iPhone app review: WorldView Live

(This iPhone review and others like it have been moved to my new app review site, positivemachine.com. Why not have a look?)


Name/Category: WorldView Live / Travel
Price: US$2.99 (free version available)


What it does: Displays live images from thousands of public webcams around the world

If you’re anything like me or Mr. T (that is to say you have travel issues), WorldView Live is a godsend. It costs less than a can of beer on a budget airline – believe me you’ll need more than one to get through the rocky screamfests that are equatorial updrafts, at least when I’m screaming – and gives you pretty much the same results as real travel. In fact, it’s even better. You get all the sights, from the majesty of the Eiffel Tower and Mount Fuji to the soggy streets of London, without having to suffer the French, learn Japanese, or get dragged into a hen night. You won’t have your passport or girlfriend stolen by a charming local, find your luggage switched with a transvestite’s, wander down a dodgy street late at night wearing said transvestite’s wardrobe, wake up in the morning with blood running… ok, you get the idea.

The app lets you search for webcams by city, keywords, as well as GPS/map location. Some are refreshed every 5 minutes or so, while others are live feeds that update every second. WorldView’s free edition lets you see many of the static cameras, while the paid WorldView Live version adds video and other useful features like search suggestions. Webcams.travel provides the images, and can be freely accessed from any computer. In essence, WorldView Live is a $2.99 native iPhone viewer for the site, but still one worth having if you care at all for looking out your window.


Rating: A-

Buy WorldView Live on the iTunes App Store.
Get WorldView (Free) on the iTunes App Store.



iPhone app review – Ferrari GT: Evolution

(This iPhone review and others like it have been moved to my new app review site, positivemachine.com. Why not have a look?)


Name/Category: Ferrari GT: Evolution / Games
What it costs: $0.99 (previously $9.99)


What it is: Last year’s racehorse, on its last legs


Why you should buy it: Racing games and first-person shooters are two of the most graphically intensive genres in gaming, so enthusiasts often look to them for examples of what a machine can do. When Gameloft released Asphalt 4: Elite Racing on the iPhone last year, it was hailed as a landmark achievement in iPhone graphics. It was as if a tiny digital Ronald Reagan had approached a programming barrier inside the iPhone and commanded digital Gorbachev to tear it down. A few months later, the company released Ferrari GT: Evolution. Built using largely the same technology, the new game had a (licensed) identity of its own: a slightly more serious driving simulation compared to Asphalt’s nitro-boosted arcade speedfest.


Why you shouldn’t: Racing games sold on great graphics alone don’t have any long-lasting appeal. Gameloft seems to recognize this, and the game is now being sold at a tenth of its launch price of $9.99. In the time since it ran its first lap, other more impressive driving games have run it into the ground, made it eat their dust, given it a flat tyre, put a banana in its tail pipe, upped its road tax, cut its brakes, siphoned its fuel tank while it parked in the drive-in theatre and made out, parked it in a shipping container meant to be delivered half the world away, and used it as a Bonus Stage prop in a game of Street Fighter 2. Or if you prefer, overtaken it.

Oh and the controls are a bit crap.


“But It’s Just 99 Cents” Rating: 3/5

Buy Ferrari GT: Evolution in the iTunes App Store.
Try Ferrari GT: Evolution Lite for free in the iTunes App Store.



iPhone app review – Facebook

(This iPhone review and others like it have been moved to my new app review site, positivemachine.com. Why not have a look?)


Name / Category: Facebook / Social Networking (v2.5)

What it costs: Free



What it is: A way to overshare while on the go.



Why you should get it: Last week, I was induced to join a cult called iPRAMS, or iPhone Radicals Against MobileSafari. Our group believes that it’s no coincidence MobileSafari’s initials are MS, which makes the iPhone browser part of the conspiracy that began in 1997 when THAT other company bought $150m of Apple shares. Under my newly sworn vows, I can no longer use the browser to access Facebook’s mobile website on my iPhone. Thank heavens for this app which does exactly what the website does!


Why you shouldn’t: iPRAMS recognizes the independence and diversity of all iPhone users, which includes those who might want to use MobileSafari and the Facebook website instead. So if you want to help the devil spread a thinly-veiled mobile version of Internet Explorer 8, go right ahead.



“But I’m Not A Member of iPRAMS” Rating: 2/5

Download Facebook for free on the iTunes App Store.

Below: Facebook iPhone app

Below: Facebook site in MobileSafari

iPhone app review – Triazzle

(This iPhone review and others like it have been moved to my new app review site, positivemachine.com. Why not have a look?)


Name / Category: Triazzle / Games
What it costs: $2.99 on sale ($3.99 regularly)


What it is: A jigsaw puzzle with LSD-inspired effects


Why you should buy it: If you like jigsaw puzzles, triangles, and getting high, there’s no earthly reason why Triazzle won’t become your favorite iPhone game. You start by choosing either a 9 or 16-piece puzzle at one of four difficulty levels. A new puzzle is randomly generated each time. I’m not sure what it all means, but dragging pieces into place and rotating them usually makes me feel nice all over. Sometimes, the pictures on the edge of my piece actually match another piece next to it! That’s when it starts to get weird.

When a match is made, the pictures of frogs, butterflies, bugs, and turtles come to life and start to move around the board. They actually come out of the freaking pictures and crawl around on your screen!! It’s not a problem unless you’re hungry. One time, I had a really good conversation with this purple toad who told me to chill out when I was getting a little edgy.

“Dude, this game has no time limit or scoring system,” he said. “Whoaaaaaaa!” I replied. “So the point is just to kick back, listen to the far-out music, and see the world for what it really is? A system of control that you can escape with psychotropic medication?” I made another match and a turtle nipped at my fingertip. “Right on,” said the frog.


Why you shouldn’t: I forgot.



Rating: 5 rainbow frogs out of 5

Buy Triazzle on the iTunes App Store.

From sangsara.net
From sangsara.net

iPhone app review – Notespark

(This iPhone review and others like it have been moved to my new app review site, positivemachine.com. Why not have a look?)


Name / Category: Notespark / Productivity
What it costs: $4.99


What it is: The last notepad you’ll ever buy, as long as the site stays up.


What it does: Ever seen a sci-fi movie where people on trains read newspapers that are actually moving screens, like e-paper, and they download content from some awesome future internet? Notespark is totally like that, but for notepads. It lets you write down as many things as you want, on sheets of virtual paper that then fly off to a server somewhere for safekeeping. Later that night, when you’re back home in front of your computer and need to remember what that other commuter looked like in great detail so you can write her a Missed Connections post on Craigslist, you’ve got it right there on www.notespark.com.


What it doesn’t: It’s like, nearly the end of the noughties, and is anyone like, still taking TEXT notes? Are you serious? Why not just record a voice memo of yourself describing her cute clothes and sweet ass and intoxicating body odor, right there on the train in front of her? Or maybe snap a photo under the pretext of looking something up on Google, then jerking the lens in her direction whilst looking deep in thought or absorbed in the financial planning ad above? If you do go down that route – and it is a dark and contemptible one, believe me – Evernote will do the job. Just don’t ask Evernote to handle a bunch of words, because it’s like, totally retarded.


“Head in the Cloud” Rating: 5/5

Buy Notespark in the iTunes App Store.
But first, you might want to sign up for a free online account and test-drive their functionality at notespark.com. It’s many times better than the $1.99 Simplenote‘s online half.


Update: Notespark now supports SSL encryption on all connections, eliminating its gravest shortcoming (one that drove many to Simplenote). I’m told an update to the iPhone app is pending, while the website already has it in place.


iPhone app review – Birdfeed

(This iPhone review and others like it have been moved to my new app review site, positivemachine.com. Why not have a look?)


Name / Category: Birdfeed / Social Networking
What it costs: $4.99


What it is: Intentionally crippled Artfully restrained Twitter client.


Who it’s for: A small subset of Twitterers unfortunate enough to suffer from chronic design savviness – that is to say, they’re unable to use any app whose interface was not first sketched out in a Moleskine and then neurotically tuned at the sub-pixel level with symmetrical grids. Very few options exist for these pitiful but gifted consumers, and before Birdfeed came along, it was pretty much between Tweetie and Twitterrific. You know you’re one of them when someone mentions Birdfeed designer Neven Mrgan’s name and your first thought isn’t “wait, how do you spell that?”


Who it isn’t for: You call yourself a power user, and you expect your Twitter client to do useful things like show you who your followers are, and give you one-click access to different views via a thoughtful toolbar along the bottom of the main timeline. Well, if you dare ask for such niceties in Birdfeed, clearly you don’t get it. If you have to question why there isn’t a choice of themes, or any sound effects, or why you can’t view someone’s avatar photo at full-screen size, know that you’re a goddamned philistine and should probably apply for a job at Microsoft. With their legal department.

By the way, if your current app is something as godawful-ugly as Twittelator Pro, or to a lesser extent, SimplyTweet (seriously, have a look), I don’t think the creators of Birdfeed even want your filthy, filthy money.


“Art-School Snob” Rating: 4/5

Buy Birdfeed in the iTunes App Store.

From sangsara.net
From sangsara.net
From sangsara.net
From sangsara.net

* This review has been slightly amended for clarity. Some felt it was hard to tell whether I was poking fun at myself (and my own anal-retentive requirements), or slamming Birdfeed for possibly choosing form over function. I don’t believe that it does. It’s a swell app that makes a few tough choices and mostly gets things right, and the 4/5 score reflects that.