Quick Takes on Five Apps #13

In this installment I am sticking to nothing but Mac apps — well almost. Check out past installments here. BaseApp (Mac) BaseApp is a great menubar utility for Basecamp users. The app will alert you to any updates on your Basecamp site and show you what happened and in which project. It also serves as […]

In this installment I am sticking to nothing but Mac apps — well almost. Check out past installments here.

BaseApp (Mac)

BaseApp is a great menubar utility for Basecamp users. The app will alert you to any updates on your Basecamp site and show you what happened and in which project. It also serves as a great way to launch into your Basecamp account. The best part: the app is now free in the Mac App Store.

Google Music Beta (Web?)

I finally got my invite to Google Music Beta. It is a pretty interesting cloud music offering as there is already music available for you to play (you select some genres you like that Google adds in music). Parts of the app is Flash and it says that it does not support iOS at this time. I had no troubles playing it on my iPhone, aside from the fact that the experience was less than optimal.

This is still a pretty new service and likely will get better, but so long as I must download an uploader that uses my bandwidth in the background — well I am not to interested in wasting time uploading anything to it. I don’t quite know what to say about Google Music, so let me express it another way:

Do I like it?

No.

So I hate it?

No.

Will I use it?

Not at this time, maybe as it improves by ditching Flash and giving me a better way to upload music — by not making me upload it.

My biggest complaint is that it doesn’t do OTA sync — no joke. If I pause a song that is in the “cloud”, why in the world can’t I pick up where I left off on any other device, or when I come back to the site?

SizeUp (Mac)

This is a pretty handy Mac app that serves to move and do all sorts of crazy things to your window sizes and positions. A lot of people use this app to arrange Safari windows to take half of their screen so they can reference a webpage while writing. I’m not a fan — it’s overly complicated and not nearly as intuitive as something like Divvy.

The one thing that keeps this program on my Mac: the SnapBack window hotkey. All too often a window gets resized that I don’t want to be resized and I can essentially undo that change with this hotkey — that alone will keep this on my Mac.

Weather HD (Mac)

Interesting to see how the Mac App Store is bringing a lot of apps over to the Mac that I wouldn’t expect to be all that useful on the Mac (think Angry Birds, which is far better on iOS). Weather HD is now on the Mac App Store and it well set you back $3.99. What I don’t get is that it doesn’t really do anything special.

I have never seen the appeal of Weather HD and I think that a 283 MB app that runs in window or fullscreen mode is probably not something many people will want on their Mac. There are better things you can spend $3.99 on.

Kindle for Mac

This has been around for quite sometime, but I just noticed that it was in the Mac App Store so I figured I would mention it again here. As far as Kindle apps go this one is firmly in last place (Kindle device, Kindle iPad, Kindle iPhone, Kindle Android, Kindle Mac/PC). It has never been my desire, nor comfortable to read a book on my Mac’s screen. Though it is nice to see that they have solved a lot of problems with the app that I ran into when they first released it.

Bottom line: you get everything you would expect out of the Kindle reading experience, which is all you can ask for in a free app.

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

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 […]

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.

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 […]

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 Seattle1 , 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. 

Quick Takes on Five Apps #10

This is the tenth installment of the Quick Takes series, where I look at five apps and tell you my thoughts on them. World War (iPhone) This is a game that, from the icon and splash screen, makes you think that you are getting a first person shooter. Then you get into the actual game […]

This is the tenth installment of the Quick Takes series, where I look at five apps and tell you my thoughts on them.

World War (iPhone)

This is a game that, from the icon and splash screen, makes you think that you are getting a first person shooter. Then you get into the actual game and you think you are playing something more akin to Risk. Except that there is no description for what this game is and overall it is just not that great. It can be addictive if you have friends that you can form an ‘alliance’ with, but you can’t discover that in app. Leaving you to type in these random alliance codes. Overall I’d pass on this game. The game play is a lot of automatic button pushing with a slight amount of strategy applied to what you “spend” your fake money on (unless you use in-app purchase to turn your real money into fake money).

Evernote (iPhone)

It’s been a long time since I last used Evernote (Aug 2009), but after seeing how far the mobile app has come I decided to give it another try. While it’s really not for me (text files FTW), Evernote has done a fantastic job revamping their mobile offering. If I was someone who took a lot of pictures of text (white boards, labels, papers) then I don’t think there really is a better option than Evernote. It is much quicker and much better looking (aside from the icon) than past versions. Worth a look if you left Evernote because of the poor mobile offering back in 2009 — I really like the Loren Brichter styling on the new note entry fields.

