iPhone and iPad to the Rescue or How I Saved My Sanity Today
Snow Day Madness
I had a bunch of organized reviews and a big feature article I wanted to get up yesterday, but The SAHGeekMom is a mom first. Life threw me a little curve-ball; instead of peacefully blogging, I had to fetch pump from school (again) b/c his fever came back and on top of that there was a blizzard that I had to make my way through. You can see my view from my windshield up top on the left. Let’s say it was a less-than-relaxing drive. I had to put everything on hold for the rest of the day. But once again my iPhone and iPad came to my rescue. Let me tell you how.
Note: My iPad is not 3G, since 2 data plans is a little more than this SAHM can swing, but I brought it with me, along with my iPhone 4.
First I needed to close shop on Twitter and Facebook on the fly. I decided to try a new (to me, not new-new) Twitter client called Osfoora, and was delighted at how simple it was to tweet, upload photos of the blizzard (it makes me feel better to share my pain) and to reply to to messages. I even did a few tweet-sized app suggestions to assuage my guilt over leaving you all in the lurch yesterday.
I love it so much I wound up getting both the iPhone and iPad versions They have Twitlonger incorporated, which for a must-have for a wordy-girl like me. The app also supports TextExpander (AWESOME tool for writers, check it out for Mac and IOS!) Osfoora gets 4.75 Stars.
Osfoora is pricey though, @2.99 for universal app, and 5.99 for the HD vesion for iPad, so if you just want to tweet to some friends and keep up with your feeds you probably don’t need it. The free universal Twitter App from Twitter is fine (4 stars).
Updating Facebok was not as much fun. I settled on Facebook Touch HD (formerly Facely) for my iPhone, but I still needed Video/Photo Uploader (I am 90% sure it used to be called iUpLoader??) to get my snowy pics posted. I give them both 3 stars, they get the job done, but if someone knows a great FB app for either device please LMK!
Next I rediscovered an old favorite app for Pump which I was able to post on-the-run as my Edu-App No-Brainer of the day: WeetWoo!
[Update: Thrilled to let you know I spoke with the folks over at WeetWoo! and a) they are about to unveil a MAJOR update, and b) they will be sponsoring my next contest, likely starting this weekend so stay tuned for more info and spoilers!]
Pump was sick, tired, bored and crabby which is reasonable for a 7 year old with a fever stuck in traffic and waiting rooms for 3 hours. This was not the day for a rousing game of World of Goo or Shrek Cart (he loves both, but I was aiming for mellow…)
I knew the solution right away, it was WeetWoo! on my iPhone. WeetWoo! is essentially a YouTube feed of kid friendly shows (ages 2-9,) but done up in an inviting and simple format. WeetWoo! allows you to pre-set an age range to ensure your 3 year old is not watching shows meant for 2nd grade, but the content across the board is wholesome. Once set your child can select the channel easily by themselves. Pictures next to simple words make it easy for a child to navigate the app. The channels are: Animals, Learn, Music, People, Places and Fun Shows, but even the fun shows are mostly PBS shows, not feature-length commercials for toys like the Bakugans or sickly-sweet and substance-less tripe like Disney Princess videos.
I really love the People channel. They have little animated cartoons about the likes of Leonardo DaVinci, Marie Curie and Benjamin Franklin. And Places is a great way to explore the world, we took a tour of Oxford, England today to see “Hogwarts!”
The app is not optimized for ipad so you have to put up with pixelation or use it in small format, but that is only for choosing the show. The video itself is streams from YouTube and the image quality can vary from pretty good to kinda grainy, but Pump doesn’t mind. On either device he is just happy to have his own personal video store, and I am confident that I can trust him to choose appropriate shows for himself. They shuffle up the content too, so it’s like a different video store every few weeks. Pump and I give WeetWoo! a perfect 5 stars for the iPhone and 4 Stars for ipad with the hopes that an update to universal will come down the line soon.
And thus Pump was entertained on the 30 (normally 10) minute drive to the doctor’s office. Since we don’t get Pandora Radio in Canada I was happily listening away to the Slacker Radio app which streams fro their main web site. I have a subscription and I absoutely adore this service.
Like Pandora you select an artist or several artists and Slacker makes a cusom radio station for you. You can fine tune any station opting for/against news breaks from ABC, and you select whether you would prefer mostly hits or more obscure titles, newer or older songs etc. (You can create as many channels as you want and there are no ads and limitless skips in the paid service. I never even tried the free, so I am afraid I can’t comment. The Premium Service is free to try.)
