Wednesday, 11 February 2015

iPhone Killer apps - Silent Island relaxation

Silent Island Relaxation (and others)
"Hello.. My name is Christian and I am an insomniac", sometimes its awful, before going to sleep, a couple of hours before your alarm or just the middle of the night... triathlon training helps (exhaustion!), and a good meal (and drink) can randomly help but every so often, just plug this in and chill out... it works, even if you do end up with ear ache from the headphones... It also works with little things, though your mileage may vary there...the graphics and UE are, well they are what they are... its more function than form.


originally posted by Christian Borrman 22:19pm 20/12/08, updated 22:37pm 18/11/10

Its quite interesting that two things ocurr when you move a bog over and revisit old content, you notice

  1. that something that was a hit in 2008 on iPhone, is still relevant on other platforms and other audiences on iPhone, I still see the social network comments coming through for doodlejump. Even where doodlejump may be old news, there is a new casual game in its place, called angry birds, cut the rope, insert new one here... As I commented here, once a hit, always a hit
  2. by keeping these categories fresh, you can have a solid app store strategy

iPhone Killer apps - Draw

Draw
Draw is a great free app (had to break the mould) that, well, let's you draw. Why is that great; well the amount of hours I have spent drawing and redrawing presentations, flow charts or even just rewiring access points around the house, that all seemed clear to me at 2am, on a plane, in the back of a taxi, while the person I was having lunch with went to the rest room, etc.... I can now put them down quickly, redraw to my heart's content and then even send it to, well mostly my dim-witted self. When you are finished doing that and want to be social again, you can also use it to explain where something is to your dear but dim-witted friends :)


iphone Killer app - Doodlejump

DoodleJump (or other clever en vogue casual/social game)
I know Angry Birds and Cut the rope is all people speak about now, but doodle jump has been around  for a while, and never ceases to put a smile on my face. I Love the fact that it has leveraged social networks to great effect, and to do so has done what all great apps and social media needs: frequent updates. Some of the skins that are released as frequent updates are below. I feel a trend coming on, this app is £0.59p on most stores as well as being updated regularly with new themes...


iPhone Killer Apps - Pulse, now Linkedin Pulse

Pulse
I do like pulse, for many reasons: 1) its elevated the RSS feed to where it should be, 2) its eliminated RSS feed dross apps, 3) its works equally well on big and small screens, 4) its simplicity and intuitiveness in itself, 5) it saves me time. again, originally £0.59p very, very well spent.  now free as part of a LinkedIn purchase. Unfortunately it shows up the feeds 1.0 as not being good enough, the on-screen instructions at first and with new features are app UE master classes in themselves.
Early iPhone 4 Pulse screenshot

iPhone killer apps - Autostitch


Updated Autostitch

Autostitch had a major upgrade recently and was worth the wait, with the ability to shoot in app (but oddly with no volume up on iPhone 4 to capture?) stitch and browse with. The full original description can be seen below in the archive of 2006-2008



Original 2006+ posts below

I cannot fault Apple on the app front - I had been pushing apps since about 2002 as the way forward, we did major apps projects in 2006, and still they dragged their feet, as did mobile internet, despite all the resources of the mobile operators and even Nokia that was thrown at it, and even phones like the N95, which kicked off apps, like sportstracker in a big way with the early adopters. It was not until apple came along, and the early adopters who paid through the nose for the first iPhone, then went on to be the me-too's of the second generation iPhone, and that was it - apps hit the big time!
It took the 3GS before I was convinced, and I got quickly frustrated between getting it and not being able to upgrade within a few months. It was a long year(ish) since the 3GS came out and the 4G, in which time I had to put up with an inferior camera and terrible battery life, but it was quite clear that there was a hook that kept me engaged beyond the usual 2-3 month window. Apple may think its the glass and the hoo-ha - it isn't, its the apps! With the 3GS came a compass and augmented reality already on Nokia and Android and suddenly the iPhone not only had the quantity, but the quality. With the iPhone 4, we finally have a camera that is of a tolerable level and a flash that means we can use it, and we are there. But so is the competition. It has never been more interesting in appland!

