Saturday, June 4, 2011

Top 10 iPhone Apps 2011

10. Mensa Brain Test 1.1.0 

Mensa Brain Test 1.1.0 box shot 
 Reviewer Comments:
Are you smarter than the average bear? Do you feel that you need to connect with people who are just as smart as you? With the Mensa app, you can test your IQ and that of your friends and post the results to Facebook.
The American Mensa Brain Test iPhone app is designed to help you test your IQ. Just like the Mensa organization, this app is for testing your IQ, possibly putting you among an elite group of individuals. Barnstorm Games has the official license from Mensa to test you and all your friends and they link to it right from the official Mensa website.

The first feature is the Training tab where you will be tested on five questions in five minutes. Once you’ve completed the questions you can go back and review the answers. There’s also a handy “Why?” button in the upper right hand corner where you can get further explanation as to why an answer is wrong or right. There are a lot of logic, math and vocabulary questions to test all aspects of knowledge.
When you’re ready to test your true knowledge, you can opt to take the actual tests which come in three lengths; Short, Medium and Long. They’re 20, 40 and 60 questions long, respectively. You get a minute for each question you asked and when time is up, you’re done. You can also finish ahead of schedule and just hit the Finish button to calculate your score. Once you have your score, you’re able to post it to Facebook for bragging rights. The only thing that we didn’t appreciate about the testing section is the inability to see which questions we got wrong or the reasoning behind the answers to help us later on. Maybe that is part of taking the test though, so you don’t get off too easy and apply the same logic to everything that they do with the test.
Once you’ve taken the test, you can keep track of all your scores to show your improvement or keep track of the scores of your friends. That way, you’re always challenging yourself to get better and better. And maybe one day, you’ll be prepared to take the real Mensa test and join the ranks of the highly intelligent.
The app is designed very nicely. With cool blue hues surrounding your selected answer and the ability to go back to earlier questions if you have an epiphany and want to change a previous answer.

All in all, we love this app. While we probably wouldn’t play it very often, once you get good at it you can whip it out whenever you need a self esteem boost. It’s also a fun game to play when you’re traveling or sitting in your doctor’s office. Dubbed as an entertainment app, Mensa could be fun for the whole family to enjoy.

9. Star Walk 5.0.1 

Star Walk 5.0.1 box shot 
Reviewer’s Comments:
The Mayans ended their calendar on December 21, 2012, a date on which the solar system aligns perfectly with the elliptical plane of our own Milky Way galaxy. Speculation abounds regarding what will happen during this brief moment in time. But using the iPhone app’s Time Machine feature you may find the answer.
Star Walk’s Time Machine feature allows one to travel forward and backwards in time to virtually view the night sky at any point of your choosing. You can go back to the day you were born and see what was going on at that time or travel into the future to take a look at the heavens then.
Although not a full planetarium program, Star Walk provides hours of educational fun for those wanting to learn more about the objects that reside in the heavens. Utilizing 3GS technology, Star Walk’s Star Spotter feature allows the user to easily identify celestial objects by pointing the iPhone towards the sky. The screen then displays that section of sky on the device’s screen. To learn more about a displayed object simply select it and tap the Information Button (i) to learn its type, name, distance from the sun and more. Once there, you have the opportunity to view more information about the selected object through Wikipedia. The iPod touch does not have a built-in GPS-receiver. However, iPod touch users are able to use WiFi to enable this feature or can set their location manually.
The photographic images of galaxies, planets, constellations and the Photo of the Day feature are stunning. Photos are provided by both the professional astronomer and the amateur. The images present various sky objects like comets, moons, nebulas, etc.
The application covers approximately 9000 objects in the sky. The user can view stars, 110 deep sky objects, watch moon phases, meteor showers, learn daily sunset and sunrise times, hours of sunlight and elevation angle. Detailed information is given for the planets and moons within our own solar system as well as known facts regarding remote galaxies. Illustrated maps and a historical summary are provided for each sign of the Zodiac. After the opening screen, phases of the moon, moonrise and moonset are given, as well as the rising and setting of Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.
The navigational buttons close proximity to each other is a disappointing feature. Selecting one button over another is frustrating. Frequently, the user is taken to an unselected option. The ability to turn off features such as text, labels and lines are missing from this otherwise excellent application. Although, upon zooming out or in, text, labels and lines sometimes disappear. You do have a plethora of other options, from changing to night mode, which turns the otherwise green text red.

