iPad & iPhone Reviews for Kids, Parents, Educators, Artists, Art Lovers: Fine & Performing, Readers, News Junkies, Writers, Casual Gamers & anyone interested in the Best iPad and iPhone Reviews, Tips, Contests, Sales, Exclusive Sneak Peeks & Swag

Archive for the ‘OS X’ Category

Apologies, I’ve Been Busy With New Site – Please Come Visit


I miss this blog so much, I haven’t had a chance to ramble on and on at all since I launched AppTudes – a fresh site for app and game reviews for all interests, which I launched on Father’s day. I have been so lucky! I managed to get some amazing writers from other big sites like my own 148apps.com, my former home appadvice.com, and padpadget.com, appolicious, and some serious bloggers.

We’ve almost hit 1oo posts and our number have been through the roof! It’s so exciting, in seven months this is only my 86th-ish post, but that what’s great about having a tea. And the support from the developer and publisher community has been overwhelming. I hoped to do a launch-week push of giveaways, but we just hit the one month mark I don’t think a day has gone by where there wasn’t at least one active contest going, most days we have several.

And for those of you who like my SAHGeekMom picks, trust me we have a ton of kid stuff, art apps, and culture there too, but also real gamer games, general inteerest apps, and we just got an iPhonegraphy expert on board too!

By the way, if you review or have skills like copy editing, wordpress guruship, web or graphic design, come on over and check it out because we’re hiring! That page has most of our staff bios, but we have three newcomers so it’s time for an update. And, if you have skills, we’d love your face up there too.

I only have a minute, but I stopped by because I am going to flood my blog with the reviews I’ve written since I’ve been gone. In fact you are even getting on AppTudes doesn’t have…yet.

But remember when you see the posts, if there are contests attached they are being held on on apptudes.com and through our twitter account anf fcebook page, so you’ll have to pop on by if you want to enter. I hope you do, I have a lot of parents and educators on board and you might discover altogether different kinds of app, like I have been, that aren’t one I tend to run into.

I’m going to start using this blog again soon though, but less for reviews and more to discuss iOS news, and topics of interest that go beyond reviews. But don’t worry, wherever you find me writing, I’ll be focusing on only the very best apps for iOS. Hope to see you everywhere soon.

Happy App Hunting



New Facebook Page – New Chances To Win iTunes Cards From AppTudes and SAHGeekMom

We JUST set up a Facebook Fanpage here. While we figure it all out, we have special prizes just for those who take the time to visit and like.

When we hit 100 likes we will give out a $10 iTunes Gift Card. When we hit 200 we will give out a $20 iTunes gift card. If we happen to hit any other multiple of 100 we will give out $25 iTunes cards at each milestone.

But act fast, the contest closes Friday June 17, 9:00pm EDT!

Good luck and thanks for checking us out. Don’t forget to follow @apptudes to be the first to know about all the freebies and great reviews and lists coming your way soon!

To see just some of what you can win suring our launch week swag-a-thon click here.

Happy App Hunting


Win iTunes Gift Cards Now With Tweet – Huge App & Game Promo Code Giveaway Coming Soon!

UPDATE June 16, 2011, 10:45pm EST

New chance to win June 17, 2011 9:00pm EST – this time the prize is a $15 tunes card, but you will have to work for it. This is NOT a random draw, the more attention you bring to us, the better you chnaces of winning! Random chances at iTunes cards and even early free apps, are available by liking our Facebook Fan Page here! When we hit 200 likes someone will win a $15 iTunes card, at 300 a $20 card etc. – details here.

We also have a twitter party planned for Tuesday, June 21, from 6-8pm EST – Click Here For Details

Win extra goodies just use the hashtag #swagathon starting at 6:00pm EASTERN time and for two hours we will be giving away extra swag and answering your questions about apps and the new site – please join us!

Did that make no sense? I know right, I went to my first about a week ago – it’s simple copy and paste #swagathon into twitter’s search bar when it’s time and you will automatically see everything everyone is saying and be able to reply. You can ask us questions and win big!

If you want to win you need to be following @apptudes and we have to follow you back so we can DM (direct private message) you with the code for the app you win!


We awarded the first iTunes card for Tweeters tonight, June 16, 2011, at 9:00PM EST. The prize was a $10 iTunes card for following and tweeting this and anything else that gets apptudes.com and @apptudes or our Facebook fanpage (where you can win ever more, click here) and I even gave an extra prize to someone who has been tweeting so hard for @sahgeekmom. Since we are all the same, it seemed only fair =D

Also visit and like our Facebook page to win free app promo codes starting NOW! And more chances to win Itunes gift cards! No limit to how often or how many you can win!


Do you want a chance to win some of the best bet apps and games on iOS, Mac and Android?

What about free iTunes gift cards? Free subscriptions to premium online services?

Then mark the date: Father’s Day, June 19, 2011 and start following @apptudes on twitter!

Below are just some of the AppTudes launch week Swag-A-Thon sponsors.

All the apps you see below and mnay more will be yours to win, along with other amazing prizes.

To promote this event you can WIN iTunes Gift Cards starting right NOW!

Just tweet this page once a day between now and launch (we will be updating it constantly) and we will start picking winners on Thursday, June 16 from those who are doing the best job of spreading the word.

Be sure to follow me too, @sahgeekmom to keep up to date!

Check out our press release here to learn more about apptudes.com, the freshest site in iOS, Mac and Android Apps, and look forward to more great giveaways added daily

You Can Win These great iOS, OS X Apps and their PC and Android cousins too – new apps and games are coming in so fast this is only a partial list and will be updated as often as possible. These are some of the top apps, we have award winners, and we don’t review or giveaway anything we don’t absolutely love ourselves. You really don’t want to miss out on these!


Here are some of our amazingly generous Swag-a-Thon sponsors. they are giing out iTunes gift cards, premium memberships (think Slacker Radio!) and unique prizes.


