It’s that time of year again. Spring is closing in, and one of the best sporting events every created by man is about to tip off. The brackets have been announced. Potential Cinderellas are searching for the right slippers and the hopes of many bubble teams have been burst. People are furiously researching teams like UNC-Wilmington and South Dakota State as they look for the perfect upset pick that none of their friends will see coming. Office work will come to a screeching halt on Thursday and Friday in the name of basketball. It’s time for MARCH MADNESS!!!!
I don’t tend to spend very much time on YouTube unless I’m doing some in-depth research on a product. When I’m researching, I’ll voraciously consume all the hands-on and review videos I can get to, in order to see my next <insert lust-worthy object here> from all available angles. One of the things that I find most frustrating about this are the long, unskippable pre-roll ads that will sometimes air before a video. Most of these ads are repeats of something I’ve seen just minutes ago, and they feel like a waste of my time. I don’t mind a five second skippable pre-roll ad that tries to attract my attention, but it’s obnoxious to force someone to watch through 30 seconds of sub-par content.
It’s for this reason that I bought ProTube many moons ago. I’m not sure how the developer does it, but the app features a completely ad-free viewing experience. That’s something that’s difficult to accomplish even on the desktop. With ProTube, what you tap on is what you’re going to be watching, and that’s already a very big reason to pony up $4 for the purchase.
But wait, there’s more!
Amaziograph isn’t a pro-level app, but it’s one of those apps that really shines on the iPad Pro. Pick up an Apple Pencil, spend $2 on Amaziograph, and start to re-discover the fun of creating tessellations and mirrored images in just a fraction of the time it takes to create them manually.
The mechanics of Amaziograph are dead-simple to learn. You choose one of 10 initial grid types, each with different kinds of mirror or tiling effects. Then you just start drawing and watch as your strokes are multiplied across your screen. This is one of those apps where the act of creation is really part of the experience. There’s a genuinely soothing effect to seeing how your drawing can come to life as you add a little line here, a circle there, and finish things off with a blast of colour. It can feel like you’re drawing with 10 of your greatest clones, and they’re all perfectly in sync with you.
I forget how I heard about iFontMaker, but now that I have an iPad Pro and Pencil, this seemed like a great opportunity to try something completely different. I really don’t know much about fonts or typography, but I am intrigued by all of the different factors that come into play with modern typefaces and fonts. As a quick primer: typefaces describe a family tree of fonts (like Avenir) and fonts are specific blocks and weights of text within that tree (like Avenir Light).
I have only spent a few hours with iFontMaker but its interface is so straightforward that it was very easy to pick up. Once I’ve chosen to create new font, I can see the entire alphabet at the top of the screen. The bottom half is dedicated solely to the creation of the typeface, with markers for x-height, ascenders, and descenders. These guidelines help to make sure your letters and glyphs are all about the same size.
Another guide that iFontMaker provides by default is the outline of that particular letter or glyph as it pertains to a specific font (which I can change in settings). This was extremely helpful in providing a baseline for me to see how high my letters should actually go, or how much space in the margin I really had to play with.
Actually drawing the different letters in my custom font was a lot like using a vector app like Graphic. I used a calligraphy type of stroke to generate the capitalized letters, and it was a pretty smooth process. However, I did find that certain strokes — especially curved ones — could often be interpreted as separated, overlapping strokes.
VLC used to be my go-to app for watching videos on the iPad, but it was overtaken this past year by Infuse Pro. One of VLC’s updates removed the ability to play audio from certain codecs, and so VLC lost its magical ability to basically play anything you throw at it.
However, I’m rather glad I was forced to look for an alternative player, because I like Infuse Pro a lot more. I don’t use the free version, though, and I paid the full $9.99 IAP to unlock all of the codecs within the app. I liked using VLC for zero dollars and zero cents, but I was also disappointed in how hamstrung it seemed on iOS as a result of being open source. It seems like every few years something is cut from VLC, or it disappears from the App Store altogether. I want a player that will just stick around and work, so I’m happy to pay for one.
Who doesn’t love Charlie Brown? Here’s some good news for anyone who didn’t answer ‘me’ to that question. Charlie Brown’s All-Stars is a brand new iPad storybook app that celebrates friendship, team spirit, and the ultimate underdog when it comes to baseball teams and players.
This app is published by Loud Crow, makers of the wonderful ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ iPad storybook app – a long-time favorite of mine and a selection in our list of the Best iPad Apps of 2012. It’s a nice addition to their growing series of Peanuts storybooks apps for the iPad.
