Monday, 16 November 2009

Appetite... Part 5

Screen 5...

...starts with a web link to a PDF copy of the local bus timetable. This is of little use to anyone unless urban types want to have a laugh how long it takes to get from A to B in rural areas for extortionate amounts of money, whilst they're sat on their free trams.

HTAFC is a weblink to Huddersfield Town's website. I don't use this very often as I get Twitter updates as well as RSS feeds.

Mashable is a web app which brings together all the latest news and archived content from one of the major sources of Social Media goodness. It's quite nicely designed but, again, I rarely have cause to consult it as I read the Mashable Twitter and RSS feeds. I used to retweet a lot of Mashable posts until I realised that everyone else follows Mashable anyway.

Melodica was one of the first apps in the store to let budding amateur musicians, enthused by the possibility of Little Boots' Tenorion but unable to afford one, create some simple but effective melodies. I fire this app up quite a lot. The app has been updated with save options, different instruments for different moods and a method of sharing your melodies with other Melodica users.

MemoryInfo is absolutely essential for those moments when your iPhone seems to just grind to a halt. Increasingly, I find this happens after only a short while hopping from application to application, each activity leaving lots of stuff resident in memory and zapping your iPhone's performance. This app lets you stop all superfluous processes with a single click and voila, your phone is working at pace again. There are a number of similar apps in the store that do this kind of thing now. Some applications seem to suck of all of the available memory just to do their thing. NewsStand, which I cover below, was one of the worst offenders. However, I think there was a problem with the install of that app on my iPhone, because it has behaved itself since I deleted and reinstalled it. Alex at The Next Web has lost the will to live with his iPhone, partly around performance issues. Read his post here... it's very good.

MoBank is an app which encourages you to hand over all of the user names and passwords for your online banking accounts just so you can get a read only view of your balance and recent transactions in one place. What's more, it wants to charge you for the privilege. Within its little 'walled garden' you can also send people flowers via Interflora or chocolates via Thorntons... bless. This old-fashioned, design over content, paid-for, ecommerce portal approach reminds me of AOL and Compuserve's first forays into banking 10+ years ago. I keep this on my iPhone for research purposes only.

Monkey Ball is a game I quite enjoy on the big screen and it's implemented well here for the iPhone. That said, I rarely play it.

Moonlight is a Mah Jongg game of which there are many in the store. I like Mah Jongg, but I rarely play it.

Morse It is great even if you have only a passing interest in codes and cryptography, although day to day uses are few and far between. Play it a stream of Morse Code and it translates it into plain text right in front of your eyes. Similarly, it converts any text you write or copy into the app to Morse code which can then be flashed on screen or beeped to anyone who needs to receive it. I'd have given my right arm for this when I was 10. Now I only have to give 59p.

National Rail costs £4.99 and replaced a load of perfectly acceptable free and cheap apps which provided journey planning and timetable information for the UK rail network, which were 'cease and desist'ed out of existance. Nevertheless, the app is pretty useful if you are a digital nomad like wot I am. It even gives live updates of delays and details of the progress of the train you are on, or due to connect with.

Night Camera helps you take better, clearer photographs in dim lighting conditions. It does this by using the iPhone's accelerometer to only release the shutter when you are holding the phone perfectly still. You can tweak its sensitivity, use the built-in timer, change resolutions, use zoom or timers.

PanoLab is a photoapp which lets you stitch together photographs from your camera/photo library to create Hockney like panorama effects. You can see from my results how intuitive is isn't:

PayPal would let me log in and transfer money directly to other PayPal users if I so wished. It also lets me check balance, history etc, but as I tend to use PayPal as part of a store's online check-out mechanism I rarely need to access this.

Mobile Receipt is an app not dissimilar to the Business Card Scanner apps which allows you to photograph receipts, bills, invoices etc to creat expense claim forms with an image attached. There's no OCR magic going on here so you need to input expenditure details into the form yourself. A separate form is created for each item (which is irritating) so you can't easily group similar/related expenses into a single claim. Plus, it doesn't sequence with corporate expense claim processes (how could it?) so it's really one for self-employed consultants. Don't forget, a Griffin Clarifi case with its integrated close-up lens is essential for iPhone 2G and 3G users.

someecards lets you email pithy, nicely drawn ecards to friends and contacts. They've got in trouble once or twice from Apple for including cards in questionable taste. However, email as a mechanism for sending this kind of tat is so OLD. Why isn't this integrated with Twitter, Facebook etc?

NewsStand is my RSS feedreader of choice. It integrates directly into Google Reader which I use on the PC, so anything I've marked 'as read' or 'starred' in this app are synced directly across to Google Reader and vice versa.

I've had one or two mishaps with the app. When you first sync with Google Reader, any feeds set up in an old version of NewsStand overwrite anything newer in Google Reader. When I did this, I didn't realise how comfortable I'd become with my chosen RSS feeds and how annoying it was to have to try to remember and rebuild them all. The other main gripe is that it can get itself confused and start sucking the iPhone's memory dry, sometimes requiring a fresh install. This is less problematic than it sounds and when it works well, NewsStand works very well, but I do keep a backup RSS reader tuned and ready to go on a later screen just in case. NewsStand includes some daft unnecessary 'newspaper' style graphics which can be switched off and ignored. Despite my gripes, I love this app and use it to share interesting stuff on Twitter as well as saving things to Delicious, Instapaper and other integrated tools.

No comments: