My Chalkboard +

IMG_6831NAME: My Blackboard +
DEVELOPER:
Akrio
AVAILABILITY: iPad

5 starsChalkboards are an ancestor to today’s classrooms. The days are gone when children bang together erasers to clean the chalkboard, letting the chalk dust flow into the air. Better yet, teachers no longer have chalk residue on their hands from a day’s worth of teaching students hungry to learn math, geography and science. No, the chalkboards of the past have been forced into retirement. The “big guns,” or the smart boards and white boards we’ll call them, have been brought in to help children advance to the technology that is upon us. In fact, the only chalkboard that they may know may be through My Blackboard +, where they can draw, learn music and handwriting and learn valuable skills.

THE CHALKBOARDS

There are four different chalkboards to choose from: a blank chalkboard, a chalkboard that lets you read music, a lined chalkboard and a squared chalkboard. The blank chalkboard is great for drawing practicing skills such as math or English. If teachers are using this app, this may be a great chalkboard to put quiz questions, but there is not a good way to scroll through images on this application. The music chalkboard is just that. It’s a blank chalkboard with sets of lines for sheet music. The student (or teacher) draws the music on the blackboard. This may done to practice the music or to learn it, whatever your preference may be.

The next chalkboard is the lined chalkboard. This may be a great chalkboard for younger kids who are learning letters and numbers. It could be efficient to those students who want to practice their cursive writing. The square chalkboard first brings to mind algebra, calculus and all those other hard math classes. This chalkboard allows you to graph items, either in a bar graph or a line graph. I suppose you could do a pie graph on this blackboard, too, but it might look better on the blank chalkboard.

IMG_6711TOOLS

Similar to regular chalk, there are a wide variety of color options within this application. The color selections remind of me an Easter pack of chalk I once bought. There are colors such as red, pink, purple, orange, yellow and green. There is the traditional white chalk, as well, along with blue chalk. Additionally, there is a color picker that lets you pick any color you desire for the chalk color, which ranges between $1.99 and and $3.99–depending on which one you get. Parents may like that they can get varying levels of arithmetic or handwriting in the store, while ads may also be removed.

AND THAT’S NOT ALL

Like most apps, share what you do in My Blackboard + on your favorite social network. Images or chalkboards may be shared via Twitter or Facebook. They may be also be saved to your images or sent to an email address. This is a big step up from regular chalkboards, where once it was erased, it was gone for good! The chalkboard may even be changed from black to green. Also, teachers and students may change the chalk thickness. I don’t remember having those options in grade school! I suppose there might be perks to this app after all.

CONCLUSION

Whiteboards and smart boards may have been chalkboard’s bully, but I think this app is a good substitute to getting your hands dirty. It offers parents, teachers and students a lot of flexibility in learning new skills. Teachers may be able to put their lessons in here and put them on the classroom website, for instance, offering students extra credit or extra reading material. Parents may help their children by creating new practice questions and much more. This app is great just for kids who want to play hang man or tic tac toe. There are so many possibilities it’s hard to come up with them all. What would you use My Blackboard + for? Don’t forget to bang the chalkboard erasers on your way out.

Day One

IMG_1626NAME: Day One
DEVELOPER: Bloom Built, LLC
AVAILABILITY: iPhone, iPad

5 starsDigital journaling has never been easier with apps such as Day One. Life goes by so fast that it’s important to record the moments that matter most. These are moments such as birthdays, anniversaries, engagements and any other day that may hold special meaning. Journaling hasn’t any set rules. Instead, whatever the writer feels is important, they write down in a print or digital format. It could be a log of daily fitness exercises, gardening or any number of topics. The idea is to get writing and Day One helps you get there.

USING DAY ONE

Day One makes it memorable to keep a journal. Each entry may contain text, photos and a location. While a print journal may contain these features, print journals may often be heavy and bulky. Day One takes both these burdens out of the equation, making the app easy to navigate and user-friendly.

I love that this application is full-screen. I am a fast typist, and it keeps up with my typing pretty well. This clean interface is easy to use and is perfect for anyone that wants to do any style of writing. It doesn’t necessarily have to be journal. Instead, writers could use Day One to write poetry, outline stories or many other topics. Students could use it to keep track of their daily notes for class. The uses are endless. It’s a great application worth a look.

IDENTIFYING JOURNAL ENTRIES

Once a writer has used Day One for awhile, they may want to explore the Timeline feature. Think of this feature as an archive of all of your journal postings. The entries are organized by month, which makes them easy to locate in the application. I like this feature a lot, and I do mean A LOT. It gives me the opportunity to look for a specific entry I have entered, locating it by its location or time of day.

Writers may also identify their posts by using tags. I use this feature quite frequently because I am always organizing something. These tags can be as creative as your imagination. They are added within each journal post. When you want to search within them, go to the Tags feature and it will show all your posts listed under that tag. This feature is beyond useful. It’s necessary to have in a writing application such as Day One. Each post should be tagged, making it easier to find at a later date.