  • ESPN iScore Baseball
  • Nascar Junkie for iPad
  • Martha Stewart Cocktails
  • How to Cook Everything – All Version!
  • Slacker Radio (Premium Subscriptions)
  • Procreate
  • Auryn Ink
  • iQuarium
  • Pimp Your Screen
  • Radio By Spreaker (Premium Subscriptions)
  • Writing Prompts
  • Packing Pro (as featured on CNN)
  • iMuscle (Nova) iPad
  • Comic Life for Mac and iOS
  • Dramatic Music App Plus
  • Debt Payoff Pro
  • Let’s Create! Pottery
  • Let’s Create! Pottery HD
  • Autopainter HD
  • Autopainter II
  • Autopainter Express for Mac
  • Dynamic Autopainter for PC
  • Wig Booth
  • Everyday Golf Coach HD
  • 1-2-3 Draw
  • Make-A-Monster
  • Overdamped Artists Series – giving away a TON of their huge catalog!
  • Album App
  • LitterBug
  • Talking 3D Lab Mat
  • Green Genie
  • Max and Molly
  • Dress Up Rush HD (released today, June 17, 2011)
  • Grim Joggers
  • Cavemean (Lemmings!)
  • Snuggle Truck
  • Smuggle Truck
  • Azkend
  • Crux (Crosswords – the best!)
  • Jack Of All Tribes HD
  • AR (Augmented Reality) Misslie -(iPhone and iPad 2)
  • SwipeTapTap
  • Sparkle the Game
  • Royal Envoy
  • Robot City
  • Heros of Kalevala
  • Sailboats Champions Pro HD
  • Teddy’s Playground
  • ColorFlys
  • Egg Drop Soup
  • Doggie Day Spa
  • Joining Hands
For Kids:
  • Hop On Pop
  • Auryn’s Little Mermaid
  • Stack the States
  • Oh, The Places You’ll Go
  • Nosy’s Crow’s Three Little Pigs
  • My Word Wall
  • Grimm’s Rapunzel – 3D Interactive Pop-up Book
  • Once Upon a Potty: Boy
  • Bunny Fun
  • Enchanted Tales: Snow White
  • Ansel and Claire’s Adventures in Africa
  • Teddy’s Day
  • Roxie’s A-MAZZE-ing Vacation Adventures
  • Teddy’s Night
  • Stack the Countries
  • Aesop in Rhyme Series from Auryn
  • Toddler Email
  • Alpha Books
  • Toddler Toy Factory
Please take a moment to visit out amazing sponsors below and tweet now to start winning!

                OVERDAMPED ARTIST SERIES           v   

Watch Out Pandora: Slacker Radio Updates iOS App For iPad And It’s A Game Changer.

Watch Out Pandora: Slacker Radio Updates iOS App For iPad And It’s A Game Changer:

  • By: Slacker Radio 
  • Genre: music, online radio, music streaming, music discovery
  • Platform: Universal
  • Price: Free (additional features for subscribers)
  • SAHGeekMom Rating: 5 Stars
  • Recommended Age: All Ages 

Hello again,

As busy as I am with the upcoming launch of apptudes.com (see our press release about the new site in iOS and Android reviews coming Father’s Day!)  I haven’t abandoned my post at appadvice.com or my commitment to you, my loyal readers.

Slacker Radio has graciously agreed to be part of apptudes.com’s launch-week swag-a-thon (click here for just some of our amazing sponsors) so if you miss out on the appadvice giveaway, stay tuned or follow me on twitter @sahgeekmom for more chances to win coming soon.

Slacker Radio (Free) by Slacker, Inc. may be a relatively new native iPad app, but iPhone users have had access to the online radio and music discovery service for a while now.

It’s an alternative (a better one with 10 times the catalog), to App Store darling Pandora. If you have an iPad, it’s time to change your home page. Slacker Radio’s app is a must-have for music lovers.

I know Slacker well, because while Pandora is on every “what to download first for iPhone” list in the known world, its service is not available in Canada, but we do get Slacker. Since I knew their service having listened on my Mac and PC, I grabbed their app a week after I got my first iPhone.

But, when a friend who uses a US IP for work had me over, I was so excited to finally try out Pandora’s app.

To my surprise, the service (he is a paying member) and the app didn’t blow my mind. They are great, but I was suddenly happy that I had “picked” Slacker. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the border!

I will get into their services and subscription plans, and tell you how to win a year of premium service for free, but this is first and foremost an app review, so let’s start there.

Slacker’s bright shiny new iPad version is eye candy. It presents your music, in either orientation, using the iPad’s brilliant display and multi-touch interface to maximum advantage (since the iPhone GUI seems largely unaltered, the screenshots are from an iPad 2.)

In the “Now Playing” area (you can just pick a station and start listening) you have a neat cover flow display, which, depending on your subscription level (most people use this service for free) shows passed and upcoming track info.

You also get instant in-app access to artist bios, album information and lyrics, when allowed by the music distributor.

You can sit back and let any of the over 100 pre-programmed stations in popular genres like rock, alternative, pop, hip hop, indie, and country music get you grooving.

But, Slacker is not about a passive music experience, it is about customizing radio to suit you. Many services try, Slacker does it best, especially if you spring for the full premium package.

The app allows you to use most of Slacker’s mobile features minus a handy auto-caching option for Blackberry and Android, due to Apple’s (self-defeating) refusal to let enyone but Apple access hardware. Caching on iOS must be selected manually if you have the paid service and want to listen offline.

But, if Slacker Radio online does it, this app does too and in a way that will make you want to pop your iPad in a speaker dock and start rocking. Trust me, you’ll make your Apple-hating friends want an iPad 2, too.

Slacker has the pre-programmed channels in popular genres, including artist spotlights, and lots of ways to make your listening experience all your own for free.

