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Crosswords are one of the world’s favorite pastimes. Sudoku has gained a lot of ground these past few years (although the real sudoku craze has largely calmed down) but this old time-waster isn’t going anywhere. It’s one of the big puzzle totems, and it’s here to stay.
But the world around is evolving. Paper sheets are making way for rows of pixels. The newspapers are slowly (but steadily) giving way to online news; on your computer and on your tablet. Just take a look at Steve Campbell’s iPad crossword app review titled 5 Amazing News Apps For The iPad. Even old and archived news papers are finding their way online.
As with newspapers and magazines, crosswords are going digital. Now, this isn’t a bad thing. Come to think of it, there are few better ways to enjoy crosswords. You might miss your coffee-stained, pencil-marked newspaper friends at first, but the iPad is a crossword wonder. Leave your eraser at home and carry a year’s worth of puzzle books wherever you go. And if you have to wait for a spell, you have your puzzles to hand, whether you’re queuing or commuting.
Below, you’ll find a round-up of some of the best crossword apps for the iPad.
Daily Quick Crossword Puzzles (Free)
This app is ideal for beginners to crossword puzzles or non-native English speakers. As you might suspect from its name (not all crosswords can be adequately described as ‘quick’) and its colourful interface, Daily Quick Crossword Puzzles is a light crossword app, offering small and relatively easy crossword puzzles.
The app can be downloaded for free, and although additional crossword packs can be acquired through in-app purchases, the daily crossword is free as well. Besides today’s crossword, you can freely play around with the past nine days worth of crosswords. However, once you’ve completed a crossword, you won’t be able to access it again.
The New York Times crosswords are notoriously hard, but also among the most popular paper crosswords. The NYTimes Crosswords app is aimed at crossword veterans. After downloading the app for free, you can access today’s New York Times crossword. For more puzzle pleasure, or if you want o bridge a few days with a single crossword, you’ll have to unlock premium content via in-app purchases.
Puzzle packs of all difficulties can be purchased for around $2, with each pack providing a good 30 crosswords. Alternatively, you can subscribe to the New York Times crossroads, giving you access to the daily puzzles, as well as the archive containing over 4000 puzzles! A subscription will set you back a yearly $16.99, a biyearly $9.99 or a monthly $2.99. Don’t forget if you’re stuck, Saikat Basu’s list of 7 Quick Tools To Solve Crossword Puzzles Online may provide a helping hand.
Crosswords is arguably the best crossword app out there, but it’s also one of the most expensive. Acquiring the app will set you back an initial $9.99. This gives you access to an impressive amount of free daily crossword puzzles, including (but not limited to) those of Crossword Nation, NY Times Classic, Newsday, People, Premier Crosswords, Washington Post, Independent Concise and The Herald Cryptic.
If that isn’t enough, you can tune-in to several premium crossword providers, including American Values, Crooked Crosswords, New York Times and the Telegraph (Cryptic and Quick) by entering your premium subscription information in the app’s preferences.
The interface is a joy to use and although app-specific keyboards have a tendency to work only haphazardly, the Crosswords’ keyboard has a high-quality feel to it. With the Skip, Rebus (a 10-letter notepad) and Flip buttons mixed among the other keys, navigating the clues feels effortless. If you can afford to spend the $9.99 on a crossword app, Crossroads is the app to buy.
CRUX Crosswords ($4.99)
At $4.99, CRUX Crosswords costs half as much as the Crosswords app discussed above. That may still be twice as much as some other crossword apps, but CRUX Crosswords gives you great value for your money. It’s the premier alternative to the Crosswords app for crossword enthusiasts.
Like Crosswords, CRUX gets its puzzles from a wide variety of crossword sources. These include the NY Times Classic, People Magazine, Thinks.com, The Washington Post, The Globe and Mail, and Independent. Enter your premium subscription credentials in CRUX’s settings to gain access to crosswords from The American Values Club, Crooked Crosswords, New York Times and The Telegraph.
CRUX manages to provide an intuitive paper-like interface without losing any of the beautiful simplicity you’d expect from a quality puzzling app. Interesting features that give CRUX an additional edge over its competitors are its support for user profiles (great for a shared tablet in a puzzle loving home) and the different crossword views that make navigating clues a breeze. For instance, you can highlight related clues, as shown in the right-side screenshot.
Montessori Crosswords ($2.99) (For Kids)
This probably isn’t the crosswords app you’ll end up with, but Montessori Crosswords is a great app to introduce very small children to crossword-like word games, and even learn them how to spell. Each word is depicted by an icon. Press the word to hear its prononciation, and press the letters at the bottom of the screen to hear phonics.
Spelling is built up from simple words like sun and cat to harder words like thread. Over 300 hundred of these word-audio combinations are available through the app. Don’t worry, I’m not disgracing this list with a simple spelling app; the puzzles are also available in crossword form, with two or three words interwoven on the iPad’s screen. This won’t be the app you’ll use to pass your time, but it’s a great choice to pass on your puzzling legacy to the next generation. And when the kids grow more proficient, you can create your own crosswords to add to their curriculum.
Do you still make your crosswords with pencil and paper, or have you started going digital as well? Let us know your app choices — for crosswords and other types of puzzles — in the comments section below this article!