After a one week hiatus from our weekly installment of Picks of the Week, we are back to provide our expanded coverage of Apple accessories and applications. We are excited by the very recent addition of three new writers, Brad, Charlie and Jack, to help us promote our favorite iPhone, iPad, iPod, Mac and Apple TV related items, as well as bring you occasional tips and tricks. Hopefully many of our favorite items will also be of interest to you. Please feel free to comment on our selections, and suggest picks of your own. Check out this week’s picks after the break.
Picked by: Alex Jordan
GrandPerspective is a disk visualization tool, that allows the user to see which files and applications are taking up the most room on your hard drive in a visual manner. You can scan individual folders, or the entire disk, it’s up to you. It does not have as much fit and finish to it as other disk visualizers like DaisyDisk, but it is open source, and it costs nothing, so you have nothing to lose.
BookBook Case for iPhone 4
Picked by: PatrickJThis is very nicely done case + wallet combo for the iPhone 4. The leather is aged and gorgeous, both to look at and to hold. It really looks and feels like a little classic book or diary or similar.
It has a cutout space for a photo ID and space for a small number of credit cards and a little bit of cash. It’s definitely not one to try to dump your whole wallet into, but it’s great for just taking a most-used few cards of whatever kind, an ID, and the iPhone 4. The fit is great and the little red tab makes it easy to remove the iPhone 4 – which you’ll want to do if you’re going to use apps, as the case does not lend itself to having the front cover folded over the back to hold in one hand more easily.
It’s the first iPhone accessory from Twelve South – who make some superb items for the Mac and iPad.
The clearest proof to me of how good this looks: my wife attempted to steal within about 10 seconds of laying eyes on it – and it took lengthy negotiations to get it back from her.
NOTE: Theses cases are going like hot-cakes, and they are currently listed as out of stock. However, you can sign-up here to be notified when they become available again.
Manga Rock (v2.3)
Picked by: Thomas
My pick of the week is Manga Rock, a universal app for iPhone and iPad. I reviewed the iPhone version of Manga Rock quite a while back, and as much as I enjoyed reading comics on my 3GS, I had always felt that there was a little something missing. Then I used the iPad version of the app and realized what that missing something was: the ability to see an entire page without having to do any zooming.
Reading manga on the iPad is a glorious experience. I can queue up issues to download in the background while I read my RSS feeds, I can swipe or tap on the screen to turn the page, and I can read for literally hours upon hours without worrying about the battery dying on
The only confusing part to Manga Rock is deciding which version you want to buy. I would suggest buying at least two versions: the main “Manga Rock” app ($2.99 in-app) as well as “Manga Rock Manga Fox” ($0.99; $1.99 in-app). You can probably get by with just one version,
but I have found that there are certain issues that are available in one catalog and not the other, so I like to keep my bases covered by having access to two different catalogs.
(Free) Manga Rock / Full Version ($2.99) iTunes Link
($0.99) Manga Rock-MF / Full Version ($1.99) iTunes Link
TuneIn Radio Pro (v2.0)
Picked by: Jay
This week, I have chosen TuneIn Radio Pro as a worthy pick. When I first migrated from a portable CD player to an mp3 player years ago, I didn’t buy an iPod. Instead I chose a refurbished USB drive dohicky that rarely worked with Windows Media Player (did anything?). However, it was the size of my thumb, held nearly 1 GB, and also had a radio tuner so I had the choice of listening to my favorite FM stations.
When I joined the iOS revolution in 2009 with a 3GS (I still don’t own an iPod), and abandoned the USB/mp3 dohicky, I missed the ability to access my favorite radio stations. Although many radio stations are streaming live now, a new alternative has opened up and I love it, TuneIn Radio Pro. I find it so appealing, that I’ve considered dropping XM Radio from my car in favor of Pandora and TuneIn Radio Pro when traveling (if only rural Missouri had better data reception and cell towers).
For a buck, I get access to up to 50,000 radio stations – including local radio stations if they participate. It’s organized to let you browse by music genre, set favorite (presets), and to search for stations, shows, songs, or artists. And like a DVR, you can even pause and rewind a song with the Pro version – an absent feature from the free ad-supported version.
