App Review: Growlator

growlator-iPhoneIf you’ve ever taken a stroll down the frozen foods aisle, you know the name Hungry-Man. Most often associated with college students and the working man on the go, Hungry-Man is all about delivering big meals with enough flavor to keep you going. Personally, I like to cook, so I tend to stay away from frozen dinners, but I was definitely intrigued when asked if I would review Growlator, the Hungry-Man app designed to listen for your stomach, diagnose your specific growl, and offer a Hungry-Man solution to your problem.

There’s just one problem with the app – it doesn’t actually listen for anything. Granted, that’s not a surprise. It would be hard enough to hear a stomach growl, let alone differentiate among them. The descriptions the app has for different kinds of hunger are pretty funny, though, and here’s the kicker: every description offers a dollar off whatever Hungry-Man product is recommended for your growl. That’s really a pretty nice deal for a free application.

You can get the Growlator app for free from the iTunes App Store.


App Review: iWhiskey

iWhiskey app for the iPhone.Few things entice me more than a glass of small batch bourbon. Over the past several decades, the list of quality craft whiskeys has grown exponentially, yielding a market place that can be as confusing as it is rewarding. F. Paul Pacult wants to help you navigate the sea of options and blends with an iPhone app called iWhiskey from Jolt OS.

This app is definitely the best resource I’ve found on whiskey for the iPhone. It opens on a “shelf” of whiskey bottles with options for American, Canadian, Irish, single malt Scotch, blended Scotch, and whiskeys from other parts of the world for browsing. There’s a search function if you’re looking for a particular brand and a feature that allows you to save some favorites to your own “My Barrel” section.

Each individual whiskey has a feature page, complete with tasting and bouquet information and a picture of the bottle so you can more easily locate your preference at your bar or the liquor store. There are quite a few with missing pictures, something I’d assume will be updated in the future. The app also features a selection of cocktails made with various whiskeys. The list is small, but again, easy to update.

The app only has two drawbacks. First, it needs a home button. The front screen is so pretty, but there’s just no way to get back to it without closing the app and reopening. The second problem is the price. It’s tough to say whether $10.99 is really worth this kind of information on a phone with web access. Pacult’s reviews are top-notch, and it is a one-stop shop for more than 600 whiskey reviews, but I think you’ll likely only see this on a very serious whiskey lover’s phone.

iTunes Link


App Review: Best of Cycle World

best-of-cw-appI’ve got another app review for you today, this time from Cycle World (which is published under Hachette Filipacchi Media along with Car and Driver). The app, appropriately named “Best of Cycle World,” can be picked up from the App Store for free.

Before installing the app I read a few users reviews complaining about the update schedule and limited content. I would wholeheartedly agree if the app was billed as digital magazine, but it’s not. It’s a companion to a subscription magazine and should be considered as such. Bearing that in mind, I think the app is a great way to carry CW content in your pocket.

The app works like a content-rich RSS feed for the magazine’s best articles. It’s a simple list that links to individual articles, all of which have a picture gallery. While the content is decent, a few simple updates could improve the app. I’d recommend a system by which the reader can see what’s been read and what hasn’t. Also, adding a picture count (1 of 8, etc.) to the galleries would be a small improvement.

Overall, can’t complain much about free content. If nothing else, it saves you the embarrassment of carrying a magazine into the bathroom while your girlfriend’s over. That is, if you still care about that sort of thing.


App Review: Car and Driver Buyer’s Guide

IMG_0710When I look at mobile apps for popular magazines I always look for the same thing: content. A lot of publishers skimp on content just to have a name in the App Store. Luckily, that’s starting to change, and Car and Driver’s Buyer’s Guide is part of a welcome shift toward content-rich apps. The Buyer’s Guide is a great companion for anyone shopping for a new car, and best of all it’s free.

The app is simple and straight-forward. You search for cars based on make and model, whereupon you can find reviews, photos, specs for every trim level, and a list of competitor’s vehicles to consider against your choice. The main page also has general categories like “Latest Reviewed,” and “Fuel Misers.” These are especially helpful if you’re just starting your search or are unsure where to look. In any case, there’s always plenty of information. Of the 20 or so cars I browsed through, I never left the app thinking they’d missed something.

The app also has a general advice section including articles like “How to Test Drive a Car,” and “What’s the Right New Vehicle for Me?” The articles are full-length and offer the same kind of advice you’d get from the magazine or any male relative over 40.

If I have one complaint about the app it’s that there are ads, but that’s the price you pay to get a free app. Otherwise, it’s a great tool for anyone in the market for a new vehicle.


Joe Hewitt quits iPhone development because of Apple

Joe Hewitt.Joe Hewitt’s been unhappy with and outspoken about Apple’s app approval process since about the time he started working on the Facebook app. Well he’s finally had enough. According to a recent, tweet he’s done working on the app and ready to move on.

Time for me to try something new. I’ve handed the Facebook iPhone app off to another engineer, and I’m onto a new project.

Hewitt also said in very clear language that he left iPhone development because of Apple. Speaking to TechCrunch he said, “My decision to stop iPhone development has had everything to do with Apple’s policies. I respect their right to manage their platform however they want, however I am philosophically opposed to the existence of their review process.” As are a lot of people, but to this point no one with Hewitt’s resume has made the same decision (Arrington left the iPhone for a different reason and he’s not a developer).

Hewitt’s in a better position to “quit” then some developers, though. He’s got a swanky gig at Facebook, where he’ll still be developing after his announcement. A house like Tapulous, on the other hand, is making enough money off the App Store that it’s unlikely it will leave, and we probably wouldn’t hear about one of its developers quitting because of a philosophical opposition like Hewitt’s.

Instead we’ll probably continue to see the trickle of policy changes Apple has made over the last several months. The most recent allows developers to see real time status updates about the app, so when it’s sitting in “waiting for review” you can start throwing around some lawsuits.