August Roundup

2 09 2010

August has been a busy month at Appjudge. At the height of summer, I have covered the monthly disposable App, reviewed backing up your data with Dropbox and covered how to find the best Apps on the store, as well as a lot more. In case you’ve missed any of August’s posts, see the summary below with links to the relevant articles.

August’s Posts

The World at your fingertips

For August’s Disposable App of the month, I turned to Google Earth, an App from the internet search giants, that allows you to pinch, scroll and touch your way around the globe. While the App helps prove to your mates how superior your iDevice is to their measly phone, it has very little functionality. The App is a stripped down version of the desktop Google Earth, and therefore, is unlikely to remain on your device for long.

The forgotten victims of iOS 4

For owners of the iPhone 3G and the iPod Touch second generation, it’s been quite a roller coaster ride over the past few months. Users initially delighted that their older devices would be supported by the iOS4  update, only to be disappointed when the update rendered their devices almost unusable. I cover the whole story from beginning to end, and look into what choices 3G and 2nd Gen Touch users have.

Avoiding the digital abyss

As we keep more and more of possessions in the realm of the digital, it’s becoming increasingly important that we backup our precious files and memories. One solution to this comes in the form of the online service, Dropbox. The internet based company has released a corresponding App to extend their reach to iOS users. I review the App and see how well the App integrates with the existing service.

How to Find Good Apps

There are over 225,000 Apps on the store, and asa result, finding the good Apps, from the not so good, can be quite the task. In an attempt to better guide users round the Appstore, I set out some criteria to look out for when attempting to download Apps from the store.

Welcome to the Social Epicentre

In this post I cover a new social App on the store, The Hotlist, that attempts to aggregate location data, while integrating other services and information, such as Twitter and Yelp reviews. The end result, is an App that allows the users to get the vibe of an event, without having to set a foot inside.

I’ve just bought an iPhone…now what? Part 3

The final part of three part post, in which I handpick the best Apps from each of the categories from the Appstore. In this post, I cover the following categories: Productivity, Reference, Social Networking, Sports, Travel and Weather.





About time!

17 08 2010

As some of you may have noticed, the About page on the site has been under reconstruction for quite sometime. This was mainly to give the page a quick spruce up, as well as updating some of the information on it. For those who’ve yet to venture onto the page, it’s well worth it. The page contains information about the blog, contact details and a potted history of the Appstore. Check it out.





How to Find Good Apps

15 08 2010

Unfortunately there is no magical formula for finding a good App. The Appstore has well over 225,000 Apps on the store, at the time of writing, and as a result trying to find a good App, amongst the mediocrity and down right rubbish, can be quite a daunting and a time consuming task. However, in an attempt to provide a guide for you, and other weary App hunters, I have put together some pointers for finding good Apps.

User Interface

In a nutshell this is how you will interact and navigate around the Application. A good user interface will promote the use of the App through highlighting and making it easy to use the App’s features. As you may have noticed, through the general day to day use of your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, Apple excels at this. As you can imagine, the user interface plays an important role and if you’ve read any of the reviews on the site, you will of noticed that one of the first things I scrutinise is, the user interface, since it heavily influences the final product.

Examples of a good user interfaces can easily be found on the Appstore, through simply looking at the provided screenshots, however, I’ve decided to highlight two Apps; the first being, I’am T-Pain. The developer has spent a lot of time creating a visually appealing interface that not only promotes navigation around and the overall usability, but also encourages user to use the App. While, the I am T-Pain App is a good example of an elaborate user interface, in the opposite end of the spectrum, Spendometer, provides a much more straight forward approach, which when in comparison to the elaborate visual eye candy of the T-Pain App, looks almost bare bones. Regardless, the point remains the same, since Spendometer still provides a good interface for the user, but in a starkly different way to the T-Pain App. Spendometer focuses upon allowing users to easily access the functions and interrupt the data easily.

