iOnRoad, WWF Together, Rondo Music Player
You can listen to my reviews every Monday on Moore in the Morning at 6:45 am and follow me on Twitter here for more great apps.
With your phone safely mounted against your windshield and its camera facing outwards, iOnRoad will monitor the road ahead and warn you of any immediate dangers. The idea is not to replace your own driver’s awareness, but merely to act as a second pair of watchful eyes just in case. Through the camera in your phone the app can measure the distance between your car and the vehicle in front. If that gap gets too narrow it will sound an alarm. It can also measure the distance between your car and the edge of the road, again sounding an alarm if you veer off course.
To show how it makes these decisions it displays what it sees on your phone’s screen with graphics that reveal its measurements thanks to Augmented Reality technology. A camera is no match for the human eye though, so it tends to be less effective in direct sunlight, in the dark, or during heavy weather. It works best when driving conditions are at their ideal, not their worst, and so you could say its value is with unexpected accidents. When you’re facing real trouble, technology is still a poor replacement for an alert driver.
Thanks to a Christmas sale on the price and a series of recent updates, now’s a good time to give iOnRoad a try. It can mimic a “blackbox” by recording video footage of what it sees while generating telemetrics and other feedback reports that could be useful in an accident. It can use these sensors to offer speed warnings and, in the case of phones with fast processors like the iPhone 5, offer turn-by-turn navigation too.
iOnRoad is impressive and well-thought out technology, but it requires great care to set-up and use. As long as you embrace its limitations it can be a handy back-up system to have.
(Note: Here in Ontario there’s a ban on handheld devices while driving. Hands-free solutions allowed include windshield-mounted devices as long as they are related to driving.)
A playfully touching collection of animal experiences, WWF Together lets you use your camera to see the world through a tiger’s eyes, compare a blue whale’s song to a jet engine’s roar, and use the “pinch” and “zoom” controls of your touchscreen to demonstrate an elephant foot’s ability to absorb shock. With GPS you can even work out how far the nearest wild polar bear is from you. Of course there are beautiful photos along with well-crafted infographics and conservation insights plus Origami instructions to fold your own paper animals.
There’s a version of these interactive stories for each of the eight species included at launch with the plan to add a new animal each month beginning in February. Although you can’t share the touchscreen tricks with friends, there are similar YouTube clips you can to help spread awareness.
It’s a delightfully presented app that delivers as much a sense of wonder as it does a look at the progress being made in wildlife conservation.
In real life musicians do not play standing next to you, shouting directly into your ears, but that’s often the way it feels when you’re using headphones. Developed at the University of California, the Rondo Player uses algorithms to give your iTunes music library a sense of space, so that it sounds like the band is playing from a stage. It’s more than a cheesy echo effect, the app manages to reconstruct the sound in order to place the music a distance away and then expand it to fill the space created.
You can adjust that space to be as large as a stadium for a concert album or turn it into a dance club for a dubstep mix or even a dinner theatre catwalk for some classic crooning. The app works with your existing iTunes library, there’s no loading needed, and it can be interesting to work out which settings work best for each album (it won’t play music with DRM or work with iTunes Match though).
As an added twist to mimic the live experience Rondo can use your iPhone’s compass to place the stage against one specific area of the room you’re in, so as you move about the band will stay put instead of following you around. You can turn this off, but it’s a neat effect.
Rondo is one of the few apps I’ve tested that does manage to squeeze out enhancements from your headphones. Free at launch, so worth the try, it’ll be interesting to see how the benefit improves as the makers continue their research. Very promising.
Check out Kris Abel & Richard Crouse's week;y podcast
Hey All You Zombies!!