Best of AppStorm in August

We’ve collected the top four reviews, roundups and how-to articles from across the AppStorm network in August. Whether you’re interested in Mac, iPhone, Web, Android, Windows, or iPad apps, there’s bound to be something you didn’t spot over the course of the month. Now would be a good time to explore a part of the AppStorm Network you’ve never seen before!

Thanks for reading AppStorm, and I hope you enjoy looking over some of our favourite posts from last month!

Best of Android.AppStorm

What Is Google Now and How Do I Use It?

What Is Google Now and How Do I Use It?

When Jelly Bean was officially announced, Android users had a lot to be excited about. The latest version of the OS is super-smooth (like Butter!), there are expandable notifications that actually include functionality, there is a better keyboard, better widgets, and a better camera/gallery.

The biggest announcements, of course, were the addition of a better voice search, and with it, Google Now. So what is Google Now? Let’s find out!

Forget Google Listen: 10 Great Podcasting Apps

Forget Google Listen: 10 Great Podcasting Apps

Itís a competitive, dog-eat-dog world out there and, with Google products, very much about survival of the fittest. The search giant has often been quick to put a failing service out to pasture, even ones they put a great deal of effort into promoting; Google Buzz and Google Wave are both recent examples. In a recent cull, the Google Listen app has now cast its very last pod.

While its demise doesn’t quite warrant the need for a support helpline to get users over their loss, here at Android.AppStorm we thought we might step in to help, kind of like a friendly shoulder to cry on. This article is for you, dear Google Listen user. We would like to attempt to open your eyes and reassure you that there are more fish in the seaÖ and this round up of podcasting apps are those very fish.

12 Great JezzBall and Qix-Style Games

12 Great JezzBall and Qix-Style Games

Abstract line-drawing game Qix stormed the arcades in the early 1980s, winning players over to its frenetic action and unpredictable enemies. It was ported, cloned, and adapted dozens of times for nearly every platform during the years that followed, most famously in 1992 Windows game JezzBall, which had you trapping balls by building horizontal or vertical walls with the mouse.

I’ve played just about every Qix or JezzBall-style game that’s graced the Android platform, and put together this list of the best. With these 12 ports and adaptations you’ll be Qix-ing back for days.

AntTek Explorer is a Versatile File Manager

AntTek Explorer is a Versatile File Manager

When it comes down to file explorers on Android, there is no shortage of choice and we have covered several here on Android.Appstorm, from the highly powerful File Expert, to the purpose-specific WiFi File Explorer, passing by our top 10 file managers.

However, one slightly unknown option, AntTek Explorer — which works well both on phones and on tablets — has recently become my favorite. Read on to find out why…

Best of iPad.AppStorm

Marvel & DC: Comics in HD

When I was a kid, I used to take two city buses to reach the local comic book store, then another and then I’d walk a mile or so to my parent’s office so I could get a ride home. Eventually, I moved on to another hobby and sold my collection, but I didn’t really want to — they were just taking up too much space.

Today, there are tons of great comic apps on the iPad, and most of them are built by Comixology. The big two are really the ones everyone talks about: Marvel and DC Comics. Almost two years ago, I introduced you to the two apps. Today, with the advancements made with the new iPad, things are much, much better. Let’s compare the two titans of the industry after the jump.

Pinterest for iPad: Get to Pinning

If you’re a male, chances are pretty good that you’ve heard of Pinterest, the social network where you “pin” items to a virtual wall, but there’s a chance you haven’t used it much yet — but your girlfriend or wife definitely has. That’s because Pinterest is the hottest social network going right now, particularly among women — some estimates put the percentage of female users close to 70%.

As a man myself, I do see the value of Pinterest, and even though I don’t use it as much as my female friends, it’s still a place I go to check out what’s new and cool. Up until Wednesday, there was only a Pinterest client for the iPhone, and it’s pretty neat. But now there’s an iPad version of Pinterest. How does it match up? Let’s find out.

