Recent App Reviews
Most closed reading systems offer classic books that are no longer subject to copyright and other restrictions. The exception to this is the Iceberg Reader system. Scrollmotion (the developers of Iceberg Reader) have partnered with Random House, Hachette, Penguin Putnam, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Simon & Schuster, and are able to offer a uniquely contemporary selection of books.
Classics does not offer content that you can’t find elsewhere, but it does offer an incredibly unique interface that helps replicate the experience of reading a hardcover book.
Rather than displaying a list of books, the main interface is a digital bookshelf with cover images for each of the books in the library. Tap on an image to open the book and start reading it. Even the page turns are animated. Unfortunately, like a hardcover book, there is not much else you can do. Underneath the slick graphics and animation, this is really a no-frills reading experience.
In addition to the well-known document viewer, Readdle Docs, Readdle also publishes a number of eBook collections, including Shakespeare, Fairy Tales, Horror Books, Love Stories, and others. I tested their system out with Shakespeare and was quite impressed.
BeamItDown eBooks is probably the most unique closed reading system. Instead of breaking text into pages, BeamItDown uses its “iFlow” technology to display the content as a continuous stream of text scrolling up your screen. You can sit back and watch as the text passes right before your eyes. (eReader offers this functionality as well.)
BeamItDown utilizes the unique iFlow technology to display the material without interference from cumbersome page changes or screen swipes.
The last entry in this section is Stanza, which is the most feature-rich expandable eBook reader available for the iPhone, and while it may not sync with the Kindle 2, it does just about everything else. To start, the main library gives you full-color thumbnails of each of your books. This helps replicate the feeling of actually browsing through a bookstore. To make it even better, when you turn your iPhone sideways, you get your library in coverflow view, just like in iTunes.
Jamendo, a free application released earlier this summer gives you streaming access to more than 21,000 free music albums and over 200,000 tracks. Jamendo is the top site in the world for free and legal music downloads, with all music made available under the Creative Commons licenses. This video gives a good overview of the application. The service offers five categories of music: Electro, Instrumental, Jazz, Lounge, and Pop.
Releasing the iPhone Kindle app is probably the smartest move Amazon has made since introducing the Kindle. While the Kindle app is pretty bare bones, it does offer a few significant features that make it worth a closer look First of all, it’s tied to Amazon.com, and all of the 200,000+ books available for the Kindle can be read with the iPhone Kindle app. In addition, the prices of Kindle eBooks are very competitive, with most best-sellers costing $9.99 or less.
This is the most readily available of the expandable eBook readers, offering versions of the app for virtually every mobile platform out there. Since your library is maintained online, you can move books between platforms. For example, you can read an eReader book on an iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile smartphone, and more. However, you cannot synchronize your progress between platforms as you can with Kindle’s Whispersync.
By now, everyone should know that smoking has all sorts of negative effects on your health. However, those who have smoked all their lives often have trouble quitting. I checked out an iPhone app called GottaKickit.
GKi lets you set the number of cigarettes you’re allowing yourself to smoke, and then the app tells you when you can take that smoke break. The interval is gradually increased, and eventually you are on your way to becoming smoke-free. You indicate that you’re having that cigarette by flicking the flame on a virtual lighter, and then the app tells you when your next smoke is due.
In an attempt to incorporate fresher foods into my diet, I’ve become a “localvore” whenever possible. That means I attempt to eat fresh foods grown in my area when I can find them. How do you find out what’s fresh in your area? If you’re an iPhone user, you can go to the iTunes App Store and search for “What’s Fresh”. This app uses the iPhone’s GPS capabilities to determine your location and lets you know what fruits and vegetables are currently in season in your area.