Were you ‘appy with our first instalment of reviews? Did you think they were absolutely app-tastic? Yes? Well you’re in luck! Let us present you with part two of 5 Apps for a Melburnian; another five potentially useful (maybe one not-so-useful) applications for your trusty iPhone, courtesy of your adoring friends at Melbourne RiffRaff Sci + Tech.
If you’re anything like me and always manage to somehow forget, misplace or lose USB flash drives like there’s no tomorrow, Dropbox will undoubtedly save your life on multiple occasions. Based around the concept of cloud storage, the service securely synchronises your files of choice between your PC/Mac and the web, providing you with access from anywhere in the world. Its web interface makes flash storage media totally redundant, so now is the time to cast your favourite USB drive into the dusty depths of your desk drawer for all of eternity.
The iOS app allows you to access your files on the go and also provides the option to share them with your friends. This proves handy when wanting to read documents or view photos on the go – Dropbox allows you to open all document extensions officially supported by the iPhone or iPad. You can also edit and save documents from your phone to your own Dropbox.
Naturally, there are a few limitations that accompany with the app, including the inability to print via iOS’s native AirPrint and a lack of in-app document editing. The service provides an initial 2GB of cloud storage that should suffice for the average user, but this can be supplemented – plans start at USD$9.99 per month for an extra 50GB. Bonus storage can also be earned by referring your friends.
Dropbox for iOS is free.
PTV (Public Transport Victoria, formerly known as Metlink)
With a “shoddy train network”, a smart ticketing system that just isn’t so smart and unacceptable numbers of delayed and cancelled services, it is surprising that an iPhone app is somehow the most applauded service offered by Metlink, now known as Public Transport Victoria.
Well, at least it was.
PTV is the latest revision of the Metlink iPhone app, and was released to the public last Thursday. An eager public to be precise – according to PTV, “hundreds of thousands” of users logged on and downloaded the update on launch day. However, all is not as it seems.
The update promises to plan your journey with ease, navigate using interactive maps and allows you to access real-time tram information, amongst other features. The app certainly is capable of doing these things – that is, when it doesn’t crash. Hours after PTV’s release, users had been complaining of server timeouts, erratic behaviour and general sluggishness, which had improved markedly over the proceeding days. But problems still remain. PTV currently boasts an on average one (1) star rating on the iTunes App Store.
Underneath its polished and pretty user interface, the app fails to execute itself as the first-class product it claims to be. jTribe, the app’s developers, claim that PTV had made last-minute changes to the final product supplied to them in December 2011, when the authority was still known as Metlink.
“Like many people we are disappointed that the update has not gone smoothly. We look forward to PTV rectifying the situation and the app performing the way it was designed,” jTribe said in a statement on their website.
The potential is there, and everyone experiences technology – particularly software – in different ways. You might just find that PTV works for you. Metlink Classic is still available for download, but is useless for travellers commuting from the three new stations that opened last weekend.
When it comes to the crunch, PTV is a product that should not have been released to the public in its current state, regardless of who was at fault. However, despite its limitations, PTV is still an app for Melburnians – particularly commuters constantly on the move. PTV is free on the App Store.
If you haven’t hopped on the Instagram bandwagon yet, I’m fairly sure you’ll be convinced by the end of this review. Think Twitter, but with photos.
Yes, it is yet another social network, but this time with a twist. Rather than irritatingly informing your circle of friends that in true Melbourne fashion you’ve just downed that “totally fab mega-soy-skinny-decaf-double-latte”, you can instead post a fancy photo and pray to God that someone likes it. Don’t get me wrong, Instagram isn’t just for overly avant-garde hipsters. With over one million downloads on the first day it was released to Android, it has proven to be a universally popular offering. We can also likely expect big things from Instagram in the coming future (or its impending doom), following its acquisition by giant Facebook earlier this month.
The free app not only takes your photos, it also gives you the option to apply a variety of vintage-looking effects. Blurs and frames inspired by the old Instamatic and Polaroid film cameras can enhance the aesthetics of your photos, or more likely mask your extremely terrible iPhoneography skills. Software updates often include new filters, so it is recommended you keep Instagram up-to-date. Third-party companies like Blurb also manufacture beautiful photo books and other paraphernalia from your Instagram library, a worthwhile investment if you want to transform your artsy images into something you can get your grubby hands on.
There isn’t much to the social side of things – you can pull your friends from Facebook, Twitter, your iPhone contacts or by simply hopping over to the trending photos and following users from there.
It’s a worthy alternative to its primary competitor Hipstamatic, which will set you back $1.99.
Pocket Weather Australia
If it hasn’t become apparent to you already, the native weather app that comes with your iPhone isn’t exactly the definition of reliable. Actually, it really sucks. This is because it pulls its weather data from Yahoo!, which also sucks. We all know Melbourne is notorious for its “four seasons in one day”, so why risk it with a dodgy forecast? This is where Pocket Weather AU comes riding in on its noble steed, fully clad in shining armour. From the team at Shifty Jelly, the app is undoubtedly a must-have for any Melburnian wanting to know whether they should pack a brolly, thongs, jacket or literally all of the above.
Pocket Weather AU has traditionally been one of the more popular weather apps, consistently holding its own towards the top of the App Store charts. Although new offerings from companies like Weatherzone have created some stiff competition, Pocket Weather AU is still a stable, gorgeous and easy to use app. It pulls its data straight from the Bureau of Meteorology, so you can be assured that your weather forecasts are reliable and dependable. The app rarely spits the dummy, and the Shifty Jelly team are consistent in quashing any bugs quickly via app updates.
Pocket Weather AU provides easy access to capital city and local weather, as well as all radar images and wind dopplers. You can customise the UI with an array of various skins, including a high-contrast option for the vision-impaired. The app also takes full advantage of the Notifications Centre in iOS 5.1, providing you with routine updates at your discretion.
For $1.99, it’s a worthy investment. Unless you know, you’d prefer to keep listening to Yahoo! and have your Sunday picnic in a hail storm.
Find My Friends
Find My Friends – for when Facebook stalking is just not enough.
Created by Apple Inc., Find My Friends is as straightforward as the title suggests. Simply put, adding a “friend” to the app authorises them access to your location data, and in return theirs is provided to you. Locations can be visualised on a map, or as an exact address if you’d prefer to be that little bit more creepy.
Practically, the app does have actual benefits. Find My Friends could for one save your life. Just imagine if you found yourself stranded in the middle of Melbourne’s many nearby national parks after a few too many on that weekend camping trip. Help would now only be a “touch” away. Or if your partner’s lecture is running “overtime”, you can just pull up Find My Friends and see whether they are instead having an illicit rendezvous with their tutor in a Union House broom closet.
Find My Friends saves lives and broken hearts. It also saves pennies – the disconcerting app is free from the App Store right now.