More than 1 million people are using apps and browser extensions each week from Disconnect, the anti-tracking, anti-ad targeting startup to block how third-party sites track your online movements and then serve ads based on those movements. Now it's taking its campaign to the next generation. Today, the company is launching Disconnect Kids, a free iOS app designed specifically for children (and their parents) to help them control how their web- and app-browsing activity is used, and to educate them about online privacy in the process.
‘Mama Said There’d Be Months Like This’
Sorry I’ve been MIA. Hopefully you caught my last post from June that explained that I have been very sick. I am feeling much, much better now! Thanks to all my loyal readers for your patience & concern.
I’m back now, though, & I hope that will continue to be true for the foreseeable future.
I am WAY behind in answering emails. If you’ve emailed me & I haven’t responded yet, I apologize. I am trying to get caught up in that area & I promise I will respond as soon as possible.
I wrote about half of the following post almost 2 months ago. I finished it up today. I hope it still flows together nicely & makes sense. It’s awfully long, but it has a ton of tiny tips, reviews, & iOS info that may be helpful to almost any user. & yes, these are mini-reviews. If you’re a regular reader, you know how long a normal review of 1 app is when written by me!
Lastly, I will be doing an iOS 7 info & rumor roundup as soon as I can get caught up on what’s going on in the iOS news world. As with everything else, I’m a little behind on what’s what there.
Okay, on with the show!
Every App But the Kitchen Sink
To distract myself, I often do “research” in the App Store. By research, I mean that I get a random idea of an app or category of apps that I am interested in or absolutely need, & then I spend hours in the App Store chasing down exactly what that is.
While looking for the exact right app, I also download everything else that looks interesting. I often get sidetracked by interesting apps & end up doing another line of research that can then spiral into another line of research & so on.
It may sound like a mess, but I am extremely methodical in my searching.
Lack of ‘Order & Organization’
By the time I’m done, I find myself with pages of apps (like the 6 you see in photos above & below this section from my most recent research spree) on both of my iDevices that I’ll need to test. I am very strict with my organization on my devices. Until I know how an app works, it does not go into 1 of my neatly organized & Emoji titled folders.
These free-range apps remain uncategorized until I get to them to test them & make sure I know how they work.
I had to make an exception about folders on my iPhone this time, because I literally ran out of pages to put apps on.
Tip: You only get 10 pages, plus the home page to put apps on. So, I put all the apps I downloaded over the past few days into folders on 1 page to wait for testing (see bottom photo below). I am not yet sure how or if this will change with iOS 7, since you will be able to put pages of apps inside each folder.
In the Cloud
My most recent research phase began about about 4 days ago & ended yesterday (UPDATE: this all took place in June). It began with a search for cloud storage for my 14,000 photos currently busting the seams of the memory capacity of my iPhone & iPad.
Researching cloud storage (I already have Dropbox, Box, & MegaCloud, plus Apple’s iCloud), I really was looking for something that could hold all the photos I have & will have, with background uploading, & easy access to the photos to use them for projects, if I needed to.
& of course, it has have an app & be iOS friendly.
One of the solutions I am considering is Flickr’s new terabyte of space that they offer all users. (UPDATE: I signed up for Flickr, but I’ve decided it’s not really a “storage” place for me. I feel pressure to share photos that I upload, although it is not a rule, & so I tend not to load to many photos. At least as of yet.)
Top 20 Finds
I’ll let you know which cloud storage solution I’m trying out in just a minute. In fact, I’ll give you a run-down of 20 apps that really caught my eye during this 3-day research extravaganza.
All 20 apps were chosen because of their innovativeness in doing something I hadn’t seen before in any other app, or because of the flawless way they executed a task that may not be original, but that felt that way with these apps.
A Few Detours
Whenever you search for anything big in the App Store (or Google, or anywhere), you always end up with strange things that don’t seem to belong to the search criteria you’ve entered. I don’t know about you. Maybe you just skip over those things & ignore them. I just physically can’t make myself ignore them.
I’m sure I found a thing or 2 among the cloud storage apps that interested me, but it was when I was searching Flickr apps (3rd-party ones, like in the photo above) that I started to find strange & wonderful apps I had never seen or heard of but that instantly caught my attention.
Next, I chased greeting card makers. I thought I already owned all of them.
But, the thing about the App Store is that you can own every app in a category. But, wait 5 minutes & you’ll be shocked at how many new apps pop up in that category.
Somehow, I followed Facebook apps out of the greeting card area. I remember searching for an iPad Facebook app a few years ago when I 1st got my iPad.
My how things have changed! There are some absolutely outstanding 3rd-party Facebook apps that do just about everything, & many things you’d never even think of (at least not until I tell you about them).
There were some other narrow roads & blind alleys I followed that didn’t lead anywhere exciting, but I still managed to find apps there, too.
By the numbers
I ended up with 84 new iPad apps to try & an astounding 168 new iPhone apps! That’s 252 apps in 3 days, but that number doesn’t include the games I routinely search for on a daily basis & apps I found in AppShopper Social.
What’s funny is that of the 252 apps I downloaded (only a fraction of which will survive testing), I only actually paid for a handful of them, & probably spent about $10.
I got lucky with many of them, & many of them are lite versions. So, once I test them, I could end up spending more through upgrading the apps I like.
The actual number of apps I downloaded over that 3-day period is probably closer to 300. Even for me, that’s a lot, & it is going to take me a LONG while to get caught up again with all of those apps just waiting to be tested. On an average day, I download anywhere from 10 to 30 apps. However, “average” days are sporadic where apps are concerned.
But, that’s just the way the ebb & flow of my iDevice life goes. I own close to 6,000 iOS apps currently.
I almost consistently have 1,000+ apps on each device, & I try to know what each of them does. However, I routinely have to cull out apps I’m not really using to make way for new apps or to get my memory back up to a respectable level.
Well, I’ve rambled on long enough about this (& I hope you found some of it interesting!).
So, let’s take a look at the Top 20 apps I found on my App Store adventure.
The Top 20 App Finds: Mini-Reviews
I haven’t had a chance to thoroughly use any of the following apps to the extent I would if I were writing a real review. I may write full reviews on some of them in the future.
What I really want to point out today are the features that make these apps unique & why they stand out from the crowd.
Without further ado & in no particular order …
MyShoebox – Photo Backup and Cloud Storage (universal, FREE, subscription offered)
I found the perfect solution for my photo woes when I discovered MyShoebox. The app is highly rated & has been talked up by almost every major news source.
MyShoebox offers unlimited photo storage for FREE, but the photos are only saved at screen resolution, which is not so good & can’t be used if you want to have them printed in the future or do anything else with them. If you want your photos saved at full/original resolution, it only costs $5 a month. That’s it!
MyShoebox has almost everything I am looking for in a cloud storage service.
I don’t need to save documents (or, if I do, I can use Dropbox, etc.). I just have photos, which is what MyShoebox specializes in.
The only thing I wanted that MyShoebox is lacking is background uploading. Also, the wonderful general interface of the app does not work in landscape mode But, other than those 2 things, MyShoebox is absolutely perfect. I plan on writing a very respectful letter to the developer requesting my 2 desires.
UPDATE: I contacted the MyShoebox developers & their speedy response informed me that they have many things planned for the future of the app that are very exciting!
The universal app for MyShoebox is awesome. It’s not just a window to the cloud where your photos are stored; it is a fun way to look through your photos & learn more about them.
In the photo above, you can see that MyShoebox analyzes your photos & then tells you the most popular cities you took them in, the most common time of day & day of the week, the most common camera you used, & so on. Or, you can look at a timeline of your photos that begins with a Remember When section. You can also start a photo gallery to share with others (they don’t have to have MyShoebox to see the photos, either).
So, I’m going to try MyShoebox out & my hopes are high that it will be all good. I don’t have to worry about running out of GBs. I don’t have to traipse from cloud storage provider to cloud storage provider to find all of my photos stashed piecemeal in the cloud. And, I can finally delete some of the photos I don’t use as much off my devices & gain some much-needed memory & iCloud space.
UPDATE: I have been using MyShoebox now for a few months & I totally love it! It’s exactly what I needed & is so reasonably priced. The app makes it extremely easy to find your photos, share them, redownload them & anything else you may need.
