Email text

Please enter YOUR Email address to receive updates. Ensure you add to your safe list.

iTunes Vouchers

Tuesday 31 December 2013

Bokeh Lens - App Review

Bokeh (and there are quite a few spellings) is the out of focus part of an image; it can either add, or detract, from the overall effect.

This function can also be used to blur particular areas of a photograph to render it more 'private' (as in faces or number plates).

Perhaps that, given the time of year and the parties, you can upload photos to social networks, having blurred the faces of people in 'compromising' situations.

Now for the ACIDS test:

You start by either taking a photograph with your iOS device, using one from your library, or pasting an image.

once that is done, there are 4 controls:

Edit Focus
With a finger close the area of the image that you want to keep in focus.

Use the slider controls to define the level of 'blur'.

Keep your finger on the button to show the image in its original format and
it off to show the Bokeh output.

This allows you to access help and support.

The App is a very reasnable $1.

Like many Apps, it is not indispensable but, a useful addition to your armoury.

The App works as expected; definitely a good thing.

There are no issues... perhaps just remember to blur the right part.

ACIDS Test Rating:

Blur at will.

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

You can get Bokeh Lens here and support for the App here.

Saturday 28 December 2013

Tap & Edit - App Review

If you want to prepare a document which includes detailed formatting, and perhaps includes photographs, take a look at this App.

Now for the ACIDS test:

This is very much a modern, gesture-orientated App.

You can start with a, nearly, blank document (Shakespeare quote) and take it from there. Just enter your text and give it all the text attributes you want, just like a full-fledged word processor... but so easily. It even includes the oft missing A+/A- controls to step text size until it fits.

there are also a number of templates if you would rather start

This enables one step resizing, not only for an image but also for text. At the same time you get access to paragraph formatting icons.

Double tap
This selects the text and brings up the context menu.

Long tap with two fingers
This selects a text block; there is no longer the need to double tap on a word and then expand the selection.

Swipe to one side
This automatically aligns the text to the side swiped to.

Press and move
This enables you to move a block of text vertically, or horizontally.

Use two fingers to rotate (we'll do without comments from the back of the class, please)
This again does exactly what you would expect with either an image or text.

The App is absolutely free; there is the possibility of an In-App purchase for $4 to the Pro version. This adds Dropbox support, creation of PDF and HTML documents for sending by e-mail, as well as sharing documents over wi-fi.

You will need to have the Pro version if you want to do anything more than copy and paste your document,

If for no other reason than the lack of formatting provided in the iOS e-mail App, Tap & Edit is a requirement for anyone who wants to have control over document layout.

There were no problems in testing.

There are no security issues, except the remote, potential, risk of letting the App access your Dropbox account (Pro version only).

ACIDS Test Rating:

Simple, yet comprhensive document editing.

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

You can get Tap & Edit here and support for the App here.

Thursday 26 December 2013

FotoCookie - App Review

It's that time of year when little children 'help' in the kitchen making cookies... especially cutting them out into festive shapes.

This App enables you to personalise and share photos... nothing to do with cutting out cookies really.

Now for the ACIDS test:

You can start off with choosing the photo layout from 3:2; 4:3, or 1:1.

Now either take a photograph, or pick one from your albums.

Touch the photograph to access the effects:

Mirror vertical (be careful if you have text!)
Mirror horizontal
...but even better is the ability to scale and rotate the picture, simply by using two fingers.

Once you are happy with the result hit the toaster icon (you can't miss it).

You can now add text, as well as cookie shapes.

Your done with baking... just send the final product in a large variety of ways.

The App is absolutely free.

It is a very easy way to annotate and share photos.

I couldn't get the layers to work, so that any shape was always 'in front' of the photograph, although there is an option to choose the order of layers.

Your masterpiece can be shared via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, Tumblr, as well as e-mailing and others. This is the usual double-edged sword.

ACIDS Test Rating:

Seasonal fun.

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

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

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Melia Tortuga Beach, Cape Verde

This is a hotel which, in some ways, has something for everyone. There are a number of swimming pools which cater for those needing ‘entertainment’ (or providing it, of course), to those who just want to sit quietly, or those caring for smaller children who are more interested in a paddling pool.

