Recent App Reviews
Real Soccer is the only game in this review, and I can’t believe it only costs 99 cents. Its graphics are top-notch, game play is incredible, and the details and customization are unreal. One person can play this game, but it also has multiplayer functionality. You can choose which team you want to be on (USA, Manchester United, and dozens of others).
TVULite lets you watch your favorite team play anytime you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network. This app gives you access to 300 TVU Network channels from around the world. Don’t even think about using this app without a broadband Wi-Fi connection—EDGE and 3G aren’t fast enough for the feeds. Also, due to the limited processing power of the iPhone/iPod touch, some of the feeds may load slowly and playback might be a bit choppy at times. (A few channels might not even display at all.) However, for the most part, you can easily find your favorite soccer match and watch it in real time.
The name of this program stands for iTunes Store File Validator, and its principal use is to standardize all the metadata in your tracks according to the iTunes file standard. It has many other features, including automatic genre tagging from Last.fm, exporting iTunes Store artwork, and downloading lyrics from LyricsWiki. It also gives an automatic rating according to how often a track is played, creates statistics for your music library, and more. Like many open source applications, iTSfv has a lot of features, but they’re not always easy to find.
While much of the discussion above is related to cleaning up the metadata associated with MP3 files, similar utilities exist for cleaning up MP4 metadata, which is very useful if you have a lot of music videos, TV shows, and movies in iTunes. In particular, iTunes tends to classify music videos as movies and leaves out metadata such as the artist and album. MetaX can fix this as well as do a host of other things. For example, it lets you grab a frame from the video to serve as the poster, and automatically searches for posters online.
This application has nearly 300,000 downloads on VersionTracker alone, and many more on other sites, so it certainly must be one of the more widely used for retrieving album art. You control it using the Script menu in iTunes. Simply select one or more songs in iTunes, select Fetch Art from the script menu, and it searches Amazon.com for the album art. As with other add-ons, Fetch Art only works well if the music’s metadata is accurate, so use one of the add-ons mentioned above before you use it.
GimmeSomeTune runs in the background when iTunes is open. It automatically fetches missing cover art and lyrics and adds them to your library of music. You simply start playing a song, and the software does the fetching. You can also have the application display a song’s lyrics in a separate window. If the program can’t find the lyrics, it lets you quickly do a Google search for them.
Similar to TuneUp, SongGenie (above left) creates an acoustic fingerprint of your tracks to identify them and fill in missing or incorrect metadata information. It works with most standard music file formats (MP3, M4P, MP4A, etc.) and gets its metadata information from the MusicIP database. The same company also offers CoverScout (above right), which uses the corrected metadata to find album covers.
The creative use of the iPhone is, I find, stunning. Every day I receive press releases for apps that I just wouldn't expect. Two new apps that illustrate this are Retina and Eye Glasses. Retina ($.99) is for those who are color blind. You simply point the camera at something, such as an item of clothing in a store, and the app will show the item in the camera's preview mode and tell what color it is. Eye Glasses ($2.99) lets you use your iPhone to see tiny text or other hard-to-see details.
With the introduction of the (free) Vonage Mobile app for the iPhone and Vonage Mobile for iPod Touch, the world might have just gotten a lot smaller. I've been using Vonage since August 27 2005, well before the downturn in the economy, primarily because of growing dissatisfaction with traditional landlines service, customizability and cost. For example, prior to the switch to Vonage, my monthly phone bill was constantly betweeen $90 and $150, primarily because of in-state toll calls and my wife calling family in Hungary. It also irked me that call forwa