Star Walk is well developed, has spectacular graphics and is an excellent educational reference when viewing the night sky. Overall, for the cost, most will find what they are looking for and more.

8. Groupon 1.2.0 

Groupon 1.2.0 box shot 
Reviewer Comments:
Do you like If so, you’ll love the Groupon iPhone app that you can take with you wherever you go. The fun–filled, humorous writing is available on the go, so you can find cool stuff in your city no matter where you are and share it with those that you want to have fun with.
The owner of Groupon originally created a site called “The Point” which is more like a fund- or awareness-raising type site where you can start a campaign for any cause that you might support and want others to support as well. Their latest was making Election Day a federal holiday so we all get the day off to make sure our votes are counted. He wanted to use Groupon to get people out of their homes and out to explore their cities.
This app is great for consumers as well as business owners. You can dramatically expand your business and sell thousands of products in one sitting. This will increase your consumer base and hopefully help you receive return buyers. They offer a lot of testimonials on their site from previous users that show what benefits they received and what increases they saw in their business over a period of time, thanks to Groupon.
And what do you as the consumer get? You get great deals and a little bit more knowledge of new things to try in your city. Groupons even make great gifts for any occasion. So what’s the catch? There’s actually not much of one, the only thing is that the businesses who advertise with Groupon can set a minimum limit. So if you buy and if 49 other people buy, for example, the deal is on. If the business doesn’t hit their minimum, (we’re guessing this is more of a breakeven point), then the Groupon is off. This can be a drawback for you if you’ve already made your purchase, but that’s more of a reason to get all your friends involved in the sale.
They also do a beneficial Friend Referral program where you get $10 Groupon Bucks the first time your friend purchases something from Groupon. There’s no limit to the amount you can earn so be sure to pass it along to all your friends and family members.
Groupon shows you the value of the deal, the discount you’re getting, and how much you save.
Each Groupon offer contains information about the fine print and the company offering the Groupon. If you ever feel like you’re dissatisfied with your deal, Groupon is determined to make it right; they will refund your purchase if you’re ever dissatisfied. Inquiries to Groupon were answered within a half hour making us feel that they really do a great job of paying attention to their consumers.

Overall, we love Groupon and are very excited to have it at our finger tips any time we want to use it. Be sure to share the app with all your friends and family members so you can partake in the great deals together.

