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Thursday, 30 May 2013

VPN One Click - App Review



Although you might think this App is of no interest to you, read on for thirty seconds before making up your mind.

Two scenarios that may hit the spot:

1. You are not in your "home" country and therefore cannot access certain services, such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, or a multitude of other sources.

2. You want to 'cloak' your location, so that people cannot tell where you really are. If they care to use a bit of detective work, they will think they know where you are located but, it will in fact be where you have chosen to point them.

Both these can be genuine reasons for using VPN One Click.

Now for the ACIDS test:

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VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) could be assumed to be the domain of technical experts; VPN One Click changes that and makes it über simple to use.

On installation the App will download all the technical stuff that you need. Once that is done go to Settings/VPN and choose the location you want to be in from:

Australia
Canada
Egypt
France
Germany
Hong Kong
India
Italy
Japan
Netherlands
Romania
Singapore
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
Turkey
United Kingdom
United States

... and 'Random' where you will change location each time you log in.

Each country has the choice of PPTP (Point to Point Tunnelling Protocol) or L2TP (Layer Two Tunnelling Protocol). I suggest picking either. If you want to learn more about these technical aspects, there is a good explanation here Internet Privacy & Security

All you need to do now is turn the VPN option to 'On'. That really is all there is to it. You will be comforted by a VPN Icon, just to the right of the signal strength meter at the tip of your screen, which will confirm that you are using VPN.

You can also seek further comfort by going back to the App and checking your current IP address. Turning VPN off will revert to your ISP provided address.

Cost
There is a fully functional one week free trial. After that there is either a modest monthly fee, or an annual charge equivalent to the price for ten months. The code can be used across all your devices, with no further payment.

Indispensability
This depends on your personal circumstances. If you find yourself denied access to certain services then, you will wish to have this App.

Dependability
The service seems to work without hiccup. It is worth remembering though that if your Internet connection is not reliable, this will not alleviate that issue. This is the case, for example, in many hotels where the Wi-Fi seems to be provided more so as to be able to say that the service is available, rather than as a properly usable connection.

Security
The point is that enabling VPN actually enhances your security and you do not share any information with the provider as the purchase is made in the AppleStore, without any further account set-up.

ACIDS Test Rating:

(Appear to) be where you want to be

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


You can get VPN One Click here and support for the App here.


Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Essential Skeleton - App Review



The clue is very much in the name.

There is a video tour; it's a good idea to take the three and a half minutes to look at the tutorial.

Now for the ACIDS test:

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The App starts up with a skeleton, which you can move and zoom as required (even easier if you watched the video).

Touching a part will bring up information thereon, including a nifty speaker which will give you the correct pronunciation (albeit with an American accent).

From your selected item you can choose:

Hide/Fade - which will hide/fade just the selected item
Hide/Fade others - which will hide/fade everything except the selected item

The so-called bread crumb trail shows you the parent items. For example choose a foot part and be informed that it is part of ankle & foot, which in turn is part of the lower limb.

there are some really great details, such as the 'left handed configuration' which puts the tools on the right-hand side of the screen.

Apart from giving you detailed information, the App can also quiz you (and you select the appropriate areas), and this in turn can be either multiple choice or a drag and drop test.

Cost
The App is absolutely free.

Indispensability
If you need to study the human skeleton, this is a great way to do it.

Dependability
Faultless.

Security
There is the ability to share via Facebook and Twitter apart from that, the downloaded App is standalone.

ACIDS Test Rating:

For osteologists everywhere.

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


You can get Essential Skeleton here and support for the App here.


Saturday, 25 May 2013

AVG Family Safety® - App Review



AVG Family Safety really has two main uses. One is to protect yourself from potential viruses, malware and identity theft, the other is to restrict access to sites from a parental control point of view. This is an aid to prevent online bullying and so-called cyber-grooming, and works (amongst others) to filter Facebook and Twitter.

The App is basically a replacement browser (instead of Safari) and how one sets it up depends on the intended use.

Now for the ACIDS test:

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If the intention is 'just' to protect yourself then, simply use AVG Family Safety instead of safari. The two are fairly similar, with bookmarks, multiple pages, refresh, back and forward buttons. This App varies in that there is an 'eye' button that checks the site for trackers and the ability to add to your block list (more about this in a moment). You simply rely on the massive database that AVG maintain of potential threats to keep you protected.

The mum and dad know best implementation is slightly different at the beginning. You need to set up an AVG Family Safety account with AVG that enables you to set the type of access blocking you require, such as categories, times, password overrides, and more. This however must be set-up on a device that supports Flash, so it needs to be done on a Mac or PC.

