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iOS App Review - Part 1

Title : Thunderspace and Loom : Review
The two new apps I came across in the past few weeks are
1) Thunderspace; and 
2) Loom - both of them came to me randomly and immediately caught my attention as I was trying to solve the exact problems these apps cater to.

Thunderspace -  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/thunderspace/id636485814?mt=8
Price : $0.99, IAP
This is an unusual app. I have been on my regular Music discovery effort during past weekend and came across this one — this is a relaxation music app. It has a collection of recorded natural sounds like rain, wind or frogs crying in a rainforest — there is some variety there. It boasts of 8 different recordings - two of them, “Roof Garden” and “Waterscape” are readily available and rest you can buy for $0.99 each. These are live recordings and there is no mixing of any sort. For additional effect the app uses the camera flash to create a lightning effect — you can experience a real thunderstorm, right in your living room or bedroom, if you want to! Clever! The recordings are done by none other than Gordon Hempton - I was ‘googling’ on him and that’s how I ended up finding this app. Rest of the 6 tracks that comes as an in-app purchase can be heard on a trial basis — and among them the “Deserts” sounded most interesting. For me it’s the best soundtrack in the whole set. I had the additional reason of listening to Gordon’s work (I am a big fan!).
The app itself is a very straightforward one to use. It has a very simple interface and a small intro will get you ready to use the app. A vertical swap will bring up the settings menu - there are only a few features there where you have different options including playing the intro again. A horizontal swap on the home screen will take you to the play/pause screen and there is a flash icon that will either enable or disable the camera flash. Overall the design is very minimal and doesn’t boast any breathtaking functionality. The focus is very clearly on playing and listening. A good headphone - on that can do noise cancellation is highly recommended as the app has a brilliant 3D surround effect which in itself is a great experience. Apple’s regular headphones are good in a quiet environment - but not while travelling or in the streets. One drawback for me is that you need to keep the app open and if you switched to another the music stops.This happens even when the phone goes to sleep. May be this is for preventing app using up the battery but doesn’t work for me as I don’t want any disruption.
Overall a good app - if you are looking for relaxation.

Loom - https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/loom/id655641185?ls=1&mt=8
Price : Free, IAP
The default Photos app has been a toughie for me ever since iOS came out and add the fact that photos take up so much of space on my phone. I carry my iPhone around a lot and most of my photography is done using iPhone makes it ever more tough. It limits me carrying my favorite music library with me as I need to make space for Photos/Videos. I came across Loom by chance and I was impressed by the simplicity of the app. It can create albums so quickly and lets the user move the photos as and when required. They have apps for Mac, iPad and iPhone - all kept in sync using iCloud. Its another straightforward application, that needs a simple access permission from you to upload your photos to cloud. By default the app gives you 5 GB of storage for free, and you will need to spend $40 for 50GB/Year and $100 for 250 GB/Year for 10 g and. This is way cheaper than Dropbox or EverPix (I had ruled out Dropbox as it’s not primarily a photo sharing app and Everpix looked complicated and almost like iPhoto to me). It uploaded 800+ photos from my iPhone quickly enough and it was immediately in sync with my Mac and iPad apps. Loom’s interface is simple enough - and you know what’s the best feature for me? The Passcode Lock. I so needed this for my default application and can’t see why it’s not there even in iOS7.
Loom has a simple interface with your timelines shown at the top and the devices listed after that - I enabled only my iPhone for the tests as my iPad library has so many photos taken by the Junior - he uses both the front and back cameras and shoots photos at will Happy. Uploads work quickly and you have the option of uploading only on wi-fi or having uploads work all the time (nonstop). In fact either methods are non-stop they stop after a small time and they drain your battery. Some times it mysteriously hangs. Otherwise it work swell in the background. You can build albums on the fly - just select by touching and holding on a photo - even if the photos are still uploading or move photos into a new album or create an album within another album. I found these features very attractive. Moreover, the original version of your pictures are stored on loom’s servers and you are presented with a compressed version which saves valuable disk space on your device ( this was the first feature that attracted me!)
Drawbacks? One I can think of is the lack of video support. But loom is already working on it as per their blog. As its in a beta mode I am hoping to see more features being added. The simplicity of the interface and overall look and feel is very impressive.
At last I have a minimal looking and easy-to-use replacement for Photos app on my home screen.
*Note: Access to Loom is “invite only” at the moment. I guess they are a bit mindful about the scaling issues they might face.

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