Welcome to the weekend, a time for rest, relaxation and, most importantly, downloading the latest releases from the App Store. As ever, I’ve selected four fresh picks for the iPhone for you to check out.
This week’s picks are all about getting the most out of your iPhone. My top pick is Boxcar, an excellent push notifications app. Plus I’ve also been looking at Google Wave, Layar and Photoshop.com Mobile.
Push notifications — those handy messages that alert you to stuff going on inside an app — are curiously absent from my favorite iPhone apps. Facebook’s latest update didn’t integrate push, perhaps because of the cost implication. And Tweetie 2, released just a few weeks back, omitted push notifications too.
Boxcar provides for all your push notification needs. The app can grab the latest @replies, DMs and notifications from Facebook, Twitter and even your e-mail account. Receive a message and you’ll get a push notification on your iPhone. Tap the ‘view’ button and you’ll be taken directly to the message in your app of choice, such as Tweetie 2 or Facebook.
The app is free to download with one service included. You can purchase additional services for a one-time fee. Note that, if you’re intending to use Boxcar for Twitter, there’s a trick to setting up your Twitter notifications: make sure to click Twitter’s ‘sign in’ button rather than the iPhone ‘done’ button. Aside from that, you’ll find it’s perfectly smooth sailing.
Google Wave (Web App)
If you’re lucky enough to have access to Google Wave, this is a recommendation that you check out the iPhone app. Otherwise, if you’ve still not received an invite to Google’s new service, consider this a micro-preview.
Google Wave fever hit Twitter earlier this week and I caught the bug. In a desperate bid to get early access to Wave, I wrote and sent two poems to Google, hoping to coax an invite out of them. Despite penning some poetry, I ended up having to track down an invite via my contacts on Twitter.
To install, simply log-in to Google Wave then, using Mobile Safari, save the following address to your Home screen: http://wave.google.com. The Web app launches in ‘app mode’ which means it looks and acts like a real app — no Safari browser buttons or address bar.
From the main page of the Web app you’re able to browse through current waves, create a new wave and initiate a search. Despite feeling a little clunky (it’d probably run much more smoothly as a native app) it’s clear that Google has put a lot of effort into transferring the service to iPhone. For Wave users, this is one Web app worth bookmarking.
If you’re still clinging on to your dowdy old iPhone 3G, you might want to look away for a moment. This recommendation is for 3GS owners only. Layar is another augmented reality app, but with a slight twist — it packs in a ton of features and it’s free.
The app certainly isn’t as pretty as Nearest Places, but Layar really does pack in an overwhelming amount of reality augmenting tools and toys. The app fuses your iPhone camera with a browser, allowing you to initiate a search and then see an overlay of local points of interest relating to your search.
The interface is somewhat cluttered though and, because of the amount of options available, it does feel overwhelming the first time you open the app up. However, it’s totally free and certainly worth investing a few minutes getting to grips with the app’s nuances.
Photoshop.com Mobile (Free)
Last week I omitted Photoshop from the App Store Pick. I wanted to focus on fun and games, plus Photoshop.com Mobile just didn’t tickle my fancy. Indeed, it’s nice that Adobe finally brought Photoshop to the iPhone, but it’s nothing more — the app isn’t really Photoshop, it’s simply a few presets and a tool for uploading to Photoshop.com.
In fact, the app seems to be an extension of Adobe’s current strategy. Adobe haven’t necessarily dropped the ball, it’s more like they’re letting it slowly slip from their hands, as if that’s a more graceful way to fail. Their iPhone app is another example of that. It feels stifled and primitive when there’s so much potential for shrinking Photoshop down to palm-size proportions.
Nevertheless, if you’re looking to get your photo-editing fix for free, Photoshop.com Mobile is an excellent tool to download. Before you do though, I’d politely request that you take a quick glance at PhotoForge — it’s a few bucks, sure, but it’s just so useful, easy and fun.
That’s all the picks for this week. I’ll be back in seven days with a fresh selection of App Store recommendations.
In the meantime, what apps have you been using this week?