Thursday, 12 November 2009

Appetite... Part 3

Onto Screen Three...

...which starts with a web link to the Internet Movie Database (IMDB)'s iphone-friendly site. This is a very well known and well established database for finding details about films, TV series, actors, directors etc etc. It get used most often in our house to settle arguments which tend to start with 'I'm sure I've seen her in something!' Of course, the answer is nearly always The Bill.

iCinema is another weblink. Very handy when you need to find out what films are on at local cinemas, starting times etc. The site even links through to IMDB reviews and even trailers. Trying it right now though I can't get any results at all, so I'm wondering of they were leeching someone else's data and have been 'cease and desist'ed... so maybe this one is no more.

ColorSplash is another great additon to my photoapps collection. It enable you to create striking effects by leaving only selected elements of a photograph in bright colour, whilst the rest goes monochrome. Here's an example where I've cludged together this effect with a filter from the CameraBag app:

Done is a very simple planning tool. I must have tried tens, if not hundreds of planning tools/To Do list applications on different devices over the years and most of them, rather than helping you free up time by being more organised actually suck time because you spend forever becoming a slave to their constant demands to reschedule, reprioritise, update, etc.

This one, Done, is as simple as they get and all the better for it. It lets you quickly add tasks, prioritise as 1, 2 or 3 and link it to a category such as Work, Home etc (you can set these). It lists them in priority order and you tick them when your done. Shake the phone and all completed tasks disappear. That's it! Beautifully limited.

eBay lets me check the progress of bids, sales, wins etc. I'm not a massive eBayer but we all know it has its uses. Most recently used to acquire a samba whistle to accompany me to A Certain Ratio's recent gig at the Band On The Wall.

ECB Cricket - I used this official scoreboard/news update service predominantly for the Ashes series, but keep it here as it includes news, photos, video and podcasts too. The real-time scoreboard is pretty nifty.

Evernote is one of my favourite apps as it lets me quickly capture notes, photos, sounds, weblinks etc and instantly sync them across various devices browsers. That said, I do get in a bit of a mess sometimes as I try to distinguish where this app sits alongside different but similar apps/services such as Delicious, InstaPaper, ReadItLater, etc (more of those later). I use them all but come back to this regularly.

Everytrail is a geo-locative tool which plots your progress in terms of distance, direction and altitude on a set journey... once you press Go it starts recording your location, updates your position on Google Maps and allows you to save it for future reference. As with other apps of this sort, it requires you to keep it open throughout the journey, so thanks to Apple you are thus prevented from using any other apps/tools whilst it's running, which is very frustrating. However, an even bigger problem is that the app requires data connectivity to constantly update your position which is fine unless you want to use it in a very rural area with spotty data availability... which is exactly where you will most likely want to use it. This kills things really as you can see from the map of my trip round Holme Styles reservoir in West Yorkshire. Patchy data updates make it look like I can walk on water. I'm good, but I'm not that good.

FastCamera another photoapp which tries to overcome the inbuilt 2G and 3G camera's inadequacies. It doesn't add much value and I can't remember what its benefits are meant to be now as it seems to do the same as the built-in app... I thought it was one that let you tap anywhere on the screen to take the shot rather than trying to find the the soft button but, it seems not. There are a billion photo-apps out there, some great, some less so. It's probably worth having a trawl through the App Store... prepare to kiss some frogs.

Flight Control is a well established addictive little game for killing time in those few minutes you have spare when in the dentist's waiting room or on the bus. Alternatively, if you are a student, you might wish to play this all day. You have to create safe flight paths for a sky-full of catastrophe-bound planes and helicopters. It's not bad. It gets regularly updated with new airfields upon which to land your tiny aircraft. It even tweets your high scores which, in my case, is a highly embarrassing feature. Not as popular as it was and now accompanied by several 'me-too' clones. I keep it around for old times' sake but rarely play it.

Four Track is a pretty sophisticated four-track porta-studio application which lets you create quick, simple and surprisingly effective multi-track recordings on the fly. Twinned with a decent microphone such as the Blue Mikey, this app can be used to create pretty decent demos should the muse take you when you're not ensconced in Abbey Road.

Byki French is a pretty good learning aid for those trying to improve their French language skills. It focuses on listening and repetition and incorporates a wide range of vocab for use in different situations. It tracks your progress, so you can use it as a learning programme in its own right. It is even integrated with Twitter so you can find real time examples of how words and phrases are being used in live conversation.

This is the standard Google app for the iPhone which is a one-stop springboard for most of the major Google services and apps. It includes Voice Search which doesn't work too well if you are British unless you are Hugh Laurie.

Facebook - I'm not an avid Facebooker but do use this to check up on my friends who either don't use Twitter or who use Facebook for different content. The UI has been improved but still isn't great. That said, it is still probably better than the web-based UI. I still get amazed by what people share. Twitter is, I find, more circumspect.

Eurosport - Nice to have, but seldom used. Much like the TV channel itself. To be fair, it isn't bad, but between Sky, BBC and RSS feeds, I tend to be up to date on the sports news that is important to me.

Touchnote - The fact this this app is only on Screen 3 on my iPhone might suggest I've had it a while. I haven't, it's just settled there in place of an old app I've got shut of. Now, I really like Touchnote. It lets you turn any photo from your camera or photo-library into a real postcard which is then printed locally and sent to its destination address along with your accompanying message the very next day. It even includes a little Googlemap pin showing the location where the card has been sent from. To UK addresses each card costs £1.49 ($1.49 in the US) - instantly payable through PayPal, which sounds pricy, but if you think of what cards and stamps cost and add to that the degree of personalisation, customisation and rapid delivery this includes, I think it is competitive. I've seen the cards I sent recently to my parents and they are really nice quality.. almost plasticised. Check out their web-based service.

Right, Screen Four next...

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