Tag Archives: news

iPhone app review: UAB Kaleidoscope

UAB Kaleidoscope, the school’s student newspaper, has hit newsstands every Tuesday for 43 years. The weekly publication is now available on your iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.

In this post, we review the recently released  free iPhone app.

Birmingham-based iPhone developers Brian Cauble and Josh Grenon served as our guest reviewers.

UAB Kaleidoscope iPhone app UAB Kaleidoscope iPhone app

UAB Kaleidoscope iPhone app:
opening screen, left, and headlines.

What was your overall experience?

Brian: My overall experience was average. The app offered a good deal of content, but was slow to respond.

Josh: Sluggish.

Do you get the sense that this is a custom app, or a “skinned” app for various sister outlets?

Brian: This was not a custom app.

Josh: This app was created with third-party software, iSites, so I know this is not a custom app. It uses a generic template that all the iSites apps use.

As a news consumer, what did you like? What would you add?

Brian: My favorite aspect of the app was the amount of content. I would definitely allow the user to read articles without having to go to a Wweb view.

Josh: I liked the ability to keep up with UAB by reading the Kaleidoscope headlines. This app contains all the news I’d want to know about the university.

As an app developer, what did you like? How would you improve it?

Brian: As a developer, there wasn’t much to like. The app had a very basic look, was fairly slow to respond, and made you view stories in a Web browser. Those are all things I would change.

Josh: I liked the use of tabs to separate the main sections of the app. I’d add offline access to the application. If no network is detected then the app will not display any data.

Since it’s a free app, would you pay money for it? How much? Why or why not?

Brian: I would probably not pay for the app. The main reason I would even consider paying for the app is because it offers content specific to UAB, which can be hard to get.

Josh: I would not pay for this app, because it does not have offline access.

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See more coverage and reviews of iPhone/iPad apps.

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brian caubleBrian Cauble (@briancauble) is the co-owner of Appsolute Genius, an iPhone application development company in Birmingham. His other interests include promoting local entrepreneurship through Birmingham Entrepreneur, participating in social media and a huge attachment to college football.

Josh GrenonJosh Grenon (@joshgrenon) is a .Net developer by day and an iPhone developer by night. He started developing iPhone applications — such as Bham iCamp — in early 2009. Josh is also executive producer of Inspirageek, a casual yet informative video blog for geeks, and founder of user group Birmingham Mobile Tech.

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Read more Birmingham media updates.

Have a news tip? Let us know!

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iPhone app review: Birmingham Attractions

Birmingham-based Web development company Kinetic Communications developed the Birmingham, Alabama, Attractions iPhone app for the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau.

In this post, we review the free travel guide app.

Birmingham-based iPhone developers Josh Grenon and Brian Cauble served as our guest reviewers.

Birmingham Alabama Attractions iPhone app Birmingham Alabama Attractions iPhone app

Birmingham (Alabama) Attractions iPhone app:
opening screen (left) and sample photo

What was your overall experience?

Josh: My experience was initially good, but then, every time I clicked a Web link, I would be taken out of the app making for a poor experience.

Brian: My overall experience was mixed, but mostly positive. The app was laid out well and easy to navigate, but it didn’t have enough content.

Do you get the sense that this is a custom app, or a “skinned” app for various sister outlets?

Josh: This custom app was created using a third-party library called Titanium. [Note from developer: The latest version was built as a native app in Objective-C.]

Brian: I believe this was a custom app.

Birmingham Alabama Attractions iPhone app Birmingham Alabama Attractions iPhone app

Attractions list (left); details on McWane Science Center.

As a news consumer, what did you like? What would you add?

Josh: It contains a lot of valuable information for first-time visitors of Birmingham. I’d add videos to the Top 10 attractions to enhance the user experience.

Brian: I thought the photos were the best part of the app. Although I understand that it is a Top 10 app, I believe it should have more categories.

As an app developer, what did you like? How would you improve it?

Josh: I initially liked the app, but after using it for a while, I noticed that it is just a link app. A lot of the information has to be accessed outside of the application, and so my experience suffered. [Note: Latest version opens links within app. See additional note at end of review.] I’d improve this app by opening links within the app and by adding an e-mail contact tab for feedback. Another helpful feature would be a map that would allow users to see the locations of the top Birmingham attractions.

Brian: I liked the navigation of the app. However, I would add more categories such as restaurants, nightlife and family. I would also improve the look of the information screens. The look could be improved by using images and a custom background. [Note: Latest version has different color scheme and backgrounds.]

Since it’s a free app, would you pay money for it? How much? Why or why not?

Josh: I would not pay money for this app. It does not contain enough information.