And, you can access a DJ for some stations, and turn on news updates provided by ABC news, or listen to their dedicated station,with the entry-level “plus” subscription plan (which is a bit more than Pandora’s, at $3.99/month, but includes unlimited skips, the 10 million song catalogue etc.) or at their new “premium” service that comes with a premium price tag of $9.99 a month.

One account and subscription covers all devices: the existing iPhone app, this new iPad version, and it’s good on your computer, other mobile devices or you can even purchase a Slacker-specific portable unit.

The GUI is rich and intuitive; the app is a treat and not just for your ears. But, audiophiles report that if you listen with high-end headphones, Slacker’s sound quality is best in class.

Here’s a complete tour of the iPad version, also available in-app:

Slacker Radio, like their competitors in this field, know the bulk of their listeners aren’t going to pony up any cash.

Slacker, therefore, is available at no charge; you can still create custom stations (playlist creation, on-demand songs, and complete album playback are reserved for premium-members) and you can skip six songs per hour. That’s a huge plus, not offered by Pandora.

For free, you don’t get the bells and whistles, but you also don’t get slapped with a 40-hour per month listening cap. Check out the cool iPad 2 feature in the screenshot below.

You can take a picture from the iPad 2’s camera, and customize your station or playlist icon. Sweet! It’s great for easy navigation through everyone’s favorite playlist in your home.

Slacker is more than an online radio programmer. Their service, and their apps, are not just about listening. Slacker is all about music discovery.

My screenshots may belie my age, so I’ll admit that before I met Slacker (and kin), just a few years ago, my idea of “new” music was anything from the late 80’s or early ‘90s.

I am a die-hard classic rock lover, yet after 40 years of the same soundtrack, I was eager to find new artists. But, where does someone with long-established tastes begin looking for new music that won’t offend?

Easy. Just put the type in the name of a favorite band, and you’re off.

I started with The Grateful Dead and it immediately brought up (using a tag search I assume, but an advanced one) not only other classic rock artists, like Jimi Hendrix, Led Zepplin and Pink Floyd, but also stations that feature The Dead, and newer jam-bands. (Who knew there was anything post-Phish!)

By looking at the suggested artists, it’s easy to rediscover names long forgotten, (Hot Tuna, anyone?) and when I moved seamless from classic rock to singer/songwriters a new world opened up.

While adding James Taylor and Simon and Garfunkle to favorites (you can pick favorite artists and songs so Slacker knows to play them more often, or ban specific songs and artists; Slacker adapts), I was, in moments, meeting Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, the Kings of Leon and others that may not be new to you, but to were to this geezer-geek.

Once you find new artists, they lead to others, and the next thing you know you are populating stations not only with your old standbys, but with fresh content, new to you anyway.

Slacker offers an amazing amount of configurability. You can fine tune most stations which is my favorite feature.

When listening to The Beatles I want to go fringe, I never need to hear Yesterday again, thanks. (It’s just overplayed, don’t hate me.)

But, I love finding old B-sides and obscure cuts from, say, a George Harrison solo album. When it comes to the Black Eyed Peas and Coldplay, however, I want hits.

What balance your stations strike is up to you. Pick new songs, or aim for older tracks, add more new artist discovery, or limit yourself to mostly your favorites. Slacker let’s you decide what you listen to, that’s the whole point.

The iPad version of the Slacker app is fantastic, the iPhone version could benefit from a landscape orientation, only, really, for easy alternation with a GPS app in the car, and I like the clean look on the iPad better, but it’s still slick and has all the same features, in a GUI intended for the smaller screen.


Slacker Radio’s free service is the best in class, with a huge catalog of songs and limited free skips. It has advertisements.

The “plus” service, $3.99/month, removes the adverts, gives you unlimited skips, caching for offline listening, optional news and lyrics.

The $9.99/month “premium” service can replace your iTunes app and mp3 collection, as well as your cloud service. It gives you everything in the “plus” package, and on-demand playback, lets you create playlists as you would in iTunes, and listen to albums played as they were meant to be heard, with the tracks in order.

All users can purchase the songs they like; a tap takes you right to iTunes. And, social media integration, via twitter and email, lets you share your custom stations and music tastes with the world.

No matter how you get your Slacker Radio, there’s is a must have app for iOS (and Android) music lovers.

Remember you can enter to win a year of Premium Slacker service here on appadvice.com, and stayed tuned for another Slacker-sponsored giveaway coming soon to http://www.apptudes.com!

Added: 6/3/11: Slacker Radio graciously put my review on their Facebook wall. And, when I went to check it out, I saw you can get a free month of premium membership and enter to win more year-long gift certificates too, click here for more details.

I’ll be back with a new app list and more reivews and sneak peeks at hot apps and games soon. In the mean time here is a post about my new app review venture, apptudes.com, and some of most recent reviews and most popular lists for you to check out:

Happy App Hunting


Welcome AppTudes! A Brand New Site For App Reviews: iOS Mac And Android Coming Soon

Happy June! The Stay at GeekMom is proud to announce:

Please welcome AppTudes: New attitudes about apps!

Watch for www.apptudes.com, going live: Father’s Day, June 19, 2011.

Our team of experienced writers will bring you side-by-side app reviews, exclusive contests, App Store shopping tips, insider looks at hot apps before they launch, and breaking mobile-tech news. Look for side-by-side Android vs. iOS match-ups too.

What is apptudes.com?

What sets apptudes.com apart from other review sites, is our attitude towards apps and games on iOS and Android devices – we love them!

We are super-jazzed about bringing them to you in a new format of side-by-side reviews from two or more experienced writers at one time.

You may get an “Android vs iOS match-up”, a “he said – she said,” or “home user vs. small business vs. power user” review, depending on the app in question. We will give you multiple viewpoints to help you spend your budget wisely on the apps best suited to you. We are an opinionated group, so expect lively debate!