The beach is vast, with soft sand; there have been comments made about the lack of availability of sun loungers, this was never a problem during our stay.

The accommodation is more than one can reasonably expect in this price bracket. We had a two bedroom and sitting room apartment which was kept very clean by the staff.

The landscaped gardens are meticulously maintained by a large staff of gardeners, and certainly add to the feeling of comfort.

There are four restaurants, which again offer something for everyone, although the lack of choice makes a long stay a tad repetitive.

Spices – a self-service buffet
This is pretty much as you would expect, with both local and standard dishes. These are frequently replenished and kept tidy by staff.

This restaurant (for dinner) has a choice of four starters, four main courses, and two deserts (although they tend to be served as two half portions on one plate).

Ô Grille
This restaurant serves grills (not much of a surprise, given the name) and other dishes at lunchtime. It metamorphoses into a cosy place for an evening meal by the beach, complete with musical entertainment (sometimes excellent). The real limiting factor is that there are only 3 menus, with no variations.

Not our favourite place but, it is another option. This restaurant is only open in the evening and serves basically the same menu, with a choice of meat or fish, in either Mediterranean or Oriental (perhaps better described as eastern Mediterranean) slants.

As a generality, the cocktails are perfectly drinkable, although you will have to queue at one of the many bars.

The staff are very polite and will all smile back to a greeting of ‘olà’ (hi).

There has been mention (in other reviews), of mediocre standards of hygiene. In our experience, this is absolutely not the case; quite the contrary. Staff preparing food all wear hats and latex gloves however, the conduct of some customers might be the cause of any germs; sneezing and coughing over displayed food, let alone tasting different dishes with the same utensil… (this only applies to the self-service restaurant).

4 Tips for the traveller
•    When checking in, request cards for beach towels; this will avoid you having to go back to reception later. As the distances between beach and main building are fairly large, this will save you quite a few footsteps.
•    Book for evening meals in the restaurants as soon as possible. This will give you a larger choice of times and can always be changed later. The booking procedure starts at 10:30 each day. Avoid the queue and don’t go to reserve until 11:00.
•    If you prefer a ‘quieter’ option than the main Spices restaurant for breakfast, this exists. We won’t detail it here, so as not to get too many people interested; just ask the staff and they will point you in the right direction.
•    Join the Melia rewards program before you leave home. This will give you access to free late checkout and free Wi-Fi Internet access in some public areas (the one in reception is the most reliable).

4 Suggestions for the hotel
These are not complaints, merely suggestions for making life better for guests:

•    Checking-in can be a bit of an unpleasant experience; as it is the first contact guests have with the hotel, it should be as painless as possible. A form needs to be completed for check-in, which could be done on-line before arrival (completing it on the journey from the airport is not really viable).
•    There is a tourist tax which is collected on arrival, in cash. It would be simpler to do the same as most hotels and take a credit/debit/charge card authorisation and add it to the bill.
•    The 2 bedroom apartments have blackout curtains in the double room but not in the two bedded room. If this arrangement were swapped, it might give parents a quieter night.
•    Next time the cutlery and/or crockery are changed, get someone to try the two together; the cutlery falls into the plates far too easily (not to say often).

The lack of a truly international ratings system for hotels will continue to provide surprises for travellers.

The best way to enjoy this hotel is to manage your expectations... the five star rating (and the explanation that it is a Cape Verdean 5*) is perhaps not what you would expect. Hopefully you will book through a tour operator (who may also claim a 5* Status) but, you will be paying a 3* price; this should set your expectations, and should ensure that you are delighted with your choice; it will represent excellent value for money.

As a matter of fact, rather than opinion, 24 hour room service is usually (in Europe at least) a prerequisite for a 5* rating. The Melia Tortuga (despite contrary information on its website) offers no room service; it was explained to us that this was "not yet available".

On the other hand, if you are used to the European expectation of a five star hotel having an all-knowing, all-fixing concierge then, the Thomson Rep, Elias will not disappoint you. He absolutely goes the extra mile... literally, even organising a weekly walk.
The acid test of satisfaction is ‘would you go back?’. The answer is “Yes”.

