Say goodbye to virus-prone torrent downloads or less than legal (and low resolution) YouTube copies of HBO shows and movies. With HBO’s online network, you can now watch the finale of True Detective from your iPhone nestled in your favorite coffee house club chair, or relive the last season of Game of Thrones on a long plane flight.
Price: The APP and online service are Free w/ HBO subscription (or if you have a password-sharing pal)
Platforms: Iphone, Ipad, Android*
Should you get it? Absolutely. Stellar programming combined with the convenience of mobile, on demand access.
Free with subscription, HBO offers unlimited access to HBO shows and movies online at HBOgo.com, and it’s paired HBO GO mobile app.
HBO launched the online service last year, which allows subscribers to stream and watch any HBO show live, anytime, from various online devices.
And according to HBO execs, users are allowed to share their HBO Go account with non-subscribers, for now.
In regards to password sharing, HBO CEO Richard Pleper said, “To us, it’s a terrific marketing vehicle for the next generation of viewers, and to us, it is actually not material at all to business growth...It presents the brand to more and more people, and gives them an opportunity hopefully to become addicted to it. What we’re in the business of doing is building addicts, of building video addicts. The way we do that is by exposing our product, our brand, our shows, to more and more people.”
For me HBO Go is “addictive” because I'm now able to watch the high quality entertainment and documentary programming I looked forward to each Sunday, wherever and whenever I wish.
By creating a customized Watchlist, I can start a show from my laptop while getting ready for work, then switch over to my iPad when riding the T into Boston. Now in the office, AirPlay allows me to stream the show onto my TV.
Plus, HBO GO's TIVO-like feature called Series Pass, automatically sends new episodes of my favorite shows to my Watchlist. A second screen feature allows pure addicts to watch new episodes simultaneously as they premiere on HBO.
*In addition to HBOgo.com, iPhone, iPad, Android and Apple TV, you can also watch HBO online on Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Wii, Kindle Fire, Google Play and Amazon Video, as well as on Dish Anywhere and Xfinity TV Go mobile apps.
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 Kristi Palma
Reviewing: Kids Trucks: Puzzles - An animated truck puzzle game for toddlers, preschoolers, and young children
By: Scott Adelman
Available on: Android
Should you get it? Yes
My 3-year-old daughter loves puzzles.
She will sit on the floor and do the same puzzle over and over again - putting it together, breaking it apart, putting it together, breaking it apart.
So you can imagine her delight over this animated puzzle app we recently downloaded on my Kindle Fire.
She doesn't even care that this app features trucks instead of princesses. What she cares about is the variety of puzzles offered all in one place (she loves to scroll through and choose them as much as she loves to do them) and the bonus of seeing the puzzle come to life after she's moved the last piece into place. Not only that, but little paint bubbles erupt when she finishes one, which she can pop with her finger. Her old-school cardboard puzzles certainly can't offer that!
The app features 13 different puzzles in the form of trucks, shapes, and numbers. The trucks and numbers have little eyeballs, to which my daughter Paige likes to say: "They're looking at their friends!"
This is a very simple app. Children drag a shape from the left side of the screen and fit it into the scene on the right side of the screen.
"See, mom?" said Paige after completing a puzzle. "It's easy!"
And it's easy to choose the puzzle you want to do or navigate back or forward through the puzzles if you change your mind.
But while my 3-year-old may delight in easy, her 6-year-old older brother gets bored. This game is geared for kids age 1 to 6 and may lose the interest of kids on the upper end of that range.
By Daniel B. Kline
Available on: iPhone, Windows Phone, Android
Should you get it?: Yes, if your main computer is a PC.
Microsoft and Apple have worked together at various points, but it's usually a union full of mistrust.
In the past - before the iPod, iPhone, and iPad - Apple needed Microsoft. But in recent years, Microsoft has fallen behind its hipper competitor. Neither Microsoft nor Apple has ever seemed to want to work together. Even when Microsoft creates a version of its Office software for Mac users, both sides seem a little disgusted to need each other.
SkyDrive, however, is Microsoft admitting that some people will use Windows-based PCs, but refuse to adopt Windows phones or the Surface Tablet. Instead, these users will embrace Apple iOS or Android-powered products.
A few years ago, Microsoft would have made it hard on those users, forcing them to find workarounds to move their files between operating systems. SkyDrive, the generic name for Microsoft’s cloud-based storage product, shows that those times have changed and that the Windows-maker understands that it must allow users easy access to their files even on devices running competing operating systems.
The SkyDrive app (tested on an iPhone 4S) allows easy access to stored Windows files. In my case, the files were mostly Word documents created on a Microsoft Surface RT and pictures taken on a Windows phone. The SkyDrive app made those files readily available on my iPhone in a basic, easy-to-understand file folder structure.
Unfortunately, available is all that they were as the SkyDrive app does not offer the Web-based editing services the Web version of the product offers. To edit a Word or Excel document through the app, iPhone users must also have an app that allows for editing that file type. And even though there are lots of options for apps that allow for that, not having basic in-app editing tools in the SkyDrive app is disappointing.
Of course, Windows phones come pre-installed with a mobile version of Office, so this won't be a problem if you are one of the few who have one. Still, the SkyDrive app lets you read documents or forward them to another device – not perfect, but still useful. And if you have any of the apps that let you open Office files in iOS, you'll have full editing access and SkyDrive becomes an even better product.
By Rachel Raczka
By: Conde Nast Digital
Platforms: Tested on iPhone, available for iPad, Android, Nook Color, Windows Phone, and Kindle Fire
Should you get it?: Yes.
Let me preface this review by saying: I cook a lot. And I bake more than I cook. So I spent a fair amount of time using this app. But don't let that scare you away; I recommend the app for the experienced cook as well as the kitchen novice.
Touted as a portable version of the popular website that proclaims it's "for people who love to eat," the Epicurious app features the same seemingly endless supply of recipes sourced from the Conde Nast treasure trove of the likes of Bon Appetit, Self, and Gourmet magazines.FULL ENTRY
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