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

Posts tagged ‘reviews’

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

Hi!

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

The 

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!

The 

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!

iPad Scrapbooking Fans Of All Ages: My Scrap LIfe

UPDATE: June 19, 2011: My Scrap Life and Kid’s Corner had to be pulled from the App Store over a Copyright disagreement. The Contest is Closed.

My Scrap Life and Kids Corner

  • By: Dirk Bost
  • Genre: scrapbooking, creative app, children’s creative app, photo fun
  • Platform: iPad 
  • Price: $.99 (both apps, sold separately)
  • SAHGeekMom Rating: 4.75 Stars
  • Pump gives it 4.5 Pump’s up!
  • Recommended Age: Kids Corner Ages 3-11, My Scrap Life All Ages

 

Do you love to make scrapbooks on your iPad? What about your kids, do they have a creative side and enjoy playing with pictures?

If so, you are going to want to read this article and enter this contest brought to you exclusively by developer Dirk Bost, The Stay ay Home GeekMom and appadvice.com.

I brought you a review of Kids Corner, a scrapbooking app masquerading as just plain kid photo fun, back when it was new. It’s a great creative and educational app for kids. You can read about it here.

It was recently updated, and Dirk did a bang-up job.

There are tons of new elements to play with, and the interface, which was always simple, is now perfect for a child, even a pre-reader to interact with. It’s fast, fluid and the results are so much fun.

Pump, you know him by now, my seven-year-old son and co-reviewer, is a serious shutterbug.

And, he enjoys playing with photo editors, but if I actually said the words “scrap” and “book” to him in one sentence, he’d run for the hills. (Or his “secret” fort in the neighbor’s yard anyway.)

I am trying to raise-a-reader and artsy-type, but I seem, instead, to be raising a giant ball of mud that zooms in, empties my fridge, and zips back out leaving a trail of grimy footprints and me with a muck-encrusted kiss-mark if I’m lucky.

He’s getting ready to visit his Auntie Loo Loo (yes, we have funny names in my family) and his cousins Noa and Kaya in New York, all by himself soon.

So we went ahead and created a little project to send to them, to let them know how excited he is.

It took us under 15 minutes to make this, and when I say “us”, all I did was hand over the iPad and then save the project. He even takes his own screenshots now. (See gallery below.)

I don’t want to dwell on Kid’s Corner, you have my review, and it’s been much improved since I raved about it here and on appadvice.com.

Pump loved making himself into a pirate and exploring outer space when we first tried it out; these screenshots are from the original review.

 

But, I have to tell you about My Scrap Life, Dirk’s new app for all scrapbook fans, before we can get to the contest, so let’s check that one out. I’ll start by saying both apps, at only $.99 are a steal.

With My Scrap Life you don’t have to spend hours fine tuning a project, you get amazing looking results with an incredible degree of customizability, in no time at all. But you might get lost for hours, there are so many designs to play with.

I will be doing list of the best scrapbook making apps here and on appadvice and this is one of my top picks, and certainly the best deal in its class on the App Store.

There are no in-app purchases, and as the update to the kid version shows, you will be getting new content rolled out in stages.

Speaking of the content, many scrap-apps I have tried are cutesy. My Scrap Life has plenty of cute, if that’s your thing, but there is an artistic feel to everything from the cartoons to the word art. The elements look (beautifully) hand-drawn.

It has the same retooled sleek GUI as Kid’s Corner, and the same lightning speed (I added about 10 elements at once, like tap tap tap tap… and no problems or crashes on either iPad model.)

You get borders, backgrounds, word art, letter sets, (a nice touch, only minimally available in Kids Corner) pictures and clip-art, a text tool, easy saving, and sharing by email from within the app.

It is simple to scale, resize, rotate, duplicate and move items to the fore and background with a single tap.

Of course you can import photos from the iPad library, but you can also use something like Clipish, or just a Google’s image search, to get more backgrounds and items.

I don’t take a lot of art-quality flower photographs, I just got inspired from some My Scrap Lifr clip-art, opened Clippish Pro, did a search and ta-da.

(I believe I’ve mentioned my lack of talent before, so please, judge the app, not my creations. I look forward to seeing yours.)

I was so pleased to find all the same intuitive features of Kids Corner, but with a whole slew of new, more stylish graphic elements. The apps work alike, but are tailored for totally different markets.

I recognize a few borders from Kid’s Corner, but the content in this app is fresh, not recycled, and not geared towards younger kids.