Flight Track Pro (iPhone)

This is an oldy, but goody. I have been using it for quite some time now and you can’t beat this app for tracking your flights (or those of people you are picking up from the airport). The best feature: the ding-dong sound it makes when sending you push notifications, love that identical to that ‘fasten-seatbelt’ chime you hear on the plane. I have found that the data for when the flight landed (not the time it will land, but whether it is landed already) is always wrong. Always.

Easy Release (iOS Universal)

If you are a photographer that ever needs to get a model release or location/property release — you might want to give this a look. It’s not the best UI, in fact it really sucks. But it gets the job done without paper. Both people can sign on the device and have a pdf emailed to them. I can’t speak to how strong the contract is from a legal perspective — but this app has saved my butt quite a few times when I forgot to bring a model release with me. I also like that the models info is saved in the app for quick creation of a new release when needed. Good stuff. (Again the icon and app itself needs a lot of love from a designer.)

Mactracker (Mac)

Did you know that the Macintosh Centris 660AV was released July of 1993 for a price of $2,300 and weighed in at 14lbs? I didn’t either, but Mactracker does. Sure you can get some of this info from Wikipedia, but having it all in one place for every Apple product is quite awesome. It’s also a free app so you really can’t go wrong. A great thing to play with is the timeline view to see what Apple launched on a year by year basis. Neat stuff to play with, especially if you write about Apple.

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

Quick Takes on Five Apps #9

This is the ninth installment of the Quick Takes series, where I look at five apps and tell you my thoughts on them. Atari Greatest Hits (iOS Universal) It’s junk. You can download it for free, but then you have to use in-app purchase to buy any of the good games. I bought Asteroids because […]

This is the ninth installment of the Quick Takes series, where I look at five apps and tell you my thoughts on them.

Atari Greatest Hits (iOS Universal)

It’s junk. You can download it for free, but then you have to use in-app purchase to buy any of the good games. I bought Asteroids because I used to love that game1 and it is utter crap to the point of being unplayable. Not to mention the game doesn’t even take up the full screen, or in any way look like it has been optimized for the high resolution iPhone screen. The objects are tiny and the controls are non-sensical.

Prompt (iOS universal)

The app icon is not blue and makes good sense, so right away this app has my attention. Overall I don’t have much use for a SSH app for iOS, but being that Panic made it, I had to try it. The app is well done and has an awesome feature: passcode lock. I don’t know why more developers don’t take the time to implement this option, but it is killer. I can store my SSH passwords in the app for quick logon, but make sure that most other people can’t access the app.

Overall I don’t use SSH much, but with the recent server troubles I have been having it has been nice to have this app so that I can ‘check-in’ on my server. It doesn’t seem like there would be much that would make an SSH app good or bad, but Panic has done a great job with this app by adding terminal specific controls at the top of the keyboard. If SSH is your thing, then I recommend you take a look at this.

Moleskin (iOS Universal)

So the people that make the wonderful Moleskin notebooks have been adding a lot of crap to their offerings lately (things like bags and laptop cases) — this is another in that long line. I was excited to see the app as it allows you to add images to the notes, type text, and doodle. That sounds pretty neat for a free app, alas it took me 10 minutes to figure out how to draw on the page.

In looking at this offering and all the stuff you have to enter before you get a note page open — well you are better off with many of the other free notebook apps, actually you would be better off paying for an app. One better implementation in this same style that I can think of is the Muji notebook app.

Blogsy (iPad)

I was excited to try this app after I saw some decent comments about it. It is a blogging app for the iPad, one of the rarer apps in the iPad store. Unfortunately it really isn’t that good. It is poorly designed, has a terrible icon and doesn’t give power users any of the features they would want.

If the most important thing to you in a blogging app is being able to layout and style your post, then maybe you will like this app. Especially if you want to create media rich apps from the iPad. However, if you want to set the post slug, or even just add a custom field — then you are SOL. It feels like an app built by someone who doesn’t blog, but that wanted to build an app to suit what they think a blogger does.

