App News – Draw Something & Fitness Apps

This week we take a quick look at three new physical fitness apps have hit the iPhone and iPad market and the exploding popularity of “draw something”.   Faster is $1.99, and it is a running and walking app.  It keeps track of the user by GPS, and the user can set a target time and a distance.  The app uses music, and slows the music down if the user’s rate of speed isn’t enough to complete the projected distance in the allotted time. Faster also allows interaction with other users through the Game Center,  and the app also gives vocal feedback instead of music if the user prefers.  It can also be used in combination with other fitness apps.

Bit Timer is $0.99 and is designed for interval training, which has become very popular in the last year.  Bit Timer has two different tones which sound when it is time for the user to switch between slow intervals and fast intervals.  If the user is combining Bit Timer with a music app, Bit Timer fades the music when it is time to change rates of speed.  The app allows intervals of up to two minutes, which is in line with fitness plans like Dash 8, but might not work for others that require longer intervals.

Fitness Trainer is $0.99, and is designed for workouts.  The user can use the app to create and track exercise routines.  The app has a bank of over seventy exercises, and provides videos for exercises with which the user is not familiar.  Technically, this app isn’t quite new, but they have just released version 4.0.

Marvel Comics introduced an Augmented Reality app at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, TX.  The app is part of what Marvel is calling “Marvel ReEvolution,” and is designed to be used in tandem with the digital-only comic line called Marvel Infinite Comics.  The app will be free to Marvel readers when they purchase standard comic with a digital coupon or just a digital comic.  It will also be available for 99 cents as a standalone product.  The app will tell backstories that help develop the characters in more depth than the standard comic, and will also help develop the storylines.  The app is designed to improve the experience for the reader, and will cover topics such as what the writer was thinking and why he wrote certain storylines.  They will even show the pencil drawing some of the frames.  The company behind the Marvel AR app is Aurasma, which is a division of the AR tech company called Autonomy.  Autonomy has been using meaning-based computing for items such as speech recognition and text character recognition for what they call “several years.”  The technology is flexible enough that it can be retro-fitted to any comic ever written.  The app also has a 3D capability that allows the user to see around the side of a character by tilting the tablet.    Marvel AR will be available on April 2 for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.  The first time the app can be used is April 4, when Marvel releases Avengers vs X-Men #1.  Marvel will also release their digital-only Infinite Comics  at that time.

Also at SXSW, numerous social-based apps were introduced that allow users to find friends who are in their vicinity.  They are all GPS-based, categorized as “people discovery apps,” and also known as “ambient apps.”  Most of the apps are very similar, and connect users with other users who have similar interests and are within close physical proximity.  We covered Highlight in an earlier post: others include Ksimet, Glancee, Sonar, and Uberlife.  People discovery apps are among the fastest-growing segment in the field, and the most popular at SXSW.

Speaking of popular, the most popular new app on the market is Draw Something by OMGPOP.  Draw something has been compared to the game Pictionary, and had over 20 million downloads in the first five weeks.    It is available on both the iOS and Android platforms, and has both a free version and a 99-cent version.  The free version has ads, while the 99-cent version doesn’t.  The game can be played with strangers or with friends from Facebook.  The user chooses from three words and tries to draw the word for their partner.   Different colors can be “purchased” with “coins” that are accrued by winning.  The app is constantly “tweaked” or updated, and issues are fixed rapidly as they appear.  Draw Something is the fastest app ever to exceed a million downloads, accomplishing it in their first ten days, and the five weeks it took Draw Something to reach twenty million is about half of the time it took all-time champ Angry Birds to get its first million downloads.

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