Wake N’ Shake Alarm App – Quickest Uninstall Ever

Wake N’ Shake

App Name: Wake N’ Shake

Cost: Regularly $1.99. Free for a limited time via AppsGoneFree
Available on the iTunes App Store or for Android on Google Play.

Rating: 1 of 5 stars

Summary: Deeply flawed design for alarm setting, poor fundamental functionality = quickest download-delete time ever.

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Apps Gone Free: Get Something for Nothing (Legally)

Apps Gone FreeAppadvice.com gets it: with so many apps to choose from in the App Store, how do you figure out what the best ones are?

Well, you no longer have to wonder. Appadvice launched their AppsGoneFree app, which serves up a daily curated collection of apps for your consideration. The best part about the app? Every app they list is free- but hurry, because they’re only free for a day. I’ve seen apps that are ordinarily $5.99 marked down to the low price of FREE- a great price for quality apps.

Better yet, you can now “bump” an app to tell fellow users and Appadvice which apps you think should go free for a day! As Appadvice put it:

We’ll approach the developers of these apps, and let them know we have a community of users who will all try their app if they go free for just a single day.  So it’s your way to give back to the community, by sharing great paid apps with each other and getting them free.  Remember to nominate every paid app you love, and when you see a bumped app, give it a shot!  Our community vouched for it, and the developer did it just for us! =)

Download AppsGoneFree at: http://bit.ly/SWEwAk.

Makers of popular Twitter client Tweetbot take their skills to App.net with Netbot

I’ve always loved Tapbots. Now that they’re working with Dalton Caldwell’s App.net, I’m pleased to see how things progress.

Gigaom

App.net, Dalton Caldwell’s proposal for a open developer infrastructure based on a paid model of users, won yet another note of approval Wednesday with the news that the makers of Tweetbot have developed an app for the network called Netbot. While App.net hasn’t hit anything close to mainstream popularity yet — and isn’t necessarily aiming for it right now — the fact that the Tweetbot makers have turned their talents to an App.net client just serves as further validation that Caldwell’s efforts could have staying power.

The developers behind Tapbots have created one of the most critically-acclaimed Twitter clients, Tweetbot, that users have praised for its clean design and useful tools. However, the popular app’s days are probably limited, with Twitter cracking down on third-party clients and limiting just how many new users will be able to register with Tweetbot going forward. Netbot for App.net looks much like the…

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The Apps List

Many of my friends have been jumping on the iPhone bandwagon, but many more are often in disbelief about the amount of apps I harbor (and use regularly) on my iPhone 2G 4G (and 2G to a lesser extent). So here’s the list, broken down from essential to “kind of nice to have”.

The Essentials List

  1. Pocket Informant– The definitive replacement for the simple (yet elegant) iPhone calendar application, Pocket Informant combines to-do list capabilities with a calendar with robust support for recurring appointments, meeting invitations via email to participants, Google calendar, Outlook, and Microsoft Exchange support, and many more features. It’s a little pricey at $12.99, but pays for itself many times over!
  2. Momento– I used to keep a journal of activities, but stopped doing so and got out of the practice until I found this awesome application. It syncs with your Facebook and Twitter accounts to grab your status updates automatically. It supports pictures (up to 8), providing visual reminders to accompany your written entries. Your entries can also be tagged for quick reference and referral later. There isn’t a Google docs sync, but your entries can be exported. It’s a beautiful interface to work with.
  3. Ambiance– I go to sleep every night listening to the calming sounds of rain falling, wind chimes clinking together in a light wind, or waves lapping hungrily at a distance shore and awaken to the sound of seagulls flying overhead. Supporting playlists, mixes between sounds (and your iTunes library), and alarms, Ambiance is the perfect application for any time you feel stressed. Once you’ve purchased the sounds, you can access high quality, newly uploaded sounds and download them for free. A must-have for frequent travelers desiring familiar sounds or folks who just want another way to relax.
  4. Holy Bible– Simply titled, but powerful. It supports multiple fonts, multiple translations, note-taking, quick find, search, and auto-scrolling in addition to a variety of other features- all for free!
  5. ConvertBot– Need to change units? ConvertBot is part of the Bots family and elegantly allows conversions between units of measure for: distance, area, volume, time, temperature, speed, mass, length, data size, and currency (needs to be updated to sync with most current rates). A great little tool.
  6. mSecure– If you’re not averse to storing passwords or membership numbers on your iPhone, this application is for you. mSecure features encrypted storage with customizable icons and entries for any kind of data you would want to store. A desktop tool is also available.
  7. Stanza – Free eBook reader with a large library of public domain works which are available for free and a growing library of paid books.
  8. Classics – Not free, but used to be during a special. This was the original app Apple “borrowed” liberally from for page turning, display, and interface. Beautiful presentation and automatic bookmarking make this app a joy to use.
  9. Plants vs. Zombies
  10. Facebook
  11. Mint.com
  12. Twitter
  13. GoodReader
  14. Google
  15. Accounts
  16. Fring
  17. Space Miner
  18. Dungeon Hunter
  19. Hero of Sparta
  20. Tower Madness
  21. Samurai
  22. Sentinel
  23. MGSTouch
  24. Robocalypse
  25. Ps Mobile
  26. Pandora
  27. Last.fm
  28. ProChords
  29. Appbox Pro
  30. Bloomberg
  31. NumberKey Free
  32. Marquee
  33. PuzzleQuest
  34. GameBox
  35. Koi Pond
  36. 2360: Cydonia
  37. FreeAppaDay

