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Saturday, 30 March 2013

ibis Sleep Art - App Review

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My graphic and drawing skills are non-existent, so it is pleasing to find an App that will allow anyone (yes, even me) to be creative. The unusual part is that not only do you not have a clue what you are going to produce (is that the case for all truly 'creative' types), but also that you will be doing it in your sleep. Intrigued? Then, read on.
Now for the ACIDS test:

Aesthetics
The App starts with the alarm you need to set. This is very straightforward, although it uses some fairly idiosyncratic knobs to set the time. All you need to do after this is plug your device into a charger and place it in your bed.
The App uses your iPhone's microphone and accelerometer to record your noises and movement and translate into your very own work of art.

Cost
The App is free and provided by the Ibis hotel chain, who have nonintrusive name placement on one page.

Indispensability
If this is the killer App you have been waiting for then, congratulations, you have found it. For the rest of us it is a great bit of fun.

Dependability
The App works but, there is no control on the output... which is the way it was designed.

Security
The risk is not in the App but in not damaging your phone during your sleep... especially by it getting dropped on a hard floor.

ACIDS Test Rating:
You could be a great artist.

To find out how the ACIDS Test works, click here.
                                                         
You can get Ibis Sleep Art here and support for the App here.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Calendars+ - App Review

Your iOS device comes ready loaded with the Apps 'Calendar' and 'Reminders', which are useful but, you can't expect too much from 'free' Apps... the concept of 'free' is to be taken with a pinch of salt as you had to buy the Apple device first.
Calendars+ is a replacement for both these Apps, and integrates the two types of data (appointments and tasks).

Now for the ACIDS test:

Aesthetics
Although reviews are normally written on the basis of the App itself, without comparing to others, this one needs to be treated slightly differently as the App is a replacement for one (or two) built-in Apps.
As far as the diary part of Calendars+ is concerned, the display options of 'List', 'Day', and 'Month' are augmented by 'Week'. Although this might seem only a small difference, it is the most often used display (just as in most paper versions). Calendars+ makes it clear for you to see what appointments are taking place this week, as well as the tasks you need to complete. The really clever bit is that they manage to do this without the screen looking like a dog's dinner, by neatly using a fixed sized box for all events. It is then easy to tap on any box and get, where appropriate, more information; this works very well. A similar approach is used in the 'Month' view, where the simple dot (to show that there's something on that day) in Calendar is replaced in Calendars+ by a touchable box that again expands to show all the additional information.
How many times have you been at the end of a meeting and the last thing on the agenda is... arranging the next meeting, with the same person, in the same place. Calendars+ makes life much easier in these circumstances; tap the duplicate icon on the current item, go to the date and time for the new meeting and choose 'Paste'; no need to worry about errors.
Entering a task or to-do is accomplished in the same way as an appointment/event but, obviously, in the same App; a great advantage to productivity.
Another major difference between the built-in Calendar (this also applies to Reminders) and this App is in the ease of entering a new item. Instead of using the scrolling date and time wheel, Calendars+ uses its own presentation which is very easy to use and will also avoid the problem of flicking the wheel with over over enthusiasm and then having to wind it back. It is a matter of personal preference but, it's a neat solution.
It is worth noting that, as a result of all the additional information which is readily viewable, the ‘Today’ button, which takes you to the current date, regardless of where you are browsing, is replaced with the one or two numbers in today’s date (at the bottom right of the screen).
Calendars+ integrates seamlessly with Google Calendar, affording you another level of productivity gain.
The information is displayed slightly differently on iPhones and iPads. The additional screen real estate on the latter is put to very good use; this review was written with reference to the iPhone version.

Cost
There are two versions of the App, Calendars+ which is a low priced option or the entirely cost free version (Calendars by Readdle), which you could always try to convince yourself.

Indispensability
If you already use the Apps 'Calendar' or 'Reminders', which are both an integral part of iOS (hence cannot be deleted) then, Calendars+ will rapidly become indispensable.

Dependability
Calendars+ works flawlessly but, you are still the one who has to enter the correct information.

Security
Calendars+ is not password protected so you need to protect your information with your iOS access password. The benefit of this is obviously that you do not need to renter a password for the App.