Having done this you then need to disable Safari. This involves going to 'Settings/General/Restrictions' on the iOS device to turn this feature on (and supplying a four digit code). You then need to turn Safari to 'off' and disable the ability to download material (otherwise all your efforts will amount to nothing as it is simple to download another browser.

There are detailed instructions with the App and it is suggested that you read them.

Cost
The App is free but the AVG Family Safety account is based on an annual fee.

Indispensability
It really depends on your attitude to potential threats on the Internet.

Dependability
The App seems a little slower than Safari but, it is not a problem.

Security
That's what this App is all about. There is no doubt that, from a security point of view, you are better protected by AVG Family Safety than Safari.

ACIDS Test Rating:

Don't be put off by the name.

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


You can get AVG Family Safety® here and support for the App here.


Thursday, 23 May 2013

MeteoSwiss by MeteoSwiss - App Review



If you are interested in weather forecasts for Switzerland and, most importantly, if you have been receiving weather warnings by SMS then, this is the App for you. The excellent SMS weather warning that have been supplied (for free) by Météo Suisse to date will cease at the end of May. If you wish to continue receiving an equivalent service, you will need to download this App and receive similar information by way of alerts.

Now for the ACIDS test:

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The main screen is divided into a number of sections:

Weekly forecast:
This displays information for your current location for six days (a short week). Tapping on it gives access to a regional map, this in turn gives a choice of forecasts for six days and can further be drilled down for mountain forecasts of wind speed and direction, as well as temperatures at fixed altitudes.

Animations:
These can be chosen for precipitation, clouds, temperature, as well as enlarged for all Switzerland, the Alps, or Europe.

Weather bulletin:
This is a text report, available in the main Swiss national languages, based on the language chosen as your system setting. If your iOS device is set to. 'English' then it will be in German.

Current weather:
Touching this displays a local map, where you can choose: temperature, sunshine, precipitation, wind speed (direction indicated by an arrow), pressure, humidity (and dew point), Foehn index, and quantity of fresh and total snow.

+
Add other locations for a quick today and tomorrow forecast.
All in all, this is fairly comprehensive weather forecasting.

Cost
Absolutely free and bereft of advertising. This is a service provided by the Swiss Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology.

Indispensability
The weather warnings are indispensable and highly accurate.

Dependability
The App is reliable and the forecasts as good as one can expect.

Security
You can optionally (and very usefully) share your current location.

ACIDS Test Rating:

A must have, just for alerts.

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


You can get MeteoSwiss by MeteoSwiss here and support for the App here.


Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Skitch - App Review



I've said it before, and will no doubt say it again, I am a fan of Evernote... and Skitch is a partner program for Evernote.

It's so much clearer for everyone if documents (whatever they are) are neatly annotated, rather than have nigh illegible scrawls across them. Skitch makes it easier to be neat than to be scruffy.

Skitch creates a new folder in your Evernote account, named (unimaginatively but easy to remember) 'Skitch'.

Now for the ACIDS test:

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You start with a base page, which could be any of the following:

Photo that you take from within the App
Photo that is already on your iOS device
PDF document that is somewhere on your Evernote account
Map; you decide where (and the scale) and Skitch will take care of the rest
Web page; you give the address and this becomes your base page
Blank Page

One you have created a 'Snap', you are free to use all the tools, which include:

Arrows (very accurate, and work so that you start where you want and end with the head of the arrow, just like it should be)
Text
Markers (with a choice of icons) and again the right way round
Freehand pen
Regular shapes (rectangular, circular, rounded corners, lines)
Cropping tool, where you choose the area that you want to remain

These tools can be further customised by choosing the colour and size, which gives a large variety. All annotations can be edited, resized, moved or, of course, deleted.

Once you are done, just hit the 'save' button and the annotated document is automatically available in your Evernote account. You can then also easily create a public link so that anyone can view the document; just email the address to whoever you want to be able to see it.

Cost
The App is free, as is a basic Evernote account.

Indispensability
Has anyone ever come back to you asking what you mean with your annotations? Did you enjoy wasting everyone's time? Is this a no-brainer?

Dependability
This is an Evernote product and, as one would expect, totally reliable.

Security
The guys at Evernote/Skitch are sufficiently careful that even your 'public' notes contain no reference to your account; nice touch.

For the doubters out there, here's an example:

http://www.evernote.com/shard/s312/sh/e167f4f9-1e17-43ba-b50c-1b611a917244/52e8652970acdbb5ce227dae5b227f7d

ACIDS Test Rating:

Should be made mandatory for doctors (for a start).

