This Week’s Best iPhone Apps

In this week’s world dominating iPhone app roundup: Your every whim, robotically indulged! Radio champagne, poured generously! Football stuff, assimilated! Your computers, turned into wirelessly controlled zombies! Death foods, avoided! And more..

Siri: Speech recognition apps recognize speech. Search apps search. Concierge apps consolidate services. Siri does all of the above:

To use the iPhone app, you just have to say aloud a command like “Book a table for six at 7pm at McDonalds” (I’m sure you’re classier than that, but let’s stick with it for now), and then using speech-recognition technology and the iPhone’s GPS capabilities, your command is translated and processed by the app, responding with confirmation of booking-or lack of availability.

The app is paired with OpenTable, MovieTickets, StubHub, CitySearch and TaxiMagic, and recognizes a respectable number of commands with surprising accuracy. Success seem to vary voice to voice, and some types of requests seem to have a higher success rate than others, but really, just find out for yourself—it’s free, and very impressive.

Where Is My Phone: While this app’s name implies that it has some kind of phone-finding capability, Kyle discovered very quickly that this app is fundamentally about farts. And other noises! But mostly farts:

Turning your iPhone into a remote controlled whoopee cushion is what I had in mind. Little Worlds, the makers of the app, apparently also had it in mind, including more than one variety of fart among the dozen or so sound effects included with the download.

Here’s what’s going on: “Where is my Phone” listens for your whistle and then plays the sound effect of your choice (or your own recorded soundbite) when it hears it. The makers claim it can recognize you Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah-ing from up to 30 meters away, and I had no trouble in activating sirens, explosions and the rest just by whistling on the other side of the room.

Not bad for a buck, athough you’ll have to get comfortable with the prospect of planting your iPhone, which is not cheap, in various risky places for sound gags, which decidedly are. Anyway, far be it from me to put a price tag on a good fart joke.

MotionX GPS Drive: Once upon a time, a homely little app called MotionX GPS was described on this site as “Hands Down the Best Value In GPS Apps”. Now, our biggest complaints about the app—its somewhat clunky UI and lack of landscape mode—have been remedied. Says Wilson:

All in all, it’s a palpable improvement for a worthwhile product, especially one so durned cheap. That’s right, it’s still just $1, with $3/month or $25/year turn-by-turn voice service. You may hate GPS navigators, you may even hate GPS apps, but if you are on vacation and you don’t have this app-at the very minimum, that is-you are just crazy.

See, in the App Store, three bucks buys you a decent novelty soundboard, or, you know, that cross-country road trip you’ve been aching to take your whole life.

Logitech Touch Mouse: Air Mouse Pro is one of the coolest apps in the App Store. With it, you can control your computer’s mouse, enter text via the iPhone keyboard, run apps, control media—it basically turns your iPhone into a wireless control center for your laptop or desktop, without the awkward experience of using a full VNC client. Logitech Touch Mouse is that, except with just the mouse and the keyboard. So, 75% of the functionality, for 0% of the price.

NewEgg: To have built a PC in the last decade is to love NewEgg. Now they have a free app, which, if downloaded, raises your risk of impulse-buying a new Mini ITX power supply buy roughly 400%.

Don’t Eat That: There’s a tremendous concept here that’s not fully realized. What Don’t Eat That can do now is tell you what pretty much any listed ingredient on a food label is, and perhaps whether or not it coincides with some allergenic, philosophical or preferential objection you have. It also introduces you to new reasons not to eat specific ingredients. (They’re carcinogenic, bad for kids, etc.)

What it can’t do, though, is take a single food item and break it down for you, which is what it feels like this app is reaching for. If you have the patience to enter ingredients individually, and don’t mind an app that errs (way) on the side of caution with some of its recommendations, you’ll get a lot of use out of this thing.

This American Life: This American Life is the best thing on the radio right now. (ATTENTION RADIOLAB FANS: You will have failed if this statement nets me less than 20 hate mail letters.) So when I say that the TAL iPhone app does nothing but play you lots and lots of WBEZ’s flagship show, I mean that in the best way possible. Half of what you’re paying for here is utility: you can access any and all TAL shows whenever you want, as well as live streams. The other half of what you’re paying for here is the show itself: anyone who’s listened to their podcast over the last few years knows it costs them a lot of money, and this app is intended to help pick of the bandwidth tab, at least a little. To this end, it helps that it’s very, very good. $3.

