Category: iPhone Apps

Review: FantasyMonster (Best of iPhone Apps)

FantasyMonster ($3.99) is an app for accessing your Yahoo! Fantasy teams (supports baseball, football, basketball, and hockey) on the iPhone, and the best toward that purpose we’ve seen yet. There are other Yahoo! Fantasy iPhone apps available, including MyFantasyTeams and the official Yahoo apps for Fantasy Baseball and Fantasy Football, but FantasyMonster is the best of the bunch by a long shot in terms of usability and legibility. A free lite version is available as well.

While other fantasy apps are adequate enough to check your weekly scores, they aren’t good for serious editing of your team. Tasks such as complex lineup changes or scanning and picking up free agents is frustrating to the point of being undoable.

But FantasyMonster utilizes drop-down menus and vertical scrolling to make it easier and more comfortable to parse information. While viewing statistics on the iPhone’s 3.5-inch screen can never be as comfortable as a larger desktop screen, FantasyMonster handles the necessary compromises well. In short, it makes editing fantasy teams viable on the iPhone for the first time.

I’ve always liked the drag-and-drop interface of the official Yahoo Fantasy sites, and FantasyMonster uses it too, allowing you to drag and drop players into qualifying starting positions or to the bench. It’s pretty surprising that Yahoo’s official apps lack this feature, but FantasyMonster has it. Drag-and-drop makes lineup changes so much quicker than the html-based checkbox method used in other apps.

Stats are quite legible—the app doesn’t try to squeeze everything onto the iPhone’s small screen at once (a flaw of the Yahoo apps). Instead, FantasyMonster utilizes side scrolling so you can comfortably swipe through and view a player’s complete stats.

News headlines are shown in a scannable list form, and tapping on them reveals the entire article in a drop-down, which you can tap again to collapse. Player news, MLB headlines, injuries, and scores can be viewed in this way. It seems the developer has studied good iPhone design techniques and has implemented them into the app.

Another area where all the other fantasy sports apps failed was with the process of scanning and adding free agents. Any fantasy player knows that free agents and the waiver wire is the most important part of fantasy sports. FantasyMonster, with its readable text and stats, is the first app with a usable interface for scanning, sorting, and adding free-agent players.

There are a few things we wished the app handled better. One particular annoyance is how it displays messages (or doesn’t) with the loss of an Internet connection. In one particular instance while viewing player news, a lost data signal meant an error screen taking over the entire screen. I could no longer read player news, despite the fact the info had already downloaded. Likewise, while trying to log in, the app asked me to reenter my login information, while the real problem was that there was no Internet connection.


FantasyMonster is the most usable app we’ve seen for managing your Yahoo! Fantasy sports teams on the iPhone. It offers solutions for the limitations of the iPhone’s small screen and makes editing your team, parsing lots of stats, and picking up free agents doable for the first time.

FantasyMonster is a $3.99 download in the iTunes App Store.

Police Adding Their Own Speed Traps to Trapster iPhone App is a free social website and iPhone app (link) that helps fellow users avoid speed traps, red light cameras, etc, by sharing their locations via Google maps. Trapster is a well-reviewed service, but there’s recently been an interesting addition to their community: the police. The Travis County Sheriff’s office in Austin, Texas, is now entering its own speed trap locations into Trapster’s database along with dangerous intersections, traffic jams, and accidents.

Police point out that the purpose of speed limits, speed traps, and speeding tickets is for driving safety, and they’re hoping that by giving the public this information, it will help drivers comply with the laws and be better informed about dangerous areas.

The police are being given special access to the Trapster’s database so they can enter in their locations with a touch of a button. Official police locations will be identified with special badges (seen below). Trapster’s owner and creator Pete Tenereillo has been personally meeting with Austin police to get the system set up:

“We’re setting them up as moderators so they can enter information. Everything from red light cameras and laser enforcement points to dangerous intersections- road closures,” said Tenereillo.

It’s unclear if the police’s role as “moderators” means they can also remove information.

