Localscope for iPhone

Localscope is a location aware discovery app. It assists in the discovery of services, places to visit, places to shop and so on.

It’s fair to say that, day-to-day, I don’t have a particular need for this kind of app. I’m sure that’s the same for the majority of us. However, when visiting somewhere new or when looking for something out of your ordinary requirements, these apps come into their own.

Localscope assists in the discovery of what’s around you in a number of ways and with a generous dusting of innovative features.

Launching the app presents a comprehensive list of services. This list can be fed from various sources including Google, Bing, Twitter, Foursquare and Wikimapia. Selection is a breeze with a simple flick left or right to select the source.

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Tap on any of the places and a list of all venues matching the category is presented. Localscope offers three different views of this information……list, map and augmented reality and again selection is simple, via the tap of the monitor icon in the top right hand corner.

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Select one of the venues from the list and a page of details and further options is presented, giving the address, contact number, website address and the option to view on a map or to share via email, SMS, Twitter or Facebook.

Across these various pages, a real-time compass marker constantly provides directional indication.

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The addition of some nice user interface and user experience features make this app a pleasure to use. Swipe left and right for quick access to actions, pull down refresh and the ability to turn off GPS to search for places away from your current location.

The app constantly provides direction and distance information so you always know where you need to head.

There are a number of location aware discovery apps on the market but Localscope manages to provide some intuitive features with a nice user interface, making the app a pleasure to use. Couple this with the ability to quickly select from the various information sources and Localscope is a must have app for discovering what is nearby.

Read about Locascope and Cynapse, the company behind the app, over at the Cyanpse website.

Note: in the last few hours of using this app I have experienced several crashes. I suspect this is when in low signal conditions although, at this stage, I haven’t investigated to determine the precise conditions. I have sent the details to Cynapse and will update this post when they get back to me.

22-March Update: Cynapse promptly responded on the issue with the app crashing and stated that it is believed to be due to the iOS 4.3 update and that they are working on a fix already. Look out for an update soon.

I am @craigt44 on Twitter.

Momento for iPhone

Momento is a personal (private) diary app for the iPhone.  It’s forté is that it imports feeds from your favourite social media services to capture a detailed and accurate account of your day (see the list of currently supported services below).

In addition to the imported feeds, the app also allows for the creation of “moments” directly in the app.  These “moments” allow for the entry of text, photo, tags, moods, ratings and location to be captured, ensuring your most detailed thoughts are preserved.

The design of the UI is simply beautiful. The combination of layout, colours and fonts work really well and makes the app a pleasure to use.

Currently supported services:

Tweets from Twitter
Facebook Statuses
Flickr Photos
Last.fm Loved Tracks
RSS/Atom Feeds
Foursquare Checkins
Gowalla Checkins
Diggs from Digg
YouTube Videos
Vimeo Videos.

The Momento app offers a great way to maintain your diary on-the-go meaning you never have to miss capturing anything, as it happens.

Version 2 brings with it a host of great new features, the most important being the ability to fully backup and restore your data.

Have a thumb through the various screen captures below and please post your comments.

The Momento app is available in the app store (iTunes link) for just £1.19.

I am @craigt44 on Twitter.

DataMan v3 for the iPhone

I must admit that I have never really given my data usage a lot of thought.  I have been on an unlimited (cellular) data plan for some time so never bothered to check it from one month to the next.  Couple that with an abundance of WiFi (for the three years prior to March I worked at home) and data usage never entered my thoughts.

However, following recent changes (at least in the UK) to network provider data plans (no more unlimited data) and coupled with a new job working in an office (no WiFi), I have been keeping a close eye on my data usage.  I have been doing this using the data counter built into the iPhone.  It tells me how much (cellular) data I have sent and received and, assuming I remember, I can reset it each month to ensure I am tracking my monthly usage accurately.

The data counter on the iPhone is rather basic though.  The ability to monitor WiFi data usage would be a nice addition, as too would the ability to differentiate between where I am using that WiFi data.  Although I have a tariff that offers me unlimited public WiFi access (via BT Openzone for example), I would still like to monitor how much data I am using via public WiFi.

The DataMan iPhone application allows the tracking of both cellular and WiFi data usage.  It also enables you to geo-tag your usage and view it on a map.  Personally I think this is invaluable as it allows you to differentiate between home WiFi usage (which doesn’t come out of your data allowance) and public WiFi usage (which does come out of your data allowance).

Three usage allowances are tracked, daily, weekly and monthly.  These are customised via the settings menu along with your billing date (so that the app knows when to start afresh with your next months data allowance).

Version 3 of the app (this review is based on a beta of v3) offers up a precise location tracking option (which can be enabled & disabled in the iPhone settings).  Within the app settings are four customisable alert thresholds.  As you reach each of the usage thresholds DataMan sends you a real-time alert.  Again this is great if, like me, you generally forget to keep an eye on the built-in iPhone counter.

Historical usage can be viewed by tapping the “History” icon and then setting the date range of interest.  Total data usage (for both cellular and WiFi) is shown at the top of the page along with a list of each day.  Clicking on a day then lists usage in tabular format or, by clicking the geo-tag icon in the top right corner, on a map.  As I mentioned earlier, this is very useful if you want to differentiate between home and public WiFi usage.