It’s Friday (Who Cares)

A terrible, utter crap, misogynistic app. Made for a terrible, horrible song — that has an even worse music video. I feel so incredible bad for the app reviewer of this app. Please don’t download this — even as far as sound boards go it does a poor job. The audio sounds terrible and it is not faded in or out — just all around not good. I am so happy I can delete this now.

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


  1. My Uncle had the arcade game at his house and I remember spending hours playing with with my cousins. It’s a great game that this app ruins. 

Quick Takes on Five Apps (#8)

This is the eighth installment of the Quick Takes series, where I look at five apps and tell you my thoughts on them. Dealnews (iPhone) When I first got a Mac I used to visit Dealnews every morning to see what I could afford on the little cash I had at the time. In recent […]

This is the eighth installment of the Quick Takes series, where I look at five apps and tell you my thoughts on them.

Dealnews (iPhone)

When I first got a Mac I used to visit Dealnews every morning to see what I could afford on the little cash I had at the time. In recent years I haven’t looked at the site, but somehow I came across the app for the iPhone. The app is easy and straightforward and still only appeals to those shoppers that like buying things because it is a ‘deal’. My biggest complaint is the way the app displays the information seems to not take into account its primary users.

It would seem that if you specialize in showing low priced items, that your customers would naturally be most interested in the price and the product. Instead, the point that draws your eye is the ‘hotness’ meter, the price is buried at the end of the product name, in the same font and the same color and size. That’s a little backwards if you ask me.

Alpine Crawler (Mac OS X)

This is a simple little game that is free in the Mac App Store. It reminds me a lot of Excite Bike for the Nintendo — except you are in a truck and can (apparently) kill yourself with too big of jumps. Other than that…

This game is not great, it’s not even really that good. That doesn’t mean that my buddy and I didn’t have a hell of a good time playing it the other night.

Battle Bears -1 (Mac OS X)

Another free one that my buddy and I grabbed from the Mac App Store the other night. It is a first person shooter where everyone is bears, luckily your bear has a variety of guns to fend off the onslaught of attacking bears that will hug you to death (bastards). I want to point out that while I don’t think this is the best game out there (not by a long shot), it is free and entertaining as all hell.

I love that the developers had a good time writing the copy for the game — it makes the entire thing that much funnier to play. One annoying thing I did notice is that this game doesn’t seem to work with the Magic Trackpad — not sure why, not that you really want to be using that for a first person shooter.

Bing for iPad

It searches stuff using the Bing engine — surprising huh? It’s a very interesting app — not in a bad way, but it feels more like a home screen replacement app than a search app. When you pull up the app it shows you a ton of data that is all somewhat relevant. It really looks nice on the main view, though the search results are presented in a less than pleasing way (white background, blue links).

I also like the ‘card’ type navigation for moving back and forth between an individual search result and the list of results. I just can’t get over the feeling that this looks like what a Windows Tablet should look like — meaning it truly feels like it is trying to replace iOS, not compliment it. Interesting.

Jetsetter (iPad)

It doesn’t rotate — no seriously you can only use it in portrait, which almost made me uninstall it. I don’t get why you would develop for a device that rotates around and then lock your app to one orientation — stupid. Having said that, this is a great app for people looking to spend a lot of money on vacation. There has been some rumbles around my home about taking a trip to Hawaii — specifically Maui. So I searched for Maui and two hotels came up, I clicked on the Fairmont Kea Lani which boasts rooms starting at $699 a night — something I can’t afford right now. That said I really like that the app also told me that WiFi costs an additional $14.50 a day (absurd).

Another great use case for this app is if you have a specific hotel in mind that you want to know more about — if they have it in their database I can’t imagine a better way to get all that information. The pictures are stunning and the details about the hotels are unmatched by other sites I have used in the past. Including the information that a taxi will cost $70 from the Airport to the hotel (again, absurd).

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

Quick Takes on Five Apps (#7)

I’m back with the latest installment of the Quick Takes series where I look at five apps. Vimeo (iPhone) Vimeo already works perfectly on all iOS devices — it is fast and far better than YouTube1 and is my first choice for web video. The app is snappy and is very nice, but one huge […]

I’m back with the latest installment of the Quick Takes series where I look at five apps.

Vimeo (iPhone)

Vimeo already works perfectly on all iOS devices — it is fast and far better than YouTube1 and is my first choice for web video. The app is snappy and is very nice, but one huge omission is search. You can search the video you upload, but you can’t search all videos. You can browse by category, but if you know the title of the video you want to watch — you are SOL. The app is also an uploading app that allows you to shoot and edit video in the app that you can then upload to Vimeo. You can also add multiple video clips together which is pretty nice.