If it’s hot, we’ll have it. Our staff of writers will look at chart-topping or buzzworthy games (tons of games) and apps, with a “10-tudes” multi-angle rating system that will steer you to just the right apps and games for your Apple iDevices, and coming soon, Android devices.

Jailbreak apps on the Cydia Store will be covered too.

Keep your eyes peeled for “break it down for me” guides that will look at apps in a single category and tell you which ones you need, and which ones to stay away from. We’ll help you navigate through the App Stores’ chaos, and provide laughs along the way.

Swag-a-Thon Sponsor

Stay tuned for more developments coming soon! Be sure to follow Sue (@technopinksue) and Lisa (@sahgeekmom) on Twitter for what’s coming up and to get access to promo codes, iTunes gift cards, special contests, giveaways and swag.

You can add @apptudes now too, so you’ll be the first to catch our huge launch-week swag-a-thon full of giveaways and contests.

Here’s just a sneak peek at what’s coming you way from our Father’s Day Launch Week Swag-a-Thon sponsors:


  • Free premium online and multi-mobile platform radio subscriptions from the best music discovery and custom station provider, Slacker Radio (www.slacker.com)
  • Overdamped Artist Series (Van Gogh HD, Monet HD, Vermerr HD, Da Vinci HD etc. huge catalog) mega-promocode slam
  • Free app and game promo codes from Nosy CrowMochiBits, Dreamix Studios and many more
  • Quick-Contest giveaways on Twitter (coming soon to Facebook)
  • iTunes gift card contest sponsored by Kid’s Corner and My Scrap Life developer Dirk Bost
  • Something very special from developers Owlchemy Labs, creators of the smash game Smuggle, er Snuggle Truck!.

And, those are just some of our upcoming prize offerings; you’ll have to follow us to catch them all!

Thank you in advance for your support and follows. We are passionate about mobile devices, apps, and developers. We can’t wait to bring you great information on how to get the most out of your iDevice.

Please direct press and general inquiries to info@apptudes.com and we will see that it gets to the right person for a speedy reply.

Advertise on our site! Amazing monthly and annual deals for launch day sponsors: info@apptudes.com

Developers, writers, and job seekers please click here for more information on our dev corner and dedicated forum, as well as a list of open positions for experienced applicants and student/novice internship options.

We can’t wait for you to see our new attitude towards apps, coming soon: www.apptudes.com

Happy app hunting, stayed tuned for more info coming soon!


p.s. Sue and Lisa are still proud members of the best iOS site on the web, www.appadvice.com. Watch for our reviews there and be sure to get our top-30 app here, to help you find the best of iOS for your device, right on your device!

Best iPad Apps For Artists (and Photographers) – Extended Edition iPad 2 Tested

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, you know I am obsessed with art, especially on iPad: art making, art viewing, art books, art anything, if it’s for iOS I want it and I want to talk about it. Now that I have an iPad 2, I’ve gone off the deep end collecting the best of the App Store.

I am talentless, alas, but that doesn’t stop me from pursuing my creative impulse. And, I actively target an audience of artists and art lovers here so I hope you enjoy reading this list as much as I enjoyed writing it.

As you can imagine, when I was given the opportunity to update the Best Apps For Artists (iPad) for appadvice.com I jumped at the chance.

But due to formatting and time constraints, and the release of Adobe’s new line of apps (see below) which launched the day after I sent the list for editing, I wanted to do an expanded version here for you. I also wanted to address some omissions which were not accidental.

All-in you have the 23 most talked about and best art and photography apps assembled in a single (massive) post. I even review all three of the new Adobe CS 5 companion apps.

This post is insanely long and I don’t expect many to read it at once, but bookmark it for when you need a new iPad art tool. I will keep it up-to-date.

Please note: for lists I often paraphrase App Store descriptions, especially when it comes to listing features or describing them in as few words as possible. But where opinion and experience are concerned, please rest assured these are all mine. But, unlike other lists, I tell you what others are saying too.

So without further ado, let’s look at all the best iPad apps for artists which of course includes photographers. Nowhere is the line thinner between the two than on iOS.


by Savage Interactive Pty Ltd, $4.99

If I have to pick just one painting program for iPad, Savage Interactive’s new app, Procreate, is my hands-down winner. You can read my full review on appadvice.com here.

It is a great creative tool for amateurs, but serious artists are flocking to it in droves because it has a desktop-quality, uniquely designed and robust paint engine. The tools and brushes are desktop quality too.

Work effortlessly with up to 16 layers with 100 undo/redo levels. Eight sliders allow for precision color picking
 or use the eyedropper color selection tool. There is zero lag; you paint in real time. The interface is clean and intuitive.

What puts Procreate ahead of other professional painting apps, besides the power-engine, is the brush selection. There are eight pre-sets, which allow for an amazing amount of configurability, but Procreate is also the only app that allows you create and import your own brushes.

This gives the serious and detail-oriented artist the tools to create precisely what they need. You can customize the eraser and smudge tools too. Procreate is the iPad artist’s must-have and a ridiculous bargain at its current price of $4.99.

I am proud to say I was one of the first to review procreate and from the moment I tried it, and from the time I got to know the developers a little, I knew I was looking at a game-changer. I have since spoken to many professional artists who use the iPad and the love for this app is palpable. This is a dev team you can contact with ideas and if they have merit, you may well see them in an update soon.

SketchBook Pro for iPad 

by Autodesk Inc. $4.99

SketchBook Pro, developed by Autodesk, allows you to effectively sketch, paint and edit photographs on your iPad and iPad 2. You get a total of 60 preset brushes and you can download an additional 90 (including pencils, pens, markers, natural media and photo brushes) to add amazing detail and artistry to your project. Layers and blend modes grant  even more control over your digital artwork. This one is a Best-of-2010 award winner a few times over and while fairly simple to use, it is professional grade.

