Pocket Android app review - keep track of all the stuff you want to do later - online and offline

If you're like almost everyone else with a Smartphone, you find yourself constantly searching the web for answers to probing questions (like how long do I grill a T-bone steak), articles you intend to read, but don't have time right now, videos your sister-in-law recommended and lots of other websites, Tweets and Facebook posts that you have on your to-do list. When you have time.

Seriously, how often are you looking for something and run across something else which is totally unrelated but interesting? For me, that happens a lot. Of course you can bookmark the page, copy and paste the URL and email it to yourself or use a notepad app to save it. But the Pocket app seems to be the easiest interface to save it and then retrieve it at your convenience.

Simply download the free app and the Pocket icon and link is added to your Share drop-down menu. Then, when you run across a web page you want to save for later, or just to read it when you want, it will be very easy to save it and locate it on your mobile device, tablet or home computer. Simple as that.

Better yet, if you're a traveler and find yourself without internet access, you can even read or view the stuff you saved offline (something you can't do with Bookmarks or notebook apps).

Another cool feature when you download an article is that Pocket automatically gets rid of a lot of the extra stuff (ads and unnecessary coding) and makes the reading much nicer.

This app review is for the Android version of Pocket, but it is also available on iOS.

You can download the Android app here.

Stupid afterthoughts: If you download a billiards game page for later viewing, you could call it "Pocket Pool." If you save a website on combustible projectiles you could refer to it as your "Pocket Rocket." (Sorry.)

Who reigns supreme in the battle between Google Play and Apple’s IOS App Store? - Guest blog

 If there is one thing that the world really loves in 2014, it is the smartphone. Indeed there a few things it loves more right now, with the rise of both Android and iOS smartphones seemingly unstoppable. This has led to a fierce battle between app platforms Google Play (the Android one that launched in October 2008) and the App Store (the IOS one which started in July of that year), to be the market leader. So which one is winning this war?

The situation is too complex and finely balanced to answer this definitively, although the differences are clear in some respects. If you take a look at market share for example, there is no contest, with 2014 set to see one billion Android smartphones hit the market, against around 700 million iOS smartphones. This hardly means that the game is up for Apple though, as the App Store was never built on market share, but on app quality. This, together with better remuneration, has made the App Store the most appealing option for the best app developers, and has ensured the App Store leads in terms of revenue. Of the $2.2 billion the two platforms brought in together throughout 2013 Q1, $1.48 billion of it came from the App Store (74%). The Android market is growing at a far faster rate than the iOS one, which means its revenues are also increasing, but the App Store remains the most profitable right now.
The big question for Apple is whether it can halt the rise of Android and Google Play, when the latter has a 70% market share, and it will need to ensure that it retains the best and brightest developers to do so. Some industries such as gaming have taken advantage of this platform for their apps, and specifically developed games for particular devices such as sites like iPhonecasino.ca. The fact is though, that sales of smartphones – both Android and iOS – seem set to go on rising over the next few years, so the fight between these two strong platforms will not be ending any time soon.

Music Tube - App Review - create playlists and mix sets on the fly with this simple free Android app

Cover artMusic Tube is a simple, easy to navigate and use, Android app which allows you to choose from, or search for, a vast number of music videos on YouTube. You can then listen to them, watch them, create your own playlists and more.

The evening I downloaded the app, I very quickly located YouTube videos for songs that I was in the mood for, but hadn't heard in a very long time. "Epitaph" by King Crimson, "Working Class Hero" by John Lennon and a dozen others. Some of the songs I wanted were not available by the artist I was looking for (Deleted), but I found most songs. Even the somewhat obscure ones.

I created a playlist, turned on my external Bluetooth speaker (if you don't have a
JamBox or another external speaker that you can stick anywhere...get one) and listened to my freshly created mix set. Only the songs I felt like listening to. Oh sure, you can do the same thing with your phone or iPod, but this you can do quickly, more easily and on the fly.

You can browse millions of songs broken down by genre or ; search by song, album or artist; create and manage multiple playlists; share on Facebook and Twitter and other features.

The only downside is that the YouTube videos are not being downloaded, so an internet connection is required. I recommend playing your music mix sets only when connected via WiFi.

