By Daniel B. Kline
Having a useful website does not always translate into having a useful app. Take countless travel apps that perform poorly when compared to their online versions. So just because OpenTable has an easy-to-use, especially useful website does not mean that would carry over to the app.
In this case, however, those fears were unfounded as the OpenTable folks have delivered a perfect, simple, and elegant app. Like its online parent, the OpenTable app lets you make restaurant reservations. And while the website can sometimes feel cluttered and a little hard to navigate, the app offers the bare minimum. There are no bells and whistles; but in this case, you don't need them.
The OpenTable app makes it incredibly easy to use your phone to make a restaurant reservation – be it for tonight in Boston, or six months down the road in San Francisco. After registering (or logging in with an existing account), you simply pick a location, a date, and time. Once you enter that data, a list of available times at various eateries come up and finishing the reservation is just a couple of clicks away.
There's nothing fancy about this app. It doesn't do much to help you decide between the restaurants (though you can see menus and read reviews from other OpenTable customers). You can also get directions by accessing the Maps app from the OpenTable app, but none of that is the point. This is an app that lets you make a reservation in a few simple clicks and it does that fabulously well.
OpenTable also has a rewards system tied into your account where you get points for every reservation you make and keep. Those points can be traded in for gift cards good at any OpenTable restaurant. Since the app offers a useful service without offering a kickback, the rewards system is simply icing on an already delicious cake.
By Kailani Koenig-Muenster
Reviewing: Stitcher Radio
Platforms: iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets, recent models from Blackberry, Palm, and Nook, Amazon Kindle Fire, desktop
Should you get it?: Yes, if you're interested in expanding the kind of content you get through radio
Sometimes you just don't want to stare at a screen anymore. If you're like me and you spend a significant part of the day surrounded by the glow of computers, TVs, phones, and other devices, your eyes can glaze over. When it's time to close them and just listen, back comes radio.
Until my smartphone, my relationship with radio had only stayed alive because of the car. I'd listen if I was driving and I didn't have a CD or MP3 plugin anywhere, or if I wanted to dip into the latest news headlines. But I'd almost always end up switching back and forth between the same four or five stations, and I could never call up a favorite show or a specific, contemporary topic on demand.
Now with several radio apps, you don't have to choose and settle. I started with TuneIn Radio, which boasts more than 40,000 stations and streamed seamlessly on my Android phone. Then as soon as someone recommended Stitcher Radio, I haven't gone back.FULL ENTRY
By Dante Ramos
Reviewing: PolitiFact Mobile
By: Times Publishing Company
Platforms: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android, BlackBerry Playbook
Should you get it?: Sure, if you're skeptical enough about modern campaigning to doubt every statement a politician makes, but not so cynical that you think the truth or falsehood of campaign speeches is irrelevant.
As the election campaign intensifies, so, too, do the complaints that media outlets uncritically repeat claims that candidates make about themselves and one another - no matter how outrageous, disingenuous, or demonstrably incorrect some of those claims might be.
Enter the Tampa Bay Times (known until recently as the St. Petersburg Times), the Florida newspaper that started a project called PolitiFact to fact-check the substance of major claims made by candidates for high office, major lobbying groups, and even chain e-mails.FULL ENTRY
By Michael Warshaw
There was a time, decades ago, when it was a thrill to stay up late at night with the old family radio, listening to distant voices through crackling static.
If only we had smartphones in those days, and the TuneIn Radio app.
TuneIn is, very simply, an Internet radio app that boasts access to at least 50,000 on-air and Internet radio stations, not to mention program feeds and podcasts. But what makes this app so valuable is how easy it is to find the music, talk show, station, or stream that you want to listen to.FULL ENTRY
By Teresa Hanafin
By: Waze Mobile
Available for: iPhone
Should you get it? Yes, if you appreciate crowdsourcing
But none have what I have found to be an indispensable part of my daily commute: The wisdom of crowds.
Waze does. It's what makes this app stand out. It's a superior GPS navigator with the added bonus of real-time reports about traffic tie-ups, accidents, construction slowdowns, police, and speed traps -- all from fellow drivers.
As I sit here at Boston.com on Morrissey Boulevard on a summer Friday, for example, I can see in my Waze app that traffic heading south on the Expressway is traveling at just 31 mph, and there's been a minor accident on Columbia Road near the JFK T stop. Oh, wait -- I reported that minor accident on my way in this morning. Never mind.
Here's a look at Waze's best features and a couple of minor annoyances.FULL ENTRY