IMG_1608Additionally, each writer should take advantage of the calendar in Day One. Each day that is highlighted contains a journal entry. It makes it easy to find entries that may be important to the writer. The only thing I don’t like about this feature is that it’s not color-coded. I would enjoy different colors to make different topics stand out.

SHARING WITH OTHERS

Most journalers consider what they write to be private. There’s nothing wrong with that if that’s your preference. For those that want to share their writing, Day One gives you this option. Entries may be emailed, copied or printed so someone else may have access to them. Similarly, they may be placed in PDF format. This process has never been made easier!

For this reason, English teachers may find Day One useful for their students if they use iPads in their classroom. Instead of using notebooks, students can type of their iPads and email their journal entries to their teachers. This holds the student accountable to their homework. I don’t see a way to return the email to the application, however, so a private email may have to be involved.

CONCLUSION

I love how writers can customize Day One. Each entry may contain a GPS location, for instance, so the writer remembers where the entry took place. The entries may also contain a time and date, music or be starred as a favorite entry. In turn, the entries may be tweeted or checked-in on Four Square which is nifty if you want to share your writing with others. The reasons you may write are endless, really. If you’re looking to write your thoughts or record daily events, this application is for you, pens down! What are you waiting for? Go to the app store and get it…creative ideas await!

Phone Tracker For iPhones

Courtesy of "Phone Tracker For iPhones" iTunes page.

Courtesy of “Phone Tracker For iPhones” iTunes page.

four stars

NAME: Phone Tracker For iPhones
DEVELOPER: Cell Phone Solutions, LLC
AVAILABILITY: iPhone, iPad

Phone Tracker For iPhones makes it possible to track locations of family and friends within the past 72 hours. Similar to Find My Friends, users must have permission to follow each other on the application. After the permission is granted, the user has real-time tracking, which has the potential to be controversial. Since this application tracks a person’s global positioning system (GPS) location, anyone can know exactly where you are at any point of the day. For most, they might not be a big issue, but for others, you might want to consider who you give access to this application. That aside, let’s look at its features.

TRACKING WITH GPS

Phone Tracker For iPhones has the ability to track a person’s location by using their GPS location. While I’m still not convinced this is a good idea, there are good reasons to have this feature. For instance, if a person’s phone gets stolen, then they will know exactly where it is–as long as it’s turned on. Parents may like this feature if they give their child a smartphone because they can track them when they are with friends, at the movies or at soccer practice. Spouses may enjoy it if they are having marital problems or any number of other reasons. Is it invasion of privacy? Maybe, but in some of these cases it’s not so bad. Alright, maybe I like it a tiny bit.

Courtesy of "Phone Tracker For iPhones" iTunes page.

Courtesy of “Phone Tracker For iPhones” iTunes page.

LOCATE THEM BY ADDRESS

You gotta admit, this is creepy. Anyone can know exactly where you are at the exactly the second you are there. The address is posted on the application, leaving it up to anyone to come crash your plans. Even if someone doesn’t have access to your phone through this app, it’s very common a friend of a friend might. Everyone knows how to takes screenshots these days on their phone. Just be careful is all I’m going to say. On the other hand, this feature is fantastic for those honest people with good intentions. It gives them the address of where you are so they can meet you there. It’s convenient, especially if you or your friend are unfamiliar with the area. So maybe it’s not so bad after all.

CONCLUSION

This app keeps running in the background until you restart your phone or turn it off, so don’t be surprised if someone unexpectedly shows up in your location. If used for good, Phone Tracker For iPhones is a good application for your phone. Just be wise in who you allow access to it. It’s different than Find My Friends in the fact that it tracks your GPS. Find My Friends does this as well, but does not provide your address, which makes it much safer. Apps such as these are great, but just be cautious. They’re like a double-edged sword.

iBible Study HD

IMG_6890NAME: iBible Study HD
DEVELOPER:
Samy Seif
AVAILABILITY:
iPad

four starsiBible Study HD is a fantastic Bible study application for those that want to dig deep into the gospel. This offline study application allows readers to study the Bible in two ways: they can split the screen into three separate panels, or they can read the Bible using one screen. These panels may even be moved around in the settings, which is a wonderful way to customize this application. It doesn’t stop there, however, because there are many more features that are awesome about iBible Study HD.

BIBLE VERSIONS

Each Christian has their version of the Bible that speaks to them the best. For some, it may be the King James Bible, while for others it may be the American Standard Version or the World English Bible. They are all here within iBible Study HD. I’m disappointed the New International Version and the New Language Translation bibles are missing from their collection, along with many others.