Splyce - App Review

Fancy yourself as a DJ?

This App might make your dreams come true... or at least give you a helping hand.

Now for the ACIDS test:

To get started, just press the + and add some songs to your set. As anyone knows, that's the (relatively) easy part; the challenge is to order them in an appropriate way.

This is exactly where the App comes in handy.

The settings allows you to set various options such as:

Shake to shuffle
Drop played songs (they won't be repeated)
Transition (pick from vinyl stop, mix, equalised fade, or echo freeze)
Clear Playlist (use with care as if you press this accidentally, you will need to pick your set again)

You can then reorder your playlist with ease. The BPM (Beats Per Minute) of individual tracks are clearly listed, so this well help in getting things gradually wound up.

There is a visual beat indicator but, a pinch of salt may be needed to go with it.

The basic App is free, and there are then in-App purchases for more options.

The App undoubtedly helps in ordering music.

The App is designed for the iPhone but works fine on an iPad in 1x and 2x modes.

You can share your playlist via Facebook or Twitter. Although there would seem to be no real risk in this (unless perhaps giving away your awesome set), there could be more serious issue.

Have you actually purchased the tracks?

ACIDS Test Rating:

A good start to your DJ career.

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

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

Sunday 22 December 2013

Uface - App Review

Uface stands for 'Unique Face Maker'.

This App allows you to make your own character, or someone else's, of course.

Now for the ACIDS test:

There is a logical process to follow which will make you into a real artist (OK, maybe not but it will enable you to create your character).

You first decide whether you are male or female (you know what I mean). This gives you a basic shape on which you will add various artefacts, including:

Eyes, eyebrows, nose, lips, ears and basic chin shape (this is a combined item), hair, spectacles (or even an eye patch), moustache or beard, speech bubble (and various additions), a hand (could be holding a steering wheel, eating a donut...), and finally a general background.

Each of these items can be coloured as you want, as can the general background (paper colour).

The App is 100% free.

It's a bit of fun, and an easy way to create an avatar.

There are no guarantees that the finished product will look anything like you but, the App works flawlessly.

You can update saved images directly to Facebook or Twitter, should you so desire.

Images can also be assigned to contacts... don't upset anyone!

ACIDS Test Rating:

Good clean fun.

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

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

Thursday 19 December 2013

Viz - App Review

And there was me thinking that Viz no longer existed. My apologies to the publishers, the magazine is still alive and as irreverent as ever (that's a good thing).

In fact, this App has nothing at all to do with the eponymous magazine, it is 'the quickest way to create simple charts'.

Now for the ACIDS test:

Starting a new chart is simply a case of entering 2 labels and 2 quantities... and then adding as many more as required.

Now choose the type of chart from bar, pie, cloud (very appropriate nowadays), (sky)scrapers, or parliament.

Simply press 'Create Chart' and then further customise the colours (basic, forest, sky, ocean, fire) from a palette of sympathetic hues.

Once that is done you can save your chart on your iOS device, as well as send by email, or share through Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

The App costs $2.

This is a really easy way to create a chart. It is not a substitute for a sophisticated charting program, nor does it claim to be.

The App works, exactly as it should.

As ever, beware what information you share on social networking sites.

ACIDS Test Rating:

Charting for the rest of us.

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

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

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Parking Meter - App Review

Remembering when your parking meter time will run out is perfectly straightforward... we all know that, which is why we never get a ticket.

Welcome to the real world. The truth is that we are usually too lazy to set an alarm (or does that only apply to yours truly). Perhaps that's being slightly uncharitable but, even setting an iOS alarm takes a few presses on your screen.

This App could well come to your rescue.

Now for the ACIDS test:

Some Apps are basic and do a job, some Apps are graphically brilliant and fail to deliver real solutions. Parking Meter manages to do both (graphically brilliant and does the job).

It really is as simple as picking a time interval (5, 10, 15, 30, 45 minutes, or 1, 2, 3, 4, 8 hours) either with one press, or by entering a specific period.

You can now merely leave it at that, and the meter is ticking (so to speak), or:

Add a photo
It's all well and good remembering that you parked your nondescript grey vehicle between the pink Porsche and the red Ferrari... the building in the background won't move.