Photo Album for Facebook (universal, $2.99; FREE version here)
There is also an iPhone-only version for $1.99, but if you have an iPad, that version seems silly.
I haven’t had much of a chance to play with this book, but I did already upgrade from the FREE version.
It is a unique way to look at Facebook photos with a vintage feel that can be adjusted using different backgrounds, colors, photo mattes & such.
But, the really cool thing about this Photo Album is that you can choose to look at all the photos currently in your news feed (or jump back years & years to see what was in your news feed long ago). You can also choose to show only your own photos & albums or to show only 1 friend’s photos or a group of friends photos.
You can also sort photos out by tags, but I’m not sure how that works yet.
With real page-flip technology, Photo Album for Facebook is just the best way to look at Facebook photos. Oh, & you can even leave “likes” & comments on photos from within the app. There are a ton of Facebook photo album organizers, but this 1 is the best I have seen or tried & it’s also the least amount of work for you to do. It’s all done for you & it’s done perfectly.
Try the FREE version, but I almost guarantee you’ll switch to the paid version.
Printicular (universal, FREE)
I knew you could send your iOS Camera Roll photos to Walgreens to get prints using the Walgreens app, but I had no idea that Walgreens also accepted photos from so many other digital sources & that there is an app that lets you browse & select photos to be printed from all those sources.
In the past few years, I transitioned into a fully digital girl. I prefer looking at my photos digitally in cool app formats & virtual collage/scrapbooks. I like knowing my photos won’t get ruined or age & being able to make art out of the same photo over & over & over.
But, I wasn’t always a digital girl.
I used to be the girl who saved up all her money to get tons & tons of rolls of film developed. & I have to admit, if Walgreens makes it this easy to get prints from all the places I’ve stashed photos (which is every place on that list in the photo above), I may just have to get some of them made real.
I wonder if they can ship them to your house, too? That’d make this all perfect!
FEED PRO FOR FACEBOOK + CHAT & PHOTO STUDIO (iPhone only, FREE)
Despite the name only including Facebook and Facebook Chat, FEED PRO also incorporates Twitter into its gesture-driven, minimalistic app. The app is FREE, & I haven’t seen any ads yet. It is not iPhone 5 friendly, but I can look past that (I think).
There’s a handy button in the corner that lets you to add content of any kind to Facebook or Twitter with little fuss. A cool & uncommon feature I have yet to try out is the full-featured photo editor.
UPDATE: I heartily apologize, but when I was checking to make sure links work, I discovered that this app is no longer available to U.S. App Store customers!
Pop-up Album (universal, FREE with in-app purchases)
Anyone who finds traditional photo albums boring & scrapbooks too flat is definitely in for a treat with Pop-up Album. This FREE-to-try app ($1.99 in-app purchase for additional content) lets you create as many pop-up photo/text/fun cut-out books as you want & the app lines them up on a bookshelf.
Almost everything can be modified in Pop-up Album, from the cover of the book to the background behind the book to the material of the pages themselves. And, everything you add to the book is 3D pop-up, even the text.
Placing items is intuitive & when you’re done, you can turn on a slide-show feature to watch your creations pop up & fold down as the pages turn, all hands-free.
The book itself can be turned & looked at from almost every angle. This is a lot of fun to play with.
My 1 BIG Wish for Pop-up Album is additional fonts for the pop-up text you add. Right now, there is only 1 font
300+ Handmade Cards HD (iPad; iPhone version here; $1.99 each)
There are FREE lite versions of this app, but I didn’t include them because they literally let you look at 1 card & 1 card only, which is ridiculous & useless.
However, if you buy the full app & get a good look at all of the cards, you’ll be charmed.
The whole app looks kid-drawn & is set up like a school room. You can choose crayon-drawn cards in 16 categories to send via email or Facebook.
This is a simple app. There are no adjustments to be made on the cards. You just pick a picture card you like & send it off. You can add the cards you like best to the Favorites section & you can watch all the cards in a slide-show.
300+ is a really cute app! I think people who just want a card to send with no extra work will absolutely love this app, because there is just nothing else you can do with it. The crayon-drawn art is what really sets 300+ apart from the pack.
UPDATE: My face is red! This has never happened to me before, but when checking links, I also found that this app is no longer offered in the U.S. App Store.
Lifelike Cards HD Free for iPad (iPad only, FREE; pro version here, $3.99)
Now, this app is absolutely going to WOW you! Lifelike Cards HD has thousands of gorgeous images from Flickr organized into every category imaginable & arranged on a realistic-looking 3D rotating card rack. It even squeaks as you turn it around in a circle!
The FREE version of Lifelike Cards HD (it just says Cards HD in the App Store) lets you browse cards for the current holiday (which is still Father’s Day, right now).
No matter the holiday or reason for needing a card, the full version of Lifelike Cards HD has you covered.
You can browse cards by category, occasion, & place (there are more than 100 cities). Each time you change the category with the drop-down lists at the top (top photo), the 3D rack fills up with new cards. Spin it, scroll down the rack, & browse until you find the perfect card.
When you find a card you like, you can choose to to just save the photo or email it to someone, or you can make it into a postcard or greeting card to be personalized & digitally sent to whomever you choose (bottom photo above). The options for personalizing the card are astonishing.
You can change the color of the background & accents, change the style of the accents, make the font bigger or smaller, change the color of the ink, & pick from a long list of original & realistic-looking handwriting fonts. With these fonts, the completed card looks just like you wrote it all by hand.
Hit send & you can email it, Tweet it, post it to Facebook, or print it out with an AirPrint-enabled printer.
I’d LOVE to see this app team up with a company like Sincerely, so you could send these cards for real.
Draw It On Facebook (universal, FREE)
You don’t need to have a great deal of skill at drawing or painting to create original statuses to share using Draw It On Facebook. This FREE, ad-free app gives you plenty of help so you can surprise your friends, even if all you can draw are stick figures.
If you press the button that looks like a stack of photos, you will discover a ton of backgrounds, outlines, & accents that you can use to color around, paint, or write a message on.
Get creative & you’ll have an awesome, original Facebook status in no time.
The palette spins to give you a choice of colors & tools to draw/paint with. Press the f button when you’re ready to post & you can post it with no comment or add a comment to explain yourself. You can also choose where to share it & tag friends.
A few things I’d like to see improved in this app: a more mature & refined user interface that doesn’t look like a kid’s coloring app; a color-picker that doesn’t limit you to a few choices on a spinner; & at least 1 more tool to let you handwrite or draw thinner lines.
The interface for picking a background/accent needs to be overhauled, too. Right now, you have as much luck finding things by randomly pressing buttons as you do trying to systematically look through all the options.
But, even with the problems, you won’t find another app like Draw It in the App Store currently. It’s a ton of fun & will surprise your Facebook friends.
Funny Status Updater (universal, FREE)
There are a zillion apps available in the App Store to provide you with a funny/clever/unusual/wise/etc. Facebook status’ to use. This app isn’t like all the others.
Funny Status Updater is a Mad Libs-style status creator. You can choose a category (or press random), but after that, you’re flying blind.
There are no lists of statuses to comb through. You just get a page that asks you for a few words. Once you fill in the blanks with the verb/adjective/person/noun/etc. that are asked for, you press Done & like magic, up pops your status, ready to be posted.
The funniest status I’ve created so far is a quote: “platypus is fleeting, but omelet is forever.” — Napoleon
You don’t have to publish every status you create. Just like Mad Libs, some results are hilarious, while others fall flat.
SOS One Click (iPhone only, FREE with in-app purchases)
A mini-detour in my research took me to a group of safety apps where I indulged my raging paranoia (& accidentally dialed 911 while testing an app).
My favorite of the safety bunch is definitely SOS One Click, a new app that was released in April. You set up One Click by entering your personal information, trusted contacts (can be imported from Contacts), types of emergency situations you may encounter, emergency telephone numbers & emergency messages for different situations.
To add more than 1 trusted contact, you must upgrade through an in-app purchase of 99 cents.
If an emergency strikes, you’ll be prepared.
All you have to do is open the app & press Text and/or Email to send the appropriate emergency message. With the message, your location via a map link & address is sent to your trusted contacts. All of this only takes 1 or 2 button pushes.