Autostitch
This has to be my favourite app, not as the most used, but as the one that has solved a problem I had been looking for a solution for, and it always brings great results. I have tried many, many photo stitching software over the years, and none of them have done what they said on the tin. It uses a new set of algorithms that a couple of desktop programs use as well, and just could not be simpler. The usual rules apply: try and have something key and solid in each and the next frame to make life easier, only put humans in one frame, or they will come out blurred, and forget about complex macro photography, this is for landscapes. It is also a favourite app as it is simple, intuitive and well designed. Its £0.59p well spent in the UK store.



iPhone Killer Apps - Met Office Weather

Met Office

I am obsessed with the weather, I live in London, try to Boris bike or walk to most meetings and train for triathlons when I can, and have done some showcase apps for big product launches around weather apps, and so take my weather very seriously. I am not alone. I also take the met office very seriously, which more people should do, as there are even parts of the US military and other armies around the world who trust the Met office more than they do their own systems... it is now my favourite iPhone weather app.


iphone Killer apps - Intelligentsia Coffee

Intelligentsia

Despite the highbrow name, actually no, the highbrow name gives you a hint of what to expect.. this is highbrow coffee making: everything you wanted to know when you were a student and had loads of time for making coffee, or are in the industry or an industry that allows you this kind of time, or what the hell, you are your own man or woman, which may well vary by time of day, week, etc... whatever, I wish I had enough time to indulge in these coffee making processes. I do not, alas, but as a technologist I am predisposed to loving coffee, and I do, and I learned a thing or two about making the drink i love so much via this app: firstly, I do not have time to weigh my coffee, but have learned that measuring is important, and so use a scoop (that came with my aeropress) and the same cup to the same level, as well as the described process and my pourover coffee is now at a new level. It may seem silly, but it is, specially now I ordered a fantastic steel mesh filter from these guys. Download it now and pretend you have enough time to source, let alone use a chemex coffee maker :)


iPhone Killer Apps - Path

Path 

Path is a User Experience showcase in itself, as well as a breath of fresh air. Its no secret that part of Google+ and foursquare success has been people outgrowing facebook, or just unable or unwilling to sit down and grapple with the privacy and the changes, etc, so just start again. Where facebook is general everybody, google plus has become general wider but business or recent, foursquare is usually a tighter social circle, well path closes this loop by having people you want to interact with at an even smaller level with. So back to the UX, the images, the sign-up process... amazing! iOS and Android



iPhone Killer app - skitracks

Ski Tracks

Ski Tracks was the only app I could see that I liked that was not another "map my... insert sport name here" with a ski twist but is obviously a run or cycle app that does not get better for diversification. What I liked as well is that the other day I was showing it to a once apple now android fan who lamented "apps like these are why I still love Apple". Now this comment will divide many, and send others on a rant, but as two impartial technologists, we get it - Somebody who makes a unique app, that is worth downloading and keeping for this year's ski season - tends to do it on iPhone first as of today. This is changing, and innovative apps (that is innovative tech) will tend to launch first on android or both, but my point is that Ski tracks is a well conceived, well thought out effort with a strong emphasis on the user experience and it launched first on as still only on iPhone. To quote Oscar Wilde on those who are ranting now, the cynic is the person who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. This is one great, well thought out app. I added the stats view, there are also other graphical views for those of you like myself who respond to pretty graphs...

What I like as well, as this is one of the few sports I will prefer to use a phone rather than a dedicated Garmin for other device to track (this changed in 2014 with the Garmin Fenix 2).


iPhone Killer App Pinterest

Pinterest

Pinterest is interesting: its already 54th ranking website according to alexa, as posted on my G+ and that is important as it has a) only being running a few months, and b) only has the stalwarts of international emerging market millions jumping on-board that is facebook and linkedin.

It is easy to see why, again, like Flipboard and pulse and even path, it signs up easily and presents you with interesting content. Moreover, it is a modern twits on editorially defined content. First we had broadcast and print: they were editorially defined, and at the beginning of the digital age seemed very, very tired - we wanted to define what we wanted and we used Google to find it: aren't we clever! now every tom dick and harry has a blog on mobile apps and portals (well, I do anyway) we are leaning back to editorially defined: top publications like wonderland, wired and wallpaper have emerged (all beginning with "w" I spot a trend???) and we now have Pinterest: crowd-sourced editorially defined content: genius!
Pinterest -replace Facebook as the benchmark app?

It does not stop there, it then has hidden gems like pinning products you like, an instagram-esque picture posting interface where I posted this affogato and instantly got 2 likes and more. pure browsing and interacting pleasure and huge, huge promise for adapting to individual OSs on mobile.

iPhone Killer Apps - Flipboard

Flipboard

Flipboard has finally made it from the ipad to iPhone. I must say, I have tried to do this a few times, not to iPhone, but to other big screen and other screen formats I have worked on for clients (content discovery, 3D screens, etc) but the budget has never seen fit or it has fallen into the two "generic" bin.

