Quick Takes on Five Apps #11

This is the eleventh installment of the Quick Takes series, where I look at five (or so) apps and tell you my thoughts on them.

A Bunch of Weather Apps (skip if you are tired of this):

Pocket Weather World (iPhone and iPad)

This app was kindly provided to me from the developer. I don’t care for the visual styling of the iPad app. I do however like the ‘high visibility’ theme on the iPhone app — but it just doesn’t meet my needs in a weather app. If the forecast data was easier to scan for trends this might be the winning weather app on my iPhone. I do however like that all the data is on one screen — no tabs.

Weather Watch (iPhone)

The same developers of the above app provided me with this app as well. This is a very nice app, but falls in the category of many other apps that show a large clock and smaller weather information. More of a display app, than an information app.

Wx (iPad)

This looks like a Sharper Image gadget circa 1997. That’s not to say that it is bad, just that the interface feels like a dated geek gadget. There is all the information you need, but I don’t think it makes very good use of the iPad screen space. That said if the visual styling was better I could find myself getting into the app. There are great graphs for seeing trends and nice little radar maps. Interestingly this app is not easy to set a new location for, you can’t just say: “give me the information for my current location”. This app wants to know which reporting station you want to use for temperatures, which to use for radar, and so on — it’s not for the quick and easy folk.

All of that aside, once set up it is apparent that this app is for data geeks.

Umbrella (iPhone)

Drop dead simple app that tells you if you need to carry an umbrella with you. In smaller print it also shows the temperature range and allows you to set the chance of precipitation as a badge on the icon. Not very useful in Seattle 1 , but a nice little app.

End of Weather Stuff

Tower (Mac)

I recently setup GitHub and in doing so quickly found out that I didn’t know what I was doing with it. I wanted a GUI, Transmit, like interface and Tower does exactly that. I haven’t dived into it too far, just yet — but I will say that the generous 30-day trial makes for an easy recommendation to at least try it out. I have personally found it a great way to interface with GitHub and perhaps the only reason I am using GitHub is because of how easy Tower makes it for me.

Analytics HD (iPad)

This is a handy little iPad app for checking in on your Google Analytics (since Google insists on Flash content). I can’t say that this is a great app, and quite honestly $6.99 is a stretch for this app. Then again there isn’t much an iPad app can do to make Google Analytics look as pretty as something like Mint. I also find the data refresh rates to be slow, but that is a Google problem as all apps I have tried pull the data very slowly.

The best feature is the ‘Today’ and ‘Yesterday’ options, allowing you to be able to quickly see the data for those days. If I am completely honest I think that GA on the web actually looks better than in this app, but you can’t see that on the iPad so there is a need for me to have this app.

Terra (iPad)

It doesn’t do much to better the built in iPad browser. That said it gives you a much more Safari on Mac feeling than the native browser gives you. The two compelling features in this free app are:

  1. The ability to open files in apps.
  2. Access to downloaded files via iTunes.

Those are nice features, but I had to force myself to use them because honestly I just rarely need these features on the iPad. It is nice to have, but not the end of the world not to have. Hey, it’s free though.I also found the tabs too small to comfortably hit without thinking about it. I find the lack of a bookmarks bar a huge oversight and the fullscreen mode more of a ‘bullet point’ feature and the usability improvement.

Photosmith (iPad)

This app promises to be your Lightroom companion for the iPad. The idea for the app is that you off-load your images from your camera to the iPad, then Photosmith will allow you to tag and rate the photos. You can also organize the photos and share them on a the standard “social” sites. The entire thing syncs with Lightroom with the help of a custom free plugin.

This is a pretty neat tool, but in it’s current state it is hardly worth $17.99. Tagging, rating, organizing is not as valuable to me as basic color adjustments and cropping. I was pumped to try this app out and was hoping it would make for a nice tool to have on my iPad — I think that if I was on a trip without my Mac, then yes this app would be worth it. However, if I am going to be gone long enough to want to organize photos, why wouldn’t I have my MacBook Air with me?

If you liked this installment be sure to check out the other installments.

  1. Because 90% of the time in Seattle it is a good idea to have a rain jacket on hand. Let’s also be honest and admit that only tourists carry umbrellas in Seattle — it’s just not a practical item to have with you when it is raining 10 months out of the year.
Originally posted for members on: May 2, 2011
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