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Let’s review some Apps…(1)

The idea for this blog entry is based on Rosiv’s blog. His Blog entry deals with his
installed apps. So I’ll show you what runs on mine. Maybe there’s some App you
haven’t discovered yet and find useful for your convenience. This collection has
been built up after one year of iPhone 4 usage. Some are good, some are okay…

You may also want to read the other posts I’ve made, so here’s an overview of what has been blogged so far in this series:

Table of Content:

Let’s review some Apps…(1)
Let’s review some Apps…(2)
Let’s review some Apps…(3)
Let’s review some Apps…(4)
Let’s review some Apps…(5)
Let’s review some Apps…(6)

Apple’s AppMarket has already stored 500.000 apps and is still growing. Some of them are great, some of them are complete trash. My selection contains apps, that are at least worth trying. I don’t like crap on my phone. So I tested them and I give a small verdict to each app presented.

Let’s start with the system-relevant Apps:

Filer

Ever wanted to have the opportunity to download almost every file to your iPhone without being confronted with the “Not compatible” message box that pops up when you try to fetch a file that’s not meeting up with the MIME type list stored in Safari? Filer allows you exactly this. However you may still run into problems opening an ogg file on your iDevice as there’s simply no decoder for OGG-Files installed on the iDevices. Sharing of files is only available by email. No exchenge thru WiFi is possible and Synching is probably only possible using Dropbox. There’s also a “LITE” version available but afaik there are advertise banners and it can’t handle as much filetypes as the pro version.

Pros:
+ Does what it promises
+ Sleek and fast
+ offers own webbrowser to cirumvent Safari limitations
+ easy to use
+ Share files by emailing them

Cons:
– Does not work with YouTube
– Does not work with streaming sites
– No internal viewer for iDevice-unknown filetypes
– No WiFi-Sharing with other Devices (PC, iPhone)

Overall-Rating: ★★★☆☆ – Get App here – $3.99

 

Battery Doctor

What sounds like one of the many battery charging tips and info apps quickly shows up as a swiss army knife for your iDevice. The tool is as far as I know the only one that displays almost everything about your iDevices interna that could be read out. Besides that it also helps you managing and enhancing your battery’s lifespan by assisting you with the correct maintenance cycle. Now you wonder how much this app cost? 15 US$? 8US$? 4US$? 2US$? 1US$? – You’re all wrong! This tool is downloadable for free. I recommend this without any regrets! This is a Must-Have app!

Pros:
+ Does what it promises
+ Displays almost accurate battery runtimes
+ Helps you maintaining your battery charging cycles
+ Comes with handy information tools
+ Includes a switchboard for faster access of certain functions
+ Comes with a complete system information tool
+ Comes with a process list (intreresting for developers maybe)
+ Good Tips list how to enhance stamina time of your battery
+ Ads-free although it’s free to download! (Very nice!!!)

Cons:
Haven’t found any of them so far…

Overall-Rating: ★★★★★+★ – Get App here – Free
(The extra star is for the unbeatable price against competitors, it’s huge functionality and for being ads-free!)

 

Smart Alarm Clock

This App is probably interesting for those who want to spy on their sleeping behaviour. It monitors your sleeping cycles (deep sleep cycle, REM cycle, easy sleep cycle). Before that it lets you doze off with soft tones and music (there are additional music packs and tone packs for in-app purchase). While there are several apps around to do this kind of thing, this app allows a detailed report to be watched when waking up. As far as I recon, there’s also a record function that shows you where noises occurred that may have disturbed your deep sleep cycle. Good for analyzing if youre sleep-talking or having a disrupted sleep in common. App works fine even when in airplane mode or all RFC options are disabled. So you’re not disturbed by radio interference when sleeping. A Must as the application requires your iPhone being placed besides your pillow to monitor movements and noises.

Pros:
+ Good sleep monitoring tool
+ Good statistics tool
+ Good sound recording option to analyze distortions
+ Lets you doze off with your personal iPod music
+ Not as expensive as competitors
+ Works with all RFC options disabled or in airplane mode
+ History function

Cons:
– Requires the iPhone hooked to a power source as it consumes lots of battery power
– You often forget to prepare your iPhone to monitor your sleep…
– not suitable with the iPad

Overall-Rating: ★★★☆☆ – Get App here – $0.99

 

Atomuhr (Gorgy timing)

Ever wanted to have an exact time when you’re planning something or bidding on an ebay auction or the like? Then this app might be for you! Upon startup it syncs with the NTP time server(s) to display the accurate time.
The Gorgy design is used very often in studios and trainstations such as the Munich subway. The Gorgy studio clock consists of LEDs that show the time digits and sixty LEDs that represent the seconds like an invisible second hand of a clock. Unfortunately this App can’t sync your iDevice’s time due to system restrictions made by Apple. All in all it’s a handy nice-looking clock.

