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!
A lot of you are probably already familiar with Etsy, the online e-commerce website that focuses on buying and selling handmade and vintage items, and they've recently released a really great looking iPhone app to help you browse the service on the go. Etsy for iPhone lets you browse and purchase one of a kind accessory items and clothing directly from independent sellers.
As a buyer, you can browse by category and set your own filters to narrow down your search results (there are a lot of things on Etsy!) and check out your shopping cart right from within the app. As a seller, you have most of the Etsy merchant tools readily available whenever you need to access your listings or manage your business without having to jump onto your computer. It's a great way to sell and shop! If you're into vintage items, Etsy has always been one of the best places to shop, and they've just made it that much easier by making the service accessible anywhere you are -- check it out!
[Free - App Store Link]
Since the very first time I jailbroke my iPhone 3G a million years ago, I've wanted a way to control it without taking it out of the dock. I've used Veency to run a VNC server on the phone and then screen share into it, but it's really overkill for what I need, which is essentially just text entry. I can manage to hit the home button and swipe around a little just fine while the phone is docked, it's the typing that becomes laborious if I'm answering a text message or if I want to quickly paste some text into a field.
Enter Type2Phone. I'm sure you can figure out what it does, but it's actually fairly slick in how it does it. You use Bluetooth to pair your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad with your Mac, and activate the app on the computer. Tap into a text field and start blasting away. You're using your Mac's BT connection in lieu of a BT keyboard, but it works in exactly the same way.
Aaaaand... that's pretty much it. Which isn't a bad thing, because I'm sure if you tried to bolt a bunch of other unnecessary stuff onto an app like this, somehow it would stop working. The only thing I'd like to see would be a way to actually hit say, the "Send" button from the keyboard. Just hitting enter drops you down a line, but a Cmd-Enter would be a fine way to get that done. Then you could basically slide to reply to a text, fire off a response and not touch your phone at all. I can also see someone perhaps wanting to keep an iPad on as a secondary display for something like Twitter, away from his/her main workspace really finding this functionality pretty useful.
And for everyone who's thinking "Why don't you just use Siri to answer your messages? DUH!", well, when other people are on a conference call or working around me, I like to embrace basic social courtesies and respect their needs. Otherwise, yeah, you're totally right. In the meantime, Type2Phone is a cool little utility that makes life at least a little easier. I'm all for that.
[$4.99 - Mac App Store link]
My little girl adores the Disney Movie Beauty and the Beast. Now that Disney has released this app, she has completely taken over ownership of my iPad 2. Beauty and the Beast: Storybook Deluxe is based on the Disney movie and includes games, movie clips, puzzles, coloring pages and even sing-along songs from the film.
The animation, as expected is superb and the whole app is really well put together. It tells the story in an interactive way and offers a read along mode or the story can be read out to you. This one should keep any little princess happy for quite some time!
[$6.99 – App Store link]
A familiar theme, this word game is great on either iPad and iPhone. Find a word inside the box of letters. You can go forwards, backwards, up, down, or diagonally. The longer the word, the more points you get. So far, so similar to a dozen other games, right?
Here's the catch. When you find a word, the letters disappear from the playing field, just like Bejeweled or Tetris.
There are several versions you can play, although the basic game play is the same. I like the one minute game. The one minute game can stretch out and last for quite some time, because the more you score, the more time you get back.
The only negative to this game is the background music, which is either on or off. I'd like to be able to lower it because it also lets you know when your time is running out. The music is less than great.
But the game is addictive! I even found a fun way to play with a partner, and maybe keep the game going extra long. My nephew and I play together - he finds words on the left side of the board, and I find them on the right. (Hooray for capacitive screens!)
[$0.99 - App Store link]
This week i'm going back to an app that I've used for quite a long time but just recently started "really using" again. I have always loved Instagram and the ease of which you can share pictures and add cool effects.
Ever since picking up my iPhone 4S I've been blown away by the quality of photos it produces considering it's a phone. I've found myself snapping more pictures than ever. Instagram makes is easy to share them not only with my Instagram followers but all my followers and friends on Twitter and Facebook. If I just want to share something quickly, this is the app I choose 99.9% of the time.
[Free - App Store Link]
My grand take-away from the original iPad launch was that it was the iPhone gone IMAX, and experiencing Instacast HD shows that, more than 18 months later, that take-away still holds true. Here's why: Instacast on iPhone is all about quickly getting, streaming, and/or caching your favorite podcasts so you can listen to them feet down on the go. Instacast HD on IPad is a different experience entirely. It's feet up, at pause, relaxed and ready to enjoy.
If that type of usage pattern sounds like it favors video podcasts, you're not wrong. Settling back in the recliner, a tasty beverage to the side, a soft light in the back, a light rain-turned-snow-turned-back-rain outside, in just a few taps I was watching Georgia kick off the last iPad Live. A few more and I was watching TED. A few more and Steve Jobs was walking out on stage to introduce the iPad 2.
The interface took a bit of getting used to. Global tools like add podcast, refresh, favorites, AirPlay, volume, and action live along the thin left edge. Album art for your shows lives beside it for easy scrolling and selection. Episode-specific controls like mark, favorite, download, action, and play/stream live at the top, while mark all, the scrubber, and the show list live at the bottom.
Show notes get the rest of the screen, with a built in web view to handle links. You can swipe the browser away to get back to show notes, and you can swipe horizontally between shows.
Video shows go full screen with controls top and bottom and there's even an embedded brightness control so you can make it look just so.
The one big bit of friction I hope gets addresses in an update is, while in video mode, tapping the "exit full screen" button takes you back to show notes while leaving the audio playing, there's no equal and opposite "go full screen button" to return to the video. I should be able to toggle back and forth without moving my finger or having to figure out I need to cross back to the play/stream button to get the video back. Also, while they deserve a lot of credit for jumping on iCloud sync quickly, it's still early days and some glitches will hopefully be worked out, by by Apple and developers.
Overall, Instacast HD makes fantastic use of the bigger iPad screen. It's all the podcasts I want, right where I want them.
[$4.99 - App Store link]
This Black Friday, I picked up an Apple TV (finally!) and Real Racing 2 on my iPhone and iPad. One of the really cool features about this combo is that with AirPlay, you can play multiplier on your TV with a split screen. Firemint calls this Party Play. All that's required is to have an iPhone 4S or iPad 2 work as a host. My husband and I had a lot of fun racing against each other, last night, which is saying a lot because my husband typically hates anything related to Apple.
I will say that playing with the iPad is a little awkward because of how big it is. By the end of the race, it actually begins to a feel a little heavy.
If you have an Apple TV and an iPhone 4S or iPad 2, and do not have Real Racing 2 - what are you waiting for? It's actually still on sale for Black Friday weekend, so now is the perfect time to pick it up!
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!