Like most good iPad storybook apps, you can choose to read the book yourself or have it read to you. In this case, it’s not just any old narrator though – it is read by Stephen Shea, the voice of Linus in the classic TV airings of Peanuts. It also includes voices and music from the original animated TV special that aired in 1968.
The Sonnets by William Shakespeare is a superb new app that brings Shakespeare’s sonnets to the iPad and presents them in a way that draws you in and helps you to gain a rich understanding of them.
Here’s a portion of the App Store entry for the app:
The Sonnets presents William Shakespeare’s immortal collection of love poems in an interactive digital edition that allows you to explore, appreciate and understand this great work of literature as never before. All 154 sonnets are performed to camera by a star-studded cast including Sir Patrick Stewart (Star Trek, X-Men, Royal Shakespeare Company), David Tennant (Dr Who, Hamlet), Kim Cattrall (Sex and the City), Fiona Shaw (The Waste Land, Harry Potter), Stephen Fry (The Hobbit) and Dominic West (The Wire). These performances – all specially filmed for the app – are synchronised to the text, which highlights line by line as each sonnet is spoken.
The performance videos, running over two and a half hours, are just the beginning. Also included are the complete Notes and Introduction from the Arden Shakespeare, offering unsurpassed scholarly commentary and insight. Touch a mysterious line or difficult word in any of the poems and the corresponding Arden Note highlights to provide comprehensive explanation. An alternative commentary on every sonnet comes from poet and musician Don Paterson, whose humorous and accessible style complements the academic rigour of the Arden Notes.
TBS Presents: The Big Bang Theory app brings a slice of the popular and hilarious sitcom to the iPad. This is a bit of its App Store intro:
There’s a new way to watch Penny, Sheldon and Leonard. Now, you can play along on your mobile device while watching The Big Bang Theory on TBS.
Here’s how it works:
Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10pm, open the app while watching The Big Bang Theory on TBS to get exclusive content and conversation presented in sync with the show.
Behind-the-scenes insights, polls, trivia and more will be at your fingertips, and all of it can be shared with your friends. Log in with your Facebook or Twitter accounts to join the live conversation with other fans during the episode.
If you’re using this app outside of the 10pm broadcasts of The Big Bang Theory on TBS, don’t worry, you can revisit previous episodes or set a reminder for the next live event.
NOTE: This app does not allow you to view full episodes on your mobile device. You’ll have to download the TBS for iPad or TBS for iPhone apps for that.
My wife and I are both huge fans of The Big Bang Theory and I’ve only just recently noticed that there are a number of iPad and iOS apps relating to the series. This one looked the most promising to me and I gave it a try last night.
Monty Python: The Holy Book of Days for iPad is a wonderful, typically Python, journey back to the filming of Monty Python & the Holy Grail. The app was developed with the Pythons themselves and the short story here is that if you’re a Monty Python fan you’re going to enjoy the heck out of it.
Just to give you a quick idea of the Pythonesque feel of the app, here’s a bit I love from its App Store page:
Early buzz for The Holy Book of Days:
“HOW DO I GET OUT OF THIS THING SO I CAN CHECK MY EMAILS?” — John Cleese
“WILL IT SYNC UP WITH MY VHS COPY?” — Terry Gilliam
“MICHAEL IS OUT OF THE OFFICE RIGHT NOW BUT WILL BE BACK ON THE 10TH APRIL” — Michael Palin
“WOW!” — Eric Idle
“I CAN’T SEE A THING WITHOUT MY GLASSES” — Terry Jones
“WHAT’S AN IPAD?” — Graham Chapman
A Charlie Brown Christmas is a new app that turns the beloved animated classic into an interactive storybook for the iPad (and iOS). It was released on the App Store last week, picked as the App Store App of the Week, and looks sure to be a holiday hit.
I installed the app on the day it came out and have been able to spend some time with it, and get to know it along with my 8 year old daughter. The short story is this is a great holiday app, especially for those who are already fans of Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang (and who isn’t really?)
Jiv3D is one of those rare iPad apps that I love within less than a minute of use – and the feeling persists as I get to know it better.
It’s a unique app that’s a little like a digital photo frame on steroids, or more like on happy pills. A brilliant way to enjoy all the photos you’ve got on your iPad, have them shown off in a funky 3D slideshow, and with a great soundtrack pulled from your own library. Here’s its short but sweet App Store intro:
Jiv3D uses photos from your iPhoto library to display and move to the music in your iTunes music collection or favorite radio streams.
No configuration necessary, Jiv3D will automatically select photos from your iPhoto library and display them in 3D moving with all of the nuances of your iTunes music collection.