On Monday (June, 11, 2012) the crew at Apple, led ably by Tim Cook, gave developers, and the world for that matter, a look at what’s coming down the chute for OS X and iOS operating systems. Apple’s World Wide Developer’s Conference is well attended for many reasons. Developers go there there pick the brains of Apple engineers. The end result is more and better apps.
Now that WWDC is behind us and we have the entire Summer to ruminate over what all the changes and new features in iOS and OS X mean, it seems as good a time as any to cull through the thousands of free apps and pick 5 more gems that no iPhone, iPad, or iPod should be without.
“You’ve got sun, earth, and atmosphere, and when you got that you got weather!!” Steve Martin as Horace K. Telemacher in L.A. Story.
And here in Florida we’ve got weather in spades. This past week has been a classic example of our summertime weather. Sunshine in the morning, gathering clouds early afternoon, early evening storms, and late evening cool, humid breezes. I love it.
Of course, getting soaked in a torrential downpour from a pop-up storm isn’t a lot of fun, especially when there’s strong winds, lightning, and even hail involved. So, I spend a lot of time looking at the sky and my phone. On my phone is MyRadar, a freebie app that displays radar loops.
MyRadar is very simple to use, just fire it up, tap the location icon to home in on your current whereabouts, and in a few seconds you get a pretty accurate view of that storm bearing down on you. You can adjust the speed of the loop, enter in other locations you’d like to keep track of and select the type of atmospheric elements (clouds, precipitation, temperature) you’d like to see.
Other apps have radar, true, but MyRadar fills your screen with mapped radar goodness. It even offers basic weather forecasts in the form of icons that you can expand to show 5 days ahead.
MyRadar is free so you won’t get some features that I believe should be included, like weather alerts. To get those you have to pay for it. And, of course, you have to pay to remove the ads.
I use MyRadar in conjunction with The Weather Channel app, which is also free and gives me detailed forecast info. But for radar maps, MyRadar is my app of choice.
Siri was a hit at WWDC, and millions of iPhone 4s users enjoy her HAL-like efficiency. When iOS 6 comes out later this year Siri will gain some new smarts, not the least of which will be derived from tighter integration with OpenTable, the service that lets you make reservations in some of your favorite local restaurants.
Those of us with iPhone 4 or less need not feel completely let out. OpenTable was an app before it became a service, and a pretty good app at that.
You can choose from a large variety of search parameters- average meal cost, proximity to your location, type of cuisine and more. It’ll display a map with your search choices pinpointed and label the spots of interest. It’ll even give you the average cost of the menu items, and let you make reservations.
Unfortunately, not all your local eateries are listed, which is a shame because you could be missing some real gems. Still, if you’re in an unfamiliar neck of the woods OpenTable can help you locate a place to chow down.
I’ve mentioned TourWrist before, but it deserves a revisit. Armchair adventurers or denizens of corporate server rooms longing for real vacations can now see places that even the wealthiest might not see. TourWrist is a crowd sourced collection of 360 degree panoramas, which means you are just as likely to see the inside of the Great Pyramids as you are some chick’s den in Amsterdam.
It also means that not all pans are of high quality. But it isn’t so much the quality of the pans as it is the fact that you are looking at a place you’ve never been before, and you can look around as if your iPad is a teleported 10 inch window through which you can see almost anyplace in the world.
For the most fun, sit in the swivel chair and let the iPad’s gyros and compass change your point of view as you move around. On well-done pans it can be a über-cool experience.
Staying on top of any news genre is tough, even for those in the business. Startups start up and die like mayflies, bringing to the public eye ideas that, at least on napkin and after a few beers, looked good at the time. It’s hard to keep track of it all, and keeping track is important if you want to be aware of the Next Big Thing. That’s where TechCrunch comes in.
TechCrunch pulls together the latest and greatest tech-news tidbits and consolidates them into a easy-to-use iPad app. Fire it up and the front pages in refreshed to list what’s hot in the world technology.
But that’s not the only trick this pony knows. Because tech news can change like s schizophrenic chameleon, keeping track of trends is just as important as news. TechCrunch has that covered with it Trending section, which list news bits along with a trend indicator fueled by tweets. In this way you can see what the tech-crowd is currently into in an instant.
Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing
My favorite iPad racing games Real Racing and Cro-Mag Rally, each for different reasons. I like Real Racing because of its realistic game dynamics. Its a console or desktop racing game squeezed into an iPad, and it looks gorgeous. Cro-Mag Rally has been a favorite of mine for a long time because of its Flintstones-like theme and it’s just a lot of fun.
It looks like I need to add Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing (I’ll call it Sonic Racing from here on) into the fold. I’ll admit I would have never bothered trying Sonic Racing if it wasn’t offered as a free App of the Week on iTunes. I know there are a lot of Sega and Sonic the Hedgehog fans out there who’ll buy anything will the Sonic logo on it. I’m not one of them. Even so, Sonic Racing is a hoot.
Once you get past the somewhat annoying, but necessary tutorial the game opens up into a console worthy good time. Choose your character and race against the computer in one of 25 missions, where you can unlock more characters. I like that the game gives you 2 modes of competitive play, mano a mano via Bluetooth or up to four online players.
I’ve tried a few times with the online races, but for some reason I kept getting disconnected. Likely something on my end. Even so, when it was connected it was a lot of fun.
True to other Sonic and Sega games there are a boatload of options and the graphics are colorful and fast. This really is worth far more than the current asking price, so grab it while the grabbing is free.
That’s a wrap for this week. More free racing games below with direct links.