Entertainment

We all need to have some fun. These apps are all for entertainment, although are not games. If you are looking for games, head over here.

Podcasts

Apple Podcasts App

As Apple starts to break out the functionality of the “Music” App, they have provided a New Apple Podcasts App. This makes it easy to go right to the Podcasts App, search, subscribe, and play the audio and video podcasts that you want without having to find them in the Music App. I downloaded this free App and was pleasantly surprised to see that two of my downloaded podcasts were there and ready to play. Like the iBooks App the App is designed to allow you to see your existing content or flip it over to see the “Catalog” of available podcasts. You can either stream an episode right in the App, download it for later viewing or subscribe so that future episodes are automatically downloaded.

The App is pretty basic, and does exactly what it describes. It’s a Universal App that works natively on iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. I’d love to see a “genius” feature that would recommend new podcasts based on the ones that I’m already subscribed to.

iTunes

ActionMovieFX

Create Hollywood Special Effects on your iPhone with Action Movie FX

 

By now you've probably seen the movie Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol or at least the trailer. In one of the scenes Tom Cruise seeming barely escapes death by a flying car that crashes to the ground right behind him. We all know that these effects are often done with green screen and CGI, but what if you could do these kind of effects right on your iPhone with a few taps of your finger. That's exactly what Action Movie FX allows you to do. You fire up the App, choose your effect, record your scene in the App and then choose where in your clip's timeline you want the effect to happen. Tap a button to process the video and you're done! The saved movie will be 720p resolution even on an iPhone 4s that can record in 1080p.

Here's one that I did last night while setting up for my event

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qE9vRFOVLOA

 

I was blown away by the quality of the overlay considering that I had to do absolutely no keying on my own. What's even more amazing is that the App is FREE! Once you have your processed video you can save it to your Camera Roll, Send it via email or post it on Facebook right from the App. Of course once it's on your Camera Roll you can upload it to just about any other service or App such as YouTube. The App comes with three scenes, "Missile Attack", "Car Smash" and "Demolition Rock". There is an option to do an in-app purchase to buy more effects. However, to date I've not been able to get the store to load in the App. Once it does I'll gladly buy some more effects at $0.99 each.

UPDATE: The FX store finally loaded in the App and there are 4 more "2 Packs" of effects to choose from (8 total effects) at $0.99 per 2 pack.

You can get Action Movie FX for FREE here from the iTunes

HarmonyLink

Logitech Harmony Link App Turns Your iDevice into A WiFi Remote

I've seen all kinds of Apps that will turn your iDevice into a remote of some kind. I've reviewed a few in the past. In this case Logitech aims to turn your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch into a Universal WiFi remote. The problem is that the iPhone doesn't have an IR port and most likely your TV, Receiver, Bluray player, etc. weren't designed to be controlled via WiFi. To get around this hardware limitation Logitech sells a small piece of hardware called the Harmony Link (see my review here). The Harmony Link is the bridge between your WiFi network and your IR controlled devices. Once you have the hardware setup then you can head over to the App Store to download their Free Harmony Link App.

Harmony Link for iOS has some great features

First off this is a Universal App taking advantage of iPad and iPhone/iPod touch screen sizes. As you might expect the experience on the iPad is visually more compelling simply because there's more screen real estate. However, having a Universal WiFi Remote in your pocket is pretty cool too. One problem this App solves is one that I've had with every other Universal remote that I've tried and that is the ability to rearrange the buttons to your taste. You can even eliminate ones you never use. For example, if your TV has a Picture in Picture feature, but you never use it and don't even have it setup, then why have that button on screen taking up space? Since this solution works via WiFi there is no reason to point your iDevice at your TV setup. This also means that you can turn stuff on before entering the room or turn stuff off that someone (we won't mention their name) left on. 

The Harmony Link App on the iPad provides additional benefits like a visual guide. It's pretty cool to "see" what's on TV at any given moment and then with the tap of an onscreen button your watching that show. Also since the iPad screen is larger you get almost all the buttons for all the devices of an Activity on screen at once. For example, I can control my TiVo and TV at once. While this works great, I do wish that there was some DVR integration here. I'd like to tap a "Record/Schedule" button without having to go to my TiVo App. However, unlike the experience on the iPhone and iPod touch you can't easily change the button layouts.

