Recent App Reviews
There are now over 100,000 apps in the App Store; How do you find the ones that are really useful?
In this issue’s column, I want to point you to some apps and Web sites that will help find the ones tht are really useful. Plus, I’ll look at a great free service that helps you organize your apps by letting you add labels on your home screens.
The App Store has a number of features that help you identify good apps, including prominent listings of new apps, hot apps, and staff favorites.
Are you like me and hit the wrong key way too many times when trying to email or text message on your iPhone or iPod Touch? Do you have long nails or wear gloves? If so, you'll want to check out the Pogo Stylus by Ten One Design.
The Pogo Stylus is an ultra-light aluminum stylus with a soft tip that allows electrical charges to transfer from your hand to the screen. Use it to select icons, answer calls, write email and text messages, play games, “draw” on the screen, or surf the web. It’s fun to slide around on the screen without worrying about scratches or finger smudges!
There have been several games in the App Store that revolve around sheep, and some of them border on wacky. So far, I’d say that Peter Und Vlad takes the cake, at least in terms of story. Unfortunately, the game play is pretty standard line drawing fare, and a couple of design issues make the game not quite as fun as it could be. Still, it’s always nice having another entry in the ever growing library of line drawing games that doesn’t somehow involve vehicles.
Too many times have I taken a photo, only to discover that I was shaking or holding the phone at a crazy angle. Result – a really crummy photo. Not any more! The Tripod Camera app includes anti-tilt, anti-shake, and tap-to-focus (3GS only) features that make all my photos turn out beautifully. I love it!
Tripod Camera also features a full-screen shutter, so I can click anywhere on the screen to take the photo. No more hunting that teeny-tiny camera button at the bottom of the page!
I like this app because it’s like having a first-aid instruction book with me all the time. I particularly like the Emergencies & Injuries section. If I need to know how to wrap a sprained ankle or perform the Heimlich maneuver, it’s right there in my iPhone, complete with instructions and illustrations.
Kids will have fun learning to count by ones, twos and threes using Count Caddy. The object is to drag the cat’s yarn, the bird’s feathers and dog’s bones on the screen as you count them. Very effective because it uses three senses: sight, sound and touch. Next time you’re waiting with your child, pull out Count Caddy and teach him or her to count!
For more info, check the Tickle Taps Web site.
Comic Touch is a very fun app to add flair to pictures in your iPhone library.
(Plasc LLC, $2.99)
So where exactly is Angola, other than somewhere on the African Continent? To answer this question I turned to my trusty 3G and quickly downloaded Ganesh Thambiran's app Countries Of The World Lite (free) to find out a few facts about Angola, which I discovered has a population of some 17 million people, and is roughly twice the size of Texas.
Developers need to take a closer look at successful apps
As an iPhone developer, I am always checking out the competition to see what the more successful applications are all about. I especially pay attention to reviews submitted by the users. What do they like about the game? What don’t they like? What suggestions do they have to make the application better?
This has nothing to do with copying someone else’s idea. It is driven by a healthy admiration and respect for the teams that created the apps, and it’s about trying to find out what the apps have that make them a hit. The reviews give me a direct view into the mind of the user. Traditionally, a company could spend millions of dollars on marketing research to get this information, but it’s available for free on the App Store!
What can I say, CandyCane Inc’s Fling (.99) is an awesome app! Though I have almost no time to myself, I often find when I’m stuck trying to solve a problem at work, or with my dissertation, I’ll sort of mindlessly open up Fling and start playing – after awhile I get my mind back into problem solving mode and put it away – so far I’ve made it to level 7.