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Monday, 26 November 2012

CloudOn - App Review


There are no perfect solutions for sharing your Microsoft Office (Excel, Word, PowerPoint); this is the nearest I have seen so far. This links with Dropbox, as well as box and Google Drive.  The synchronisation is effected via CloudOn's servers and your chosen syncing account. You have to be connected to the Internet in order to use the App.

Now for the ACIDS test:

Aesthetics
The contents of your Dropbox are shown as neatly arranged folders and files; a joy to behold. There has clearly been a lot of thought and care that has gone into the interface. Files are neatly ordered by syncing option (such as Dropbox) and then by folder. It is also an absolute doddle to go back to a recently opened file. A small criticism is that, having selected the file you wish to view or modify, it takes a while for the file to appear to be loading; when it does, there is a very pleasing progress bar that keeps you informed. The reason for this time lag is that not only is the App involved but also your Dropbox (or box or Google Drive) connection and the link with CloudOn's servers. Any file you modify is clearly marked as such on your iPad, and you can make annotations so that you can remember what you did; all very useful and elegantly implemented. CloudOn only works in landscape mode which is not really a problem but, you need to be aware of it, before thinking there is something amiss with your iPad, and thinking that maybe your side switch is not functioning.

Cost
This App is currently free but I cannot believe this will continue forever. I suspect that the solution, which includes having a (currently) free CloudOn account to manage the synchronising must become a chargeable option, or it cannot make sense for the developers. They have clearly spent a lot of time (and money) in getting an App that looks and works as well as the very best.

Indispensability
If you need to edit (and not just view) Microsoft Office files then, you need an App and, currently, this is probably the best. The concern might be that this is a 'puppy dog sale'. After becoming reliant on the App, hopefully the price of keeping it will not be unreasonable. Of course, this might just be a case of being overly cautious on my part (once bitten and all that).

Dependability
Apart from the previously mentioned time to load, there are no problems, provided that your localisation (or localization!) is United States. If it is not then some strange things will happen, in particular with dates. The USA uses mm/dd/yyyy, whereas most other countries use dd/mm/yyyy. If you enter the date as dd/mm/yyyy it will be incorrect in a non US formatted document. The workaround is to enter the date as mm/dd/yyyy and all will be fine, it will even display as you had originally intended.

Security
The developer assures us that "none of your files are stored permanently on any of CloudOn’s servers. They are pulled only when you need them, saved back to your original storage provider and then wiped from our system. Your credentials are encrypted using secure hashing technology and all communication between your workspace and our server is secure using 128-bit/256-bit encryption. ". The potential risks with Dropbox have already been covered in the App review.

ACIDS Test Rating:
With the localisation issue resolved, this an absolute 5 (certainly as long as it's free).

To find out how the ACIDS Test works, click here.

You can get CloudOn here and support for the App here.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Speedtest.net Mobile Speed Test - App Review

 

This is a neat little App for keeping your Internet Service Provider 'honest'. It's surprising how some ISPs promise lightning fast speeds (alright, it's actually bandwidth) and then do not deliver. This is even more important when ISPs have tired offerings, where the amount you pay varies with the 'speed' you sign up for. Bring on the refunds!


Now for the ACIDS test:

Aesthetics
After finding the nearest server is found a speedometer displays the Ping, Download, and Upload speeds. These are than available as values in a dated listing. You can therefore also compare the most recent result with previous recordings, thereby testing that there isn't a steady (or not) decline in your access speed. It is also interesting to compare values at locations other than your usual one, thus finding out the true speeds of connections.

Cost
It's free; can't complain.

Indispensability
If you believe everything your ISP tells you, I guess it's useless.

Dependability
The App has always worked... which is more than can be said by the quality of the connexion.

Security
None of your personal data is transferred, so there should be no issues.

ACIDS Test Rating:

Try it... you might be in for a surprise

To find out how the ACIDS Test works, click here.

 

You can get Speedtest.net Mobile Speed Test here and support for the App here.

 

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Paperless: Lists + Checklists - App Review

 If you can't stand lists (or people who use lists), look away now; this is definitely not for you. if you're still reading then, you have found an App that handles lists, especially ones you reuse, with elegant ease. Paperless is not a substitute for a task management system but, it handles all sorts of lists and check lists (with and without completion boxes).
Taking the simplest form of list... a shopping list, that easiest of tasks that is full of pitfalls. You can enter your shopping list and then enter individual notes (the blue tin, do not buy brand X if unavailable). Lists can easily be imported as text from other sources.

