Where’s My Perry?!

If you have children under the age of 12 you undoubtedly recognize the lovable little silent super hero above. For those that don’t know, Perry the Platypus is a secondary character in a Disney Kids show called Phineas and Ferb. The show follows two step brothers (Phineas Flynn and Ferb Fletcher) through their summer vacation. Along the way these two boys have grand adventures and build outrageous contraptions. Simultaneously, their pet platypus Perry is secretly part of an all animal secret agent group that fights evil doers. Perry’s part in the show was originally intended to be a “b-plot” but has quickly become as important if not more important than the boys’ adventures. Because of this level of success and following, Disney has launched Where’s My Perry (a tagline from the show) for the iOS platform. The Game follows Perry (agent “P”) through multiple levels of physics based puzzles to defeat the evil Dr. Doofenshmirtz. What I really love about this game is that beyond the game and graphics that your kids will be familiar with, it really teaches the child about the properties of water in all forms (liquid, ice, steam). It’s not only fun, but very informative and a great teaching tool for children.

 

 

Help Perry Get Through

The basic plot of the game is that perry needs to get through the many levels where some form of water helps him achieve that and solves the puzzle. You cut dirt to guide the water in the direction to solve the “puzzle” or achieve the goal. Also positioned throughout the game are lasers or “crazy-inators” the the evil Dr. Doofenshmirtz has left to change water from one form to another to complete the puzzle and help Perry.

Also positioned throughout the game are gnomes (another item from the tv show) that act as prizes or collectables. Think golden eggs from Angry Birds. Collect all of the gnomes that you can and gain hidden collectables and secret levels. The game gets (as expected) progressively harder but still remains easy enough that the average child can figure out the puzzles and have fun.

The Bottom Line

This fun, easy to play game is a great way to teach children about the dynamics of water. With it’s familiar characters and well thought out graphics your child will have fun and learn at the same time!

Get Where’s My Perry? for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad from the iTunes store for $.99 here: iTunes

gyft App Gives iOS 6 Passbook Some Love

Last week I wrote a post about “Understanding Passbook in iOS 6“. As it stands we have to wait for Apps to be updated to take advantage of Passbook. However, I don’t think we’ll have to wait too long as more and more Apps are being update each day. If you really want to see Passbook in action then you should check out Gyft. This App has been updated to support Passbook and offers the ability of consolidating your existing gift cards and displaying them in Passbook. You can of course buy gift cards in the App from a variety of different stores. I had a P.F. Chang’s gift card sitting on my desk and I decided to add it in. In about 3 seconds it displayed the balance of my card and then I was able to add it to Passbook! Sweet! Now the question is will P.F. Chang’s be able to use the bar code on screen or will I still need to carry the card the next time I eat there? I’ll take the card as a backup, but I’ll definitely see if they can just work with the one on my iPhone 5.

gyft has a beautiful UI

I wasn’t aware of Gyft before my search continued for Passbook compatible Apps and I must say that they have a beautiful clean user interface that takes advantage of swipe gestures. They boast support for over 100 national retailers and you can even buy gift cards and have them delivered to your friends on Facebook via Facebook. Of course traditional emailing of gift cards is supported to. While buying gift cards in the App is nice, I must say that my favorite feature is being able to add existing gift cards in.

Hopefully more Apps will be updated soon (AMEX and Starbucks promise updates by the end of this month), but in the meantime gyft will give a big jump on Passbook today!

iTunes

navigon

iOS 6 Maps Got You Down? Navigon may be your answer!

I solved the lack of having turn-by-turn voice GPS directions on my iPhone a long time ago with the Navigon Apps. However, I was actually happy to see that Apple was going to finally bring this feature to their new Maps App in iOS 6. There are lots of users out there that don’t need or want to pay for a navigation App and I figured the Maps App would be a good solution for many. However, it appears that at least in this 1.0 state, Apple’s Maps App isn’t making a lot of users happy. Users are missing features of the previous Google Maps App such as better traffic displays and public transit route info. I knew that I would still continue to use my Navigon Apps as they would undoubtedly be more full featured and I was right. While it’s great to be able to ask Siri to “navigate to” a specific point, overall Navigon offers a multitude of additional features over the built-in iOS 6 Maps App.

Navigon bridges the gap and integrates with iOS 6 Maps

In their latest release that came out this week, Navigon took advantage of a gaping whole in iOS 6 Maps and not only offer public transit info (with a $2.99 in-app purchase), but even lets you use Siri/Maps to find the location you want to Navigate to and then hand it off to Navigon to give you the “professional” navigation and turn-by-turn directions you are looking for. While this feature is cool, it may not last forever. If Apple adds public transit stuff, then this feature in Navigon (the hand off) could easily stop working, but for now it’s there if you need it.

 

  1. Find the address, POI that you want to navigate to on Maps
  2. Tap the pin to be taken to the information page about that location.
  3. Tap the “Directions to Here” button
  4. Tap the Bus icon and the Route button
  5. Since Apple doesn’t offer this routing it will prompt you with Apps that do, including your Navigon App
  6. Tap the Route button next to Navigon
  7. Once you’re in the Navigon App you can choose to route via your vehicle or public transportation
Navigon gets it when it comes to GPS turn-by-turn navigation and I consider theirs to be the “Best App” simply because they are always offering up new features and enhancements to their Apps! While it would have been nice to have this as a FREE update, I’m sure there was a fair amount of work that went into making this feature work. Having the hand off from the built-in Maps to Navigon is worth my $2.99. Hopefully this hand off will continue to work well into the future or until Maps is so good that I don’t need Navigon anymore.

iTunes

Understanding Passbook in iOS 6

Yesterday Apple released the much anticipated iOS 6 update. Major iOS updates typically precede the release of new iOS hardware. The iPhone 5 will be available this Friday and Apple usually wants to get the iOS update in the hands of existing users a couple of days earlier. They learned this lesson from a few years back when they released a new iPhone, new iOS update and MobileMe all on the same day. This trifecta crashed servers and caused long frustrating lines at retailers.

