Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Thing 23: Evaluate 23 Mobile Things

I don't feel that I started using very many new apps as a result of 23 Mobile Things.  I ended up deleting most of the new apps that I checked out and stuck with the ones I've always found useful.  I realized that app aesthetic is a really big deal to me - if the app doesn't work smoothly or is unpleasant to look at I probably will find a better app.

23 Mobile Things did help me find new ways to utilize apps that with which I'm already familiar.  I was also able to recommend several of the apps I tried to instructors who might find them useful. 

I felt that some of the later Things were more interesting to me, maybe because I am a user who is more comfortable with mobile technology.  Maybe for future Things there could be a standard Thing and a more advanced activity in connection with each Thing so that all levels of user are challenging themselves.

Thing 22: Discovering Apps

Quixley is a great website - I really like how you can search for a keyword, not the app name.  The Apple App Store is difficult to search.  Sometimes your app doesn't come up, even if you have the exact name right.

One app that helps combat App Store difficulties is Find.  I've had a much higher success rate using Find than I have with the App Store.  Find also gives a lot of the same information available in the App Store and then links you directly to the app in the App Store so that you can install it like usual. 

I used to have Apps Gone Free installed but I didn't find many apps that I was interested in so I deleted it.

Thing 21: Free-for-all

One of the apps that I've found most useful is OWA for iPad/iPhone.  My employer uses Microsoft Outlook as our employee email platform.  OWA for iPad brings together my email, calendar, and contacts in one easy app.  When I first got my iPad I had my work email synced to the default mail app and my calendar synced to the default calendar app.  These apps limited my access and editing to my mailbox and calendar.  The OWA app offers so many more options and syncs nearly seamlessly with my calendar and inbox.  It also requires a pin for log in, so that makes it that much more secure, which is extremely important when dealing with company information on a mobile device.

Thing 20: Games

I actually don't play a ton of games on my mobile devices.  I find it hard to get absorbed in games, especially games that have you playing through different lands or stories.  For a while I played Dumb Ways to Die, which was easy and quick to play.  I liked that I could play a round in 5 minutes and then be done.  I also tried Icycle:  on Thin Ice, which was entertaining, but again I just couldn't get that into it.  I've tried Angry Birds and Shark Dash, lots of word games, multiplayer games and I just get tired of them easily.  I think without the face to face contact of a board game I get bored.

Thing 19: Hobbies

I am moving into a bigger apartment at the end of June and one of my hobbies lately has been looking at ways to decorate, organize, and arrange the new apartment.  I love using Pinterest for DIY furniture ideas.  Now I just have to get motivated enough to actually try them out.  Pinterest also has a lot of clever ideas for apartments and apartment patios. 

One home decor app that I found for this Thing was Houzz Interior Design.  This has a lot of cool features, but my favorite one is Ideabooks.  Ideabooks basically has a lot of different curated lists and articles that are browseable by topic.  It seems like it's very interactive, with Houzz, interior decorators, and Houzz subscribers contributing to content.

One app that I'd like to buy is HomeDesign DIY Interior Floor Layout Space Planning and Hours Decorating.  First of all, that name has got to be changed.  This app allows you to create a scale floor plan and then add furniture and other items to see if they will really fit in your space.  This app is $4.99.  The reviews are not great overall, so maybe I'll see if it goes on sale or free before I check it out.

Thing 18: Education

I've used several of the education apps featured on a regular basis.  I've recommended Ted, Socrative, Duolingo, Khan Academy, and MyScript Calculator to instructors and students.  Out of these apps Ted is probably my favorite.  It provides such easy access to so many great ideas and motivating speeches.  Ted Talks are amazing and a great way to share new ideas.

For this Thing I explored three new apps:  Advanced English Dictionary and Thesaurus, Fooducate, and Today's Document.

The Advanced Dictionary is great!  I love how easy it is to search for words and find related terms.  The scan and search feature is awesome - you scan a word using your device's camera and it brings up options to search.  Choose the term that matches and you're off!  There are even word games and a word of the day feature if you're trying to build vocabulary.  The one feature I couldn't find and wish this app had is a pronunciation guide.  It would be nice if the app spoke the correct pronunciation on command. 

The Fooducate app is formatted for the iPhone, so it looks a little clunky on my iPad.  This app contains a lot of great information, basically down to the full nutrition label.  The alternative options is a great tool, especially for suggesting different brands or versions of the same product that might be healthier options.  It might be nice if the app was able to tell users where to purchase items or the approximate price, but that could be included in the premium features that I didn't pay for.

Today's Document is a really cool app that makes viewing historical Unite States documents easy.  It's easy to use the search function to pull documents.  I wish that there was more of an option to browse by category or time period.  The app promotes a different document daily, but there doesn't seem to be any sort of order to the choices.  The information button is nice because it allows you to view additional details about the historical context.  It also links you to the document source so that you can research additional information about context.  This would be a great way to explore history and context with a class.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Thing 17: Connecting to Community

For Thing 17 I searched for apps useful to the Fargo-Moorhead community.  I downloaded the FM Mobile Coupons app.  The app itself is clunky, but it has a simple layout that gets the job done.  This app would be really great if more businesses were using it.  I'm not sure that there is much awareness of this app either.  There weren't any app store reviews for it. 

I also checked out Minnesota 511.  This app is not updated frequently enough for it to be of real use.  Traffic and road construction alerts aren't really helpful unless they're updated daily - this app seems to be updated weekly at its best.  I would use this app frequently if I knew I could count on it.  I traveled I94 between Fargo and Alexandria this weekend and the app didn't note any of the three construction areas I went through.

I really like the Minnesota State Fair app - I think it works well and captures the atmosphere of the Fair in a great way.  I hope that I get a chance to use this one this summer!