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  • App Review: Do Now Time Management App

    Introduction

    There are many time management apps available which help us manage our tasks and our time. Time management is a very valuable skill which every one must learn and practice in their lives. Once app that i have found goes by the name of Do Now which is available from Google Play Store for free. This app is a bit different from other apps, i have used before.

    UX, Design and Ease of Use

    The theme of this time management app is good looking with colors light blue, and orange bars, which light gray buttons.

    With apps of the same category as of this app, we usually expect that we can schedule an app and set its date and time, and set an alarm. With Do Now this particular feature is different. When you add a task you just specify the duration of the task, and not when it is to be done. What this means is that the app is only for managing the tasks on which you are working now, though you can a list of tasks, but you can not schedule them. This is not in the use case of the app, hence the name of the app is Do Now.  When i first started using this app this is what i was confused about. I was looking for the date and time fields, but only found the fields for setting the duration of the task as mentioned above.

    The association with scheduling of tasks that we have with apps like Do Now have caused the time to learn and understand how to use the app to be a bit more than an average app. Other wise the app is easy to use.

    Usefulness

    As mentioned above the app allows the users to add the duration of the task(s) being worked on. When you start working on a task press the play button and then the timer will start to count down. The good thing about this app is that the tasks are executed one by one, which is logical as well.

    Once the task is completed the alarm is rung and you are given options of if you want to ignore the alert, snooze the alert or complete the task.

    There three lists being used in the app. The first is the unplanned list which contains the list of tasks which you have not planned and are working on at the moment. You can add new tasks at run time in this list.

    The second list is the planned list, which is similar to the unplanned list in some ways, but differs in others. The user interfaces and controls of the two lists are the same and you can also add a new task at run time in the planned list just like in the unplanned list.

    The third list is the routines list which you can create. Routines are repeatable tasks, or you say planned tasks. Do you see the link? When you create a new routine which can contain a list of tasks (which you create in the routine) and when you will start the routine (play the routine, means starting the tasks in the routine) the tasks will be added to the planned list. This is where the unplanned list and the planned list are different from each other.

    The planned list is linked with the routines list. As mentioned above, when a routine is selected from the routine list to run its tasks are copied to the planned list and not to the unplanned list. This i feel is quite intuitive, and well thought out. The user does not have to manually transfer each task.

    However, i also found one thing which does not make sense to me. You can manually load the tasks in a routine and into the unplanned list. Now does that not sound contradicting from above? This is also quite possible for the planned list. I have no idea why have this when the developer has already made a link between the planned list and the routine list. Why is there a need for this?

    You can also save tasks in your planned list or unplanned list into either an existing routine or create a new routine. This feature i found quiet useful.

    You can also reorder the tasks by dragging the up and down. In order to do so you have to press onto the task where you see three gray vertical bars and then you will be able to move the tasks. You have to select individual task and move it. If you press anywhere else on the task it will not move.

    Do Now time management app also gives a statistics screen given which shows how many tasks you have completed and when you the completed the task.

    Conclusion

    I recommend this app for those users who want to track the time they are spending on their current tasks. and will surely help them manage their time. I have started to use this app myself and will continue to do so, as my style of work suits the use case of this application. I assign a fixed number of hours to my tasks for my daily work and have created a routine. I believe this will help me get more productive and get more out of my work.

    • Do Now Time Management App Review
      Do Now Time Management App Review

     

    December 7, 2014 • App Reviews • Views: 3760

  • App Review: Flow Free for Android Game Review

    This game was recommended to me by a friend and is a puzzle/strategy game. These type of games make me think and visualize the resulting actions that i am to take if i make a particular move. Free Flow is such a game which is available for many platforms, but i will be reviewing the Android version of the game.

    Free Flow is a simple game with a simple aim. Connect the pipes, but at the same time all of the squares on the grid must be covered within a fixed number of moves. In other words even if the player manages to connect all of the pipes, he will be penalized in one form or the other as per determined by the game.

    Free Flow consists of a number of different packs which then contain boards of different sizes. The smaller boards come early in the game and are easy to complete, but as the game progresses the boards increase in size and become much more difficult to complete.

