Monday, 9 November 2009

Appetite... Part 2

In the second of this short series, we'll take a quick whizz through another bunch of applications currently taking residence on my iPhone. Today...

...Screen Two

Firstly, BBC iPlayer. I should point out that this isn't really a stand-alone app but rather web-link saved onto my home-page which fires up Safari and opens up the mobile interface to BBC iPlayer. The content available mirrors that available on PC, PS3 etc, i.e. the last seven days' TV and selected radio highlights from BBC channels. Delivery is pretty good but is, of course, down to your 3G/WiFi bandwidth. Given my rural location and BT's spotty WiFi broadband provision outide of urban areas, I tend to get quite a bit of stopping and starting. This mobile interface has been around for some months but word is getting around.

Second up, 12 Seconds. As I have an iPhone 3G rather than a 3GS, I'm still restricted to a version of this social app which creates a 12 second-long video snippet by cludging together three still photos from the onboard camera or photo-library with some freshly recorded audio. On other devices, you can create these little snippets using actual video footage. That said, there is something pleasing about the effects that these mini-montages can create and, whilst I don't use it very often, I keep the app around just in case. 12 Seconds is integrated into Tweetdeck's desktop app too. It also sends a tweet when you upload an new instalment. Here's one of mine that I quite like.

[iPhone] Three man cuppies and a manic street preacher on

Ambiance - For some reason I love this app. Basically, it's a sort of iTunes store for everyday, ambient background sounds. So everything from whalesong, rainfall, busy football stadia, birdlife is in there. Everything is well recorded, the accompanying photos are top quality and the looping required to enable you to listen to an endless stream of soothing noise without pops and clickcsis seemless. Once you've acquired the app, individual sounds are free. The library is extensive and regularly updated and the app itself is frequently refreshed with improved look'n'feel updates and additional social hooks. It's not for everyone but I like it a lot. One of my favourite sounds is of the inside of a busy commuter train carriage. I often listen to this when I am in a busy commuter train carriage just to be post-modern.

Around Me - This might get dumped soon. There's nothing wrong with the app at all. It uses your current location to highlight and direct you local amenities via Google maps. Fair enough, but given the pace of development in the geo-locative world, it seems a bit humdrum now.

Art Camera - I dislike this app's name and icon as well as the UI design of the app itself. Nevertheless, it has a really great selection of filters which you can apply to your library of photos to achieve a wide range of quick and easy effects, several based on the styles of named artists - hence the app's name. New filters are added from time to time and whilst I've augmented my photo-app collection, I don't plan on getting ride of this one despite some downsides.

HUD+ was one of the first Heads-Up Display type apps to hit the app store and I confess to have being intrigued at the prospect of lying my iPhone face-up on the dash and reading a heads-up display of relevant metrics in the windscreen whilst driving along. It works and the phone's GPS means it displays your speed and position as set against speed-cameras etc, but in reality I seldom use it... mainly because I don't want my phone rattling around the dashboard. The app is regularly updated but I haven't explored the updates in any great depth.

has got to be one of my absolute favourite applications and I am not alone. This mini-social-podcasting tool has received lots of rave coverage and is an essential for anyone's iPhone. Dead easy to use and powerful too. Here are a couple of my efforts:



Beatmaker is a mid-price music app for building some pretty amazing sequences from the loops and samples provided. It sounds great through good quality headphones and allows you to create, save and edit. As with many PC/Mac based sequencing tools you could end up investing lots of time learning how to construct elaborate tunes... on the other hand you could just load up one of the many standard kits and use the pads interface and tinker about happily for ages.

Bliin - Still giving this house-room but it is a Dutch geo-location tool that smacks of under-investment. They presented at Futuresonic 09. Not sure what their plans are but they are rapidly being surpassed by newer fancier tools. Bliin updates your location live as you move around, but you have to leave the app open so... not so great.

Bloomberg - See my comments about shares on my 'iPhone homepage 1' post about the Stocks app. The same applies, here. However, this app is pretty slick and integrates stock search functionality with text and audio newsfeeds.

Brightkite - Now one of several geo-location tools which buddies up with social networking services such as Twitter to broadcast your location, along with some comments, pictures etc. Based on your GPS co-ordinates the app suggests local spot where you can 'check-in'. The selection is a bit random as it draws this data from a range of public domain data sources. Losing out to Gowalla and Foursquare right now, more of which later.

Brushes - a pretty simplistic paintbox application... one of the first to hit the app store, but now accompanied by several others, some of which are better, eg SketchBook (more later). I keep it here because it's a simple way for toddlers to amuse themselves when in restaurants.

BuddyFeed - A iPhone client for FriendFeed. Don't use this that often, especially whilst the world waits to see what Facebook does with FriendFeed since the acquisition in the summer. FriendFeed itself is a good tool for live-blogging events in a way which doesn't spam all of your followers including those who might not have in interest in the specific event. This kind of functionality is being superceded by the likes of Posterous and, potentially, GoogleWave, whilst Facebook fanny about.

Camera Zoom - Another photo app designed to compensate for the woefully underspec'd camera built into the iPhone 2G and 3G models. This one enables a crude zoom function which then does its best to sharpen up the selected area. It's OK. Tries to make the best of a bad job.

CameraBag - Another photo-app with some simple but nifty filters built-in to enable you to quickly create some great effects. Quite a bit different to those available in ArtCamera, plus a much nicer UI.

DFireworks - A simple Disney Firework-exploding game for young children. Another basic, easy-to-use distraction mechanism for bored children.

Onto Page Three of my iPhone homescreen next...

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