Nice, but an odd choice. I always view videos hosted on Vimeo as a step up in quality than videos hosted anywhere else — certainly you can create great videos in the app — but I think this may lead to some lesser quality videos that sites like YouTube are more synonymous with.

Quotebook (iPhone, iPod Touch)

This is a neat little app that basically keeps all the quotes you store (if you store any) in a nice Simplenote type app.2 I keep a ton of quotes in Yojimbo and moved a few — manually — to Quotebook and I have to say that this is a far better way to store them. You can rate the quotes and you can browse by author — which is quite handy.

This is definitely a niche app — but if you like to store quotes, then you can’t get much better than this. Having said that, it will be a real pain to move all your quotes into the app — luckily there is an export feature so your quotes aren’t trapped inside the app.

Hipmunk (iPhone)

Well we have a winner for worst app icon I have seen in quite some time, but this flight search app is really as good as flight search gets. Case in point: while loading the flights available there is a splash screen that shows ‘tips’ to the user — the first “tip” I received was:

Tip #7: Hipmunk for iOS doesn’t show flights that are both longer and more expensive than your other options.

That makes perfect sense — who’d pick such a flight — so it makes me wonder why other apps show these flights. My second favorite thing I found about the app was that you can sort search results by: “agony”. Which I assume sorts by the cheapest and shortest flights first — awesome. Of course as with any other flight apps, this app doesn’t show you Southwest (Southwest doesn’t allow access to their flights).

More than anything else I really like the way the flight data is represented, with clear breaks in the flight for layovers. You can quickly scan and see what you need to know about each flight. Great app and it is free — check it out.

Color (iPhone)

I typically read and few first impressions of apps before I bother to try them out and Color was no exception. Except I didn’t download it once I read more about it because, well, you know. On Friday night I was out with friends celebrating my buddies birthday — he had Color installed on his Android device and I decided to install it too so that we could play around with it.

The app is stupid, pointless, and rather confusing. Don’t bother.

Mr. Reader (iPad)

It’s been a long time since I have bothered to play with a Reeder competitor for the iPad, but when I read a respectable writer mention that an app replaced Reeder for them, well I had to try it out. I think it sucks.

The name is silly, but works well — the app icon though, good lord it’s bad. Then you get to the interface which doesn’t allow you to scroll through the news items, instead you see a headline and excerpt and then you can click mark all as read. This is just silly.

[Updated: 4.5.11 at 10:55 AM] I need to clarify that last statement, I never meant to imply that you can’t scroll the headlines. I mistakenly thought there was no button to flick through news items once you expand them to the “reading” mode — indeed there is a button to do this in the bottom right corner. Which is still a stupid spot for that button and (obviously) not apparent for me.

[Updated: 4.5.11 at 11:59 AM]

See here, for a better apology and description of the app.

Though points to them for allowing you to actually manage your RSS items — Reeder we need this. Overall, I would stick with Reeder or NetNewsWire, because Mr. Reader, you just don’t quite pass muster.


  1. In both quality and speed/playback. 

  2. Quick note, I was given a promo code to test out this app. 

Quick Takes on Five (Perhaps, Three) Apps #6

Thanks for all the great suggestions last week, I will be checking a lot of them out. There also were some great ideas for me to do follow-up on some of these apps and I will try to do that every once and a while. Everyday (iPhone) Everyday is a photo app, but one where […]

Thanks for all the great suggestions last week, I will be checking a lot of them out. There also were some great ideas for me to do follow-up on some of these apps and I will try to do that every once and a while.

Everyday (iPhone)

Everyday is a photo app, but one where you take a picture of yourself everyday and the app will make a little movie out of it so you can see how your physical appearance changes over time. I have been taking pictures of myself for over a year now, but I had been using Photobooth, which means that I miss some days here and there. Everyday is great because it will shoot you a push reminder AND it helps you line up your pictures so that the movie will look even better. I really dig it.

DaisyDisk (Mac OS X)

DaisyDisk is a dead simple way to see what is eating all the space on your Mac’s hard drive. I used the tool recently to find 20GBs of wasted space that I reclaimed. It is a great tool and presents the data in a view pretty looking view. I like to have tools like this around so that I can check in from time to time on what is taking up space on my SSD.

