This week might be the weirdest mix of apps we have had in a while. First up we have a timer dedicated to a hipster coffee darling. After that we have a supplement to your GPS app. Then we have a Mac utility that helps you get quick access to your data. If you’re looking for an old school Internet radio experience on your modern smart phone, we have an app for you to check out. Finally, if you’ve fallen off the diet resolution, we have an iOS app that puts a trainer in your pocket.
AeroPress Timer – iPhone
Aeropress Timer might be the most hipster app ever reviewed in this column. The app has a simple function: it gives you the measurements and timing for some of the more popular ways to make coffee using an Aeropress. If a finicky coffee making process doesn’t appeal to you, just skip to the next app. However, if you do like the Aeropress this is a neat app. You get a list of the most popular recipes for the Aeropress. Then you can look at the description, the measurements and grind level, and then finally you’ll be walked through the process with time countdowns.
This a pretty niche product, but for a simple set of recipes and steps it’s designed well. Each of the recipes gets a nice description of its origin, though they could do a little better at hinting what they taste like. The app offers units in three measurement types, allowing you to customize it to your choosing. The app does need to get some sound support, as right now you need to watch the timer while you’re making your coffee. The timer never runs for long, so it’s a small annoyance.
What’s Good: Great design, lots of variety in recipes. (You know, except for them all being coffee.)
What Sucks: Timers are silent counters. The should still the FitBit system for countdowns.
Buy it?: If you’re an Aeropress user and are looking for a little variety, grab Aeropress Timer on the App Store for Free.
ETA – iPhone
ETA is a simple utility that gives you an overview of how long it will take you to travel to your favorite locations. If you’d like to save yourself the hassle of pulling up Maps just to see if you’ve got time to stop for coffee, ETA is going to come in handy. Instead of inputting fresh data each time, you have presets that always tell your ETA from your current location. The app lets you connect it to Apple Maps, Google Maps, or Waze so it can act as a favorites menu. There are some additional tweaks you can make to the interface.
This is a simple app, but one that commuters will likely appreciate. It would be helpful if they expanded the supported GPS apps, though that may be limited to apps using the x-calback-url scheme needed for this kind of inter-app communication. It also would be nice if ETA would send you a notification of current travel times at a certain times during the day. (This app would likely have a widget on Android.) This is a glanceable app that gives you information that you’d have to take a few minutes to get in a proper GPS app. The fact you can tap right into your GPS app from ETA makes it an even bigger time saver.
What’s Good: Easy access to one touch GPS navigation enables favorites across popular GPS apps, and quick access to travel times without entering data.
What Sucks: Doesn’t work with more GPS apps, could use some alerting and other options.
Buy it?: If you commute and would like a simple way to find out if you’re going to be late, check out ETA on the App Store for $1.99.
Unlcutter – Mac
Do you like to use your desktop as a scratch pad? Maybe you need to have a place to jot quick notes without having to save it later. Unclutter is an app that puts access to files, your clipboard, and a notepad at the top of your screen. The interface is simple, you move your mouse to the top of the screen and scroll down. The Unclutter window comes up over what you’re working on, and you can work with it directly. Click out of the area, and Unclutter disappears. The clipboard keeps a history, but you may want to keep an eye on this, as it will save EVERYTHING you copy.
This is an app that would work great for Macbook Air users as you can get a lot of information without having to switch Spaces/Desktops or keep a bunch of windows in the background. On a desktop it’s a bit less useful, but could still pose some benefit. The features like starring clipboard items, and the persistent note function, are nice touches that make this more than another novelty.
What’s Good: Excellent quick access, clipboard, and note taking tool. Good use of real estate for smaller screens.
What Sucks: Clipboard history will keep a history of everything, including copied passwords.
Buy it?: If you’re looking for a versatile tool for quick data access, grab Unclutter on the Mac App Store for $4.99
Radium – iPhone
Though you can always use Pandora or Slacker on your iPhone, streaming radio is a little less relevant than it was half a decade ago. If you dig around you can still find feeds to old shortwave stations, some podcasting networks have live feeds, as do a lot of smaller old school internet radio stations. These don’t work well with the iPhone, unless you just keep a giant collection of favorites in Safari. Radium solves that problem by giving you an app to search for and save Internet radio stations. The app looks great, breaking out visual themes based on station classifications. For stations that provide ‘now playing’ information, they also go out and get cover art.
Though this app is simple, there is a lot of content you can search through. Most genres seem to be available, even something as niche as ‘Chip Tunes’. The cover art function seems to be a bit on the spotty side, but that may just depend on which station you’re using. The app works well over both Cellular and Wi-Fi, though that may just depend on reception and which stations you’re using.
What’s Good: Nice design, huge array of content.
What Sucks: Some bugs with album art display on some stations.
Buy it?: If you’re a fan of Internet Radio and are looking for an interface on your iPhone, grab Radium on the App Store for free.
Fitstar – iOS(Universal)
So you may have fallen off the wagon on your New Year’s diet. You probably even deleted the gym from your GPS favorites. That doesn’t mean that you can’t get back into the swing of things, and let’s face it you’re always on your phone anyway. Fitstar lets your phone be your personal trainer. For your virtual trainer you get Tony Gonzalez, a player for the Atlanta Falcons. The exercises you’re assigned are based around your fitness level, and you’re asked to rate the difficulty of each exercise in your session when you finish. None of the exercises require anything more than a water bottle for equipment. The app offers you a couple of free workouts a week, but you can upgrade to more specialized programs for $4.99 a month, or $29.99 a year.
That said, this is a workout app that does the trick. It doesn’t involve weights or other equipment, meaning it will be easy to keep up on these workouts when you’re on the road. The tailoring of the workouts to your fitness level and goals is another nice touch. It can interface with My Fitness Pal and other apps, which makes it easy to track your workouts.
What’s Good: Tailors workouts to user, free trial is ample.
What Sucks: Doesn’t push when you’ve missed a workout.
Buy it?: If you’re looking for a virtual personal trainer and don’t want to spend a ton on equipment, then check out Fitstar on the App Store for Free. It really is a fantastic app.