A video out mode allows you to show off your artwork on a TV, straight from the iPad. It’s a great way to present your portfolio or share a slideshow.

You can save creations to the photo album, or email them to friends and colleagues. SketchBook Pro released version 2.0 on May 6, 2011 and now it’s an iPad and iPad 2 top choice.

Added features include gesture controls, much more adjustable brushes, (reaction to Procreate’s iPad art-world buzz?) precision controls, and Dropbox integration. It is optimized for iPad 2 which allows 12 layers, imports photos directly from the camera, and more. It’s always been a great choice for all levels of artist now it’s better than ever. A full-featured desktop version in on the Mac App Store too.

ArtStudio for iPad – draw, paint and edit photo 

by Lucky Clan $2.99

ArtStudio is another solid choice for those wanting to create artwork on their iPad. For a full-featured app, it’s a bargain at its current price of $2.99. The app includes 30 brushes. These include pencils, brushes, a wet brush, an eraser, a smudge tool, an airbrush and many more. Also included is a text tool to add captions or other text to your painting.

The app also includes 17 drawing lessons. These are great if you are looking for some basic formulaic instruction. Personally, I prefer to just tool around, but the lessons were easy to follow.

The app will also simulate brush pressure to help your paintings look more realistic. You should note that while many painting app do their best, along with various styluses, to simulate pressure, as yet there is no way to get the real effect on the iPad screen, so this feature is all the more important. Art Studio allows for six layers and is a perfectly viable alternative to SketchBook Pro minus some of the finesse. The dollar-to-feature value puts it near the top of this list.

Auryn Ink

by Auryn  $4.99

I fell in love with Auryn Ink back when I started this blog and it is now an Apple App Store Essential for artists. I’m almost embaraased to link to my review, it’s total amateur hour, but I can’t say everything in a list, so check this out for details and forgive my “noobiness”.

Auryn Ink is not an all-purpose pianting app, it has a specific task and medium: watercolours. I have read the odd complaint about a slight lag, but I find the performance smooth on both iPad models, and if there is a lag, it’s offset by how amazingly well this app simulates the watercolour experiece.

You have tons of porous canvases to choose from, or you can create your own, and each will absorb the paint in realistic ways. You can almost feel the paint, whose wetness and everything else is yours to control, get sucked right into the canvas.

It’s a niche app, but a fantastic one and the GUI is simple enough for a child to use. It’s been and remains one of my favorite art making tools for iPad.

Zen Brush

by PSOFT $2.99

Whether you sketch or do calligraphy, Zen Brush, universal, $2.99, is an amazingly simple, elegant and fluid app. Background templates simulate 29 surfaces, many porous like Auryn Ink’s, most distinct.

You can control brush size and opacity, but that’s about it. Its simplicity is truly Zen and the results any user can achieve regardless of training or experience are stunning. Easy posting to Twitter is incorporated. This is a long-time critical success and a must-have art-app.

Colored Pencils

by KengoLab $3.99

If you love the shading and fine-tuning allowed by drawing with coloured pencils, this app is not only aptly named, it’s remarkable at recreating the experience.

It is super intuitive, giving you a ton of pencils to choose from with differing heads, fine-pointed to flat, as well as a large number of erasers. Work with up to four layers, rotate your work 360 degrees and choose from many pre-sized canvas options. Save your favorite pencils for easy access. Color selection is precise.

Colored Pencils is a great choice for artists, budding and experienced, who love the medium. EDIT 3/22/11: It now has  35 user ratings, in the US App Store, and 23 of them are five-star (it averages to four stars) I am going to indulge hubris and take a little bit of credit for the jump from less than five users chiming in, to a now solid amount of backing.

And I’ll let you in on something else, Kengo, the dev, is one of the nicest people I have had the chance to meet while writing this blog. If you have feedback, I can assure you, he wants to hear it and continue to enhance the experience. Colored Pencils is well worth the $3.99 for this universal drawing tool.

By the way of some if these titles seem familiar to my regular readers, or appadvice.com faithfuls, I have had the honour of reviewing many of them before or worked together with appadvice.com’s Robin Rhys to put together an Appisode dedicated to four on this list. You can watch the video-cast and see Zen Brush, Colored Pencils, ArtRage and Auryn Ink, click here.


by Andrew Kern $1.99

ASKetch is a simple black and white procedural sketching program for drawing with your fingers, not a stylus. It’s universal and designed to take advantage of the iOS multi-touch screens. Like Zen Brush it stays out of the way and lets you focus on making art. It feels fast and responsive, even nuanced.

It features 
three distinct pencils types; use a gesture to switch back and forth between hard and soft drawing modes.

 There are 20 Levels of undo/redo and other features make it a great alternative to a paper sketchbook and a charcoal stick. Cheaper too.


by Ambient Design Ltd. $6.99

ArtRage has some issues, but no other painting app I have tried does so much so easily. It keeps track of how much paint is on your canvas, so you can blend colors under the brush as you paint, or lay down thick lines of pigment from a tube of paint for smushing and flattening with the palette knives. This feature alone is worth the price of admission.

Also, watercolors react to the wetness of the brush and paper beneath, similar to Auryn Ink, and canvas grain affects the look of your brushstrokes. Drier pigments break up on the surface to create textured effects.

My favorite feature is that ArtRage allows you to 

import photos, converting them to oils for smearing. The line between photography and painting blurs as you manipulate photos in amazing new ways. You can also import pics as reference images and pin to the canvas to serve as a guide while you work.

Art Rage has a serious flaw, however, that is not present in its OS X counterpart which is amazing, but less visceral. There is a very noticeable lag between touching the screen and the line appearing. I have tested it on the original iPad and iPad 2 and the faster processor doesn’t help. This can lead to difficulty in fine-tuning making it less-than-ideal for professional artists.