12 Awesome Home Improvement Apps

I graduated from college just over a year ago, and I’m finally living in a place where I plan to stay for more than just a nine-month lease. Better yet, I’m allowed to paint and replace things within the apartment. Needless to say, I’m excited to be trying new decorations and renovations after several years of boring, apartment-white walls. I constantly have a project I’m working on, whether it’s finding new furniture or painting a room.

Luckily, I’ve found a number of quality applications to help out along the way as I work to improve my home. I have a few folders on my iPad dedicated to apps related to home improvement in some way. I’ve got apps to help find inspiration, choose paint colors, furnish my apartment and even DIY dedicated applications. There are a huge variety of home improvement apps out there — stick with me after the jump to read up on some of my favorite apps.

Drafts for iPad: Write Anything

When it comes to note taking and writing apps, it seems like there are a million different options to choose from, all of them with their own little perks and quirks. One popular option for the iPhone was Drafts, a “simple,” yet very usable app that made it quick and easy to do whatever you wanted with your text. Unfortunately, it wasn’t available for the iPad. Not until now.

Today, Drafts for the iPad is brand new and it’s got a ton of new features. How good is it? Well I’m using it to write this very review right now, so let’s find out together after the jump.

Best of Windows.AppStorm

Postbox – Make Your Email Awesome

Postbox – Make Your Email Awesome

For most people, email is what they use to log into their Facebook machine. The idea of bothering with a client doesn’t even cross their minds. But for those of us who rely on email for work and personal projects, online inboxes can be the bane of our existence.

Sure, Gmail has certainly come a long way but when you’ve got three different addresses for twenty different purposes wrangling in over a hundred emails a day it can feel like painting the Golden Gate with nail polish.

Until recently I used Thunderbird to control this beast. Unfortunately, the old avian crashes at least once a day now and her feathers have lost their colour. Postbox promised a refreshing email experience that is ‘socially connected’, quick and easy. Let’s see.

What Nokia’s PureView Imaging Technology Could Bring to Windows Phone

What Nokia’s PureView Imaging Technology Could Bring to Windows Phone

Earlier this year, Nokia unveiled their new imaging flagship, the PureView 808 with a 41MP camera sensor. Yes, you read that right: forty one megapixels. Given Nokia’s PureView research had started about 5 years ago, and the limitations of the current Windows Phone 7 devices, the 808 had to run Nokia’s old and battered Symbian OS, despite their current focus on Windows Phone with the Lumia range.

Following the positive praise for the PureView 808 in the tech world, and taking into consideration Nokia’s back-to-the-wall state and the imminent arrival of Windows Phone 8 that should lift some of the limitations, it has been all but confirmed that a Nokia PureView device running Windows Phone 8 will be announced during Nokia World next month.

I have had a Nokia PureView 808 in my hands for the past couple of weeks, trying and enjoying the camera in different conditions, and I am quite convinced that there’s a lot of potential in bringing this technology to the Windows Phone platform.

Songbird: A Viable Media Player?

Songbird: A Viable Media Player?

Let me tell you one thing right up front. I am not a very big fan of Winamp. All you can do is add the songs to playlists — it doesn’t provide you with any features to organize your songs according to your fuzzy needs.

And iTunes? It sure can organize your songs but it’s also very cluttered and bloated. It tries too hard to accommodate everything in a single piece of software.

Songbird sells itself as the ticket out of this madness. Let’s find out whether it lives up to its claims.

How to Slipstream Windows 7 and Simplify Reinstallations

How to Slipstream Windows 7 and Simplify Reinstallations

It’s a known fact that Windows 7 is an incredibly stable and solid operating system. You may never know when you need to reinstall your OS though. When the OS is fresh in the market, there may not be much updates to handle after the installation.

However, when the operation system matures, you’ll probably need to download and install updates and patches more often. And then comes the irritating part with having to reinstall applications and drivers. Spending many hours to make progress and multiple restarts isn’t a great way to deal with things. Let’s take a look at another way today!