Price

It would be natural to assume that as the price increase, so does the quality of the Application, and while you wouldn’t be far wrong, as always there are some exceptions to the rule. Such an example of this is the official Twitter Application, which unlike it’s competitors, is free. The Twitter App is arguably the best Twitter client on the iOS platform, since the Twitter service merely bought the developers of the high successful Tweetie 2 App and re branded it as the official Application. Another example of this, can be seen been the paid and free version of the Runkeeper Application. The paid version adds very few additional features when compared with the free version. If you can put up with a small advert banner, along the bottom of the App, then there is no reason why you shouldn’t pick the free version over the paid Runkeeper App.

Relevant Feature Set

A number of Apps on the store have an impressive array of features, however not all are relevant or useful. A good App should tow the line between the quantity of features and the quality and relevance of them.  A good example of this is 2Do, an App that aims to please those with the desire to track, manage and set a vast to do list. 2Do has an ever expanding array of features that are all designed around the core functionality of the App. The App offers a number of relevant features, such as the 2Do sync that backups and updates the 2Do data on your computer. As well as the extensive search feature, combined with the calendar integration, helps the user sort and find tasks.

What do the people say?

One of the easiest ways to find good Apps on the Appstore, is to spend a little time doing some research before committing to a purchase. The Appstore provides a rudimentary way for people to rate and review Apps that they have downloaded, and while some can be unhelpful, you can still get a useful insight into the quality of an App. Rather unsurprisingly, Apps that are good tend to get a higher average star rating than their bad counterparts. Also, make sure that you read the reviews for the latest version of the App

Another good way to find out about Apps is to have a look around the site and search for Apps. If you have a new iPhone, check out my posts, ‘I’ve just got an iPhone, now what?, part 1 and part 2. Furthermore, for an example of a good App, see my review of Flight Control or Opera Mini. For an example of a bad App, see my review of Kickball.

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House Keeping…House Keeping?

1 08 2010

This post is just to cover some general house keeping with regard to the site and upcoming changes. First of all, I apologise for the slow posting this month- the “I’ve bought an iPhone, now what?” posts took far longer to research and write up than I anticipated, and incidentally I shall be releasing the final part of the trio sometime in August. Speaking of the new month, I plan to get back to posting more regularly with the usual concoction of reviews, rants and news pieces.

Now that’s out the way, let’s talk changes. I’ve decided to break up the monthly news update and spread it across the month with smaller posts. This ensures that news items are up to date and relevant, while avoiding overly long posts at the same time. Fans of the Disposable App of month, should fear not. The monthly feature shall not die an early death, but rather it shall inherit a post of it’s own, meaning you can expect a more thorough run down.

Round up of July’s Posts

Updated: I am T-Pain

In the early days of Appjudge, I reviewed the first iteration of the I am T-Pain App, which was a unique App that made use of the Autotune technology. The App scored a mediocre three stars out of five because despite the great user interface, the technology powering the App gave sporadic end results. Since then, the developers have released a major new update that takes advantage of the iPhone 4, as well as expanding the feature set for the 3GS users.

Default Wars : Battle of the Browsers

For a long time, the only choice in terms of web browsing on the iOS platform was through Apple’s walled garden- mobile Safari. However, with increasing pressure from competitors and users, Apple eventually allowed the first real alternative browser onto the platform, in the shape of Opera Mini. Unlike Mobile Safari and other browsers on the Appstore, Opera is not powered by Webkit, but rather their own compression software, that claims to not only save data charges, but also give users a significant speed boost. I explore, compare and contrast the two browser to work out if either is victor.

I’ve just bought an iPhone, now what? Part 1

In a three part post, I cover the whole Appstore from top to tail, by picking three Apps from each category. In the first post I cover the following categories: Books, Business, Education, Entertainment, Finance and Game.

Cloud computing : Is it already here?

The cloud, the internet and online services are the future of computing, apparently. I explore just what is meant by the term, Cloud Computing, and whether the future is far away, or, if cloud computing is already here.

I’ve just bought an iPhone, now what? Part 2

The second part of the three posts, in which I handpick the best Apps from each of the categories from the Appstore. In this post, I cover the following categories: Health and Fitness, Lifestyle, Medical, Music, Navigation, News and Photography.





News Update: iPhone 4 launch, Apple OSX apps heading for the iPhone, and more…

1 07 2010

iPhone 4 launch

As expected the new iPhone 4 was revealed at WWDC10, with it boasting a new retina display, a forward facing camera for Facetime, a revamped design and gyroscope, however, rather disappointingly, no upgrade in terms of capacity, with the same 16Gb and 32Gb models being offered.

