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

aelios

Aelios is a Beautiful Weather App for iPad

I've seen several weather Apps for iPad, but I have to say that I haven't seen many as beautiful and elegant as Aelios Weather. Aelios Weather has a simple approach. You have a metallic Swiss watch looking dial that covers a map of the world. You can pan and zoom to any location you want, tap the Location icon for weather of your current location or simply type in a search for a specific city. As you pan around the dial will auto lock onto the large cities in the area. Once you lock in on a location in a moment or two you'll see 24 hour forecast. Use your finger to turn the dial and you'll see the 7 day forecast including highs, lows, precipitation, and winds. Each icon has subtle animation that you don't even notice at first, but once you do, you'll find yourself starring at them for a few moments. I love the animated lightning/storm cloud. You also get the current time, date for the location you're viewing. Aelios also lets you choose your choice of weather provider. It defaults to AccuWeather.com. 

If you're looking for a full-blown weather App with Radar maps, videos, etc. then this one is probably not for you. However, if you're looking for an elegant, visually appealing way of checking the current conditions as well as forecasts for just about any location in the world, then Aelios is your App. I'd love to see the ability to add a list of favorite locations or at least a list of recent searches.

You can get Aelios for $4.99 here from the iTunes

 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_IDbGP3zN8

 

News360

News360 Finally Finds Its Way to The iPhone

If you're anything like me, you're busy. As busy as I am I don't want to spend my time searching through all sorts of sites looking for the latest news that interests me. Admittedly I really like the Zite iPad News Reader App on the iPad platform. I have been hoping for an iPhone version to read my content in both places but unfortunately they haven't launched the iPhone version yet. With no iPhone version, I started using News360 to keep up with the latest news and headlines.

Features You'll Love

News360 is a feature rich App that provides thousands of different content sources from which to pull its content. One of the biggest, and best features contained within News360 is the manner in which it figures out what you want to read. Sure, you have the option to manually select the content that you would like to see. News, Auto, technology etc., but the developers have come up with a much faster way to get deeper integration with what you really want to read about. You are presented with the option to connect to multiple sites where you already have accounts to let News360 search for the content that you prefer. The options are Facebook, Google+, Evernote, Twitter, and Google Reader. News 360 searches through each of these services to find exactly what you are interested in and provides like content. In a few seconds it does automatically what it would take literally hours for a user to do manually. It's a real time saver.

Another feature that I really like on News360 is the offline content feature. Save articles to read later even when you're offline. News360 saves the article to your (free) News360 account and to all of your devices with the App installed. This is great for when I don't have a signal, such as in an airplane, a subway, etc. Speaking of the News360 account, it allows you to sync your preferences and content selection across all of your platforms. This is a really nice feature. Sign up once, on one device to setup your content, then just sign in on your other devices to transfer your content to them. Very seamless, very easy.

Topics are broken down into sections, Gadgets, Software, Computers, etc. Under each section there are multiple stories presented for each topic. The topics are totally customizable by the user. For example I didn't see an "iPhone" topic after the initial automatic content loading so I added my own. If there is one area where News360 falls behind it is in this category. I searched for "iPhone Apps" but got a "no results found" message in return. Also under my user generated iPhone category there seems to be less stories than in the other automatically generated sections. This I found to be a little limiting because these are topics that I am quite interested in. 

 

The bottom line

For all around information on most any subject, News360 does a great job. It allows you to sync and read the same content no matter what mobile platform you are on, and it is user customizable. To me this makes News360 a staple in my News Folder on both my iPad and iPhone.

 

You can get News360 for the iPhone from the iTunes store for free here:  iTunes
You can get News360 for teh iPad from the iTunes store for free here:      iTunes

SystemActivityMonitor

System Activity Monitor for iOS

There have been a few reports going around lately about people having problems with battery life after upgrading to iOS 5 or to the new iPhone 4s. While I haven't had any real issues myself with the iPhone 4s, it's great to know whether or not if an App has run a muck and is chewing up system resources. One sign of this is if your iPhone or other iDevice is all of a sudden warm to the touch. This usually means that the processor is working overtime. When that happens you can try things like quitting some of the Apps running in the background or a simple reboot of the device. However, I would like to do more than just solve this problem temporarily, I'd like to know which app in particular is causing the problem?

System Activity Monitor shows what's going on in real-time

This App is similar to the Mac OS Activity Monitor in that it shows you in real time which apps or processes are running and more importantly which ones are running with high amounts of processor time. If you're not playing a game or doing something else that would task the processor then your device should be running with the majority of the processor count in "idle." If it's not, you can quickly identify which App or process is causing a problem.

I highly recommend System Activity Monitor as a troubleshooting tool!

You can get System Activity Monitor for $0.99 here from the iTunes

AlphaTots

AlphaTots Alphabet Learning App

The alphabet is the core of the English language. Reading and writing start with knowing each and every letter, how they sound, and the words that they're associated with. This is why it is so important to teach the alphabet to our children at an early age. Any App that helps do that, and keeps my 5 year old twins interested at the same time catches my attention. AlpaTots does just that. With the interactive activities attached to each letter, and the alphabet sing along, this is a great App to help in the learning process.

 

Keep It Interesting

Keeping a child's attention is one of the hardest things to do. My children (they're 5 years old) have the attention span of a gnat. They don't stay tuned in to any one thing very long. Even TV doesn't put them in a trance like it does some other children. AlphaTots manages to keep their attention for a long period of time; sometimes as long as an hour. This may not sound like a big deal, but it is an accomplishment for my children believe me. The way this App does it is by offering so many different "things to do" within it.  Each letter has an activity attached to it. This means that there are 26 different "things" for my children to do which keeps them entertained. Each activity is associated with the particular word that they chose to represent that letter. For example, U is represented by the word "unlock". For this they show a chest and tell the children to unlock the chest. To do this they have to line up the shapes in three separate wheels (similar to a slot machine). This keeps them doing something fun, and also helps with shape identification and matching! This isn't a new concept within children's learning Apps, but the simplicity and effectiveness is second to none.

The ease of use is found throughout the App. The letters are easy to navigate to from the home screen. Advancing to the next letter after completing the activity is intuitive and simple, and there are words of praise throughout the entire process.

The Alphabet Song

When I was a little kid, no one thing helped me learn my letters more than the alphabet song, as I'm sure it has helped millions of others. Knowing this, AlphaTots included the alphabet song into the App. Tapping on the music notes in the lower right hand corner of the screen brings up a new screen that not only plays the alphabet song, but also displays the letters as it sings it to your child. My children can sing the song word for word, but they still enjoy this feature of the App and play the song at least once every time they are using the App.

 

The Bottom Line

You can't go wrong with a children's App that not only teaches your child the alphabet, but helps them enjoy the learning process while they're doing it. This App will help your child learn their ABC's very, very quickly.

 

You can get AlphaTots for the iPad from the iTunes store for $1.99 here: iTunes
You can get AlphaTots for the iPhone from the iTunes store for $.99 here: iTunes

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