Brian: No, I would not pay for the app. The main reason is that it doesn’t offer enough functionality.

Note: Reviewers used the previous version of this app. Updated version changed look of certain pages, but navigation and functionality remained the same. Screenshots are from the latest version.

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See more coverage and reviews of iPhone/iPad apps.

• • •

Josh GrenonJosh Grenon (@joshgrenon) is a .Net developer by day and an iPhone developer by night. He started developing iPhone applications — such as Bham iCamp — in early 2009. Josh is also executive producer of Inspirageek, a casual yet informative video blog for geeks, and founder of user group Birmingham Mobile Tech.

brian caubleBrian Cauble (@briancauble) is the co-owner of Appsolute Genius, an iPhone application development company in Birmingham. His other interests include promoting local entrepreneurship through Birmingham Entrepreneur, participating in social media and a huge attachment to college football.

• • •

Read more Birmingham media updates.

Have a news tip? Let us know!

News + comedy = View of the City

A new Birmingham-focused news and comedy show debuted in April called “View of the City.” Hosted by comedian and artist Christopher Davis, the weekly half-hour satirical program features interviews, reports and miscellaneous segments on current events, newsmakers and oddities.

The program airs at 6 p.m. Sundays on Charter Cable channel 21 and online on the official site. But you can watch the first two episodes below.

Video: “View of the City,” April 25

Video: “View of the City,” May 2

Related stories:

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Have a news tip? Let us know!

iPhone app review: Birmingham Business Journal

The first Birmingham publication to move into the exploding iPhone market is the Birmingham Business Journal. The weekly newspaper already offers weekday site updates and e-mail bulletins.

In this post, we review the publication’s free iPhone app.

Birmingham-based iPhone developers Brian Cauble and Josh Grenon served as our guest reviewers.

Birmingham Business Journal iPhone app Birmingham Business Journal iPhone app

Birmingham Business Journal iPhone app:
article list and single story

What was your overall experience?

Brian: The overall experience was mixed. It was a very simple app that essentially only showed the story. However, it had no categorization of stories, which I found to be limiting.

Josh: Clunky.

Do you get the sense that this is a custom app, or a “skinned” app for various sister outlets?

Brian: I think this is an app developed for all the Biz Journals.

Josh: This could be a skinned app, but I get the sense that it is a custom app.

As a news consumer, what did you like? What would you add?

Brian: I liked that it sized the articles to fit on my screen properly. I would definitely add categories for the news stories.

Josh: I like that I can access the Birmingham Business Journal on my iPhone, but the user experience was horrible. I would redesign this application, because I had a much better experience on the mobile version of the Web site.

As an app developer, what did you like? How would you improve it?

Brian: This app is extremely simple. It delivers the news and lets you e-mail the stories, but that is about it. I would add a better organizational structure and more options for sharing stories.

Josh: I didn’t like anything in this application. The interface was not designed very well, and my experience suffered greatly. Tip for improvement: Use the New York Times iPhone app as inspiration on how this app should be redesigned.

Since it’s a free app, would you pay money for it? How much? Why or why not?

Brian: I would not pay for this app.

Josh: I would not pay 1 cent for it. Redesign the app, and then we’ll see if I will pay for it.

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Our other iPhone app reviews:
CBS 42 app, Fox 6 app and BlazeRadio app.

• • •

brian caubleBrian Cauble (@briancauble) is the co-owner of Appsolute Genius, an iPhone application development company in Birmingham. His other interests include promoting local entrepreneurship through Birmingham Entrepreneur, participating in social media and a huge attachment to college football.

Josh GrenonJosh Grenon (@joshgrenon) is a .Net developer by day and an iPhone developer by night. He started developing iPhone applications — such as Bham iCamp — in early 2009. Josh is also executive producer of Inspirageek, a casual yet informative video blog for geeks, and founder of user group Birmingham Mobile Tech.

• • •

Read more Birmingham media updates.

Have a news tip? Let us know!

iPhone app review: Fox 6

More and more TV viewers are seeing the news, not from traditional 5-6-10 p.m. broadcasts, but from online and other sources. Two Birmingham stations have custom apps for the iPhone (which are also compatible with the iPod Touch and soon-to-arrive iPad).

In this post, we review Fox 6’s free iPhone app.

Birmingham-based iPhone developers Josh Grenon and Brian Cauble served as our guest reviewers.

Fox 6 app news Fox 6 app weather

Fox 6 iPhone app: News and Weather tabs

What was your overall experience?

Josh: Great! Great user experience!

Brian: Overall, the experience was mixed. The interface is clean and understandable, but features such as sharing stories are very awkward.

Do you get the sense that this is a custom app, or a “skinned” app for TV station affiliates?