While doing research about the app for this review, I discovered that there are a number of other apps which apparently do the same thing. Maybe even better. But for now, I'm having fun playing with this version of Music Tube, available in the Google Play Store for free.

Frequency personal video organizer app available for Android - One stop shopping for all your free video viewing! App Review

If you are like most of the Smartphone community, you use your device to watch videos. And if you love watching on your phone or tablet, it can be pretty annoying visiting so many different sites or loading a ton of apps to see all of the videos that interest you. Enter Frequency, a very cool, free app that is now available on Android after the iOS version received the Editor's Choice in the iTunes app store, and was chosen as one of the Top 100 Websites of 2013 by PC Magazine. 

The Frequency app is a very slick, easy to navigate app that gives you quick access to all of the free videos and video channels that you watch, and with more than 4,000 video channels in their database (and growing) you will always find entertaining ways to kill time, educate yourself or explore new channels. You can search for videos by topic or use their guide. You can even create your own channels and add your favorite stuff from such popular sources as YouTube, CNN, Funny Or Die and more. And if you just want to view some cool videos without searching or thinking, the Staff Picks channel is always a good choice. If you log in with your Facebook or Twitter account on Frequency, you will have a channel that features all of the videos that your friends and followers are posting, without having to scroll through all of the stuff they posted that you really don't care about.

Just download it and click around. Trust me. You'll discover the Featured section where you can view current top news stories, most shared videos, top comedy picks, up to the minute movie and TV trailers and the list goes on and on. Fox News, The Late Show with David Letterman, Reddit, CNN....see I told you. If you click on the Frequency Guide you can watch trending videos, animations, business, celebrities, fashion and on and on.

Basically, Frequency is a really cool browser app that focuses exclusively on videos. Be careful, you may sit there for hours once you get started. Just for kicks I clicked on "Celebrity" in the Guide. I was presented with video links to TMZ, The Hollywood Reporter, E!, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone and a number of equally entertaining, but a bit less mainstream options like Stupid Famous People and Celeb Dirty Laundry. There are so many options on Frequency that each heading in their Guide gives you the option to view Popular, New or even alphabetical listings.

If you do the same with the News link, here you go again: CNN, BBC, New York Times, CBS. Time Magazine, Wall Street Journal.

And that list is just from two of the more than 40 options in their Frequency Guide.
So, if you're looking for a smooth, slick interface for watching video on your Android (or iPhone or tablet), you must download this app. You can thank me later.

Look into the future and the past with SeeTime app - What day were you born on? Android app review

You probably know your birthday, but maybe you don't know what day of the week you were born on? Sure you can count on your fingers backwards starting today and figure it out or you can download SeeTime a very cool and efficient app for Android which will figure it all out for you...and more.

SeeTime (available free in Google Play) is a simple yet fun app, which will allow you to pick any date in the past or the future and determine what day of the week it was or will be, and how may days, weeks, months or years ago it was, or will be. Kinda cool.

The default configuration when you open the app is a bit confusing. It has today's date pre-loaded at the top of the screen and shows information 15 days weeks months or years into the future and the past. Frankly I don't care about what happens 15 months from now or 15 months ago. Not a notable time-frame. However I might want to know what day of the week Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Why? I have no idea. Actually I don't care what day it was. But you might. And See-time makes it easy to discover.

So I'm going to explain how to use this cute little app to find out what day of the week any past or future date was or is going to be. See, I told you it could be confusing.

In IMAGE 1 at left, click on the the back arrow circled in red at the bottom right until the big red number is at 0. Then click to change the date (inside the second red circle in IMAGE 1. You will immediately discover the day of the week it was and depending on whether you have selected Day, Week, Month or Year you will also know how many days, weeks, months or years ago it was.

For some reason, you will also be able to view the same info the same number of years into the future. That kind of sucks when you get a bit older, because it will probably be a date when you'll be dead.

How many months old are you?

How long, after a baby is born, is it okay to give the child's age in months? Most parents say "Junior is 18
months old" instead of a year and a half? Oh come on. Enough already. How about we all do that?