7. CardStar 3.2.1 

CardStar 3.2.1 box shot 
Reviewer Comments:
If we know you, and we think we do, you want to save money. Not just save money, but get rewarded for spending your money. Is that right? That means you probably have loyalty cards to 90 percent of the places you shop, just like us. Go to the grocery store, get a discount. Go to your favorite clothing store, get a reward. These are all things that businesses get us to spend more money, right?
So what to do with all our cards? Every place either gives a credit card sized card or a smaller card to add on our keychains. But to prevent us from hauling around books full of cards and having our keychains weigh 20 pounds, the CardStar iPod/iPhone app has the answer.
You might ask how CardStar can help us continue to save money and get rewarded without having to drag around hundreds of loyalty cards. Have no fear. You simply enter one of the many cards they accept. Out of all our cards, the only ones they didn’t have available at the time of this review was Shopko, a retail superstore with 142 stores in 13 states in the western and northern United States and Maverick, a gas station chain with over 400 locations in the Midwestern United States. While these two examples will most likely be added over time, right now it’s not a huge oversight. One of the things we love best about this app is that it’s absolutely free.
One of the things we didn’t like about the app was the selection process of the cards. When we initially tested it, we thought we could go through the list and select all the cards we wanted to add and then it would pull them up one by one to be added, but you can only select one at a time and then hit the Next button. Obviously this isn’t that big of a deal, but it would have been nice if, after selecting a card, it took us to the screen where we could add information.
Once you have your card information added in, you can use your iPhone as your card and have the cashier scan it to take advantage of the deals. CardStar also shows the information of your closest retailer and their webpage along with a telephone number to contact them. Another beneficial thing that CardStar offers is each retailer can add different deals available through your iPhone.
You can enter in your current card information or you can sign up online with a limited number of retailers. Be sure you have an internet connection if you want to access this.
Conveniently located within the app is the opportunity to send an email directly to CardStar’s customer support if you have an issue. They also provide a link to their Twitter feed and their home page. They also have a great Help section with a detailed information page and a FAQs list. One thing we noticed with this app is that to access the Help screen we had to edit our cards. Otherwise, we never would have found it.
If you’re a retailer I would suggest adding CardStar to your list of things to do. After all, it’s all about pleasing the customer right? And who wouldn’t want to make things more convenient for them?

All in all, we loved CardStar and thought it was a very useful, time-saving, forward-thinking app. If you do anything this year to make shopping easier, we suggest getting CardStar.

6. TrendOY! 1.1 

TrendOY! 1.1 box shot 
Reviewer Comments:
With the constant flow of news from thousands of sources worldwide, how do you sort through new stories to pick out the ones most relevant to you? Digify Media understands your need to make decisions instantly when you're scanning for tech news, which is why they’ve armed TrendOY! with multiple time-saving features that will help you pick out relevant stories at a single glance. And this new iPhone app conveniently gives each story a sentiment analysis rating so you know the tone of a story before you read a word. We found a few glitches in its otherwise handy tools, but this should prove a useful app nonetheless.
TrendOY! provides its users with a stream of headlines that summarize and link to original news articles from around the tech world. The headlines, which are limited to 140 characters or less, provide concise detail about a selected story. On top of viewing the headline, you can select the link provided to go to the original story, as well as vote the article either up or down. You also have the option of sharing the story through Twitter, Facebook, SMS and email. We did notice that some of the links we selected within TrendOY!’s headline page didn't lead to a live page of the original article.
The app provides four different tabs designating recent stories, trending stories, badges and options. It is in the recent and trending stories tabs that you will find the listed headlines ready to be viewed. Each headline will be colored red, yellow or green, which indicates its sentimental analysis. Red for negative, green for positive, and yellow for neutral stories. Those wishing to view only a certain mood of article need only shake their iPhone briefly to filter to a certain color.
  • Under the Recent Stories tab you will find all available headlines from the last five days, from most recent to oldest.
  • The Trending Stories tab provides the user with the top 10 most-voted-on headlines.
  • The Badges tab encourages a higher frequency and variety of use by awarding you for things like tweeting headlines at least 25 times or activating the app during certain times of the day.
  • The Options tab lets you customize the app’s “Push” options.
A search feature also makes it possible to find keywords from within the headlines.
What is cool about TrendOY!’s Push options is they allow you to select how frequently this iPhone app alerts you with new headlines, if you wish to even be alerted at all. What we weren’t so impressed with was that the Push headlines are not always up-to-date. Some of the headlines we viewed that were brand new in the feed were as old as three days, which is ancient history in the tech world. On that topic it should be noted that the number of headlines received per day varies greatly. Also, the headlines seem to arrive in timed bunches, or pushes, if you select to be constantly informed of a new push. The time at which they arrive changes from day to day as well. In other words, nothing about the nature of the app can be predicted.
It isn’t clear how the headlines are selected for the feed, nor is it clear how the sentimental degree of an article is decided. Even voting on articles is a little confusing as you don’t know exactly what you’re voting on. As you can tell, we're more than a little skeptical about the effectiveness of some of the tools this app has.

