Version: 1.0
Price: $5

There was a storm brewing when I was searching for a minimalist word processor. Before Ia Writer there was a decision to be made, OmmWriter or ByWord. The fact that I’m writing this in ByWord speaks volumes but I’ll give my full insight to the matter because using OmmWriter has been an eye opening experience.

What turned me away from it in the first place despite it being half the price was the look, from the screen shots it appeared you could move around your text box and have a background and other such things which gives it the illusion that its not just a word processor. This is a mistake I made as it was just a method to increase concentration that I now respect since despite the background being there, it doesn’t distract surprisingly. 

My first experience with it was mixed due to the options, though limited were somewhat intrusive. I tried all it had to offer with music, sound effects and fonts and found it to be a unique and pleasant experience. For once I turned off my music and had white noise in the back while I focused on writing after selecting where the text would stand on the screen. Sometimes I turned on the sounds that play whenever I typed but found all of them to be annoying or distracting though this is my personal opinion. I rather the vague pidder-padder of my keyboard anyhow. 

For half the price I can see it working for people. If I started with this instead of going for ByWord I also wouldn’t complain seeing as how it is also what I was initially searching for. ByWord does it better if you can live in silence or have iTunes in the back but it is a worthy adversary. The Zen production is a huge sell in my book if I really wanted to shut everything out and to have a natural, in-touch experience with my writing. Luckily I now have that option but for now ByWord and my writing playlist are my main tools for getting the written word writ. 

Groove Coaster

Version: 1.0
Compatible: iPhone (3GS/4), iPod (3rd/4th Generation), iPad - iOS 4.2
Price: $3

New addition to the App Store and a tasty little number to satiate my inner nerd. Rhythm based games on the iOS are nothing new especially when its awakening came during the time of Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Tap Tap made Tapulous a million dollar company and a success story for Indie Game Developers to strive for. So what makes Groove Coaster hot shit? Well have a seat and a brew and I’ll tell you.

From Taito comes a new age rhythm game with old school elements. Essentially it doesn’t push your iPhone 4 or iPad but the visuals are eye pleasing in the same bane as fireworks. What really stands out is the music selection which digs deep within the Taito music collection of DS games and remixes of games from the days of arcade cabinets. Follow on screen instructions along to the beat of the songs.

It starts off easy enough, tap the screen when the cursor gets to the mark. But then it increases in difficulty with varied inputs such as tapping, holding or swiping. But no matter how high you set the difficulty or the speed of the song, it’s never so difficult that us who are musically challenged cannot fall behind or lose interest. It feels like you are part of the song and fills you with a satisfying feeling. The songs are catchy, vibrant but don’t go on so long that it gets boring or tiresome. 

If you’re sick of these types of games, this won’t change your mind however as its just another variation of the genre. It looks good, plays good and is good for a laugh but the price is a bit steep for this type of game. It has a lot of meat to it but the core of the game doesn’t stray very far. My recommendation is to wait for the sale price.


Version: 1.9
Compatible: iPhone, iPod, iPad - iOS 3.1.3
Price: $1

A surprising little punch to the gut this one was. Although its not much in the looks department it’s a fun number for the Pictionary loving bunch. This is another one of those mysteries I cannot for the life of me remember how in the Hell I obtained it but don’t really care as long as I’m having fun which I am. 

The game is simple (and dependant on an internet connection for maximum fun) guess what others are drawing from a selection of 6. The faster you answer the more points you get. Everyone gets a turn and gradually you’ll be able to draw what is requested of you so that everyone else in the game can guess too. If you don’t have an internet connection, you can either play with friends in the vicinity or play against the computer which I found to be no fun at all.

What else can I say? It’s a dollar, it’s Pictionary, it’s fun. I thought there was more but that’s all there really is. If you suck at drawing or hate Pictionary, back off because you won’t have any fun. If you want to feed your ego on how everyone can interpret what you draw, then step right up. Cheaper than Cafe Coffee.


Version: 2.2.3
Compatible: iPhone, iPod, iPad - iOS 3.1
Price: $2

When I upgraded from the iPhone 3G to the 4, it was a tremendously satisfying jump on so many levels. One of those was the combination of screen clarity and a 5 megapixel camera that made the photographer in me want to piss about and take photos of everything imaginable. At first I was worried when I took pics with it because it stored them within the App and would release them to the Photo Album when I said so. So how did it stack up in the field test?