Add a note
This is straight text entered from the keyboard

View Map
This enables you to set the GPS position of your vehicle.

There are various settings that can be customised, such as when to sound an alarm, the tone used.

It's probably worth thinking how much this App can potentially save you and at $1, it will pay for itself.

I guess that if you only use public transport, you don't need it... and then there's the rest of us.

If you don't allow the App access to your current location when first using it, you will not be (directly) warned again. You can however go to settings and rectify the situation.

he App needs to access your location services if you wish to make full use of it.

ACIDS Test Rating:

If you're a traffic warden, don't recommend this App!

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

You can get Parking Meter here and support for the App here.

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Local Cloud Pro - App Review

You know the feeling... you've diligently prepared everything, gone out and, sure enough, there's a file you need that's on your PC.

For those of you, like me, who have experienced this scenario, another bit of help is at hand.

Now for the ACIDS test:

In order for this to work, in addition to the App, you will need to download some, free, software on your Mac or PC from here.

Once the software is installed, copy the url (looks like into the App, together with the user name and password that you set at your desk.

On the App you will now have a folder called, as expected, 'Local Cloud'. Within this folder are all the files/folders that you authorised for access earlier.

At its most basic, that is all to setting it up and then moving files from/to the folder.

The App costs $7 from the App Store... probably considerably less than a return fare or fuel, let alone your valuable time.

Just wait until you need a file you left in the office (or wherever), and then you tell me.

It's straightforward and works, just like we like it.

When setting the server (on your PC), you decide how much you are going to share... this is, as ever, a double-edged sword. The more you share, the less likely it is that you forget something but, the more vulnerable you, potentially, become.

ACIDS Test Rating:

Very simple, very effective.

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

You can get Local Cloud Pro here and support for the App here.

Monday 25 November 2013

Smart Merge - App Review

Now for the ACIDS test:

The welcome screen is as basic as can be, just one button, inviting you to 'Import Contacts'. You obviously need to allow the App access to your contacts in order for this to function.

Now, press 'next, and receive a reminder to backup all your contacts (fairly basic bit, oh so important). the App now does exactly that on your behalf, just in case anything should go awry. Your contacts can be saved in your Dropbox or Google Drive, as well as being send by email (make sure you send these to yourself!).

Press next again to find possible merges.

You will be presented with a list of potential duplicate contacts, phones, email addresses, and similar names.

Take each in turn and analyse that they really are duplicates then either accept the change or reject it, on a per item basis.

Once you've done that, press merge and you have just tidied up your contacts.

If you have, over time, amassed lots of contacts, think of the time you will save by spending am mere $1.

This isn't something you will use every day but, will save you much time when you need it.

The App seems to work (for contacts at least), on the name, just as one would expect. You do need to be careful with people you store separately under different addresses, otherwise the App will attempt to merge these.

The App is self-contained... just remember to email the backup to yourself!

ACIDS Test Rating:

Very useful tool.

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

You can get Smart Merge here and support for the App here.

Saturday 23 November 2013

Snap Clap - App Review

So, why does the iOS devices not have an inbuilt timer for the camera?

Presumably just so someone could create one, and here it is.

Now for the ACIDS test:

The main screen contains just three buttons:

Here you can check out photographs you have taken previously.

Pick the normal camera, or get ready for a 'selfie'.

Here you can set whether or not to have a grid displayed, vary sensitivity, and the all important delay timer (2, 4, or 6 seconds).

All you need to do now is point and clap... the App will then take a photograph after the selected delay.

You can now crop the photograph as well as forward it via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or email, as well as move it to your camera roll.

The App is free.

This is another of those applications that you might not use every day but is a good addition to your armoury.

It can take a few seconds for the photo to reach 'editable' status. Basically, if you have seen the countdown, it has functioned, just show a little patience.

Apart from the usual warnings about sharing on social media, the App is self-contained.

ACIDS Test Rating:

Applause for the developers!

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

You can get Snap Clap here and support for the App here.

Thursday 21 November 2013

WEB to PDF - App Review

I'm a fan of PDF (for those of you who hadn't gathered that already)... just thought we'd get that out of the way first.