Josh: This application could be skinned to various TV stations. I would recommend that other TV stations use this type of application for their news.

Brian: This definitely feels like a skinned app. It seems like an app intended to be used by many affiliates with minor changes.

Fox 6 app videoAs a news consumer, what did you like? What would you add?

Josh: I liked the main categories listed in each tab: news, videos, weather and traffic. Those are the first categories I would look for in an iPhone news application. I liked that no ads were in this application. [Note: A later upgrade has added advertisements, as shown in the screenshots, taken after the review.]

Brian: I liked the ability to have sports and movie information. I would add more local video content for sports and traffic accidents.

As an app developer, what did you like? How would you improve it?

Josh: I had a great user experience with this application! I love the use of the tab bar control to separate the news categories! The only thing that would improve this application would be the Three20 icon menu used in the iPhone Facebook application; this would allow more categories on the front screen when the application starts.

Brian: Not much. The app has way too basic of a look and feel. I would improve the aesthetics and allow users to customize which topics are most important to them.

Since it’s a free app, would you pay money for it? How much? Why or why not?

Josh: I’d pay 99 cents for this application.

Brian: I would not pay for it. It would need two features to be worth paying for. First, it needs to be customizable. People want customizable news content from a local source. Second, it needs push notifications. People would like to be notified when breaking local news happens.

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Our other review: the CBS 42 iPhone app.

• • •

Josh GrenonJosh Grenon (@joshgrenon) is a .Net developer by day and an iPhone developer by night. He started developing iPhone applications — such as Bham iCamp — in early 2009. Josh is also executive producer of Inspirageek, a casual yet informative video blog for geeks, and founder of user group Birmingham Mobile Tech.

brian caubleBrian Cauble (@briancauble) is the co-owner of Appsolute Genius, an iPhone application development company in Birmingham. His other interests include promoting local entrepreneurship through Birmingham Entrepreneur, participating in social media and a huge attachment to college football.

• • •

What should Birmingham media outlets do online?
Ask our all-star panel on Feb. 16.

iPhone app review: CBS 42

More and more TV viewers are seeing the news, not from traditional 5-6-10 p.m. broadcasts, but from online and other sources. Two Birmingham stations have custom apps for the iPhone (which are also compatible with the iPod Touch and soon-to-arrive iPad).

In this post, we review CBS 42’s free iPhone app.

Birmingham-based iPhone developers Brian Cauble and Josh Grenon served as our guest reviewers.

cbs42 app news cbs42 app weather

CBS 42 iPhone app: News and Weather tabs

What was your overall experience?

Brian: My experience was actually very positive.

Josh: Clunky.

Do you get the sense that this is a custom app, or a “skinned” app for TV station affiliates?

Brian: I know that it is a skinned app, but it has the feel of a custom app.

Josh: I think this can be a skinned app. It seems that only a few view images and data have to be changed for this app to be used for another news station.

cbs42 app video

As a news consumer, what did you like? What would you add?

Brian: The organization was really well done. I found it easy to navigate. I would add the ability to customize the categories.

Josh: I liked the different types of news in this application. There was everything from horoscopes to video news. I wouldn’t add any else to the news.

As an app developer, what did you like? How would you improve it?

Brian: I think the app is laid out well and very attractive. The video quality could be improved a bit. I would allow users to log in to Facebook or Twitter and store that login to make sharing easier.

Josh: As an app developer, I am very disappointed in this application. It seems like the developer spent too much time designing the top menu bar. Also the top menu bar was horribly placed at the top of the screen; it would be much easier to navigate if it were placed at the bottom. The rest of the app did not get as much attention as the top menu bar did, and so my overall user experience suffered. I would also remove all ads to improve this application.

Since it’s a free app, would you pay money for it? How much? Why or why not?

Brian: I would pay as much as $1.99 for it. It is a much better experience than a mobile Web site.

Josh: I would pay 99 cents for this application to remove all ads.

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Our other review: the Fox 6 iPhone app.

• • •

brian caubleBrian Cauble (@briancauble) is the co-owner of Appsolute Genius, an iPhone application development company in Birmingham. His other interests include promoting local entrepreneurship through Birmingham Entrepreneur, participating in social media and a huge attachment to college football.

Josh GrenonJosh Grenon (@joshgrenon) is a .Net developer by day and an iPhone developer by night. He started developing iPhone applications — such as Bham iCamp — in early 2009. Josh is also executive producer of Inspirageek, a casual yet informative video blog for geeks, and founder of user group Birmingham Mobile Tech.

• • •

What should Birmingham media outlets do online?
Ask our all-star panel on Feb. 16.