Possession App Review

Watching a soccer match is exciting enough on its own. Imaging taking that experience and making it more engaging by being able to keep your own stats on the game while you watch. You don’t need pencil and paper. Nope, there is an easier and more technology-driven way to do it, keep it, and share it.

Possessions, by John Shackleford, is a neat little app that allows you to keep score and more of each game you attend or watch on TV. You could be watching a game at a youth soccer match, or you could be watching the English Premier League. Either way, this app that works on both iPad and on iPhones will be at the ready, allowing you to tap away game scores, shots and corners without blinking an eye. The app has a bit of a price tag, costing $10.99, but it packs a punch in valuable data, whether you use it to strategize for your child’s team, or you map trends for your favorite team as it treads its way towards the World Cup.

Possession screenshot

Once you download the app, you’ll see how easy it is to use. The main screen features a timer that can be “assigned” to each team as possession of the ball passes between them. This is done with just tapping either Home or Away. The timer will time the game in general and will keep individual possession times for each team as you indicate the switch when the ball changes “hands.” The main screen also shows the number of Goals, Shots and Corners for each team as well as a clear graphic that indicates the percentage of possession time for each team. This is essentially a bar colored in two shades, each increasing or decreasing in width to represent possession time by each team, and is also flanked by a percentage on each end.

Starting stat collection requires you to press New Game and then swipe the Timer ON. Before turning on the timer, it is wise to move over to the Report page so you can enter each team’s name, their gender if you wish, their age and then select whether or not you wish final stat reports to be emailed. On the subject of emailing, you can specify email recipients on the Mail page. This makes sharing much easier and allows others on the team, like the coach and fellow parents to see the stats. If players are older kids, they may want to get in on the action as well.

The easiest way to use this app is to set up the static information on the Report page first, and then move over to the Game screen, or main page. Next, start the timer and select the team in possession. Now, you might want to quickly move over to the Stats page so you can easily tap on Corners and Shots as they happen. Soccer moves fast, so you need the screen up and ready, or you may miss a moment.

The only thing that I found to be a bit tricky in using this app is the need to switch between the Game and Stats screens. It would be easier to use if you had controls to switch possession and update shots, goals and corners, all on one page. Yet, overcoming this one issue, Possession can make data collection on games much easier and produce a wealth of knowledge for your team for seasons to come.

Flappy Bird

Flappy Bird, for those of you who don’t know, was a smartphone game where users had to try and get a bird through as many obstacles as possible. I say had, as the app has been removed from the iTunes and Google Play – more on that later. I’m not sure I can really explain it much better than that, so take a look at this video to see it in action.

As you can see people take this game pretty seriously. The chap says how he has been playing it for about a week and that “it has totally consumed [his] life“. I tried the game on a friends phone and sensing that it was something that I was likely to get addicted to I decided not to install it myself. I am very glad I made that decision. In fact I have decided to take a total detox from all smartphone and tablet apps recently, and it really does feel great.

A screenshop of the Flappy Bird appUsually I install an app when I have some time to kill, but after a while, I seem to be wasting far too much time on pointless apps. I took a step back and saw that playing games such as Flappy Bird was just a waste of my time. This article is not asking you to stop using apps, but I do want to make people think.

I want to make people think, much in the same way that I suspect Dong Nguyen wants to make people think. Dong Nguyen was the creator of Flappy Bird and despite the fact that some sources report the game to have been earning around $50,000 per day in ad revenues, he took it down. The game was very addictive and didn’t really add any value to the lives of players. If anything, for many it just caused a lot of stress and aggravation.

Anyone who downloaded the game still has it, but if they uninstall it it is gone forever. Some people are selling their handsets with the game still installed on it, although many manufacturers advise against this on privacy grounds.

What I want to know – in the comments below – is what are your opinions? Was the developer right to remove the game? As a society are we getting more addicted to such games? If so, how are they affecting culture – or are they just a bit of harmless fun?

Oh and folks, please don’t go taking a hammer to your phone. :-)

Hirred App Review

Are you looking for work? Do you enjoy social networking and find that you sell yourself best when you talk rather than write? Then Hirred is for you. Wiink Inc. has come up with a this social networking app aimed at bringing employers and candidates together through short 30-second video clips. You are probably wondering how that works. Imagine just listening to a short description of a quick task that needs completing. You don’t have to read anything, you just watch and listen. You become interested. So, you reply, or apply, with a short video clip about why you are the best candidate to get the job done. Flip it around, now. You are looking to have a small app for iPhone written, or need a few short blog articles for your new website. Come to Hirred and make a quality 30-second infomercial about the great task you have at hand, and watch as the replies post to your clip, with offers of talent that knows no bounds.

Hirred works well for those in an industry where creativity abounds. People who just can’t describe in words how great their talent is, can do great justice in 30 seconds by saying a few words, giving the right facial expressions, and making contact; because, at the end of the day, it’s the contact and familiarity that gets you the job. For employers, this means striking the right chords with potential hires with a description of your needs and what needs to be accomplished. Sometimes, words alone do no justice. It takes a bit of moving art to make something come to life; and, in 30 seconds, enough can come to life.