 

The Bottom Line

While this isn't an App Only solution, it is probably the best one out there for control a variety of different IR based audio and video gear. I'd like to see some additional customization features and the ability to sync the current status of the Harmony Link between mobile devices. Otherwise, the Harmony Link works as advertised and let's you put away all those remotes you've got lying around.

You can get the Harmony Link device here.

You can get the Harmony Link App for Free from the iTunes

redbox

Redbox Movie Rental for iPhone

Not too long ago I became fed up with the price change with a certain other movie service that shared the same color as today's featured App so I switched services (for my physical dvds) and started using Redbox. Immediately I went looking for a Redbox App because I didn't want to be one of the thousands (if not tens of thousands) of people that stand there staring at the box as they try to decide what they want to rent. I wanted to be able to browse, locate, and reserve my movies directly from my iPhone on the go. With Redbox for the iPhone I can do that.


Function

This App obviously is designed to aid users of their service so it isn't going to do much beyond that, but as long as it preforms all of the tasks to make renting movies from Redbox easier and more enjoyable, it has done its job. The first thing that I wanted to be able to do with this App is browse and search the different movies contained withing the boxes. As you can see from the image, the movies are broken down into popular categories to help you easily navigate to what you're looking for.  Also included is a search option. Have a title in mind already? Go to the search bar and type the name in to instantly show that movie.

The second thing that I wanted to be able to do was read the plot, know the run time, and find out who was in the movie. I don't always want to know these things, but there are a lot of times that I do, Redbox has you covered. Do all of these things with ease as soon as you find the title you're looking for. 

Third (and most importantly) I wanted to be able to find out which locations had the title that I was looking for. I don't want to drive to my favorite (and closest) location just to find out that the movie I want isn't in stock there. With Redbox for the iPhone you can not only see what locations have it, but you can also reserve it! That's awesome! No need to worry that someone else is going to get there and rent the latest Carebear before you can make it to the box (If you have little kids like me, you know this isn't a good situation). Redbox has you covered.

Bottom Line

This may seem like a one trick pony, but what it does, it does well. I really enjoy the Redbox service and this App makes that service that much better. My only gripe is that there isn't a native iPad App, but for something like this, the scaled up iPhone version works just fine.

 

You can get Redbox for the iPhone from the iTunes store for free here: iTunes

iTunes_Movie_Trailers

iTunes Movie Trailers

The Movie Trailers feature of Apple TV has been a long time favorite of mine. When friends come over we sometimes kill a little time just watching trailers and discussing upcoming movies. Before Apple TV you could also do this via the Apple QuickTime website. There are lots of ways to watch movie trailers, but one thing Apple has done well with this is the user interface and high quality nature of the trailers themselves with many streaming in HD. I always liked the Movie Poster way of seeing which trailers were available as well as doing searches. Apple has now brought this experience to iOS.

iTunes Movie Trailers on your iDevice

As you would expect Apple has done a good job with this App in that it looks very much like the Apple TV experience. You can scroll through the movie posters or do searches. Once you tap on a trailer you can choose to play it or in many cases see still photos in a gallery. Surprisingly the photos can be saved to your camera roll, tweeted or emailed. Beyond looking at trailers and stills the app goes further by giving you a calendar of movies that are about to hit theaters as well as what's already in theaters. You can save favorites of trailers and theaters. 

This App just about does it all (almost). I'm not quite ready to give up Flixster just yet. There is no movie rating feature in Apple's App. While you can see Rotten Tomato ratings, you can't rate it yourself and share those ratings with friends. Also there is no way to buy movie tickets from within the App. I would very much like this to be the only App I need, but until Apple adds a couple more features I'll still need to keep at least one of my others. Other than that, iTunes Movie Trailers is a great App and there is no reason not to have it!

You can get iTunes Movie Trailers for Free here from the iTunes

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