So finally it is here. Pulse, was the closest we had to flipboard, and arguably pinterest (below) is / has eaten into the appeal of Flipboard for the smartphone screen, but I think it still has a lot to offer and could go further in terms of enhancements for different smartphone formats leveraging the UI differences now the major platforms all have style guides and distinct IUs (Apple, Android, windows phone and even meego with the N9). So what's to like? crucially, like any quality app, it understands engagement and has a wonderful sign-up process, the kind I have only seen in Path, Pinterest, Pulse, and maybe a handful of other apps begginning with "p", what is that about??? It first has an almost fluttering, teasing sign up screen, and then it does not let you just add facebook and twitter, like the sony ericsson, now sony mobile Android homescreen app 9which you then quickly tire of) but first both preselects three of 9 major categories, meaning that from the off you have an engagement and the app stands a stronger chance of impressing / engaging you to add more feeds. This is very important, as news is easily accessible everywhere, if you are selling quality you need to make it as easy as possible for people to find and engage you to make the sale. Flipboard does this very swiftly, quickly and without fuss or frustration. Nice.
Flipboard for iPhone - benchmark app for OS?
Like Facebook, and pinterest below, its implementations will become almost benchmarks of how well an app is integrated into a handset manufacturer / OS provider or Operator's ecosystem.

iPhone Killer Apps - Warhol


Its been a while since the Carnegie Museum released the original Warhol DIY app. As a fan of the digitalisation of modern art I immediately downloaded it and... well, found It was harder than expected. having developed my own film and photos back in the day, and decided it hard work, I also did silkscreening, and found that even harder work, so I do not know why I was expecting the app that does the even more difficult Warhol silkscreen process to be easy, but I did, like we all expect to buy an iPad and do a Hockney by downloading brushes app....  The truth is, its not all that hard, after a think you remember that, like all good photography and art, it all starts with understanding light... to get a good digital silkscreen print you need to shoot the right image to start with, and this is hard, if not impossible on a mobile with no exposure control. So you search through your images for the right exposure, there are not that many, and the ones that are do not have the right subject...
The only usable image from original app, this will now change!
It all seemed like hard work and I only found one image that I could sort of use originally, and even then the result was, well, it did not get shared, let's put it that way!. So, for example, if I wanted to use this iconic Lotus, a brand made famous from the 60's and use its namesake bright yellow Warhol used so much on his screens, there was no much I could do: a black car in a dark street was just not going to work. It also was a pain to edit, I had to use another app to crop the photo (pre iOs 5 camera crop feature) rather than in app. These have both been addressed, as well as another key issue I will get to in a minute.
Editing and cropping in app is an essential addition
So, when the last update came out with exposure control I picked up from where I started: Crop photo instagram style in app - check; 
exposure levels mean you chose the subject you want
Edit the exposure level in app - check... we are now on our way! the next problem, and the reason I left the darkroom work to others, was the trial an error process... before the app was unforgiving of mistakes, and made you start again, it now let's you go back and change exposure levels etc.
fine tuning exposure now does not mean starting again
The only issue I still do have is that I was never good at the underpainting with a brush, on the screen that does not get any better, but to be honest, I am more of a fan of the bass relief style single silkscreen colouring with no underpainting... which is just as well. I have not tried it on a tablet yet, but undepainting on a screen, even one as good as the iPhone's, is not great. So what are the results like? Well, I am still playing with the exposure but will let you know :)

There are also sections explaining the process and a bit more about the museum, etc, so all in all is a great app and well worth paying for.

iPhone Killer App - Instragram

Instagram

Instagram has been a killer app from the start and has just got better through the years, to the point now where its filters tool is one of the best out there and better than many dedicated photography apps, which some could say instagram has become (it was previously a social imaging network, but was then bought by a bigger social network, but is still an important social tool, don't get me wrong).

Instagram killer app reason 1 - controlling light

You can clearly see in these shots what makes Instagarm such a good photography app, firstly the way it handles light and editing tricky shots like this backlit subject with no flash. In previous incarnations of instagram we just had filters that would mix the filters and we would choose one that illuminated our subject the best. Some apps, like even the native iPhone photo edit controls, make editing balance, saturation, contracts, etc. a bit of a chore, but instragram actually make it enjoyable and the results are very impressive.
Instagram makes brining detail back into backlit subjects a breeze

Instagram killer app reason 2 - social

Instagram is an unsung hero of social media, allowing you to post to foursquare, which as of about 2014 has swarmed off into tangents but still has a base of people you may want to update, into facebook, where the photos filter is woeful but hey that's why they bought insta, and twitter which is equally 'not that great' when attaching photos. You can also browse keywords and reach an audience with a short sharp message and image, which can be pretty powerful, as well as fun to browse.
post and browse #hashtags to see what is current in brandworld and peopleworld in one app

Insta killer app reason 3 - filters and tilt shift

There never has been a better tool to bring images to life and make an amateur tilt shift like a pro
simple drag about tilt shift - one click

One filter to bring out the colour of the uniforms, early morning light and smoke - nice