Hirred iTunes image

When you first download the app, you will have a chance to setup your profile. From the main page, you can view Pitches or Calls. Pitches are clips about people and their talents. Calls are clips about jobs. Under each category of viewing you can select the level of video clips: Rising or Live. Rising is essentially “just starting out”, while “Live” is a user that has been using Hirred for a while, and may have had a few jobs or even hired a few folks. Use of the app is fairly simple, as all you are doing is recording yourself in response to a Call, or creating a Call.

Logistics behind the app reside in the Main Menu, which sits at the bottom of the screen. The menu fades away to a small blue domelike icon when minimized. This renders greater screen viewing real estate. It does get a bit awkward when trying to conjure up the main menu, as many times I found myself pulling up the iPhone’s menu instead. This should be changed.

Other than that, Hirred has some potential. It may not do too well on just the merits of 30-second video clips. Descriptions that short serve as attention getters and teasers… to attract interest. This app will do well if it adds the ability to link clips to resumes or websites that offer more details.

Yawn Free Coffee

Colourful

EDITOR NOTE: This is Jonny’s 100th post From his humble beginnings writing about elective amputation, Jonny has taken Technology Bloggers by storm! Jonny started as a contributor, soon after earning himself author status and he has recently been awarded editor status. Congratulations and thank you from me and the rest of the community Jonny, you deserve it. Here is to the next 100! ;-)note by Christopher

Oh I am rather tired this morning, like many others. I need to have my daily coffee. Sometimes I imagine a world where my surroundings understand me, my needs and wishes. I had a teas-maid once, that was the closest I ever came to automated good life, but times have moved on.

Face recognition software offers the dream of a newly serviced life. And the dream is here already, well not here exactly but in South Africa.

Yes coffee producer Dowe Egberts have built a coffee machine that uses a camera and software that can read your face. When it sees a person yawn it automatically produces a free cup of coffee for them. Check out this video on Youtube. Or get a free coffee by yawning next time you pass through the O.R. Tambo International Airport.

This is of course all done for publicity, but it does open up a train of thought that leads into science fiction.

This is not my first post about face recognition software. I wrote one earlier this year about Verizon’s project to fit it to TV top cable boxes, and the year before about mobile recognition apps, and since then there have been a few developments that I would like readers to note.

Researchers have been working on identifying individual animals using the same software. Cameras are often used to count wildlife in studies, but the problem often arises of determining which animals may have been counted twice. This problem could be overcome if the software could recognize the individual beasts, and scientists at Leipzig zoo have been working on such a project.

Do you know this one?

Do you know this one?

They have 24 chimpanzees to work with, and have designed a system that recognizes individual animals with up to 83% accuracy. The difficulty is getting good photos in the wild though, and in dim light the accuracy quickly drops, so the researchers have been designing new parameters to improve broader recognition.

Check out the article here to learn more.

On a slightly less positive note Facebook are again at the helm of recognition privacy. Once again, proposed changes to its privacy policy mean that already uploaded information is to be used differently.

Facebook has indicated that it will now reserve the right to add user profile pictures to its facial recognition database. Currently, only photos that a Facebook friend uploads and tags with a user’s name go into the facial recognition system. By opting out of the tag suggesting feature and declining to allow friends to tag him or her, a user can avoid being included in the social network’s facial recognition database.

No More might this be the case!

The change would mean that every user, of a population of a billion, whose face is visible in his or her profile photo would be included in the database. To sidestep the new feature, users will have to avoid showing their faces in their profile photos and delete any previous profile photos in which their faces are visible.

Facebook have however had problems implementing their recognition policies in Europe, and in fact the system was turned off in August of last year, but the new regulations seem to be another attempt at opening the door. See this article for a review of the arguments.

Regardless of whether you as an individual take these precaution, millions will not, and the database will grow massively overnight. And that will be worth a lot of money to somebody somewhere down the line, and have implications for all of us.

Givit Video Editor App Review

This is the 200th article I have written on Technology Bloggers! I really enjoy writing for the blog and value the community. :-)

Technology Bloggers top smartphone app reviewers are without a doubt, Steve and Ron. In the past I have attempted app reviews myself, however I have never reviewed just a single application in one post. What better time to try something new then than in post 200!

I’m playing it safe with my first app review, and choosing an app that has already been reviewed by TechCrunch, and written about on the The Wall Street Journal’s website. The app is called Givit Video Editor, and is available for all iDevices.

What is Givit?

So what exactly is Givit Video Editor? Well in the words of (the apps creators) Vmix Media:

“Givit is a free, fun and simple app to quickly make and share great videos on iPhone.”

As I am sure you know, Instagram is a photo sharing application, which lets you share photos you take, pretty much instantly, to Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Givit offers a similar service, but for video.

