Sunday, December 2, 2012

iPhone/iPad App Tips

Fantastical is a new iOs app, just released. I'm a big fan of their Mac app, and this one shows the same slick functionality. Basically, it replaces your Calendar app. You type (or, if you have recent hardware, dictate) something like "Lunch with Joe on thurs at 1", and it creates a "Lunch with Joe" calendar entry perfectly configured for the correct time and date. This is how Apple's Calendar should work, but doesn't, and for $1.99 you can fix that (twice the price if you wait; this is a special launch pricing). The interface is a joy to use. Just get it (here's a review).

If you don't have Siri, you ought to know that a recent update of the free Google iPhone app adds powerful voice control. Ask it when Tom's Diner in Mamaroneck closes today, or what time Skyfall's playing near you (btw, here's some Internet dude making a plausible case that Bond died at the beginning of the film, making the entire Bond series a dream) or what "fecund" means, and you'll not just get search results but an actual out-loud voice answer. It's great for driving. And, actually, it's worth using even if you do have Siri, as several web demonstrations show that Google's comprehension is keener.

Downcast is a much better podcast manager than the incredibly buggy native iOs app. It's worth $1.99 if you have even a nodding interest in podcasts (and if you don't, you should. Check out The Tobolowsky Files, Radio Lab, Bullseye with Jesse Thorn, Alec Baldwin's "Here's the Thing", Elvis Mitchell's "The Treatment", The Nerdist or WTF with Marc Maron for starters).

Flow Free is an awesome addictive game. It's hard to describe, but the best way to check it (or any iOs game) out is via video demo. FWIW I dislike their follow-up game, "Flow Free Bridges".

Other games I love: "AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!!" (an adrenalin-pumping base jumper game that's so clever and funny; so meticulously crafted); Dark Meadow, a droll horror adventure with great ambiance, loosely based on the mind-blowing Bio Shock (which, by the way, is a must-play for your Mac). And anything at all by Pangea, whose games look juvenile in screenshots, but play like crafted treasures. I also love Osmos and MiniSquardron.

You probably figure viewing Wikipedia via web browser is more than good enough. No. It's not. Believe me, I understand the reluctance to have separate apps for every damn thing, but Wikipanion just makes Wikipedia so vastly more surf-able and enjoyable (not to mention bookmark-able). Unlikely though it sounds, it's one of my most-used apps. And it's free for both iPhone and iPad versions.

iPhone cameras are poor at photographing documents, signs...anything flat and hard-angled and informative. I use Scanner Pro for that stuff. Among other things, it makes my collection of takeout menus in Evernote that much more readable.

The big, expensive dictionaries for iOs periodically go on sale. I track expensive apps like these on AppShopper, which lets me know if one of them has a price drop. For example, I scored the $29 New Oxford American Dictionary for a mere 99 cents. AppShopper also has its own free app, making it even more convenient to monitor your wish list.

Did you miss my rave for the freebie Bongiovi DPS, which makes everything on your iPhone or iPad sound miraculously better? Or my recommendation of Hopstop to recoup the transit data stricken from iOs 6's lousy Maps app? Or my suggestions for using iPad as a laptop? Or the trick to resurrect lost browser tabs in iPad? Here are all Apple-related postings in reverse chronological order.

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