Posted: 13 Oct 2011 10:57 PM PDT
The AppStorm team have been hard at work again. Here is a huge bunch of great free apps and web services they covered.
Raven: Site-Specific Browsing Like You've Never Seen It
A site-specific browser allows you to have the convenience of a dedicated desktop app wrapped around a website. You've seen these before and might even have a few Fluid or Prism apps sitting in your dock. Even so, you've never seen an app quite like Raven before.
This innovative browser attempts to be an all-in-one hub that turns your favorite sites into custom apps that sit in a sidebar. So what happens when a site-specific browser allows you to browse and save multiple sites? Does it become just a regular browser or something new and amazing? Read on to find out.
SwiftRing: A Unique Mouse Gesture App for OS X
The basic concept behind SwitRing isn't exactly new, mouse-activated gestures have been around for ages. In fact, I used to be quite fond of using the gestures feature in Quicksilver. It's nice to be able to whirl your mouse around as if it were a magic wand and have that interpreted as a command to carry out a specific action.
Typically though, gesture apps work basically the same way: you draw a basic shape with your mouse, then associate that with an action. The problem of course with this method is that three weeks later you can never remember all those silly shapes that made so much sense when you set them up. The alternative is something like BetterTouchTool, which adds more multitouch features to your Magic Mouse or trackpad.
SwiftRing is an app still in its infancy stages that seeks to rethink how mouse gestures work. Instead of forcing you to memorize various acrobatic cursor actions, all you do is press a hotkey and move your mouse in a given direction. Let's take a closer look and see how this works.
Elmedia Player: The Right App With The Wrong Purpose?
At AppStorm, I've reviewed all kinds of media players and managers for Mac, from the great (Plex), to the not-so-great (Songbird). I've always been looking for something that has wonderful management features, but is also a pleasure to actually consume media with. While I use and love Plex, it still hasn't satisfied all of my media needs – There's definitely a gap for something incredible.
Elmedia Player is a media player for Mac, which boasts a huge range of codecs, including support for SWF Flash files, and it also has support for downloading movies. Let's take a look at how it compares, and if it's the media player of my dreams.
WebPutty: CSS Authoring In Your Browser
There's a ton of great web development-oriented web apps out there, everything from in-browser image editing tools to full-fledged cloud IDEs. It's evident that you don't need a ton of expensive software to develop websites, and even a Chromebook can be turned into a great little web development machine.
Today we're going to take a look at WebPutty, a CSS editor based in your browser, complete with previewing new styles on existing sites. WebPutty is a simple affair, allowing you to create a site and load it up in the editor with the CSS editor beside it. Here you can manipulate the styles in real-time, previewing them before exporting and publishing to your live site.
Cooliris: Web Browsing For The 22nd Century
The possibilities of browsing Internet content nowadays is pretty much endless. There is such a range of web browsers out there that it gives you a headache deciding between them all. Given the recent explosion of smartphones and tablets such as Apple's iPad in recent years, web browsing has been made mobile. In today's technology-obsessed world, if you're cut off from the Internet, you're just about cut off from life itself.
Yet given all these new-fangled browsers, the actual way of internet browsing hasn't really changed over the years. Take Google for example. Apart from the odd tweak here and there, the world's most popular search engine looks pretty much the same as it did several years ago, where it was competing among the likes of Altavista, Lycos and Yahoo.
Yes, if it isn't broken then don't fix it. However, you'd think there would be a more intuitive way of browsing through images and videos. I certainly do. And this is where Cooliris comes in. Believe it or not, it's actually a browser plug-in rather than a standalone app, and what a plug-in it is. It is, for the time being anyway, the best way to browse interactive media such as pictures, videos and games on the Internet.
However it doesn't stop there. Cooliris could even become your first port of call when it comes to checking the news, getting inspiration for a photo or simply while away an hour or so browsing the news. Let's have a look at it in more detail.