Pros:
+ Timeless design
+ Syncs with NTP time servers
+ configurable display and sounds

Cons:
– Rather expensive
– Can’t sync iDevice clock

Overall-Rating: ★★★☆☆ – Get App here – $1.99

 

Find my iPhone

This App is for those who often leave their iDevice at some place and cannot properly remind where they let it. This works well only if you have activated the positioning service to run in the background for your iDevice. Otherwise it tries using the GSM network to determine it’s position via A-GPS by using three network cells for almost-exact positioning. But be advised that you will need a MobileMe-Account to use the search function on your computer as well. You may now ask, why to have this App on your iDevice. Good question but simple answer: If you have more than one iDevice, say you own an iPhone and an iPad then you might want to search your iPad with your iPhone ;) – All in all, good app and it’s free!

Pros:
+ Works well
+ simple interface
+ Quick response of your iDevice

Cons:
– Needs MobileMe-Account (also free)
– Fails to work if both, GPS and GSM are not available!

Overall-Rating: ★★★★☆ – Get App here – Free

 

Lock Screen Weather

Ever wanted to have your weather data seen even with the lock screen active? There is a possibility to do so but it requires jailbreaking your iDevice for that. One Programmer however found a way to give you this opportuniy without jailbreaking your iDevice. The App allows selecting the corresponding weather location and when you’re set a your iDevice goes into Lock Mode, then there0s the weather also visible on your Lock screen! Unfortunately, the App is currently not available due to a guideline violation reason. I couldn’t locate it yet in the iTunes store. Sad but true… handy tools often get cancelled and disposed off the iTunes AppStore.

Kozarek (the programmer has used a clever trick to get past Apple’s guidelines. Oliver Haslam of iDB explains how it works:

The app actually works by playing a silent song via the built-in iPod app. The album art is then displayed in the lock screen, which is in turn updated depending on your location. It might sound like a hack – and let’s be fair, it really is – but it gets around Apple’s guidelines and actually seems to work.

Workaround for Music playback: Select Silent song from the settings menu of this App and you’re done.

Pros:
+ You don’t need to unlock your phone to display weather information
+ Easy to use
+ Real lockscreen functionality
+ Updated weather stats every 5 minutes or so

Cons:
– Much lower battery stamina as iPod functionality is used

Overall-Rating: ★★★★☆ – App is not available anymore :( – $0.99

 

Here’s now internet-based services Apps that rely on information of a certain homepage or service:

WordPress

Ever wanted to share your in-time experience with your friends on your WordPress blog? With this App you can. Simple as that. The App has been improved here and there within the last 9 months. Sure it can’t compete with the full-featured internet-based version of your WordPress blog interface but hey, when you’re in nature and not willing to take a notebook with you, then your iDevice might just fill this gap. You can write basic blog entries and add your media with it (videos or pictures) – Voilà, push it up to your blog using the GSM services and within seconds it appears on your blog. Of course the fine-tuning (like enhanced formatting of text and the like) should be done using the Web.Interface of your blog.

Pros:
+ Post to your blog from everywhere
+ Add pictures and videos from your iDevice
+ Have your location sent with your blog entry.

Cons:
– private-hosted blogs may be a bit icky to handle uploads
– only basic formatting functions
– No addon functionality provided

Overall-Rating: ★★★★☆ – Get App here – Free

 

Wikipedia

You all know the modern and easy-to-use online encyclopedia that stands you answers to almost all of your questions. Couldn’t think of a good time without it. Best of all, the Wikipedia encyclopedia is always up-to-date and very fast filled with actual events. What’s more practical to do a quick research on your iDevice on  certain things you wonder about? Sure you could open Safari and browse the Wikipedia site there. But the App is especially designed to handle request efficiently and without stressing your data transfer amount to the maximum. Of course you need internet access for this App to work but in today’s times there are numerous WiFi spots for free to log in and most of you iDevice users may have an accurate 3G data price plan, so no worries about that here.

