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FEATURED APPS / MOBILE PAYMENTS

PayAnywhere 


Anyone who's shopped at the Apple Store knows how wonderfully convenient it is for the customers and staff that the sales people can process your credit card right there in the middle of the store with a device attached to their iPhones. No lines, no hassle. Select what you want and even the receipt is emailed to you. No paper. No mess. Imagine that same convenience extended beyond the boundaries of a brick and mortar store and unlimited by type of phone. Pay Anywhere gives you that flexibility and more. The card reader is smaller than the Apple Store's and sleeker than Square's and available for iPad, iPhone, Android and Blackberry. Getting started is a cinch. The folks at Pay Anywhere will set up your merchant account for you for free. You just pay 2.69% per swipe, a notch lower than the going rate at Square. Now you're ready to accept credit cards right at the tables in your restaurant, or out front right next to cars at your carwash, or in the middle of a vacant lot at the local flea market. Literally anywhere. App features include commitment-free pay-as-you-go pricing; GPS; compatibility with cash drawers and thermal printers; text- and photo-based inventory; detailed receipt emails; built-in reporting of sales trends with "Heat Maps"; and a free merchant portal for detailed account activity - all directly within the app itself. No need to log into a remote Web site to get important sales data. It's a feature-rich sales app that truly takes credit card processing on-the-go to a whole new, well, place, literally any place. // PayAnywhere.com
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EDUCATION / FEATURED APPS

My Life as a Refugee by Artifex Creative Webnet 


My Life as a
RefugeeThe irony does not escape me. I'm sitting on my couch, petting my pomeranian and watching the Olympics while yelling at Bob Costas. Cradled between my dog and a bowl of homemade chicken salad sit various Apple products. I use the iPhone for tweeting my disgust for Bob, the MacBook for reading the occasional email and an iPad for downloading apps and playing games. My Life as a RefugeeThis seems like an average day for most Americans. But it's ironic because I'm playing with the 'My Life as a Refugee' app from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees - the UN Refugee Agency, all while snuggled under my plush blanket from Brookstone with air conditioner well below 68 degrees. It's a rough life in the first world. But let's get serious, because life and death decisions do happen in this world, and the plight of refugees is not funny. My Life as a RefugeeCoinciding with the UNHCR's launch of the '1 is Too Many' campaign, 'My Life as a Refugee' takes an innovative approach to bring awareness to the awful situations refugees endure. In order to understand the issues refugees contend with, three unique stories were designed based on actual experiences. For players to empathize with the life of a refugee, they have to become one. Players begin the game by selecting a character: Merita - pregnant and in the center of a civil war; Paulo - 15 years old and forced to become a child solider; and Amika - a young mother speaking out for women's rights. By virtually living these roles, the player is faced with making the same decisions that these individuals encounter in war-torn, poverty-stricken countries. So, I'm Merita. Married, seven months pregnant with my third child, and...damn, now a widow as soon as I push the "Let's get started" button. My husband was shot and killed and now I have two kids and my mother to care for. I start freaking out from the pressure with only 30 seconds to make the first decision. The scenario unfolds like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, and flashing back to my childhood, I immediately regret each choice and wish I could flip back one page. My Life as a RefugeeNow Merita and her son (we lost my daughter and mother along the way) are in a refugee camp after bribing a guide and sneaking across the border. I'm hungry, pregnant and scared as hell. Do I wait in line for food or go to the clinic? Let's try our luck in the clinic...but I don't make it because I faint on my way there. Fast forward three months and I've given birth to a son. I'm still living in a tent, and now I need to decide whether to leave the camp to start a new life, or wait in hopes of returning home someday. I choose to start a new life in the city. Although with a newborn and a young son, I'm torn, and it takes time for me to commit to the decision and push the button on my high-res screen. This is when I, the real I, realize the app has me immersed in Merita's life, and the decisions that take me a few nail-biting minutes were choices she made once. In her real life. I find work in a sweatshop. An authority figure asks to see my papers (which I forgot to take with me when I left my home in a hurry and grabbed "food and water"). I don't speak the language. I'm deported to the border. I'm arrested and jailed for life. And that's the end of Merita's story. What? That's how my life story ends? I change my mind. I will remember my papers. I will hide in the woods. I will stay in the refugee camp. I will not let go of my daughter's hand. But this is no game, and a video message by Angelina Jolie at the end of each scenario reinforces this message, and discusses the reality of the current state of affairs. Links to donate, learn more, start a new scenario and share on social media end the app's experience, but in reality it is just the beginning, or the continuation of what has been for generations. Now, as I might have mentioned earlier, the paradox of role-playing a refugee through my iPad is...ironic. But I'm not so dysfunctionally spoiled that I don't learn something here. The free app is available for iPhone and iPad, and it is worth a download. Parents with rotten kids? Make them play. Your dreadlocks are drenched in patchouli? Share with your friends. Wall Street finance guy with no time for anything but Wall Street and finance? Your loss. But if we all play this simulation once, at the very least we'll be more aware of the plight of refugees around the world, and that seems to be the honorable goal of UNHCR. Available in the App Store
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FEATURED APPS / MARKETING/BRANDING/ADVERTISING / PHOTOGRAPHY