Assassin’s Creed 2: Takes the franchise into somewhat odd side-scrolling territory, but manages the transition well. If you have trouble with onscreen controls in general, maybe pass on this one. If you don’t, and you’re an AC fan, it’s worth a look. [via TouchArcade]

Super Bowl XLIV Official Program: As many people as watch the Super Bowl, I have my doubts about how many actually purchase a hard copy of the official game program. Programs are for plays, or foreign films, or your daughter’s dance recital! This is football! (This is something a football fan would say, right?)

Anyhow, this is that print program, adapted for the iPhone. It’s five bucks, packed with photos, historical context, stats and fresh editorial content. Warning: there is roughly a 50% chance (feel free to debate that figure in the comments) that you’ll hate this app come Sunday.

This list is in no way definitive. If you’ve spotted a great app that hit the store this week, give us a heads up or, better yet, your firsthand impressions in the comments. And for even more apps: see our previous weekly roundups here, and check out our Favorite iPhone Apps Directory and our original iPhone App Review Marathon. Have a swell weekend everybody.



JooJoo enters production, ships this month


It might have legal issues galore thanks to Chandra Rathakrishnan’s legendary row with Michael Arrington, but the internet tablet formerly known as the CrunchPad has finally entered into production and should begin shipping later this month. To retail for $499 USD, the JooJoo features a 12.1″ multi-touch capacitive display with native resolution of 1366 x 768, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g, 4GB SSD, front-facing camera, accelerometer, support for Flash (HD Flash will be all systems go when 10.1 comes out of beta) as well as a bunch of givens like integrated speakers, a 3.5mm headphone jack and USB port. Also announced today is Fusion Garage’s intent to open an app web store in which JooJoo owners will be able to grab whatever developers can make using some proprietary “but standards driven” APIs. Rathakrishnan et al are rather confident that their device will be able to take on competitors such as the HP Slate and Apple iPad, even going so far as to say of the later that the JooJoo is bigger, fully supports Flash (the real internet) and will beat its major competitors to the market, but one has to wonder what it’s all for in a day and age where most people are brand-conscious to the point where they’ll often turn away from something far better. We guess you have to start somewhere.

By Michael Bettiol on Wi-Fi


Vintage Lomo Lenses Attached To Canon 5D Mark II Create The Most Beautifully Shot Video

Being a lomo user, photographer Hunter Richards’s Canon 5D Mark II hack has totally made my Friday. Using a Russian lomo lens from the ’80s with an adapter, he managed to create a beautifully-shot lomo film worthy of your attention.

Hunter’s description of his set-up is probably the easiest way to explain it properly to curry favor with the photography crowd:

“What I think is cool about using 2x anamorphic lenses on the fullframe sensor of the 5d mark 2, is that you can extract the full 4-perf anamorphic gate size as on anamorphic 35mm film in video mode (as the 5d mark 2 sensor is 26mm tall and I only need an image height of about 18mmx22mm to use the image area designed for use with the lenses. Basically this is a very cheap way to shoot “full frame” digital anamorphic because there can be literally no crop factor (as with shooting anamorphic with the Red, F35, ect… which makes 2x anamorphic lenses behave like approx. 1.34x their focal length (more telephoto field of view)- The only current other digital systems available I know of for using the full image area required by 2x anamorphic lenses are the Arri 21 and Phantom HD- which of course make nicer images than the 5dmark2’s video mode- but its still fun none the less to get some of that look for relatively cheap.”

He uses two Lomo “roundfront” anamorphic lenses from Russia, made between the ’80s and ’90s, but in the video below he used a 75mm t2.4 one, which cost around $3,000 – $5,000. If you’re wanting to emulate his set-up, the Oct-19 EOS adapter used is from and fits all EOS mount models. [Hunter Richards via Planet 5D]

5dm2 + lomo roundfront anamorphics first test from Hunter H. Richards on Vimeo.

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