If you’ve signed into Facebook, Twitter, or Sina Weibo, you can also press Share so that your emergency message & location are sent to your social network friends.
Press Call to dial 911 or any other emergency number you’ve selected. (It immediately dials, so don’t press it unless you really need to call them!)
The only thing missing from One Click is an alarm to surprise attackers & attract help from nearby people.
iSocialize+ (iPhone only, 99 cents; FREE version here)
iSocialize+ is a powerhouse app. There’s no way I could even begin to cover everything it does in a few short paragraphs. But, I’ll try
What iSocialize+ does:
- combines full apps for Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, & Google+, with the ability to update your status on all 4 networks with 1 tap.
- includes ability to search YouTube, find images via keywords, search animated emoticons, add frames & effects to your photos, filter your voice, play your music, find famous quotes, search database of jokes & fun facts, read the news, get birthday reminders for your friends, send virtual gifts, & print & ship real postcards.
iSocialize+ has the content & abilities equivalent to 16 different apps all from 1 central control station. You don’t have to check 4 different apps to know what’s going on with your social networks, & you don’t have to buy single apps to get great content to share on those networks. It’s all available right inside iSocialize+.
iUploader (iPhone only, FREE)
This is another app that does the work of many apps all from 1 location. iUploader can shoot, edit, & share as many photos & videos as you want on Facebook (walls, albums, & pages), Twitter, Tumblr, & email all at once.
Take photos or select photos from your Camera Roll & share as many as you want all at once with each of the networks you select.
You can even create albums, add comments, & tag friends before you upload the photos. iUploader can do all of the uploading in the background while you move on to other things. If enabled, iUploader will send you a notification when all of your photos are done uploading.
UPDATE: I just noticed that the developer has discontinued support of this app in favor of a newer app that I like much less. This does not mean that iUploader will not work. It just means that it will no longer get updates or receive support for problems you may encounter.
Flickr Studio (iPad only, $2.99)
This is not a new app to me. In fact, I discovered that I already owned it during this search extravaganza, which was great. There is no offical Flickr app for the iPad like there is for the iPhone, which means if you want to manage your Flickr account & upload photos on the iPad, you need a 3rd-party app. Flickr Studio is by far the best that I found & has very high user ratings in the App Store, as well.
Flickr Studio lets you browse Flickr for interesting photos in many different ways. But, the thing that sets it apart from the rest is the studio section that lets you manage your Flickr account & upload photos, among other things.
Also, Flickr Studio not only lets you batch upload (in the background while the app is closed, no less), but it also lets you batch edit cutlines & add tags to each photo, in addition to providing basic photo editing capabilities. This is really the standout feature I was looking for in a Flickr app for the iPad & it even exceeds the abilities of the official iPhone Flickr app.
Voice Dictation (universal, 99 cents)
If you’re using a newer device & a newer iOS, you may find all these voice dictation apps a bit unnecessary. After all, every screen that has text input also has that little microphone key next to the spacebar that lets you enter text with your voice anyway, right?
This is true, but Voice Dictation by Smart Loft is a very simple, eminently usable app that you may find helpful to use as a message-sharing control center.
With this 1 app, you can decide if you want to send a message by text, email, post to Facebook, or Tweet. The bonus for me is that it reminds me to use my voice in the 1st place. I don’t know how many times I’ve sent a text or email only to realize I could’ve used the voice key, but forgot. When you open an app like this, it’s hard to forget what your intentions are.
There are few controls to this app. Simply choose how you want to send your message, who you want to send it to, & press the button to start dictating. The app has incredible recognition & lets you use the keyboard to make any corrections, if they are necessary. Plus, you can switch the input language among quite a selection of languages.
Voice for Facebook (iPhone, FREE)
I don’t make a habit of reviewing apps I haven’t used, so I feel a little stupid about doing this, but here I go. I downloaded the Voice for Facebook app because it sounds very unique & more than a little awesome. Its ratings are almost 5-star in the App Store. But (and here’s where I feel stupid), I haven’t been able to accomplish what should be a simple task: signing up for the FREE service.
The app (NOT iPhone 5 friendly, which I hate) has quite a bit to fill out when you 1st open it up, but that’s not where the sign-up ends. I tried hitting the Speak tab in the app & it connected me to the service, which didn’t recognize my phone number, so it sent me a text to register. I tried to use the link in the text, but that took me nowhere useful. So, I went directly to the developer website & filled out the little form you see in the photo above. But, when I hit the link to connect Facebook with the service, Safari seemed to have a seizure.
Anyway, I’ll continue to work on it & I’ll contact the developers, but I wanted to include the app because it is very cool.
Voice for Facebook lets you connect via a phone call to your Facebook account, through which you can then listen to your News Feed, update your status by voice (it posts a link to your voice recording, not a dictation of what you said), & you can even like posts by others & leave voice recorded comments!
Due to the extreme coolness of the app & the fact that I may just be mucking up the sign-up, I still encourage you to try Voice for Facebook. It’s FREE, so what can it hurt? And, if you figure out how to sign up, you can teach me what I’m doing wrong
BunnyFacebook (iPhone, FREE)
This is an app that may only appeal to a certain part of the population (or a certain part of each of us that may be better kept hidden), but it is very different, & I couldn’t help but include it in my list of App Store finds.
Bunny Facebook is an app that brings the BUNNY BURNit platform found online to your iPhone. What it does is let you post a status to Facebook with a self-destruct button, so to speak. You just write what you want to write & add a photo, if you choose. Then, you set the message to “volatile” & adjust the volatility timing (when it will be deleted). Said status posts to your profile via BunnyFacebook & then auto-deletes when the volatility timing is up. You can set the timing as low as 1 minute.
I’ll let you use your imagination (be nice!) as to how this app could be used in funny ways.
There is a Pro version called Bunny Pro (for Facebook) that is ad-free & has optional auto-tagging. Auto-tagging removes app-added message which tells how many minutes until your status will be auto-deleted from Facebook.
Cardstore Greeting Cards (iPhone, FREE)
This little app may look familiar if you’re a user of the app justWink Greeting Cards. This is because both apps are by American Greetings (a company that is definitely beating the pants off its competitors in the cool app-building department).
justWink is filled with quirky, humorous cards with a twist; Cardstore is its straight-forward & often heart-warming cousin. Just like justWink, you can open any card & view every side of it by swiping & tapping through it. You’ll find the same system for adding your own typed message & hand-written signature inside the card, plus the ability to add a photo on the inside of the cover of the card.
And, just like justWink, you can send a real, printed copy of the card via snail mail for about $3.50, postage included. The only unfortunate part of this app is that it does NOT allow you to email the card to someone for FREE instead. To send a card, all you have to do is set up an account 1st (just a username & password).
If you don’t have time to make it to the store for a birthday card or you just want to save yourself the trip, Cardstore (& justWink) are great ways to send cards for any occasion. They are just as economical, as well, when you consider the amount you spend on a card, plus postage (plus driving time & gas).
Flower Garden – Grow Flowers and Send Bouquets (universal, $2.99; FREE version here)
If you’re looking for both a relaxing game & an alternative to the standard email greeting cards, you should definitely try Flower Garden (check out the FREE version 1st with its more limited types of included seeds & gardens).
There are a lot of apps that let you simulate growing everything from crops to flowers, but very few have found a way to let you use what you’ve produced virtually.
Flower Garden lets you grow flowers (a limited amount of seed types at 1st, increasing in variety as you “play”) & when they’re finished growing, you can cut them, arrange them in bouquets, & send the virtual bouquets to friends & family via email.
There are a lot of things I could tell you about how you grow the flowers, the different gardens you can grow them in, & how you get seed varieties, but that’ll take a full review. You’re all very clever though. I’m sure you’ll figure out how to use everything if you’re motivated.
SociaLink for Facebook and LinkedIn (iPhone, FREE)
If you’re an active social media user (& who isn’t these days?), you’ve probably met someone & either thought, “I wish I knew how to find them on …” or you’ve looked for them on Facebook or whatever & couldn’t find them because they have a common spelling to their name or you wrote down the spelling wrong or whatever.
