My TSA

My TSA App

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I remember teasing my buddy Rich Harrington about his use of the My TSA App. He and I are both frequent travelers and probably know the information for what you can bring on board airplanes by heart. However, the rules are always changing. I remember someone asking me “can you bring a corkscrew in your carry-on bag?” I paused for a second, cursed and downloaded the app. The answer was yes as long as it didn’t have a blade on it. Nonetheless, the App made it’s way into the “Flying” folder of my iPhone. Again today I fired up the App because I wanted to know how busy the airports would be today (the day after a holiday weekend). This is where I had a slight disappointment. Sure enough there were wait times listed, but the information in some cases was several hours old. It appears that this info is dependent on flyers loggin their own wait times. So if no one logs a wait time for your airport today, then you won’t be able to see what the wait times are. While that was a disappointment, the app is still useful for airport delays, what you can and can’t bring onto a plane and most importantly to me these days, which airports have TSA Pre Check.

What would make it better?

This app is OK, but it could be a lot better. First off upgrade the screen size to support the iPhone 5. Use real-time wait times. Let me have all the same features for any airport I pick, not just my default/closest airport. Let me create a list of favorite airports.

Air Travel can be bad enough without extra security headaches. Wether you’re a frequent flyer or an occasional flyer this app will probably come in handy. They less often you fly, you’ll probably need it even more.
iTunes

8 Ball Pool™

Fill Your Pool Need Right from Your iPhone

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I’ve always had a love for pool. I’ve never been particularly good at it, but that hasn’t stopped me from spending countless hours racking, breaking, and putting a little “English” on the cue ball. Recently a friend of mine told me that he has been absolutely addicted to this pool game that he put on his iPhone. I’ll try any App once so I downloaded it and man was he right! I haven’t been able to put this game down! Any free time that I have I’ve found myself grabbing my phone for the next challenge. With multiple “billiards”, people from around the world to play with, and the ability to challenge your friends 8 Ball Pool will keep you playing and coming back for the foreseeable future.

 

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How It Works

8 Ball Pool uses an in depth yet easy to understand system to make game play lifelike. You start at a level 1 player meaning brand new to the game with no experience. The game gives you a set amount of coins, which are the virtual currency used to buy your way into rounds and thus becoming half of the prize winnings. As your play increases, and as you win more games you advance your ranking. On top of advancing your play and coins you also gain new “billiards” to play at (requiring a higher buy in) allowing you to play against more advanced competitors. The points, and wins add up quickly as you make your way through the billiards from London, to Moscow, and beyond.

The competitors come from all over the world. When you select to play a random person you are given the luck of the draw of competitors. You may be a level 5 player playing a level 15 player or higher. The game syncs real time with it’s servers so you have to have an internet connection of some kind.  Additionally you can challenge friends however this really works best when the friend is with you because the game has a time limit (we’ll get to that later) and you both have to be active.

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Game Play

Who breaks is randomly decided unless you rematch an opponent in which case you take turns. After the break whoever puts in the first ball decides who will get what set of balls to shoot for. The game is played by moving the virtual pool stick around the screen to get the proper shot of the ball you want. Once the proper angle has been obtained force for the shot is controlled by “pulling” down the pool stick on the left side of the screen. The further down you pull it, the harder it will get hit. “English” is applied by tapping the white cue ball in the upper right corner of the game and then placing the red dot on the cue ball appropriate to where you want your English applied. Be careful to monitor the green ring that is slowly disappearing around your name when it’s your turn. This is your timer. If you don’t shoot the ball before the green ring runs out, your forfeit your turn and your opponent has “ball in hand” which means that they can place the cue ball anywhere on the playing surface that they would like for their next shot. All of the normal rules of pool apply to this game. You have to hit your own ball first when taking a shot (stripes or solids), the 8 ball is shot last, and you don’t want to “scratch” or put the cue ball in a pocket. Because of the timer game play moves fairly quickly and the quick tempo keeps the game fun. I sometimes wish that they would have given a little more time on the timer but I think that’s to be expected.