Additionally, there are Bibles in numerous other languages. There are Bibles translated into Chinese, Dutch, French and German for those that are fluent in these languages. Let’s not also forget there are Bibles translated into Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Polish and many others. If you want to find multiple Bible versions, you are sure to find them here.

IMG_0589ICONS

There are icons for your Bible that you can turn off or on within your Bible, such as cross reference icons or dictionary icons. I find these particularly useful when I study my Bible because they often make something stand out I may not have noticed. The cross reference icons are two triangles on top of each other and locate other verses the reader may find interesting. I really like how iBible Study HD gives the reader an option to open the cross reference in another panel. This doesn’t interrupt their reading, and they can also see how the cross reference relates to the current passage.

BOOKS TO DOWNLOAD

While there isn’t a large selection, iBible Study offers free books to download that may incorporate your Bible study. iBible Study HD only offers you books in your selected language, which isn’t a bad idea. This makes the list much shorter and only gives you books that you may be interested in. The download time seems really slow, which is odd considering the file sizes of the books are small. It would be good if the developer would fix the speed issue or offer a preview of books before downloading.

Some of the books offered are Biblical Illustrator, The Gospels Compared and Treasury of Scripture Knowledge. These books provide insight into the gospel, providing maps and other detailed information that show the scripture in a new way. Books such as these may be beneficial for those studying the Bible for the first time or those that want to learn something new about the scriptures.

CONCLUSION

Every Christian has a way of studying the Bible. iBible Study HD is worth an honest look. It has many versions of the Bible, but it doesn’t have the most familiar ones such as NIV or NLT. These are the two I most relate to when I read scripture, which is why I read my Bible on my Kindle. I do like the fact that it explains the verse in context through other versions of the Bible and other biblical sources. For many Christians, this may be beneficial. I often find myself in here once in awhile looking up verses I don’t understand, but I have to go between two applications which can be burdensome. Overall, it’s a great app to try out. I love three panels that it has and all its cross-referenced verses. This is a great Bible study app for anyone that wants to get to know their Bible better.

Candy Mania

IMG_9383NAME: Candy Blast Mania
DEVELOPER:
TeamLava
AVAILABILITY: iPhone, iPad

5 starsThe Gummy Bear King wants to spoil the candy kingdom. That sentence alone screams “kids” when this type of game is first seen. The graphics and characters of this application confirm that it’s meant for this age group. There’s a young girl that jumps up and down when the player achieves the correct amount of candy each round. She might as well be considered the “hero” of the game. There’s a little cartoon dog with a smirk on his face wagging his tale once every round is complete. Then, there is the villain of the game–the Gummy Bear King. This character is going to throw blocks in your game, and in higher rounds, seen munchies into your game to fight against you trying to earn the candies to score. Yes, this game may be for kids. The graphics may scream “child’s game,” but some adults may find it fun once they get to the higher levels.

SCORING

There are so many ways to score in this game, but each level asks the player to find a different amount of something. One level it may be red candies, while the next level it may be blue or yellow candies. Once all these candies are found, the level is complete. Once a player scores five candies in a row, this creates a sweet spot. Also, any spot that has arrows going out from all sides you want to take advantage of in the game. This spot means that the entire row both horizontally and vertically will be removed and replaced with new candy. This is a huge way to score more candy than you didn’t think you would get, so never let these go!

You may also create a candy scoop by scoring five candies in a row, which places a spinning rainbow within the box. The next time you move something into that box, it removes everything of that color. Try finding this in Candy Crush Saga–bet ya won’t in that game! Additionally, for each extra move you have at the end of the game, a star is placed on the candy of the color you were asked to find. These are then pulled from the game and added as part of your score, which is awesome!

IMG_8829THE CANDY BOARDS

Each board holds its own challenges. Some boards in rectangles while others may be in squares. Still, others may be in more awkward shapes such as level 8’s board that’s in a misshaped letter H. This is common with games such as these, and just something you will have to work around. Soon enough there will be jawbreakers to work around and those are a pain in the rumpus! There are higher levels where jawbreakers do top to bottom and prevent you from scoring. Now, that makes this a hard game–even for adults!

LIVES

Each level has 5 lives, or at least you get five lives to start. It’s not like Candy Crush Saga where you keep going until you lose at a level. There are no Facebook friends giving you a boost to the next level or sending extra lives. Nope, not here.  It would be ideal if players could send each other lives on this game, but (*le sigh*) once your lives are out, you’re stuck waking…and waiting…and waiting nearing an hour for another one. I don’t know any kid that’s going to wait that long to keep playing their game. The time a life restores should be cut in half; it doesn’t make sense to take that long.

CONCLUSION

This is not Candy Crush Saga. No, it’s more of a child’s dulled-down version of Candy Crush Saga. I have played both, and find this one particularly easier. Candy Crush Saga is too stressful. You’re stuck on the same level for days and days, and with Candy Mania…even at the high level I’m on, I don’t stay there long. This is a great game for any age to enjoy, child or adult. Give it a try and you might amaze yourself.