It is a totally portable format; PDF documents can contain text and images, be opened by just about any device, and is modifiable. Puts paid to any compatibility issues.

What WEB to PDF does is allow you to save any page you find o the Internet as a PDF document.

Now for the ACIDS test:

At its absolute simplest, the App is a web browser; you could, if you chose, use it instead of Safari. This would however not take advantage of the big plus, the PDF conversion.

Within the options, you can set the start page (anything you want... maybe this blog), whether or not to fit the page to paper size, as well as whether or not to save open tabs from the previous session (that way you either start 'clean', or where you left off).

Using the App is similar to Safari, in that you type the address (url) you want to go to in the header box. Once it has loaded, touch the add PDF icon at the bottom of the screen. A box pops up in which you name the page; the default is the address of the page you are browsing, with '/' replaced with '_'.

The page is then immediately in a files tab at the bottom of the page. You can now annotate the page in many colours, using highlighting, a pen, as well as text. You can now open the page in your favourite PDF viewer (there are many available and a few have been reviewed here... check the scrollable list on the right).

The other really great thing is that you can send the PDF directly to your Dropbox; brilliant.

There are other control options, including adding pages to the current document and reordering pages.

If you are, like most people, so used to Safari that you do not want to change browser, the App can create a 'favourite' in Safari that you can then use to convert pages directly from there. This does add a step to the process but, life is about compromise.

The App costs $4 in the App store.

I can't talk for you but... (IM(H)O)) PDF documents are a necessity of life; being able to convert web pages is a natural part of this.

The App performed flawlessly; given that it involved also resting passing information from another App (Safari), this is a particularly good result.

You can save pages directly to your Dropbox account.

ACIDS Test Rating:

For PDF devotees... and everyone else.

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

You can get WEB to PDF here and support for the App here.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

On this day... - App Review

This App is not one to tell you what to do on this day but, to remind (or educate) you of what happened in the past.

Now for the ACIDS test:

The screen looks like a day to view desk pad but, it is replete with information. By default, you start on today's date.

Events, Births, Deaths
Three of each category are displayed and you can then choose to view additional ones, usually many tens, sometimes over a hundred, or even more.

Touching any particular item then brings up an article with much more information.

Pressing this will allow you to go to any particular date.

The App is absolutely free.

If you're into impressing people with your historical knowledge, this should be right up your street.

This is an App optimised for the iPhone and works in 1x and 2x modes on an iPad.

The App is no longer supported as the developer, Sophia Teutschler, has moved onto pastures new.

It's a shame I didn't get round to reviewing it earlier.

No issues.

ACIDS Test Rating:

This time next year, remember you read it here!

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

You can get On this day... here and support for the App here.

Saturday 16 November 2013

ProCamera 7 - App Review

Another day, another camera App... it almost feels like that. the good news is that ProCamera 7 has so many features that it definitely differentiates itself from the pack.

If you're looking for a camera App that will allow you to do much more than the standard App, this could well be the one for you.

Now for the ACIDS test:

Let's start with the settings; it will give you an idea of the customisation that you can bring to even basic shots:

Choose whether your photographs are automatically saved to your camera roll or not (in which case Lightbox off). This might, at first sight, seem somewhat superfluous but, I assure you, it is not. If, like many, you enjoy using Photo Stream and sharing your photos in iCloud, not having Lightbox turned on will mean that you automatically share all your 'work in progress'; perhaps not what you want to be doing.

This is set via a slider from stale to shaky

Again, his is set via a slider from a short 0.5 to a long 20 seconds.

Full screen Trigger
If this is turned on then a photograph is taken by tapping anywhere on the screen, not just the shutter release.

Photo Zoom
This can be turned off, which avoids accidentally using this feature.

Date Stamp
This places the date a photograph was taken at the bottom of the image, if selected.

Provided location services are turned on, the place the photograph was taken will be stored.

So, you now have a taste for just how sophisticated this App is... now to use the camera.

There are now a lot of additional settings that you can use (or just skip this if you want to get started).

Shutter release
Pick from 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, or 1 second

F/E Lock
This enables you to fix the exposure and focus, so that you can recompose your shot without needing top worry about it.