Sharing

One of the key features of the app is its sociability. The app interoperates ‘one-click’ sharing to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as well as email compatibility, so you can privately email clips. You can also upload your videos to the Givit cloud, where you get 5GB of free storage.

Share videos iPhone application

A screenshot of the Givit sharing screen.

The latest version of the app (3.2.0) enables you to find and invite your Facebook friends, so you can see which of them are sharing their videos, and post your clips to your stream.

Features

The app is a clever video editor, which lets you mash different clips together, so you can chip and chop the best bits of clips and the stitch them together to make great montages.

The app is also compatible with live editing, so you can modify clips as you are filming, adding effects and music wherever you choose.

Cost

One of the best things about the app is that it is completely free! With the Standard Account (as I mentioned earlier) you get 5GB of permanent free storage; so long as you use it once every 3 months. 5GB is enough room to store around 30 minutes of uncompressed HD video; Givit probably have some clever compression going on, so I would imagine you get a bit more that 30 minutes.

Half an hour is all I think I need, as the clips I want to share are only usually a minute or two long, however if you are a budding videographer and need more space you can buy a Premium Account, which costs $29.99 a year, for an extra 100GB of storage.

So far, reviews of the app seem positive. The apps official iTunes rating is currently 4 stars in the UK store and 3.5 in the US store. Coverage on sites like Macworld, CNET and the above mentioned TechCrunch indicate the growing popularity of the service.

Interested in getting the app? Click here to download the Givit from iTunes.

Shoot, edit, share and store – that’s Givit!

Coach Guitar App Review

Coach Guitar enables users to learn guitar without any music theory or tablature. The animated black fret-board represents a guitar and the fingers are marked with different colors to specify the positions efficiently for both hands use. The colored dots signify the different chords of an acoustic guitar to be strummed. These instructions are available in Help menu on the start screen.

When you open this app, the page shows options such as My Lessons, Library, Help and finally Settings. After going through the Help option, you need to start with My Lessons where there are few popular songs pre-loaded. Then, you have to choose one among them and proceed for the coaching sequences. Just like a true professional, this app provides a step by step teaching facility which helps the users to play each verse of the song with perfection.

Coach Guitar Navigation

This version also contains two amazing songs for free- Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin and secondly, Wake me up when September ends by Green Day. Another interesting aspect of this app is the availability of video lessons in HD. You can watch and learn in no time. In the Library, you can buy and store your favorite tracks available which you want to learn. The Library is updated quite frequently for the convenience of users. Also, the developers have provided the settings option to configure this app as per your wish.

The appearance of Library is quite similar to that of a normal playlist in your phone only with a single modification of the price tag on the extreme right of the songs. This can be considered one of the flaws of this virtual guitar teaching concept. You have to pay a certain amount for adding up your favorite tracks further. The customers have complained about this attribute and rightfully so.

Looking at all the pros and cons of this guitar teaching app, I am pretty much satisfied by its functioning. This app skillfully acknowledges its name and acquires relevant features to teach users how to play a guitar. Coach Guitar version 1.7.3 requires only 13.2 MB of phone memory. With the presence of a large display screen in iPhone and iPads, the working of Coach Guitar becomes easier.

Augmented Reality Art

A couple of weeks ago I crossed Grand Island in New York State, a rather desolate place at this time of year near the border with Canada. I was interested in a virtual art installation involving augmented reality, and quite a find it was too.

It turns out that in In September 1825, Major Mordecai Noah founded a city state called Ararat on Grand Island, “a city of refuge for the Jews”. His idea was to create a Jewish homeland. Noah’s dream never came to fruition, until that is a group of academics and artists decided to create a virtual tour of how the city might look today had it been constructed.

Ararat Virtual Monument

Ararat Virtual Monument

The tour involves downloading an app into your smartphone, and travelling to specific areas on the island. When you look through the camera of the phone various structures appear in the view that are not present in reality. There is a copy of a memorial that was designed but has fallen into decay, a synagogue, school, a theme park and various other typical structures. The group also produced postcards, stamps and money, as well as other objects in everyday use in any nation state. There is in fact only one original artefact from that period surviving today, a cornerstone that tells the story of the city’s foundation.

People who would like to take the tour have to download the mobile app Layar, and aim their devices’ cameras at the landscape. The application uses geolocation software to superimpose virtual objects at precise GPS coordinates, enabling the public to see the objects integrated into the physical location as if they existed in the real world.

Money from Ararat

Money from Ararat

Then you just take the photo and the object appears as if in real life, with your friends next to it if you like. The Mapping Arrarat website explains everything, and hosts a short video that demonstrates the installation in practice. There are also lots of photos of the various structures that show people interacting with a virtual landscape.

Although the computer graphics aren’t entirely convincing I am sure they will very quickly improve and get to the point of looking absolutely real, very much in the way that games have developed in recent years. And an installation of this type looks like a fantastic educational tool to me. Objects can be placed on the landscape and presumably old photos and plans could be used to re-make places and events. Wouldn’t it be interesting to go the the Great fire of London, or walk through antique Rome and come back with a few shots to show the family?