ACIDS Test Rating:
Calendar + Reminders = Calendars+

To find out how the ACIDS Test works, click here.
                                                         
You can get Calendars+ here and support for the App here.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

iFooty - App Review

If you are not interested in football (soccer to our US cousins), please do not waste your time reading any further.
iFooty acts as a news aggregator for football results, news and comment. So, whether it's British (Premiership, Scottish Premier, Championship, League One or Two, Blue Square Premier), Spanish (La Liga), Italian (Serie A), German (Bundesliga 1), French (Ligue 1), Dutch (Eredivisie), Portuguese (Primeira), Danish (Superliga), North American, South American, Japanese League 1, or International Matches, iFooty has it covered.

Now for the ACIDS test:

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You start off by choosing the league that interests you (and obviously you can change this to your hear content). You can then review the league table as it actually stands, together with recent results for all teams in the league you are interested in. The 'Today' tab shows, as expected, the list of matches being, or to be, played today. By touching any of these matches, you are taken to a live, minute by minute, account of how the match progresses. It's obviously not the same as being there, or even watching on TV but, if those options are unavailable, this is an excellent alternative.
Further tabs enable you to view and enter discussions on individual matches or on more general topics, as well as read full match reports and news on all the teams involved.
In addition there two more useful links:
Firstly there is a link to video highlights of games. These are covered by an in App purchase (Ugh!) but you are allowed free access for a while if you accept the terms and conditions.
Secondly, you can get a list of forthcoming fixtures. iFooty neatly gets around copyright infringement by warning you that the information will be displayed in an external page (such as the BBC, where copyright fees have been paid).

Cost
There is an ad supported free version, or, for a very modest fee, you can make the ads disappear and also have push notification of goals.

Indispensability
How much do you love football? Now you can answer for yourself how indispensable the App is.

Dependability
The App is totally dependable, unlike my team!

Security
There is only local storage of information, so there are no risks.

ACIDS Test Rating:
Love footy? Love iFooty!

To find out how the ACIDS Test works, click here.
                                                         
You can get iFooty here and support for the App here.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Decide Now - App Review

I used to be indecisive... now, I'm not so sure. If this strikes a chord with you then, this App will be right up your street. If your choice can be decided with the flip of a coin, so be it... but generally there is more than one option, Decide Now enables you to enter all the alternatives and come up with a 'decision'.


Now for the ACIDS test:

Aesthetics
You start with 'add new decision' which you can view as 'what's the question'. Once this is entered, you enter the options; between two (any less would hardly prove challenging) and ten. If you want to weight the decision process you cannot enter identical options so, use your imagination.

Once you are ready click 'Make your Decision' and you are presented with a wheel which you spin, just like a roulette wheel. The wheel then stops on your 'decision'; neat and could avoid arguments.

You can Tweet or post your decision on Facebook directly from the App.

As all the 'question' and 'options' are saved, these can be used again later. You can delete and rename options, although the entered order cannot be changed.

There is also a readymade sample 'what to do tonight' that will let you experiment.

Cost
This is a low cost App with no attempt to get you to make additional purchases.

Indispensability
If you have no problems taking decisions (and how about when you are not alone) then, you are indeed fortunate... and possibly deluded. This fun App will help you on your way.


Dependability
The App works flawlessly, although there are no guarantees that the 'decision' will always be the 'right' one.


Security
Apart from the interface with Twitter and Facebook, all information is stored on your iOS device.


ACIDS Test Rating:

Still undecided? Better get the App!

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

                                                         

You can get Decide Now here and support for the App here.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Inspiration by Air France - App Review

Air France would like you to fly with them and have developed this App to make it easier for you to exhaust their wishes... or so you might think.

Now for the ACIDS test:

Aesthetics
The home screen allows you to choose whether you want a trendy, or sunny activity, choose your own activity (by location), or simply look at currently promoted discounted activities. Anything that interests you can then be added to your favourites. If you are interested in actually booking anything, the App will send you an email with the appropriate links on their full website; you cannot book from here.
There is a further tab 'AF Promos' where you can book a flight from Air France's current special offers. The problem with this is that the App is designed for iPhone (the 2X button in the bottom right corner of an iPad confirming this) and that the representation of the information is just as you would expect on the Air France website, so is almost unusable.

