iPhone Life magazine

Recent App Reviews

Access and Control Your Desktop Computer from Your iPhone

In his article in the Fall 2009 issue of iPhone Life, “The Best iPhone IT Administrator Utilities” (iphonelife.com/issues/Fall2009/BestIphoneITAdministrator), Nate Adcock listed a number of programs that can be used to access your desktop remotely. This article elaborates on these applications.

The applications described and compared in that article and this one are mostly meant for accessing one’s desktop apps running on a computer in an enterprise environment. We are not looking at apps designed specifically for remotely controlling multimedia playback.


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This American Life iPhone App

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This American Life, the popular public radio show produced by Chicago Public Radio, has released an iPhone App. 

The This American Life App gives unprecedented on-demand access to the full show archive going back to 1995. New episodes are added automatically and users can search by episode or contributor — including David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, John Hodgman, and dozens more. Episodes can be streamed for free or purchased from iTunes for offline listening. Additionally, all episodes of the This American Life television show on Showtime can be downloaded for a fee.



Star*Burst from Super Happy Fun Fun

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 Star*Burst from Super Happy Fun Fun is one of those time-killer games for when you just want to align colored gems (under a bit of pressure) without thinking too hard about it. It employs aspects of some other very popular games, with smooth and engaging backgrounds/music, but the starting levels do become a little monotonous. There are some issues I feel with the control scheme, and a minor glitch, but I enjoyed it regardless of these minor detractors.

Many games are based on engines from other games, and so will have a similar flow or look. Some games will have a layout, gameplay setup or theme that is similar to another game (e.g. the author noted that it worked well in the other game). Star*Burst obviously borrows heavily from popular conveyor belt-style games like Guitar Hero, Tap Tap Revenge, etc. The strategy is refreshingly different here as instead of requiring a simple point-in-time response, the game requires you to think a bit about aligning the objects (above the conveyor) coming at you. As gems roll off the belt, you use the paddle to grab them. You can hold up to 5 on the paddle safely. Another tap sends them into a slot above. As you stack up colored gems, you score points and meet level goals by aligning same colors (goals appear above the gameplay area). Alignment can be in the horizontal, vertical or diagonal, and higher point bonuses are earned for intricate patterns (the "Star*Burst--star shaped patterns being among the highest). Seems simple enough, but as you progress, the pace and color change frequency increases and gems invariably fall off  the board before you can get to them. Miss enough and you lose...

A couple of interesting twists are included in gem manipulation. Once gems are placed in the matrix above, they cannot be moved, but you can chose to toss a gem to the back of the coming queue (to rearrange the order coming down the belt). Some gems have explosive characteristics, removing other gems in the vicinity when they explode, and wild card gems will match to any color. You can also post your Star* Burst achievements to facebook. The music, graphics and screens do a decent job of keeping you immersed, but I have a couple of gripes. One is the same general gripe I have with touch or iPhone games that fill the entire screen (with no other control options but screen taps). Edge of screen taps are often not effective in moving the paddle to the far left, right edges or corners. There is also a noticeable pause in the game when a match is made. I am not sure that was intentional, but the conveyor stops moving when this occurs.

These are minor issues, and I think Star*Burst will be worth your time if you are really into color matchers. You can grab Star*Burst in the app store at the link below...

 



My Favorite Multiplayer Games

iPhone Life Staff's Favorite Apps

Despite the iPhone’s lack of a d-pad and other hardware controls, it is very popular as a gaming device. Part of its popularity is due to its excellent connectivity features, which include Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3G, and Push notification. These features support wireless multiplayer games, and there are currently more that 200 of these games available in the App Store.


There are two main types of wireless games. The first type, local games, allows two or more users in close proximity to play against each other. The second type communicates over the Internet with a central server allowing users on the other side of town or around the world to play against each other. Both approaches have their respective strengths.


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Photoshop.com Mobile — new version of free app released

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The free Photoshop.com Mobile app has been downloaded 6.5 million times since last October. You can use it to edit and share photos via an easy-to-use interface. The latest version, released a few days ago, offers a new sharpen tool, support for a variety of photo borders, and playback of video hosted on Photoshop.com.



Cindy Downes: My Standouts!

iPhone Life Staff's Favorite Apps

DragonDictationChoosing the Best Apps for 2009 is a difficult task for me. In nearly every category, I find several that stand out from the crowd. I finally decided to choose the ones that I use the most. Here they are:


Business

Dragon Dictation

Free; dragonmobileapps.com


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Nate Adcock's BEST of 2009

iPhone Life Staff's Favorite Apps

It's the beginning of the New Year, and everyone is publishing their lists of the best iPhone apps for the previous year. Below are the iPhone/iPod apps I used the most in 2009.

Games

Second on my list of favorite games is Real Racing ($4.99; firemint.com), a very life-like racing game. My short list of additional honorable mentions includes Battle Bears ($0.99; battlebears.com) and Jelly Car 2 ($0.99; walaber.com).

Productivity

Task2Gather

($0.99; task2gather.com) has great task/time management features and a collaborative task sharing capability.


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Easy Tips for Getting the Best Camera Shots

How to get the best shot with your iPhone camera

The best camera is the one that's with you. It's an old saying, probably the words of a frantic photojournalist who once had to grab his mom's box camera and shoot the blazes out of a bank robbery.


But it is a saying worth remembering, especially for iPhone camera users. It is not the best camera in the world but is a pretty good one that you often carry since it serves as your cell phone, Internet access point, weather advisor and so much more.


"You might actually be amazed at what all you can do with this little camera," says Alan A. Reiter, president of Wireless Internet & Mobile Computing. As a Washington D.C.


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The Angry Birds Get Angrier

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Personally, I'm still trying to get through the initial set of levels that Angry Birds offered.  You can read my review of the game here.  Apparently the developers weren't content with what they first offered to the public, however.  Coming soon (or possibly even out by the time I push "save" on this post) is an update to Angry Birds that includes integration with Chillingo's fledgling Crystal social network.  This, of course, will not only add the ability to be competitive about scores, but will provide the user with the much sought after notion of achievements that they've almost come to expect with most iPhone games.  More importantly to me, however, is the addition of 40 new levels to the mix.  If you didn't have enough to keep yourself busy already, prepare yourself for more.  I'm not sure that I'll ever have the pleasure of seeing those new levels, but it's nice to know that now when I think I'm almost done I won't really be almost done any more.  If you don't already already have a copy of this fine game you can grab it here (App Store Link).


Developing Internal Applications

How can companies use the iPhone and iPod touch to improve worker efficiency?

As the “App Revolution” continues to gain steam, users are beginning to expect that there’s an app for just about anything they want to do. While there are apps for virtually every niche or mainstream aspect of a user’s personal life, there’s a significant void when it comes to apps for a user’s professional life—especially as it relates to large corporate environments. Information workers continue to do more and more of their job while they’re on the go.


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