Overall, TrendOY! is very simple to become familiar with and use as a supplementary source of tech news. It's a step in the right direction of getting personalized news feeds. We foresee a great future for apps designed around TrendOY!’s general idea, and recommend those interested try it out. Plus, it’s free!

5. IntoNow 1.1.1 

IntoNow 1.1.1 box shot 
App Aims: Bringing TV into the Social Network

So your buddy told you about that new paranormal medical drama, and now it has you hooked. You were skeptical at first, but the more you watch, the more obsessed you get. It is your solemn responsibility to spread the joy to others, and the IntoNow app for iPhone makes it easier than ever. This free app is ideal for those who are looking to share and discuss the TV shows they love with the people they love.
Prominent features include the following:
  • SoundPrint audio fingerprinting that identifies TV shows as you watch them
  • Friend lists
  • Facebook and Twitter notification
  • Netflix DVD queue updates
  • Access to ratings and reviews from IMDb (The Internet Movie Database)
The TV show recognition feature is magic. Just press the green button and give the app a few seconds to listen to whatever you’ve got playing. It identifies not only the show you are watching, but also the episode. Sharing your TV shows with friends is easy too, thanks to the streamlined interaction provided with Twitter and Facebook. If you don’t have friends with similar tastes, you can chat with other users who are watching the same show. The app also features a live newsfeed that randomly selects recent users and displays what they are watching, along with a small picture, first name, and last initial. Though generally discreet, this publicity may bother some people.

Buttons are easy to identify and navigation is generally clear, making it just the thing for sniffing out new shows. Once you’ve found something you like, you can easily add it to your Netflix DVD queue.

With an attractive dark-toned color scheme, this app is perfect to put you in a cinematic mood. Where bright colors are used, they are always tasteful and appealing.

This app works great for typical tastes and is capable of detecting anything that has been broadcast in the last five years. Although generally accurate, there are some limitations. Programs that are broadcast live, such as sporting events, may not always be identified while they are in progress. The app may also misidentify episodes, especially if the audio sample is taken from an intro that is repeated throughout a series. It also performs less admirably with older fare, a big disappointment if you like to dig up treasures from the 90’s. Shows taken off air before 2005 will probably not be detected.

Support within the app could be better, as it lacks any visible contact information. However, the website is simple to navigate and has a prominent section devoted to feedback and support.

Whether you are a serious TV buff or just curious, you are certain to get a kick out of this app. It won’t cost you a penny.

This product does what it sets out to, integrating TV into the social networking scene, though it may not be ideal for those who are concerned about privacy. Innovative and interesting, IntoNow is the perfect tool for people who love to watch and connect.

4. Tiny Wings 1.0 

Tiny Wings 1.0 box shot 
Tiny Wings is an upbeat, cheerful and simple game. This iPhone app grants you something you’ve always dreamed of: the power of flight. In this easy and user-friendly game, you control the flight of a tiny bird through basic but appealing graphics. Using the hills as jumps, you slide, flap your tiny wings and propel yourself through the air, all with only the touch of one finger! There are no monsters lurking in wait, nor any hidden vicious graphics. You simply fly until the sun goes down and then fall asleep. This game features a happy and hopeful bird, and it is straightforward, casual and therefore addicting.

Tiny Wings combines physics and rhythm to achieve momentum, and it is the embodiment of the “one button” arcade game. The sleeping bird dreams of flying, and he wakes up to find the world full of hills! Using these hills and your finger, you fly over the psychedelic landscape. The design is simple, the graphics attractive, the music hopeful and the flight satisfying.

There are not many things in this world that are as rewarding as helping a tiny bird achieve his dream. This game is very positive and exhilarating, yet simple. You guide the tiny bird up to the clouds, and over the hills to discover new islands. The aim is to see how many islands you can pass through before the sun sets and it’s time to sleep again- and you collect fun coins along the way. There are no underhanded tricks to make you fail; nothing is against you. You can fly as fast or as high as you’d like, and give that tiny bird the flight of his life.

