Bitter Grounds - espresso fueled ramblings

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

App reviews

Win App review – a little something to block out the gawd awful noise

Icon for White Noise Machine Win 10 app White Noise Generator by Idea MK (Store page: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/p/white-noise-machine/9wzdncrdbvl4)

Works on Windows Mobile devices ☕☕☕☕ /☕☕☕☕☕

I move about the city a lot which means I’m often blasted with the most awful noise imaginable. Everything from music piped in at ear splitting levels, constant construction, people yelling into their phones or jackasses who haven’t figured out the sounds from their Candy Crush game were designed to push the average person into a raging fury of Hulkitude.

It’s difficult to block out the noise and a pair of earphones really doesn’t do a lot, other than to muffle the sound a little. If the music isn’t too loud, I’ll pop my headphones on and hope for the best. However, this doesn’t always work. Short of investing in a pair of high end noise cancelling headphones, you have to either suffer or download a white noise generator. Enter apps designed to keep you and me sane – the white noise generator.

I tested a number of white noise generators, some were meh… others crap on a cracker and then I found this simple, modest little app, White Noise Machine

This is the type of app I like – no unnecessary features, simple, clean and intuitive. Tap it on, choose the type of ambient sound you want to hear and hit play. I use the wind feature a lot, but the storm and rain are quite good as well. The wind varies just enough to distract from the incredible cacophony around and allows me to concentrate or relax.  

The app comes with a handy timer if you want to set it to shut off on it’s own. When the screen turns off, the app continues working (unlike a couple I tried). All in all very sound. I gave it nearly full marks because it was the one app that stopped me from turning into one of those people who stand in the middle of the sidewalk shaking their fist at everyone. They can have their noise, I can have my quiet.

It’s a free app that relies on ads for revenue. The ads in no way detracts from the software’s usefulness. They pop up occasionally and are easily dismissed. Because the ads are non-intrusive, I’ve actually taken to tapping them once in a while to support the developer. I’d pay for this app – happily. It would be money well spent.

I have a tiny little observation that makes me chuckle. The app offers a variety of sounds including hairdryers and vacuums.. to each their own white noise. But the airplane? Sorry guys, that isn’t the sound of a jet, it’s a prop plane. You really need to change the photo.

My only real complaint is the looping is a bit sloppy. When the end of the sound comes, the app abruptly cuts out and starts over. I can be a bit disconcerting and I wish they’d fix it.

It’s specifically designed for Windows mobile devices, anything from 8 up. So laptop users are out of luck. Hopefully the developer will extend the app to laptops and tablets.

 

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App Review: Starbucks app – just what I need, another way to feed my mobile caffeine addiction

Windows 10 Starbucks App screen - courtesy Starbucks CorporationStarbucks Mobile payment app for Windows 10 Phone Download from Windows Store https://www.microsoft.com/en-ca/store/p/starbucks/9nblggh4wb02

Works with Win10 phones. Also available on Android and iPhone platforms ☕☕☕☕ /☕☕☕☕☕

Windows mobile users are used to being ignored or palmed off with substandard light versions of apps developed for other platforms. But things have begun to improve out there with a gradual trickle of apps that have long been standards on the ubiquitous iPhone and Android. After months of promising a mobile pay app for Win10 phones, Starbucks finally released one last month.

It has most of the expected features and missing one crucial one. First the good: it works. I know, I know, my expectations have dropped shockingly low lately in the app department. But seriously, it does – flawlessly. It’s also very fast to pay with. I was a bit surprised at how seamless using the app proved to be. Pull out your phone, tap the app, tap pay, scan and off you go. No fuss, no hassles.

You can top up your balance directly from the app or use a browser. If you use a credit card, just tap the reload button on the app itself, choose the amount and the payment is processed immediately. You can also use the “reload automatically” option if you add a credit card to the app. If you don’t like the idea of attaching a credit card to your account, you can log into via a browser which allows you to use Paypal instead. Unfortunately, the Paypal option is missing from the in- app payment options. Here’s a tip: if you decide to top up using your browser, wait until you get home or to a secure network. Don’t use an open network.

