KickStarter Spotlight: PowerUp 3.0

KickStarter Spotlight: PowerUp 3.0

Jan 22, 2014

Who does not remember sitting in class in middle school trying to make the best paper air planes? Invariably, there was always that one kid who would origami a perfect F-16 and throw it 200 feet down the hallway. Introducing PowerUp 3.0; a way for all those who are not born aviators to feel the wind under their paper wings.

Basically, PowerUP 3.0 is a lightweight skeleton of a model airplane that fits between the wings of most paper airplanes. The device offers power and control by means of a rear mounted propeller and rudder that is operated via bluetooth connection to any smartphone from a tiny node at the front of the device. Now, personally, my only experience piloting remote controlled planes is stalling one into the top of a 60 foot tree during its maiden voyage, but the videos on Shai Goitein’s KickStarter page seem very convincing. Small touches are very encouraging, such as the hardwired response to accelerate through turns; greatly aiding handling and performance.

The app, initially only available for iOS, looks great and thanks to an already successful stretch goal will be available to all Android phones rocking 4.3 and above. Two other stretch goals boast great inventiveness and creativity. The first is the ability to use two PowerUp modules at once opening the door for a bevy of paper mâché flying fortresses. The second stretch goal is pretty crazy, and allows for dogfighting which consists of proximity sensors that active a ‘SHOOT!” button on the phones of the users in order to determine whose engine gets shut down and who flies away victorious.

Unlike a lot of projects we have covered here before this one has already been fully funded and has earned over $1 million which is nearly 20 time what the initial goal was. This spotlight shines on a project that is overwhelmingly successful and shows incredible promise. Even though it is already wildly successful, it’s worth donating to this project solely to secure a first run PowerUp and the priceless envy of friends and coworkers.

Vlingo Review

Vlingo Review

Dec 14, 2011

With the launch of the iPhone 4S and iOS 5, Apple introduced Siri, your own personal assistant fembot. While it isn’t likely that anything as polished and professionally done as Siri will be available to Android users anytime soon, Vlingo makes an impressive alternative for fans of the green robot. Vlingo’s biggest asset, aside from its amazing voice recognition, is knowing when to stop and not try to directly challenge Siri. Vlingo is much more than a voice command app; it’s also a hub for text messaging, social networking, web search, maps, and more.

I will come out and say it: I’ve never been a big fan of Google Voice Commands. I feel that the commands have to be too specific and there aren’t enough options even though it is incredibly accurate. So that’s why I’m surprised that I enjoy using Vlingo so much. It’s quick, accurate, and forgiving. And when writing a text message for example, everything is done within Vlingo, forgoing the need to open more apps and slow down the process. Another surprising thing is how accurate it is in determining the usually unorthodox names of surrounding places. I found it to be rare that it couldn’t understand what I was looking for.

There is also a hands free mode for those who use their phones in the car and this can be activated by simply calling out “Hey Vlingo.” This option is still in beta mode but seems very polished, and the option to read text messages back to you works very well, but I found that if you’re using a messaging app that has pop up notifications they do appear in front of the app, making you look away and close the pop up before having Vlingo read it to you.

Going with a very cool color scheme, the design of Vlingo is very easy on the eyes. The blue, orange, and black color scheme with transparent tiles, custom icons, and the giant blue “Speak It” button make this one attractive app. There are also four widgets that come baked in: your standard search widget, a bar that gives quick access to four voice commands, and two individual voice command and text reading toggles.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this app to heavy users, those who have long commutes, and those who love voice commands. Oh, did I mention that it’s free?

Extended Controls

Extended Controls

Sep 23, 2010

A favorite past time of any Android user is tweaking one’s home screen to utmost perfection. And unlike our iPhone loving friends, we can actually do something besides just rearrange our apps and put them in folders. On tap for your home customization fix today is a super duper fantastic widget with an incredibly creative name: Extended Controls. What does it do, you ask? Why, it extends the power control widget that comes on Android with some awesome features. And it’ll only cost you 79 Euro cents!

You may remember my previous review of a similar widget app, SwitchPro Widget. Extended Controls is very similar. It mimics the style of the original power control widget and gives you tons of customizable options. You can change the icon style, background transparency, and even the shape and color of the indicator.

Extended control gives you a myriad of toggles to add to your home screen. Some of my favorite are the toggle for sd card mount and torch (flashlight for those on the west side of the Atlantic). Like SwitchPro Widget, you can set your widget size from 1 to 4 spaces wide. But Extended Control lets you cram as many toggles as you want on there. If you see the screen shot below you can abserve the rather ridiculous possibilities this option affords you.

My hands down, favorite feature of Extended Control is the ability to edit widgets after you place them on your home screen. Just run the app in your app list and it will give you a list of widgets and you can go in and tweak them to your pleasure. Not only that, but you can enable a modify button the widget itself for easy editing.

Users seem to reporting some bugs at present, like the APN toggle not working. However, I had no trouble getting it to work on my HTC Incredible after I switched the setting to have it control the mobile network directly.

I think we can all agree the the stock power control widget leaves much to be desired. So it is imperative for any self respecting Androider to get a souped up control widget like Extended Control. So is this the best one out there? That’s not so easy to say. I advise all to check it out, try it, and see if you like it. Either way you’ll certainly find it worth your .79 Euro.

Power Manager Full

Power Manager Full

Sep 20, 2010

Battery life. We all want it, yet we don’t want to sacrifice our thin, light, and always connected phones for it. So what’s the answer? Well you can slap on a big fat extended battery. But why go through all that trouble when you can just install an app for $0.99 and be done with it? Well that’s what Power Manager Full might lead you to believe. However, what looks too good to be true usually is.

Power Manager Full is a profile manager that lets you toggle different options for different circumstances. For example you can set your screen brightness and screen time out to different levels for when your phone is plugged in or at different battery levels. You can also turn on or off wifi, bluetooth, or gps. The app also claims to add a “new setting,” allowing you to set a screen time-out when you are on a call.

The real question here is: does this actually translate into increased battery life? Well, it depends. Yes, setting your screen at a lower brightness will prolong battery life. Also, turning off bluetooth and wifi will also increase battery life. But you might be asking: I keep my brightness on auto and my bluetooth and wifi off anyway, will this app help me? Probably not. Also, claiming that a in-call time-out is a new setting is a bit of a stretch. There is a proximity sensor for that very reason.

I also found that the default settings on this app were too aggressive. My screen kept dimming when I was reading in my RSS reader. Not only that, but editing the profiles is a bit confusing. When you tap on a profile there is a pop-up that says what profile you just tapped on – but nothing actually happens. You have to long press the profile to edit it.

Power Manager full does give you some added automation if you want different things to happen when you plug your phone in. However, there are apps that use your location as a trigger that I find much more useful. For example: turning your wifi on while at home. As far as battery savings, this app will do nothing for you if already do the most prudent things such as keeping your screen brightness down and you wifi and bluetooth off.

I’ve got an idea. Instead of paying $0.99 for an app like this we can put that money towards funding scientific research for new battery tech. Because it seems like this problem just isn’t going away on its own. And while I applaud developers attempting to assuage the problem, I think more honestly marketing ones product is a better approach.