The launch of the iPhone has not been without incident, with some users experiencing yellow discolouration on the screen, similar to the iMac, and more recently, problems with the proximity sensors, a feature that has been around since the first iPhone, that prevent the touch screen becoming active when making a phone call. The most pressing issue regarding the new iPhone has been the reception issues, in which holding the iPhone in a certain way causes reception to drop or to cut out completely. The issue seems to effect around 40 percent of new iPhone users and, in particular, left handed users. Some have put it down to the new design in which the antennas are encased around the outside of the phone. Apple’s official current stance is to either ‘hold the phone in a different way’, or buy one of the official bumpers. However, since the devices primary function is to make and receive calls, simply telling hard paying customers to buy a case or hold the phone differently is unacceptable. There has been talk of a case to sue Apple over the new iPhone, however Apple remains confident that an upcoming software update will fix the problem. Despite all this, Apple has still managed to shift 1.7 million in just the first three days of sales- a solid testament to the popularity of the device.

iPod Touch

The release of the new iPhone has also given us a clue as to how the iPod Touch will be updated come the end of the summer. I presume that Apple will kit the new Touch out with the retina display, gyroscope, a outward facing camera and an A4 processor. The only uncertainty regarding the new iPod Touch is the capacity of the new device since there has been no upgrade  for the iPhone this year.

My impressions of iOS4

The release of iOS4 has given 3GS users a taste of what is in store for new iPhone 4 users and overall the opening of apps and general tasks on the phone feel slightly more responsive and the new transition effects give the OS a polished and refined feel. I have yet to notice any detrimental effects on my battery and having been accustomed to the default black background for so long, I was worried about how the wallpapers would clash with the apps and the interface. However, many of the supplied backgrounds and photos that I had taken that, worked well in terms of providing a suitable backdrop for my iPhone.

Overall I feel that iOS4 is the last iteration of this line of OS, as since the initial release of the iPhone, back in 2007, each software upgrade has merely added on another layer on functionality or user experience and eye candy. I would hope and expect that Apple will totally overhaul the OS, for the next iPhone, since some aspects of the OS, such as that notifications system, are in dire need of improvement. Especially with the moves towards more cloud based computing and as our phones start to become not only content consuming devices, but like our computers, devices that are able of creating content as well.

For those who have upgraded to iOS4, how are you finding the new software update?

iWork coming for the iPhone.

There have been rumours circulating the internet about the release of an iWork branded app for the iPhone, and such rumours have recently gained a somewhat solid foundation with documentation appearing on some Apple Store websites, dedicated to iWork and other Apple branded applications for the iPhone. The section has since been taken down, however the release of iWork for the iPhone platform would not be unsurprising move from Apple, since the company is pushing forward with it’s cloud based initiative with the original release of iWork for the iPad and the recently unveiling of iMovie for the iPhone 4. The only mystery aspect that remains about this, is how will Apple make Pages, Keynote and Numbers work on such a small screen?

Site Updates

Some of you may noticed that the format of the reviews has changed slightly, with images of the app being moved down to a gallery at the bottom. I have made this alteration to allow you to get a better view of the app through the pictures, since they can now be clicked upon to get an enlarged view. Social links are also being provided at the bottom of all new posts, so you can quickly share posts with your friends, or the rest of the world. I am also going to start doing a few more ‘article’ style posts, like this month’s iPad post, however, this will never over take or interfere with this blogs primary function as a review site. The ‘About’ section is down at the moment for some much needed work. I will be working on it over the month to update some of the information and give it a general tidy up.

More quality reviews and articles are all ready being prepped for next month, so stick around and as always, if you have any suggestions, comments or advice, then you can contact me, either by email at, tomwbagshaw@gmail.com, or at the above mentioned twitter account, appjudge_wp.

This Month’s Posts

It’s been a busy month here at Appjudge, I have covered a number of posts, ranging from reviews on 2Do, to covering all the aspects of iOS4, to a full analysis on the iPad.

Updated: Flight Control Review

A quick thank you.

