“If I Had a Dollar” is a series that highlights one useful or entertaining app per week that costs less than $1. Skip your vending machine soda and try some new apps!
Cyber Monday is a lazy bargain hunter’s dream. There’s an overwhelming sense of power when you find the perfect product from the safety and comfort from your own couch — it’s a freeing feeling that comes without the bruises left by shoving people for room on Black Friday.
But did you know that there’s also an informal “Cyber Monday” of sorts for mobile apps? Companies get into the spirit by offering their products at a deep discount from their original prices — and often leave the discount for days after. Here are two great apps that you can snap up for that almighty dollar — just a fraction of what they cost any other time of the year.
Perhaps one of the best values of this year’s app sale in iTunes is the great price cut on Boxer, which normally retails for $5 but is still on sale for less than a buck. Mailboxes are a saturated app category, which makes splurging for a paid one a bit of a gamble — it’s hard to know what features you want until after you’ve sprung for the app, and then when it’s all said and done, it’s easy to be stuck with a so-so mail app. Luckily, Boxer is a cheap test drive, and it also comes with some handy features.
Integrated with all major IMAP mail clients, Boxer offers a lot of power-user features that aren’t always available in standard or free mail apps. These features include: full Gmail label support (which even the Gmail app doesn’t do so well), multitouch gesture support, and even integration with Evernote, Dropbox, and Linkedin. In short, it’s kind of like a juiced-up version of Apple’s mail client — and perhaps what that app should have been in the first place.
But despite its low cost and fairly powerful user features, there are still some hangups — particularly for users with multiple inboxes to manage. While it does its best to integrate multiple aliases into one easy inbox account, it still presents everything in chronological order. Without the that special priority mail magic that makes a product like Gmail so appealing to use, it can easily overwhelm people who receive plenty of information from many places. It also expects gesture swipes to become part of everyday email use, a particular hangup when in the throes of slashing down multitudes of emails. Remembering to push left or right or up or down to make things happen can work for some, but the mounting anxiety of actually tossing the mail in the wrong pile isn’t much fun.
But all in all, Boxer is a great mailbox that is currently available at an even greater price.
On the Android side, one of the best deals happening right now is the discounted $1 price of Dayframe Prime, which will skyrocket to a regular price of $5 after hitting 1,000 downloads. The app is a pro app complement to existing app Dayframe, which offers users the ability to create custom photo slideshows to play as the phone’s screen saver.
Dayframe Prime builds on Dayframe’s already-existing features — such as pulling photos from social networks and cloud storage accounts — very thoughtfully. Most notable is the ability to create completely custom photo playlists, rather than just a firehose pipeline of photos on a single server or stream. A tighter control on the feed means higher chances for gorgeous pictures, and the app also allows for all that eye candy to be controlled according to brightness and even time of day.
One big downside, of course, is that Dayframe is a battery killer. It’s hard to run photos constantly through the phone, and although the brightness adjustment and timer help curb that, the app is power-hungry. Also, unless there’s some strict rules about which photos are shown, there’s always the off-chance that something unappealing or inappropriate might pop up at the worst time. It’s a price to pay for beauty.
Cyber Monday is a pretty empowering day, and it does come with a few perks in the apps department. Just snap them up now before they’re all gone.
Do you have an app that is worth my dollar? Send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Dollar App” and the app’s name in the subject line.