In this article, I would like to share a few things about on how to perform an unattended Windows 7 installation with all the service packs, patches and some of your favorite applications too. It is called ‘Slipstreaming’.

Best of iPhone.AppStorm

Create Cinemagraphs like a Pro with Cinemagram

The Internet, and especially social media, has seen an influx of pretty spectacular animated gifs recently, called cinemagraphs. In a cinemagraph, the majority of the image is frozen while a section is animated. Imagine a still skyline with a fluttering flag being the only thing in motion, or an outdoor scene but the only thing that moves are a tree’s leaves. It’s a striking effect, but from a layperson’s perspective with little design experience, it seems almost impossible to capture.

Developer Factyle wanted to make that cinemagraph effect a little bit easier for all of us. Enter Cinemagram, which can record short bursts of video or will use your own videos to create those same cool, awesome, spooky and haunting images. Can it really be that easy? We’ll take a look at Cinemagram to see if creating cinemagraphs is really something anyone can do or if it’s best left to the pros.

Reeder 3: Reading at its Best

The App Store celebrated its one billionth app download in 2009, a time when Retina displays were a mere dream and multitasking required two iPhones. Reeder made its debut after the 2009 milestone and was one of the first apps to bring style to iOS RSS readers. In the three years since this milestone, downloads exceeded the 25 billion mark, and Apple finally pushed past the mark of platform parity. Just like the savvy developers at Apple, Rizzi continued to push innovative designs, and the app grew along with the operating system that held it.

Reeder 2 featured major design and performance improvements, and it quickly became a gold standard as well as a dock companion. Rizzi dropped several hints about Reeder 3 over the last few months, but none of these juicy bits prepared users for the dramatically different experience provided by the newest update. Reeder’s new 3D animations and improved picture handling brought quick praise, but critics were just as quick to critique the app on its extensive push of the Readability service. Does Reeder 3 improve upon its predecessor, or has the update tarnished this app’s excellent reputation?

The New Day One Makes Journaling Even Better with Photos and More

Journaling has, to some, become a relic; an item of the past which is no longer relevant. With children of the Facebook age growing farther apart from textile books, writing a diary has become a lost art. People now prefer to use Facebook (or Twitter) as their journal of everything that takes place in their life. It’s understandable since you can share all of the activity there with your friends, but what about all those private things and thoughts you’ve had throughout the day? What, are you going to Tweet them or something? No, I have a better idea.

iPads are great for almost anything and, if you’re comfortable with typing on one, why not use it for journaling as well? Bloom Built’s Day One is by far the best solution to this. Our own Nathaniel Mott reviewed this app last November, giving it a 9/10 for outstanding design and the many handy features. Now, nearly a year later, the developer has added some great new key features like photos, geotagging, weather and Foursquare check-ins. I’m going to take a look at the new features after the break, so why don’t you join me?

Simplenote: Beyond the Basics

I remember having a discussion with a fellow writer here at AppStorm about how we write and what tools we use. He kept talking about how great Simplenote was, and how amazing it was to have all of your documents on every device you use. I remember thinking, “Why would I ever want that?” Then I downloaded the app and found out.

Simplenote is, at its core, a note taking app. But don’t let that stop you from using it the way I do: as a full fledged text editor. Find out the deets after the jump.

Best of Web.AppStorm

Which Streaming Box is Right For You?

Using the internet for TV doesn’t mean you have to watch TV on your computer only. There’s many different devices that promise to bring internet video to your TV, but two stand out from the others: the Apple TV, and the Roku line up of streaming devices. The reason why I chose to go with these two is because they are head and shoulders ahead in this area, and as we look forward will probably be the two main competitors for this space.

If you are anything like me, you want to get the one that will give you the most bang for your buck. Hopefully, I am able to provide you with enough information that you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you.

Quabel: Distraction-Free Writing with Goals

If you’re a writer of some sort, you’ll have no doubt come across the often cluttered and distracting interfaces of some word processing applications. But it’s 2012 — web apps are popping up left and right to ensure that we can manage our documents online without having to worry about losing them or endure the slow update process of traditional desktop apps. However, even some of these apps contain over-designed and clunky interfaces that make it near impossible to just sit down and get some writing done. We often see simple, uncluttered writing apps for Macs, so surely there’s a new and better way to write and manage documents online?