Make Smarter Gadget Purchases with Decide
There are a few things that you have to get used to when becoming a Apple user. You get used to paying a premium for a family of products that are more fun and less frustrating. You get used to seamless integration between all of your devices. You get used to looking forward to updates, even if it's just a minor OS update. But if you're like me, with a limited gadget budget, you also get used to predicting Apple's release cycle so you can make smart decisions about buying a product or waiting for the new one.
Decide.com is a site that does this — not only for Apple products but for all kinds of gadgets from laptops to cameras, TVs, and phones. This web app aims to eliminate buyer's remorse by making sure that you know how to get the best deal on updated or price-reduced gadgetry.
Trello: An Online Bulletin Board For Your Tasks
When you think of an office, board room, classroom, community center, or anywhere else that people meet to organize and work together, what's one of the first things you can picture? Often it's a prominent bulletin board where random announcements, pictures, important memos, random email forwards, and more are tacked for everyone to see. Sure, they're often random and somewhat a mess, but they're an effective way to share a bit of info with anyone that happens to walk by.
We've gotten to the point where you almost need a project management app to manage your project management apps. There's so many ways to collaborate today, and yet most of us still resort to sending emails to team members and tying strings on our fingers to keep from forgetting stuff. Why not bring back the simplicity of a bulletin board?
That's what Trello does.
How To Create And Edit Custom Word Clouds with Wordle
Most people who spend any time at all reading blogs on the Internet are familiar with the concept of the tag cloud. It's an often amorphous pile of post tags where words that occur more often are displayed with more prominence. Wordle is a web-based Java applet that generates similar clouds based on text that you input.
It'd take forever to get your text looking perfect for a Word Cloud in Photoshop or another graphics tool. Wordle does the heavy lifting for you, so you can get the word cloud you want quickly. So how do you create your own Wordle?
Quick Look: GGOAL
In this Quick Look, we're highlighting GGOAL. The developer describes GGOAL as a Tactic/Strategic browser game where different players can have a real challenge in a Football Chessboard.
With GGOAL you'll be, at the same time, the president, manager, coach and player of your football team! You'll be able to play exciting and challenging matches against your friends all over the world in real time.
Read on for more information and screenshots!
Broadcast, Share, and Explore Your Future with FutureYear
Ok. There are way too many social networks around. Facebook and Twitter might be the ones that hundreds of millions of people use, but there still a whole bunch of social networks operating in niche verticals. And thanks to the advent of smartphones and trigger happy venture capitalists, there definitely is a social overdose.
So, you are an aspiring online entrepreneur who wants to join the social networking goldrush. What should you do? Think slightly different, slightly will do, launch the network, get some VC funding and wait for the big bucks to come in. FutureYear is a social network that deals with the future. With great skepticism, I took up the app for review and if you keep reading after the break, you will know whether it's worth joining or not!
Share Things You Love with Pinterest
Isn't it great that nowadays when you come across anything interesting in your life, you can share it with the world in an instant? Blogs, social networks and smartphones have made this so easy that we hardly stop to think about the miracle of being able to show people a picture, a video or a song halfway across the globe in the blink of an eye. Whether you want to show off your collection of shoes, pictures of your family, songs you wrote in college, funny videos you stumbled upon online, your favorite works of art, or even random thoughts you've had, there's an app that lets you share them with the world.
If you're looking for a minimalistic, visual approach to curating what you find interesting, Pinterest might be for you. It's a virtual pinboard where you can post images you like, organize them and share them on a social network focused primarily on images. Each pinboard you create can have a theme or purpose, and you can liken it to a lightbox containing images or videos from around the web covering a specific topic. Pinterest also feels like a microblog service stripped down to its bare essentials with a focus on eye candy. Let's look at how it works.
Matcha: Your Social Video Guide
When it comes to watching movies and TV shows, I am all in. Tasty snacks, comfy couch, cold beverages: you name it, I'll have it. To me, watching videos is a phenomenal experience and I don't like to be disturbed. That's why I watch them all alone. No nags, gossips or useless banter when my eyes are glued to the screen.