SociaLink helps rid you of that problem. Now, when you meet someone whom you wish to connect with on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr, you can instantly find them via Bluetooth (if they have SociaLink) & send friend requests or follow them.
It’s akin to exchanging social business cards. If they don’t have the app, you can share all of your social media profile links, along with a link to SociaLink, via email. It’s like having an unlimited supply of social media business cards with up-to-date info on each of your social media profiles at your disposal.
secure.me for Facebook (iPhone, FREE)
You’re may be thinking, “not Another Facebook app,” but I assure you that this 1 is worth it (but, I guess I think that of all the ones I featured, though, huh?). This app is less about Facebook, though, & more about your security both on Facebook & in using apps.
What secure.me does is scan all the apps you have connected to your Facebook account (both apps you use on Facebook & apps on your device that connect to Facebook for various reasons). It then tells you the reputation of the app based on a number of factors.
It lets you know which apps have access to personal data & what actions each app can perform. It’ll even tell you if the app has sent requests or invites to your friends.
secure.me also scans your friend’s profiles to see how many have secure networks & how many do not (only 11 of more than 300 friends are secure according to my personal scan).
The app also helps you be secure before you connect by letting you search for apps by name so you can see what their reputation is before you use them. If they have a poor reputation, secure.me tells you exactly why that is & how many reports have been made.
The End (almost)
Well, that’s it for my arrival back at iOS Affairs. Hopefully this lengthy read doesn’t sway you from meeting me back here tomorrow for another look at another app.
That’s it for me today. Until later, …
iOS. It's becoming more of a legitimate gaming platform by the day. Since the last article of this nature got such a welcome response, I've been thinking of, and listing up, games ever since although honestly I've been playing so much Prison Architect that everything else in my life has come second place. Sorry family, friends and employment.
I'm reblogging this useful & funny iOS game review both because of my writing absence (have you noticed?) & because Hedge (the writer) is one of my favorite bloggers at Funk's House of Geekery.
His taste in games may vary a bit from mine at times, but he is an excellent writer (he actually knows how to use commas correctly. oops my copy editor genes are showing) & he reviews games from almost every genre.
His knowledge of gaming history is extensive & I often have know idea what he is referring to, but I trust that he knows that from which he speaks.
So, enjoy this review of 6 iOS games you should give a try. I'm going to play Paper Monsters right now.
Hi readers! It’s me. Tracy. I’m alive and
healthy and feel extraordinarily guilty about basically abandoning the blog.
This post is not like other posts on iOS Affairs. There will be no app reviews and no cool technology talk. For once (or twice), I’m going to talk about myself for a minute, something I try very hard not to do on this blog.
Many of you have either seen a note on Facebook or Twitter or have received an email or 10 from me saying that I have been sick. Well, that’s not the whole story.
I don’t have the flu or a cold. And, I’m not getting any better. In fact, I’m getting worse.
Some of you may remember the only other personal post I’ve done where I told you that I am disabled, I suffer from several lifelong illnesses, and I am in constant pain (just thought you might want a quick reminder).
What’s going on right now is that I’ve been told that I need to consider 1 or 2 rather radical surgeries that may help with the problems that have kept me from writing for the past month. I don’t like the word surgery. I especially don’t like the word surgeries.
These are complicated surgeries that have a lot of aftereffects that need to be dealt with.
I am not dealing with any of this particularly well.
I’m keeping myself busy doing medical research (which can be depressing) and playing with apps on my iDevices (so that I’ll have quite a lot to tell you when I start writing again). But, none of this is really distracting me from the malaise I feel over the decisions I have to make.
I see a specialist on July 1 who will help me go through all of my options.
Well, that’s enough of my medical melodrama.
The only reason I tell you dear readers all of this is so that you better understand why I have been away from my beloved blog and from you. It is hard to put on my writer’s cap when I feel this way.
So, until my medical melodrama is resolved and I am feeling better, I wanted to tell you that posts will be sporadic, if they come at all. I really hope you bear with me while I go through this so that I can see you when I return to my regular writing program.
I was in the middle of the longest post I’ve ever written at the beginning of this month when I got interrupted by all of this nonsense. It is sitting in my Drafts folder now and I plan to try to finish it off and post it sometime soon.
I may also invite a few guest posters to keep you entertained and informed. (I am still not taking guest post submissions due to the work involved. I am only doing guest posts of people I invite to write).
I really want to give you a post with a blow-by-blow of iOS 7 in the near future, as well. Hopefully I can find some time where I feel well enough to work on that.
Well, I think you know just about everything now. I hate going on and on about myself on a technology blog, but I also hate telling people I’m sick for months in a row with no explanation.
Just because I’m not writing posts does not mean I’m not lurking about my blog. So, if you have any iOS-related questions or questions about apps, feel free to ask at the end of any post or under the Questions page at the top of the screen. I’ll get back to you faster than you’d think.
If you’ve read this far, thanks for being so loyal. If you read any of this, thanks! I’ll do my best not to let you all down and to get back to writing iOS Affairs regularly as soon as possible.
That’s it for me today. Until later, …
While manically hopping from app to Internet to app & back again, I discovered an excellent resource at The App Guides that you must check out!
The page at the link above is titled “Find Out More,” & what follows is information about an eBook that can help people who have limited programming skills develop an app.
It is titled Creating Apps – The Guide for Ordinary People.
Smashwords has a great extended description of the eBook that really summarizes what makes Creating Apps stand out from the crowd:
This eBook is a guide for creative people who have the ideas and the desire to build apps, but are not programmers. How? You can do it by outsourcing the technical tasks and concentrating your efforts on managing the rest of the process: from fleshing out the concept, to the design and marketing. There are many things to consider to create a winning app.
Here’s a listing of some of what is covered in this fabulous eBook:
- How to plan your project.
- The importance of a good design.
- How to find resources.
- Revenue models.
- Marketing options.
- What happens after it is published.
Credit: Creating Apps eBook
I have to share the following quote because I really had no idea of what a “web” app really was. Shh! Don’t tell anyone I didn’t know. Here’s what Creating Apps says:
… Though all programs pre-installed on your mobile device are native not all apps have to be. You have the option of developing a Web App, which is an Internet-based application that runs on the browser of the mobile device and where all or some parts of the software are downloaded from the Web each time it is run. … Web Apps are typically designed to be accessible across different device platforms, meaning there is less device-specific customization. They are easier to build than Native Apps, and distribute more quickly. They are also easier to maintain.
Here is the cover of Creating Apps via Smashwords, which is actually where I saw it in the 1st place (now that I really concentrate & think back).
Looking for Creating Apps? Here Are the Vital Stats
- By: Jacqueline D. Anderson
- Price: $10.99 USD (I’m sure it varies, though)
- Rating: Not yet rated
- Published: March 31, 2011
- Words: 38,131 (approximate)
- Language: English
- ISBN: 9781458183057
You can sample 20 percent of this eBook for FREE!
Interested in learning more? The Smashwords website has a great roundup of everything you need to know to get anything from just the 1st 20 pages of Creating Apps to the whole book. Following is the chart that was published at Smashwords:
Available eBook Reading Formats With Links for Creating Apps
- A single purchase gives you access to all formats.
- MUST be a member of Smashwords to use the following links. Smashwords Membership is FREE & quick!
- How to download eBooks to e-reading devices and apps
|Format||Full Book||Sample First 20%|
|Online Reading (HTML, good for sampling in web browser)||Buy||View sample|
|Kindle (.mobi for Kindle devices and Kindle apps)||Buy||Download sample|
|Epub (Apple iPad/iBooks, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, and most e-reading apps including Stanza, Aldiko, Adobe Digital Editions, others)||Buy||Download sample|
|Epub (load into Stanza)||Buy||Launch sample|
|PDF (good for reading on PC, or for home printing)||Buy||No sample available|
|RTF (readable on most word processors)||Buy||No sample available|
|LRF (Use only for older model Sony Readers that don’t support .Epub)||Buy||Download sample|
|Palm Doc (PDB) (for Palm reading devices)||Buy||Download sample|
|Plain Text (download) (flexible, but lacks much formatting)||Buy
|No sample available|
|Plain Text (view) (viewable as web page) Buy — No sample available
That’s it for me today. Until later, …
P.S. I’m lying! I have a few other things planned today.