With the nifty SeeTime app you too can annoy others by giving your age in months instead of years. Let's say you're 46 years old and someone asks you how old you are now you can say I am 562 months old.

You can do this (see IMAGE 2) by clicking on the "M" (months), and changing the Past date to your birthday. Voila!

What else happened on the day you were born?

Aside from the monumental event of your birth, what else happened on the day you were born? With Seetime, you can search for news on any given day. Unfortunately it doesn't work for dates in the future, or this would be a really cool app.

To check on the news, weather, movies, history for any past date, begin by clicking on those four little vertical lines on the right center of the main page. It may tell you that you haven't selected a date, but here is the easiest way to get access to your chosen date: click on the Change button (circled on IMAGE 3) and put in the date you want. It basically just takes you to Google for this info, but is still pretty cool.

This app requires no permissions whatsoever, making it a really fun and safe app to add to your roster. Recommended for silly, accurate fun.

Overdrive Media Console Android app review: Free digital print and audiobooks

Overdrive Media Console Android App Review

In a previous post I explained a simple, effective, and somewhat cumbersome way that to Listen to Audio Books for Free on Your Smartphone.(In a nutshell, you take out the audio book from you local library, burn all of the CD's as MP3's and then transfer them to your device.)

But recently I discovered the OverDrive Media Console app. If you want to read free books (digital print or audio books), then download this baby right now. Essentially, you are searching for and taking  books out of the library, and need a local library connection, but if you're a reader then chances are you already belong to a library and it's probably an active participant. 
Just go the the little book icon, click on Add a Library and search by name or zip code.

Then you can browse the available books, place them on hold if they're not available, and read or listen for free. With an online Overdrive account on multiple devices, you can also sync so that you can pick up your reading on your tablet or Kindle Fire (unfortunately no app for a regular old Kindle). 

So far, this year,  I have downloaded and read the following from my Suburban Library Cooperative Media Download Center:

Heat Lightening by John Sandford
Wild Tales by Graham Nash
Black Box by Michael Connelly
Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly
12th of Never by James Patterson
Cross My Heart by James Patterson
Sycamore Row by John Grisham
Calico Joe by John Grisham
The Litigators by John Grisham
Still Foolin' 'Em by Billy Crystal
The Associates by John Grisham

[If you are so inclined to purchase, you can click on the links and buy either the hard cover, paperback or Kindle version from Amazon.com.]

Over 28,000 libraries participate and because the books are automatically returned, you never have to deal with late fees. But unless you read books in a week or less, make sure you set your check out time length to 14 days or the book will automatically be returned after 7 days and you may have to wait until it's available again to resume.

My previous method of downloading and listening to audiobooks for free was good. Overdrive Media Console is GREAT!

If you're a reader, you must download the Overdrive Media Console app. You'll love it.

PickWeb Android app review - Simplify your search and get where you're going faster

The web can sometime be a pretty daunting place. I mean, think about it, the reason they call it the web is because once you begin searching for one thing you may branch out (or be distracted by) other related or unrelated websites. And some of the sites you find and click on may actually not even be close to what you were originally searching for.

If only someone would harness this monster. 

Enter: PickWeb, a new Android app which takes your search criteria, fine tunes your request and delivers only relevant links to websites utilizing your chosen keywords and phrases in pre-chosen categories.

The app is free but does require registration to use.

So, let's take a quick tour:

After downloading the app, I clicked on their Links tab and then the "Weather" option. I was taken to my browser and offered a bunch of weather options. There were even some pretty cool ones that I wasn't aware.

A definite advantage (even though you probably have your weather preferences under control) is that you get to bypass all of the ads and distractions until you get to your chosen selection, then you're back in Google's hands.

Next, under Catalog, I chose "Entertainments" (they added the "s" not me), and clicked on Humor. There I was served up all of the usual suspects like Comedy Central, Cracked, Funny Or Die, the Onion and others. Of course I was disappointed not to see Interactive Lunacy and Click On Comedy there, but maybe later. :)

Under the Search tab you are provided with a nice selection of options including Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex and Rambler.

I'm sure that they will be updating the app to include even more options, but I do recommend downloading and checking it out. Then, find your area of interest and see what PickWeb has to offer.