Every week a few of us from team iMore will bring you our current favorite, most fun and useful App Store apps, WebApps, jailbreak apps, even the occasional accessory, web site, or desktop app if the mood strikes us. As long as they’re iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch related, they’re fair game.
To see what we picked, and to tell us your pick, follow on after the break!
Looking for a great way to keep tabs on the Obama administration? The White House for iPhone is your best pick, giving you access to news, photos and video of what's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
Not only will you have direct access to their blog, which is more of a news source than anything else, but you'll also be able to browse through archived photos, video and more. I was able to watch the State of the Union address in its entirety earlier this week without strapping myself down to a desk or television. Instead, I just whipped out my iPhone and within a few minutes I was watching the livestream -- no questions asked.
Next to the plethora of content, media and information about The White House at your fingertips, you can also setup push notifications to be notified of any major news stories going on in the political realm. Overall, it's a great resource and the livestream feature is a lifesaver.
Flipboard is the app that everyone likes talking about, but there's actually a few new apps that are doing stylish news aggregation pretty well. One that I've really been enjoying lately is Zite, which takes a similar approach to Flipboard, but allows you to customize your reading experience over time by voting stories up or down and then learning what it is you prefer to read and giving you more tailored content.
The setup for the app is pretty simple, and I really like the clean UI. There's really not much to get in the way and the content really takes center stage. I feel like it's easier to browse than Flipboard, and while the Flipboard UI conventions are cool, don't get me wrong - after a while, I feel like I'm really working to see new content, and I don't feel like I can scan as quickly on my phone (which is a prime criteria for consuming news on the go). Zite feels like it allows me to do that more easily.
The customization aspects are cool too - you basically give stories a thumbs-up or thumbs-down, and Zite will remember what it is you liked and in the future return more content like it. There's a lot of detail here as to how this is all accomplished, and since I've only been using it a short time, I can't speak to its accuracy yet. Also, the type of feeds I'm looking at (tech stuff) usually have a bit of overlap, so it's hard for me to tell right now. I'm less concerned with teaching the app though, and more concerned with the quickness of information and scanning, and it definitely succeeds there. But the app's main draw is the personalization of content, so don't let my particular use-case dissuade you from trying it out. It's free and a really nice way to get your news.
Zite Personalized Magazine - Free - iTunes link
I can not explain how happy I am to have a jailbreak on my iPhone 4S. Along with a new jailbreak comes tons of updated utilities and applications for iOS 5. I've been using IntelliscreenX and with it comes Messages+. I've been a long time fan of BiteSMS but I'm really loving the tight integration Messages+ has with iOS. There's no separate application or icon, it just works. There's really nothing to configure. Just set up a quick reply action via Activator and you're good to go.
You can view images and files right from the quick reply window and then dismiss them. The UI blends perfectly with the default UI of iOS so it looks like something Apple themselves would have made. If you're jailbroken and haven't checked out Messages+ yet, I'd give it a try! If you already have IntelliscreenX, you already have a license for it and it comes built-in. If you don't, you can buy Messages+ separately.
$7.99 - Cydia Search Link
This week I decided to give the new Absinthe Jailbreak a go on my iPhone 4S. I have always tinkered around with jailbroken devovces and do love apps like BiteSMS and SBSettings. This time the experience has been awful for me.
Installing the jailbreak was simple enough, I had to wait a bit longer as I am a Windows user. Anyway, to cut a long story short, my phone is all jailbroken in minutes and I installed BiteSMS and SBSettings and nothing more. A few days later and I try and listen to my music in the car and things start to go terribly wrong. Album artwork shows the wrong song playing and most songs start to play then stop or don't play at all.
I turned iTunes Match on and off, and even synced again with iTunes, transferring all my music back on manually, still the same issue. Only option I had was to go back to a stock install and lose my jailbreak. That is where I am at now and guess what? Yep my music is now perfect again!
I don't watch a lot of TV and the shows I do want to watch are usually found on iTunes or Netflix but there isn't a lot of good stuff out there these days any how in my opinion. For filling that void, I often scour the web looking for good online content to watch when I have some spare time but keeping track of that stuff has proven to be a difficult task over time. For Christmas I got an AppleTV and found Squrl. Squrl basically aggregates a lot of popular online video sites and various other content providers and provides a beautiful UI that allows for tracking videos, saving them for later viewing. Couple that with an AppleTV and you can amass plenty of content to watch in place of television shows. Social network integration as well as netflix, it has become a key resource of entertainment for me and it's available for free in the iTunes App Store.
Music is a huge part of my life, and the ability to have almost any song at my fingertips without eating up all the space on my iPhone is a huge plus for me. Rdio is a subscription based service similar to Spotify, but I find that more songs that I enjoy to listen to are available through Rdio. Whether I want to select a certain song, album or just listen to a particular artists stations I can do so with a few simple clicks from within the application. I have various playlist's set up, one for work out, one to relax, and I can add and remove songs with ease. Rdio also ties in with my home Sonos system which is great as I can listen to the music through my headphones, the speaker of the device or through the Sonos to keep me motivated. The application is free, but the service is paid, hit the link below to start your free 7 day trial!
Tetris? Boggle? If you can't decide which game to play, then Puzzle Juice is a sure winner.
The game starts as a standard game of Tetris; coloured blocks fall from the top of the screen, and you have to form a line at the bottom to score points.
However, unlike traditional Tetris, once you've completed a line, it won't disappear. Instead, every block will turn into a letter and you’ll have to form words to score even more points. Here’s the fun part; while you’re looking for words, the next Tetris block has started falling. If you need more letters to form a word, tap on 3 same-colour blocks that are adjacent to one another to reveal more letters. There is also an optional Zen Mode, which challenges you to score as many points as you can in 90 seconds.
The game itself is well designed and even the menu screens have a pinch of character. You won’t see a “Ok”, or “Start” button throughout the game, instead you’ll see phrases like “Sounds Peachy” and “Totally Got It”, just to add that extra flare to the game.
The game is a mind-game, a fun-game and a challenging game all wrapped into one neat parcel, and will keep you busy for hours!
My day job is teaching two Intermediate Algebra courses at my local community college and this semester I'm experimenting with making videos for my students on new or difficult topics. Doodlecast Pro for iPad has turned out to be the best app to help me accomplish this. It records both my voice and handwriting and allows me to export and upload my videos directly to YouTube. If I made some mistakes along the way that I want to edit out, I can export to my Camera Roll instead and edit in another application like Avid Studio or iMovie. My only complaint is that the handwriting strokes are not really that great. I would love to see Doodlecast match the quality of handwriting to apps like Penultimate and Noteshelf.
My favorite right now is Lab Timer. It’s a free universal app that gives you 16 timers. They’ll count up or down and will sound an alarm. It’s handy for work so I can have a break timer, a lunch timer and can time how long a process is taking all from the same app. It’s especially handy for the iPad since there is no built-in clock app.
Those were our picks, iMore Nation, so now it's your turn! Tell us your pick of the week below. Give us the name of your favorite app, site, or accessory, and tell us why it made your life more productive, more informed, more entertaining, or just plain more fun. We'll pick one of you and send you a shiny $10 iTunes gift certificate so you can start stocking up for future picks! Contest starts now and ends next Friday, January 13 at 12pm PT.
So what are you waiting for? Jump into the comments and let us know your pick of the week!