It is, however, geared in part towards moms and dads, grandmas, teachers, and others who love to show off the kids in their world.

So you do find elements related to kids, but also to nature, parties, high school, art, even skulls and tattoos, and for all kinds of events.

The app has elements geared towards creating ecards and invitations, and has a full-functioning text tool for entering the details.

I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for Facebook integration, so I can torture more of my friends, but for now here’s something better.

EDIT JUNE !(, @)!!: Conest Closed, App No Longer For SAle

Purchase My Scrap Life and/or Kids Corner app for iPad. (Click on the icons up at the top, to go right to the app in iTunes)

  • Come up with your most creative scrap page.
  • Use the My Scrap Life or Kids Corner email feature and submit your work to ipadscrapbook@gmail.com
  • One $30 iTunes gift card winner will be selected for the My Scrap Life submissions.
  • One $30 iTunes gift card winner will be selected for Kids Corner submissions. (Creations from kids under 12 only please, moms and dads.)
  • The winner of each will receive iTunes gift cards, emailed from the developer, Dirk Bost, to the email address used to submit the scrap page.
  • There will also be one mega-winner of a $50 iTunes gift card for the best scrap page from both pools.
  • Winner’s scrap page will be featured on the My Scrap Life and Kids Corner website too.

Please, while not required, I’d love links to works in the comments, so readers can voice opinions and help Dirk pick the winners.

Look for more info, coming soon to appadvice.com, and start creating now.

Limit one entry per user, so be sure to send you very best.

The contest closes on 06/25/11 at 11:59 p.m. Winners will be notified by no later than 06/30/2011.

Please note, as you can read on my contest page, this is a contest I am happily helping to promote, but I will not be involved in the prize distribution.

I will be back tomorrow with something I’m very excoted to bring you. One of my most popular reviews, and my favorite interactive educational books on the App Store, Rome – A Virtual History (review here) has a new baby brother!

Mondadori Publishing has released Virtual History – The Last Supper. It’s simply incredible, but it’s not cheap. So read about it here and who knows, if you all keep clicking, I might just keep on giving.

More reviews and a new app list coming soon. For now please enjoy these recent reviews, lists and WeekEnd Editions. All previous contests are closed.

Happy App Hunting

The 

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.

procreate

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.

ASKetch

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.

ArtRage

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

The 

Web-Slinging Meets Rope Cutting in Chillingo’s New Spider Jack

Miss me? 

I plan on writing a lengthy post explaining my absence and how iOS devices and apps, as always, got me through a rough time, but for now suffice it to say that The Stay at Home GeekMom has some medical issues, and they flared up rather severely in the last weeks. But I’m back and raring to review so let’s go. I have a great action-puzzler for anyone in your home ages 5-105.

And, to make up for my absence, I am bringing you a special giveaway of a Gift Copy of Spider Jack or Spider Jack HD. Read the review below for details on how YOU can win!

  • By: Maxnick.com / clickgamer.com / Chillingo / EA
  • Genre: puzzle game, casual game, addictive game, family game
  • Platform: iPad & iPhone iPod touch sold seprately
  • Price: $1.99 and $.99
  • SAHGeekMom Rating: 4.5 Stars
  • Pump gives it 5 Pump’s up!
  • Recommended Age: 5-105

Spider Jack HD by Clickgamer.com iconSpider Jack and Spider Jack HD, by Maxnick, and distributed by clickgamer.com  (AKA Chillingo) is a new physics puzzlers that bears not just a passing resemblance to the same publisher’s hit title Cut the Rope by Zeptolab.

If you are a fan of Cut the Rope style puzzlers, you are going to love Spider Jack. And if you’re not, this action-puzzler may be just the hybrid of genres to change your mind.

The game initially apes Cut the Rope so much, it’s easy to be dismissive and call it derivative. But play a few levels before you leave a snarky App Store comment. Spider Jack actually has more than enough variation in gameplay and even audience, to stand on its own merits.

After a cute opening  intro cartoon, the game begins like Cut the Rope in reverse. You are a spider intent on your next meal. The goal is to cast your web so it leads you up to (and later down and around to) your ensnared fly-feast. Simple enough, right?

But unexpected, clever elements come into play quickly. You have to float in bubbles, dodge electric currents, even use a hairdryer to propel you towards your goal. Some stars are time sensitive adding to the action-component of the game and time-warps come into play in the last of the three included worlds adding unpredictable mayhem.

