Google Earth for the iPhone is a good complement to its desktop counterpart, but with a few neat additions. Like on the desktop version, you can search for an address and view it from far away or as close as almost street level, seeing an overhead shot of the location as if you were a few feet above the building. Once you’ve zoomed in as far as you can zoom in, you can tilt your phone to change the perspective from front to back to side.
Because of iPhone’s built-in GPS, the app can find your current location. Just click on the icon in the bottom left of the screen. Once you’ve found yourself you can search for local businesses and get their locations marked by icons. Just click on the magnifying glass in the top left corner and type in what you’re looking for. Though you can’t get a map or directions, the app will display the address and phone number and a link to the company’s website.
If nothing else, this is just a cool way to look at your surroundings, and it does have some practical use as well. However, it seems the functionality is a bit too overwhelming for the iPhone. It takes several seconds to load most pages, and the app crashed several times while I was using it. Hopefully this will be fixed in a later update. Currently, this sluggishness would prevent me from using it too often.
But for the price – free – Google Earth is a great app. It’s fun to get a view of your house or numerous destinations around the globe in a view few other programs can offer.
When you’re out and about and you realize you can’t remember the address of where you’re going, this app is a great tool to have. Better than just a GPS, it allows you to look up business and residential addresses by name and gives you the complete street address and a thumbnail map so that you know the cross streets. Simply click on the map itself and you will be redirected to Google Maps so you can get detailed directions from your current location.
Another perk of this application is that it can end the mystery of when a random number shows up on your phone. Instead of having to call the unidentified person back, you can simply plug the number into the reverse phone number search. You’ll be rewarded with the caller’s name and address (if available) as well as his or her cell phone carrier. Then you can choose if you wish to contact the individual or not.
The app seems to be fairly up to date, as it found businesses that had only been around for a couple months. And it didn’t seem to have a lot of addresses that were no longer current. My friend didn’t like the “end” button at the top of the page. He kept selecting it when he wanted to begin his search and then found that nothing happened. So be sure to watch for that. The proper search button is at the bottom of your screen.
Once you find the correct button, all you have to do is type in the name of the person or business, give it a touch and go.
It’s not magic, but it sure does seem like it. Hold your iPhone up to the radio, with the base facing the speaker, and within about ten seconds you’ll get the title, artist and even album cover of the song that is playing. As soon as the program recognizes the song, your phone will vibrate to let you know that you have an answer.
The program does this by analyzing the track makeup of the song and comparing it to recordings in a database. Consequently, it can’t decode tunes it doesn’t have on record, like a live concert recording or your Aunt Agnes singing in the shower. And there are some more obscure titles that the phone does not pick up. For example, it failed to find a song by the band Insane Clown Posse. However, if your tastes are more mainstream or even trend toward the bigger indie bands, you should be golden.
Want to listen to the song Shazam identified again? With a tap you’ll be sent to the iTunes store where you can purchase the album or single. The only problem is that there is no back button, so you will have to close out the application to return to Shazam when you’re done.
For additional fun, you can create a list of songs you’ve identified and add photos or tags to refresh your memory of when and where you heard them. Then you can sort them into an online library. If nothing else, it’s a good tool for looking back and reminiscing.
This program is fun for music lovers and for those who love to know what they’re listening to, or even for those who just want to win bets on who is singing a song against their more music loving friends.
In Vegas Pool Shark Lite, the free app of Vegas Pool Shark, you’re given one version of play (straight pool) and a choice of three appropriately shady opponents. They each have a different skill level, from beginner to advanced. The higher the level, the more money you get for beating them. What is the money for? Who knows? Basically bragging rights.
Although the game features all 16 standard pool balls, the object of the free game is simply to sink three balls before your opponent does. Play control is intuitive using your finger to pull the pool cue back and releasing it to strike the ball, with the quickness of your release equating to the force put on the ball. You can put top spin and bottom spin on the cue ball in an attempt to put English on your shots, but this does take some getting used to. The first time I tried it, the ball barely moved a virtual half an inch.
The app uses the standard iPhone pinch and spread options to zoom in and out on the pool table so you can further configure your shot pattern. It’s not too difficult to eyeball your shots, especially once you’ve practiced a few times. It seems like you always get to go first, which is good because at times your opponent seems to run the table at will and there is nothing you can do to change this fact. My best advice would be to sink your three before he or she even has a chance.
The sound effects are minimal and not too annoying, relying mainly on the sounds of balls striking each other and a trumpet sound to tell you that you won or lost at game’s end. A happy trumpet means you won. A somber trumpet means you lost, plus your opponent will be wearing a big smile, which is actually pretty funny to see.
The full version also contains an eight ball mode and a practice mode.
Air Mouse allows you to control your Windows PC or Mac running OSX using your iPhone instead of the mouse and keyboard. It takes a little legwork to install, since the application requires you to visit the developer’s website at www.airmouse.com to download the server application. You’ll also need to have your phone on the same wireless network as your computer in order for it to work. This makes it good for using at home, but it could be blocked by firewalls if you try to use it at the office.
I tested this app using a laptop running Windows XP Pro and a MacBook Pro. Installation was easy and both machines and required no customization. Once the software was running and launched on the iPhone, the app immediately found each computer on the network and synched up.
Controlling the Air Mouse does not actually involve moving your phone around in the air, as the name might suggest. (In fact, I tried this and absolutely nothing happened.) Instead, all you need to do is shift your finger on the touch screen to move the cursor around and tap the screen for a mouse click. Convenient arrows even allow you to scroll, and a yellow glow will show you exactly where your finger is on the screen.
Don’t feel like sitting up to type on your computer? No problem. There’s a full QWERTY keyboard on the bottom of Air Mouse’s screen.