These are displayed on your viewfinder, not on the photograph; this aids accurate placement.

Line up the cross hairs so that you are aligned horizontally and vertically.

White balance
Pick whether or not this is automatically adjusted

Rapid Fire
Excellent for action shots. Keep your finger on the trigger and save sequential images.

Live Data
Have speed and ISO ratings displayed on-screen

Aspect Ratio
Choose from 3:2, 16:9, 1:1, 3:1, 4:3

Once you gave taken a shot, with either front or rear facing camera, you have a new set of tools to modify/enhance the image.

These run from Colour Optimisation with vast number of effects (including no less than 6 black & white options)

You then have individual slider control (by just running your finger up/down the screen) for each of brightness, contrast, exposure, saturation, colour temperature, vignette, boost and sharpen.

If you are still not satisfied, you now have a further tool to allow you to rotate, change the aspect (change your mind from the earlier settings), and flip the image.

Once you are happy, just hit save.

The App currently retails at $1; I suspect that this price will not be kept too long so, it's probably worthwhile being one of the early adopters.

A camera is indispensable, and of course you already have one with your iOS device; this lets you have much more control.

The App now comes with a very welcome manual.

This is an App optimised for the iPhone and works in 1x and 2x modes on an iPad.

In order to get the most out of the App, you need to allow access to your photos and location.

ACIDS Test Rating:

The standard by which to judge camera Apps.

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

You can get ProCamera 7 here and support for the App here.

Thursday 14 November 2013

Cash In The Attic - App Review

So, what's new in antiques (an old chestnut but, couldn't resist).

Well, it turns out that the producers of the popular television antiques programme, 'Cash in the Attic' have come out with an eponymous App.

And if you thought that DVT stands for the potential ailment of long-distance air travellers (Deep Vein Thrombosis), think again... it's Discover, Value, Trade.

Now for the ACIDS test:

There are a number of options on the home screen, available either at the bottom tab, or from the screen itself:

Sign In/Register
Unless you just want to watch some excerpts from television episodes, you need to log-in. This can be done painlessly, either through Facebook, or set up a free account directly from the App with an email address and password.

This enables you to see snippets from some past television episodes.

This is what makes this App different to everything else.

Take up to half a dozen photographs or a video up to one minute in length. Then enter the following information about the item you wish to have valued:


Category - There is a fairly exhaustive list from which you can pick, as well as 'other'

Maker or Artist - anything from African and Tribal Art to Wine, via Music Memorabilia



Condition - be honest, there's no point putting 'pristine' to get a higher valuation, you will only be disappointed later


Other Info - very important, the more you give, the more accurate the valuation.

Once you have completed that little lot (pun intended), touch the 'Get Valuation' button and wait for an email acknowledgement, and a couple of days or so later you will get a valuation certificate.

In an age where we have become used to everything being instantaneous, it is worth remembering that actual experts (people) will be examining the information to provide you with access to their expert knowledge.

This then turned out to be the most surprising part of this offering. The valuation came back, not in the promised 48 hours, but in a mere 5... hours (!). What's more, it did not just contain an estimate of the value but also a couple of hundred words of description and suggestions.

My Attic
This has a double use. On the one hand you can set the parameters for your account, and on the other have a listing of items that you have sent for valuation.

The App is littered (not in an untidy way) with question marks that you can use for further help.

The App is absolutely free and individual valuations are £6.99. Although this might appear a bit steep, if you value your time, and the advice of experts, then it is almost given away.

The independent valuation could also well prove to be an additional comfort to prospective purchasers on ebay, or other auction sites.

This obviously depends on your interest in antiques and collectibles.

The App is designed for the iPhone, and works in 1x and 2x modes on an iPad. You need to be a little careful with the 'other info', as it is only obvious if you hit return after having entered size information.

When requesting a valuation, make sure that you have all the information you need, as this is not saved as you go.

You will need to either set up a free account, or sign-in via your Facebook account.

ACIDS Test Rating:

Excellent value for money.

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

You can get Cash In The Attic here and support for the App here.

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Stacks - App Review

Stacks is a currency converter but has the clean lines of something that has been well thought out.

iOS 7 seems to be catching some developers out... some are not updating their offerings, some are, and a few (such as the guys at WapleStuff) are creating Apps around the new iOS.

