Rainbow RSS Reader Gathers All Your News Information in One Place

Price: Free     Score: 8/10     By A. Papachristosbadge appstore sm Rainbow RSS Reader Gathers All Your News Information in One Place

The Internet provides a continuous flow of information.  The moment you think you’ve caught up on all the top news of the day, you suddenly find yourself buried under an avalanche of new stories and information that you cannot help but dig your way out by sifting through and reading these latest developments.  But now, with Rainbow RSS Reader by Netycom Srl, users can organize all their RSS feeds into a single list, color coding them by subject matter so you can find just the news you were looking for at a moment’s notice.

Startup the application and begin entering all your RSS feeds immediately.  Use the book icon in the top right corner of the screen to start entering specific URLs or login to Google Reader so you may connect with your current feeds all at once.  Each feed added will then appear on your main page, meaning you need only peruse a single feed each time you wish to read the news.

Though a single feed may initially seem daunting, this unified system allows users to group their feeds into given colors.  Whether you break your feeds into groups because of their topic, source or language, this color-coding system allows you to know exactly what you’re looking for and direct you right to the news you need.  And, if this truly doesn’t help, simply use the Search bar at the top of the screen to look for anything that pertains to your keyword.

Also, Rainbow RSS Reader offers a Shake capability, which allows users to simply shake their device for the next new article.  Users can even update manually by using the arrow icon at the top left corner of the main screen.  Getting your news and staying up-to-date shouldn’t be a time consuming chore.  Use Rainbow RSS Reader to simplify your life because we could all use a few less complications during our day, and this truly may be the pot of gold at the end of a giant news rainbow.

Rainbow RSS Reader [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 4.1 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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The Gentle Alarm Gets You Going with a God-Awful Start

Price: $3.99     Score: 5/10     By A. Papachristosbadge appstore sm The Gentle Alarm Gets You Going with a God Awful Start

Waking up can be one of the biggest struggles of the day, for it seems you become the most comfortable right before the alarm is set to go off.  However, The Gentle Alarm by Craft AG seems to promise users a seamless way to move from REM sleep to a lighter phase of sleep, waking you up when you are most receptive.  With said function, users will supposedly wake up more refreshed and alert, reducing your cortisol levels by waking you more smoothly and naturally.  And though this concept sounds ever so attractive and promising, the jolting sounds may have you waking up perplexed (and vexed) instead of gently.

The Gentle Alarm begins by presenting a checklist, which actually closely resembles a list of do’s and don’ts.  The application warns you that it must be running in the foreground for it to work properly.  If you exit the application, the alarm will not go off, though you can turn off the display like normal and still have the alarm function as it should.  You should also be sure not to mute your device.  Instead, pump the volume up to 100 percent (and be sure to turn off those email and text message alerts, for if you get any during the middle of the night, you will surely be awoken prematurely).  You must also be sure to keep your phone in the same place every night so you will “adapt” to the process effectively.  You just better hope there’s an outlet nearby, for you should also connect your device to a power source so you don’t drain the battery and have it shut off in the middle of the night.

Once you finally reach the main page, you will see a string of icons strewn across the bottom of the screen.  The first, a gear icon, is where you will go to edit your settings.  Here, you can turn the alarm on and off, set the alarm time, reset your adaptation status, review the checklist and send friends a recommendation email.  No matter how many times I try to decipher the App Store description, I will never comprehend this “adaptation” business, and you will rarely (if ever) use the recommendation button.  That is, unless you’re out for revenge.

The bell icon indicates whether the alarm is active or not.  If you have turned the alarm on, it shall appear dark blue.  If the alarm is off, it will blink red.  The plug icon works in a similar way, blinking red if your device is not connected to an outside power source, while the speaker icon will blink red if your volume is not up to 100 percent.  (Though it might be worth the incessant blinking once you get an earful of those “gentle” wake up sounds.)

