Pygmy Reviews #62 – iOS Apps

Park Chicago (Free)

One Line Description: Pay for street parking in Chicago with an app

The app name should indicate that this is an app specifically for parking in Chicago, and specifically for parking at the pay boxes that have replaced meters all over the city. My sister (the city dweller of the family) is the one who turned me on to this and I can’t believe how awesome it is. You simply enter the zone number (on the parking sign near your car) and your license plate number and you can pay for parking. The best part by far is that you don’t have to be near your vehicle to extend the parking time. Meaning you can park once and continue to add time all day no matter where you are in the city. This would enable some thrifty people to park their car in a cheaper zone all day rather than right downtown someplace expensive. The app even sends notifications when the parking is about to expire.

It is not without some downfalls though. A 35-cent convenience fee is added whenever less than two hours of parking are purchased. Generally if you are paying for less than two hours of parking you don’t plan to be far away, so it might be worth it to just pay at the box in this circumstance. Also the app requires you keep money in your account at all times (just like the iPass system does). Some people might find this annoying especially if they don’t use the app that much, and you must remember to close your account and get your money back if you decide to stop using the service. Those two small things aside though, this app adds a ton of convenience to parking in the city, especially if you just want to park once and avoid a garage.

White Noise Lite (Free)

One Line Description: Ambient noise and soundscapes to help you sleep or work distraction free.

Sometimes I need to focus, when I am working on something and I don’t want outside distractions, or when I am trying to fall asleep someone that isn’t my regular bedroom (like a plan). Sometimes this is very hard to do with all the outside noise that is present. Podcasts and music with lyrics can be distracting, so often times just something to drown everything else out is the way to go. White Noise is one of several apps out there that does something like this. It’s free and offers a good selection of free sound loops, as well as a big store of more options. It definitely won’t win any Apple Design Awards, but it serves it’s purpose well and has tons of little features like a clock, sleep timer and even the ability to mix music in with the sounds.

Some of the sound choices are weird, and the actual “white noise” option hurts my ears. I enjoy the ocean waves or rain/storm options the most. Heartbeat and vacuum cleaner are two of my least favorites. Still it more than sufficiently gets the job done when I need it, which truthfully isn’t all that often. I have considered trying it at bedtime before in my own bedroom just to see if it makes any difference but I haven’t yet.

MLB Ballpark App (Free)

One Line Description: Companion app for baseball stadium visits

MLB has several applications, and the Ballpark app has been around for a couple of years now. It is designed for people to use when they are all particular ballparks, and includes the ability to “check in” when at a particular park (this is verified with location services). Checking in often opens us special offers that range from free souvenirs (I got a free bobblehead one time), to food and (future game) ticket discounts.

The application also offers tons of information about a ballpark, which is especially useful for anyone who occasionally visits out of town ballparks they are not familiar with. There are sections of finding a particular food or beer which is cool and impressive (but truthfully I haven’t tried either). There is information about ballpark Wi-Fi, a way to text security, and even video highlights. Of course so much of the usefulness of this app is under the assumption that sufficient data service is available, which often times it is not. Still this app is worth having around for anyone that goes to more than like 5 baseball games a year, and would be pretty amazing for anyone doing a baseball road trip.

USA Today Sports (Free)

One Line Description: USA Today’s dedicated sports app.

This was recommended a while back by someone (not sure who at this point), but it’s not anything special. First of all it just recently was updated for the iPhone 6’s larger size, despite the fact that it was originally released after the iPhone 6. It loads a little slow, and has giant pictures with each story, which means that at most two headlines are visible at any given time. They claim to have the “best scoreboard ever”, but it suffers from the same space issues as the news section, where no more than two scores are visible at a given time. This is counter to my favorite sports app CBS Sports, which lets you see about 6 scores at a time.

The app has some potentially great features that don’t end up going past “potential”, GIFs and “must see videos”. The GIFs don’t come often enough, and are very slow to load even on Wi-Fi. They seem to be posted so infrequently though that it just isn’t that exciting (it looks like there are about one per day). “Must see videos” all seem to be viral internet videos instead of must see sports highlights. This clearly feels like an attempt to grab a different audience than I would think this app is targeting. Bottom line, there are better ways to get sports news out there.