Now for the ACIDS test:

The basic screen looks like a calculator, except that it doesn't have any function keys (!) but has two lines of currencies (just flick them left or right to change them), a 'chase myself' wheel, a bookmark, yellow back arrow and a 'go to' marker.

It might sound unusual but, a few seconds with the App and you will be hooked.

Simply enter your source currency on one line and the value in your target currency is automatically displayed on the line above.

The 'chase myself' wheel serves to inverse the source and target currencies, while keeping the value you entered (handy if you had it the wrong way round).

The yellow back arrow deletes the last entered character, making corrections fairly painless.

The bookmark icon allows you to save, and name, a particular item. This is great if you are comparing similar items in various currencies, as you can then easily go back and find the best deal.

The 'go to' marker opens up Calzy (there's a review of this App here), a great calculator, and already has the value you were using displayed.

Then come the gestural actions:

Swipe down - updates the exchange rate
Swipe up - opens settings (including sound)
Double tap - opens bookmark list
Rotate to see chart - very interesting to plot the rise and fall of currencies

This is an, almost free, App at $1.

If you don't carry out currency conversions in your head, use this App. If, on the other hand, you are a whizz at exchange rates, gift this to people who keep pestering you with "so how much is that in...".

It works.

The App is self-contained and does not share information... unless you have Calzy, in which case it forwards a value to the calculator (hardly a security risk).

ACIDS Test Rating:

For travellers and international on-line shoppers.

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

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

Saturday 9 November 2013

musiXmatch lyrics player - App Review

How many times do you get some lyrics to a song going round in your head... and get frustrated at not being able to remember the title, and/ or sang it?

This neat App will spare your grey cells.

Now for the ACIDS test:

At its simplest, the App will play your music, searching by song, artist, playlist, or album.

But, it would be underselling the App dramatically to just go with this. The really excellent part is to use the 'magnifying glass' icon and search. Just type the name of an artist, song title or (best of all) some lyrics.

You will then see, very rapidly, a list of possibilities. You can then press play and hear the song (the iTunes teaser), not just through audio but also see the lyrics. You can of course also buy the song directly through an iTunes link, as well as save it to your favourites.

There is a free version of the App supported by advertising.

If you enjoy music but are sometimes let down by your memory, or just like trying different things, you'll love this.

The App needs to have access to the Internet to be operational.

Signing in is done via either Facebook or Google.

ACIDS Test Rating:

Who sang about 'little boxes made of ticky-tacky'?

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

You can get musiXmatch lyrics player here and support for the App here.

Thursday 7 November 2013

ReachFast - App Review

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to contact someone with just one screen touch?

That's exactly what Reach Fast is about.

Now for the ACIDS test:

The App starts off in demo mode, and reminds you to come back until you have completed the exercises.

Pull down to enter search mode. Start typing a name to find whoever it is you want to contact. Once you have whoever you are looking for, tap to call, swipe right to send a message, hold to write an email, and double tap to FaceTime.

You can swipe a contact to the left to add them as a favourite.

You can also use the App to enter a new contact, using the keyboard and swiping right to go to the next address line and left to go backwards.

Like most good Apps, it is simple to use.

The App is priced at $2.

The App does not give you access to any information you do not already have but, it gives a way to use your contacts in an efficient way.

The App works fully on an iPhone a, for which it was designed but also partially on an iPad.

The introduction can seem a bit tiresome and you need to go through it once. You can repeat it later, should you choose so to do.

The security of your contact information is only limited by your iOS pass code; this App does not add to that.

ACIDS Test Rating:

Neat way to keep access contacts.

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

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

Tuesday 5 November 2013

Espresso Reader - App Review

Espresso synchronises your news with your favourite news/blog channels. It is the successor to the sadly discontinued Google Reader.

The developer, Francisco Javier Saorín, suggests that the App is the 'ultimate expression of minimalism'. This is exactly what you need when reading news; no extraneous distractions.

Now for the ACIDS test:

The settings allows you to choose from three font sizes, as well as set up a blacklist. This is not an anti-spam tool but, allows you to exclude words in article titles (for example, put in your Feedly feed and then, when using the App, exclude 'App review'... and you will be left with everything else).