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


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


Saturday, 18 May 2013

Jaeger-LeCoultre - App Review



Jaeger-LeCoultre is a Swiss watchmaker, established 1833 (no, that's not just after 6:30 pm, it's nearly two centuries ago)Since 1833, with a heritage of innovation.
This is their App which allows you to see their collection, and much more.

Now for the ACIDS test:

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The home screen has four options:

1. Lessons
This gives you access not only to a very useful watchmaking dictionary but also 'lessons' on various aspects of watchmaking. These demonstrations are backed up with text, as well as videos.

2, Collection
This is basically divided into two parts (although it looks like ten). Nine of the options are displays of current models , sometimes with mood music videos, sometimes with options of changing bracelets.
The 'interesting' part relates to Interactive Models. Here you can play with some of the functions found on the watches and some of the models also display the correct time. It really is beautifully done.

3. Store Locator
This doesn't really need explaining...

4. Share
... and nor does this.

Cost
Unlike the watches, the App is free.

Indispensability
Apart from being able to see the time on a Master Memovox (and some other models), and get some lessons in watchmaking, it is advertising for Jaeger-LeCoultre. The App takes up 257 MB so is fairly large.

Dependability
The App worked without problems.

Security
As can be seen from the large memory footprint taken by the App, everything is downloaded. The share function allows you to connect with facebook and/or Twitter; the usual caveats apply here.

ACIDS Test Rating:

It is absolutely beautiful.

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


You can get Jaeger-LeCoultre here and support for the App here.


Thursday, 16 May 2013

OpenSignal - App Review



Checkout signal strengths wherever you are for your iOS device, be it wi-fi or GSM. At the same time help improve coverage for everyone by sharing your information.

Now for the ACIDS test:

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The dashboard displays your current carrier, the direction of the nearest tower, as well as the quality of data coverage. In addition to this the name of the wi-fi network to which you are connected, as well as nearby networks are listed. All this information is also available in easy-to-use map form.

There is an excellent local coverage map which displays overall signal strength and can also be analysed by service provider.
There's a straightforward Speed test which calibrates latency, download, and upload speeds. In addition, you have access to your history which enables you to see whether or not things are improving.

Settings options enables you to choose whether or not to share information; it's great to see a developer set up their App with a default to 'off' (well done).

Cost
The app is absolutely free. Be careful when using the app for testing a mobile network if you don't have unlimited data usage included in your plan.

Indispensability
It certainly is interesting seeing the available signals and especially location to mobile signal towers. You might be able to use the information for negotiating with your ISP or mobile service.

Dependability
The App is reliable and there's every reason to believe that the information provided is accurate.

Security
In order to play the game (and help everyone else), you should really enable anonymous usage tracking as well as data sharing. Although no personal data is collected, it depends how trusting you are.

ACIDS Test Rating:

Amazing information.

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


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


Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Mr Mood - App Review



See if you need a change in your life... this what Mr Mood promises.

Now for the ACIDS test:

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There is a brief introduction, complete with a nice story about Steve Jobs. Then you choose amongst five moods, which most accurately depicts your current sate of mind. You can also, optionally, add notes, so that when you review the information later you will remember why you were in a particular mod at a particular time. You can then choose, optionally again, at what time you want to be reminded every day to enter your mood.

These moods are then graphed in glorious colour.

It has to be said that the App looks great.

That's basically all there is to it... just wait for a period (your call) and check to see how things are going. This will then prompt you to do something about it, or not.

Cost
This is a very low cost App, with no advertising and no in-App purchases.

Indispensability
That probably depends on your state of mind and your receptiveness to change.

Dependability
The App is totally reliable, unlike one's moods (well, most of us anyway).

Security
The App and all data are on your iOS device; there is no sharing of information.

ACIDS Test Rating:

Simple but potentially life altering.

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


You can get Mr Mood here and support for the App here.


Saturday, 11 May 2013

Push-Cars HD - App Review



If you fancy a distraction that is not too taxing (although some of it can be), this could be right up your street.
The aim of the game is to get cars to either leave a city, or crash into each other, or both.

Now for the ACIDS test:

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You pick a city which does not have a padlock icon and are then presented with an aerial view, complete with a few cars which are strategically placed.
By repeatedly pressing on the car roof, you alter the direction of (future) travel. The aim is to either exit the city, or cause 'rebel' cars to crash into each other. You then hit start and the cars travel in your chosen direction. If you complete the challenge you are awarded 'Dollars' and unlock the next level of the game.

Cost
The App is free and you can get additional credits by completing levels or even visiting the Push-Cars Facebook page. You can also but rips for information if you are stuck on a level, making additional levels available (without having to go through the hoops) and to remove advertising.