But if you are looking for a true all-in-one art app with a unique feel and a tactile blending experience ArtRage can’t be beat.

Adobe Eazel for Photoshop

by Adobe Systems Incorporated, $4.99

Just as I was going to press with the original list on appadvice.com Adobe released a much-anticipated trio of apps that work in conjunction with CS 5, (only version 12.0.4 and up so renew that licence.)

While they all can sort of function as stand alone products, their primary purpose is to enable the interaction of Photoshop projects across platforms and devices. None are full-featured, but they are certainly something different on the art-app scene.

Their drawing entry, Eazel, is the quirkiest entry and the least dependent on a desktop connection to Photoshop. You don’t need a stylus for any of the apps on this list, but most digital artists I know use one for a more realistic drawing and painting experience. I know I would’t even open  the apps on this list without one, but Eazel is expressly for finger painting. I’m still not sure what to make of it, but it is fun to mess around with.

The interface is so clean you might think the app’s broken, but lay your fingers down on the screen (it certainly uses the iPad mutitouch screen to maximum advantage) and the most simple and intuive menu pops up to let you adjust color, opacity, brush size etc.

There is  a lag, even on iPad 2 and it was pronounced on my original pad.  In premise it syncs in real time to your desktop, but the wi-fi connection is unstable as discussed below. But then again I don’t see much need for importing here.

It is easy to create simple doodles with no stylus and no time wasted on instructions, but this is not a serious art tool. Fine detail work is next to impossible.

The app itself suffers from a lack of foresight. There is no undo/redo option nor any auto-saving or saving mid-project, and the controls are very limited. It bears mentioning because it’s Adobe, but frankly unless you are in the market for a non-stylus painting app with few frills, I would skip this app in favour of any of the others on this list. User reviews are few, especially considering the brand, but almost all negative.

Photogene for iPad

by Omer Shoor $2.99

Photographers are artists and need iPad tools too. Photogene for iPad allows users to quickly and easily edit photos. It’s possible to crop, straighten, sharpen, fix red-eye, apply filters, and more using this simple, elegant app.

Photogene users can share their edited images to Facebook, Twitter, Flick or via email. It has a convenient auto-save feature and remembers where you left off if you quit the app accidentally. It’s gorgeous on the iPad’s display.

I had an older version and liked it, but when I did my research for this list I saw it had been majorly revamped and named version 2.0 earlier this month. It now stands out as one of, if not the best, all-purpose photo editing app for all user-levels. It’s not a desktop-quality app, but it’s close enough for most users and a great pick.

Adobe Photo Shop Express 

by Adobe Systems Incorporated, Free

While it’s surprising that Adobe’s older and much loved free Photoshop app is not the best in class, it is very solid and unlike most options on this list, it’s completely free.

It alows you to to all the basic editing you need, like cropping, adjusting colour, and applying effects. Unlike its newer and more robust cousin, Nav (see below) it does not require that you have Photoshop, or any version of Adobe’s Creative Suite to work, it functions as a stand-alone image editor.

On iPad 2 it also has an undo/redo feature which is handy. Using this free app, you can create a personal account on Photoshop.com where you can store about 2GB of photos and videos online.

Color Splash for iPad

by Pocket Pixels Inc. $1.99

ColorSplash is a single purpose app for editing your photos. The app will turn your pic into a black and white photograph. You then have the option to return color to specific areas of the photo.

If you’ve ever wished you knew how to add a splash of color to black-and-white pics with stunning results, ColorSplash will have you looking like a pro in no time. There is an in-app video tutorial and a surprisingly good collection of brushes to work with. Over 1000 users have rated it an average of 4.5 stars and the current version get a full five stars.

Color Blast! HD

By East Coast Pixels Inc,  $1.99

This is another fantastic app to turn your colour snap into a monochromatic one and then add blasts of colour (sorry I write English, not American 😉 )

ColorBlast! HD uses a sophisticated engine and smart colouring technology to allow you to start brushing on a specific colour and then paint only that colour. ColorBlast! stays in the lines for you, making this, as they put it, “an entertaining, rather than frustrating, experience.” Critics and users agree; it gets raves.

I love the included brush tools, including a spray can for softness. Color Blast! and Color Splash are almost interchangeable, choice is strictly a matter of personal preference.

Color Effects – recolor/decolor/splash colors on images and Facebook photos

By Daniel Cota, Free

This app is a little less precise than the two above, but it’s completely free and it packs a lot of features into a universal package. You can achieve the same end results, albeit with a little less grace, for no cost and as the name implies, it’s Facebook ready.

Mobile Monet HD

By East Coast pixels Inc, 1.99

The folks who bring you Color Splash have another great tool that blurs the line between drawing and photography. Here is one of the times when an App Store description is accurate and more conciese than I can hope to be so I’ll quote:

Monet HD converts a photo to a beautiful artistic rendering employing a creative interactive process, [using an] unique sketch/paint process. MobileMonet HD generates a black and white sketch version of any picture you select.

There are settings to adjust the sketch line thickness, intensity and even color, as well as the shading. MobileMonet HD then lets you paint onto the sketch using a soft flow brush tool that applies a painterly version of the original photo.

The more you brush, the more paint is applied. It’s deceptively simple, but very creative. Brush in just the areas you want to highlight. You can adjust the paint settings to get just look you want. The adjustments include vibrance and brightness, as well as number of color shades and edge softness.

I love it and over 120 reviews in the app store give it 4.5 stars.

Touch Retouch HD

By Ava Soft 1.99

I was hesitant about putting this app on the list, because it’s so automated, it does not require any artistic talent or even inclination to accomplish its end, which is to effortlessly let you remove any portion of, or object in, a photograph.