    Flow Free Game Review Regular Pack 7x7 Medium Level

    Regular Pack 7×7 Medium Level

    The following are the board sizes which the player can play:

    • 5×5
    • 6×6
    • 7×7
    • 8×8
    • 9×9
    • 10×10
    • 11×11
    • 12×12
    • 13×13
    • 14×14

    The player can also purchase more levels if he wants to.

    It is recommended to players that they take breaks between the levels and boards as the player will end up spending too much time playing the game. This developers of the game does not force the user to wait for a period of time after playing for a while as we have seen in many mobile games.

    The graphical art is quite simple, nothing too flashy. It is as if no custom art has been used at all, and simple shapes are all that have been used. Despite the lack of flashy graphics the game play is what attracts the user to this game, reiterating the fact that graphical art is not what makes a game. Graphical art is part of the whole package. It depends on what type a game is, and in this case sophisticated and complicated art was not required. In fact such art in these types of games, just gets in the way of the user.

    Flow Free Game Review

    Flow Free Game Review

    Apart from free play which is just based on the number of moves that a player has to take, there is also a time trial.

    In this mode the player can select the size of the board and the time limit within which he has to solve the most number of boards that he can solve. This particular mode makes the player think fast as he has limited time.

    Do note that the small boards tend to become a bit boring as it is quite easy to solve them. It is the bigger boards which pose a much tougher challenge.

    To conclude if you are looking to play a puzzle/strategy game then i recommend this game, but do note as mentioned above the earlier levels can become boring, but if you keep playing then you will get tougher levels.

    • Flow Free Game Review
      Flow Free Game Review

    December 5, 2014 • App Reviews • Views: 4525

  • App Review: Hive URL Shortening Service

    Introduction

    There are times when you want to share links, but they are too long or the place where you want to copy have length restrictions. Made popular by Twitter URL shortening services such as bit.ly and tinyurl.com come to mind. There is another service by the name of Hive which pretty much does the same thing, but in a beautiful way.  Hive also comes with an Android app which you can use, but apparently it is a stand alone application and not connected to the website.

    UX, Design and Ease of Use

    The website’s overall user experience is well thought out and does not have any unexpected jerks. The design is also pleasing and easy on the eyes. The graphics, theme and layout of the website are attractive and the design team has done a good job. The website is relatively easy to use and the learning curve is quite shallow. Most of the controls have been laid out onto the dashboard for the user to use.

    Usefulness

    One of the interesting features of this neat app is the password protected links. You can set a password to your link and then share that password with those whom you want, and only they will be able to see what the link contains. You can also set description for the link as per you see fit.

    You can assign aliases to the generated links and use them instead of the randomly generated link created by Hive.

    The statistics provided by Hive are pretty comprehensive as the following information is shown:

    • recent activities which specify which link has been clicked
    • top links
    • number of clicks per link
    • the countries where your links have been clicked

    You can also create bundles and set them to either public or private to only allow those people who you want to be able to access the bundle.

    There are a number of plans from which you can choose. The basic plan is free to use provides

    • Detailed analytics
    • Powerful dashboard
    • Access from anywhere
    • Simple link shortening

    The Pro plan costs $3 per month and offers

    • All of the basic plan features
    • Additional link optimization
    • Custom splash pages
    • Data export

    The pricing of the business plan has not been specified and it offers

    • Pro plan features
    • Branded domains
    • Advanced analytics
    • Linked team accounts

    The Android app is a simple app and is a bit limited in terms of features. You can add links to shorten, and favorite them. You can also see their statistics, which takes you to Hive’s website. You can also see which links are popular from the links which you have created from the App.

    Problems That I Found

    In order to add a link to a bundle you will have to do some work. Go to the dashboard and scroll down to your links. There hover the mouse over the options link and a menu will be shown. If a link is already in a bundle then the bundle’s name will be shown, but if it is not in a bundle then the phrase “Add to bundle” will be shown. Upon pressing this a popup modal will open with the controls to add the link to the bundle which itself is a bit difficult to use.

