Pygmy Reviews #68 – iOS Apps

Elevate (Free)

One Line Description: Brain stimulating games that rotate on a daily basis.

This was Apple’s App of the Year in 2014, which is actually the reason I downloaded it. It’s pegged a brain training game, and while I don’t know if it actually does anything for you long term I find the exercises make me think enough to make it feel like I am accomplishing something. Some of the games are challenging right from the get go, and as you complete them and improve your score the difficulty increases. There are a pretty wide range of games, although you will see them repeat after a short period of time.

The app is very nicely designed and is very aesthetically pleasing. It can remind you to do sessions daily, which is the only thing that gets me to remember to do it with any regularity. The daily sessions are three games In length and most of them take just a few minutes depending on if you fail them completely and have to start over at all. I haven’t paid for the “pro” version so I am not exactly sure if it’s worth it or not, but I have enjoyed it, and my guess is that a lot of people I know would enjoy this kind of brain exercise.

App in the Air (Free)

One Line Description: Flight tracker with ability to share alerts.

I discovered App in the Air via The Sweet Setup and have had the opportunity to use it for both my own trip, and for tracking my wife’s trip. This application seems like it is designed for both scenarios, but could stand to use an option to specify which scenario should be used. One of the nice parts of this application is the push notifications. These include gate changes, which is great if you are the person traveling, but mostly useless if you are just monitoring someone’s flight. There are also push notifications for when the flight has taken off and landed, which are useless for the person on the plane. The app is pretty, and mostly intuitive to navigate around. There is a “timeline” that shows how much time is left for check-in, boarding and take-off which is a nice touch. It also shows airport information including current waits for check-in and security, although it’s unclear whether this information is only based on that provided by other users of the app, or if it’s live data.

Some of the more unique features are the ability to add alerts for someone else via push notifications (so your spouse doesn’t even need the app) and it has a built-in (configurable) checklist that you can re-use to make travel prep more efficient. The app is free, but it’s very limited (no push notifications are the biggest thing). The extra features are based on a “subscription” plan. It’s just $0.99 for 12 months with alerts. There is a $4.99 plan for 5 flights which includes some extra features, though I don’t know what they do. All that rolled together, this is a nice app, but it’s not life changing. There are probably apps out there that do this just as well if not better, and possibly for free. I would probably try out some of those before I paid money for this, but since I have 9 months or so left on my subscription I will stick with it for now.

1Blocker (Free)

One Line Description: Block advertisements, trackers and more in Safari and many in-app web browsers

Ad blockers are a new app category released as part of iOS 9. Ben Brooks has done multiple extensive overviews of several different options. 1Blocker was one of his recommendations the first time around, and it meshed with what I was looking for. The moral argument around ad blocking has been beat to death at this point. I don’t mind the advertisements, but I find the trackers and cookies to be intrusive. In fact I have the actual “ads” unblocked in 1Blocker, but most everything else turned on. How much of a speed/data savings does it make? It’s hard to say, I haven’t done any sort of hard test, and to be honest that isn’t my primary concern. I just would prefer to not have data being scraped at my expense just for using a website. If sites want to counter ad blockers with their own blocking, that is their prerogative.

Back to 1Blocker. It’s easy to use with high level switches for entire categories, and then lower level toggles for each individual entity. It can block specific URLs and cookies and also can whitelist URLs. It also has custom packages that can be created, so the possibilities are expansive. One concern is that this app hasn’t been updated since shortly after it’s initial release. The blacklisted sites and whatnot surely change regularly and three and a half months with no update seems like a long time. The developer has engaged people on Twitter in ways that makes it seem like updates are coming, but you never know. In the meantime this app is getting the job done for me.