Category Archives: Apps

The Best Apps of 2012 Roundup

App Store best of 2012 LogoIn case you missed it, Apple has released an extensive list of last year’s best Apps, Books and songs in the App Store. It’s a pretty extensive list, so you’ll want to be comfortable before jumping in and checking out the selection.

I’d be curious to see how many people already have downloaded most if not all on the list?

By the way, on a similar side note, yesterday marked another milestone for Apple and the App Store by way of 40 BILLION apps being downloaded through the store and that’s not even including re-downloads or updates! That’s incredible.

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App Review: CloudOn for iPad

CloudOn App IconWhat’s the first thing people ask you as soon as they purchase their iPad – Can I run Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint on it? And for a while, there have been solutions (apps) that you could purchase that would help, but didn’t offer complete functionality like the desktop applications did. And even if you ended up with Docs-To-Go or similar, you still ended up having to pay for anything that would be useful.

That is until Cloud On released their app, available through the App Store for FREE, you’re able to open, create and modify Microsoft Office documents with ease (well, at least the main 3 – Word, Excel and Powerpoint. Not only is it free, but it also gives you full application functionality, same as it would on a desktop. I’ve been using it at work for the past few weeks and can honestly say that I’m in love. I can work while moving around, update my spreadsheets and create word docs without having to be at my desk. Great tool to managing workflow, but even if it’s not for business, it’s a great feeling to be completely mobile even in your own home!

CloudOn for iPad Screen Capture

I should warn you that it does have it’s shortfalls. First off you’ll need to create (or login to) a dropbox account. Not a huge deal, since drop box is also free from the App Store. And once you’re got that setup, you configure it with Cloud On and you’re set. The next shortfall is that Cloud On will only work with an internet connection. So if you’re not in wi-fi or out of rang of 3G connectivity, you can’t access your documents. The application is useless actually without internet access. And then there’s the issue of trying to quickly scroll through your document, there’s about a 2 second app delay (blurry) as the app refreshes and displays the content accurately. Not major to me, but if you have no patience, it may not be the best solution.

At a price of FREE, it’s a no-brainer for me. I got the app asap and haven’t looked back since. and use it everyday. I’m not even sure how the app manages to stay free since there’s no in app ads that come up or anything. Once you get it setup and going, you’ll enjoy the unlimited access to a complete list of commands from drop down menus (same as their desktop versions) while working on office documents. It’s worth every penny 😉

My rating: 5/5

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App Review: Evi Personal Assistant

Evi iPhone App IconIn case you missed the news, (or haven’t upgraded to the iPhone 4S yet) there’s another personal assistant that fills the void left by those that don’t have access to Siri. Enter Evi; a 99-cent app for iPhone and iPod Touch. Evi is strictly an information gatherer, grabbing you Internet search results or links to answer your varying questions, which you either speak or type.

While Evi is an interesting app that seems to have the potential to be a viable substitute for Siri. During its release, Evi received a lot of negative reviews as the application frequently failed to connect to its servers due to poor forecasting of traffic. This has seemingly been improved with upgraded servers as the application is much faster and responsive than it was at release. Evi’s voice recognition has yet to fail at identifying commands it’s given and like Siri, Evi provides the user with witty replies for questions asked of it that are not common place.

The primary shortfall of Evi is in the resources utilizes for it’s responses. Evi constantly directs the user to websites that have mediocre content. For the sake of example, the user could ask Evi where to buy pants and Evi would reply with a retail store close to the users GPS position. The issue with the resources, is rather than provide the user with a large and reputable store, the resource it pulls from would provide a company never heard of before.

Evi is also a stand-alone app that has no integration into the other apps in iOS. When given a command like “Compose e-mail”, Evi will provide you with a link to Yahoo mail website rather than open a new message from the e-mail app. This again touches on the poor resources Evi utilizes because lets be serious, who uses Yahoo these days?

Overall the functionality is there with this app and it has huge potential for its use. The development needs a lot of work and with the right attention to detail this app could be incredibly successful. As it stands today, for $0.99 it is still a fun app to mess around with and deserves credit for its effort. With the right implementations this app can be just as good if not better than Siri.

*A special thanks to kevolove for his contributions on this review.

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App Review: HeyTell Voice Messenger

HeyTell iTunes IconHeyTell brings back the original concept of the walkie-talkie, but for your iPhone. A cross-platform voice messenger that allows you to instantly talk with and locate friends and family. No account needed just download from the app store, install and start the app, choose a contact, and push the button to start talking, it’s so easy I walking sending my mindless banter within 2 minutes of searching through the app store.

Simply press and hold the large yellow button to record your voice and convey it to the other person.

HeyTell In UseBefore you roll your eyes and being to think “why not just pick up the phone and call the person”, the app has a few features that can’t be had with regular phone calls such as sharing your location with your selected contact. Conversation are stored locally on your phone for replaying offline. Push notifications alert you when you’ve received an incoming HeyTell message. For use on 3G, EDGE and Wi-Fi.