Trulia

IMG_8545NAME: Trulia
DEVELOPER: Trulia
AVAILABILITY: iPhone, iPad

5 starsTrulia has never made it easier to find your own home. Its user-friendly application uses the searcher’s current location. Once Trulia has this information, the user can search for houses within any area on the map. When you find a home you like, save it or attend an open house. It’s as simple as finding a home you love, and as easy as sleeping with comfort in your new bedroom.

SEARCHING FOR HOMES 

Throughout Trulia, there are home listings that may appear green or gray on the screen. Green listings mean that these listings have not been viewed, while gray listings have already been seen. Those listing with a calendar next to them indicate that these listings include an open house. Future home buyers can click on the advertisement to find pictures and the details of the home, while emailing the realtor for more information.

Also, searchers may draw a circle around a specific area they want to search to search for homes in, such as within city limits of Bloomington, IL. The houses for sale in this area will appear within the circle, with their sell price appearing in a green box. Once searchers click on the box, they can view more specific information such as property tax fees, mortgage rates or how much money they will need for a down payment.

IMG_6249LOCAL 

Trulia makes it so easy for future home owners to choose the perfect home for their family. The local tab provides information that most home buyers often are curious about, but haven’t any idea how to find. Well, now the looking is over. Under this section, the home buyer can locate crime areas, flood zones and tornado maps. They may find schools for their current or future children, while also locating grocery stores or banks on a map. Never has all these information been made so accessible at your fingertips. Furthermore, there are maps to indicate neighborhoods, zip codes, counties or school districts. For parents, these maps may be really important. It could mean your children still going to class with their friends or going to a completely new school.

CONCLUSION

Everyone needs a home. Trulia is going to help you get into that home, whether you intend to buy or rent it. This is an amazing application, and it takes buying a home to a whole new level. It’s no longer necessary to search in a newspaper or those freebee magazines you get in grocery stores. All the listings that you need are right here in Trulia. Better yet, you have direct contact with each realtor. Don’t let your dream house slip away. This app is worth its time, and may give you peace of mind.

The Recipe Box

IMG_7475NAME: The Recipe Box
DEVELOPER: Corpus Collusion
AVAILABILITY: iPad

3 starsThe Recipe Box is perfect for families that want to put all their recipes into a digital format. Many may consider the background to appear a bit old fashioned, but I think that it gives the application a culinary appearance. The red background with the white text is easy on the eyes, which is another reason that many should love this love this application. Let’s not stop there, however, because there are many more great features.

RECIPES

Each recipe appears in its own recipe card, which is a creative way to display them in The Recipe Box. So many chefs have shoeboxes full of recipes on 3×5 cards that have been handed down throughout generations. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, I applaud the dedication to write all those down–you have more patience than I do.

Each direction can be followed by clicking on it. This highlights the direction and separates it from the rest of the recipe. Similarly, once you add an ingredient, click on that ingredient and it will gray it out of the list. My Recipe Box makes each recipe so easy to follow it’s incredible. There’s no questioning yourself whether or not you added the eggs or if you are ready to add the chocolate chips. This application is perfect for beginning cooks or those that have been cooking for years. It’s very user-friendly and takes all learning levels into consideration, which is vital for people of every age group.

IMG_0883The time icon at the top of the screen also includes additional directions, such as preheat oven to 450 degrees. I’m not sure why these are separated, but it makes it confusing. If someone didn’t know about this feature, it might throw off the taste of their recipe. Also, the separation of these directions may alter the way ingredients are combined throughout the recipe–which would initially effect the taste of the food. In retrospect, I don’t think this is such a great feature for The Recipe Box. 

Furthermore, while you may add your own recipes, I don’t see a way to import recipes from other websites. This may not be a big deal to some people, but it may bother those who get their recipes from online sources. Their keyboard is impressive with a variety of fractions and symbols to use with the ingredients. I think this section could use some updates, however, if more cooks are going to find this attractive over its competitors.

SHOPPING LIST

The shopping list is a little bit tricky. First, click on the shopping cart. Then, click on an ingredient and click on the list icon in the bottom right corner of the screen. All ingredients should be imported into this list. Simply click on an ingredient to cross it out if you already have it at home. I feel like this section of the application could be made a little easier. It seems like there’s too many steps to get to one feature, but maybe I’m too accustomed to using Paprika.

CONCLUSION

Recipe categories–check. Shopping list–check. While users may export recipes, there’s decent way to import them which may rub some people the wrong way. Also, I think the directions for the recipes may need improvement. They would seem really confusing to young cooks. While The Recipe Box does have a rating system, I could not effectively get it to work. There may good things about this app, but it’s not as great as others I have seen.

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