Hockey is at the centre of my weekly app reviews on Moore in the Morning on Newstalk 1010 as well as an innovative take on the swear jar for those of you needing some extra motivation to go to the gym, and a music calendar hopes to expand your vocabulary in Pop, Indie Rock, and Folk with free streaming access to bands that have been sorely overlooked.
NHL Hardest Shot
How hard can you shoot a puck? This app turns your phone into a monitoring device that can detect the speed of a puck traveling by.
Just place your phone onto the ground next to your practice area and hit a puck against the wall. The app will then calculate the top speed of the puck after it passes and let you compare it against the NHL’s own greats.
It works because you provide the app with two known factors. You’re asked to measure out a practise area that is either 20 feet or 40 feet in length (the two tests available) and then to place your phone, off to the side for safety, but at the halfway mark.
Your phone then uses it’s microphone to listen for the sound of your stick hitting the puck, the sound of it whizzing by, and then the final sound of it hitting the wall. From those three time measurements combined with the distances measured out for your practice area, it can calculate the top speed.
It’s a very, very clever idea and a fun way to work on your shooting skills.
Need motivation to use your gym membership? How about a swear jar system that fines you each time you procrastinate and stay home?
With GymPact you agree to let your phone use it’s GPS to track how many times each week you visit the gym and for how long you’re there. If a week goes by and you don’t visit the gym for a workout, $5 is deducted from your credit card as a fine.
GymPact keeps 3% of the fines collected as a service fee, but then divides the money up and gives it to all the users who successfully meet their workout goals as a small reward.
There are limitations to prevent cheating – the app will only work with professional fitness gyms (not home gyms) and once you visit your gym the app keeps track of the time, making sure that you’re there for at least thirty minutes. You have complete control of your workout goals and how much the fines will be (minimum is $5).
Here’s how it generally works out. If you choose an average goal of three workouts a week and miss them all you’re out $15, but do all three workouts and on average you can be rewarded up to $3.
Before you complete the sign-up and add your credit card info, you can back out and it will let you test out the app enough to see if you’re gym is on the list and to see how accurate the GPS is in letting you “check-in” to your gym. It would be awful if you committed your credit card only to find out that your gym has some interference that keeps your GPS from working there.
If you’re thinking this might be a way to make money, forget it. The rewards are very small and depend on a lot of people getting fined. The system is designed so if you keep getting into trouble you can adjust the details to a workout level you can manage.
Basically it’s about motivation. You exercise to avoid getting dinged on your credit card and when you’re good about it, you get some pocket change, not much, just to give you a psychological boost.
It’s not a system for everyone, but in fitness motivation can be the hardest factor and having these kind of stakes might be just the battle you need.
Band Of The Day
As the name suggests, this is like a word-of-the-day calendar, except each day brings new music from an up-and-coming band. I can’t stress how beautifully designed and slick this app is, with each band showcased in-depth through videos, songs, a biography, a review, and a feed that shows what people are saying about them on Twitter.
The photography is gorgeous and I love the way menus slide out from the side, shimmer, and shift like sliding doors with each selection. Music players and indexes hide like bookmarks and friendly plus icons pop at the touch to offer ratings and social network links.
You can go back and explore the bands from past dates in the calendar, of course, and even set the app to play a mix from the calendar as a continuous radio station while you focus on other tasks.
The music selection is surprisingly good, really good and you’re given full access to all their albums and songs. You can’t download them to keep, but the option is there to buy them straight out if you do fall in love with a track.
There are artists representing R&B, Pop, Folk, Indie Rock, and Electronic amongst other genres and yet none of the choices are objectionable and somehow they all work together in a mix.
There’s certainly no lack of great music apps from the iTunes Store these days, but Band Of The Day stands out as one of the best designed and most attractive.