A look at Digital Theatre’s iOS app

Digital-Theatre

I love a good theatrical experience and in this month I’ve had my mind blown by Fueza Bruta and the Master and Margarita (both of which are amazing artistically and technically and come highly recommended). But with so many amazing productions it can be hard to keep up – or find time to see them all. Digital Theatre realise this and have resolved to bring the best of British Theatre straight to your iPad.

Filming theatre is a tricky business – I’ve seen some amazing stage shows look flat and lifeless on screen. It’s why something magical like improv is hard to capture on TV. Digital theatre however “do it right” and manage to capture live performance authentically onscreen in high definition from multiple camera angles.

The iPad app is a great and productions look amazing. You can see trailers and all sorts of additional information about the shows on offer. You can push content to a big screen via AirPlay – and the app is also available on certain Samsung SmartTVs.The Digital Theatre iPad app also gives access to The Journal, a daily arts blog with content sourced from artists and practitioners around the world.

One minor frustration is the inability to purchase things in the app. You can view pre-purchased downloads and rentals easily but if you press the BUY button you are directed to the website to load up your cart from there. I’m guessing this is to circumvent Apple’s in-app purchasing charges – but who knows. It certainly was a mild head-scratcher – but is the only quibble.

The catalogue is limited at present – what is there is high quality and from a reasonably broad enough pool to please most people including four critically acclaimed productions from Shakespeare’s Globe’s 2010 season, part of Digital Theatre Collections launched in October 2012. I hope the platform will grow in time and hopefully embrace some more experimental works as it develops.

“We developed our iPad app as a direct response to feedback from our audience and we’re delighted to bring Digital Theatre productions to a device with the convenience and ubiquity of the iPad. Our apps for iPad and Samsung Smart TV form the start of a multi-platform strategy that will allow audiences to enjoy Digital Theatre productions where and when they are.”
Digital Theatre Co-Founder and CEO Robert Delamere

The Digital Theatre app is available now in the Apple App Store as a free download and downloadable shows are £8-10 and less to rent.

YPlan: Do something different tonight

“What are you up to tonight?”
That can be a difficult question at any time of year, but trapped in the hinterland between Christmas and New Year it can be especially difficult to answer. There are those of us that run their social lives with military precision, carefully co-ordinating between engagements, gigs, performances and so forth. If you prefer to embrace chaos, or simply want to revitalise your free time then there’s a great new app that wants to help you hang out – YPlan.

yPlan
yPlan

YPlan is a social iPhone app that benefits from attention to detail and laser-like focus. Firing it up reveals a series of last-minute London offers. Already some of your faces are wrinkling in total disinterest. “iPhone“ and “London” are already two self-interested groupings and the overlap between the two is potentially unbearable. However the app is interesting beyond its immediate target group.

YPlan’s curators work with a range of event organisers. Apparently very few events sell out so there are always a number of interesting last minute ticket deals available. YPlan are able to use their highly marketable target demographic – iPhone users in London – to wangle a number of discounts. The app is very much a curated list – rather than “something for everyone” there are 7/8 events given the special YPlan stamp of approval. They tend to focus on the cool and unusual – you don’t need to be told that Les Mis is playing in town – but you might not know about the pop up screening of Elf, independent production of Much Ado About Nothing or Rickshaw Racing Derby. You can book simply and easily from within the app with two taps and easily choose various events to share or favourite. Best of all there are no hidden charges.

YPlan’s focus makes it fun; the random nature of events presented gives a lovely “rolling the die” feeling and the app is beautifully designed in a way more apps should take note of. Nothing needs explaining, it can easily navigated and you never have to go too deep into the menu system to get what you want. It even tells me how long it takes to walk where I want to go.

Even if you don’t live in London (more cities are promised) it’s worth checking out YPlan for a glimpse at the future of going out. Out now on the App Store.

Proximitips iOS app: A cool guy to be around

Latest Gadgets were invited to an intimate Soho venue to have a hands-on play with Proximitips, an explosion of cool sounding sounding buzzwords and ideas. Phrases like “hyper-local”, “real-time” and “social graph” were thrown around with gay abandon. So what’s all the fuss about?

Proximitips

Proximitips is a free iOS app that attempts to be your cool buddy that knows where all the good restaurants and bars are, knows all the staff and has an opinion on all the dishes. Like having a mobile version of me with you at all times (I kid).

With information gathered from over a 750 areas across London – and also available throughout all Europe – and including around a 125 million places of interest, Proximitips is a useful app for the urban explorer. It is the first hyper-local social magazine with booking and purchase facilities, delivering information such as news, promotions, reviews and discounts that are relevant to them and their location, all from within the app.