I did find that the battery drained a little quicker with geo-location enabled, given the way the app constantly monitors usage, although I haven’t carried out any testing to determine the additional drain.  However, you can turn location services off (iPhone settings > General > Location Services).  I shall use the app with location services turned off and precise tracking on (precise tracking offers more precise tracking of your data usage by checking every 10 minutes) and see how the battery copes (update to follow).

I find the app very useful and it has some great features. The simplicity of the user interface is a key element in making this a good app.  It’s quick to launch and the clarity and simplicity of the UI means the information is very easy to see.

Update 14-Nov-2010: After a couple of days using the app with location services turned off and precise tracking on, I can report that the battery drain is reduced significantly.  The drain rate is slightly elevated compared to having all location and precise tracking options turned off but the increase is very minimal.

Version 2.2 of DataMan is available in the app store now for just £0.59 (iTunes link) with version 3 undergoing approval at Apple as I type this.

Update 17-Nov-2010: Version 3 of the app is available in the app store now (iTunes link) for just £1.19.

If you need to track data and want to track in real-time, then the DataMan app is an excellent purchase, easily worth the asking price.

Have you used DataMan?  What do you think?  I’d love to hear your comments.

I am @icraigt on Twitter.

Geomium: initial thoughts

I have used location based check-in apps for some time with Gowalla being my app of choice right now.  I have also used Foursquare, BrightKite, Rummble and Facebook Places.

I like location based check-in apps as they serve as a way to let family and friends (and thieves and stalkers alike) know where I am and what interesting places I am visiting.  It’s a way to be a part of my life where previously it wasn’t possible.

I am a particular fan of Gowalla as it’s quick, accurate and has some great features (like photo’s, for example).

I think location based services, check-in apps and the like are in their infancy and the future will see them all make much more sense.  There are many ways to develop these services and Geomium is seemingly stepping in the right direction.

“Not another location based social media app?” I hear you cry.  Why, yes it is.  However, it is fair to say that Geomium are helping to take these services along the right path.  Geomium, whilst offering the ability to check-in to places, also lets you see who is nearby (People), what is nearby (Places), what’s happening nearby (Events) and what deals can be found nearby (Deals).

I particularly like the idea of being able to see nearby Deals.  Given it’s relative infancy there is already a surprising number of “Deals” to be found so it appears that Geomium are pulling in some good data.

It is early days for Geomium and I and although I like what I see I know we need to spend a lot more time together.  Consider these my early thoughts.  I will post more as we get to know one another.

If you have the first version of the app I advise you to download the update.  My exerience of the first version of the app was frequent crashes and a very slow UI.  The current version appears to have fixed those issues and it now runs very smoothly and appears stable.

Twitter integration, which in my opinion is a must, is apparently imminent.

Have you tried Geomium?  Have any thoughts?  Please drop a comment and let me know what you think.

I am @craigt44 on Twitter.

2Do Task Management App for iPhone

It’s true I have tried many To Do apps and programs.  It is also true that I have a tendency to stop using them within a few days.

Perhaps it’s because updating a To Do program is yet another thing “to do”.  Perhaps I have a passion for trying out new programs, services and products which, once tested, are abandoned and forgotten the moment something new comes along.  I think, actually, it’s because I have yet to find a To Do manager (be it computer program, web app or iPhone app) that, if you pardon the punn, ticks all the boxes.

Having used so many such programs I have a fairly good idea what exactly I want them to do, what features I need and how I need it all presenting.

For some time now, I have been using Checkvist.  It has a very simplistic UI with some nice features (tags, colouring etc) making it nice to use.  However, I once again find myself “forgetting” to use it.  Again I think it’s because it isn’t exactly what I’m looking for.  Checkvist runs exclusively web based and while that’s perfectly fine (a lot of what I use is web based) I want a To Do list to be accessible all the time and I want it to run very quickly (not having to wait for pages to refresh or, worst, not load at all because I don’t have a data connection).  As I always have my iPhone with me, an app seems the logical choice.

Enter 2Do by Guided Ways.

I have been using 2Do for quite some time, more so recently as I use it extensively for work.  It packs in some great features but, in my opinion, does so in such a way that they don’t interfere with the every day use of the app.  Mostly I want to quickly create a to do item and be on my way.  With 2Do I can do that.  None of the many features ever get in the way.  That’s very important (in my opinion) for an app (program) of this type.  Getting bogged down by (albeit useful) features every time you fire up the app to add a quick item is frustrating and quickly renders the app forgotten.  2Do lets you fire it up, add an item and leave.

Occasionally I want to create a project and embed multiple tasks within it.  2Do lets me do that.  Sometimes I want to tag an item, set a reminder alarm, add a picture and so on.  2Do lets me do all that and a lot more.  The features are all there but they never get in the way.  That, to me, is key to why I find this an excellent app.

In addition to that, there’s a very well thought out and implemented UI that is both pleasing to the eye (I love the leather theme!) and easy to use.

Overall this is by far the best task management app I have used and remains key to my every day productivity.

The fully blown app retails for only £2.39 although there is a “Lite” version to enable a test drive.  The Lite version limits use to 3 calendars and up to 25 To Do’s in each calendar and dispenses with Push/local/email alarms (which alone are worth the small price to upgrade).

Do you use a Task Manager?  What do you think?  Please drop a comment below.

I am @craigt44 on Twitter.