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This isn’t so much an app review as an excursion into the hinterland of the unfinished iPhone user interface. There are always tweaks – and sometimes wholesale changes – to be made to an operating system’s interface. But on mobile devices these changes face higher scrutiny, as there are usually more constraints on the end-user being able to install workarounds to better suit their preferences. This is especially true on the iPhone and iPod Touch.
So this is a look at an app that provides a different way of navigating your iPhone, borrowing from Exposé and Spaces on the Mac’s OS X. But, because it radically changes the method of switching between pages of apps, you won’t find it in the App Store. This one is jailbreak only.
I’ve been happily watching BBC iPlayer on my iPhone for a while now. It’s a shame the other UK channels haven’t followed suit in opening up their offerings to iPhone users, but it’s understandable given the problems that the Beeb have had with their shows being unofficially downloaded.
But what about live TV? Catchup TV is all well and good, but sometimes you just want to watch live. Unless you’ve streamed it yourself using Slingplayer, Orb or EyeTV, then you’ve been out of luck. That is, until a couple of days ago when TVCatchup opened up a beta of their new service.
This will be the fifth Painting app I’ve taken a detailed look at. I didn’t set out to write a series of reviews on one particular genre of app but after looking at PhotoForge, it happened that I became aware of one interesting app after another. I had expected to come to the end of the road with the last of what I considered the big four, ‘Inspire’, especially as I loved its realistic painting simulation and thought I’d be ending the series on a high note. But wouldn’t you know it, just as I was dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s on the review, Autodesk released SketchBook Mobile.
This caught my eye for a couple of reasons. To begin with, it’s the first iPhone app I’ve tried that’s been produced by a grown up company. No offence to the developers of the previous apps but they are small (often one man) teams. Autodesk, on the other hand, is a big corporation. Not just that but it makes its money producing professional grade software. AutoCAD is one of theirs, the first choice of architects and engineers all over the world. 3DS Max is software used by hundreds of games developers and special effects houses. Although they dip their toes in retail with a few consumer packages, pro’ level software costing thousands is very much their business. I was curious to see how they’d apply their experience to the iPhone OS.
Secondly, the screenshots suggested a slickly designed interface – something I always look for. Third, a couple of the listed features sounded particularly interesting. Not only did it boast “a variety of customizable brushes, including pencil, paint, texture and airbrush” but “all the tools simulate pressure sensitivity, giving each variable width and transparency that takes mobile sketching to a new level.”
C’mon, how could I not take a look?
I began a quest of sorts a few months back when I reviewed PhotoForge. This was the first serious painting app I’d used for the iPhone and while being very impressed, it whet my appetite to see how the other major Painting apps compared.
So, next came Layers with its unique (at the time) implementation of layers. The main thing that bugged me was the lack of a blend/smudge tool (which PhotoForge had included). Most recently, I looked at the original serious painting app, Brushes. It now included its own version of layers and had a very nice, if difficult to describe, ‘feel’. But, annoyingly, it also lacked a blend tool.
So, imagine my interest when I came across ‘Inspire’ whose key feature was, according to the developer, KiwiPixel’s description on the App Store, that it “simulates wet paint on a canvas, allowing amazing blending effects.” This I had to try.
It’s rare for an iPhone app to make a splash out in the ‘real’ world but Brushes has. Famous for being used to paint the cover to The New Yorker magazine and a favourite of no less an Artist than David Hockney, it’s one of those rare apps to cross, at least somewhat, into the main stream.
Having recently reached it’s first anniversary on the App Store and with strong competition appearing all the time, Brushes was starting to look in danger of falling behind. Now, though, version 2.0 has been released. Has it done enough to retain the iPhone Painting crown?
I’ve been reading 2000AD since I was 12 – with only a few years off as a poor student – and I still get excited when the latest edition comes through the door. I’ve also read some amazing graphic novels, and love the way that the artist, colourer, letterer and writer combine to tell the whole story.
As with other print publications, comics are moving to digital distribution. But can the experience of reading a comic transition to a digital device? Will sitting down with a comic on my iPhone ever replicate my weekly paper-based fix of 2000AD?
Comics, by Comixology, looks to do just that. So let’s get on with the drokking review!
When it comes to the different genres of apps available on the App Store, the Project Management area is one of the least populated. A quick search of the store reveals only a handful of likely candidates and it’s clear it won’t be rivalling fart apps for sheer quantity anytime soon.
Far from the exclusive domain of accredited Project Managers, PM software can be used for anything from planning the Olympics to remodelling your kitchen or sorting out the family holiday. Good PM software can help organise the tasks, assign appropriate resources, identify bottlenecks and (in theory) predict when various milestones will be completed.
Defining exactly what qualifies as a Project Management tool is quite tricky. My broad, crude definition is software that includes Gantt charts. Try searching for ‘Gantt’ in the app store and you’ll not need to trouble your shoes and socks in order to count them all. Actually, at the time of writing, on the UK app store there’s a grand total of two apps that include a Gantt chart. The latest of these is ‘Projects’ from developer Thomas Blackburn.
Don’t want to pay for MobileMe and have to use a me.com email address? I’ve been using the latest apps that bring push email (sort of) to your iPhone.
GPush and Pushmail are currently racing up the App Store, so which would I recommend?
I’m sure you’ve heard that T-Mobile are giving iPhones to some customers in the UK. As with the unlocked iPhones available on Play.com, these are grey market imports that are not locked to any network. T-Mobile customers will apparently be offered an iPhone 3G if they spend £75+ per month and threaten to leave.
Initially, this will only affect a small number of high spending customers. And, it has to be seen in context of T-Mobile trying to maintain subscriber numbers – in order to make themselves more attractive if the network is sold.
But for the first time, you can now get an officially-supported iPhone in the UK on a network other than O2. Are we about to see iPhones available on other networks as well?
You know that warm, cosy feeling you have on a Sunday night when you’ve had your dinner, the kids are in bed, and you’ve just sat down to watch some TV? And then you realise you’ve forgotten this week’s Carnival of the Mobilists?
So, like the plot of the bad Steven Seagal movie I’m watching, this has been hastily-written. But don’t let my rush to write this article stop you from reading this week’s excellent submissions at leisure.