iMore Picks of the Week for April 14, 2012

iMore Picks of the Week

Every week the editors at iMore carefully select some of our favorite, most useful, most extraordinary apps, accessories, gadgets, and websites. This week's selections include apps a beautiful iPad weather app, apps for sports and politics, a fun camera app, an app filled with inspirations, a puzzle game, a music app, and an alternative to Instagram.

To see what we picked, and to tell us your pick, follow on after the break!

Living Earth HD - Seth Clifford

Living Earth for iPad review: The best weather app for the iPad

It's been a crazy week, so I'm going simple with my pick - simple and beautiful. Leanna reviewed a weather app called Living Earth recently and after reading her post, my need to see just how great this app really was took over immediately and I downloaded it. You might find a weather app that does more or has more geeky weather options for meteorology nerds, but with the possible exception of Weather HD, I've yet to see a weather app this cool.

It's a universal binary, so you get apps for both your phone and your iPad. The app has a nice forecast view as well as a cool alarm clock feature, but the interactive globe that loads live cloud and sunlight information from real-time satellite data is my favorite part. Sometimes just marveling at nature is all I've got the energy for.

You can read Leanna's review for all the gritty details, of which there are plenty. I'm just going to sit and spin the Earth and hypnotize myself for a while...

$1.99 - Download Now

FCB Mobile - Chris Oldroyd

This week’s pic is all about the beautiful game and the team that play's it in the most beautiful way. My first love is my local football team Newcastle United. My second love belongs well and truly with the most famous football club in the world FC Barcelona.

Barcelona play the game the way it should be played, one touch passing, instant control but most importantly they play it offensively with open attacking football that is an absolute joy to watch week in and week out. Anyway back to the app, I have a great app on my iPhone that keeps me up to date with all the goings on at Camp Nou and its caled FCB Mobile.

FCB Mobile is the official app for FC Barcelona and includes all the latest news, match previews, reviews, player profiles, audio, video and much much more. If you are a fan of Barcelona you need this app.

$0.99 - Download Now

Contact Congress - Gary Mazo

For years, I have been preaching to my kids (as they one by one turn 18) that one of the great things about this country is that we all do get a say; that voting is both a privilege and an obligation. I also try to impart that even if the candidate we want doesn’t get elected – we all have an obligation to still be part of the process and let them know how we feel about important issues.

Now, this is always easier said than done. Fortunately, there are some great apps to make being part of the process easier and more fun. I use Contact Congress by airship Software.

When you start up Contact Congress, it asks to either use your location or for you to input your home zip and then it finds your Senators and your Representative in Congress. Their political party is indicated by a little elephant or donkey and their picture and name is displayed in a tab.

Touch the tab with their name on it and you immediately have links to follow him/her on Twitter, go to his/her official Facebook page, Call Their Office or send them an email. It couldn’t be easier or more convenient. Because of this app, I follow all three of my elected officials on Twitter and I have fired off a few emails and even made a phone call or two along the way when something is important to me.

And there is a very fun opportunity for an in-app purchase; you can, for $.99 “Dress up Congress” by purchasing Google eyes or Horns to put on the images of the elected officials. I actually think this is sort of demeaning and takes away from the app, but I understand the need to try to “monetize” the app some how.

All in all, this perhaps the easiest way to stay involved in our political process, and, as I tell my kids, to become part of the solution.

Have you used Contact Congress? Do you use other apps to stay politically active and involved? Sound off in the iMore forum thread.

Free - Download Now

Videoscope - Alli Flowers

Back when I had my iPhone 3GS, I found a nifty little app that let me use the iPhone camera like a kaleidoscope. KaleidoVid cased to function when Apple released iOS 4, and the dev never updated it. I was disappointed, because although it wasn't a great productivity app, it kept me entertained for hours.

While browsing through the App store recently, I discovered several new kaleidoscope type apps, and one of them had much of the same functionality as that original app. Videoscope allows you to turn your iPhone camera into a kaleidoscope. You can increase or decrease the number of prisms by pinching the screen, and once you see the kaleidoscopic view you like, you can capture that view to your camera roll to use as wallpaper.

Videoscope has a feature that I recommend you not use if you've been drinking heavily or are on medication - it leverages the video camera of your iPhone and allows you to video the complete moving spectrum of the kaleidoscope. I shot some video through Videoscope while riding in the car the other night, and the results are breathtaking - and triply!