At first when I played with it, this App crashed. A lot. I would be taking pictures or looking through what I did take and it would be too much for it to take apparently despite being used by a freshly activated iPhone 4. It took a bit of time loading up and taking pictures with a 5-10 second burst started off okay but it took longer and longer to be able to take another picture. Needless to say there were some bugs but I put it through its paces when I made it the main photo taker on my New York weekend and I was pleasantly surprised.

If you take the picture saving limitation in mind and take longer bursts you’ll be fine. Slowing down and moving at a steady pace offers a better experience and more satisfying pictures. In the immediate menu you have the option to have a stabilizer, timer, burst, zoom in/out, flash options and a clicker. Additional menus as well as the photo album are also available from here. Initially you start off with an auto focus but pressing the screen gives a customized focus.

Where this App shines however is the options in the light box (album) menu. After a day of taking pictures and you’re ready to go through them, you have a ton of post production options. You can add borders, crop, add effects, rotate and adjust the lighting to a wide set of options. I found this particularly useful since it saved me the time of doing it myself in another App and makes it more worthwhile than the native iPhone Camera App. It has the standard sharing options as well, nothing hugely fancy over the usual Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, SMS or e-mail.

There were times when it crashed still when I was in the heat of taking pics on vacation and had to say ‘Well I got a few’. It was lucky it saved the ones prior to crashing otherwise it would be entirely useless. Saving grace is that it works with older iPhones but with obvious picture taking features lost. Do I recommend? Certainly if you don’t mind spending the money for convenient features, however you can easily use the free Photoshop App to pictures taken with the native Camera App. Its the long way round but thats what Camera+ is, convenient. It does a lot of really neat stuff while being beautiful and productive. The big problem are annoying bugs that cause it to crash. Go easy on it and it’ll be a loyal friend to you.

Tiny Wings

Version: 1.1.0
Compatible: iPhone, iPod, iPad - iOS 3.1
Price: $1

There’s something about iOS gaming and birds that have flooded the market like high tide on shallow isle where the moon hangs just right to drown out any other games without West Nile. Whether or not Angry Birds started the trend or if others are all big, unoriginal copies are closed off from these procedings so I can sing and dance the praises of Tiny Wings.

Tiny Wings is the tale of a delightful land-penguin-like bird with the inability to fly in the old fashioned sense. Instead it takes to the air ramping off of conveniently placed hills. The objective is to get as far as possible before the sun goes down, reaching the end of each island stage bides you more time. The better you time your slides, the farther and higher you go meaning more time and a higher score. There is only one power-up in the form of speedcoins which provides strong boosts which come in handy frequently.

Controls are as simple as any, one button makes the bird dip whether in the sky or land to maximise the jump. It all depends on correct timing. The graphics and sounds are all sickeningly adorable and that’s all I’m going to say. Pleasant towards all the senses I’ll summarize. 

For the games sense of progression, there are three objectives tied to nests. Complete the three and you progress to the next nest in a COD ranking system all wrapped into a surprisingly rewarding and encouraging experience. Needless to say what I’ve seen, played and the fact that this game has stolen from me the greater part of a fortnight must be saying volumes. It must be perfect, right? Close.

There aren’t additional game modes beyond the one. There’s no survival mode, coin mode, see how high you can go mode or even a zen endless mode. Sad but it’s what stops this game short of perfect. But that’s just picking straws from the dollar well spent.

Brushes (iPad Version)

Version: 1.2.1 
Compatibility: iPad iOS 3.2 
Price: $8

When it came to looking for Art Apps for the iPad there was a myriad of options but two names clash back and forth at the top. SketchBook and Brushes. I got SketchBook first because I was blown away by the presentation back when the iPad was first announced. However when I got intimate with the Art experience I felt like expanding my wings so I dipped my fingers into the world of bigger iOS spending and took the plunge.

I love the interface, Brushes is absolutely gorgeous with all the icons being seen but not intrusive. The erase icon is always there and it enhances the experience of being sucked in and losing yourself in the immersion of creation. So kudos to the interface for doing everything right. Aside from that we’ve got the usual features; layers, customizable brushes and a well versed undo button. Seriously you can undo yourself way back to the beginning of your session if you wish to. This power is a side effect from one of the features I had no idea it had until after the purchase was made and it was a fantastic shock. It records your paintings progress.