Before sending your friends a message, make sure they have the app installed or else they’ll get an email letting them know how to get it from the App store. Not bad for a FREE app that bring back the walking-talkie.

The obvious downfall of this app is that it seems a lot easier to just pick up the phone and call. On the other hand, this may be better to use while driving. As opposed to texting/talking while driving, now you can send out quick snippets of verbal messages.

My rating for HeyTell: 3/5

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App Review: mSecure Password Manager

mSecure App IconThe other day I was singing up for an Evernote account and while entering my email, username and password, I realized that this was likely the 342nd account I’ve created somewhere on the internet over the last 10 years. I also realized that I mostly go by memory and don’t really have a ‘place’ to store my passwords and logins. Since I recently lost my wallet, I knew that going old-school and writing everything down on post it notes would probably end up in the wrong hands, I decided to see how secure it would be to put this sensitive information in my iPhone since it never leaves my side and I have it with me 24/7.

mSecure on the iPadAs first I was nervous about this, since if I ever lost my phone, someone would be able to log into all my account and I’d be in serious trouble until I stumbled upon numerous reviewers and trust sources recommending mSecure app for iPad and iPhone.

mSecure is a password manager that allows you to store all of your private information on your iDevice. From credit card numbers, bank account, passwords, prescriptions, combinations, web accounts and many more. The app is supposed to be very secure thought, as you can see from their website, it’s virtually impossible to ‘break in’ and you can set the self-destruct mode to erase and delete after a said number of failed attempts. (I’ve set mine to 5, nice and low)

mSecure In App Icon SetsLoaded with tons of features and options, you can pretty much customize the app any way you want by deleting the default categories, adding pre-loaded icons to easily identify your accounts and even allows you a nice search feature should your list be extremely long and you can’t remember how you entered your account info.

mSecure uses 256-bit encryption of data which is supposed to be “impenetrable.” I’m willing to bet that someone could break in, if they really wanted to. But I don’t know crap about that sort of thing. I’m sure you probably know more than I do. Either you’re rolling your eyes because I’m naïve, or you’re shaking your head thinking I’m paranoid.

mSecure In Use GroupsThe app is on sale for a limited time through the app store for $4.99 (reg. $6.99) The best thing I like about this app is that you can download the desktop manager (Windows or Mac) and back-up your data to your computer and then cross-sync to your iPad. So you have all your data with you at all times, on all devices and you don’t have to input it 5 different times. With iCloud, it’ll be interesting to see what this app can do with ‘magical’ syncing capabilities.

If you’re the type of person who’s freaked out by just logging into your Facebook account, then this app probably isn’t for you. But if you like to throw caution to the wind and need a good place to store important information that you’d like to have on you at all times – then you should check this out. I know there are other password managers, but this one is easy to use and relatively cheap. I’d recommend it based on the price for what you’re getting. Definitely worth it.

The app is pretty much perfect as a utility and the only complaint I really have is that they should allow you to use your own icon images, or allow me to upload them for sure, but that’s me just being really picky. As well as the other thing being that I don’t think data is ever really secure on a phone, no matter how much encryption, but that’s just my paranoia, no fault of mSeven Software (the developers).

My rating: 4/5

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App Review: Video Playlist for iPad

Video Playlist for iPad Icon A few weeks ago, I set out on a road trip to the US and brought the whole family. I figured, I’d load up the iPad with hours and hours of music videos and hit play so that the baby in the car could be entertained the whole way there.

When I set the songs in a playlist, I noticed that they don’t play consecutively. I know I’ve been able to do it on my phone in the past and figured that the iPad should be able to do the same. Read reviews online and it wasn’t. Sigh. The iPad uses a different iOS application for the iPod than it does for videos (That’s why there’s two individual icons on the springboard) … The standard Video App, doesn’t allow for continuous playback on iPad 1 (I’m not sure if this has been fixed on iPad 2 – since I don’t have one yet) but I needed a solution to be able to load multiple music videos and allow them to play continuously without me having to push play after every track. Same way the iPod playlist plays continuous.

Found Video Playlist in App Store for 99¢ and couldn’t be happier. A simple concept that works so well, and I felt should have been put in the operating system since day one. This app does exactly what it’s named, with an added bonus, since you can add/remove and edit your video playlists on the fly. Instead of having to change the playlists in your iTunes, this is in-app so you can re-arrange when away from your PC.

Video Playlist iPad Screen Capture 1

You also get access to your complete iTunes library, synced to your iPad so you could even cue, TV episodes, movies, etc. to play continually, without having to hit play after every video. The on-screen navigation of the app is easy to follow and allows for full screen, track skipping and shuffling.

Video Playlist iPad Screen Capture 2

A must-have utility app if you’ve go lots and lots of music videos loaded on your iPad 1. My rating: 5/5

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App Review: Mike Tyson – Main Event

Mike Tyson-Main Event IconFor anyone that owned the classic on NES (Nintendo Entertainment System), the Mike Tyson: Main Event app is a must have and the fact that it’s FREE for a limited time makes it that much more sweet. Now for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, you can relive the memories of gaming on the TV as your trainer, Doc, would coach you through all the levels until you were strong enough to face Mike Tyson himself.