With the ability to also record a station to play later, the app is my goto for streaming genre music for me (even over Pandora). Partnered with the SuperTooth Disco portable bluetooth speaker (review here) or Jambox’s Jawbone speaker (picked here), I have had great music outdoors while gilling and chilling on the patio.
($0.99) TuneIn Radio Pro iTunes Link
(Free) TuneIn Radio Free Ad-Supported iTunes Link
Belkin Macbook Air Vertical Sleeve with Shoulder Strap
Picked by: Brad
If you are a new 13″ Macbook Air owner and you are anything like me, your wallet is probably feeling quite a bit lighter these days after shelling out a good chunk of change for the Air. If you are also like me, it would break your heart to see your shiny new toy that you emptied your wallet to get collect scratches and scuff marks.
Thankfully, there is an extremely inexpensive solution for this offered by Belkin on Amazon.com. The Macbook Air Vertical Sleeve with Shoulder Strap is an extremely inexpensive way to protect your Macbook Air investment. I was a bit skeptical about the sleeve when making the purchase due to the inexpensive price, but was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the sleeve. The sleeve has just the right amount of padding to protect your 13″ Macbook Air, while not adding a lot of bulk. (Because why carry around your new, paper-thin laptop in a bulky case?) The sleeve appears to be well constructed and built to last. It won’t win any beauty competitions as it comes in a plain gray color, but it more than gets the job done. I can finally slide my Air into my work bag without worrying about dinging it up. This case is a worthy investment for all you Macbook Air owners. Your Air and your wallet will thank you.
Shift 2 Unleashed (v1.0.0)
Picked by: jhrogersii
For the racing fans out there, EA’s latest track title hit the App Store last week to solid reviews. It is just about everything one would expect as a follow-up to 2010′s rock solid Need For Speed: Shift. I took the iPad version for a test drive this week, and came away impressed.
For those not familiar with Shift, it falls somewhere in between the arcade-style fun of Asphalt, and the ultra-realism of Real Racing 2, maybe swaying somewhat to the realistic side of things. There are a variety of things to do, such as single races, time trials, a deep and challenging career mode, online leaderboard challenges, and local Bluetooth and WiFi Multiplayer. Shift 2 also has the widest variety of control options and configurations that I have seen, allowing you to use either gyroscope or gesture controls. There are also options for controlling sensitivity, and assists to help you get started.
EA has also includes its new Origin online service. Rather than going with Apple’s GameCenter, EA has built a new, single mobile online service that connects all of it’s games. While having another yet online service, with its own login and friends list, isn’t ideal, at least it will work for all of EA’s lineup. As for Shift 2, there isn’t any online multiplayer available, but Origin does leaderboards and contests to keep you and your friends racing.
Shift 2 isn’t necessarily the best racing game ever to hit the App Store. However, the depth and customizations definitely make it well worth the price of admission. I’m loving it, myself. Now I’m just crossing my fingers that EA’s recent acquisition Firemint will show them how to stream Shift 2 to an HDTV in 1080p using the Apple TV’s coming AirPlay enhancements. That would push Shift 2 close to Real Racing 2 HD at the top of the iOS racing heap, and that’s saying a lot.
($4.99) iPhone & iPod Touch iTunes Link
($6.99) iPad iTunes Link
Cover Orange (v1.7)
Picked by: Joe Tomasone
Cover Orange is yet another addicting game in the vein of Angry Birds, Cut The Rope, et al. Your job is to arrange the pieces provided to you in each level to shield the orange(s) from the impending acid rain. Of course, it starts simple, but quickly becomes complex, with various puzzles to solve and obstacles to avoid. The oranges are very cute in an OmNom way, occasionally waving “Thank You!” signs after you complete a level. Overall, this is an excellent game for kids and parents alike.
There is also an browser-based online version if you just want to check it out (or waste time at your computer!
($0.99) iPhone iTunes Link
($1.99) iPad iTunes Link
There you have it! Hope you enjoyed this week’s installment of Picks of the week. Please let us know what you think, and share with us some of your favorites.