Once saved and in the gallery, press play and it shows you how you got from point a to b. It’s quite a rewarding thing to see and was virtually without a problem to initiate. Other sketching Apps have the same type of thing but it records a video of your progress rather than mapping out each and every move you make. They require pressing record and going through the menu which isn’t bad but when its as seamless as being built into the background and watching without your knowledge it’s just that much better with Brushes. 

It’s like going on stage and singing a song in perfect pitch and your Mum didn’t record it at all but then your friends hot Mum comes up to you saying she has the whole thing in High Def and proceeds to give you a well placed hug that never ends. It’s not integral to the production but it endows a sense of satisfaction seeing how you work, what you do well and what can be improved. 

Other than that there really isn’t much to say. You can name your pieces and the menus make it easier to dive in but thats what you get. What really disappointed me was the crippling lack of exporting options that I can’t exactly fathom. Add to Photos, copy, mail the image, mail the actions or send to Flickr are your only choices. If you’re keen on taking what you made on the iPad and sticking it onto the desktop to put onto Photoshop, the option doesn’t exist for you. 

Also clearly lacking is the ability to draw straight lines, circles and shapes. I know its not the most artistic thing but sometimes I needed the feature and didn’t want to use a ruler against my iPad. 

SketchBook or Brushes? I personally love using Brushes over SketchBook but use SketchBook more simply because I want the freedom to be able to carry it over. As a painting App it’s far superior and is a dream to use, it’s a tragedy but with an update it can all go away. It’s the little big things that hold it down like the others but it doesn’t stop me from using it every now and again to remind me that there are beautiful things in the App Store well worth the money.

What's App

What's App
Version: 2.6.4
Compatible: iPhone - iOS 3.1
Price: $1

I’m not a very social person even with my plethora of communique methods I rarely keep in touch with more than a handful of people on a constant basis. With the looming iOS 5.0 update later this year I look forward to an improvement onto the current messaging system in place on the iPhone because I’m not a huge fan of it despite texting being my first and foremost method of reaching out. Had I known better I wouldn’t have wasted good money on WhatsApp.

Maybe I’m just being harsh on it. It’s quite clever though I certainly agree. It’s like a ticket of admission that grants special access to a party and everyones invited as long as they have the ticket. WhatsApp is available on the Android and Blackberry platforms and the service communicates across its own network with ease using data rather than texts to send messages quickly and efficiently.

The problem with this is that it still has a ways to go to reach out. When I started it up I only had one friend who was set up with the service. If I want to communicate with the people I frequently talk to they have to pay the price of admission and I find it a little rude to make the request. It may only be a dollar but its getting dolled up for the show thats the real price if you catch my drift.

The way the App looks, works and feels is all satisfactory when I did use it. Information is sent immediately and I’m alerted when the message is read as well as when another message is being typed. You can send pics and such and its all very delightful.

Maybe you’re a convincing SOB and don’t mind dragging the people you know and love through the dirt to get them to climb aboard. Or maybe you already have a bunch of friends that already use it. Or maybe you’ll get together face to face and start a little fun club and make the set up work. If you do manage it, the service will do you good I can say without hesitation. Without communication to set up you won’t know however how many of your friends even have WhatsApp let alone use it.

Luckily and most safely, it’s only a dollar. It’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t meet your expectations.

Quickie Game Appstravaganza

There are a ton of quick, simple and essentially limited games that I find difficult to use more than a paragraph to describe since they are essentially throwaways. That’s not to say that these guys aren’t worth the money, time or enjoyment. It’s just they are shallow and difficult to go into strenuous detail. I’m repeating myself, so I’d better get stuck in with the August Appstravaganza dedicated to good old fashioned fun.

Version: 1.6
Compatible: iPhone, iPod, iPad - iOS 3.1.3
Price: $3

All the Hipsters out there reading this will claim that they played, beat and got over this game before it ever touched the App Store since it is a popular Flash game online. Highly stylized, beautiful sound and simplistic controls bring it together to be a satisfying game to play around with but you won’t stay for very long. You play the role of a tiny man running from a crumbling world, your only means of control is timing his jumps perfectly to protect him from an untimely demise. There’s no real goal to strive for except a high score and when it gets old there’s not much to keep you here. However wait when it goes on sale otherwise the price isn’t ever justifiable unless you’re a diehard.