Videoscope also offers some alternate "scopes" including Pinscreen, Impressionist, and Brickbreaker. The Brckbreaker mode is particularly cool because you get to "break the bricks" by tapping on them and watching them fall away.

You are not limited to the rear camera with Videoscope. You can aim the front camera at yourself and become the Pinscreen image, or you can choose a picture from your photo library to turn into some awesome abstract art.

$0.99 - Download Now

Quotes! - Chris Parsons

Lots of people look for inspiration and motivation in different ways and one way that I enjoy is by reading quotes from others. Luckily, there is a beautiful iOS app available that offers plenty of quotes no matter what the topic may be. The app carries an obvious name, just simply -- Quotes. Love, Happiness, Motivation, Inspiration. All are covered in quotes with the ability to share and save your favourites all from within the app itself. It does cost $.99 but it's beautifully simple and enjoyable if you're into reading quotes from others.

$0.99 - Download Now

Lawnmower Challenge - Simon Sage

This week I tried out Lawnmower Challenge, a simple puzzle game launched by a Boston indie developer at PAX East 2012. The premise is simple enough: cut all the grass in the level in as few moves as possible. Things get complicated when you throw in rocks, reeds, tall grass that you can't walk through, mud you can't mow through, locked gates that require keys, and impassable rocks.

It's not fancy, but with 144 levels, you definitely won't be left wanting for a challenge.

$1.99 - Download Now

Spotify for iPhone - Ally Kazmucha

I've long been looking for a way to free up some physical space on my iOS devices. While streaming services are great, what about times where you don't want to eat up your data plan? I've found Spotify to be a great compromise. I've found most streaming services to be rather lacking or they don't let you choose want you want to listen to. Neither is the case with Spotify. You can search through millions of tracks, create your own custom playlists, and listen in seconds.

With a premium account for $9.99/month you can stream music as well as download it to your device for offline use so you aren't eating away at precious data. The free version is ad-supported and allows you to stream online, the unlimited version for $4.99 will allow you to stream with the iPhone or Android app in addition to removing ads. The premium version is the only subscription that adds offline mode. I've found that I can stream when I'm at home and just choose offline mode for the playlists I want to listen to while traveling or not near wifi. I'm saving tons of space on my iPhone by using the service.

Spotify comes with a full trial for 48 hours. Check it out and see what you think.

Free - Download Now

Tadaa - Leanna Lofte

With all the threatening on Twitter and comments to leave Instagram after Facebook acquired it, I went on a hunt for a decent alternative to Instagram. My favorite one so far is tadaa.

tadaa has a lot of what Instagram offers -- only more. It's a social network where other members can like and add comments to photos. There's a photo feed for all the friends you follow, as well as feeds for popular photos and new members.

What I really like about tadaa is that it has a lot of built-in editing tools in addition to filters. You can crop, adjust brightness, contrast, and saturation, add a tilt-shift effect, and when adding a filter, you can adjust how strong the affect appears on your photo. You also aren't restricted to square crops.

Free - Download Now

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Tell us your pick!

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. Jump into the comments and let us know your pick of the week!

Leanna Lofte

App and Photography Editor at iMore. Mother, wife, and math instructor. Follow her on Twitter @llofte and send her apps to consider for review at iosapps@imore.com

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There are 5 comments. Add yours.

Mike says:

Hey Gary,
There is no way to email anybody in congress from the "Contact Congress" app. You can send an email to people in your contacts list, or enter a friend manually, but not your congressional representatives.

2oh1 says:

True. The app does offer the option to call, which I think is probably the most effective way to make your voice heard on an issue. I do wish the app had an email option though. Then again... I wonder how many emails to representatives are lost among the spam? Or ignored?

Gary Mazo says:

Mike, you are correct. I misspoke in the writeup. As Rob points out, you can email your friends to get involved but not email the rep or senator directly. I do agree with Rob, that calling - especially for timely matters - is a better way to make sure your voice is heard.

Nick says:

Touchnote
$1.49 Create your own postcard on your iphone, ipad or android device and mail anywhere in the world! Postage included! High quality postcards... Love it!

Carsten says:

@Leanna: Tadaa is nice and cool. Nice pick.