 

The Bottom Line

This is a very, very addicting game, especially if you enjoy pool at all. I think I have spent quite a few hours playing this game already and I’ve only had it a week or so. The challenge of winning the games, advancing your player ranking, and unlocking new billiards makes for an exciting and rewarding game that will keep you coming back day after day.

 

You can get 8 Ball Pool for your iOS device from the iTunes store for $.99 here: iTunes

 

Google Search

Google Now on iPhone and iPad

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I’ve been a fan of the Google Search App for iOS almost from the beginning. Sure Safari and Google Chrome have a search feature built right into the browser, but the dedicated App offers many more features. For one, when I sign in with my Google ID I get access to my search history even if I did the searches on my notebook/desktop. The app also supports voice search. What’s new in this 3.0 version is the integration of location based Google Now. These cards can start you off with the current weather conditions and traffic conditions. Beyond those basics you can see what local restaurants are in the area as well as sports scores and breaking news. I tend to use a couple of other apps to get this kind of info, but it’s nice having all there at my finger tips when I go to search for something. Also if you search for a business location or other destination, Google Search integrates nicely with the Google Maps app on your iOS device. Just tap and you’re on your way with turn-by-turn voice directions.

While I like having Siri built-in to iOS, Google Search is definitely right on par in terms of usefulness. I wouldn’t want to give either one up.

Get Google Search featuring Google Now on iPhone or iPad here for free:

iTunes

Dropcam

Dropcam Adds Scheduling and Location Based Activation

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Dropcam HD has quickly become my new security camera of choice. It streams HD to the cloud and allows me to check in on things when I’m away. They even offer DVR like functionality for motion detected events. However, until their latest update Dropcam always ran continuously, I don’t really need two of my three Dropcams to run when I’m on site. I really just need them to run when I’m away. Since I come and go and different times on different days, the new scheduling feature doesn’t quite work for me either. However, they also added a “location” based feature and this will be great for me. Basically I set all of my Dropcams to turn on and broadcast whenever I leave the building. Since it’s based on the location of my iPhone 5 I can set this up once and never have to think about it again. This will also potentially cut down on bandwidth use and privacy concerns for people that don’t want to be “recorded” while they’re at home. Dropcam was already an excellent solution for offsite or onsite monitoring and now it just got a lot better. You can see my original Dropcam HD review here and you can get a Dropcam here.

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InstaFood™ PRO

InstaFood App

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It seems to be an obsession with many people to share photos of the food that they are about to eat on social media. Either you have a friend that does it or you’re that friend that does it. I’m not sure what the point really is unless you’re into food photography. We even make jokes about it. I hear people say things like “I don’t want to be on Facebook or Instagram because I don’t care what you had for lunch!” Nonetheless, social media sites are loaded with pics of FOOD! Well if we can’t stop people from sharing photos of their meals the least we can do is give them a way to make those pics look better. As you may have guessed, yes there’s an App for that. It’s called InstaFood. I reviewed InstaWeather Pro a while back and I love that App. The same developers make InstaFood so I decided to check it out. This App works similarly to InstaWeather. You can either take a photo with the App or load one in from your Camera Roll or Albums. Once the photo is in place then it will automatically detect your location and from there you chose from a variety of different skins/text to overlay on your photo. The pic I took above was actually my dinner from a few weeks back in Los Angeles. Since location information was in the metadata of the pic, InstaFood picked that up automatically. You can even use the built-in Foursquare support to choose the exact restaurant you are in to have that name appear on the pic. Once you’ve added the skin of your choice and customized it to your liking you can immediately share it on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Foursquare.

If you’re gonna show us what you’re eating, at least do it with style. This is your app!

P.S. I actually did love my salmon dinner at Cafe Sierra in the Hilton Universal City. Highly recommend it! Just sayin’

 

iTunes

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