If there's anything more fun than reading comics, it's creating them. And you don't need to know how to draw. Comic Life lets you build comic pages from your photo collection, using page templates and ready-made resizable titles, word balloons, special effects and other editing and design tools. You can flip through your pages on the iPad and share them on Facebook or via email or print them out. At a quarter the price of the desktop version it's a low-cost way to bring out your inner comic book creator. Nov/Dec 2011.
Platform: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
One of the things in which the iPad excels is comics, with apps from Marvel, DC and third-parties such as Comixology providing a built-in comic store and reader that is arguably better than the real thing. Now Disney has joined this esteemed company with an app that lets you read comics old and new as well as adaptations of Disney movies such as TRON and Toy Story. The app is free and so are several sample issues, but issues for purchase are a bit on the pricey side so don't give your kids free reign with your iTunes account (good advice at any time). CC issue Sept/Oct 2011.
Platform: iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry
If you’re into movies on the big screen, check out Flixster. This app brings the movie review and social networking site to your mobile device. It includes reviews from Rotten Tomatoes as well as other users. You can view and rate reviews and write your own. It includes support for Facebook and Twitter. And once you’ve watched a movie trailer and read the reviews, the app will even provide you with local cinema locations and screening times. If you’re a big screen movie buff it’s pretty much a must. CC issue May/June 2011.
Price: Free; Pro version 99c
Platform: iOS, Android
You don’t need a radio tuner in your smartphone or tablet – there’s an endless variety of audio stations you can tune into via the internet, and TuneIn is an easy way to find them. You can bookmark stations from around the world, browse by category or find new stations via the built-in map. The Pro version lets you record, pause and rewind as you listen. CC issue Jul/Aug 2012.
Platform: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android, Blackberry, Nokia, Windows 7 Phone.
Contestants on that perennially popular TV game show Name That Tune would have loved Shazam. If you hear a song and don’t recognise it, Shazam will not only listen to a snippet and identify (tag) the song, album and artist, but also let you view it on YouTube, get the lyrics, share your discovery with friends and even buy the track instantly via the iTunes Store. Long-term users (since before November 2009) still have unlimited tagging but sadly, newcomers are limited to five free tags per month. Unlimited usage requires the upgrade to Shazam Encore at $7.99. However, users of the new Android version get free tagging for the rest of this year. CC issue July/Aug 2011.
Photography and Video
Everything old is new again with Hipstamatic. This retro smorgasbord of special effects brings back all the instamatic-style picture processing (including boo-boos) of the past to help you dress up your new digital picture albums. The app simulates the look, feel and fun of analog plastic cameras with all their optical idiosyncrasies, which can produce surprising results. Mix and match the lenses, flashes and films for unique artistic effects then save or share your results via social networking sites Facebook and Flickr. For more variety there’s additional camera packs for purchase within the app. And because it’s digital, you can go as snap happy as you like. CC issue May/June 2011.
Vintage video maker
Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be – it’s bigger and better than ever. Now you can evoke an older era with digital video on your iPhone. Add authentic-looking vintage fi lm effects to your videos as you shoot, or age your existing iPhone footage to look like films from the ‘60s and ‘20s or older with black and white or two full-on sepia finishes. Add old-style piano or fi lm projector sounds or your own soundtrack and speed up or slow down your movie for the right retro effect. Send finished films to your computer via Wi-Fi using FTP or share them on YouTube or via email. CC issue May/June 2011.
Overdrive Media Console
Platform: iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone 7, Windows, Mac
If you like eBooks you'll probably love Overdrive Media Console. This app lets you borrow eBooks and audiobooks from your participating local library, just as you would with the real thing. You need a library membership, of course. You can add items to your wish list for borrowing later and reserve titles that are out. You'll receive an email when it's back in again. Borrowed items expire automatically after a set lending term, usually a couple of weeks. The good news is that this means no late fees! Check with your local library to see if it’s part of the fast-growing number of Overdrive participants. CC issue Nov/Dec 2011.
Platform: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
There are plenty of ebook readers for iOS, including Apple’s own iBooks, Stanza, the Kindle app, Kobo, and readers from the major book chains. However, most don’t support Adobe’s eBook digital rights management (DRM) and therefore can’t read this protected version of the popular ePUB book format. Bluefire Reader to the rescue. This free app lets you load up on to your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch all your Adobe ePUB format books purchased at a variety of online stores or even borrowed through public libraries – even titles you’ve purchased previously for desktop computer. You can also shop for books from various sellers directly within the app. March/April 2011.