This habit of mine annoys my friends to the core, as I never accompany them to the movie halls or a TV show marathon. But, I would gladly take their recommendations on what to watch next. At times, I need the help of an algorithm to feed my video addiction and use apps like Glue. I recently discovered Matcha and took it upon me to check if it's any good.
Plan Group Projects with Todofeed
When faced with a complex project that requires multiple skill sets, it's always a good idea to look for help. Teams that can split up their work and utilize each member's skills efficiently work fast and deliver great results. But it's not always easy to delegate tasks – there may be confusion as to the scope of roles and delivery dates, or it may even be hard to find out which team members are best suited to which task.
Todofeed aims to solve that problem with a simple app that helps you get everyone on the same page and get cracking on your next project fast. But does it have enough to offer? Let's take on a project and find out.
Easily Bundle & Share Web Content with Bundlr
Bookmarking apps are omnipresent these days. Almost all of them are feature rich and are either free or come with affordable freemium plans. Since bookmarks take up a negligible amount of harddisk space, you can virtually store an unlimited number of them. However, when you are trying to bundle relevant bookmarks together in context, things might not work so great as you'd expect.
What we need is an app that can help us clip and share content on the fly. Bundlr is a tool for online curation that does it all – clipping, aggregation and sharing web content. The app strives to help Internet users, specially information professionals, select relevant multimedia content and broadcast it to their network. Is this the silver bullet that we are all looking for?
Automate Your World of Web Apps With ifttt
If there's one major problem with web apps, it's that it's incredibly hard to get them to work together. For the most part, they don't. Microsoft Word and iWork Pages work with Dropbox automatically if they're all installed on the same computer. Now try getting Google Docs and Dropbox working together without relying on your computer's operating system to handle download a file from Dropbox and then uploading it to Google Docs. Odds are, you won't get it to work.
There are some web apps that work together. Instapaper and Pinboard are great examples of web apps that have built in options to pull in and push data to and from other apps. But most web apps exist in their own island, and being able to run different apps in different browser tabs is about the closest we get to web app multitasking.
ifttt is a new web app that aims to change this. Similar to Yahoo Pipes, but much simpler to use, ifttt lets you tie your favorite web apps together in unique ways. Whether you want to get a txt message when your best friend posts a new blog post, or save your Instagram pictures to Dropbox, or post your Tweets to Google+, ifttt's got what you need, and more. In this article, we'll look at how you can put ifttt to use quickly, and we've got more tutorials planned to show more ways you can put this powerful tool to use.
Axe: Web Design Critique Comes to the iPad
There's a never-ending debate over whether tablets can be productive devices, perhaps even substitutes for full computers, or if they're simply to be relegated to the status of a nice tech toy. Despite the many brilliant productive tools that have been designed for the iPad, one of the best examples of areas that tablets break productivity is web apps. While some web apps work great on the iPad, many are much more difficult to use.
Gmail Mobile presents a nice change to this trend, with a beautiful iPad-style web app. LucidChart is another example of an app that includes extra features designed just for the iPad. Today, we're featuring another great app that's been designed just for tablet browsers: Axe. This new free app from ZURB joins the ranks of their other great apps as an easy way to quickly markup a website with your feedback. It's easier than ever on a touchscreen, so let's take a look at how this app might make your iPad a bit more productive.
A Web Whiteboard: Cross-Platform Collaborative Brainstorming
Every once in a while, a tool is developed that is stunning in it's simplicity. It's utility is such that the tool itself fades away, and you wonder how you went so long without it. No, I'm not talking about an Apple product–but if you know Johnny Ive, see if he needs a speech writer.
Today, I'm going to try out A Web Whiteboard: a browser-based, collaborative brainstorming tool created by Senko Rašić, a programmer from Croatia. If you have a whiteboard in your office, or have ever used a whiteboard with colleagues, you are likely aware of the benefits. Personally, I'm a big fan of whiteboards because they're an easy way to organize your thoughts, even when your thoughts and ideas change on a whim.