QR Code Reader and Scanner (iOS)

I don’t really care at all about QR codes and have never felt the need to scan one — that is until REI sent me some dividend stuff and there was a QR code on it. Now I felt that I had to check that out. I knew that finding a good QR code app might be a challenge, so I downloaded a bunch (only free ones, because after all this is a stupid technology). Here’s the thing, this app is fast and works as advertised — so I don’t know what there is to complain about. Oh wait, I though of something: The name of the app is “…” on the homescreen which is just stupid of a developer to do.

Be sure to check out more installments that actually have five apps in them: here.

Quick Takes on Five Apps (No. 5)

I’m back with the latest installment of the Quick Takes series where I look at five apps. ThinkUp App (free, web-server tool) ThinkUp is a social media insight platform — this may be the most confusing name ever. Basically you can connect certain social media accounts, like Twitter, and ThinkUp will crawl through that data […]

I’m back with the latest installment of the Quick Takes series where I look at five apps.

ThinkUp App (free, web-server tool)

ThinkUp is a social media insight platform — this may be the most confusing name ever. Basically you can connect certain social media accounts, like Twitter, and ThinkUp will crawl through that data and present it in a meaningful way. For instance if I post a new link on Twitter I can see the retweets and replies to that tweet. I could also take that Tweet and embed the replies to it on any website I control — pretty neat. It is a free tool for now and is getting better all the time.

If you run a blog or are ever asking for feedback on Twitter this is worth your time to check out.

TouchPad (iOS universal)

TouchPad turns your iOS device into a trackpad that can control your Mac. I use it just about everyday to control an old Mac mini we have connected to our TV. It launches and connects very quickly and gives you a keyboard that also has modifier buttons (like CMD). It is a killer app for anybody who uses a Mac without a keyboard and mouse attached. Occasionally VNC clients fail to connect with my Mac mini, but I have never once had a single problem using TouchPad — I cannot recommend this app enough.

TestFlight (iOS Developer Tool)

If you have ever had to beta test an iOS app without TestFlight then you know how annoying it is. This may not be useful to many, but this service is a godsend for me and, frankly, I won’t test your app if you don’t use TestFlight.

MoneyWell (Mac OS X)

MoneyWell is a way to track your money. It is easy to use and easy to learn financial tracking and management. It is fast and cheap. Most importantly it has always made me feel like I am on control of not only the data, but of my finances. I love the way the app lumps charges into different buckets that you can define — thus allowing me to see just how much money I am spending on certain things (ahem — iOS apps). I used to be a big fan of iBank, but I have since switched to MoneyWell and I love it.

xScope (Mac OS X)

If you have ever tried to align something on you computer monitor then you have probably — at one time — pulled out a ruler and put it on your screen. It can be a pain and xScope luckily will solve all of that and much, much, more. I use the guides on a fairly regular basis to make sure that all the elements on the site are lining up just the way I want them to. What a handy little tool and on top of that the trail period is killer, it counts hours that you have used the app. Clever.

Note

One last thing, I am struggling to keep up with this series — so it would be a big help if you sent in any suggestions that you have for me to check out. Thanks!

Quick Takes on Five Apps (No. 4)

I’m back with the latest installment of the Quick Takes series where I look at five apps. NHK World TV Live (iOS Universal) I didn’t even know this app existed until the tragedy in Japan. It’s a fantastic little app that streams live news from NHK in Japan, that is both fast and high quality […]

I’m back with the latest installment of the Quick Takes series where I look at five apps.

NHK World TV Live (iOS Universal)

I didn’t even know this app existed until the tragedy in Japan. It’s a fantastic little app that streams live news from NHK in Japan, that is both fast and high quality over 3G. I really dig this app.

AroundMe (iPhone)

This is not a new app to me and likely not to any iPhone user. What I want to say though is that this app is never more valuable then when you are in a city that you don’t know. Sometimes you just need to know what is around you.

Grouped{in} (iPhone)

This app is easily the most advertised at SXSWi and if you even look at the screenshots in the App Store you will be stricken with the thought: “Oh God”. Indeed, it’s ugly. Also it’s not very good at all — move along.

PlainText (iOS Universal)

When this app first came out I wasn’t a huge fan — I thought it was nice enough and quickly became happy with Writer. This trip though I downloaded PlainText again and have really started to like it. I don’t think it will replace Writer just yet, but the auto syncing has proven to be killer. I love the piece of mind that the couple of words I typed before darting into another session is stowed away safely in the cloud — without the archaic pressing of a sync button.