LEGO(R) Super Heroes Movie Maker 


LEGOEver make one of those "flip the corners of the pages of your notebook" movies? With a sprinting stick-man, or a swimming stick-woman who gets eaten by a shark? Me too! And I used to play with LEGOs - all the time. Man, the kids today have it made! If you're into movie-making, DC super heroes and LEGOs, get ready for the perfect storm of awesomeness... LEGOLEGO Super Heroes Movie Maker is a free app (free! what a deal!) that gives you most of the tools you'll need to make super-cute, super-cool, super-creative stop-motion movies on your iPhone. Check out this two minute video for a best case scenario look at what you can do. I say "best case scenario" because once you fool around with the app a bit, you'll realize there's no way the kid in the video made that little Batman vs. the Joker montage. At the very least, he'd need a tripod, the hands of a surgeon and unprecedented juvenile patience. Lacking super hero LEGO actors and a LEGO backdrop, I tested the app by making a short film of my pen moving across a sheet of paper. I positioned the pen, snapped a photo, repositioned the pen, snapped another, and repeated six times. Worked perfectly, and it was easy to add titles and cool music. Without a tripod though, you won't be able to keep your frame perfectly straight (the sole advantage of the "flip the corners" method). A minor quibble, but important to point out. Spielberg started with super 8. It's not hard to imagine the blockbuster directors of tomorrow starting with the LEGO Super Heroes Movie Maker. Enjoy! Available in the App Store
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EDUCATION / FEATURED APPS

Star Walk for iPad by Vito Technology Inc. 


Your Fantastic
Elastic BrainGoogle's Project Glass still seems light years away, and while there are many other augmented reality mobile apps out there, most fall short on the promise of a helpful heads-up display experience. Vito Technology's Star Walk for iPad is a refreshing exception in this field. After playing with it for about a week, it is now my new favorite star-gazing app as well as the new go-to app when I want to show off what the iPad is capable of. Your Fantastic Elastic BrainThe Star Walk app is full of cool features, yet easy to navigate. It launches with a comprehensive 'Sky Live' screen which shows the sunrise and sunset times, phases of the Moon, and visibility and elevation angles of Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. You can change the current date to the previous or next day with the arrow buttons, and as you cycle through the days, you can see the Moon phases and the information for the other objects featured on the screen change as well. Once you close this view, the app takes you right to the beautiful live sky view synchronized to your location and time of day.Your Fantastic Elastic BrainThe live augmented reality view adds color-coded labels next to nearly all visible stars, galaxies and nebulae, and identifies major constellations and over 8,000 satellites as you point your iPad at them. You can drag and move the sky around manually and zoom in and out with a pinch of your fingers, or tilt and turn the iPad itself to have the screen view follow your line of sight using iPad's gyroscopes and compass. The graphics quality is outstanding, and there are many intricate visual details that hint at how much work went into making of this app. For example, when one object crosses over or near another, it actually casts a shadow on it. The Sun itself casts a halo or rays and realistic concentric lens flairs which move and change as you move the iPad, a beautiful touch. But the two features that made this app stand out from other similar offerings are the Night Mode and the Detailed Info view. The Night Mode is priceless when you are trying to locate any dim object in the dark sky while looking down at the iPad's brightly lit screen. With the Night Mode turned on, the entire interface turns dark monochrome red, making it a lot easier for the eyes to adjust to the low light conditions. The Detailed Info is another feature sorely missing from other astronomy apps, and it allows you to pull up a detailed fact sheet about any star, satellite, nebula or galaxy by simply tapping on it on the screen, providing a link to a Wikipedia article with more information. Other useful features include a Twitter-based 'Star Walkers' community, a Calendar of upcoming significant astronomical events, and an ability to save as Bookmarks any of the celestial objects you locate with the app. Overall, Star Walk is a visually gorgeous, simple and powerful application that will provide hours of educational fun for any amateur astronomer, and is well worth the $4.99 price. Available in the App Store
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UPDATE

