iMore Picks of the Week for March 18, 2012
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 a Dropbox-based plain text editor, a camera app that's bound to capture any action, a strategy game, a photo editing app, and a couple new Apple devices.
To see what we picked, and to tell us your pick, follow on after the break!
PlainText - @sethclifford
It's been a while since I've talked about one directly, so yes, it's time for another Dropbox-based plain text editor. This one, appropriately enough, is called PlainText. Currently, this is my go-to text editor on iOS for a very simple reason.
Apple has shown us the value in unifying its multiple platforms visually with the preview release of Mountain Lion, incorporating both aesthetic influences and applications from iOS into OS X. Something I've tried to do for a while, well in advance of the official declaration of this agenda has been to unify my computing experience as seamlessly as possible in all places. On the desktop, I use NValt for writing notes and long form text. In fact I'm using it to write this pick right now ("You're soaking in it"). NValt is a fork of the excellent note program Notational Velocity, and is provided by Brett Terpstra of TUAW fame as well as other cool projects. The reason I like Notational Velocity is because it provides a super-clean and ultra-fast note taking interface. NValt adds some nice tweaks like Markdown support baked right in. It's quick, simple, and highly effective.
I realized I was looking for a similar experience on iOS, and although I've tried many editors, I came back to PlainText because of one major feature that accurately mimicked the most excellent part of NValt and Notational Velocity - a search field that drills through your notes like a bullet. I realized that after all my searching, what I need most on my phone is speedy access to the information I'm looking through, above all else. PlainText has a really cool search UI that works in almost exactly the same fashion, providing an experience that matches the one I like so much on my MBP.
Ultimately, PlainText doesn't have most of the bells and whistles of some of the other text editors we've discussed in the past, but it has the most important one: pure, blistering speed. And a nice, clean UI. Okay, two important ones. It's a great free app, and for two bucks, you can drop the ads and support great development.
Free - Download Now
Fast Camera - @Alli_Flowers
If you ever missed a great action shot because your iPhone camera lens didn't refresh fast enough - this app's for you. According to the iTunes description, you can take up to 800 pictures per minute! I've only taken 178 at a pop, so I can't prove it, but 178 is impressive in a few seconds.
Once you take your series of photos, you can review them and save the ones you want - delete the rest. No need to take up space with what you're not keeping. But what you're keeping are full resolution (can you say 8 megapixels?) photos. This is not like taking a video and then doing a screen capture of the good part.
You can adjust the settings so that your photos are not full resolution, but why would you do that? Settings include starting your series when you open the app for instant picture taking, or letting you press the start button.
This app is worth way more than the $.99 price tag, and should be a must for active people.
$0.99 - Download Now
Hero Academy - @simonsage
I've spent a lot of time playing Hero Academy this week. It's a free turn-based strategy game with a high fantasy theme. Either side is trying to destroy the other's other's crystal placed on a square grid. Each turn consists of five actions, which can involve playing various units, powers and upgrades held in your hand, or moving and attacking with the pieces on the board. The only army available in the free version are the humans, but if you want to give the dark elves or dwarves a shot, they're $1.99 each, and they wipe out the inter-turn ads.
I do have a few niggles. For one, you can only get the new armies through microtransactions - there's no way to unlock them through standard gameplay. Secondly, it feels like the premium armies are a little overpowered; a fully-upgraded dwarven Annihilator doesn't feel remotely equivalent to a tweaked-out Council Ninja. Pay-to-win is never a great policy.
Free - Download Now
iPhoto for iPhone and iPad - @iMuggle
Ever since I have started to take a liking to photography (mostly thanks to our own Leanna and her iPhoneography series), I've been filling up my iPhone and iPad with tons of pictures from both my iPhone 4S and my DSLR.
iPhoto has a lot of really nice editing tools that allows me to make quick edits to photos on the go without having to load them to my computer first. Of course it'll never be a replacement for tools like Photoshop but it's definitely good enough for basic editing.
Paired with a camera kit, I've been bringing both my camera and iPad with me when taking photos and loading them straight into iPhoto to view them with friends, family, and clients.
Let's also not forget the new iPad. I am blown away with how good high quality images look on the retina display. Absolutely amazing. I still wish Apple would sync albums and events back and forth. That is my biggest complaint at this point. If I create an event on my iPad I want it on my iMac too. Hopefully we will see this functionality added in an update. If you're debating picking iPhoto up you can check out our review first.
$4.99 - Download Now
NCAA March Madness Live - @gmazo1
If you are a sports fan like me, March means one thing - March Madness. For those non-sports fans among us, that is the NCAA college basketball tournament.
The Tournament is known for the “Bracket” – the seeding and schedule of the 64-team road to the final four.
This year, there is a great app called NCAA March Madness Live, which lets me follow all the action. I can see the scores and plays in real time, follow tweets about the games, listen to game day audio and watch video highlights.
If that’s not enough, I can pay a once time fee of $3.99 and watch every single second of every game right on my iPad or iPhone. This app is just amazing for the college basketball lover.
The feature I like the best is that when you first set up the app (provided you did it before the tournament started) you can “fill in your bracket” and it keeps track of your winning percentage. So far, I’m doing OK – the four teams I picked for the Final Four are still in the tournament.
I’d be curious to know if you are using this app and how your bracket is doing, so please head to our forums and join in on the discussion!
Free - Download Now
Apple TV 1080p (2012) - Rene Ritchie
Apple didn't make many changes to the new Apple TV. Design-wise it's the same black, rounded rectangle they released in the fall of 2010. Inside, however, they've made some great changes. RAM is increased, if you follow the tear-downs, but more importantly it now supports 1080p content. While that doesn't sound impressive in a 1080p HDTV and BluRay soaked society, Apple is streaming 1080p content to it, both via AirPlay from the iPhone 4S, iPad 2, and the new iPad, and from iTunes in the cloud.
They've improved the look of the video without excessive file size increases by supporting higher quality H.264 encoding, but that's just a technical detail. They've made a peripheral that lets you take the absolutely stunning looking video the new iPad can play natively and beam it right to your 1080p TV to share with friends, families, or colleagues.
Apple also released an updated interface for both the new and the previous Apple TV, which I like in concept if not in individual icon-level rendering or organization. There's a lot of content there now though, and you can subscribe to Netflix or MLB right on the Apple TV, right with your iTunes account.
We're not there yet, not to where Apple TV can replace cable television for most people, most of the time, but we're getting closer.
iPad - @llofte
Turning on my new iPad for the first time was just like turning on my iPhone 4 for the first time. A-mazing. Those claiming that the new iPad is only a incremental upgrade from the iPad 2 clearly haven't actually looked at the screen on the new iPad. I literally can't stop staring at it.
I can rant and rave all night about the new iPad, but I'm sure you'll just roll your eyes at me and scream "fangirl", so instead, I'm just going to answer the question that I'm repeatedly being asked on Twitter -- yes, the new iPad is worth it.
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!