A Web Whiteboard takes this process and moves it to your computer, and more importantly, to the web, making easy and efficient collaboration possible, even when you're miles away.
Pageonce – Money & Bills: Easily Track Your Finances
Whether you dump all your receipts in shoeboxes scattered around the house, or you're so organized you have whole calendars dedicated to which bills are due when, Pageonce – Money & Bills could improve your life.
This app automatically tracks your cashflow and bills, as well as organizes all your finances in one place, so you can see your checking accounts, savings accounts, investments, credit cards and bills at a glance. Touting some impressive security measures, Pageonce is safe and easy to use. Click the More button below and I'll show you some of its features.
Quick Look: Puzzle Love
In this Quick Look, we're highlighting Puzzle Love. The developer describes Puzzle Love as a puzzle platform that lets users download and play traditional puzzles that have been hand picked and curated by actual humans.
It's got sudoku, 5×5, wordbuilder and target at the moment, and we're hoping to add more puzzle types soon.
We designed it to be the most beautiful puzzle app out there, well suited to the home screen of even the most stylish individual.
Read on for more information and screenshots!
TinyTower: SimTower, iPhone Style
As a child of the 1990s, I look back fondly on the genre of simulation games, like Maxis' popular series of of Sim games. As a young boy, I got my start with SimTown, but as I matured I played the more complex games like SimCity and SimTower. These games, as well as games like RollerCoaster Tycoon, taught me about financial responsibility, organization and macro-management.
TinyTower is a SimTower-style management simulation game designed for iOS by NimbleBit, LLC. It is simple in execution, but provides many levels of complexity that increase replay value. Let's talk about it more after the break.
Decide-O-Tron: A Game Recommendation Engine
As I've mentioned before, I play and write about video games quite frequently. My parents probably thought that this particular hobby wouldn't get me far in life, and to that I say "hah!" However, since becoming an adult gamer (and subsequently, a writer on the topic), I've certainly discovered the need to budget my time properly. No, this doesn't mean spending less time on games and more time on work. It means spending less time looking for games and more time gaming.
If you've never read the popular gaming webcomic Penny Arcade, you're doing yourself an egregious injustice (especially if you like games). The comic includes an amazingly witty, yet dry sense of humor that the creators (along with the help of The Binary Mill) so gracefully included when they developed Decide-o-tron: an iOS app that recommends games based on the games you already like. It's like iTunes Genius, but for video games. Let's dig into it more after the break.
Square Card Case: Leave Your Wallet at Home
How many times have you walked to the store to pick up a carton of eggs, or some mundane item, and you realize you forgot your wallet at home?
Now you can intentionally leave your wallet at home thanks to Square's (relatively) new Card Case for the iPhone. Square Card Case is the next logical advancement in the Square payment system. Essentially, users can "start a tab" at their favorite retailers or vendors making the need for such things as cold hard cash (not to mention wallets) superfluous.
Quick Look: Word Jacks
In this Quick Look, we're highlighting Word Jacks. From the maker of one of the most popular translation apps for iPhone comes a word game that puts both your vocabulary and your speed to the test!
Find words by dragging your finger in any direction. Words can even intersect themselves!
One whole line of the same block color removes the line.
Read on for more information and screenshots!
How to Pay Nothing for Your New iPhone
In 2008, I purchased a shiny new iPhone 3G for myself and my wife and spent a few hundred dollars in the process. Ever since then I've been able to buy each new iPhone and it paid for itself within an hour, maybe two at the most. In fact, sometimes I've even turned a profit.
So how was I able to do this? How could I possibly pay nothing for a new iPhone? Well truth be told, I'm not really paying nothing, because there is an up front cost. But in the end, being payment neutral is a very nice thing. Heck, even getting some money back is a step in the right direction, right? Let's talk about it after the jump.