Passbook has promise, but could be better

Passbook is one of the cool new flashy features of iOS 6 that can hold your store discount cards, tickets, boarding passes, gift cards, etc. However, unlike my favorite app for doing this kinda stuff “CardStar“, you have to wait for the individual Apps to catch up. With CardStar you can add the cards in your want by either manually entering the barcodes or by scanning them in the App. However, with Passbook these tickets and cards are passed to the App from their native Apps or from your desktop Mac. It has only been a day since Passbook has been made publicly available and therefore there are only a few Apps that take advantage of it. Even the Apps that Apple showcased (namely Delta, Starbucks and even Apple’s own Apple Store App) have not been updated yet. This might seem kinda repetitive for those of you that were thinking Passbook was going to be your one stop shop like CardStar is. Unfortunately to add something to Passbook you will need the native App for that provider first. For example, with Walgreens you need their App on your iPhone first in order to add their Rewards card to Passbook. Now it seems that you can delete the native App after you’ve added the card to Passbook, but you’re probably going to want to keep the native App for future maintenance. To date I only have two Apps that allowed me to put something in Passbook. Actually I have five if you include United, American Airlines and Fandango, but I don’t have any upcoming flights on United and AA and I don’t have a Passbook compatible theater nearby for Fandango that I’m aware of (Fandango, a list would be nice!). The two that I have working are Target and Walgreens. With Target I was able to send their mobile coupons over to Passbook and with Walgreens I was able to send over their Rewards card. Seems like a lot of work to setup, but it does work. The benefit of these extra steps is that Passbook is very location aware and can display the pass automatically when you’re say near your Walgreens or Airport. This isn’t always implemented well either. I have two Walgreens that are about the same distance from me. However, the Walgreens App only lets you send over one location to Passbook at a time. So if I’m near the one Walgreens the Rewards card will pop up, but if not I’ll have to bring it up manually. Not a big deal, but it would be nice for it to recognize any Walgreens that I walk into or at least a few of them in my area (perhaps 5 favorites).

The Bottom Line

Although Passbook may not be what you thought it was, it’s not a bad solution. As time goes on and all of our favorite Apps support it, it will only get better. I’m also expecting Apple to tweak it as needed too.

WhatsApp Messenger

WhatsApp Messenger Gives You Free Cross Platform Messaging

I’ve reviewed and used Apps in the past that allow you to send/receive messages between mobile devices that include text, photos, movies, sounds, etc. These Apps are designed to bypass your standard text/MMS messaging plans for those that don’t have or want to pay for unlimited text messaging.  Even if you do have unlimited messaging on your plan, there are still costs involved for sending messages abroad. My dependency on these kinds of apps eased with the introduction of Google Voice and Apple’s own iMessage. However, with Google Voice your limited to text and I’m very annoyed by the fact that if someone attempts to send a photo to my Google Voice number, not only will I not get it, but there will be no indication to me that anyone even tried nor will the sender be alerted that it didn’t go through. iMessage is GREAT, but only works between Apple devices. While most of my friends and family have iPhones, iPads, iPod touch or Macs, there are some that don’t.

WhatsApp Messenger Sets Itself Apart

So with several of these kinds of Apps out on the market already and with iMessage itself being built-in to iOS and now Mac OS X 10.8, what does WhatsApp Messenger have to offer. Well first up it is cross platform with Apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Nokia S40, Symbian and Windows Phone. That should cover everyone you know. The next thing is that there is no need to create accounts, create user names, handles, buddy lists, etc. The problem with most of these apps is that even if your friends have them, they really don’t have a good way to know that you have it too. WhatsApp uses your actual mobile phone number to identify you and your Contact’s phone numbers to identify your friends that have the app too. Once I installed WhatsApp Messenger it requested permission to access my contacts and then it instantly created a “Favorites” list of all my friends that also had WhatsApp Messenger. At that point I could just start sending/receiving messages with text, images, media, etc. Since this data is going out via your 3G/4G or WiFi data connection it doesn’t impact your SMS messaging plan in any way. When you receive a new message you will get a push notification. It even supports group messaging.

Great, but it could even be better

When you set it up you enter your phone number. Since it doesn’t really use your phone number to send and receive, it would be great to be able to enter multiple phone numbers that people may have in their contacts for you. This would be similar to the way iMessage lets you enter multiple email addresses for yourself to be contacted on. Of course I’d also like to see a native iPad version. Your messages are encrypted before they are sent and you can include: photos, video, audio note, contacts and your location.

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a cross platform way to send/receive text/multimedia messages, this is probably the “best solution” out there. The fact that it doesn’t require any special account or that you friends know a special user name to reach you is the key. If everyone I knew had this App I could save $30/month for the unlimited text messaging that AT&T offers.

iTunes

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