    So far i have found this to be the only way to add the selected link to a bundle. I recommend the development team to improve the user experience of this such that it is not so difficult to do so. Also i recommend them to add the controls to add a link to the bundle in the area where new bundles are created. The discovery of how links are added to bundles was by accident and i had thought that the development team had missed this important feature.

    Furthermore the Android app is not linked with the website, that is the links shortened on the website are not downloaded to the app, and the same for vice versa is true. There might be some form of linking as there is an option to add an API key into the Android app, but i did not see any change in behavior of the app after entering the API key. You can get the API key from the settings section on the website after you login. I also did not see any login capabilities into the Android app.

    Conclusion

    Hive is an interesting piece of software, and this can give the big guys a run for their money if managed well. I recommend the development team to fix the issues pointed out above and they can have a good , well oiled service on their hands.

    • Hive URL Shortening Service Review
      Hive URL Shortening Service Review

    December 2, 2014 • App Reviews • Views: 3684

  • App Review: Wallet Finance Management App for Android

    Introduction

    We all live lives care free without a very concern for how much money we spend on our daily items and our pet peeves.

    Then when we find out how much we have spent we panic and start to look for ways to either monitor our spending habits or start reducing on spending altogether.

    I believe that managing our finances is the way to go and to begin hoarding and not spend any money is not. An app that I have found which helps me manage my finance goes by the name of Wallet and is free to use, however the app does offer a premium version as well.

    UX, Design and Ease of Use

    The home page shows the total balance, a graph of the balance for the last 30 days and the last ten records. These help the user get an overview of the health of his finances.

    The app is easy to use and the art being used is easy on the eyes. The app uses the standard Android design layout using the Android Action Bar which further helps the Android user easily use the app.

    The menu slides from the left side of the screen as per standard UI controls provided by Android and the menu contains different features available for the user to use.

    The controls for entering the data are self explanatory, and easy to use.

    Usefulness

    This app also comes with the cloud, where after creating a free account the data entered by the user is stored in the Wallet cloud, and can be accessed from the website.

    The app provides with built in categories for which expenses( or income) can be added such as car, groceries, eating out. You can add your own categories as well and also assign an image to that category. You can also add a form of payment used to make the transaction such as Cash, Debit Card, Credit Card, Bank Transfer, etc…

    You can even add a picture of the receipt which you can take at that moment via the camera or upload from the gallery. I like this particular feature because it allows me to back up my expenses/income with proof. Date and time of the transaction can also be added.

    For basic users this app is pretty useful, in helping them manage their expenses and also their income. If you use this app for a period of time, you will be able to analyse where you are spending and where you need to cut down in order to control your finances.

    The app is not all numbers. You can see the data in graph form as well, and filter the data based on the preferences provided.

    The app also comes with different modules such as a module to manage your debts. shopping lists. and warranties. In debts you can add the debts that you people, and also those debts that people owe you. Pretty neat uh?

    In shopping lists you can build lists of what you want to purchase and you can even add the total amount spent on this list, which is then added to your expenses list. I would have liked to be able to individually add the price of each list item, so to get more control, but then i can add them in the expenses list of the app.

    The warranty module allows me to add warranties of the items that i have purchased and it tells me how much time is left after i enter in all of the details.

    Conclusion

    Looking at the usefulness and easy to use nature of the app i highly recommend this app for those users who want to start controlling and monitor their finances.  This app is just a first step. To further help you manage your finances either you can hire an accountant or a finance consultant to help you further stay on track, but then only do this if you have enough money to spend on these professionals.

    • Wallet Finance Management App for Android Review
      Wallet Finance Management App for Android Review

    December 1, 2014 • App Reviews • Views: 2763

  • App Review: Real Lion Simulator Game for Android

    We all have played simulators such as those for fighter jets, or for racing cars. It is interesting to find out that there are simulators for animals as well. I have read about a goat simulator but the game that i found interesting was a lion simulator game. I admit when i was a kid that i acted out as if i was a lion, making roaring sounds. Ahh, the younger days, well you can relive those days again by downloading and playing Real Lion Simulator developed by PT Game Studio.

