Hey everyone. Just wanted to give you all a heads up that updates will be on hiatus for a short while, as I`m out of country and without reliable internet. We`ll be back to our regularly scheduled snarky programming on SEPTEMBER 01, 2011.
On paper it sounds like a good idea: Take a minimum of four photos with this app, then wait as it removes anything in motion (keeping stationary objects where they are) to eliminate any unwanted passerby's, cars, or anything else that doesn't belong in the shot. Frankly, I wasn't too impressed with the execution. First thing: if you're hoping to take some quick snaps with this for cleaning up later, you can forget it. Your hands must be kept perfectly still; the more movement you cause when your hands shake, the greater the chance that the adjustments made to your photo(s) will look too clumpy, awkward, or pixelated.
RECOMMENDATION: There are a few technical glitches with this app, but none that I found impaired its use. However, as I mentioned, I really can't be bothered. If a car passes in front of my shot, I'll just wait for the lull and take...you know...another shot?
Advertised as the world's first fully open source movie (from the Blender Foundation), Elephants Dream includes two features: a trailer for an 11-minute fantasy movie, and the aforementioned movie itself. The plot, as detailed from iTunes,
"Elephants Dream is the story of two strange characters exploring a capricious and seemingly infinite machine. The elder, Proog, acts as a tour-guide and protector, happily showing off the sights and dangers of the machine to his initially curious but increasingly skeptical protege Emo.
As their journey unfolds we discover signs that the machine is not all Proog thinks it is, and his guiding takes on a more desperate aspect."
RECOMMENDATION: An engaging and surreal storyline coupled with some truly imaginative, beautiful 3D animations makes this a given for anyone that likes fantasy-oriented short films (especially the dystopian/apocalyptic kind)
COST: FREE (additional services such as blood sugar available through additional subscription costs)
If you've found yourself shopping for dinner while counting the calories, this app is about to make things easier for you. Instead of peeking at the oft-tiny list of ingredients on the back of each package, simply enter your meals into Calorie Counter for a comprehensive list of calorie counts for each item and what that will mean for you based on the kind of weight you want to lose, gain, or maintain.
RECOMMENDATION: The list of foods in the calorie count is very broad and detailed, which is extremely helpful versus apps of this kind that just don't come with the required information to make them work smoothly. Your daily calorie intake is also helpful to keep track of your health on a simpler basis, based on your goals and physical activities of the day. Not to mention that the whole thing is presented in a really attractive design.
So the premise is one you've seen before: You're a rough & tough soldier, dropped into South America on a mission: to kill a lot of zombies...well, probably not, but you sure do run into a lot on the way. Zombie Infection is a quick-paced, entertaining shooter. Reminiscent of Resident Evil 4 with its over-the-shoulder aiming and mechanics, ZI comes at you with some very nicely handled graphics (for an iPhone), fun game-play, and seriously engaging zombie shooting!
RECOMMENDATION: The graphics are great, the sound/voice acting pretty good, the mechanics easy and smooth (as much as I played on the demo, anyway) and the lite version gives you a good taste for the game, if you're interested in spending the $4.99 for the full version (AppShopper + Watchlist)
It's pretty difficult to find a photography filtering app on iTunes these day that you haven't already seen a million times before. Sure, you can make a photograph look like a sketch, or increase the quality to make it look (sort of) like an HD photograph, but for every one of those apps there are three others. Pho.to Lab takes a more fun, creative route with filters and morphers and lets you turn your pictures into fun little photo-manipulations and montages. Choose a photograph, then choose an effect from a large, creative array of free options.
RECOMMENDATION: If you're tired of applying yet another campy, retro filter to your photographs, then this app is a nice, distracting little breath of fresh air.
In the mood to learn a new instrument? Maybe start jamming in a band once you figure out what side of the clarinet you blow into? How2Play will take you through a helpful collection of downloadable multimedia bass and guitar lessons that include video/audio recordings, helpful lesson overviews and guides, backing tracks, and musical scores.
RECOMMENDATION: Speaking as someone who can identify the blowing part of the clarinet but can't muster the lung capacity to make it work, I'm not familiar with the lesson plans and details presented in this app as much as, say, your typical guy learning the guitar. However, the app still comes off as very helpful and detailed, so if you're interested in learning or just want to spruce up what you know, you'll likely find it useful!
Probably one of the simplest and most convenient timer applications I've seen, Snappy Timer allows you to pre-arrange all your important timer alerts on one easily distinguishable screen. From there, depending on the task you're trying to accomplish (such as boiling an egg for sixty seconds or whatever it is that scientists do nowadays), simply tap once on any of your arranged timers, and the time will begin to run down on a bar below. You can even have several timers running at once!
RECOMMENDATION: Easy, quick, cute, and somewhat customizable. If you want something simple but elegantly presented, Snappy Timer will work.
Ever needed a full 360' view of something in particular? Maybe you wanted to snap a picture of a costume you're working on, jewelry you want to show off, or a new hairstyle you want the world to see in full 360 degrees worth of glory? Well, now you can.
RECOMMENDATION: While not the smoothest 360' view, providing you can take a steady, even shot, the frame-by-frame animation doesn't look too jerky or awkward. While not a panoramic animator, it's still pretty decent if you're not looking for something professional to an anally-retentive degree.