This game is as much about timing, jumping, swinging and quick reflexes as it is about planning ahead. A straight drop may solve what all the well-planned drifts won’t.

Like other games of this genre, you can earn up to three stars per level. And while successful completion unlocks the next, Spider Jack has a nice “skip level” option if you get stumped.

There are 75 boards included with the promise of more to come, spread across three environments: a barn, a bathroom and a laboratory.

Check out the trailer:

Cute ain’t it?

An interesting, if not totally welcome, twist is that Chillingo or EA (who acquired Chillingo and recently took over their Crystal gaming network) has it set up so there are unlockable “gift levels”. If you invite (read spam) five of your social network contacts to join Crystal or play Spider Jack, (I didn’t check which, just shamefacedly deleted the offending Facebook posts and hoped for forgiveness), you can unlock five bonus levels per environment. That’s 15 invites for 15 extra levels.

I confess, this isn’t the first time I’ve spammed my friends for in-game rewards, but never on iOS, unless it was for Zynga’s Facebook game, Farmville, via the iOS companion apps. And at least those were other players.

I’m not sure it’s fair play for a paid game, but that said, you don’t have to get the gift levels either. Just know they are an option and they are a lot of fun, allowing up to five stars for successful completion. And getting them will annoy your friends.

While we’re playing true confessions, I have to admit, I don’t like Cut the Rope. Pump adores it, and in theory I see it’s a great game, but it’s a pure puzzler and I’m not the biggest fan of the genre. I don’t want to think too hard when I recreate; call me lazy, but I game to unwind. Thinking is for real life…

But, I do love quick-play action-puzzlers and where Cut the Rope often leaves me in knots, no level of Spider Jack is so hard, nor so time consuming, that you need to beat your head against the wall or Google for cheats.

Pump’s Point: “I really like this the best of all my new games better than Cut the Rope and Burn the Rope and Angry Birds. As fun as Burn it All at least! It’s faster and more fun and it’s easier for kids but it still makes you think a lot. I like the bathroom area the best.”

As usual my seven-year-old son and co-reviewer is better than me at the game already, despite my playing for hours while waiting for doctors. And even his younger friend, Kaitlyn, aged five, was able to play through many levels without any assistance.

Spider Jack’s web-slinging ways are zippy, and there are a number of different solutions to each level. It’s a perfect pick-up-and-play game.

If you love Cut the Rope, Spider Jack is a no-brainer. But even if you shy away from traditional puzzlers, this games serves up enough action, with great graphics, replay value and unexpected twists to be well worth the small price. Grab it and start spinning.

Want to win a copy?

All you have to to is tweet this review (and include @sahgeekmom so I can find it) or leave a relevant comment. Don’t forget to let me know which version you want. A winner will be chosen at random,  You can enter once by each method, and check out my contest page to see how you can ern extra entries as well. Because this is a gift app from me to you, not a promo code, it is limited to the US and CND app stores, and US prize may take some time to deliver. The details are on the contest page too. For easy tweeting and sharing click on the “share” button at the bottom of this post.

Contest Closes Sunday May 22, 9:00pm EDT Good Luck!

Here are the screenshots for you:

I have a ton of giveaways for you coming in the next weeks including exclusive previews of a new 10Ton game, a great email notifier and a slew of contests including a chance to win up to $50 in iTunes gift cards, and all new app lists, reviews, and giveaways so don’t forget to subscribe or add my RSS feed to your favourite feed reader.

will make up for lost time, but in the meantime here of some of my more recent reviews and most popular lists to keep you busy. Check out the all new Best Art Apps for iPad on Appadvice.com!

Happy App Hunting

The 

Crates Night Shift HD Makes Working Overnight Fun

Crates Night Shift HD Makes Working Overnight Fun. Win A Copy With A Comment Or  Tweet!

  • By: Blitpop
  • Genre: puzzle game, casual game, addictive game, family game
  • Platform: iPad Only
  • Price: $.99
  • SAHGeekMom Rating: 4.5 Stars
  • Recommended Age: 7+

Crates Night Shift HD by Blitpop, lda. iconCrates Night Shift HD is that elusive breed of puzzler that is simple to play, yet endlessly challenging and inventive. It has elements of Gamehouse’s classic Collapse, but its execution is fresh.

The game’s premise is that you work at a loading dock on the night shift. Your job is to sort crates and load them onto the ship poised to deliver them across the world.