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Read more: App Review: Starbucks app – just what I need, another way to feed my mobile caffeine addiction

App review - a wobbly pedometer review

Step and Count pedometer logoSteps Pedometer & Steps Counter Track Walk

/☕☕☕☕☕

Free – not really if you want to use the advertised features.
Developer: ClipInMedia Apps

On the surface, this looks like a pretty decent little pedometer – turn it on, set your step goals and off you go. It counts each step, has a map to track your route and a calorie burning tracker all packaged in a simple, easy to understand layout. However, a number of serious issues make the app a nonstarter.  

I’ll start with the most egregious issue: It’s advertised as a free app.  Yes, it is free, kind of.  If you want to use any of the promised features, like the map or calorie counter, you have to buy the Pro version. Granted, it’s only $2.29 Cdn ($1.99 US), so price isn’t the issue. Nowhere on the store page does the developer mention the app needs upgrades to run correctly.  The store page actually misleads you into thinking the map is part of the off the shelf features.

Screen capture of Pedometer

All the screen captures offered are from the pro version, not the free one. There are no ads running along the bottom of any of the screens, so this is a bit of smoke and mirrors on the part of the developer. App developers need to tell people details like “map functionality does not work with the free version.  Upgrade to the pro version to add the feature”. Normally I’ll test an app in the free version and then go on to purchase any add ons or the full version to compare.  But the lack of real information irritated me enough to take a pass testing the full app, so you’re getting a review of the free version only.

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App Review of Screenshot – it does what it says it’ll do … kind of

Store screen for Screen Shot app for win 10Screenshot - screen capture app for Win10 devices

App Review   -- Screenshot    ☕☕☕ /☕☕☕☕☕
Works on: Win10 devices
Developer: Cundhi

This is a fairly decent little app. It does what it says it will do, mostly. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do a lot. Screenshot acts as a holding pen for your screen captures. Fire it up and you can rapidly scroll through your screen captures without having to wade through all the photos stored on your phone. The store page says it provides “some processing after the shot” but I was hard put to see any difference.

I’ve struggled a bit trying to justify Screenshot. Unless you take a ton of screen captures, there isn’t much this app can offer the average user. You can’t edit/share directly from screenshot so it’s easier to open the photos app that comes with Windows 10 and work directly from there. The app’s promised “Screenshot guide, explains how to capture” is so spartan, it’s almost none existent. This is all I could find:

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Read more: App Review of Screenshot – it does what it says it’ll do … kind of

Win 10 app review – CIBC’s bewilderingly bad offering

CIBC mobile app for Windows 10

App Review   ----   0 /☕☕☕☕☕
Works on:  don’t bother… just don’t bother.

https://www.cibc.com/ca

Dear Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce,

What were your app designers smoking that led them produce your “app” for Windows 10? Equally important is the question “wtf?”  I put app in quotation marks because it’s painfully obvious you have not created an app. It’s a glorified bookmark to your webpage. As one person stated in the review section “We know how to open a browser and bookmark a website”.

You see, that’s all your “app” is. It offers nothing. Absolutely NOTHING. No functionality, none of the nifty features in your iPhone or Android apps. No way to take a photo of a cheque and instantly deposit it .... nada damn thing.   What we do get is redirected to your mobile website.  Don't get me wrong, you mobile website is very good, but it isn't an app.  Where is the instant deposit feature you push so hard? That is a terrific feature but Windows users aren't allowed to use it.  And don't get me started on your mobile payment app. Unless you have a Blackberry or Android, forget it.  And come to think about it, you offer it on Blackberry and not iPhones? Seriously CIBC? Now that's funny.

What kills me is the tag line "Innovation at your fingertips: CIBC Mobile Banking®" on your website. There is nothing innovative about redirecting people to your webpage. The introduction of Win10 was not a mystery. You knew it was coming. It's been out for nearly a year now and yet you can't produce a real app. 

Yea, you deserve 0 out of 5 for this offering.

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#@!% app. Why isn't it working?

- Catpaw, 2016

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