Though The Gentle Alarm supposedly starts out softly, gradually easing you out of your deep sleep and into a waking state, there is a point when the application begins emanating gong-like sounds that jolt you (and anyone who shares your sleeping space). Sharing a room with two other people, each were woken up by my experiment with the alarm, one by the gong-like sounds, the other, by the sound that follows the actual sounding of your alarm — a sound that closely resembles a slew of emergency vehicles zooming through your room. Considering each was at a different level of sleep, these light sleepers shared in my distaste for the abrupt wake up. Perhaps 100 percent volume should not be a requirement, but a suggestion, for our walls are thin and I can only imagine the neighbors weren’t too thrilled with my alarm that day as well.

The Gentle Alarm [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 3.2 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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Watch Petey and Jaydee on Your iPhone

Price: FREE   Score: 9/10   By Michelle Schustermanbadge appstore sm Watch Petey and Jaydee on Your iPhone

When you’re looking to kill a little time, a funny, animated short can fit the bill perfectly. Petey and Jaydee is that sort of app – a series about two little aliens who are “small, green and a little bit mean.”

The cartoon and app are created by Green Tshirts Interactive, who have an episode up on their website so you can get a feel for what you’ll get. Tap “My Movies” at the bottom to see the clips you can install (each episode running about 45 seconds). Tap “Install” for a one-time installation, and you’ll have the clip to watch whenever you want.

There are six movies ready for you to install for free in “My Movies.” The rest of the series can be collected at $0.99 per episode by tapping “Store” at the bottom of the screen. All of the episodes can be divided into three categories which feature adventures in the kitchen, a music store or the soccer field.

The quality of the graphics and sound are both excellent, and the concept is cute – two mischievous aliens exploring everyday items and causing trouble. And spoiler alert; one (I’m thinking Jaydee) always dies in a rather gruesome way at the end.

The app itself is very simple and easy to navigate, and downloading each episode generally takes less than a minute. If you enjoyed any episodes of Petey and Jaydee you may have seen on TV or on the web, this app is sure to keep you entertained.

Petey and Jaydee Collection [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 3.1 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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Helicopter Pays Homage to Famous Computer Flying Games

Price: $.99     Score: 7/10     By A. Papachristosbadge appstore sm Helicopter Pays Homage to Famous Computer Flying Games

For those who have ever played games such as Jetman or The Helicopter Game on their computer, you know how fun and frustrating things can be when trying to fly in a virtual world.  Now, with Helicopter by Ashu Desai, users can experience this challenging flight path right on their Apple device as they navigate through obstacles while attempting to master the necessary movements for success.

When you begin, the first prompt will alert you to the fact that tapping the Instructions button will teach you how to play and tapping the helicopter will allow you to change your character.  What you will discover, however, is that these new characters will unlock as you progress, a new one becoming available each time you reach a given milestone.  You may also wish to connect to your Game Center account so you can submit your scores online to compare your skills with those of friends and gamers worldwide.

Tap to start exploring the cave, but be careful not to hit any of the walls or pillars, for collisions will end your flying streak.  Observe your current game score in the bottom left corner, while your highest score ever sits in the bottom right corner.  At the end of each game, the View Scores button appears so you can check out how your competitors are fairing.

To maneuver, users must touch the screen to lift the helicopter upward and release their touch to make the helicopter drop.  However, it may take quite a number of tries before you begin to get the hang of maneuvering your helicopter without overcompensating and hitting the walls.  Just like the computer version, the more you play, the more you begin to realize how aggravating this game truly is, but that actually contributes to the joys of such a challenge.

Helicopter [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 4.1 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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Have Some Competitive Fun with Family Christmas Quiz Pack This Holiday Season

Price: $2.99     Score: 8/10     By A. Papachristosbadge appstore sm Have Some Competitive Fun with Family Christmas Quiz Pack This Holiday Season

The holidays are a time to gather with family and friends, open presents beneath the tree and circle around the table for a feast to remember.  But once everyone has gotten the gifts they’ve longed for, and you all settle into your food comas, there leaves little time to bond with those who matter most.  However, Family Christmas Quiz Pack by GokGames was designed to bring people together at Christmas, combining Christmas trivia with the excitement of a quiz game battle.