    This game is a 3D game, where you control a lion and have to stalk and hunt other animals. There are levels in this game which you have to play in order to unlock the next level, pretty standard. Each level ends with the lion having to kill a boss animal which is then available to kill in the next level.

    Despite the graphics being and modelling being well made, the game yet does not seem so realistic. For example, the lion in the game can sprint for as long as he wants, when in reality sprints consume energy and the lion can only do it for a short time. This is one of the reasons why the lion first stalks his prey and then at the last moment goes into a sprint to make use of the element of surprise.

    The next problem that i found was that the camera has to be manually controlled by the player via a joystick. There are three controls which the lion can use to control the lion.

    • joystick direction of of movement
    • button for initiating sprint
    • joystick for controlling the camera

    I recommend that the camera be made automatic so that when the prey runs in the opposite direction of the lion then player has to stop the lion and rotate the camera, and by then the prey has already escaped.

    I also noticed that the prey, such as hippopotamus  don’t fight back as much as they should. There was only one instance where the lion was killed and that was the boar.

    Other than these issues, this game is a good time kill, and the developers can make this game more interesting and even generate revenue from it by using up the lion’s energy and then asking the user to purchase energy, or the energy be gained when the lion kills a prey. The graphics and animation are good and pretty realistic.

     

    • Real Lion Simulator Game Review
      Real Lion Simulator Game Review

    November 28, 2014 • App Reviews, Technology • Views: 5603

  • App Review: SmartIO Wireless Data Transfer App

    The design of the app is minimal which makes it easy to understand and use, however there are places where i think a bit more instruction should have been given.

    The user interface can further be improved by adding more color, as at the moment the app uses grays , black and white for its theme.

    This app requires the user to have at least two devices from any of the platforms mentioned above. Do note that at the moment there is no cloud storage, so the data transfer is end to end. This is pretty useful for those users who do not want to spend quite a bit of time to wait for the data t first transfer from the device to the cloud, and then the data then download from the cloud to the other device.

    Data can be transferred via two ways,

    Local WiFi network means that an internet connection is not required and that the data is transferred using your WiFi router’s connection.

    Internet means that the data will be transferred via the company’s servers via the WiFi or device’s cellular network connection. Do note that this is available only for business users.

    This is not a free app as one has to purchase a business account to avail all of the features of the device, however there is a limited free trial use of the app.

    The app supports the following content types for data transfer:

    After i had transferred my data, i found that there is a popup which asks the user if he wants to factory reset his device. I believe if the user presses the affirmative button without reading, then he will be at a major loss. I recommend that the development team remove this popup, and instead give a proper message and ask the user to type in a certain phrase, something like what github.com does when one wants to delete his repository. The app should be designed where the user can not make mistakes so easily.

    Furthermore, finding the data transferred on to my target device was a bit of a hassle. I recommend that the app build a single folder and then have sub folders in that folder, because at the moment the folders are distributed in other folders.

    I expected that all of my pictures will be transferred, but only a few were. I also could not find any settings for the source of my data, either the source be the phone storage or the external SD card.

    Overall the app is a good one, but it does have its share of problems which the development team should immediately resolve.

    Furthermore, if you are also concerned about your data being secure in some corporation’s cloud, then i recommend this app as from what i have understood that they do not provide cloud storage (the development team has plans to introduce cloud storage in the future).

    We received the following as part of SmartiO’s  future plans

    As a rapidly emerging company, we have always focused on providing highly innovative and advanced solutions to our privileged customers around the world. We are planning to roll out latest version of SmartiO product termed as SmartiO-T.Lille SmartiO, it is also a cross platform mobile application solution that easily integrates with retails POS and E-Commerce shopping carts. It is powered by Aomata’s Connectix™ communication platform utilizing WI-Fi, Hotspots or Cellular data connections to transmit large amount of information efficiently.

    • App Review: SmartIO Wireless Data Transfer App
      App Review: SmartIO Wireless Data Transfer App

    November 26, 2014 • App Reviews, Technology • Views: 4821

  • App Review: Sticher Radio for Podcasts Android App

    Sticher has been designed well, but it might be a bit too much for a beginner user of Android devices. The app does need a little bit of exploration to be done in order to find out what the features of the app are.

