We admit it. We’re addicted to Newtoy’s Words with Friends. If you like Scrabble-like word games and playing with friends or random strangers at your own pace, then you might suffer the same fate as well.
Words with Friends has been around for a while, becoming available for the iPhone last summer. In March, Newtoy had announced that an HD version for the iPad would be forthcoming and it hit the App Store right as the iPad became available. If you’ve been playing on the iPhone, you’ll be happy to know that you can play active games on both your iPhone and iPad – the app automatically syncs the game status through Newtoy’s servers so you don’t have to worry about playing out a game on one device or the other.
How do you play? If you’ve played Scrabble, you already know how. In short, there are 104 letter tiles and each player gets seven to start with. Each tile has a point value assigned to it. You must create words on the game board using your tiles and you accumulate points based on the values of the tiles you’ve placed. You earn bonuses by placing letters over specially-marked tiles. That’s it in a nutshell. Newtoy has posted a rulebook here.
In order to play Words with Friends, you must first create a new account. Once you create an account, you must designate a unique user name – this user name is how others can easily find you to start a new game with you.
Once you’re set up with an account, you can start a new game in a number of ways. You can search through your contact list and the app will automatically look to see if the selected contact is already playing Words with Friends using their email address or mobile number. If the selected contact does not have a Words with Friends account, you have the option of letting the app send an invitation to play via email.
If you already know another player’s Words with Friends user name, you can enter it to start a game with him or her right away. Or you can choose to play a random opponent and Words with Friends will find someone for you to play with. If the person you want to play with is right next to you, there’s a pass-and-play option that allows you to just hand your iPad back and forth to play the game.
Words with Friends is explicitly about playing with others, so if you’re looking to play against an AI system, you’re out of luck and Electronic Arts’ official Scrabble game ($4.99) would be a better option since it offers this.
Words with Friends lets you play at your own pace with a generous window of about three weeks before a game is ended if no moves have been made. You can receive push notifications to let you know when it’s your turn, which is handy if you like to keep games moving along. In the early days of Words with Friends, we encountered a lot of delays for the server to register moves, though this has been addressed and we find playing on our iPads and iPhone to be pretty smooth for the most part.
Words with Friends also has an in-game chat feature that will let you send short messages to an opponent in an active game, which is entirely suitable for taunts about your skills or lamentations about the letters in your tile rack.
We love Words with Friends and how easy it makes it to play this well-known word game with just about anyone around the world. We have one tiny gripe about the game – you can only play in portrait orientation on the iPad (and iPhone, for that matter, though it’s particularly noticeable with the iPad given its larger screen). But that’s it. If you love word games and want to play live people instead of a computer using your iPad, Words with Friends HD will let you do that easily.