This game requires only one touch, and can be played successfully by pretty much anyone. But there is additional help in order to perfect your Tiny Wings skill: the Touch Teacher. This helpful in-game guide teaches you how to play, and provides a graphic to help you improve timing and finger placement. The guide also includes handy tips to enhance your game play. You'll learn that you can:
  • Touch the screen to fold your wings, and allow yourself to gain speed going downhill.
  • Release your touch while sliding uphill in order to flap your wings and become lightweight. This allows you to fly up and over the hills, but also slide across the hills to collect speed coins.
  • Fly up to the clouds for a cloud touch and receive additional points.
Tiny Wings is the perfect game: fun, easy, happy and addicting. You can always beat your high score, so you can stay satisfied each time you play. The app also features changing graphics, so each day has a new look. This keeps gameplay fun and exciting, and you can start and stop when you please. The simple design and easy-to-master touch make this game an all-around win, providing hours of entertainment. Requiring only the touch of a single finger, you achieve your dream of flying and use the hills to fly up to the clouds. You can start and stop as you please, but the next hill will always be waiting.

3. Mike Holmes Make It Right 1.1 

Mike Holmes Make It Right 1.1 box shot 
Reviewer's Comments:
Anybody who has attempted home renovation projects knows that they can become much more difficult than expected. This is where the Mike Holmes Make It Right app for the iPhone comes in. That's right — the star of the TV series Holmes on Homes has an app which can guide you through your home renovation project.
Here are some handy features in the app:
  • Tutorial for using the app
  • Short, helpful videos, which provide helpful tips from Mike Holmes
  • Photo storage for before, during and after comparisons of home renovation
  • Glossary of related terms
  • Project organizer, including address book for keeping track of contractors
  • Checklists for each part of the renovation
  • Comparisons of different building materials
At first glance, you might not even notice the project organizer. There are plenty of other useful features and you'll probably spend some time looking through those before starting a new home renovation project. One of the more exciting features enables you to take pictures throughout the renovation process. The photos are all stored in an easy-to-access location so you can have fun comparing the before and after pictures.
This app is rather easy to use. It would be difficult to get lost in the app, which is impressive because there is a great deal of information to get lost in. You can move fluidly from photos, to ticking off the next thing on the checklist and looking up the definition of "efflorescent" in the glossary.
The videos are crisp and the audio is clean. Because the app is focused on organizing information, it only needs pictures and backgrounds. The backgrounds look good and fit the theme of home renovation. Overall the app looks sharp, but never distracts you from the information in your hand.
Stability is basically a non-issue with this app. At no point did we experience lag or bugs while using the app. Everything works exactly as it is meant to. This is important, as home renovation can be a daunting task even without unexpected complications.
While there is an option to find Mike Holmes on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and visit the Make It Right website, there is not any contact information within the app itself. The "Make It Right" website has a forum you can post in and receive feedback. You can also send Make It Right a message through customer service. It can be difficult to find information on the iPhone app, as most of the website is dedicated to other products.
It is very convenient to plan and organize your home renovation from anywhere you might be with your iPhone. The practical applications of this app put the $3.99 price in just the right spot.

Make It Right has created a product with easily accessible knowledge and helpful tips. The functionality provided by the iPhone platform makes this app a great deal. From the videos and material comparisons to the list of questions you should ask contractors, the Mike Holmes Make It Right iPhone app has everything you need to start a home renovation project and finish it on time.

