Places… Where are you going?

You want to check out some place new. How you find out what’s around you? Well you could do it the caveman way and pull out the Yellow Pages, or you could find a native and ask them. Or you could get on your home computer and search that way. Neither of these methods is very convenient when you are in your car, riding around. Which happens a lot, to me anyway. This is why I really like this app…

Places is an app in the Google “suite” of iPad/iPhone apps including mail, search, maps, and navigator. It is an app that lets you search for business (or whatever) based on your location. It can be used with or without GPS, but of course its going to be more accurate with.

The basis is you enter in a search term (i.e. Biggby) and it’s will show you any nearby. There are several built in categories such as restaurants, bars, attractions, shopping, gas stations, etc. that you can choose if you don’t have a specific place in mind. From the generated listing you can choose whatever appeals to you. Once you choose, it gives you details of the location including address, comments/recommendations, photos, etc. From there you can actually view a map (Google maps) or even seamlessly drop right into Navigator to get turn by turn directions.

I use this app all the time. Even if I know where the spot is, I’ll check on Places just to see the comments LOL. Other than Maps, is is probably one of the most useful apps I have on my phone. Highly recommended for anyone that is not a chronic shut in or card carrying hermit!

Ciao!

Review: Sobees for iPad

Getting back into my blog grind after recent techno chaos of the iPad acquisition and the Hero upgrade debacle, I thought I’d do some app reviewing. Since I am typing this blog on my iPad, I though it apropos to review an app for it.

I’ve been a Facebook user almost from it’s inception. Thus I’ve been through all of it’s growing pains and changes. Which, if you’ve been a Facebook user for longer than a year, you know is a LOT of changes. I’ve pretty much done everything thing there is to do on FB, that there is to do. As a matter of fact, until recently, it had began to become a little stale. I say until recently a I have found an app which has given [at least for the moment] Facebook new life, or renewed my interest in it anyway.

I’m talking about Sobees. It’s an app which once connected with you FB account, aggregates all of the information, and presents it in the framework of a newspaper! Did I get your attention? I know it sounds wacky, and I admit I was super skeptical at first, but I was quickly won over.

Now is isn’t going to replace a “standard” Facebook app for most people, as the full functionality isn’t quite there. But if you just want to check out what happening on your “wall”, or want to see the latest links posted, or check out your friends photos, or comment on someones update; then you definitely need to check out this app!

As I mentioned earlier, everything is presented in a familiar newspaper-like format. Meaning there are sections and columns. Everything is arranged to be easily accessed. Even videos are played right on the page, no dropping out to a separate player. This is one of those apps designed specifically for the iPad. Takes full advantage of the spacious screen and looks great.

I can’t think of any real gripes with it, other than the same ones that all Facebook apps have, no ability to create messages or otherwise manipulate your Facebook inbox. I use it daily. As a matter of fact, the only time I use the Facebook app (the iPhone version), is when I need to send a message. Until they actually develop an app specifically for the iPad, Sobees will most likely continue to be my FB app of choice.

Ciao!

Tweet Tweet…Goose?

Not really Android or Hero related, but I thought it was noteworthy all the same.

I’m always on the lookout for new software to make my computer “life” more efficient, cooler, more fun.  So I have been recently evaluating lots of different apps.  In this post I discuss the Twitter based alternatives.

If you know anything about me, you know I’m a true Twitter addict.  I’m connected to it 24 hours a day.  Either by desktop or by my Hero.  On the Hero I am currently using Seesmic.  Love it! Does everything I need in a a mobile Twitter app.  So my next mission was to be equally satisfied with a desktop application.

I had been using the Twitter web page since I discovered Twitter.  Never really had an issue with it.  As I get deeper into tweeting and all the information available there, I found I needed a more robust solution.  My first foray was Twhirl, a nice little app made by Seesmic. It’s a good beginning app.  Small, easy to read, some customization. Good app for single account users.  Also works with Friendfeed and other services.  Then a friend introduced me to Tweet Deck.  Wow.  Initially it ws total information overload!  Tweet Deck is definitely for the Twitter power user.  Multiples columns, multiple accounts, tons of user settings. I love it.  But even as much as I use Twitter, I was thinking it was maybe a bit much. My next choice was Seesmic.  What a beautiful application!  Looks like nothing I have used before.  The tweets seems to just appear and float on the screen.  Very original presentation. Decently easy to use.  All of the usual Twitter features.  I think though that the “etherealness” of the app distracts from me taking it seriously.