Pros:
+ Wikipedia always available at the press of the App button
+ Handy, categorized view of articles
+ Economic data transfer handling
+ Use the Wiki repository of your language choice

Cons:
– Playback of certain wikimedia audio content not possible (OGG-format)
– A bit small on the iPhone
– No caching of certain articles on your iDevice

Overall-Rating: ★★★★☆ – Get the App here – Free

 

Google Earth

Ever wanted to swish thru the world with real top-view images and browse spots you’re about to visit? With Google Earth this is possible. Although you cannot access StreetView, the tilt sensor of your iPhone may show you a relief map of the browsed region. So a near-Augmented-Reality-Feeling comes up when you browse for the Matterhorn for example and see the Matterhorn elevate from the rest of the area. The only downside is that it uses vast amounts of data to transmit to show the regoins in high quality. Multiple MBs are instantly browsed away when you zoom in to a specific point. So you’d better have a good data rate plan, otherwise use it with WiFi only!

Pros:
+ The world at your hands
+ Uses actual Google Earth repository
+ Quick access to favourite locations
+ Tilt sensor to show relief map in 3D view
+ Usage of Panoramino links even in semi-AR-Mode

Cons:
– No StreetView
– Huge data transfer amounts
– may act sluggish on older iDevices!

Overall-Rating: ★★★★☆ – Get the App here – Free

 

Skyscanner

Ever wanted to have one handy App that allows you searching for flights to book and take off to your desired destination without checking a dozen of homepages to find the cheapest flight? With Skyscanner exactly this problem is addressed. You simply provide the App with the given parameters such as Take-Off and Destination and the amount of persons flying and let Skyscanner do the rest. It then crawls several booking sites and compares their prices against each other and displays you the result in a handy table to use. Great if you have to plan a trip in short time. I have used it to check for flights to Rome and found very cheap ones in a short time.

Pros:
+ Quite fast crawling all the sites it uses for price compare
+ Allows setting of reginal conditions such as Currency, Location and Language
+ Allows Search for Country instead of specified airport
+ Very nice interface
+ Instant price information
+ Saves search history

Cons:
haven’t found any so  far

Overall-Rating: ★★★★★ – Get the App here – Free

 

Viber

Ever dreamt of something like WhatsApp but for Phone calls? No excessive phone bills for distant-calls. It’s something like Skype but it’s different in other ways. Whereas in Skype you need to know one’s ID and store it in a contact list, Viber uses your phone number as unique ID. So when someone dials your number in Viber like he/she would initiate a phone call the connection is instantly made when your Viber is running also. Probably a thorn in the eyes of mobile service carriers but it definitel saves your buck here and there. Should be on your iDevice! Definitely woth trying if you dislike Skype for it’s immense download size of 31MB (which you can’t download on 3G without jailbreak)

Pros:
+ Very cheap distant calls
+ Unique ID is your cell phone number
+ Calls are instantly built up
+ New: Also adds message feature now!
+ Very small binary size (1.7MB) – Skype comes to 31 MB!

Cons:
– No info about update policy of expired IDs
– Needs Push notification activated!
– May experience bad speech quality on low bandwidth!

Overall-Rating: ★★★★★ – Get the App here – Free

 

Alarme-Météo

Ever wondered what the upcoming weather will be in certain regions of Switzerland? For habitants of Switzerland a great forecast tool, for ski fans a great warning tool to inform about avanlance risks and for travellers a great tool to have infos about common weather changes and harsh weather conditions affecting street safety. If you are confronted with a storm, this tool also forks out a warning. You can even see the rain field radar to determine where it is snowing or raining right now. And it informs you if bad weather conditions are ahead. This need push notifications activated.

Pros:
+ Good travelling tool
+ Warning of upcoming harsh weather conditions
+ Warning of dangerous street conditions
+ Website allows for registration of a swiss cell network number for SMS

Cons:
– Works only with Push notification
– Only useful in Switzerland
– Only in German, Italian and French available
– Only in swiss AppStore (german)

Overall-Rating: ★★★★☆ – Get the App here – Free

 

Dropbox

Probably one of the most popular online data storages available on computers and mobile devices. Share your files easily in between your devices. Great stuff for documents and images or videos but don’t know if it works properly with audio files such as MP3 and other popular formats on iDevices. Some Apps use Dropbox to sync their settings and data. One of them is 1Password which will be mentionned later in this article.

Pros:
+ Instant file sharing
+ watch your quota instantly (2GB)
+ Reserve cache storage (up to 1GB)

Cons:
– 1Password refuses to work with Dropbox at the moment, don’t know where it hangs.
– No sharing of audio files between iDevices
– Account update only provides one price plan (99 USD for 50GB a year!)

