TiPb Picks of the Week for September 3, 2011

TiPb.com Picks of the Week

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!

Blackout Alarm - @sethclifford

Anyone living on the East Coast last weekend either heard about or had to directly contend with Hurricane Irene as the storm tore a path northward, bringing huge amounts of rain and heavy wind. While not as damaging as predictions had indicated for many, the storm left a swath of destruction in its wake.

Our basement flooded in February of this year, due to our sump pump failing. Some of you may even remember me diving out of an iPad live show at the last minute to deal with it. We've since replaced the sump pump, but it still needs power to work. If Irene knocked out power to our neighborhood, we would have found ourselves in a similar predicament. Exhausted, very late last Saturday night, I made plans to set my iPhone to alarm every 30 minutes, and was prepared to sleep with a lamp on, so I'd at least have a clue if the power went out before it was too late. I desperately needed a way to determine the moment the power went off, and quickly, because by my estimate, I had about 10-15 minutes before water would make its way into our house.

As I was laying there, I kept thinking about how I wouldn't be getting much rest at all, periodically waking up in a panic, and turned as a last resort to the App Store. To my amazement, I found an app that did what I needed. Blackout Alarm is an app that does exactly one thing: it tells you when your power goes out. That's it. The end.

You fire up the app and plug your iPhone into its charger. If at any point, the app detects that the phone is on battery power, a loud alarm sounds, waking you up. There's also a log within the app to see exactly when the power went out and for how long. There's nothing more to it. I tested it by pulling the plug out when the phone was charging, and it worked perfectly. I cranked the volume on my phone, turned out the light, and was assured that if the power went out, I'd be up exactly when it happened, and could prepare my manual pump to keep the water at bay.

If you listen to Iterate, you know that we all love a beautifully-designed app that enriches our waking moments. However, there's a real place in our lives for apps, that despite their appearances serve a purpose so focused on what we need at that moment, that we can overlook just about everything else. Make no mistake; that screenshot below doesn't lie - this app is no supermodel. But for someone in my position, it was absolutely indispensable.

We always say things like "technology really changes our lives", but this was one of those moments (no matter how small) in which it was so obvious and tangible, I couldn't help but smile widely as I fell asleep, for a few hours of respite from the storm.

[$0.99 - App Store link]

Instapaper - @iMuggle

Ok it's not a new app but it's still one of my favorites. I know Apple has added their own native Reader support to Safari on iOS and Mac OS X but I'm still a huge fan of Instapaper. Most of my main reason for still using Instapaper is the tremendous amount of apps that support it. Everything from Twitter for iPhone, Tweetbot, Reeder, and many more have built-in support to send articles and tweets to Instapaper.

Until Reader for iOS and Mac OS X has the wide support that Instapaper has I don't think I'll really use it much. Even then, I've become so accustomed to using Instapaper I think it would be a hard habit to break. And the setup really isn't much of a big deal either. Once you've got the bookmarklet saved it's just as easy to use as Apple's built-in reader function.

[$4.99 - App Store Link]

Groupon - @Alli_Flowers

The best part about Groupon is not the incredible savings you can get - it's the app. How often do you get coupons for somewhere, and then find yourself there without the coupon? I hate to admit how often that has happened to me. But it will NEVER happen with Groupon. If you have purchased a Groupon, all you have to do is pull up the app and let your salesperson/server take down your ticket number - or better yet, scan it. I'm all about saving trees!

If you don't know about Groupon, now might be a good time to come out from under that rock and visit the Groupon website to sign up. (http://groupon.com) Groupon offers discounts on local restaurants and stores, as well as national online retailers.

[Free- App Store link]

Luminance – @chrisoldroyd

I have been looking for a good photo editing app for quite a while now and this week Luminance caught my eye. It is a very proficient app for editing your pictures directly on your iPhone or even the iPad. The app is a universal binary after all. There are filters galore to play with and the effects you can use and results created can be quite stunning. Some of the filters include White Balance, Exposure, Brightness/Contrast, Hue/Saturation, Tone Curve, Split Toning, Vignette, Colors and Sepia.

The app is an absolute bargain but does have one glaring omission! There is no way to crop an image, the developer is working on this; so expect it to be included in an upcoming update.