And it is partially marketed as an entertainment app. You know, remove your ex boyfriend, create funny pictures, hide a zit (which is a good thing…)

But, in the end I have to concede that its ease of use is a selling point, and this is a tool that an artist who lacks advanced photo-editing skills can really take advantage of. An update in March improved the output and the user feedback consdierably.

The are in-app video tutorials, unlimited undo/redo steps and social media integration, of course.

It has issues, the clone stamp is particular is buggy, but if you don’t have the time, skill or inclination to use a desktop calibre editing tool to achieve the same ends, this is a more-than-serviceable options at a fair price.

Adobe Nav for Photoshop 

By Adobe Systems incorporated, $1.99

This is the companion app to Adobe’s Photoshop, as discussed above in reference to Eazel. It communicates directly via wi-fi (assuming you have CS 5 version 12.0.4 or higher) to Photoshop on your desktop.

With Adobe Nav, you can use the touch screen of your iPad to select tools and documents in Photoshop while it is running on your computer. This makes it nice for Photoshop users with older eyes! Seriously, it is great to have the ability to use the tools with your fingers and with an iPad right up close to your face. But it’s more like an input device than an app.

It has some very serious flaws, and is surprisingly (or not if they want to keep their dedicated users tied to the expensive full package) feature-light for the brand. And the wi-fi connection is unstable. That’s putting it nicely, in truth it seldom held up in any of my tests and other review sites mention the same issue.

Another drawback is you can’t save a preferred tool set. And don’t go far from your computer or an AC outlet, this baby sucks the battery like mad. Plugged in, my old iPad LOST charge while using it!

Users seem to have a love it or hate it relationship with the app. It gets an average of three stars, but the number of fives (26) and ones (22) speak volumes. So read carefully before buying. At least it’s very reasonably priced; if you do suffer buyer’s remorse, it won’t be for hundreds or even $7.99

Adobe Color Lava for Photoshop

By Adobe Systems incorporated, $2.99

This is my favorite of the new Abode apps, but also the least useful. The app itself it really nice, super intuitive and just plain fun. You can really dab and swirl colors together like paint in a fairly realistic way, to create custom swatches and color sets.

But then you can only use them in Photoshop, which is definitely not my go-to painting program, even if I am loyal for photo editing needs. But even if you use only CS 5 for your creative purposes, professionally or persoanlly, you are once again relying on the feeble wi-fi connection.

The App Store description boasts of real time interaction between pad and computer, but in practice, it’s anything but, and the app crashed on both my original iPad and my iPad 2. That may be easy to fix in an update, but it’s amateurish and not up to the Adobe standards I am accustomed to. PCmag has a great complete review here.

Only seven users have chimed in so far, but it seems colour calibration is an issue. I am not a sophisticated enough user to comment. But it is, based just on averges, the best received, and in my experience the most pleasant, of the three new generally lacklustre offerings.

Maybe Adobe is taking it’s feelings about Apple’s not allowing Flash on iOS out on CS 5 iPad users, (kinda kidding), but all three apps are sub-par and not worth the price, however small, unless you really need them.

Filterstorm Pro

by Tai Shimizu $14.99

Filterstorm Pro is a highly refined photo-editing app intended for professional photojournalists. Filterstorm Pro takes the photo editing capabilities of Filterstorm, the award-winning app intended for all users and expands it, enhances it, and adds its own photo library.

Aside From the standard cropping, rotating, and straightening tools, it adds more powerful curves, white point, black and white (with RGB channel mixing) tools and superlative masking tools.

You can apply filters or curves to specific areas of the image using brushes, gradients, vignetting, and by color range selection. You can send images to iPad’s photo library, FTP, Flickr, Dropbox, and by email. Also export images as large as 22 megapixels for iPad 2 or 7.5 megapixels on the original iPad and use bulk import from the iPad photo library.

Other features include a text tool
, black and white fine-tuning, a 30-step visual history, specific aspect-ratio selection, rotation and image straightening, noise reduction and much more.

If you want the functionality, but don’t need all the professional-grade features, check out Filterstorm for iPad at only $3.99.

FX Photo Studio HD

by MacPhun LLC $2.99

FX Photo Studio HD is all about effects. Currently, the application offers photo editors 187 effects to choose from, such “Night Vision,” “Pencil Paint,” and “False Mirror”. Additionally, FX Photo Studio offers standard photo editing features, such as crop, rotate, and flip. Sharing edited photos on Facebook and Twitter is easy and built-in.

If you’re looking for photo effects, which can quickly transform your image, then FX Photo Studio HD is a great choice. The wide variety of effects (which are continually being expanded via updates) make this app fun and fresh. In-App purchases add features and cost.

What’s missing?

Vector drawing apps. I don’t know a thing about them, so I’m staying mute.

Also, someone commented on my original applist that I should mention Sketch Club, by Blackpawn.com, $1.99 and universal.

I confess this one escaped my radar completely and I haven’t checked it out. But after I hit post many hours of editing from now, I’m buying and trying with my new Nomad Paintbrush Stylus (the new short-bristled one) and Bamboo stylus.

The few reviews in the Canadian App Store I read suggest this may be a little bit too advanced for me, but based on the general reception in the US store, 130 ratings in the few months since it’s launch, and after an astonishing number of updates, it gets almost a perfect five stars.

And user-reviews of other art apps, like Brushes (see below) are referencing it as a must-have.

I am intrigued by their stand-out feature: a community of other artists with whom you can share your work. You can even enable notifications to let you know when someone has left feedback. Apparently the community is vibrant.

If you are looking for yet another full-featured alternative, it looks like a safe bet and the price is right.

I also left off two of the biggest names in App Store painting, namely Inspire Pro and Brushes. This was not oversight, I actively removed Brushes from the appadvice.com list. Let me explain.

I am not here to bash apps. When I get an app and have nothing nice to say about it, but don’t think it is a fraud or is seeking to prey on anyone, I just ignore it. There are enough sites to tell you what not to buy, I always wanted to focus on the best of what there is for iOS.