Quabel just might be that better way. It’s a new and promising distraction-free writing web app that weilds several interesting features that are sure to set it apart. It ensures that writers can get on with what they do best and not have to worry about getting easily distracted. Keep reading to find out more!

Podio: A Look At Its New Features

Just under a year ago, we took a look at Podio, a social and online work network rolled into one and we liked it very much, so much so that we gave it a extremely well-deserved score of 9 out of 10. Since writing that review, the Podio team have been working extremely hard on the product and there are plenty of new features to show for their efforts.

Read on after the break to find out what exactly they are!

Twitter, App.net, and the Potential of an Open Social Platform

There’s too many social networks to keep up with today, but two largely dominate the space: Facebook and Twitter. For years, Myspace was the social force to be reckoned with, but once Facebook began rising in popularity, it quickly became relegated to being a niche network. Facebook and Twitter have managed to be a social duopoly of sorts, coexisting and growing at the same time, largely because they target different types of social behavior.

As Twitter matured, and needed to find a business model, they’ve seemed to lose the open path that brought them their initial success. Developers fear that 3rd party Twitter apps, once the bread-and-butter of Twitter, will be cut off in favor of the official apps.

That fear has led to Dalton Caldwell’s fight to build App.net, a new paid social network designed to recreate the magic of the open Twitter experience, and take it further than anyone could dream of today.

Best of Mac.AppStorm

OS X: The Best OS for Writing

Macs may be used by everyone from NASA to the White House, but they can’t shake the perception that they’re designer goods. People readily accept that Macs are good for creatives, but not for real business work, no matter how many times they’ve been proven to simply be great computers for anyone that cares about a good computing experience.

But maybe it’s because Macs are really just so good for creatives. There’s so many little things in OS X that make it great for writing, for one thing, that I think you can easily say it’s the best OS for writers.

An In-Depth Look at 3 Personal Finance Apps for OS X

When it comes to choosing a personal finance app for your Mac, you’ve got quite a range to choose from. We even did a roundup of 15 of the best candidates a couple of months back and picking one can be quite difficult owing to all the different range of features in each one.

Well, we can’t look at all 15 individually (otherwise we’d be here until the end of the year!) but instead we’re going to look at three of the most popular, Moneywiz, iBank, and Money, in a bit more detail, comparing the features and, most importantly, which out of these three is the best personal finance app for you.

Become A Game Developer With GameSalad

Here at AppStorm, we review many games throughout our various networks. From Mac games to iPhone and Android games, we can’t help but to give some love to the gaming culture. With the recent addition of Game Dev to the Tuts+ network and our own Gaming Month here at Mac.AppStorm, we decided to review an app that isn’t a game, rather, a game creator: GameSalad.

GameSalad is an application that allows you to create games for a variety of platforms. So in essence, this app can help you create your first game in no time. If you are an indie game developer or someone interested in creating a soon-to-be iOS smash-hit, GameSalad is probably the best and easiest way to get your hands dirty and let your creativity run wild.

Living Without a DVD Drive in Your MacBook

Computer users can’t quite completely ignore the CD and DVD yet. Most boxed software, which now is relegated to mainly large suites like Microsoft Office or Creative Suite, still comes on a DVD or CD. While digital downloads of both movies and music are the future, many of us also have DVD or Blu-ray movie collections and even (gasp) CD music collections that we’d like to bring with us to the digital world.

Here, we’ll look at a few programs either included with your Mac or freely available that will help you deal with those physical disks still lying around. An external DVD drive will allow you to get anything on those disks to you Mac with the programs below.

Share Your Ideas

Is there something in particular you’d like to see on the site next month? We’d absolutely love to hear your suggestions for articles, topics and giveaways. Just let us know in the comments. Thanks for reading AppStorm!


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