What makes my reviews blog worth reading with so many other IOS review sites? Well I do, of course! I confess, I am a full-blown app addict. I was already hooked on my iPhone, esp. my new(ish) iPhone 4, but when I got my iPad for a holiday gift something transformative happened to me. I fell into the App Store and I can’t get up! I am not an Apple pitchman, however, so I am not going to try to sell you the devices. If you have read this far I will assume you already have an iPod touch, iPhone or my newest love, an iPad.
Here are 10 things I do so you don’t have to.
1. Money Matters – I Try Before You Buy: I buy just about everything, so you don’t have to. Seriously, I can never make up my mind just based on reviews, so I buy anything I hear good things about in any category I happen to be browsing that day. My collection of all IOS apps exceeds 2500, and I have accumulated almost 500 total iPad apps, over 300 of which are native IPad-only apps just since the Holidays. I also stalk the app store, so when something goes on sale I can tweet it to my subscribers right away. I can also track the previous price changes to let you know if a sale is really a sale at all.
Also I will be periodically be giving away free apps, and keeping my eye out for good contests, so check back often.
I even contact developers just to see if they are responsive. You know you don’t have the time for that, but wouldn’t it be nice to know before you buy something, if someone will write you back if you lose an important file, need help or password retrieval or want a feature added? Which leads us to…
2. Time Matters Too: Reading Reviews: I have the time you don’t: I am happy to be a stay-at-home mom, but I have a mobility disability that keeps me indoors all winter. I live in Canada. Winter is long. And I don’t sleep much. So I have all day for reading endless websites, blogs, and user reviews. I read reviews in the app store like mad, and I read them in the Canadian, US, and UK stores, since I have accounts at each, to get the fullest sense of how an app is received.
3. My Parter in Crime: Pump: My partner is my greatest asset and favorite human. We call him Pump and so can you. As most of us have discovered, our kids can figure this stuff out long before we even finish the tutorial. Pump has his own unique perspectives on the apps and games he uses and he has generously agreed to help me write any entry that is kid-related. He will even write his own reviews when he thinks he needs to add more than just his two cents.
Of course I scour all the best children’s websites and online and print magazines that suggest which ‘educational’ apps are actually educational, which ones are gimmicks or buggy and going to frustrate instead of motivate, and which are outright frauds. I also care about the sort of content my son gets, so I know the most kid-friendly apps, developers and games in the app store.
4. I am a MOM-Geek: App Categories: As much as I like the technical side of things I am not going to go hyper-tech on you, because I am not that technical. I just search the categories you would, had you the time, and the ones don’t know you love yet. I love games, I love apps, but you won’t find many first person shooters or dial-a-fart apps on my devices. Sure I have the best sellers, but I have a ton of lesser-known gems too.
Here are just some of the categories I over-indulge in: I have all sorts of life-long education apps on art, science, the humanities, foreign language, performing arts, etc.
I also love to read: I have apps for Ebooks of every format, PDFs and assorted library apps. I have books sold in both online bookstores and the app store itself. I adore RSS feed and Google readers, news aggregators, free and subscription magazines, newspapers, and anything literary for myself or my son, that seem remotely interesting. I collect radio and music apps too for all ages and across many many genres.
I have a huge set of photo-editing, artsy-fartsy, collage making, scrap-booking, painting, drawing and doodling apps. For professional artists, complete amateurs like me, and tons of art-project kid’s apps. And of course I have a slew of recipe and restaurant apps, grocery list managers, bar code scanners, day planners, money managers, budget makers, activity organizers, todo lists etc. In my next big post: the essentials: dock and home page apps; I will reveal the best honey-do app for those who hate to nag!
I collect navigation apps and camera apps and many other categories best suited for the iPhone too. And shopping, we must never forget shopping apps.
I have and play with most of the incredible music making apps out there. And my son loves them too. I also enjoy music discovery apps beyond Pandora and Last FM, especially some of the graphical ones made for the iPad. (The answer to Pandora, Hulu and other US-only content my Commonwealth friends, is a VPN!)
I can help you find whatever music (or music videos) you love from metal to Christian, classic rock to the newest pop hits, and at the best prices possible. And if you want to discover new bands and indie artists I have some treats up my sleeve. And oh the classical music, I have learned more about classical music in 2 months than in the previous 10 years and the apps I use are a joy.
And these are the good apps, I can also tell you which ones are time and money wasters or outright scams. Please mind, too, that these are just a few of the folders on my iPad.
5. I’m a student: I just went back to school (yes again, I like school) so I use apps and especially my iPad the way any student would; I no longer need a heavypack-pack full of text books, nor any pens and paper, binders, notebooks nor even handouts. Almost everything I need for reading, writing, note-taking, by hand, stylus or keyboard, and even recording is in my iPad and the iPhone covers the few areas where the iPad is still lacking for on and off-campus use. And I will show you how to make sure your stuff never gets lost, how you can keep your notes handy without everything being stored on your device, and how to share your notes with anyone, anytime, from anywhere.
