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Orac's Love Children
A nerd's column about techie stuff


Some More of My Favourite Apps

Movie Genie (£1.19)

If you've ever tried viewing the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) on an iPhone or iPod Touch you'll know that it's a bugger of a site. It isn't all that great on a PC. While it's professional stable mate, Amazon, has moved with the times, the IMDb hasn't really changed much over the last half decade or so. Trying to find something as obscure as a series episode guide for a popular series requires a lot of zooming in, scrolling down and hopeful prodding with your finger (for it is very easy to tap the wrong minute link and end up somewhere hopelessly different). Movie Genie makes things so simple. It gives an iPhone friendly front end for the IMDb, splits everything into easily navigable sections and even lets you store favourites so you don't even need to search for them in future. I use the IMDb a fair bit and find that Movie Genie is actually easier than doing it on the PC. It's faster, simpler and the bookmarks are awesome.


Remote (free)

Remote is one of the few official Apple apps for the iPhone and it lets you control your desktop iTunes from your iPhone or iPod Touch (as long as you have a wi-fi network). Setup is simple – iTunes will pair with the iThing when a supplied 4 digit code is typed in and once that's done, you can browse your entire library and control what comes out of your speakers. It doesn't stream anything to your iThing so you can't play home content when you're out (or in a different room) – there are other apps for that sort of thing – but if you don't fancy getting out of bed to switch playlists, Remote is just the thing. It also has an unintentional use – if you activate it while your PC is switched off, it switches the PC on. So I can stand on my doorstep, switch my computer on remotely and have it ready to go by the time I get upstairs. Ha.


Tune Wiki (free)

Tune Wiki is a strangely little application. It takes songs in your iThing's library and plays them as if you were playing them in the iPod app. But it goes online, downloads the lyrics and plays them – scrolling karaoke style – along with the music. And it actually works. If, like me, you've ever wondered what the hell Alanis Morissette is saying, this is the app for you. You can only use it for songs you have on your device – it doesn't stream or download music – and it doesn't have scrolling lyrics for absolutely everything but it has a decent sized catalogue which is growing all the time. For many songs it has the lyrics but no scrolling and that's where you can help – by manually moving the lyrics along in time to the music, you can inflate their database and help future sing-along-ers.


Adrenaline Golf (£2.99)

Adrenaline Golf – which I bought for 59p rather than the £2.99 they currently want – is a wacky crazy golf game which takes in some mind bending courses along its adventurous route. The controls aren't always the most accurate but it is a great way of showing off the iThing's power as a gaming device. It is also fairly addictive as you always want to play just one more hole. I think I got 19 on one hole but it required flying through the air and defying all known physics so I patted myself on the iBack for completing it at all. Wait for the price to drop again and give it a go – crazy golf on your phone may sound odd but its a pretty enjoyable game.


Scrabble (£2.99)

Scrabble is awesome if you like that sort of thing. Unlike recent Facebook applications, this is genuine, authentic, licensed Scrabble and it plays really well. You just drag tiles from your rack to the board and the game decides whether the word is real or not. The computer AI you're playing against can be tweaked – I can never beat the middle setting and almost always beat the lowest setting – and if you really can't find a word, you have four “best word” tokens which generate the best possible word given your circumstances. One slight cheat is that you can keep trying 2 letter words until one is allowed if you're really struggling.


Pocket Alan (£0.59)

Pocket Alan is an Alan Partridge soundboard. Press any one of the buttons and you get a clip from “I'm Alan Partridge”. It has most – but not all – of his best moments in reasonable quality. “Butter my arse” is probably my favourite but it's full of classics. The “Dan” one lets you recreate that entire scene just by pressing the button over and over again. There are lots of soundboards on the App Store these days and – until someone releases an “A Bit of Fry and Laurie” one – the Partridge one is almost certainly the best.


Big 10 (£0.59)

Big 10 is a deceptively simple game that just requires you to drag your finger across the grid and make numbers add up to 10. You get points, bonuses, time stoppages, extras and all sorts of other gimmicks as you go through, racking up 10s and becoming ever more brave in your use of zeroes and – gasp – minus numbers. Although you only have a nominal 60 seconds to play each game, the games can last over ten minutes as you earn clock stoppages and special awards. I remember thinking I had lots of time before I had to be elsewhere and still being late when I had a good round. It's cheap, the music is very catchy, the game's presentation has a touch of Monty Python about it and it is addictive as hell. An excellent way to pass the time and – gasp – maybe sharpen the old grey cabbage a little along the way.