Based on his personal childhood experiences, designer and producer, Kevin Hassall, took his cues from the newspaper quizzes he and his family used to spice up their holiday get-togethers.  With the ease of using an electronic device, Hassall aims to bring families together in a new, innovative way.

“The quiz is set up to be played in two teams. The idea is that each team discusses the question. What we then do after the teams have chosen their answers, is to give an explanation of the answer, often with a bit of trivia,” said Hassall. “…A huge advantage of using an App for a quiz is how people interact with each other. If you’re writing down your answers individually then you’re focused on a piece of paper; if the answers are handled by a little piece of technology while you discuss them as a team, you end up looking at your family.”

Families will divide into two teams, Green and Red, for which they suggest you mix up the age groups so as to not give one team an unfair advantage.  Select Family Quiz mode to choose one of the ten quizzes, each featuring a different theme.  Choose from Nativity Stories, Christmas Songs, Around the World and so much more.  Each quiz contains 25 questions.  For each of these questions, the teams will choose their answer from the four choices, with the Green team tapping the given circle on their side of the screen, and the Red team tapping a red circle on their side of the screen.  You may change your answer, if necessary, by simply tapping another circle.  Tap OK once both teams are satisfied to reveal the answer and a bit of trivia to go along with the topic.  Click OK again to see how the scores compare, and tap again to move on to the next question.  Once you reach the end of the quiz, the sound will alert you, at which time you can then compare scores and determine the winning team.

For those who want a fun, personal challenge, try out the Quick Quiz, which brings together questions from all the themes to test you on your knowledge of all things Christmas.  The questions continue until you get one wrong, greeting you with a different sequence every time you begin again.  Think of this as a wonderful way to study for the big day, when you can help your team come together and win!

Now, if only there could be a Jewish equivalent that provides users with eight fun-filled quizzes, one for every night of Hanukkah!

Family Christmas Quiz Pack [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 3.1 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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MeetU Puts All Your Meeting Planning Tools in One Spot

Price: $2.99     Score: 6/10     By A. Papachristosbadge appstore sm MeetU Puts All Your Meeting Planning Tools in One Spot

Because life can become quite hectic, we can no longer depend on just our memories to ensure that we’ll be in the right place at the right time.  With dozens of meetings, events, appointments and family gatherings, your head may just start spinning without some form of organization.  MeetU by Hello Neo Apps hopes to help users collect their commitments in one place, providing a place to track one’s meetings and plan other aspects that may factor into your travels.

Upon startup, you will find the Meetings tab, where you need only tap New Meeting at the top to start entering your information.  Give the meeting a title, after which you will be moved to a new page that will allow you to enter the time and date, a reminder alarm, any necessary contacts, the location, and notes.

The Calendar tab allows users to scroll through by date to find out exactly when they have meetings.  When you land on a date featuring a meeting for that given day, you will find said meeting’s listing.  However, when I went to tap on my meeting’s listing to browse the specifics, the application did indeed freeze.  Personally, this layout seems a bit unbalanced, for you can only look at one day’s itinerary at a time.  Having various calendar views, such as examining your entire week or month’s schedule in a single view may help when trying to plan out one’s time efficiently.

With the Map tab, users may allow the GPS capabilities to detect their location, pinpointing them on a map so they may then plot out the most convenient route to their appointment.  The Bookings tab helps users find a hotel, book a flight, or rent a car all from this single page.

While MeetU certainly brings simplicity to your planning endeavors, I am still left to wonder why I would choose to pay $4.99 for an application that does everything that already comes standard on an Apple device.  With the standard Calendar application, I can quickly and easily enter any pertinent meeting dates, times and notes, as well as set a timer and view my entire schedule in Day, Week or Month view.  With the standard Maps application, I can chart my course for getting from one location to another.  And with basic Safari, I can find a way to book hotels, flights or rental cars if necessary.  I do not want to render MeetU useless, for it provides a key service, and gathering each convenience in a single place removes hassle, but the price is a bit steep for something I can already do using my device the way it was right out of the package.

**Update 12/04/10 – Price reduced to $2.99**

MeetU [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 4.2 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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