Cost
The App is free and you get an amount off your next flight with Air France. The amount varies by country (CHF 100.00, for example) but, comes with conditions (now there's a surprise) but you can use the code five times in five different bookings.

Indispensability
If you have a moment (on the toilet?) when you just want to look up some holiday destinations, the App has a use otherwise, it is a waste of every imaginable resource.

Dependability
The App crashes with alarming frequency... any joke, however tempting, would be in poor taste.

Security
There are no security issues with the App but, in keeping with the nonsense of using it: why are the queues so long at airport security?

ACIDS Test Rating:
The company could have reduced its loss by not developing this App.

To find out how the ACIDS Test works, click here.
                                                         
You can get Inspiration by Air France here and support for the App here.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Merck PSE HD - App Review

Do you remember the periodic table from your school days?
If you remember the table as a black and white wall chart with a letter (mainly two) and a number between 1 and 118 then, this is exactly what this App is about but here, it is as an iOS App, in all its Technicolor glory.

Now for the ACIDS test:

Aesthetics
The initial screen is the periodic table as you have often seen it, with the s-, d-, p-, and f-block being colour coded so as to make them stand out more. This on its own would be the basis of a nice chart but not an App... and this is where this App really delivers.
Touch any of the elements and find its full name, classification, group, period, and relative atomic mass.
As if were not enough, you can now touch the element you selected and get access to much more information. This ranges from etymological information, superlative information (great for quizzes), and other nuggets of interesting data. And this isn't all; close the previous window and have access to 'Basic information' (including melting point, boiling point, density, electronegativity, electron configuration, percentage mass of earth's core, and more... call that 'basic?).
There is yet more to come with photographs of the discoverer(s) (or even pictures if the discovery predates photography) and pictures of the element itself.
The only item left after this (at this stage) is access to Merck's products; it is well hidden and can easily be ignored for those of us who are just curious.
This should be enough for most but, touch the little 'M' at the top left of the screen and another Pandora's Box opens. This enables searching, property ranking by the criterion of your choice, a molar mass calculator, and a very useful glossary. This leaves 'just' two more choices... and are my favourites. Firstly, 'State at room temperature', where you can change the temperature (either by dragging a pointer or using a very tactile wheel) and the whole periodic table colours by state (solid, liquid, gaseous). Secondly, the date of discovery where you can use a similar mechanism to light up the table according to when an element was discovered.

Cost
The App is absolutely free.

Indispensability
If you're into chemistry, or just plain curious, this is a must.

Dependability
Absolutely no problems whatsoever, and the transition from one screen to another is beautifully smooth.

Security
The data for the App is all downloaded at installation so, there are no issues. If this had been available when I was 'studying', I might have spent less time making stink bombs... which would have increased security for others.

ACIDS Test Rating:
Elementary? Anything but!

To find out how the ACIDS Test works, click here.
                                                         
You can get Merck PSE HD here and support for the App here.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Great Wine Regions Game - App Review

If you are new to wine, or like memory games then, this just might be for you. The important thing to remember is that there is 'Game' in the name... so don't get too excited.

Now for the ACIDS test:

Aesthetics
Once you hit the 'Start' button, you are presented with five gold coins each bearing the name of a different country, and five slots with descriptions. the aim of the game is to put the correct coin in the correct slot as quickly as possible. You then receive a score based on speed and accuracy; there is a 60 second time limit.
You can either play directly against yourself, another player, or compare results with the leader board.
I'd suggest having the volume set to 'off', or you'll be irritated by the 'music'.

Cost
The App is free, funded by advertisements,as well as being an entry into the 'My Wine Masterclass' series.

Indispensability
In fairness to the developers, view this App as a taster (no pun intended).

Dependability
The App works fine but the number of questions is very limited.

Security
The App links to the iOS Game Center (sic) so be careful. If you are signed in to Game Center, your scores will be shared... and may  disclose what you have really been up to.