Indispensability
Just a bit of fun.

Dependability
The App works fine but only in landscape mode.

Security
No major issues.

ACIDS Test Rating:

Diversion for young and old.

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


You can get Push-Cars HD here and support for the App here.


Thursday, 9 May 2013

Calzy - App Review



Oh no, not another calculator, I hear you groan... well, this one has some great features that make it very worthwhile to take a second look.

Now for the ACIDS test:

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The first thing to note has nothing to do with a calculator (!) but everything to do with attention to detail. The settings in Calzy allow you to choose whether the status bar (signal strength, time, battery remaining) is shown, or not. It should be compulsory for all developers who decide to hide the status bar to take a look (and take note) of how Calzy has implemented this option.

The basic calculator is nothing extraordinary (and therefore nothing to distract you from the task in hand) but has some useful features, which make use of the fact that you are using an iOS device (as opposed to simply mimicking a standard calculator). These include:

*Key to lock screen, instead of using the device switch
*Swipe down to reveal time and a little saying, which can then be Tweeted
*Swipe right (across the answer window) to delete the last entry (and continue to delete previous entries)
*Swipe left to undo (exactly opposite to swipe right)
*Double tap swaps from calculator to a detailed listing of your calculations. These details can then be copied or emailed
*... and my personal favourite, use the Calzy in portrait mode for all your calculations, then change to landscape and have the answer displayed in text (English or double tap to spell in iOS native language).

Cost
This is a low cost App (and worth every penny); what's more it is currently being offered at 50% off.

Indispensability
You need a calculator; if it doesn't have to be scientific then, this is the best one I have seen.

Dependability
Just like any other calculator, the only reliability issue is hitting the right key(s)... and understanding how to use a '%' key.

Security
This is a fully downloaded App, although there is the possibility to share information via Twitter.

ACIDS Test Rating:

An App you can count on! (Sorry, couldn't resist that one).

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


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


Tuesday, 7 May 2013

blippar - App Review



Some things are just plain different; Blippar is exactly that. In fact, in order to attempt to explain the purpose of the App, here's an extract from the company website:

"Blippar™ is the first image-recognition phone app aimed at bringing to life real-world newspapers, magazines, products and posters with exciting augmented reality experiences and instantaneous content.".

Think of it as a hyperlink but without having a PC.

Intrigued, as I was, read on to find out more.

Now for the ACIDS test:

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Apart from optionally setting access to your Facebook and/or Twitter accounts, the interface is supremely simple.

Point your iOS device at anything that says 'Blipp me', or an appropriate image/logo and you are hyperlinked to... somewhere. The fun is that you do not (necessarily) know where you are about to be taken. It could be to more information, a game, a competition.

The uses are fairly endless (iOS limited) and really give a medium (I hate using medium in the singular) an additional layer. A newspaper could be Blipped to give you video content, or a CD sleeve a video. or a product logo to give you vouchers.

This could be the best news for printed newspapers for a very long time.

Cost
As you would expect, the App is free as it is the advertiser who pays.

Indispensability
I think this really is one to watch for the future; the possibilities really are limited only by imagination... try it.

Dependability
As long as you are Blipping something that has a link, the App works fine.

Security
Apart from the information sharing via Facebook and/or Twitter, beware of sharing information once you have been hyperlinked out of the App.

ACIDS Test Rating:

A great concept.

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


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


Saturday, 4 May 2013

Glympse - App Review



This is an App that is so obvious (from the point of view of some of the technology in your iOS device) that it's amazing nobody did it earlier.

In a nutshell, let anyone (of your choice) know where you are, as well as how you are progressing in getting there.

This saves so much hassle about calling to say you will be late, and then having to call again to say it will be even later. It also enables you to meet up with others far more easily, or keep a watchful eye, where necessary.

How often have you had a call "where are you"? Well, Glympse is a pre-emptive strike against such calls.

Now for the ACIDS test:

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The first thing, if you want to do things really properly, is to set up your own details, importing them from Facebook or Twitter, or choosing a picture from your photo album. An alternative is to just type your name.

You can also choose whether to connect with Twitter and/or Facebook, and then have updates on your progress posted on these social networking sites. Additional options are broadcasting your speed, choice of units (mph or kph) and whether or not access to your whereabouts expires on arrival.

You are now almost ready to send your first Glympse. Hit the 'send glympse' button (this is a little confusing as what you are about to do is set up Glympse), enter your destination (optional), pick who you want to invite to eavesdrop on your location; this is easily done by entering phone numbers or email (and recent ones are pickable directly). Enter a message (also optional), and finally decide how long you will share the information; this can be for any number of minutes up to four hours.

