PRO-RAB Lite: Construction App With a Shaky Foundation

Price: $19.99   Score: 5/10   By M. Schustermanbadge appstore sm PRO RAB Lite: Construction App With a Shaky Foundation

While I’ve never worked in construction, I could immediately appreciate the intent of this app upon reading the description provided by BarenBoym Group Inc. – keep track of all of your projects, make updates, and email info on-site. Quite useful. And while the layout of PRO-RAB Lite is nice, the features (and bugs) do not justify the rather hefty price tag.

I created a company to start off, which included uploading a photo and entering the company name and address. Once you have a company, you can add information about new projects, estimates and invoices, employees, subcontractors, clients and reports. PRO–RAB allows you to import contacts from your address book. I also emailed myself a full report, which is indeed a very quick and painless process.

There is the ability to create invoices directly from the application and then email these straight to your clients as well as tracking employee, sub-contractor and material expenses. It’s all nice and organized, but when I tried to add a second company, the trouble began. The app crashed three times as I attempted to enter information. And I was never successful in adding that second company; each time I attempted to upload a photo or a company name, I’d hit “Save” only to be returned to the menu with nothing. On my last try, I succeeded with a company name, but when loading a picture the app ended up erasing the entire company page.

I know this is a first version, and bugs are easily fixable and will be addressed in future updates. But I’m still not sold on the price. In my book, twenty dollars is quite a chunk of change for what is, for all intents and purposes, an address and log book aimed specifically at builders.

PRO-RAB Lite [iTunes Link] is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Requires iOS 3.1.3 or later. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.

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Enhance Your Babbel Course with the Portuguese Mobile iPhone App

Price: FREE   Score: 9/10   By M. Schustermanbadge appstore sm Enhance Your Babbel Course with the Portuguese Mobile iPhone App

Learning a new language is a serious challenge, especially when you take the more “institutionalized” approach, as opposed to full immersion. As a teacher and student of languages, I’ve found that exposure to the language in as many ways as possible is always beneficial – which, I’m guessing, is the reason behind Babbel creating an iPhone app to compliment their online language learning courses.

I tested out their Portuguese Mobile Vocabulary Trainer after signing up for the course itself. Once you log in to the app, it syncs with your online Babbel account. However, this app isn’t a way to complete your course online – it’s additional help on vocabulary, and quite useful as a standalone as well.

Portuguese Mobile has over 3,000 vocabulary words divided into over 25 categories like communication, feelings, relationships, food, society, culture and media. Each of those is further divided into subcategories, and each time you complete one, you’ll see a satisfying little green check next to it. Every subcategory includes an introduction to the words and phrases, a repetition exercise, and a vocabulary overview.

Every page, every exercise comes with an image and a quality audio recording of a native speaker. The automatic speech recognition tool can easily be bypassed, or you can repeat the word into your mic until the program gives it an acceptable rating. I have to say, it seems pretty accurate – I actually lived in Salvador and speak with a Bahian accent, while this app seems to teach what I believe is a Carioca (Rio) accent, so every now and then I got a particularly low score. But if you say the word like you hear it in the recording, your score will be high.

Your other option on the main menu, aside from “Vocabulary,” is “Review Manager.” This manager keeps track of where you struggle, adding in vocab that you need to focus on based on your past performance. This app will make a great addition to your Portuguese study habits.

The Babbel language course apps are available in a total of 7 languages (English, German, Spanish, Swedish, Italian, French, and of course Portuguese).

Portuguese Mobile [iTunes Link] is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Requires iOS 3.0 or later. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.

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Sharpen Your Mind With Didakto For iPad

Price: $3.99   Score: 8/10   By S. Campbellbadge appstore sm Sharpen Your Mind With Didakto For iPad

Developed by Synendo, Didakto is an educational game for iPad. Although designed with school age kids in mind (4-12+), there is enough challenging content here for almost everyone to get something out of the app.

