All of us have been there, we open up our iTunes library on our iPhone or iPad and can’t decide on what to listen to. When this happens, invariably we end up listening to the same albums and playlists over and over again.
Groove 2 aims to change all of this, by reintroducing us to our entire music libraries – A grand intention I hear you say, but how can an app do this? Well let me explain.
Groove studies your listening habits and creates a wide variety of playlists accordingly, with emphasis on tracks from your favourite artists that you haven’t listened to recently. It doesn’t stop there though, the app is full of wonderful ways to listen to and rediscover our music.
If you choose the Three of a Kind playlist generator, the app will smartly create a playlist with 3 tracks in a row from artists in your library.
The Groovy Mix is another great feature, when selected the app will select a collection of music based on one artist from your library – This will be songs from the actual artist and tracks from other artists that the app considers to be similar in style.
The app also has a feature called ‘Better Together’ – When you tap on it, a playlist of music by 2 similar bands will be created – For example, from my library, it paired up Radiohead with The Smiths.
I highly recommend Groove 2 for music lovers, it has a gorgeous UI and is a great way to rediscover your complete iTunes library.
Below are screenshots of the iPad version.
iPhoto for iOS was released yesterday – It’s a universal app that will work both on the iPad and iPhone – Below are screenshots of the iPad version.
Readability finally has a native app for iOS users and it’s extremely polished.
Now I hear some of you saying, what is Readability?
Readability is a web and now mobile app, that allows you to save content that you have seen on the web to read later, at the same time stripping away all of those annoying adverts found on webpages – The result is an optimal, streamlined reading experience, where you can enjoy articles without all the distracting noise in the background
To use the app on the iPhone / iPad, you will need a Readability account – Thankfully this is really easy to set-up from within the app, by just choosing a user name, password and providing the service with an email address. If you already use Readability, just enter your credentials and your previously saved articles will start downloading.
New users of the service will benefit from the welcome article which awaits as you first sign-in, which explains how the app works and various tips to enhance your user experience.
Now how do you get content into your Readability account?
There are a number of ways: you can browse the web from within the app, if you see an article you like, just click save and read it through Readability’s elegant clean interface.
Readability is is also integrated with popular iOS apps such as the fantastic Twitter Client Tweetbot – This is another way to import content into your Readability reading list – Just input your Readability user name and password into the Tweetbot app (found in settings) and your good to go – Now when you see a link to a web article in your Twitter feed that you would like to read later, just tap on the sharing icon and save it to Readability.
How does the app look?
In a word gorgeous, everything about the app is aesthetically pleasing and cool in a minimalistic way. Fonts are beautifully crafted by Hoefler & Frere-Jones and you have options of different text sizes and day or night backgrounds.
Readability is a great service, one which makes reading articles on the web a more pleasurable experience, due to the removal of all those irritating ads and this app compliments the service beautifully – Go download it now, you won’t be disappointed and best of all, it’s free.
Skitch is a fantastic utility app for your iPad. The app provides you with a straightforward way to annotate and edit a wide range of material, such as photos, screenshots and maps.
The app has an easy to master interface, which gives the user 5 ways to import content into the image annotator. Evernote the company who own the app, explain the different ways here:
– Photos and Camera: Choose to work on an existing image from your camera roll or take a new photo with your iPad. Use the camera to take photos of things that inspire you or to draw a mustache on a friend. If you have an iPad 1 with no camera, then the camera option won’t appear.
– Screenshot: Skitch for iPad has built in smarts that help it identify recently-made screenshots. Taking a screenshot on your iPad is easy, simply press both the power and home buttons at the same time. The screen will flash and the screenshot will be saved to your camera roll. Open Skitch, tap the Screenshot button, annotate the image, then share it with your team. This is great for everything from mobile app design to showing off your latest Angry Birds score.
– Web: Skitch for iPad has its own web browser designed to help you mark up any webpages you encounter. After tapping the Web icon, you can either go directly to a URL or type in a search. When you find the page you want, tap on the Snap icon. Now you have an image of the webpage to annotate. Use this to provide feedback on a web project or to point out something you want to buy.
– Map: Have you ever struggled to explain exactly where to meet someone or which building on campus is yours or how to find the best hiking spot? Then the Skitch Map option is for you. Pinch and zoom into the map, then use the Skitch drawing tools to point out a landmark or draw a path. You would be surprised how often the exact place you need isn’t easy to locate without some additional help. With Skitch, you can put an end to driving in circles or walking for hours.
– Blank: Sometimes you just need to start fresh. Open the blank canvas and sketch to your heart’s content. Use the shapes, arrows, drawing tools, and colors to compose a work of art or to play a killer game of Pictionary.
Once you are finished annotating, you can either save your image to your Camera Roll or Evernote, send it via email or share it on Twitter. One really cool feature of the app, is it’s AirPlay compatibility, this lets you mirror your iPad onto any screen with an Apple TV attached, perfect for giving presentations.
Having used Skitch now for a couple of days, I can highly recommend it – The app will appeal to both casual users who maybe just want to add a funny comment to a photo and also professionals, who will see in it, a great way to send annotated images to clients. The app is free, making it an essential iPad download – There is also a Mac version available.
