Another fistful of apps: Ember, Headspace, myMovies, Nozbe, Juglir and LiveView
According to my completely unscientific research, about 90% of the TUAW mailbag is comprised of iPhone app announcements. In our continuing effort to not deluge you with iPhone app reviews, I present another "fistful of apps": 6 iPhone app reviews in one post. If you don't have an iPhone, you only have to skip one post. For the rest, this is some serious bang for your blog-reading buck.
I don't play games much, aside from the occasional word challenge, so the apps I've chosen to review are definitely of a more utilitarian ilk. I'd classify them as productivity apps, including a Campfire client, a 3D mind mapping app, a movie cataloger, a task-management solution, a multi-status updater and a nifty tool for developing iPhone interfaces. Read on for the nitty gritty.
Ember, from Overcommitted Apps, is an iPhone client for Campfire, 37signal's team collaboration web application. I'll note (before you say it) that Campfire has a very good iPhone-optimized web page already. This, I believe, is the main reason that a great amount of attention was paid to Ember's interface. It has some really well-polished elements, and is extremely intuitive to use. With live image previews inside the chat room, a built-in viewer for Microsoft Office files, easy switching between unlimited chat rooms, and support for both free and paid Campfire accounts, it's about as complete as an iPhone-based Campfire client can get. It's priced at $9.99US and available in the App Store (iTunes link). You can't try-before-you-buy, so frequent Campfire users will have to take my word that the UI details make it worth the ten bucks.
Headspace is a very intriguing, three dimensional mind mapping application. I use the term "mind mapping" loosely in this case, as Mr. Buzan would likely take issue with calling these true mind maps. They're more like stacks of text nodes with connections between items or groups. Regardless of what you call them, the interface is fluid and makes great use of the iPhone's capabilities, allowing pinch and tilt navigation through three-dimensional space. Data entry is simple and as quick as iPhone brain dumps can be (at least text-based ones). The multi-colored, translucent stacks of text nodes floating in black space seem almost to have been envisioned by Gibson or Sterling. Headspace is $2.99US in the App Store (iTunes link), and there's a free version (iTunes), lacking only the export features, available to try out.
GTD aficionados will probably be familiar with Nozbe, a web-based GTD application with a constantly-expanding feature set. It's had a mobile interface for a while now, but the native iPhone app is really slick. Nozbe allows input via the web, email, Twitter, import from Excel ... let's just say it's highly accessible. The iPhone app is a feature-complete, native version of the web app which syncs with your online account. Creator Michael Sliwinski has become a well-known voice in the GTD community, and is a contributor to David Allen's official blog, GTD Times. His passion for productivity has driven the expansion of Nozbe in myriad directions and I'd recommend checking out the web app, and then the iPhone app. The iPhone version is free in the App Store (iTunes link), and you can get a web account for anywhere from $3.50 a month (for a single account, prepaid 2 years) to $24 a month (team account, prepaid 2 years, $49 if paid monthly). There's a free plan, too, with a 5-project limit.
[Editor's Note: The UI of myMovies looks awfully similar to Delicious Library, and according to DL developer Wil Shipley that's no coincidence; Shipley claims that myMovies has repurposed some of his copyrighted graphical elements in the app design, and he is pursuing legal action against the developer of the other app.]
myMovies is a visual catalog for your movies. Featuring a Delicious Library-esque bookshelf UI, myMovies makes adding movies as easy as typing in their name or related search terms. It handles grabbing cover art and pulling in IMDb information. I had enough movies entered to fill a screenshot in just a few minutes, so I give it high marks for ease-of-use. You can pick it up for $1.99US in the App Store (iTunes link). If you're a movie buff, it's worth a look.
Juglir is an app I've been expecting for a while, and am glad to finally see. It updates multiple social networks simultaneously and allows for rapid selection of multiple accounts before each update. The developers are concentrating on simplicity, making the process of updating Twitter, Facebook, Identi.ca and FriendFeed (or any combination of services) as seamless as possible. Type your message, tap the services to update and hit Send. Done. Unlike some existing solutions, it interfaces with each service's API directly, and passwords are stored locally and transmitted securely. It's only $.99US, available (as usual) in the App Store (iTunes link)
Lastly (whew!), iPhone developers will appreciate LiveView, a free VNC-based tool for viewing your interface designs on your iPhone, directly from your desktop monitor. Just run the server application (LiveView Screencaster, Leopard-only) on the Mac you're creating a UI on, and load up LiveView on your iPhone. You get a movable target area on your screen which sends exactly what it encompasses to your iPhone screen in realtime. It's handy, and it's free (iTunes link).
That's it for now, hopefully I've satiated your appetite for practical iPhone applications, for the moment.
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