In-App-Purchases:
Price plan update to 50GB of Storage: 99US$

Overall-Rating: ★★★☆☆ – Get the App here – Free

 

Path

Path allows you to create and share your personal Online-Diary with friends. Advantage to Facebook is that Path is very sleek and fast and does not spam you with all kinds of advertisement such as Facebook does. Just a plain sleek journal that lets you add Images, Videos and text to it and share your music experience with your friends. Haven’t tried it myself as I use my blog for such things but for the first look it looks fine. If youre fed up with facebook, you can give Path a try. And about the prvacy issue that has been recently published: Path has explained that user data is no longer stored one year onlie even after deletion. When it’s deleted, it’ll be gone in a couple of days!

Pros:
+ Slim and plain journal with timeline function
+ Easy to use
+ Share with people you trust by default
+ Share entries on your Twitter, Facebook, Tublr or Foursquare Account

Cons:
– Needs online connection to store your postings
– No offline writing capabilities (but is in work…)

Overall-Rating: ★★★☆☆ – Get the App here – Free

 

Okay, now let’s have a look on my Productivity (Office) Apps:

Evernote

Probably one of my most-used apps if t comes to easy document-sharing and synching between your electronic document processing devices (PC, Mobile computer, iPhone, iPad). You know the situation where you have written something into a specific document mand need your information on another device on the Go. Well search no longer, because Evernote keeps track of exactly this kind of information and you can access it on every device where Evernote is available on (actually it’s Android, iDevices, PC, Blackberry, Mac and WebOS devices). So when you edit your documents, they’re instantly available updated on all your devices you have Evernote on. Best of all: If you’re off the network, you can still access the cached version of your basic text document. However downloaded files from Web and stored on your Evernote account are only cached with pro account!

Pros:
+ Basic functions allow instant document sharing
+ Basic free account can handle docs up to 25MB
+ Secure Sharing with other evernote users  possible
+ Simple and tidy interface
+ Good integration into iOS (save downloaded PDFs from webpages to Evernote)

Cons:
– Limited upload capability (250MB per month)
– Ads in Desktop Application
– Seems to have problems on iPad2
– Basic Account does not cache downloaded files on iDevice
– Basic Account requires Online Connection for nested Files

In-App Options:
1 Month Pro account subscription: 4.99 US$
1 Year Pro account subscription: 44.99 US$

Overall-Rating: ★★★★☆ – Get the App here – Free

 

1Password Pro

You probably know this: You’re at work and you need access to a server or generic user account but can’t remember the password you used? Then 1Password is the tool for you to use. Of course there are many other password keeping tools but 1Password seems to work best for me. Although there are many negative reviews on iTunes Store, I’d like to give you an overview of my own and how I work with 1Password. I like the idea of a 2-step authentication to access sensitive data such as account information. 1Password lets you specify a master password that can be used to lock the database and/or single entries. So even if someone can hack your 4digit security code, he will stumble into problems when it comes to your master password. Unfortunately you cannot sync your iDevices without a PC or Mac in the middle. This issue is already in the ToDo-List of AgileSoft and may be implemented in a new version of 1Password. It is expensive but IT Pros worldwide use mostly 1Password to store their account data.

Pros:
+ AutoLock feature after a given period (4digit code)
+ AutoHardLock feature after a given period (master password)
+ Convenient templates for different account types to fill out quickly
+ Optionally hardprotect very sensitive account data by master password
+ Sync function with DropBox

Cons:
– No AutoFormFill in Safari on mobile browser
– DB cannot be synched without PC/MAC
– Expensive

Overall-Rating: ★★★★☆ – Get the App here – 14.99US$

 

Dragon Dictation

You probably know Dragon naturally speaking from your old days at the computer. Long learning processes to train the Computer to your voice and speaking behaviour. Dragon finally has found it’s way to the iDevices as well. So when you’re in a hurry, you may want to quickly speak a text and have the dication program do the texting instead of typing it on the onscreen keyboard which is not made for quick instant typing. I personally like the extremely fast recognition speed of Dragon Dictation. Unlike the AppStore reviews where sluggish behaviour and non-erasing of spoken text after App restart is reported, I could not find any such problems when using it on my iPhone 4. Regional settings allow for recognition in your language – for example you set German as language and speak german text, it’s quickly recognized as such.

Pros:
+ Very fast recognition of shorther spoken passages (less than 250 words)
+ Very accurate in selected region setting.
+ Export to SMS, E-Mail, Twitter and Facebook
+ Copy to clipboard
+ Dictate –  Stop – Recognize – Resume feature (for dictation of longer texts)
+ Unbeatable price

Cons:
– Linguistic interpunction not supported (you must say “period”, “comma” etc.)

