‘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 …
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.
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.
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!
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 :(
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 :)
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.
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).
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.
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.
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, …