But, all that’s is really that’s just thematic. You aren’t actually sorting anything; more like you are exploding crates. And the only time the boat comes into play is by tooting and floating by to indicate you have cleared one of the over 140 levels.

The game board is comprised of multi-colored boxes. You need to have at least two of the same colored crates touching each other horizontally or vertically to remove it from the field.

When you do, the remaining pieces fall down and gaps are automatically closed. The basic gameplay mimics Collapse and similar puzzlers, so odds are you already know how to play.

But, even if you never heard of Collapse, you’ll figure it out in seconds and be lost in play soon after.

You are not just removing blocks from a grid. There are power-up crates, obstacle crates, and an amazing assortment of challenges as the game progresses. Crates Night Shift HD presents the same basic challenge on every level, but the solutions are anything but redundant.

Gameplay is mellow; you aren’t racing a clock, you earn high scores by solving the puzzle with as few moves as possible, by creating combos and using the special crates to your advantage.

Check out the trailer:

While the pace doesn’t pick up, the intensity does. Each board requires thought and, if a perfect three-star rating is to be achieved, strategic thinking is your biggest asset.

There is a known crashing issue for those running iOS 3.2, but grab the code now, because ver 1.1 is already pending approval and resolves the problem.

Crates Night Shift HD sports high-resolution graphics, Game Center integration, and while it’s a newcomer to the App Store, it’ss very polished. I looked for problems, but found none. Even the sound effects are satisfying.

This game responds well, looks good and is certain to hook puzzle addicts, especially those sick of matching games or bird-themes. Its simplicity and originality make it shine.

Want to win a copy and get addicted yourself?

All you have to to is tweet this review (and include @sahgeekmom so I can find it) or leave a relevant comment. Funniest comment will win one code, the other will be random for Tweeters.

You can enter once by each method, and check out my contest page to see how you can ern extra entries as well.

Contest Closes Saturday May 8, 6:00pm PDT Good Luck!

Here are the screenshots for you:

I’ll be back soon with more reviews and giveaways, but in the meantime here of some of my more recent reviews and most popular lists to keep you busy.

Happy App Hunting

The 

Best iPhone Apps For News Junkies (Most Free!)

Stay At Home GeekMom Weekend Edition: Best Apps for News Junkies – iPhone (Most Free!)

Hello again,

I’ve been so good, I’ve been posting here all week and I have an exclusive giveaway going on right now for the best new puzzle game this year, Burn it All.

Now it’s time for another Weekend Edition.

I have been meaning to do this one for a while. As a news-a-holic I use my iDevices to consume news in every format. I get my print newspapers, my digital editions of print newspapers, my magazines and anything else availble in paper, in paperless form. I also comsume RSS feeds and tweets voraciously.

And if you were one of my Facebook friends you would know I love sharing what I discover or find interesting with everyone.

iPhones and iPads are the ideal way to get your news on the go in myriad formats. No matter how you like your news served, there is, of course, an app for that.

In fact there are actually thousands of apps for that, so how do you choose? And should you pay or stick to the free services?

Today we are going to look at  iPhone (and iPod touch) options for news, but instead of just mentioning my favourites, I created a guide. Part two, next weekend, will focus on iPad apps. Apps on both lists may be universal so check them both out!

Since this is a guide, not a list, the apps are ranked and categorized.

If I missed your favorite please let me know in the comments. I checked out over 60 apps for this list, but I could never hope to cover them all!

Must-Haves

PressReader Universal (free) 7 Trial issues, In-App Subscription 
5 Stars

If you are a traditional news junkie and love newspapers, but want to carry them with you or if you want your papers, but you want features that only an app can provide, PressReader is awesome. Literally,  as in I am in awe of how it brings the world to my lap.

It gives you access to over 1700 papers from around the world.

Read the International Herald Tribune, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Observer and other major international papers.

And also select from thousands of publications from cities and towns in every corner of the world, all in their native language.

The universal app is free to download, comes with seven free issues, and then has a pay-as-you go or subscription option.

Features include read aloud, multi-platform access, easy navigation, social network integration, and all papers are available for offline reading.

I wrote a comprehensive review when I first started this blog, you can read it here, but note there have been even more updates and more papers added.

Because it is a companion app to a huge website, and part of a company that delivers newspapers to hotels worldwide you can expect constant improvements.