I have the combined perspective of being an experienced adult student, the parent of a grammar-school child, and aunt of a middle-schooler, a pre-schooler and a freshman Ivy Leaguer so I know what apps are appropriate for each level of schooling from pre-k to PhD. And I am the app-advisor-in-chief around here so I know what games are hot and FUN for all ages as well. I am proud to say I have the best educational content out there in my iPad. I even bought the 3-d specs! (What specs? Watch for Edu-Apps No-Brainers – future post.)
6. iPad Only Reviews as well as Universal and iPhone/Pod only apps. I have them all I’ve tried them all, I told you just exactly how many up top. I am going to start off with IPad reviews because I am still in discovery mode, but as innovative iPhone apps are released or I rediscover the usefulness of an old favorite, I plan to devote a lot of time to those too. I actively collect iPhone camera and scanner apps and navigation apps, so watch for a review of those coming soon.
7. Compare Across Devices and Platforms: We currently have woking in our home: 1st gen ipod touch, a 2nd gen iphone, iphone 3gs, iphone 4, a 4th gen ipod touch, an ipad, and of course an iMac. So I can tell you how the apps differ across all devices. Did I mention we are only 3 people…
I will answer such questions as: Do you really need an iPhone 4 if you have a 3gs? What’s new on the iphone 5 coming this summer? Will it be worth upgrading to the iPad 2 as soon as next month? (If rumours are to be believed – the buzz is Feb 9 release based on a screenshot of the ipad 2 with that date on the calendar icon. UPDATE: they were 1/2 right, Apple is going to hold a press conference on Feb 9 to announce the the begnining of ipad2 production. It seemed like it would be stupid to burn everyone who got an ipad after they pushed so hard just a month ago for christmas.) What about the OS? Does an app run on an older one? Is it really worth upgrading to whatever apple unveils next? Is it worth (temporarily) unjailbreaking your device? (see below.)
I will be your human aggregator, and post what seems to be the consensus from the app-pundits and my own opinions if I have them. I have even used the Mac app store a few time and will be able to give you reviews of the apps when they fill out their content.
8. To JAILBREAK or Stay Pure: Both sides fairly and Cydia reviews: (This bit gets a bit techy, you can skip ahead to 9 if you have no intention of hacking your device.) I am a fan of jailbreaking (more on that in subsequent posts, although I’m not an expert.) But there is no untethered JB for IOS 4.2 yet (it’s finally coming any day now, it’s in beta, keep watch on Chronic Dev) and because IOS 4.3 is but a month away if the expert guessers are on target, my beloved iPad is a virgin. This has been fun for me, if expensive, but it will be great for you because I can address both types of users. And fairly discus what is best and worst about both worlds with no vested interest.
The Cydia app store has all the apps Apple should have thought of, probably did think of or reviewed, and then turned down because of some nit-picky rule. But I will tell you how to turn your phone into a hotspot without waiting for IOS 4.3 or unjailbreaking, how to move multiple icons in seconds, hide icons, expand folders, how to add a useful lockscreen or a fun theme, how to access your settings more conveniently, add more gesture commands for safer driving and so much more from the amazing Cydia repositories. No longer will Android/Google devotees have the occasional upper-hand if you do decide to JB.
(Please: always support developers, in Cydia or the App Store esp. the small ones who give you the content you love – jailbreak for features, not theft!)
9. I am a Appleophile From Way Back: I got my first apple computer in 1979 and have had just about everything they have made except the Newton. (Yup even the catastrophic waste of space and money, the Lisa.)
But I also work on PCs so I am comfortable with both platforms. But I have a very deep, long-range understanding of who Apple is, what they do best and worst, and I know their product line intimately. But I‘m not too techy. I am not a coder, or a hacker. I just learned the IOS device lingo over much time and much energy. I can make you fluent in days, you have my brains to pick! (Apple without Steve Jobs? Is he gone for good? Stay tuned.)
10: I Buy Accessories Galore Too: Want to know the which are the best cases, headphones, bluetooth accessories, styluses (styli?) docks, car kits, speakers and more? Well I can’t promise to buy them all to try of course, but I do read every review I can, again from users and professional reviewers, and have never bought only one of anything in my life!
Bonus: Follow me on Twitter for daily tweets about free app contests I am hosting (see my newest post with contest details here: ) and also other contests, bargains and quick reviews of individual apps as well as retweets from the most trusted and most unique sources.
Please let me know if there is a category I didn’t cover that you would like to see reviewed. And if I miss something please feel free to turn me on to new apps too – there are hundreds of thousands, no one could cover them all and I love apps, so please just comment away with your faves too.
Happy Reading. My first full-length review post will go up this week, as well as shorter individual app reviews, so subscribe or follow me on twitter to stay up to date.