Senior Writer with the 148Apps Network since February 18, 2009
Sitting comfortably in the Arizona desert, Chris Hall writes all he can while not fiddling around with his iPhone. He is an avid sports fan, loves strong coffee, and is in need of a better office chair.
Be sure to challenge him to a Game Center throw-down. He'll talk a bunch of trash, but he's really only good at Ms. PAC-MAN.
Simplenote – Simplenote, for one reason or another, is always a crowd favorite for simple note taking. Ridding itself of all the bells and whistles, Simplenote does a great job of creating searchable lists very quickly, with an added bonus of having instant syncing between your notes on your device and the internet. Also exciting is that Simplenote syncs with a few different desktop apps, which allows users to pick and choose the desktop interface they like best. Some people will be turned off by the lack of an official desktop app, but the WinAmp generation of PC’s past will appreciate the option to choose something different. There are limitations to Simplenote that users should be aware of, though. Unlike the rest of the feature-packed note apps, Simplenote doesn’t allow drawing or images of any kind. No handwriting recognition, PDF support, JPEG – nothing.
I like it though, and you will too. Think of it as the app version of a Smart Car: tiny but irresistible.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2008-09-08 :: Category: Productivity
Evernote – Evernote is like the BFG of the simple note taking apps. It does everything that Simplenote does, but adds support for just about everything you could ever want. It accepts PDF’s, images, audio, and even has an official app in the Mac App Store. The coolest feature of all, though, according to me at least, is the ability to search through text within a picture. For example, let’s say that you took a picture of an ad in a magazine for a Honda Insight. After importing the picture into Evernote, the company servers turn the words on the page into searchable terms. Six months later, when you finally get around to buying a car, you can hop into Evernote and type in any word that would’ve been in the ad: Honda, MSRP, Insight, anything. It’s all very cool.
The only knock on Evernote, and this tends to come from the Simplenote camp, is that the interface is fairly chunky. There’s a lot going on, and when you just want to type in a simple note, sometimes Evernote just feels like too much. If you are a Swiss Army Knife kind of person, Evernote is definitely the app to download.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2008-07-11 :: Category: Productivity
Notepad Pro for iPad – While Evernote and Simplenote are great for standard note taking, Notepad Pro steps out of the box a little bit by adding a nifty drawing feature that works great for the larger iPad screen. You can go nuts with all sorts of pen sizes and colors, or you can just draw standard pictures in plain ol’ black and white. Don’t forget to speak up either, as Notepad Pro lets you record audio while you are busy with your finger painting (I recommend a stylus). There’s no iPhone app (yet), and no online system to sync with, but people that want to use their iPads like they would a spiral notebook will be very happy with Notepad Pro.
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2010-07-15 :: Category: Productivity
PhatPad – Really, another note taking app? Well yes, but this one is a bit different. PhatPad, unlike any of the apps above, converts your handwritten text into digital text. The recognition system isn’t perfect and won’t read complete slop, but if you have decent handwriting, the recognition system is a dream. Add in support for images, maps, and syncing via Dropbox and you have yourself a handy dandy little note taking system. I do wish that it had an Evernote style Mac app, but I guess beggars can’t be choosers. If you have legible handwriting, PhatPad may be the one for you.
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2010-12-15 :: Category: Productivity
At the end of the day though, when I’m falling asleep and need to get one last thought down before bed though, I still find myself opening up the default note taking app. It’s not at all feature filled and doesn’t seem to sync well with anything, but I literally just can’t delete it. It’s like the app equivalent of fast food; I know it’s bad for me, but I keep finding myself in line. Speaking of fast food, In-N-Out is calling my name. Loudly.
The ultimate dream of any social utility is to allow users to ask a useful question about their surroundings and then to have someone or something answer with the perfect answer. If I want to know what the best Mexican restaurant around me is, I should be able to pop in and have it definitively answered. There are many apps that do variations of this, but none have it down pat. The first contender is Foursquare, the mega check in service that turns your whole life into a game. Foursquare is great because it gives you the ability to see where others have checked it, thus giving you a general gauge of popularity. There are no reviews though, so people often go to Yelp to get a more useful guide. The problem with Yelp is that it isn’t current. Ask it what the best new Mexican restaurant is and it won’t know what to do. Even worse, if you want to find a good show on any given night, you’re SOL. I could go on and on with examples, but there really isn’t a perfect service out there yet.
Enter Crowdbeacon. Crowdbeacon is a social utility that lets you ask the questions that you want to ask. Let’s say that you pop in and ask for the best drink special in town. With Crowdbeacon, a real person will answer your question with a real answer, or at least that’s the goal. The backbone of Crowdbeacon, as with any social app, is the user. What Crowdbeacon does is allow you to become an expert in any given field. If you are the definitive expert on cheap local dining, all questions concerning the subject will be sent to you. The more relevant and useful your answer, the higher your answer ranking will be. Once everyone in the world is using the service, every question that is asked will be answered so fast your head will spin.
The obvious concern here is that if nobody in your town is using Crowdbeacon, your questions will just go unanswered. To battle this, Crowbeacon will automatically send unanswered questions information from related searches on Yelp, Foursquare, and Wishpond, with Google Places, Twitter, CitySearch and Facebook coming in the near future. Obviously, the goal is to have every question answered by people though, so it is up to you, dear reader, to make this happen. Be sure to download Crowdbeacon today.
It’s probably safe to say that if I polled the readers of 148apps, there would be more owners of plastic guitars (Guitar Hero guitars) than real wooden ones, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t all pay homage to the craftsmanship that goes into guitar making. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is currently running a special exhibit (February 9 through July 4, 2011) that is celebrating the extreme guitar-making craftsmanship of Italian immigrants living in New York. Focusing on the work of John D’Angelico, James D’Aquisto, and John Monteleone, three of the most renowned lutheries in the world, Guitar Heroes takes you on a tour of amazing craftsmanship and wonderful performances.
In addition to the wonderful exhibit, the Met has released a solid iOS app that is meant to guide you on your tour, but doubles as a solid history lesson. The app takes you through the exhibit virtually, starting in Northern Italy, travelling with you from Naples to New York, and then highlighting the life and performances of the three aforementioned guitar heroes. The majority of the app comes in the form of full video of photo guided audio, but there is a bit to read for all you lovers of text. If you happen to be in the NY City area and are planning to visit the exhibit in person, there is also a keypad entry that will take you directly to information about what you are looking at. For the unorganized museum-goer, this feature is priceless.
Whether you have a guitar obsession or are just casually interested in the craftsmanship of a fine, hand made product, you should definitely pick up Met Guitars (it’s free!). Maybe, just maybe, the works of John D’Angelico or James D’Aquisto will convince you to pick up a real guitar to replace your plastic Guitar Hero rock fantasy. If so, the world will be a better place.
The greatest thing of all about the Barnes and Noble Nook (at least in comparison to the Kindle) is that it allows its users to access digital files from their local library. As nice as it is to be able to tap into a mega bookstore with millions of books floating around, having access to a treasure trove of free books is infinitely better. Maybe I’m in the minority here, but without the satisfaction of being able to hold a newly owned, cut fresh from a tree, novel in my hand, I really have no incentive to buy books at all. Digital books to me are disposable, so why not just get them for free?
Well, there are a bunch of issues preventing Average Joe iPhone user from picking up his desired book from the library in a digital format. For starters, libraries are just getting into digital borrowing, which means that even the largest public libraries have limited copies to lend. Even worse is that the vast majority of digital books aren’t in ePub format, and ePub is the only format the iOS can handle. Also of distress is the fact that libraries put a limit on how many digital books they have available at any given time, which means that even though digital books are just a series of 0′s and 1′s, they come in limited quantity. If Joe Neighbor and everyone in his extended family wants to read the latest Dan Brown book, you’d be better off driving yourself to the library to get a physical copy.
But fear not faithful appers, libraries are diligently trying to catch up with the times. AllThingsD reports that the Washington D.C. public library system is adding troves of ePub formatted books weekly, and it is certain that other library systems will file suit. Most importantly though is that there is now an app dedicated on helping you navigate through the treacherous library waters. The app is not perfect, and will not magically put you in front of the Dan Brown digital line, but it will show you all the available books (and audio books) in your area and how many people are in front of you.
With a dash of patience and an ounce of understanding, you will soon enough be immersed in the magically free waters of the digital public library. Get your cards ready!
There’s nothing overtly new about this seasons variety of the amazing MLB At Bat apps, but with baseball season just around the corner, it’s now prime time to pick up the app. As an extra treat for those who download early, the MLB will be streaming around 150 spring training games this season as part of the free MLB.tv mobile preview. In addition, each game will receive the same on-air radio treatment and batter-by-batter action that each game gives you during the regular season. Check out the full list of Spring Training goodies:
Customize At Bat’s home screen to feature your designated favorite team
Watch Live streaming of about 150 Spring Training games with a special mobile free preview of MLB.TV
Listen to available radio broadcasts of Spring Training games
Follow batter-by-batter action for every Spring Training game
Enhanced video library archive, searchable by player or team
Breaking news, schedules and interactive rosters and players stats for every team
For the first time ever I’ll get to see my Astros play spring training ball in the Grapefruit League. I’m more than just a little excited.
For those who had never used MLB At Bat in the past, it is the most amazing baseball game day app that you will ever touch. With the app you can follow any game in the country for free (well, after the app cost), and even listen to the games (you can choose between the home and away broadcast team) over internet radio. Best of all, if you purchase MLB.tv, you can watch each game via live streaming to any iOS device. The additional price ($99+) may seem a bit steep at first, but with well over 100 games going on this regular season, it’s a hard deal to pass up for real baseball fans.
“Now that we have covered the vast majority of the traditional workout app categories: running, strength training, various sports, I think it’s time to bring it all together.”
After voracious applause, he goes on. “What we need is a way to pump music into athletes ears. Loud music. We’ll let them choose playlists and songs, and if they are good we’ll even let them hit the random button!”
After a bit of rumbling amongst the crowd, a brave administrative assistant clears his throat. “Uh, boss, doesn’t the iPhone do that already?”
After a momentary pause in thought he counters with, “No, you imbecile, not like we’ll do it! We’ll have professional male athletes give 10 second motivational speeches to really get their hearts racing. Would Adrian Peterson quit on a race? Hell no!” The boss then pushes his “deploy” button, sending a reluctant Tiger Woods out to hit the interrupting assistant with a failed prototype club.
With a spark of motivation and an ounce of fear, the app team at Nike then gets to work, creating the slickest workout music platform that they could come up with. Using the playlists that are built into iTunes, the Nike BOOM app launches nuclear songs at you with such speed that you’ll have to catch your breath… that is if you were breathing (you’re training so hard that you are unconscious, right?). At the beginning of your workout, and intermittently throughout, you’ll also get a little motivational speech by seemingly interested athletes telling you to “pick up the pace” and that “the season is on the line.”
If little sprinkles of motivation get you though, there’s nothing out there better than Nike BOOM. Now get off your butt and go train! It’s a real shame Rex Ryan doesn’t dish out the in-app motivation.
Somewhere deep in the heart of Felix Labs and Entertainment lies a handful of developers (presumably) who were tired of the typical ho-hum address book. Possibly because of their work making Human Computer Interaction hardware, and possibly because of the excessive rain in British Columbia, they decided that contacts should be represented as popularity balls, and that each ball should be moveable not only with your finger, but also with the accelerometer.
The key to the app is definitely its simplicity. Without any additional input, Filter Fish grabs all of your contacts and seemingly sorts them by popularity and relevance. For example, if you type in the letter “t,” your little contact globules will reposition themselves in order of relevance. Type in more letters and you’ll see the irrelevant globs fall off of the screen, leaving your desired contact front and center, or wherever you want to fling it. Type in nothing and the app will show you a mighty universe, one that has your close friends as huge planets and your minor contacts as space dust, all ready to be moved around with a ferocity that can only be described as Biblical.
Oh right, you can also click on the globules to retrieve contact info, but I had much more fun creating a spinning universe of my friends names.
Being more of a tech demo (I think) than an app that will get a ton of usage right away, Filter Fish is a great little product, and one that I would like see expanded to do even more. One thing that I would love to see is a company function, allowing an extra large 148apps (acting as the sun) to be circled by all of its employees. Extra little features like this will do wonders for Filter Fish, and I definitely hope that it lives on to reach its true potential.
At this stage of my life I have no issues with admitting my flaws. I talk too fast, I move too slow, and I may be the worst Rock Band drummer on the planet. I can shred some mean tunes while belting a rockin’ chorus, but my hands have a real hard time going fast while staying in rhythm. Put the stupid foot pedal into the mix and all is lost.
So obviously there is an app for that too (this is an app site), and it is called Drum School. Before I get into the app though, I’d like to apologize for the intro that mentions Rock Band as the mecca to which all drummers aspire to. As much as I don’t want to admit it, there are people in this world who actually play real drums and aspire to be more like Neil Peart and less like Bizarro Chris (the opposite of me). With that said, I can now move on to the app.
For an aspiring drummer (real or Rock Band), there is probably no better app on the planet for perfecting the craft than Drum School. The basic design of the app is rather simple, as it is really just a audio/visual guide to drumming with over 250 “grooves” and 64 different practice exercises. All in one screen (with no silly side screens), you get to see the beat in notation format, details and info on the beat, a video of a guy playing the beat, as well as the ever handy toolkit. The kit at the bottom plays the beat at any tempo you would like, but the real treat is that you can isolate any of your limbs for further practice. Can’t quite get your left hand to work? Drum school is the perfect app for you.
For those of you who don’t have their own drum kit or practice pedal, there are even 20 hand exercises that you can work through. It may not have the insane variety as the rest of the app (although you could just isolate the hands and use a different object for the high hat), but after a few minutes of practice, I already can do a hand drum roll better than I ever have in my life.
If you are at all interested in learning to drum, or even if you just want to get better at banging away at your steering wheel on your morning commute, I wouldn’t hesitate to get Drum School. It’s about as interactive and fun as a mobile learning tool can get.
When the iPhone first came out, the extent of the craziness in the app world was that cool guitar app that you could actually strum and the Zippo lighter that you could turn on with a flick of the screen. Then came the tower defense games that ruled the beginnings of iPhone gaming, followed by the casual gaming craze of 2010. Forget all that. Your iPhone is now your personal shrink.
Before you scoff, just think about this. There are people in this world who pay an enormous amount of money to see all sorts of therapists for their anxiety. Therapy has become so commonplace in our society that the word “shrink” now has nothing to do with getting small, it is slang term for a therapist. Movies have been made about them and colleges are pumping them out in droves, but the industry is soon to be in decline. As much as I hate to say it, there’s now an app for that.
For those who don’t want to get caught up in telling your deepest personal thoughts to a therapist, all you have to do is download Shrinky. Shrinky is your own, on call, personal therapist that is backed by Glenn Burger and his 15 years of professional experience in the field. Your digital therapist isn’t a person though, or even an animated figure… he’s a Muppet.
From the press release: “Shrinky is an appealing Muppet-like guide that provides the consumer with an emotional toolbox to deal with any difficult feeling or relationship glitch. In this first version, “Shrinky For Anxiety,” he takes you through a series of steps that help you calm down and get relief from anxiety right when you’re starting to freak out –- at the airport, before a big speech — anywhere you need help and comfort fast.”
While there are numerous psych studies that I would like to see done here, (Can a Muppet replace a human? Does real human encouragement help anxiety relief more than a digital person? Am I certifiably crazy for telling a Muppet how I feel?) I can’t help but think that Shrinky is the future of the psych field. I mean, why pay a person wads of cash when a respectable member of the psych community (that’s my assumption anyway) says that I can fire my therapist. The exact quote from Glenn Burger is, “Can a $2.99 iPhone® app allow you to fire your expensive psychotherapist and save big $$$ in today’s troubled economy? I think so.”
It all sounds crazy to me, but who am I to say. I’ve been confiding in a Muppet for the past 10 minutes.
The flu has always been a fascinating thing to me. In my X number of years on earth (I don’t want to date myself… not that I’m old) I have never had the flu and have never gotten a flu shot. Maybe it’s just pure dumb luck, but I completely attribute my no-flu streak to not taking medicine and not drinking soft drinks.
As the years go by though, I become more and more fearful that I’m going to catch some kind of H1N1 mega flu, just to make up for lost time. I’ve haven’t done it yet, but it’s only a matter of time before I start wearing cloth face masks, or just avoiding the public altogether. My goal is to go about my life as I normally would and then completely freak out once the flu arrives to my zip code. How will I know when that happens? The new flu tracker WheresFlu from Theraflu will tell me of course.
With WheresFlu (shouldn’t it be Where’sFlu?), I can track flu symptoms, as well as the full on guerilla, around the country. The app also shows you the top 5 most affected flu cities at any given time, which means that I can cancel all plane flights to areas that should be shut down by the CDC. With Wheresflu, nothing can stop me. Well, I guess I’d be in trouble if a terrible strain ever made its way down to Phoenix, but even then I could just move. Right?