Currently I am evaluating a web based application called Brizzly.  It not only is a Twitter client, but also a front end for Facebook, which is pretty cool.  Although I tend to prefer stand alone apps as opposed to web based ones, Brizzly seems to be a pretty decent contender.  The Twitter side is great.  Single column setup.  Saved searches. Lists. Covers all the bases.  The Facebook side is pretty decent also. You can do just about everything you can on the actual FB site except play games.  For that it drops to your web browser.  It is a great app.  Dont know that it will be my everyday one but it is pretty nice.  Over all I’m still leaning  towards Tweet Deck, but I havent decided yet.  Check them out!

Ciao!

Fish & Chips

This has been a bad week for water dwelling mammals.  First, at Seaworld, a killer whale named Tillikum allegedly attacked and kills it trainer.  Whats worse, is that it allegedly isnt the first time that this specific whale has killed a human!  A dog would be put down if it even nips someone and draws blood.  I guess killer whales have a 3 human minimum?  More likely Seaworld has some great attorneys.

Second [yes. I know this is a really bad segue.  Just work with me on this one.] I see there is a new update for my Dolphin [see? it kind of works] browser.  So being the geek that I am, I immediately download it, full of anticipatory excitement.  Imagine my immense disappointment when I attempted to run the app after the update.  I say “attempted” to run as I actually have YET to run the app because now it immediately force closes each and EVERY time I attempt to use it.

This really cheeses me off because up till now, I was totally in lust with Dolphin.  It worked beautifully.  It was fast, looked good, and did what I wanted it to do.  Was even planning on making a donation to the developer.  Now, not so much. I have no idea what the problem is.  It dosent give me an error.  It just refuses to open, going right to force close instantly.

So now I’m back to the Android browser.  Which is fine for now. I actually like the stock browser.  Sure its a little slower, and dosent have all the bells and whistles.  It just works.  Right now, thats whats important.

I’ll be evaluating other browsing alternatives probably early next week, as I am moving this weekend.  Till then… Ciao!

App Review: Bloo (Facebook App)

Let me preface this review by saying I am one of those people who is perfectly happy with the native Android Facebook app.  Other than lack of inbox access or chat, it fulfilled my needs just fine.  That being said…

[screenshot from androlib.com]

I really like Bloo.  Visually it is much more appealing than the native.  It also has much more of the FB API available to it.  Things such as photo tagging and not having to drop to the browser to do things like access photos.  I love the Feed.  It’s almost identical to the News Feed in FB. Still no chat or creating inbox messages but thats a small concession in my book.  Events are listed separately.  When viewing an event you can get directions if you have GPS enabled!  Profiles look similar to how they look on a PC.  To be honest, my only fault with Bloo is its loading speed.  It seems to take an extraordinary time to load.  I’m currently testing to verify that its the app and not my Hero, so I’m not going to put the blame all on Bloo just yet.

So if you are a devoted FB user and want the best experience for your Android phone, I’d recommend Bloo.  Get it now!

Ciao!

App Review: TuneWiki

I have seen the glory, and it is TuneWiki!

This app may truly be the “end all” music application for me.  Like many of you, I was totally frustrated with the clunky, unintuitive music player app that came on my Hero.  I hated the way it handled playlists, it didn’t load album art half the time, and was just overall ugly. The only good thing about it was the widget tat showed the current selection and the “play” control in a nice little bar.  As a result, I rarely played any music on my Hero.  Instead, mostly defaulting to my Ipod Touch; meaning carrying 2 devices, and 2 sets of chargers.

The other day I saw several “Now playing…” tweets from a friend of mine.  Intrigued I followed one of the links and discovered TuneWiki!  It was way more than I expected.  Not only does it play my MP3s in a very smooth, and visually appealing manner; it also streams audio AND video!  Music vids come from YouTube (of course), internet radio comes via Last.fm and SHOUTcast.  Both are very good music portals, with the nod to Last.fm.  TuneWiki is also available FREE from Android Market.

With TuneWiki installed, I really dont see the need for any other music app on my Hero, well other than Pandora.  Pandora is THE best music streaming site on the web hands down.  But we’ll talk about them later.  Get TuneWiki.  You’ll love it.

Ciao!

Review: WordPress for Android

One word: Nice!  Wordpress for Android is a very smooth, easy to use app even though it is still a beta.  Having used WordPress apps for both Blackberry and the iPhone, I can tell you that this version is very comparable.

[screenshot via lifehacker.com]

The setup is decently intuitive.  I’d say if you’ve used any of the previous WP apps the learning curve is negligible.  Coming to it brand new, you should have the grasp of it by your first post.  It’s most similar to the iPhone app.  I’d say the iPhone version still has the edge in polish and ease of use, but the Android app is right there in a very close second.  One notable difference is the iPhone version uses “side swipes” to access actions, while the Android version uses “long presses”.   Swiping seems more intuitive to me, but that may just be due to my having used the iPhone app much longer on my iPod Touch.  I’m sure it is just a matter of getting used to the Android method.

Overall I give it an A-.  Good job!  WordPress for Android.