Didakto is a matching game that features four separate categories of puzzles – Math, Language, Logic and Geography. Each of these categories has further subcategories of puzzle types, for example Geography features Countries, Capitals, Flags and Landmarks. In addition, you can specify which geographical location you would like to be tested on e.g Africa, Asia & Oceania, Europe and so on.

Whichever category you choose, the game is played in essentially the same way. In the begging of each game, a photo is broken up into a number of tiles, each representing a question. These tiles are then randomly re-assorted and its your goal to get all the answers right to get the picture back together again. You answer the questions by dragging the “question” tiles to the correct answers on the board. For example, in the Flags game, you need to drag the chosen country’s flag to the name of that country on the appropriate answer tile.

I personally enjoyed the Geography section of Didakto the most and would love to see this expanded in future updates. However, there is also a lot of educational benefit to be derived from the other puzzle categories like Math, which allow you or your child to practice their multiplication, division, decimals and more.

The app has a simple, uncomplicated feel and each game is played in the same manner so it’s easy for kids to pick up and play. There are no high scores or timers, so you can go at whatever pace suits you.

Didakto makes learning fun and challenging, but best of all – interactive.

Didakto [iTunes Link] is compatible with iPad. Requires iOS 3.2 or later. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.

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VIP Host Highlights Hot Spots, Gets You in the Door

Price: Free     Score: 8/10     By A. Papachristosbadge appstore sm VIP Host Highlights Hot Spots, Gets You in the Door

Much of any given city’s allure comes from the exceptional nightlife spawned by the many clubs and restaurants.  And whether you’re visiting or actually living in one such metropolis, a night on the town shall certainly coax you out from behind those four walls in which you dwell.  Luckily, with VIP Host by Navifam Designs, getting off the couch is as easy said as it is done.  VIP Host helps users find local nightclubs in a plethora of major cities, quickly putting users in touch with the club’s VIP host and website and getting them in the door quicker.

VIP Host begins by asking to pinpoint your current location, which it will then display on a Google map.  The Search button in the bottom right corner of the map will then take you to a menu that allows you to pick the major city of your choice.  (You may go back to the map at any time by using the button in the upper left corner, while the button in the upper right corner allows you to send feedback and suggestions to the developer.)  Choose from any of the following cities: Atlanta, GA; Atlantic City, NJ; Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; Lake Tahoe, NV; Las Vegas, NV; Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; New Orleans, LA; New York City; Orange County, CA; Phoenix/Scottsdale, AZ; Philadelphia, PA; San Diego, CA; San Francisco, CA; and Santa Barbara, CA.

Once you’ve chosen your city, hit done and you shall be taken to a list of clubs in that area.  For those who cannot find a specific venue, simply use the Suggest A Club button in the bottom right of the screen to enter the club’s information.  This information will be passed along to the developers so they may update their database.  (New venues will be posted within 48 hours of your suggestion, with venues and cities updated weekly.)

When you find a club you’re interested in, tap to read its description, address and dress code.  At the bottom of the screen, users will also find buttons that allow them to quickly and easily cal the VIP host, email the VIP host, view the club’s website, submit or read comments other users have made about the venue, and connect with popular social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.  This way, users can tell their friends exactly where they’ll be so they can possibly connect with friends who may be heading to the same club as you.

For a free service, VIP Host holds much promise, for they promise to expand their database frequently as users request.  And while no one, not even the developer, can guarantee you’ll indeed make it onto the club’s VIP list, making an attempt is much better than simply hoping to make it through the nightclub’s line and into the venue before the night is through.  Cutting corners can come in handy if it means shaving time off of a long wait.  However, users better hope VIP Host doesn’t become too popular, or their one ticket in the door may just end up leaving everyone out in the cold.

VIP Host [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.

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Wild Animal Quiz Takes the Life Out of Living Creatures

Price: $.99     Score: 5/10     By A. Papachristosbadge appstore sm Wild Animal Quiz Takes the Life Out of Living Creatures

Children learn about the animal kingdom as part of their early education.  The animal world acts as a fascinating subject matter that sparks some interest in all children, whether they fall in love with the wild lions and tigers, or the domesticated cats and dogs.  With Wild Animal Quiz by StoneDesign, children ages 2-8 can quiz themselves on which voice matches with which animal on the screen.  Using your Apple device of choice, children take the time to interact with a machine, proving their retention skills by testing their memory repeatedly.