Overall-Rating: ★★★★★ – Get the App here – Free

 

CCal

Annoyed of the limited functionality of the built-in calendar of your iDevices. Then CCal, which works together with Google Calendar is the answer. Overview over appointments, full compatibility with MS Outlook and a split view of your todays appointments and a week overview make this calendar handy if you have to manage several appointments at once. Even recurring events are supported. Colored categories supported (mostly). And it integrates into your iDevice alarm system. So when an event is upcoming, your iDevice will notify you about this even when CCal is not running. However your host system must have Google Calendar Sync running in order to have the most actual appointments stored in Google Calendar.

Pros:
+ Integrates well into iOS of your iDevice
+ Alarm functionality even when application is not running
+ Good week overview
+ Highly customizable

Cons:
– Depends on Google Calendar
– Synching is only done when you have network connection
– Synching only manually or autmatically upon App start
– No automatic inline synchronization upon given interval time
– No Task support
– Quite expensive

Overall-Rating: ★★★☆☆ – Get the App here – $5.99

 

abcNotes

Note applications are available in numerous variants, each promises to be better than the competition. The builtin App from Apple is sufficient for most notes however lacks some features such as font scaling, font coloring, font selection etc. abcNotes enhances these features and allows to organize notes on virtual desktops (15). Each note can vary in size, is scalable and twistable and even the “paper” can be selected. A highlight is the checkbox function that allows you to make To-Do-lists quick and easy. As this App does a sync on iCloud, all your iDevices have the same notes on them. So I can say that it’s a great enhancement to the standard Note App.

Pros:
+ Notes highly customizable
+ Multiple virtual desktops for organization of these
+ iCloud synchronization
+ Export notes to e-Mail

Cons:
– handling not always optimal
– fairly high price for a standard note App

Overall-Rating: ★★★☆☆ – Get the App here – $2.99

 

Crimson RPN Calculator

When searching for a good scientific calculator, I stumbled upon Crimson Scientific calculator. Other calculators were not of such good quality or have a real odd behaviour. So I gave this a try eventhough the enter process is different from common calculators. So when you want to do a simple calculation, say 9 times 6, you usually press 9 (multiply) 6 (sum key). This calculator however requires you to confirm the first number with ENTER as there’s noc C/AC key to clear the memory. So the given calculation on the crimson calculator is 9 (ENTER) 6 (multiply) and the result is instantly shown. Different it is and sort of confusing but when you got the drill, you’re fine with it. Unfortunately if you need functions such as “interchangeable” numeric systems (Binary, Octet, Hexadecimal), you’re forced to buy the Programmer version of the Crimson 15c to do so. Total you pay 4 dollars for the 2 calculators then. Yet it’s the best calculator App I was able to find so far when it comes to special features, the standard calculator can’t handle.

Pros:
– Only calculator that seems to deal with enhanced functions
– Fast
– Programmable

Cons:
– Odd input chronology
– Expensive
– No help documentation
– Additional features cost

In-App-Purchases:
– Advanced Scientific functions 2.99US$
– Financial Calculator 1.99US$
– Programmers Calculator 1.99US$

Overall-Rating: ★★☆☆☆ – Get the App here – $1.99

 

Mindjet

I think, there’s not much to say about the pioneer of the legendary Mindmaps. You all know them, mindmaps. structured diagrams that deal with categories and subcategories (dependencies) and which are shown in a yet lucid way. So far mindmaps were only created on a computer but iDevice users didn’t have the chance to do likewise on theirs as the App has long time not been ported to them. Mindjet took the time to produce an App that’s usable even with a touchscreen and with limited space. Several export functions help you to spread your mindmaps to others and with Mindjet Connect support you can edit your documents on any of your iDevices. Anyways I miss the iCloud support to share your documents. But hey, the App is free of charge so whatever…

Pros:
+ Works flawless
+ Intuitive usage and quick to learn
+ Mutliple export functions
+ Dropbox support
+ Unbeatable price tag

Cons:
– Missing iCloud support

Overall-Rating: ★★★★☆ – Get the App here – Free

 

Okay, that’s for now a very long review for my first three categories.
Coming up: Media Apps / Network Apps (Link will be active when post is active)

Stay tuned.

© Copyright 2012 Netspark, All rights Reserved. Written For: Netspark's Blog
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February 29, 2012 Netspark - 966 posts - Member since: May 9th, 2011 No Comments »

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