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 an iPad note taking app, a utility for toggling Bluetooth on your iPhone, an app for relaxation, an app for knitters, a tower defense game, an alternative to cable television, a great iPad drawing app, and an addicting iPhone puzzle game.
To see what we picked, and to tell us your pick, follow on after the break!
If you want to use your iPad instead of carrying around a clipboard or pad of paper, you have quite a few choices, but Notability is right at the top of the list of available apps. Notability's latest update includes Dropbox sync, so there's not much missing.
You can write, you can type, you can add in shapes. You can change the color and size of anything you've done if you change your mind. Of course, you can import .pdf files and take notes on them - particularly useful for, well, anyone who uses .pdf's! You can import your .pdf's email attachments, Safari, other apps that take advantage of "open in," and Dropbox.
Writing is super smooth, and there are even plenty of options within the pen tips you choose. Not only is Notability one of the best in its class, at $.99 it is also the least expensive. In plain English - you can't go wrong buying Notability.
This week’s pick is a little utility that came out this week. It is called Bluetooth OnOff and was somehow approved by Apple and is still available. All it does is put a Bluetooth icon on your homescreen and it then allows you to use it in two ways.
The stock way, when you click on it, a screen loads with a Bluetooth toggle switch, you can then turn Bluetooth on. If Bluetooth is already turned on then loading the app will give you the option to turn it off. The best way of using the app is to go into the apps settings and turn the OnOff switch to on. This enables you to now toggle Bluetooth On / Off from your home screen with one tap of the app icon. There is no delay or intermediate screens just a straight on/off.
This sort of feature should be standard in iOS 5 but it's not; so if you want a quick Bluetooth toggle you have to either jailbreak or pay extra for an app. This one does what it says on the tin!
"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
-- Ferris Bueller
Of course, Ferris was talking about actual life, not life's quieter moments viewed through the lens of your iPhone or iPad screen. But if that's all you've got for the moment, then by all means, revel in the peace and tranquility that Serenity can offer you. It's an app by the venerable developers tap tap tap, and displays the usual level of visual polish as their other apps. It's basically a series of really pleasant, relaxing video clips that loop over and over again. You just stare at them and feel your blood pressure drop as the soft sounds wash over you.
If you're snickering and thinking this is really dumb, believe me, I get it. At first I was skeptical too. But there is something profoundly nice about watching flames just dance in front of you, or flowers swaying in a calm breeze, or a little sleeping kitty. You can set sleep timers if you want to zone out at the end of your day, and the apps support AirPlay if you'd rather let a giant version of the videos blanket your entire room. I think good headphones are probably the way to go, though, for the full experience. And since the interface has an easygoing 70s woodgrain feel, they should probably be big over-the-ear cans.
The iPhone and iPad apps are two separate versions, presumably for the reason that combined, the video clips would total about 700 MB. So keep that in mind before you purchase, but at $1.99, you'd hardly regret it if you grabbed both. Relax wherever you are, with whatever you're holding. I think Ferris can close this one out, too.
"It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up."
Knit Handy is handy! This app gives you an estimate of yarn requirements for your projects. It has many project categories from which to choose. Using this app couldn't be easier. Choose your project category, gauge, and size and you are set. Before Knit Handy became an app it was first a pamphlet called Knitter's Handy Guide to Yarn Requirements. I have the pamphlet and I can honestly say I like the app better. It's way more convenient to have it on my iPhone than it is to carry the pamphlet around while planning and shopping for a project. I have a knack for either forgetting to bring the pamphlet with me or losing it all together. I never lose my iPhone. I really have no issues with the app except I wish it gave a wider range of gauges to pick from.
For my pick of the week, I am going with one of my standby game types - a tower defense game. Yes, there are many of them out there, but each one has it's own flavor and interesting game twists. The tower defense game iBomber Defense Pacific is a great new game that add some of it's own ideas to the tower defense genre. You have multiple upgrade options that you need to spend victory points on. You get special power ups. You even have secondary objectives (such as protecting a airplane hanger or destroying an enemy base). I have been playing the game on the iPad, and it looks great. The graphics are crisp, and on the retina display the game is beautiful. It is a universal app, but I found that after playing on the iPad, the iPhone screen is just too small to work with. If you enjoy tower defense games, iBomber Defense Pacific should definitely be on your short list of game to try.
I have spent a good part of this week testing our various stylus pens for the iPad, iPhone or, really, any touch screen phone or tablet. The best way for me to try these all out was to use the best apps available for both writing and drawing/painting.
That brings me to Paper by FiftyThree. This week I really dove into this app and was just amazed by what I found.
Paper is a “freemium” app; it comes with one tool and all the colors, but to really take advantage of this app you need to buy more tools. You can individually purchase the color, sketch, write and outline tools for $1.99 a piece – but it makes sense to just spend the $7.99 to buy the whole “essentials” package with all the tools.
When paired with the right stylus, this is as close to actually “drawing” on your iPad as you can get. If I moved the stylus quickly – the line was thinner. If I drew a line from top to bottom and lifted up, you could see a small ink deposit at the bottom of the line – just like using a fountain pen.
I loved using the Color tool – it was sort of like using a watercolor brush. Colors actually blended when combined on screen. Once the masterpiece is completed, just pinch to reduce the image and then you can easily send it to Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter or via Email.
One function that is a killer feature in this app is the rewind tool. Just use two fingers and make a counter-clockwise motion on the screen to undo what you last did. Keep doing that to undo more. This is a great idea and avoids the need to continually use the eraser and possibly erase more than you might want to.
Have you used Paper? Do you have any of your drawings posted? Let us know in the forums!
I cut the cable cord months ago. We have pretty much a-la-carte cable channel selection where I live. You need to get a base package of channels, then you can get 10, 20, etc. channels a-la-carte on top of those. So it wasn't a matter of choice, it was a matter of technology. Cable still runs on a schedule. You can only watch what it's showing at the moment. Sure, PVR/DVR can let you time-shift, but that's a horrible, high maintenance, error-prone solution. The real solution is on-demand.
And that's what I'm getting with iPad (and iPhone) apps.
Global Video lets me watch most of the programs on the Global television network (a Canadian network that re-broadcasts a lot of U.S. network programming), on demand. No daytime, no primetime, no late-night windows to contend with. Just the show I want to watch, when and where I want to watch it.
To their credit, Global has also left AirPlay intact so I can, if I want, stream the video to my big screen HDTV in the living room via AirPlay and the Apple TV. (The other major Canadian network apps, CityTV and CTV shamefully disable AirPlay due to "licensing conditions" -- to which I respond, "negotiate modern licenses".)
Their in-program ads are also decent, the kind of stuff you see during regular network broadcasts. They're highly repetitive, however, which means they may not have a lot of advertisers buying in to this model yet. That's a shame. This is the near-future of content presentation and more advertisers should be getting behind it. At least if they want our attention. (And Global, and other companies doing it right, should reap the rewards.)
Global Video isn't perfect -- it hasn't updated to Retina yet, and while some new shows post almost immediately after they're broadcast over-the-air, others take a few days. But at least they seem to get it, and they're getting there.
(It's Canadian only, but search the App Store for the networks in your country and you should find quite a few.)
I cannot get over how addicted I am to Addidoku right now! It's a simple number puzzle game that I reviewed earlier this week that's in the same genre as Sudoku, but totally different. The goal is to group all the numbers so that one of the numbers is the sum of all the other numbers. For example, the number 3, 5, and 3 form a group because 3 plus 2 equal 5. The premise of Addidoku is very strait-forward, but solving the puzzles can be quite challenging -- and it's super addicting!
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!