Now, hit the send Glympse button (another one) and you are sharing your location and progress.

If you entered an email address then, the person(s) received an email with a link, and if you entered a phone number then, a message was prepared for you to send with the same link. All the recipient needs to do is click on the link and be with you every step of the way. There is no need for that person to have the App, simply access to the Internet with any browser.

Cost
Both the App and access to the information are free. Just be aware that if you are accessing the Internet through a mobile phone, there might be usage charges from your mobile operator... unless you have an unlimited data plan, of course.

Indispensability
Glympse just makes life so much easier. Not only do people know where you are but they can also help you get to your destination. Do not confuse Glympse with Find My Phone; the two are (almost) completely different.

Dependability
The App works flawlessly and the information provided on the website seems to be accurate.

Security
The (optional) sharing of information with Twitter and/or Facebook carries some risks. You also need to be aware that anybody receiving your invitation can share that with someone else.

ACIDS Test Rating:

What a great idea.

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


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


Thursday, 2 May 2013

echo112 - App Review



Picture the scenario, you urgently need emergency services, and you don't know where you are, or what number to dial. You're probably thinking "that won't happen". Well, it's more likely than you might think. Apart from not being in your home country (is the number 999, 911, 177, 112... or something else), how about not knowing exactly where you are.

This is a great App for allowing you to inform the emergency services, without knowing the number, or your location.

Now for the ACIDS test:

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The App by asking you to accept the terms of service; hardly surprising, given its serious application.
Next up is allowing location services to work with the App (it would obviously be useless without this information). You then need to enter your mobile number.


That is all there is to setting up the App.


There is a Test function which shows you how it works. By scrolling the screen you will see the co-ordinates and address for your current location.

When used in earnest, the App automatically dials the correct emergency number for the country in which you are, and sends the message "Help! Go to www.echo112.com to find me". The operator will then confirm the message.

Cost
The App is free and has absolutely no advertising distraction.

Indispensability
In my view, as the App exists, you should have it; it really is that simple.

As an example of how it could have worked for me... I was travelling on the motorway late at night; it was dark (hardly surprising). I suddenly saw headlights rushing towards me, on my carriageway. Fortunately an accident was avoided and I immediately called the emergency services to warn other road users. I was so shocked by what had just happened that I was not even sure of exactly where I was on the motorway.

If echo112 had existed, it would have made everyone's life easier.

Dependability
This system has been field tested by the Swiss Emergency services for the last two years and is now being made available to everyone.

Security
Athough I would normally warn of the potential pitfalls of allowing location services, in this instance, go for it.

ACIDS Test Rating:

The only decision: which corner of your home screen.

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


You can get echo112 here and support for the App here.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

New App Update Reminder Service

A new service has been launched which will allow you to subscribe to information about updates to Apps.
This is aimed mainly at people who have read a review and thought… “This sounds great but, if only…” It’s for those Apps that nearly do (or did) what you wanted but were missing a feature that you really need, or have a quirk that you really don’t like.
At the moment, if you download an App then, you will be notified through your App Store App, and iTunes, that an update is available. You will, however, not be notified that there has been an update to an App that you have not downloaded (not surprising really).
All you need do to subscribe (and of course, there is absolutely no cost) to the service is to choose one of these options:
1.         The best way is to write a comment on a review of an App that interests you, of the type “I would get this if it only…” Then, having submitted your comment, just subscribe to comments. This has the double benefit of not only keeping you informed but also letting the developer know of your requirements. Developers tend to read about their own product(s) on the blog, whereas your comments will not get to them through iTunes as you need to have downloaded the App already (and you’re not doing that because it doesn’t meet your requirements); vicious circle neatly broken.
2.         You will notice, towards the top right-hand side of the page ‘Subscribe To’ and underneath ‘All Comments’. Click on the title of the post (xxx – App review) and the text will change to ‘Comments’. Choose your favourite method of delivery and you will be kept updated.
3.         Click on ‘Links to this post’ at the end of any review that interests you. Then click on ‘Post Comments (Atom)’ and choose your preferred method of delivery.
4.         Similar to ‘2.’Towards the top right-hand side of the page you will see ‘Subscribe To’ and underneath ‘All Comments’. If you choose this (and you are on the home page of the blog), you will receive notification of all comments on all posts. I would not recommend this unless you really want to receive comments and very many update notification on all sorts of Apps; your call.
And while writing this, a quick word to developers… if you issue an update and only state ‘bug fix’ as the ‘improvement’, you are unlikely to gain new customers.