Our apps this week run the gamut from superfluous toys to interesting tools. It’s been a good week to dig through apps, as the weather here hasn’t really been all that corporative in the spring department. Grab your iDevices and let’s take a look at this week’s apps.
iPhone/iPod Touch: Farmstand
As the weather warms up here in the northern hemisphere, farmers’ markets begin to pop up all over town. Some of the earliest begin in May, but it’s kind of a hassle to keep all of them straight, especially when they might have random hours. Farmstand solves that by giving you a list of the local farmers’ markets, complete with hours.
There is a community aspect to the app, as you can update the entries that might be incomplete. If you find something particularly interesting, you can post it in the app. The login integrates with Facebook and Twitter, so you won’t need to remember another account. They recently added stickers to put on the images you share from the markets, giving the social layer some more polish.
If you’re looking for a good source of local food, or a social network of granola heads this is a cool app to check out. You can download it free from the App Store.
iPad: Poems by Heart from Penguin Classics
April is National Poetry month. What better way to celebrate than to actually learn some poetry? Penguin’s app tries to help you memorize poetry with an iPad that reads the poem to you, then asks you to slowly fill in more and more blanks until you’re recreating it from memory. The final test is actual reciting the poem from memory, which you can then share to Soundcloud.
The memorization games are a great way to learn, but they’re boring without content. For free you get William Blake’s “Eternity” and William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 18.” (You likely know it’s opening line: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?) After that other packs unlock poems in groups of three or four for $0.99. (Check out the Gothic Tales pack which has Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” and Percy Bysshe Shelly’s “Ozymandias”.)
You can get the base free app from the App Store here.
Every Mac user probably collects little menu bar utilities until the top of the screen looks like a trophy case. Coucou is the kind of app that actually belongs in the menu bar. It’s a network manager that allows you to quickly see your network resources. You can then pull up its remote management page, or connect to a remote Mac using SSH or Screen Sharing. Beats having to switch away and pull up a Finder Window.
The app is limited to Mac, iDevices, Printers, and NAS’. It shows that you should be able to manage Apple network devices, which wasn’t possible when testing this app. You can also set up broadcast services on your Mac such as web apps you’re developing or MAMP.
You can get Coucou on the Mac App store for $1.99
Web: Rainy Cafe
White Noise can be relaxing and even boost creativity. You can search the App Store and find dozens of apps to generate a variety of noises, but Rainy Cafe is both free and works cross platform. At this point it’s supported entirely through donations, so there isn’t even an ad.
The site is quite simple — you are presented with two switches. One is labeled rain; the other is labeled cafe. The rain is a gentle, rolling rain sound. The cafe is a mixture of table sounds and muffled talking that sounds like a busy lunch rush. You can play both sounds at the same time. The spp works on the desktop, as well as on phones and tablet.
It’s totally free and you can check it out here.
Game of the Week: Magicka
Coming in somewhere between Castle Crashers and Puzzle Quest, Magicka was originally released for the PC back in 2011. The iPad version is developed enough for touch that you wouldn’t even notice it was a remake. You take the role of a possessed Wizard sent out on a quest to defend your city. The game doesn’t take itself too seriously and there are plenty of jokes peppered into the dialog.
The combat system is really interesting. The game is broken into side-scrolling stages with a slightly isometric perspective. Enemies come in from both sides of the screen. Your Wizard has to attack by selecting elements to cast spells and then tapping the enemy to cast them. Each element behaves differently, and some monsters are immune. The real fun comes in once you start mixing and matching the elements, finding crazy combos that illicit unexpected results. The monsters all have unique character designs and are based on Norse mythology.
This is a must-play for iPad gamers. It’s $1.99 on the App Store.