ACIDS Test Rating:
A taster for better things

To find out how the ACIDS Test works, click here.
                                                         
You can get Great Wine Regions Game here and support for the App here.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

DriveSaver - App Review

Despite its name, this is not a 'Drive Saver'. It is however an interesting App that might help you explain some of the pitfalls of data storage to yourself, or others.

Now for the ACIDS test:

Aesthetics
The App contains different elements which help you understand how a hard drive works and what individual components do, in a pleasantly realistic way. It shows various error types and how a drive will react. Usefully, there are also a number of protection strategies and best practices; well worth the read.

Cost
The App is free but is really an advertising medium for a data recovery company... so, that's fair.

Indispensability
As far as an iOS device is concerned, it is only an educational App; it will not repair anything but is an interesting educational tool.

Dependability
It is really only a database and is not editable, so there is little to go wrong.

Security
You neither enter, nor share data, so there is no security risk.

ACIDS Test Rating:
A bit of fun and educational too

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

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

Monday, 11 March 2013

Car Dashboard - App Review

So there you are, driving your car and you want to know how fast you are travelling (don't you have a speedometer?), or your heading, altitude, and distance travelled... this is a neat way to do exactly that.

 


Now for the ACIDS test:

Aesthetics
The first steps are to set up your speed units (kilometres, miles, or knots), altitude units (metres or feet), and distance units (kilometres, miles, or nautical miles (no, they are not the same)). Interestingly, the speed and distance units do not need to coincide; full marks to the developer for giving the user the choice.

You then also set up the background colour, as well as an optional pattern. The final choice is whether you will use your iPhone display as the source of your information, or whether you would prefer a HUD (Head Up Display), as is used in fighter aircraft. In my experience, this latter solution is insufficiently clear, as it is too small, especially in daylight.

You are now set to head off and monitor your progress.

Cost
There is no charge for the App.

Indispensability
If you already have a fixed holder for your iPhone in your car, this is a bit of additional fun. There is however one very useful application for cars with speedometers in miles per hour, when travelling in Europe, when you can have a clear display of speed in the 'local currency' (and vice versa, of course).

Dependability
A traditional speedometer over-reads (a legal requirement in some countries), so you will think that the App under-reads; in fact there is a good chance that you are getting a more accurate measurement from the App, provided that your speed is constant. The inaccuracy of the App comes from the fact that it only gets positioning information every few tens of metres... and gets none at all if there is no line of sight view to satellites (such as in a tunnel).


Security
The App does not share data but, be careful not to concentrate too much on the App while driving.

 


ACIDS Test Rating:

Apart for kph/mph localisation, treat as a 'toy'.

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

 

You can get Car Dashboard here and support for the App here.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Beesy - App Review

Meetings; love 'em, hate 'em... you just keep having 'em. The basic premise of Beesy is that business life revolves around meetings, and it's hard to argue with that. Beesy, in a nutshell (and it's a large cocoanut sized husk) is the repository for your calendar, tasks (To-dos), notes, and projects.

Now for the ACIDS test:

Aesthetics
You can pick up most Apps and start using them immediately, and then find little 'extras' as you go along. I would urge you not to attempt this approach with Beesy; this is not a criticism of the App, simply that it is so comprehensive that you need to understand the interconnections... before getting yourself confused.
The ‘Dashboard’ is the equivalent of your desktop with your monthly calendar, appointments, notes and tasks. Your tasks are automatically arranged into one of four sections of a matrix, split by a cross (Important, Non-important, Urgent, non-urgent), with your notes at the bottom. This graphical representation is streets ahead of the linear representation found in other Apps.
If you start with a meeting then, think of the agenda as topics. As the meeting progresses, action points will be agreed and you note those (together with very neat icons). Your To-Do list will flow naturally from these notes. As Beesy also has access to your contacts (provided you allow it), it is easy to add people to meetings and actions. The link is one-way only, so you can import a contact but cannot update same, or add a person to your iOS contact list directly from Beesy; this is neither an advantage, nor a disadvantage, just worth knowing.
There really is a lot to Beesy, and the only way to really do it justice is to try it out for yourself; the experience is well worthwhile.

