Posts Tagged Sparrow

 

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

appstoreevo01The 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

appstoreevo02aappstoreevo02bThe 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.


Continue reading 5 Years and Counting – The App Store Then and Now »

148Apps’ Best Apps of 2012: 10-1

This is it. Our favorite apps of 2012, the ones that took our devices to new levels of usefulness. Have your own picks? Tell us below in the comments!

10. Fantastical: What makes the iOS version of this Mac calendar app so great? Jennifer Allen says that it’s because of its natural language features. “Adding an event is a matter of tapping the plus button, like with many other calendar apps. Usually, this is where things get slow and cumbersome with users having to slide through times and dates to find the right one. Fantastical makes it so much easier. Users just type what’s going on. Meeting Joe for lunch tomorrow at 1pm? Type that in and the app understands perfectly. … Excluding typos, it’s tough to fool Fantastical, it’s that accurate.”

$1.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2012-11-29 :: Category: Productivity

9. 1Password: Remembering passwords, especially secure ones, is difficult. Thankfully, version 4 of this password app is extremely easy to use and also comes with extra features for easily filling out private information. As David Rabinowitz says: “The sheer number of different types of information 1Password can remember is extremely impressive and comprehensive. It can store all of the usual things, like identities, credit cards, login information and such. But, it can also remember driver’s licenses, social security numbers, software licenses, wireless routers, and even notes if there is something to store that doesn’t fit in one of the many included categories. The app also has some really impressive advanced features, like syncing to iCloud or Dropbox.”

$8.99
$17.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-12-13 :: Category: Productivity

8. Pocket: Read It Later underwent a stylish renovation with a new name, and the result was this dramatically-improved experience that’s now one of the best cross-platform reading list apps available. The app is perfect for keeping up with longform articles, and its integration with apps like Tweetbot means that it’s easy to save an article to Pocket from iPhone, and read it later on the iPad. It’s for more than just reading articles, videos work extremely well with it as well. Now, to just solve the problem of having too many saved things to get through.

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2009-04-09 :: Category: News

7. Launch Center Pro: App Cubby expanded out their popular Launch Center application for easy access to actions on iOS with this new Pro version that brings new features and a much-improved interface. Angela LaFollette says “Launch Center Pro is ideal for users who like to save time and works perfectly sitting in the iPhone’s dock. Once you use it, you’ll never be able to stop. It’s packed with a lot of features, and its intuitive and sharp interface both make it attractive to all iOS users.”

$4.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2012-06-21 :: Category: Productivity

6. Adobe Photoshop Touch: While a stripped-down Photoshop experience has been available on iOS for a while, this expanded experience is the photography enthusiast’s best friend. David Rabinowitz says that “ Although it doesn’t offer as much as its full-featured older brother on the desktop, it’s the best photo editing experience available for iOS. Beginners who have never used Photoshop before won’t feel overwhelmed by the app. The desktop version is known for being extremely powerful and full featured, with an at times cluttered and confusing interface, but the tablet version really only includes the essentials.”

$9.99
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2012-02-27 :: Category: Photography

5. The Magazine: Marco Arment’s bi-weekly magazine, with several original articles from talented writers, is probably the best justification for keeping Newsstand around at this point. It has a fantastic minimalistic design as well, which is to be expected from the creator of Instapaper. The topics are varied and provocative, great for a short-but-satisfying read, and it’s only available on iOS.

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-10-11 :: Category: Lifestyle

4. Sparrow: Apple rarely approves third-party mail clients, so the fact that this one made its way to the App Store is a blessing for users. Sparrow makes it easy to navigate one’s inbox, quickly seeing unread emails, easily going from one mail to the next, and getting to see just who’s emailing with Facebook integration. It was so good that Gmail acquired the dev team, and the Gmail app is already seeing the dividends of the acquisition. While new feature development has stopped, Sparrow isn’t going away, thankfully: it recently got an update for the iPhone 5 and remains perhaps the best independent mail client on the App Store.

$2.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2012-03-15 :: Category: Utilities

3. Google Maps: You never know what you have until it’s gone, and such is the story of Google Maps. Ever since Apple’s mapping solution replaced the default Maps app in iOS, which was powered by Google, suddenly people missed Google’s solution. Well, splitting the app away into a third-party release proved to be a great move: while it is yet to see iPad support, the transit directions are a huge help, turn-by-turn navigation has been added to the app, and it’s just generally a better experience than it was before.

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-12-12 :: Category: Navigation

2. Tweetbot for iPad: Tapbots brought their Twitter client from iPhone to iPad this year, and while the iPad experience is great enough on its own, the synchronization is the app’s real strength. Being able to easily sync unread position between iPhone, iPad, and even the later Mac version is just an amazing experience that works exactly as it says on paper. It’s the best Twitter experience available, period. Enjoy it while it lasts, thanks to Twitter limiting the number of users that an app can have using Twitter.

$2.99
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2012-02-08 :: Category: Social Networking

1. Paper by FiftyThree: This drawing app is incredibly beautiful, allowing for pieces that look incredibly realistic to be brought to life in the app’s virtual pages. But it may be the fact that it’s actually so easy to use, even for non-artists, that it is extremely compelling. Jennifer Allen saysPaper by FiftyThree does for sketching and artistry as iA Writer does for the writer. It’s simple and unsullied by menu bars and buttons. Instead it’s all about expressing creativity.”

FREE!
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2012-03-29 :: Category: Productivity

 

Sparrow Review

Sparrow Review

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Sparrow is an iOS version of the popular Mac mail client that can replace the default mail app.

Read The Full Review »
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