AppAdvice pitches as often as advises

iPad readers will notice the new interface. This was introduced by WordPress for tablets and shouldn’t change the way the blog looks on your computer’s browser. I can either turn it on or off, and the customizing features aren’t as powerful as those for the browser.

For now I’m keeping it for this blog to see how well it works.

Spoiler alert! AppAdvice lives to give news and advice about Apple apps. You want get a thorough listing of new apps the way you would with AppShopper, and you certainly won’t get the scintillating writing you find in this blog, but you will be able to keep up with third party takes on what’s new and what to look for around the road.

Carol and I went to see Bill Maher live in Austin Saturday night at the new Austin City Limits venue downtown. For fifty bucks a pop, the guy could at least wear something other than a pothead t-shirt and jeans. Sure, people pay more for KISS and they suck, but at least you feel like your money is paying for some spectacular lighting, fireworks and costumes. The college kids in the audience were less laid back.

And it’s not as though I hadn’t heard every joke before—with the possible exception of his quip about the Democrats being unable to sell a cub scout to a pedophile. It was pretty much every wisecrack on Real Time but with language too course even for HBO.

Did I feel ripped off? Hell, no. It was still a great show even if it was severely FX and wardrobe impaired. Maybe five dollars overpriced, but that’s nothing compared to Starbucks and I drink their coffee every day.

I enjoyed it even when he started whaling on all Christians (and Mormons, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists) not just the crack pots like the ones I grew up with. When he started in on Mormons and their magic underpants, the couple in front of us stormed out. To me that’s like a liberal Democrat going to a Sarah Palin rally and being surprised that she offends them.

And it’s not as though Jesus didn’t tell his followers to expect to be offended (and much worse). The world is full of Bill Mahers and Sara Palins and Glenn Becks and even guys like me who are going to say something offensive sooner or later. So all I have to say to readers is, get a thicker skin or better magic in your underpants or you’ll spend a lot of time obsessing over comments that should be no more painful than a mosquito bite.

It’s the people who want to kill you, burn down your house, poison your rivers, keep you in debt, sell you crappy health care and send your jobs overseas, that should scare you. Wisecracks at your expense is a small part of the price we pay for being American. Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed can fend for themselves.

As for you, Bill, get a thicker skin about religion. To answer one of your three questions, faith isn’t necessarily bad. If it inspires people to give to the poor, serve others and make the world a better place I’m for it. If believing being abducted by aliens inspires people to give to the poor, serve others and make the world a better place then let them keep their implants. If it inspires people to behave like assholes, it it the fault of the faith or the asshole?

It’s not as though we aren’t capable of being assholes without religion to inspire us.

What does this have to do with AppAdvice? Consider it product placement for Grace Notes, my new blog launching in May.

All the app news that’s fit to text

There’s really not that much to say about AppAdvice. The interface takes full advantage of iPad’s viewing features in the model of NPR and the Daily. You can scroll through thumbnails of articles and then open them in their own floating window. In this respect AppAdvice may be even easier to navigate because you don’t have to jump back to the main page when you finish reading; you simply close the window.

Articles in AppAdvice float above the navigation window, making it easier to return to the menu.

The main window consists of a news column and a narrower featured articles column. The featured articles are pretty much the same as the regular ones, there are just fewer of them. In addition readers can jump to a page with app playlists or app guides.

There isn’t much difference between the playlists and guides beyond the categories by which the apps are organized. Nor are the app guides guides to using the apps, but simple mini-reviews breaking apps down into “essential,” “notable” and “decent” categories. Be aware that AppAdvice may recommend as many as three apps to be essential in the same category, even though all three perform essentially the same function.

Readers can find apps broken down into smaller categories than the blunt force general categories in the AppStore, and this is a very useful feature I haven’t found anywhere else. The more narrowly defined categories make the app worth the small price.

You may find longer reviews in the news section but the list and guide reviews tend to be fairly terse. Many aren’t much more detailed than the description in the App Store. AppAdvice shows it’s usefulness in the more narrowly defined lists. You will find it far easier to track down the app you’re looking for than with the broad categories in the App Store.

Each article links you directly to the app download in the store or related articles that could prove more useful.

Each review links you directly to the App Store to find apps you want to look at more closely.

Two small complaints

Or should I say, small but important complaints?

AppAdvice offers no search feature that I could find. It may be there, but I couldn’t find it. If you want to find older articles, you are stuck scrolling down to the bottom of the news page and waiting for it to load even more articles. If you want to find a guide to a specific app, you simply have to scroll through the playlists and guides and hope to find it.

Nor does AppAdvice distinguish between iPad and iPhone only apps. The links take you directly to the App Store’s download page, which doesn’t always make it clear either. Some of the apps that look interesting in AppAdvice look pretty woeful on the iPad screen even at 2x size.

I would like to rate AppAdvice higher than I will, but it still needs work. It needs better writing and a few more options for users to help them find the perfect iPad app.

Jenny Manytoes rates AppAdvice

Jenny Manytoes would take a nap next to AppAdvice. The interface is solid, it’s worth the price of download and it provides a little more help deciding which apps to buy. But it doesn’t quite feel ready for the big leagues.

The Jenny Manytoes Rating System

Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat
  • When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
  • When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
  • When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
  • When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
  • When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.

Contact me at Email iPad Envy, or
Email The Hidden Grimoire.


About Phillip T Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle twenty years before he was born, creating a time travel paradox so confusing it remains unspoken between physicists and sci-fi writers to this day. Follow @stephens_pt
This entry was posted in 3 Stars - nap, News, Utilities and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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