While it’s not the ideal way to control the computer, unless you are adept at typing on a tiny screen, the Air Mouse would be great to use during presentations or when you’re demonstrating something in front of a group and you want to keep your lap free.
This app is like a Where’s Waldo book put into a jungle setting. You compete against three other teams to find hidden items, like marbles, lizards and cheese, that are superimposed on images of temples, trees and tombs. (You never actually see them competing, but after you finish each level you can see what place you’re in – though there is a noticeable lack of a numeric score.) When you spy one of the things on the list the app provides, simply touch it with your fingertip and it disappears and is checked off. You also get a delightful tone to tell you that you did a good job.
However, touch something you’re not supposed to and you get a negative buzz. Plus, the other teams will start to catch up. You have to be extra careful because the intricate images are hard to search through on the small screen and there are lots of extra hidden items in the picture as well. Turning the phone so they appear in landscape view will make your life a lot easier. Then you can scroll up and down with your finger to see the entire image.
Because this game has few effects besides the background music of nature sounds and a lot of times you have to search through the same picture more than once, it was not enough to keep my interest for very long. And I really would have liked some points so I could compete against my friends. But if you’re really into visual puzzles you will no doubt find it very enjoyable.
Camera bag is an app that lets you apply several different filters to the pictures you take with your iPhone’s camera. It’s like carrying around a bag of lenses without the neck, back and shoulder pain.
There are seven filter options to choose from. I will go over each one.
Helga makes your picture look like it’s an old movie still, blurring the edges and brightening the center of the shot, while Cinema crops your photo into a widescreen format for a more modern look.
Lolo again goes old-school, increasing the image’s contrast and making it grainy, like an old Polaroid, complete with the bright white, square-shaped frame. Ansel makes your photo black and white and gives it a white border, perfect for those dreamy nature shots.
Next there are the year applications, named for the era they represent. 1962 ratchets down the contrast and the brightness of the photo, similar to an image in the newspaper, while 1974 takes on more of a sepia tone, giving your pic a retro look.
Lastly, there is Infrared. It makes your image look like it could have been taken with a heat-seeking lens.
You don’t have to choose between the options. You can use view all of them on the same photo simply by moving your finger from side to side on the screen to see each format. Choose one or more to save or delete them all if you wish. If you’re usually proud of your work, you can set up autosave to keep all your images automatically.
I really enjoyed using this application, as did my friend who is a PhotoShop whiz. It’s great for any photography buff, no matter what his or her skill level.
This app is a good substitute for the temporary escape that comes with that weekend fishing trip. You choose your location from many different areas in Europe, as well as less exotic locations like Pennsylvania and Oklahoma, and you’re greeted with a picturesque scene and sounds of nature in the background.
Grab your iPhone, hold it horizontally and make a forward motion with your wrist to cast your line. Then wait until your phone vibrates to tell you you’ve got a nibble. Jerk the phone to pull back on your rod and a lever will appear on your screen. You must move it in a circular motion to reel in your catch using the touch screen function. The directions will tell you to reel fast or reel slowly. Follow them exactly or it will slip away. Reel successfully and you get an image of your fish, complete with size and type, to put in your virtual bucket.
My favorite part was the casting since it has a realistic sound that makes it seem like you could really be at the lake. And the arc and speed of your arm will determine how far your line goes out. Reeling in is somewhat difficult though, especially if you have a big fish at the end of your line. I spent five minutes working on one of my catches before finally letting it escape due to arm fatigue. It is also hard to do if you have big fingers, since the lever is only about half an inch long.
Though I finished my trip with only a sunfish weighing less than a pound in my bucket (you are allowed to throw back a puny catch such as this one), I thought this program was a good simulator and worth giving a try.
Finally the application the iPhone was built for … iBeer. While not the most involving application on the iPhone, it is definitely one of the most fun – at least for the first few times you try it. There is something to be said for the fact that, no matter where you are or what time it is, you can pour yourself a frosty brew and drink it down to the last drop.
Just push the red button and it fills up your mug, which just happens to be shaped like a phone. Your drink comes complete with realistic bubbling sounds and a delicious head of foam. Tilt your phone to chug it down. Make sure you empty out the glass by making your phone completely horizontal. Do this and you will be rewarded with a satisfying belch. Then the red button reappears. Time to pour yourself another glass of the amber.
Without a doubt, this app is hilarious to use, and unlike real beer, there is no drinking age. The problem is, once you’ve shown it to all your friends there is not much else you can do with it. Also, I found the huge round button a little unrelated to the program, along with the “ding” sound when you push it. It’s not a sound you normally hear when popping open a beer bottle.
This is a good program to surprise and entertain your friends and is a great conversation piece for bartenders, but the price seems a little high for just a quick diversion.
Overall I would highly recommend this Entertainment iPhone App for adults 18 years and older.
PC Facebook users will feel right at home with its mobile counterpart. Instead of the watered down version of social networking that is common when these sites are transferred to a cell phone interface, this one is very close to the “real thing.” All of the major abilities are here. Under your home screen you can view the latest news from your friends, see recent notifications and approve or deny requests by touching the appropriate button.
With a simple tap of the finger you can also update your profile, poke friends and even write on their walls. You can also manage your friends list as well as send and receive messages and chat with friends that are online. Basically, if you can do it on your computer at home, you can do it on the go. Everything looks almost exactly like the typical Facebook version you have grown to know and love.
Unlike with its predecessor, Facebook Mobile, this app does not rely on text messaging to look up friends or contact them. You can also find new friends through online searches just like you would on the computer.
iPhone’s Facebook app is an invaluable tool for the Facebook junkie. You can constantly update and check on your friends’ status. The only issue I had was that since there is so much going on in Facebook, no matter what version you are using, it does require a lot of scrolling on the page in order to view items like your messages or the postings on your profile page.