Stay tuned & be sure to check out my brand new image at the very top of the screen here at iOS Affairs!
A brand new set of 4 images will randomly appear across the top of iOS Affairs. They were designed by Lauren Davis of Lauren Davis Creative in Rockford, Illinois. Send her an email if you like what you see & you would like a graphic design for social events, businesses, or anything you can dream up, all at very reasonable prices.
Credit: Culture Shock, Rockford, Illinois (Lauren is co-owner of Culture Shock)
Know why Lauren is so good & yet so reasonably priced (& nice to boot)? Because she is a LOCAL designer. She is not part of some big business. Lauren is also an active member of the Buy Local movement in the Rockford area & nationally.
The Buy Local movement is something I feel is extremely important for economic & ethical reasons. But, that is a post for another day. Well, actually, for another blog. A blog that writes about those things. So, that is all I have to say, I guess. Until I sneak something irrelevant to technology in another long & ranting post. Like this story for all the people who think buying local is too hard or too expensive. Okay, I’m done. The end!
Thank you so much Lauren for the beautiful, steampunky designs! They’re PERFECT!
I’m not the 1 who does the cooking in my family. I used to cook, though, & can fully appreciate how easy the iPad app Mind Watering makes it look, with step-by-step instructions, to create amazing meals that can easily be classified as food porn due to the presentation of the dishes alone.
Tip: Mind Watering, which usually costs $4.99, is on sale for FREE until Wednesday. If you want to check out this inimitable app, grab it in the App Store NOW! It’s a big app with lots to download, but totally worth it for what it can give you or even just to browse.
The stunning photos of each creation in Mind Watering, combined with the choice of dishes featured, make the Mind Watering eCookbook app food porn all on its own. Mind Watering is an outstanding eCookbook app with some absolutely amazing dishes to choose from that will have you drooling before you can say Vanilla Lavendar Creme Brûle (featured in the photo above from Mind Watering).
However, Mind Watering is more than just a basic eCookbook. It includes visuals with absolutely everything, innovative ways to show you how to complete just 1 step in their step-by-step instructions, subtle video that shows you how some of the food looks as it is being prepared or as it cooks, & it is fully gesture-driven.
Tip: Make sure to check out all of the photos I couldn’t fit into this review. They will be displayed in a gallery at the end of this post in all their beauty.
Let’s dive right in & take a look at what makes Mind Watering 1 of the best examples of an eCookbook app available for iOS.
Upon opening the app, you are presented with a cover that says Look & Cook, which is a phrase that holds real meaning in Mind Watering. If you swipe to the right, you can read about the 2 chefs who are the minds behind Mind Watering.
Swipe to the left from the cover when you’re ready to begin & you’ll be greeted with a black screen with red writing that introduces the 1st chapter or collection of recipes: Everyday. These are recipes that were chosen for people who need to make a quick dinner that is also unique & delicious. You can see some of the recipes from that chapter along the bottom of the photo above.
Tip: The left/right scrolling bar (in the photo above) at the bottom of the black screen won’t be there automatically. Just pull up from the bottom of the screen to access this feature that acts both as a table of contents & a speedy navigator through the whole book.
Just like the recipes in the rest of the book, the recipes chosen for Everyday are not the same one’s that you’d find in your average cookbook. Especially a cookbook on quick dinners. Nothing is made in a crockpot & everything is extraordinary, in the true sense of that word (strange & wonderful).
On the black page, you can tap the centered + button to see an overview of all the recipes in the Everyday collection (photo above). The red title-text of the recipe is also a link to jump right to that recipe. When you choose another chapter, using the scrollable bar I mentioned above the photo in the “tip,” you can also press the + button for an overview of that collection of recipes.
Before you stop reading & decide that this app is filled with strange things you’d never eat, I ask you to give the app a try. Sure, I’m a foodie & I’ll try just about any food. The more different, the better. If you’re not a foodie, though, I guarantee that you will still get something out of Mind Watering.
Even if you can’t find 1 recipe you’d like to try (which I find hard to believe), Mind Watering is filled with tips for cooking, step-by-step directions on how to do everything (some steps have steps), & it is simply beautiful. That alone should be enough for a download. Beautiful food, even if we won’t cook it ourselves, can inspire us to stretch our food boundaries the way beautiful art inspires our lives. So, read on.
Using the scrollable bar I told you about (in the last “tip,” before I started ranting about giving things a try), just swipe your way through the whole listing of what’s included (50+ recipes) or select a chapter by tapping a word above to jump right to that section in the scroll-bar. Find something you want to take a look at? Tap it & an image will pop up before your very eyes.
What you will see is a full-screen presentation of the finished & divine-looking recipe (even more divine on a Retina screen iPad).
Not what you’re looking for? You can either open the bottom scroller up again, or you can just start swiping right & left to flip through the book of title images that are just like the 1 in the photo above.
Exactly what you’re looking for? Then, tap the circular Look & Cook button in the lower, right-hand corner to enter the exciting & interactive world of that recipe.
The world of each recipe begins with the Look part of Look & Cook. The 1st image you’ll see is a bird’s eye view of a table covered in all the ingredients to make that recipe (photos above). Who knew a collection of ingredients arranged in such ways could be so artful.
In the bottom, left of the tabletop image is a little box that gives you some useful information about that recipe. It tells you how many people it will serve, how much time it will take to prepare, & how much time it will take to cook. That way you know before you dive in if this recipe is even going to work for you.
Tip: If at any time in either the Look or Cook section of a recipe you’d like to get out of it & look for something else, just tap the Back arrow in the upper, left corner of the screen.
For some recipes, the tabletop is the only Look image. Other recipes include more images of the finished products (check out the Truffles, seriously). Some recipes pair a glimpse at part of the finished product with cooking tips or a quote (top photo), & others have just a page of text to give you information you need to know before you start cooking.
You can just keep swiping left through the Look section until you come upon the Cook section or you can tap the word Cook in the top, right corner of the screen. That will take you directly to the 1st page of the Cook section, which starts with the recipe page.
The recipe page (example in photo above) is what you’d expect, although it’s minimalistic use of color & the clean fonts make even this look just perfect. I love how they made the text part of the page resemble the shape an old-fashioned recipe card. They made good use of the framing around the recipe card to give you navigational control & to always remind you of the name of what you’re cooking.
Tip: Don’t worry overly much about reading the whole recipe. Make sure you have all the ingredients. The rest of the pages in the Cook section will walk you through all of it.
From the recipe page, you can email the recipe to someone either from the top, left corner, or the bottom, right corner where it is accompanied by social networks Facebook & Twitter for more ways to share what you’re cooking or ogling.
You can also turn on the voice activation from this page, or any of the Cook pages. Just tap it & from then on, you can turn the pages to go through each step in the recipe just by giving voice commands. You say “Next” to go to the next page & “Back” to go to the previous page. This gives you total hands-free control of the app so you don’t need to worry about getting your iPad dirty while you’re cooking.
You can alternatively navigate to the rest of the steps in the Cook section either by swiping left or by tapping the number of the step at the very bottom of the card.
However you navigated, here’s what comes next. Each of the numbered steps is on a page of its own with a photo that illustrates what that step looks like. There are 3 other types of illustrative devices used often to better help you understand what you should be doing & what it should look like.
- Video photos (top photo): Some photos will have a little video camera in the top, right corner. There’s nothing you have to push to watch. It just means that that photo is on a video loop. It will show you, in the top photo’s example, what your rising bread looks like as it’s baking, so you know just how brown it should be when it’s time to take it out. There are several examples of this throughout the recipes.
- Grouped photos (middle photo): Photos are sometimes grouped together to further break down a task that you do in 1 step. They are numbered to let you know what you should do 1st, 2nd, etc. Again, this shows you exactly what you should be doing, which is useful with complicated techniques or tasks you have never done before.
- Stacked photos (bottom photo): This time there is also more than 1 photo being used to illustrate a broken down task, but with this example, the photos are all as large as the 1 you 1st see. To see the next step illustrated, you must press the next letter on the photo. This is useful when small, grouped photos might be too small, but when a task really needs to be broken done illustratively.
There may be other examples that I missed because I didn’t look at absolutely every recipe, but these 3 seemed to be the most common tools used.
A note for people who find the text too small to read: If you just tap anywhere on the text in 1 of the steps, you will then see a page like the 1 in the photo above. The picture gets smaller & the text gets bigger making it easier to read. To go back to the bigger picture option, just tap the photo.
Do you notice the oddly raised look to the time measurement for how long something should bake in the instructions above? I did too. And, you know me. If there’s a button, I will push it.
When you press a number that is an increment of time, a timer pops up (photo above). This handy integrated feature lets you set a timer for the length given in the recipe, start it, & then you can take your iPad with you while you take a well-deserved break. That way, you never have to worry about not hearing the oven timer, because the timer has come with you in the form of your easy to tote iPad.
I think that concludes our tour of Mind Watering. Hope you enjoyed the ride & are planning to visit on your own. With the feature-set included in this app, you’d be silly not to try it all out on your own.
Whether you are a foodie like me who will try any of these recipes, or a reluctant trier of new things who could use some inspiration, or just a food porn enjoyer, Mind Watering is an app to meet all of those needs.
The flawless development of every feature in the app make using Mind Watering a delight to use & never a frustration. The intuitive gesture-based navigation will get you where you want to go in no time & also no frustration. And, the gorgeous, mouth-watering photos on almost every page of Mind Watering is the icing on the torte (cake sounded too mundane after looking at this app).
If those 3 reasons alone are not enough to get you racing to the App Store to download Mind Watering, I don’t know what else to say. You’ve got me at a loss for words, which you know never happens.
With that, I end. Oh, but stay tuned after my sign-off for the gallery of photos I couldn’t fit into today’s review.
That’s it for me today. Until later, …
Mind Watering Gallery
Let’s start with the overviews of each collection/chapter.
Now, Just Random Yummy Photos
I’ve been kind of hibernating for a few days, so I thought it only fair that upon my return I bring you something amazing. I’ve prepared a list of Memorial Day weekend app sales to end all lists. It’s your ultimate guide to all the best apps on sale. Not just games. This list has everything!
What makes this list better than most holiday app lists? I own almost every app on the list & do mini-reviews of each app. This is not just a list of the usual big-ticket games, this list includes apps I guarantee you will not find on most other lists. Even the games I pick are not the usual. Well, check it out & see.
Some of these apps don’t explicitly say that they are on sale for Memorial Day, so don’t get mad at me if they’ve gone up in price again by Monday. I’m just going to show you the best FREE & reduced price apps available today that look like they will be available all weekend. But, I’m not psychic
One of the only FREE games I could find that I could actually recommend is World Conqueror 2 (universal). There are scattered listings of FREE games for this weekend, but to be honest, most games are just reduced price. Most are discounted to 99 cents, which is actually a really good deal when you consider that many of them normally cost anywhere between $5-$10. Don’t be disappointed though! Check out some fabulous FREE apps in non-game categories.
W.E.L.D.E.R. (universal): This very popular & highly rated word game was an App Store New & Noteworthy app when it was 1st released. Usually $2.99, W.E.L.D.E.R. takes classic word-building & adds wackiness & fun. You can play solo or against your Game Center friends & random opponents.
All EA Games: As usual for a holiday weekend, almost all EA (Entertainment Arts) games have been reduced to 99 cents. Titles range from the likes of Max and the Magic Marker (iPad version) to The Sims 3 (iPhone only) You can browse all of the EA games by searching the App Store for “EA games” or “Entertainment Arts games.” Either works & will bring up a listing of all of this developer’s games.
All Gameloft Games: Another developer who’s put all of their titles on sale this weekend is Gameloft. These games usually run you about $6.99, so 99 cents is a pretty good deal. A good example of a Gameloft game is Wild Blood (universal). The fact that most Gameloft games are universal (unlike most EA games) makes them an even better deal.
All Playdek Games: Although they have a smaller library of games, don’t count Playdek out. Most of their games tend more toward the board game genre, but I love board games. Check out the highly rated Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer (universal) for an exciting magic-like card game, or Fluxx (universal) for a game the whole family will love trying to figure out.
Shiny The Firefly (universal): I haven’t played Shiny, but it is rated very highly & is on my AppShopper Social wish list. It is a platformer that may look like it is only for children, but I think it may appeal to everyone. Shiny usually costs $2.99.
Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery: Episode 1 (universal): This game aimed at children, but yet again appealing to everyone, was in the App Store’s New & Noteworthy category just last week. Usually priced at $2.99, it has been discounted for a limited time. I was really excited to see this on the list of sale apps, except for the fact that I bought it last week at the normal price Oh well!
Penumbear (universal): I haven’t bought this platformer yet, but it looks absolutely amazing! Usually $1.99, Penumbear gets almost 5 stars from critics & App Store reviewers alike. The twist in this game is that you can only walk on the line between shadow & light. Luckily, your best friend is a firefly who can turn lights on & off. There are more than 100 levels of puzzles based on this premise, plus lots of extra things to find & bosses to fight as you help Penumbear escape a creepy castle.
Photography – FREE Apps
InstaDaily (iPhone only): Usually $2.99, I picked this little app up yesterday for FREE. This is 1 of the apps that I’m not sure why it’s on sale, so it may not last all weekend. InstaDaily lets you add a magazine-like feel to your photos. You can take them with the frame showing while you shoot, or you can import photos & see what works with what. It’s pretty cool looking!
TypoPic – Text 3D Rotation (iPhone only): This very cool app (usually 99 cents) is new to the App Store this week, but already it’s 1 of my very favorite text on photos app (& I have a zillion of them). What makes TypoPic stand out from the crowd is the fact that you can not only adjust type in about a million ways (expect a full review coming soon), but you can also rotate the text in any direction so that it looks 3D. & it actually works! It looks just amazing.
Albu – Beautiful Photo Manager (iPhone only): Albu is an app that organizes all of the photos in your Photo app on its own. All you have to do is enjoy your photos in neat albums that usually make sense. You don’t have to do anything but open the app. Usually 99 cents.
PhotoCal with Event (universal): Usually $2.99, PhotoCal is a great way to organize & view your photos. The app arranges all of your photos by date & even lets you view it all in a calendar-like view where you can see a sampling of what you took a month at a time.
Text On Pics PRO (universal): Another app where you can add text on top of photos, but this 1 has an astounding 180 fonts & is universal. Other than that, this is your standard app for doing this kind of task. But, it’s FREE! Download it & judge for yourself. What do you have to lose?
Strut Type (universal): This very cool camera/photo editing app just got even better, which is what they’re celebrating. Not so much about Memorial Day. It’s still a good time to pick up Strut Type for FREE. Strut Type transforms your photos into vintage, old-fashioned black & white photos. That may sound pretty limited, but there are actually 94 editing designs & with other factors added in, there are 500 possible combinations for diverse results.
Photography – Discounted Apps
All JixiPix Apps: As you know if you read iOS Affairs, JixiPix is 1 of my very favorite developers because they make the very best photo editing apps. & this weekend, all JixiPix apps are only 99 cents! Yay! My favorite of the Jixi bunch is definitely PhotoArtistaHD – Haiku (iPad version), which is in the photo above. Haiku is a mix of watercolor, India ink & handmade papers. Other Jixi apps include Pop Dot Comics (iPhone version, although all are on sale), Grungetastic HD (iPad version) & Portrait Painter HD (iPad version). I have reviewed absolutely every Jixi app. You can find reviews of all the specific apps listed above here & here & here.
ToonCamera (universal): I know that a cartoon effect is included in just a ton of camera & editing apps, but ToonCamera just does this 1 thing, so they do it really well. Much better than some effect that you add on & can’t even edit with a cheap camera app. Usually $1.99, ToonCamera is on sale for 99 cents, and is also universal. You can take photos & video with many variations of cool cartoon styling with your iPhone or iPad.
Lifestyle Apps – FREE
Shatoetry (iPhone only): This is a really funny app! What Shatoetry is about is writing poems (Shatisms) using words the app gives you (& they update the word list a lot). What makes it funny is that all the poems are read aloud when you’re done by William Shatner. For real. I’m not making it up. He recorded each word that you use & the app strings all the words together. Each word & even spaces can be emphasized with intuitive gestures. You can even save the voice recording as video & share it. Usually 99 cents.