Also you can access the papers you buy on your computer or almost any other mobile device, not just Apple gear. It’s even available for Kindle and other e-readers. This is a must-have if you don’t mind paying a fair price for a ton of content.

User reviews were middling until recent updates. The current version has 4.5 stars but only 7 people have checked in. Try a free issue , or just browse and let me know if you love it as much as I do!

Pulse News Mini (free)  5 Stars

Pulse Mini is the free iPhone counterpart to the hugely popular Pulse News app for iPad. It’s gorgeous. It also brings you news from any of a vast selection of preset feeds in all areas including sports, tech, politics, entertainment even fashion from the biggest websites around.

It lets you add your Twitter, Facebook and other social network feeds. And it functions as a Google reader.  We’ll go a bit deeper into Pulse in part two, in the mean time you can get it for iPad, also free, on the App Store.

Excellent Options:

News360 Universal (free) 4.5 Stars

With well over 2000 user reviews and a solid 4.5 rating, News360 may not need an introduction, but here’s one just in case.

The app gathers information from over 100 newspapers and magazines and presents them to you based on your location.

It also serves up multiple articles from many viewpoints on a single theme allowing for depth and perspective.

With the ability to follow topics and Instapaper and Read it later for offline reading and Facebook, Twitter and email sharing and you have another free winner.

Taptu Universal (free) 4.5 Stars

 
This one is the newest universal multi-source newsreader to hit the App Store. And I confess, I’m in love.

Taptu is the current critics darling; wired.com, TechCrunch, Tuaw and Gizmodo amongst others, have been touting the newcomer as a fantastic news app that keeps you coming back for more.

It’s user interface (UI) is beautiful. Taptu lets you add your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts, and the content from your favorite web sites and blogs (via RSS feeds or Twitter.) It then transforms them into visual streams. Share via Facebook, Twitter and email.

Reported crashes were fixed in update, new version is getting 4.5 stars.

Reader ($2.99) 4.5 Stars

If Google Reader is your preferred manner of consuming news, I highly recommend Reeder.

There are many free alternatives, good ones, (I like Feedly and Feeddler), but if you rely on Google’s RSS service, no iPhone app brings you more for less.

Browsing and sharing are a breeze, the slider control is great, and it’s super easy to manage feeds and folders.

Features: send to Instapaper, ReadItLater or Readability, save to Delicious, Pinbard and Zootool; Facebook and twitter posting, and much more. Current version has 20 5-stars ratings, overall over 355, with a firm 4.5.

Sources You Know -Good Apps

PBS NEWSHOUR – official (free) 4.5 stars

What can I say, it’s PBS’s Newshour. Some folks don’t like the GUI, I say get over it.

If PBS wants to bring their content to me for free even on my iDevices, I’m thrilled to have not just one, but many hours of their insightful, in-depth analysis.

And the chief user complaint is the placement of a banner. It’s annoying, but this is PBS. If they can raise funds in-app, kudos; at least their not shilling for co-co puffs or Shi.. er Citibank. Get it!

NPR News (free) 4.5 Stars

Ok I don’t debate politics,(well of course I do, but not here) ,but this might give you a hint as to which side of the aisle I would be on if I were American.

If you hate NPR, obviously this is the wrong app, but if you are like me and turn to them for thought-provoking discussions of headlines, politics, and everything else under the sun then this is one killer app.

Forgetting the content, the features are amazing and the interface works smoothly. The latest version has over 1000 user reviews and it gets a solid 4-stars. If you assume some of the critics are NPR haters, I think my rating is more reflective of the app’s quality.

You can listen to hourly updates, create playlists of stories you want to hear, and stream podcasts, no syncing or downloading needed.

You can also read stories while listening to live or on-demand shows an can download the stories for offline access. You can find your local station or listen to your favorites from around the US (I am partial to Boston) or stick with national coverage only.

Favorite segments like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Talk of the Nation, Fresh Air, and Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me! are included. It’s a must-have for NPR junkies.

CBS Sunday Morning (free) 4 Stars 


Sunday is happy day for news junkies. The best papers are bursting at the seams and for most of my life CBS has brought us 60 Minutes in the evening and CBS Sunday Morning with our coffee and crossword.

OK, both shows have gone downhill since their heyday, 60 Mnutes more than Sunday Morning, but in a sea of lightweight news programs, of info-tainment and opinion lurking beneath the guise of journalism, Sunday Morning is a still breathe of sunny fresh air. Especially if you like culture with your news.

