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Reviews

nDrive: Worldwide, on-device (and pricey) navigation comes to webOS 2.0 53

by Jonathan I Ezor#IM Wed, 27 Apr 2011 12:52 pm EDT

With all the controversy (we're looking at you, Verizon) and carrier-specific options for GPS-based navigation, one feature that has been missing from the webOS App Catalog has been full on-device navigation, where both the software and maps are stored on the webOS device itself. This capability (available via homebrew via Navit, although using open-source rather than commercial maps) would permit the webOS device to serve as a GPS navigator whether or not a data signal was available, as long as the GPS radio is on and the GPS signal itself is strong enough for a lock. Last night, after a long period of "coming soon" announcements on Twitter and beta testing, nDrive, a popular cross-platform choice, finally came to the webOS App Catalog (as nDrive USA for US users). Whether it's the right choice for you will depend on your particular needs, and budget. 

Read on for the full review!

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App Review: Safe Wallet 5

by Adam Marks Mon, 25 Apr 2011 10:13 pm EDT

While many people probably only use just a handful of passwords for all their online sites, most security experts will advice you that this is a bad idea and highly recommend varying your passwords at every opportunity.  Of course, it can be quite a challenge to just keeping up with all those passwords, and the last thing you want to resort to is having to write them down on a piece of paper or keeping them all in an unencrypted file on your phone or computer.  There are already a number of secure password managers in the webOS App Catalog and another just got added in the form on Safe Wallet by SBSH Mobile Software.  For $3.99, you can download the app that promises to be "the most secure password manager designed to help you manage all your passwords and private information in one organized secure solution."  And the app description even boasts that "it is also available for Windows, Mac and all other leading mobile platforms, letting you easily sync your passwords with your home PC or other mobile devices."  Syncing your data to a PC is an important feature for password manager apps and one of major downfalls of the webOS version of old-time PalmOS favorite SplashID.  But let's not get ahead of ourselves just yet.  Let's first take a look at the app itself

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App Review: Quick Post [video] 21

by Derek Kessler Sun, 17 Apr 2011 10:15 pm EDT

There are many ways to post the same content onto sites like Facebook and Twitter, but the methods aren’t always so accurate. Yes, there are services to make Twitter go to Facebook, but those are either the kind where you have to remember to tag the post (and lose four precious characters in the process) or have absolutely everything from Twitter appear on Facebook. Neither solution is ideal, and that’s where developer Dan Perlberger of HedamiSoft decided he needed to step in with a new app: Quick Post.

Quick Post was previewed here just last week, and after a whirlwind of development it’s headed to the App Catalog. The idea behind quick post is simple: easily submit a status update to the Twitter and/or Facebook accounts of your choice. What makes Quick Post great is the combination of sheer simplicity combined with a unique automated feature set to make the entire process easier. What makes the process easier? Well, let’s start from the beginning.

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App Review: Carbon [video] 21

by Derek Kessler Fri, 15 Apr 2011 1:16 pm EDT

If you’re looking for a platform with excellent options for Twitter clients, then look no further than webOS. With seamless multitasking, unobtrusive notifications, and a loyal and enthusiastic (if small) fanbase, webOS is the place to be if the place you want to be is on Twitter. A few months back we previewed the beta version of a new Twitter client called Carbon, and today we’re pleased to be able to show you what the release version is all about. Carbon, by the developers at dots & lines based out of the United Arab Emirates, offers up Twitter in three panes (timeline, mentions, and messages) that you can swipe between with ease to view your messages. While that’s a simple enough concept, Carbon’s execution, expansive feature set, and dozens of little touches set it at the top of the webOS Twitter heap.

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App Review: SmartRunner 11

by Riz Parvez Fri, 08 Apr 2011 3:00 pm EDT

As spring begins to hit its stride with longer days and warmer weather, fitness enthusiasts in the northern climes finally get to resume outdoor activities like walking, running and cycling. If you’re into the outdoors, and are looking for a good app to help you monitor your fitness, or map your travels and share your experiences through social media, SmartRunner is an app that’s probably right up your alley.

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App Review: Angry Birds Rio [video] 12

by Derek Kessler Thu, 07 Apr 2011 7:17 pm EDT

There are only a few games that have mastered the art of addictive gameplay as well as Rovio Mobile’s instant classic Angry Birds. With the flagship Angry Birds game and the regularly-updated Angry Birds Seasons both out, what’s an enraged avian to do? Sign a movie deal, of course. While Rio (due in theaters April 15) isn’t a movie based on Angry Birds, it’s a movie about birds, so 20th Century Fox and Blue Sky saw fit to make a tie in with Angry Birds happen. What came out of the partnership might be the best Angry Birds game to date.

