Quick Takes on Five Apps #12

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

Shine (iPhone)

Ryan Gomba was kind enough to send me over a promo code for Shine the other day, it’s a $0.99 weather app for the iPhone. Be sure to check out Justin Blanton’s write up on the app right here. He makes some great points about the app.

The icon isn’t that great and that’s probably being kind. The visual styling of the rest of the app is top notch down to the ‘can’t update’ detail that overlays a red tag with a refresh icon in it to let you know your data is out of date — it’s a nice touch for something that most apps see as an afterthought. The temp is huge and easy to see, you can quickly flick through to see weather forecasts by day or broken down to every few hours. Like Justin I would love to see a feels like temp reading, but the badge icons are something I tend to ignore (or turn off) so no desire for that here.

One thing that a lot of weather apps are missing for a Seattleite is the text forecast. You can show us the weather icon forecast all you want, but in Seattle that will be clouds or rain , so it can’t say things like:

  • PM Showers
  • Showers
  • Rain
  • Partly Cloudy
  • Mostly Cloudy
  • Wind/ Rain
  • Sprinkles
  • Rain AM only

There’s a lot going on with Seattle weather and I would love to be able to see that without having to scroll through the hour view and look at the percent chance of precipitation.

Verbs (iPhone)

Verbs is a $2.99 iPhone app that allows you to IM with people over MobileMe/AIM/Gtalk — I particularly like the Droplr integration in that app (it’s one of my favorite services). This is a great looking app and I really love the icon — fits perfectly with the app.

You can cycle through conversations with a card like interface that is a clone of how the iPhone Safari tabs work. I have two major annoyances with this app:

  1. The app constantly gives me notifications that it has lost connection. I don’t want IM on my phone so that I can initiate conversations, I want it so others can shoot me a message — which only works if I am connected and online. I just don’t trust this app to keep me online all the time, part of this is the limited multi-tasking that iOS offers.
  2. Though the overall design is great, the conversation view is what bugs me the most. The text does not wrap in the entry field, which is annoying and silly, the send button is next to the delete key meaning that I send messages when I am trying to delete things. This interface needs a slight update.

Overall I am pretty happy with the app and think that it works great for those occasional times I want to IM on my iPhone.

Vocabology (iPhone)

This little free app pulls the word of the day from multiple different sites. Forget about whether you get anything out of word of the day types things, it’s still fun to see from time to time. The interface is very sparse and you can pick and choose what sources you want to see. Clicking through to the definition shows the iAd that is placed on the second screen — you only see it if you want to know what the word means and I think that was a great way to implement ads.

My favorite part: the Urban Dictionary word of the day (which I didn’t know existed), today’s word: Bed Gravity. Clever.

8mm Vintage Camera (iPhone)

I have been avoiding this app since I saw it, $1.99 price and the icon made me walk away. The screen shots I have seen about it though really intrigue me — I mean who doesn’t want messed up color, out of focus and shaky looking video from their HD quality iPhone camera? I mean I do.

This app feels like Instagram for videos without all the sharing and social aspects. That’s not a bad thing — Instagram is great and one of my favorite new things out there — but the filters can be a little over the top and that is what 8mm is all about: over the top gimmicky video. That doesn’t mean that you couldn’t make a very cool video with it, but most people won’t.

Splinter Cell Conviction HD (iPad)

The game is $0.99 at the time of writing and it is a continuation of the Splinter Cell game series. The graphics are good, but not great — this isn’t Infinity Blade. Splinter Cell suffers from the same problem that every other shoot ‘em up game on the iPad does: accuracy. It is very hard to be accurate when your finger is often larger than the bad guys head.

I haven’t played through the game yet, but the few levels I have played have been entertaining to the point where I had to make a conscious effort to put down the iPad and write this short blurb up. Well worth a buck, probably two or three. One thing I will say is that this game really sucks down the iPad battery life.

Prompt 1.1 Update (iOS Universal)

I wanted to touch on this app again because the 1.1 update adds two really great improvements:

  1. Nicknames for connections.
  2. The ability to automatically execute a command upon connection.

The second thing means that I can setup my SSH connection to the TBR server to automatically execute an Apache restart — the most common problem I encounter on the site. This is a great update to an already excellent app and it’s little touches like this that keep making it better and better.

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

Originally posted for members on: May 16, 2011
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