Brushes probably was the best once upon a pre-SAHGeekMom time, but now it’s overpiced at $7.99 compared to these amazing alternatives and it’s nothing special. I have tried just about every painting program and this one is the only one on Apple’s Essentials that leaves me absolutely cold.  It works, and artists have made beautiful work using it, but that’s the best I can think of to say. If any app is resting on it’s laurels, it’s Brushes.

It feels less organic than some, less adaptive than others, less customizable than most and generally uninspired. And in spite of all the stellar new offerings, it has not seen an update since late last year.

The same applies, to a lesser degrre, because I like this app, to Inspire Pro. It is more than serviceable – much more, and is well-loved. If I had to pick between Inspire Pro and Brushes, it would win hands down and thousands of users who have given it 4.5 star ratings can’t all be wrong.

When it was new (I know, it’s hardly old, but the app scene changes daily, like all tech) it brought many fresh ideas and a beautiful GUI to the App Store and was one of my go-tos. It’s a solid contender.

But, again it’s $7.99, nothing by desktop standards, but not a steal in the app market, and the brush choices are limited compared to new-comers.

It was updated for iOS 4.2 multitasking in December of last year, but nothing added for iOS 4.3 or iPad 2 which suggets to me it’s time for the folks at kiwipixel to play some catch-up. But, I look forward to an inspired update the puts Inspire Pro back in the list of best-of-bests soon.

And if that’s not enough to keep your happily creating, I don’t know what else to say except watch me and the App Store carefully, because this market is hot hot hot and new apps and huge updates of existing apps are sure to sprout up often.

Did I somehow miss your favorite? Have one to avoid? Please let me know in the comments, applists are always being updated here and on appadvice.com and I welcome reader feedback over anything.

I will be back with more reviews, contests and special features for you soon, but in the mean time enter my contest to win the hit Chillingo game, Spider Jack or Spider Jack HD and check out some of my recent reviews and most popular lists and weekend editions.

If you love looking at art on iPad or iPhone watch for my giveaway of Overdamped’s El Greco HD and a ton of their other top titles coming very soon!

Happy App Hunting


Get AutoTalent With AutoPainter, AutoPainter HD and AutoPainter Express

Get AutoTalent With AutoPainter

Get AutoTalent With AutoPainter HD And Win A Copy With A Comment

AutoPainter HD by Mediachance iconAutoPainter HD is one of a large number of image-filtering apps that allow you to add effects, in this case painterly ones, to any picture.

What makes AutoPainter a standout, however, is that instead of offering an overabundance of styles rendered with minimal imagination, they offer only four. But each was created with so much attention to detail, the results are nothing short of artworks themselves.

What also sets AutoPainter HD apart is the gorgeous way it shows you the artistic steps in the process of rendering your work. Take a look as I add a Van Gogh effect to a night time photo. The process and video take two minutes:

The included styles are:

  • Aquarell: Running colors, water removal, dry scratches: Intended for flowers, landscapes, old buildings or people.
  • Benson: Inspired by work of Frank Benson. This style has a sunny palette with Mediterranean tones. It enhances inner light and color harmony and works best on sunny landscapes.
  • Cezanne: Inspired by late works of Paul Cezanne. Painted on an artistic paper, the quick brush strokes with warmth and chalk details. Ideal on flowers and still life.
  • Van Gogh Inspired by Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”, discover the signature swirls, bended reality and blue tones with orange details. Best for night photography and landscapes especially with water reflections.

The GUI is stunning and, frankly, idiot proof. Select an image from your iPad library, select the effect and watch AutoPainter work it’s magic.

If this seems like a sophisticated tool, with too few effects there is a reason. AutoPainter HD (and it’s iPhone and OS X versions) are based a much more robust PC program,Dynamic Auto Painter, that focuses not only on painterly styling’s, but also on portraiture.

The developers are working to ingrate the features from the PC program to the other versions (which are currently all identical except AutoPainter Express on the Mac App Store yields a much higher resolution output image), but they have to deal with the limitations of the iOS device’s processor capabilities.

More is to come, rest assured, but Mediachance would rather release high-quality filters gradually than throw in everything, however pixelated or unrefined, at once. I applaud that approach and look forward to thoughtful updates.

And, all that said, there is a lot you can do with just the four. All it takes is creativity and some multitasking.

One of my favorite features within AutoPainter is that you can stop the transformation process at any point, so you can fine-tune your results, albeit in a linear manner.

But as a talentless hack with creative aspirations, I was inspired to find additional uses for the app.

Try adding a cut-out of a person from one of your snapshots using an image editor.

(If you have a Mac check out my new favorite photo editor Acorn – The Image Editor for HumanIt’s a full-featured, but simple, alternative to Photoshop.)

Then use AutoPainter HD to add, say a Cezanne effect. Now overlay the rendered person on a Cezanne background and ta-da, you can star in your own iconic work.

The only thing I would like to see added is social network integration and emailing to show off the end results. In this first release you can save your work to the device’s photo library, but that’s it.

I rendered a Cezanne still life, and “Starry Night” to see how the filters would respond to their inspirations and I was impressed by the results.



Then I got silly. Imagine if Roussaeu and Van Gogh had hung out?


AutoPainter HD is one of the most sophisticated photo-filtering apps I have seen on the App Store. It yields extraordinary “painted” results. The GUI is golden and the process is a pleasure to watch. This is a must have for creative types who wish they could paint like the masters, but need a little help. Get it!

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Contest Closed, prizes awarded privately by email. Thanks!

Ok this has been a productive weekend. And the hits I am getting show you are really enjoying the new content so I’ll try to keep it up. Thanks so much for your support. I am frankly in awe of how many new readers and subscribers that have joined us. Thank you.

Here are some popular and/or recent reviews for you to chceck out until next time:

Happy App Hunting


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