Wild Animal Quiz begins by bringing users to a page that allows them to choose their desired language.  Tap the flag to choose the language, or tap the Help button to the right to read the game’s instructions in said language.  Though the game is rather self-explanatory, taking a look at the instructions never hurts.

Then, when you begin, you will find three photos of various animals placed across the screen, much like flashcards.  Set up like a guessing game, users will learn to associate the animals on screen with the sounds they hear.  Tap the “Animal Voice” button on the screen, then choose which animal corresponds.  Each game will focus on 15 of the 20 animals featured within the application, including bears, dolphins, ducks, lions, owls, toads and whales.  For those who answer all the questions right, they will be rewarded with a gold trophy at the end of the game.  And, for older children and parents, the timer feature can add in an extra challenge.

Before a child can ever use Wildlife Animal Quiz effectively, they have to already have some background on such animals or else they will be entirely lost.  And, from the perspective of a generation that didn’t depend on technology to substitute as a teacher when humans wouldn’t do it themselves, we learned everything from our parents, teachers, books and educational programming.  But better than anything else, we learned from experience.

When parents used to want to teach their children about animals, they would take them to a zoo, or at least the local pet store.  However, our world is much too fast-paced for parents to even have time to take their children on the educational trips that may define their interests later on in life.  Perhaps if you are indeed such a busy parent, you should also put the iPhone aside and take some time to interact with people – your family!  Because if you have access to an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, you certainly do not live under a rock, and can probably also gain access to a zoo just as easily (or at least a pet store or shelter).  Maybe your iPhone can even provide the directions.  How’s that for a win-win situation?

Wild Animal Quiz [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.

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Shape Sorting Box Provides Electronic Alternative to Classic Teaching Tool

Price: $.99     Score: 5/10     By A. Papachristosbadge appstore sm Shape Sorting Box Provides Electronic Alternative to Classic Teaching Tool

When we were children, the majority of today’s technology was years away from becoming a main aspect of our everyday lives.  However, those born into today’s society are faced with these rapidly growing technological advances from the start.  Electronics have come to replace the very objects and toys older generations played with and learned from throughout their adolescence.  And now, with Shape Sorting Box by StoneDesign, an iPhone application has once again become the alternative for a classic children’s educational toy.

When you begin, users will immediately find the main menu.  However, they will need to choose one of the flags on the left side of the screen in order to read the directions in their desired language.  These directions teach you what each button means and precisely what they should hope to accomplish by using this application to teach their children shapes and colors.

You see, Shape Sorting Box stems from the classic toy that teaches children to distinguish between shapes and colors, developing their hand-eye coordination.  Designed for children between one and three years of age, Shape Sorting Box requires children to take the three given shapes and fit them into the appropriately shaped holes in order of how they are stacked in a pile to the side of the box.  They may choose either a red or blue box, and may choose whether to use 3, 6 or 9 blocks at any time.  For older children, they may even choose to race against the timer to see how quickly they can get each shape into its designated hole.

Unfortunately, Shape Sorting Box in no way compares to the physical toy of one’s childhood.  While children who learn with the toy must actually pick up, observe and then place the shape in the correct hole, this application substitutes the touch-and-learn process with mere dragging and precise placement.  In fact, to place a shape in its proper hole, the child must have exact precision, or the shape will simply sit on top, never falling into the hole as it would if the child were to shove the shape into a physical box.  Instead, the child must wait until the shape lines up exactly with the outline on the box, a type of precision and patience most children would probably not understand.  Perhaps Shape Sorting Box comes in handy when parents and children are on-the-go, but to use such an application as a replacement for such an educational tool would be to rob children of the traditional skills and knowledge all children must comprehend and learn to succeed in other areas of life, for the concept of a child using an iPhone at such an early age is honestly preposterous.

Shape Sorting Box [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.

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