This month we’ve been living in the past, going back in time, making old-fashioned movies, cooking roast dinners, following in our own footsteps – and even making phone calls… for free.
Not so much a to-do list as a ‘to-done’ list, we’ve been getting the most out of Time Flies (0.59p) unusual take on organisation. Instead of allowing you plan what you’re going to do this week – get the car serviced, wash the back windows, renew your home insurance – it encourages you to record these tasks as you complete them. Just type in a description, add a date and time and you’re done. Then, in six months’ time or whenever, it’s a simple matter to find out when the car was last serviced, or when you renewed your insurance and so on.
Events are searchable, and important ones can be bookmarked so that you can scroll through them rather than using the search box. We’d like to have seen bookmark categories and perhaps a text field to go with each event, but for just 59p this is a great idea – and the sort of app that you can run alongside a ‘proper’ task manager. (Of course, if someone wants to add this feature to the existing product, we wouldn’t object either…)
The iPhone is such a versatile little devil that it’s easy to forget its primary purpose. Having used Viber (FREE) for the past month, we’re unlikely to do so again in a hurry. Essentially, Viber lets you make free calls from your iPhone to other iPhones that are also running Viber, either using a wireless connection or via the 3G network. So far, so Skype. The difference is in the app’s simplicity, which is what makes Viber a thing of beauty.
You just download the app, type in your phone number, accept Push notifications, then type in the four-digit code that Viber texts back to you. And that’s it. The app makes a copy of your phone book, scans through it for other Viber users and then adds a little icon next to their name – you just tap it to call them, for free. There are no user names, passwords, accounts or any of that malarkey, Viber doesn’t even need to be running to work, and the call quality is bright and clear. It’s a phone too, you know!
Family Guy Time Warped
And because we’ve got nothing else to do, we thought Family Guy Time Warped (0.59p) sounded like a good idea – and it nearly is. Basically a simple platform game, you can play as either Stewie (psychotic, megalomaniac, super-intelligent baby with a Rex Harrison accent) or Brian (cultured, pretentious, martini-drinking dog), two of the key characters from Seth MacFarlane’s hit cartoon TV show, Family Guy.
The object of the game is to travel back in time to retrieve various objects that have been accidentally lost in ancient Rome, Egypt and the Wild West – cue plenty of running, jumping, gliding, collecting tokens, hitting and shooting things.
The strength of the TV show is the way it’s able to innovate within the traditional sitcom format, but the game simply doesn’t bother – instead, it’s a predictable platformer that’s only partly reprieved by the presence of clips from the TV show, which you ‘earn’ as you progress through the levels. Still, for 59p it’s a pleasant enough way to while away an hour or so – and some of those clips (for example where Peter invents a new shaver by taping razor blades to an electric fan) are a reminder that one day, someone will make a Family Guy game that’s worthy of the name.
We’d been searching for a way to prove to ourselves that we really are exercising more, when we came across Runtastic Pro (£3.49). This app uses the iPhone’s built in GPS to track your travels, producing route maps, natty results charts that clock distance, elevation, maximum and minimum speed, typical calories burned and so on.
What’s great about Runtastic is that although it offers plenty to attract serious exercise fans – including route conditions, weather, heart rate and a tailoring feature that lets you calculate the calories you’ve used based on your weight, height and sex – you can also start using it straight from the off to simply track your time and distance.
The app found a GPS signal every time and calculated our route without any problems. Although it has all the usual social media hooks for Twitter and Facebook (and an associated web site), you don’t need to use any of that if you don’t want to. Finally, although it’s called Runtastic, whenever you set off and start the timer, you can choose from nearly 30 different kinds of exercise – from walking and cycling to golfing, kayaking, sailing, surfing, driving (!) and even ‘smovey walking’ (a kind of new age power-walking with special weights).
Since we triumphed in the kitchen at Christmas (Turkey? Check. Chicken? Check. Pork roast? Check. Leftovers for three weeks? Check…), we’ve been taking more of an interest in the whole cooking thing – hence Cookit (0.59p).
Ordinarily we use the iPhone’s built-in timer for keeping an eye on eggs, rice and potatoes – but that can obviously only cope with one thing at a time. Cookit, on the other hand, lets you enter multiple items together with their cooking time, looks at whatever takes the longest and sets that as the end point, then works out the timings for all the other ingredients so that everything finishes cooking at the same time. This makes it a lifesaver for complicated meals (a roast dinner, for example, or if you’re cooking food such as Indian or Chinese, which typically includes lots of dishes), where those who are easily distracted (like us) can get knocked off course by a ring at the door or another glass of beer. Dead easy to use, you can also save entire meals together with their timings and use them again.
Improvements? It’d be nice if you could choose your alarm sound, and also set exactly when it goes off – oh and there’s a funny vertical line that appears when you’re scrolling through the ingredients list – but apart from that, we’ll be cooking with Cookit from now on.
8mm Vintage Camera
Finally, having spent more time than usual with the family over the last few weeks, we’ve been getting nostalgic with our home movie collection over a few sherries, and our determination to create more memories led us to 8mm Vintage Camera (£1.19). This does for video what Hipstamatic does for still photography, and offers a range of grainy film effects and lighting as well as a fantastic ‘jitter’ button which reproduces the kind of old-fashioned film frame slips we remember so well from educational movies at school.
8mm Vintage Camera is simple to set up, dead easy to operate, and by combining the lens and film types in different combinations, you can produce some surprisingly authentic results. Finished movies can be saved to the Camera Roll and edited there, uploaded to YouTube or sent to friends via e-mail. You’ll love 8mm – it’s great value for money, and a reminder of what makes the iPhone such a remarkable gadget.
Company: Apple via the iTunes Store
Verdicts as above.