Michael McConnell, March 1, 2013
Now that award season has finally ended, we can get back to what’s most important: apps. This week we have a few more wonkish apps for you to check out. Trying to keep track of unit conversions can be a pain, but we have an iPhone app to make it easier. On the iPad we have an app for those of you who like to cheat on iTunes with a certain online retailer. For the Mac we have another Google Reader client. On the web, there is finally an alternative to Google Reader for online RSS. Our game of the week brings some crazy arcade action with a demonic twist.
iPhone/iPod Touch: Amount
Conversion calculators are in the App Store aplenty, but most of them are a mix of complex and expensive. Amount is still a bit of the former, but it’s free so its complexity is forgiven. When you first open the app it asks you to enter a number. Then you are given a huge list of categories of units. After selecting the category you want, you can click between the available units to see how they stack up against the others. It isn’t perfect, and though you can change units and amounts easily in the app, you have to force quit it to get the initial set up back again. It’s not perfect, but it’s one of the best I’ve seen since Tapbots’ Convertbot, and you can get it for free from the App Store.
iPad: Amazon Cloud Player
In a sign that Amazon is far more concerned about selling you media than devices, they have been aggressively pushing their services on Apple’s platforms. Their Cloud MP3 player was already out for iPhone, but they have recently added support for the iPad. It matches the design scheme of the Kindle and Video apps previously released by Amazon. The “Now Playing” images are a really nice touch that elevates this over the default iTunes player. You can stream your MP3s or download them for later play. Even if you don’t regularly buy MP3s from Amazon, check out the app because you may have some free MP3s based upon physical albums you’ve bought. It’s a free app you download here.
If you’re an avid user of RSS, you likely have accumulated a fair amount of feeds. Sometimes just scanning through the news is all you’re looking for, rather than reading through each and every article. Leaf is the scanner’s RSS reader. It simply lists all of your articles from Google Reader in a big list and allows you to scroll through and see previews via Readability. It’s light on sharing options, which may be it’s biggest drawback. However, if you like simplicity and the ability to scan, Leaf is the RSS reader for you. It’s $3.99 and you can grab it from the Mac App Store.
Web: The Old Reader
There has long been a shadow hanging over most iOS and Mac RSS readers: Google Reader’s status as the default RSS sync service is not a supported API. It doesn’t seem the Reader itself is even on Google’s radar anymore, despite how important that API is to the RSS developer community. The Old Reader is the first new web based RSS reader in awhile, and seeks to restore a lot of the social sharing that was removed from Reader when Google started pushing Google+. You can easily import your Google Reader feeds, or import an OPML file to start using your account. There are extensions for both Safari and Chrome as well, but as of yet there isn’t an API. They promise a later iOS app. At the very least you can stash your Google Reader list here just in case the service gets shuttered suddenly. The Old Reader is free and you can check it out here.
Game of the Week: Hell Yeah! Pocket Inferno
Hell Yeah! Pocket Inferno is an arcade take on Sega’s console title from late last year. In the new iOS game you take control of Alex, the skeletal rabbit ruler of hell (just go with it), and go level to level collecting skulls, killing monsters and generally being evil. It’s takes a bit from Jetpack Joyride, but is broken down into levels. This game has to be seen and played to understand its charm. You unlock new weapons and character customizations in the shop as you play with in-game currency. It’s a simple but fun game, and you can get for $0.99 here.Follow @macgasm