They cover the news the sound-byte stations overlook: Art, Music, Architecture, Nature, Pop Culture, History and offer thoughtful opinions from some of the best commentators still on the idiot-box And Charleses, past and present, serve the top news and political stories from unique angles.

The app brings you highlights only, not full shows, but I’ll take it. It’s also a two-fer; tap to switch to the main CBS news app: But that app is poorly rated (see below.)

This one is iPhone only, The video upscales well to iPad, but the GUI does not. Users give it 3-3.5 stars, but I am a die-hard fan of the show and if you are too, it’s even worth the pixelation on the iPad to get the video content.

Quality crumbs beat an overabundance of garbage any day.

Bloomberg  (free) 4 Stars

If the name doesn’t make you think of stocks and financial news you must have been sleeping in a cave for the last several decades.

Bloomberg is a preeminent source for all things market-reated, and the app serve up their content on iPhone.

Bloomberg offers news, stock quotes, company descriptions, market leaders and laggers, price charts, market trends analysis, and more.

You can also create a customized list of stocks you want to follow from markets around the world.

It gets a 3.5 from users, I think the UI makes it worth 4.

BBC News (free) 4 stars

What’s in a name? With the BBC, like NPR and PBS, everything. Here’s their free app that lets you access their best content.

Filter news stories by geographical region or category including business, technology, entertainment and sports. It  also has content in Spanish, Russian, Arabic and other languages.

You even get video, including one minute news summaries to keep you informed on the go.  You can also personalize the app to suit your interests and download content for offline browsing

NBC Nightly News (free) 3 stars.

I don’t like network and cable news, period. And while all the networks have apps, I will tell you now that ABC, CBS, CNN and Fox get terrible reviews.

Well Fox’s dedicated, um, call them fans, (but in the literal sense), will defend the 24 hour exreme-right-wing propaganda machine. (Even on matters where I lean right, they are just plain nuts, sorry. Blame it on my Candianess, but it’s lol-funny, in a sad way.)

But those judging the app, not the politics say it’s crap too.

NBC Nighlty News by MSNBC is the only one that gets decent ratings. Users, the few who left comments, love it or hate it, but it averages out to 3.5 stars. Just the icon makes me sure I’ll never check for myself. Blech.

Sources You Know -Bad Apps

NYTimes (subscription only) 3 stars

 
The NY Times is widely considered one of the finest news organizations in the world and their app was huge hit. A recent change making content available only to subscribers, however, has lowered their user-reviewers considerably. News Junkies are fleeing to free or cheaper alternatives.

If you do have a subscription or need your NYT like I do (book reviews!), then this app remains a good, really the only, choice.

Just read the fine print; there has been some confusion over iTunes NYT subscriptions and direct NTY subscriptions.

Network News Apps (free) 0-2 Stars 

As I said avoid all the major US news network apps, besides the NBC one, and even that is superfluous with so many better options.

I’m not going to take them down one by one, just trust me, they suck and the content is often not available out of the US anyway.

CNN’s iPad app is eye candy, but their iPhone app is almost impossible to see.

AP Mobile (free) 2 stars

 The Associated Press is one of the oldest and most respected news organizations in the world. News outlets pay them to provide breaking news from all over the globe.

Their’s was also one of the first iPhone news apps to use Push Notifications. It used to me my go-to app for headlines and push.

But so many better alternatives have cropped up, and the AP app sits mostly unchanged except that a recent update added in-app adverts, which are turning off long-time fans.

Reuters is on par with the AP and their free app gets great ratings although I haven’t checked it out myself. It can’t be worse.

Great Alternatives to Traditional News Apps:

Twitter (free) 5 stars

If I were just listing the best twitter clients, I would not give Twitter’s own iPhone app 5 stars or the top spot. But this is a list for news junkies, not tweeters. This app has all the basic functions of twitter, and, of course, it’s free.

Other apps are available with more robust features, and with less features, and more a more passive reading experience. We’ll talk which are best that in another post.

But what we do need to discuss is how Twttter is one of the best and most popular ways to access news from any device or computer, any time, anywhere.  If you know all about twitter, skip this next part, but if you don’t read on:

It seems like  years ago, but back in late January when I was starting this blog I hadn’t used twitter, nor had I any interest in it.

My understanding was that Twitter was a way to link to your friends and celebrities to send stupidly short notes about what you are doing every minute of the day.

