The iPhone Apps of the Week

Dave Zatz —  February 8, 2010

SlingPlayer
SlingPlayer Mobile

AT&T has finally relented and it appears that the iPhone Slingbox client ($30) will be shedding it’s WiFi-only designation in the near future. But it’s not going 3G without a bit more drama… AT&T sayswe’ve worked with Sling Media” to further optimize SlingPlayer for 3G. Something Sling has absolutely no recollection of: “AT&T never discussed any specific requirements with us.” Regardless, the updated app should be available soon. My personal copy of the iPhone SlingPlayer has been active on 3G for several months. Unfortunately, the video quality isn’t great – a combination of AT&T’s overtaxed network, the max resolution Sling utilizes for their mobile clients, and a reliance on processor-intensive WMV decoding over native H.264. Plus, audio and video isn’t always in sync. Which is why I upgraded to Slacker Radio Plus ($48/yr), my constant and more reliable gym companion, via iPhone over the weekend.

WorldCard
WorldCard Mobile ( business card reader & business card scanner )

Now that my transition from Yahoo to Gmail is in full swing, I’ve also taken the opportunity to clean up and expand my address book(s). Google’s contact de-duper has been helpful. But the $6 WorldCard iPhone app has been a massive time saver. It’s not quite perfect, but it’s solid when it comes to analyzing 3GS photographs of CES-acquired business cards. I’d say it got ~95% of contact names, phone numbers, and email addresses correct. And the other fields I care less about. But WorldCard does provide field editing and allows you to match areas of a business card with select fields for additional cleanup. Once satisfied with the results, WorldCard dumps (or merges) the contact details into your iPhone address book. Combined with Gmail’s iPhone Exchange services, any new contacts show up online rather quickly and without intervention. Recommended!

Siri
Siri Assistant

Siri (free) received a good amount of positive buzz at launch last week. It provides a new spin on information aggregation and operates via decent voice recognition as you carry on a scrolling chat with your “personal assistant.” I doubt I’ll use it regularly as I’m not sure it saves any time over accessing separate apps. But Siri reminds me a bit of Wolfram Alpha‘s advanced queries and is quite fun in a Magic 8-Ball sort of way — check out some additional screengrabs of our playful testing.

8 responses to The iPhone Apps of the Week

  1. Actually h.264 encoding is more processor intensive than WMV from a client perspective.

  2. Actually, there’s no encoding going on via the iPhone. It’s decoding, playing back the stream. H.264 is natively supported on the iPhone and there are many H.264 streaming apps that look significantly better. Whereas Sling hacked together a WMV rendering engine. (Aspect ratios are still less than idea too – I’d prefer a better stretch, as seen in QT.) I assume they’ll ultimately go H.264, which is why the original app announcement said support only for SOLO and PRO-HD models.

  3. Wonder if WorldCard’s got an Android app…

    Also, I maintain that Slacker premium is still the way to go. I think it was $89 bucks for the year, but I get to download songs I like as a fallback playlist during workouts.

  4. I think Premium is gone (?) and they’ve simplified with Plus. Once they bring station caching to the iPhone, that’ll be good enough for me.

  5. It’s not well-publicized, but it was still there the last time I checked. Time to check again…

  6. If you’re looking for a news app that covers World News along with all other news categories check out the 1cast application. A great app with a wifi available.