Cost
The App is very reasonably priced, although there are also a couple of in App purchases (ugh!) for document importing and full reminders synchronisation to add.
The real cost of Beesy is the leap of faith that needs to be made to use it fully. The chances are that you will ditch other Apps that you already have, and there is a learning curve.

Indispensability
If you're involved in managing meetings then, you either already have Beesy, or you are wasting a great deal of time and effort.

Dependability
The App was totally reliable.

Security
As far as Beesy is concerned, there are no issues but I would suggest you password protect the App. Beesy syncs with Evernote so, the usual precautions are to be applied when dealing with third parties (Evernote is excellent).

ACIDS Test Rating:
Beesy is a reason for buying an iPad.

To find out how the ACIDS Test works, click here.
                                                         
You can get Beesy here and support for the App here.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Very important information for Evernote users

Security Notice: Service-wide Password Reset

Evernote's Operations & Security team has discovered and blocked suspicious activity on the Evernote network that appears to have been a coordinated attempt to access secure areas of the Evernote Service.
As a precaution to protect your data, we have decided to implement a password reset. Please read below for details and instructions.
In our security investigation, we have found no evidence that any of the content you store in Evernote was accessed, changed or lost. We also have no evidence that any payment information for Evernote Premium or Evernote Business customers was accessed.
The investigation has shown, however, that the individual(s) responsible were able to gain access to Evernote user information, which includes usernames, email addresses associated with Evernote accounts and encrypted passwords. Even though this information was accessed, the passwords stored by Evernote are protected by one-way encryption. (In technical terms, they are hashed and salted.)
While our password encryption measures are robust, we are taking additional steps to ensure that your personal data remains secure. This means that, in an abundance of caution, we are requiring all users to reset their Evernote account passwords. Please create a new password by signing into your account on evernote.com.
After signing in, you will be prompted to enter your new password. Once you have reset your password on evernote.com, you will need to enter this new password in other Evernote apps that you use. We are also releasing updates to several of our apps to make the password change process easier, so please check for updates over the next several hours.
As recent events with other large services have demonstrated, this type of activity is becoming more common. We take our responsibility to keep your data safe very seriously, and we're constantly enhancing the security of our service infrastructure to protect Evernote and your content.
There are also several important steps that you can take to ensure that your data on any site, including Evernote, is secure:
  • Avoid using simple passwords based on dictionary words
  • Never use the same password on multiple sites or services
  • Never click on 'reset password' requests in emails — instead go directly to the service
Thank you for taking the time to read this. We apologize for the annoyance of having to change your password, but, ultimately, we believe this simple step will result in a more secure Evernote experience. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Evernote Support.
The Evernote team

Friday, 1 March 2013

Heart Pal - App Review

If you don't suffer from high blood pressure (or low for that matter), don't take medication, and aren't responsible for anyone to whom these items apply, then this App won't interest you... because they are the raison d'être of the App.

Now for the ACIDS test:

Aesthetics
The main entry screen allows you to enter systolic and diastolic heart pressures, as well as pulse. You can also enter notes to attach to individual readings, which could be helpful in later analysis. In addition to this, you can enter any medication that needs to be taken, including dosage and, very importantly, when the medication needs administering. You can choose imperial or metric units.
The App then takes care of graphing this information in a very neat way, as well as issuing reminders for medication to be taken.

Cost
There is a free version to try, before going for the low cost, unlimited full version.

Indispensability
It is a neat way to record heart rates. The App will serve as a reminder of medication to be taken, although this can also be effected with the built-in alarm. The App is not indispensable but medical supervision is.

Dependability
The App does not record your heart rate (obviously), it is merely a very neat and elegant way to record the readings that you have obtained with a heart pressure monitor. The part that is indispensable is proper medical supervision.

Security
Your information is only stored on your iOS device so, there are no security issues. On the other hand, it also means that there is no medical supervision of individual readings, just when you show the data to your specialist.

ACIDS Test Rating:
A neat addition to proper medical supervision.

To find out how the ACIDS Test works, click here.
                                                         
You can get Heart Pal here and support for the App here.