Below are examples of the app in action:
Clear is a new todo / list app from RealMac Software that exclusively utilises gestures, in the form of swipes, taps and pinches to get things done. It has the feel of a futuristic app where all needless buttons and icons have been removed, forcing the user to interact more personally with the app.
One example of this is the elimination of time and dates from your tasks. If one task is more important than others, you just put it to the top of the list. Colours play a big part here, with those at the top of the list more prominent (symbolising that a task is important), gradually fading as you move down your lists, to those tasks less urgent in priority.
As you will be able to see from the screenshots, Clear is pure unadulterated eye-candy and sets a new benchmark for how iPhone apps should look. There are 5 themes in the settings, all stylishly created – there is even a special surprise for Tweetbot users, one based on your favourite Twitter app.
At a special introductory price of only £0.69p, there is no reason not to download this impressive app. Clear with it’s fantastic looks and UI raises the bar in iPhone app design, and sets standards to which all developers should aspire.
Netflix, a movie and TV show internet streaming service finally launched in the UK a few weeks ago – The service already extremely popular in North America will be looking to grab a foothold in a market currently dominated on these shores by Lovefilm and Sky. Netflix is available on a number of platforms and devices, including the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV.
I signed-up for the free 30 day trial on launch day and wanted to share with you my initial thoughts on the service.
Sign-up is hassle-free and straightforward and you can cancel your subscription at any point during the free trial and not be charged – After the trial ends, the cost of the package is £5.99 a month.
Once signed-up, you have the option to select genres that interest you – This is a cool option, as based on your interests, Netflix will then start making suggestions for you – Of course you can also do the searching for content yourself.
Netflix on the iPhone and iPad has a great carousel style interface and finding content is easy and enjoyable. You have the option to link your account to your Facebook and this can be beneficial, as you can see what your friends are watching and what is currently popular.
Once you have decided on something to watch, streaming over wifi is instant and of excellent quality – The service also works over 3G, but the quality is dependent on the strength of your cellular signal.
What is the content like?
This will be a deal-breaker for some, as you won’t find the latest Hollywood blockbusters here or the ever popular HBO shows, as Netflix recently fell-out with the US network.
What you will find is diverse content, great films from through the years, popular TV shows such as 24, Prison Break and Dexter, British TV documentaries from the BBC and ITV and mind-numbing reality shows such as The Only Way Is Essex and The Hills.
One aspect I really like about the service is the ability to resume watching on a range of devices where you left off – For example you can watch part of a film on your iPhone and easily continue watching it on your iPad.
Having used Netflix for 3 weeks, I can say for me the Pros outweigh the Cons and I will definitely be keeping my subscription once the free-trial ends.
* Straightforward to sign-up
* Watch content on multiple devices
* Great intuitive user interface
* Excellent streaming quality over wifi
* Links with Facebook
* Competitive subscription price
* A lack of recently released films
* No HBO shows
Do you want an easier way to load up the things that you do on your iPhone all the time? Maybe this is phoning your partner, texting your mum, emailing your boss, posting a tweet… If so, you should take a look at Launch Center developed by App Cubby.
Launch Center provides shortcuts to help you get to functions on your iPhone that you use the most.
Setting up Launch Center is easy and straightforward. The developers have done a great job in designing a UI that is both aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly.
Load up the app and you will see a list of shortcuts that are self explanatory in what they will do – Speed Dial, Text, Email and so on.
How do you set the app up to work for you?
Say you want a quick and easy shortcut to making a phone call to your partner – Press on Speed Dial, which will bring a list of your contacts up – choose your partner, press on their number, select done and your speed dial is set up. How easy was that? Now when you want to call your other half, you no longer need to go to the calls app, scroll through your contacts and find their name – Just fire up Launch Center and press call partner, with only 2 taps you will be making the call. This process can be done for as many of your contacts as you want on speed dial.
If you want to set up easy access to emailing or texting a contact, you go about doing it in exactly the same way – I told you this app was very user friendly didn’t I?
The functionality of Launch Center doesn’t end with these basic commands though. You can also set up shortcuts to view your Facebook with one tap or send a tweet. One of my favourites is the ability to turn on your iPhone’s LED flashlight with just one tap.
Another shortcut that I need to mention is the website option. Choose a site you visit a lot and set up a shortcut to it via Launch Center. You now will have one-touch access to the site without the need to fire up Safari, enter the URL or choose from your bookmarks.
Launch Center has been recently updated and now works really well with Apple’s Notification Centre on your phone, allowing you to now schedule tasks. Maybe you need to email your boss every Friday or call your dentist next Monday, the app will now assist you with a reminder.
Once again set-up is easy. Create the task and press on schedule, which will allow you to choose a date and a time. Now if you have chosen to call your dentist on Monday at 10, the app will give you a reminder via Notification Centre to do just that – Pressing on the notification will quickly take you to the phone app to make the call.
I have found using Launch Center to be both productive and enjoyable at the same time and it now sits in the dock on my home screen. If you need the functionality it provides, the capacity to create shortcuts for your most frequent actions, then it’s definitely an app to consider.