Cardio Buddy – Touchless Camera Heart Rate Monitor (iPhone only): I’ve been using Cardio Buddy for some time now & it’s incredibly accurate as compared to what my heart rate is at the doctor’s. The algorithm that measures your heart rate just by looking at your face was developed by researchers at Berkeley & Stanford. It measures color variations in your face that are imperceptible to the eye. Plus, it will impress your friends. Usually $1.99.
Smart Alarm Clock for iPad: This app isn’t just an alarm clock. It also says (I own this app, but haven’t used it yet) that it tracks your sleep cycles & wakes you up at the best possible time based on when your body is coming out of deep R.E.M. sleep & going into a lighter sleep. Usually 99 cents (most apps that do this cost much more).
Lifestyle Apps – Discounted
Social Diary – Automated Journal (iPad only): The name of this app is much longer because it actually includes all the social media the app supports. I shortened it, because that’s insane. Social Diary itself, though, is a cool concept & really neat to use. It imports all of your Facebook posts, Tweets, Instagram photos, & lets you choose which ones you want to write about more in your diary. All currently for 99 cents!
Sky Guide: View Stars Night or Day (universal): I’m not that into astronomy (although I seem to own all the major apps), but Sky Guide really wowed me this week. It is in the App Store’s New & Noteworthy right now, so I can’t say what it usually costs, but the developer’s say the 99 cent price will double eventually. Still, that is not bad for an app of this kind. What’s so special about it? It uses actual photos of the sky, not simulated points of light, so it feels more real. Plus, the info that is written on everything is in-depth & not from Wikipedia. There is music that changes based on the size & temperature of the star you’re looking at. I could go on, but this is supposed to be brief.
ScrapBook – Tell Your Story (iPad only): This is an app I’m planning on picking up today. It looks really amazing & has everything you need to make great digital scrapbooks. You can include photos, text, maps, voice recordings, & there are a lot of ways to lay everything out in many cool themes. ScrapBook is by Left Coast Logic, a developer who has put all of there apps on sale this weekend. Most are quite expensive & are really more productivity apps, like calendars, but they are extremely innovative & worth a look. Usually $4.99, ScrapBook is on sale for $2.99.
Writing & Productivity Apps – FREE
Goodo Cal (iPhone only): Usually $3.99, this uniquely named calendar app is FREE right now. It is a very clean looking, non-traditional calendar (which I downloaded but haven’t gotten to yet). It may look minimalistic (which is the point), but it says it has many integrated functions, including Stream View, fast event creation, & ability to sync with Google Calendar.
Getodo – To-do Lists for Your Circles (iPhone only): I just downloaded this really amazing looking to-do list (to-do lists & to-do list apps are an obsession of mine). Getodo promotes itself as helping people who may be procrastinators or who feel inefficient. It helps these people by breaking down tasks into smaller, more do-able bits (I may need to try this). What attracted me, of course, are the beautiful themes & design. They really need to spell-check their app description, though. Usually 99 cents.
Timer+ Touch HD (iPad only): This is a neat app despite the fact that I think the app icon is really a turn-off & the claim that it is 1 of a kind because it is touch-enabled is stupid. However, if you have an iPad & need a timer, this is a really good 1 that you set just by swiping around the circle. Easy as can be & that’s about it. Usually 99 cents.
Writing & Productivity Apps -Discounted
TaskPaper – Simple To-do Lists (universal): Usually $4.99, TaskPaper is on sale for $1.99. This 1 is on my wish list, but it looks really great & is very highly rated. The goal of TaskPaper is to feel just like you’re using a sheet of paper. It syncs with Dropbox to make sure you don’t lose all your precious info.
TextGrabber + Translator (iPhone only): This incredibly useful & accurate app grabs & translates words in anything you can photograph. You can even import existing photos that include words. Usually $9.99, TextGrabber is on sale for $4.99. When I say it grabs the text, I mean that it copies the words & changes them into editable text on your iPhone that can also be translated into a lot of different languages within the same app.
Pencilicious *Plus: Note taking, sketching, and drawing (iPad only): This is my go-to scratch-pad when I need to take notes quickly & I want to feel like I’m using a sheet of paper. The hand-writing is out of this world! The only thing Pencilicious is missing is the ability to use it in landscape mode. Other than that, this is a great app for taking notes by hand & I can see how it would be an awesome sketching app. Usually $2.99, it is on sale for $1.99.
Songwriter’s Pad (iPad only): I saw this app, which is made by the same developers as Poet’s Pad (on my biggest wish list), & I had to share. Songwriter’s is usually $9.99, but this weekend it’s on sale for $1.99. For that price, you get a place to write lyrics with an integrated rhyming dictionary, dictionary & thesaurus. There is also a place to note chords with the lyrics & even a record function so you can sing or hum or whatever when the mood strikes you. Now, if only Poet’s Pad would go on sale this much!
That’s it for the list right now. I may update over the weekend if I see anything exceptional. Have a great holiday & thanks for reading my very long list!
That’s it for me today. Until later, …
VideoFilters has attributes that will make both pros & amateurs alike very happy.
- Amateurs are going to LOVE the 100 real-time filters you use while you’re shooting, the ability to import videos you’ve already taken with other cameras & being able to snap still photos while you’re shooting a video.
- Pros will like the fact that with VideoFilters they can adjust the frames per second (FPS), shoot with STEREO Audio & do some actual editing (contrast, saturation, gamma & brightness).
What I loved is how easy VideoFilters was to figure out. It literally took me all of 10 minutes to be ready to write this review.
I was a little disappointed at 1st by the fact that the filters are not quite as dramatic as say the filters in Camera+, but that disappointment was soon replaced with awe at just how many features the developers were able to fit into 1 app without making it feel cluttered or confusing.
There is no tutorial, but it isn’t needed anyway.
I also realized that, although I’d like to see some more dramatic filters in the future, the filters that exist are actually quite good. You can see a complete listing of all 100 filters in the app description in the App Store.
What really made me realize how impressive the filters are is rapidly switching between filters & no filter by tapping the on/off button in the very corner on the bottom left.
To choose a filter, you just tap the line along the bottom (which it says). You can browse the filters divided into 14 categories as little photos or tiled for easier viewing (photo above).
And, you won’t see a stock photo as you’re looking through the filters. You’ll see whatever your device’s camera is pointed at, or if you’ve imported a video, you’ll see whatever image the video is paused on. That means, you’ll see how the filter is reacting with your environment & your actual video.
I really liked that 1 of the groupings of filters is made to address common issues people have with their videos or environments like:
- Clarity to crisp up fuzzy photos
- Fluorescent for videos shot under this type of light
- Cloudy & Shade for shooting while it’s, well, you can figure this 1 out
- Flash to add light to dark photos
- & several more
Another nifty feature I discovered how to access by accident. I had skipped the instructions for this in the app description (oops).
If you do a long tap on the screen & then slide up/down, you get to the pop-up menu (photo above) to adjust the saturation, contrast, gamma & brightness. Then, you slide left/right to increase/decrease the amount. It works just like Snapseed, so you should have no difficulty doing it.
Minor editing of those features really changes the filters, too.
I am definitely in the amateur photographer category, so I really appreciate some of the features like the smooth zoom buttons, the grid overlay & being able to take a photo while I’m shooting a video.
- The smooth zoom buttons (the +/- above & below the zoom bar) slowly & steadily zooms in or out. I can never do that without jerking around like I’m having a seizure, so this is highly appreciated.
- Grid overlay (read why this is a useful tool here) is turned on & off in the settings menu (the gear in the upper, left corner).
- All you have to do to take an HD-quality photo while shooting a video is tap the camera button to the right of the record button. This only shows while you’re shooting (duh). When you’re not, it’s the render button to finish & save your video.
For the pros out there, the settings menu is where you’ll probably head to 1st. That’s where you can adjust the FPS, aspect ratio, sound quality & other things I don’t understand much (although I’m happy to see there is a stabilize button there).
You can adjust the speed of the video right from the shooting screen.
With the speed settings button in the upper, right corner, you can do slow motion & fast motion videos. I haven’t tried this yet, but it looks easy & sounds like it could be fun to play with.