I have many channels of my old favorite classic rock bands, singer-songwriters, and Grateful Dead-like stuff which are awesome, but I have also discovered that the world didn’t stop making music in 1995. I heard some songs by jack Johnson when we saw Curious George the Movie and I knew I liked him. I started there and 3 months later I have all kinds of new CDs (yes I am Old Skool I like a tangible items to hold my music. But I am still lamenting the passing of the 8 track, so don’t use me as a barometer.) Having the background music playing, via a cheap car kit, through my car stereo speakers is much more relaxing than hunting for a decent song on FM and then sitting through 3 songs you hate and a bunch of adverts. The app itself works flawlessly for me. It has never failed me once. You can even cache up to 12 stations for offline listening! SAHGM gives Slacker a 4.75 stars.
Next we arrived at the MD’s; Pump was nervous and we had been squeezed in so we had to wait. So I broke out the iPad and we played Labyrinth 2 HD by Illusions Labs which is absoutely gorgeous. The game play is so life-like and there are a seemingly endless number of boards including the original Brio layouts we played as kids (and I hated them, the app is much mre fun than it’s RL version for once) other users’ creations, or you can even make tour own.
Even with all that, however, it is overpriced at 7.99, so I tried Labyrinth Game HD by Eivaa Studios (a different company entirely,) for only .99 and while the options were more limited, the gameplay was easier for Pump in the less expensive version.
I confess SAHGeekMom loved Labyrinth 2 HD even if I did purchase it by mistake meaning to get the lite version ;). Both of the ball-in-maze games are great renditions of the original, and perfectly suited for keeping a child quiet while waiting since the app requires some concentration and very gentle even subtle movements to master. Once he got the hang of it, Pump looked almost like a still life watercolor!
I give Labarynth 2 HD 4 stars with hopes that they label the user boards more accurately and lower the price, and Pump gives Labyrinth Game HD 4.25 stars because he found it much easier to manipulate.
Finally when I got home, but still had to take care of Pump. I gave the new WordPress update a try and I like it. It’s not great, but better than BlogPress which kept losing my posts. It got the bare bones of this post up (I apologize for the poor editing, the iPad keyboard is less-than-stellar and so are my eyes at night!) and it saved my drafts, let me attach pics, and do other simple things.
But unless you can code, this will only get your words up to your Blog. You will still need to format it either on the WordPress site on the word processor or HTML editor of your choice. It is handy to be able to moderate comments and manage subscriptions on the fly with the iPhone. 3.25 stars.
When it was finally bedtime, we let OceanHouse Media’s Dr. Suess: Gertrude McFuzz, on sale for only .99, read aloud to us, because I was too tired to focus my eyebals! As always the story was delightful and the presentation flawless. We both give every Suess book we have seen by OceanHouse 5 Stars.
And so with that I say goodnight. I am going to put on headphones and let Ambience put me to sleep. As the name suggests this is an app for creating an altogether astonishing assortment of ambient sounds, white noise, diurnal tones etc.
What makes Ambience different from all the other apps that combine etherial music, nature sounds and heartbeats to lull you into a relaxed state, is that Ambience has hundreds upon hundreds of sounds you can mix and blend to create the right background for the right mood. Once you create your mix you can save it as a fave for future use. As if the 99 varieties of cicadas alone, not to mention every other insect and bird, 400 ocean sounds, babbling brroks, snowy days, beachy nights, and everything else weren’t enough for 2.99, you can buy even more sounds as in-app.
I have one mix for concentrating on reading, one that helps me sleep, and one that helps me not beat my head against the wall when I lose the whole day to winter and a flu! This one is another fave that gets a 4.25. Stars.
I’ll be back tomorrow with more, but how much more depends entirely on how well Pump feels when he gets up. I’ll keep you posted!
Have a great night
As alwasys I invite devs to send me anything you would like to have reviewed at email@example.com or on twitter @sahgeekmom
Don’t forget to check out my contest page for winners and new giveaways, my previous Edu-App No-Brainers, and my (almost) daily app stalker reports, as well as Part 1 of my feature article and review of PlayTime Theater, and my review of Cooties, updated with a sneak peek at upcoming changes from the developer posted today and of the smash hit creative-play app Make A Zombie, (which also helped keep Pump as happy as he could have been in the circumstances.)
p.s. the pics were snapped in the most unfriendly conditions on my iPhone 4using my favorite camera application (this week anyway) Camera Pro. Love how it handles various bad lighting situations and has the best zoom I have tried thus far, but I’m not through hunting yet! 4.5 Stars!