Almost, while this app has a look and (sorta) feel to the NES classic, it lacks in terms of longevity. I got bored after about 5 minutes. The sound was annoying and the controls weren’t as responsive as I would have liked them to have been. There are a lot of levels to choose from, so you don’t have to worry about it not holding up on fighters, but it’s definitely not as smooth as it was in the classic version.

You pay for what you get, when it comes to this one, but it is great since you can jump straight into the main event and fight Mike Tyson right away. (You’re likely not going to beat him) but at least you don’t have to waste your time fighting a bunch of no-names. Enjoy some of the screen captures below to see what’s in store.

The Title Screen (with the Hangover 2 credit)
Tyson-Screenshot1

In-Game Action which resembles the style and layout of the NES classic
Tyson-Screenshot2

In between rounds there’s dialoque between the opponents (Not spoke, just read)
Tyson-Screenshot3

In the menu selection screen you can skip straight through and face the champ
Tyson-Screenshot4

My rating: 2/5

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App Review: Angry Birds Rio

Angry Birds Rio IconIf you’re like me and love wasting hours upon hours playing a game on your iPhone and/or iPad, then this one is for you. This past Tuesday Rovio, makers of the Angry Birds series release Angry Birds Rio available for download in the App Store for 99 cents ($2.99 for iPad)

For anyone that’s not sure what the hype is all about consider that I recommend this as THE first game any iOS owner should jump into. It’s a physics-based slingshot style game that allows you to launch ‘angry’ birds into piles of cleverly-placed debris with the ultimate goal of eliminating as many of the enemies as possible with the least amount of flying birds. The controls are simple enough that a 3 years old could do it.

Angry Birds Rio Screen Capture

You can earn achievements for getting the highest score and now that the game is available through the Game Centre you can challenge friends.

Angry Birds Screen Capture 2

A simple yet addictive game that’s well worth every penny. This recent release titled “Rio” adds 60 new levels that has twists adapted from the feature film with the same title.

If you’re not sure about buying the full game, you can search for the FREE version and get access to limited levels. Try before you buy. Rovio even had a feature trailer in anticipation of this game’s worldwide release. Check it out…

I’m rating this a perfect 5/5.

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Pre-Valentine’s Day App Sales

Look’s like the App Store has some Valentine’s Day sales lined up for the next few days. Today, Capcom dropped the price of some of their apps for a limited time. Search “Sega” in the App Store to get hits on other titles – I’ve highlighted some of my top picks:

Street Fighter App Store IconStreet Fighter IV (iPhone)
Regular Price: $9.99
On Sale: $0.99

Bringing Capcom’s all-time classic from the console to your iPhone is a great way to relive your childhood (I did). SF4 uses on-screen virtual controls and visually stunning graphics that had me hooked for hours. Each character has a full set of special moves along with devastating combos. You can read a longer review here.

Street Fighter 4 Battle Screen

RE4 App Store IconResident Evil 4: Platinum (iPhone, iPad)
Regular Price: $4.99
On Sale: $0.99

From the Nintendo GameCube to your iPhone/iPad, Resident Evil 4 from Capcom is solid and reliable, emulating the tense action and survival-horror feel of the classic console original. The controls oren’t the greatest, but they’re not bad. You’ll get a story mode, time-based arcade-styled ‘mercenaries’ mode that can be unlocked when you’ve successfully completed the story campaign. Great value for the price.

RE4 Gameplay Screen Capture

Sonic Hedgehog App Store IconSonic the Hedgehog (iPhone)
Regular Price: $4.99
On Sale: $2.99

Sega’s 2D classic platform speedy side-scroller features all seven of the game’s original zones and all it’s original gameplay. You won’t find much differences in content from the console ancestor – but it’s a great duplicate! Sonic was such a good game originally that any type of changes or updates to the gameplay wouldn’t do the game justice. Great price for gaming nostalgia.

Sonic Hedgehog Gameplay Screen Capture

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App Review: Street Fighter IV

Street Fighter App Store IconProbably one of the nicest looking games on the iPhone screen has to go to Capcom’s Street Fighter 4 available for a limited time for 99 cents through the App Store. The game includes 14 fighters to choose for battle – Ryu, Ken, Guile and more. It’s not long before you pick your favourite and start kicking ass in no time!

Simplified controls and responsive button mapping makes it one of the only playable fighting games on iOS. Since it’s release in the App store in March 2010, there’s been weekly updates from Capcom either adding new fighters to the roster or tightening up the gameplay.

Street Fighter 4 Fighter Select Screen

Street Fighter 4 Battle Screen

Plus, the game includes Bluetooth multiplayer battles, allowing you to challenge your friends simulating the arcade experience without the quarters.

Regular price for this game before the price drop was $9.99. Just based on price for what you’re getting it makes the purchase worth it. The awesome controls and beautiful graphics is just bonus. I’m rating this 5/5

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