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Fires Near Me app featured on the App Store

Fires Near Me app featured on the App Store

Back in January I posted about the Rural Fire Services of NSW’s Fires Near Me app on what was a record temperature day in NSW, with a declared catastrophic fire danger. Fortunately the danger passed mostly smoothly.

Ten months later we are in the midst of a declared State of Emergency in NSW and that old post is still getting a lot of hits. I am pleased it might be helping to get the word out.

I just cruised by the App Store app and was pleased to see that Apple is giving the Fires Near Me app top left billing in the above the fold featured area for Best New Apps. Fires Near Me is not technically a new app, but it is great that people can find it quickly, on a day that has the very real potential for disastrous fire damage.

This is a small but important gesture by Apple, one that supports the incredible efforts of the fire fighters, police, emergency services personnel and the variety of government, private sector and volunteer organisations supporting their efforts.

Best wishes for a safe day for all those effected. Use the app, along with news services and social media to keep teack, and heed warnings. If recommended, leave early.

The best weather app for Australians: Pocket Weather AU

The best weather app for Australians: Pocket Weather AU

There is no shortage of Weather apps available on iPhone, but few do the job in elegant way, particularly for those of us who are outside the US.
Most of the international weather services do a reasonable job of Australian forecasts and data, but few seem to have the consistency and accuracy of the Australian government’s Bureau of Meteorology. Those few apps that use data from BOM too often have a cluttered format.

Apple’s own (pre-loaded) weather app pulls data from Yahoo! weather, and has the main advantage of Siri integration. But the big disadvantage is that the weather data it pulls is descriptive at best, and never detailed enough for me. It also differs from BOM. For example, the forecast for tomorrow in Sydney (6 Feb 2013) from BOM shows a temperature range of 19–26C, whilst Yahoo shows 19–25C.

As the old saying goes:

The man with one watch knows what time it is. The man with two is never sure

As a scuba instructor trainer, I rely on accurate weather forecasts, and the data from BOM has generally been the most reliable for me.

Enter Pocket Weather AU.

Pocket Weather AU
Pocket Weather AU

Pocket Weather AU from Shifty Jelly provides data from BOM in an elegant, intuitive format. With location services enabled, the app provides real time data for your current location, as well as for other locations that you save.

The first screen shows a list of locations (you can have it launch straight to a default location if you prefer). Tapping on a location brings up a summary view for today. Swiping to the left brings a forecast view, while swiping right (from the summary view) brings up the weather radar. Swiping up on each of these screens will bring up more detail.

Aside from the beautiful UI and accurate data, my favourite feature is the free inclusion of tide information. Previously I had to purchase a separate tides app, which I had to repurchase each year. Pocket Weather AU allows the user to download the tide data from within the app, and have direct access to that.

Pocket Weather AU has other important features like access to weather warnings, and push notifications. This last feature allows you to see the current temperature for your default location on the app icon.

Pocket Weather AU is a brilliant app for any Australian who needs accurate weather data in a classy, intuitive app.

The app is available for iOS and Android.

The universal iOS app is $1.99 in the App Store.

Week 2 of the Get Stuff Done Promo on the Mac App Store

Week 2 of the Get Stuff Done Promo on the Mac App Store

We have entered week 2 of the Mac App Store’s Get Stuff Done promotion.

Get Stuff Done on the Mac App Store

Get Stuff Done on the Mac App Store

This week’s focus is on the Organise part of productivity, and features apps to reduce clutter in your mind, your house and on your Mac.

I am a big fan of the MindNode Pro app. I used to use MindManager, but I’ve found the OSX and iOS versions of the app to be lacking. Mindnode Pro works smoothly, and integrates iCloud to make the most of sycning between Macs, iPhone and iPad. It’s my current pick for mindmapping.

I also like the extremely useful Daisy Disk, which I use regularly to check out the data on my Mac drives.

I’ve taken advantage of this promotion to grab Gemini to see how it goes in cleaning up duplicate files.

Check out the Mac App Store’s Get Stuff Done promotion if you’re in the market for apps that will assist

500px Apps Back in the App Store

500px Apps Back in the App Store

After the 500px app was pulled from the App Store last week, I was glad to see it this morning in my updates list.

500px app updating in the iOS App Store
500px app updating in the iOS App Store

Given the few comments from 500px, clearly they have been heads down to get issues resolved to satisfaction. According to GigaOm’s Erica Ogg there were three things required by Apple for 500px to get their apps back in the App Store:

500px has been updated with three fixes requested by Apple’s app reviewers, including a tweak that will prevent queries for explicit image searches from producing results, adding a function for users to report inappropriate content, and the addition of a 17+ age rating on the app.

After my previous post, an Apple spokesperson made a statement which was reported in TechCrunch and others:

The app was removed from the App Store for featuring pornographic images and material, a clear violation of our guidelines.

I have used 500px for sometime, and although I have seen artistic nudity, I have never seen anything approaching pornography. I wouldn’t want my images associated with any service that knowingly hosted pornography, and would likely drop my membership.

I wonder how long Apple had been talking to 500px prior to pulling the app. On the surface, it appears that double standards may apply, as reported by the SMH:

Apple allows apps from such big-name social platforms as Twitter, Vine, Tumblr and Pinterest to remain in its App Store even though they contain adult content. Yet it has knocked off other lesser-known sites from its store because of “pornographic images and material”.

I don’t believe any other company should enforce censorship standards that are over and above those of the western world.