Every week a few of us from team TiPb 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!
This week I have gone for a piece of hardware and it's the Apple TV. I have resisted the urge to buy one of these for a while now. When it comes to media players, I am very fond of my Popcorn Hour which plays every video format known to man.
I decided to take the plunge and pick up an Apple TV for my bedroom; mainly for AirPlay. So far it has worked perfectly. One thing Apple always excel at is the user interface. The Apple TV is no exception, it's beautiful, simple and works so well with iTunes on your PC over home sharing or with AirPlay from an iOS device.
I use AirVideo on my PC which reads the hard drives connected to my Popcorn and trans-codes the non supported content on the fly. This makes the Apple TV a perfect solution for me. Sure it sounds a bit convoluted using an iPad with AirVideo and AirPlay but Apple makes it all so simple. I love it!!
Apple only allows 100 UDID slots for developers to test their apps, and those slots are locked for one year. So, with four generations each of iPhone and iPod touch, two generations of iPad, and any replaced devices along the way, those slots can get jam packed and fast. What's a developer to do? Until recently, not much but lose out on testing and beta testers.
Enter TestFlight. TestFlight is a web-based service that intermediates the app testing model. Instead of developers registering test UDIDs themselves, TestFlight does it for them, provides a profile for the registered device, and then re-distributes the test binary on their behalf via an on-device web app (home screen WebClip).
Now, that does mean developers have to trust TestFlight with their binary, but TestFlight is hoping that in the age-old battle between convenience and security, developers will side with convenience. (They also had the fiendishly brilliant idea to park a breakfast burrito and coffee truck outside the WWDC 2011 keynote line to feed the hungry devs while promoting their service.)
I've had several developers send me TestFlight versions of their apps to test now, and while the process isn't always seamless, it works and its far better than my burdening them with UDIDs when I change devices so frequently. (I've had 2 black iPhone 4's swapped out at the Apple Store and now am on a white iPhone 4, that would be a lot of wasted slots under the traditional model.)
My pick of the week is Quick Status. This nifty little app is designed for one thing - letting you update your twitter and facebook status at the same time. I often find that I want to post the same status message in both facebook and twitter, but I don't really want to type it in each of them individually. I know you have have facebook mirror your twitter status, but I don't always want the messages posted on both. With Quick Status, you have your choice! You can type in a message, and on the top choose if you want to send it to twitter, facebook, or both. In addition to just using messages, you can also include photos. geotags, and music you are listening to. It also keeps a record of the messages that you have posted, and you can save drafts of messages as well. There is a free ad supported version and a paid, ad-free version as well.
[$0.99 - iTunes link]
dream:scape uses the unreal engine, that is famously used in Infinity Blade and Epic Citadel.
Rather than describe dream:scape as a game, I’d say its more of an explorable story where you play a terminally ill coma patient called ‘Wilson’ who must explore his dreamscape, to uncover the secrets of his life, You must find items along the way to get pass obstacles, like locked doors, a dog... and even an evil car.
While the graphics are nowhere near the quality of other unreal games, like Infinity Blade, and the gameplay isn’t particularly challenging, I find myself picking this purely because of its incredible storyline.
The storyline, music and voice overs combined makes this a great story to explore, and it keeps you hooked, wanting to find out what else happened in Wilson’s life.
Once you've completed the main story, you can freely explore the town of Bastion Falls.
[$1.99 - iTunes link]
Not an app, this week, but an "accessory" of sorts. Generally, I have broadband access everywhere I go. When I travel, even in the worst case scenario, I can buy access. However, once a year, I head up to north Alabama, to a dot on the map where cell coverage is spotty, and I have to leave base and drive 25 minutes just to get to a Starbucks.
Because I know that Verizon has the best coverage in this area, despite having my iPhone with AT&T, I purchased a MiFi router and plan from Verizon. The peace of mind it offered for those two weeks alone, is worth the monthly fee. Of course, I figured I could also use it on a daily basis back at school, where I'm blocked from everywhere that is helpful to a foreign language teacher.
Up to five people at a time can connect to the MiFi router, and you can password protect it so that not everyone who comes within 30 feet can automatically connect. (Of course, this is a feature everyone should set up on any router right away!)
Although, the bandwidth was far from 4G, it did allow me to continue reading TiPb every day, do my job answering customer support email, and send in the daily reports at camp.
Home again, I've already gotten great use from my MiFi router as well. The first time during one of our famous weather-related power outages (who can last 4 hours without internet?!), and the second time when I returned my cable modem and set up the new one. (Why do products that allow you to get online only offer you online help options?)
These MiFi routers can be purchased from any mobile provider, and have rate plans similar to cellular plans, mostly limiting you to a 5GB cap. They are not meant to be used in place of broadband internet at home, but they are a wonderful solution to internet outages, travel, and local blocks.
Perhaps you've heard of the popular strategy board game, Carcassonne? If not, and you like strategy games, you must check out Carcassonne. It is a universal game for iPhone and iPad and will provide you with hours of both fun and frustration.
The general idea of the game is to build a medieval landscape, tile by tile, and claim landmarks with your "meeple" to score points. You can play locally against the AI or against up to 4 of your Game Center friends over the internet. Yes, that's up to 5 people in a single game. There is also a "quick play" option against random opponents where each of your turns are timed. This game really is awesome. If you pick this one up, add llofte and challenge me to a duel! You're going down.
[$9.99 - iTunes link]
HBO GO is an excellent video app that brings all of your HBO shows together in a simple yet elegant package. It's a free universal app that requires you sign in with your credentials and within seconds you are ready to catch up on all your original series episodes, comedy specials, movies, documentaries, and even sports.
What I love about it is the ability to watch old shows such as The Sopranos and Deadwood or grab the newest episode of Game of Thrones soon after it airs. Start it on iPhone on break at work and pick up where you left off on your iPad on the couch at home. Select a show and it brings up the cast and a description, air date, and a list of extras and behind the scenes. Right now, AirPlay only supports audio but hopefully with iOS 5 this fall we can mirror it on our Apple TVs. There are also parental controls and the ability to set it to 3G or WiFi only.
[Free, with HBO subscription - iTunes link]
You’re part of the team as well, so we will be choosing one reader to make a submission each week! Just look for the announcement on twitter or our Facebook page each weekend for a chance to be picked! In the meantime, jump into the comments and let us know your pick of the week!