I did import a video from my Camera Roll with the + button that is right next to the record button. VideoFilters didn’t make me search through all my photos for the videos either. It quickly found all my videos & only showed me those to choose from. Importing & working with the video worked like a charm, too!
The other features I couldn’t cram into this review but that should be mentioned include:
- You can take videos in either portrait or landscape mode!
- Layer filters by adding additional filters after a video is done.
- Use the front or back camera!
- Manually set the exposure, focus & white balance with a triple-tap.
- Pause while shooting video & then start right back up again.
I wanted to mention again that all this video goodness is universal. That means that you can enjoy VideoFilters using your iPhone, iPad & iPod Touch! The price is just $3.99.
So, go check it out!
That’s it for me today. Until later, …
Hello readers, Tracy here. I wanted to introduce this last guest post, because, well, it will be the last guest post for a long, long while (sorry about the scads of email I need to return to people who really deserved to know this 1st). Don’t get me wrong. It’s a wonderful post full of a lot of insight (even if I did have to look up the word skeuomorphic, which, in design speak, means imitating features of 1 object when designing a different object).
However, I’ve just gotten overwhelmed at the guest post submissions I’ve received & decided that it is better to just say no to all than to be unfair or to drive myself crazier than I already am. So, enjoy this wonderful analysis of what could lie ahead for us when we get a peek at iOS 7, because after this, you’re just stuck with me again
Now, on with the show …
Say what you want about the faux wood-grain effect in the iBook app, I quite enjoy it. This is just one of many apps that JonyIve may be getting rid of in the release of iOS 7. The concept of the new operating system is rumored to be a reflection of JonyIve’s simplistic designs of the past. Although iOS does need an overhaul in order to stay competitive against the likes of Windows and Android, does it really need to lose the flare and luster that many of us enjoy?
1. iMovie - The iMovie app looks like the front of a movie theater that you may see passing by on the street. Just looking at the screen makes me feel like I need to buy some popcorn. Although many are eagerly waiting simplistic design for the app, it’s going to be hard for me to say goodbye. The wrecking ball is swaying into the theater and paving the way for “innovation” once again. As long as Apple doesn’t put up a Starbucks in its place, I suppose I can live with the change.
2. Newsstand - The only thing I would personally change on the Newsstand feature is perhaps adding those metal revolving devices that hold magazine that you can spin. Aside from that, I like the aesthetics of the wood-grain shelves holding the magazines that interest me the most. I suppose after this new roll-out, I’ll be left with just touching an icon that represents the magazine title.
3. Game Center - The Game Center look and feel is perhaps one of the only things I would change in iOS. However, I wouldn’t get rid of the skeumorphic process altogether. Maybe Apple could beef it up a bit as not everyone realizes what a card table may look like. I suppose moving game icons into their own area like Android has is the way of the future? Almost feels like Apple plans on alienating the ones who bought into iOS because it was so flashy.
4. Podcasts - The tape real has always been one of my favorite uses on iOS. I suppose that is showing my age since I know what one of these devices is. However, shouldn’t we teach our children where technology originated from as part of our culture? I suppose the Podcasts app could look better and be designed for this generation, but don’t do away with the graphical flare entirely.
5. Page Turning - As I love to read books, this is a graphical enhancement I hope remains, but I doubt it will. The visual of the page turning within the iDevice keeps us grounded as to where books originated from without the use of digital download. It’s an elegant flow of motion that many may take for granted. However, it is one of those features that makes iOS what it is and is not reminiscent of other devices.
6. Notes - This is another aesthetic enhancement that many think we can do without. Of course we can deal with it, but then it wouldn’t be the iOS Notes that I like to use. If I wanted a plain white surface to type my notes on, I’d load up Notepad on my PC. Even the sticky-pad may be on the chopping block – although I still use the real-life versions regularly. How much more creativity needs to be erased in order to provide a stable system environment?
7. Contacts - I remember having a book of all my contacts in alphabetical order with tabs declaring what part of the alphabet each page pertained to. I suppose I just have to realize that today’s culture would rather have the chrome and creative-less face to apps and functions. Am I too old for artistic modification of technology? Are there really that many people in the world who would prefer not having the flash and individuality that Apple has provided me throughout the years?
8. Flattened Look - Many are drawn to the appeal of Windows 8 because of its ease of use and flattened look. Personally, I think it looks a bit bland and faceless. Differentiating colored boxes to represent the most common elements for you to click on makes the OS look like someone failed in designing new icons and graphics. I will never own a device that looks like something that should be in my child’s toy-box. When did we become a society of bland aesthetics and void of artistic expression?
Simplistic. I suppose it could be a term that is used along side of innovation, but I’d rather see the effects-driven look and feel remain in iOS. One of the most attractive points to owning any iDevice is the creativity surrounding such apps and features. What should be an integrated feature is the ability to customize those apps and areas. Apple could give people ability to stick with tradition or move ahead with bland. Regardless of the appearance changes of iOS, a new version needs to be rolled out soon in order to encourage future sales. I just hope it is akin to functionality while keeping some of the graphical enhancements I’ve grown to love.
Ken Myers is the founder of http://www.longhornleads.com/ & has learned over the years the importance of focusing on what the customer is looking for and literally serving it to them. He doesn’t try to create a need, instead he tries to satisfy the existing demand for information on products and services.
Producing quality music tracks was once a matter of learning complex theory and spending a significant amount of capital on the right equipment. Today, almost anyone can make music affordably and relatively simply. With the release of devices like the iPad, budding music makers have a variety of apps they can use to produce their own music. Here are five of the best apps for producing your own tracks.
1. GarageBand ($4.99)
GarageBand turns your iPad into alternative instruments, such as the keyboard, the drums, and various string instruments. It allows you to add in your own vocals and convert the results into a ringtone for only $4.99. It doesn’t have anything more than basic music editing capabilities, but it is easy to export a track into a dedicated music editor. Whilst the choice of instruments limits music makers to certain types of music, it’s a very good replication of the real thing.
2. Impaktor ($2.99)
One of the most innovative musical apps in the App Store, Impaktor is a fully-fledged drum synth. Using iOS multi-touch technology, Impaktor uses tapping on surfaces in order to register kicks, snares and hi-hats.
Using your devices microphone the app allows you to play on whatever surface your iPad or iPhone is currently sitting on. This is a universal app, which means one price to pay to make complex loops and patterns on all of your devices.
3. SunVox ($5.99)
SunVox is a $5.99 professional music-making app allowing the composition of music, any time, any place. Immediately, the user is confronted by a complicated looking interface offering sequencers and synthesis tools. The output is of a high quality and it works with the iPad, Mac, and Android devices. Whilst it’s ideal for the professional, novices may find it painful while getting acquainted with some of the complicated colour coded buttons on the main interface.
4. Addictive Synth ($3.99)
Addictive Synth offer exactly what you would expect from a synth app; however, with its simplistic design and GUI a novice user can really pick up and play with this app. There are still the normal knobs to twist and buttons to push, but it wouldn’t be much of a synth app if there weren’t. Addictive Synth comes with a few very strong features not least a powerfu larpeggiator and a spectral noise generator.
One of the great features of the app is the stock sounds with which to create your captivating melodies and bass grooves. Overall it’s a great app with a great friendly user interface.
5. AKAI iMPC ($4.99)
This retro throwback to the iconic Akai MPC range is a music geek’s dream. It’s really great to see the new retro designs for iOS apps. This iPad-only app is the closest you’ll get tuning a real-life MPC without spending hundreds of pounds.
While the app is an impressive replica of the Akai MPC range it quite difficult to do complex samples mainly due to the iPad’s size (it would be a good idea to secure your iPad down before use), however the nostalgic value you get with this app makes up for it. The sampling interface is really nice and clear just like the legendary MPC workflow. This is one of the best apps in the store for sheer entertainment value.
Overall, these five apps offer something different for the music maker. Some choose to focus on just a few types of instrument or music, whereas others offer a comprehensive studio. Deciding on the right app is a matter of determining one’s own personal requirements.
Mark works as a music sample producer at Dance Midi Samples. After producing many music sample packs, Mark now shares his years of experience with others through guides and tutorials while offering free midi samples for the next generation of producers.