Appy Awards Entry Heaven - Open 24/7 


Appy AwardsNot to blow our own horn (which of course means we're about to blow our own horn), but we've received a lot of compliments on how cool the Appy Awards are: the concept, the categories, the awards ceremony & reception, and even the actual Appy Award trophy itself. By far though, the most frequent compliment is on our entry process. Here at the Appy Awards, we're ALWAYS open for entries. No matter what time of year - or what time of day - you can enter your app for consideration. Once you do, (A) your app will be in the running to win an Appy Award at the upcoming Awards Ceremony (in this case, March 5th in San Francisco), and (B) it will also immediately be eligible to shine in the spotlight as our "Featured App of the Week." You'll get a full review in our popular weekly newsletter, creating instant buzz! More cool news: enter anytime in 2012 and save up to 20% on the entry fees! Just click here or the button below to get started. Good luck!Enter Now
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EDUCATION / FEATURED APPS

Your Fantastic Elastic Brain by Little Pickle Press 


Your
Fantastic Elastic BrainThe written word is one of the most important things the human race has accomplished, and of course, learning to decipher it. Literacy is so important to me, it is ironically difficult to find the words to describe the impact it has had on my life. I was fortunate to have parents that read to me from inception, and the joy of reading has stuck with me forever. Your Fantastic Elastic BrainThat's the key, parents - start young and mold your children into the literati and not the ill-fated, unimaginative lower echelon of non-readers. With more than 67 million iPads sold to-date, it is more than likely you'll teach your children to read using a screen instead of a paperback. Books such as Your Fantastic Elastic Brain, released in hardcover two years ago and now debuting on the little screen, are made for the next generation of tech-savvy, diaper-swaddled geniuses. Based on the award-winning title by Dr. JoAnn Deak and illustrated by Sarah Ackerley, Your Fantastic Elastic Brain is more than just an ebook for children, parents and educators. This interactive edutainment app teaches children that they have the ability to stretch and grow their own brains. It also delivers the crucial message that mistakes are an essential part of learning, and introduces children to the anatomy and various functions of the brain in a creative and engaging way. Your Fantastic Elastic BrainFun features include a 'Read to Me' format with voice narration that helps children learn the pronunciation and spelling of new words (a feature available on most e-readers, taking vocab to the next level for all ages). 'Fun Brain Workouts' and 'Games' help strengthen memory, improve auditory perception and foster journaling (yes - journaling!). About this journaling concept - society may be keeping tabs on life in 140 characters, but I applaud parents and educators who continue to teach children to think and write in complete sentences (that means a subject, verb and maybe an adjective). The app goes above and beyond the concept of a children's book in digital format. Embedded lesson plans offer activities designed to build an understanding of neuroanatomy, the brain's primary functions, and how to stretch and shape the brain to its full potential. I have a sneaking suspicion we could all use a refresher course in brain function, so parents and teachers might find this feature interesting as well. For $2.99, Your Fantastic Elastic Brain is available for iPad, and a bargain compared to years' worth of therapy sessions because your child blames you for inactive brain waves and a lack of ability to think, read or journal effectively. Go forth, young parents, and download. Available in the App Store
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FEATURED APPS / MAPPING/NAVIGATION

TicketDefender 


TicketDefenderI live in New York City, therefore I don't own a car. But once upon a time I zipped up and down the east coast, and I've met my fair share of lovely state troopers. I don't think they were pulling me over to chat about my bumper stickers. There was one incident in particular that I got very testy with a brutish man in khaki- I should have kept my mouth shut. This was before the iPhone was even invented, but it would have been great to have some evidence that I wasn't going that fast. TicketDefenderAccording to TicketDefender, more than 100,000 drivers per day receive speeding tickets. Some experts estimate that 10-20% of all radar-backed speeding tickets are issued in error; and in the case of radar that is operated from a moving police vehicle the number of inaccurate tickets may be as high as 30%. Let's do the math: for every 100,000 drivers getting a speeding ticket, up to 30,000 people could receive a ticket in error. If you're one of those statistics with a lead foot, there's an app for that. For ease of use, TicketDefender gets an A+. Download the app - at $1.99 it's potentially much cheaper than an actual ticket. Name your car, type in your license plate, and turn on your iPhone as it rides shotgun. As you cruise down the highway, blasting your old-skool-road-trip mix and stuffing Cheetos in your face as you maneuver with one knee, the speed, time of day, and GPS location is automatically recorded with TicketDefender. If you get pulled over, you click the 'press when ticketed' button (while simultaneously reaching for the glove compartment for your hand gun, err, vehicle registration). TicketDefenderThe app generates reports more thorough than your monthly phone bill. Reports include the vehicle's make and model, license number, time and date of the recorded speed. The Speed Report shows the recorded speed every 3-5 seconds and the location in latitude and longitude. The Map Report shows the street view of all recorded speeds. If these reports show the speed indicated on your ticket is different from the speed shown on the TicketDefender reports, then you have a valid "not guilty" argument. But good luck pulling out your iPhone in front of a judge - he may just take the side of the state trooper over your gadget. So always remember to dress smart and act nice when confronted by The Law. Available in the App Store
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FEATURED APPS / MUSIC / PHOTOGRAPHY / SOCIAL NETWORKING