Trapster is hoping to get more police deparments to sign on board to the service. If interested, police can contact Trapster at

Fox News 7 in Austin, Texas recently covered the story:

The Trapster iPhone app is a free download from the iTunes App Store.

Review: Christmas Music iPhone App


If you’re looking for the perfect music playlist for the holiday party, NuTsie’s Christmas Music app ($1.99) aims to satisfy with preselected playlists stocked with thousands of holiday hits. While this app is the perfect accompaniment to the holidays and can simplify that moment when it’s time to bust out some Christmas music, the price is a little steep for an app you’ll only use a few days of the year.

Christmas Music is a streaming music app (no music is stored on the iPhone, so it requires an Internet connection) that includes 16 playlists, including Top 100, Christmas Oldies, Rockin’ Christmas, Country Christmas and Classical Christmas. There’s also a playlist of children’s holiday songs.


The app streams mostly classic artists with a few modern artists thrown in via the Pop Christmas playlist, which features tunes from Jessica Simpson, Rihanna and Clay Aiken. The other playlists include artists like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby and The Beach Boys. The app includes all of the standard holiday songs, and some of the most popular Christmas songs are available from multiple artists.


The app works well and I didn’t observe any noticeable glitches. Buffering times are a bit on the slow side, but not much lengthier than most streaming music apps. Sound quality is very good, even for the older songs. There’s a pause button and a link to buy the song from iTunes or watch the video on YouTube. The biggest bummer is the lack of a search function, so you’ll have to browse through each playlist if you are looking for a particular holiday song.



Overall, Christmas Music is a simple app that works well and provides easy access to loads of holiday music. Instead of wasting time creating an individual playlist, you can launch the app, plug it in to some speakers and forget about it. However, $1.99 seems a little expensive for an app you won’t use much during the other 11 months of the year. Many popular streaming music apps, including Pandora and, include Christmas music. Both of these apps are free and you’ll use them throughout the year. Overall, we recommend the Christmas Music app, but only if you know you’ll use it enough to justify the cost.

Review: Top 5 White Noise Apps for the iPhone

If you’ve ever tried to study, read, or fall asleep in a noisy place, you know how frustrating it can be to concentrate on the task at hand. White noise and relaxation apps can help you block out annoying outside noises, but they’re also useful if you just need some help relaxing at the end of the day. The iTunes App Store has a plethora of relaxation apps, and these are our picks for the best white noise apps.

1. White Noise


The White Noise app ($1.99) has 40 sounds to choose from, including popular favorites like beach waves, crickets, thunderstorm, city streets and more. The app also includes more obscure sounds like air conditioner, vacuum cleaner or hair dryer. I’m not sure who would want to listen to those, but they’re there if you want them.
Continue reading…

Artist Uses iPhone App to Create Cover for The New Yorker

The New Yorker June 2009 cover made with an iPhone

The New Yorker June 2009 Cover

The iPhone as an artistic tool just got some real cred. The cover for the June 1, 2009, edition of The New Yorker was created using the Brushes ($4.99) iPhone app. The artist, Jorge Colombo, has been experimenting with using the iPhone for art since February 2009. Colombo enjoys the spontaneousness the iPhone’s mobility affords him, telling “I like to have my studio in my pocket.”

Another Jorge Columbo iSketch

Another Jorge Columbo iSketch

Brushes simulates painting using your finger, offering several realistic brush styles. A zoom feature lets you do detailed work by zooming in using the pinch gesture. An undo feature lets you correct any mistakes.

The app also comes with a “brush stroke recorder” that records each brush stroke and lets you replay your paintings like a movie and export them at high resolutions to your computer using Brushes View, a free Mac OSX application.

Check out the app in action in the video below:

Brushes has been a success for its developer Steve Sprang, who says the app has been downloaded around 40,000 times so far. Sprang is a former Apple employee who is an amateur artist himself and wanted to create something fun but useful for fellow artists.

Brushes has its own Twitter account (name: BrushesApp) and a popular Flickr group with over 2,000 drawings so far where artists can share their creations.

Update: Watch Jorge Columbo paint The New Yorker cover: