I’m the kind of person who my entire family comes to with any tech or game related question. For my soon-to-be career in the IT world, I’ve probably already heard every silly computer related question I can think of; such as my parent’s worrying I deleted all of their email in their Yahoo! email account when I reformatted their computer to my uncle calling me to tell me how this site he saw on an infomercial cleaned up his PC. Every facepalm, of course to those in the know, was from lack of knowledge of computers and technology.
So when it came to my grandmother – who is old, fragile, and not in the greatest of health – needing an upgrade from her ancient Mac Book this year, I candidly suggested she go to an iPad instead of a new computer. “Why?” my family asked, “How can a tablet replace a computer?” To which I gave them a brief summary of all the reasons I could come up with to justify the purchase of a $500 tablet versus a $1200 MacBook. The iPad’s size, weight, cost, and usability were all crucial to my argument for the iPad versus another laptop.
Me with my grandmother at my wedding in 2010.
Eventually I won out in this discussion, thus beginning a sort of experiment to see if my dad’s mother could adopt to a mobile touch screen device. To many in our age group, the idea that someone may have trouble with an iPad sounds almost absurd. But keep in mind this was part of a family that I had to verbally instruct over the phone as to how to launch Skype on their MacBook.
The first baby steps of this experiment were to introduce her to popular apps, such as the iPad email interface, Safari, and Facebook. Facebook took great strides in 2013 to make their mobile app to have nearly all the functionality of the browser based version. I was even able to help her figure out how to hide the posts from a distant relative who’d post quite frequently about Justin Bieber and how much she’d spent on clothes. My grandma is cool like that.
Next up was showing her various forms of entertainment on the device. Now again, this amazing lady still owns two SD TV’s, so an iPad with it’s Retina display is by far the best visually striking screen in her house. I showed her various video apps; such as YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and even lesser known ones such as VUDU. Because I also deal with iOS games on a consistent basis, I introduced some simple but really fun games I thought she might be interested in trying. Two of them, which appeared to catch on with her, were games I considered to be some of the best but most overlooked games of 2013: 4 Thrones and FlowDoku.
There have been a couple of challenges in this adventure however, as anyone going from the familiar to the unknown can be a little daunted. My grandmother had issues figuring out her email, having been used to browser based clients. However, I was able to introduce her to the wide array of Google apps available on iOS, merging the Google and Apple worlds into one. She found the Google Mail client pretty useful for her needs, as well as Google Drive, so I could send her stuff such as wedding photos from the event that occurred some 3 years ago. Additionally, I was able to set her up with Skype on iOS so she could watch my sister’s wedding, as well as the TED Talks app so she could see the various topics discussed.
There was also a little trouble getting my elderly grandmother adept at using the on-screen keyboard. Luckily the keyboard on an iPad is relatively big with easy to read buttons, especially in comparison to any Android device. It also responds perfectly to touch, with little to no issues responding appropriately. Once she learned to adapt to using a touch screen to not only replace the mouse but the physical keyboard as well, things seemed to go much easier.
The farm I spent a lot of time on as a kid at my grand parents.
My grandmother means the world to me, and it’s absolutely devastating knowing she is nearing her final days on this Earth. But the notion that I could help simplify her life a little bit makes me feel a tad better. From helping her get a device that her frail body will be able to manage to setting her up with and showing her how to use some apps that were similar to what she was using on a MacBook, I feel as though my grandma has a great computing device, an awesome means of communicating with the outside world, and something that will help improve her life overall; regardless of how long or short that may be. Technology has many uses beyond business, entertainment, or whatever else. Sometimes it’s just as simple as using it to aid the ones you love.
Posted by Andrew Stevens on October 3rd, 2013 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Netflix gets an update that adds Netflix HD and AirPlay streaming for iOS 7 users. I guess that means I should start up my subscription again and see what Michael Westen has been up to! The update also adds stability improvements for an unstable world of Burn Notice!
Over one million apps have made their way onto the App Store during its five years of existence. A million. That’s a pretty miraculous number when you think about it. However it’s not the amount of apps we have to pick from that I find so fascinating, but rather just how much things have changed since 2008. Pickings were comparatively slim at first, and many developers were just starting to dip a toe in the waters of Apple’s new smartphone.
On top of that, the technology itself has changed tremendously in a relatively small amount of time. It makes me wonder if anyone from 2008 would even recognize current iOS devices, and by extension the App Store. Would a newer Apple initiate have any idea what they were looking at if they somehow managed to take a trip to five years ago? I think it warrants a look at how the hardware, the App Store, and the apps contained within it have evolved.
2008 – The Beginning of the Beginning
The App Store’s first year was a rough but promising one. The iPhone 3G rolled out to coincide with Apple’s new software venue and the original iPhone was still viable. The iPod touch was also present and accounted for, while the second generation appeared closer to the end of the year. Even at this point many developers were eager to push these early iOS devices to their limits, to make them more than just a phone or an .mp3 player with a fancy screen.
Handy apps like Pandora Radio, Last.FM, Facebook, and Yelp were to be expected, but that didn’t make them any less impressive to have on a handheld platform. Others such as the intuitive personal organizer Evernote, the eerily accurate song-identifying app Shazam, eWallet’s convenient and secure account password management, and MLB At Bat with its extensive baseball coverage further capitalized on the particulars of the hardware and its general portability. Of course there were also some pretty unnecessary options out there, too. Flashlight kind of served a purpose but was also fairly pointless. It wasn’t as bad as stuff like More Cowbell!, though.
At the same time, the games available on the App Store were beginning to show people that “mobile” didn’t have to equal “mediocre.” Sure there were a few simple ports of the odd classic such as Ms. PAC-MAN, Vay, and Scrabble, but there were also some impressive iOS renditions of popular console games like Super Monkey Ball coming out. Potential mobile gamers also had a few really special titles such as Galcon and Fieldrunners to tide them over. When all was said and done there were over 7,500 apps on the App Store by the end of the year, with more being added every day.
2009 – Moving Right Along
The following year saw even more impressive releases as Apple’s digital marketplace began to expand. The second generation of iPod Touch was the bright and shiny new toy at the time, but it was followed shortly by the iPhone 3GS in June while the latest and greatest third generation Touch closed out the year in September. It all meant better processors, better CPUs, more advanced operating systems, and so on. All stuff that developers needed to acclimate to, but also stuff that meant they could push their boundaries even further. There was no loss of steam when it came to content, either: the App Store finished off 2009 with well over 100,000 apps available.
Many of the basic smartphone necessities were covered, but there was room for so much more. Especially while the technology was improving. Plenty of people used their iPhones as phones, sure, but with the addition of Skype they were able to enjoy the added functionality of instant messaging and voice chat without cutting into their data plans (so long as a wifi connection was present). Big companies were really starting to take notice as well. That same year Starbucks and many other big businesses threw their virtual hats into the ring with their own apps designed to make life a little bit easier for their iOS-using customers. Practicality was also becoming an even bigger focus. The Kindle app gave iOS users a practical e-reading option, and Dropbox was there being Dropbox. By which I mean “an awesome and super-convenient way to transfer files between multiple platforms.” And this same level of refinement could be seen creeping into the games as well.
So many of the App Store’s most notable games and franchises came out around this time. It was almost a mobile rennaisence of a sort. This was the year Real Racing first blew mobile gamers’ minds, even causing some of them to question the legitimacy of in-game video footage until they were able to see the finished product for themselves. Zenonia was just a fledgling action RPG at the time, and while a lot of people liked it I doubt they knew just how many sequels it would spawn. The same goes for Pocket God, although with updates rather than multiple releases. Flight Control began to eat away at peoples’ free time, Angry Birds and Doodle Jump hit it big (like, super big), and Myst and The Sims 3 further displayed the potential for major releases on mobile platforms. Oh, and Canabalt almost single-handedly invented and popularized a genre.
Posted by Andrew Stevens on May 9th, 2013 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
The Netflix app receives an update and makes it easier to watch episodes of your favorite TV shows, back-to-back, without having to manually start the next episode. The app now cues up and starts the next episode for you. The update also adds a list of the three best movie recommendations that is displayed at the end of a movie, and “enhanced second screen options,” whatever that is.
Posted by Jeff Scott on October 12th, 2012 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Xfinity / Comcast has released a new TV Viewer app that does parts of what you would want it to do. That goes along with the other Xfinity TV app that also does parts of what you would want it to do. Sigh. Pardon me for the following only slightly applicable rant.
Comcast is in the middle of an identity crisis right now and we are forced to go along for the ride. They seem to do everything in twos now. Comcast and Xfinity cable services. Xfinity TV and Xfinity TV Player apps to watch different parts of the same catalog of streaming TV. Two different streaming services – On Demand and Streampix. And why do they own NBC?
My head is spinning. Which app do I use to watch which show? Of course then there’s Hulu, and Netflix, and….
Did I perhaps, maybe mention how awesome Sling box is?
This week at 148Apps, a new video revolution began, as Amazon.com released its Amazon Instant Video app for the iPad. Carter Dotson writes, “Amazon Instant Video is now available on iPad, expanding out the Amazon’s vast library of video offerings to iOS users. This offers streaming of purchased movies and TV shows from Amazon, with the ability to sync up watch lists between devices. It also includes titles available from Amazon Prime, similar to Netflix, a service offering over 120,000 streaming movies and TV shows. It is only available as a yearly subscription from Amazon as part of the Prime service that also includes free 2-day shipping on Amazon items.”
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-07-31 :: Category: Entertainment
Over at GiggleApps.com, writer Amy Solomon got us ready for mealtime wither her review of Bo’s Dinnertime. She writes, “Bo’s Dinnertime in a cute and fun interactive universal app that teaches the sequencing of events that lead up to dinnertime, such as food shopping, putting away groceries, cooking and setting the table, as well as eating dinner and cleaning up afterwards. A simple and sweet song is also included, as is a section dedicated to selecting and eating foods with the tap of a finger. Narration is included, leading children though varied food related exercises, complete with subtle highlighting of new objects to tap or interact with, keeping the flow of this app going nicely.”
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-05-15 :: Category: Education
Last, but certainly not least, 148Apps.biz writer Carter Dotson explored the results of a recent study by KinderTown. He says, “KinderTown, developers of an app that helps collect the best kids apps on the App Store, have released a study based on searches within their app. Their “KinderSights” analytics study collected data from June 20th to July 10th, and they have released the results from the study, revealing some key insights into those that search for kids’ apps on the App Store.
The most-searched criterion was age, with 50.2% of searches looking for apps for a particular age. Second was price at 40.6%, followed by platform at 31.8%, and the type of app was last at 30.2%.”
This week may be done, but there’s no need to worry. More app reviews, news and contests are always on their way across the 148Apps network. Just follow us on Twitter or Like us on Facebook to stay on top of all the happenings. See you next week, Gothamites!
Movies are great, right? How about free ones streamed directly to an iOS device? No, I’m not talking about a subscription service like NetFlix but an entirely free ad-supported service.
Popcornflix promises hundreds of free full length movies all at the tap of the screen. These films aren’t going to be huge blockbusters, but that’s not to say the quality is dire. Plenty of different tastes are catered for with the ability to browse according to genres such as Action/Thriller, Comedy, Romance, Horror and Family. All films are professionally mde and full of (sometimes vaguely) familiar stars.
In particular, I’d personally recommend quirky indie film Lymelife starring Alec Baldwin but there are sure to be other hidden gems out there. The makers of Popcornflix promise that at least one new movie is added every day so users should struggle to ever run out of options.
Popcornflix is out now, it’s an Univeral app and completely free to use.
Netflix has recently updated their app to version 2.0, bringing a pair of major changes to it. The first is that the app is now available in Latin America, so our friends south of the border can now enjoy streaming movies and TV shows. The other big update is for iPad users, as the interface has been entirely revamped. Categories and users’ instant queue are now displayed as horizontally-scrollable lists, with the ability to resume recently watched items at the top. This UI update brings it more in line with Netflix interfaces on other platforms, as they use similarly-organized display lists. Along with a similar update for the Xbox 360, it appears that Netflix is trying to bring some kind of unified interface across the many platforms they are on. The iPhone/iPod touch interface has not received a similar redesign, but this is probably due to issues with getting such an interface working on the smaller screens.
I’m amazed that no one’s used the name Fanhattan before as it’s an excellent name for a celebrity/movie orientated website or app. This app does exactly what would be expected of it. It enables users to find movies and TV shows from old to new across various video streaming and rental services.
Supporting many different services such as Vudu, iTunes, Hulu Plus, Netflix, Blockbuster, Amazon Video on Demand and the ABC Player, this should be a definitive app for all US based entertainment fans. If the show or movie isn’t currently available to stream, Fanhattan will even state where it can be bought for shipping at a later date.
Search options means that not only is it easy to track down something particular but it’s easy to browse for new suggestions too. Content is grouped into genres like Newest, Top Rated, Critic’s Picks as well as Award Winners such as Emmys or Oscars. That’s not forgetting regular genres like action or fantasy.
Combining everything in such a way is a neat idea that no doubt iPad owners will be keen to try out.
It’s out now and it’s free to download. Don’t forget that the services it links to may incur further charges such as Netflix and acquiring items on iTunes. Fortunately, Fanhattan lists pricing in a detailed manner.
The App Hall of Fame (the original App Hall of Fame, not the Apple knock off) is an independent initiative launched by 148Apps that includes selection committee members from over 40 web and print publications.
Our goal is to archive the very best mobile apps by honoring only 12 applications per month. To be eligible, applications must be available for download from the App Store for at least 6 months. Applications are nominated and voted on monthly by the selection committee with the applications that get the most votes being inducted into the hall of fame.
We want you to join in on the celebration. We’ll be giving away copies of the newly inducted applications to subscribers of our mailing list later this week. Subscribe now for a chance to win.
As the year winds down and we look ahead to the next decade it’s time for all those wonderful end-of-year lists we all get so excited about. Today we have some exciting news, as Apple has detailed all the top paid and free apps for the iPhone and iPad, as well as the top grossing apps on each platform. Here’s the full rundown, for your edification.
Netflix today released an update to their Netflix app that makes it compatible with the iPhone and iPod Touch. Those of you who have been dying to watch your favorite movie or show will now be able to do so with the free app.
“Apple has changed the game for mobile devices,” said Reed Hastings, Netflix co-founder and chief executive officer. “We’re excited that our members can now carry Netflix around in their pockets and instantly watch movies and TV shows streamed from Netflix right to their iPhone or iPod touch.”
The app works on all phones with iOS 3.13 or later, and supports WiFi and 3G. You’ll obviously take a pretty nice quality hit when watching things on a 3G network, but it’s not like you are going to be watching the latest and greatest action movie on your iPhone. I’d wait to watch The Expendables on your big screen when it arrives on Netflix.
Membership plans start at $8.99 a month for one disk at a time in the mail and unlimited streaming, and there is a free 30 day trial for anyone starting up a new account. If you’ve never had Netflix before, just know that you won’t have full access to their 10 trillion movie library with the streaming service, just a still large portion of the movies that they have on demand.
Go download the Netflix app right now: the movies are waiting!
April showers bring May flowers, and while May is just around the corner, the rainy days are in full force. What better way to get through a rainy day then by using an iDevice? Here are a few apps that we think will be the perfect companion.
There has already been a lot of coverage on Netflix, but it truly is an MVP of the app store. As of this print it’s an iPad only app, but there are confirmed reports of Netflix making a debut on the smaller iDevice lineup eventually. It’s a sure fire bet that watching a movie or television show on a rainy day will help to pass the time.
Alternative: For those that don’t have an iPad, or those not subscribing to Netflix, the YouTube app, NBC.com through the Safari Web Browser, and the Pandora app are a couple alternatives to provide some entertainment. Unfortunately the video streaming offerings have been limited up until Netflix. With Netflix expected on the pocket sized iDevices, and rumors flowing on Hulu’s debut on the iDevice line up, you can expect that to change sooner than later.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2010-04-01 :: Category: Entertainment
Maybe it’s just me, but I can play Tetris for hours without getting bored. Whether it’s the WiiWare version of Tetris, my old cartridge version, or the app version, I can’t get enough. Nothing beats relaxing on the couch watching some TV and playing some Tetris.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2008-07-11 :: Category: Games
101 Classics (or other free book app)
I used to be an avid reader, but responsibilities have really limited the time I can devote to it. When I did read more, there was a vast collection of books I used to read. With an app like 101 Classics, large quantities of books are collected into one app for free and easy access. Make some hot chocolate, grab a blanket, and pop up a copy of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer the next time it’s raining.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-12-31 :: Category: Books
They say that knowledge is power. “They” tend to be those people always looking to get a hand up in Trivial Pursuit, but a little extra knowledge can’t hurt anyone. With the “Surprise Me!” feature in Articles, you can relax inside, check out the rain, and educate yourself on little random pieces of the world one Wikipedia page at a time. Available on the entire iDevice line-up, this app is sure to equip you for battle the next time Trivial Pursuit night comes up.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2010-04-01 :: Category: Reference
Rainy Day apps really are just boredom fillers, and to that end there are hundreds of possibly apps available. An epic RPG Series like the Final Fantasy (One or Two), Zenonia (One or Two), and Inotia (One or Two) are great options. Point and Click games such as Nick Chase, The Secret of Monkey Island, and Broken Sword, or any number of apps have the potential for filling that void. Take a look at the games I offered here or figure out a specific genre of game you are looking for and check out 148apps vast database of reviews to find something that provides a great product to fill your time with.
If you would like a specific recommendation for a genre, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would gladly toss you one. If I don’t have a lot of experience in one genre, 148apps has a plethora of talented staff members who might.
The world of movie rentals is vastly different than it used to be. First, Netflix brought web-based movie mailings to dominance with its cheap subscription service. But the one problem with Netflix is that you can’t get movies instantly—some titles are available for online streaming, but the quality and selection are both poor. Redbox takes a different approach. Its DVD rental kiosks can be found at more than 19,000 locations such as Wal-mart. Most significantly, they’re dirt cheap: $1 (plus tax) for a twenty-four hour rental, and you can grab them right then and there. Needless to say, Redbox has gained quite a following.
The new Redbox iPhone application aims to make things even easier. Using the free app, you can select the nearest Redbox location, search for a movie, and then reserve it, so you don’t have to worry about someone else snagging a new release. Renting movies certainly doesn’t get any easier—or cheaper—than that. Unfortunately, the app is still a little rough around the edges. Lag is irritating, and the search feature could use some work; location services don’t seem to work quite right. The app also replicates the features found on the standard Redbox website, though this is probably intentional; Redbox joins a steady flow of apps that aim to provide mobile access to the same technology accessible from your computer’s browser. I often use my iPod instead of my laptop, and Redbox is apparently working to perpetuate that trend. Mobile access to full features is something that I can eagerly support.
Redbox isn’t perfect, but it’s definitely a neat tool for movie buffs. I can see it now…standing in line at a Redbox kiosk with the app, and reserving a movie just before the bloke in front of you tries to rent it. Victory is sweet, and easy rentals are sweeter still.
i.TV announced today that their massive 2.0 update has been submitted to the iTunes App Store. This update includes a striking new feature that turns your iPhone or iPod Touch into a remote control. Initially the app will only support Tivo devices, but the framework is there to allow other remotes to be added. You can now view the TV listings and instantly switch to the channel it’s on, schedule it for recording by your DVR, or download it from iTunes.
This is on top of their already impressive feature list of this all-in-one TV addicts app. Features include TV listings, show information and user ratings, Tivo recording, NetFlix queue management, iTunes and YouTube integration, movie showtimes and ticket buying.
More details on the new release:
Introducing i.TV 2.0
New look, iTunes, alerts, and remote control
Remote Control: i.TV now combines the TV guide and the remote control on an iPhone or iPod touch. Remote controls are powered by the i.TV Remote Control Framework, which allows third parties to develop remote controls for use on the i.TV platform.
TiVo remote: TiVo is the first to introduce a soft remote on i.TV. You can now change the channel, fast forward, record and most importantly play your favorite shows and movies, with just a tap on your iPhone or iPod touch.
New look: i.TV now has a simplified and streamlined user interface.
iTunes: From within i.TV, discover related TV and movie content and then tap to download from iTunes.
Push notifications: Set alerts for when your favorite TV shows air. Never miss a show again.
Here’s the into movie that shows you the new interface of i.TV 2.0.