Via.Me by RadiumOne Labs 


Via.MeFull disclosure: I don't use Instagram and I'm not Pinterested. I say that because first impressions from friends about Via.me were that the site looks vaguely like Pinterest and the functionality of the app seems very Instagrammy. Because of this I went to check them out and there are indeed a lot of similarities between the Instagram and Via.me apps. Instagram though doesn't have a Web site of its own. And while Via.me's Web site does look similar to Pinterest, they are very different sites. It's more of an elegant combination of Pinterest and Instagram. Via.MeLike Instagram, the Via.me app uses the built-in camera on your iPhone to record photos or video (you can also record sounds) and post them to your Via.me, Facebook and Twitter accounts. Like Instagram, it comes with a suite of fun filters you can apply to your photos, instantly transforming them into apparent works of art. Having studied photography in college and even spent a little pro time behind the lens, it piqued my interest, and as soon as I left work I began a photographic odyssey home to Jersey City. In Greeley Square, a block down from Macy's in Manhattan, I took my first photo and tried to post it to both Twitter and Facebook simultaneously. There I ran into a brief bit of trouble. Upon reopening, it helpfully asked me to report the crash, which I did. A few more fumbling tries and I posted my first pic to both Twitter and Facebook, with a complaint that it wasn't quite working right. A moment later, a notification popped up that a comment had been posted. "Hi Jonny - I work at Via.Me - what issues were you having? If you can email support@via.me they will be able to help you out!" I was not expecting that. Nor was I expecting the notifications that began to pour in as my photos were posting. People were starting to follow me. Via.MeOne test video and a few more photos on the train platform and in Jersey - each using a different filter - and I arrived home to find I had amassed a 17-person following already. Visually, the Web site is a lot like Pinterest, with a couple of major differences. Pinterest pics seem to be predominantly consumer items that when clicked on almost always lead to a page where you can purchase whatever it is you're looking at. Via.me pix take you to the next post in the member's profile, giving you the option to start following them. On Via.me I found a lot of personal photos, pics people liked and reposted - a portrait ofSteve Jobs was popular, as well as a series of quotes from a user named "Brotips," who posts such wonderful guy-oriented bon mots as "Brotip #1983: If she says she's into you, she probably is. If she says she isn't, she probably isn't. Don't dwell on that s#t." Click on it and you get another, then another and another. Want to share it? From the site you can share in just about any way imaginable, including to Pinterest, if you were so inclined. Ultimately, Via.me is a marvelous fusion of a creative app, a sharing tool and a Pinterest-like Web site. It is still early for Via.me, and it's always hard to say where these things will lead. But they have just released version 1.05, and no doubt further improvements are in the works. The creative results were impressive, and as for where it's headed - I woke up to a full screen of notifications in the morning - I now have 29 followers. I've only been using the app for about 16 hours. I'd say that is a good indication! Available in the App Store
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FEATURED APPS / LIFESTYLE

ThankYouPro Thank You Cards by Zendoa 


ThankYouProLook, I'm old school. I listen to hits from the 70s and 80s. I still like to read actual physical books, where you get the pleasure of turning pages, using bookmarks, and placing them on a shelf when you're finished. Most of all, I like to send and receive handwritten cards and letters. The personal touch means even more today, because, let's face it, it's so much easier to text "how r u?" (and add a smiley face). ThankYouProThankYouPro will meet you halfway in your quest for the personal touch. Somewhat similar to the fairly basic Cards app by Apple, this app is also free, and lets you create high quality thank you notes, totally customizable on the front and inside. It costs $2.99 (or less) to have your card mailed anywhere in the world (in a professional envelope, first class, within 24 business hours). Very cool, very affordable and very easy. My favorite detail is adding your signature, which you create with your finger on the app's blank signature screen. Just choose your ink color and sign away, a personal touch which the Cards app doesn't offer. Love that! You can choose from among 20 or so template designs, or make the card truly unique with your own photos, or any image at all. Whether or not it takes the same amount of time to just write out and mail a physical card is arguable, but with ThankYouPro, all the cards and postage are conveniently in your pocket, ready to be sent instantly, anytime, from anywhere. If this is as personal as the future allows, we could do a lot worse! Available in the App Store
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UPDATE

Now Open for Entries! 


Appy AwardsThe Official 2013 Appy Awards entry page is now open and ready for your best! Enter your app EARLY to Save up to 20% on the entry fees and give it its best chance to have its greatness recognized and fully appreciated in our weekly "Featured App of the Week" newsletter. Make sure you're part of the fun, competition and festivities - just use the button below to get started... Enter Now
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