It sounded like a solid, nice little entertainment app. Certainly the developer's description would lend it considerable promise...if it, you know, worked. As it happens, the summary just comes off as pretentious in the wake of an app that, when it chooses to work, is far too dark to enjoy properly anyway. I didn't even get that far, considering that running Castlerama on my iPod Touch (4th gen, updated) brings me to the introductory screen above...then immediately to the unrelenting awesomeness below:
If you've ever found yourself playing Sim City and hoping you could just condense the entirety of your city into a single building like some horrific mass of living blob sims and convenience, Tiny Tower would like to lend you the shelf space to do just that. Build and control the businesses and "bitizens" of your glorious tower like the self-styled Trump that you are.
RECOMMENDATION: Usually when I find myself downloading a sim game of any kind, the first thing that will put me off is that although the game claims to allow fair progression through completing activities in-game, it really comes down to the advantage of what you purchase for real money. Tiny Tower doesn't subscribe to that annoying practice (yet) and allows you to play without the added requirement of spending real cash.
If you enjoy 2D platformers but like something different in the mechanics of the game-play, Soosiz is a platformer reminiscent of the Super Mario style (left, right, jump, collect coin, curb stomp your enemies, rinse, repeat) with an added unique element: gravity-based platforming. Make your way through a scrolling world which can shift dramatically in direction to take you on paths not usually traveled in this kind of game...
RECOMMENDATION: If its mechanics don't remind you too much of Mario to offend your delicate gaming sensibilities, this game is pretty fun! Cute, smooth animations, challenging level designs and an array of diverse worlds will keep you interested.
TITLE: AppShopper SCORE: 5 / 5 NOTE: This app is Wi-Fi / ONLINE only!
Probably my favorite in my collection of app-finding-apps for the sole reason of its easy-to-use wishlist notifications. Load up Appshopper (via your device or your PC), sign up for an account, then search for any apps that might interest you. With full details and easy browsing via category, price options, and more, AppShopper also notifies you (based on your preferences) if an app in your wishlist has gone down in price, up in price, or has been updated in any way. Waiting for that one special app to become free for that one single day? Let AppShopper keep tabs for you and be ready when that day comes!
RECOMMENDATION: Thus far not only have I found absolutely nothing wrong with the app technically, but its ease of searching and prompt wishlist notifications have pretty much made it my default, "instead of the app store" app browser.
COST: LITE (Demo) - Allows up to 5 folders/files at any one time. The full version costs 1.99 and allows for unlimited amounts of content.
A great, organized way to keep notes, lists, stories, work details, and whatever else requires you to write and organize your content. Arrange everything into separate folders, choose background themes for your individual files, sync to a dropbox, email your files, and more.
RECOMMENDATION: If you need an organized but easy way to keep track of many different ideas for many different topics, the allowance of folders (and folders within folders) is a huge bonus. Of course, the demo will only allow you a certain number, so perhaps you want to add the full version to your AppShopper wishlist!
TITLE: Cooliris SCORE: 3 / 5 NOTE: This app is Wi-Fi / ONLINE only!
Want a quick, clean way to browse the web for images, videos, and news, save them to your iPod, and add them to a list of favorites? Cooliris lets you do all that while viewing the content on a smooth, seamless streaming lineup of results. Quick loading time with a simple user interface lets you do all the above and more with little hassle.
RECOMMENDATION: Little hassle...but still some. A glitch here and there has been known to shut down the app to the home screen when I search. This happens pretty irregularly, however, and is easily fixed by a speedy re-load of the application.
If you've ever found yourself holding a camera that required a manual setting for your photograph (such as in the case that you might want to control how much light is exposed in the photograph) but had no idea or frame of reference for a correct setting, Pocket Light Meter is just what you need. In an area a bit to dark for an automatic shot that looks attractive? No problem! Whip out PLM, point it at the subject, and watch as the app gives you the ideal manual settings to use.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've never taken a photography course in your life and can't tell the difference between an F-Stop setting and the ISO, this really just eliminates the middle man. Pretty useful stuff.
Whether you're interested in getting into the business or you're in the process of renting/selling your home, you might find yourself at a loss when it comes to some of the terminology and process involved. Be a bit more prepared when signing your contracts by having this little real estate reference guide and dictionary on hand when you need it.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've never had to buy or sell a house in your life and you don't like the idea of taking every piece of advise a lawyer or real estate agent might feed you, having a helpful guide with you might make you look a little more prepared and a little less gullible.
The concept here is pretty easy: Look up at the night sky (in app, I mean, come away from your window!), then using the controls, rotate and shape the linear designs of the stars into something recognizable. As you twist and turn the design around, the shape will gradually take form until you recognize it for what it is, and are then left to maneuver the picture into its appropriate position to help the pieces fall into place and see the image clearly.
RECOMMENDATION: Okay, it's advertised as an educational tool to help develop your "spatial reasoning" skills, but it's essentially a connect-the-dots, three-dimensional puzzle game. If you like that kind of stuff, it's challenging and fun all the same.
If you find that you just don't have the time to learn what you need to know to design your own website, Zapd offers a simple, attractive alternative. Essentially an easy step-by-step webpage creating wizard, Zapd lets you choose from one of its many (and I have to admit very nice looking) themes to present your page.