9 Innings 2011 Pro (iOS Universal)

It is a ridiculous little baseball game that has terrible graphics and questionable attributes to the players.1 The game play is dead simple and not revolutionary. It’s really not that good, which is why I am embarrassed to say that I happen to be a bit addicted to it at the moment. I guess none of that matters when you have fun playing the silly little thing.


  1. For instance Washburn has never in his life thrown a 98 MPH fast ball — never. 

Quick Takes on Five Apps (No. 3)

I’m back with another set of quick takes, check out the past posts here. CalendarBar (Mac OS X) A very handy menubar app that shows you upcoming appointments. I typically don’t like apps like this, but this one is done very well and I really have found it useful to me. I like that it […]

I’m back with another set of quick takes, check out the past posts here.

CalendarBar (Mac OS X)

A very handy menubar app that shows you upcoming appointments. I typically don’t like apps like this, but this one is done very well and I really have found it useful to me. I like that it can pull your information from multiple services at once and you Facebookers will like that it integrates with events you have in Facebook. Mostly though it is just a great way to see what is coming up.

Instacast (iPhone)

I don’t like the name — in fact I don’t like the fact that “insta” has become so popular — but the app really is clever. Basically you can search for and browse podcasts that are in the iTunes directory and subscribe to them in the app. The app will then download episodes and allow you to watch and listen to them on your phone. This means no more plugging into your Mac to get the latest and greatest episodes of podcasts.

You should subscribe to The B&B Podcast when you are checking out the app.1

You won’t like this app if you are not a podcast person, but if you are this is a great little app.

Canned Mail (iPhone)

From the guys who made the excellent Canned app comes Canned Mail. Just like with the former you create precomposed messages that you can quickly send out when needed, this time with email instead of text messages. Great for creating responses that you have to send on a regular basis (mailing addresses and directions for me). Be sure to check it out — it’s nice to have in your arsenal.

That said I have only used it once since I installed it — unlike with text messages I rarely send that many of the same emails. This is definitely a niche app.

Acorn (Mac OS X)

It’s like Photoshop without all the crashes and stupid UI design. It is a great Photoshop-ish replacement and I have been using it a lot lately for compressing down images and resizing them. It is fast and light and I really like the way it is laid out in comparison to Pixelmator. Check this out (free trail on their website) before you consider Photoshop — you will be surprised.

Having said that, Acorn is certainly not Photoshop — you can do a lot in Acorn, but not a lot as easily as you can in Photoshop. Where with Photoshop you get great tools like Background Eraser, you can do the same in Acorn — minus the automatic / easy part. My problem has always been that I have used Photoshop for as long as I can remember, so when a new tool comes about it is not as easy for me to think “outside” of the straightforward tools PS offers.

NetNewsWire Lite (Mac OS X)

I know a lot of you don’t want to use Reeder, or simply don’t like the look of it. Have no fear NetNewsWire is back with a free Lite version for the Mac App Store. The looks are cleaned up, but the Lite version doesn’t offer Google Reader syncing. That maybe the deal breaker for most, but if you just read RSS feeds on your Mac this is a good place to start.

It’s not of any use to me without Google Reader syncing, but I really like the direction it is headed with the design of this Lite version. I can’t wait for the full version to come out (and it is coming with Google Reader syncing).


  1. Shameless plug. 

Quick Takes on Five Apps No. Two

Last week was the first installment of the ‘Quick Takes on Five Apps’ posts that I plan on doing weekly — if you missed that be sure to go take a look at it. Here is the second installment. Thermo (iPhone) Sometimes all you need to know is the temperature outside based on where you […]

Last week was the first installment of the ‘Quick Takes on Five Apps’ posts that I plan on doing weekly — if you missed that be sure to go take a look at it. Here is the second installment.

Thermo (iPhone)

Sometimes all you need to know is the temperature outside based on where you are right now — that is exactly what Thermo is for. You can get it for free and upgrade in-app to a version with no ads (recommended). This app is not only gorgeous, but is pretty handy too — it is vying for a spot on my homescreen right now. Every time I run out of the house I like to know if I am going to need a jacket or not, Thermo is the perfect app for knowing that information. Love it. My favorite part is that the entire look of the app changes when the temperature drops below freezing — instead of being ‘normal’ red looking mercury, the app becomes icy and blue — what a great touch.