It’s clear that Angry Birds Rio is the culmination of Rovio Mobile’s experience in game making to this point. The graphics are more detailed, the gameplay smoother, the physics ever-so-slightly more realistic, and the sounds oh so richer. Instead of being set it random themed landscapes, Rio takes a bit more of a story approach, starting you off in a warehouse where you must fight your way out in typical Angry Birds fashion. The story-like progression is simple enough that it doesn’t get in the way; Rovio was smart to continue focusing on what made Angry Birds so addictive.

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App Review: Supersonic [video] 8

by Derek Kessler Tue, 05 Apr 2011 5:17 pm EDT

If it seems like a good many of the PDK games in the App Catalog are ports from iOS, well, that is the truth. The Plug-in Development Kit was designed to make it easy for developers to build C/C++ apps that run in webOS, and it just so happens (nudge nudge, wink wink) that most popular iOS games are built on C/C++. There are a few PDK games that are exclusive to webOS, and we’re about to get another. Launching first on webOS, with plans later for iOS and Android, is the new tube racing game Supersonic.

Supersonic was released in beta form via the webOS Beta App feeds a few weeks ago and has received several feature updates since. The good folks at Kuuasema hooked us up with the public release version soon to hit the App Catalog, and we have to say that the game is more addictive than ever.

The premise of Supersonic is fairly simple: you race down an ever-faster twisting tube lined with point multipliers and mines, all the while going faster and faster and struggling to avoid game-ending barriers placed throughout the unending course. The entire game has a very Tron-like aesthetic, which suits it well given the futuristic concept (if implemented in reality) of the game.

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Review: Verizon Palm Pre 2 108

by Derek Kessler Mon, 04 Apr 2011 6:53 pm EDT

Verizon's Palm Pre 2 is the original Pre done right

What the Palm Pre should have been. That’s been our response to the Palm Pre 2 since we first got our hands on it, and it continues to be our response now as we’re finally getting to review the Verizon Pre 2. The differences between this phone and the unlocked variety are few: a CDMA radio in Verizon’s, and a GSM radio in the unlocked one. The differences between this phone and the original Pre, or even the Pre Plus are much bigger than they appear on the surface.

The Pre 2 contains a 1GHz TI OMAP processor, in comparison to the 600MHz affair inside the previous Pre-series devices. It also has 512MB of RAM and 16GB for storage, the same as the Pre Plus and double on both counts what was available in the Pre. Physically, the keyboard on the Pre 2 is much improved over the older devices (especially the double/missed typing keyboard from the Pre Plus), the slider action is more solid, it has a flat glass screen, and it weighs just a touch more. Oh, and there’s that whole webOS 2.0 thing too. After the break, we really get into the nitty gritty of what makes the Palm Pre 2 the phone that it is, and how this phone is the underappreciated true successor to the Pre.

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App Review: TapNote 8

by Riz Parvez Thu, 31 Mar 2011 1:58 pm EDT

webOS users looking for a solid note-taking app that synchronizes with Dropbox now have a solution thanks to developer One Crayon’s recently updated app, TapNote. While the App Catalog is actually actually quite crowded with highly rated note-taking apps (over fifteen apps, many with scores of 4 and above), TapNote appears to be one of the only apps which connects to Dropbox, with all the desktop + web folder syncing goodness that entails. But is that enough to earn it a place in your app tray? Read on to find out.

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App Review: WMF AudioBooks 4

by Riz Parvez Fri, 11 Mar 2011 3:59 pm EST

Are you an audiobook enthusiast looking for some relief from the sea of classic audiobooks being sold for upwards of $1.49 each? Look no further than WMF AudioBooks, a free, ad-supported, open-source application that accesses librivox.org’s vast repository of public domain audiobooks.

Created by WebOS Internals developer watchmefreak, WMF AudioBooks provides full search and streaming access to Librivox’s complete audiobook library. WMF Audiobooks provides a lot of convenience features you’d expect from an audio book player, including play/pause, one and ten minute skips, and bookmarking. Also nice is the ability to create a listing of the books you like right on the device for easy access later. Notably absent is a scrubber bar, but given the content being listened to and the ability to bookmark, this isn’t a particularly large inconvenience.

Over the last few days of use, I’ve found the app can sometimes be a bit finicky with resuming over 3G, but it more than adequately gets the job done. It would also be nice to have some visual feedback for button presses or buffering, as when this takes more than a moment it’s easy to conclude the app is hanging when in fact it’s working fine.

Librivox, for those not in the know, was started in 2005 with the self-described goal of “acoustical liberation of books in the public domain.” Essentially, volunteers record themselves reading chapters of public domain books and then submit the files to Librivox who package them together and release them on the net in the public domain. Librivox provides the disclaimer that these recordings are truly free, and as such can be used for any purpose, including profit as has been done by some developers in the App Catalog.

In all, the app is a terrific free alternative to more costly per-book solutions in the catalog which provide the exact same content. It’s available now in the App Catalog.

 

 

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