I generally don’t accessorize my iPhone or iPad too much – I usually find one option that works, and stick with it for the long haul (or at least until I upgrade the device). What I get usually focuses on the essentials – protections, storage, charging, etc. So here is the list of accessories from 2011:
Narrowing down the list of my most used apps is a huge undertaking! There are apps that I may use intensively for long periods of time, then not use so much at all. What I tried to do was identify the apps there were used on an almost daily basis, even if they were ones that I didn't use for a long period of time each day. This is perhaps best exemplified by my first choice...
In addition to being an iPhone/iPad enthusiast, I am a full time biology professor at the University of Texas Pan-American. Since I first purchased my iPhone in 2008, and my iPad in 2010, I have found them to be indispensible tools that I use almost on a daily basis. Some of the apps are the routine built in apps (calendar, contacts, etc) while others are specialty apps that I used for a specific task. As a faculty member, I divide my activities into one of three categories - teaching, research, and service, and I use these two devices in each arena..
Temple Run is a fun, easy to play 3D “runner” game. You goal – to run…that’s all, run away. Think of it like this – you are Indiana Jones, you have just stolen the idol from the temple, and now, instead of being chased by natives, you are being chased by hairy monkey.
The iPad can do many things. One of the things I am most excited about it acting as an electronic comic book reader. Marvel, DC, and many other publishers currently have their own comic book apps out there (of course, they still charge cover price AND charge cover price for back issues, despite the fact that production costs are decreased…but that’s a diatribe for another day), and many of those apps have some nice features. But I am talking about apps that let you read your OWN comic book collection (I don’t want to have to buy comics again from a company when I have an original).
NDrive USA [$32.99 - iTunes link] is a new GPS app which features turn by turn direction, entering the already crowded marketplace. NDrive prides itself on a simple interface, and when looking at the map, that is readily apparent. The map itself has little of the clutter that some of the other apps have – no different colors for different land types, no buildings popping in, no markers for POIs, etc. Just you, the map, and the route. Some people may prefer this approach, others may not. I will point out that in some locations, you do have 3D buildings appear – certainly not in Edinburg TX, however.
Labyrinth was one of the first games that I saw to come out for the iPhone. I never downloaded it (beyond the free version) but when Labyrinth 2 [$4.99 - iTunes link] came out, I thought I would give it a try. And boy, am I glad I did.
Labyrinth 2 takes the classic Labyrinth and builds a complex game from a simple concept. For those unfamiliar with the original ORIGINAL labyrinth, it was a wooden board with a couple of dials on either side. These dials would tilt the board, and your goal was to move a marble from the start of the maze, or labyrinth, to the end. My father actually had the original! The original iPhone version was basically the same thing, except tilting the iPhone was how you moved the balls. This new version adds some new levels and twists on to that concept.
Grinchmas [$1.99 - iTunes link] is a Christmas themed game designed by Oceanhorse Media. In the game, you get to choose if you play “Merry Grinch” or “Mean Grinch”. With the mean Grinch, you goal is to throw snowballs at the houses which are playing too much music (and thus bothering you). With the merry Grinch, you through presents at the houses (of matching color) trying to spread Christmas joy.
iXpenseit [$4.99 - iTunes link] for iPhone and iPod touch is a budget tracking app that has recently appeared on the iPhone commercials. It allows a user to track monthly and daily spending, breaking items down into categories, as well as allowing the user to see overall spending.
iGo My Way [$79.99 - iTunes link] is the fourth turn-by-turn app I have reviewed. As with the other three, I have used the app around town as well as planning for a long trip (the same trip I have taken with the others). It generally suggested very reasonable routes, it had the vast majority of POI’s that I was looking for (in fact, I don’t recall a single instance where I couldn’t find something). So how did it compare in the long distance travel?
Gokivo [$4.99 - iTunes link] is the next GPS application in the increasingly long list of iPhone GPS turn-by-turn apps. First off, when I started the app, I got a little confused because it looks almost exactly like Google Maps (in fact, it may literally be the same). But the interface expands beyond Google Maps. When you put in a term for searching, you get an expanded list of options - including using local Yahoo lists, categories, your contact list, etc.
In the turn by turn wars, Sygic has entered the fray with their Mobile Maps US. They also have versions for a number of other countries. Like all turn by turn apps, this one allows you to create navigation routes, utilize points of interest (POI), and assists in the actual driving of the route by giving you turn-by-turn directions. So how does it compare? Read on to find out.
With CoPilot Live North America [$34.99 - iTunes link] The march of GPS Turn-by-turn apps continued. (See the App Review master list, above, for reviews of AT&T Navigator, Navigon Mobile Navigator, iGo My Way, and Sygic Mobile Maps). In the interest of full disclosure, I received a promo code to review this app.
GPS Turn-by-turn apps all want to achieve the same goal - become the ultimate navigation assistant to help you when you are driving. So far the apps I have reviewed have had strong points and some weak points - each having some features that are nice, but no one app dominating the competition. CoPilot Live falls right in, with some compelling features but also lacking some features to put it over the top.
I have said it before, I will take it again, I am not a huge fan or word games. But occasionally one will come along that captures my attention. Bookworm [$2.99 - iTunes link] is just such a game.
The premise is simple - you are presented with a field of letter tiles. You need to go through spelling words with connecting tiles. As words are spelled, those tiles vanish, and new tiles fall from the top to replace them. Throw in features like bonus works, green tiles (for more points), red tiles (that "burn" through the others to the bottom) and you have the game Bookworm.
Hurricane [$3.99 - iTunes link] is a hurricane tracking app for the iPhone and iPod touch.
Back when I lived in Florida, hurricanes were a yearly concern. Now that I am in Texas, they don’t play such a prominent role but they are still something to think about. Hurricane is an app designed to try to take away some of that concern.
I have actually had this app for well over 4 months, but I wanted to wait till the middle of hurricane season so I could see it in action. And let me say, the app generally performs very well. The app starts off with a screen where you can select Atlantic or Pacific hurricanes, and then gives you a list of the active storms as well as completed storms. When you click on a storm, you can look at the radar loop, projected path, tracking map, satellite images, and bulletins. All of this allows you to try to keep on top of these potentially devastating storms.
MobileNavigator North America [$69.99 - iTunes link], by Navigon, is the second GPS TBT app I examined. This one requires you to download all the maps in advance (1.5 GB for the US version, 1.67 for the European version) so make sure you have space on your iPhone. The advantage of this is that you can get GPS directions even if you do not have an AT&T signal. In addition, the actual “routing” process seems a little faster since it is not downloading directions OTA.
AT&T Navigator [Free with subscription - iTunes link] is the AT&T branded version of Telenav, GPS Turn-By-Turn software provided by AT&T. It is free to download, but requires a $10 monthly subscription paid through your AT&T bill. It also provides maps OTA (over-the-air), downloading any maps and data as needed through the AT&T network. This is both beneficial (takes up less space on the iPhone) and detrimental (can’t use if you have no signal).
StarDefense is a twist of the tower defense game genre, something I first experienced online. Star Defense takes it to a new level, using a rotating sphere as the game board - representing a planet that is trying to repel Alien invasions.