The Hero / The Hero HD
Version: 1.1 (iPhone/iPod/iPad) - 1.2 (iPad)
Compatible: iPhone/iPod/iPad - iOS 3.0 iPad - iOS 3.2
Price: $1

I played the iPad version though I believe the small screen cousin will most likely not be any different than my experience. Once again one of my first games for the iPad and I was excited first to play but it dropped off my radar after about two days. You play a superhero saving a city by flying to danger and defeating it with your superpowers. The good? The in-game art is good to look at. Half of it I mean, the characters when talking look absolutely atrocious but then again maybe it’s just not my thing. Anymore good things? I don’t have fond memories of this game I’ll just say because the controls are clunky, the screen is way too busy, the myriad of abilities or superpowers aren’t fun because it feels like you’re not doing anything (despite enemies flashing red) and a time limit of death wiped away whatever attention span I tried to muster before getting bored.

*Yawn* NEXT!

Kosmo Spin
Version: 1.4
Compatible: iPhone, iPod, iPad - iOS 3.1.3
Price: $1

I’ll finish this on a good note. Kosmo Spin is beautiful to look at, simple to play, cheap, unique, expansive and has me yelling at you with two thumbs up. I suppose you want elaboration? You play a little alien who spins on a planet gathering sweets for points while a UFO flies above your head ominously dropping balls or using his tractor beam. There are two ways to get play essentially. Either you gather the sweets in succession and initiate the bonus stage where the faster you flick, the more sweets (points) you get. The alternative is to head the balls the UFO drops, if you head them in a row, you double the points obtained from doing so. However some balls have different gravity pull and characteristics. Standard mode is never ending until you get sucked up by the UFO tractor beam but there is a scenario mode which goes a long way offering numerous objectives. Gather points in a certain amount of time, head the ball in a row 10 times that sort of thing. Its a complete package all for the minimal price. It doesn’t even take that much hard disk space.

So ends another Appstravaganza. More disappointment than I thought I had set up but whatcha gonna do? But the review of Kosmo Spin was well worth it all to make it up. Maybe it was the gem you didn’t know existed and you had to sit and watch up til the end of the movie to see the wicked-ass ending with exposions and what not.

Awesome Note (+Todo)

Awesome Note (+Todo)
Version: 5.03
Compatible: iPhone, iPod, iPad - iOS 3.0
Price: $4

In the days before iPhones and touch screens I never went anywhere without a notepad. Whether it was to remember something to do later, an idea or just any general thought to keep handy, I had to make a note of it. Gradually I required to preserve such creative thoughts because you never know when it’ll come in handy but having many notepads and sheets of paper becomes annoying. In an increasingly paperless world, I choose to find my own way to keep it all in one place at my own convenience. Enter Awesome Note.

Before I used SimpleNote. Before that I just had numerous typed .txt files on my computer. SimpleNote left an element of dependancy on a cloud based server somewhere far away and I’m a control freak with my information access. Awesome Note is perfect for people like me because I can set up all my notes with a myriad of options.

For starters you can setup folders to categorize notes in a manor that suits you best. These folders can have notes take a certain theme (colour, background, text size, font.) You can even add tags to each of them for increased accessibility.

I say I like this App best because of the options it gives me. I prefer control over specific back up and files such as these, to me it’s a one way road that doesn’t need to be accessed through my MacBook or iPad but I like having the option. Sending information from Awesome Note can be done in a number of ways. You can text, e-mail or print if you wish. And if you do want to back it up to the cloud it is compatible with Evernote and Google.

Personally I like to save it and remove the back up file during my weekly iTunes sync session that way if the worst somehow happens I’ll only be bad for 6 days worth of data.

Notes take a certain number of shapes too. It can be a diary entry, to do list or an event listing. To put it bluntly how much I love, use and cherish said App right now, it’s permanently placed on my iPhone Dock so you can imagine that I’m quite biased in its favour. On the negative scale I can’t really see anything wrong with a note taking App. There’s nothing really that was screwed up here. If I really had to say something it would be that the screen is convoluted but it does so with elegance. Everything on the screen is necessary.

In the end if you have a need to take down little tidbits and such and require control or access to this information I highly recommend Awesome Note. It brings accessibility and simplicity to something I’ve been doing since High School. The way I see it is I no longer buy small notepads anymore so the one time fee of $4 is more than welcome the more I use it.