Enhance Your Browsing Experience With Dolphin Browser
Safari on the iPhone is an extremely well designed browser. It's simple, useful and very powerful. There are a number of alternatives on the App Store that offer extra functionality, but personally, none of them live up to the expectations, and I always tend to switch back to Safari after a while or even without thinking about it.
Dolphin Browser was originally available only for Android smartphones, and is pretty popular on that platform. It was recently ported to the iOS line, and in this review I'm going to see if its popularity on Android is well justified. Follow on after the break.
Wunderlist: A Feature Rich Cloud-Sync Task Manager
Managing one's busy schedule can almost become impossible without a necessary to-do or calendar app. Luckily, the App Store is filled with them, but finding the right one, free at that, is the ultimate challenge. Look no further than Wunderlist.
Wunderlist, developed by 6 Wunderkinder, is a "cloud-sync task manager," although sharing tasks with friends and colleagues is only in addition to an overall solid, feature-rich to-do list app. Of course, Apple has their own Reminders app that is available in the forthcoming iOS 5, but it's nowhere close to the sophistication Wunderlist provides.
Quick Look: Top Tickets
In this Quick Look, we're highlighting Top Tickets. The developer describes Top Tickets as a mobile ticket app that has brought the power of buying and checking ticket prices for all sports, concerts, theatre and broadway shows right in the palm of your hand. Stay up to date with current ticket prices as they change daily to find the best deals. Purchase day of show tickets with a 100% delivery guarantee right up to showtime.
Read on for more information and screenshots!
Group Listening Goes Mobile With Turntable.fm for iPhone
A few weeks ago, I covered the new (and as one commenter reminded me, US-only) social music web service Turntable.fm. It's a fantastic social listening service that aggregates users into digital performances spaces where they can take turns spinning tracks and showing off their impeccable taste.
The folks behind Turntable.fm released an iPhone app that lets you connect to the service from your mobile device. Notably, you connect to the same service that a web app user uses, which means that you can interact with users on desktop computers, and instead of showing a Windows or Mac machine when you're at the DJ table, the audience will see that you're connected from an iPhone. Unfortunately, like the web app, the iPhone app is only available in US App Store for the time being. Let's break this thing down after the jump.
Use Away Text to Let People Know You're Busy
We've all been there: we're driving, in a meeting, or at a movie, and we get a text or a call. So we get on our phone, much to the dislike of those around us, to let the person on the other end know that we're busy and we can't talk right now (though to be honest, I think the point of a text message is to allow the recipient to respond when they can). This distracts the people around us: other drivers, movie goers, or meeting participants – and, quite frankly, it's rude.
Luckily there are a ton of apps out there to help us with this problem. Today we'll look at Away Text.
QuickDesk Revolutionizes Multitasking on Android
QuickDesk is an app that seems so simple in concept, but turns out to be extremely powerful once you begin using it. Once you give it a go, you'll wonder why it's not a built-in feature of the Android OS. By providing one-click access to a customizable dashboard, QuickDesk adds a whole different level of efficiency to navigating your device. To put it another way: it allows you to access an app from within an app.
QuickDesk was developed by Faruq Rasid, the man behind Helix Launcher and Calendr+. Given his creations, it seems that Faruq is definitely into being productive and efficient. QuickDesk fits the bill perfectly, allowing you to eliminate unnecessary swiping, tapping, and waiting when trying to get things done on your Android device.
Pixlr-O-Matic: Android's Best Photo Filter App?
We've all heard of Instagram, iOS's great image sharing service. You take a picture, apply a filter, add a frame and a comment, and it will instantly post it to Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr. Pixlr-o-matic tries to give Android users an Instagram equivalent. It lacks the social capabilities of Instagram and Flickr, but the sheer number of filters and effects to add to your photos are mind-boggling.
Read on to find out more about this great application.
