App Reviews: To This Day, The Transit App, Golf History, Camera 2

To This Day



You may remember Shane Koyczan from the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics in which his poem “We Are More” was delivered to share our Canadian identity with the world. Recently he captured YouTube audiences with an animated piece on bullying called “To This Day” that has been viewed more than 9 million times. It relates his experiences with name-calling and schoolyard taunting while sharing examples of others and the effect it’s had on their lives.


As an iPad experience, dozens of animators have come together to create a mix of visuals that play out differently each time you open the app. Claymation and collage meet with hand-drawn visuals and sequences crafted on a computer. The styles are diverse and beautiful and support the idea that while we may only hear Shane’s voice on the soundtrack, his poem represents the experiences of many.


It is, however, just a poetry app. None of the anti-bullying resources that appear on Shane’s website are included and while his poetry creates an emotional connection that is accessible to all, it doesn’t touch on why bullies behave the way they do or why adults tend to be distressingly unhelpful. To This Day is a beautiful entry point to the subject, but it won’t guide you to next step.

The Traffic App



You don’t have to search for bus times with The Transit App, it uses GPS to fetch them automatically. Every bus, train, and subway line around you appears in a beautifully coloured list with wait times and slick icons to change lanes, track vehicles on a map, and pull up a full schedule.


Although there are several apps that offer the same information, if not as well organized, The Traffic App further stands-out for plotting directions. Give it start and finish destinations and it will create a route using transit systems across a map, with beautifully-designed graphics, and hand-holding details that make it clear where and when to be.

It supports most, in not all, the main transit systems in Canada and the United States. Here in the Toronto area that means the TTC, YRT, GO, Guelph, Brampton, and Hamilton lines. There are few traffic apps that offer that kind of coverage. Missing are the emergency alerts and notifications that apps more focused on specific systems, such as Rocketman for the TTC, offer.


I’ve wanted to recommend The Transit App for some time now, but its previous $0.99 monthly subscription kept me from doing so. Thankfully the app is now completely free, a move its creators hope will make it one of the default apps everyone uses so it can reach a Google Maps-like status and the opportunities that brings. It’s certainly slick and useful enough to deserve that shot.

Golf History with Peter Aliss


Free ($9.99)

There are few sports with the kind of heritage that golf has. In the 1400’s it began as a game played by the wealthy and caddied by the poor. It served as a dating service for young women in the Victorian Era (who gave up their clubs with marriage) and became a way to measure changing attitudes and political climates once it reached North America in the early 1900’s. This reference app details those interesting changes using 400 historic photos and 100 video interviews with experts and historians.


A considerable amount of free content is included even as most of the material is divided and sold as $4 chapters ($10 for the lot). It’s worth being curious with the free stuff even if you’re not willing to buy the rest. Presented by British commentator and golf pro Peter Aliss, he manages to be insightful and inviting through his conversational clips.


Camera 2



One of the first apps that I felt gave a strong advantage to Android was Paper Camera. It allows you to apply special effects to a movie before and during recording rather than after. Now we have the follow-up, appropriately named Camera 2. It offers a greatly expanded library of 25 effects spanning comic book styles, artistic expressions, movie genre effects, and filters for every major decade.


You can now tweak these effects, which is nice, and use them for photos as well as videos, even applying them pictures you’ve already taken in your library. In an ocean of photography apps that tend to copy each other, it’s nice to see some original effects delivered with fluid quality.

So many apps are developed first for the iPhone with an Android version often added as an afterthought. It’s nice to see JFDP Labs continue to be a developer who works in the opposite direction.


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