The app also allows you to access a large set of bookings facilities, such as making a reservation through Toptable, booking events and taking advantage of offers and promotions from a host of local shops, bars and restaurants. However more often than not this appeared to take you to the booking back on the website, which lacked the slickness I desire in my apps. I was promised that future version releases would make ticketing a much smoother affair for dining and gigs. Being able to stand on a street corner, find a gig and a place to eat and book for both is pretty impressive but the implementation needs some work.

“Proximitips is unique in the way it lets you connect in a single place to all your local needs for entertainment, shopping and fun. For the first time you get all of your social media real-time feeds to keep you updated on what people around you are doing and allowing you to interact with them. There is booking functionalities providing access and connection to local shops and restaurants advertising their latest offers and promotions. There is a Q&A to ask questions or recommend places – where best to grab a bite to eat, a good pub to meet with friends or clubs to party at,“ commented Stefano Diemmi, Global Head of Social Media.

Apps like this live or die on user base and content. The automatic inclusion of users from other social media – Facebook, Twitter and Flickr helps to avoid the “ghost town” feel of similar platforms. Apparently more content aggregators are on the way for version 2.0 which should enhance the experience.

But for now check out www.proximitips.com.

Lynx Stream iPhone app

Lynx Stream is the best app for a night out to hit the iPhone. Ever. The software records every detail of your evening out – so you’re free to drink enough to forget it. The app is really simple – using Facebook and your phone’s functions, it logs all the data from your evening, from start to finish.

Lynx-Stream

For example, through the app, you create an event and invite your friends. That’s recorded. You then go to a bar and check-in – recorded. Take a few snaps – they’ll go in there too. Follow it up with a video, and maybe a tweet or status update.

By creating an event and adding friends from your phone book, they’ll also be sent a link to join in your stream – and a link to the app itself. Contacts will receive an email or an SMS, with the message costing you the standard network rate (so if you’ve got free texts, you’re sorted).

It’s available for iPhone or Android, so most well-connected people should be able to join in the fun. Well, up to 20 – the maximum number of participants. If you get bored of a friend (or invite someone by mistake), they can be uninvited, too.

Once a friend downloads the app, they can then get involved in producing content for the same stream. Your friends’ posts, pictures or videos will all join the communal stream – and everyone can be recorded for drunken prosperity, with no one person lumbered as the cameraman.

The app records all of the data on the phone, as well as on the Lynx Stream website. The attractively presented stream is then available to watch and share – or edit. Any pictures too private (or explicit) can be moderated away.

The technical limitations mean that streams can only go on for 24-hours, and that video clips can only last 15 seconds. You’ll also only be allowed 10 clips per stream. Content is also moderated – but maybe you should keep your trips to strip clubs private, anyway.

AA Pub Guide iPhone App

You can travel all over the world but you will never find a place quite as cosy, hospitable and unique than relaxing with a pint of real ale and some tasty homemade food with chunky chips in front of a roaring fire in a good old British pub.

Good-Pub-Guide
Image courtesy of Flickr user Daxis

Despite its insistence of being the “forth emergency service”, the AA has long been the source of much more than a mere ‘emergency breakdown service’. For more than a century the Automobile Association has been recommending the best places to eat, drink and stay in the country – quite ironic really when you consider that the organisation’s fundamental role is to assist motorists in breakdown situations.

Nonetheless, the AA, with its inimitable and unambiguous black and yellow logo, has become almost as synonymous with Great Britain and our unique culture than as a British pub itself. It seems somewhat ‘appropriate’ therefore, that these two great ‘British’ symbols are intertwined, and the AA, in keeping with modern times, has launched the 2011 AA Pub Guide app for iPhone.

From cosy coach-house inns, brimming with character with real wooden beams and a delectable choice of fine local ales, to smart gastro pubs providing deliciously robust and hearty food in the most decadent of ambiences, the free app features over 2,000 pubs and accommodation in the UK. The pubs featuring on the app have all been selected based on their commitment to providing great food, real ale, character and comfort. The app includes a detailed description of each entry, price information, addresses, telephone numbers and website addresses.

If you are a lover of traditional British pubs, this app will prove invaluable. Not only does it enable you to search in the current location, or area of choice for a fantastic pub to ‘break up the journey’, but it is also fully installed so there is no need for a data connection, allowing you to search down the most remote of country lanes, where an internet connection is impossible.

The AA Pub Guide App is available for iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iTouch from the iTunes Store.

Given the AA’s ‘pious’ commitment to providing its members with information on the ‘very best of British’, it seems somewhat believable that the “forth emergency service”, was originally formed in London in 1905 as a club to help motorists avoid speed traps!