2. Color 1.0.2 

Color 1.0.2 box shot 
Reviewer Comments
Are Facebook's privacy settings too strict for you and your photo sharing needs? Try the Color iPhone app from Color Labs, Inc. and share your photos and videos with friends, neighbors and strangers alike.
Privacy is not the first concern of Color. No friend requests or following is necessary to view and share photos and videos. Captured moments are automatically uploaded to a completely public “visual diary” with one touch of the post button. They are then shared with any other Color users within the nearby vicinity. This sharing bubble is defined only as “geographically close” by Color Labs, Inc.
An inbox holds messages from other users and notifications of reactions to your posts. Posts can be given a thumbs-up, commented on, or shared via Facebook, Twitter, email or text.
Color keeps track of users you’ve contacted, geographically close or not. These long-distance contributors become part of your “elastic network.” So you are not only viewing pictures of your neighbors and coworkers, but also far-away friends and that random user who messaged you twice and then moved away. The option to hide users from your feed is available, but your photos are still public to them. Only deleted content can no longer be viewed or shared.
The interface is deceiving in its simplicity. While it is easy to take photos - just tap the appealing wheel in the center - any additional functions are found through trial and error. Buttons offer no instructions, and navigation is cryptic at best. Blindly tapping through screen after screen leads only to yet another screen with more inexplicable buttons and no instructions.
Sleek visual features attempt to outweigh the confusing interface, but fail. Though the clean white and gray pages invite users to attempt to unlock the purpose of Color, functionality dead-ends quickly discourage.
Though a bulletin setup boasts real-time activity, the feed is inconsistent in updating new content. Some photos are added instantly, while others lag minutes behind. Each screen updates independently, some quicker than others.
There is no tutorial, description, or even settings page within the app. FAQs are found on, and though light is shed on the development and intention of some features, navigation information remains in the dark.
The Color app is free, and for good reason. Nobody wants to pay for confusion and frustration, no matter how nice it looks.

For a supposedly simple iPhone app designed to share photo and video, Color is awfully complicated. Until a new version simplifies the process or offers more features, you might as well stick to other, more established social networking venues.

1. Words With Friends 4.02 

Words With Friends 4.02 box shot 

Reviewer Comments
Words With Friends
offers fun and friendly competition with your friends, family and random opponents through your iPhone or iPod Touch. It is very similar to Scrabble, though some features, including a chat application, set it apart from the classic board game.

Gameplay is simple. Two opposing players spell out words vertically or horizontally using individual tiles with letters on them. Each tile has a point value: common letters such as a, e and s have a low point value, whereas more difficult-to-play letters such as q, j and x have higher point values. Throughout the board are spaces that double or triple the point value of the letter or the word you play. Using all seven letters on your rack to create a word earns you bonus points. A combination of creative word building and strategic tile placement can help you rack up points and win the game.

This game lets you connect to Facebook and Twitter in order to create games with your friends and family. By logging in to your social networking accounts and posting a status update or tweet that includes your username, your friends and followers can click a link to download the app, or, if they already have it, type in your username to begin a game with you. The app allows you to play up to 20 games at once.

Words With Friends also includes a chat feature that is useful for staying in contact with people you’re already playing against. Instead of exiting the application to text or message them, you can chat with them through the game and they will receive a notification.

You can also have the game set you up with a random opponent. We found that while the app is usually successful at finding opponents for you, it might take a minute or two. Sometimes it fails to find an opponent and simply tells you to check back later.

A slight drawback to the Words With Friends iPhone app is that you can only play with real people, and real people often take a long time to play when it’s their turn. When you have time to kill, you do not want to spend it waiting around for your opponents to make a move. A simple solution to this would be for Zynga to create a single-player mode where users could play against computer opponents that only take a few seconds to play a word during their turn.

The game's graphics are simple without looking boring, but there is no way to turn off the sound effects in the game without turning the volume on your iPhone all the way down. Push notifications alert you when it’s your turn.

As far as crashing and spontaneously quitting like some apps do, we experienced none of that with Words With Friends. However, if you do experience problems, Zynga has an extensive and useful help and support tab on its website.

Words With Friends keeps you entertained as long as your opponents play quickly, and participating in several games at once can keep you busy for hours at a time. This app is easy to use and hard to quit! 

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