Live365 Gives You 7,000 Radio Stations on the Go
Live365 is an interesting app that aims to bring you music and talk radio shared by "real people, powered by passion." It sounds like one of these new social music services, but it's a bit more professional than that. In order to broadcast a station on Live365, you have to pay. This takes the service a step above random people playing whatever they want, and brings a more professional selection of stations to listen to.
World Counter Gives You Some Very Scary Stats
There are some interesting statistics in the world. The average Facebook user has 130 friends; the best selling movie of all time (adjusted for inflation) is Gone with the Wind; most Android users will pay between $3 and $5 for a game.
There are also numbers that change a lot more often, such as the statistic that a baby is born in the USA every eight seconds (Google's results bring up different answers. This seems to be the most common). As we often use our devices to find information, one that can give us real time stats makes sense and can be a nice tool during conversations. That's where World Counter comes in.
World Counter is an app that gives you updates on statistical information of what the developers describe as world problems, in real time. The app is quite interesting and has a few features worth talking about.
ETA Text: The App That Knows You'll Be Late Before You Do
Have you ever had somewhere to be but knew that no matter how fast you drove, walked, or ran, you were going to arrive late? A decision presents itself. Do you text the person you are seeing to tell them that you are going to be late? At what point do you need to do that? When expecting a five minute delay, or ten, or twenty?
ETA is a neat little application that uses your location and a pre-set message to make your apologies for you as and when they are needed. Having to text someone to say you will be late only adds time to your already prolonged journey. No matter how good you may think you are at it, texting whilst walking does slow you down. ETA allows you to focus on the walking, and forget about having to need to send an apology message.
Evernote: Your Brain on Your Desktop
I can't count the number of things I wish I'd written in a notebook to remind myself of later – ideas for articles, lyrics for songs, places to go, recipes to try and so on. It got to a point where I started carrying around a little notepad so I'd never forget things while on the move. Over time, I started to want a better way of keep track of ideas and staying organized, and that's when I stumbled upon Evernote on the web.
I started using Evernote about three years ago and it's become part of my productivity/GTD arsenal. The app has since evolved to accommodate all kinds of users, functions and usage styles. It's also available for multiple platforms, including PC, Mac, web, iOS, Android, Windows Phone 7, WebOS and is even on the Blackberry Playbook. Let's take a tour of what the Windows version has to offer, shall we?
10 Windows Freeware Apps You're Not Using (But Should)
There is no dearth of freeware apps for Windows. Over decades of its dominance in the operating system market, Windows has been a very popular development platform and enjoys the biggest – albeit dispersed – library of software applications among all the operating systems. The fallout of this humongous volume of options though, is the fact that finding the apps that you want – and that work exactly the way you want – becomes extremely difficult.
Through years of trial & error with trying out new apps, I've found myself uninstalling or deleting over 90% of what I try. There are a select few though, that I've stuck with. These are not you popular apps with millions of users, nor are these made by big time developers. These are all smaller apps that don't do everything under the sun, but absolutely rock and what they do.
Break Instant Messaging Borders with Digsby
We've all been there: using three different instant messaging clients just to keep in touch with everyone. Want to move to another messenger? Good luck trying to convince every one of your friends to switch.
With social networks in the fray, alongside a constant flow of e-mails, it's clear that we need a radical new IM client — one that could integrate all the great features of IM with the great addition of Facebook Chat, Twitter Feed and e-mail notifications. Enter Digsby, a multi-service client that handles almost everything with aplomb.
Secure All Your Passwords with KeePass
The benefits of going online and moving to the cloud are dogged down by the fear of compromising one's personal and professional information. Identity thieves are having a ball of a time these days, as they don't have to put in much effort to gather identity data. With birthdays, anniversary dates and lame passwords like "pass123", it's like snatching candy from a kid for them.
It isn't like there are any real solutions to keep your passwords and other sensitive data secure. A bunch of paid and free apps are available for every operating system (many of them cross platform, so you won't miss anything). KeePass is a pioneer in the domain of securing passwords and after the break, let's see how to tap it to our benefit.
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