Now for the ACIDS test:

Aesthetics
Lists are assigned individual names and icons, making them easy to recognise. You can then easily change the order, not only for your lists, but also the content of those lists (taking the earlier shopping example, you can have it ordered so that you don't need to walk round the supermarket three times, unless you need the exercise, in which case you could make it even more complicated). Each item can have a check box (or not) and as you tick, the item is moved to the bottom of the screen. Once you have finished, if it is a list to reuse, just use the 'uncheck all' button and you have your list ready for next time. It's very easy to use and pleasing to the eye.

Cost
There are two versions of this App. Paperless Lite is absolutely free and allows you to check out how well it works. The limitations of the Lite version are that it is limited to 30 items and cannot synchronise with Dropbox. Once you are convinced that this App is for you, just upgrade to Paperless; it is a low cost App.

Indispensability
Well, this all depends on your view of checklists!

Dependability
Absolutely no problems.

Security
There is no sharing of information, except for Dropbox on the full version, so no security issues.

ACIDS Test Rating:
Must have, if you're into lists.

To find out how the ACIDS Test works, click here.

You can get Paperless here and support for the App here.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Free Translator - App Review

 

There are truckloads of translators on the Internet, many of which end up getting you to download something for free and then charge you for using it (and it doesn't matter what language you put that it, it still means the same.

Free Translator is (as its name more than implies) available at no cost. It includes a plethora of languages

 


Now for the ACIDS test:

Aesthetics
You simply enter the word, or phrase, you want translated and choose the target language. This works surprisingly well, although it could be because English is often used as the base language, and additionally does not differentiate between UK and USA spellings. There is a 'voice' option which, in addition to giving you a written translation, provides an audible translation. This seems to work quite well in some languages, with a very realistic male or female voice. Some other languages are supported with a synthesiser which is not quite so realistic.

Another option is to email a translation. This would be very useful except that only the translation is written on the email, not the source.

Cost
It's free.

Indispensability
If you need a quick translation this is a potential option (but see dependability)

Dependability
Free Translator only provides one translation of a word. This can be a problem, the simplest example of which is when a word in the native language is a verb and a noun; the translation will only give you one word. In some ways, phrases are better handled than individual words. Although the App keeps a list of your translations (which you can delete individually, or all), in order to effect a new translation, you must be connected to the Internet; there is no resident dictionary.

Security
No issues.


ACIDS Test Rating:

Worth trying

To find out how the ACIDS Test works, click here.

 

You can get Free Translator here and support for the App here.

 

Monday, 5 November 2012

MyScript Notes Mobile - App Review


This is a very handy App, especially for people who prefer writing with a pen, rather than using a keyboard. You simply enter your notes onto a 'sheet of paper' on your iPad, using a finger or a pen adapted for the purpose. What differentiates this App is that the notes you have entered can then be transcribed into text, which in turn can be emailed, or shared via Evernote, Dropbox, Facebook, or Twitter.

Now for the ACIDS test:

Aesthetics
It really is just like writing on a sheet of paper, except that when the side of your hand touches the screen (when you are writing), this is also recognised by the iPad as input. In order to reduce the interference, there is a mask (similar to an old fashioned blotter) that you pull up from the bottom of the page. The recognition works surprisingly well, and the paid version allows the conversion to take place without an Internet connection. A shortcoming of the paid version is that although your notes are arranged into individual (very pretty) 'books', when it comes to converting the text, it can only be done one page at a time.

Cost
There are two versions: MyScript Memo (free) and MyScript Notes Mobile (small charge).

Indispensability
How much you dislike using a keyboard will decide ion your attitude to whether or not you can live without this App.

Dependability
The text 'translated' from your scrawl to editable text is not totally accurate, and one cannot realistically expect anything else.

Security
If you use the free version then the translation takes place online, so your notes are 'shared', at least temporarily, although this is only a relatively low risk.


ACIDS Test Rating:
Worth trying

To find out how the ACIDS Test works, click here.

You can get MyScript Notes Mobile here and support for the App here.