What you need to know about 4.0

2Do : Time to organise your life

The iPad: A Revolution, but not as we know it…

Time to prepare for iOS 4

Kickball! : Location, location, location

Project 365: Capturing a year

Disposable App of the Month

As always, I honour the monthly tradition of the disposable app, which is a type of app that is worth downloading and checking out, but is unlikely to stay on your iDevice for any lengthy period. This month’s disposable app is, Lego Photo.

Lego photo allows you to take a photo, either from the camera or your pre-existing photo library and turn it into a Lego mosaic. In effect, the app bunches pixels together and then replaces them with a correspondingly coloured Lego block. The end result heavily depends of the photo that you submit to the app, with the best results coming from close up photos of distinct objects with a plain background.

The lego photo app boasts a simple but charming interface, based around a lego theme with the users being presented with two simple options upon opening the app. One takes you to the camera app so you can take a snap to convert into lego, while the other takes you to your photo library, so you can select a photo to be legofied. Once you’ve selected your photo the app takes a few seconds to process and transform your picture into a lego ‘masterpiece.’

Lego photo is available from the Appstore for absolutely nothing, right now.

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A quick thank you.

3 06 2010

Thank you for those who visit the site on a daily basis

Thank you for those who have commented and left kind words

Thank you for those who have added this blog to their blogroll

This site would not be possible without you.

You can now follow appjudge on Twitter! – http://twitter.com/appjudge_wp.  If you have any comments, tips, suggestions or improvements, of course, email me at, tomwbagshaw@gmail.com.





News Update: Missing prototypes, the official twitter app surfaces and more…

29 05 2010

The story of the missing iPhone 4G prototypes

Apple, once well known for keeping their products secret until launch, have had problems keeping the new iPhone under wraps. It all started when, an Apple engineer, Gray Powell, left an iPhone 4G prototype in a bar. The phone was then found and sold onto tech blog, Gizmodo for a reported sum of $5000. While the police investigation into the first blunder continues, another iPhone has surfaced in Vietnam. To top things off, a white faceplate, for what looks like the new iPhone has appeared as well, suggesting that Apple will continue the tradition of providing a white and black model of the iPhone- the difference being this year, the white iPhone will have a matching faceplate to complement the back of the device.

Twitter gets an official app

Twitter recently acquired Tweetie 2 and have since made minor modifications and rereleased it as the official Twitter app for the iPhone. This was an interesting move from the Twitter team because rather than build their own app, like facebook, they’ve bought, arguably the best, Twitter client for the iPhone. Furthermore, they have yet to release an iPad version of the app, which has led some to believe that they may be living that format for other clients. The reality may be that they are working on the iPad application as we speak, only time will tell. But one does have to ask, does the Twitter app- available for free, here, make other Twitter clients redundant?

Site Update

Since the revival of the site, we have covered two apps, Runkeeper and PewPew 2, and we don’t intend to stop there. We are continuing to work on bringing the site back up to date, with revamps to the Flight Control review- since we first published the review, Firemint have gone live with an iPad version and a slightly update iPhone and iPod Touch app. We also have a few articles that are underway, one covering iPhone OS 4.0 and the other based on my initial thoughts on the iPad. And apart from that, you can of course expect, more reviews of apps.

Disposable App of the month

It’s been quite some time since the last disposable app of the month- in case you don’t know, the premise is simple. We search the appstore for apps, which are worth downloading and trying, but are unlikely to remain on your idevice for any lengthy period of time. This month’s app is, Layar.

Layar, takes advantage of augmented reality technology, which basically utilises a device’s camera, to then overlay information on top of this. The app has a number of layer which you can apply, such as wikipedia, Twitter, Google local search and Foursquare, just to name a few. Applying the Twitter layer, will for example, show the location of nearby tweets, while the wikipedia layer, will overlay information on important landmarks and buildings. This app is worth a try, if only to view this interesting technology, which could one day be integrated into other services.

Please note- for the augmented reality browser in Layar, the app requires you to have an iPhone 3GS, since this feature makes uses of the compass, accelerometer and camera. iPod Touch and iPad users can still download and use the app, however, they will not be able to use the augmented reality browser feature.