Yesterday I discovered a new photography app which has instantly become one of my favourites. This is no mean feat, as I have over 30 photo apps on my iPhone! Regular readers of this site will know how much emphasis I place on what an app’s icon looks like – if it’s stylish and tasteful, there is a great chance the app will be the same and Grid Lens justifies my logic
From the gorgeous white icon to the artwork within the UI, this application screams style!
Grid Lens allows you to create grid images either from a single shot or multiple shots. You can also import images from your camera roll and albums to create grid images.
On loading the app, you will be met with a helpful on-screen tutorial, which is really straightforward and easy to follow. Once you get to know the basics, you will be creating great images in no time at all.
First of all decide on a grid, there are many preset options and even the functionality to create your own. In addition, there is the option to make the grid outlines any colour you want.
Once you have your grid sorted, choose from automatic or manual shooting (unless you are Importing images) – Automatic as the name suggests, will take all the grid photos for you at specific time intervals (these can be changed in the settings). If you choose manual however, you will have greater control. In manual you shoot all the individual frames yourself, by pressing within the frame.
There are also options to choose a single view lens or multi-view. Multi is really cool as it allows you to shoot an image from multiple perspectives, whereas single will split your image into frames.
If you want to import photos into your grid, it’s as easy as pressing within the individual frames and selecting your photos.
Once you have your image created, you can adjust how it looks by using one of the preset filters, which are the only disappointing aspect of the app. I have been saving my images to my camera roll and then editing through other applications with better presets, such as PhotoToaster.
As I have mentioned, you can save your creations to your phone or share them across the usual social networks.
For only £0.69p, Grid Lens is an essential download if you enjoy photography and editing on your iPhone or iPad 2 as the app is universal. The developers have created a stylish and well-rounded app that has far more usability and functionality than other grid photography apps such as Diptic. Go download it!
Below are some images created with the app, I have added certain presets to the photos from PhotoToaster.
Sometimes the best apps are the most simple ones. Once in a while, you discover or hear about an app and think genius and surprise in equal measure – Genius as its a great idea and surprise as nobody has thought of it previously. 2 Sugars is such an app.
Does making the tea or coffee at work fill you with dread? Do you fear going on the Starbucks run? Are you always forgetting who takes sugar and has milk in their drinks? Well worry no more, as you are about the master this laborious task. Do you have friends or family visiting on a regular basis and still find yourself constantly asking whether they take sugar or sweetener in their drink? Well if so, this app has you covered also.
2 sugars has an elegant interface and is extremely straightforward to use.
Load up the app and you will be on the People screen. To add a name, it’s as easy as pressing on the “+” icon. Once a name has been added, you will need to tap on it to be taken to the drinks screen.
Once on the drinks screen, you are given the option of selecting whether a person wants tea, coffee or other – However it doesn’t stop here, as you can then select whether they have milk in their drink and whether they take sugar or sweetener. For those awkward people, you know the ones, those who insist on wanting a skinny mocha with soya milk and organic sugar, have no fear – simply tap on other to add custom drink requests.
One nice feature is the “Something nice” option, tapping on this will select a random choice of drink for a person.
Once you have the drinks, tap to check it off your list.
2 Sugars is a well-crafted app, designed to do one thing and one thing only. After testing it out, I have to say it does it extremely well.
The Early Edition was initially released to coincide with the arrival of the original iPad – At the time it was groundbreaking and showed off just what Apple’s new tablet was capable of.
The app aggregated all of your news sources and delivered them to you in the form of a stylish digital newspaper – It instantly became a hit and was one of the top sellers in the App Store for months – However the app increasingly started to look dated when compared with Flipboard and Reeder, especially as it lacked the ability to sync fully with your Google News Reader.
Step forward The Early Edition 2, rebuilt from the ground over 12 months in order to compete with modern popular news readers like Zite. The app is not an upgrade, so even if you have the first Early Edition, you will need to purchase this one separately, if you want to try it out.
So what has changed?
Well now there is the choice to either sync it with your Google Reader account or as with the first edition, use it as a standalone app to read your various news sources. Set up is straightforward and once done, the app will present your news in a beautiful newspaper style format. A major change in the new app is the implementation of gestures, most are easy to master and you can learn about them in the settings menu.
Page turning in TEE 2 is a wonderful experience, as the turns now follow your finger and look very realistic.
A nice new feature is Clippings – Favourite stories as you browse and they will be sent to what is know as the shoebox, a lovely virtual box that mimics a physical inbox tray. Clippings are reached by swiping up from the bottom of the screen.
All of the usual sharing options are here and how TEE 2 handles sharing is my favourite feature in the app. Choose to share an article and a stylish envelope pops up, choose your sharing source and watch as the envelope is stylishly filled in with the title of the story you are sharing.
The Early Edition 2 whilst being lovely to look at and use, just seems to lack the functionality of other news reader apps such as the ever popular Reeder and my own personal favourite Mr Reader. If you are already using one of these, TEE 2 certainly won’t replace it as your main news source – However you may enjoy using it a couple of times a week, perhaps when you want a more aesthetically pleasing reading experience, whether this is worth the £2.99 asking price is debatable.