Aside from the lovely flu tracker, Theraflu has added a little dilly to their app website that I’ve never seen before. Maybe I’m just out of touch, or maybe I just don’t frequent developer websites very often, but the Theraflu website contains a huge QR code at the bottom of the screen that, after scanning (with any good barcode scanning app), shoots you directly to the App Store page on the phone. I could just be a sucker for using RedLaser every time that I get the chance, but I have to give kudos to the Theraflu design team for giving me something interactive to play with. If QR scanning fun is your cup of tea too, check out there app website here.
There’s something oddly satisfying about wishing bad things upon others. I don’t mean death or anything terribly horrible, but it would be nice to see someone you don’t like have their legs kick out from under them while walking down the hallway, or to see them magically get punched in the gut while in an important meeting. If you’ve ever been in the market to partake in some sweet sweet revenge, there’s no better way to do it than to get yourself a good voodoo doll. All from the comfy confines of your home you can poke them, maim them, hex them, tear off their limbs, or let your dog use them as a chew toy, which is especially cruel. For those who want a more digital experience though, I definitely recommend checking out Poke My Voodoo 2.
With Poke My Voodoo 2, you can customize your voodoo doll with a plethora of new items, including hair, facial hair, eyes, makeup, shirts, hats, coats and jackets, pants, skirts, shorts, dresses, arms and props, glasses and masks, hair accessories, piercings, tattoos, and necklaces and capes, and then poke, prod, or hex them in all sorts of devilish ways. Using the new voodoo market, you can even deck out your doll further to perfectly replicate your desired target or buy new hexes for further manipulation.
After you’ve had your turn with the doll, you can then send it to all of your friends/ the world for them to rate or play with, along with a “hexed message” to tell your fellow torturers what to do or your victim why you’ve been doing it.
As the developer states in their app description, “Voodoo dolls have never been so easy, so social, so rewarding, or so much fun!”
So I have a confession to make. I’ve played liars dice more than a couple of times, but still had to read the entire tutorial in Lying Liar’s Dice before I started playing. I could say, “Oh, it’s been so long since I’ve played liars dice at the local bar.” but you know that’s not true. Blame it all on my roots? No, I think the beer is to blame.
Liar’s dice is the oldest of all bar games, using nothing but a bunch of dice and a few people to play. The basic gameplay has each person with five dice which have been rolled so the numbers are all jumbled, and starts with one player who makes a bet. Let’s say that there are four people playing in this game, so the player bets that there are a total of four 5′s in play. Since he can only see his five dice, and he only has two 5′s, he’s betting that there are at least two other 5′s in play. The next guy can either call the previous guy out (in which everyone shows their dice) or choose a bigger amount to bet (wither four 6′s or 5+ of any value. If you get called out an lose, you lose a die; same if you incorrectly call a bluff. Like most dice games, the last one in liar’s dice with dice wins.
What makes Lying Liar’s Dice so great is that it presents the game in a way that it all makes sense, even for those who aren’t drinking. It’s not the prettiest interface ever, but once you get used to it, it’s quite fun. In addition to the standard game, you can play Lying Liar’s Dice in nine different variations with up to five computers (and/or hot seat people) playing at the same time.
The problem with growing up is that our math skills rapidly deteriorate the more we age. While a fourth grader can pump out endless strings of long division and multiple item subtraction without blinking, the average adult is more apt with rounding and 50/50 splits. This is never more apparent than when the check comes to the dinner table.
Let’s say that your table has four people, and that the total bill comes to $65. One person got a soup and salad, one got a sandwich, one got a big pasta bowl, and the other ordered two fried appetizers and a beer. After dealing with the guy at the table that only carries cash, the other three have to decide on how to divvy up the bill. They could divide it by 3, including tip, or try to divvy out tax and tip amounts depending on order size. More than likely one of the people will say, “This is stupid, I’ll take this one and you take the next.” We live in the 21st century yet we’re still stuck on the bill.
As you’ve probably guessed by now, there’s an app for that. Split was created with the unequal split in mind, letting you assign different amounts to different people. All you have to do is add the correct number of people to the table (that is adorned with an attractive hand-drawn appearance), add bill values to the correct person, and BLAM, the app shows you how much each person should pay. It’s as easy as, well, ordering.
The only thing that I can find wrong with Split is that it was obviously made by a European who uses the comma ($40,99) instead of the decimal point ($40.99), and that really isn’t a big deal. Just don’t be the math/finance challenged guy that gets suckered into paying $4,099 when the app says to pay $40,99.