Every once in a while, I find an app that shows me just how much I need it. This time, it’s Keep Calm and Breathe On, which offers you seven guided breathing exercises (based on cycles per minute). The goal is to relax you and “calm your heart activity,” and when I tried it out for this write-up, I realized that I’m apparently really bad at breathing.
It has two sounds to accompany your oxygenation: Wind and River. I preferred the wind. It just made more sense because if I’m in a river, breathing might be a problem. And that’s less than calming.
Not everything in the App Store has to be a Swiss Army knife. Sometimes, you find an app that does one thing and does the heck out of it.
Doughbot is one such app. It tells you where you can buy donuts.
You can also get directions, read Yelp reviews, and look at pictures from Instagram, but that’s just overkill. I can count on one finger the number of bad donuts I’ve had in my life. Just point me toward the nearest besprinkled blip on the map so that I can start pointing at lumps of fried dough I’d like to cram into my face.
ETA is all about telling you how far you are from your favorite places. It’ll also point out which direction they’re in, in case you have to know that at all times.
But Maps will do that, too, so to distinguish itself, ETA lets you build up a list of your most-traveled spots, and it’ll tell you at a glance how long it will take to get there in current traffic. And with a couple taps, you can get directions from either your built-in navigator or Google Maps. And that’s really handy because I always like to know how far I am from sandwiches.
GyroScan is a little intimidating.
It works a lot like the panorama function on your iPhone’s camera, but you can capture a complete 360-degree image either horizontally or vertically by spinning in a circle or rotating your phone up or down. When you look at the instructions, it all gets very technical, but once you work with it for a little while — and maybe rig something up to keep your phone still — you can get some really good results.
You can also scan in “stereo mode” and make 3D pictures, but that’s just showing off, GyroScan.
I’ve covered a few list-makers before, but this one just replaced Notes as my go-to item tracker.
It’s called UpWord Notes, and it is a simple but powerful app that lets you create, manage, and update lists with just a few simple commands. You can swipe left to make bullets and mark things as important, and you cross items off with a swipe to the right. Coolest of all, you can pull down, refresh-style, to remove all crossed-off items at once.
Plus it all syncs to Dropbox, so you can rest assured that you can always get your grocery list anywhere.
Spender: Expenses Only — Finance —
Free $0.99 [thanks, commenters]
If I want to be reductionist here, money management has two general components: maximizing income and minimizing expenses. For many people, the second part is more difficult because sometimes you really, absolutely need to own that box set of The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.
Spender: Expenses Only is a quick and easy way to itemize and organize your bills, and it even tells you how much you’re spending on average daily. And once you look at your costs in that vacuum and see just how much you’re blowing on Pez and action figures without seeing the income to offset it, you might want to change some things.
Spender – Expenses Only
Tico Timer — Education — $0.99
Here’s another app from the maker of the very clever Humming Timing. Developer Ricardo Fonseca made Tico Timer for children, and it counts down using animated shapes instead of numbers. So the clock will expire when, for example, all the squares disappear from the screen. Or when the large circle shrinks down to a point and disappears. And all of this happens while some very relaxing music plays.
The goal of the app is to teach kids a sense of time, but I’ll probably use it myself because it’s the most relaxing timer I’ve ever seen.
Night Sky Guide 3D+ — Reference — $1.99
Alright, this one’s really cool.
Sometimes, I’m outside at night (fewer bees then), and I’ll see something in the sky and think, “Is that a planet, or should I call NASA and tell them that we’re all probably about to die?”
Night Sky Guide 3D+ will save me a lot of embarrassing phone conversations with scientists. It uses your iOS device’s GPS and compass, so you can just hold it up and it’ll show you a notated view of the patch of sky you’re facing.
So it was just Jupiter. Sorry, NASA operator.
Night Sky Guide 3D+
Autism is an epidemic that can’t be overstated. The disorder is really a spectrum of behaviors and needs, and it affects about one in every 50 children in the US alone.
The Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) has developed an app that puts its research-based interventions into an educational iPad app with mini games for reinforcement. The app, titled Autism Learning Games: Camp Discovery, provides children ages two to eight with direct instruction on topics that kids with Autism have trouble sorting out.
“The idea here is that there are so many things a kid needs to learn, to ‘catch up’ with their peers,” CARD’s chief strategy officer, Dennis Dixon told Cult of Mac during a phone call. “Autism has a number of skill deficits. ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) targets those skills one at a time.”
Camp Discovery, then, is like having a behavior intervention teacher on the iPad, presenting lesson after lesson with 100 percent accuracy. But will kids play with it?
Read the rest of this post »
Presentics – Productivity — Free ($9.99 unlock)
If you have a presentation to prepare at the last minute or you think PowerPoint is too clunky, you might want to look at Presentics. It’s an iPad app that will help you make a minimalist slide show quickly and easily. It just takes a few taps and some typing, and you’ll have a quick, clean project. You can also embed images, audio, and video right inside the app if you want to go all multimedia on it.
You have access to everything in the free version, but the $9.99 unlock lets you save more than two projects and share over the cloud.