When Art Imitates Life

I don’t write about advertising all that much, but I wanted to share about a brilliant, moving, touching, and ultimately realistic ad campaign that HTC is running about their new phone. The male narrator’s voice might be droll or unenthusiastic in any other setting, but it seems to fit just right amidst the driving yet unobtrusive background music and highly personal visual imagery. This ad is showing life, not as marketing people might see it, but as its target – “you” and I – see it.

Good ads sell the product, great ads sell the lifestyle. HTC’s ads blend the product and the lifestyle seamlessly, in a more emotionally appealing way than Apple’s direct, plain-spoken method.
Good ads help you visualize someone using the product, great ads help you see yourself using the product.
Good ads deliver the goods, great ads make the goods sell out.

Nowhere does HTC even tell us one shred of technical information about their phone. Does it have wireless internet (wifi)? What networks will it be available on, and in which region? How is its battery life? Can it play movies, music, and games? Does it have an application store?

For one minute, my mind didn’t even ask any of these benchmarking questions. The actors- actors – in the HTC ad shared a moment with me, pregnant with possibilities, because I was experiencing vignettes of their lives with them. And oh yeah, this is an ad about a phone. Amazingly, my technophile mind ceased its endless inquiry and my cynical “let’s not expect too much” attitude was halted; in their places was a human being who was captivated by the humanity of the ad.

HTC seems serious about its motto for the HTC Sense: “Make it mine. Stay close. Discover the unexpected.” HTC is marketing the user as the center of the experience, and thereby pursues a line of thinking in which technology serves the user, and not the other way around. Perhaps HTC is trying to make a device which minimizes the prominence of the technology separating the people communicating, and instead serves the purpose of communication more directly, bringing those individuals closer together. Not only that, but the location awareness of the Sense means the device keeps pace with its owner, without the owner having to have a second thought. When traveling to a new time zone, the clock automatically displays the local time, displays the weather forecast, and automatically ensures all appointment times are corrected to account for the time zone change (if any). Wow. That’s smart, practical, and another one of those “Why didn’t I think of that?” functionalities.

Furthermore, HTC’s strategy of going to great lengths to personalize the phone through the use of “scenes” is one of those “Why didn’t Apple/Microsoft/Sony/Samsung think of this before?” “Scenes” are essentially profiles which are user-driven customizable environments for distinguishing between the different environments in which human beings live: work, play, and everything in between,

This is shrewd thinking, since HTC is not trying to compete with the numerous apps on the iPhone’s App Store. Rather, it focuses on “less is more” and implicitly asking, “Seriously, do you really need that many apps?” Funny question, because while I have more than 50 apps on my iPhone, at the end of the day I can sincerely say I have not used the majority of them more than 10 times since installing them.

I think the iPhone apps I use the most are: Phone (ok, not really an app, but I thought it does have an icon!), Contacts (see previous answer), Pocket Informant (slower than I’d like but essential for task management and calendaring), Notes (for writing down song lyrics as they come to me), Voice Memo (for song ideas and remembering where I parked), Mail, Safari, Bible, Facebook, TweetDeck, Pandora/Lastfm, and iPod (I don’t listen to music much on my phone since it drains the battery like crazy). As you can see, each app covers a different function, and there is no overlap. The other apps (like games, toys, etc.) are just icing on the cake.

Anyway, lest I sound way too disproportionately favorable to HTC in my heaping praise on a video filled with quick cuts and perfectly rendered people in perfectly captured environments, I daresay that this is not the most compelling ad I have ever seen. Far from it. However, when something unexpectedly compelling stops me in my tracks, I find it irresistible to keep quiet about it.

Watch it. And watch it again.

Here’s the technology presentation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kax24GN1458&feature=player_embedded

Critiques
– While I like the marketing director’s reference to people wearing different watches to express their individual tastes, I often wonder how apps which use iconic looks (like the Bell & Ross lookalike) can get away with what amounts to trademark infringement. Microsoft’s clock gadgets in Vista are vulnerable to the same critique.