[$0.99 - App Store link]

apple.com/feedback - @reneritchie

Does something about your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch frustrate your? Something about iOS drive you crazy? We'll complain about it on the TiPb.com front page to try and get you some attention, and we'll help you troubleshoot it on the TiPb Forums but never forget you can also let Apple know exactly how you feel via apple.com/feedback

Whether it's a new feature you really want to have or something they simply must get rid off, tell them how you feel and if enough of your fellow iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad owners do likewise, even Apple might just pay attention.

You get your choice of Enhancement Request, Bug Report, Design/Ease of Use, Efficiency/Workflow, Software/Hardware Compatibility, Connectivity/Interoperability, and Configurability, and a big old text box to tell Apple exactly how you feel.

Have at it!

[apple.com/feedback]

Bloons TD 4 HD - @skeetobite

My pick of the week is Bloons TD 4 HD. Unfortunately, I have to find a generic picture of the app online, since my daughter is currently playing the game and I am not allowed to touch the iPad (this has been true for the past three days now). It's easy to play, and evidenced by the new addiction by my daughter, loads of fun as well. Bloons TD 4 is a tower defense game, where you try to pop balloons before they get to your home base. In TD 4, as you progress, you unlock new towers (monkeys), upgrades for the towers, and new maps and game modes. This is an import of the web based flash game from Kiwi Ninja, and it works quite well on the iPad. The game play is identical to the web based version, although there are a few extra game modes thrown in (like challenge mode and some new tracks). If I ever got a chance to play, I am sure I would love it (I previously reviewed a Blood TD game, and that was a blast). Alas, I will just have to wait...

[$4.99 - App Store link]

Spy Mouse - @llofte

I am loving this game! The overall objective of Spy Mouse is to make paths for your mouse to take to collect cheese and not get caught by the cats. Every level has mini objectives like only using a certain number paths or making a cat run into a wall.

Spy Mouse is this week's Pick of the Week at Starbucks, so if you haven't already, go pick it up!

[$0.99 - App Store link]

eKEY - @HeatherMelnyk (Reader's Choice)

I'm a full time realtor. eKEY is a really convenient and easy tool that will save any realtor with an iPhone tons of time. Manually updating Supra keys and lock box information can be a headache. eKEY gives you access to lock box information and updates keys over the air. Ever since purchasing the eKEY adapter I haven't had to worry about having a computer around to sync keys.

If a client calls and wants to see a property, I don't have to worry about running home or to the office to sync a key to gain access. I can just set an appointment and go. My key will automatically update on my iPhone. It's compatible with all versions of the iPhone. You just need to be running iOS 3.1.3 or above.

The app is a free download in the App Store but you will need to purchase the eKEY adapter from your local Association of Realtors or order one from the Supra website. The adapter costs around $55 plus shipping and handling if you're getting it online. You'll also still have to pay your monthly fee like you would with any other electronic access key service.

[Free - App Store link]

Your pick?

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!

Leanna Lofte

Former app and photography editor at iMore, Leanna has since moved on to other endeavors. Mother, wife, mathamagician, even though she no longer writes for iMore you can still follow her on Twitter @llofte.

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Reader comments

TiPb Picks of the Week for September 3, 2011

7 Comments

Can't believe I've never used Groupon before. I need to get that app (and lots of these other apps too...)

I don't understand why Instapaper still gets so much more attention than Read It Later, which does the same and is almost as widely supported, but in addition has more sharing options and, in my experience at least, renders text more reliably. Plus it's cheaper and has a free lite version, whereas Instapaper's free version got pulled so you can no longer try and compare before you buy. That comparison was what made me decide in RIL's favour.

I would like to formally complain about the recommendation of Bloons TD 4. This game is outrageously addictive and I can't put it down. I shake my fist at you good sir!

They shutdown the megaupload.com without any SOPA/PIPA ,I think the internet golden period is over now ..what the hell is happening to the world

If you already are jailbroken with the Abinsthe utility, v0.3 offers no advantages to you and does not need to be run again. If this is the first time you've run the tool, follow our guide on how to jailbreak iPhone 4S or iPad 2 with Absinthe.

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