    Sticher is essentially an on demand podcast service, where you can download the podcast that you want to when ever you want to. You can also add podcasts to listen later list after which the selected podcast will be downloaded to your device. This functionality is quite useful for those listeners who are in a hurry to reach their destination, but want to listen to podcasts on the way. Users can also add stations (a station is the source of podcasts where the podcast author publishes his podcasts) to the read later list, which will download podcasts from those stations as well.

    You can call Sticher is to podcasts as RSS readers are to websites and blogs. Sticher also provides with searching functionality where you can search for your favorite topics, stations, or podcast authors, etc…

    Sticher provides a number of different settings which allows you to personalize your experience. You can even set what to show on the start screen.

    You can also create multiple play lists into which you can add your favorite stations. Maybe you want to create playlist which will just contains technology related stations, while another playlist contains business related stations.

    I highly recommend Sticher for podcast enthusiasts, as this app truly brings a great collection of stations and podcasts. I surely continue to use it in the future to listen to podcasts.

    • Sticher Podcast Reader Android App
      Sticher Podcast Reader Android App

    November 11, 2014 • App Reviews, Technology • Views: 4350

  • App Review: CamCard Business Card Android App

    Introduction

    When you meet people it is quite often that you share business cards, and keeping them in one place has been a problem which many have. The non-digital way of storing business cards is to get a card book in which you keep all your cards, but then who can carry one hefty book for all of those business cards?
    Now we live in the digital world, and it does not make sense to solve problems non-digitally in a digital world, and even better be able to store a large number of cards without much of a problem. One app that i have started to use is CamCard Business Card Reader for Android and it has allowed me to store my business cards safely.

    UX, Design and Ease of Use

    The app’s design is simple and professional. The home screen shows the list of cards added and the user can sort them by either one of the following ways:
    • Sort by Name
    • Sort by Create Date
    • Sort by Company Name
    The main features are laid out at the bottom of the screen in the form of tabs. The user interface and user experience has been designed well, and is quite easy to use for the beginner. Everything has been laid out perfectly well.

    Usefulness

    As stated above storing business cards is a problem than many face. There are low-tech non digital ways to do so, but then as the number of cards increase the storage book(in most cases) increases in size and causes managing it to become quite difficult.
    CamCard also comes with a cloud where your cards are stored, and synced with the Android app so that your cards are safe.
    You can also download the cards to an excel file from the website. I have explored the website and the app, but i can have not yet found any information about the number of cards that can be stored in the free account.
    The app scans the business cards by using the device’s camera and extracts the information on the card. The quality of the extraction is quite good and perfectly extracts the information correctly, despite the format of the card being scanned.
    After scanning the app displays input fields which the user can fill in himself and change the data if needed.
    The user can also scan his own card, and save the details. There is also a feature which allows you to exchange cards with other users of CamCard.  By using this app, we don’t need to keep any business card in our wallets or card books.
    You can exchange cards via the following three options:
    • Card Reader which auto finds people nearby
    • Scan QR Code allows you to scan your friend’s QR code or your friend scan your QR code to get the business card
    • Private Group in which you can create a group or join a group
    There are also a number of different ways to create a business card. You can create them by either of the following ways:
    • Import Phone Contacts
    • Load Card Image
    • Email Signature
    • Create Card Manually

    Conclusion

    I have found this app quite useful, but the card exchange feature is as good as the other guy is using it. Until people in your community use the app, the app will just be good for storing of business cards, which is good in itself. I recommend this app to everyone, so that we all can stop carrying business cards and use CamCard to exchange and build cards.
    • CamCard Business Card Reader Review
      CamCard Business Card Reader Review

    November 1, 2014 • App Reviews, Technology • Views: 4291

  • App Review: Whistle Phone Finder for Android

    Introduction

    There are times, when you forget where you have left your phone(device), and you wish that you had some sort of an app installed on it so that you could find it easily.