Good Apps – Good Reader, Evernote, Stanza

Good Reader
I haven’t had the chance to review this app yet, but if you need a document viewer (particularly for large PDFs) check out a thorough
review of Good Reader here. If there is an even remote possibility you would use this application, I recommend purchasing it as it is specially priced at only one buck for a limited time.

Stanza
If you’re looking for a great program for reading and syncing e-books to your iPod or iPhone, check out Stanza. Best of all, it’s free!

Evernote
Evernote

Need to take notes? Evernote is a free, indispensable app for keeping your notes and pasted content from webpages in sync across your iPod/iPhone and computers. Get it: it’s a must-have.

What’s In a Name

AppsA Brief History

“There’s an app for that.”

As an avid Palm enthusiast who believed in the promise of quick, clean, and functional apps, I mentally chafed upon hearing this phrase whenever it was uttered by Apple devotees. You see, I had steadfastly clung to my trusty, battery miser, sleek Sony Clie TH-55 for nigh unto 4 years. I carried it along with my phone happily. This PDA was mine, personalized how I liked it, and not some banal equipment which belonged to the phone company.

The Good Old Days
I loved the speed and light footprint (45K!) of the Palm platform. I loved the responsiveness of the Palm Desktop and Outlook synchronization channels. I loved free Palm programs like Progect (a nested, hierarchical outline-based program which could be used for anything from project management to creating a packing list) which replaced my Memo application. I even installed a hack which allowed this portrait-oriented device to switch to landscape view- a killer app if there ever was one for the Clie.

Despite its gradual descent into obsolescence and the technological equivalent of Alzheimer’s disease, I stuck with my Clie. But after my wonder device lost its ability to connect to wireless networks (indeed it couldn’t connect to routers using WPA encryption), taking with it the usefulness of the browser, I silently conceded that my TH55 would now primarily serve as a recall device, with the occasional data entry on the go. Gone were the happy days when I could take my portable infrared keyboard with me, connect to wifi in a coffee shop and work quietly for hours without needing a laptop (and this was way before netbooks came around). Gone were the times when I could look things up on the internet and go about my business. I officially had a dumb device, or at least a blind one. I needed something else.

Letting Go

To make a long story short(er), I needed a new phone/PDA but I resisted. I value my sense of individuality, no matter how overdeveloped or illusory it might be, and didn’t want to succumb to the euphoria the rest of the world seemed to be indulging in when the iPhone was released. In short, I didn’t want to become an iClone. So I bided my time. Then the Palm Pre came out, with all its promises of multi-tasking, legacy Palm program support, and a physical keyboard- on the wrong network. Sprint and I have a history, and needless to say I’m never going back to them. My experience with Sprint can be summed up thusly: it is the only company in which I have ever come to suing for a declaratory judgement. No matter how bad some say AT&T is, the “now network” is past tense for me.

An Unexpected Opportunity- the Hook

Then my housemate decided to offer his 1st generation iPhone up for sale since he had upgraded to the faster, sleeker 3GS. He said I could play with it and buy it from him if I liked it. “If I liked it” – right, as if I could resist an app library larger than the Palm universe ever was or the suddenly acquiring the ability to browse the web in the palm of my hand. The familiar feelings of excitement all came rushing back. The prospect of technological exploration, the anticipation of the possibility of customization, and the general fun that accompanies learning a (relatively) new device intrigued me. Before I knew it, I was loading up an unheard of number of apps on my iPhone, and selectively deleting some after their first run. I’m pretty picky, and I like quality, a perspective which I no doubt developed while cutting my teeth on a device which had 16 megabytes of internal memory instead of 16 gigabytes of storage space.

Why This Blog?

I wanted to replace my productivity applications from my Clie with their equivalents on the iPhone, so I began my hunt. While the minds of weaker souls might have given up at the sheer number of apps out there or stuck with the well-tread path of least resistance, I looked under every rock and in every crevice for apps which were free, inexpensive, or value-priced to deliver what I needed. Yet I noticed that although the app store had a very useful review section for each app, and Google facilitated my search for app reviews, there were many times when I couldn’t find reviews which compared two or more apps against one another. “There are simply too many apps!” I exclaimed. Then I thought, “Why couldn’t I do executive summaries of apps compared against each other? I’m always giving app advice to others anyway, so why not write about it?” And thus the “Too Many Apps” blog was conceived.

I hope you find my reviews, perspectives, and comments useful to you in your search for the perfect apps to live on your iPhone or iPod Touch. Feel free to let me know what you think. Enjoy!

Too many ant.

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