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Review: Words With Friends - Plus Words With Friends HD, iPad App Details

March 30, 2010


Words With Friends is a crossword game that lets you play up to 20 games simultaneously, with your friends or random opponents and notifies you when it's your turn. It's like Scrabble, but you play your turn when you're ready. You can invite friends via email, Twitter and Facebook, let the app find you someone to play against or simply pass your iDevice between friends to take turns.


- Up to 20 simultaneous games - Push notifications when it's your turn - Search for friends by email or phone number - Post an invitation to Facebook and Twitter - View recent game history - Chat to other players whilst playing a game To play Words With Friends you need to create an account. Standard procedure; Name, email and username. Once this is done you can start testing your linguistic skills. To start a new game tap the '+' in the top right hand corner. From here you can check if any of your contacts are using Words With Friends, search for someone by username, start a 'pass and play' game or find a random opponent. Select 'contact list' from the new game menu, find the contact you wish to play with and Words With Friends will check their player database to see if that person has an account. If they don't, you can choose to send them an email with a link to the app for them to download. If they do have an account, a game will be started between you and them. If you already know the username of someone you want to play against, simply select 'user name', type their name in and away you go. 'Pass and play' is a local two player game; pass the phone to the person whose turn it is. Simple as that. Now if, like me, most of your friends are part of the 'Well, I was going to get an iPhone' crowd, then you're going to need to play against a stranger. Finding a random opponent is almost instant most of the time and if it is taking bit longer to find one, you can exit the app and you will receive a notification when the game is ready to go. The game board is similar to Scrabble and other similar games; squares for double and triple words or letters as well as the obligatory middle square. All of the letters you have are displayed along the bottom of the screen and you can rearrange them as you see fit. When you've decided on the word you want to play, simply drag each letter to the appropriate square on the board. When you're happy, press play then submit. You score will be shown and added to the total in the bottom left. Once your opponent has taken their turn you will be notified either by push notification (if you closed the app) or by another equally delightful in-app sound clip. Play your turn, wait for opponent. Rinse, lather, repeat. When it's your go, you can forfeit your turn to swap some or all of your tiles if you've got nothing but Zs and Qs, skip your turn altogether or resign from the game. It can take a few minutes (or even a few hours) for your opponent to take their turn so you're going to need to do something else to keep you occupied while you wait. Check AppAdvice for news perhaps? Cup of tea? How about another 19 games? That's right, Words With Friends allows you to play up to 20 games at once! To add more games follow the same steps as before. The main menu will show you which games are waiting for you to play your turn, which are waiting for your opponent and which ones you have won or lost (my ratio of losses to wins is about 10:1. Okay, try to stop laughing now). Once a game has finished you can press the rematch button to play again, if you want to play that particular person for a second round. Another fun feature of Words With Friends is the ability to chat to you opponent. Simply select chat from the game screen and chat away. A pair of eyes indicates if your opponent is online or not. The eyes are shown in both the game screen and the main menu.

The Breakdown

The Good: The graphics are nicely designed and simple to use, making Words With Friends easy for anyone to pick up and play. Push notifications for your turn means you can do other things rather than having to stare at the screen refreshing every five minutes waiting for your go. The best thing by far about Words With Friends is the community. There are clearly plenty of people playing so you'll never be without someone to verbally joust with. Being able to find people by username, email or phone number makes it simple to quickly set up a game with one of your friends or relatives. The Bad: One of the small gripes I have with this app occurs when it isn't even my turn. You cannot rearrange your letters until it's your turn. Not a massive problem, but highly annoying when you're trying to plan your next move and your stuck looking at 'oiearhg'. As I said, nothing big but would be a great help to many. Another small issue is in reference to creating a new game from contacts. It's great that I can select someone to search the database for but I wish the app could just check everyone I have in my contacts and tell me who's already got an account. Which brings me onto my third and final problem. Say you play someone a couple of times and enjoyed playing against them. There is no way of adding them as a friend for future games, like you can with Open Feint or Plus+. I would like to have a stored list of people I play on a regular basis, perhaps see how many wins/losses they have had and how many games they are currently playing. To the contrary of what I have said until this point, some users are reporting that the chat function is buggy and that loading times can become long when playing for an extended amount of time. During my testing (some might call it addiction) for this review, I didn't experience any of these issues but I am using a 3GS and the problems mentioned may be with older generation devices.

The Verdict

I'm not a big fan of games but Words With Friends had me hooked as soon as I started playing. I have consistently had a minimum of 15 games running at any one time in the past week and I can't see that amount diminishing any time soon. Even as I'm writing this my iPhone has just informed me it's my turn. To sum up, Words With Friends is addictive. Very addictive. Don't say I didn't warn you. On a related note, Words With Friends is coming to the iPad on April 3rd as Words With Friends HD. The HD version has the same gameplay functionality as its sibling but with an entirely redesigned interface especially for the iPad's far superior screen. The iPad version will get all of your account information from the iPhone version and the game will be compatible between both. This means even if your best friend hasn't managed to get themselves an iPad, you can still beat them (linguistically, of course) to your hearts content. Words With Friends HD will be priced at $4.99 although this could change before the big launch on Saturday.

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