And I was right, Twitter is that. But, it’s also become the ultimate aggregrator, for all interests, particularly news. All you need to do is open a free account and start searching.

Pick an obvious starting point like the NYT or the AP, your local paper, favorite news network, website, or whatever and it’s pretty likely they have a twitter feed.

Just choose to follow them and suddenly you are getting instant access to their latest news. Then see who they follow to find more content you wouldn’t think to search for.

Robin Rhys, appadvice.com’s on-air personality, my friend and colleague, just covered the best Twitter apps for all different levels of Twitter users. She explains a lot about Twitter in general too.

Check it out to find which Twitter app will suit you best – I use several, but Tweetings is the one that lives on my dock.

As you get to know your way around, you will find there is a ton of content for any interest under the sun.

And things called hashtags that let you see what everyone in the Twitterverse (I know, but I didn’t make it up) is talking about.

If you typed in #royalwedding yesterday you could have seen what every single person from everywhere on earth had to say. All I had to say was “who cares”, so I did chirp in, but you can see how it can help with issues that actually matter.

And don’t think you only get 146 characters of news. Twitter all about sharing links. You post a link, a short comment and ta-da you have a tweet. When you read tweets in most apps you don’t have to open a web browser, you can see the relevant web page right there.

Of course you can then retweet it to your followers and trust me, somehow, some people, will find you!

Newsy: Multisource Video News Analysis (free) 4.5 stars

Newsy is also available for iPad and TechCrunch calls it a must-download. It’s for those who like to watch the news instead of reading it.

Newsy delivers short videos designed to keep you informed on the biggest news stories. It’s great to enhance your understanding of all sides of the argument quickly,  by providing multiple perspectives from multiple sources. The current version has 4.5 stars from over 50 users.

MacHash News (free) 4.5 stars 

Apple Junkie? Tech-News-aholic? If you’re looking for the latest on OS X and iOS look no further than #MacHash. (Think hashtags, see Twitter above)

It’s a tech news aggregator that delivers the latest Apple news to any iDevice.

Sources include: 9to5 Mac, Apple Hot News, AppleInsider, GigaOm, Lifehacker, Mac Observer, MacApper, MacDailyNews, Macenstein, MacLife, MacNewsWorld, MacNN, MacRumors, MacStories, Macworld, PowerPage, RoughlyDrafted, Slashdot: Apple, Smoking Apples, TidBITS, TiPb, TUAW and more in a great universal interface.

It’s a fantastic go-to resource for folks just like me. It gets a 4.5 rating from users too.

Podcasts – AudioPress Pro Player 
($1.99) 4 Stars

Do you prefer listening to, over reading or watching, the news? Or do you find yourself in the car or at work an unable to take your eyes off your task? Then Audiopress is for you.

Radio apps provide plenty of access to talk and news stations, but Audiopress brings you the news-out-loud a different way.

You can search radio stations by geo-location, but the primary function is playing podcasts. Just create a playlist and you’re set.

Don’t know the first thing about podcasts? Me neither, I equte them with iPod audio players, not iOS devices.

But Audiopress offers an easy way to discover them, and to my surprise there is a ton of great current content out there, news and otherwise.

In this app you can pick up to three topics and it chooses podcasts for you. You can then fine tune as much as you like. You can save podcasts for offline listening.

Once you learn what you like, you can add any other podcast you want, for a completely personalized listening experience. I have started to use it daily.

Share via Facebook. Twitter, and email. Free version available with limited features. 57 users share my 4-Star assessment. Try it.

Zinio Magazine Newsstand & Reader (freee to download, minimal free content, buy magazine via in-app purchase) 3.5 Stars

Prefer your news in magazine form? Well if PressReader is a virtual newspaper stand, Zinio is it’s magazine counterpart.

Access digital copies of news, sports, and every other type of magazine from top publishes. All the major names are there.

This is a paid service, there is a little free content, but expect the costs to be as much or more than retail. Much worse for non-US customers.

That said the interface is fantastic and some magazines are worth any price. I love National Geographic’s interactive content and prefer Zinio to their own app. Users like it less than I because of the cost. it gets 3 stars in/on the App Store.

Ok that should keep you more than busy for this weekend.

Until then please check out some of my most popular weekend editions and recent reviews. And enter to win the only free copy giveaway for the biggest new game to hit the app store. It’s the best puzzler of 2011 and I have a copy and a review for you! It’s the next post down or the first link below.

Happy App Hunting

The 

%d bloggers like this: