of challenge using the app.
- App Name: Across Lite Crosswords
- Version Reviewed: 3.0
- Category: Games
- Developer: Literate Software
- Price: Free, $4.99 for premium version