What Cocktail? (iPhone)

If you ever have to order a drink, then you probably could use this app. Also if you love seeing gorgeous design, then you really won’t want to miss this app. This is a simple app that tells you what to drink based on a simple input from you (your mood). I love that not only does it tell you a cocktail (or sometimes water/coffee), but that it also tells you a bit about the drink. The utility of this app is limited and I rarely use it — but it is truly a beautiful app.

MLB At Bat 2011 (iPhone and iPad)

If you are a baseball fan then you are sure to love this. Not cheap at $14.99 for each device — each season — MLB At Bat has been a staple on my homescreen since the app debuted. Live gameday information, live scores, live radio broadcasts for both the home and away team. You get videos of top plays, condensed game replays and if you subscribe to MLB.tv (waste of money) you can watch the game live. This is a great app, with a steep price. Personally I use it on my iPad to ‘watch’ Mariners games all season long.

WebKit Nightly Builds (Mac/Windows)

Chrome 10 was damned fast for me, but too limited. Going back to Safari left me with a yearning for more speed and the WebKit nightly’s have proven to be a touch faster. They are not as fast as Chrome 10 and can be very glitchy at times, but I rather like using them.

Sound Studio (Mac)

I didn’t know a thing about audio editing, but when I needed to do some no program came more highly recommended to me than Sound Studio. I have been using it for a month or so now and I really like it. Dead simple to use and looks great. Most importantly I can do what I need to do without getting hung up trying to find things in the app. The more I use it and get to know the app — the more I enjoy it.

Quick Takes on Five Apps

Welcome to the first installment of quick takes where I look at five apps that I have been playing with, sharing quick raw thoughts on them. NBA Jam (iPhone) This is a classic game that I spent many hours as a kid playing — now it’s out for the iPhone. I was worried about how […]

Welcome to the first installment of quick takes where I look at five apps that I have been playing with, sharing quick raw thoughts on them.

NBA Jam (iPhone)

This is a classic game that I spent many hours as a kid playing — now it’s out for the iPhone. I was worried about how well this would stack up to the original, but after playing it for a few days I can say it doesn’t disappoint. The gameplay and overall fun factor is very high. It fits perfectly on the iPhone as another one of those games you can pick up and put down very quickly without having to spend time getting back into the game. Great stuff and highly recommended.

Pennant (iPad)

Baseball season is about to start up and I couldn’t be happier. Pennant is a neat little iPad app that tells you all sorts of stats from the 1950s to 2010 on a team by team basis. You can even watch a beautiful “replay” of the games. This app is for baseball geeks, information geeks and app design geeks. The animation is a bit rough on my iPad, but I don’t know if that is due to my running iOS beta versions or not. My only question: do we get stat updates as the season progresses? That would be amazing.

Dayboard (iPad)

A cross between Nightstand HD’s flip style clock (personal favorite) and an old school airport flight status board. Dayboard gives you the current time, date, weather and Twitter trending topics. It is an interesting app that I think presents the data beautifully, but I can’t see the value of it long term. The app doesn’t respect my 24-hour time format and only works in portrait orientation. I like the idea, but I need some more options. For example: does the date really need to take up the same amount of space as the weather and Twitter feeds? I think not.

Pouch (iOS universal)

Pouch is a great little Backpack (37signals) app that the developer was kind enough to send me a promo code for. My main complaints about the app are actually complaints about what 3rd party developers are allowed to access through the Backpack API. For starters you can’t see comments, because that is not available. You also can’t see files which may limit the value of the app to many. Whether this app is of value to you depends on how you use Backpack — if it is a reference manager this may be quite handy. This app is nice looking and works really well, it really is the best Backpack app for iOS right now — having said that I still prefer to interface with the website directly.

Google Chrome 10 beta (Mac OS X)

I still hate everything about the way Chrome looks and that it has Flash bundled with it — but the version 10 beta is stupidly fast. In fact it is so fast that I may have to switch over to it for a while. There are a lot of extensions that I will need to find to make Chrome on equal footing the Safari, but those tradeoffs are worth it for the speed I am seeing out of Chrome. This is an impressive build.

Thanks for checking out the first installment of Quick Five, be sure to come back next week for another installment. If you have any apps you would like to see me write about be sure to get in touch.