Once you have read an article you can go back to the list, mark it as read, flag it as a favourite, or forward it (by email, copying to Safari, Twitter, Facebook, or Pocket).

The real beauty of this App is the simplicity... really can't stress that enough.

The cost of the App is considerably less than an Espresso for drinking at $0.99.

This is a way to get consistent representation of articles, which means that you spend your time reading, and not readjusting to endless new layouts.

The App is designed for the iPhone but works fine on an iPad in 1x and 2x modes.

You will need a free subscription to Feedly in order to use the App.

Under iOS 7, on occasion, when returning to the 'home' screen, the App becomes unresponsive. Just close the App and reopen and all is fine.

You will need a Feedly account to access the service. This can either be created on the web (for free), or accessed through your (ever more ubiquitous) Google account.

ACIDS Test Rating:

News, just news.

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

You can get Espresso Reader here and support for the App here.

Saturday 2 November 2013

Biscuit - App Review

The Americans and Brits don't totally agree on exactly what a biscuit represents. A British biscuit is a cookie in the States; an American cookie would be called a scone in Europe. Those of you into porcelain will also be familiar with the term 'biscuit' referring to the process of baking twice.

The developers of this App have redefined the word as "making dictionaries suck less and making your vocabulary more awesome"; the graphic images this conjures up, in its literal interpretation, are wonderful.

Now for the ACIDS test:

One you have signed in, you are presented with a list of dictionaries:

English to English
English to Spanish
English to French
English to Russian
English to German
English to Turkish
English to Chinese (Simplified)
English to Chinese ((Traditional)
English to Japanese
English to Korean

Pick whatever it is that interests you and just leave the App running.

Now go to whatever App you in which you want to read something. When you come across a word you don't know or want translated, simply highlight the word and press Copy. At the top of the page (in the notification area) you will see the translation or explanation, without leaving the App. In addition to this, every word you highlight is saved in the App (more about this later). This is very different to having to switch to another App (or a heavy tome) to get your translation.

If you then touch the notification, you are taken to the Biscuit App. Here again, things are different. Apart from seeing a listing of the words that have previously interested you, you have the ability to touch them and be reminded of the definition/translation.

You can also enter a word directly from within the App and, most importantly, as all the information is downloaded with the App; there is no need to be connected to the Internet.

This works just like a flash card system. Once you are happy that you have memorised a word (or just want to get it out of your biscuit box, flick it to the left... and it joins your memorised words.

If you're still not impressed (you are obviously hard to please), you can have the words spoken to you. This requires the information to be downloaded but then, it is always at your fingertips.

You can also choose to have the App quiz you during the hours that you choose, with the number of words that you require, at intervals during the day. This is excellent if you are learning a language.

Provided you have an Evernote account (and if you haven't what are you doing?), you can get a beautifully laid out list of your words and translations/definitions which you can then consult wherever and whenever you want.

And now, at least in theory, for the nec plus ultra (roughly translated into British as the dog's juicy bits). Take a photograph of a page of text and have it turned into... text. The words in this text are then added to your list, which in turn you can find on your Evernote account in a Notebook called 'Biscuit' (now there's a coincidence).

In some ways these guys have chosen to reinvent the wheel but, you know what, maybe, just maybe, round is not the best shape.

Not only is the App free (at least for now) but, the fact that the dictionaries are downloaded means no roaming charges when you are abroad (and a dictionary becomes essential).

If you never use a dictionary of any kind whatsoever, you don't need this App... and I would be stunned if you are still reading this review.

It's worth noting that the App is still showing as 'Beta', so must be allowed some leeway... and at the price, it's not too much to ask for.

The English voice seems to change from American to British, and male to female, which, in one way lacks consistency but, in another, helps you to get used to differences.

The App only seems to work from English, which then means that the voice doesn't give you the pronunciation, or at least I couldn't get it to work in that way.

You need to either join by email, or sign in with your Facebook account.

Additionally, not connecting your Evernote account will deny you some useful features.

ACIDS Test Rating:

This App really takes the biscuit (sorry, couldn't resist).

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

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