    Don’t worry as there is an which does just that. Developed by Nine Hertz India, Whistle Phone Finder for Android is an app which plays music when you blow a whistle helping you to find your phone.

    UX, Design and Ease of Use

    Arrows have been incorporated into the design of the app which inform the user what each button does. I think this is a good idea.

    The youtube video, help screen, and the pointers on the homepage help make the experience of using the application much easier.

    The user can select which music to play when a whistle is detected. The user can also set the sensitivity level of the whistle to be detected. By default the lowest sensitivity level is set. At this level whistling was not detected, so i had to turn the sensitivity to a higher setting.

    There is also an option to turn on the flash light from within the app, but from my initial testing, i did not find the flash light being used when the app plays the music when whistling is detected.  From the help screen i found that the flash light has been implemented as as an extra feature to help find the user find other things in a dark room. I don’t know why was this feature needed in an app which is supposed to be used to look for the user’s phone.

    Usefulness

    This app is really useful for all of those people who forget where they have left their devices. Keeping the media volume to a high level will help the user find the device from a far distance, however i have not tested the maximum range of which the device can detect the whistle.

    Problems that I found

    There is no option to stop the music once you find your device. The music continues to play even if you find the phone. I could not find any option to turn of the music.
    Another problem that I found is that when the screen is turned on whistling is not detected, so those users who have set their screen time out times to be long (on Huawei Ascend P7 android Kit Kat the max screen time out is 30 minutes). So if the user forgets where his phone is in these 30 minutes then the whistling won’t work, and he will have to wait for 30 minutes to pass, but then those 30 minutes will have been lost. We all know wasting time is a high level offence.

    Furthermore, I also found out that the app for reason whole the device’s screen was turned on , the app detected that a whistle was detected and started playing the music.

    Lastly, I noticed that my battery ran out quicker than it normally does since i had installed the app.

    Conclusion

    As stated above, this app is useful for those users who forget where they have left their phones, but this app has quite a number of bugs which need to be fixed in order to make this app much more usable.

    • Whistle Phone Finder Android App Review by Mustafa Neguib
      Whistle Phone Finder Android App Review by Mustafa Neguib

    October 16, 2014 • App Reviews, Technology • Views: 4842

  • App Review: Clean Master for Android

    There are many resource management apps available on the Google Play store, which allow the user to either clean the RAM, close apps, manage files, but one app stands out from the crowd. Clean Master is one app which does all.

    Clean Master provides management of the following:

    The app’s design is clean and beautiful. The user interface has also been well planned out, and any one can start using this app immediately.

    When you open the app, you are shown the storage information and RAM information on the top half of your screen. The bottom half of the screen contains buttons to the features mentioned above. Pressing on either one of the features, opens up the screen of the respective feature.

    The animation which is shown as the data is compiled, is just beautiful. The design and user interaction team has done well to design this app.

    Clean Master is a highly useful as it allows the user to keep his device in check and to make sure that any unwanted resources are not being used. The main use of this app is to keep the resources being used in check. As a result, the battery life will last longer as only a handful of user apps will be running hence less use of RAM.

    This feature allows the user to clean the junk files, those files which have been discarded by the apps but are taking up space in the memory. The less the RAM will be used the better the device will be performed.

    There is also an advanced functionality which further allows the user to remove all files linked with the apps. This even includes videos or pictures which are on the device memory.  Using this feature may remove all of your app’s data (which you select to clean) and your app’s functioning will be affected. Be careful if you use the advanced functionality.

    This feature allows the user to stop and remove any of the running app from  RAM.

    This app even provides an antivirus software which scans the apps for any problematic apps. The antivirus software has been provided by AVTest.

    This feature allows shows the user list of installed apps, and allows him to either backup or uninstall the app. The user can also sort the list on a number of different parameters such as frequency of use, date used, app size, etc…

    Clean Master is one feature packed app, and I highly recommend this application. You will not regret using this application, as it will help you keep your device remain healthy. Is that not what we want?

     

    • Clean Master Android App Review by Mustafa Neguib
      Clean Master Android App Review by Mustafa Neguib

    October 15, 2014 • App Reviews, Technology • Views: 4997