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!
As most of you know, I'm a huge fan of Dropbox and apps that capitalize on it by tying into the APIs to create interesting new services. I also find Apple's own Voice Memos app lacking in that there's no easy way to get those recordings off my iPhone short of syncing (for now). DropVox is a little app that solves this problem simply. All it does it record audio and throw it into your Dropbox for you. Using compressed .m4a files, the app fires up quickly and sends faster than you might expect. It's not the kind of thing you'd use to record a full album in the studio, but it's super handy for quick thoughts. You can also set it up to record immediately on launch, which makes the flow even faster (this is how I have it set up because when I'm using something like this, time is of the essence).
It's a clean-looking app, with a singular function, and it does it well. Check it out.
[$1.99 - iTunes link]
My little girl loves singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star so she absolutely loves this app. "Twinkle Twinkle" tells the story of a friendship between a restless owl and a little star that watches over the forest. The simple touch animations are designed to help children relax. Touch the screen to watch the owl's wing's flap and hear the owl hoot. See the star spin around. Help the owl and the star fly across the sky with a flick of your finger!
It comes with different reading options as well as two videos showing the content of the book all beautifully rendered. It also includes a simple counting the stars game. If you have young children, they will love this app and story. Great for bedtimes!
[$2.99 - iTunes link]
Really, did you expect anything else? After OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, whose changes were as profound as they invisible to end users, OS X Lion finally brings some user experience refresh to Apple's aging desktop operating system -- and it brought it straight back from iOS. It's not a gimmick either. Apple has spent decades trying to simplify and mainstream the computing appliance. What started with the Apple II in a garage has thus far come closest with iPad in 20 million homes. That's not lost on Apple, Steve Jobs, or the OS X team. Lion is proof. We get full screen apps, LaunchPad which mimics the iOS home screen right down to folders and jigglies, saved state and auto-resume that blurs the distinction between open and closed apps, and multitouch gestures to swipe and pinch through it all. Even the built in apps, from the outstanding new 3-pain, threaded Mail, to the curious stitched leather iCal, look like their iPad equivalents.
It's even distributed via the Mac App Store. For $30. For all your personal machines. (And you can bump that up to full on OS X Server for $50 more.)
Lion is not without it's frustrations of course -- beyond the above-mentioned stitched leather UI. Scrolling has been reversed, also to match iOS. Give it a week, however, and you'll likely not want to go back. Pushing content really does feel more natural than pulling scroll bars (which Lion does its level best to hide anyway.)
Auto-restore, where every window comes flying back up when you re-start an app could potentially cause embarrassment depending on what kind of website you were last on, who you were last drafting an email too, or what video you last had playing, so user beware.
You can turn almost all of these fancy new features off in settings, but you can also get used to the brave new world of auto-saving, document versioning, sandbox securing, Mac App Store downloading wonder. It's a glimpse at the future and Apple's brought it to us today.
Bottom line, if you love iOS, you'll love Lion. And if you want to no more, check out Ars Technicas epic 20,000 word review, courtesy of John Siracusa, which analyzes and critiques every byte and pixel from the controls to the code. You can even enjoy it on your iPad in ebook form if the mood strikes you.
[$29.99 - Mac App Store link]
Diptic is a triptych app, pure and simple: three images together in a single work of art. On your iPhone, you can use 2, 3, or 4 photos, and arrange them into a single piece. You can take a new photo from your iPhone's camera as you go, choose a photo in your album, use one of your Facebook photos, or grab something from Flickr.
There are a series of frame layouts from which to choose, and all you have to do is drop your photos into the box. Once there, you can zoom or rotate so you have just what you want. You can even get artsy and traditional and use the same photo in each box, with only a portion showing in any one section. You have total control over the frame's thickness and colour.
Diptic is great if you have trouble deciding which photo is the best - you can just use them all in a single image, or if you have pets or children, and like to show them off simultaneously.
It's an extremely easy app to use, and offers lots of flexibility.
[$1.99 - iTunes link]
My pick of the week is Metal Gear Solid Touch (played on the iPad). This universal binary continues the Metal Gear Solid line, a game franchise I first looked at on the Playstation! This first person shooting game is a little different than some others - you aren't moving through corridors or buildings. Instead, you are stationary, and you have to aim your gun by moving the target around on the screen. You have a couple of different kinds of guns (for sniping or closer combat) and the goal is simple - survive and kill your enemies. The interface is very very intuitive, although for a while I was expecting the target to appear wherever I tapped (it doesn't, you have to move it around the screen by sliding). The graphics are outstanding, and all in all this was a fun way to waste many hours this week. I wish there was a little more variety in some of the levels (although in fairness, I haven't gotten very far so maybe it changes). This game has been fluctuating in price between, although I missed out on the most recent sale. If you keep an eye on it, you might get it at a greatly reduced price sometime soon!
[$7.99 - iTunes link]
FX Photo Studio just got a big update and now it has a Masking Studio. This is exactly what this app needed! FX Photo Studio has nearly 200 different filters you can apply to your photos, but, unfortunately, not all of them look good on the entire photos. There are many times when one filters does wonders to the sky, another to buildings, and still another to skin, while simultaneously making the rest of the photos look worse. With Masking Studio, you can mask in (or out) the part of the photo you want (or don't want) to be affected by the filter. I love it! Hopefully the next update will have a "soft brush" update to better blend the edges of the masks.
[$0.99 - iTunes link]
America is a country that is run on C8H10N4O2 (Caffeine) and it’s our crazy schedules and long work days that are to blame... Wouldn’t it be nice if there was an app that made the consumption of this popular potable even easier? Well, the good folks over at this little Seattle based coffee company called Starbucks have heard your cries and offer a solution... The Official Starbucks app.
The Starbucks app has recently gone through a major overhaul and is vastly better than the earlier versions. You now have the ability to completely control your Starbucks card collection, monitor your Gold Points, view nutrition facts, make and share custom drinks, find store locations and even buy gifts for people you’re fond of. The app also allows you to protect all of your super secret secrets with a passcode.
Now, you’re probably asking yourself “How this can help me improve my day to day life?” Well, let’s say you’re like me and your job requires you to travel a lot and work late into the night... We all know how lame that is. If i’m out of town and I need a quick Iced Soy Cinnamon Dolce Latte fix and I can’t find a Starbucks anywhere around me (which is highly unlikely if you’re on or around Earth). I can just pop out my phone, go straight to the Starbucks app and tap on the “Stores” button and with the power of GPS and, lets face it, magic... I’m on my way! All while avoiding having to Google a location.
Not impressed yet?.. Well, you can also use the app to pay for your coffee at most locations! You don’t even have to fumble with that pesky wallet and all of it’s Velcro tyranny . Nope, you just pull out your phone and tap the pay icon and hold your phone in front of their laser ray gun and BOOM! You’ve just paid for your coffee!
Maybe you’re one of those people that always orders their drinks in the wrong order and then gets the “correction” from the barista. That minor embarrassment is a thing of the past because now you can read your drink order to them from your Favorites just the way Schultz intended. No more “Can I have a Venti Iced Vanilla Latte with Soy?” and getting this response “You mean an Iced Venti Soy Vanilla Latte?..”
So go my caffeine addict friends, go and drink the sweet nectar of modern day life with ease and serenity... And while you’re at it, get me a triple shot.
[Free - 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!